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updated 11/18/2013 11:47:09 AM ET 2013-11-18T16:47:09

HARDBALL
November 15, 2013
Guest: Josh Marshall, Larry Sabato


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A new low from Dick Cheney.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The political right in this country
has reached a new low, as I said. It has shown from the beginning that
President Obama doesn`t deserve the decency accorded other American
presidents. His enemies have called him an illegal immigrant, a street
corner con artist, a fraud, a Manchurian candidate brought to this country
to undermine all we stand for.

Well, now Dick Cheney comes right out and calls him a liar. When a
right-wing back-bencher did that four years ago, he was called out for
rebuke even by his own party. Well, now what was condemned as historic bad
behavior comes snarling out of Dick Cheney`s mouth, and nobody says to shut
up.

Well, we can argue, as we do here, about the problems implementing the
Affordable Care Act, but is this, calling the president a liar, the new
language of American politics, or is it a language specially treated for
the country`s first African-American president? Is this president of a
lower caste than those elected to the office before him, or do those on the
right believe he even is the legitimate president of the United States, or
that someone like him could be?

Well, this we know, the top Republican in the country refuses to
condemn the birtherism of his allies. There`s even been lower-level
attacks before like this one, but the fact that a recent vice president can
talk openly like this tells us that a new ugliness has come to right-wing
discourse.

Howard Fineman is editorial director for the Huffington Post Media
Group. David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones." Both
are, of course, valued MSNBC political analysts.

So let`s listen to Dick Cheney. Here he is at his current worst.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We look at
the mess that has been created out of "Obama care" by the president having
said, You can keep your policy if you like it, you know, guaranteed,
period. That turns out that was a lie. And he repeated it over and over
and over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Cheney`s not alone. Another former GOP heavyweight, if you
will, Mitt Romney, called the president a liar during an interview on "CBS
This Morning."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: But the real
problem that the president has is a broken promise. It`s dishonesty. And
that`s, of course, what`s really striking at the heart of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Howard on this one. It seems to me the one
thing we know and the discourse we have here on this program and everywhere
else in the country is if you call someone a liar, using that word, saying
they lie, it`s sort of the end of the conversation because what would be
the purpose of continuing to even listen to someone who you call a liar.

And here`s the vice president, Dick Cheney -- now, there used to be
(INAUDIBLE) the president`s club by Mike Duffy makes it pretty clear
recently -- there`s a sort of a code of respect among presidents, recent
presidents. They don`t call each other names like this.

Cheney, is he exempt from the rule?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
No, he`s not exempt from the rule, but he made himself exempt. I don`t
think you`ll hear George W. Bush making a statement like that, but Dick
Cheney has a different agenda.

First of all, his daughter is running are the Senate in Wyoming as a
Tea Party candidate, rather absurdly, since she`s basically from the
Beltway. And Dick Cheney is trying to help her out by appealing to the Tea
Party worst. I think that`s what`s going on, number one.

Number two, I think Republicans more generally, Chris, have always
been infuriated by the high personal standing of President Barack Obama, by
him as a candidate, by him as a president, by the fact that he has seemed
to many of his supporters and to most Americans to be an honest,
straightforward, decent guy.

And this somehow is especially infuriating to Republicans. It drives
them crazy, and they`re doing everything they can now, given the
opportunity, to try to drag him down to their level. And that`s what Dick
Cheney is up to.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to -- let me go to David on the same question
because I do think we can argue -- and we`re going to do it here, as we`ve
done it -- about the screw-ups with regarding Affordable Care -- they are
there. They are talked about.

But getting into motive, that he lied, and using the word "lie," not -
- not that he -- what the president`s been saying, is, Look, I tried to do
something, I thought it was going to work one way, the market didn`t react
the way I thought it would. I thought I was telling the truth, it didn`t
work out that way.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: But to call the guy a liar is to say he`s a liar. And it
seems to me, the -- politicians generally avoid the word. I`m focused on
the word. The decency of...

CORN: Chris? Chris...

MATTHEWS: When that, what was his name? Who was that guy, Joe
Wilson...

CORN: Joe Wilson. Joe Wilson.

MATTHEWS: When he said, You lie, everybody blanched and said, Oh, my
God, you don`t talk like that. Your thoughts?

CORN: Well, can we just say of all the people to call anyone else a
liar, Dick Cheney should not be at the top of that list? I mean if you go
back to Iraq -- we`ve talked about this over the years -- he was the one
who said that Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction, no
doubt, to use against the United States.

He kept talking about the lie that Mohammed Atta had met with Iraqi
intelligence officials in Prague. He talked about the aluminum tubes. He
said there was no doubt there was strong evidence of strong connections
between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. He lied repeatedly.

And he really, for all that, should sort of be drummed out of polite
society and that of the media. But unfortunately, he`s not. Those lies
actually were done, I think, maliciously to get the American public to back
a war which they might otherwise not support.

