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updated 5/4/2010 9:19:03 AM ET 2010-05-04T13:19:03

Guests: Chuck Schumer, Cynthia Tucker, David Corn, Ted Kaufman.

HOST:  Times Square terror.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight,

the foreign connection.  We dodged another terrorist attack, possibly from

a foreign source.  Thanks to the keen observation of a New York City street

vendor, authorities were able to dismantle that car bomb Saturday night

before it exploded in Times Square.  But now the FBI and the NYPD are

feverishly chasing down who was behind this failed attempt.  According to a

“Washington Post” story posted on-line late today, Obama administration

officials have spotted some tell-tale signs of international involvement. 

We‘ll get to that in just a minute.

And from one near catastrophe to an unprecedented calamity.  President

Obama rushed to Louisiana to get a first-hand look at the disaster hitting

its coastline and made sure to lay the blame squarely laid on BP. 

Predictably, some on the right are suggesting sabotage, saying it was the

liberals who did it.

Plus: Two guys who bolted from the Republican Party are fighting for

their political lives, and Sen. Jim DeMint is calling on conservatives to,

quote, “defeat the defectors.”  We‘ll get at Charlie Crist and Arlen

Specter‘s chances of winning their Senate races after jumping ship.

Also, a little round-up of the best jokes by President Obama and Jay

Leno at the White House Correspondents dinner over the weekend, one of them

about me.  More on that in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”

I‘ll finish tonight with same thoughts on the catastrophic oil spill

in the gulf and how the oil companies who grab the profits when the oil

flows get us to do the dirty work when it spills.

Let‘s start with the latest on the investigation into that failed car

bombing in Times Square.  Roger Cressey is an NBC News terrorist analyst. 

Roger, We need all your thoughts on this.  What do you think?  Is this a

case of international terrorism or a homegrown anti-government terrorist or

what?

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  So I think, Chris, there are

two possibilities.  The first is, is an individual who is self-radicalized,

maybe had some links with individuals overseas, never got overseas to get

the type of training necessary to build a really sophisticated, workable

device, decided to do something on his or her own and then went into Times

Square.

The second possibility is it is an individual like a Najibullah Zazi,

who traveled to Pakistan, met with the right people.  They decided to do

this type of device because maybe they thought it was better or more likely

to succeed, and again, this individual was either incapable or unwilling to

do it.

Either one is in play.  So much is going to depend on who the

individual or individuals—I mean, this could be a broader-based

conspiracy.  We simply don‘t know yet.  But either way it goes, it means

one of two things.  If it‘s a domestic only incident, then this becomes

purely law enforcement and becomes prosecution.  If it is someone with

links overseas, then this becomes a counterterrorism policy issue for the

Obama administration and what the federal government should do in response.

MATTHEWS:  Well, two questions.  First of all, how do you rule out

just a right-wing attack by somebody on the right who‘s mad at the

establishment?  How do you know for sure it‘s not an American versus

America situation here?

CRESSEY:  Oh, you don‘t.  And you could easily find out that this was

someone who was—either had a right-wing agenda or was mentally disturbed

or had other things that were driving—driving it.  My caution on a—on

the right-wing extremists is that, typically, they go after symbols of

authority, symbols of power.  Times Square is a symbol of American culture,

American society.

So if you‘re going to—if people are drawing some of the Timothy

McVeigh parallels, you know, McVeigh went after a federal office building. 

So the fact that whoever this was put it right in the middle of Times

Square and wanted to kill innocent men, women and children at the height of

an entertainment period, that for me doesn‘t add up.  But it‘s going to

depend on who this person was.

MATTHEWS:  Like a lot of Americans, I‘ve been lucky to walk through

Times Square during the big crowds and there are so many people there.  Let

me ask about these—this report by “The Washington Post” late today.  I

don‘t know if you‘re privy or not to what their thinking is, but what does

it mean to say that they‘ve seen tell-tale signs of international

involvement here?

CRESSEY:  Well, I think someone overstepped their brief just a tad

when they were talking to “The Post.”  What that typically means is a form

of communication, either e-mail, phones, or other type of pieces of data

that pinpoint—that point to some overseas interaction.  Or it could be

information, pocket litter that they found in the car itself.  That‘s less

likely.  So it‘s probably some sort of electronic communication that

they‘re following up with—on right now.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about this crazy bomb equipment.  I mean, go

through what was in there—in the vehicle that might have worked, or

maybe never could have worked.  What do you make of—well, just tell—

run through what was in there.

CRESSEY:  Well, I think bottom line up front, it wasn‘t going to work. 

You had several things.  You had a gas—you had gasoline cans.  You had

propane canisters.  You had firecrackers, M-88s.  And you had a large

gunbox filled with non-explosive fertilizer and an Rube Goldberg-like

approach to try and get it to light off.

The closest thing this comes to is what happened in London in 2007,

when there were two car bombs using petrol and propane canisters that

almost went off.  And based on what we‘ve heard from people on the inside,

the London approach was far more likely to succeed than what this—what

this one looks like.  So whoever put this together basically did a pretty

crappy job, and we should all be thankful for that.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, we are.  Thank you so much, Roger Cressey from NBC.

Let‘s turn now to New York senator Chuck Schumer, who joins us on this

very hot issue.  Senator Schumer, thank you for joining us tonight.  What

do you make of this as a New Yorker, as a guy grew up in New York and—is

your city always now going to be the iconic target for the bad guys?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  Well, we have been the target. 

