updated 4/21/2008 11:10:12 AM ET 2008-04-21T15:10:12

Guest: Ron Reagan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and Joe Watkins

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: There is breaking news: Hillary Clinton caught on tape at a private fundraiser bashing certain Democratic activists.  Will this be her “bitter” moment?

And: The crying game, more debate gaffe fallout.  Clinton says Obama should man up, but wasn‘t she doing the same kind of whining just a month ago?

Our all-star Friday panel: Ron Reagan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and Joe Watkins.

Plus: Some Vladimir Putin to Charles Gibson to Dr. Phil.  We debate the week‘s big Winners & Losers.

VERDICT starts now.

Welcome to the show.

We begin tonight with breaking news, a week after hammering Barack Obama over what he said in a closed door fund-raiser about bitterness, guns and religion, Hillary Clinton facing questions tonight for what she said in a small, closed door fund-raiser after Super Tuesday.

The Huffington Post has just obtained an audio recording of the private event where Clinton attacks the group Moveon.org, a left-wing organization that‘s endorsed Barack Obama.  She suggests its members intimidated her supporters.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Moveon.org didn‘t even want us to go into Afghanistan.  I mean, that‘s what we‘re dealing with.  And you know, they turn out in great numbers.  And they are very driven by their view of our position and it‘s primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them.

I don‘t agree with them.  They know I don‘t agree with them.  So, they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Tonight, Clinton campaign‘s spokesperson, Howard Wolfson confirming to the Huffington Post that indeed, that is the voice of Senator Clinton, saying, quote, “I‘ll left the statement stand as is.”  Clinton‘s attacks on Moveon.org stand in stark contrast to what she told members of the group just a year ago.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CLINTON:  For nearly a decade, you‘ve been asking the tough questions, you‘ve been demanding answers, you‘ve been refusing to back down when any of us who are in political leadership are not living up to the standards that we should set for ourselves and that you expect from us.  I think you have helped to change the face of American politics for the better, both online, and in the corridors of power.  So, although, some of your members may be a little surprised to hear me say this, I am grateful for your work.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Here now: Political Commentator Ron Reagan; Political Analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell; and, Political Analyst Joe Watkins.

All right, Ron.  So, how big a deal is this?

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  I don‘t think for the general public, this is going to be a huge deal.  Certainly, it‘s not going to help her with her fundraising with the activist base.  You know, it‘s curious to see her saying one thing on the one hand, and then, of course, a year later, she‘s saying something else.

But, of course, she was still trying to get Moveon‘s support back a year ago and now, she knows that they don‘t support her.  It‘s not about Afghanistan, by the way.  They‘re mad because she voted for the war in Iraq.

ABRAMS:  Joe, do you think it‘s a big deal?

JOE WATKINS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think it‘s a big deal.  You know, it looks like to me, Dan, it looks like a beast.  Moveon.org is a beast that eats its own.  I mean, they started 10 years ago to support Bill Clinton when he was in the midst of his impeachment troubles.  And now, in this (ph), they‘ve turned on his wife, and they‘re trying to destroy Hillary Clinton.

And you know, actually, it will help her in the general election if she becomes the Democratic nominee.  It will help her that she‘d already said she distances and she doesn‘t agree with Moveon.org.  It will help her with independents.  It will help her certainly with some Republicans.

But at the end of the day, Moveon.org is somebody to be reckoned with.  They set their sights on you, and they‘d decided they want to destroy you, they put all their money into taking you out.  In the 2004 campaign, they spent over $300 million coming after George Bush.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, we are a long way from the general election here for Hillary Clinton.  She‘s got to worry about the primaries.  She‘s got to worry about Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina.  And so the question is: Does this, this newly discovered audio recording hurt her, (A), because of what she said, and, (B), because she‘s saying something very different than what she did a year ago?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, it does.  And, ©, Dan, it hurts her own arguments with superdelegates about her electability.  She is saying, “There‘s a section of this Democratic Party that I don‘t appeal to, I disagree with them.”  Her complaint about Moveon, if you listen to what she‘s saying, is basically that they showed up and voted.  That‘s her complaint.

And it‘s not that anything unfair is going on in terms of their misunderstanding of her positions, she‘s saying she actively disagrees with them.  And so, to then try to make the case to the superdelegates, “Look, you know, I can win this thing without that left edge of the Democratic Party,” is probably a mathematically impossible argument for Hillary to make, especially because her negative is the highest negative of anyone in the campaign.  She has a negative rating of 48.  If these people turn against her in the general election, then her negative is 51.

ABRAMS:  And, Ron, it seems to me, so far in this primary season, any time a candidate has been caught saying one thing different from what he or she said earlier, it‘s been a problem.  And it seems to me that there‘s clarity here that Hillary Clinton said one thing a year ago, and now she‘s caught on this audiotape saying something, you can tell me, well, she‘s given up on it now because they endorse Barack Obama.  But doesn‘t this feed into the perception that Hillary Clinton can‘t be trusted?

