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updated 1/6/2014 11:42:11 AM ET 2014-01-06T16:42:11

HARDBALL
December 24, 2013

Guest:


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The right wing delivers a crazy `13.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Hello. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

You know, politicians on the right have done some disturbing and
destructive things this year. They derailed every major legislative item
they could, including legislation on gun control, immigration, the budget
and even workplace discrimination.

When they did take up legislation, it looked like this -- more than 45
separate votes to kill the Affordable Care Act, abortion laws cooked up by
the extreme right, and countless measures attacking the poor, like slashing
food stamps.

They also advanced bills in three dozen states to suppress the voting
rights of minorities. They nearly toppled the economy by bringing us to
the brink of our first ever default. And they shut down the government.

But if you think that what they did was outrageous, just wait until you
hear what they said this year. The far right has uttered some of the most
shocking, offensive, disgraceful and even crazy things you can expect to
hear in politics, and over the next hour, we`ll show you most of them.

Here`s a taste.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KLAYMAN, JUDICIAL WATCH: ... a president who bows down to Allah...

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: Quite honestly, we all
look like geniuses now.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The administration`s plan`s very simple, get
everyone addicted to the sugar.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I want to know, are they using weapons to
train or are they being taught to use syringes and -- and -- and health
care items.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: For every one who`s a valedictorian, there`s
another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they`ve got calves the
size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across
the desert.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And in this special edition of HARDBALL, we can count down the
far right`s most knuckleheaded statements covering a number of categories,
their hatred of the president, their hatred of the president`s agenda,
their denial of reality, the antics of Ted Cruz, and then a special section
devoted entirely to U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa.

Joining me is our panel of HARDBALL all-stars, Howard Fineman of the
HuffingtonPost, David Corn of "Mother Jones," Jonathan Capehart of "The
Washington Post" and Joan Walsh of Salon.

Let`s get started right now with a look at the far right`s hatred of
President Obama. Number three in our list in our countdown goes to U.S.
Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas. The Tea Partier grabbed headlines
when he sided with a group of birthers at a town hall earlier this summer
and openly discussed impeaching the president. Farenthold is also an
ardent supporter of a Ted Cruz 2016 campaign for president.

And this is a clip now from Farenthold`s appearance here on HARDBALL in
September. It`s remarkable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Obama is president, Ted Cruz can be
president.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean? Explain terms. This is serious business,
Congressman. You`re chuckling...

FARENTHOLD: No, absolutely!

MATTHEWS: ... about this. Is he eligible to be president or not? You`ve
been touting the guy. You said he could run for president. Explain. Is
he eligible? You brought it up, I didn`t.

FARENTHOLD: No, I think he`s eligible. I`m giving you a yes answer.

MATTHEWS: So if Obama was born overseas to an American mother, even if
that crazy theory of Donald Trump is true, he`d still be eligible to be
president by that standard.

FARENTHOLD: Listen, we`re talking about Ted Cruz. Obama...

MATTHEWS: Can`t you project an inch mentally...

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: I`m telling you that President Obama is the president.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, you brought this up.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: The answer is yes!

MATTHEWS: Was he a legitimately elected president of the United States?

FARENTHOLD: I wasn`t in Congress to determine that. That was determined
before I got here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, he won`t do it. I guess he`s afraid of, what,
losing one or two votes out there by saying this is a duly elected
president of the United States?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: If
dig down to the very core, to the ninth level of...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: ... to the ninth level of the anti-Obama movement, you find
people who not only view him as from another party or another country, but
practically from another planet.

And the president is fully aware of this. You know, I remember him saying
-- you know, A lot of people don`t even think I was born here, and he
wasn`t sure what he meant by "here."

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: And that`s the theology of it, Chris. There is a sort of
theological belief at the heart of this that Obama -- that the president is
somehow not only not legitimate, not an American, but not even...

MATTHEWS: OK...

FINEMAN: ... not even from here. That`s an element of theology with these
people at the heart -- that`s where everything starts. It goes back to
birtherism and it goes back to their rejection, sort of like their tissue
rejection...

MATTHEWS: Yes!

FINEMAN: ... of him from the body politic. They have never, ever accepted
his legitimacy.

MATTHEWS: Joan, let`s get to a more narrow -- and I think that cosmic
thing is totally true, what he said. But Joan, just down to the narrow
conversation I was having with that U.S. congressman. I said, If you`re
for Ted Cruz, and we all know he was born to an American mother up in
Canada -- and I believe, fair enough, he`s an American and eligible to run
for president.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: I`m all for that. I`m a pretty liberal guy about this. I think
most of us are. The worst crazy case is Donald Trump`s, that Obama was
born to American mother over in Kenya. Therefore, if you accept Cruz as a
potential president, then you should accept Obama as a legitimate
president. That was a very narrow, simple question to put to this
character, and he wouldn`t answer it, even in the narrow bounds I set it
up!

WALSH: Chris, you`re asking for something that they can`t give you.
You`re asking for a kind of moral and political integrity and consistency,
and they don`t have it when it comes to this president.

