updated 4/7/2008 3:12:55 PM ET 2008-04-07T19:12:55

Guests: Willy Brown, Elayne Boosler, Julia Reed

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Breaking tonight: We are still going through the Clintons‘ just released income tax returns.  More than $109 million earned since he left the White House.  Will that hurt her with voters?

Lawrence O‘Donnell, Bob Franken, Kate Obenshain are here with us.

Then: The best of the week‘s political comedy from late night to the Web.

And: Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown joins us to help sort the week‘s best from worst.  The biggest newsmakers of week in Winners & Losers.

VERDICT starts now.

Hi, everyone.  Thanks for joining us.

Breaking tonight: We are still digging through Hillary Clinton‘s just released tax returns.  Clinton has finally making them available late this afternoon after weeks of pressure.  She originally said she‘d make them public after she became the nominee and now, we may know why she was reluctant to have them in the public eye.

Let‘s just say the Clintons are not your average joes.  From 2000 to 2006 they made more than $109 million.  Almost half of that, nearly $52 million coming from Bill Clinton‘s speeches across the globe; another $40 million from the books the Clintons wrote; roughly $30 million from Bill‘s memoirs, “My Life” and his book, “Giving”; $15 million or so from Bill‘s partnership with his billionaire fried, Ron Burkle‘s international equity fund.  Then, there‘s $1 million from Hillary‘s Senate salary, and finally $1.2 million from Bill‘s presidential pension.

Could this be connected to the Clintons recent charm (ph) offenses?

Joining me now: Political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell; long-time D.C. political reporter, Bob Franken; and, Republican strategist Kate Obenshain.  Thanks to all of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Bob, let me start with you.  The Clintons waited until late on a Friday to release these tax returns, presumably to get as little press attention as possible.  So, look, you‘re long-time D.C. reporter, you know why they do it.  You know how they do it.  What‘s the headline you think they were trying to avoid?

BOB FRANKEN, POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, we don‘t know.  That‘s the point.  This is the famous “Friday night dump.”  With the Clintons, you can never make social plans for a Friday night.  And the hope is, yes, it doesn‘t that sound wonderful, that dump?  And that‘s exactly what it is.

The plan is—is that the first reports are going to be so incomplete and as people delve into it, they might find this embarrassing fact or that embarrassing fact, but by the time they get up, we‘ll be on to some other story, the media will have turned to (INAUDIBLE) has been doing later or something like that.

ABRAMS:  But, Lawrence, isn‘t the $109 million in and of itself a potential problem for the Clintons?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST:  It is a basic problem and it‘s not so much a matter of trying to control the headline, Dan, as making the headline a Saturday headline.

In the first season of the “West Wing,” we did an episode called take out the trash day which was a Friday day night dump of this sort, which, by the way, it was pretty much dictated to us, the writers, by Dee Dee Myers who was then a consultant on the show and had been the Clinton press secretary on the White House.  So, she was very familiar with the plot.  And “West Wing” viewers are not familiar with the practice.

But, it‘s really about, let‘s have that headline on Saturday, that‘s the lowest circulating newspaper of the week.  It‘s the lowest news day of the week.  People don‘t consume the news.

Bob is absolutely right.  There‘s going to be a lot of trickle out here because there‘s so much, there are so many things to examine, so many tax returns to look at.

This story is going to last a while.  Its biggest impact right now, right off the bat is it could be an inhibitor on fundraising for Hillary Clinton.  And this is the moment when she needs to go back to contributors who‘ve given her $20, given her $50 bucks and ask for $50 more, ask for $10 more.  And those kinds of contributors who give $10, $20, look at $109 million and say, really, what do you need it for?

ABRAMS:  That‘s a great point.  And, Kate, how do they deal with that?  I mean, how do they, is there any way for the Clintons to address that concern?  That all of the people Hillary Clinton is speaking to, saying, you know, you‘re having a hard time finding a job or you‘re having a hard time putting food on the table, et cetera.  Those are the people she‘s still hoping are behind her, is this going to hurt them or are they going to say, look, I know they were rich?

KATE OBENSHAIN, CLARE BOOTHE LUCE POLICY INSTITUTE:  It might just to remind Americans what a great country we live in, that Bill Clinton could leave the White House $12 million in debt with legal fees for the Monica Lewinsky mess, and yet now, over the past seven years, he‘s been able to break in $109 million.  That says something.

But yes, Hillary Clinton‘s base are blue collar workers, and now they have to explain how we don‘t really understand where you‘re coming from, more than anything (ph) they could say, we did that her tax returns show that they were at one point not as affluent as they are now.  But it does make Barack Obama‘s millions that he‘s made from his book seem pretty paltry.  So, she does have a bit of an uphill climb to explain that.  But I think, you know, making money is not a liability in this country.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let‘s bring Jim Popkin, NBC senior investigative producer and leading the team combing through the tax returns.  They‘re working with an accountant and they will continue to dig through the night.

Jim, what is the headline to you apart from the big number of $109, is there anything else in the details there that you‘ve been able to find in the last couple hours?