REAGAN:  Yes, it feeds into the perception and we have seen this in the polls that she is dishonest, that she‘ll say one thing—that she says things she doesn‘t mean.  You know, and I think that this on top of the “bitter” thing which is one of the most ridiculous, you know, little fracases I‘ve ever seen, you know, is not doing her any favors.

She‘s taking a gamble here, she‘s gambling in attacking Barack Obama that she can go ahead and drive her negatives up as long as she drives his negatives up, too.  But now you‘ve got her voice on tape in two different instances saying two entirely different things.  But I think this is a bigger deal for us in the media than it is for the general public.

ABRAMS:  Maybe, but this is a serious allegation.  I mean, Joe, Hillary Clinton is saying that this organization, Moveon.org and I agree with Ron, that the people in the media care more about Moveon.org than the public at large.  Fine.

But the bottom line is: She‘s accusing a left-wing organization of flooding into caucuses, dominating them, and intimidating people who show up to support her.

REAGAN:  It sounds whining.

WATKINS:  Dan, what has she said that isn‘t true?  I mean what she‘s saying is absolutely true.  I mean, Moveon.org is a very effective organization, and when they target somebody, they come after them with all four fronts.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know if that‘s true.

WATKINS:  Far be (ph) it from me—here it is, I‘m a Republican that worked for George Walker Bush defending Hillary Clinton.  But, in this case, she‘s right, Moveon.org is coming after her.  They‘ve worked hard against her to make sure that she loses the election.

REAGAN:  But, Joe, that‘s just because you guys want to run against her.

ABRAMS:  But, Joe—wait a second.  This isn‘t Moveon.org coming after her.  I mean, Huffington Post gets this audiotape of Hillary Clinton‘s own words.  I mean, if this were just a story about Moveon.org is going after Hillary Clinton, that‘s one thing.

WATKINS:  And to her credit, she‘s not backing away from it.  I mean, you know, her guy got on and said, “You know what, we owned up to these words.  These are our words.  That she said Moveon.org is against us being in Afghanistan, I mean, they‘re against a lot of the policy that we had.”

ABRAMS:  Well, they say that that‘s not true, by the way.

WATKINS:  And, of course, they say it‘s not true.

ABRAMS:  Moveon.org, they say, did not oppose the war in Afghanistan.  They put a statement out: “We set the record straight when Karl Rove used that line in 2005.”  So, they‘re saying that they didn‘t.  But, look, that‘s not—I don‘t want to debate Moveon.org here.

I want to talk about - Lawrence, let me come back to this Hillary Clinton thing.  I mean, again, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, I mean, is there a political concern that a new problem for Hillary Clinton, if you want to call it a flip-flop, if you want to call it an accusation, remember, Howard Wolfson also saying tonight that “there have been well-documented instances of intimidation in the Nevada and the Texas caucuses and it‘s a fact that while we have won four of the five largest primaries, where participation is greatest, Senator Obama has done better in caucuses than we have.”  But that‘s not the same as what Hillary Clinton said in the statement, Lawrence?

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s right.  And, you know, she‘s really, I think, it‘s a huge mistake here, and by the way, we all now understand why they don‘t allow the press at fund-raisers.  One of the things that happen at fund-raisers is that people who are investing in your campaign start to ask you why you‘re not succeeding with certain segments of the vote.

That‘s what Obama was talking about in the San Francisco fund-raiser.  That‘s what Hillary is talking about in this fund-raiser.  And this is a very different Hillary Clinton.  And that is the problem.  It‘s a problem in the Clinton brand that they will not always be truthful or they‘re willing to say, you know, they‘re willing to play both sides of the same coin depending on what room they‘re in.

WATKINS:  At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton realizes that, you know what, Barack Obama owns the far left of the party.  She‘s going to let him have that.  I mean, he‘s already got that.  He‘s got Moveon.org‘s support and they are working hard to get him elected, to get him nominated, to win in that nomination.

So, Hillary Clinton says, you know what, if at the end of the day, if I won the nomination, if I become the nominee, if the superdelegates give it to me, the far left has no way to go.  The fight this time is for the middle.  And what he‘s saying is going to help her with the middle.

O‘DONNELL:  Ralph Nader is running again.  Don‘t forget that.

ABRAMS:  But, Ron, she can‘t look to the general election yet.  I‘m sorry.  But she‘s too far behind.  She can‘t be looking at the general election and say, you know what this is good for me to alienate anybody.

REAGAN:  Yes, you‘re absolutely right.  Let me at least raise the possibility, I don‘t think it‘s likely, but let‘s raise the possibility that this was a deliberate leak.  She‘s putting all her eggs in the Pennsylvania basket.

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.  No way.

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s so unlikely.

REAGAN:  She‘s appealing to Western Pennsylvania.

ABRAMS:  No way.

REAGAN:  Well, I just put it out there.  I don‘t think it‘s likely.

ABRAMS:  No, no, no, no.