And you know, just to continue with what Howard was saying, the reason that
they do this is because it works. You know, for a year-end piece that I`m
doing for Salon, I`ve been looking back at 2009. And the president takes
office with approval ratings in the 70s and his approval rating among white
voters is in the 60s. It stays there into the summer and it`s the summer
of the town halls and it`s the summer of Joe Wilson saying "You lie" in
September, and his approval rating plummets from the 60s into the 40s, into
the 30s, and it`s never budged.

This strikes a chord beyond the narrow boundaries of the fringe, and that`s
part of what scares me now.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at number two in our countdown. It goes
to Tea Party congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan. During a town hall
event in August, Bentivolio told the crowd that he wanted to impeach the
president and he couldn`t tolerate the president`s mere physical presence.
This is a U.S. congressman responding to a question about impeachment.
Let`s listen to Bentivolio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: If I could, write that bill and
submit it...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

BENTIVOLIO: ... excuse me -- it would be a dream come true. I feel your
pain. I know -- I stood 12 feet away from the guy and listened to him, and
I -- I couldn`t stand being there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "I couldn`t stand being there," David. You`re going to get
(INAUDIBLE) this thing about cooties and -- and it`s like there`s some
physical presence that disturbs me (ph). People go to work every day, they
deal with people they don`t know or like, in some cases, but they got to --
you know, business and sales. You`ve got to come up against all kinds of -
- nobody ever says, I couldn`t stand being -- this is high school stuff! I
don`t even know what it is.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But wait a second.
Everybody...

MATTHEWS: What is it?

CORN: Everybody at this table has been in a room with Barack Obama. It`s
really not hard to be near Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: He`s kind of a light presence, an easy presence, I think.

CORN: He`s easygoing. He`s smart. He`s engaging. He does reach out to
people he disagrees with because he wants to win the argument. You know,
he can be -- you know, he can be fierce as a debater, but by and large,
he`s not a difficult person to be around. So it`s really not about Barack
Obama in reality. It`s about what Barack Obama stands for, and picking up
on what Howard and Joan said a moment ago, it`s not just -- you know, it`s
rejection, but it`s because they really believe we`re (INAUDIBLE)
political, cultural fight, and Obama embodies everything...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: ... they can`t stand.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... presents himself in public, he`s the ultimate gentleman.
He`s charming. He has elan. Whatever you think of his politics, he ain`t
hard to take.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: And my question is, are these -- this is a great question,
Jonathan, as a columnist.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Is -- are these people saying this because they really do feel
kind of a "yuck" factor with him, which I don`t think they do -- or maybe
they`re really crazy if the -- or they`re selling the "yuck" factor to
their yucky-poos on the far right, who need to be -- be consoled every
moment of their lives -- Our congressman won`t let us down by hugging this
guy, like Charlie Crist did. He won`t get too close to him.

CAPEHART: And Chris, I think it`s a combination of the two, depending on
which member of Congress you`re talking to. You know, Bentivolio -- I
think he actually believes it. I think he doesn`t like the president.
Most of these folks don`t like the president.

We`re talking about folks who have come to Congress, who aren`t -- a lot of
them aren`t terribly smart. The guy you interviewed in that first clip --
I wasn`t here to determine whether the president is legitimately president.
These are folks who failed schoolhouse rock!

MATTHEWS: I know.

CAPEHART: I mean, this is what`s ridiculous about this. And the level of
disrespect that`s been shown to the president...

MATTHEWS: I know.

CAPEHART: ... from September of...

MATTHEWS: I remember --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I remember a guy on Dick Cavett in the old days, when his show
was great. Somebody said to him, I only believe what I see. And he says,
Have you been to Japan? No. Do you believe there`s a Tokyo?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. And number one on our countdown goes to Tea Party activist
Larry Klayman. Well, during the government shutdown in October, Klayman
helped organize an anti-Obama protest at the World War 2 memorial here in
Washington. The event had its share of red-hot rhetoric, thanks to
appearances by Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz. But Klayman`s wild rant grabbed
the headlines.

Let`s listen. Comment on this, Joan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KLAYMAN, JUDICIAL WATCH: A president...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An imperialistic president!

KLAYMAN: ... who bows down to Allah -- this president is not a president
of we the people. He`s the president of his people. I call upon all of
you to wage a second American non-violent revolution, to use civil
disobedience and to demand that this president leave town...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

KLAYMAN: ... to get out, to put the Koran down, to get up off his knees
and to figuratively come up with his hands out!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: My God, that`s a hell of a demand, Put your hands up, put down
Koran, get off your knees and leave town today, or else we`ll have a non-
violent second American revolution. Your thoughts.

WALSH: Right, and we`ve elected that president twice. I love the way he
throws in "figuratively" so we can`t say that he`s inciting violence. But
of course, he is inciting a kind of violence.

Also, let`s remember this is the rally where there was a guy with a
Confederate flag right there. They are outside the home of a black family.
They are outside their home, telling them to get out. I mean, this is
where people...

MATTHEWS: An eviction notice, if you will.