JIM POPKIN, NBC NEWS SR. INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER:  Well, I want to thank the Clintons for giving this, all of this fascinating reading on a Friday evening.  You know, the sad thing is, the group of reporters who actually looked at this, this is actually what we like to do on a Friday night.  So, that may something about us.

I mean, as you and your guests have said, Dan, the big story is the huge skyrocketing increase in money.  If you remember, when the Clintons left the White House after the scandals, they were $12 million in debt.  Last year, the Clintons grossed an estimated $20 million.  We calculate that to be a 5600 percent increase.  So, that still is the big story.

But there are a lot of tantalizing leads in here that we‘re going to continue to look at throughout the week.  And I‘m hoping that the story will not go away on Saturday.  We‘re certainly are going to keep looking at it here.  You‘ve got $15 million approximately that President Clinton raised from Ron Burkle.  He had a deal with the billionaire, supermarket magnate.

ABRAMS:  What does that mean?  Jim, explain it to us.  What does that mean he raised $15 million from Ron Burkle?

POPKIN:  Well, he has a partnership with him and, you know, he has said that he was going to try to get out of that partnership if Senator Clinton becomes the nominee, but at this point he hasn‘t, and over this period of years, he‘s profited to the tune of approximately $15 million.

So I think that merits more attention and so does the approximately $3 million that he‘s made in another deal with Info USA.  It‘s a company that‘s attracted some controversy.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, I mean, how much can this sort of these deals impact the campaign?  I mean, look, we‘ve been getting into the weeds in this campaign about what campaign adviser is saying this or that or who‘s misspeaking about what and, you know, what kind of deals, the Rezko issue with Barack Obama.  How significant do you think this could be for the Clintons?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, it‘s messy income, you know.  And I don‘t think the public resents the idea of an ex-president getting a little more income or significantly more income than the pension allows.  But look, the Clintons have $40 million of good clean income there, the cleanest income a politician can get which is book royalties.

Why does Bill Clinton then stretched and pushed himself through $50 million of lecture fees over that period of time from questionable sources that are going to be studied over the weekend?  Why does he then want to go and pick up another $15 million from Ron Burkle and money that‘s going to be very difficult to explain, what it was for and how it was earned, and all these other moneys that are in this kind of income when they could have sat there on a $40 million income from books.  Was that not enough?

ABRAMS:  Bob?

FRANKEN:  Well, you know, it‘s interesting.  These figures, I think, in Pennsylvania where, you know, there‘s so much economic problem, I think that this is really going to resonate.  It‘s an awful lot of money.  I mean, over $50 million in speeches.  I don‘t know about you but I would have probably done the same thing for half that.

ABRAMS:  Well, let me do this.  I want to—Kate, I want you to listen to this.  This is of Hillary Clinton today speaking at the same church where Martin Luther King gave his last sermon 40 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I was a junior in college.  And I remember hearing about it and just feeling such despair.  I walked into my dorm room and took my book bag and hurled it across the room.  It felt like everything had been shattered, like we would never be able to put the pieces together again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Kate Obenshain, look, this is an important day, it‘s a serious day, and I think it‘s an emotional day for a lot of people out there, but this does coincide with Hillary Clinton‘s charm offensive where she‘s been putting out advertisements, et cetera, which of basically saying, I want to have a conversation, I want to humanize myself, et cetera.  Is it too cynical to ask that question in the context of this speech?

OBENSHAIN:  Too cynical to ask the question of what?

ABRAMS:  Is this part of that charm offensive?

OBENSHAIN:  Yes, I‘d say it probably is part of the charm offensive.  It‘s Hillary‘s attempt to show the softer side—this is a serious day.  I don‘t want to get too cynical when—because she‘s talking about such an important subject.

However, I‘m sorry, but Hillary has a tough of couple weeks, and that crackling tone when she tries to get furious, it reminds me on her angst about the Bosnia sniper fire, about, you know, the tear before the New Hampshire primary.  It‘s hard to take it seriously.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Real quick, Lawrence, 10 seconds.  I think that‘s the problem she has even though she‘d probably really felt at this particular moment, the problem is there‘s a lot of cynicism now around everything she‘s saying.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, exactly.  I mean, this is a terrible frame in which to be showing that particular video clip.  I mean, it would be great if she could have had these two news stories on completely separate days, but this is the way the campaign collides with these things.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jim Popkin, thank you very much.  But it‘s time now—we‘re not ending the segment yet, all right?

It‘s time now for Teflon John: While the media focus only on the Clinton v. Obama race, we‘re keeping an eye on John McCain.  The Clintons are finally releasing their tax returns today, following a lot of pressure from the press and Obama.

John McCain somehow skated by without releasing his tax returns even though he was listed by “Roll Call” newspaper as the ninth richest lawmaker in 2007.  And his wife, an heiress to a beer fortune who‘s worth up of $100 million.  We tried to get some answers from the McCain campaign, have not heard back of from them yet.

Bob Franken, I mean, why is it that the media is absolutely obsessed with the Clintons‘ tax returns and when it comes to John McCain, you know, we‘re one of the few who are talking about it?

