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updated 8/9/2010 11:15:12 AM ET 2010-08-09T15:15:12

Guests: Hampton Pearson, David Gregory, Roger Simon, David Corn, Charlie Crist, Bob Inglis, Gary Peters

           

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Look who‘s talking.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

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

The looming scandals.  Who is Newt Gingrich to be saying such terrible things about Democrats?  Who gave him his clean bill of ethical health?  Good question.  This week, the former Speaker began to loom as a key Republican presidential candidate.  Is his rise to plausibility evidence of the weak Republican field for 2012, one so weak that a politician forced from Congress under an ethical cloud would dare to stick his head into a presidential race?

The headline stories beneath the attention Republicans are giving to the problems of Charlie Rangel are the far ethical bigger fish to fry.  Senator David Vitter involved with sex scandals in D.C. and in his home state of Louisiana, is now the target of a Democratic Web ad.  And what about John Ensign, the other Republican senator engaged in a sex scandal, out in Nevada?  Or did we forget Mark Sanford, the fellow said to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail but actually somewhere in Argentina with his girlfriend?

Now for the real felons on the Republican hit list.  Duke Cunningham -

don‘t let him out.  He won‘t get out of jail until after the next presidential election.  Congressman Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff also served time recently.  They got out of stir and they‘re on the loose right now.  And don‘t forget dancing Tom DeLay.

Also, kicked out by the right, part one.  Republican congressman Bob Inglis was beaten and beaten down by the tea party crowd.  He says there are a lot of things he wished he‘d said to them and he‘s saying them now.  We‘ve got him tonight.

Then, kicked out by the right, part two.  Who would have thought that Charlie Crist, not long ago the Republican governor of Florida, would wind up being with the other party and their hope for holding the Senate?  Oh, he‘s not quite with them.  He‘s an independent.  But we‘ll see.  He‘s polling better now than his tea party opponent.  If he wins, will he become a Democrat?  We‘ll ask him tonight.

And yes, today‘s job numbers—they‘re are bad, but at least the Democrats are doing something about it, coming back next week to save 300,000 public service jobs, not just saying no, like the others seem to be doing.

“Let Me Finish” tonight with a push for open minds and hearts on what the law should say in this country about same-sex marriage.

Let‘s start with the looming Republican list of scandals.  Roger Simon is chief political columnist for Politico and David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine.

Let‘s take a look at this ad.  Here‘s the Louisiana Democratic Party. 

They made an anti-Vitter Web ad.  Let‘s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Coming soon, unforgotten crimes, a prominent Louisiana politician caught up with prostitution scandals in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He went in, took a shower, spoke very little to me at first.  He did his thing.  I was $300.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Held accountable by no one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know what that was!  These are some of the people, by the way, Republicans hope voters don‘t remember when ethics comes up as an issue.  Former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham—he pled guilty to taking bribes and resigned his seat in November 2005.  He‘s in federal prison now.  He‘ll still be in prison, by the way, through the next presidential election.

Former congressman Bob Ney resigned and pled guilty to trading political favors for gifts and campaign donations.  He had eight months in federal prison.  Now he hosts his own radio talk show.  Why not?  Former House majority leader Tom Delay was forced to resign on charges of corruption, but no trial scheduled for him.  He‘s probably best known for “Dancing With the Stars.”  And of course, Jack Abramoff, the most famous of them all—he admitted—he‘s an admitted felon and former lobbyist, now works at a pizza parlor up in (INAUDIBLE) hat brim down there!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, it‘s a kosher place.  I shouldn‘t say that, but it sounded interesting.  This guys—these guys are amazing.  The Republican Party, going after a couple members of the House now, Charlie—

Charlie Rangel and—fair enough.  But they seem to have no shame about this incredibly tawdry list that sits (INAUDIBLE) And now Newt Gingrich sticking his head up as if he‘s—you know, he‘s St. Francis!

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO.COM:  Well—

MATTHEWS:  What‘s going on here?

SIMON:  Gingrich is a guy with more baggage than Samsonite.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON:  This is not a guy who should even be thinking about running for president.  But I‘ve got to say about the Vitter ad that the Democrats are going the wrong way.  Nobody in Louisiana is shocked that their elected representatives hang out with hookers.  If—

MATTHEWS:  They‘re not?  Come on!  I think they get past the fact that politics is entertainment.

SIMON:  They would be pleased if that was the worst that their politicians—

MATTHEWS:  You are so hardened in your heart!

SIMON:  You know—

MATTHEWS:  You are so hardened that you think that committing crimes in Washington, D.C., and down there in Louisiana, when you‘re running on the party of—what is it, the moral majority party?  (INAUDIBLE) Republican song this week?

SIMON:  Yes.  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Well—

SIMON:  The public—the public knows it‘s not on the level, and they don‘t go into the voting booth saying, Which of these two mugs is the most honest?  They say, Which of these two mugs is going to bring me something that I need, a better environment, good education, a job—

MATTHEWS:  OK, Corn, are you—are you this hardened?  Are you this -

are you this—do you really believe that this wasn‘t a big problem for him before the BP scandal—the BP situation overwhelmed it?  You think—do you think that—let‘s take Ensign out there.  We talked here about the governor of South Carolina for quite a bit and his escapade.  And now Newt Gingrich is coming back.  There is a certain attitude.

What astounds me is the willingness of the Republican Party to claim the moral banner with this trail of shame.

