Guests: Mike Pence, David Corn, Jay Inslee, Jonathan Allen, Carol Browner
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The oil spills into the Oval Office.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off tonight: Ready for primetime. What can we expect from President Obama when he takes his first ever Oval Office address to the nation tonight in three hours for now? We think he can expect him—we can expect him to demand that BP explain how it‘s going to pay off damages, maybe call for more skimmers to clean up the spreading mess in the gulf, and make a call for energy legislation that helps cure this country of its addiction to oil. Carol Browner the White House‘s energy point person and Republican Mike Pence both join us here tonight on “HARDBALL.”
Plus: Oil slick. When executives from the other oil companies were grilled on Capitol Hill today, guess what they said? We would never operate as unprofessionally as BP. Well, you know you can trust us. You can trust them, can‘t you?
Also what did Jack Conway—what does Jack Conway in Kentucky, Paul Hodes in New Hampshire and Joe Sestak up in Pennsylvania want? They want Bill Clinton. And when do they want him? They want him now. Bill Clinton may be a bigger dog in the campaign trail for Democrats this year than even President Obama.
Plus, “The Rise of the New Right.” It will stun you with what‘s happening in this country. The documentary “The Rise of the New Right” airs on HARDBALL tomorrow night at 7:00. I hope you get a chance to watch it. It will explain so much.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with the specter of those who are armed, angry and anxious to declare war on our legitimately elected small “D” democratic government.
We begin tonight with big oil. Grilled on Capitol Hill today. U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee is a Washington state Democrat, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which did some of the grilling today.
Sir, were you impressed one way or the other, or did you get what you expected, by the oil execs today?
REP. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: Well, I was impressed by being even more disturbed than I was when I woke up this morning. Number, it‘s clear that this entire industry is massively unprepared to respond to a spill because they all were in the same boat with basically having a protection plan that would take care of walruses in the gulf, but nothing else.
Number two, I learned that the entire industry is really making grossly inadequate investments in safety. You know, as we drill in deeper and deeper water, the risks become higher and higher. We found out that British Petroleum, they pay their CEO three times more than they do in investments to try to determine how to do this in a safe way.
So I think the news of this hearing today is we need to actually redouble our efforts to make sure that this industry does what it needs to do. But I‘m hopeful tonight. I had a feeling of hope that with the president talking tonight that we will do what America has always done in moments of great transition, like we did when the Russians launched Sputnik. We responded by going to the moon. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Ohio in the mid-‘70s, we responded with Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
And I think the president tonight has a chance to spark a new American economic revolution, where we start weaning ourself off the next several decades off of oil to more economically productive electric cars, electric batteries. We start selling those to the Chinese rather than vice versa. So I think there‘s good hope tonight with the president to light that fire.
MATTHEWS: Well, I love your reference to the fire on the Cuyahoga River.
Anyway, Congressman Bart Stupak grills the chairman and CEO of
ExxonMobil. Let‘s listen to him,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: So but for the grace of God, there goes I (ph), right? It‘s BP this time. It could be ExxonMobil tomorrow. Could be Chevron tomorrow.
REX TILLERSON, EXXONMOBIL CEO: We have to take every step to prevent these things from happening because when they happen, it is a fact that we‘re not well equipped to prevent any and all damage. There will be damage occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Not well equipped. Talk about an understatement. How about not equipped? What do you make of the fact that these companies are willing to sign permits when they do this drilling, deep sea drilling, that says they have the safety capability to deal with spills, and even greater spills than the one that‘s occurred?
INSLEE: Well, there‘s a real sad fact. When you drill in 5,000-feet-deep water and more, you are creating great risk to the environment and to the economy, no matter what you do, because if you get a large blowout, what the president of Exxon said was true in that regard, your goose is cooked because even with the best technology, we‘re only going to get a small percentage recovered. That‘s why we need to demand from this industry the same level of safety we have in the aviation industry.
And I have to tell you, I watched British Petroleum drive by not one stop sign, maybe a dozen stop signs. They blew right by them and caused this spill. And I tell you, if we had that same lack of responsibility in the aviation industry, no one would get on an airplane. So we have to have a very rigorous recalibration of our regulatory system. And then we have to figure out a way to move off of oil because that‘s really the only way to prevent the ultimate damage to the ocean.
Some of the CEOs today, they were a little bit—they didn‘t want to admit this, but the fact of the matter is that every oil well spills carbon into the atmosphere because carbon dioxide makes the oceans acidic. They‘re 30 percent more acidic because of the carbon we burn. We got to find a new technology to do that, and I hope the president‘s going to talk about this tonight.
MATTHEWS: You know the old expression, It‘s the poor workman who blames his tools?
INSLEE: I hope Chris is still there.
MATTHEWS: It sounds to me from what you‘re...
INSLEE: Because I‘m not hearing him.
MATTHEWS: Can you hear me now?
INSLEE: Chris, we‘re...
MATTHEWS: Can you hear me?
INSLEE: ... suffering in silence here because I can‘t hear you.
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘re going to have a problem here. We‘re going to have to—what are we going to do now? We‘re going to have to go to somebody else. Let‘s go right now to Jon Allen. We‘ll get back to Congressman Inslee, if we can.