REAGAN:  I didn‘t say that was my opinion.  I just said it‘s a possibility.  That‘s all.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, we‘re going to stay on top of this story.  We‘ll figure out—I think this is going to be a story that‘s going to resonate for a little while, we‘ll figure out what the impact is going to be.  The panel is going to stay with us.

When we come back, first, Obama complained about the questions in this week‘s debate.  Today: Hillary Clinton slammed him for whining.  But has she whined about the media as well?

And: One thing Clinton and Obama can agree on, forget debates, the place to really get votes is on late night TV and on the comedy shows.  We‘ve got the best of this week‘s campaign comedy, candidate by candidate.

Plus: President Bush has said he‘s committed to finding Osama bin Laden, but a new government report says he‘s got no strategy to hunt him down.

Why America Hates Washington is coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: The president‘s pledge to keep al Qaeda on the run running out of steam.  A scathing new report from the Government Accountability Office said, “The White House has no strategy to hunt down America‘s enemy number one, Osama bin Laden in the tribal regions of Pakistan.”

Even though the president says it‘s a top priority, he basically left the job to Pakistan and $10 billion later, officials there still haven‘t been able to catch Bin Laden or his top lieutenant.  The Bush administration seemingly tropic dropping the ball at least on a plan to catch Bin Laden is another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with Clinton and Obama accusing each other of being “whiner-in-chief” in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Back now with the crying game: Obama and Clinton trading shots today over which one should bear the title, “whiner-in-chief,” following Wednesday night‘s debate.  Yesterday, Obama and many of his supporters took issue with the questions he faced in Wednesday night‘s debate saying, complaining it took 45 minutes to get to the real questions.

Today, Clinton hammered him on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  Did some of you see that debate the other night?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  Well, I know that some of my opponents‘ supporters and my opponent are kind of complaining about the hard questions.  I‘m with Harry Truman on this: If you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Obama fired back today pointing the finger right back at Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I don‘t know what Senator Clinton‘s talking about.  I haven‘t been complaining about tough questions.  As I recall, it was Senator Clinton who spent much of the last couple of months complaining about how the media wasn‘t treating her fairly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, to the fight over who‘s the bigger whiner continues now today.

Joining me again: Ron Reagan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and, Joe Watkins.

All right, look, bottom line is, Ron, that this starts with the debate Obama and the supporters say, “It wasn‘t fair,” Clinton says, “You know what?  Stop whining, et cetera.”  It seems that the strategy in this campaign has been, as much as possible, blame the media and portray yourself as the victim.

REAGAN:  What Obama was saying was that they took 45 minutes to get to real issues and spent, you know, that the first 45 minutes on lapel accessories and, you know, people who might or might not be in his role of decks (ph).  That was his complaint and he wasn‘t whining.

Now, the Clintons, on the other hand, have raised whining to an art form over the last few months.  I guess, if you have a debate, that‘s tougher (ph), when you send Bill Clinton to tug on his ear lobe, which is a tell by the way, he used to bite his lower lip, now he tugs his ear lobe when he‘s saying things that he knows aren‘t true, to claim that she hasn‘t been whining for the last 15 months.  It‘s ridiculous.

ABRAMS:  Joe, why are you smiling?

WATKINS:  I‘m smiling because, maybe to bring back that little

saying what they had in “Saturday Night Live” call the whiners, you know, I

missed that.  I mean, both these candidates will do really, really well in

that segment.  You know, at the end of the day, who makes you -

REAGAN:  Just one of them, just one of them, Joe.

WATKINS:  Who makes you run for the presidency of the United States?  I mean, if you can‘t deal with these kinds of questions, and the annoyance, you don‘t want to be president of the United States.  Because, guess what, when you‘re president of the United States, you get all kinds of questions and many of them are very, very mean-spirited and nasty and tough.

ABRAMS:  And Republican operatives like Joe Watkins are already sort of building up the base of questions to go after Obama on, right?

WATKINS:  Absolutely.  I got them all.

REAGAN:  Hoping for Hillary, though.

ABRAMS:  So, Lawrence, look - Lawrence, you‘ve seen a lot of these, alright?  You‘ve been an insider.  Is this—were these questions—was this debate so much worse than anything else?  Was it that bad?

O‘DONNELL:  It really was.  You know, and I‘ve got to tell you, I didn‘t notice it myself until we were about 40 minutes into the debate because I‘m used to these kind of questions.  But I looked at my watch and I realized, wait a minute, have we really gone 40 minutes and there hasn‘t been a single question about the governing of the United States of America and not one?

And you know, Obama is not complaining that they were tough

questions, he was complaining that they were stupid questions.  Now, it‘s

arguable whether they were stupid or not.  But what is absolutely clear is

that they have nothing to do with the governing of the United States.  And

at certain point, you have to sit there and say -

ABRAMS:  What it has to do with winning the presidency?

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  (INAUDIBLE) Jeremiah Wright loves America as much as you do?

ABRAMS:  I agree with you and I said that last night, Ron.  That‘s one of the dumbest questions I‘ve ever heard.