And then, so the fact that he can come out there now and act like a
statesman, pronouncing judgment on somebody else, when, you know, Obama,
you know, misspoke, made a mistake, lied or was inaccurate...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: ... he was doing it in pursuit of bringing health care to tens
of millions of Americans who aren`t otherwise covered. That`s a lot
different than trying to bamboozle a public into supporting a hoax of a
war.

MATTHEWS: Apparently, he never heard Franklin Roosevelt`s warning to
never use the word "rope" in a family where there`s been a hanging.

Anyway, at every turn, Republicans have tried to smear the president
as a liar and a cheat. The breadth and scope of the GOP attack on the
president`s character, as Howard pointed out, is remarkable.

And it started pretty much the day he took office. It began, as I
said, rather infamously when Congressman Joe Wilson called the president a
liar in 2009 when it came to the part of his health care plan, this part.
Let`s watch Joe Wilson in action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I`m
proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

(BOOS)

OBAMA: Not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that opened the floodgates. In 2011, Republicans
refused to acknowledge the reality of a default, a debt default, accusing
the president of lying about basic math.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: President Obama, quit lying! You know
darn well that if August 2nd comes and goes, there`s plenty of money to pay
off our debt and cover all of our Social Security obligations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was actually another U.S. congressman. Anyway
there`s the GOP obsession with Benghazi, which the Tea Party zealot Ted
Cruz jumped on earlier this summer as proof of what he said was a pattern
of lies.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: As all of these scandals have unfolded, a
pattern we`ve seen is a consistent willingness to mislead, to be less than
honest. Indeed, in recent weeks, we have seen at least two flat-out
falsehoods from senior members of the administration with regard to
Benghazi.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I still think the real -- the real precedent being
set here is for a former vice president -- in fact, the most recent vice
president -- using the word "lie" regarding a current president.

But then there`s some hotshots out there, the original lie there, when
the president was born. That was the original one. This is clip from
conservative radio talk show host Rick Weils (ph) conducting an interview
with Tea Party congressman Jeff Duncan from South Carolina.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we know that they`re lying about all these
other things, why not go back and say, Well, maybe the first scandal was a
lie, too?

REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There you go. I`m all with
you, so let`s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans
have questions about not only the IRS scandal, but also about the
president`s validity.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Howard, you know, there you go again. You can`t keep them
away from this. It`s like chocolate candy or something. The minute you
get anywhere near -- there`s one put in front of them, mention anything,
they go right back to birtherism. There is a crowd, the Farenthold guy
that was on here the other day, that wouldn`t admit the president was
elected legitimately. I mean, obviously, they think he`s basically a
fraud. And of course, there was Donald Trump called him a street corner
con artist.

This lingo -- I`m sorry, it`s very hard to read people`s souls, but
would they say it about a white guy? I`m just telling you, it never -- it
always seems to hit me like they think of him as, like, an Indian in the
old days, a lower caste, an untouchable. Oh, I was 10 feet from him the
other day, and I felt sick, or, I couldn`t stand looking at him. This
caste they treat him as, as something lower than...

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... some -- it`s not like some guy you work with you don`t
get along with. It`s not like somebody -- your brother-in-law in some
stupid argument. It`s like he`s from a lower species, the way these people
talk about him.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris, I`m reluctant, I...

MATTHEWS: I don`t know about motive.

FINEMAN: Well, I would normally be reluctant to make the accusation
of racism. But here`s how I look at it. As I see President Obama`s
policies -- and I`ve been covering things around here for a long time --
the last thing he is, is a communist, socialist, whatever Rush Limbaugh
calls him every day of the week.

He tried in the health care law, and largely succeeded, to steer a
middle course between single-payer, you know, a government-run program,
even the public option, and the Republicans` idea of vouchers only in the
market. He sought a traditional American compromise that has been
validated over 200 years between marketplace and federal regulation.

There was nothing radical about that, minimal regulation of the
insurance industry. And yet, these people on the right go crazy. They go
crazy about it from an ideological point of view.

So as a kind of mathematical equation, I say what`s the missing
element here? What`s the "X" factor here that makes them go so crazy?

Well, there are two things. First of all, we live in divided worlds
of politics and reality. They deny his validity because they deny the rest
of the world outside of the world they live in, number one. And number
two, I think race has to be part of it because they see everything that he
does in apocalyptic terms.

Why? What other explanation is there?

MATTHEWS: Let me go to the other theory, David Corn. Are they trying
to trash talk him into trash talking back? I sometimes wonder when they
just lower the level of discourse using words like "liar," if they really
gig him -- if they can keep doing this, maybe he`ll some night just burp
out with what he thinks of them, and then they`ll say, We showed you, he`s
an angry black guy, you know, or something like that. Your thoughts.

CORN: Well, I think...

MATTHEWS: I don`t understand why...

CORN: I`m not...

MATTHEWS: Cheney...

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You would think he cared about his own dignity. He
obviously doesn`t care of his own dignity. It may be about his daughter,
some game he`s playing, some hatred he has of Obama. I don`t know what it
is. Who knows?