There have been scares, probably one or two a year since 9/11.  And New

Yorkers—we‘re a tough breed, and we sort of know that lots happens in

our city, mostly good, sometimes bad.  And I think New Yorkers live with

the idea that we‘re the target.

I think the thing that troubles New Yorkers is not that we‘re the

target, but—although that troubles us, but the thing that can—

something can be done about is we do need Washington to recognize that and

help us more.  The New York Police Department‘s been doing an incredible

job.  They have a thousand people just on anti-terrorism.  And some of the

programs that the federal government does that have been very helpful—

for instance, this surveillance you see there at Times Square...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SCHUMER:  ... Ray Kelly, the commissioner, wants to do—wants to

complete that and do mid-town surveillance just about everywhere, and the

federal government hasn‘t appropriated that kind of money.  And then that

puts the mayor in a tough position of having the city pay for it, even

though it‘s really—terrorism‘s an international issue, or not, and the

city pays for some of it.  But the feds could step up and do more.

There‘s one other one that Kelly is working on that the budget

actually zeroed out this year.  It‘s called Ring of Steel.  And it‘s

detectors around the city, you know, on the G.W. bridge and on all the

major highways that come in, that could detect radiological and nuclear

devices as they came in.  They zeroed out the money last year.  I fought

hard and got it back, and then again, they zeroed it out again this year.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SCHUMER:  And we‘ll have to fight and we‘ll get it back.  But you

could also eventually expand that program so it could detect other things,

biological, chemical and even explosive.

MATTHEWS:  New York, to its credit, is filled with iconic—iconic

facilities and edifices.  You‘ve got, obviously, the Statue of Liberty,

obviously, the Empire State building, the Brooklyn Bridge.  There‘s so many

places there—the Chrysler building, that certainly -- 30 Rockefeller,

Rockefeller Center, so many spaces in New York that would make a big name. 

Certainly Times Square is enormous.  Is there any way to have surveillance

cameras, defense apparatus to capture these activities completely?

SCHUMER:  Well, you can never capture them completely, Chris, but the

technology does get better and better.  One example—this doesn‘t have to

do with New York but with the whole country—we‘re better at electronic

listening in to who might be a terrorist.  And most of the time, if there‘s

any connection to some kind of international group, we pick it up in

advance.

One example was the last terrorist threat we had, the man, Zazi, who

was finally apprehended at the George Washington Bridge.  And they had been

listening to him for, you know, six months to a year, and every call he

made and every connection he made was analyzed, and then every call and

connection they made was analyzed.  It‘s painstaking work, but very

successful.

So technology really works.  And there‘s offensive warfare, in this

case, the horror of terrorism, but there‘s defensive warfare, the kinds of

things I mentioned, that don‘t make you 100 percent safe but certainly cut

down the odds the terrorists will succeed.

MATTHEWS:  Just one last thought.  It‘s so phenomenal about New York. 

I‘ve got a couple children who live in New York, as you know, and they go

to school there and have gone to school there.

SCHUMER:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  And it‘s—every young person in America now wants to live

in New York.  It‘s the most astounding mecca it‘s become since 9/11.  What

is it—what is it about New York that has withstood—in fact, has

almost attracted people after the horror of 9/11, who feel that New York—

it‘s much safer than it was when you and I grew up, I think...

SCHUMER:  Well, you know...

MATTHEWS:  ... i think it‘s fair to say—there‘s a lot of things...

SCHUMER:  Probably...

MATTHEWS:  But why do people want to live there?

SCHUMER:  Well, New York has actually gained 1.5 million people, close

to 1.5 million people between 1990 and today, and about half a million of

those came since 9/11, or 300,000, 400,000.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SCHUMER:  And you got to remember, when was the city least safe?  Not

since 9/11, but actually, when crime just ripped apart the city, and you

know, you didn‘t feel safe going out to—sending your kid out to the

supermarket to get a container of milk.  And the leaders of the city, all

of them, and we in Washington did a real job on cracking down on crime.  So

overall, New Yorkers, I think, feel a lot safer today than they did 15

years ago...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SCHUMER:  ... even though the dangers come from different places.  So

you can‘t forget that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I...

SCHUMER:  But also, who comes to New York?  People who want

excitement, people who want the action.  And people like that are less

frightened away by things like this.  I was in Times Square the morning

after, and it was, you know, New Yorkers and others who‘d come to visit New

York, almost business as normal.  You know, my daughters want to go to

Times Square, I‘m going to say, Go right ahead.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it seems like it‘s really come back.  So much—great

to have you, Senator Chuck Schumer...

SCHUMER:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... after this strange incident.  We all got through it.

Coming up: Why is the right wing blaming President Obama for the oil

spill?  Is nothing out of bounds to blame this fellow for, our president? 

There‘s sabotage involved with that oil rig?  How can the “dittoheads” buy

this stuff?

In one minute, a colorful ex-congressman, by the way, gets in the game

again.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Ex-con ex-congressman Jim Traficant is back in politics. 