WALSH: ... an eviction notice, when, you know, thank you, we`ve elected
that man to lead us twice. And they don`t accept his legitimacy and they
actually don`t accept ours, either.

But there`s something so deep and so disturbing about taking that to -- I
know it`s the people`s house and it`s our house, but they live there. That
was just so deeply disturbing to me. And no one to my knowledge -- I don`t
know that Ted Cruz was ever asked to disavow any of that. He was there at
that rally. That was the same event.

MATTHEWS: OK, clue to the crazy...

WALSH: Why aren`t they asked to disavow that?

MATTHEWS: Clue to the crazy right now. I agree with you completely what
you said. And last word here. We`ll get back in a moment.

But clue to the crazy. If this president were a tyrant, if he were an
imperial power dictating the world, why are you able to be such clowns in
front of his house?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Coming up, attacking the man to attacking his plan. The
Republicans have saved some of their craziest talk for the Affordable Care
Act.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with more of the crazy on the right with our panel,
Howard Fineman, David Corn, Jonathan Capehart and Joan Walsh.

Well, this is the year Republicans in the House of Representatives shut
down the government and contemplated defaulting on our debt in order to get
the president to abandon his signature legislative achievement, the
Affordable Care Act.

Well, the plan had absolutely zero chances of succeeding, but that didn`t
stop the likes of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Michele Bachmann and others from
holding the country`s economy hostage for the sake of political theater.
And there were many examples this year of the misinformation campaign
launched by the far right to turn the country against the health care law.

Here were three of the oddest moments. Michele Bachmann cheered on the
shutdown, declaring victory even as the country turned strongly against the
Republican tactic and warned the country that if the law wasn`t repealed,
it would, quote, "literally kill" women, children and senior citizens.

But Bachmann topped herself with this incredible victory dance on FOX News
after the shutdown was over and after the law`s troubled rollout. It`s
number three on our list. Let`s watch her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: We hate to say we told
you so, but quite honestly, we all look like geniuses now because we
predicted this would happen. And we don`t want this to happen because we
want people to have the health insurance that works for them, for their
family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In what looking glass does she...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the aforementioned look like geniuses?

FINEMAN: Genius and Michele Bachmann don`t usually go...

MATTHEWS: Not in the dictionary?

FINEMAN: ... in the same sentence. I think -- these people remind me a
little bit of the Road Runner cartoons, where they keep slamming into the
same mountain. Yes, there are problems with this rollout, yes, it`s
complex, yes, the president has admitted problems. But most of the
American people still want to see it work. They still want to see health
care extended. They still want to see reform of the health care system.
And that`s what the president is doing.

Now, they`ve -- they lost in the Congress. They lost in the Supreme Court.
They lost in the presidential election. It seems to me that if Michele
Bachmann, the genius, had her way -- and I think she may -- the Republicans
are going to run again in 2014 and maybe even in 2016...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... slamming into the same mountain.

MATTHEWS: You know, Chris Cuomo on "Good Morning America" the other day I
thought did a good job of challenging Ted Cruz, Joan.

WALSH: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He just said, Wait, what`s your plan? What`s your plan? He
just nailed -- and this guy -- he was caught flat-footed with nothing! He
just said, Our plan is to destroy "Obama care." That`s our health care
plan.

WALSH: And he got -- he got all huffy that, you know, he was being
lectured by Chris Cuomo, when Cuomo just asked him a couple of follow-up
questions and did his job, basically.

And you know, Ted Cruz came out with, that we`re going to let people buy
insurance across state lines, which is just an absolutely ridiculous plan
that doesn`t save anybody money. It doesn`t get anybody else insured. So
he did expose the fact that they do not have a plan, they don`t feel like
they have to have a plan.

MATTHEWS: Tort reform.

WALSH: Tort reform and sell insurance across state lines.

MATTHEWS: That`s their baby...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: ... warmed-over plan.

MATTHEWS: It`s not much there. Anyway, when it comes to the Affordable
Care Act, the right wing is always looking for a gotcha moment. And if
they can`t find it, they`re OK making it up. Take a look at what happened
at the EPA oversight hearing in the House this November -- EPA!
Congressman Paul Broun tried to make some news with this question for EPA
administrator Gina McCarthy.

Listen carefully to how Ms. McCarthy responds, and then watch how he
distorts it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: Let me ask you one more question because my
time`s running out. Are you signed up for "Obama care"?

GINA MCCARTHY, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: 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`ve signed up for. In a few years
when that`s not the case, I`ll be happy to have other available...

BROUN: Well, our president says that "Obama care"...

MCCARTHY: ... health care opportunities...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, to be clear, McCarthy there is referring to the fact that
she`s lucky enough to already have health insurance. She`s not knocking
the Affordable Care Act.

Well, a few minutes later in the hearing, right to her face, Congressman
Steve Stockman chose to interpret her words somewhat differently, and
that`s number two in our countdown.

(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: (OFF-MIKE) wasn`t my intent.