CORN: I`m not sure they`re that strategic in trying to get a -- you
know, get a -- an improper response out of the president.

But I do think there is another part to this. And that is, they
realize that if they can discredit just the whole nature of political
discourse, and make what`s happening in Washington, when it comes to policy
and politics, look like a complete mess, that`s bad for the president.

That`s bad for the Democrats, who say, Listen, we can use government
to nudge the markets in the right direction, to give you...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: ... to give you health care. They actually benefit from chaos.
The libertarian wing, the Tea Party wing, they want -- you know, they don`t
want to just, you know, decrease the size of government, they want to
destroy it in a lot of ways. And they want to discredit. They want to
discredit the president. They want to discredit Congress. They want to
disrupt.

And if they can get the president to swing back and play at their
level, well, they win a big win that way. I`m not sure that`s the way they
look at it, but they do want to disrupt. They`re not here to have an
honest debate. And we knew that about Dick Cheney from the get-go.

FINEMAN: Yes, but I think...

CORN: He is not here for an honest debate.

FINEMAN: Chris, I think the other question -- the question, though,
is whether -- and I agree with what David said there, but the question is
whether they think that way in part because they feel that they have an
advantage in making the case, given who Barack Obama is, that they can talk
in this apocalyptic fashion about Washington and government and so on
because of who the president is, both in his person and in his race. And I
think the answer to that is, for some of these people, they think that
makes their case somehow.

CORN: Well, he certainly represents...

MATTHEWS: I think -- I got to stop...

CORN: ... a new -- a new America, right? And these are people...

MATTHEWS: We`re going to continue...

CORN: I was just going to say, these are people who really want to go
back to the `50s for a lot of reasons, some of it motivated by race, some
of it motivated by other concerns. And his race and his youth and his
positions, it all ties together to make him "the other" in terms of
political cultures and geographic differences. And so it`s all part of a
larger piece.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s a guy in a jalopy trying to get into a
bumping car fight with somebody driving a Cadillac. They can`t lose.

Anyway, thank you Howard Fineman. Thank you, David Corn.

Coming up: What`s all this nonsense about this being President Obama`s
Katrina? Well, George W. Bush was indifferent to people who were
suffering, of course. He was looking out the window at them. Now
Republicans are doing everything they can to keep President Obama from
helping people who are suffering, like 40 million people in the emergency
rooms. This is no Katrina. Republicans are really trying hard to make it.

Also, some good news for Democrats as we look towards 2014. They have
a real shot at knocking off some big-name Republican governors in big
states who floated into office in the 2010 Tea Party wave.

And the lasting legacy of Jack Kennedy, our "Elusive Hero" -- how his
short presidency influenced so many others after he was gone.

And Texas congressman Louie Gohmert may have topped himself with his
latest conspiracy theory, this one about, well, the president`s health
care.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Jeb Bush wants to make sure he`s not left out of the
conversation about 2016. Bush told "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel" that,
quote, "I`m not going to think about it until the middle of next year.
Then I`m going to think about it really hard." And Politico quotes several
top Republican sources say that Jeb has moved from almost definitely
staying out of the race to about a 30 percent chance of getting into it.

I think that`s right. And that could mean a Bush versus Clinton
sequel.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Republicans have a new way to
attack the president for trying to bring health care to people who don`t
have it or have been denied it. They`re referring to it as "President
Obama`s Katrina."

Well, today`s "The New York Times" headlines it, "Health law rollout
stumbles draw parallels to Bush`s hurricane response," and quotes a former
Bush administration official saying, quote, "The echoes to the fall of 2005
are really eerie. Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration
policy, matches to the rollout of the Web site."

Well, Nicolle Wallace, who was president George W. Bush`s
communications director, joined in on "MORNING JOE."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLLE WALLACE, FMR. GEORGE W. BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: There are
moments in a presidency where everything is different afterward, and I
believe this is that moment. For us, it was Hurricane Katrina because
while public support had been dropping for the war in Iraq, after Katrina,
after many members of the public and every member of the Democratic Party,
viewed us as incompetent, and it transcended to everything else we did.

I`m not -- you know, you can`t look in a crystal ball, but I believe
this is a moment after which everything will be different for the
president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that may be the wish hoping to be fulfilled. Anyway,
Republicans hope so, anyway. Yes, the rollout of the Web site has been
disastrous, but the comparisons to Katrina -- think about it -- don`t
really hold up.

During Hurricane Katrina, the real knock on the president -- his
crime, if you will -- was his alleged indifference to the suffering. There
he was, looking out the window of the plane, not interested in getting down
there or worried about the people dehydrated and starving and left out in
the cold, or left out in the heat there.

At least President Obama stumbled while trying to help people, all the
while Republicans tried to stop any way they could.

Joy Reid`s managing editor of TheGrio and an MSNBC political analyst.
And Josh Marshall is founder and editor of TalkingPointsMemo.