The offbeat Traficant filed papers today to run for Congress in Ohio‘s 17th

district—that‘s Tim Ryan‘s district—as an independent.  Traficant is

one of the more colorful members of Congress to serve in recent memory,

often ending his floor speeches with the line, “Beam me up, Scotty.”  He

received seven years—he served, rather, seven years in prison for

racketeering, taking bribes and filing false tax returns before his release

last year.  He says his main goal now, if elected, is to repeal the 16th

Amendment.  That‘s the one that allows for the income tax.  We‘ll be right

back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to emphasize,

from day one, we have prepared and planned for the worst, even as we hoped

for the best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  President Obama is making clear

his administration has been on top of the oil rig crisis from the start,

but some on the right are taking this disaster and using it for politics. 

Here‘s Rush Limbaugh today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  If President Obama is as

successful controlling the oil slick as he has been with creating jobs, the

Gulf Coast is screwed!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So what will the political impact of the spill be?  David

Corn‘s Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine and a columnist

for Politicsdaily.com.  And the great Cynthia Tucker‘s political columnist

for “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

Before we even wait a second, I‘ve got to show you worse.  Here‘s Rush

Limbaugh talking about the timing of the oil rig explosion and his theories

about what caused it.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the

explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig.  The cap-and-

trade bill was strongly criticized by hard-core environmentalist wackos

because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants. 

Since they‘re sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way

to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants then by blowing up a rig? 

I‘m just—I‘m just noting the timing here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What a ridiculous comment to make!  I mean, we‘re talking

about the worst environmental disaster in so many years, where (INAUDIBLE)

part of our world we live in could be destroyed for years and years.  And

here‘s this blowhard saying it might have been sabotage by the

environmentalists, who care more about the habitat than anybody.

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”:  You‘ve heard of...

MATTHEWS:  What is this—what do these words he speaks mean anymore?

CORN:  Well, nothing.  You‘ve heard of oil exploration.  This is oil

exploitation.  You know, anything that comes along, you twist it, you turn

it...

MATTHEWS:  But these “dittoheads,” they‘re bobbing their heads to this

stuff!

CORN:  But it‘s not—it‘s not just Rush Limbaugh.  Did you see Eric

Bolling...

MATTHEWS:  It gets worse.

CORN:  ... on Fox...

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Dana Perino on Fox, speaking of hauling coal to

Newcastle.  Here‘s Dana Perino bringing this nonsense to Fox.  Let‘s

listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, FMR. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: 

What‘s interesting to me is that something like Katrina, which was a huge

natural disaster which wiped out an area the size of the United Kingdom,

there was very little patience shown to the federal government.  This,

however, is an oil spill that was a man-caused disaster, and there‘s

ultimate patience given to the Obama administration for their response. 

What‘ll be interesting to me—and I‘m not trying to introduce a

conspiracy theory—but was this deliberate?  You know, you have to

wonder...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You mean sabotage?

PERINO:  ... yes, if there was sabotage involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  This from the personage that didn‘t recognize the history

of the Cuban missile crisis, had never heard the phrase before when she was

in office as presidential spokes—the lack of knowledge, the lack of

responsibility from the right is really getting wacky.  And you wonder if -

why is Barack Obama, who‘s just about 50 percent in the polls, so

dangerous to these people that they have to go to this extreme language? 

Are they all trying to catch up to Glenn Beck?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What‘s going on here?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, “ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION”:  Well, that‘s a very

good question, Chris.  And I‘m very surprised at Dana Perino, I have to

tell you.  I expected more of her than that.  On the—it turns out that

Sarah Palin is being much more responsible than Dana Perino.  She released

a statement last Friday suggesting that we need more government

regulation...

MATTHEWS:  Yes....

TUCKER:  ... and also saying that accidents will happen.

MATTHEWS:  Well, she knows the Alaska oil situation.

TUCKER:  Absolutely.  But any day that Dana Perino sounds more

irresponsible than Sarah Palin, she needs to reconsider.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I—I‘m going to talk about this at the end of

the show, but it seems to me that as horrible as this is—and it‘s going

to get much worse in the weeks ahead—there‘s a teaching moment here.  We

people are responsible for our habitat.  It‘s possible for mankind to

destroy our habitat.  This is an example.

CORN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  It isn‘t—it is God-given, but God‘s not keeping it here. 

It‘s staying in our hands.  It‘s in our hands, and we can destroy our

habitat.

CORN:  Well, this is—this is—you know, this happening in real

time very quickly.  Some of the biggest dangers, as you know, climate

change and other things, happen over a period of time.  They‘re slow and

gradual, although they may lead to what scientists call...

MATTHEWS:  But just as real.

CORN:  Just as real, but they lead to tipping points.  Not everything

that‘s done can be undone, and that‘s part of the danger we have.  And if

you pour enough oil into the Gulf Coast...

MATTHEWS:  Where does 13 million...

CORN:  ... you may not...

MATTHEWS:  ... gallons go to, is what I keep asking.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  ... Chesapeake Bay is one reason...

MATTHEWS:  But where does it end up?  It ends up on the ocean floor

and the—it ends up somewhere.

TUCKER:  Well, it will—it will hit land.  It already has.  And it

may end up on the tip of Florida, devastating fisheries and tourism there,

if the worst case scenario comes to be.

But Chris, back to the political impact here and right-wingers trying

to find a way to blame the president.  Because this is happening in real

time, it‘s going to be very hard for them to take people‘s attention away

from BP.  This is BP‘s responsibility.  People know President Obama wasn‘t

on that oil rig.  And sabotage is out of the question.  BP has not

suggested that.

