Chris Matthews doesn't like cheap shots. The Hardball host, who two days ago linked Ted Cruz to Hitler, on Thursday raged at a Republican Congressman for making a joke at his expense. Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry appeared on Matthews's show and aggressively fought back against the charge that uncaring Republicans want to shut down the government. This led Matthews to change the subject and attack Perry as a pawn of big oil: "By the way, why is a congressman from Gettysburg so interested in offshore oil development in the Gulf?"
After Perry explained how the Keystone pipeline could benefit the economy, he addressed Matthew's critique of the House bill: "I'm surprised that you read any of it, first of all." The wounded anchor replied, "You know what you can do with that? You can be excused, because you just accused me of not doing my job. And that's a big mistake here." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Matthews added, "I wish you hadn't made that last remark. I think it was a cheap shot." The man who doesn't like "cheap shots" once assailed conservatves as "birth control Nazis."
On November 26, 2012, the sensitive host compared conservatives to the Nazis.
On November 7, 2012, Matthews gleefully laughed at comedian Bill Maher's linkage of conservatives to Hitler.
But, it's important to understand, this MSNBC host doesn't like "cheap shots." Unless, of course, he's the one making them.
Every time Matthews condemned the effort to repeal ObamaCare, Perry responded with a quick retort. At one point, he brought up prohibition: "It was the law of the land and it was repealed. Slavery was legal at some point, Chris. Do you think that should still be legal today? Is that what you're saying, at all odds?"
A partial transcript of the September 26 segment is below:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Congressman, you have been elected. I respect that. I thank you for coming on the show. I put to you a simple question: Give me the precedent when the United States government has been held hostage so that we kill a law that's been passed by the Congress, signed by the president. Give me one example.
PERRY: Those are your words that the government is being held hostage. This is a negotiation by an intractable president.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Four time, this is the last time I will ask it.
PERRY: Hold on -- hold on -- who will negotiate with Syria, who will negotiate with Putin, who will negotiate with Iran, but won't negotiate with 50 percent of his countrymen.
MATTHEWS: That's good words. That's rhetoric. That's good rhetoric.
Now, let me ask you the fourth time, and I won't ask it again.
PERRY: It's the same thing you use, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No. Let me ask you a question, not rhetoric, rhetorically. This isn't a rhetorical question.
PERRY: Yes. Okay.
MATTHEWS: This is an --
MATTHEWS: ... question. You said it happens all the time, you said, in previous debates and fights over the debt ceiling. Fair enough. Has there been a time the Congress held up the president of the United States and said kill a law of the land as the deal to continue holding the government open? Has it ever happened? Just say it's never happened before and we're done.
PERRY: I don't know if it's ever happened before.
PERRY: But I can tell you this, Chris. Hold on. I can tell you this. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution was prohibition, which was repealed by the 21st Amendment.
MATTHEWS: I know.
PERRY: It was the law of the land and it was repealed. Slavery was legal at some point, Chris. Do you think that should still be legal today? Is that what you're saying, at all odds?
MATTHEWS: Well, you know the history, of course, of prohibition was passed after World War I and then of course was repealed under the Democratic administration of Franklin Roosevelt a decade-and-a-half later. So, yes, it was repealed after it was tried and it failed, certainly.
PERRY: Right. And that's what's happening now. This is being tried and it's failing. It's failing.
MATTHEWS: When does it goes into effect? October 1. It goes into effect next Tuesday.
PERRY: Well, let me ask you this. When it goes into effect...
MATTHEWS: How's it failed?
PERRY: Hold on a second, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I'm holding on.
PERRY: What parts of prohibition were repealed or held up or delayed by the administration before they ever happened? Isn't there about 20 places that Obamacare has been held up by the administration because they're not ready to go? How many is that? Where's the precedent for that? Yet, we're going to roll on anyhow.
MATTHEWS: The Volstead Act actually put it into effect.
PERRY: We're going to force this on the American people knowing, knowing that it's not right because of partisan pride.
MATTHEWS: Force it on it? Let me explain it how it works. The Congress of the United States voted by a majority in the House of Representatives, and the Senate by a 60-vote super majority.
PERRY: All one party. All one party. Not bipartisan. It was all one party. Let's remind everybody of that.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Everything you're doing is by one party.
PERRY: This is the left-wing.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute.
PERRY: This is the ultra-left wing of the Democrat Party having absolutely every bit of their way. This is not bipartisan. This is saying for 50 percent of the country, we're not interested in what you have to offer.
MATTHEWS: Sixty votes in the Senate was comprised of, first of all, several Republicans, but it wasn't all Democrats. And, secondly --
PERRY: How many in the House? How many in the House, Chris? How many in the House, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. What's the point? What you're doing right now is an entire partisan effort, so why are you knocking partisanship here?
PERRY: You seem to be fine. Why are you knocking partisanship here, but yet it's okay on your end? I mean, I could turn that around on you.
MATTHEWS: No. I'm just saying the United States government will stop working, it will cease functioning next Tuesday if you have your way.
MATTHEWS: By the way, why is a congressman from Gettysburg so interested in offshore oil development in the Gulf?
MATTHEWS: Why do you want it?
PERRY: Because I'm tired of being tied to foreign and Middle East oil.
MATTHEWS: Okay. So you're into all the oil business -- you're into the oil business situation here. You like that.
PERRY: I'm into what's good for America. That's what I'm into.
MATTHEWS: What has that got to do with paying our debts? These are demands by the oil state congress people. They insist they want the money before they go along with paying America's debts.
PERRY: I'm in an oil state, Chris? Have you been to Gettysburg, Chris?
MATTHEWS: And you're going along with that from Gettysburg? Why are you doing this? It's not in your interests.
PERRY: Because it's the right thing for America.
PERRY: It's because the American citizens are demanding it. That's why.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have looked at that list of ten things. It looks like it's written by the oil industry. And I'm surprised that you're involved with such a paper.
PERRY: I'm surprised that you read any of it, first of all.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What's that mean? Wait a minute. What did you just say? You're surprised I read it. You're surprised I read it?
PERRY: I'm surprised you read it, yes, absolutely.
PERRY: You know that most Democrats -- as a matter of fact, I'm surprised any Democrats read the bill. Nancy Pelosi said you got to pass it before you can find out what is in it.
MATTHEWS: You know what you can do with that? You know what you can do with that? You can be excused, because you just accused me of not doing my job. And that's a big mistake here. Congressman, thank you for coming on. I mean it. I wish you hadn't made that last remark. I think it was a cheap shot. Scott Perry, it was cheap. Don't laugh.
PERRY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It wasn't cheap -- it was really cheap.
PERRY: Well, you have made some cheap shots at me, too.
MATTHEWS: No, no, I didn't. I didn't. I was fair. You were -- you're in bed with the oil industry. Anyway, thank you.