Joy, you know the comparison I would draw to what`s going on right now
would not be to Katrina, which was really about indifference -- I mean, all
the president, George W. Bush, had to do -- and I kept saying he should do
it -- was bring Marine One, the helicopter, down there in front of the
convention center and the Superdome and start handing out water bottles to
everybody -- just show you care, lead the way, lead the charge. Don`t be
standing back and not doing anything.

And today (INAUDIBLE) what`s going on today is a guy or woman`s out
there drowning, a quarter mile out, and a guy jumps in the water and tries
to save him. And another guy stands on the beach laughing, laughing at the
effort to try to save the person.

That`s what the right wing is doing now. They`re not saying, We can
do a better job of saving that person. They`re not diving in the water,
trying to get out there faster than the guy who`s trying to save the
person. They`re standing on the beach laughing.

And I got a little chuckle there when I just heard that comment from
Nicolle, and the chuckle that`s out there at the president`s inability to
get the job done that he`s trying to do -- that he`s trying to do -- and
the other side has never tried to do.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and...

MATTHEWS: There`s no comparison here to Katrina. Nothing!

REID: Chris...

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t work.

REID: Chris...

It`s cute, but it doesn`t work. Your thoughts?

REID: Well, what I would add to your analogy is that the guy standing
on the side is also fishing out the life preserver, making sure that it`s
not even possible to help the person, because they simply don`t believe
that it`s the role of anybody on the side to jump in and save someone.

Look, the analogy to Katrina -- I think one day, anyone capable of
embarrassment is going to look back, including some people in the news biz,
and be embarrassed at the idea of comparing a glitchy Web site and the
inability of some people to buy single market high -- high-deductible
insurance to the deaths of 1,800 people -- I mean, if you think about just
the scale problem...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: ... it`s really quite embarrassing to make that comparison.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: In the case of Hurricane Katrina, you`re talking about the
benign or active neglect of both state and federal government that led
directly or indirectly to the deaths of 1,833 human beings.

The idea that that is comparable to a glitchy Web site is really sort
of embarrassing even as a comparison, and it shows you the kind of
callousness that you hear from the right, the kind of indifference to human
suffering that`s quite ironic when they`re trying to compare the president
to George W. Bush.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

And, Josh, there`s another piece of this. There`s the little chuckle-
worthy there after taking hell over Katrina, which they deserved because
they did show indifference, to, hey, he`s as bad as we were. Hey, we got
him. He`s as bad as we were, chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.

That carries such a self-indictment, I can`t even get to it, when your
biggest knock against the president is, hey, you know, he`s as bad as we
were.

JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: The
thing with Obama`s Katrina, I think there have been maybe 18 times during
Obama`s administration where the new big thing was Obama`s Katrina. It was
Syria. It was the debt showdown in 2011. It was the oil spill down in the
Gulf.

The Bush alums really, you know, really are still feeling the
embarrassment over Katrina. And they keep bringing it out. You know,
look, this is -- this is a big thing for the president. It is a very it is
a very public stumble. It has real consequences. So, I think Democrats
realize that they need to -- they need to show they can get this fix and
they need to show they can deliver on helping, you know, helping ordinary
people.

I think what`s going to what`s going to backfire for Republicans is
that, you know, it`s great for them, they can kind of -- you know, they
were so bummed out after the shutdown. They can kind of chuckle, I told
you so, all this kind of stuff.

But the law is still moving forward and people are signing up. The
Web site is demonstrably getting better, and the problem for the White
House right now is that you`re focused on what is really a tiny sliver of
the population that is going to have to pay higher rates, when you have
many, many more people who are going to be able to be covered for the first
time, be able to get coverage for less.

The problem is, is -- the problem with the Web site, you haven`t seen
those people yet. But they`re coming. So I think this is going to look
very different in a month or two, and the Republican crocodile tears won`t
look so good in retrospect.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

Republicans` relentless effort, however, to sabotage the president`s
health care reform plan is another element, as Joy said, to this story that
debunks the Obama`s Katrina in comparison. Republicans are actively
working to destroy the president and his plan.

Look at this. Mike Tomasky writes in The Daily Beast: "They`re like
the kid who puts antifreeze in the gas tank and then says, see, I told you
that car wouldn`t run. They`re total bad faith actors."

And I think that we`re going to see more of that, Joy. And,
unfortunately, this battle isn`t over from the right-wing side. They made
a point of not giving the administration or HHS enough funds to basically
put this thing together adequately as an administrative issue.

And I get the feeling that this -- if these exchanges don`t work out
and they need more funding, you ain`t going to get a nickel from this
Congress, not the House.

REID: No, absolutely not.

And, as a matter of fact, what the House Republicans are actually
doing, as they did today, are putting forward bills that would essentially
allow insurance companies to go right back to the policies that the
Affordable Care Act made illegal, sort of a back-door repeal, saying, you
know what? Go ahead and sell people policies that are subject to
rescission, meaning that the minute you try to cash in your insurance
because you got sick, they can say oh, no, sorry, you had some minor
illness a few years ago, we`re going to call that a preexisting condition,
we`re not going to cover you, you go ahead and pay for that yourself.

