Guest: Reshma Saujani
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Drill, baby, drill. Does that mean spill, baby, spill?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off tonight: Who‘s to blame for the mess in the gulf? Bottom line, a federal appeals court is expected to rule today on the federal government‘s moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. But however the court rules, I want you to know—I want to know who‘s to blame for this entire mess, even if it gets stopped right now. Were federal regulators asleep at the switch? Are they still asleep at the switch? We‘ll get into all of that at the top of the show tonight.
Plus, Sarah Palin‘s out with a new Web video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: Look out, Washington, because there‘s a whole stampede of pink elephants crossing the line, and the ETA stampeding through is November 2nd, 2010, a lot of women coming together!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Just asking, but does that look like a campaign video to you? Because it does to a lot of people. Palin‘s target, moderate women voters. Don‘t underestimate Sarah Palin. Believe me, I think she could actually win, in this atmosphere, the whole nomination.
Plus, it‘s time again for another episode of “Out on a Limbaugh.” Rush‘s latest version of disfigured reality, that President Obama sank the economy on purpose as payback for 200 years of racial oppression. Never mind that it was George W. Bush who got us into this economic mess. And by the way, it‘s been 58 days since we first challenged any alive Republican, intellectually alive, to come forward and say that Rush doesn‘t speak for him, her, or the party. So far, no takers. Maybe tonight we‘ll get one.
Also, defending the rich. Wall Street bankers may be the least popular people in the country right now, but one politician‘s trying to get elected by saying, Give Wall Street a hand. And she‘s a Democrat. We‘ll play HARDBALL with her tonight.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with this heretical thought. Was Michael Steele right?
Let‘s start with Bernard Charbonnet, former New Orleans Port Authority chairman, who‘s in New Orleans, and Michael Papantonio, an attorney representing gulf area businesses and fishermen affected by the oil spill.
Mr. Charbonnet, this is the question on the table. The president‘s policy, which is fighting in court right now—we haven‘t got a ruling yet today—he‘s going to keep fighting it, even if he loses—he wants a moratorium of at least six months on deepwater drilling. Where are you on that one?
BERNARD CHARBONNET, FMR. NEW ORLEANS PORT AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN: I can‘t
vote with the president on this one, Chris. The federal judge is right on point. This goes to the very core of our economy. There‘s 7,500 direct or related jobs associated with oil drilling. We‘re an exploration and production state, we‘re not an administrative state. Administration takes place in Houston. We drill and we work here.
And for years, you know, oil and fishing worked hand-in-hand. There was a collaboration that had worked well. Now, we need recalibration, no question about it. And you know, we‘ve got some dark days ahead. But at the end of the day, I don‘t believe we‘re going to get a decision today. This is a three-judge panel. It‘s going to take a while for them to write up their decisions. I don‘t see us with anything today. Maybe in the next couple of days.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. If an airplane crashed because all the doors fell off, would you let it fly again, that airline?
CHARBONNET: Well, certainly. You see, what we‘re doing is throwing the baby out...
MATTHEWS: No, you said certainly. You would let an airplane...
CHARBONNET: Oh, but not that airline.
MATTHEWS: ... go up in the air again—oh, not that airline? OK, so...
CHARBONNET: Not that airline.
MATTHEWS: ... you (INAUDIBLE) see a moratorium on BP only?
CHARBONNET: No, I‘d like to see strict scrutiny on all oil rigs. I‘d like to see them go over and have security affidavits on each and every oil rig. But at the end of the day, you‘re throwing the baby out with the bath water. You can‘t shut down every oil rig. You can go out and you can strictly look at each one for each and every safety mechanism that should be in place.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, this baby‘s called BP. Let‘s get that straight.
CHARBONNET: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: Would you let BP go into deep water again with drilling?
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about...
CHARBONNET: Not BP.
MATTHEWS: Would you trust Ken Salazar over at Interior—would you trust his administration of the Minerals Management over there—Minerals Management—would you trust it over there, the way that—the services, the way they‘ve handled this, the appointments made over there under—under President Obama‘s watch—do you trust them to regulate deepwater drilling?
CHARBONNET: I think Ken Salazar needs to take a hard look at his whole office. He‘s laden with people from the old administration, and he‘s got to get real tough. Do I trust Ken Salazar? I don‘t think the jury is out on him yet.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think a jury is looking very closely at this case. Let me go to Mike Papantonio, who‘s looking tough, and he may be the worst jury you ever had. Mike, it seems to me the question is on the table. The head of Minerals Management was supposed to be looking at this regulation of the oil industry, was supposed to be watching the deep water operation, supposed to be looking at the permits to see if they‘re really filled out right. This person was hired by this administration, and then in the middle of the night, pulled away and somehow isn‘t there anymore. But the president won‘t even say he knew that she was fired.
So it is on their watch that this all happened. My question to you, do you trust Salazar? Do you trust his management of Minerals Management Services?
MIKE PAPANTONIO, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILIES SUING BP: Salazar needs to be fired, Chris. Look, when Salazar came into office, we all knew what he was. He was an industry hack. This is the same Ken Salazar, if you think about it, that voted to end the moratorium on drilling in the ocean. He‘s the same Salazar who actually had the audacity to say that we should not end Exxon‘s subsidies in a year that Exxon was making $30 billion or $40 billion.
