updated 8/3/2005 11:11:39 AM ET 2005-08-03T15:11:39

Guest: Margaret Carlson, Tony Blankley, Kathy Miller, Michael Johnson,

Peter Schmuck, Ray Garibaldi, Robert Saunooke, Jose Canseco

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Say it ain't so, Rafael.  Superstar Palmeiro gets caught in a drug test.  Jose Canseco speaks out. 

Let's play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I am Chris Matthews. 

Before the baseball season officially opened in April, some high-profile boys of summer made an appearance in Washington, testifying before Congress on steroid use in Major League Baseball.  One of those was Rafael Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAFAEL PALMEIRO, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER:   I have never used steroids.  Period.  I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.  Never.  The reference to me in Mr. Canseco's book is absolutely false.  I am against the use of steroids.  I don't think athletes should use steroids and I don't think our kids should use them.  That point of view is one, unfortunately, is one that is not shared by our former colleague, Jose Canseco.

Mr. Canseco is an unashamed advocate for increased steroid use by all athletes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS.  Despite his denials, Rafael Palmeiro was suspended this Monday for 10 days for violating Major League Baseball's steroid policy. 

Jose Canseco in his book “Juiced, Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big” wrote he helped Palmeiro inject himself with steroids. 

Canseco joins us now from Los Angeles, along with his attorney, Robert Saunooke, who is in Miami.

Mr. Canseco, do you stand by your book?

JOSE CANSECO, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER:  Absolutely, 100 percent.

MATTHEWS:  Are you surprised that Mr. Palmeiro has been tested positive for steroid use?

CANSECO:  I am not surprised, because, even if Palmeiro has not used steroids of late, steroids tend to, depending on how long you've used them, what type of steroids you've actually used and what other steroids you've mixed them with, oral-based or water based, seem to have a very stubborn metabolite that lasts in the system a very long time.

For example, if an individual takes steroids four or five years ago in the actual past, it could show up in drug testing today.

MATTHEWS:  How did you learn that?  How do we know about how long a steroid stays in your system, Jose?

CANSECO:  Well, we know that it stays in your system a very long time.  We don't know exactly how long it stays in your system.  For example, I was caught under the same situation, where I was under house arrest.  I was then tested for steroids and a metabolite was found in my system.  I was incarcerated for almost four months before they realized that they had no evidence and then set me free.

We then started investigating, trying to find out if there has been any information or any experimentation on how long the metabolite from a steroid lasts in your system.  Some are so strong that they actually mimic the actual steroid itself.  And there is no information on it.

MATTHEWS:  Is there any other way to take steroids besides injection?  You say in your book you helped Rafael inject himself and learn how to do it.  Is there any other way to get that steroid impact in the sport, except injecting it?

CANSECO:  Well, there are orals, also.  There are oral-based injections...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are they as good?  Are they as effective?

CANSECO:  They all work in different ways.  And they all have different timing release mechanisms to them.  They all last in the system pretty much a very long time.  And there hasn't been that much information on what steroids really do to the body and especially for a prolonged period of time.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Most people are—or most people try not to inject themselves—they don't like needles.  They prefer to take something orally.  Why did you choose the injection method, rather than oral method, if one's not better than the other?

CANSECO:  Well, the oral method has to go through the digestive tract, which actually weakens the actual steroid and goes through your liver twice. 

MATTHEWS:  I see.

CANSECO:  The injectable goes right into the bloodstream and becomes active almost instantly, depending on what steroid you're actually using.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the heat.  Did you take heat after you testified that you had used steroids and in fact you'd watched Palmeiro use them?

CANSECO:  I took a lot of heat when the book first came out.  Nobody believed that it was the truth.

But, definitely, if you look at the timing of it all, it seemed like Congress knew this book was coming out.  Congress waited to see what the content of the book “Juiced” were to actually take action.

Once they read the book, they saw that some of the contents actually matched what their investigation had said in the past.  Certain FBI individuals have been investigating Major League Baseball for, I think, 10 years now.  Congress took action once they saw the combinations matched.

MATTHEWS:  You know, there has been a lot of famous whistle-blowers in recent American history, the guy who talked about the tobacco industry juicing up tobacco to create more of a sensation among smokers, more addictive, of course.  There's John Dean, who testified against Richard Nixon in the Watergate case.  They were all vindicated to a large extent, in fact, vindicated.  Let me be blunt.  Do you feel vindicated in baseball, MLB?

CANSECO:  Well, I want people to understand—I have said this many times—my attack was never on these athletes.  I respect these athletes greatly.

What I needed was one of these athletes who I named in the actual book who are well-known individuals to come forth and say, you know what, what Jose is saying is 100 percent true.  My major attack and my only attack was on Major League Baseball and the Players Association.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CANSECO:  Because I think that they ought to be, you know, exploited and found out for the corrupt methods they use, for letting steroids in the game, for endorsing steroids in the game of baseball.

Now, all of a sudden, you know, Bud Selig says:  I don't know anything about it.  I never saw anything. 

That's ridiculous.  It's the biggest ongoing joke on the planet right now.

MATTHEWS:  Is a 10-day suspension, like Palmeiro just got nailed with for testing positive for steroids, is that a serious sanction among big league players, with the salaries they draw?

CANSECO:  Well, let's go a little bit, you know, reverse on this, in the sense of you have to be careful now, because these sanctions may be too extreme.  For example, if Palmeiro is abiding by the rules, if Palmeiro is not using steroids right now and a metabolite has been found in his system, he's found guilty, which makes—which makes no sense.       

