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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guest: Mike Papantonio, Rep. John Garamendi, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Peter Beinart, David Corn, Eric Burns, Michael Smerconish


Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles.  Leading off

tonight: Oil slicks.  BP says Transocean and Halliburton did it. 

Transocean says BP and Halliburton did it.  Halliburton says BP and

Transocean did it.  See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  So who did

cause the gulf oil spill, and who‘s going to hold them responsible?  Are we

talking poltergeist?  Who is that enemy below that caused this spill?  And

what role did Dick Cheney play in all of this?

Plus, we know that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once banned

military recruiters from the Harvard law school.  Is this the ammo that

Republicans are going to use to block her confirmation?

Plus: Revenge of the nerds and other winners and losers in this year‘s

political ad season.

And out on a Limbaugh.  We‘re issuing a challenge tonight and every

night to elected Republicans, come on HARDBALL, please, sir and madam, and

tell us you disagree with Rush on anything.  Tell us you‘ve had it with his

distortions, his misrepresentations, his outright falsehoods.  We invite

you to tell us he‘s not the leader of the Republican Party.  It‘s our

standing offer.  Come on HARDBALL and tell us Rush isn‘t telling the truth.

And the right wing can‘t stop complaining about taxes always going up. 

Except they‘re not.  “Let Me Finish” with some straight talk about who‘s

paying and how much.

Let‘s start with the politics of the oil spill.  U.S. Congressman John

Garamendi‘s a Democrat from California and Michael Papantonio is a lawyer

whose firm filed a class-action lawsuit in three states against the oil


I want to start with Mr. Papantonio.  Sir, you brought a lawsuit.  Is

there a case to be made here against Dick Cheney as head of Halliburton?


it‘s a systemic problem.  Look, influence pattern emerged after Dick

Cheney‘s 100-day meeting that he had behind closed doors with the American

Petroleum Institute, Exxon, Shell, Conoco.

Look, Congress needs to be asking these questions right now, Chris. 

Right now, they‘re not asking the tough questions.  What happened in that

closed-door meeting?  What was discussed?  What promises were made?  What

quid quo pro took place?  And why was there this sudden change that took

place after that meeting?

More importantly, Chris, why is it we can‘t even get the minutes from

that meeting?


PAPANTONIO:  Bobby Kennedy and I sued this department to try to get

them.  We can‘t get them.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me help you with this, Mr. Papantonio, since it‘s

your lawsuit.  Consider this amicus information.  The vice president got

$24 million—I‘m sorry, $34 million from Halliburton after he joined the

ticket in 2000.  He was leaving the company.  This wasn‘t for services. 

This was what, good will, $34 million?  Then the two top regulators on MMS

who are supposed to be responsible for managing the oil industry and making

sure there‘s safety in their operations—both Halliburton people.

So isn‘t that interesting?  What do you make of that, before we move

on, the Halliburton factor here, the Cheney factor?  Please answer my

question.  What role did Dick Cheney play coming into the vice presidency

and two top Halliburton people taking over responsibility for—get this -

regulating Halliburton?

PAPANTONIO:  We know this—we know this, Chris.  What did happen is

the whole—the whole Mineral Management department changed.  New people

showed up.  New regulations showed up.

MATTHEWS:  Halliburton people.

PAPANTONIO:  Halliburton.  Well, here it is.  Here it is.  It goes

beyond that.  It goes beyond—all you have to do is look at the fact that

it wasn‘t just a meeting where nothing happened for Halliburton.  After

this meeting, a 300 percent increase took place in their business on things

like offshore drilling.  It‘s about access.  It‘s about access—clearly

about access, Chris.

Look, here‘s where this thing should go.  There‘s a statute.  It‘s

clear.  It‘s called the honest service fraud statute.  It‘s called 18 U.S.

code 1346.  Prosecutors all over America use this statute to put—to put

cronies, political cronies, in prison for the type of thing that they

should be asking questions about right now.  It‘s real simple to follow.


PAPANTONIO:  When there‘s a government official and a third party that

have an agreement and it doesn‘t look right, we need to investigate.  Right


MATTHEWS:  OK, let me—let me...


MATTHEWS:  ... go to one office holder.  Let‘s go to a lawmaker, a

good government guy, John Garamendi.  I‘ve known you a long time.  You‘re a

good government guy.  What is the role of Halliburton here, this amazing

relationship where the vice president gets $34 million on his way into the

vice presidency, as these regulators are being named and they‘re being

named from the very company they‘re supposed to be regulating?  I don‘t see

how you can trust that kind of relationship.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA:  You can‘t.  We used to say fox

guarding the henhouse, now we have the skunks guarding the henhouse.  No

doubt about it.  It‘s not just the oil industry.  We‘re talking about a

war.  We‘re talking about a trillion dollars of American taxpayers‘ money

for an unnecessary war in Iraq.  Dick Cheney and the oil boys really

screwed up this country to a faretheewell.

MATTHEWS:  Well, they wanted the war, too.  But let‘s go into this

question of Halliburton.  Let‘s watch now testimony from Halliburton with

Pete (SIC) Sessions, the Republican.  Let‘s talk about how they‘re looking

at their role in what went wrong, this horrible thing that went wrong in

the Gulf of Mexico.  Let‘s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is the procedure which has been used multiple

on multiple occasions in the Gulf of Mexico.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA:  Well, would it be used in less than

10 percent of the procedures?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m afraid I‘m not in a position (INAUDIBLE) on


SESSIONS:  You have—well, you do this business, do you not?  You‘re

under oath.  I‘m just asking you a simple question.  What percentage, in

your best judgment, is it that they remove the mud before the final plug is

put in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do not know, Senator.