They want to put those policies back in place. And the biggest irony,
I think, Chris, to all of this...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, all the time saying they`re trying to help.

REID: All the time saying, hey, we`re here to help.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.

REID: And the biggest irony, Chris, is that Republicans are claiming
that the bedrock principle of liberty here is that people should be able to
keep the plan they like, even if those plans have been made illegal because
they are substandard under law. They should be able to keep them.

But they want to take away the insurance that people are now, millions
of people potentially are going to get through Medicaid, expanded Medicaid
and people who do wind up buying on the exchange through the Affordable
Care Act. They don`t think you should be able to keep that insurance, even
if you like it.

MATTHEWS: I know. They want a complete...

(CROSSTALK)

MARSHALL: You know, there`s also people who are going to be protected
on the preexisting condition front, the lifetime limits front, the kids
that can stay on their parents` care until they`re 26.

There are -- you know, there are a lot of promises out there. And the
promise which, look, I think the Republicans have a good on -- you know, a
point on, that the president just overstated that absolutely no one would
have to change plans, that`s the only promise they care about.

The promise to the people on Medicaid, the promise to people who get
better coverage., those don`t matter.

MATTHEWS: Let`s not forget the prequel to this whole thing,
generations and generations of politicians promising national health care
of various form, whether the public option, the Kennedy plan, or Canada, or
this kind of more moderate plan, more Republican plan.

There has been a reason why people have rallied to that, because they
know we needed it. Of course it`s going to be difficult, but the call for
it was loud and persistent for generations for a reason, a real lack of
caring for the people, the 40 million it added up who didn`t get anything
from -- help from anybody.

Anyway, thank you, Joy Reid. Thank you, Josh Marshall. Great having
you on.

REID: Thanks, Chris.

MARSHALL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: A birther -- and he is a birther -- Louie
Gohmert, never met a conspiracy theory he didn`t like. He thinks he`s
uncovered a sinister plot lurking deep within the Affordable Care Act
itself.

Stay -- well, stick around for the "Sideshow." There`s always
something like that in it.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Yes, we`re
talking about Rob Ford, Toronto mayor, crack-smoking mayor of Toronto,
ladies and gentlemen, Rob Ford. This has everything you want.

And he was -- the city council was grilling the guy. It turned out
that at one point he had hookers in the mayor`s office.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Boy, I didn`t see that coming.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Welcome to the "Sideshow." Mayor Rob Ford, of course, was
the story of the day for late-night comedians. Here`s Steve Colbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Ford apologized last
week. And I think that should have been the end of it. But, apparently,
the mayor`s critics cannot take "I smoked crack" for an answer.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Instead, they have made even more alarming allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Ford was said to be snorting cocaine,
drinking vodka and using OxyContin, all while entertaining a prostitute in
his office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drinking and driving also a problem, police say.
They say that one staff member said that he was in the car with the mayor
when the mayor chugged a mickey of vodka mixed in with some Gatorade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Ford then steps out of the car and proceeds
to urinate publicly next to basically an elementary school.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Oh, Canada. He was just trying to tell kids to stay in
school.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Seriously, kids, stay inside. The mayor`s out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: By the way, the Toronto City Council today voted
overwhelmingly to strip Mayor Ford of some of his powers. But Ford says he
isn`t going anywhere.

Meanwhile, back south of the border, there was some pretty brazen
political chutzpah on display at yesterday`s EPA oversight hearing in the
House of Representatives. U.S. Congressman Paul Broun threw this question
about the Affordable Care Act at EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Listen
carefully to her response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: Let me ask you one more question,
because my time is running out. Are you signed up for Obamacare?

GINA MCCARTHY, ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: No, I
am not.

BROUN: Why not?

MCCARTHY: Well, because I`m lucky enough as a federal government that
I have health care available to me, which I have signed up for. In a few
years when that`s not the case, I will be happy to have other available...

BROUN: The president says that Obamacare is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Did you catch that? McCarthy is referring to the fact that
she`s lucky enough to already have health insurance.

Well, Congressman Steve Stockman chose to hear it differently. Listen
to what he says a few minutes later in the hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: I think, though, you earlier gave me
my favorite tweet of the day which I`m going to send out, which is, I`m
lucky enough...

MCCARTHY: That wasn`t my intent.

(CROSSTALK)

STOCKMAN: Oh, really?

The quote is from you. I love it. It says, "I`m lucky enough not to
have to sign up for Obamacare." That`s wonderful. I wish my constituents
could say the same.

MCCARTHY: I actually think I was referring to I`m lucky enough to
have access to good health care, which the -- which the...

STOCKMAN: I still will take your quote from the record. I wrote it
down. It`s really good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He didn`t say -- she didn`t say anything of what he just
said.