FRANKEN:  Well, there are couple of issues.  First of all, the Clintons have a long standing credibility problem, going back to the Clinton presidency, all the investigations into the financial dealings then, and questions about just how credible much of what Bill Clinton have to say for instance starting with I did the nail (ph).

But beyond that, John McCain for the most part, we all agree that he, while he married up, he married into a fortune, he really did, his wife comes from a family that‘s probably worth about $100 million, one of the largest beer distributors in the United States.  And so, it‘s entirely possible, I think we‘ve all assumed that really, he can just pretty much rely on his government job and that‘s all we‘re going to really see.

ABRAMS:  But, Kate—don‘t the pair of them face the same problem which is, being seen as extremely rich and out of touch with working folks?

OBENSHAIN:  Well -

ABRAMS:  Let me let Kate answer that, real quick.

OBENSHAIN:  He just explained what the situation is.  And there are questions and credibility issues over how the Clintons have raised the money.  Even that little $2 million from Info USA—a company that sells data lists to fraudulent telemarketing companies.

OK.  Look at John McCain, yes, he is a very wealthy man because of

who he marries.  But the pressure to release the tax returns just didn‘t

come from the media.  This is not a Teflon John issue.  This is—the

Obama campaign in the midst of a bloody nomination battle demanding that

Hillary Clinton release her records -

ABRAMS:  No, it wasn‘t just the Obama campaign.

OBENSHAIN:  Yes, it was, Dan.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The media has been demanding this—come on.

OBENSHAIN:  Because they‘re following the lead of the Obama campaign.  John McCain has already said he‘s going to release the issues.  He‘s going to release the tax reforms.  He‘s done that.

ABRAMS:  He said it.

OBENSHAIN:  He‘s going to.

ABRAMS:  We‘re waiting for him.  The countdown begins tonight. 

Everyone is going to stay with us.

Coming up: We‘re On The Trail: The controversy over what Clinton actually said to Bill Richardson continues tonight.  Apparently, Clinton did not say what we all thought she said in a press conference yesterday.

Plus: A New York congressman brings home the bacon.  Nearly $2 million to build a service center for his district named after himself.  It‘s today‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington.  Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, one of the most powerful men in Congress, now millions of your tax dollars are going to make sure everyone knows it.

Rangel secured more than $1.9 million for a public service center in New York.  They apparently searched far and wide for just the right name.  The winner: The Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.  Rangel said, quote, “I cannot think of anything I am more proud of.”  Shocker.

A congressman taking a page from Donald Trump and celebrating himself, this time with your tax dollars, tonight‘s reason Why America Hates Washington.

Coming up next: We‘re On Their Trail: Clinton and Obama and then, Richardson issue continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.

More controversy over the Clinton-Richardson conversation, and advisers gone wild—with both Clinton and Obama camps having to take time to explain the actions of their top aides again.

In tonight‘s On Their Trail, still with us to help separate fact from fiction: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Bob Franken, and Kate Obenshain.

First up: The controversy continues over whether Clinton told Governor Bill Richardson that Obama can‘t win before he endorsed Obama.  Yesterday, we all believed that this was a denial of that report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I don‘t talk about private conversations, but I have consistently made the case that I can win, because I believe I can win.  And, you know, sometimes people draw the conclusion I‘m saying somebody else can‘t win.

I can win.  I know I can win, that‘s why I do this every day.  And that‘s what my campaign is about.  I‘m in it to win it.  I intend to do just that.  That‘s a no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now, Clinton claims she misunderstood the follow-up question, and that she was actually answering whether or not she would discuss a private conversation and not the substance of the question.  This to me, Lawrence, seems like a clear Clinton misstatement and almost, you know, hard to swallow.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, they‘re tripping all over those Bill Richardson thing.  Bill Clinton has handled it miserably by having stories come out that he‘s been yelling about it.  James Carville did the campaign a horrible horribly bad favor by calling Bill Richardson, Judas.  It‘s been so childish.  I mean, Hillary‘s flub with it was the least of the problems compared to what to what these other people have done with it.

ABRAMS:  Yes, real quick, your thoughts and I‘ve got to move on.

FRANKEN:  Well, just very quickly, I mean, Hillary Clinton every other day seems to say that she misspoke.  At least she didn‘t say while she was talking to Richardson that there was sniper fire.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Hillary Clinton gets our first strike of the night.

Next up: While Hillary Clinton continues to campaign against the current free trade agreements, we now learned her chief strategist, Mark Penn met Monday with Colombia‘s ambassador to the U.S. to discuss how to pass one of those trade agreements that Clinton has opposed.  And it gets worst for Clinton.  Remember when Clinton said this about an Obama adviser reaching out to a Canadian official?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I would ask you to look at this story, substitute my name for Senator Obama‘s name and see what you would do with this story, just ask yourself.  If some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.  Blunder.  While Clinton was referring to an Obama adviser possibly speaking on behalf of the campaign, this, Bob, I mean, this is again an embarrassing blunder where she previously is saying, oh, my goodness, imagine if my advisers were doing this.