SESSIONS:  Do you—is it less than 50 percent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do not know, Senator.

SESSIONS:  You don‘t know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do not know.  The obligation for that decision

lies between the leaseholder and MMS.


MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go to Mike Papantonio on this question because

it involves the litigation here.  It seems to me that drill mud is used as

a counterforce against the oil in the ground to keep it from coming up. 

Did they take a shortcut here?  Is it your understanding that the company

doing the drilling did a shortcut here that has caused this explosion and


PAPANTONIO:  Chris, there‘s no other—there‘s no other explanation. 

Look, they understand the physics of this, just like you or I do.  You put

pressure on the well, it keeps the methane gas down in the well.  If you

take the pressure off, methane gas comes up the drill column and explodes. 

This isn‘t—this isn‘t something new to them.  They‘ve had it happen 40

times on rigs just in the last few years.


PAPANTONIO:  It‘s all about—it‘s all about squeezing that extra

dime out of this rig.  And I‘m telling you, that‘s where the money trail is

going to lead on this one.  That‘s why he couldn‘t answer the question.  I

can tell you this, you can put any roustabout on this camera and they‘re

going to tell you this is the stupidest thing they‘ve ever heard by

removing that pressure gradient mud out early.  Makes no sense.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve talked to people in the oil industry, Congressman

Garamendi, that—they tell me that no mistake is ever new.  No accident‘s

ever new.  Everything that ever goes wrong has happened before.  And when

it happened before—this is just a fact—they established safety

management procedures for making sure it doesn‘t happen again.  They don‘t

want this to happen.

Why didn‘t they follow those procedures in this case so it wouldn‘t

happen, what happened before?  They‘re acting like this is an act of God. 

All the right wing is saying, Act of God.  Oh, we can‘t believe it.  It‘s



MATTHEWS:  Weird spirits did this!  God did this.  But at some point,

we take responsibility for money-making when money-making goes bad.  Your

thoughts, Congressman.  Can we have safe offshore drilling or not?

GARAMENDI:  I don‘t think it‘ll ever be safe.  There‘s always going to

be an inherent danger, and when it occurs, it‘s going to be a real

troublesome thing because you‘re in a marine ocean environment.  I have a

bill in to ban permanently new leases off the West Coast of America.

We just don‘t need to go there.  We need to shift.  We need to shift

away from oil.  We need to move to the renewable energy policies.  As long

as we continue to drill, we‘re going to find ourselves with these kinds of

problems.  Not every year, not every drill rig, but it‘s going to happen.

And when it does—and keep this in mind, Chris.  Last year, within

the last 12 months, there have been two massive blowouts on offshore oil

rigs, one off the West Coast of Australia and another one in the Gulf of

Mexico.  This is not unheard of.  In fact, it‘s all too common.

So enough already.  Move away from our dependence on oil and let‘s get

on with that renewable energy, which everybody says is our future and has

to be our future.

MATTHEWS:  Mike, let‘s get down to this three monkeys we saw today.  I

use the term—not that these men are monkeys but the old expression about

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”


MATTHEWS:  It‘s an old Chinese sort of iconic description of when

people don‘t tell the truth.  How are these companies going to continue

this joke?  They went on this Marx Brothers routine, this Three Stooges

routine, if you will, where each was pointing at the other?  This is what

criminal defendants do.  They always say, Joe did it, or Max did it, so

that the jury gets confused.  Are we going to be confused at the end of


PAPANTONIO:  From the beginning—no, you‘re not going to be

confused.  There‘s—because one of them is going to be clearly—you

know, it‘s not—it‘s just not one event.

But I got to tell you something.  Here‘s what—here‘s what‘s being

missed on this.  The first—the first couple of days this occurred, BP

came out from the standpoint of their OPA responsibility, which is a

statutory responsibility, said, We are the responsible party.


PAPANTONIO:  Then when this thing started getting out of control, the

disaster that we‘re seeing—Oh, no, it wasn‘t just us, it was

Halliburton, it was the defective valve.

And you know what?  It‘s going to continue because this—Chris, I

got to tell you something.  People are looking like this is a walk in the

park on a clean-up?  This could put this company under.

Now, I‘m telling you, today I saw an article in the paper where it

says, Look, this is not a big problem for Halliburton.  It is a big problem

for BP and Halliburton.  With something this catastrophic that‘s going to

go on for this long, it‘s not just the clean-up.  The clean-up is $20

billion.  What about the people that have lost their livelihood?  What

about a culture that‘s been completely wiped out along the Gulf Coast? 

This is more than a $20 billion problem.  And I got to tell you something. 

If people aren‘t thinking that BP has it on their mind that they‘re going

to look for some kind of protection down the road, they‘re wrong.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to the government end of this.  Mr. Garamendi,

Congressman, congratulations on being a congressman, and it‘s a wonderful

opportunity to make law now.  And I look at this situation—the president

of the United States is allowed to have a vice president, who in many ways

looks more powerful than he does.  And Dick Cheney of his own volition

says, I‘m bringing all the oil industry tycoons into the office with me,

absolute secrecy.  We‘re going to set energy policy for a democratic

country.  We‘re supposed to be a democracy.  Yet the policies made in the

secrecy of the White House, no press allowed, no records kept, absolute


And then we find out that these guys at Halliburton, one of his

companies—in fact, the company that paid him $34 million into the vice

presidency—has gotten their pick of the regulators to regulate

Halliburton!  How do we stop this?  It seems like a third-world banana

republic would do it this way.