Joining us right now is Politico‘s Jonathan Allen. I was going to ask the congressman, but I‘ll ask you. Do you think during the course of testimony today that these companies were able to say it was an equipment breakdown? You know, it isn‘t the tools that are to blame. I‘m told by experts that it‘s management decisions, as the congressman allowed right then, that cause this spill.
JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO.COM: Well, I think these executives are saying not only would they have made better decisions but they have better plans to prevent blowouts and even better plans for cleanup if a blowout happens. So what you had is these four other executives really piling on BP, throwing them down the well, if you will, to try to preserve their own oil operations.
You had Democratic leaders on the committee. You heard Mr. Inslee just talk about it. You also heard Henry Waxman and Ed Markey trying to make the case that these guys really don‘t have different plans. That was sort of the key point of the hearing from the Democratic perspective. And of course, you got a lot of oil patch Republicans and even a few Democrats who want to make sure that drilling continues, who are trying to bolster that claim by some of these other companies that they don‘t operate in quite the way that BP does and that they wouldn‘t make those same judgment decisions that Mr. Inslee is talking about and that you were talking about.
MATTHEWS: Well, do they have—can they lay out what they would have done to prevent this spill?
ALLEN: Well, there are sort of long plans that they submitted to the Energy and Commerce Committee over the course of the last several days that the members of the committee have seen that are now in the record that at some point, we‘re all going to get a good look at.
And there‘s a very large disagreement between the other four oil companies and Henry Waxman and Ed Markey about whether those plans really do differ. The congressmen, the Democratic congressmen, believe that they‘re all the same. We heard, I think, 90 percent similar. I think Ed Markey said they‘ve got different colored folders, but they‘re all the same plan.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well...
ALLEN: Of course, the oil companies say they are different. So I think that—I think that‘s just going to bear some investigation over the next few days.
MATTHEWS: Well, when you read “The Wall Street Journal,” you read the letters to the editor, you read the column, in fact, the news pages of “The Wall Street Journal,” it is fraught with information about the management decisions, the red flags that went up and ignored, as the congressman said, in terms of causing this disaster. It wasn‘t the blowout preventer. That‘s the last-gasp technique for preventing these kinds of disasters. It had to do with decisions they made on the drilling mud, decisions they made about the cement not being ready. Did you get a sense that there was any apology in that room today for this kind of behavior?
ALLEN: Well, there was certainly apology from BP (INAUDIBLE) a blanket apology, We‘re sorry for everything, but not necessarily the specific apologies that the lawmakers were looking for. And of course, the other companies distancing themselves from BP felt like they had less to apologize for, other than the state of their plans, which were highly mocked...
ALLEN: ... for including plans for cleaning up walruses, which obviously don‘t exist in the Gulf of Mexico.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go back to Congressman Inslee. You sound like a progressive, sir, so let me ask you the question. Is Congress progressive enough to require in future, to prevent this kind of catastrophe again and again and again—say, for example, the government of Norway, I‘m told, requires relief wells be dug at the same time they dig the—they drill the well itself. Can we insist upon that kind of perhaps expensive decision making up front, instead of after the disaster?
INSLEE: You know, the president said something interesting the other day. He says, You know, if I had proposed a stronger, more aggressive regulatory system a few months ago, one of the parties would have fought them because they think government is sort of inherently evil. But I think now the American people are so deeply wounded and they are so full of anxiety about this that we are going to succeed, and I hope in a bipartisan way, to make sure that we get the same type of regulatory safety in the oil industry as we do in the Federal Aviation Administration.
And there are many things we have to do. One, we have to require this industry to use the best available technology. Incredibly, they‘re not required to do that. Number two, they have to learn to use standardized procedures. Today, I was flabbergasted to find out these five companies all do stuff differently, and none of them do it in the safest way, probably.
Number three, we have to have ways, as you talked about, to respond to these potential disasters, which include potentially remote acoustic sensing devices to operate the blowout provider (SIC), having relief wells at least ready to start being drilled, as Canada requires. These are common sense measures.
I hope that John Boehner and others drop their resistance to the idea of forcing British Petroleum to pay all these damages, and I hope they‘ll join us in making sure we‘ve got a new day in energy. But not just this. Remember, this will not be a successful result until we really take inspiration from this event to realize that this is like the Cuyahoga River catching fire. It is a moment where we can start reinvigorating our industrialized base. And we‘re just getting these technologies to come on. You know, I heard in Holland, Michigan, we‘re hiring hundreds of laid-off auto workers to make lithium ion batteries.
INSLEE: That‘s great future for this country.
MATTHEWS: Well, fortunately, in the past, we had Republican presidents like Ike...
MATTHEWS: ... who believed in the positive role for government. He‘s the guy that built the interstate highway system.
MATTHEWS: He‘s the guy that brought in the National Defense Education Act to respond to Sputnik. I‘m not sure some of the Republicans in the oil patch, Inhofe, et cetera, are ready to act here now. I don‘t think they are. I think they‘re still going to be stick-in-the-muds when it comes to doing anything. Anyway, thank you, sir.
