updated 5/2/2005 2:19:08 PM ET 2005-05-02T18:19:08

Guests: Charlie Crist, John Timoney, Debra Saunders, Amy Goodman, Charles Grassley, Ridley Scott

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The U.S. Senate is on a collision course, driven by pressure groups of right and left.  Members are ready to blow up the rules of order that made at it the world‘s greatest deliberative body.  Meanwhile, the Washington death ritual burns on for both Bolton and DeLay. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

With the Senate nearing an historic vote that could change its rules for voting on judicial nominees, the ballyhoo boys of both right and left have lit their torches.  Former Vice President Al Gore and former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole both weighed in today.  We‘ll get that story in a minute. 

And later, director Ridley Scott on his highly charged new movie about the Crusades, “Kingdom of Heaven.”

But, first, House Speaker Dennis Hastert is urging fellow Republicans to reverse the rules governing ethics investigations that were seen by Democrats as an attempt to protect House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 

For more on that, we go to HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, it was a dramatic retreat today for congressional Republicans. 

House Speaker Dennis Hastert told his colleagues to abandon the new ethics rules they came up with in January and go back to the old ones that would allow for an investigation of Tom DeLay.  The Republican hope that the vote, the resulting vote, will now inoculate them from charges of trying to shield DeLay, charges that many Republicans thought were beginning to stick. 

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, nobody seems to be backing down in the fight over judicial nominations.  And that battle, which threatens to tear apart the U.S. Senate, was joined today by none other than former Vice President Al Gore. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER (voice-over):  In his first major speech this year, it was a thundering Al Gore who railed against Republican efforts to change Senate rules. 

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What is involved here is a power grab, pure and simple. 

SHUSTER:  The vice president referred to his own pain four years ago, when the hanging chad election was settled by the Supreme Court.  Gore accepted the ruling, he said, because the judiciary had legitimacy.  And he charged that if a majority beholden to the religious right can now limit debate on nominees, judicial legitimacy will be obliterated. 

GORE:  Religious faith is a precious freedom and not a tool with which to divide and conquer politically. 

SHUSTER:  In his 45-minute speech, the vice president then referred to some of the president‘s nominees as fanatics.  And he pointed out that because Democrats have approved 95 percent of the president‘s picks, the number of judicial vacancies is lower than it has been in years. 

GORE:  The Republican drive for one-party control leads them to cry over and over again, crisis, crisis in the courts.  It is hypocritical and it is simply false. 

SHUSTER:  The vice president‘s speech came on a day when liberal activists held rallies at 150 courthouses across the country.  And the group MoveOn PAC ran television ads in the states of moderate Republicans. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR:  Republicans control the White House and the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Republican presidents appointed the majority of judges on most of our appeals courts.  But now the Republicans want absolute control of the entire government.  So they‘re planning to break the rules to get more extremist judges approved. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  But when it comes to extremism, Republican are pointing at Senate Democrats, who have used filibusters, which require 60 votes to break, to keep 10 judges from getting up-or-down votes on the Senate floor. 

Today, former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole wrote in “The New York Times”—quote—“By creating a new threshold for the confirmation of judicial nominees, the Democratic minority has abandoned the tradition of mutual self-restraint that has long allowed the Senate to function as an institution.”

Dole added that, while he hopes Senate Majority Leader Frist does not use the so-called nuclear option, if he does, said Dole, it will be the Democrats‘ fault. 

Which both sides worried this confrontation could poison the Senate for years, negotiators intensified their efforts today to try and reach a compromise. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  But no deal has been reached and both sides blame the other.  As one observer noted, it is a strange world in Washington when it is the Senate that can‘t seem to agree and the House is the one that does—

Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa is a member of the Judiciary Committee.  He is also chairman of the Finance Committee, which is taking up Social Security reform.  And Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which is currently expanding its inquiry into John Bolton‘s nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations. 

Let me to go Senator Nelson first. 

Do you think Al Gore is contributing positively to this debate? 

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA:  Well, I think it needs to get out on the table, because most people don‘t have any idea what the nuclear option is.  And the more it is explained, that it is an attempt to change the Senate rules of over 200 years by breaking the rules, eliminating a senator‘s right to filibuster, then eliminating the checks and balances in our system and overruling the parliamentarian to get these judges through, then I think, once the people understand that, then they‘ll see, it is not the fair way to play. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is fair to deny a nominee for a federal judgeship at the appellate level—this is a big job—a vote, just say, we‘re not going to give you the dignity, the respect of having a vote on you; we‘re just going to bury this nomination?  Is that fair? 

NELSON:  Well, in some cases, I agree.  In some cases, I don‘t.  For example, I agreed with the Republicans on Miguel Estrada.  And I voted for Miguel Estrada. 