GARAMENDI:  Well, first of all, you better elect the right people.  We

knew when George W. Bush came in that he was an oil man.  And we knew that

when he chose Cheney that we were in for an oil economy, and we got exactly

what the people voted for.  You got to be aware that elections matter. 

They make a big difference.

There ought to be laws.  In fact, there are laws.  Congress did its

very best to try to get that information, but executive privilege was

pulled to shield all of that information—wrongly done.

We‘re going to have to hammer away at this.  And these kinds of

problems should not be allowed.  It really depends upon who you choose to

elect as a president.  If you‘re choosing an insider from the oil industry,

you better expect the oil industry is going to call the shots.  And they


But it‘s only part of the puzzle.  Halliburton has been on the edge of

the law, if not an outlaw, for this entire last decade.  Take a look at

what you just talked about, the establishment of the oil policy.  Look what

they did in Iraq.  There‘s been extraordinary scandals that involved

Halliburton in Iraq.  Hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared when it

was sent off to Halliburton.  There are problems after problems after

problems.  But it goes back to who‘s president.

Take a look.  Who does that person serve?  Do they serve the interests

of the general public, the environment, or do they serve the interests of

the oil industry?  No doubt about where George Bush was coming from.  And

then when he chose Cheney and Halliburton, hey, the die was cast, the

problems were created.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much.

PAPANTONIO:  Congressman...

MATTHEWS:  I think you put it together.  Mr. Papantonio, we‘ll have

you back on.  I think we have the facts -- 34 million bucks in the pocket

of Dick Cheney, his regulators in the regulating positions of his own

company.  Nice deal they got there, Dick!  Anyway, Congressman John

Garamendi, thank you, sir.  Thank you, Mike Papantonio.  Good luck with the


GARAMENDI:  Thanks, Chris.

PAPANTONIO:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Should Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan

apologize for banning military recruiters from the Harvard law school

campus when she was dean?  That‘s sour debate tonight, and it‘s straight


But in one minute: Britain finally has a new PM, a new prime minister. 

He‘s a Tory.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, now we have a conservative.  David Cameron is the new

prime minister of Great Britain.  Cameron‘s Conservatives finished with the

most seats in parliament in last week‘s election yet failed to get a full

majority.  And after days of negotiations, Cameron is set to form a

coalition with the third party, the Liberal Democrats.  Labour leader

Gordon Brown announced his resignation as prime minister late today after

negotiations between his party, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats broke

down.  And so for the first time since 1997, Britain will have a Tory at

the helm.

HARDBALL returns after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Republicans like Senator Jeff

Sessions and John Kyl are already signaling their disapproval of Elena

Kagan‘s decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard law school during

her tenure as dean there.  And today Rush Limbaugh tore into what the right

hopes will be her Achilles heel.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  All that we know about this

woman is that she banned military recruiters from Harvard and was

overturned by the Supreme Court!


MATTHEWS:  So will Kagan‘s decision to ban military recruiters from

Harvard be enough to block her confirmation to the Supreme Court?  Melissa

Harris-Lacewell is a professor of politics at Princeton.  She‘s also an

MSNBC contributor.  And Peter Beinart wrote in Thedailybeast that Kagan

should apologize for banning military recruiters at Harvard.

So you‘re on the offensive, Peter.  Why should she apologize for

basically backing her institution?


to be fair to her, she didn‘t actually ban them from campus.  What she did

do is she denied them equal access.  She didn‘t want to allow them to use

the Career Services Office.

Look, I think Elena Kagan is smart.  I would vote to confirm her.  I

probably agree with her on 95 percent of stuff.  But I think in this

regard, she was wrong.  It was a really counterproductive way to try to

respond to the fact that the military discriminates against gays and

lesbians.  The best—you can‘t—the best thing to do would have been to

embrace the U.S. military and try to get—try to make change from within.

MATTHEWS:  What kind of an apology should she offer?

BEINART:  I think she should say that she was wrong, that this policy,

which was pretty widespread amongst elite law schools, was

counterproductive.  It actually drove a wedge between the academy and the

military, which was bad for both of them.  And she should say, in

retrospect, she thinks it was a counterproductive view that she had.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m not big on these sort of required apologies, by

the way, because I always think they‘re phony as you can be because when

you say apologize, you‘re really saying to a person, Bow down and accept

our higher value, which you didn‘t share at the time but we‘re insisting

you share now.  You‘re not asking them to say they were wrong, you‘re

asking them to bow before your value system, right?

BEINART:  No, I think she should say she was wrong.

MATTHEWS:  In other words, the military is more important—and I can

see this argument.  National defense is more important than a change in

social policy about people of a different orientation, which by the way,

was becoming more liberal under “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” than it had been


BEINART:  But it‘s not—Chris, it‘s not only that.  It‘s precisely

because you do want to change what I believe was a totally bigoted policy

towards gays and lesbians, that you recognize that—that—that not—

denying the military equal access is counterproductive to that because it

leads the military to simply recruit an officer corps that is more

conservative.  The best thing to do...


BEINART:  ... is to try to have a relationship so you get more liberal

people into the military.