INSLEE: Well, we don‘t need everybody. We just need a majority.
MATTHEWS: Well, we need 60 senators, too.
INSLEE: There you go. There you go.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee...
INSLEE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... of Washington state, and Jonathan Martin. Thank you for joining us, Jonathan.
Coming up: President Obama‘s primetime address from the Oval Office comes tonight at 8:00 o‘clock. What does he need to say? And what tonight will he have to do to demonstrate that he‘s in charge, that he has command and control? We‘re going to talk to Carol Browner, the president‘s point person on energy and the environment. She‘s coming up next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What we found was that the these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment. In some cases, they use the exact same words.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: But what they show is that ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell are no better prepared to deal with a major oil spill than BP. The same company, the Response Group, wrote the five plans and described them as cookie cutter plans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s what could be the clearest snapshot yet of what voters are thinking heading into the mid-terms this November. National Public Radio polled likely voters in 70 battleground House districts, 60 of which went Democratic in 2008. Ten are respected by Republicans.
In districts represented by Democrats, only one third, 34 percent, say they‘d reelect their congressman, versus 46 percent who say they‘ll vote for someone else. But in districts represented by Republicans, the numbers are virtually flipped. Forty-nine percent, nearly half, say they‘ll reelect their congressmen. Voters in the tightest districts are happier with the Republicans, grim news for the Democrats heading into the mid-terms.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Tonight President Obama will use his first ever Oval Office address to talk about the oil down in the Gulf of Mexico. Let‘s turn now to Carol Browner, who‘s assistant to the president for energy and climate change and the former administrator of the EPA under President Clinton.
Carol, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
CAROL BROWNER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISER: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It‘s great to have you on this big night. I‘ve got two questions because I‘ve been—well, I‘ve been hounding the administration from this program on a number of issues. I want you to respond to them. We‘ve had John Hofmeister, who‘s the former head of Shell Oil, on the program a number of times. He said there‘s a lot of tankers that could be brought into service from around the world who could go in there, they could be empty (ph), they could (INAUDIBLE) begin to skim off the surface of the gulf. It may not be efficient, but they‘d be out there doing it.
Why hasn‘t the president done so, called in these other oil companies to begin skimming on the gulf?
BROWNER: Chris, this is the largest environmental response ever. Obviously, it‘s the largest environmental disaster, and we have unleashed the largest environmental response. We have thousands and thousands of vessels out there. Obviously, the most important vessels working right now are those that are working to get the oil captured, to drill the relief well.
I know that idea has been looked at. If we need to look at it again as the situation changes, obviously, we‘re going to do that. We want this problem solved as quickly as anybody, and we are open to all ideas. And we look at them. We take them seriously. And if we can use them, we move forward.
MATTHEWS: Who makes the decision on whether to act on something like this, the decision to get other tankers from around the world, using extraordinary presidential power, maybe jawboning these companies into giving us this help from around the world? We‘ve got Gene Robinson today saying that Sweden has volunteered to send three ships that can collect 15,000 gallons of oil an hour. Has Sweden been called upon? He says they haven‘t.
BROWNER: Well, the State Department has reached out to countries around the world to see what resources they could make available. Those are inventoried. The Coast Guard, working with all of our best minds, look at what‘s available, what can be brought into the region.
Again, we need to understand what‘s going on out there. There are already literally thousands and thousands of vessels working. The most important are the ones that are trying to get the oil captured. Fifteen thousand barrels a day was being captured up until this week. Another 8,000 to 10,000 is going to be added. More vessels are being brought in. By mid-July, we‘re talking about capturing 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day, and that‘s happening because this administration, under the leadership of the president, has directed BP to change their response plans to bring in more equipment, to make sure we are doing everything we possibly can to get this under control, number one.
And then secondly, obviously, the cleanup. It‘s very important. I just came back from the gulf, where I was with the president. We visited Alabama, Mississippi, my home state of Florida. We visited with all the governors, with mayors, with business owners.
BROWNER: Obviously, they‘re being impacted. And what they‘re asking us, and what the president‘s going to speak to tonight, is these claims that are getting filed. They‘re not getting paid in a timely manner. What the president wants and what he will speak to tonight and what he will tell BP tomorrow is these people are suffering and we need to do something for them, and I am not going to allow this to continue.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me get back to this. According to the United States government and independent scientists, as of this minute, there‘s 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day coming out of that well, OK? So let‘s put that in perspective. Everything we talk about is up against that incredible flow going into the gulf this very second.
My question to you, again, is who—what person in the administration is either saying yes or no, green lighting or red lighting these proposals from around the world to skim the oil off the surface of the gulf? Who‘s green lighting or saying no to—what person is doing that?
BROWNER: All of these are fully reviewed by the Coast Guard. They make a determination...
MATTHEWS: Coast Guard?
BROWNER: Wait—and then a directive is issued. The directive is issued through Homeland Security. And this goes on on a regular basis. Just this weekend, we issued a directive to BP. They gave the Coast Guard a plan that said they could do this or that. We said, Not good enough, 48 hours, we want another plan. And that‘s what we got...