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”:  Well, that‘s—that‘s always the issue, you know, the family values, the hypocrisy.  And I think what the Republicans show us—and this is not a lesson I want my kids to learn—which is if you put shame aside, you can get pretty far down the road in this world.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN:  I mean, look at John Ensign.  I mean, that‘s actually a more serious case than just what David Vitter did because—

MATTHEWS:  Tell us that story.

CORN:  That involves lobbyists.  That involves influence and—

MATTHEWS:  Former aide—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- wife.

CORN:  Yes, there‘s a federal investigation he might have used his office to get work for people to hush up and be quiet.  So you know—and yet, he‘s still in the Senate.  There‘s no pressure from the rest of his colleagues.  The Republicans on the Hill who want to scream about Charlie Rangel are not saying anything about John Ensign.  They want to point the finger at Maxine Waters.  And these Democrats deserve scrutiny if they get caught like this, but these Republicans don‘t want to look at their own, who I think have done probably worse than—

MATTHEWS:  Well, the thing about the Republican problems is they seem to be prima facie problems, where the Democrats, you have to spend a year-and-a-half trying to figure out if they actually did something wrong or not!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Where these things just loom in your—Newt Gingrich, at the time that Bill Clinton was up for impeachment because of a problem with Monica Lewinsky, was having an affair with someone on the House side.

CORN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Right in the middle of the whole thing, no problem!  And then he gets kicked out because he has a—a formal reprimand, first time it‘s ever been done to a Speaker of the House, walks away.  Now he‘s walking back as if he‘s been out cleaning up his act somewhere.

SIMON:  As you indicated, the media is partially complicit with this, not just—

MATTHEWS:  The memory loss—

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  -- media.  Tom DeLay is indeed waiting trial, but he‘s also an accused felon, indicted for—

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s been accused, yes.

SIMON:  -- indicted for money laundering.  And he‘s—when he goes on news-talk programs, he‘s not introduced as an accused felon.  He‘s introduced as a former majority leader of the House.  He‘s introduced as the man from “Dancing with the Stars.”  Why are these people—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m on radio one time with G. Gordon Liddy.  And I got no problem with him personally.  Actually, I like the guy personally.  But he was—

CORN:  Did he put his hand over a candle?

MATTHEWS:  -- a White House burglar.  He was a burglar.  And one time

--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- we were on television with Pat and he‘s—or I was listening to him on radio, actually, and he was saying, Yes, Pat and I worked together in the White House.  Pat was a speech writer.  He was a burglar!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  There‘s no shame with this crowd!

CORN:  It was worse than that.  He talked about killing Jack Anderson, the columnist at the time—If you want me to do that, sir.

MATTHEWS:  But he also said, Knock me off.  I‘ll tell you what corner I‘m going to be on.

CORN:  But you know, getting back to people like Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay—I mean, right now, the Republicans are having a field day—or think they are—with the Democratic ethics problems.  But when these guys got into trouble, when Tom DeLay was—you know, ran into problems, the House Republicans actually voted to make things easier on him so he could keep his job as minority whip.  So now everybody wants—

MATTHEWS:  Well, I can tell you—

CORN:  -- wants to be an accuser when it‘s the other side.

MATTHEWS:  The string of felonies we went through a few minutes ago here, the number of people that have gone to federal prison on serious felony charges, the—you talked about the DeLay case, the fact that Newt Gingrich was reprimanded on his way out of the speakership, the fact that he was involved with somebody at the same time Bill Clinton got in trouble with somebody—the lack of shame is so unbelievable.

And I think you‘ve got it.  I think one party actually does feel guilty and they sort of hang their heads, right?

CORN:  Well, yes—

MATTHEWS:  And the other party just sort of delightfully skips away from these problems—

SIMON:  Well—

MATTHEWS:  -- and begins attacking.

SIMON:  But the other party says, I‘ve gone to God and asked for forgiveness.  God‘s given me that forgiveness.  It‘s a forgiving God.  I‘ve asked my wife and family for forgiveness.  They‘ve forgiven me.  I‘m talking about the sex crimes here, the sexual peccadilloes.  And they say, Let‘s move on.

That‘s why I think that commercial that the Democrats are running in Louisiana is ineffective, and it takes the Democrats away from their core issues.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SIMON:  The Democrats should be talking about, We gave you health care.  We‘re trying to create jobs.  We stopped an economic collapse.  We saved the auto industry.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  I think what‘s frustrating to Democrats is that they know when this happens to members of their team, whether it‘s sex or ethics, you know, business and political stuff, there‘s an attack machine on the right that just tears them down and doesn‘t let them get away with sort of going into a bubble.  When they look and they see Vitter standing, they see John Ensign standing, they see Newt Gingrich regarded as a statesman, and they‘re saying, How come the other side can get away with this, when we‘re always under attack?  You know, Where‘s the attack machine on our side?

But I agree with you.  I don‘t think this ad is going to turn a lot of votes, but I think it comes out of a certain—

MATTHEWS:  OK, name a big name—

CORN:  -- frustration.

MATTHEWS:  -- Democratic senator who‘s been involved with prostitutes both in his home state and in the capitol.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I mean, I don‘t think there are equivalent people out there.  I don‘t think they walk around like—you say, Oh, this is what always happens.  Name me one in the category of Vitter.  Name me in the category of Ensign, of screwing around—excuse me—messing around with the wife of a staff top guy and then trying to buy the guy off, the husband off, who‘s cuckolded here—buy him off with a federal deal somehow.

CORN:  And he‘s still in the caucus!

MATTHEWS:  And he‘s still there and—

CORN:  Still there!

MATTHEWS:  -- Harry Reid‘s fighting for reelection, this guy‘s cool!