This man is an industry hack. He didn‘t do anything to change the problems that he knew about when he came into office. When he came into office, he already knew that the agency had experienced a sex and drug scandal. He knew that he had an agency that had such a close relationship with petroleum that the agency was holding golf junkets and ski junkets in exotic places around the world. He knew the agency was dysfunctional. It has been put together by James Watt in 1982. It had not changed.
MATTHEWS: There‘s a piece of work!
PAPANTONIO: Dick Cheney had actually—yes, it is. James Watt—if you remember, he‘s the guy that started this agency. Nothing has changed since James Watt came in and said, I‘m going to form this agency with my buddies from Wyoming. It‘s an incredible story, Chris. The incredible story is...
MATTHEWS: OK. Bernard Charbonnet...
PAPANTONIO: ... that Salazar...
CHARBONNET: All new to me, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I have to ask Mr. Charbonnet something. Let me ask you something about—that may not be new and therefore that you have a problem. We know that this was not regulated, this industry. We know that BP got away with murder. We know it‘s all their fault, but we know they weren‘t regulated. Has anything, to your knowledge, changed to stop, “Drill, baby, drill,” meaning, “Spill, baby, spill”?
CHARBONNET: No. Nothing‘s changed...
MATTHEWS: Well, then how can you support “Drill, baby, drill” without knowing we‘re going to get more “Spill, baby, spill”?
CHARBONNET: The only thing that‘s happening now is that we‘ve got a review the permits for all deepwater oil rigs that have to be restarted. That‘s the only thing that‘s changed at this point. I support drilling because I support the people who live in Louisiana who desperately need those jobs. It‘s just that simple. But I do not support, you know, the lack of safety on oil rigs. That would be—that would be unacceptable.
MATTHEWS: OK. Mike, the problem is that the permit that was filled out by BP said that they were able to handle a spill of exponential size of the one that we‘re facing right now...
PAPANTONIO: Ten times.
MATTHEWS: ... in other words, an even bigger spill. They lied. They
lied. They admit now that they tried (INAUDIBLE) kill, they tried capping
capping whatever—I can‘t even remember the number of attempts they‘ve tried now, but they were all fresh (ph) attempts, cut and cap, deep kill. Now they‘re going with the relief wells. We don‘t know if any of this is going to work. So we don‘t know if any of it‘s going to work. And yet they claim they can do it.
PAPANTONIO: Well, we can assume—Chris, we assume that they can‘t do it. We assume—once we learned that they phonied up their application, they actually lied to the U.S. Justice Department, they lied to the federal government—they said that—they said, first of all, that it was an operation that could handle about 10 times the spill that we have here.
More importantly, if you look at that, they actually had a dead scientist sign off on the document and represent that that dead scientist had a plan. Look, from day one, we have to—we have to...
MATTHEWS: How did they—did they move his hand? How did they handle this—how‘d they have the dead scientist sign this document? I‘m curious.
PAPANTONIO: Well, they actually—they actually...
MATTHEWS: No, seriously. You said a dead guy did something.
PAPANTONIO: A dead guy—they had a dead guy sign off on this document, Chris. Believe it. It happened.
MATTHEWS: Meaning they used his signature? Meaning they used his signature?
PAPANTONIO: They used—they used—they used his name, they used his report just as if he were alive and kicking. Listen, this is a company that we have to look at for who they are. This is a felon company. They have shown nothing but a history of lying to us from day one. Day one, we knew that we had a catastrophe.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let‘s go back to...
PAPANTONIO: They didn‘t tell the story...
MATTHEWS: Mr. Bernard Charbonnet has a real problem on his hands, and you do have a problem. You have unemployed, hard-working people who‘ve done nothing wrong except do their job, and now they‘re stuck with—you know, the fish rots from the top, as I think Michael Dukakis used to say. And the question is, if the fish is rotting from the top and you‘ve got BP and the other corporations not being responsible in terms of safety, not following good management protocols—I don‘t blame things on machines and blowout preventers, I blame management for making decisions on, you know, drilling mud, and on whether the cement is hard enough and whether they really do the job and follow the protocols and really go deep enough in terms of safety.
They‘re the people I blame from day one. I don‘t blame machinery because machinery doesn‘t make the profits. And the question is, how do you in good conscience, Mr. Charbonnet, even though you want your workers back—wouldn‘t we be better off just paying them full salary and not putting them back to work so we don‘t have to do this cleanup again?
CHARBONNET: Yes, on its face, for sure. But you got to realize that with a deepwater rig, most of them are mobile. And they‘re mostly called jack-up rigs. When you move a jack-up rig and it‘s inoperative for a long period of time, that rig moves to Brazil or some other place. At that point, it‘s not coming back in six months.
CHARBONNET: It‘s working in Brazil at that point. So our people are still juxtaposed between safety and a job.
MATTHEWS: I got you.
CHARBONNET: That‘s the problem in a nutshell.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, I have one extra problem here. I‘m going to Mike on this for a final question -- 27,000 wells out there have been apparently capped like manhole covers, sealed over with cement. And apparently, the regulation of those dormant wells is no better than what we‘ve seen here with BP. What is your view of that? Do we face a really serious problem out there in terms of failure to regulate by MMS, by Salazar, by the Interior Department?