First of all, it‘s pretty—it‘s pretty far down for any—quote—

“environmental wackos”—quote—to get to, to blow up an oil rig.  But

people understand, because it‘s is happening in real time—you can watch

the footage of this disaster taking place—that the responsibility falls

squarely on BP.  And we have to seek...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Safety first.  You know, you‘re right, you‘re right,

because safety and management are all management decisions.  No matter what

technology you have, it has to be managed.  It has to be checked and

rechecked.  Safety. 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”:  But, also, you

know, there was a move in some places to put better regulations on these

industries and put in what are these switches that could—automatic

switches that could have—that might have worked in the circumstance. 

And the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The blowout preventer.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The fact is, it‘s self-regulation.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  No.  Remember the Dick Cheney energy task force? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CORN:  It actually recommended against doing that, because too

expensive.  So, yet again, you see that government policies do have a lot

to do, if you give...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at this ad.  Somebody has already got a

political ad.  I don‘t even know which side this comes from.  The first ad

to politicize the oil spill comes from left-leaning MoveOn.org.  Let‘s

watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MOVEON.ORG AD)

NARRATOR:  Sometimes, great leaders are tested.  For decades, oil

companies have dictated our energy policy. 

President Obama, will you lead our country into a clean-energy future? 

Or will we see more of this?  President Obama, reinstate the ban on new

offshore drilling. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We will ask the question.  The president just moved into

that area as a compromise, saying we would have offshore now to meet the

near-term energy needs—you, Cynthia—and then—and then, long term,

we‘re going to try to go to renewables. 

Well, that makes sense as a compromise.  But now it looks like he

leaned over too far. 

TUCKER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, if you‘re an environmentalist, you say this is what

I was afraid of. 

TUCKER:  Well, environmentalists were against—many of them were

against the president‘s expansion of offshore drilling to begin with.  So,

let‘s at least give them credit for consistency. 

The environmental left always thought it was a bad idea.  And, yes,

the timing is interesting on this.  At the very moment, you know, just a

few weeks after the president announced this, then this disastrous oil

spill...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TUCKER:  ... reminds us on why it may not be a great idea. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s the president on this and who to blame.  He‘s

not blaming himself, obviously. 

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s going after BP.  And I think he‘s right.  Let‘s

listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Let me be clear.  BP is

responsible for this leak.  BP will be paying the bill.  But, as president

of the United States, I‘m going spare no effort to respond to this crisis

for as long as it continues. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, in college, I studied welfare economics, which is

not about welfare recipients or welfare rights.

CORN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s about the social costs of economic activity.  If you

make a lot of noise, the guy next door has got to listen to it.  That‘s the

social cost.  You pollute the air, the people that live near it have to

suffer from the pollution. 

In this case, their costs, they‘re going to try—BP will pay a

couple—you‘re going to pay a big bill here.

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re not going to pay the cost on the shoreline. 

They‘re not going to talk about the destruction of the environment. 

CORN:  Well, there were—there were—there were questions raised

at the White House press briefing about whether even what they have to pay

might be capped at some level, and Robert Gibbs didn‘t have the details on

that. 

But you‘re right.  Pollution that goes into the air or goes into the

water will have ramifications, if not for weeks, months, maybe for years,

and it is true that because of the Gulf currents, a lot of that could come

all the way up to the Chesapeake Bay and to the Northeast. 

This could go in a lot of different places, and some of these costs—

can you imagine the court cases in trying to figure out some of these costs

and define them?  And what‘s BP going to do? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re going to fight them.

CORN:  And if they declare bankruptcy at some point, then who picks up

the tab? 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I hear they‘re hiring a bunch of shrimp boat operators

and making them sign waivers, so they won‘t sue. 

CORN:  That‘s right. 

(CROSSTALK)

TUCKER:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  The lawyers—the lawyers are already involved, before the oil

hits land.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re co-opting people, right?

TUCKER:  They are trying very hard.  Shrimpers are already struggling

on the Gulf Coast.  They are already around telling people, OK, I will give

you $5,000 now, if you will promise not to sue. 

CORN:  Right. 

TUCKER:  Well, $5,000 may look like a lot to a shrimper who is

struggling at the moment, but it‘s nothing in terms of the overall cost to

his or her livelihood. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I will have—I got a lot more to say about this at the

end of the show, but you guys have been great.

Thank you very much, David Corn.

Thank you, Cynthia Tucker.

Up next: the best laughs from President Obama and Jay Leno at this

weekend‘s White House Correspondents Dinner, if you didn‘t see it on C-

SPAN.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL. 

Now for a report on the weekend, where the “Sideshow” became the main

event. 

Jay Leno hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner.  Here he is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”:  And you mentioned

the situation in the Gulf of Mexico.  There‘s talk now that this oil slick

could end up being—being bigger than that huge disaster they had up in

Alaska.  Really?  Bigger than Sarah Palin?  That‘s unbelievable. 

(LAUGHTER)

LENO:  And, as you know, a lot of Republicans could not be here

tonight because it‘s dollar drink night at the bondage club. 

So, unfortunately, yes...

(LAUGHTER)

LENO:  That was my favorite story, Republicans and a lesbian bondage

club.  It‘s ironic.  Republicans don‘t want lesbians getting married, but

they do like to watch them tie the knot.  So, I thought that was

interesting. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Jay Leno gave a plug to us. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENO:  And nice to see Chris Matthews.  Chris is here.  Chris, where

are you? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

LENO:  Chris has been on “The Tonight Show” a number of times.  Always

a great guest.  He comes out, sits down, talks straight through for 10

minutes.  Then I ask him a question. 