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But that's his fault.  Isn't that his fault, Jose?  If he said before he never, ever used steroids, then he tests positive, and then he says, oh, that's from a previous drug use, that's his contradiction that he created, isn't it?

CANSECO:  Well, it's a contradiction on one subject matter, on one time frame and not on another.  There are going to be many athletes who, once this drug testing program was instituted, are going to be found guilty.  Their urine sample is going to come out positive, because there will be strong metabolites.

MATTHEWS:  But why don't they just say...

(CROSSTALK)

CANSECO:  But that doesn't mean they're not abiding by the rules.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I don't want to interrupt you again.

(CROSSTALK)

CANSECO:  But that doesn't mean they're not abiding by the rules.

MATTHEWS:  But why don't they admit they broke the rules before, so the new drug test will be found to be positive because of previous use?  Then they won't be nailed again.

CANSECO:  It's very simple.  They don't have enough information, enough knowledge on how long a metabolite lasts in an athlete's system.

MATTHEWS:  I see. 

Let me ask you, is there any way to get the—we were talking about use of steroids and how you use them.  You use them orally, but most players, I think you were suggesting, use them through injection.  Is there any other way to get steroids into your system?

In other words, when Jose Canseco says this week in his defense he didn't take steroids intentionally, is there any other way—Palmeiro, rather, Palmeiro—is there any other way to take them than intentionally?

CANSECO:  Well, lately, in the last I think two or three years, they've come out with these patches that actually you put on your skin, and it seeps through and into the blood system, which is a very weak form of an actual steroid.  And that definitely works, but you have to administer it so many times.  It's just incredible.

MATTHEWS:  But that's intentional.

CANSECO:  I truly believe every professional athlete, especially elite athletes, with the moneys that they're making nowadays, you know, $5, $10, $15, $25 million a year, knows exactly what, you know, is going into their body.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go—let me go to Mr. Saunooke. 

Rob, thank you for joining us as well.  You're an attorney.  Of course, you're the attorney in this case for Mr. Canseco.  

What do you make of this as a lawyer to watch the testimony of your client before the American public?  And, as he said, he took a lot of heat, I'm sure, from the other players for that.  He tells the truth.  He's a whistle-blower, a truth teller.

At the same time, Mr. Palmeiro, Rafael Palmeiro, the big star who's got the, you know, the 3,000 runs and the 500 home runs—or 3,000 hits and 500 runs—here's this guy saying:  No way.  No way did I ever.

You're the judge in the case.  How do you judge it?

ROB SAUNOOKE, ATTORNEY FOR CANSECO:  Well, that's going to be a difficult problem for everyone.  Perjury and lying under oath is a very difficult case to prove.  It's basically he said/she said.

What Rafael Palmeiro's even attorneys, Mr. Angelos written us letters, threatening to sue us, threatening that we had blasphemed, we had basically destroyed and tarnished and slandered his name.  They never made good on that threat, and now maybe we see why.

The bigger question is going to be for these new athletes who are now being tested—and Jose hit on it briefly—because we don't know about the steroids, and today Rafael is clean, yet, it would be nice if he had come clean to Congress.  It would be nice if he came clean before.

But the system was in place that allowed these athletes to take drugs that were not banned.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is your client—is your client vindicated here by the news this week that Rafael Palmeiro has been suspended for 10 days?  Does that vindicate your client's testimony before the U.S. Congress?

SAUNOOKE:  I think that's the nail in the coffin.  I mean, he was vindicated when, you know, Fay Vincent came out and said he knew about it and Jeremy Giambi came out and said he did steroids.  He was vindicated a number of times over.

We're still waiting for those letters from all the reporters in the press and Mr. Angelos saying, hey, I'm sorry we spoke ill of you.

Those aren't going to come.

I think Rafael just becomes the nail in the coffin of this issue.          

MATTHEWS:  Yes, oftentimes, the whistle-blower does not get a warm public reaction to the truth, because the truth hurts.

Jose Canseco and Robert Saunooke will be joining us—staying with us.  And when we come back, we'll be joined by a man whose own son committed suicide after using steroids.

And later in this program tonight on HARDBALL, a Bible course becomes a test for public schools in Texas. 

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, so what will it take to get steroids out of pro baseball?  And can Congress do anything about it? 

More with former slugger Jose Canseco when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We're back with Jose Canseco and his attorney, Robert Saunooke. 

And we're joined right now by a man who knows the effects of steroid use first hand.  Ray Garibaldi lost his son Rob, a University of Southern California baseball player, who committed suicide while on steroids.      

Let me ask you this, Ray.  We've got a couple things developing this

week.  Jose Canseco had said back in April that Rafael Palmeiri—Palmeiro

·         had used drugs.  In fact, he had injected him with steroids himself.  We had later testimony by Mr. Palmeiro denying it completely, ever, ever having used steroids.

And now we have a drug test this week, that—apparently him has suspended him for 10 days for having used steroids, because it's in his system.

And now we get the president of the United States on top of it all yesterday, saying he believes Palmeiro that he never used drugs.  How does this affect the public's understanding of the drug problem in baseball?

RAY GARIBALDI, SON COMMITTED SUICIDE ON STEROIDS:  Well, I think the president made a big mistake by even saying anything about that. 

I mean, he's the one in a State of the Union address that wanted baseball to clean up its act.  And defending a player that's been accused, I think, it's—it's wrong.

I believe that Rafael Palmeiro disappointed all of us.  I really thought in his testimony that he was—that he was telling the truth.  And this—all this news, really, I find very disturbing.