And now, Mark Penn is out there talking to the Columbian ambassador about something that she doesn‘t support.

FRANKEN:  Well, let‘s make sure that we spread the anger here.  We have John McCain, one of his chief advisers, Charlie Black, reportedly as a lobbyist who was making calls from McCain‘s “straight talk express.”  I think what this really speaks to is that difficulty when people say there‘s going to be change in Washington.

The fact of the matter is, as Will Rogers said, this is the best government that money can buy.  And there‘s a lot to that.  So, we find this kind of infectious (ph) relationship where a Mark Penn of course would be lobbying.  That‘s what he does when he‘s not playing on the campaign.

ABRAMS:  All right.  And -

OBENSHAIN:  I think it‘s tough to bringing in Charlie Black on something like this.  Clearly, Mark Penn overstepped his bounds, and when he is chief strategist for a presidential candidate, he is representing that candidate.  Charlie Black as your reference, actually, stepped down from his lobbying commitments because he thought that it would—looks like a conflict of interest.

FRANKEN:  Because he got caught.

(CROSSTALK)

OBENSHAIN:  And Mark Penn, I haven‘t heard of him stepping down, I haven‘t heard of these other folks getting caught.

FRANKEN:  In fact, you make a good point.  He apologized tonight, but I think the apology really was: I‘m sorry I got caught.  That‘s the problem though.

OBENSHAIN:  I got caught.  And that‘s it.

ABRAMS:  And Bob, I should point out that we are continuing in our Teflon John to talk about the various lobbyists who‘d been cruising around in the straight talk express.  So, two strikes for Hillary Clinton, as we continue.

Up next: It seems Obama‘s got some possible problems with advisers as well.  Colin Kahl, Obama‘s adviser on Iraq, has written in a paper obtained by the “New York Sun” that 60,000 to 80,000 troops maybe (ph) to remain in Iraq until as late as 2010.  Obama blunder because the senator has pledged to withdraw troops within 16 months of taking office.

You know, let me ask you this, Kate, I mean, isn‘t the problem here and let‘s spread it across the board, Obama, Clinton, McCain, that they‘re all essentially accountable for what all of their senior advisers are saying, what they‘re writing, what they‘re doing publicly.  And the problem is, you got to rein them in, you got to make sure that everyone‘s on the same page.

OBENSHAIN:  Yes, but I think what happens with this, I think, this just raises questions about Obama‘s—the wisdom of Obama‘s initial policy which across the board, folks have questioned the wisdom of this policy of dramatically and in a wholesale fashion, drawing down troops within a limited amount of time.  It‘s not going to work, it‘s disastrous.

And hopefully, Obama‘s - well, this is even leaks (ph), that it would be great if this is Obama‘s way of sort of acknowledging his foolhardy approach, and maybe, we‘re going to have to take more practical and reasonable approach, and that might turn out to be a good thing.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, final word on that?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, look, this guy who no one‘s ever heard of, who wrote this memo was not going to become secretary of Defense.  Obama‘s going to get a lot of advice from a lot of people.  This guy might be one of them.  His advice might be ignored, part of it might be taken.

I don‘t think any candidate should be in any way held responsible for some memo that an adviser writes.  Those advisers may have no influence in the actual government.

ABRAMS:  Ye but it since said, good for the goose is good for the gander here.  We‘re going to call it a strike for Obama.  It brings our nightly total, Clinton has two strikes, Obama has one.

Thanks, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Bob Franken, Kate Obenshain, a great panel.  Thanks a lot, guys.

OBENSHAIN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: With all the bickering on the campaign trail, let‘s lighten up a little, huh?  We‘ve compiled the best late night jokes from the week made at the candidate‘s expense.

And: Lou Dobbs won‘t say he loves the mayor of San Francisco.  Why? 

Because, quote, “I can say I love you to a fellow from San Francisco.” 

That romantic dance is coming up in tonight‘s Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: Bill O‘Reilly and his media poodle, Bernie Goldberg once again obsessing about MSNBC last night when Goldberg offered up this gem (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  When serious journalists go on MSNBC and sit next to rabid partisans on election night that‘s a very bad thing.  And that‘s where the bias and even the craziness in some cases, bleeds over from the cable network to the news network.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well, since FOX would never do that, I guess that means when a rabid partisan like O‘Reilly sits next to Brit Hume on election night that he‘s saying that Hume is not a serious journalist?  I can‘t imagine Hume will be happy about that, Bernie.

Next up: Last night, CNN‘s Lou Dobbs was celebrating being criticized by both New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  Dobbs was kind to Menendez, but when it came to the husband San Francisco mayor, Dobbs seemed more like an uncomfortable teen around sometime (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST:  Senator Menendez you said you loved me, so I said I love you back.  I can‘t say I love you to a fellow in San Francisco, I suppose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Come on, Lou.  No one‘s questioning your sexuality.

Finally: E.D. Hill at FOX was talking to their medical expert about a new study.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E.D. HILL, TV HOST:  If you yourself (INAUDIBLE) for 10 years, you double your risk for cancer.  What kind of cancer?