MATTHEWS:  Melissa, what do you think of the argument, Professor, that

if you deny the elite schools participation in our military officer corps,

you really do drown out those more, well, liberal arts voices out of the

military and make it more of a take-orders kind of crowd than it would be

otherwise, they‘d be more open-minded if you had those people in the



MATTHEWS:  That‘s the argument Peter made.

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  Yes, no, that‘s right.  You know, so his piece is

interesting in part because it tries to sort of thread this needle, on the

one hand calling the policy of “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” immoral, but then

also claiming that Kagan should not have taken a strong stance as the dean

of Harvard law school against it.

But I think the point here is not whether or not “Don‘t ask, don‘t

tell” is immoral.  The point is that “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” was

discriminatory.  And the American Association of Law Schools has a policy

saying that those employers who discriminate in their recruitment and

hiring practices should not be allowed to recruit on law school campuses.

Now, he‘s exactly correct that she did not deny them access to

Harvard, or even to Harvard law school.  In fact, recruiters could be there

in the exact same room but under the sponsorship of the Veterans

Association, rather than under the sponsorship of the Career Services


Now, I think an apology is in order, but I think that apology should

come from the U.S. military, who, using the Solomon Amendment...


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  ... was bullying an institution like Harvard and

other elite institutions, whose federal funding go to do things like

research our health crises, go to things like our social policies, go to

things like basic science research. 

They used the Solomon Amendment to bully in order to enforce a second-

class citizenship right and then demand equal access to discriminatory

hiring practices. 



Let‘s get to the sheer politics of this, Peter, because I think there

is a sheer political aspect to this.  You‘re a journalist.  You know there

is, which is this narrative that Barack Obama doesn‘t like the military,

Barack Obama is anti-military, not really involved in it, emotionally in

this war against terrorism.  He somehow does the job, but he‘s not really a

real cop out there.  He doesn‘t really have the attitude you want in this

front against terrorism. 

They‘re going to use it, right?  People like Kyl, people—the

neoconservatives are going to use this, because Kyl is always in bed with

the neoconservatives.  He‘s making the fight.  He‘s always the lead dog in

these kind of fights.  You can predict that.  And here he is again. 



And what‘s so stupid about that argument is, if you look at the new

leadership of the U.S. military, people like Petraeus and McChrystal,

they‘re very, very concerned about things like civilian casualties. 

They‘re very, very concerned about the humanitarian and economic efforts of

nation-building, rather than simply with a blunt instrument.

So, in fact, the military in many ways has—if you look at their

policies on torture, has moved towards a much more liberal stance than the

Republican Party. 

MATTHEWS:  Peter, you‘re—you‘re a little slow on the draw.  I have

been saying that for 10 years.  The military is always more enlightened

about the use of war.

BEINART:  Absolutely.   But that‘s precisely why...


MATTHEWS:  They‘re almost the most...


MATTHEWS:  Starting with Colin Powell, they don‘t believe war is

always the answer. 

BEINART:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s the pencil-necks in academic life that always want to

use the military.  It‘s the neoconservatives, with their intellectual

notions of how we have to fight the war against whatever.  They‘re the ones

that drag us into these wars, right? 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s what always happens.

BEINART:  But that‘s precisely—that‘s precisely why I think it was

really mistaken to take this—take this policy at Harvard that you deny

equal access.  I think, in fact, there has been a very valuable convergence

between the military and a lot of liberal notions about the way you

particularly in the war on terror.

And I think, unfortunately, these policies are counterproductive to



MATTHEWS:  You know, professor Harris, I want to get to the point here

about values, because this happens all the time now.  If you disagree with

a value, perhaps—and I am very pro-gay rights.  I am for same-sex and

the whole—I think we have to have a society where you can pursue

happiness, OK?

I‘m with the original founders on this way back when.  I think that‘s

what‘s unique about our society.  It is about liberty in the fullest extent

possible that society can permit.  I‘m all for it.  But I also wonder about

the way we jump from one value to the next.  The Boy Scouts in Philadelphia

have been kicked out of their building because they don‘t want gay Scout

masters or gay Scouts.  That‘s a good argument.  Let‘s fight it.  But don‘t

kill the institution to get it done. 

I just think a lot of times everybody says—like, I‘m with Peter on

this.  Kill all Ivy League involvement in the military to make a point.  Is

that really the way to do it, with a sledgehammer? 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  Well, let‘s be clear that an elite Harvard Law

School graduate is in fact the commander in chief at this point.  I mean,

the notion that recruitment officers...

MATTHEWS:  But he wasn‘t recruited. 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  No doubt.  Well, I don‘t know. 


MATTHEWS:  He ran.


MATTHEWS:  It‘s called running for office.  Ambition got him...


MATTHEWS:  No, ambition got him there. 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  But the idea that—that, somehow, the recruitment

offices themselves—I mean, what I would agree with is the fact that I

thinks this primarily symbolic, that, in fact, I don‘t think that either

you‘re going to flood the military with Harvard Law School graduates who

are going to somehow change the institution from the inside. 

Part of what a law school dean is meant to do is to represent the

values of the current legal environment, and that is at this historic

moment a nondiscriminatory one. 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  As the first woman head of that law school, she was

enforcing a nondiscriminatory policy, until it became a matter of the law

of the land that she had to in fact allow the recruiters, at which point,

she did. 