BROWNER: ... early this week. And that‘s how come we are now able to say to the American people that all of these resources are being brought in to capture 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil per day.
MATTHEWS: What about all the other oil companies that do business in the United States?
Are you satisfied, personally, as an environmentalist, as a conservationist, that we are using all the powers of the presidency to dragoon, to intimidate, to leverage all the oil-producing countries—producing companies—to use their tankers and come in and skim together? Why aren‘t all the oil companies who do business with us out there in the Gulf right now?
BROWNER: Well, first of all, their resources are being called on. And, secondly, you should know that Secretary Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, the secretary of energy, Secretary Ken Salazar at the Department of Interior, did meet with all the other oil companies just this week...
BROWNER: ... and say, is there anything else we need to be doing?
They, quite frankly, didn‘t say there was a lot more to be doing. And they‘re experts. These are people that have had their experts down in the control center in Houston, where the work is going on, on a daily basis.
BROWNER: But we did convene an additional meeting just this week to ask the very questions you‘re asking. And we‘re going to keep asking those questions.
MATTHEWS: You know, you should really stop saying that the guy has a Nobel Prize. I mean, I hear it every night. It doesn‘t have anything to do with this problem.
BROWNER: He‘s a smart guy, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It really doesn‘t have much to do...
BROWNER: He‘s very, very smart.
MATTHEWS: I know. But it doesn‘t—if he solves this problem, he‘s a success. If he doesn‘t, he‘s not.
BROWNER: Well, I will tell you, Chris, he has already contributed.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the challenge before us.
BROWNER: He has already contributed in very, very important ways.
BROWNER: It is because of him that we have gotten better measurements, so we can give the people of this country a better understanding of what‘s happened. It‘s because of him that some lines are now being reversed and will be bringing up more oil to boats, rather than being simply released into the environment.
Secretary Chu has played a hugely important story in this effort.
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
Well, thank you Carol Browner.
BROWNER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I have great respect for your intentions. I think three-quarters of the American people, though, are quite angry we‘re not doing enough. Thank you for joining us tonight.
Let‘s go now to Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference.
I was taken by something, Congressman.
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: Hi, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on—by something the president said the other day to—to Roger Simon. He said, the same people out there barking that the federal government is not doing enough are the same people that a couple months ago, if I had advocated stronger regulation of the oil industry, would have been barking at me for being a big-government guy.
PENCE: Well, I think the—this president has shown an unusual interest in commenting on his critics in the media and here on Capitol Hill.
The American people don‘t want to hear the president‘s reflections and commentary on criticism. I think he wants to see him—they want to see him working the problem, which the American people expect and, frankly, the law demands.
I mean, I was just listening to your—your interview with EPA Administrator Carol Browner. And it was striking to me. You kept asking the question, who is making the call, who is making the decision? And the Coast Guard and this and that.
The—the law that was adopted, Chris, after the Exxon Valdez, clarified that the president of the United States shall develop a plan to manage the discharge in catastrophic cases like this.
The president was put in the lead by the law after the Exxon Valdez incident, but what—what we have seen now going on 57 days is, first, it was BP‘s problem. They have got to solve it. Now we‘re working with BP. Now we have got our foot on their neck. And now the president is down there.
The American people don‘t want more rhetoric. They don‘t want the president confronting his critics. They want the president literally working the problem, marshaling public resources and private resources in the United States and around the world to not only get that well capped, but they want to arrest the expansion of this spill and protect our coastline and the economy to the best extent possible.
MATTHEWS: You have done an excellent job of critiquing the White House. And I agree with everything you have said.
Now about you and your party. The Republican Party, what is its position about regulations on safety matters of the oil industry? Years ago—I studied this—there had been no effort to regulate the safety of the oil industry. It‘s always gotten scot-free because of its lobbying power, its contributions to both political parties. They have been given a scot-free, self-regulatory regime. In other words, trust BP has been the motto. Trust the oil countries.
Is this going to be a Sputnik moment for both parties? Are you guys on your side—and women—are going to say, now, wait a minute, this is one of these areas like food safety and airline safety where it‘s not a question of ideology; it‘s a question of common sense; we‘re going to make sure that none of this happens again?
PENCE: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: Is that your party philosophy NOW? Are you still going to be defenders of the oil patch and take a deregulatory point of view?
PENCE: Let me take—let me—me leave you to your stereotype about our previous position and—but let me say this.
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s an accurate one.
PENCE: Well, let me say this, Chris.
The American people are entitled to accountability on the part of BP. They‘re responsible for every dime of impact on the environment and on the economies and the families and the communities in the region. Secondly, the American people are entitled to answers, so we can find out what happened that day on April 20, but we—and we can find out what went wrong in the—in the days and weeks and months before that, and that we can, in a thoughtful way, not legislating in a crisis, not knee-jerk legislating, but that we can, in a thoughtful way, develop regulations that will allow us to go forward and develop our domestic reserves in an environmentally responsible way.
You know, as we—the reality here is, we have pushed drilling farther and farther and farther offshore. And—and many of us suspect that the reality is that the regulations did not evolve in a way that dealt with deep drilling a mile down.
MATTHEWS: Right. OK.