STOCKMAN: Oh, really? Let`s -- the quote is from you. I love it. It
says, "I`m lucky enough not to have to sign up for `Obama care.`" That`s -
- 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.

MCCARTHY: ... Affordable Care Act will expand.

STOCKMAN: I wrote it down. It`s really good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jonathan, my father was a court stenographer, a court reporter.
He had to write down in court what people said. He would have lasted about
three minutes, this guy, three minutes! He completely changed what she
said and said to her face!

CAPEHART: Right, and...

MATTHEWS: And read it back to her!

CAPEHART: Remember what I said in the -- during the last block, that a lot
of these people aren`t very smart? Exhibit B. It`s not what she said.
She`s the Environmental Protection Agency...

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he wait a half hour and issue a press release when
she wasn`t around, at least?

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: Right.

FINEMAN: Now you tweet your distortions immediately.

MATTHEWS: But this guy did it...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This guy did it in real time on the same videotape, so we can
all see how he lied.

CORN: There is a serious...

MATTHEWS: I mean, lied is a strong word, but he certainly distorted it.

CORN: There`s a serious question here because when you look at what
Michele Bachmann said, that "Obama care" is going to kill kids and women
and grandkids and grandparents, and then this guy says, This is what you
said, when it`s not what you said -- the fact that they can get away with
stupid remarks and just outright lies again and again and again because
they go on Fox, because they tweet it out...

MATTHEWS: It`s a gamble.

CORN: ... because their people believe it, is what`s sort of...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s all like lines like "fair and balanced."

CORN: ... policy debate.

MATTHEWS: They giggle at this stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: When it comes to an -- it isn`t balanced compared to other
networks. They don`t -- never mind. It`s just it`s the way people hear
things and play these games.

When it comes to anti-affordable health care hysteria and misinformation,
there are a lot of examples, of course, but this comment from the
illustrious Congressman Louie Gohmert takes the cake. It`s astonishing in
its irresponsibility. The Affordable Care Act provides funding for a
reserve corps of a few thousand doctors and health care workers to help out
in times of national emergencies.

Gohmert sees something sinister here. Please try to explain this. Listen
to this. It`s number one forever on our countdown. What`s this guy
talking about?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: It provides in Obamacare that this
commission and noncommissioned officer corps will be trained.

But I -- I want to know, are they using weapons to train or are they being
taught to use syringes and -- and health care items?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joan, what is this army of people bearing syringes doing the --
what do they call it? The...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What, are they putting syringes up over their shoulder?

WALSH: I...

MATTHEWS: What are we talking about here? What is feared -- what fear
zone is he working here? There`s going to be an army of people like in
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" going around inoculating people with death
-- death panel juice or whatever the hell it is?

WALSH: We have also got a theme here, in that we have got three guys,
Stockman and Farenthold and Gohmert from Texas, which makes me worry about
my friends in Texas.

But, you know, this is the -- these are the people that also believe that,
you know, there are FEMA camps, that Obama is preparing to round us up and
put us -- or not us -- probably not us -- them -- and put them in FEMA
camps. They play on the base paranoia of a fringe of people. And they get
elected and reelected. And there`s -- there`s really no penalty for it.

MATTHEWS: The last word, Howard. They get reelected.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: This isn`t costing anybody a job.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Yes. Well, these are -- these are -- these are deep red, deep
red districts. And the black helicopter theories of the world work there.

And, by the way, when they are tweeting them out, most of the country isn`t
reading what that congressman said. He`s reinforcing the base. Those
people are following him.

WALSH: Yes.

FINEMAN: He`s just giving more paranoid theories. It`s a like paranoid
sit-down...

MATTHEWS: I`m still here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: This is a paranoid -- it`s a paranoid sit-down strike that is
going on...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I got you.

FINEMAN: ... in politics.

MATTHEWS: It`s constant -- constant booster shots to keep them in
business. But syringes with an army -- what are we worried about?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: Republicans who flat-out deny reality. And
this should appeal to everybody possibly watching. These people are
somewhat unscientific, don`t you think?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with Howard Fineman, David Corn, Jonathan Capehart,
Joan Walsh.

Well, next, we`re going to take a look at the reality deniers of the right
wing. These are the folks who, for whatever reason, still don`t or won`t
get it.

Kicking off this category at number three is Georgia Congressman Paul
Broun, a creationist who shuns science in favor of a literal interpretation
of the Bible. What`s more perplexing in this case is that this guy sits on
the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Have a listen to what he told a group of his supporters last
year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: All of that stuff I taught about evolution,
embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of
hell.

It`s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who taught that from
understanding that they need a savior. I hold the Holy Bible as being the
major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C. And I will
continue to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joan, I think he`s speaking in the Natural History Museum, of
all places...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: ... of all places denying the connection of us all there.

I don`t know why we test our medicines on animals. I don`t know. There
seems to be a lot of connection, at least physically, with us and the rest
of the world. But this guy denies all of that. He believes that somehow
it all happened as it was in the Bible. That`s as he interprets the Bible
and that`s how he -- he decides what to vote on, the Science Committee in
the House.