I actually think this is precisely what you want from a Supreme Court

justice, someone who has strong opinions, who nevertheless provides as much

access as she can under—underneath those opinions... 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  ... and, you know, agrees with the law and complies

by it once it occurs. 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  I think it‘s actually...


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  ... emblematic that her temperament is exactly



Peter, the problem I have is that don‘t ask, don‘t tell, as bad as

people think it is, is better than what we had before, when they would

Section 8 people.  They just threw them out because they were gay. 

And now you have to sort of announce it in some way.  At least, that

was the theory of don‘t ask, don‘t tell.  It was a more liberal policy on

the way to being a far more liberal policy, right?  It isn‘t—it isn‘t

going backwards, here, right? 


I mean, listen, see, I think—I think there‘s no question that, as a

society, we‘re going to—we‘re moving forward. 

MATTHEWS:  We are. 

BEINART:  And, hopefully, soon, one day, this—we won‘t even have to

be discussing these issues. 

But the problem was that they only saw the military as an employer. 

It was like Procter & Gamble.  So they applied the same standards to them

as any other employer.  You can‘t see the military fundamentally primarily

as an employer.  It‘s completely different. 


BEINART:  It‘s one of our four public institutions as a country, and

you can‘t alienate yourself from it, it seems to me, without real serious


MATTHEWS:  Last word, Melissa?

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  But because—but because it is so important as a

national institution, it‘s enforcement of second-class status on people

because of their identity is particularly appalling. 

And the fact is, although don‘t ask don‘t tell moves towards some

level of openness around gay and lesbians, it does nothing to protect

transsexual—transgendered individuals within the military.  And, of

course, if you were an openly gay student in law school, for example, an

activist around LGBT issues, that would have been enough to have kept you

out of it. 

And so it meant that there was a second-class citizenship question. 


HARRIS-LACEWELL:  And, so, I think she did the right thing as dean in

protecting that sense of nondiscriminatory policy. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it should be—these hearings are going to be great,

especially when Jon Kyl jumps in there for neocons.  It‘s going to be an

interesting—Peter, you know what‘s coming.  He‘s out there.  He‘s their

lead dog.  He‘s the Saint Bernard of that crowd. 


BEINART:  It‘s all scripted ahead of time.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  He‘s already up there. 

Thank you very much, Melissa, professor.  Thank you for joining us,

Melissa Harris-Lacewell of Princeton, and Peter Beinart—up next—of

the Council on Foreign Relations.

Up next:  America‘s most famous immigrant—I have never heard him

described that way—Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaks out about Arizona‘s

illegal immigration law.  He‘s pretty funny.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  And now for the “Sideshow.” 

First:  Take it from me.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his

commencement speech at Emory University yesterday to nudge both his in-laws

and the state of Arizona. 

Take a listen.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  It‘s my first law degree. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  And, finally, finally the Kennedys will think that I

am successful. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  And, finally, Maria can take me home and meet her

family, finally. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  And I was all set to go and give a commencement

speech in Arizona.  But, with my accent, I was worried they‘re going to

deport me back to Austria. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  So, I canceled that idea right away. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, that, by the way, is no laughing matter for Arizona

businesses.  The city of Phoenix estimates it may lose $90 million over the

next five years because of those immigration boycotts. 

Next: a primer in political expediency.  Charlie Crist has done some

housecleaning on his Senate campaign Web site.  When he was still a

Republican, not that long ago, he had a banner reading, “consistent

leadership, the Charlie Crist conservative record.”  Now that he‘s an

independent candidate, it reads, “consistent leadership, the Charlie Crist

record.”  Where‘s that conservative? 

You can guess which voters he‘s now targeting.  That‘s right,

Democrats.  Talking Points Memo caught that little baby.

Time for the “Big Number” tonight.

A lot of conservatives would have you think President Obama has raised

taxes on the American people in the last year.  But, according to a new

report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, federal, state and local taxes

accounted for just 9.2 percent of all personal income in 2009.  That‘s well

below the historic average of 12 percent.

In fact, when was the last time tax levels were at this level?  1950. 

You would have to go all the way back to the Harry Truman era, the last

time the tax burden was this low, 1950 -- tonight‘s “Big Number.”

Up next: out on a Limbaugh.  If you‘re a Republican and you think Rush

Limbaugh is wrong, here‘s our challenge from HARDBALL:  Come on the show

and tell us Rush is distorting the truth.  We want to hear from you,

because, to us, it looks like Rush is the leader of the Republican Party. 

Did I say it like him?  Party. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  



“Market Wrap.”

Stocks ending pretty mixed at the end of a wobbly day on Wall Street,

the Dow Jones industrial average falling 37 points, the S&P 500 dropping

about four, the Nasdaq, though, eking out a slight gain. 

How about this?  Gold gone wild.  Fears about the European debt crisis

may be easing a little bit, but investors are hedging their bets still,

gold prices shooting up about above $33, settling at a new high, around

$1,233 an ounce. 

Priceline shares plummeting more than 12 percent today, despite more

than doubling its earnings in the latest quarter.  And Disney shares

actually finishing slightly higher, ahead of an earnings report released

just after the closing bell.  That report turned out better than expected,

but shares are moving a little bit lower in after-hours trading. 

And head of the SEC telling a congressional panel today that

investigators are sifting through more than 60 million trades to try to

pinpoint the cause of last week‘s what they‘re calling the flash crash. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to



RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You see, folks, information is

king.  And Obama can‘t be king if we have information.  That‘s what bugs

him.  What bugs him is that there is dissent.