Anyway, in other words he`s saying, I don`t care what you actually
said as long as I can quote you out of context and tweet that. It wasn`t
out of context. It was worse than that. And that`s all that matters to
me.

Nice try, Congressman. Everybody saw it. It fits a pattern when it
comes to critics of the Affordable Care Act. The truth is often seen
beside the point. Remember death panels? Well, this comment from
Congressman Louie Gohmert might be the most incredible yet.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: It provides in Obamacare that this
commission and noncommissioned officer corps will be trained, but I want to
know, are they using weapons to train, or are they being taught to use
syringes and health care items?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s Congressman, a U.S. congressman, Louie Gohmert
asking the question nobody on planet Earth thought necessary. Is the U.S.
government creating an Obamacare army perhaps armed with weapons, perhaps
armed with syringes?

Well, hopefully, he can get to the bottom of that.

By the way, the reality is the new law provides funding for a reserve
corps of a few thousand doctors and health care workers to help at times of
national emergencies, nothing about people going around putting needles in
people`s arms to kill them in late age.

Sorry, Louie. Louie, you`re out to lunch again.

Up next: Democrats have a good chance at beating some high-profile
Republican governors next year. Let`s watch it.

We`re right back here with the place for politics in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.

Prosecutors outside Detroit have charged Theodore Wafer in the
shooting death of Renisha McBride on his porch. The 19-year-old was shot
after wrecking her car. Family members believe she was looking for help
when she approached his home. Wafer says he thought someone was trying to
break in.

Authorities in Miami are searching for the body of a man who fell out
of a plane yesterday. The pilot sent a desperate mayday moments
afterwards. Investigators are on the scene -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Coming up: Terry McAuliffe`s big victory last week in Virginia.
Democrats are hoping momentum is on their side looking ahead to next year`s
governor`s races. They have their sights particularly set on three more
governor`s seats in 2014 where Republican incumbents appear to be the most
vulnerable. Pennsylvania`s Tom Corbett, Florida`s Rick Scott, Maine`s Paul
LePage -- or Paul LePage -- are all top targets of Democrats going into
next year.

Just today, "The Washington Post" ranked these guys as the top three
most endangered governors in the country. All trail -- all three of them
trail 2014 rivals in hypothetical matchups, and all three continue to seek
-- or actually see weak job performance numbers.

Catch these numbers. Only 43 percent of Floridians approve of Scott`s
job performance. Only 39 percent approve of LePage up in Maine. And catch
this. Just 19 percent of approve of Corbett, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania,
according to the latest polling.

Well, Sam Stein is the political director of The Huffington Post, and
Joan Walsh is with Salon.

By the way, Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania has provided some
interesting explanations for his policies.

Here are some of his more outrageous answers, beginning with one about
his mandatory ultrasound bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did that go too far?

GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I`m not going to make anybody
watch, OK? Because you just have to close your eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since you have taken office, Pennsylvania`s
dropped from seventh in job growth to 49th in the nation.

CORBETT: There are many employers that say, you know, we`re looking
for people, but we can`t find anybody that -- that has passed a drug test
in a lot of them. And that`s a concern for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have staff members that Latino?

CORBETT: No, we do not have any staff members. If you can find us
one, please let me know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m sure that there are Latinos...

(CROSSTALK)

CORBETT: You want to come to Harrisburg?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a controversial remark made by a
member of your legal team comparing gay marriage to the union of 12-year-
olds, saying both are illegal, which you called inappropriate.

CORBETT: It was an inappropriate analogy. You know, I think a much
better analogy would have been brother and sister, don`t you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good reporter`s response: "I don`t know."

Anyway, Joan, let`s talk about the -- I`m not super sensitive, but it
seems to me when you`re talking about unborn children, or fetuses, however
the term, of course, could matter to a lot of people morally -- but when
you start chatting about ultrasound and to make a comment like, well, just
don`t watch, I mean, it seems to me that shows the kind of a horse`s-ass
attitude about what you`re talking about.

If you are -- if you are a pro-life person -- and many people are --
you don`t joke about that. You`re talking about human life. If you are --
if you don`t think it`s human life, then maybe you can chuckle about it.
But here`s a pro-life guy saying, don`t watch. This is all a big joke.

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a big joke. It`s a big...

MATTHEWS: Well, what -- is it a big joke?

WALSH: It`s a -- well, it`s a joke to him. It`s a sock to his
supporters.

But it really is such a cavalier and callus thing to say. He is in
there acknowledging, Chris, that it actually could be a traumatic thing for
a woman, that she wouldn`t want to see. It`s not like he`s saying this is
best for you, and you ought to see it.

He`s just -- he`s acknowledging that women would -- would either be
squeamish or just be completely horrified by having to be violated by the
state that way. So, to sort of make a joke, and you know, in that really
great montage, we insult Latinos, we insult gays.