REAGAN:  The dumbest question I‘ve ever heard, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  I agree with you.  And look, we talked about that and Lawrence and I had a good laugh about that.  But the questions is, Lawrence, are these the sorts of questions that one will have to answer to become president, to win?

O‘DONNELL:  No, they are not.  The answer—here‘s what you have to answer to.  How long are you going to be in Iraq?  What are you tactics for dealing with Iraq?  How are you going to finance the baby boom entering Medicare?  Not one question about Medicare.

WATKINS:  (INAUDIBLE) do want to know, are you patriotic?  Are you

a patriot?  I mean, there -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  I know - look, I love it.  This gets people—

Joe, before I let them go after you, let me let you finish your sentence and then Ron and Lawrence are ready to get you.  All right.  Go ahead.

WATKINS:  My point is that, folks want to know.  I mean there are a lot of questions that regular folks have that are not questions about government.  You know, these folks have debated what, over 20 times in the last several months.  They‘ve heard a lot of this stuff about where they stand on taxes.  They know—both of them are going to raise taxes, they know that, that‘s a given.  And they know a lot of these folks from the standpoint of what they would do as commander-in-chief, as president of United States.

But they want to know more about their character and they know a lot about Hillary Clinton and they know a lot less about Barack Obama.  I think it‘s perfectly fair for Charlie Gibson to ask these kinds of questions.

ABRAMS:  Ron?

REAGAN:  Do you really think, Joe, that there are some question about Barack Obama‘s patriotism, do you really think he‘s running for president because he hates America?

WATKINS:  No, I think Barack Obama -

REAGAN:  OK.  Then, there isn‘t a question about it.

WATKINS:  I mean, people want to know.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  We just solved that, Joe.  We solved that, he‘s patriotic, so we can move on.

O‘DONNELL:  Shouldn‘t the person asking the lapel pin question be wearing a lapel pin?  If it‘s a crime for Obama not to wear a flag pin is it a crime for Stephanopoulos not to wear one?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  And, look -

O‘DONNELL:  There was a way - there was a way to talk about the American flag in governance and that is, where are you on flag burning Constitutional amendments?  Where are you on flag burning laws?  And there‘s a big difference between Hillary and Barack on flag burning.  There‘s a big difference between that and McCain on flag burning.

ABRAMS:  Let me come back to the media on this because Stephanopoulos has been the one under fire a lot here.  Here is George Stephanopoulos himself, the one who asked those very questions about lapel pins in the movie, “The War Room” in 1991.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR:  What you can do in this campaign is focus on what‘s important to the American people on the jobs and the education, that‘s what the American people care about.  They want to move into the future.  They don‘t want to be diverted by side issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m so mean to do that to George.

WATKINS:  Democratic double speak.

ABRAMS:  It is so mean to that to George.

REAGAN:  Yes.  That was working for a major though, and ratings, and advertising dollars that he‘s after and not, you know, not getting these candidates elected.

O‘DONNELL:  It turned out that George was absolutely right.  The country did not vote on Jennifer Flowers.  They did not vote on all those side issues.  Bill Clinton did not have a chance of winning the presidency if what you really cared about was his sex life as it emerged in that campaign.

REAGAN:  They tuned into the TV shows and that‘s what George is worried about.

WATKINS:  They have a right to know these things about the person who would be command-in-chief.  They have a right to know these things and even the small things.  I mean, you put yourself out there.

ABRAMS:  Joe, take us in the mind of a Republican operative, I love that word, all right?  As a Republican operative, are you preparing—let‘s assume you‘re working for one of these independent groups, are you preparing ads already to go after Barack Obama about his patriotism?

WATKINS:  Probably not.  Not so much patriotism, I think Republicans will look at the substance.  You know, they‘ll say that here‘s a charismatic leader, here‘s somebody who‘s raised more money than any candidate ever running for the presidency of the United States and he happens to be African-American, he‘s a charismatic leader, but they‘ll look at the fine print and say: Where does he stand on taxes?  What will he do to your taxes?  Will he double the rate of capital gains?

ABRAMS:  I think, Joe is the next Republican operative that some of the others are going to see.

Lawrence, let me give you the final word on that.

O‘DONNELL:  I agree with Joe, you‘re going to see a lot more about Obama‘s position on taxes or Hillary‘s position on taxes if they‘re the nominee than any other subject.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Lawrence O‘Donnell, Joe Watkins, and, Ron Reagan.  Thanks a lot, good stuff.

WATKINS:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Clinton, Obama, and McCain spent the week bickering (ph) the comics, spent the week making fun of them.  We‘ve got to look back at the best of it.

And: FOX‘s Brian Kilmeade goes gaga for Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Let‘s just say it was less interviewee and more stalkeresque.  You may have never seen an interview quite like this love fest.  Beat the Press is next.

