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Chris Matthews and Jimmy Carter to Tea Partiers: Don't You Poor Fools Know You're Just Tools of the Rich?

Chris Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, invited on his old boss, former President Jimmy Carter, to commiserate about the rise of the Tea Party as the two condescendingly praised the movement at first, with Matthews admitting "they're not all crazies, they're regular people" but then went on to ridicule them as dupes of the rich.

After Matthews asked if the Tea Partiers realized that "they're being backed by big corporations and all this conservative money at the top," Carter responded that they had no idea that they were "suborned" by those "who don't give a darn about low-class working people" like them, as seen in this exchange:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well what you think of these Tea Party people? Mr. President I look at a lot of them as, they're not all crazies, they're regular people. A lot of them middle, middle-class people and they're very religious. They're church-going people like yourself. And I wonder do they know that they're being backed by big corporations and all this conservative money at the top?

JIMMY CARTER: The ones that know it, deny it. And obviously, the Tea Party movement has been almost completely financed by hard right oligarchs who, who want to prevent the oil companies and major corporations from having to pay their share of taxes or-

MATTHEWS: Right.

CARTER: -or to, or to comply with environmental laws. And so the Tea Party movement has been suborned by these very right winged people who don't give a darn about low-class working people, but just want to feather their own nest.

MATTHEWS: Well I wish they knew that.

That back and forth was preceded by another bit of cookiness, on the part of Matthews, who bizarrely claimed that the Republicans, by blocking Barack Obama's agenda, were the ones that "forced him to the left."

The following excerpt from Matthews' interview with Carter was aired on the October 25 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Democratic liberals, you've mentioned them. They tend to be dissatisfied often. There's a great old phrase NDC, it meant New Democratic Coalition years ago, but it also means November Doesn't Count. It's the attitude of as long as you win the left, and beat the center or beat the center left, you've won the battle, even if the right ends up winning. You had the battle with Ted Kennedy. I see it today with the net roots. The younger generation, groups that are angry all the time at this president. What do you make of it?

JIMMY CARTER: Well I think there's no doubt in my mind, that in history this is the most polarized country and the most polarized partisan divide that we've ever seen. In the last two years or year-and-a-half now or more, the Republicans have decided we won't give Obama any support, maybe two or three votes at the most on most important issues. Even when he puts forward ideas that the Republicans, at first, originated themselves. So it's a deadlock now. And I hope that after this election is over the Republicans will feel some responsibility where as they've been completely irresponsible the last two years.

MATTHEWS: But the Republicans, you're right. They basically blocked everything the President tried to do and forced him to the left. Forced him to build left wing or center left coalitions without help from the center right. Didn't they win the argu-, I mean it's brutal politics but they won, I guess, on the argument because they made him look lefty.

CARTER: Well that's true. And I was forced in the other direction, as you know, because Ted Kennedy took away the very liberal wing of the Democratic Party-

MATTHEWS: Right.

CARTER: And I had, and I got extraordinary, good support from the Republicans while in office, and we had a high batting average, as you know.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. Well what do you make of this? Is there just something fundamentally wrong with the Democratic coalition, if you're a centrist Democrat like you, a moderate, you're a progressive to some extent, but basically a moderate. Is the left always going to be a thorn in the side of a center left or a moderate Democratic president?

CARTER: Well I think the attrition rate has been even greater among moderate Republicans and now, the hard right, very conservative fundamental Republicans are taking over and any moderate Republican is very likely to be on his way out of a, of a House or Senate.

MATTHEWS: Right.

CARTER: So I think that's, that's what is happening. And the reason is that we've had such a tremendous infusion of enormous sums of money into the campaign chest of candidates for Congress, or Senate and presidency, and so now, we are inundated with negative advertising that kind of takes over and it polarizes everything, because the best avenue to success is to destroy the character and reputation of your opponent and that animosity or distrust carries over into Washington and it also generates very hard line blue and red states in the country.

CARTER: No, not at all.

MATTHEWS: Well what you think of these Tea Party people? Mr. President I look at a lot of them as, they're not all crazies, they're regular people. A lot of them middle, middle-class people and they're very religious. They're church-going people like yourself. And I wonder do they know that they're being backed by big corporations and all this conservative money at the top?

CARTER: The ones that know it, deny it. And obviously, the Tea Party movement has been almost completely financed by hard right oligarchs who, who want to prevent the oil companies and major corporations from having to pay their share of taxes or-

MATTHEWS: Right.

CARTER: -or to, or to comply with environmental laws. And so the Tea Party movement has been suborned by these very right winged people who don't give a darn about low-class working people, but just want to feather their own nest.

MATTHEWS: Well I wish they knew that.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here