But when I see judges that do not have the judicial temperament, that they would apply the law to the facts, and instead have a know-it-all attitude, that‘s not the kind of judge I want.  And I have already voted for 206 of President Bush‘s nominees out of 215. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me to go Senator Grassley. 

Why doesn‘t the Republican Party meet the Democrats, talk of a compromise, and say, there‘s a handful of judges here in dispute; why don‘t we split it in half and accept half of them put the others on a shelf? 

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  There shouldn‘t be compromise, because, on this particular issue, what happened over the last two years is totally untraditional of the Senate for the first 214 years. 

So, what we want to do from here into the future is exactly the way it was done between 1789 and 2003.  And we call this the constitutional option because we‘re doing the same thing that Senator Byrd did on two or three occasions when he was Senate majority leader.  And, one time, he rewrote the rules this way, the way we‘re intending to rewrite them, because there was opposition to even going to a motion to proceed on a nomination. 

So, he eliminated the motion to proceed.  I think it was in 1980 when he was leader.  And so we‘re just doing it the same way that‘s been done.  And that‘s why we call it the constitutional option. 

MATTHEWS:  So, constitutionally, you‘re going to get rid of the right to unlimited debate.  But, since we‘re talking physics here and nuclear options...

GRASSLEY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you think there‘s a reaction that‘s coming, as there always is in the rule of physics, to your action? 

GRASSLEY:  Don‘t you think that people realize that, when something was done, something, for 214 years one way, then the exception isn‘t what we‘re trying to do?  The exception was started two years ago. 

We see it this way, that every nominee should have an opportunity to have an up-or-down vote.  And that‘s all this is about.  And we‘re dealing with some situations where these, all of these nominations had a majority vote, a bipartisan majority that would have voted for them.  And they would have been on the bench two years ago. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Senator Nelson on another matter.  And I want to bring both of you in on this.  This is question of who should represent, what kind of person should represent this country in the United Nations in a very troubling time. 

Senator Nelson, is the objection of most Democrats to Bolton‘s ideology, his hawkish attitude about the world, sort of always looking for problems in the world, and finding them in some cases, or is it because he isn‘t nice to his colleagues? 

NELSON:  Neither.         

In my case, my objection is that he hasn‘t done a good job in his present job.  And he doesn‘t deserve to be promoted.  He is the chief arms negotiator.  And look where we are with North Korea four years later, where they have more nukes than they had to begin with. 

Chris, I want to just rebut the senator, the distinguished chairman of the Finance Committee.  The filibuster has been used in judicial nominations before.  It was first done in 1881 with Stanley Matthews.  It was done again in 1968 with Abe Fortas and has been done 12 times since that 1968 time of Abe Fortas. 

GRASSLEY:  In each of those instances, it was not a partisan filibuster.  In the case of Abe Fortas, the vote was—they had 24 Republicans and 19 Democrats.  It was a bipartisan filibuster that never even turned out to be a filibuster because Abe Fortas never even had a majority vote to get passed in the first place.  And he withdrew. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you—OK, I‘m sorry to interrupt.

(CROSSTALK)

NELSON:  If it looks like a duck...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

NELSON:  Chris, I was just going to say, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.  It is a filibuster. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Senator Grassley, about—you‘re not on the committee.  But you have to rule, apparently.  It‘s probable that you‘ll to have rule on this nomination of John Bolton. 

If you had someone coming to work for you whose boss would not endorse them, in fact, put out the word that they were not the right person for the job, would you still hire them, in this case, Bolton?  Because Colin Powell says he doesn‘t want this person in that job. 

GRASSLEY:  Well, let me—if this is based upon the proposition that there‘s a temperament, because he has been harsh with people that worked for him—and those people didn‘t even lose their jobs.  But even if they had lost their jobs, I‘ll tell you, all you got to do is hear the rumors about the United States Senate, about the activities of some senators being mean to their personnel and people that have big turnovers in the United States Senate, you would probably eliminate 25 percent of the senators from being senators. 

And what this is all about is not how he handles personnel.  This is all about people that want to defend the status quo at the United Nations.  And it gives us an opportunity to send a John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and to get the reform that the United Nations needs, as best illustrated by the oil-for-food program in Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GRASSLEY:  And how Kofi Annan was a participant in that cover. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a final question.

NELSON:  Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  I have to go to the other question of Social Security.  I can start with you, Senator Nelson.

Is it your belief that we‘re going to have personal accounts in Social Security by the end of this congress? 

NELSON:  No.  The public is not there.  Especially senior citizens aren‘t there.  I‘m not there. 