Plus: Amazing new video of killer whales showing why they got that name.  Reality Bites is coming up later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: CNN‘s Lou Dobbs went on a rant last night about the pope‘s visit, and no one wanted to watch, how viewers were offended, and then like the Chatty Kathy (ph) talking doll, Dobbs essentially said, once again that we should care about the real issues, border security and the drug war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR:  I think there‘s a special place reserved in hell for journalists who don‘t press these issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Beyond being one of the most asinine comments ever made by a TV blow hard, notice the reference to hell coming right after he blasts the pope.  And then, he uses some more offensive religious references when talking about the candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS:  God help us, we‘re going to put one of these people into the White House.  And if any one of you can tell me you‘re comfortable with any one of them, you know, all I can say is, “praise be and hallelujah” to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I mean, Dobbs sure sounds to me like he‘s mocking and disrespecting people of faith.

Then, for the rest of the night, CNN‘s showed (ph) about its interview with three sexual abuse victims who visited with the pope yesterday.  It seems CNN was more concerned with how exclusive the interview was than with what these victims endured.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR:  Three people who were in the meeting join us now exclusively.  And we are back now with more of our exclusive.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST:  An exclusive interview with three of the victims.  They are speaking out tonight in a CNN exclusive.  Now, a CNN exclusive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So tacky.

Finally: “FOX & Friends” co-host, Brian Kilmeade interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger this morning.  And it‘s pretty clear this was not an interview.  No, this is a man crush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX HOST:  You care about people and I watched you in the fires and I‘m looking at your eyes, and I know you can act, but still, that was authentic.  I see nothing but empathy and sympathy and for other people.  You‘re the hottest star in Hollywood.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ® CALIFORNIA:  You‘re very proud of your upper body, but, I think, the lower body, I believe, maybe needs a little bit of work.

KILMEADE:  Great.  And we both have great upper bodies.  I‘m starting to blush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It‘s so sweet.

Up next: As we do every Friday night, campaign comedy: The week‘s best late night jokes at the candidate‘s expense.

And later: A wrap up of the week‘s Winners & Losers, featuring Putin‘s alleged, much younger girlfriend.  And Cindy McCain‘s recycled recipes.

Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC, HOST:  We‘re back as the presidential candidates rough each other up on the campaign trail, the late night and comedy shows are fast at work tearing each of them apart.  We‘ll check in with our panel in a minute.  But as we do every Friday night, our favorite campaign humor of the week, candidate by  candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT:” Barack Obama has said small town Americans cling to things like their guns.  Because they‘re bitter.  Well that is ridiculous, you don‘t cling to your gun because you‘re bitter, you shoot your gun because you‘re bitter.  Then you cling to it because it‘s so nice and warm.

WILL PORTE, AS GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: Senator, I‘ve read both your books several times and I can‘t tell you how much I admire them.

FRED ARMISEN, AS SEN. BARACK OBAMA:   Well, thank you, you‘re very kind.

PORTE:  Really.

ARMISEN:  And I‘m not just saying that because you‘re going to be the next president. 

AMY POEHLER, AS SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: Whatever.

ARMISEN:  Are you aware, general, that from the very start, I was against invading Iraq?

PORTE:  I am and between you and me, Senator, you were 100% right.  That‘s why I‘m voting for you.

ARMISEN:  So am I. 

PORTE:  me too.

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  And at a campaign rally at North Dakota Barack Obama received a hockey stick a gift from the University of North Dakota ice hockey team, well, you thought he was a bad bowler.

AMY POEHLER, COMEDIAN:  According to a new poll, Barack Obama has a 24-point lead over Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.  Obama is doing particularly well with one important demographic, voters.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  Earlier tonight, there was another debate, it was Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton debating.  And they have been doing this now for a year and a half and Hillary honestly is getting a  little desperate.  So before the debate, she sneaks over to Barack Obama‘s podium, honest to god and buries a Michael Dukakis jersey.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You guys have been a great  help.  No, no, no.

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART:  No, no, no, responsible choice, Senator, running for president is like being the  designated driver of the country.

Well, that‘s just what we need a president who gives in to peer pressure.  I‘m not going to nuke the Iranians, do it! do it! do it!  Oh, all the cool kids are nuking Iran.

ARMISEN:  I gather you didn‘t care for Senator Clinton‘s book?

PORTE:  I did not. 

ARMISEN:  Why not?

POEHLER:  General, you don‘t want have to answer that.

ARMISEN:  No, senator, I will.  I thought it was badly written and way too long and extremely dull.  Also there were a number of statements in the book that were clearly untrue, like that she  was the first astronaut.

LENO:  Hillary Clinton attacked Barack Obama, called him elitist and said that he was out of touch with poor people.  Later Bill Clinton gave a speech on the subject and charged a million bucks for it.  So, it works.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Obama, Hillary.  Obama, Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I forget, isn‘t there another guy running too?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, John Sidney McCain, but nobody‘s paying attention to him because he‘s kind of old.  John McCain is older than FM radio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  John McCain is older than the Golden Gate Bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And the Lincoln tunnel too.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”:  I guess John McCain has been feeling a little bit left out because tonight he organized a debate against himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m going to ask Senator McCain whether you look at opinion polls to make up your mind.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The principles and philosophy that I hold, have held since I raise my hand at age 17 to.  That‘s not the true.  That‘s not a complete response to it.