PAPANTONIO: The same people, the same silk suits who were telling us that the Horizon was not a problem are telling us that these 27,000 rigs that are dormant out there are not a problem. The truth is, nobody‘s inspecting. Nobody‘s—there‘s no regulation, really, that‘s being used to find out whether they‘re deteriorating. We have no idea when one goes bad, Chris. We have the same Mineral Management people that are dysfunctional...
MATTHEWS: Yes, OK.
PAPANTONIO: ... that are basically criminal...
MATTHEWS: Thank you, gentlemen.
PAPANTONIO: ... that are overseeing (INAUDIBLE) it‘s a potential disaster.
PAPANTONIO: Potential disaster.
MATTHEWS: Bernard, I respect completely your opinion. I may disagree with it. We‘re going to wait and see how the courts are ruling where the president stands. Mike Papantonio, as always, gentlemen, thank you.
My view of this—for the conservatives watching right now. Think hard. When you eat a can of tuna and you want to make sure it doesn‘t have ptomaine in it or something, don‘t you like a little regulation occasionally? When you get on an airplane, don‘t you like to know that that plane‘s been checked for safety? Don‘t you like to know there‘s been double-checking? So you‘ve got to think about regulation, whether it‘s good or bad. It‘s not essentially bad. It could be essentially good. Think about it when you‘re dumping on government the next time.
Coming up, Sarah Palin makes a play for moderate women voters in her new campaign-style video. She says she‘s working for candidates in 2010, but isn‘t she really working for somebody named Sarah Palin in 2012?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Big trouble brewing for Senator Barbara Boxer out in California. Check out the latest Field Poll. Senator Boxer has just a 3-point lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, just 47 to 44. Boxer‘s under 50, by the way. That‘s not a good number for reelect. What‘s worse for her, she‘s about even in job approval. Forty-three percent of voters say they approve—or they disapprove. Forty-two say they approve. That‘s right on the nail. She‘s got to make her case again, although she always ends up winning. Anyway, that‘s the question, 42 percent approve. If the Democrats are going to hold that seat, they‘re going to hold the Senate, California‘s a must-win state. I think everybody agrees. And by the way, Vice President Biden‘s out there campaigning with Boxer tonight. This tells you where that stands.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: This year will be remembered as a year when common sense conservative women get things done for our country. All across this country, women are standing up and speaking out for common sense solutions. These policies coming out of D.C. right now, this fundamental transformation of America—well, a lot of women who are very concerned about their kids‘ futures saying, We don‘t like this fundamental transformation and we‘re going to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, part of a new video that Sarah Palin‘s put out today on YouTube and FaceBook. What should we make of this battle cry to women across the country?
MSNBC‘s analyst Michelle Bernard‘s president of the Independent Women‘s Voice, and Amy Waters, editor-in-chief of “The Hotline.” I have the two best people to have on this.
I have the most ambivalent view of this candidate. I think she‘s running for president. I think I see a route for her to actually be elected, or nominated—not elected yet, certainly, and probably never, but nominated by a conservative party. In these angry atmospherics, she might be able to win.
Your view. What do you think she‘s doing here, Amy Walter?
AMY WALTER, “HOTLINE” EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: I think she is getting herself onto television, which is very good for business and for Sarah, Inc., which I think is something she‘s been very, very good at doing. The thing is, if she is trying to appeal to women, here‘s where we should first look to, is, one, will Carly Fiorina—you talked about Barbara Boxer a second ago. Will Carly Fiorina bring Sarah Palin in in November to campaign for her in October. That‘s going to...
MATTHEWS: And why is that an important question?
WALTER: Because it will tell you a question (ph) about whether she can appeal beyond just a very core conservative base.
MATTHEWS: For a general election.
WALTER: For a general election. She‘s been very popular in primaries. Second, is she going to raise any money for these candidates? She‘s done a lot about being...
MATTHEWS: Just to be fair here, California‘s a very hard reach for Republicans in a presidential election. They haven‘t won that since Reagan.
WALTER: Absolutely. No, but I‘m saying in terms of appealing—all right, what candidates...
MATTHEWS: And maybe they won with Bush, Sr., there.
WALTER: How about what candidates will bring Sarah Palin in, in swing states? How many of those candidates who‘ve used her in a primary will bring her in, in the fall?
MATTHEWS: OK, that‘s a big question.
MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘S VOICE: Well...
MATTHEWS: I think she is Richard Nixon circa 1966, when he went around the country and singled out states where he could help, won dozens of them, by his count, and then was able to say, You owe me the nomination. You got to give it to me because I can deliver.
BERNARD: See, I‘m not convinced yet that she‘s running for president. What I will tell you, though, what I think about in terms of looking at this ad—there—and I have the same sort of ambivalence that you do. It‘s a highly produced ad. It‘s a great video...
MATTHEWS: It‘s quality.
BERNARD: It‘s quality. But here‘s where I think there could be a fundamental problem. The landscape for women has completely changed since 2008, when Hillary Clinton was running for president. It‘s completely different. If you look at the women who just won the most recent primaries...
BERNARD: ... Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman—none of them are running as “mamma grizzlies.” None of them are self-identifying as women candidates. They...
MATTHEWS: As moms. They‘re not running as moms.
BERNARD: They‘re not running as moms. They‘re not running as victims. They‘re not running as...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s look at...
BERNARD: ... women who are up against bad men.