MATTHEWS:  What's going on right now in college baseball and the other

·         in the minors, where people are killing themselves to make the bigs? 

Are they using drugs?

GARIBALDI:  Well, I can say this, that when my son was involved playing baseball at that level, that was going on at a high level.  You had the influence from Major League Baseball through their scouting system, trying to set profiles of what they want for players.  And that all gets carried down to college and all the way down to high school.

MATTHEWS:  How hard is it to get, Ray, right now?  If you want to inject yourself with steroids to make it in college ball, for example, coming up next season, how hard is it to get ahold of the drugs to inject yourself with to build your body up?

GARIBALDI:  Well, you just go on the Internet, and you'll probably see about 3,000 sites.  Or just go right across the border, spend about one hour, spend $100 for a prescription.  Go to a pharmacy, pick it up and you can be across the border, like I said, within 60 minutes.

MATTHEWS:  Seriously now, tragically now, what do you think the message is from MLB, Major League Baseball, right now, given the failure of the drug test by Mr. Palmeiro, a superstar in the business, to pass a drug test?  What is the message to kids out there that you know about?

CANSECO:  Well, I think it was just mentioned now that the president saying, I believe Rafael Palmeiro.

After I spoke about that in my book, that I personally injected him, now he failed a drug test.  That just shows the craziness in politics.  How can you say, I believe Palmeiro?  That's—that's ridiculous.  That's sending a bad signal in and of itself.  So, again, I am a liar; Palmeiro is telling the truth; even though Palmeiro never sued me for telling the truth and even though now his drug testing has come out positive.

I just don't understand it.  It's just baffling to me.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the president talks almost—and I know the president never wants to be identified with being a typical Washingtonian, but his lingo here sounds like a lobbyist.  He says, he's a friend.  He's testified in public and I believe. 

That, by the way, is Washington lingo.  He's a friend, that very language.  You don't even say my friend.  You say a friend.  In other words, I know him.  I am therefore going to defend him.  That's how influence works in this city.

Do you think the president is simply defending a guy because he is an associate and not because he truly believes him?

CANSECO:  I don't know.  I—the statement to me from a president of the United States is just phenomenal, really not knowing what really went on, not doing investigations on the actual drug testing that came out positive. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CANSECO:  I am in total awe.  Total awe.

MATTHEWS:  Well, like a lot of the rest of us, this president has been wrong before about big facts.

Joining us now is former “Baltimore Sun” columnist Peter Schmuck. 

Peter, what do you make of this?  The president of the United States has gotten involved with this, saying he thinks—in fact, he states as a fact, “I believe this guy,” Raf Palmeiro.  Of course, he flunked a drug test.  Palmeiro, in his defense, says, I didn't take steroids intentionally. 

I don't know how you would inject yourself accidentally or drop some of this drug orally without knowing you did it.  And there's the other argument he may have taken some food additives that somehow creates the same symptoms. 

Where are you on this, Ray?

PETER SCHMUCK, COLUMNIST, “THE BALTIMORE SUN”:  Well, what you have here is a situation where all of the eight players, or the seven players going into Palmeiro's positive drug test making the same claim, which is, I did it accidentally; I did it unwittingly. 

Barry Bonds said the same thing about the clear and the cream.  It is a convenient excuse.  It is hard to disprove 100 percent, and that's why they use it.

MATTHEWS:  Is this what a defendant says when they're caught?  I mean, everybody who knows anything about criminal justice knows that, no matter how bad the case looks for the defendant, he or she will come up with something, like, the guy told me to pick up the car.  In other words, it's a grand theft auto situation.  Somebody always has an excuse.  You have to have an excuse, because that's the way the game is played. 

Is this gamesmanship on the part of Palmeiro, simply to say, I didn't do it intentionally, knowing at least the fans, his superfans, will believe him up in Baltimore?

SCHMUCK:  Well, it could be, because people will want to believe him. 

He's a very likable character, Chris. 

But this is a situation where there is a tiny bit of plausible deniability, because there are instances of contamination with certain over-the-counter products.  And there have been past instances of false positives.  But the chances of that are very, very slim.

MATTHEWS:  In other words, you're saying Major League Baseball has a lousy test, because it doesn't work, because, if all it proves is that you took food additives, it's doesn't prove anything.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHMUCK:  Well, I think that it's going to be cast that way by anyone who's caught in the net.  But the fact remains that Rafael Palmeiro tested positive.  He's going to serve his suspension. 

To some extent, Jose Canseco gets a measure of vindication.  But you know what, Chris?  Keep in mind that Jose Canseco gleefully admitted that he was one of the guys that started this scandal. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SCHMUCK:  And he gives this account in his book of injecting several young players and introducing them to steroids.  And, quite frankly, I don't care about vindication.  That makes him a glorified drug pusher in Major League clubhouses. 

And I don't know why we're sitting around here trying to find a way to make him look good here, because he doesn't.

MATTHEWS:  Well, because, in the parlance of politics, the whistle-blower does get a break, because the whistle-blower, whether it's John Dean or whoever else, or the guy who worked for the tobacco industry, ends up stopping to do the bad thing, and encourages other people not to do the bad thing again. 

That's the way we look at it in journalism.  You catch the guy.  He admits he did it, or he comes clean himself, and the problem begins to erode, rather than to continue to blossom.  Isn't that the case?

SCHMUCK:  But Jose did—but Jose did not come clean.  He says in his book that this is the wave of the future.  He's in favor of it. 