Senator McCain in his recent statements on various foreign national security issues I strongly disagree.

Senator McCain, we disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change.

LENO:  Here‘s something interesting I learned.  You know that John McCain does not use the Secret Service protection?  He hasn‘t been using them.  He has his own team.  Like you know what you call those six guys that surround John McCain all the time?  Pallbearers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Barack Obama held a contest that will give two student volunteers the chance to play basketball with him.  Not to be outdone, John McCain is holding a similar contest in which two of his student volunteers will win the chance to come over to his house and trim his ear hair.  John McCain, old and hairy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And here now, political commentator Ron Reagan, comedian Laurie Kilmartin and political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell.  All right.  Ron, it seems to me that Hillary is in trouble when the theme of the jokes for Barack Obama is how he‘s going to win.

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  Yes, I think you‘re right.  I mean I don‘t want to overanalyze comedy because that sort of kills it.  But you know, these things do tend to set the conventional wisdom, particularly for younger people  who are getting their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  So, yes, it is revealing and yes, not good news for Hillary.

ABRAMS:  Laurie, what struck you about listening to all that?

LAURIE KILMARTIN, COMEDIAN:  Well, you know, Barack is just hard to make fun of because he‘s very noble and Michelle is very elegant and Hillary is great to make fun of because she‘s kind of dirty and Bill is a pig.  So, I‘m hoping for them to win just for my own benefit.

ABRAMS:  Let me play one more piece of sound, this is Jay Leno talking about John McCain and them I‘m going to ask you about it, Lawrence.  So, let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENO:  And today John McCain said he disagrees with President Bush on the issue of climate change.  And believe me, McCain knows what he‘s talking about in this subject.  Of all the presidential candidates, he is the only one who has actually lived through an ice age.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You know, Lawrence, this is going to be the theme, of all the jokes about John McCain are going to be about his age?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, yes, the age is better than the death thing.  I mean, Jay did some death jokes in there that are very uncomfortable.  But, you know, it‘s interesting to see the cuts you used of “Saturday Night Live”.  That Jim (Donny) wrote another one of those openings and how much debate we have had after each one of those about is “Saturday Night Live” in favor of Hillary or are they in favor of Barack, and the fight goes on every week.  That one seemed to be one that was more favorable to Obama.  Then the previous one looked like they were favorable to Clinton.  It‘s amazing how much political energy comes to the analysis of which way is “Saturday Night Live” leaning this week.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s more and speaking of “Saturday Night Live,” Hillary Clinton mocking of Hillary Clinton and General Petraeus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMISEN:  I thought you voted for the war and supported it until you ran for president?

POEHLER:  Who told you that? That‘s crazy.  Everyone knows I have been against this war my entire life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The panel‘s going to stay with us.  Coming up the week‘s winners and losers.  On our list, Vladimir Putin, Cindy McCain and the ladies of “Sex and the City.”  And “Reality Bites,” killer whales are called killer for a reason, as some unlucky sea lions found out.  That‘s coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now to “Reality Bites” and it really does for these sea lions on the coast of Argentina.  A pack of killer whales has figured out a way to pick off the pup right off the beach.  The whales lay low until the sea lions inch towards the water and then suddenly they strike sometimes dragging the pups out to sea and actually even playing with them before the meal.  The whales move quickly or they could be stranded on the beach.  This is the only place in the  world where this behavior has been observed. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for the week‘s winners and losers from Cindy McCain‘s not so original recipes to the not so original issues that we have on the ABC debate  to Dr. Phil bailing out one of the accused teen beaters in Florida.  Who won? Who lost?  Our panel is back as we go through the big winners and losers of the week.  Up first, Vladimir Putin, who today denied he is leaving his wife for this Olympic gymnast half his age.  He denies it.  Now, comes the word that Moscow newspaper first reported the Russian president has secretly divorced his 50-year-old wife in order to marry the 24-year-old gymnast has been shot down and Putin was not happy when asked about it this afternoon.  “I have always reacted negatively to those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others‘ lives.

The gymnast in question along with several other young, beautiful and prominent Russian women were also recently installed by Putin as members of Parliament and are known around Russia as Putin‘s babes.  As you see here, many of them even posed for Playboy.  Wow, so Laurie does that make Putin a winner or loser?

KILMARTIN:  Putin is a winner to me because he‘s finally sexy.  I mean, Russian leaders are normally, either Brezhnev at the worst or Gorbachev at the highest and Putin is right in the middle.  I would never be attracted to Putin, but the fact that a younger woman is interested in him, makes me interested in him.

ABRAMS:  Did you see that?  I don‘t know if we have that shot of him taking off his shirt, with him without his shirt off.  Have you seen that shot?

KILMARTIN:  Oh, bring it.

ABRAMS:  Does that change it for you?

KILMARTIN:  No.

ABRAMS:  If we can pull that up before the end of the segment, I think every, your world could be rocked.

KILMARTIN:  The segment will end for me completely.  I never fantasized about him before this scandal and now he is in my rotation right after Sarkozy.