MATTHEWS: I do think—I go back to the back (ph). When I was growing up and watching politics, Republican women tended to be—generalizing here—women—wives of wealthy husbands who had time to get -- and were socially connected enough to be very well—good at organizing parties and events, luncheons and things like—and very powerful. Today, these women are business people in their own right. You don‘t even know who their husbands are, in most cases.
Let‘s take a look at Palin here. This is in the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It seems like it‘s kind of a mom awakening in the last year-and-a-half, where women are rising up and saying, No, we‘ve had enough already, because moms kind of just know when something‘s wrong. There in Alaska, I always think of the mamma grizzly bears that rise up on their hind legs when somebody‘s coming to attack their cubs, to do something adverse toward their cubs. You thought pitbulls were tough, well, you don‘t want to mess with the mama grizzlies!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is so alien to me in many ways. She appeals, obviously, to conservative men. Obviously, she‘s a very attractive person. But she appeals to conservative men in sort of a—this mamma grizzly. I remember her doing an interview once with a grizzly bear rug behind her, right? I mean, what is this grizzly—mother grizzly thing all about?
WALTER: Right. This is—and what‘s made her attractive, I think, to a lot of men, too.
MATTHEWS: What is it?
WALTER: She‘s tough, right?
There‘s nothing more attractive...
MATTHEWS: I will defend my cubs?
WALTER: Right. There‘s nothing—and I can skin a moose and shoot things from a helicopter and jump down.
WALTER: And, right, there‘s something really attractive about a strong, tough woman. And I think women can be just as attracted. If not, I think there are some issues there. But I think it also comes back to...
MATTHEWS: Well, you just said something interesting. There‘s some issues there?
WALTER: There are some issues too with how women react to the women shooting things from a helicopter.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but let me tell you—this is a completely non-political statement, my feeling as a guy.
Men, all—I mean, modern men, certainly, love competent women.
Competence is saluted on both sides of the gender line, clearly. Competence—if you off as competent, corporate leader, smart, knows how to get things done.
WALTER: But is she coming off across as that vs...
MATTHEWS: Is she? I‘m not sure.
WALTER: No. That‘s the problem.
MATTHEWS: Is she coming off as a problem-solver or a commonsense attitude?
MATTHEWS: See, if you sell commonsense attitude, that doesn‘t mean you‘re going to solve the problems. That means you‘re just anti-intellectual. You‘re anti-big shot. You‘re anti—you have got a good attitude in terms of votes. But will you solve the problems of a country? Is she saying she can solve the problems or she can complain about them?
WALTER: She is just complaining about them.
BERNARD: She is—no, what I think she‘s doing, she is appealing—what we saw after the 2008 election was an enormous rise of what women‘s groups started calling the difference between blue state feminists and red state feminists. There was a whole group...
MATTHEWS: OK. What did Steve Schmidt mean, who was the campaign manager for John McCain, say—when he said she doesn‘t know anything? What does that statement say to you, she doesn‘t know anything?
BERNARD: I think he was saying that this is a woman who thinks she can see Russia from her home in Alaska, that she doesn‘t know anything. But what—the women she‘s appealing to don‘t care...
MATTHEWS: Here‘s more of the video. Here‘s Sarah Palin‘s video that is out today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: And that‘s what we‘re seeing with all of these women who are banding together, rising up, saying, no, this isn‘t right for our kids and for our grandkids. And we‘re going to do something about this. We‘re going to turn this thing around. We‘re going to get our country back on the right track, no matter what it takes, to respect the will of the people.
Look out, Washington, because there‘s a whole stampede of pink elephants crossing the line. And the ETA stampeding through is November 2, 2010.
PALIN: A lot of women coming together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: As rousing as that was—and I think it was in terms of product and quality—only about 30 percent of white women, if you will, are impressed by her, 44 negative.
Let me ask you about Michael Steele. He came out and he said basically the Afghan war is not a smart war and the president was wrong to escalate it, because history shows, with the British and the Soviets over there, you don‘t win a war in Afghanistan.
He‘s been kicked the hell out of by the neocons, the right-wingers, the people in the Cheney family that are always out there. As I say, there‘s like 50 mimeograph machines in that family and everybody‘s got a point of view.
Amy, you‘re laughing. They‘re attacking the heck out of this. But Michael Steele is still the chair of the party. And as of today, he says, I‘m sticking.
Here he is, RNC Chair Michael Steele, today in Colorado in his first public comments since the remarks. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I wanted to know what she thought of the $20 billion slush fund and...
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, we have the wrong one. But the fact is that he‘s out there.
WALTER: That‘s right. Well, he‘s saying, I‘m not going anywhere.
And guess what? He‘s not going anywhere.
BERNARD: He‘s not, yes.
WALTER: Because nobody has the ability to make him go anywhere. They‘re not going to kick him out before the end of this election. And it kind of comes back to the bottom line here when it comes to party chairman, which is fundamentally they are not as big of a deal as we make them out to be. Their job is to raise money and their job is to...
MATTHEWS: OK. When your party‘s out of power—I disagree with you.
I think it‘s a big deal.
If you‘re chairman of a party and you don‘t have the presidency, it‘s the only single national officeholder that can actually go out there and speak for the party.
WALTER: Yes. No, no, no, but, remember when Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel hated each other in 2006, Rahm said, we‘re going to lose—we‘re not going to win the House because of his stupid 50-state strategy? They still won the House in 2006. They still did well in 2008.
They play a role in terms of the nuts and bolts. They should be like
I think of them like a college president. Your job is to get in there, raise money, period.