It would cause a huge, huge borrowing over 10 years.  The change of the formula would ultimately give young people, when they retire on Social Security, less than what they would under the current laws.  It is not going to happen.  And it is not going to happen with a lot of Republican senators. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Grassley, you‘re chair of Finance.  Will it happen? 

Will we have personal accounts by the end of this Congress? 

GRASSLEY:  I don‘t know whether it will happen, but I‘m committed to personal accounts because young people have great resentment toward paying high taxes today for something they are not going to get anything out of, or, at best, 70 percent of what I get today. 

And we need to have young people feel ownership in the Social Security system.  We need to end this intergenerational resentment that young people have.  We need to give them ownership.  We need to give them inheritability.  And nobody needs to worry about Social Security being harmed, because we‘re giving people choice of personal accounts.  Nobody has to take a personal account if they don‘t want to.  And they can have the certainty of Social Security, if they don‘t want any risk whatsoever involved. 

But we ought to give people choice.  They pay the tax.  It is their money.  It is set aside for social insurance.  If they want to take some of their money set aside for social insurance and have some control over their destiny, we ought to give them that opportunity. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

It‘s great having you on, Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. 

Coming up, House Republicans are backing off the rule changes they put forth for the Ethics Committee in the wake of allegations about Majority Leader Tom DeLay.  That hot fight coming up here. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, the inquiry into John Bolton‘s nomination as U.N. ambassador is widening.  Can President Bush save his man? 

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is widening its inquiry into the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.  Debra Saunders is a columnist for “The San Francisco Chronicle.”  And Pacifica Radio‘s Amy Goodman is the author of “The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them.:

Let me start with Amy. 

Amy, Bolton now apparently is going to have to be submitted to a couple of dozen more inquiries, interviews on the record under oath to find out what kind of a politician he was when he was inside the State Department, how we will dealt with intelligence gathers, how honest he was, how civil he was.  Is that going to slow down this nomination? 

AMY GOODMAN, HOST, “DEMOCRACY NOW”:  Oh, yes, for sure.  It is definitely being threatened, especially when you have Dick Cheney coming out to say he supports Bolton. 

You can see he is deeply in trouble, and all of these questions that are being raised, from intimidating intelligence analysts to get answers that he wanted to hear, exaggerating any information that Syria had weapons of mass destruction or unconventional weapons.  You know, John Bolton is the guy who said there‘s no United Nations.  He chases a woman down a hall who worked for USAID in Kyrgyzstan and starts to spread rumors and lies about her. 

This is a man who doesn‘t work well with others.  He would not get a very good grade in elementary school. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go with—the president wants him to work with him, however, Debra.  Is that the decisive factor here, that President Bush thinks this is his man to represent him at the U.N.?

DEBRA SAUNDERS, “THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”:  Well, you know, Amy sort of takes a lot of gossip and accepts it as fact.  I don‘t think that‘s really that good an idea. 

Look, George Bush wants him to go to the U.N.  And I don‘t mind if Democrats say, I‘m not going to vote for him because I don‘t like his policies. 

GOODMAN:  It is not just Democrats. 

SAUNDERS:  That‘s right.  You‘re right. 

But I wonder what all these senators—and, Chris, you‘ve worked in Washington.  Explain this to me.  How many senators would be able to pass the test of how well they treat their staffers?  And if they want to make this a personal thing, where they‘re going to look at how he treats the people who worked for them, if I were Senator George Voinovich, a Republican, or if I were one of the Democrats who talked about how he treats his staffers, I would be really careful that there was nothing that I did that could come back to me come election time. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The only difference is that, under our Constitution—and I served in this capacity—when you work for a United States senator, you may have some rights.  I don‘t know where they are.  I never heard of them.  You serve at the pleasure of that senator.  That‘s the way the system works.  When you work in the State Department, you‘ve got to work within a bureaucracy. 

And if you worked at the U.N., you have got to work that way, too.  Is it really comparable to compare a senator with a bureaucrat?  I‘m not sure.  Do you think that, Debra? 

SAUNDERS:  Well, I do think that the Senate passes a lot of employment laws it wouldn‘t dream of inflicting on itself.  And I don‘t think that‘s always fair.  So there‘s a problem right there. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the Constitution says it is, doesn‘t it? 

SAUNDERS:  Yes.  The Constitution says it is.  The American people don‘t always agree with the fact that they can do it makes it right. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

SAUNDERS:  There are a lot of things that you can do under the Constitution.  It doesn‘t make them a good thing. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.

Let me throw something.  Let me throw a bit of—let me throw a grenade into this thing right now. 