PENCE: So, yes, regulations have to change. Oversight has to change.
PENCE: But what can‘t—we can‘t do is, we cannot abandon the environmentally responsible development of our—of our resources.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well said.
Thank you very much, Congressman Mike Pence. Please keep coming back.
PENCE: Thank you. We will.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a great guest.
Let‘s bring in NBC White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie.
Savannah, do you have anything—any clues as to what the president is going to say? Is he going to call into—further—more oil companies to come in and help us with the tankers and the cleanup? Is he going to reach a wider reach out there to the oil world, and not just other BP? What‘s coming?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, he‘s going to lay out the plan for cleaning up this oil and give a pretty clear picture of where things stand, officials say.
He‘s also going to talk about reforming the way the oil industry is regulated. We know he is going to name a—kind of a czar, to use a word used that gets used too much here in Washington, but somebody to oversee that process of breaking the MMS, the agency that had been tapped with regulating the oil industry, breaking that into three pieces.
And this is a—a lawyer, somebody who has got experience with the Department of Justice as an inspector general to come in there and take a look at that. He will also talk about the claims processes. As Carol Browner just told you, Chris, if you‘re down in the Gulf—and we have been down there with the president—this is the complaint you hear more than any other, confusion and concern about whether or not BP will really honor claims.
A lot of people feel they have been damaged, perhaps irrevocably, by this spill. So, he will talk about the claims process, setting up a claim fund. Now, the devil is in the details here. I do not think we‘re going to hear tonight a particular dollar figure, although, on the Hill, Congress is actually asking for tens of billions of dollars set aside by BP to make sure they can make these claims.
Officials say, whatever BP sets aside, that‘s not BP being all in. It‘s what they consider to be a down payment. And then the final piece of this speech is going to be a real push for energy and climate change legislation.
He will say, as he has said before, he does not have the votes for a climate bill right now, but that he will look for them. And the real question for climate activists tonight is, is it just words, or is he going to put his money where his mouth is and really make a health care-style push for this?
Does he have any executive power he has able to—he can—able to use here to force them to put together a larger chunk of money in this escrow account?
GUTHRIE: Yes, that‘s a very interesting legal question, one I just was talking about with a senior official right now.
I mean, a couple things to note here. First of all, right now, they don‘t need the legal power, because BP is essentially agreeing to this in theory. They‘re in negotiations. It‘s not at the point where they‘re in court and having to press these claims.
If it got there, then I think there would be a real question. I mean, for one thing, you have a law on the books right now, the Oil Pollution—the Pollution Act of 1990, which caps liability at $75 million. What‘s interesting here is that BP is not fighting efforts in Congress to lift that cap.
Essentially, BP is over a barrel. It knows it.
GUTHRIE: So, whether or not there are—there‘s a legal authority for the federal government to come in and say, set aside $20 billion, it may never get to that. They‘re negotiating with BP. We will see what number they come up with.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe the president ought to, to use a football term, blitz the Congress right now with a set of proposals, like raising the cap, requiring relief wells to be dug as part of any deepwater right now, when the Republicans and the oil dispatch people are on the offensive, instead of waiting three months or 10 months now or two years from now in litigation, when everybody has lost their steam on this.
Anyway, thank you, Savannah Guthrie, for that report...
MATTHEWS: ... from the White House.
The president will speak tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
We will be right back after this. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Up next: From Rand Paul and the Tea Partiers to the militia movement, the far right is on the rise in this country. And, when we return, I‘m going to have a preview of my documentary that airs tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. here on HARDBALL, “The Rise of the New Right.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL right now, only on MSNBC.
JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Jane Wells with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks on fire today, en fuego, on some solid economic reports and renewed confidence in the euro—the Dow Jones industrials soaring more than 213 points, the S&P 500 up 25, and the Nasdaq higher with a very strong 62-point gain.
The euro gaining against the dollar, after some successful European debt auctions. Demand was stronger than expected for that debt, easing concerns about the euro‘s own solvency. Couple that with an upbeat report on Northeast manufacturing and a sizable drop in import prices, and investors are feeling confident that the European crisis is having little impact on the U.S. economy so far.
Shares in major credit card companies gained on a report showing delinquencies fell again in May. So, more people are paying their bills, despite the rocky recovery.
And a rare success in a tough year for initial public offerings:
Shares of Chicago‘s CBOE exchange posting double-digit gains, debuting at $29 a share. Well, they ended the day at $32.49.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern, I want to remind you we have to—you have to watch our documentary, “The Rise of the New Right.”
Here‘s a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RISE OF THE NEW RIGHT”)
MATTHEWS: The new right, an emerging fact of life in 21st century America, Tea Parties, birthers, patriot groups, militias. Their common cause? A raging hostility toward the elected government of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in deep tyranny, deep, deep, deep.
MATTHEWS: Their common fear? That their personal rights and freedoms stand in imminent jeopardy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tyranny is something that we have been warned from the very beginning by the founding fathers that we have to be on guard against.
MATTHEWS: Their common enemy? The president of the United States, Barack Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re either going to stop him, or the United States of America is going to cease to exist.