SIMON:  But you don‘t honestly believe that Democrats in their hearts are less sinful—

MATTHEWS:  Oh, no.

SIMON:  -- or moral than Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  I think there‘s a difference in the way they‘re graded on this media and elsewhere.  The Republicans seem to be brilliant at—maybe it‘s the “born again.”  Maybe it‘s the willingness to wash thyself—

CORN:  But John Ensign has yet—

MATTHEWS:  -- and move on.

CORN:  -- has yet to confess!

MATTHEWS:  But I‘ll tell you, you know, the fact that it takes two years to prove that Charlie Rangel did something wrong, and these other guys are walking in front of us doing it, and then nobody even asks them whether they‘re guilty or not—we assume they‘re guilty and we try to—well, Move on, is a good line.  I love it.  I love it.  Thank you, Roger Simon.  You have come back in a new way.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re so cynical, you guys!  Corn, you‘re still there!

Up next, my interview yesterday with Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist is coming up.  He‘s gaining strength as he runs as an independent.  Well, my big question—Will he stay with the party that threw him out, the Republicans, or become a Democrat, or sit right there in the middle of the aisle?  You know, it‘s possible he might do that.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, another defeat for the tea party last night in Tennessee.  Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam won the Republican primary for governor, beating two candidates to his right who had the support of the tea party.  Haslam topped U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp, who last week talked up secession for the Volunteer State—well, they once did it before—and Tennessee lieutenant governor Ron Ramsey, who had called Islam a cult.

Haslam‘s the most moderate of this bunch, but even he‘s gone to great lengths to shore up support on the right.  Last year, for example, he quit the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition to join the NRA.  Haslam faces Democrat Mike McWherter in the general.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. JEFF KOTTKAMP ®, FLORIDA:  You know, the governor left the party and then started sending signals that he was talking to Harry Reid in May.  He won‘t give a straight answer on whether he‘s going to be with Republicans or Democrats.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX:  Well, what do you think?  What do you think?

KOTTKAMP:  I think the stakes are too high.  And I know for a fact that Marco Rubio will go to Washington, fight the Obama administration, fight their agenda and fight for the principles that this country was founded on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was Florida‘s lieutenant governor, Jeff Kottkamp, with Fox‘s Neil Cavuto on Wednesday.  Governor Charlie Crist had picked him to be his Republican running mate back in 2006.  Now the governor‘s an independent, and the latest polls show it‘s working for him.  Crist leads the New Florida Poll with 41 percent to Republican Marco Rubio‘s 30 percent and  Democrat Kendrick Meek‘s 12 percent.  And with Democrat Jeff Greene in the race instead of Congressman Meek, if that happens, Crist still leads 37 to 29 to 16.

Governor Crist joins us now from Tampa Florida.  Explain—this is something new to us.  Certainly not since the days of Wayne Morse back in the early ‘50s have we had an independent go to Washington.  Are you going to be like Mr. Smith goes to Washington, challenging the power structure—

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (I-FL), SENATE CANDIDATE:  It‘s not a bad model, is it?

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s—I happen love that movie myself!

CRIST:  I love it, too.

MATTHEWS:  But—Jimmy Stewart—are you going to be able to stand up against the power structure of both parties?

CRIST:  Well, I think what‘s most important is that you stand with the people of your state.  And in this case, you know, I get asked all the time, Are you going to caucus with the Republicans or are you going to caucus with the Democrats?  I‘m going to caucus with the people of Florida.  You know, they‘re tired of gridlock politics, of Washington not being able to get anything accomplished, and they want somebody who will be an honest broker, go to Washington and fight for them first.  And that‘s exactly what I intend to do, and I look forward to it.

MATTHEWS:  What happens if Mitch McConnell is the leader of the

Republicans and it‘s a very close decision and they still have a majority -

or they don‘t have a majority, and the Democrats still have a majority and Harry Reid survives this election and Harry Reid comes up to you says, I‘ll put you on Appropriations if you vote for me for leader.  Otherwise, you‘re on the District of Columbia Committee.  What would you do?

(LAUGHTER)

CRIST:  Well, I think, as I said, first thing is I got to get there, and I‘m working very—

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

CRIST:  -- hard on the campaign down here to make sure that that happens and really provide an independent voice for the people of Florida.  And what I said before I really believe in my heart.  I think people in Florida, and frankly, throughout the country, they‘re tired of the gridlock in Washington, D.C., things not getting done, progress not being made.  And I think they want people who will go to Washington, fight for things not because they‘re a Republican issue or a Democratic issue but a good idea and a good issue.  That‘s the way I‘ve tried to govern as governor of Florida.  We‘ve been successful here in the Sunshine State.  I‘d like to take that common sense leadership to Washington.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  How can you become a Republican if Mitch McConnell continues with his strategy of scorched earth, which is, vote against everything and hope you bring down the house?  That has been his strategy.  He apparently announced it early on two years ago, We‘re going to bring down Barack Obama, we‘re voting against everything.  And every time a major issue comes up, they don‘t compromise, they vote against.  How could you join a caucus that‘s a “no caucus”?

CRIST:  Well, what I want to do is join the people‘s caucus, you know

--

MATTHEWS:  No, but that—in other words, would you—

CRIST:  -- the caucus of the people of Florida.

MATTHEWS:  -- imagine voting a Republican—becoming a member of the Republican caucus if they continue with their strategy “just say no”?

CRIST:  It would have to do better.  There‘s no question about it.  I mean, obviously, if you‘re looking at reducing taxes, reducing the deficit, maybe they‘ve got some very good ideas about that.  You know, it really depends on issue by issue, Chris.