(LAUGHTER)

LENO:  Then he talks for another 20 minutes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t get it. 

By the way, President Obama did a first-rate stand-up.  Here he is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I wasn‘t sure that I

should actually come tonight.  Biden talked me into it. 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  He leaned over and he said, “Mr. President...”

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: “... this is no ordinary dinner.”

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: “This is a big...”

(BEEPING SOUND)

OBAMA:  ... “meal.”

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  There are times where you just can‘t help but laugh.  You know

what really tickles me?  Eric Massa. 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  Massa claimed that Rahm came up to him one day in the House

locker room, stark naked, started screaming obscenities at him, to which I

say, welcome to my world. 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  It‘s been quite a year since I have spoken here last—lots

of ups, lots of downs—except for my approval ratings, which have just

gone down. 

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA:  But that‘s politics.  It doesn‘t bother me.  Besides, I happen

to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my

birth. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  That was the best line.  Kenya.  What a guy.

Anyway, the man has talent. 

Time now for the “Big Number.” 

Yesterday, we got a good look at the main White House talking point on

the oil spill down in the Gulf, that the administration was prepared to

deal with the crisis from day one.  Remember that phrase.  And here it

comes from President Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Homeland

Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Ready, set, go. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN SALAZAR, U.S. INTERIOR SECRETARY:  From day one, there‘s been the

assumption here on the worst-case scenario to prepare for the worst, as we

have from day one. 

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  From day one. 

Since day one. 

Day one. 

NAPOLITANO:  All hands on deck from day one. 

Day one.

SALAZAR:  Since day one.

Day one.

The president has been involved.  So, from day one, we have been on

top of this. 

NAPOLITANO:  From day one. 

SALAZAR:  From day one. 

The president has directed from day one that we spare nothing at all

in terms of the effort. 

NAPOLITANO:  We had DOD resources there from day one, treated as a

possible catastrophic failure from day one. 

Day one. 

OBAMA:  An all-hands-on-deck, relentless response to this crisis from

day one. 

From day one.

We have made preparations from day one. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s why people really trust politicians.  Anyway, we

counted at least 19 times yesterday that President Obama and his Cabinet

said that they were ready for the oil spill on day one. 

Say the secret word, 19 “day one”s.  Way to stay on message—

tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, up next:  Can Charlie Crist or Arlen Specter win

after leaving the Republican Party? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC

“Market Wrap.”

A solid rally to start the week on some upbeat economic reports and a

bailout package for Greece, the Dow Jones industrials climbing 143 points,

the S&P 500 adding more than 15 points, the Nasdaq jumping 37.5 points. 

Investors breathing a little easier today, after Eurozone nations

agreed to fund a $146 billion aid package for Greece.  Back here at home,

the manufacturing index rose eight-tenths-of-a-point in April, its fastest

pace in nearly six years.  As a result, industrial stocks were some of the

day‘s best performers. 

Consumer spending rising for a sixth straight month in March, topping

gains in income, driving household saving to its lowest level in more than

a year. 

And BP shares still tumbling, falling near 4 percent today, after

sliding 12 percent last week.  With that oil spill still growing, analysts

say BP will be on the hook for up to $7 billion in cleanup costs. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL. 

Conservatives are drooling out there at a chance to take down two

detectors from the Republican Party this year.  It seems that, for the

first right—for the far right, Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter are even

worse than so-called RINOs, you know, Republicans in name only, because

these two fellows went all the way with it and ditched the GOP altogether. 

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who enthusiastically plays the role

of vigilante candidate recruit among conservatives, has a new Web site for

his PAC, his political action committee, that cries, “Defeat the

defectors,” while noting the dates of—quote—“betrayal” for Specter

and Crist, and encouraging donations to the Republicans in those Senate

states for those Republican candidates, Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio,

respectively. 

Will conservatives get their wish?  Can Specter win a Democratic

primary?  Can Crist win a three-way race? 

We‘re joined right now by “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman and syndicated

radio host Michael Smerconish.  They‘re both MSNBC political analysts.

Howard, I want you to—both of you—Howard and Michael, both, look

at this debate.  I caught a bit of it today.  Here‘s the first and only

debate between Specter and Sestak up in Philly.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  At the outset of this debate,

there‘s one item which needs to be cleared up.  I want an apology from

Congressman Sestak for his television advertisement which calls me a liar. 

When he calls me a liar, that‘s out of bounds.  I want an apology. 

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Career politicians will do

anything in order to keep their job.  They will switch the party from being

a Republican because they cannot beat the Republican opponent, and the next

day, after a poll is taken, they become a Democrat. 

SPECTER:  We all know this, that Congressman Sestak doesn‘t deal with

the issue about calling me a liar. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s Arlen Specter.  He‘s known for his aggressive

style in elections.

Howard, who is winning this thing? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, since

Michael there is in Philly, I concentrated on calling my friends in my

hometown of Pittsburgh.  And around the Allegheny County courthouse and

city hall and so forth, they think that Sestak has got a chance of catching

Specter here. 