MATTHEWS:  He‘s amazing.

We‘re back. 

That‘s, of course, Rush Limbaugh today—actually, yesterday—

calling President Obama a king, pretty soft stuff compared to his usual

barbs, like regime and socialist and Nazi-like. 

Well, on Friday‘s HARDBALL, former New York Governor George Pataki

delivered a rare message for a Republican.  Let‘s listen. 


MATTHEWS:  You‘ve said that Rush Limbaugh is wrong, that Barack Obama

is not a Nazi, right?   He‘s not a Nazi.  You agree with that?


MATTHEWS:  And this administration was duly elected.  It‘s not a


PATAKI:  Correct.


PATAKI:  Of course.

MATTHEWS:  ... you disagree with him...


MATTHEWS:  You‘re—no, it‘s amazing, because you‘re not a ditto

head.   You know how hard it is to find a Republican who‘s not a ditto

head?   I can‘t find a Republican member of the Congress—and, by the

way, if there are any out there, please call HARDBALL on MSNBC, and let us

know you‘re a Republican elected official now in office and are willing to

take on that large man on radio.


MATTHEWS:  Well, no call the yet. 

And, going forward, HARDBALL invites any and all current, former and

aspiring elected Republicans—by the way, you staffers on Capitol Hill,

take note—who want to denounce El Rushbo‘s radical rhetoric.  Just go

ahead.  You got an open invitation on HARDBALL.  Come on the show and say

you disagree with Rush Limbaugh on anything. 

“Mother Jones” Washington bureau chief David Corn is here to talk

about Rush‘s rule.  I think it is a Rush Limbaugh regime, in fact.  He‘s

also a columnist for Politics Daily.  And Eric Burns is president of Media

Matters, which tracks all things, including Rush‘s ramblings, or rumblings,

on his Web site.

You know, Eric, sometimes, I listen to the fellow and I‘m thinking

about offshore oil disasters, and I think he might be one of them.  I mean,

he‘s like—you hear like a—like an underwater walrus talking.  And

he‘s amazing.

His—let me ask you quickly.  You have been on the show.


MATTHEWS:  What is his measure of power over the Republican Party?  I

have a sense—we had a guy named Gingrey, a congressman from Georgia. 

You know about this.

BURNS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  We had Michael Steele.  For a couple of seconds, they‘re

off base.  They‘re like a batter tagging up after getting to first, rushing

back to first base, for fear of being tagged off base by Rush, because he‘s

always watching. 

If you disagree with him on a thing, he nails you.  I wonder if the

Republican Party is not just in bed with Rush; they‘re under the covers. 

Your thoughts? 

BURNS:  They‘re—they‘re...


BURNS:  They‘re absolutely under his thumb. 

You know, I would consider Rush Limbaugh to be essentially the

godfather of the Republican Party, right up there with—with FOX News. 

And they really are running the show.  The conservative media apparatus

stepped into the vacuum after two consecutive electoral defeats for the

GOP, and they‘re the tail that‘s wagging the dog.  There‘s no question



MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me go to David.  Let me go to my buddy on this

one, David Corn. 

If you had to measure the power of Rushbo or O‘Reilly or Sean or

Glenn, compared to the power of John Boehner, how would you measure the



on a scale of one to 10, it‘s an 11. 


MATTHEWS:  And you give Boehner a one? 


CORN:  Yes, perhaps. 


CORN:  Chris, if you‘re going to have a party with Republicans who are

willing to criticize Rush Limbaugh, you‘re going to end up with all the

beer yourself.  It‘s going to be a very empty room. 

You know, the whole image of them being under the covers with Rush may

be too dicey for—for—for prime-time TV here, but they—time and

time again, they have shown, not just with Rush, but they‘re not willing to

take on their own base.  Remember the rally in November, when you had Tea

Partiers shouting Nazi, Nazis in reference to Nancy Pelosi and Barack


And John Boehner and Eric Cantor and the others were there...


CORN:  ... on the podium and just sort of waving along.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what—speaking of the podium, what I‘m watching

right now would be hard to hide under the covers.  This guy is a big guy.


MATTHEWS:  Here‘s George Pataki, by the—here‘s what he was reacting



MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Limbaugh just in the last two weeks, fellows. I want

Eric to grade these points he‘s made.  Let‘s listen. 


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Of course, who is dividing

America?  It‘s Obama.  He looks at people of color as the genuine owners of

the world‘s wealth who have been shut out of it.  Guess what, Faisal

Shahzad is a registered Democrat.  I wonder if his SUV had an Obama sticker

on it? 

This is an administration that is not of this country. 

Obama knows who his real enemies are.  And there are many more of them

in Arizona than there are apparently in Iran. 

My friends, this regime in its day-to-day actions is far more Nazi-

like than any identification law. 


MATTHEWS:  Eric, when people listen to this stuff, when you hear this

commentary coming out of him—this stuff that the blacks believe they own

everything rightfully and Obama is going to give it back to them.  These

are amazing statements, that Shahzad is a registered Democrat.  It just

pours out of this guy. 

And I‘m laughing my butt off here because it sounds so hilarious.  Do

people buy it? 

BURNS:  Yes.  Rush—look, Rush Limbaugh has a very, very big and

devoted audience, and they believe everything that he says.  That‘s the

problem, Chris, because most of what comes out of his mouth is a lie.  And

these absurd accusations.  Of course Shahzad was not a registered Democrat. 