Amy, we‘re going to the United Nations with the next ambassador.  He or she, whoever it is, is going to have to represent us at a time that they‘re highly skeptical around the world about our WMD charges, our intel charges generally.  Is it smart to send somebody up there who is part of the problem? 

GOODMAN:  Well, I think it is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I mean, in the sense that his problem is, he‘s accused of not listening to honest intel and misusing it, mischaracterizing it, creating it.  Is he the kind of person you want to send up there to say we‘re cleaning up house here? 

GOODMAN:  I think we‘re talking about lying about it.  And, by the way, it‘s not just...

MATTHEWS:  Well, we don‘t know that.  We don‘t know that. 

GOODMAN:  Well, I think this is interesting. 

It‘s not—I think it is a good point to say that he is Bush‘s pick and that, ultimately, this goes to the very top.  It is not just about John Bolton.  This is about President Bush.  But the fact that a Gallup poll just came out and said more than half of Americans think that the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction, that‘s not just maybe kind of got it wrong.  That‘s lied about weapons of mass destruction. 

MATTHEWS:  But polling does not...

GOODMAN:  And Bolton is a part of that team.

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, Amy.  Polling does not determine truth.  The American people can say the moon is made of blue cheese by 51 percent.  That doesn‘t mean it is made of blue cheese, does it? 

GOODMAN:  Well, I think what‘s interesting is that now... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that is interesting, what I just said, because you‘re saying that polling data tells you the truth? 

GOODMAN:  No. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve never heard that said before in my life. 

GOODMAN:  No, no, no.  I‘m not saying...

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve never heard anybody say the truth can be found through popular opinion. 

GOODMAN:  Chris, the important point of that poll is not saying that they know.  The important point is that more than half the people now believe that they were lied to.  It‘s not just people around the world who feel that they were manipulated.  It‘s people here at home. 

As for the truth, once again, Bolton is caught trying to change information that his analysts are giving him to misrepresent what a country has.  And that leads to—well, we saw to what it led to in Iraq, an invasion of Iraq.  And he‘s now, we find out, trying to do it around Syria.

MATTHEWS:  Just to remind you, 42 percent of the American people believe that the world was created according to the days in Genesis, exactly that way, not metaphorically, that way. 

We‘ll be right back with Debra Saunders and Amy Goodman.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Debra Saunders and Amy Goodman.

Debra, Al Gore has weighed in on this fight over the filibuster and the whole question of court nominees.  He is going to play a role. 

SAUNDERS:  Well, as a Republican, I think he‘s going to play a role that helps the Republican Party, because the last person that you want to trot out to talk about good government and bipartisanship is Al Gore.  And the last group you want sponsoring that...

MATTHEWS:  Why is that?  Why is that true? 

SAUNDERS:  ... is MoveOn.org, because especially MoveOn.Org is absolutely against bipartisanship.  It‘s one of the most partisan, nasty, personal organizations. 

I mean, Al Gore is somebody who is very extreme.  I heard him evening

·         I read the script.  He called people fanatics and zealots.  Come on.  Al Gore calling someone a fanatic or a zealot.  Isn‘t that sort of like the pot calling the kettle black? 

MATTHEWS:  Amy, do you agree?

GOODMAN:  Please. 

I mean, what we‘re talking about here is ending a 230-year tradition of filibuster.  It protects the minority.  That‘s the critical issue here, whether Al Gore is saying it or whether Republicans, who are deeply concerned, like John McCain, is saying it.  What‘s important is what Frist is trying to pull off. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

GOODMAN:  And it‘s changing what we‘ve done in this country for centuries. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re short of time tonight.  Ladies, thank you.  I‘m sorry we‘re short of time tonight.  Thank you for joining us. 

Please come back, Debra Saunders of “The San Francisco Chronicle” and Amy Goodman of Pacifica.

A new Florida law allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves in public places.  Some law enforcement officials aren‘t happy about it.  We‘ll fight that one out when we return.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It just got easier to shoot an attacker in self-defense in Florida.  Governor Jeb Bush made it legal to use deadly force to protect yourself in any public place and without first trying to escape.  These are two significant additions to prior self-defense laws.  Previously, you had to try to escape.  And, before, it only covered incidents in a person‘s home.  Now it covers any public place.  A law like this could be coming to your state if the National Rifle Association has its way. 

Miami Police Chief John Timoney says this new law is dangerous.  Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist supported it and urged the Florida legislature to pass it. 

Mr. Attorney General, why is it better off for the people, safer, to be able to shoot somebody who confronts you in a dangerous fashion? 

CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Doesn‘t it always makes sense to be able to protect yourself?  We think it does.  That‘s why this law is important. 