DR. MANNY ALVAREZ, MANAGING HEALTH EDITOR:  Brain cancer, which is, you know, very deadly, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Scary stuff.  Well, at the end of the interview E.D.  informed us where we could get more information from Dr. Manny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILL:  New research is really fascinating, taking your daily health

tips on—your mobile phone -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  On the phone, brain cancer.  E.D. handled it well.

Up next: The best of the week‘s campaign comedies from Youtube to Leno.

And later: While the inside D.C. media buzz about who Gore, Pelosi and Edwards are going to endorse, what about Brimley (ph), Bach (ph), and Ralph Macchio?

We look at the, quote, “celebrity endorsements” the candidates may or may not really want or even know about.

Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Welcome back.  The joke is on them as the presidential candidates trudge and toil on the campaign trail.  The late-night and online comedians are fast at work tearing each of them apart.  As we do every Friday, here is the best campaign humor of the week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)   

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN:  The Clinton campaign an audio reporting of Hillary bowling.  Jim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR:  Sen. Clinton, no!  It‘s too dangerous.  Don‘t bowl!  It‘s a 7-10 split.  You‘ll never get that under sniper fire. 

JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”:  Hillary Clinton is so competitive.  Did you see what happened?  Take a look.  Now, roll the footage.  Now watch what Hillary does here while he shoots.  Watch it.  Out of nowhere.

BILL MAHER, “REAL TIME”:  Candidates must stop posing on farm equipment.  Here‘s Barack Obama on a tractor, just like the one he used in Afghanistan to harvest poppies.  You know, this kind of photos only hurt a campaign.  Like this one of Hillary posing with a seed spreader.

LENO:  He went back to the alley to try it again.  And he thought - I guess he thought he was going to be by himself.  Somebody captured him on cell phone.  He is trying again today.  Here he is.  Now watch him.  Look at the concentration here.  OK.

Did anybody catch Barack Obama on “The View?”  You know, there is something about “The View” - there‘s something about that show that makes men uncomfortable.  Now, we have not altered this footage in any way.  This is exactly the way it appeared on TV. 

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Joy, you this -

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m surrounded by women.

WALTERS:  What about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

OBAMA:  I am surrounded by women.  Well, you guys always surprise me, always something up your sleeve. 

WALTERS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) This is a very special book.

LENO:  I got what?  Thirteen, 14?  Count them. 

(MUSIC)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But I‘m (BEEP) Obama.

OBAMA:  She‘s (BEEP) Obama.  I‘m sorry but it‘s true. 

CLINTON:  But I‘m (BEEP) Obama. 

OBAMA:  She‘s (BEEP) Obama. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

CLINTON:  But I‘m (BEEP) Obama. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Inside their heads, from the floor -

OBAMA:  When we talk about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  In every single election we have had so far—

CLINTON:  But I‘m (BEEP) Obama. 

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”:  “The Washington Post” reports that John McCain is having trouble raising enough money for his campaign.  Yes.  Plus, every time someone does donate money to McCain, he puts it in a card and sends it to his grandchildren. 

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN:  This type of bus tour is bound to give McCain the kind of coverage he‘s craving.  He spoke in Annapolis this morning at 9:17 a.m.  Let‘s see how cable news covered him.  That‘s got to hurt.  Obama giving a speech at the same time.  McCain got Barack-blocked.  All right, how about the other networks.  C-Span - really, C-Span is not even covering it?  Oh, what about the 24-hour All Senator Arizona Channel?  There‘s a 50 percent chance that they‘ll cover - Really?  Oh.  The other guy?

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  He looks like the guy at the hardware store who makes the keys.  He looks the guy who goes to town for turpentine.  He looks like the guy who‘s always got wiry hair growing out of new places.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hey, Letterman.

LETTERMAN:  Hi.  How are you doing?

MCCAIN:  You think that stuff is pretty funny, don‘t you?  Well, you look like a guy whose laptop would be seized by the authorities. 

LETTERMAN:  What?

MCCAIN:  And you look like the guy who enjoys getting into a hot tub and watching his swim trunks inflate. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Good stuff, good stuff.  All right.  So the D.C. media has been buzzing about Al Gore, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi.  Who are they going to endorse?  What about Wilford Brimley, Catherine Bach a.k.a. Daisy Duke, or the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio?  Who are these, quote, “celebrities” endorsing? 

You may have heard John McCain, recently nabbed the highly coveted Heidi Montag endorsement.  Yes, after much deliberation, the reality star is backing the senator from Arizona.  But what about Wilford Brimley and the others? 

Let‘s bring in our panel.  Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, comedian Elayne Boosler, and Julia Reed, contributing editor at “Vogue” and “Newsweek” magazines. 

All right.  First up, who would not want the endorsement of the man who played Gus Witherspoon in “Our House,” was Quaker Oats spokesperson, and is currently a national spokesperson for a diabetes testing supplies company? 

Our panel is ready to play, but I‘m going to ask you to guess.  Does my panel - do you guys want to try and guess who Wilford Brimley may have supported?  Mayor Brown, who would you guess?

WILLIE BROWN, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR:  I would guess that he would support John McCain. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Elayne?