And I think people want, you know, senators, representatives to act more in that way because I think what they truly want is somebody who will look, think about an issue, understand what the ramifications are either for their district, or in my case, for my state, and do what‘s right for the people of Florida first.  You know, instead of fighting for the party, fight for the people.  That‘s refreshing, and I think that‘s what people want now more than ever.

MATTHEWS:  Florida has a lot of beaches on the Gulf Coast.  You‘ve been protecting it, saying you‘re against further development—further drilling down there.  Let me ask you a question.  Learning now today, luckily for us all, the gulf is not going to get any worse—there‘s a million barrels out there that‘s not going to go away for a while, but it‘s not as bad as we thought it would be.

But it turns out that the drilling mud—if they‘d drilled it down,

if they‘d pumped it down into that well first off, the day after this spill

if they‘d done it before the spill, there wouldn‘t have been a spill. 

Now it‘s proven that that technology would have worked.  It was a management decision that caused this, not a failure of anything.  If they had had the technology in place, if they had used the drilling mud the way they were supposed to instead of sea water—which my brother‘s an engineer, told me they went with sea water instead of drilling mud—should there be a criminal probe of BP for its decision to save money by dumping five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico?  Should there be a criminal probe here?

CRIST:  No question about it.  I mean, absolutely.  This is the single largest environmental catastrophe in the history of our country, threatened the beaches of my beautiful state of Florida, impacted negatively in a significant way Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and our economy in an indirect way. 

I mean, people would see for three months, day after day after day, you know, the oil that was washing up on—on the shores in Louisiana or Alabama or Mississippi, and presume that was happening to Florida.  It wasn‘t, thank goodness, except for a little bit in Pensacola Beach, but even that was minimal. 

And the reality is that that impacted our tourist industry.  And that‘s the real crime here.  I mean, that‘s the real problem.  If they could have stopped it, the way they just did this past week, they should have done that at the very outset.  Why they didn‘t do that, I don‘t know.  But there ought to be an investigation into it immediately. 

MATTHEWS:  The Republican Party, which used to be the party of Everett Dirksen and Abraham Lincoln, obviously, before that.  And even Dick Nixon, back in the ‘50s, they were all for civil rights.  They were all—Nixon was a member of the NAACP.  Then they got their Southern strategy.  Now they‘re against Hispanics. 

They‘re now pushing to basically get rid of the 14th Amendment as we have understood it, to take away birth citizenship.  I don‘t know how Marco Rubio, an Hispanic American, can support a party that has now, if you look at Lindsey Graham, who I always thought was a reasonable guy—you have got Kyl out in Arizona.  That doesn‘t surprise me.  You have got Chuck Grassley, who does surprise me. 

John McCain surprises me.  They‘re all out saying, let‘s get rid of—let‘s think about getting rid of the 14th Amendment so that these Hispanic people who came here because their parents brought them here to be born.  They are Americans.  They‘re growing up Americans.  To them now, oh, by the way, even though your parents are illegal, you are, too, I can‘t believe what kind of message they‘re sending to Hispanics. 

How can your opponent, Marco Rubio, join and support a party decision that tries to erase the citizenship of people like himself? 

CRIST:  That would be unconscionable to me.  I can‘t understand it. 

It doesn‘t make any sense to me.

MATTHEWS:  Can you—you‘re not for any kind of revision of the Constitution in that regard? 

CRIST:  No, I am not, no.  The 14th Amendment ought to stay the way it is.  If somebody is born in the United States of America, you are an American.  That is the tradition of our country.  That‘s the way it should always be.  That‘s the way it‘s always been. 

And that‘s what America is all about.  I mean, we‘re supposed to embrace people, give them a chance, give them an opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps that we talk about so much.  And we‘re going to say to young people that, if you‘re born in the country, you‘re not an American anymore? 

I mean, I don‘t know what‘s going on, but that‘s another part of the problem in Washington.  People are so consumed with, in many cases, the primary that they might end up in, and, as a result of it, they don‘t make sense anymore. 

Where is the common sense?  Where is the common ground?  Where is somebody who will tell the truth and speak straight with people and just tell them what is on their mind?  You have to be almost an independent to be able to do it anymore in this country.  And that‘s why I admire Joe Lieberman so much.  And I think he‘s done an extraordinary job in the Senate.  And I hope to follow him and be an independent member of the U.S.  Senate after November. 

MATTHEWS:  Lieberman and Lindsey and John Kerry and the president, I suppose, are all supporting as part of their comprehensive immigration reform a measure whereby you can‘t cheat anymore.  You‘re going to have a Social Security card that can‘t be faked or frauded.  Are you for that?

CRIST:  Well, there shouldn‘t be cheating, of course.  Who is for that?

MATTHEWS:  Are you for that kind of a foolproof card? 

CRIST:  Yes, I am for that.  You know, there ought to be a verification.  There‘s nothing wrong with that. 

In fact, how I feel about immigration broadly, Chris, is that I think we need to, number one, secure the border.  And people talk about it all the time.  We need to enforce it.  As a former attorney general, I understand enforcing the law.  It is important to do. 

But I also believe in a pathway to citizenship, that people ought to have the opportunity to legally earn citizenship.  Not amnesty, but be able to earn it.  I think that‘s a commonsense approach—

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

CRIST: -- that President Bush, former Senator Mel Martinez, even John McCain, support. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, independent candidate for United States senator, sir, thanks for joining us here on HARDBALL. 