MATTHEWS: OK. We have got to go.
Thank you, Michelle Bernard.
More on Michael Steele. I‘m sure we will get back next time.
MATTHEWS: Amy Walter, thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Another Republican has come to the aid of BP. Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle says the $20 billion fund to help victims of the oil spill is a slush fund. And then, late today, she did a 180 and said, well, it‘s not really a slush fund. That will be ahead in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First: the anatomy of a takedown.
In wiretaps played yesterday during Rod Blagojevich‘s corruption trial, we heard the ex-governor realize for the first time that he was in big legal trouble. On December 4, 2008, just five days before he was arrested, B-Rod‘s spokesman called to tell him that federal prosecutors had been recording him and that John Wyma, a former aide, is cooperating with the investigation, and that “The Chicago Tribune” would be running the story on the whole mess in the next day‘s newspaper.
Here‘s B-Rod‘s reaction in real time.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LUCIO GUERRERO, FORMER BLAGOJEVICH SPOKESMAN: I assume we‘re not going to say anything, but I wanted you to know.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: They have recordings of me, and Wyma‘s cooperating with the feds? Who said that?
In “The Tribune” tomorrow?
BLAGOJEVICH: Recordings of me?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, must be something to know the good guys are closing in and to know that you‘re the bad guy?
Next: Kids say the darndest things.
Here it is from “Kids Jeopardy” this week, a moment that will horrify conservatives and everyone else who cares about history.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I wanted to know what she thought of the $20 billion slush fund and whether or not government should...
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “JEOPARDY”)
ALEX TREBEK, HOST: Shaking hands with the premier of China.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is Nixon?
Ethan or Will?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is JFK?
TREBEK: Who was the late President Reagan, Ronald Reagan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Fame is fleeting. That said, I‘m betting on these kids and smart kids like them to learn quickly. It‘s the kids who are not on “Jeopardy” I‘m worried about.
And last: Sharron Angle takes up the torch for big oil. Harry Reid‘s Senate challenger is now becoming a pro-BP voice by joining fellow Republicans Joe Barton, Rand Paul, and Rush Limbaugh.
Here‘s Angle on a Nevada radio show yesterday taking a question on that $20 billion escrow account set up for victims of the oil spill.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I wanted to know what she thought of the $20 billion slush fund and whether or not government should be able to do that to a private company.
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the short answer is, no, government shouldn‘t be doing that to a private company.
And I think you named it clearly. It‘s a slush fund. Everyone in the petroleum industry shouldn‘t be penalized for one bad person‘s actions. It would be like throwing us all in prison because one person committed murder.
And that‘s—that‘s exactly what‘s going on here, is, it‘s an overreaction by government for not the right reasons.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, my God.
Anyway, this afternoon, she did a 180-degree on that quote. Here‘s Sharron Angle today: “Having had some time to think about it, the caller and I shouldn‘t have used the term slush fund. That was incorrect. My position is that the creation of this fund to compensate victims was an important first step. BP caused this disaster, and they should pay for it.”
Well, that didn‘t take long.
Now for tonight‘s “Big Number,” the story that everyone‘s talking about today, LeBron James. The NBA star will announce on ESPN tonight which team he‘s going to sign with next season, among the contenders, the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks, the New York Nets, Miami Heat, and his current team, the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
So, according to the Irish oddsmakers over Intrade.com, who‘s got the best shot of winning this guy? The Miami Heat with 67 percent. The oddsmakers give it 2-1 -- 2-3, rather -- 2 in 3, I should say, that LeBron picks Miami, he goes to the Heat. They have got some great other players there lined up -- 67 percent he goes south to Miami, tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: out on a Limbaugh. El Rushbo says President Obama‘s deliberately tanking the American economy to get even for slavery. It‘s been 58 days, by the way, since we have asked if any Republican out there has the brains and guts and pride to say publicly that he disagrees with this nonsense. We‘re still waiting for somebody to say. This might be the one that gets people to say, OK, I‘m not a ditto head.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Amanda Drury with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Well, the rally rolls on, with stocks extending their winning streak to three in a row, the Dow Jones industrials jumping 120 points, the S&P 500 climbing 10, and the Nasdaq adding 16.
Warm weather and two shoppers holidays heating up June sales for some retailers, sales at Macy‘s, Nordstrom, and Abercrombie all beating expectations, Costco and The Gap, however, among those falling short.
Analysts say stores with lower inventories tended to do better, but those deeply holiday discounts really cut into profits.
Well, investors were also happy to see a drop in weekly jobless claims, the rolling four-week average also trending lower.
Disney shares ending flat, though, after losing a $270 judgment to the creators of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
And the International Monetary Fund raising its global growth forecast for 2010, thanks to steady expansion in Asia and rising demand for goods and services right here in the United States.
That‘s it from CNBC. We‘re first in business worldwide. Now it‘s back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Fifty-eight days ago, we challenged any Republican to speak out against Rush Limbaugh and say he doesn‘t represent our party. So far, it‘s been radio silence. But take a look at Rush‘s recent rant on President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that he‘s been raised, educated, and believes on his own that this country has been, as you know, immoral, unjust. It has stolen. It‘s unfairly large. It‘s an unjustifiable superpower. We have become as large as we are not because of any uniqueness or exceptionalism or greatness, because we have simply discriminated against the real people that made the country work, all the minorities. And people around the world, we have stolen their resources. And now it‘s payback time.
