I love the passion of Chris Matthews. Agree with him or not, he is a Wonkogod. Matthews was on Bill Maher this week… While most of the media covered Maher going out into the crowd to throw out a heckler, the most interesting part of the show was Maher’s interview of Russian-former-chess-champion-now-politico Gary Kasparov. Matthew’s enthusiasm is as good as Kasparov’s Straight Talk Express.
Here’s the transcript from Maher’s show:
MAHER: Do you think your fame protects you? Do you think you’re such an icon in Russia because of your past chess history that Putin would not kill you?
KASPAROV: I – no, I don’t think my name affords me an ultimate protection, but, unlike many other activists in Russia, I can rely on my name and on my fame. But, still I take some measures to minimize the risk. I have bodyguards in Russia. I do not fly Aeroflot. [laughter] I do not – I do not consume any food or liquid in the places that I am not fully aware of.
KASPAROV: But, again, it’s just minimizing the risk. I know that it may not offer me any ultimate protection if the worst comes to the worst.
MAHER: But, when you look at what’s going on in Russia, Putin has a very high approval rating. I mean, there is something in the—
KASPAROV: [overlapping] How – how do you know? [laughter] [applause] I mean, are you seriously – are you relying on the polling results in a police state? I – I think that with the same tight control of media and the pervasive security force, I believe Bush and Cheney could enjoy the same approval rating here. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]
MAHER: Checkmate to me. [laughter]
KASPAROV: I’m not – I’m not giving them any ideas, by the way.
MAHER: [overlapping] But, don’t you think – but, come on, there is something in the Russian soul that loves a strong man. I mean, Yeltsin did not—
KASPAROV: [overlapping] No, no, no. Wait-wait-wait. This is total nonsense. You know, it’s just – it’s refuted by history. If you look, for instance, at two Koreas. You have North Korea, is just one big concentration camp; and South Korea, it’s a flourishing market economy and democracy. And it’s the same people.
You can look at Taiwan and China. And I could give many other examples. For instance, East Germany and West Germany 25 years ago. I don’t think there’s anything in the national soul that makes some people are not ready for democracy and some are…fitting for this quality. [applause] And when I look at the – at this administration that is trying to build democracy in Iraq at the expense of democracy in Russia, I got confused. [applause]
MATTHEWS: Guy’s great, great!
MAHER: When I saw this week, Putin – the picture of Putin with Ahmadinejad of Iran—
MAHER: [overlapping]—I thought, you know, here, once again, President Bush has succeeded in uniting our enemies and dividing our friends. You’ve got to admit, at least your guy isn’t stupid. [laughter]
KASPAROV: Yeah, I – I don’t think it makes me feel comfortable just accepting the fact that he outplayed your guy. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]
KASPAROV: But, it went – but, it went wrong for Bush from the very beginning, because at their first summit, Bush tried to play psychiatrist and look at Putin’s eyes, searching for his soul. [laughter]
KASPAROV: Instead of looking – looking at his record. And now, Putin – Putin just is basically spitting in his face by making this open friendship with Admadinejad. But it was obvious from the very beginning, because Putin has only one item in his due political agenda. He needs high oil prices. And tension in the Middle East helps him to keep the oil prices all-time high.
KASPAROV: So that’s why he sells nuclear technology to Iran; he sells missiles to Hezbollah and Hamas via Syria, because it helps Putin to stay in power. If the oil price goes down, Putin regime goes down. And I’m surprised that White House didn’t recognize it in time. [laughter] [applause]
MAHER: I’m not. [he laughs] Now, one last question. I found out this week – I didn’t realize this – that the torture – and, of course, they say it’s not torture that we do, but it is, of course, torture – that our people are doing, is based on Soviet models. And, I know you grew up under the former regime that probably looked to America as a beacon of hope and freedom. When you see America wiretapping and torturing and basically doing the things the Soviets used to do, what goes through your mind?
KASPAROV: Look, I don’t think it’s about sad events that you just described, because I think that America had sad stories in the past as well. But, in seventies and eighties, America looked as a hope for oppressed people in the communist world. Well, now, America, that is applying double standards to different countries in the world, lost its credibility. And that’s bad news for all of us, because it was a stronghold for democracy. And now, it’s just a country which, according to many, is using democracy as a due political tool to promote its own interests. Which is working against us in Russia and elsewhere. [applause]
MAHER: All right, Chess Master. I give. You win. Thank you, Garry Kasparov. Very interesting.
KASPAROV: Thank you, Bill.
MAHER: He’s something, huh?
MATTHEWS: He’s great!
MAHER: He is great. Why can’t he run in the Iowa…?
MATTHEWS: He ought to be – do you ever get the feeling that they’re playing chess and we’re playing checkers? [laughter]
MATTHEWS: They are so far – he’s so far – that was sophisticated, and this audience was listening to every word. Our guys never get to that level of sophistication.
MATTHEWS: They talk down to us.
MATTHEWS: You’ve got to follow a guy like him, because you want to. [applause] [cheers]
MAHER: And he has to fight just to run, not just to win.
MATTHEWS: And he’s thinking in Russian! He’s thinking in Russian and talking to us in another language! Imagine one of our guys talking in a foreign language at that level of sophistication. [laughter]