WALSH: And these are lies straight from the pit of hell.

Even if you disagree with them, there might be some other things straight
from the pit of hell that don`t have to do with evolution. No, it`s --
it`s this incredible paranoia. He wants to be the senator from Georgia.
You know, he thinks -- he thinks he`s got a bright future in Georgia
politics.

And all we can hope is that Georgia slowly, steadily turns purple and then
blue, and -- and we don`t have to deal with the Paul Brouns of the world
anymore.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m glad he wasn`t running NASA back in the 60s.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what we would have done.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Next up, number two, this is what -- this one comes from one-
time presidential candidate and host of the Christian Broadcast network`s
syndicated program "The 700 Club," Pat Robertson. The famously right-wing
televangelist who, believe it or not, went to Yale Law, is known to stroke
-- or stoke fear and anxiety about the gay community.

And this was a whopper of an accusation that he made last summer. And it
was so controversial at the time that the Christian Broadcast Network
removed it from their Web site shortly after he spoke it. Let`s listen to
Pat Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE 700 CLUB")

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": You know what they do in San
Francisco? Some of the gay community there, they want to get so if they
got the stuff, they will have a ring. You shake hands. And the ring has
got a little thing where you cut your finger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?

ROBERTSON: Yes, really. I mean, it`s that kind of vicious stuff, which
would be the equivalent of murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK, Jonathan, your thoughts on the subject? Where did he get
this -- this little wives` tale? What do you call this tale?

CAPEHART: A lie is what it is...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CAPEHART: ... and a damnable lie.

WALSH: Thank you.

CAPEHART: This is a man who blames the gays for everything, hurricanes,
earthquakes, name the national -- the natural disaster, whatever
calamity...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Nine-eleven?

CAPEHART: I don`t know if he went that far, but maybe because someone beat
him to it.

CORN: He was close. He was close.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think it was the Sodom and Gomorrah issue, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Yes.

CAPEHART: So -- so, that he would accuse people with HIV and gay people
with HIV intentionally going out with some sort of wicked decoder ring
cutting people and giving them HIV is outrageous.

And you know what? Kudos to CBN for them taking that -- that nonsense off
its Web site. But the fact that he goes on the air every...

WALSH: Yes.

CAPEHART: ... every week or however often he does and says what he says is
outrageous.

MATTHEWS: Joan, I have never quite figured out whether this guy`s complete
vaudevillian or what his story is. He did go to Yale Law, the toughest law
school in the country. It`s got very small classes, incredibly hard to get
into. And yet comes out with this dreck over and over again.

WALSH: I think he`s a vaudevillian. I think he knows better.

I actually do. But he -- he knows that this plays. And the particular
demonization of gay people is -- is really kind of terrifying, but, again,
these people are being left behind by history.

And I think that fact scares them even more. But to go out and say
something like this, you know, someone from San Francisco, it`s just --
it`s so -- it`s so beyond reality and it`s so cruel. It`s just so cruel.

MATTHEWS: And it`s -- it`s worse than even our friend Trent -- oh, what`s
his name, the former...

CAPEHART: Trent Lott?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Trent Lott used to go out and talk about how people made their
choice about what orientation...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: I covered -- I covered Pat -- I covered Pat Robertson`s
presidential campaigns.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And he struck me as a guy willing to say and do just about
anything...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... to augment his role as a supposed spiritual leader of...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And that avuncular style...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But, also, sometimes this incites violence as well.

People are -- if you take him at his word, then what`s the proper response?
You go out...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Oh, gay people are killing people.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Yes. You would kick the you-know-what out of somebody just to show
that they can`t get away with it.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes. OK.

Finally, our number one reality denier, Republican Congressman Ted Yoho --
by the way, I think he shortened his name -- I think it used to be Yoho-ho
-- of Florida...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: ... speaking to "The Washington Post" -- just kidding -- on the
prospects of defaulting on the U.S. debt.

He made this outrageous claim that contradicted economists all over the
Earth: "We need to have that moment where we realize we`re going broke. I
think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets."

Your thought, Howard? Bringing -- you know, we`re still suffering. I
talked to a top CEO today. We`re still suffering from the near miss of
`11. We had the near miss of 13. And he thought he better go off the
cliff.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris, this is of a -- this isn`t economic thinking. Takes
is apocalyptic thinking.

And it`s a piece with the way this part of the American political landscape
thinks. Everything is an apocalypse, and apocalypses are good. You want
creative destruction. You want everything falls apart, because it`s only
when everything fall apart -- falls apart that you pick up the true belief,
whatever the true belief is, whether it`s the Holy Bible...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... whether it`s the gold standard, whatever simplistic notion
there is.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, coming up: There are two Republicans who stood out among
the outstanding people this year, the standouts. One of them is, of
course, Ted Cruz. We have got the greatest or worst hits from Cruz
himself.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Craig Melvin. Here`s what`s
happening right now.

On this Christmas Eve, two NASA astronauts successfully wrapped up their
second and final space walk. They installed a new cooling pump at the
International Space Station.