You know, in Florida, we‘ve had some horrific crimes in the past year and a half, with a lot of young girls, Carlie Brucia, Jessica Lunsford, Sarah Lunde most recently in the Tampa bay area.  It is very important that people be able to protect themselves, be able to protect their children in their home or even if they‘re not in the home.  If somebody comes at you with deadly force, it‘s only appropriate that you are able to respond in a way that is responsible, instead of being required, as the law used to be in our state—you had to try to run away. 

I mean, imagine a scenario where somebody sticks a gun in your ribs, then you have to try to run away.  If the old Florida law would still be enforced, you would probably end up taking one in the back.  That‘s not right.  It is not common sense.  This is the right thing to do.  I‘m glad that Governor Bush signed it into law yesterday. 

MATTHEWS:  Chief Timoney, what is your concern here? 

JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF:  Well, first of all, I don‘t think the law was necessary.  I don‘t see the clamoring.  I don‘t see the dozens of people being indicted for shooting people that burglarize their home.  It just isn‘t happening.  It hasn‘t happened in my career for the last 35 years. 

People—we have justifiable homicides all the time all across America.  And so, first of all, I think it is unnecessary.  When you now take it out to the public street, you didn‘t have to escape.  The way the law is in most states is that you have an obligation to retreat if you can do so safely without endangering yourself.  Nobody should ever have to endanger themselves. 

And we just had a justified homicide out in the street here earlier on this month where a guy was shot at.  He returned fire and killed the guy.  And the state attorney ruled it justified, no problem whatsoever.  So, nobody is asking individuals to risk their lives. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your worry, Chief, that this will be like a saloon situation, where one guy pulls a gun out and you have a Quick Draw McGraw situation, where the other guy pulls his out and fires? 

TIMONEY:  No, it‘s more subtle than that, Chris. 

We encounter on the big city streets American every day, for example, street people, often mentally disturbed, who confront you.  I get confronted a couple times a day.  And sometimes they‘re dangerous.  The best course of action is just to walk away, as I do.  And I call the police, even though I‘m the chief of police. 

This whole notion says, you don‘t have to walk away.  Go mano-a-mano with some guy who isn‘t all there mentally. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CRIST:  Well, there‘s an important point to make there, I think, Chris. 

And the important point is, you actually have to fear for your life.  If somebody just walks up to you, obviously, you don‘t use deadly force.  I mean, we have to be reasonable about this.  And I think the law is reasonable.  That‘s why I think Florida police chiefs across the state endorse this law.  It‘s important to understand that this is strongly supported by law enforcement in our state. 

The chief is a great guy.  I love him.  But, on this one, we just have a healthy disagreement. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Chief, again, what is your really midnight concern here?  It isn‘t just you don‘t think it is necessary, I assume.  What would be a worst-case scenario of this law being followed? 

TIMONEY:  Well, let‘s take it back indoors. 

There‘s a possibility and even a likelihood that some homeowner will misuse the intent of this law.  The intent is good.  But the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  And so, for example, I‘m having a dispute, which happens all the time, with my neighbor, a vicious dispute.  But I invite him over for coffee.  I bring him into my home.  I kill him.  I put a knife down.  I tell the police, hey, listen, this guy came and threatened me. 

We‘ve had this longstanding dispute and I killed him.  And the way the law is written now, it almost guarantees immunity if you‘re in your own home.  And there really isn‘t any prosecutorial review.  Citizens are given more rights than a police officer.  Every time a police officer discharges a weapon, he or she is—that shooting is reviewed by the authorities, by the DA, by a grand jury. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me give you—let me ask you some advice, first of all, Mr. Attorney General.  How do we avoid violence in these kinds of clash of weapons?  Is there any way one person can avoid deadly fire in one way or the other when he is confronted by somebody with a weapon?  A kid comes up to you.  He is 10 years old.  He has got a knife.  Should you kick him away or should  you pull out a gun and shoot him? 

CRIST:  You ought to do whatever you feel is appropriate in the circumstance. 

Obviously, if somebody fears for their life, if they truly believe that they are being threatened with deadly force, they have an obligation and a responsibility and they have now a right under the law in the state of Florida to protect themselves.  This is common sense.  This is not any kind of rogue law. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CRIST:  This is common sense.  It is the right thing to do.  You ought to be able to protect yourself, Chris.  You ought to be able to protect your children, whether you‘re in Miami or New York or Washington, D.C.  But all over Florida now, parents will be able to protect themselves.  They‘ll be able to protect their children.  Their home is their castle and now so is the state of Florida.  This is just common sense and the right thing to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to the chief again.

I had a young son—one of my sons—you have met him—when he was very young, he had his bike stolen. 

TIMONEY:  Yes.  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And the kid said, I got a knife on me.  Give me that bike. 