ABRAMS:  Ron Reagan, winner or loser?

REAGAN:  Well, he‘s certainly a loser for shutting down the paper.  Although I bet Eliot Spitzer and Larry Craig wished they had that sort of power.  But as far as this mistress or the younger girl, I don‘t know, whether it makes him a winner or loser, you know, that‘s for his to decide.  But for the rest of us it could be good news because it kind of makes him more French.  When was the last time we went to war with France?

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, winner or loser?

O‘DONNELL:  I‘m going to have to agree with Ron on this one.  And really, you know, a guy his age with these kinds of rumors, that‘s just a win.  He‘s just lucky to have them.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t want to be the moralist here.  And look.  And that looks great.  I mean, that looks great.  You know, but what can I say?

REAGAN:  Easy, Dan.

ABRAMS:  I‘m just saying.  With that said, I‘m going to be the moralist here and I‘m going to call him a loser.  He‘s leaving his long-time wife for this young chickadee.

We have the Putin without his shirt?

KILMARTIN:  Oh, god.  Please.  I need a towel.

ABRAMS: What do you think?

KILMARTIN:  You are boring.  Come on.  How is that not a winner?

ABRAMS:  Right.  All right.  So, let me finish.  Put up the hot shot.  Put up the sexy man, the muscle man.  There we go.  So you, sir, are a loser.  And I‘ll tell you why, big guy, because you are leaving your long-time wife with all these Russian babes in Parliament, I think there‘s something fishy going on here.  I would have to be careful.

KILMARTIN: Even you don‘t believe that.

ABRAMS:  I do kind of believe it.  All right.

Next Cindy McCain made news this week when her so called McCain family recipes appeared like, i.e., tuna with a cabbage slaw and passion fruit mousse.  It appeared on her husband‘s campaign website turned out to be plagiarized from the Food Network.  The McCain campaign, this is my favorite part of the story, the  McCain campaign blamed an intern for posting the recipes as Cindy‘s.  I mean, I don‘t care, Laurie, let them plagiarize the Food Network, just don‘t blame it on the interns.

KILMARTIN:  Well, yes.  And also Cindy is a major kleptomaniac.  I mean, she took prescription drugs that she‘s working at.  She stole her looks from Barbie.  So, you know, what I would like her to actually pose online instead of recipes are beer recipes because her dad‘s a beer distributor.

ABRAMS:  You‘re joking about the prescription drugs I have to make it clear, you know.  This is why I love this segment.  This is the thing that gets us in trouble every week because someone makes a joke and says, wait a second, where‘s the apology.  We didn‘t mean it.  That was not meant literally.

KILMARTIN:  I meant it.

ABRAMS:  No, no, no.  I mean, there‘s no evidence.  So, right.

KILMARTIN:  Right.  OK.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, I don‘t want to get into—Lawrence, this issue about stealing the recipes, how do they go about putting these actually—putting recipes on the McCain campaign website and not know that it came from the Food Network?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, they were not stealing the recipes, they were fact checking the recipes on the Food Network website.  And they got it right.  It was the correct recipe.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  But to blame an intern, Ron.  Come on, doesn‘t anyone say enough, stand up for the interns, Ron.  This is your opportunity.

REAGAN:  Absolutely, that‘s where she gets into trouble here.  Look, is anybody surprised the woman can‘t cook?  She‘s got like six homes and a private jet.  I‘m figuring she‘s got people to cook for her, but you don‘t blame the intern here.  I mean what you do is, you admit you can‘t make steam and then you praise the people whose recipes you have stolen.  That‘s how you do it.

ABRAMS:  She‘s the loser for the week.  I mean, how else.

Dr. Phil under fire again this week after a producer from his talk show put up over $3,000 in bail money for one of the teens involved in the brutal  beating of their former friend.  The teens allegedly beat a classmate and filmed it so they can post it on youtube.  The show said certain staff members went beyond the show‘s guidelines and Dr. Phil has now decided not to go forward with  the story.

So let me get this straight.  They‘re saying his production assistant, seen here, came up with the idea and the money of his own to bail out one of the teens in this story.  Lawrence, that is a little bit hard for me to believe.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, there‘s a lot of  pressure on those people in those jobs as we know. But Dr. Phil‘s show seems to have a history of this kind of thing.  And you know, it‘s - I think anytime you bring up Dr. Phil, I will rule him a loser without even considering the others.

ABRAMS:  Yes, but the interesting thing is apparently Laurie was just telling me that used to go to Dr. Phil.

KILMARTIN:  Yes, he gave me the same help that he gave Britney.

ABRAMS:  Exactly.  And remember, he‘s in trouble with the Britney thing, he was in trouble with the Natalee Holloway thing saying she was abducted and part of a prostitution ring.  This is, you know, the guy is supposed to be a “doctor” on television.  Look at Ron‘s face.  He‘s not even really a doctor.  I mean he‘s - I like Dr. Phil, but he‘s messing up again and again.  Dr.  Phil‘s a loser.