ELAYNE BOOSLER, COMEDIAN:  I believe he supported Kucinich because he didn‘t know that he‘s not running still. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  And Julia?  I‘m going to tell you the answer in a minute. 

JULIA REED, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AT “VOGUE” AND “TIME” MAGAZINES:  I would guess that McCain is hoping it‘s not him because he doesn‘t need any old people endorsement. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  The answer?  Mayor Brown got it right.  Wilford Brimley is supporting John McCain. 

ABRAMS:  Next up, there may be many undecided “Dukes of Hazzard” fans out there, wondering who does Catherine Bach support?  She of course played Daisy Duke on the “Dukes of Hazzard,” Marci on the ‘80s hit “Cannon Ball Run,” and of course, appeared in two memorable episodes of the “Love Boat.”  All right.  Mayor Brown?

BROWN:  I think she‘d probably be for Huckabee. 

ABRAMS:  For Huckabee?  All right.

REED:  Huckabee?  That‘s showing your regionalism.  I mean like, you‘re sort of regional-biased.  Just because she was Daisy Duke, she‘s going to support the bumpster from Arkansas.  I think she went for like female solidarity and supported Hillary. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Elayne?

BOOSLER:  Yes, completely out of the box.  I think she‘s supporting Bloomberg if he runs. 

ABRAMS:  The answer is - you got it right - she is supporting Hillary Clinton. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  And what about Ralph Macchio.  He‘s got the right moves for any candidate.  He was and always will be “The Karate Kid.”  He played Johnny Cade in the 1983 movie, “The Outsiders,” and most recently appeared as himself on an episode of HBO‘s “Entourage.”  So the question, Elayne - keep in mind, we are not making it all even here.  So who do you think the Karate Kid is supporting? 

BOOSLER:  Well, I need to know, are there prizes at stake here?

ABRAMS:  There are no prizes.  The prize would be - You know what the prize is?  If they get it right, I can‘t imagine that whoever the Karate Kid endorsed would not want him in the cabinet.  So there could be a cabinet appointment at stake.

BOOSLER:  Well, I believe I read that Ralph Macchio endorsed Tony Danza today. 

ABRAMS:  Mayor, what do you think? 

BROWN:  I would think he would go really out there.  He would try to convince Romney to get back in the race. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Fair enough.  Julia? 

REED:  Well, I hate to be a party pooper, but I know he went for Obama.

But this is who McCain needs; he needs the youngster vote. 

ABRAMS:  It‘s true.  And he did - you are exactly right.  He did go for

Barack Obama.  So let‘s do this.  I‘m now going to put up the list, all

right?  Of who -

REED:  Does Barack Obama know that? 

ABRAMS:  That‘s the question, and that‘s exactly what I was going to ask Mayor Brown in a minute.  Let me put up our final list here and then I want to ask you a couple questions about it. 

We gave the two random endorsement supporters that each of the three candidates have gotten.  Can you put them all up here? 

John McCain landed Heidi Montag, the reality star, and Wilford Brimley.  Barack Obama got the fierce duo of the Karate Kid and an underdog - he got Hulk Hogan.  And Hillary Clinton got Daisy Duke and the hobbit, Sean Astin, all right?  So the question is - the question is, Willie Brown, do you think the candidates actually know these people have endorsed them? 

BROWN:  With this collection of endorsees, they are the kind of people you want to endorse you, but don‘t tell anybody. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  You actually -  do you think, Julia, that these are the kind of candidates - maybe the kind of people you don‘t their endorsement at all?

REED:  Well, no, because I don‘t think it makes a lick of difference.  But I doubt the candidates know about this.  I mean this is - at the end of the day, this is not the kind - the kind of schedule they have.  If somebody put this into briefing, they would be fired, like “Why are you wasting our time with this info.” 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, it‘s a fair question.  Why are we wasting the

viewers‘ time?  This was kind of fun.  I wanted to know -

REED:  No, I meant the candidates.

ABRAMS:  I wanted to know who the “Karate Kid” had endorsed.  So our guests are going to stay with us, because coming up, the most talked about people of the week, including Naomi Campbell, the pregnant man.  Who were the “Winners and Losers” of the week?  And remember these inmate Filipino in-mate dancers?  They are back with a new routine.  They are coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape.  Tonight, the Filipino prisoners who danced their way to international fame with their take on Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” are with a new music video.  This time, they‘re getting to the Laura Branigan classic, “Gloria.”  We‘ll be right back with the week‘s “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for the week‘s “Winners and Losers,” from Hillary Clinton‘s charm offensive to Naomi Campbell‘s offensive lack of charm.  How did the top newsmakers fare this week?  Who won, who lost?  Our panel is back with us. 

First up, train wreck model Naomi Campbell, released on bail earlier today, after her arrest Thursday for assaulting a police officer at London‘s Heathrow Airport after she found out British Airways lost her bag and couldn‘t find it, one of 28,000 bags were lost in a horrible debut week at the airlines new terminal. 

The hotheaded supermodel allegedly lost it again.  Remember, she has been accused of assaulting employees over the years and sentenced to community service and anger management classes after clubbing her housekeeper with her cell phone. 