CRIST:  Chris, always a pleasure.  Thank you so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Pretty much, my interview with Charlie Crist yesterday. 

Up next: Sharron Angle‘s downward spiral.  The more we hear from her, the better Harry Reid, well, he does in the polls.  Check the “Sideshow” coming up next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now off to the “Sideshow.”

You can tell the generational difference of opinion about same-sex or gay marriage by watching late night.  Young people look at the opposition to it as the lunatic fringe. 

Catch Stewart and Colbert. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  California, along with so many other states, defining traditionally what—what marriage is, and to see that third branch of government undoing the will of the people gets—it‘s frustrating. 

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”:  Wow.  I just—you know what is nice?  I just love the way she makes the co-equal judicial branch of our government set up by her beloved founding fathers sound like a communist plot. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The latest salvo in the war over gay marriage was fired by federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker, a Republican appointee who is also openly gay. 

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  He‘s gay. 

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  A case that affects gay people being decided by a gay guy. 

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  Why don‘t we just let cases about endangered species be decided by a manatee?

(LAUGHTER)

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  Social science shows that children do best with a mother and a father, not two adults, not three adults, not four adults. 

COLBERT:  That‘s right.  You can‘t raise kids with four adults. 

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  So, thanks for the help, grandma and grandpa, but you‘re totally gay. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, this is the right-wing‘s problem:  Lose the Stewart and Colbert audience and you‘ve probably lost the future.

Next:  Sharron Angle ups her fringe factor.  Catch this.  In a candidate questionnaire sent out by a group called Government Is Not God, Nevada‘s Republican Senate candidate says she would oppose abortion in all cases—that‘s all cases—make gay adoption illegal, period, and allow clergy, including right-wing televangelists, to endorse political candidates.

And that isn‘t even the most extreme stuff.  Angle also says that, as a candidate, she would refuse donations from any private company that supports equal rights for gay people. 

Here it is.  When asked, would you refuse PAC money from those who are fundamentally opposed to your views on social issues, Angle checks off yes.  Then, in reference to question 35-A, Intel Corporation supports equal rights for gays and offers benefits to partners of homosexual employees, like most companies do.  Would you refuse funds from this corporate PAC?  Angle‘s answer again, yes. 

The race gets more winnable for Senator Reid by the day, which brings us to tonight‘s “Big Number.”

Just three months ago, before Angle was his opponent, Senator Reid‘s chances of reelection were at 23 percent on Intrade.com, less than a quarter.  Where do they stand now?  Fifty-eight percent, more than double. 

Her positions take their toll on Angle every day.  Harry Reid‘s odds are better than even now to stay in the United States Senate, 58 percent and rising, tonight‘s remarkable “Big Number.” 

Coming up:  Republican Congressman Bob Inglis was defeated by the Tea Party crowd, but wait until you hear what he has to say about the extreme right-wingers and the Republican leaders who let them take over the party.  He will be with us when we come right back. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks battling back after plunging this morning on those disappointing job numbers.  The Dow Jones industrial finishing 21 points lower, after having been down as much as 160 points early in the session, the S&P and the Nasdaq both giving up about four points. 

Job cuts coming in higher than expected for the second month in a row.  Payrolls fell by 131,000 in July.  Some of those were temporary census jobs coming to an end.  Private sector hiring is up, but, again, not as much as expected. 

In earnings news, AIG beat expectations on profits and revenue.  Video game maker Activision Blizzard beating on profits, but missing on sales, and delivering a weaker-than-expected outlook. 

And some late-breaking news from the corporate sector—the CEO credited with turning Hewlett-Packard around is resigning.  A sexual harassment investigation found Mark Hurd had not violated the company‘s sexual harassment policy, but had violated its standard of business conduct.  H.P. shares are plunging in after-hours trading.

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

After voting for TARP and telling voters not to listen to Glenn Beck too much, South Carolina Republican Congressman Bob Inglis was outvoted in his primary this year.  Now he‘s offering up some very honest advice for his party and some very scary stories from his time on the trail. 

Here‘s how Mr. Inglis described one campaign donor meeting to David Corn at “Mother Jones”—quote—“They say, ‘Bob, what don‘t you get? 

Barack Obama is a socialist, communist, Marxist, who wants to destroy the

American economy, so he can take over as dictator.  Health care is part of

that, and he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn the United States

into a Muslim nation.‘” 

Congressman Inglis joins us tonight from Greenville, South Carolina. 

Well, that was a funny conversation.  Somebody actually thought that the Muslims would be pouring over the Mexican border.  The Rio Grande protects us from Islam.  These people have got a problem. 

(LAUGHTER)

REP. BOB INGLIS ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I guess so.  It‘s—I think it‘s generally not seen as a Muslim nation, but—Mexico isn‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is—what is—let‘s talk about the conspiracy theories.  What is it that‘s gotten into your party‘s water supply, the Republican Party‘s water supply, that makes them strangely hostile to the president, not just against his policies, but personally?  Is it race? 

INGLIS:  Well, I think that what we have lost is respect for the facts.

And, really, across the political spectrum, both Democrats and Republicans need to have respect for the facts.  I‘m right down the street right now from the Michelin‘s North American headquarters.  One of their core values, Chris, is respect for the facts. 

That‘s what we need in Congress.  What‘s happening, I think, is that people are departing from facts.  So, on my side, we end up calling the president a socialist, for example.  He‘s not a socialist.  On the Democratic side, they say that we want to destroy Social Security.  That‘s not true. 