Until he got to the Senate hearing—and I sat seven—the congressional hearing, I sat seven feet from him.  Until he heard the stories, the tragic stories of these parents who lost their kids, when he heard that, he started recanting a whole bunch of that book.

So, he's not 100 percent behind the book.  He's 100 percent behind certain accusations in the book, which, I can say, have turned out to be true.

MATTHEWS:  major that's certainly the case.

Jose, do you want to respond to this by—what Peter said?

SAUNOOKE:  I'd like to respond to the personal attack.

CANSECO:  I think—I think Pete...

SAUNOOKE:  Go ahead.

CANSECO:  Go ahead.

SAUNOOKE:  Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

SAUNOOKE:  You know, quite honestly, it's funny how that Jose Canseco is not being again defended, but here is a Baltimore Orioles reporter, a Baltimore reporter defending his team, and again, sweeping...

SCHMUCK:  I'm not defending anybody.

SAUNOOKE: ...like baseball does. 

You're sweeping, just like baseball does.  Mr. Garibaldi is sitting here trying to figure out why the president of the United States and baseball still cannot come out and say there's a problem, and yet Jose is still—keep putting the focus on Jose, not on the problem.  The problem is, there are steroids in baseball.  They're still rampant.  They're still out there. 

And until we start taking actions, until baseball admits it—that means the owners, the managers, the minor league players—until they admit it and they come out, even these great heroes—Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, who have not been honest—until they have the bravery, as Jose did, to stand up and take the attacks that you guys have placed on him, in my eyes, they are no better than what you're classifying Jose as.  They're not heroes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  All our guests—all our guests are coming back and will be back with us in just a moment. 

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We're back with former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco, his attorney, Robert Saunooke.  Also with us, Ray Garibaldi, whose son, Rob, killed himself after using steroids, and “Baltimore Sun” columnist Peter Schmuck.

Peter, do you think an athlete, a major league ballplayer that was tested positive for drugs, for steroid use, an established cheater, you might say, should be eligible for the Hall of Fame?

SCHMUCK:  Well, yes, I do believe they should eligible for the Hall of Fame, meaning that they should be on the ballot and it should be decided by the people who have traditionally decided it, and that's the 500 or so experienced members of the Baseball Writers Association, who have, you know, voted on this for years and years.

MATTHEWS:  If you were voting, and you would be, would you vote to put in somebody into the hall who has tested positive for drugs, for steroids, for cheating in the game?

SCHMUCK:  I've been asked this several times.  I am a qualified Hall of Fame voter.  Our paper, by the way, does not allow us to vote on awards, but I think...

MATTHEWS:  But we do.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHMUCK:  I think that, you know, six years down the line, when Rafael Palmeiro becomes eligible, I suspect that I would not vote for him on the first ballot, but I might vote for him on subsequent ballots.

MATTHEWS:  Okay, let me go—let me go to Jose on that question.

You're an established veteran ballplayer.  Do you think somebody like that should make it into the hall if they have tested positive for cheating, basically?

CANSECO:  Absolutely. 

I'll tell you the reasons why.  Number one, if you're going to not test everyone, and you're just going to test a certain few, maybe the elite athletes, you know, it's impossible to tell, first of all, if Palmeiro, which I don't believe right now—and I'll say it again.  I do not believe right now that Rafael Palmeiro is taking steroids, not right now.

MATTHEWS:  Right now.

CANSECO:  He's got way too much to lose. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CANSECO:  What I do believe is that a metabolite from the past has shown up in his system, a very stubborn one has shown up in his system, that kind of mimics a steroid.

So there are no expertise.  There are no long-term testing on how long these metabolites last in your system.  I know for myself because I was incarcerated for four months because I was under probation and a metabolite of a steroid was found in my system.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Let me go to Ray...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We only have a second here.

Ray Garibaldi, you lost a son, Rob, to this.  Do you think it should happen, that the hall should accept—that the sports writers should name somebody to the Hall of Fame who's tested positive, as is the case here with Rafael Palmeiro, for steroid use?

GARIBALDI:  No, I don't. 

I mean, if you look at what the criteria is for a player going into—being inducted into the Hall of Fame, it's not only their ability and what their statistics were during their career, but it's integrity and their—and how they played the game, with, you know, integrity. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

GARIBALDI:  And I think that's an important part of the whole thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So cheating is as bad as gambling?  It's another form of gambling, cheating?

GARIBALDI:  Right, right.  Right.  Well, yes, in that case, why isn't Pete Rose in?

MATTHEWS:  Exactly the reason.

GARIBALDI:  I mean, it's the same thing.

MATTHEWS:  Integrity, yes.  He still can't tell the truth. 

Anyway, thank you very much, Jose Canseco, Rob Saunooke, Peter Schmuck and Ray Garibaldi.

Up next, the fight for separation of church and state heats up again, this time a victory for a group pushing to include Bible in public school curriculums down in Texas.  They say the course simply uses the Bible as a foundation document of society, kind of an historic document.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

A course based on the Bible, which is used in 37 states, is the latest front in the culture wars.  In April of this year, the school board in Odessa, Texas, voted to add the elective high school Bible as literature course to its curriculum.  Supporters say it's valuable as a literature class.  Opponents say it teaches a narrow brand of Christianity and gets historic facts wrong.  So, is it teaching fact or fiction—rather, fact or faith? 

Mike Johnson is a lawyer for the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which provides the curriculum for the proposed course in Odessa, Texas.  And Kathy Miller is the president of a group called the Texas Freedom Network, a group heading up—that is heading up the protest against the proposed Bible course. 