Now, her PR team seems to think the alleged assault is not the issue.  Instead they say, quote, “British Airways decided to resolve this by insisting she leave the flight and then called the police to forcibly eject her.” 

Elayne Boosler, I mean it sounds to me like the PR team here is trying to say, “It‘s all British Airways fault.” 

BOOSLER:  Oh, I want to assault those guys at the airport.  I have been taking off my shoes for five years.  Let me ask you a question.  What woman is going to blow up her shoes? 

ABRAMS:  You know, it‘s - well- Julia? 

REED:  She is going to have to go to spitting rehab just so she can ride on the subways again. 

ABRAMS:  Julia, Naomi Campbell has been getting into trouble regularly, you know.  And she‘s got this PR team out there, and look, I think that they‘re just causing trouble for her by going out and they‘re making about British Airways. 

Initially they made comments about, “Oh, we wish, you know, they would focus more on finding her bag.”  It doesn‘t seem to me very useful to what could be a legal case against her.

REED:  Well, it probably would be useful in a legal case, but I think - she‘s generating a lot of public sympathy because even though, you know, she is a bit of a spoiled brat and she has this long history of violent behavior, all of us - I mean as Elayne says, like to club the airline.  I mean I have a friend who‘s suitcase was lost in that terminal. 

They‘re losing by the minute over there at Heathrow.  And when you

lose your bag, I think they give you like $50.  The money isn‘t an issue

for her, but I mean, my god, we‘ve all been screwed by the airlines.  And

so I think that, you know, it‘s the one time she might have some public

sympathy for once.  But -

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  Mayor - Mayor Brown? 

REED:  I don‘t know.  I think she‘s a loser because I think it‘s going to hurt her. 

ABRAMS:  Am I a loser because I have no sympathy for Naomi Campbell at all? 

BROWN:  No, you are just losing the opportunity to hang out with her. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BROWN:  I want to hang out with her (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  So am I actually hearing my panel suggest that she‘s a winner this week?  Come on. 

BROWN:  I don‘t think she‘s a winner. 

REED:  I don‘t think she‘s going to win.  I think the legal system is going

to bite her.  But I think -

BOOSLER:  She‘s a loser with an asterisk.

ABRAMS:  Loser - our newsmaker of the week, Ted Turner, who said this about global warming on the “Charlie Rose Show” this week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED TURNER, MEDIA MOGUL:  It will be eight degrees hotter in 10 - not to 10, but in 30 to 40 years, and basically, none of the crops will grow.  Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I mean, Mayor Brown, what is he talking about? 

BROWN:  I don‘t know.  I think he‘s making an application for the other half of the Nobel Prize that Al Gore left on the table.  I mean that is just way out there, even for Ted Turner, that‘s out there. 

REED:  I think he‘s making an application -

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Julia.

REED:  Yes, I think he‘s making an application to the nut hut.  I mean he

is just like obviously, just flat out, lost his mind.  You know, the other

thing he said was that, you know, he thinks all of the time and he has been

doing a lot of thinking about this.  I think he‘s listening to too many

voices in that head of his.  I mean -

ABRAMS:  Well, he also described the Iraqi insurgents as patriots.  I mean,

you know, he‘s been - again and again, he‘s been putting his foot in his

mouth.  All right.  Everyone agrees that Ted Turner -

REED:  And the North Koreans are good guys, don‘t forget.

ABRAMS:  Ted Turner, another one -

BROWN:  Keep in mind, also he‘s been a loser since Jane dumped him. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

REED:  That‘s right.

ABRAMS:  He‘s the loser of the week.

Our next newsmaker - Hillary Clinton, who we mentioned earlier is on her likability tour this week.  First the “let‘s have a conversation” ad in North Carolina, then last night with Jay Leno and today with Ellen DeGeneres. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, “THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW”:  This is the odd one, which I did not know.  You‘re also cousins with Madonna. 

CLINTON:  That‘s true. 

DEGENERES:  So -

CLINTON:  Can I see that one, please?

DEGENERES:  Because I think it‘s amazing to see you - how closely related you are.  You‘re in good shape. 

(CHEERS)

CLINTON:  I want to know where you got that picture.

DEGENERES:  Yes?

CLINTON:  We have kept that picture under lock and key during this campaign.  Nobody was supposed to see that picture. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Elayne, is the charm offensive working? 

BOOSLER:  You know, she just has to stop trying to be everybody‘s best friend.  She has the goods to be president.  And what‘s fascinating to me is that only in this country do we not want a politician who has been there before.  It‘s “I‘m not a Washington insider, vote for me.”  If your toilet broke, would you want a plumber who‘s never fixed the toilet before? 

ABRAMS:  Well -

BOOSLER:  No.  You want the guy who knows how to do everything. 

ABRAMS:  But Mayor Brown, look -

BOOSLER:  But in politics, we -

ABRAMS:  You know how important it is.  Politics is, to some degree, a popularity contest, and people have to like her.