So, we need to have respect for the facts and agree on what are the facts.  We can have our opinions about the policy prescriptions from those facts, but you can‘t have your own view of the facts. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you surprised that only a minority of Republicans, about a quarter, are willing to say for sure that the president is a born American?  It‘s about 23 percent now, according to the latest poll.  Just 23 percent say, yes, he‘s an American.  

INGLIS:  Yes, there‘s another one.  We really need to be clear about that.  We don‘t need to waste time, while we‘re facing these enormous fiscal challenges that we face, talking about whether the president is a citizen of the United States or not. 

He‘s clearly a citizen.  And, so, we should move on from that and talk about, OK, what are you going to do about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and interest on the debt?  That‘s 60 percent of what we‘re spending right now.  If with do nothing, about 2050, it‘s 90 percent of the budget. 

MATTHEWS:  Would they be saying this about him if he was—if had a different ethnic background? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I mean, we have the Honolulu newspaper that shows that he was born on a certain date in 1961.  I don‘t know about you, Congressman, but I didn‘t have a birth announcement in the newspaper when I was born.  It‘s pretty transparent that the guy was born in our country. 

And, yet, there‘s these that people keep saying, well, I don‘t know really.  He might be one of us.  He‘s probably not or probably is. 

Is it because his name is Barack Obama?  Is it because he‘s black?  Why do they keep saying they don‘t know if he‘s American or not?  They never said this about any president we have had.

INGLIS:  I don‘t know.  I think they—they don‘t hear what you just said.  And more people need to say it. 

I said at town hall meetings—I can tell you, it got me in a lot of trouble—is, I told them, you know, it would be one thing to see a conspiracy to alter the records in the official office and birth records in Hawaii. 

But to go back and to change two newspapers‘ reporting of the births of babies at the hospital, that would be pretty tough to pull off.  So, it is complicating, the fact that—his international parentage, and that works out to be some questions, I guess, that are raised. 

But really just we need to have people look at the facts and see that

the newspapers reported that.  Just like, in the old days, when I was born

I was—I‘m just a little bit ahead of the president—it was announced in the paper that you were born. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

INGLIS:  And so that‘s pretty good evidence that he was actually born in Hawaii, I should think.

MATTHEWS:  I mean—

INGLIS:  And we should settle that question and move on to the really hard things. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you realize—well, I‘m sure you have thought it through a bit, because you‘ve had to confront this—that that would require someone to believe who actually believes that they made up this guy‘s identity that, way back in 1961, 50 years ago, somebody sat around and said, let‘s have a kid.  Let‘s have him born to an African father.  Let‘s make it as possible as possible to be elected president.  Let‘s make sure he has a name like Barack Obama. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And then let‘s try to get him elected president in about 40 or 50 years. 

I mean, it‘s so crazy, it‘s got to be paranoid. 

Let me ask you about the 14th Amendment.  One of the prides of the Republican Party coming after the Civil War was to pass the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendment, which gave, you know, freedom and citizenship and voting rights, at least federally, to African-Americans after they were freed as slaves, after hundreds of years of free labor, basically.

And now the Republican Party, led by people like Kyl and, oh, Lindsey Graham, and even Grassley and McCain, are out there saying, let‘s get rid of that 14th Amendment, as written, because it allows people born here to become automatic citizens. 

Well, it‘s the way I became a citizen.  I was born here.  That‘s how I got to be a citizen.  I didn‘t go through any paperwork.  That‘s the way you probably became a citizen.  Most African-Americans have been here so many centuries, nobody would challenge their citizenship. 

But what is it about?  And how can you change it?  I don‘t even know how you could rework it, because you never know who the father is in most cases.  It could be anything that the mother says, whoever the father is, if it was a matter of citizenship. 

INGLIS:  Yes, that‘s a good point, that you would have to prove paternity and maternity is easier to prove because the baby was just born.  But the—you know, I think what we need to first acknowledge is if you can change this, it is a constitutional change.  I‘ve heard a fancy legal argument that you don‘t need to change the Constitution.  But it is a very fancy legal argument.

Since I‘m a strict constructionist, I want to read the words of the Constitution and apply them.  Those words clearly say, if you‘re born here, you‘re a citizen.  So, if you want to change that, you got to change the Constitution.

And the thing that I hope we go very slow on is not getting to the place that Western Europe has gotten, which is that people can‘t ever quite become citizens if they‘ve come there in a low socio-economic status, they can never quite breakthrough.  And as a result, you have this underclass that is constantly gunning for the upper class.  That‘s not the American model.

What we want is, you‘re here.  You become a citizen.  That‘s what we want.  We don‘t want you to come in here and stay for a while.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

INGLIS:  We really want you to become a citizen.  I guess (ph) there are a lot with us.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I can‘t resist asking this.  I got to ask this question.  If we had about a million Heide Klums trying to cross the border, the Mexican border of the United States, you know, the gorgeous blond from Germany or whatever, do you think that would be a problem with immigration right now, or is it really just ethnic?  The people from a different ethnic background.

If Heidi Klum, by the million, was trying to cross the border, I figure a lot of guys would be down there welcoming her personally.  What‘s your view?

I want to make this a little ludicrous because I think it‘s obvious it‘s ethnic.  And I want people just to admit it.

INGLIS:  Yes.  I think there is clearly something else going on here.  It‘s happened before.  You know, the Irish were discriminated against because of a different religion or different slice of that religion.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

INGLIS:  But you know, it‘s really interesting here is that compared to Western Europe, we‘ve got a pretty great situation.  There‘s nobody that strapped a bomb on themselves from Mexico and blowing themselves up and taking out Americans.  They want to be Americans.  They want to be a part of this.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

INGLIS:  They got the same religion.  They got the hope of becoming Americans.  It‘s a very different scenario than a lot of people face.