The government announced, Monday was a record day for healthcare.gov.
About two million people visited that site.

And the Dow for the second day in a row hit a record close at over 16300.
The S&P 500 also saw a record close -- now back to a special edition of
HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

This year, freshman Senator from Texas Ted Cruz was determined to make a
name for himself. And that, he did. No matter the issue, he found a way
to turn it into a platform to showcase himself.

We`re back now with our panel, Howard Fineman, David Corn, Jonathan
Capehart, and Joan Walsh -- "The Thomas Crown Affair," there it is -- with
the best and the worst of Ted Cruz.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Here`s number three from Ted Cruz.

In July, he made an impassioned case at the Western Reserve Summit --
Western Conservative Summit in Denver that conservatives had to block the
president`s health care law at all costs, because, of all things, people
might like it. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: On January 1, the exchanges kick in and the
subsidies kick in.

Once those kick in, it`s going to prove almost impossible to undo
Obamacare. The administration`s plan is very simple. Get everyone
addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our
society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: David, this is the strangest acknowledgement. He`s saying it
might work, people really might like it, so make sure we screw it up before
it gets to them.

CORN: What he`s saying is, they might like being insured. They make like
being able to go to a doctor when they or their kids or their spouses are
sick. That`s what he`s saying. And we have to stop this.

But there`s a bigger picture here, too. One reason I think they were so
desperate to stop Obamacare is because, what -- when we fight about
Obamacare, what we`re fighting about is whether the U.S. government has a
role in social policy and making things better for the average Americans.

The right -- and the only raison d`etre these days with the Tea Party,
talking about disrupters and so on, is to say no. Government is the
solution -- we need less and less and less of it. If Obamacare works and
provides insurance to people in a way that they appreciate, it blows the
Republican Party raison d`etre out of the water.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Does the Tea Party -- wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: This is like a...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: This is the Alamo for them.

MATTHEWS: OK. This is great stuff.

For one second -- I want to know this before the year is over. Does the
Tea Party want to roll back the safety net if -- if Obamacare, health care
is wrong as an approach...

WALSH: Yes.

CORN: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, Joan. Do they want to roll back Medicare, get
rid of it?

WALSH: They do.

MATTHEWS: How far back do they want to roll it back? Get rid of Social
Security?

WALSH: They want to privatize Social Security.

MATTHEWS: I don`t -- this is the big lie. They want all that stuff. They
love Medicare. Seniors love...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I have never met anybody who didn`t love it.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: You`re right. Their older white senior base, which really is their
base, they love that stuff, but they don`t think about it as something the
government is doing for them.

They have come to take it for granted. It`s always been part of their
landscape. They don`t -- none of us remember what it was like to grow old
and live in that kind of fear. And so there is -- there`s a real
disconnect, you`re right, between what they preach and what they`re -- you
know, what they`re...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why do they -- OK, Howard, why do assume the center-left, which
has built these programs, Roosevelt to the left...

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... over to the left, had built -- with some Republican support.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Why do they feel that they have always been wrong?

If they said, wait a minute, these guys were right about Social Security --
that`s a good system. It helps the poor. It helps the working poor and it
helps the middle class.

FINEMAN: Well, it`s because these people believe that the role of faith
and the role of markets can take the place of the role of government.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: They do.

And I -- I agree with you on. One level, they don`t want to get rid of
Medicare and Social Security. But they want to reverse history. They view
this as a long-running program to reverse history. If they can stop
Obamacare or dismantle Obamacare...

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: ... they will take the risk of another conversation about
Medicare and Social Security. They will.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Jonathan, you can get this one. Whenever you`re talking or making a
comparison to the Nazis, you`re losing.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And so it was for Senator Cruz during his 21-hour faux
filibuster in September. It`s number two in our countdown. Let`s catch
the big mistake people keep making, comparing anything to the Third Reich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: If more politicians just listened to the people, we would respond
and avert this train wreck.

And yet, Mr. President, the politicians of Washington tell us, don`t worry
about it. Obamacare is just going to be peachy keen. You go to the 1940s,
Nazi Germany. Look, we saw in Britain Neville Chamberlain, who told the
British people, accept the Nazis. Yes, they will dominate the continent of
Europe, but that`s not our problem. Let`s appease them. Why? Because it
can`t be done. We can`t possibly stand against them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, this guy didn`t study history. It was the 1930s about
appeasement. It had nothing to do with the continent of Europe. It had to
do with Czechoslovakia and the German-speaking people in Czechoslovakia.
But this guy knows nothing.

But your thoughts. Why make comparisons to the Nazis?

CAPEHART: Well, when you`re doing a faux filibuster for 20-something
hours, you have got to talk about...

MATTHEWS: So the faux history.

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: You have got to talk about something, anything, "Green Eggs and
Ham," faux history.

MATTHEWS: So, why not faux history?

CAPEHART: And, you know, here -- now, he -- Ted Cruz falls into that other
category of people.

He`s not dumb. He`s saying things that he -- that plays to the base, that
plays to his base, which are the money people who keep rewarding him, keep
rewarding his bad behavior.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s some more Cruz.