Specter is playing prosecutor again.  He‘s sounding like the aggrieved

party, but he‘s also an incumbent for a long, long time, caught in a

whipsaw between attacks from another Democrat and attacks from Republicans,

who keep churning out stuff attacking Specter also. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael, your views of this race and how it went Saturday

night and whether Specter is going to get—get beaten? 

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I was surprised on

Saturday night that Sestak didn‘t have a response, because the line of

attack from Specter was oh-so-predictable. 

Arlen Specter has a commercial on television in Pennsylvania in which

he says that Joe Sestak was relieved of his command, and he points to an

article in “The Navy Times” as evidence of that fact.

And Sestak has responded by saying, “You‘re a liar.”

So, continually, Specter was saying, “Release your Naval records.” 

And Joe Sestak never had any kind of an answer to that question.  You would

have thought he would have been better prepared for it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SMERCONISH:  Chris, the most interesting aspect of the night is that

John Baer was the moderator.  He told me today that when the lights went

dark and the debate was over, he heard Specter mumble “fisticuffs” to Joe

Sestak. 

He said, “Do you want to continue this?”  And then he heard the word

“fisticuffs.” 

That lets you know how hot this one is getting. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s look at the latest polling, and we will move on

here.

According to the Pollster.com, which is an average of all the polls,

it‘s 47-34.  But, Howard, you got a new poll from Muhlenberg.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And I think they look like they have done a fairly

systematic job.  They are going to start daily tracking. 

They show it 48-42 Specter over Sestak.  My guess is, from talking to

people I know there, that it‘s not that close.  But, if there is any

momentum here, it seems it is with Sestak.  And, also, Specter has got to

be careful, Chris, because he‘s under 50 percent here. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FINEMAN:  That‘s—even in a primary, that‘s a rule.  If you‘re sort

of the incumbent, which he is...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Yes. 

FINEMAN:  ... under 50 is a dangerous place to be. 

MATTHEWS:  I think that‘s where it‘s going to end up, that close.  But

I don‘t think it‘s there yet.  Anyway, let‘s go to Florida right now. 

Charlie Crist, here‘s the “Meet the Press” yesterday.  Let‘s take a look at

the debate—the performance yesterday by Charlie Crist with David

Gregory. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Will you caucus in the Senate with

Republicans? 

CHARLIE CRIST, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA:  I‘ll caucus with the people of

Florida.  And as I said earlier this week—

GREGORY:  hold on, governor.  You have to make a choice when you‘re in

the Senate, Republicans or Democrats.  Who do you caucus with?  As a matter

of business, you have to decide. 

CRIST:  When I‘m an independent, I‘m going to do what I think is in

the best interest of my people.  And that‘s my decision. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you vote for a Republican or a Democratic majority

leader? 

CRIST:  I might not vote for either one.  I‘m going vote for who I

think would be best for the people of Florida.  And if that happens to be a

Democrat, so be it.  If it happens to be a Republican, so be it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Michael, I think Charlie Crist—I sort of like Charlie

Crist, but he‘s of off base on that.  You have to join a party caucus

before you can vote for leader.  He can‘t decide which leader he‘s going

vote for, because he‘s not even voting.  You must join the caucus.  Then

you get to vote for which person leads that caucus.  That‘s how it‘s done. 

He doesn‘t seem to know that or he rejects knowing it. 

What do you think?  Is he just ignorant or is he playing a game here? 

SMERCONISH:  I would hope that he would know the answer to that

question.  It seems to me that he figures in answering it, he‘s going to

alienate half of the base that he needs to win. 

Look, Chris, I‘m the rare talk radio host who is cheering him, on at

least in principle, because I would love to see some competition.  I would

love to see a voice be given to the middle.  There‘s a mindset out there

that says—John Avalon wrote this for the Daily Beast”—that says he

reinforces the worst stereotypes about centrists, that they stand for

nothing.  I would like to think he stands for something, and that

alienated, disinfected Republicans, the moderate types, are going to have

someone with whom to cast their lot. 

MATTHEWS:  There is a big different from being truly in the center, as

you point out, Michael, and just being some fellow or woman who looks to

the easy middle to avoid making a stand.  Howard, let‘s look at these

numbers right now.  He‘s up at 34.  He is leading. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Another thing he‘s doing that‘s interesting is that

he‘s going to have to rely, with his lack of on the ground infrastructure,

on the Internet.  As I was looking around today, preparing to come on the

show today, I noticed that the Crist campaign, very cleverly, is

advertising on political primary stories. 

In other words, if you go on the Internet, you go on a lot of

websites, especially stories about independent candidates and primary

challenges, you‘re going to see Charlie Crist ads up there, which is an

interesting thing. 

MATTHEWS:  What I found fascinating this weekend—this story keeps

developing—he‘s pointing to Joe Lieberman, who lost his primary in

Connecticut—and we were all watching that on the Democratic side—then

ran successfully against both parties and won the general.  He‘s talking up

Lieberman—he‘s saying that Lieberman told me that going independent is

the most liberating thing.  This is Charlie Crist talking.  “It works for

Lieberman.  I‘d be much happier now, to be perfectly candid, to do it.”

So he likes to play this game.  Let‘s take a look at Lamar Alexander

whacking him on the Sunday show, on “Meet the Press.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER ®, TENNESSEE:  Senator Lieberman was different. 