MATTHEWS: How about everybody? We`ve got --

WALSH: We insult the unemployed, they`re on drugs. I mean, he`s
really, he`s really kind of one of the big losers, I think.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the issue of maybe manhood is a good word for
it. Guy`s out of work, a woman too, a guy especially a father with kids at
home. He can`t find a job. The plant`s closed. The town`s deteriorating.
There`s no industry left.

What he prepared himself for by the time he was an 18-year-old doesn`t
work as a chance to make a living. And the guy says the reason these guys
are unemployed in Pennsylvania, which has an older population, I have a
sense of the place -- you make fun of the guy and say he can`t pass a drug
test.

Now, first of all, I don`t know what he`s talking about, because
that`s not the problem. The reason for unemployment is not that guys can`t
pass drug tests. It`s that they go out and look for a job and they can`t
find one without moving to some other part of the planet to find a job.
And it`s not a joke, either.

What`s the comedy that we`re hearing from this guy about the
humiliation of being out of work for a guy? I don`t get it.

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I don`t understand it, either. And
you know, politicians are usually empathetic to the voters that they need
to align to get elected. This guy seems to go out of his way to tick them
off. I mean, the montage that you played on top was impressive. And it`s
not a surprise that his ratings are 19 percent.

But, you know, there are, also, of course, institutional reasons that
these three governors are in trouble. And it`s not just the foot in mouth
disease. They all come from either moderate or traditionally Democratic
states, and they rode the wave of the Tea Party in 2010. And that`s
receded largely and they`re seeing it in the poll numbers.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know, Kinsley, Mike Kinsley once said a gaffe was
when you say what you really believe. But I got to tell you, I got to tell
you, I don`t think it`s a gaffe, a mistaken work like Joe Biden does once
in awhile.

STEIN: No, that`s not a gaffe.

MATTHEWS: To make him -- no, when you say things like the guy can`t
get a job because he`s a drug addict, he`s a stoner -- I mean, give me a
break. Let me ask you about --

STEIN: Or comparing, yes.

MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead.

STEIN: Comparing homosexually to incest, or you know, bestiality, I
mean, that is not a gaffe. Those are deeply held or somewhat held beliefs
that he`s exhibiting there and I think voters are really turned off by it.
He`s way behind the times with respect to social issues, that`s for sure.

MATTHEWS: I would say.

Let`s move on to Florida and Maine where the governors are also deeply
unpopular. Here`s why -- in Florida, Rick Scott made significant cuts in
education. He vetoed drivers license for children of illegal immigrants,
rejected high speed rail funding, and signed mandatory ultrasound -- there
it is again -- and voter ID bills. There`s another one.

In Maine, Paul LePage culminated one of the worst environments for
business according to "Forbes" while he was named second from the worst
among 45 governors ranked for job creation. According to figures from the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, LePage is famously known for his pugnacious
attitude. He once said, quote, "About 47 percent of able-bodied people of
the state of Maine don`t work."

It gets worse than that. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: As your governor, you`re going to be
seeing a lot of me on the front page saying "Governor LePage tells Obama to
go to hell."

REPORTER: What`s your response to them saying this is more than just
one incident, but rather a pattern?

LEPAGE: Tell them to kiss my butt.

The only thing that I`ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle, and
put it in the microwave and heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to
estrogen. And so, you know, worst cases, some women might have little
beards but we don`t want to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.

Joan, I mean, these guys --

WALSH: What a moron. He`s a moron. I`m sorry. You know?

He got -- he was lucky he got elected in a wave year, but the
president won that state, and you know, I also love the dig at the
president and the NAACP. This is a very white state.

So that`s just kind of gratuitous throwing of red meat to his Tea
Party base. I don`t -- I don`t see him surviving this next election cycle.

MATTHEWS: Well, they all came in with the tide, they`ll go out with
the tide. Thank you, Joan Walsh. And thank you, Sam Stein.

Up next, how the presidency of John F. Kennedy, cut short actually 50
years ago next Friday, continues to reverberate through the presidencies
that have followed. We know all that.

This is HARDBALL -- we`ve got a great guy coming up, Larry Sabato,
just a minute. He belongs here -- the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: A reminder: you can take MSNBC with you wherever you go
with our new MSNBC app. You can stream MSNBC live on your iPad or your
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We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

There`s been a lot of attention paid to Jack Kennedy as we approach
the 50th anniversary of his tragic death next Friday. Well, that day in
Dallas made an indelible mark on our country, I can tell you. And we all
know it.

But unlike the abrupt end of his presidency, Kennedy`s influence
continued over the years, undiminished. The impact of that legacy can be
traced through the presidencies of his nine predecessors in office, from
LBJ to President Obama.

Founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for
Politics, Larry Sabato, explores Kennedy`s lasting influence in his new
book, "The Kennedy Half Century." He joins us now.