Number one, Cruz was -- one of the most inglorious episodes here of the
year. It happened at the confirmation hearing for defense secretary
nominee Chuck Hagel. Cruz used a deceitful rhetorical style that reminded
and many others, of Senator Joe McCarthy, to insinuate that Hagel may have
taken money from the communists in North Korea.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It may he spoke at anti-Israel groups and
accepted compensation we don`t know. He could not even say that the
$200,000 he received did not come directly from a foreign government. It
may be perfectly appropriate. We might conclude that it was benign, it was
reasonable, but it is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that
he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came
directly from North Korea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Baseless, baseless innuendo. No reason to believe this guy is
working for the reds in North Korea.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Or anti-Israel groups or anything else. It may
have come from Satan. It shows --

MATTHEWS: It may have come from the Heritage Foundation.

CORN: Probably not.

But it shows there`s no bottom line anymore and sort of a responsible
safety net for discourse. That you can just say anything -- there`s no
harm that can come to Ted Cruz for speaking this way, for saying that
Nazis, that will be greater than the benefit he reaps. He`s leading the
pact and the money is flowing in. He gets on TV for this. There`s no
shaming anymore.

So, you can get out there and who can tell him, have you no decency?

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: People live --

MATTHEWS: Well, they try.

FINEMAN: He is the product of our times and product of the movement we`ve
been discussing. It`s no accident that you`re doing a whole segment on Ted
Cruz. Ted Cruz is like the summation of the whole thing you`ve been doing
this whole hour. And yes, he`s only talking to his own people.

There`s no Edward R. Morrow. There`s no Senate committee that can shame
him. I disagree with David. I don`t think he`s necessarily going to win
in the end here, because if you look even at Republican polls, of who
Republicans like as a possible standard bearer, the average Republican is
smart enough to know that Ted Cruz is not translatable to the country.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: When he stands there among the Republican candidates for
president, in those round robin debates we`re going to see in 2016, even in
2015, it`s going to kill the Republican brand to have that guy`s face
there.

FINEMAN: And people know that.

MATTHEWS: It`s going to kill it.

Up next, Ted Cruz may have been gotten the biggest headlines but Iowa
Congressman Steve King, not the author, not the smart guy, may have found
the most absurdist things to say.

King`s best coming up next.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with our panel.

Just when you thought it couldn`t get better or worse for the right wing,
there`s always Iowa Tea Party champion Republican, U.S. Congressman Steve
King, who never fails to remind us why the GOP continues to alienate
mainstream voters.

Well, here`s number three on that congressman`s list of doozes from right
here on HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What does raising a family teach you about international
finance?

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: It requires me to use independent judgment.

MATTHEWS: Where does knowledge about international finance derive from
raising a family? What`s the connection?

KING: It`s my only source of information is raising my children. There
are many other sources of information and I gather that just like you do.
I mean, you seem to have the kind of judgment to be my critic. So, you
know, I can challenge you the same way --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, no, I would ask -- do you trust "The Wall Street Journal"?
Do you trust "The Wall Street Journal"? Do you trust "The New York Times"?

KING: I read "The Wall Street Journal". I sometimes read "The New York
Times." I don`t trust the words of any source.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: David Corn -- I`m going to go to Joan -- I don`t trust the word
of any source but he raised a family so he understands the nuance of
international finance which I`m going to jump from my ability to raise a
family with my wife to figuring out what`s going on in Zurich. I don`t
know how it works actually myself.

Your thoughts?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: I don`t know entirely how it works either. I`m
proud to defer to other people when there are things I don`t know. But
that`s not done on the right. And it goes back -- I mean, this is an old,
old tendency, you know?

They called Adlai Stevenson egghead. They demonized knowledge. They
demonized smarts and elevate what they think is a common sense wisdom that
comes from the family, that comes from the father, the head of the
household presumably.

And it`s crazy, but this is what they think is going to let them take back
the country and it`s not.

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s where the horse sense leads us, to the topic of
President Obama`s birth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In any case, it would have been awfully hard to fraudulently file
the birth notice of Barack Obama being born in Hawaii and get that into our
public libraries and that microfiche that they keep of the newspapers
published. That doesn`t mean there aren`t other explanations on how they
might have announced that by telegram from Kenya. The list goes on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So, this white woman from Kansas decides she wants her son to be
president someday, the son doesn`t exist yet. So, she meets this guy from
Kenya and plans to have the birth announced in the hospitals and newspapers
in Honolulu where she lives. But she gets on an airplane and spends the
money to get to Kenya so that she could have the baby there, so that she
can announce she had the baby on Honolulu, all the time planning from 1969
who this kid she will name after her father, Barack Hussein Obama --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- first African-American of any sort, she`ll do this -- let`s
get to Jonathan on this. It takes strategic planning on the part of this
woman. I mean, this is a hell of a shot. This is a long ball.