Now, we do need to have control of the border.  We do need to have an orderly process.  We can‘t accept everyone coming here all at once.  I can‘t have everybody over in Greenville County to my house tonight for dinner.  It would destroy the house.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

INGLIS:  So we got to have a way of controlling this.  But we should look at—compare ourselves to Western Europe and say, “Wow, we‘re in great shape compared to them.”

MATTHEWS:  Yes or no, sir?  Have you given up on the Republican Party? 

Yes or no?

INGLIS:  No.  I think that there are people that are capable in the Republican Party leading it throughout, for example, Jeff Flake, a very credible conservative.  Then we‘ve got Jack Kingston, for example.  Hope you have him on.

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

INGLIS:  He‘s the guy with the right kind of approach.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

INGLIS:  And then, you know, we got the road map for America‘s future. 

This is a plan that can actually work.  I mean, we got people with plans.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Paul Ryan is going—he‘s working hard at that.  I‘m not sure I know all of the elements yet, but I think I got at home (ph) to study.

But thank you, sir.  Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina, thanks for joining us on Friday night here.

Up next: Today‘s job report wasn‘t great news for anybody, especially in the White House.  But at least the Democrats are doing something about it.  Nancy Pelosi is bringing back Congress next week for a special session to try to save about 300,000 state and local jobs.  We‘ll talk about that and what the Democrats are doing about this unemployment problem in this country which is not going away—when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back.  Well, the Democrats are going to bring the unemployment numbers down, or at least holding them.

HARDBALL—back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, the unemployment rate for July, as most of us know right now, is 9.5 percent and stuck there.  And right now, public service jobs are hanging in the balance.  Ten thousand state jobs were lost in the month of July alone and 38,000 local jobs—that‘s 40,000 public sector jobs have disappeared basically in a month.

Congress is coming back next week to try to pass a bill that‘s going to save, it‘s going to cost $26 billion.  But it‘s going to try to save 300,000 public service jobs to offset the other losses.

Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan is a member of the financial services committee.

Congressman, give me a case for why the Congress comes back next week. 

Are you saving jobs, creating jobs, or what?

REP. GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN:  Well, I think we‘re both.  We‘re certainly saving jobs and making sure that the economy gets going so that we can move forward.  And the bill that we‘re going to be voting on is going to be keeping some critical jobs, particularly teachers and education.  We‘re at a situation right now where 140,000 teachers may be laid off.  Or some can be brought back, which is very, very important for us.

Long-term from an education standpoint, we want to make sure that our children continue to get the quality education necessary for them to be successful in the future.  And if we lose those jobs, that‘s just going to be another further hit to an economy that is still very fragile.  We‘re starting to see some positive growth, as you know.  We did have, on a positive note, 70,000 private sector jobs growing.

But we need to make sure that we continue this progress forward.  To step back would be very, very damaging to the economy.

MATTHEWS:  I was listening to FOX News network coming in the car this morning.  And I heard some questions raised that whether the extension of unemployment benefits was keeping the unemployment rate high.  Is there any connection?  Or is that crazy?

PETERS:  That‘s crazy.  There‘s no question about it.  Unemployment helps families that are just struggling to hold onto their houses in order to put food on the table.  But it‘s also an economic stimulus, because one thing that economists all agree on is that every dollar of unemployment paid represents about a $1.60 of economic activity.

And, certainly, in a place like Michigan, right now, with over 13 percent unemployment, the money is critical, not only for those families, but critical for our economy as it‘s slowly starting to improve.  We‘re seeing the auto industry recover.  Slowly but surely jobs are being added.

But to have people who are completely without resources to keep their families together would be catastrophic.  So, it‘s a critical stimulus for the economy.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s the problem, Congressman.  Now, the latest polling shows that people blame President Obama more than they blame George W. Bush for the economy.  Isn‘t that going to be a problem coming in in November that the party in power is now paying the price?  Whatever you inherited, the public is now blaming you.

PETERS:  Yes.  And we got to keep focused.  You know, certainly, we want to remind people that when we came into office, when I came as a new member back in January, this economy was hemorrhaging 700,000 jobs a month were being lost.  We were frightened.

Now, we have, actually the last seven months, we have added to jobs.  We‘ve got to continue that.  And that‘s why we‘ve got to push things like small businesses.  We‘ve got a small business lending bill, for example, that the Senate Republicans are holding up.  It‘s something that is absolutely critical to create jobs—

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

PETERS:  -- in a critical area which are small businesses, and the Republicans are arguing about how many amendments.  We‘ve got to forget how many amendments are on a bill and we‘ve got to focus how many jobs are related to this bill.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Congressman Peters, for coming to us from Michigan.  That‘s for being with us on a Friday.

NBC‘s David Gregory, of course, is moderating “Meet the Press,” has a big show this Sunday.

It seems to me this unemployment rate coming on Friday a bad news. 

It‘s just a huge story.

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  You know, as you were talking, I was thinking about this election is simple, this midterm race.  Government is on the hook.  That‘s the question.  Is government working or is it not working.

Do you believe that bailing out the auto companies made the industry better or don‘t you?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

GREGORY:  Do you believe in bailing out the banks that staved off depression or don‘t you?