Kathy Miller, what's wrong with teaching the Bible as literature? 

KATHY MILLER, TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK:  There's absolutely nothing wrong with teaching the Bible as literature.  This curriculum does not do that.  This curriculum teaches a particular narrow perspective of faith, and it does so with a lot of errors. 

MATTHEWS:  Like what?  Give them some. 

MILLER:  Well, we can start with the sectarian nature.  It begins by saying that the Bible is the Old and New Testament, which is not what people of the Jewish faith believe.  It goes on to say that the Old Testament is comprised of 39 books, which is not what Catholics believe.

So, we have already narrowed out a large number of folks of faith in our country. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But everybody I know who is Jewish or Catholic or any Christian group knows there's an Old Testament and there's a New Testament.  Everybody knows that the Old Testament is generally believed in by Jewish people, and the New Testament believed in—is believed in by Christians, who also believe in the Old Testament.

Everybody knows everything you just said.  What is wrong with saying it in school? 

MILLER:  There is nothing wrong with saying it in school, so long as you are saying it in the way that you just did, Chris, which is to say, people of the Jewish faith don't believe this, but it is what is commonly understood by Chr—Christians.  Excuse me.

Instead of saying Christians believe in the Old and New Testament of the Bible, this curriculum says, the Bible is the Old and New Testament.  The reason it's sectarian is that it takes a statement of faith and presents it as fact.  That belongs in a Sunday school, not in a public school. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go over to Mike Johnson. 

Your rebuttal, your defense of your program as a secular program fit for public school. 

MICHAEL JOHNSON, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON BIBLE CURRICULUM IN PUBLIC

SCHOOLS:  That's right. 

Everything Kathy said is wrong, Chris.  The teachers of this course do it exactly as you just said.  They are trained and they are told the legal parameters.  The Supreme Court has said the Bible is worthy of its study for literary and historic qualities, as long as you present it objectively as part of the secular program of education. 

That's exactly what the National Council's curriculum does.  They have taken Kathy's group, as—they have a different political agenda here. 

MILLER:  No, I'm sorry. 

JOHNSON:  They have taken little excerpts out of the curriculum and they've taken them out of context. 

If you looked at another part of the curriculum, it would give equal treatment to the Jewish traditions, the Catholic traditions and everyone else's. 

MILLER:  That is not the case. 

JOHNSON:  This is a survey of the Bible.  It's not a Protestant course, as she said. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Kathy.

MILLER:  This curriculum, a Biblical scholar from Southern Methodist University reviewed this curriculum and found all of the errors that I have mentioned and dozens and dozens more. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, which errors have you mentioned?  You haven't mentioned any errors yet, as far as I know.  Tell me what errors you mentioned.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  Chris.  Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I want her to go. 

MILLER:  I'm sorry. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go with the errors. 

MILLER:  OK.  The book spells Hanukkah three different ways in three different places in the text. 

MATTHEWS:  So what?  So what? 

MILLER:  Well, I mean, we have a certain minimum standard of academic rigor we look for in any curriculum that is taught in the public schools. 

We wouldn't accept a formula in geometry to look different in three different places in a geometry text book.  It shouldn't be different in a textbook on the Bible. 

JOHNSON:  Chris...

MILLER:  Nor would we accept...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is that the main error you have come here to describe, that it doesn't spell Hanukkah consistently? 

MILLER:  Oh, my goodness, no.  Oh, my goodness, no. 

JOHNSON:  That's exactly what it is. 

MILLER:  They use creation science to—as the foundation of science in the Bible. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, give me another error.  Give me another error, Kathy. 

I am giving you plenty of time.  Take all the time you want.

MILLER:  I'm sorry? 

MATTHEWS:  Give me another—give me the biggest error in the book, the Bible studies program, the biggest one you got. 

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  The biggest error in the book is the fact that pages and pages are lifted verbatim from questionable sources with little or no citations. 

MATTHEWS:  Like what? 

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  Like what?  There are entire sections on art history in the book that you could find on artontheweb.com, and if you read them paragraph by paragraph, they would be matched exactly in the curriculum, with absolutely no citation of that.  That's a huge problem. 

JOHNSON:  Chris, if I might jump in here. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is that an error?  Help me out.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  We wouldn't that accept that—we wouldn't that accept that in a high school term paper. 

MATTHEWS:  What's the error?  What's the error?  I'm sorry, Kathy.  I missed it.  What's the error here?

MILLER:  That's an academic error. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You mentioned the misspellings.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  I'm sorry.  That's an academic error.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Just tell me, what's the error here?  Describe it.

MILLER:  I'm sorry.  If you want to talk about the errors...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  There is none, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  ... that we elevate to scholarship, we elevate to scholarship a man named Dr. Kinnaman...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

MILLER:  ... who, in order to prove claims that are sectarian about the inerrancy of the Bible and historicity of the Bible...

JOHNSON:  Chris...

MILLER:  ... they elevate this man.  They call him a respected scholar.  This is the same person who claimed to have found a secret entrance to the Great Pyramid of Giza...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  Chris, can I jump in here and explain what's going on? 

MILLER:  ... and found documentation of the lost city of Atlantis, lost civilization of Atlantis? 

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  Chris.  Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Mike Johnson.  Mike Johnson.

MILLER:  This is really crazy. 

JOHNSON:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Your turn, Mike Johnson.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is there any validity to these...

JOHNSON:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me just ask you this.  Do you honestly say here that this study program is not proselytizing? 