CAPEHART: Please? It`s completely insane. It feeds into this -- the
birther notion which we all knew was ridiculous and all thought it went
away once the president released his long-form birth certificate when the
short form birth certificate didn`t prove sufficient for folks like Donald
Trump. And still, there were polls that came out, still a significant
chunk of people who still believe the birther lie.

And so, the fact that Congressman King is out there talking about
microfiche and birth certificate --

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: The thing about --

FINEMAN: The thing about common thread -- the common thread -- the common
thread is the common thread is faith, not logic. It`s family, not science.
It`s market, not government.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You can`t have a black American president. Why is that a matter
of faith?

FINEMAN: We haven`t openly or frankly discussed either race or religion.

MATTHEWS: But why would that be a matter of faith he wasn`t born there?

FINEMAN: Because he struck people from the very beginning, both because of
his name, because of his background, because of his color in part, as
somebody foreign as somebody who wasn`t quite American, as somebody who
didn`t belong --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Wait a minute, and in a world that they see where it`s all either
good or bad, whether there is no gray. There was only faith or lack of
faith.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s also a protege of Saul Alinsky in Chicago left wing
politics. He`s also part of --

FINEMAN: Because he has a secret plan.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- this is a time (ph) machine.

CORN: Wait a minute --

FINEMAN: Paranoid sit-down strike.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But the way to make this work really easy is with something like
birtherism because it gets to the original sin. It`s a plan, there`s a
telegram. He`s not real.

Then, later on it gets to the root of the problem, that he not just doesn`t
like us, a different color, thinks differently, but he really wasn`t born
here.

FINEMAN: You know who has the ultimate secret plan?

MATTHEWS: Who?

FINEMAN: Satan. That`s what this is about.

MATTHEWS: Oh my God. You give me that look. I`m getting worried.

Now number one from Steve King --

CORN: That wasn`t number one?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Catch this. Catch this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And some of them are valedictorians, well, my answer to that is,
and, by the way, their parents brought them, it wasn`t their fault. It`s
true in some cases, but they aren`t all valedictorians. They weren`t all
brought in by their parents. For everyone that`s a valedictorian, there`s
another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they got calves the
size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across
the desert.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK, gentlemen, I want you to develop some thinking here. Why
the word cantaloupe? Remember used to shoot cantaloupes to see whether
Vince Foster committed suicide or not. It was cantaloupe. I checked it.

What is this about cantaloupe? I remember a navy -- probably still alive,
great running back, named Joe Bilena (ph), had big wide legs, calves. What
is this about wide calves like cantaloupes? How do you put this together?

And he did it -- by the way, marijuana doesn`t weigh that much. You have
to have bushels of it and doesn`t make your legs that wide.

What is he talking about? How did he put these ideas together?

WALSH: It`s so icky because it reduces this alleged Latino person to kind
of being a beast of burden. He`s an animal. You`re looking at his body
and -- I don`t know, I don`t stare at people`s calves but there`s something
so elementary about this.

MATTHEWS: Well, he does.

WALSH: Obviously he does.

MATTHEWS: Give me numbers.

WALSH: But let`s stay on otherism, because this is part of otherism. He`s
otherizing these people, making them bodies, making them mules, this is why
the Republican Party is really --

MATTHEWS: This is like sometimes Minister Farrakhan with numbers here
because look at these numbers here -- 100 out of for every valedictorian
and they weigh 130 pounds and they carry 75 pounds of marijuana. There`s a
lot of information here. This guy has put a lot of facts in this.

CAPEHART: A lot of information, wrong information and I think it all comes
down to a matter of a complete -- you talk about faith versus logic. But
also a tremendous lack of trust and one of the clips you show a president -
- I don`t trust it. They don`t trust --

MATTHEWS: Interesting times.

CAPEHART: This is how you get a debt ceiling crisis when the folks on the
hill do not trust the experts telling them if you don`t do this, all hell
will break loose. There`s no trust and that`s how you get someone like
Steve King talking about cantaloupes and bales of marijuana and people
believe it.

CORN: We can make fun of Steve King, but he comes from Iowa, that`s the
first caucus, the beginning of the 2016 election, there would be a lot of
people looking for his endorsement trying to play to his crowd, the crowd
that he`s playing to will be played by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul --

MATTHEWS: HARDBALL, what do they think?

FINEMAN: Beyond Iowa, beyond Iowa and beyond the laughter, this is a
serious issue and problem in American life. We just had an hour of
enjoying the extreme statements of these people, but they are important in
American politics and not just because of Iowa but because they represent a
strain in American life that is very large right now. In which there`s no
faith of any source of authority.

MATTHEWS: It`s more fun to laugh.

We`ll be right after this.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Obviously, it doesn`t hurt too much to laugh because we` had a
lot of fun talking about this craziness on the right. Anyway, thank you,
Howard Fineman. Thank you, David Corn, Jonathan Capehart and Joan Walsh.
You`ve got a smile on your face, which is appropriate. And thank you all
for being with us.

If you`re out holiday shopping, get a copy of my new book, "Tip and The
Gipper: When Politics Worked." It will make you feel a lot happier this
holiday.

See you again Monday night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.

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

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