A desperate sounding Chris Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, began his show by handing out the direct line to Congress as he urged his viewers to stand up against the "Tea Party members" and their "stay-at-home blogging cheerleaders."
Matthews warned his audience that these "blogging cheerleaders" and their GOP Representatives were all too willing to "embrace" economic "calamity" to show how "dedicated they were to not raising the debt ceiling."
In his "Let Me Start" segment Matthews framed the debt ceiling debate as a "civil war" and called it "an historic test of who will take the wheel, who will drive the car?" The MSNBCer then depicted fiscal conservatives as children as he pondered: "Will it be the grown-ups in the front seat or the kids crying and complaining and threatening in the back seat? On one side are those kids in the back seat, Tea Party members of Congress and their stay-at-home blogging cheerleaders who either don't understand or don't care about the consequences of default."
The following is the full Matthews open to the July 14 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Country on the brink. Let's play Hardball! Good evening I'm Chris Matthews, up in New York. Let me start tonight with the civil war going on in Washington today. It's not North versus South or even Right versus Left. It's an historic test of who will take the wheel, who will drive the car? Will it be the grown-ups in the front seat or the kids crying and complaining and threatening in the back seat? On one side are those kids in the back seat, Tea Party members of Congress and their stay-at-home blogging cheerleaders who either don't understand or don't care about the consequences of default - of the U.S. not meeting its obligations, of us looking like a joke. They're willing to risk calamity, even embrace it, just to show how dedicated they are to not raising the debt ceiling. On the other side are Democrats and some Republicans who understand this is not a game. That there's no fail-safe position after default.
So who's gonna win? Will it be the men and women who worry about the country? Or those who fear most of all, not of failure of their country to meet its bills but how scary it might be to go to the next Tea Party meeting when the town misfit stands up and says, "You have betrayed us. You have voted to raise the debt ceiling." That's what it's about. That's what this civil war is all about and the question before the country is whether we're gonna keep our economic soundness. If we want our treasury notes to turn out to be, on the other hand, junk bonds. Do we want the land of the free to be the land of the deadbeat. If not, try something right now. Call your congressman or woman and say you don't want this crisis to go where it's headed right now. The number, by the way, I'll give you a minute to think about this, you want to write this down. The number of Congress, and this is for any member of Congress or Senate, you can go through this phone number and ask for them. And they may even help you find out who your congressman is, if you don't know. 202-225-3121. Again, 202-225-3121. If you forget that, it's in the phone book or in 411.
- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.