MATTHEWS: From right-of-center to the farthest fringe, they resent what they see America becoming. Tens of millions are ready to vote no to everything the new president proposes. But, for others, the fight is bigger than bills in Congress or election candidates. In their own words, they want to take their country back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine and writes a politics column dot-com—he writes for PoliticsDaily.com. Pat Buchanan is, of course, Pat Buchanan.
MATTHEWS: Pat, you‘re one of the stars of this, not...
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... because you‘re a current hero, but because you were a pathfinder.
What I find stunning about this—and I think liberals, progressives, people from the center-left will be stunned and scared by what they see tomorrow night—people on the right may find themselves yelling, right on, right on, because a lot of this documentary is simply people on the right saying their thing, from, Glenn Beck, to Rush Limbaugh, to Orly Taitz, to all these people out there, Alex Jones, saying their thing.
It‘s a true documentary, as you know.
What is it today that scares people about Washington government, to the point where some are arming themselves? They‘re calling it illegitimate. This government was elected legitimately. They‘re calling it a tyranny. It‘s not right, left anymore. It sounds revolutionary anymore, these people, all of them, Tea Party, militia, patriot groups, truth—birthers, the whole crowd.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think you‘re mixing an awful lot of things up.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s—because they use the same language.
BUCHANAN: Well, they do.
But, look, look, I mean, I don‘t know these Michigan militia guys. I don‘t go out with them into the woods and things like that. And I don‘t know if these guys with guns and things like that really represent a Tea Party.
What you have got to ask, Chris, is, how is it that a Tea Party that you describe in a one-hour documentary as very dangerous and in some ways threatening had a 2-1 approval record, and the Tea Party was more admired and approving than the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as of a couple of months ago?
Where you have got it pretty close, I think, Chris, is the second part. I think the first part would be like me doing a documentary on the civil rights movement, and starting off with Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, and, you know, Malcolm X, and Elijah Muhammad.
BUCHANAN: And then you get around to Whitney Young and—and the other guys, Martin Luther King.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but Martin Luther King was never a black nationalist. He wasn‘t calling for separation.
Let me go to you, David. It seems like what strikes me in doing this and reporting it is that use of the flag “Don‘t Tread on Me,” the great Gadsden flag from South Carolina, these people are referring to the federal government of the United States which was honestly elected. Nobody questions the election of Barack Obama. He won by a good margin, 53 percent to 44 percent (ph).
MATTHEWS: Well, look, they‘re saying he‘s not an American. They‘re saying he‘s ill legitimate. This language, I‘ve never heard before.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, what‘s interesting to me about the piece that you did was that they showed the continuum between people, Dick Armeys of the world, who you interview, who was a member of Congress, you know, libertarian conservatives, you know, helping to stir up the tea party.
And then you have someone like Alex Jones who we just saw in that clip, a radio talk show host who says he‘s not right, says he‘s not left. But he says that we are—that basically there is a planetary elite that literally has a secret plan to kill 80 percent to 99 percent of the population. And you have Rand Paul going on his radio show every couple months in which they talk about the threats to liberty.
Now, I‘m not saying Rand Paul believes the conspiracy theories of Alex Jones, but by appearing on that show, he‘s somewhat legitimating Alex Jones as the voice of the right.
MATTHEWS: Why look, Dick Armey, we all like—I‘ve known Dick Armey forever. Dick Armey will not disown the birthers.
Now, this is where you‘re—I think you‘re wrong, Pat. Thirty-two percent of Republicans, self-identified Republicans are birthers now. They believe the president wasn‘t born in the United States now, a latest CBS poll. See, you can‘t just say it‘s a fringe crowd.
BUCHANAN: Let me talk as a political figure—
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine 1/3 of Republicans you know believing this guy is not American? It‘s true.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, Chris, there are about 1/3 of African-Americans in this country think that George Bush was responsible for either blowing up or deliberately not doing—
MATTHEWS: What poll is that?
BUCHANAN: I saw it after New Orleans because they said because it was black folks there. Now, what do you do about that? Here‘s what I do about birthers, I say, no. I think the Honolulu advertiser, they didn‘t hope that up. I think he was born in Hawaii. And they say, well, we don‘t think so. I‘d say, well, who are you going to vote for? They say, well, we‘re going to vote for you. I‘d say, thanks, fine.
MATTHEWS: Even though you‘re legitimatizing the government and justifying a lot of talk here.
BUCHANAN: Chris, there are people out there, in my movement, all over the place, that got views I don‘t agree with. What are you going to say, I don‘t want your vote or I don‘t want your vote—
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think it‘s the interest (ph) for people to believe this government is illegitimate?
BUCHANAN: I mean, in what sense?
MATTHEWS: And believe it‘s illegitimate. Meaning, it was the usurp power taken from the people. Somehow this guy is not an American. Somehow he was elected—
BUCHANAN: I understand the birthers. But I don‘t know anybody that doesn‘t think this was a legitimate election.
BUCHANAN: And they lost.
MATTHEWS: They say he shouldn‘t have been on the ballot.