First, he ran as an independent at the same time he was running as a

Democrat.  Second, He had a very strong, principled opposition to the Iraq

War.  And third, the Democratic leadership in that case said they didn‘t

support him.  So Marco Rubio has shown to the people of Florida that he‘s a

better governor than Governor Crist, apparently, and Governor Crist has

said, I‘m not doing too well by these rules; I think I‘ll try some other

rules. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Michael, they‘re tracking them down, aren‘t they?  You

leave the party, we‘re going to go get you and smack you.  There you have

Lamar Alexander, a moderate fellow in his behavior, chasing him down and

whacking him. 

SMERCONISH:  My observation in watching that was to think that Senator

Lieberman now, perhaps, is in the role of king maker, if he chooses to be. 

I don‘t know that he‘ll ever sound off on the Rubio/Crist race.  But

similarly, in the Sestak election, at the end of the debate with Senator

Specter, he was asked to who do you admire?  Who do you look to for

leadership?  Chris, he named Sam Nunn.  You got to believe that, all of a

sudden, Arlen Specter was on the phone to Sam Nunn, saying, hey, can you

give me an enforcement here? 

MATTHEWS:  Wow. 

FINEMAN:  Well, the thing is here, at the time when there is such

polarization, if a few of these independent candidates, or people who claim

to be independent candidates, can support each other, in a way, that can

help.  That can help.

MATTHEWS:  In the center. 

FINEMAN:  They have to try to get together because they‘re being

attacked from both sides at all times. 

MATTHEWS:  Looking to Britain for leadership for liberal Democrats. 

Thank you, Howard Fineman.  The new Nick Clegg party.  Michael Smerconish,

I‘m sure it‘s all over the radio, those British election results.  We‘ve

got Charlie Crist coming on HARDBALL this Wednesday.  Come on, Charlie. 

Come on the show.

Up next, the Obama plans to reform Wall Street.  We‘ll talk about that

for a minute.  In this minute, the latest on the race to replace the late

Jack Murtha.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Fifteen days to go before the primary up in Pennsylvania. 

While the Specter/Sestak fight is the main event, there‘s also a tight race

shaping up to replace the late Jack Murtha in the 12th district, out in

western Pennsylvania.  Two new polls show the race between Democrat Mark

Kritz (ph) and Republican Tim Burns is single digits.  And tonight the

candidates meet for a live forum.  National Republicans are hoping for a

pickup.  Senator Scott Brown will campaign for Burns, the Republican, on

the eve of the election. 

HARDBALL will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  By the way, all of the jokes here tonight are brought to you

by our friends at Goldman Sachs.  So you don‘t have to worry, they make

money whether you laugh or not. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  That was President Obama Saturday night,

joking about something that appears to be all too true.  The Senate is

moving full steam ahead on Wall Street reform.  And some Democrats want to

get tougher on the biggest banks.  Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman is Vice

President Biden‘s successor in the Senate.  He sits on the Government

Affairs Committee. 

Thank you, Senator Kaufman.  It‘s the first time you‘ve been on the

show.  I wonder whether you have a special advantage coming into this

Senate without the need to fund raise.  One of—I guess the right word is

sickening parts of your wonderful role in life right now, that you don‘t

have to play, is to sit in your car out on the plaza making phone calls

during roll calls.  You don‘t have to do that with your colleagues.  Has

that given you an edge against these Wall Street character? 

SEN. TED KAUFMAN (D), DELEWARE:  I think it has given an edge.  I‘ll

tell you, Chris, I‘ve been involved in a lot of campaigns and a lot of

politics.  I haven‘t done a single that yet that I wouldn‘t do if I was

running this time, especially on this issue.  This issue, I‘m telling you,

politically, there is nothing hotter out there right now. 

I would give my opponent, if I were running this year, all the money

in the world in a state the size of Delaware, because, I tell you, people

are coming up to me on street corners.  It‘s amazing.  I was in Acme on

Saturday.  There were like 20 people.  I was just coming in to pick up some

stuff.  Three different people came up and said, keep after it.  Keep what

you‘re doing, senator.  We love what you‘re doing. 

So I think, politically, it may be true on a lot of issue.  But on

this one, clearly the political thing to do is the right thing to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the fact that you don‘t have to fund raise on

Saturday means you can go to the Acme.  Or, as we say in Philly, just

across the river, the Acme. 

KAUFMAN:  Yes, exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  According to the AP, these six banks have assets now that

total more than 60 percent of the nation‘s GDP: Bank of America, JP Morgan

Stanley, , Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley.  Is there such a

thing as too big to fail, in your light? 

KAUFMAN:  Absolutely.  The fail part—I think the bill does a good

job on the fail part, in terms of resolution.  I make some changes in that. 

But the big problem is the too big piece.  Like you say, today, there‘s 63

percent of the assets.  Just 15 years ago, they were 17 percent of the

assets.  They are now 85 -- over the counter derivatives, we‘re so

concerned about, 85 percent of them are with the five major banks. 

These banks are clearly too big.  They are too complex.  They have

relationships around the world.  Resolving them, under the best of

circumstances, would be a very difficult thing.  We don‘t need their

economies as a scale.  There‘s a (INAUDIBLE), who is the executive director

of the Bank of England.  He came out and said 100 billion dollars, that‘s

the maximum.  Even Alan Greenspan, who didn‘t get much right, has came out

and said the economies of scale are much, much smaller in our present

banks. 

MATTHEWS:  But aren‘t the lobbyists from these big interests down in

Washington right now working against any move to break them up? 