Now, you could argue with my kid and say wait until he showed the knife before you gave him the bike.  It was a new bike, by the way.  It really broke me.  I didn‘t like it. 

TIMONEY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  But would my son under the new law in Florida be allowed to pull out a police special and blow this kid away because he said he had a knife? 

TIMONEY:  Yes.  Exactly. 

And the whole idea is that, if you can articulate fear, that you feared for your life.  And you would in that situation.  But what is the best?  I understand and I agree with the attorney general.  You have a right to defend yourself.  But, in these cases, what is the best course of action?  The best course of action—we advise people all the time. 

If some guy has got a gun or a knife on you, give him the wallet. 

Give him the bike.  Leave it up to the police to conduct the investigation. 

There‘s no sense in shedding blood unnecessarily. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of that?

CRIST:  I couldn‘t agree more with the chief.  I think he‘s right, Chris.   

But what you have to remember is, we don‘t want a police state.  We don‘t want to have police on every corner in every street in the state of Florida.  You know, people have a right to protect themselves.  It is the right thing to do.  It is common sense.  And if somebody just tells you that they‘ve got a nice in their pocket, this law doesn‘t give you the right to kill them.  That‘s an illogical and an inappropriate extension. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, he gave him the bike.  That‘s all I know.  So, he believed him.

TIMONEY:  Hold on.  Chris, Chris, Chris, there‘s a famous case in New York called Bernie Goetz, who was able to articulate, “I feared,” even though most people think his fear was irrational, wound up shooting four people in the subway. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, because he was being robbed. 

CRIST:  Yes.  And he was held guilty for it.

MATTHEWS:  Those kids weren‘t passersby.  Those kids were coming after him.  And he felt threatened by four kids and he shot them. 

TIMONEY:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Charles Bronson wasn‘t alone in taking that side. 

Anyway, thank you very much. 

Are you running for governor, Charlie? 

CRIST:  I haven‘t declared that yet. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, have you decided? 

CRIST:  Not yet. 

MATTHEWS:  God, you‘re a politician.  Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chief Timoney, a great man. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I love Timoney. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, when we come back, filmmaker Ridley Scott on his new movie “Kingdom of Heaven.”

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Still ahead, my unforgettable interview with former Senator Zell Miller from the Republican Convention last summer.  And, tomorrow, why the judiciary is so important.

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Ridley Scott, who brought us the “Gladiator” and so many other great movies, has now brought us the “Kingdom of Heaven” about the Christian Crusade to the Holy Land.  It is a tough look at the Mideast, origin of three faiths, where the old wars of religion rage even now. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “KINGDOM OF HEAVEN”)

ORLANDO BLOOM, ACTOR:  Which is more holy?  The wall?  The mosque? 

The sepulcher?  Who has claim?  No one has claim.  All have claim. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  That is blasphemy. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Be quiet. 

BLOOM:  We defend this city, not to protect these stones, but the people living within these walls. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Ridley Scott is with us from Los Angeles.

You know, that was the most stunning part of the movie last night.  And it was a stunning movie, because I thought it showed the Crusades had ideals behind them and it had some corrupt people involved in it.  And the Arab people, the Muslim people, the Saracens, came off so much better than they ever did in the books we read growing up. 

But your point there, as the director, the auteur here, do you think so much of the war in the Middle East is about rocks, people just wanting to reclaim a wall, reclaim a temple, reclaim a holy sepulcher and people died for centuries over those issues? 

RIDLEY SCOTT, DIRECTOR:  I think you‘ve just included everything that could be discussed in a million books. 

I think what we have to think—remember, the short answer, I think is, we‘ve got to stop looking back at history, except to go and see my movie.  And I think we‘ve got to start looking forward.  We have got to look to tomorrow, next week, and we have got to look to the future.  Clearly, we‘re not learning anything by going through our historical processes.  And I think we‘ve got to start looking forward and not back.

MATTHEWS:  But it seems like—it seems like, if you look at what‘s been happening in the Middle East since we‘ve been growing up, all these years, nothing ever changes.  Israel reclaims Jerusalem, as it had a right to do, because the Six-Day War wasn‘t started by them.  They got Jerusalem back.

The Arabs now want a piece of Jerusalem.  Some Israelis say, OK, we‘ll find a way to let you be included.  Others say no way.  The Christians really aren‘t in the game anymore, except they want access, of course, to the holy place.  It seems like the holy places, which were fought over in the Crusades in the 12th century are still being fought over. 

SCOTT:  I think what we say in that speech that you played at the beginning, I think it comes from not so much the point of view of denomination, but comes forward from the point of view of logic and truth. 