CORN: This is a danger we talked about this on the show before. If you have people out there saying that Barack Obama has a—is a secret Muslim, as one of the people say on your documentary, or he has a secret plan to destroy America or that America will cease to exist if what he wants goes through, it does send a green light, a signal to people, wait a second. This is about life and death. This is—
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s take a look at that.
CORN: And what you do, you‘re going—people out there are going to get the wrong message about taking extreme action.
BUCHANAN: Well, you know like Lee Harvey Oswald—I mean, take a look at these guys who have done all this.
MATTHEWS: By the way, the trouble is this rationalizes all kinds of behaviors. Let‘s take a look at this. This is the tea party voices you‘ll hear right now. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS (voice-over): Congresswoman Bachmann echoes the wild charges that were flung in the early 1950s by Senator Joseph McCarthy.
SEN. JOSEPH MCCARTHY ®, WISCONSIN: Even if there‘s only one communist in the State Department, that would still be one communist too many.
MCCARTHY: As Americans and as Republicans, is to dislodge these traitors from every place where they‘ve been sent to do their treacherous work.
MATTHEWS: The roots of the new right lie in the anticommunist conservative groups of the 1950s. Fundamentalist preacher Billy James Hargis‘ conspiracy-minded Christian Crusade was broadcast on hundreds of radio and TV stations.
BILLY JAMES HARGIS, CHRISTIAN CRUSADA: I have just signed a contract with one of the biggest record companies in America. I am producing three anti-communist albums for them in the next 12 months for national distribution.
MATTHEWS: And in the late 1950s, a group of citizens banded together to weed out communists from American society. The John Birch Society, named after an American missionary killed by Chinese communists, also opposed civil rights and other liberal initiatives.
MATTHEWS: And then you have the head of the John Birch Society saying that Ike was a communist. He‘s brought more communists, all communist discipline guys.
Pat, these people are saying things about the country that just aren‘t true. The president is not legitimate, that the federal government is a tyranny. They are justifying violence.
CORN: -- at the secret FEMA camps.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, this is—I think that‘s preposterous. Look, I‘m sure you can go out there. You got a country of 305 million people.
MATTHEWS: OK. I‘m talking about Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. I‘m not talking about strangers here.
BUCHANAN: All right. But you take Joe McCarthy in 1954, four years into his crusade, 50 percent of the American people thought he was doing a good job.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the point. I‘m not denying the popularity of these people.
BUCHANAN: Take a look at—
MATTHEWS: That‘s why we did the documentary, to say how scary it is.
CORN: Pat, there was no threat of a communist takeover at any time in American history.
MATTHEWS: I think Ike was not a communist. Thank you.
Pat Buchanan, you didn‘t think Ike was a communist, did you?
BUCHANAN: He was a golfer.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Pat Buchanan. Hedging (INAUDIBLE) again.
Thank you, David Corn.
A reminder, you got to see this—don‘t listen to Buchanan. He‘s like part of this problem. “The Rise of the New Right” premiers tomorrow night—an old part of the problem—at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right now on MSNBC. He‘s been overtaken by crazier people.
Up next: how many Democrats can Bill Clinton save this election cycle? There he is. Big Bubba is back. He‘s back. Is he the Democrats‘ not-so secret weapon? Well, he isn‘t secret anymore.
This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: President Obama and Vice President Biden are coming to the aid of two struggling Democratic Senate candidates. The president is set to campaign for Majority Leader Harry Reid out in Nevada during the first week of July. That‘s coming up. Reid is in a fight with the tea party favorite who won the primary, Sharron Angle.
And the V.P. will head to Illinois to stump for Alex Giannoulias later this month. He‘s the guy that took Barack Obama‘s seat.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
Former President Bill Clinton has already helped Democrats win a special election for the late Jack Murtha‘s seat out in western Pennsylvania. He helped Blanche Lincoln big time in that runoff last week in Arkansas. He‘s got some power out there.
So, how many more Democrats can Clinton save this election cycle?
“The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and radio talk show host Michael Smerconish are here, great political analyst.
I want to start with Gene, who wrote a hell of a column today, I‘ve already talked about it by getting the president out there to use these other countries. But let me ask you this, Bill Clinton. Is he the go-to guy now if you‘re a Democrat?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think he is. I mean, President Obama is kind of limited as to where he can go and what he can do and where he can help, frankly, at this point. There are obviously some places where he can and some places where he probably couldn‘t. Bill Clinton is a—
MATTHEWS: Look at that hug.
ROBINSON: He can go wherever he wants and he‘s got—he‘s still got that magic, that Clinton magic.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me go right now—let‘s take a look at the map. I want Michael to look at this map and study the power of the Clintons.
Here are the states where Bill Clinton could help, it‘s believed:
Senate Democratic candidates for reelection, Arkansas, of course, with Blanche Lincoln up for a tough one. Kentucky, of course, is trying to knock down Rand Paul in the general. Pennsylvania where he‘s got to have Joe—help Joe Sestak. Nevada where he‘s got Harry Reid—Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, where Paul Hodes up there, and Washington State.
Your sense of where Bubba would be strongest, Michael Smerconish?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: If I were—if I controlled his calendar, I‘d probably send him to Ohio. I‘d definitely send him to Pennsylvania. Of course, I‘d send him to Arkansas. I‘d send him to Indiana as well.