BROWN:  No question about it and believe me, Hillary has had many years of dislike.  I think that Hillary frankly was a winner this week because she is a charming person.  She‘s genuine in the sense of being able to give and take. 

She doesn‘t get a chance to show that very much because people start up with the idea, “I don‘t like Hillary.”  Well, this week she can‘t go forward with your “don‘t like Hillary.”

ABRAMS:  Julia, winner or loser - Hillary Clinton this week?

REED:  She‘s a loser.  She‘s had plenty of chances to show her likability.  She‘s chosen not to.  I mean we were going to put her in “Vogue” in December.  We had an iron-clad deal.  She blew us off, you know, Mark Penn and Howard Wilson decided she needed to look like a commander-in-chief and “Vogue was the wrong place to put her.

You know, she‘s been in a magazine five times.  She could have proven her likability then.  We‘re not the enemy.

ABRAMS:  All right. 

REED:  Instead, she‘s running around like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in those earth-tone suits.

BOOSLER:  Could you have her grade with me?

ABRAMS:  It‘s one to one, Elayne.  Winner or loser - Hillary Clinton this week?

BOOSLER:  You know how great - she‘s a winner.

ABRAMS:  Winner this week.  All right.  So Hillary Clinton -

BOOSLER:  To have a woman be the president -

ABRAMS:  She gets the up thumb for the week.  And that means everyone is going to stick around, because up next, we will continue with the most talked about people of the week.  One of those has to be this guy, the pregnant man.  Everyone seems to have an opinion about that.  We‘ll be right back.  And the “P.O.‘d Box,” your E-mail, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are back with our panel, talking about this week‘s winners and losers.  Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, comedian Elayne Boosler, and Julia Reed, contributing editor at “Newsweek” and “Vogue.” 

Our final big newsmaker of the week, this pregnant man - 34-year-old Thomas Beatie who went on “Oprah” yesterday and told the story of how he went from being a young beauty queen growing up in Hawaii, to legally a man through operations and testosterone.  And as you can see in this week‘s “People” magazine, he is now legally married to this woman and is now six months pregnant. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS BEATIE, PREGNANT MAN:  I actually opted not to do anything to my reproductive because I wanted to have a child one day.  I didn‘t know how.  It was just a dream.  You know, there was no plan laid out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Julia Reed, I don‘t know if this qualifies as a winner or loser, but it is certainly the bizarrest(ph) story of the week. 

REED:  Well, I mean, the dude is a winner - I mean, or the semi-dude, whatever you want to call him, because he got what he wanted.  He‘s having his baby and he got to go on Oprah, which is like half of the population‘s life dream.  Because I feel like the loser, because I‘m so sick knowing everybody‘s business. 

I mean millions of people, you know, that are on Oprah audience and the television heard his child‘s heartbeat.  What happened to private moments?  Next, he‘s going to be endorsing candidates. 

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s true.  I mean - Willie Brown, who do you think he‘d endorse? 

BROWN:   I would think he would probably be a McCain endorser. 

ABRAMS:  No.  Come on.  No way.  No way.  Elayne, final word? 

BOOSLER:  The religious right can‘t be against him.  He‘s not gay and he‘s married.  And he‘s absolutely the first person who can ever say honestly, “I was both a mother and a father to my child.”

ABRAMS:  All right.  So it sounds like he‘s a winner, for our final winner and loser of the week.  Thank you, Mayor Brown, Elayne Boosler and Julia Reed.  Fun stuff.  I appreciate it.

Time for the “P.O.‘d Box,” your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show.  Last night, I went after Hillary Clinton for saying there is, quote, “no such thing as a pledged delegate,” implying she‘ll now pursue delegates who, you know - won by Obama in primaries or caucuses even though she promised she wouldn‘t.

Janet White from Tacoma, Washington, “Why do you people keep twisting what Sen. Clinton says?  It goes to the convention and there‘s no winner.  Anybody can change their vote to any candidate.” 

Sure they can, Janet, in theory.  But if pledged delegates don‘t go for their candidate, then clearly, there was no point in having had millions of people voting in these primaries and caucuses. 

Andy from Baltimore, “Thank you for talking about Clintons‘ desperate bid to poach pledged delegates in already settled contests.  It‘s comical hypocrisy that Hillary, who talks endlessly about not ‘disenfranchising‘ voters in Michigan and Florida, is so enthusiastic about disenfranchising voters in every other state.”

Last night, we talked about Thomas Beatie, the man we were talking about, six months pregnant.  Viewer Gary Bowden takes issue with the phrase “pregnant man,” “This man isn‘t really a man in the first place.  This person who looks like a girl with facial hair wasn‘t born a man.”

OK, Gary, but he is legally a man.  And I‘m a lawyer, so as far as I‘m concerned, he‘s a man. 

Terry from Vermont, “I saw your report on the pregnant man.  You know, you‘re absolutely adorable when you‘re uncomfortable.”  Thank you very much. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  You can E-mail me about the show, verdict@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing.  The Web site, Verdict.MSNBC.com.  Have a great weekend.  I‘ll see you on Monday.

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

END   

Watch Verdict with Dan Abrams each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

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