JOHNSON:  It is not proselytizing.  It is to educate and not indoctrinate, present and not proselytize. 

Kathy has just illustrated they have no gripe with this curriculum. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let's imagine...

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER:  We have lots of problems with this curriculum. 

MATTHEWS:  Let's imagine, which is not hard to imagine today in America, neither Jewish or Christian.  Suppose you are an agnostic.  Suppose you are an atheist.  Suppose you are some other religion.

JOHNSON:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  An Eastern religion, for example. 

JOHNSON:  Sure.  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  What good would this course do you?  And could it—how do you assume that it wouldn't offend somebody to have to sit through it?  I know it's an elective course. 

JOHNSON:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  But, if you took it, why would it help you?

JOHNSON:  It's elective. 

Well, you have to—“The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” by E.D.  Hirsch says no one can call themselves an educated American unless they have basic foundational understanding of the Bible.  How can you understand basic references in our culture without an understanding of the most widely read and widely published book in all of history?  When we censor it from the classroom, we rob students of a complete education. 

MILLER:  We have no issue with the Bible in the classroom.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  Kathy, you have had your time. 

MILLER:  We are not trying to censor it.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  How can a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have to get out of here. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Kathy, Kathy, you lost the argument. 

Michael, you won the argument this time. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Up next, President Bush says intelligence design should be taught alongside evolution, plus, the latest on the CIA leak case.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, President Bush says he believes schools should discuss intelligence design alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.  How will that play politically? 

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Margaret Carlson is editor at large of “The Week” magazine and a columnist with “The Los Angeles Times.”  Tony Blankley is the editorial page editor of “The Washington Times.”

Let's go through a number of things the president of the United States, George W. Bush, has said in the last 24 hours or so. 

First of all, Margaret, do you think it's smart of the president, on a way to five-week vacation, to defend Karl Rove in the leaking investigation? 

MARGARET CARLSON, EDITOR AT LARGE, “THE WEEK”:  Well, he said complete confidence.  I thought confidence might have been enough. 

You know, a lot could happen in that period of time, and it seemed unnecessary because he has already done what he needed to do to show support for Karl Rove without doing it again right now. 

MATTHEWS:  We don't know, Tony, whether he ever asked Karl Rove if he leaked this information, do we? 

TONY BLANKLEY, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”:  We don't know anything about... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  All we know is, the president says he has confidence in his number one political guy. 

BLANKLEY:  Yes.

I mean, my sense is, it could either be a placeholder statement, a

perfectly reasonable one, if he doesn't know all the facts.  Or, if he has

a hunch about where the facts are and is comfortable with it, it could be -

·         reflect a more final conclusion.  We don't know which one of those it is. 

Either one would be plausible at this point. 

MATTHEWS:  And there's no way the president could know right now?  Well, I'm—I guess I am defending him—whether anybody told or didn't tell the truth to the special prosecutor. 

CARLSON:  Well, two years ago, he could have just walked across the hall and asked Karl Rove.  He said he wanted to know, he wanted to get to the bottom of it.  He did not.  I doubt that he has done it since then. 

BLANKLEY:  Well, just one point on that.  There's a tremendous danger at the beginning of an investigation of improprieties in a White House for anyone to start talking to each other, because, suddenly, you get very closely into obstruction and manipulating of evidence.

So, prudence would suggest, based on prior conduct in other White Houses, the president needs to talk to nobody about it. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.   

BLANKLEY:  Or risk being charged after the fact. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And especially tricky...

CARLSON:  But he—he wanted to know before that, Tony, before there was an investigation. 

MATTHEWS:  How does the president go to the vice president and say, how about your chief of staff; was he one of the leakers?  That's a tough one. 

CARLSON:  Well, he could have forestalled the investigation by actually just asking a few questions. 

MATTHEWS:  How could he have forestalled it?  Wouldn't there have still been a criminal action involving a leak of the undercover status of a CIA agent?

CARLSON:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn't there still be a crime, even if the president was the one who caught the bad guy? 

CARLSON:  Right.  But before the—Tony says you can't do anything once there's an investigation, but there was an opportunity to find out before there was...

BLANKLEY:  No, I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... and do the proper thing, which was to—to get rid of them.

MATTHEWS:  Margaret, do you think the president of the United States was the guy who fingered Joe Wilson and his wife and said, nail these people; expose them; hurt them?

CARLSON:  I don't know, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  See, we don't know. 

BLANKLEY:  Look, we don't know anything.

But, remember, in Iran-Contra, the Tower Commission—Tower, was it?

·         we had somebody come in.  I guess Howard Baker came in to oversee an investigation first.  And then, after that, the prosecutors got in.  It doesn't matter what you do internally.  At some point, the public—we're going to—the media is going to demand an independent counsel.  That's been the history for the last 20 years. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Will the president of the United States dump anybody in his staff who is indicted and is charged? 

BLANKLEY:  I would assume he would.  He ought to.

MATTHEWS:  Do you assume so, Margaret?  They go if they're indicted? 

CARLSON:  I do.  I do. 

MATTHEWS:  Will they be—will they go if they are named in a statement issued by the prosecutor that suggests wrongdoing without the evidence of a crime? 

CARLSON:  I would think, if the prosecutor fingers somebody in the White House that's been involved in a two-year investigation that's resulted in a lot of misery for a lot of people, I would think, yes, the president would—would...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Even without an indictment?

CARLSON:  Even without an indictment. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the president getting involved in another hot subject.  That's, of course, the question of church and state. 