Larry, go -- just to make the point, I want to give you a couple of
minutes. Make the point of how Kennedy -- I know I agree with you -- has
had an influence that has gone well beyond his short time in office.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Chris, it
was really remarkable. Most of this book is about his legacy and we looked
at it in two different ways. We scoured the presidential record for
Kennedy`s nine successors in the White House from LBJ to Obama, and we
found that Kennedy was the most cited former president.

Now, why do they cite a former president so often? They want to use
Kennedy`s words and deeds to get their own agendas accomplished. And why
do they do that? They do it because he was very popular and is very
popular.

We did a massive study, the largest public opinion study ever done on
a historical figure. We found that Kennedy is by far the most popular
post-World War II president. And I think you`ll be interested in this,
Chris -- he is the only president with a tri-partisan profile. That is, he
is very popular with Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

All of the other presidents mainly drew support from their own
partisans, not the other party or independents.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I like the poll that I found a couple years ago that
said that people think he deserves most to be on Mt. Rushmore. That`s my
favorite because it says they think of him as a hero.

Anyway, I`m going to go with your book here. When Vice President
Johnson became president, he made it clear he wanted to turn Kennedy`s
lofty objectives into reality. He expressed that determination in his
first major speech to a session of joint Congress. Here`s LBJ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Today in this moment of new
resolve, I would say to all my fellow Americans -- let us continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: President Johnson would go on to publicly invoke Kennedy`s
name, over 500 times in his public speeches. Johnson immediately
shepherded Kennedy`s civil rights ambitions into law. Of course, Johnson
had an ambitious agenda of his own and yet, he lamented that he couldn`t
escape the shadow of the Kennedy administration.

You know, that was the problem here and I keep thinking that Nixon was
a good example. I`ve written about those two guys. Nixon really was
haunted by the glamour, the eloquence, the beauty of the Kennedy
administration. And he used to go to his speechwriters and say, why can`t
you write like those guys did?

SABATO: Yes. No, that`s right. Of course, in your book on Kennedy
and Nixon, I think you showed people just how good friends they were when
they came into Congress and early in the 1950s. They had no idea they were
going to be adversaries in 1960s.

But what I found that complements what you found, Chris, is that
during the Nixon administration, Nixon was publicly and privately obsessed
with Ted Kennedy. He worried about him running against him in `62, even
after Chappaquiddick. But privately, he was really also obsessed with John
F. Kennedy. He kept comparing his record to John F. Kennedy and
complaining to staffers how Kennedy didn`t have a quarter of the record
that he had, and if he had had John F. Kennedy`s record, he`d be
excoriated.

MATTHEWS: I know, it`s all true. Let me ask you about the current
president. What do you see in that -- what do you see in President Obama,
besides the oratory loftiness? What do you see him trying to do? Going
for the record, obviously, gotten more time than Kennedy to get something
done, and health care is his big one.

SABATO: Absolutely. Of course, Kennedy had plans for Medicare. He
hoped after a substantial re-election against Barry Goldwater, he would be
able to get the civil rights bill and Medicare and other things. He never
had the chance.

So, President Obama has had the chance that President Kennedy didn`t,
but there are so many parallels there. Kennedy and Obama both broke a big
barrier. One on Catholicism, the other on race. They were both short-
termers in the Senate who really didn`t care that much about Senate
service. They were both distinguished authors who had sold a lot of books
and gotten a lot of praise for their writing ahead of being elected.

And we all remember that President Obama might not be president today
had he not been endorsed by Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy right before
Super Tuesday. That helped him gain that little edge in delegates that
enabled him to beat Hillary Clinton in 2008.

MATTHEWS: The name of your book is "The Kennedy Half Century" --
thank you so much, my colleague. I really respect this guy. Larry Sabato,
sir. Thank you for coming on.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

Next week, I`m going to be devoid devoting my final thought here to
the legacy of John F. Kennedy, not the assassination itself, but the life
and good work that was ended 50 years ago next Friday.

Well, tonight, a story of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate. It occurred
not as many would think in 1960, but back in the spring of 1947. A western
Pennsylvania congressman was asked by a local group to recruit the two most
promising members of the freshman class to debate a hot issue of the day.
He recruited Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon, one a Democrat, one a
Republican.

And that night, the two of them went out there before a wild crowd of
business people and fought it out. But when the debate was over, they went
to a local diner for hamburgers. Everyone there recalled how friendly the
two of them were. The rich kid from Massachusetts, the poor kid from South
California, the Catholic and, of course, the Quaker.

They then caught the midnight train back to D.C., sharing the same
compartment, flipping for the bottom bunk. Kennedy lost, got the top bunk,
and two South Pacific Navy vets spent the next couple hours talking about
the matter that would engage their lives -- one that had not been given a
name yet, the Cold War.

I would love to have a tape of that conversation. Kennedy in the top
bunk, Nixon on the bottom, kind of "North by Northwest," without the tunnel
scene at the end.

Politics has changed a lot over the years and not for the better.

Get a copy of my book over the weekend "Tip and The Gipper: When
Politics Worked." You`ll feel good again about how we can do it right now
when we try.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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