Rush also suggested the Fort Hood shooter was just like Obama and that that

shooting was Obama‘s fault. 

Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh suggested that the financial collapse in

Greece was also Obama‘s fault.  He attacked Kagan and Obama 12 times

yesterday on his radio show.  And he has a legion of folks that think what

Rush says is the Bible. 

MATTHEWS:  Hold on, Eric.  Here he is right now doing what you said,

talking about Kagan yesterday.  Let‘s listen. 


LIMBAUGH:  I know I‘m despised by the regime.  And in my way of

thinking I‘m disadvantaged, because I‘m a target of the regime.  But I know

full well that neither Thurgood Marshall nor Elena Kagan has me in mind

when they talk about despised and disadvantaged.  They‘re looking at me and

people like me as the oppressors, the architects of the despised. 


MATTHEWS:  Absolute hilarity.  I‘m convinced, Corn—I‘m absolutely

convinced he‘s a genius at one thing, constituency politics.  He has a

constituency, traveling salesman, mostly men, mostly white men, driving

around trying to make a buck, working their butts off, feeling oppressed. 

They‘re feeling like nobody appreciates them.  The boss keeps raising the

sales quota.  The wife at home, the spouse, doesn‘t know how hard he works. 

The kids don‘t even know what he does.  There‘s one guy rooting for them

against the femi-Nazis, against affirmative action, against minorities. 

He‘s the oppressed minority, that white guy in that car.  And this guy,

Rush Limbaugh, plays to this guy.  He panders to him.  He teases him with

the ideal notion that he‘s the victim.  It‘s brilliant.  It‘s brilliant. 

CORN:  You‘re right, it‘s a matter of supply and demand.  I mean, he

makes tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the basis of

peddling this stuff to people who want to listen.  I think we can—it‘s

wrong.  You know, Eric is right.  It‘s full of untruths and lies and it‘s

hateful.  But it does contribute to an overall atmosphere, just because of

the reach he has.  And when you go around saying that Obama is Nazi-like,

that people in his government are part of a regime, and they‘re not of this

country—you know, what does that give people a license to think?  More

importantly, to do? 

If they really are an internal enemy, what do you do with internal

enemies?  You try to eradicate them.  So, you know, he is sending messages,

and he‘s confirming perhaps the worst impulses that people might have

towards the Obama administration.  It‘s one thing to disagree with policy

and to argue about things, even to get your facts wrong when you do so. 

Under the Constitution, you‘re allowed to do that. 

But to sort of generate this atmosphere where people look at Obama as

sort of a secret, hidden, internal enemy, a traitor who wants to undo this

country, well, you know, that‘s really throwing oil onto the fire. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Well said.  Thank you, David Corn.  Thank you,

Eric Burns.  We‘ll have you back, Eric Burns.  Keep an eye on everything. 

And remember, any Republican who is willing to denounce Rush-Baugh‘s

rhetoric, just come on the air.  We‘d love to watch.  We‘ll give you a full

platform.  Of course, you‘ve got to be careful what he does to you.  Please

call us here at HARDBALL and we‘ll put you on.  Remember, that‘s the deal,

you have to challenge Rush-Baugh.  No games here.  If you don‘t challenger

Rush-Baugh and come on this show, we‘re going to nail you. 

We‘ve got the best political ads of 2010 coming up.  It‘s going to be

some fun coming here, a real novelty act, what the pols are saying right


But first, an update on Beau Biden, the son of the vice president. 

Doctors say that Beau Biden, if you haven‘t heard, suffered a mild stroke

and is being moved from a Delaware medical center to a hospital in

Philadelphia for further observation.  The vice president with his son, and

says Beau is alert, with full motor and speech skills.  So it maybe isn‘t

that bad.  The 41-year-old Beau Biden is the attorney general of Delaware. 

More HARDBALL after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Can a political ad influence an

election?  That‘s a good question.  Some can, apparently.  And we pulled

some of our favorites of this year.  We‘ll rate them with radio talk show

host and MSNBC political analyst Michael Smerconish, a great man to have


Let‘s watch an Arlen Specter ad.  It just came out.  He‘s fallen

behind in the polls.  He‘s about four points down in the tracking.  Let‘s

see if this will pull him out of the trouble.  Let‘s watch, just out now. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  President Obama and newspapers across Pennsylvania

agree, Arlen Specter is the real deal. 


things about Arlen Specter.  He came to fight for the working men and women

of Pennsylvania.  And Arlen Specter cast the deciding vote in favor of a

Recovery Act that has helped pull us back from the brink, because you know

he‘s going to fight for you, regardless of what the politics are. 

SEN ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I‘m Arlen Specter and I approve

this message. 

OBAMA:  I love you and I love Arlen Specter.


MATTHEWS:  I love Arlen Specter.  Here‘s a Specter ad from 2004 that

looks a bit like the one we just saw that‘s just out.  Let‘s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Three for Pennsylvania, Santorum, Specter, Bush. 


this as plainly as I can, Arlen Specter is the right man for the United

States Senate.  I can count on this man.  See, that‘s important.  He‘s a

firm ally when it matters most.  I‘m proud to tell you I think he‘s earned

another term as United States senator. 

SPECTER:  I‘m Arlen Specter and I approve this message. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s a hoot, Michael.  It‘s just a hoot.  These

politicians—if you‘re not with the one you love, love the one you‘re

with.  What is the ad saying here? 