And there‘s no question that payback is what this administration‘s all about, presiding over the decline of the United States of America, and doing so happily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Eugene Robinson is an MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post.” And Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst.
I have got to go to Pat.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Pat, does this sound right, that this is revanchism, this is getting even for whites‘ successes, the white America that he hates deep in his soul, and the reason he ran for president was to bring it down? Is this a reasonable argument by anybody?
BUCHANAN: Well, no, if you say that he ran for president to bring down America, no.
But if you say that Barack Obama is really not the type of, if you will, gut patriot that Jack Kennedy was, Ronald Reagan was, who would tear up at stories about American heroism—I think Obama does believe America‘s guilty of a lot of sins in its history, Chris.
And I think he comes from an environment where and—and a focus of people who tend to believe that and who believe the West has done things unjustly. And he focuses as much on that as he does on the great things we have done.
In that sense, I think he is somewhat different than almost all the presidents we have ever had.
MATTHEWS: When he says that Barack Obama‘s administration so far has been payback in terms of economic decline, can you subscribe to that?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t think that. But I do know—I did see the full quote. He‘s ticking off what guys of the Justice Department say who quashed this investigation into the New Panther Party, which was denying whites or trying to keep them away from the ballot box.
And he‘s quoting guys at Justice who apparently said, look, basically, white guys were doing this, and now it‘s our turn, and it‘s payback. And Rush took a riff off of that and I think took it too far.
But I will tell you, this New Panther Party Issue, Chris, if those guys said that—and it‘s going under oath under the Civil Rights Commission...
BUCHANAN: ... and, as you have talked about, subpoena power, if the Republicans get it, there‘s going to be a real scandal in the Democratic Party.
Let‘s talk about this indictment of the president by Rush Limbaugh, because, again, on this program, we‘re looking to see how many people were out on that limb, that Limbaugh, if you will.
Gene, do you think people believe this, that he is systematically trying to screw the country because he‘s so mad at it? Does anybody believe that?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don‘t think...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: I think Obama loves drilling moratoriums. I think he loves getting even with this country.
I think he loves punishing this country. I think he adores the opportunity to cut this country down to size. Obama was part of the Democrat Party cabal hoping for defeat in Iraq—is appointing people to the Supreme Court to vote down the Constitution, first president in history, to my knowledge anyway, who actually wants his nation to fail.
Obama wants to create an illegal alien bill of rights. We‘re now governed by people who do not like the country. Who is Obama? Why is he doing this? Why? Why? He wouldn‘t have been voted president if he weren‘t black.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it doesn‘t work with Pat. I‘m going to give Pat a chance here.
Let me go back to that in a moment. But you were going arguing with something—he got off his subject, his normal way of thinking by getting caught up with this Black Panther thing or whatever. He‘s clearly got a pattern here of saying just what he said the other day, Gene, which is: this president wants America to fail out of revenge.
ROBINSON: Chris, this is racist claptrap. This is no sense. I believe Rush Limbaugh actually believes half of the stuff that he said. You know, Barack Obama wants to create an “illegal bill of rights,” Barack Obama‘s proposal for comprehensive immigration bill falls far short of the amnesty that Ronald Reagan gave to illegal immigrants in the—he—if he believes half of this, I would be stunned. I think this is all about Rush Limbaugh‘s fat bank account and the fact that by saying increasingly outrageous and inflammatory, and, yes, racist things about Barack Obama, it stirs the waters and makes everybody talk about him and makes people listen to him.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well—
MATTHEWS: And let me get back to—
MATTHEWS: I‘ve got to get back—I‘ve got to get back to reality here before anybody watches this show is confused to our thinking. They might be some truth to this. The fact of the matter is that he inherited a very chaotic economic situation. Wall Street flat on its back.
He took steps that you can argue about and we can argue about for the rest of our lives were they the right steps. But clearly he tried to correct. Look at the crash and fall, something like back in ‘29. He didn‘t know what he was facing, Bush didn‘t know what he was facing. They both took extreme measures facing incredible economic and financial crisis.
And then he inherited this terrible mess down in the Gulf of Mexico.
Does anyone really believe that he somehow scuttled the American ship, Pat?
BUCHANAN: No, did he do those two things? First, he had nothing to do with the breach by BP. And secondly, I think he‘s doing his best by his philosophy and his ideology in dealing with this crisis. And a lot of us think it didn‘t work.
But, Chris, and certainly—but I do not agree with Gene that Rush‘s comments are racist. Let me say, let me just give you a difference, Chris. Look, when I say Jack Kennedy, look, you saw Barack Obama‘s down there, took that 55-minute lecture from Danny Ortega. Remember when Jack Kennedy at the Bay of Pigs and Khrushchev said, you Americans intervene in Cuba, he said, we don‘t need any lectures on intervention from people whose character is forever stamped on the bloody streets of Budapest.
I do not see Barack Obama making a statement like that, do you?
MATTHEWS: Well, it was a different time. Let me ask Gene on that one.
ROBINSON: No, Pat, this is ridiculous. If there were one way to be a patriot, and it was the Pat Buchanan way—
BUCHANAN: I‘m agreeing with you, Gene, there.
ROBINSON: -- you would write the rules on how—Pat, if you got to write the rules on how every patriot behaved in every situation, fine, you‘d have a point. You don‘t have a point.