The problem is, think about so many of these districts that are tight districts.  That‘s where the anxiety about the deficits and government spending in many cases is the worst.  The president‘s losing independent voters.  That‘s why the House is in so much danger.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

GREGORY:  It‘s really a question of that.  Not all of that can be defended on the merits, some of that anxiety, but that‘s the problem that they face.

MATTHEWS:  And the Democrats have really been in power with policy for about a year now.

GREGORY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re going to play for it.

GREGORY:  But they brought—I mean, this is not the era of big government being over.  Big government came back in a big way.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

GREGORY:  It came back under George W. Bush, particularly at the end of his administration but earlier even.  But when it came to bailing out, in TARP, and baling out the banks, it was there under a Republican president.  But, you know, Republicans can say, look, we‘re going to have a break from that, we‘re going to find—

MATTHEWS:  Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has made a decision:

bring the House back next week.

GREGORY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve got Boehner on this Sunday.  They‘re going to nail the Democrats for coming back and passing a jobs bill.

What‘s the fight going to be there because the Democrats are saying, at least we‘re doing something, these other guys are “no” party, these are “no” people.  What‘s Boehner going do with that?

GREGORY:  You know, I mean, they‘re going to argue that this is a gift to the teachers unions; this is just, you know, more government spending, government run amok.  But again this is—

MATTHEWS:  And you noticed that‘s become a very strong anthem on the Republican side.  They‘ve made a big case now.  All the Democrats do is paid for the—is kiss up basically to the employee unions.  Does that work with people?

GREGORY:  Well, I mean, I think it may in certain parts of the country.  But what the Democrats have to do—what the president is trying to do is make a larger argument, which is—look what‘s happening in the states.  Housing crisis, services being cut, what government can do is targeted stimulus.

This is an example of that, until the private sector gets up off the mat and feels confident enough to really start investing which we‘re seeing from the job numbers today.  The private sector is not hiring in any great numbers.

MATTHEWS:  You know what‘s stunning is that—and you and I are probably equally stunned by it—we thought the American auto industry was on its way down over the last 10, 20 years.  It was a serial problem.  It‘s riddled with problems.

GREGORY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Now, the president‘s out there saying, the American car may be the number one car in the world coming in the future.

GREGORY: The problem is, how is it doing in the U.S. market, right?  I mean, it‘s doing very well in the rest of the world.

MATTHEWS:  Well, apparently, the Explorer is going to 60 different countries, the new Ford.

GREGORY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s good news.

GREGORY:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  The country‘s just not in the mood for good news?

GREGORY:  Well, but it‘s also, are the jobs—look how many jobs have been lost.  And even though they‘ve recouped some—

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

GREGORY:  What, you know, what‘s the future look like in manufacturing?  I mean, these are some of the bigger questions that our economy faces.

MATTHEWS:  Looking at all the numbers, you look at Charlie—I should say Charlie Crist, we just had him on—Charlie Cook and the others and Chuck Todd here, when you look at all the numbers, do you this—do you buy this theory that as goes the House so goes the Senate?  Or could we see a divided result Tuesday night on election night and say, House may have lost or state Democrat very narrowly, Senate still a Republican—still a Democrat.

GREGORY:  Yes, I tend to be—I tend to think you could have that split result.  And I know Chuck Todd and others believe if it‘s a wave, it‘s going to carry it all.  I‘m not sure I‘m there on that.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you on that.  I think—I think—I see this

it‘s a tough one.  The Republicans would have to win like 12 seats basically, gross wins and maybe lose a couple.  It‘s a tough one.  They have to win 10 seats.

           

David Gregory, good luck.  Sunday, Boehner?

GREGORY:  And Carol Browner, too, about—is the crisis over in the Gulf.

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s 1 million barrels still out there in the Gulf.

GREGORY:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, when we return, opening hearts and minds to same-sex marriage.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with that ruling in California this week on same-sex marriage.  I‘m reasonably confident that years from now, this ruling will be viewed as anything but exceptional.  I said it because young people, meaning young adults, don‘t see it really as an issue.

Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled this is a matter of liberty as the guaranteed by the American Constitution.  The 14th Amendment says that a U.S. citizen cannot be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law, that citizens are entitled to equal protection of the laws.  There you have it.

Are people—are they not at liberty to marry someone of the same sex?  Does the Constitution‘s protection of liberty include the right to choose your marital partner?  Do people of the same sex have the right to equal protection of the laws?

Well, the Supreme Court will end up deciding this matter.  If the case falls the thinking of the Lawrence case from 2003, which declared sodomy laws unconstitutional, we can expect to see an affirmative or certainly a close decision whether to uphold this district court decision.

I know that the president opposes same-sex marriage.  I know that many Americans of good character do, as well.

Let‘s face it: this is new territory for many people—too new territory in which to make a judgment.

What would be good for the country is to judge this matter wisely, fairly and with a strong degree, I think, of compassion.  That would be wonderful.  Perhaps it will take a few more years to make such a dramatic move as to declare a person‘s right to a same-sex marriage.

What I‘m for everyone who can to look at this with a fresh perspective.  It is, like so many questions, not as much a matter of morality or religion, as we may think it is at first.  It‘s a matter not for the church or synagogue as for the law.  My church opposed divorce, still does but acknowledges, I believe, the existence of laws that permit it.

Maybe this is not a matter to be decided in the heat of an election campaign.  Maybe this is not the stuff of TV debates and 30-second ads and bumper stickers.  Maybe—and let‘s just say it here—a matter not for loud voices but for the mind and heart and for the best judgment of what America, this exceptional place, really means.

This country founded perhaps uniquely but not just on life and liberty

but yes, on the pursuit of happiness.

           

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.

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