I‘m agnostic.  The writer is agnostic.  I think Orlando is agnostic.  And when you look at it from a not-sure person‘s point of view, you have to start looking at logic.  Logic goes side by side with truth.  And I think the speech is driven by that.  I think, really, it is a place that should belong to all denominations.  That‘s the whole point of it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me—this movie shows Saladin, who many in the West think is the evil one, the man who took back the Holy Land from the Crusades and sent them running as a bad guy.

In the Eastern world, he is of course a great hero.  A lot people like Saddam Hussein and I‘m sure century after century have wanted to be like Saladin. 

SCOTT:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Throw the West out of the East.  Why did you decide to portray him as such a interestingly compassionate and smart man? 

SCOTT:  Well, as I said, I don‘t think anyone is anything—anything is black and white. 

I think there‘s many, many works on Saladin, just about Saladin, which cover him pretty well consistently as from both sides, by the way, from European historians, from Muslim historians.  They refer to Saladin always with reverence, fairness and even—it came from—I believe the French actually inferred, I think with humor to a certain extent, that Saladin or the Muslim knight had invented chivalry. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

SCOTT:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that the—they were the good guys, the Saracens? 

SCOTT:  I don‘t think they were—I think Saladin, if I had to say in a word and simply—you know, that simple word, was Saladin a good guy, I think I would have to say yes.  I think he was the only Muslim leader who actually managed to pull all the Arabic nations together under one—his leadership. 

And I think he‘s the only one, I believe, to have done that.  Muslim historians and European historians also say, at that particular juncture, we choose for the film, which is a moment of tenuous peace.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SCOTT:  A tenuous standoff.  Reason being, they say—this comes from Muslim side, as well as European side—that Saladin honestly had far greater problem a little bit further East and therefore regarded the skirmishes and the misdemeanors around Jerusalem at the time as little more than a border skirmish. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ll tell you, it gave me a lot of history to think about, Ridley.  I‘ve always been a fan of yours through all your great films like “Alien” and, God, the “Gladiator, “Blade Runner,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “The Gathering Storm,” “Black Hawk Down.”  You have got another big one here.  And you‘ve taught me an awful lot and made me think a lot. 

It‘s a great movie to understand the history we‘re in right now, “Kingdom of Heaven.”  It‘s just coming out, Ridley Scott, another great one.  Thanks for joining us.

SCOTT:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Former Senator Zell Miller has a new book out.  It is called “A Deficit of Decency.”  And, in it, he refers to an interview did he with me, actually, during the Republican Convention last summer.  I‘ll have that interview leading up to where Senator Miller talked about challenging me to a duel.  That‘s a big part of his book.

When we return, you‘ll see that.  The entire transcript, by the way, is available at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com and the whole tape as well.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  In a new book, former Georgia Senator Zell Miller refers to an interview he did here on HARDBALL last summer after delivering the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. 

So, we thought you would like to see an unedited tape of that interview with Senator Miller, leading right up to his talk of challenging me to a duel. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2004)

MATTHEWS:  I want to ask you about the most powerful line in your speech.  And it had so many.

“No pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.”

Do you believe that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy really only believe in defending America with spitballs?

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA:  Well, I certainly don‘t believe they want to defend America by putting the kind of armor and the kind of equipment that we have got to have out there for our troops.  I mean, nothing could be clearer than that, than what John Kerry did when he voted against that $87 billion in appropriations, that would have provided protective armor for our troops and armored vehicles.

MATTHEWS:  All right, let me ask you.  Senator, you are the expert.  Many times, as a conservative Republican, you have had to come out on the floor and obey party whips and vote against big appropriations passed by the Democrats when they were in power.

You weren‘t against feeding poor people.  You weren‘t against Social Security.  You weren‘t against a lot of programs that, because of the nature of parliamentary procedure and combat, you had to vote against the whole package.  Didn‘t you many times vote against whole packages of spending, when you would have gladly gone for a smaller package?

MILLER:  Well, I didn‘t make speeches about them and I didn‘t put them in my platform.

Right here is what John Kerry put out as far as his U.S. Senate platform, was, he was talking about he wanted to cancel the M. X.  missile, the B-1 bomber, the anti-satellite system.  This is not voting for something that was in a big bill.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Which of those systems was effective in either Afghanistan

or Iraq?  The M.X. certainly wasn‘t, thank God, nor was the other

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  Look, this is front and.  Wait, this is front and back, and it‘s two pages.  I have got more documentation here than they have got in the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

MILLER:  I knew you was going to be coming with all of that stuff.

And I knew that these people from the Kerry campaign would be coming with all this kind of stuff.

That‘s just baloney.  Look at the record.  A man‘s record is what he is.

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  A man‘s campaign rhetoric. what?