You know, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar, that sort of issue we're always involved in, in this country.  And that's whether the Texas school system or any school system should be teaching Bible studies and whether those Bible studies are equivalent to a history course. 

Now, here's the particular thing the president got involved in.  He said he supports the teaching of what's called intelligence design, in other words, the notion that there's an—sort of an unseen hand by God in all the stages of evolution.  It wasn't just a bunch of accidents, a bunch of cases where the monkey typed “Merry Christmas” by complete chance. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What's wrong—well, I know you think it's funny, but that is the issue, Margaret.

CARLSON:  Right.  I know.

MATTHEWS:  Was there some sort of design behind the whole creation that led to us sitting here right now, or was it somebody, some crazy, chaotic system that led to the existence of this planet and our lives?

CARLSON:  Chris, I just like the way you...

MATTHEWS:  Is that wrong, for the president to say that?

CARLSON:  I just like the way you put it. 

Well, you know, we studied the Baltimore Catechism when we were in school, Chris.  And I remember, all the Protestant kids went off to art class.

MATTHEWS:  Yes?

CARLSON:  And we stayed behind. 

But, in public school, you are supposed to get that in Sunday school as a separate thing, because, in fact, you are not supposed to have it. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I don't see it as a big problem if, you know, it's referenced in school.  But if there's a whole course about it, it would strike me as too much. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

So, Margaret, you think it's wrong—it's OK of public schools to teach the idea that our very existence, the very existence of all this chatter we get involved in, everything in our lives, parents, children, everything, is all one big accident of a big bang theory?  That's OK to teach that?  Don't teach there might be some design behind all this?

CARLSON:  No. 

I think that you should say, yes, this is—this is possible, but spending a whole course teaching something on which there's that much disagreement among the religions of the world... 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Tony, are you with diversity in this?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe the president is right in saying we should hear different views on this? 

BLANKLEY:  I am not the right guy to make this argument in this show, because I happen to think that science classes should teach science. 

If there are lacunas, if there are gaps in the knowledge of science, you say there are gaps in knowledge.  You can study the validity of the theory of evolution or nanotechnology or anything else you want.  But to fill it in by saying, but, oh, it might be God, strikes me as ultra vires of public schools. 

MATTHEWS:  It's what? 

BLANKLEY:  Ultra vires, beyond the responsibility... 

MATTHEWS:  Beyond the ken of the schools. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Good Latin, Tony.

BLANKLEY:  But I don't represent—I don't represent...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me find something close now, Margaret, where—let me ask you, Margaret, do you think the president should have weighed in?  And he more definitely defended Raf Palmeiro than he did defend Raf—

Raf—Rafael Palmeiro than he did Karl Rove.  But the president said the guy is innocent.  He said, I believe him.  He didn't use drugs. 

CARLSON:  I—you know, that was one of those gratuitous things, where you say, why in the world would he take a position on this?  Well, he knew the guy because he was a Texas Ranger.

But all the evidence says the guy went before Congress and lied, jabbing his finger. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Why you would get involved in that fight against Jose Canseco... 

MATTHEWS:  Why is the president behaving like Professor Irwin Corey, you know, the world's greatest authority? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  It seems like he is speaking out on everything. 

(LAUGHTER)

BLANKLEY:  Well, you know, look, as far as the baseball business, he loves baseball. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure. 

BLANKLEY:  I assume...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He ran the Rangers. 

BLANKLEY:  I assume this was not scripted.  And he just loves, admires baseball players, I assume, and said, he must be telling the truth. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  God, baseball, and Karl Rove all in one day. 

(LAUGHTER)

BLANKLEY:  I don't think there's a political angle—I don't think there's a political angle on this story. 

MATTHEWS:  I—OK.  Well, we always look for that, though.

Anyway, Margaret is going to be leaving. 

Margaret, my friend, thanks for joining us. 

CARLSON:  Hey, thanks, Chris.  

MATTHEWS:  We did take the Baltimore Catechism.

And I still believe it, dear.

Thank you, Margaret, my friend.

Tony is staying with us. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We're back with Tony Blankley from “The Washington Times.” 

He's editorial page editor.

Tony, you're—you're editorializing on this all the time and here in Washington. 

BLANKLEY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And the question is, is John Roberts going to win this nomination?  He's going to get confirmed as a Supreme Court justice? 

BLANKLEY:  Unless something completely unforeseen happens, it looks like it is going to be a very solid passage. 

MATTHEWS:  The case against him that is developing is incremental and it's kind of sundry.  It pointing to various examples where he's a conservative on issues like civil rights, Title IX.  Does that add up to a mortal sin in the parlance of Supreme Court confirmation? 

BLANKLEY:  Well, it may for 20 or 25 liberal Democratic senators.  I don't think it—clearly, it's not going to for 55 Republicans.  And my guess is that there's another 15, 20, 25 Democrats there who will not find that to be a mortal or venal sin, to be a conservative.

And for everything I can, along with everybody else, tell of the record, there is nothing there that—that—that—that would seem to be useful for—for the liberals. 

MATTHEWS:  If Ronald Reagan were a nominee for the Supreme Court today, based upon his well-known record on issues, every one we've talked about, would he have a problem with 25 Democrats being confirmed to the Supreme Court, at least? 

BLANKLEY:  Well, I mean, he—he expressed himself more specifically on more issues.  So, if that's the theory, yes, probably would. 

I mean, interestingly, if you think of the sequence of—chronology for—for Roberts, he was just out of law school in the late '70s.  He was a still young lawyer when Bork came along.  So, he may be the first nominee who has gone to school on the Bork experience.