KAUFMAN:  You know, it‘s really strange.  They are, I‘m sure, but

they‘re not contacting me.  Maybe they just know that I am beyond hope or

persuasion.  But it‘s not that.  I think what we have to do is you have to

get across to everybody that we‘re going to have too big to fail if we

don‘t get down the size of these institutions. 

Not just that, Sherrod Brown and I have a bill that says we‘ve got to

limit how much capital any one bank has to ten percent; we‘ve got to limit

what they have in liabilities as a percentage of their capital, which would

be two percent for banks, financial institutions, three percent for non-

financial institutions.  And we must limit the leverage.

So even after we get too big, and we get it down to there and shrink

that down—what I want to do, as you know, Chris, is reinstate Glass-

Steagall, which worked for 60 years.  Even if we do that, we can cut down

the size.  Then the regulators can deal with it.  We have to have gray line

marks on the size of these things, and they are liabilities. 

MATTHEWS:  The big problem is the financial sector has gotten too damn

big and too big a part of the GDP. 

KAUFMAN:  You got it. 

MATTHEWS:  Nobody is making anything, building anything, doing

anything, except making money.  Last week, with the Goldman hearing, let‘s

watch you here.  Here you are, sir. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL SPARKS, FMR. GOLDMAN SACHS EXECUTIVE:  At the time—

KAUFMAN:  Right. 

SPARKS:  -- things happened in the market and were accepted in the

market that, in hindsight, look very different than they did at the time in

the market. 

KAUFMAN:  I‘ve got two things that I‘m getting out of this hearings. 

Number one, nobody did anything wrong, this was a natural disaster, like a

hurricane hit.  The mortgage market fell and nobody knew it and nobody

forecast it.  And the second thing is that these things were just something

that happened. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Geithner gets it?  Every time I hear the

secretary of Treasury talk about the failure of regulators, the failure of

government, is he afraid to take a whack at the rich guys?  What is his

problem?  He doesn‘t seem to be on the side of the people against the big

shots.  He dresses like the big shots.  He talks like them.  And he‘s

afraid to offend them.  He says it‘s the little regulators that blew it. 

Wait a minute, when a criminal commits an act, you don‘t say the cop

failed.  You say the criminal committed the act.  Isn‘t that the way we

think in this country?

KAUFMAN:  But, Chris, you‘ve got to remember—and I agree with you

totally, especially after these hearings, these four days of hearings we

had, that Carl Levin chaired in the Investigation Subcommittee.  You listen

to Washington Mutual.  Have you ever heard of a stated income loan, Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I have. 

KAUFMAN:  The stated income loan is you come into a bank and—

MATTHEWS:  And you make it up? 

KAUFMAN:  You make it up.  And you want to know something?  At

Washington Mutual, 90 percent of their home equity loans were stated income

loans. 

MATTHEWS:  In other words, it was all BS.  It was all BS.  Thank you

very much, Ted Kaufman, a free spirit, a man who owes nothing to anybody,

who will only be a senator for the people of Delaware, a rarity.  Thank

you, sir. 

When we return, I have some thoughts about the oil spill in the Gulf. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a joke and a tragedy.  Comedian

Robert Klein once told the woman at the restaurant, speaking to a waiter,

“I‘ll have my coffee now, my coffee.”  When precisely, the comedian asked,

did it become my coffee.  When she thought of it?  When she ordered it? 

When she was ready for it?

So when did this oil that‘s now floating in the Gulf of Mexico become

our oil?  When did it cease to be the property of the oil company that was

drilling and become the responsibility of the Coast Guard or the American

people, who don‘t earn a red cent of it, to handle the cleanup.  When did

it become our oil ruining our national habitat?  Good question.

And while we have this rare teaching moment, this moment when you see

precisely how suddenly private money making can cost our world, where BP‘s

oil to make money with becomes our oil destroying our water and fish and

coastline and wetlands, our oil to clean up. 

Ladies and gentlemen, if this is the last time in your life that you

see it, see it.  The actions, the failures, the screw ups, the cold refusal

to think and prepare for the likelihood of such horrendous environmental

disasters becomes your environmental disaster the second it happens. 

This is the reliable fact, that the people on the poor sign right put

a gag on every time they mock tree huggers and tell the latest Al Gore

joke.  The fact that you pay for what they tell you is the price of doing

business.  Got it?  It‘s the price that you pay and they don‘t. 

I hear Rush Limbaugh and the others on the right trying desperately to

swim away from this horror.  They are talking about conspiracies about

sabotage and all the rest.  I understand that part.  When you‘re a ditto-

head, let‘s face it, it‘s just one more moronic idea to bob your head to. 

Yes, sir, good point.  Sure, Rush, could be.  I‘ll have my oil now.

That‘s the attitude of the oil companies.  It‘s mine, mine, mine, as

long as there is cash to be grabbed and oil to make it with.  But if it

spills on the way to the table, let the house clean it up.  The second they

are not making money on it, and it‘s floating out there in the Gulf, well,

it‘s all yours, buddy. 

Again, a teaching moment.  Next time you hear the oil companies making

a decision about your energy future, about the environment, about the

damage they are doing to the planet, including climate change, and telling

us to butt out, just remember how fast they said, it‘s our problem when we

all saw the oil headed for the shore. 

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Right now, it‘s

time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

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

BE UPDATED.

END   

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