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just asking you, Senator, do you mean to say. I know there‘s rhetoric in campaigns.  I just want to know, do you mean to say that you really believe that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy do not believe in defending the country?

MILLER:  Well, look at their votes.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just asking you to bottom-line it for me.

MILLER:  Wait a minute.  I said I didn‘t question their patriotism.

MATTHEWS:  No.  Do you believe that they don‘t believe in defending the country?

MILLER:  I question their judgment.

What?

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe they want to defend the country?

MILLER:  Look, I applaud what John Kerry did as far as volunteering to go to Vietnam.  I applaud what he did when he volunteered for combat.  I admire that, and I respect that.  And I acknowledge that.  I have said that many, many times.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  But I think his record is atrocious.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you, when Democrats come out, as they often do, liberal Democrats, and attack conservatives, and say they want to starve little kids, they want to get rid of education, they want to kill the old people...

MILLER:  I am not saying that.  Wait a minute.

MATTHEWS:  That kind of rhetoric is not educational, is it?

MILLER:  Wait a minute.

Now, this is your program.  And I am a guest on your program.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, sir.

MILLER:  And so I want to try to be as nice as I possibly can to you.  I wish I was over there, where I could get a little closer up into your face.

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER:  But I don‘t have to stand here and listen to that kind of stuff.  I didn‘t say anything about not feeding poor kids.  What are you doing?

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m saying that when you said tonight. I just want you to...

MILLER:  Well, you are saying a bunch of baloney that didn‘t have

anything to do with what I said up there on the

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  No, no.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Do you believe now. do you believe, Senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spitballs?  Do you believe that?

MILLER:  That was a metaphor, wasn‘t it?  Do you know what a metaphor is?

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you mean by a metaphor?

MILLER:  Wait a minute.  He certainly does not want to defend the country with the B-1 bomber or the B-2 bomber or the Harrier jet or the Apache helicopter or all those other things that I mentioned.  And there were even more of them in here.

You‘ve got to quit taking these Democratic talking points and using what they are saying to you.

MATTHEWS:  No, I am using your talking points and asking you if you really believe them.

MILLER:  Well, use John Kerry‘s talking points from the. from what he has had to say on the floor of the Senate, where he talked about them being occupiers, where he put out this whenever he was running for the U.S.  Senate about what he wanted to cancel.  Cancel to me means to do away with.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what did you mean by the following?

MILLER:  I think we ought to cancel this interview.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t mean...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that would be my loss, Senator.  That would be my loss.

Let me ask you about this, because I think you have a view on the role of reporters in the world.  You have said and it has often been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.  Was there not...

MILLER:  Do you believe that?

MATTHEWS:  Well, of course it‘s true.

MILLER:  Do you believe that?

MATTHEWS:  But it‘s a statement that nobody would have challenged.  Why did you make it?  It seems like no one would deny what you said.  So what‘s your point?

MILLER:  Well, it evidently got a rise out of you.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think it‘s a

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  Because you are a reporter.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s right.

MILLER:  You didn‘t have anything to do with freedom of the press.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you could argue it was not nurses who defended the freedom of nursing.  Why did you single out freedom of the press to say it was the soldiers that defended it and not the reporters?  We all know that.  Why did you say it?

MILLER:  Well, because I thought it needed to be said at this particular time, because I wanted to come on...

MATTHEWS:  Because you could get an applause line against the media at a conservative convention.

MILLER:  No, I said it because it was.  You‘re hopeless.  I wish I was over there.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  In fact, I wish that we lived in. I wish we lived in the day...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve got to warn you, we are in a tough part of town over here.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  But I do recommend you come over, because I like you.

Let me tell you this.

MILLER:  Chris.

MATTHEWS:  If a Republican Senator broke ranks and—all right, I‘m sorry.

A Republican Senator broke ranks and came over and spoke for the Democrats, would you respect him?

MILLER:  Yes, of course I would.

MATTHEWS:  Why?

MILLER:  I have seen that happen from time to time.  Look, I believe...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What does Jim Jeffords say to you?

MILLER:  Wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Jim Jeffords switched parties after getting elected.

MILLER:  If you‘re going to ask a question...

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a tough question.  It takes a few words.

MILLER:  Get out of my face.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MILLER:  If you are going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Senator, please.

MILLER:  You know, I wish we...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MILLER:  I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER:  Now, that would be pretty good.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  The entire transcript and audio of my interview with Zell Miller is available at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com. 

Tomorrow, more on the judicial wars with two top lawyers, David Boies and Ben Ginsberg, Friday, the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.  And we have with us two of America‘s finest generals, Tommy Franks and Norman Schwarzkopf.

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant,Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,