MATTHEWS:  Not being Bork.

BLANKLEY:  And may have had an entire career now for 15 years carefully not being—being un-Borkable.  So, we don't know which way he's going, as far as his ideology. 

My sense is, if we know much, it's certainly that he's going to have a constricted view of the interstate commerce clause, which is a fairly substantial deal for—for a lot of people.  Beyond that, we know his general...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, would he have—would he have given positive review to the Civil Rights Act of '64, John Roberts? 

BLANKLEY:  Sixty-four? 

MATTHEWS:  Would he have accepted—would he have accepted the interstate commerce clause argument for the—for the right of Congress to pass a civil rights bill? 

(CROSSTALK)

BLANKLEY:  I haven't seen anything he wrote on the commerce clause related to the civil rights, so I don't know. 

MATTHEWS:  Because, of course, that was the argument.

BLANKLEY:  Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me try something by you.  He reminds you of the two—the two performances of—as Thomas More in “A Man For All Seasons.”

The first part of the movie, three-quarters of the movie, he basically hooded his position on whether the king should get a divorce or not and get remarried.  And then, at the end, when he knew he was going to get his head cut off, he said, all right damn it, I'm going to tell you what I really think. 

BLANKLEY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  This is about the divorce, OK, and you guys are fine. 

Is this guy, John Roberts, still in that first three-quarters stage, able to say, look, I'm going to hide?

BLANKLEY:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He's not going to be Borked? 

BLANKLEY:  I think so. 

And we'll have to see how they play it.  But he's a very shrewd talker.  He's—he—and—and he's not going to get outtalked by Schumer or anyone else.  He can stand his ground.  He's thought through intellectually, I'm sure, how he's going to deal with all of the questions that are likely to come at him.  I don't think are going to be able to corner him rhetorically.

And so, they'll just have their exchange back and forth and, at some point, the five minutes for Schumer will be over and it will be on to Hatch. 

MATTHEWS:  If you were him and the people on the left, or the liberal side of things, the Democrats started hammering him on his Roman Catholicism and said, how will that influence your judgment as a member of the Supreme Court, what would you answer?

BLANKLEY:  I would say that the Constitution says there is no religious test.

And the specific reason there is no religious test is because, in England at the time, a Catholic could not hold office.  And so, when our founding fathers wrote our Constitution, they said, there shall be no religious test.  And I would throw that right back in their face. 

I mean, the idea that we can have a religious test, even back door, by saying, well, we're not saying it's because of your religion, but because of your religious beliefs, now let's go through your dogma and your theology and figure out whether being a Catholic qualifies you...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BLANKLEY:  ... or being a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu, it is appalling. 

And it's bigotry.  And I think it should be called as such.

And I would suspect—I don't know, but I would suspect that Roberts would be pretty firm on something like that. 

MATTHEWS:  I've been told by someone who knows that Judge Thomas, Clarence Thomas, who went to college where I went, Holy Cross, was told, don't say that you believe in natural law.  In other words, don't even admit what the founders believed in, which is, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that man is endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights.  You can't even say you believe in the Declaration of Independence with this Congress, with some in it.

BLANKLEY:  Yes.  You know, I mean,...

MATTHEWS:  Is that not true? 

BLANKLEY:  Yes, but...

MATTHEWS:  It's natural law. 

BLANKLEY:  We—we had Bork up there.  Now we're coming in at this low point.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BLANKLEY:  It may be that Roberts is going to define just how vague a person has got to be.  And maybe—I think there may be a flaw.  I mean, he may say something, because this is—it gets ridiculous, to the point where you can't even express the mildest philosophical view of things. 

And—and—and I think they got the votes for it.  So, we'll find out how far down he's going to go. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, if he says, do you think—do you think having an abortion is generally wrong morally, he doesn't have to answer? 

BLANKLEY:  I don't think—I don't know.  I mean, my...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Would you—would you force him to answer?  Would you advise him to answer that question?  Do you think, morally, that abortion is wrong, yes or no? 

BLANKLEY:  Oh, I think—I think he almost has to—to—in his own conscience, I think he would have to say that. 

MATTHEWS:  Answer that.

BLANKLEY:  And then say, but I am going to rule on each case based on how it comes to me.

I mean, but, unless it's seen as a backdoor way to get into his religious faith...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It is.

BLANKLEY:  ... it—it—it's pretty hard, I would think, for—for a person to—to not express any view.  I mean, if someone said, do you believe that—that homicide of 15-year-olds is morally wrong, how could you not say—how could you say, I don't have an opinion?

MATTHEWS:  You know why I think it's relevant?  Because—and I don't like it.  But we do today have court rulings on whether it's wrong to execute a kid at 15 or 16. 

It really gets to something beyond the Constitution as written.  It gets to a beef—a belief about what is morally right, doesn't it?  Don't you have to decide in your soul, basically, if a kid at 15 or 16 should be executed for a murder?

(CROSSTALK)

BLANKLEY:  The trouble is, there are two conversations going on.  The one is a legitimate moral conversation that normal ethical people have with each other.

MATTHEWS:  All the time.

BLANKLEY:  And the other is political gotcha. 

And the question is, how do you mesh those two?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BLANKLEY:  An honest conversation with a dishonest conversation. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Well, it sounds like a fair question and could be a gotcha.

BLANKLEY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of “The Washington Times.” 

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. 

Right now, it's time for “COUNTDOWN” with Alison Stewart, who is in for Keith.

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

END   

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