And I would send him in search of working class white voters, those who pull the Obama lever but right now are really reeling in the face of this economy. He‘s never lost his credibility with any of them.
And, Chris, I happen to think that he was unfairly maligned in the ‘08 cycle. That fairytale comment and so forth, I‘m obviously a white guy, but I never saw any racial implication in the point that he was trying to make.
MATTHEWS: Even when he said that Jesse Jackson did well, too, to try to diminish the success early on of Barack Obama, Gene?
MATTHEWS: Is that wearing out, that bed mark (ph) against him?
ROBINSON: It is—it is wearing out. I don‘t think there are really lingering bad feelings about Bill Clinton necessarily. Although I do think there was a racial component to it. I thought that was clear, but it was in the heat of the campaign and the Clintons have made nice with Obama. I think—I don‘t think that‘s a problem for him.
MATTHEWS: Michael, right now—I‘m sorry, we got to move.
Michael, so much is happening right now in the news. Michael, quickly.
Clinton‘s about two to one right in the latest CNN poll.
Let me ask you this: it seems to me that the untold story, maybe we should do a doc on it, is the amazing coalition between the Clintons, both of them. She as secretary of state, and him as roving ambassador for the administration. That coalition is everything right now.
Do you think there‘s a danger of the former president and the secretary of state coming up to the current president next year and saying we want in, we want a bigger piece of the pie, we want Hillary on the ticket? Could they do that?
SMERCONISH: I don‘t think they can do that. I think that Joe Biden has a very useful function for the administration. Chris, I think they need each other. I mean, Senator Clinton had a great job when she was in the United States Senate. I think she clearly aspired to do even more.
He gave her that role. And in terms of what she gives him, well, take a look at the polling data right now and the conversation we‘re having. I think they‘re invaluable as a political tool.
MATTHEWS: Is she better on ticket, Hillary Clinton on the ticket next time?
ROBINSON: No, I don‘t think so. I think—
MATTHEWS: Better than Biden?
ROBINSON: You want Biden on the ticket and you want Hillary where she is if she‘ll stay.
MATTHEWS: You think—you don‘t think the Clintons will ask for more?
ROBINSON: No, I don‘t think so. I don‘t think so. I think the Clintons—
MATTHEWS: Clinton has been superb. I‘ve just never seen such unselfish political behavior by any politician let alone Bill Clinton. And Hillary Clinton—what do you subscribe it to, Michael, this incredible generosity on the part of the former president? I mean, I stand in awe of it because it is so unselfish. He‘s been everywhere for this guy, helping Blanche Lincoln, helping—I think he‘s going to help Joe Sestak in western Pennsylvania, as you know, et cetera, et cetera.
SMERCONISH: Well, Chris, I think you and I could have a good debate as to whether the vice president has a better job than the secretary of state. I think she‘s well suited for exactly where she is. I think it‘s intellectually challenging in a way that she desires. I don‘t know that she‘d be happy as the V.P., frankly, if those were the two options that she had. And I don‘t think it would be offered. Why would it at this stage?
MATTHEWS: Will you vote for Obama next time?
SMERCONISH: You want me to get in trouble already? I‘m not in enough trouble—I‘m not in enough trouble from the last time?
MATTHEWS: OK. Gene Robinson, thank you.
Michael Smerconish, always in trouble with us, thank you.
When we return, let me finish with some thoughts. “The Rise of the New Right” and what the resurgent far-right wing means for this country. Stay tuned. You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with our big documentary coming up here tomorrow night. “The Rise of the New Right” at 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night will stun you with what‘s happening to this country. You‘ll never again believe the so-called Tea Party Movement is just about taxes or deficits or Obamacare.
No, what you‘ll see is far more like the original Tea Party up in Boston, the one that previewed our war against the British. Look at the Gadsden flag they wield, that warning of “Don‘t Tread on Me” with the coiled rattlesnake.
In 1776, it served warning to those who threatened America from abroad. Today, it‘s being waved in contempt of our own honestly elected American government in Washington.
Listen to Rush Limbaugh‘s stir on the new right by calling the government in Washington a regime, or Orly Taitz, leader of the birthers, calling the president illegitimate. Listen to militiamen on guard against tyranny here on the Potomac and you get the full force of what‘s happening.
This isn‘t about what the tax rate should be. It‘s an argument about whether the federal government deserves toppling like any other tyranny or illegitimate regime in history. It‘s not the talk of politics, but of revolution.
Listen to Limbaugh, Beck and Palin and Michele Bachmann, Orly Taitz, and, yes, Rand Paul, and you‘ll hear of a Washington that has usurped authority of a president who‘s not one of us, of a Congress that needs to be investigated for treason, of a country itself that‘s been taken over and needs to be taken back.
The voices you‘ll hear speak for themselves, the guns you see, the semi-automatic weapons in the arms of those who see the government of the United States as the looming tower of tyranny. If I can put it as bluntly as possible, catch “The Rise of the New Right” here tomorrow night at 7:00, and you‘ll suddenly get why you‘re seeing men at political rallies for the first time ever wearing guns.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show