BUCHANAN: Let me agree with you.
ROBINSON: It‘s frankly insulting and outrageous for you, Pat, to—on the basis of the way you think a president should act or speak—
ROBINSON: -- accusing the president of the United States of not being what you call a gut patriot. I think that‘s wrong. It‘s simply wrong.
MATTHEWS: Pat, I‘ve got to interrupt here, too, because we‘re ending this segment. But I‘ve got to remind you, Pat, who has a good memory for this—when this president won the nomination back—when he won the nomination, he gave the most patriotic speech I‘ve heard in this country about only in a country like this is my story possible, a total personal autobiographical love statement about America.
I wish you‘d remind yourself of that one, Pat. No one has ever paid more tribute to this country than this president because of what allow him to become. Yes?
BUCHANAN: But what you‘ve got to understand, Chris, is that we are wired differently. I agree with Gene. There are different concepts of patriotism, but ours is, quite frankly, on our side is different than yours. And we don‘t understand somebody who would sit there when Calderon in the Rose Garden trashed an American state and he wouldn‘t even stand up and respond. And your party cheered him for beating up on Arizona in the Congress of the United States.
That is a different idea of patriotism. It may be patriotism. It ain‘t mine.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well said, I guess, from your point of view.
Thank you, Gene Robinson.
BUCHANAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Pat Buchanan.
Up next: Is defending the rich a winning strategy? We‘re going to talk to a Democratic primary challenger up in Manhattan who says the government should be extending a helping hand to Wall Street.
This is HARDBALL—only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Still ahead: Could Republican chairman, Michael Steele, be right on Afghanistan?
HARDBALL—back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
Today‘s “Washington Post” has a front page headline that reads:
“Candidate banking on sympathy for Wall Street.”
As odd as that sounds, it might also surprise you that the candidate in question is a Democrat. Her name is Reshma Saujani. She‘s a lawyer and activist challenging New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in this September primary and she joins us tonight from New York.
Reshma, thank you for joining us.
Here‘s one of your quotes, I want to know if it‘s accurate, “We need to extend a hand rather than a fist to Wall Street.” What sort of hand should we offer the big shots on Wall Street?
RESHMA SAUJANI (D), NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, Chris, I want to thank you for having me here today and allowing me the opportunity to set the record straight.
You know, I‘m a first generation daughter of political refugees and my parents came here with literally the shirts on their backs. My father lost a significant amount of his 401(k) because of the crisis that happened on Wall Street. I believe in the financial services bill, I believe that we need accountability and transparency in Wall Street.
But I also believe that we‘ve got to get people back working again. You know, we have record high unemployment in my district. And my district includes the largest public housing in the country, Queensbridge. The unemployment there is 47 percent.
And I believe that we need everybody to help get New Yorkers back working again.
MATTHEWS: OK. That‘s a good campaign slogan. But what should we do in terms of lending a hand to Wall Street?
SAUJANI: I think, look—we need to make sure that we continue to hold Wall Street accountable. We need to continue to hold regulators accountable, and that we have an adequate bill, and that we have transparency and accountability on Wall Street.
But we also, you know, at a time where we have record unemployment rate, we need to make sure that the private sector is included in getting New Yorkers back to work.
MATTHEWS: So, what are we—let me ask this, I‘m looking at—you have attacked your opponent for special interest money, right?
SAUJANI: Yes, I have.
MATTHEWS: But then I‘m looking at the money and your financial statement, it comes from people working at Deutsch Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, the gold plate, the number one top drawer firms at the—at Wall Street. You‘re getting money from people who are making money from the top firms up there.
How can you attack your opponent, Carolyn Maloney, from getting special interest money when you‘re getting this kind of money from Wall Street?
SAUJANI: Because, Chris, I haven‘t taken a dime in corporate PAC money or special interest money. And my opponent—
MATTHEWS: We‘re looking at all these people. They all represent these big shot Wall Street firms. They all work for, as I said these names, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley and Goldman, and I could go through the whole list, Merrill Lynch—all these companies all work for—why are they all giving you money?
SAUJANI: Chris, I‘ve got—and we‘ve got almost 2,000 campaign donors from all across the district, from all across socioeconomic status.
MATTHEWS: But why are they giving you money, Blackstone?
SAUJANI: We have campaign contributions because—because I believe that the business community has lost faith that Carolyn Maloney has the capacity to create jobs in New York. And I want to talk about something, because I think something is really important and I think you‘ll find it important.
Two weeks ago, Carolyn Maloney, you know, right in the middle of negotiations. She‘s a conferee, as you know, you know, on the committee that‘s supposed to be negotiating the Wall Street bill. Right in the middle of negotiations, Carolyn Maloney held two PAC fundraisers. She compromised her, you know, her—you know, she compromised her status by doing this. Eight House members, you know, are being investigated right now by the ethics committee for doing the exact same thing.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But—
SAUJANI: Barney Frank stopped the optics of this—he canceled his fundraisers. And when Carolyn Maloney was asked about this, she said she didn‘t realize she was at her own fundraiser. That‘s wrong.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, you‘re both in the fundraising business, from what I can tell, and both getting money from Wall Street. So, this idea of special interest is an old canard.
Let me ask you about—let‘s get a pause—and let‘s give you a break here and let‘s talk policy.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s ask this: we‘ve got a $1.6 trillion deficit right now. What would do you about it?