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, the film footage from

commercial number two is also on the air now in terms of a Sestak anti-

Specter commercial that is running.  And that‘s what caused commercial

number one with the president to then be shown by the Specter folks. 

There‘s a week left, Chris.  These are big bombshells that have been

dropped in Pennsylvania.  They‘re very effective. 

It makes me wonder what‘s going to take place in the next six days,

because you think this is the way they‘re going to finish the race. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Specter‘s got himself a big negative bombshell

to drop on this guy, some unpleasantness to wield in this campaign in the

last minute?  Some negative? 

SMERCONISH:  I think Arlen Specter plays hard ball when necessary.  I

thought going after Joe Sestak and saying, with documentation, that he was

relieved of his command and demanding that the Navy records be released,

which hasn‘t happened—I thought that was pretty devastating.  So that‘s

already been dropped.  I‘m not sure what else is out there, frankly. 

MATTHEWS:  Terry McDonough (ph) told me the other day, the pollster

out in Lancaster, that the irony of that ad is although it did hurt a bit,

it also helped a bit because it told people about Joe Sestak‘s 31 years in

the Navy.  They didn‘t know about this guy‘s military record.  Arlen, in a

weird way, informed them of it.  It‘s so weird.

Let‘s take a look now at John McCain.  Talk about a switcheroo.  Let‘s

listen to the latest John McCain. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Drug and human smuggling, home

invasions, murder. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re out-manned.  Of all the illegals in America,

more than half come through Arizona. 

MCCAIN:  Have we got the right plan? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Plan‘s perfect.  You bring troops, state, county

and local law enforcement together. 

MCCAIN:  And complete the dang fence. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It will work this time.  Senator, you‘re one of


MCCAIN:  I‘m John McCain and I approve this message. 


MATTHEWS:  Boy, you know, it‘s almost—I don‘t want to say anything. 

This guy served his country as a POW.  It just seems like one of those—

did he do this under duress?  I don‘t know what to make of this, Michael. 

SMERCONISH:  If I had typed transcript of that commercial and I were

to show it to you, Chris, a couple of weeks ago, and I were to say to you,

is it a J.D. Hayworth commercial or is it a John McCain commercial, you‘re

a pretty smart guy, I think you would have selected J.D. Hayworth.  It‘s

amazing just how far McCain has moved to the right in the waning days of

this campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s watch John McCain, himself, back in a presidential

debate in 2007.  Let‘s listen. 


MCCAIN:  America is still the land of opportunity, and it is a beacon

of hope and liberty.  And as Ronald Reagan said, a shining city on the

hill.  We‘re not going to erect barriers and fences. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re not going to erect barriers and fences, and there he

is a minuteman, out there, guarding the fence. 

SMERCONISH:  The kitchen sinks are all being thrown in.  I think the

attitude is the hell with November, let‘s hope that we get to November. 

We‘ll worry about that over the course of the summer and we‘ll be ready for

Labor Day weekend.  Right now, it‘s all on the line for these guys and

they‘re using whatever they‘ve got. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go through the analysis.  We asked you up front,

Michael—you‘re on the radio every morning for hours.  You listen to a

great number of people.  By the way, you have a great audience, a lot of

suburbanite people, a lot of people watching the issues.  It seems to me

what they‘re doing in that ad—what Specter is doing, just as an example,

he‘s trying to get the African-American vote out in west Philly and north

Philly.  He‘s trying to get that vote out, that city machine vote.  Is that

what that Obama ad was about? 


SMERCONISH:  Going after the Democratic base, that core constituency

in southeast Pennsylvania, no doubt about it.  Same reason that Vice

President Biden was on my radio program this morning, as a matter of fact,

talking to that same group. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m glad we could show them the Bush ad to go with it, to

show a little honesty in this game.  Thank you, Michael Smerconish, as


When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about taxes. 

Surprising stuff, last year, Americans paid the lowest level of taxes in 60

years.  But you‘d never know it listening to the right wing in this

country.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a fact.  At times, facts can be

upsetting.  They can also be illuminating.  Have we been paying higher

taxes under President Obama?  That‘s a real zinger when you listen to the

right.  Look at the signs.  Hear the screaming.  Check the racket on the

radio.  He‘s killing us with taxes, you hear?  Killing us. 

Well, as the great man, Senator Patrick Moynihan of New York once

said, we‘re entitled to our own opinions, not to our own facts.  Here they

are: in the first year of the Obama administration, the total tax load on

the American people came to 9.2 percent of personal income, a bit less than

one tenth.  That‘s the lowest piece of our income the government has taken

since 1950, six decades ago. 

You know, when Harry Truman was walking those walks around the White

House.  Like everyone else, I stare at my gross income and then at what I

actually get and I wish I got that first number.  What I can‘t do is say

that taxes in this country went up last year because they didn‘t. 

Today‘s Tea Partiers were inspired by something cNBC‘s Rick Santelli

once said or Rush Limbaugh said or somebody said, fair enough.  They‘re

entitled to their opinion, and their own passions.  Even if they are a tad


But not to their own facts.  Under Obama, thanks to the Stimulus Bill,

thanks to the progressive rates based on income, we paid less taxes.  As I

said, sometimes facts can be upsetting.  They can also be illuminating. 

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Before we go, we

want to send our best wishes to our friend and everybody respects here,

Barbara Walters, who is undergoing heart surgery this week.  Good luck,

Barbara.  Right now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz. 




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