SAUJANI: Well, I believe that we need to, you know, decrease our spending and increase our—you know, increase getting revenue. One of our ideas is to create—
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, that‘s not (INAUDIBLE). What would you cut?
SAUJANI: I want to give you an idea. We‘re proposing what we call a national innovation bank. I believe that New York City has the capacity to become the city of innovation. And we need to—you know, we need to empower our entrepreneurs. And one of the ways that we can do this is by creating jobs in industries we can lead in, like biotech, clean tech and—
MATTHEWS: Yes. How do we do that?
SAUJANI: I believe that we do it by creating a national innovation fund, which is a public/private partnership which Americans can invest in. And it can be a deficit reduction tool. Imagine if Americans and our government invest in the next Google. You know, they can take a form of equity and then help reduce our debt. We need to get creative, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Now, let‘s be creative about this, the Bush tax cuts. They‘re up for renewal in six months. Should we cut them—keep the cuts or get rid of them?
SAUJANI: Look, I think we need to—you know, I‘m in favor of, you know, President Obama‘s position on this and I think we‘ve got to get rid of the Bush tax cuts.
MATTHEWS: So, raise taxes on the wealthy?
SAUJANI: Well, that, you know, we can‘t tax and credit our waxy out of this crisis, you know?
MATTHEWS: No, just a simple question. This is what you have to do in Congress, you have to vote. I‘m asking you to cast a vote now. It‘s a tough vote coming up. A lot of wealthy people that make over a quarter million a year are going to have their taxes go up dramatically if these Bush tax cuts go out of existence. You‘re for doing that, yes or no?
SAUJANI: Well, if I believe that it‘s going to get our economy moving again, yes, I am.
MATTHEWS: So, that‘s a tough position. You‘re saying that we‘re too tough on the wealthy. We have to lend them a hand. Are they going to like that position?
SAUJANI: First of all, I have not said that I think we‘re too tough on the wealthy. What I‘ve said is that we need to get the private sector engaged in creating jobs in New York.
MATTHEWS: Of course, everybody‘s for that.
SAUJANI: Well, that‘s what we‘ve been talking about. You know, that to me is—
MATTHEWS: But it doesn‘t sound like anything real. It sounds like you‘re for innovation, you‘re for creativity and for all those thing, and it comes down to you‘re basically taking the same position as Carolyn Maloney—you‘re taking a lot of wealthy—money from people from these big financial institutions on Wall Street and you‘re supporting an end to the Bush tax cuts. I‘m waiting for somewhere where you‘re different from the incumbent.
SAUJANI: I‘m different because we‘ve been putting forth new ideas and new leadership. I mean, read our op-eds on “The Huffington Post.” We‘ve proposed new ideas on national security—
SAUJANI: -- immigration reform, education reform. This is a district about big ideas. And we need some in Congress right now and that‘s why we‘re running.
MATTHEWS: OK. Were you—were you for going into Iraq in 2003?
SAUJANI: No, I do not support the war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Are you for the war in Afghanistan?
SAUJANI: I believe that we‘re going to have to—you know, I don‘t think that the American people have the stomach for it. And I believe that we need to have more—
MATTHEWS: How about you?
SAUJANI: I don‘t have the stomach for it. But we need more accountability and transparency. I support the president right now and I want to see, you know, what‘s the progress of our action going to make on it. But I absolutely believe—
SAUJANI: -- that we should have had, you know—Congress right now is passing a bill on supplemental funding. There should have been, you know, a discussion on it, a hearing on it.
MATTHEWS: Well, there was. There was a big debate. About 150 Democrats said the president better come up with plan for getting our troops out and they had all that debate early this month and they had a lot of division on it.
But thank you, Reshma Saujani, for coming on. Good luck in your race.
SAUJANI: Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Carolyn Maloney is the incumbent running against you.
When we return, let me finish by asking: was Michael Steele right about Afghanistan? I mean, really?
You‘re watching HARDBALL—only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with that wonderful rule codified by columnist Michael Kinsley, quote, “A gaffe is when you tell the truth.”
Well, Republican leader, Michael Steele observed the other day that, quote, “The one thing you don‘t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan.” He added that, quote, “Anyone who has tried it over 1,000 years of history has failed.”
I think Steele had it right. He will remain right absent some awesome change in Afghanistan history—some serendipitous event, some never-before-seen change of culture that generates a hard affinity for clean, unified national government over there, that creates a fierce fighting spirit by a national Afghan army—a national spirit strong enough and determined enough to repel al Qaeda and keep it repelled.
Absent that big change over in Afghanistan—something I‘ve heard no one in uniform or out of uniform predict—who has the right to knock what Michael Steele said? The facts here are mean but they are facts nonetheless.
Progressive columnist E.J. Dionne applauded Steele for opening up the debate on Afghanistan. He makes the solid point that if Democrats said it was patriotic to oppose President George W. Bush on foreign policy, including where to conduct wars, can anyone rightly deny the right of Democrats or Republicans to oppose the escalation of a war by a president of their own party—which is precisely what we‘re getting in Afghanistan.
The president proposes that we attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, then begin to clear out next July. A vote in Congress early this month showed a majority of Democrats are skeptical of that policy. They want a plan for troop withdrawal.
I think it may be wise to think long before next year what Michael Steele had to say last week.
Anyway, that‘s HARDBALL for now.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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