All right, everyone stay with us.  Up next we continue with the most talked about people of the week, two of them Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos from the ABC democratic debate.  And also, we got the women of “Sex and the City.”  Who‘s going to die?  Cynthia Nixon is saying someone‘s dying.  And your e-mails in the “P.O.‘d Box” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Back now with more of the week‘s winners and losers, the democratic debate on ABC Wednesday night was the most watched, but to many the most despised debate of the election season.  Moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos panned by Obama supporters for asking trivial questions.  And at one point near the end, even booed by the crowd.

All right, now, Lawrence O‘Donnell, is it fair for me to say that they are losers in the minds of the Obama supporters, but not necessarily the public at large?

O‘DONNELL:  No, I think it went beyond the Obama supporters.  I mean their television critics all over the country, main stream media reviews that were negative.

ABRAMS:  Maybe they‘re Obama supporters.

O‘DONNELL:  Maybe but they weren‘t evaluating on those terms.  I mean, you know, Tom Shale‘s Pulitzer Prize winning TV critic for the “Washington Post,” is a great TV critic but was very harsh, as harsh as anyone was on this.  And you know, I don‘t know how he‘s voting.  It wasn‘t about that.  It was more about when are you going to get to the real debate here.  And I think a lot of people got impatient with it.  Laurie, is a nonpolitico?

KILMARTIN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  And you‘re the non politico who accurately a moment ago talked to us about McCain‘s wife having admitted as part of her recovery that she had actually.

KILMARTIN:  Indicated.

ABRAMS:  .stolen prescription drugs.  So, she actually did admit that on television.  So, you know, I should be saying to you as the politico on the panel.

KILMARTIN:  Yes, that‘s right.  I‘m surprisingly accurate.

ABRAMS:  Yes, yes.  What do you make of the debate?

KILMARTIN:  Well, I thought they were losers for angering the Obama supporters.  You don‘t do that.  They‘re young, they‘re virile.  They will make phone calls.  They will TP your house.  If you want to anger supporters, it‘s Clinton supporters. They‘re older.  They will get angry, but they will kind of get disoriented on the way to the phone and start dialing the TV remote.  So, you‘re safe that way.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Moving on, many are anticipating the return - I‘m sorry.  We‘re ruling - I don‘t know what to rule about this.  Everyone‘s calling them losers, I don‘t think it was that bad.  But I thought some of the questions were ridiculous.

So, many are anticipating the return of “Sex and the City” next month.  The feature length film of the popular HBO series, early this week Cynthia Nixon let it slip that a “character dies in the movie.”  She at that point apparently  realized that she had said too much or maybe that‘s part of the act.  I don‘t know.  Now the internet is abuzz about if it will be one of the four women to kick the bucket.  So the question is, which one of them do you think will kick the bucket and why, Laurie?

KILLMARTIN:  I don‘t think any of the characters will kick the bucket.  I just want the series to die.  It‘s done so much damage.  Cashmere Mafia, Lipstick Jungle.  I can‘t take it anymore.  Please stop.

ABRAMS:  Ron?

REAGAN:  I have no idea, although logic suggests that Cynthia Nixon might be the one since she was talking.  You know, she was the one giving the interview, and why would she be talking about another actress.  But I have no idea.

ABRAMS:  All right.

REAGAN:  On the other hand, it‘s great publicity though, did you care about this movie before? Now you do.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, you write these scripts.  Lawrence, you write these scripts. Who‘s getting off?

O‘DONNELL:                Well, the business logic suggests that it should be the one who was most difficult in making the deal to do this movie and that‘s the one, Samantha.  Samantha was the last one they got the deal on and it was very difficult.  And also if it‘s going to be a hit, you‘re going to need to do a sequel.  So, it can‘t be Sarah Jessica Parker.  So, Samantha you can kill and do this show again.

ABRAMS:  I‘m sure, Lawrence, you have wanted to kill off characters in shows that you‘ve been involved in.

O‘DONNELL:  No, it‘s hard.  It‘s a really hard thing to do.

ABRAMS:  I mean the people who were jerks, I mean the acting.

O‘DONNELL:  No, I have been blessed.  I have been blessed that I‘ve worked with great actors.

ABRAMS:  All right.  OK.

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s true.

ABRAMS:  I believe you!  I believe you! Lawrence O‘Donnell,  Laurie, Ron, thanks a lot.  I appreciate it.

KILMARTIN:  Thanks.

REAGAN:  You bet, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Time for the “P.O.‘d” box.  If you can‘t tell me what you hate or love about the show.  Last night, we featured Fox‘s Business Channel‘s Cheryl Casone in beat the press.  She criticized Clinton and Obama‘s plans to give the middle class tax cuts saying that “most middle and low income earners actually not only don‘t only pay taxes, they end up getting money back in their returns, which of course is both ridiculous and untrue.  Mike McBride from Orange Park, Florida.  “You are the idiot here, Dan.  As there is something called the “earned income tax credit.”  These people have very low incomes and pay no income tax.  So before you spout off again, do your homework because Fox Business News was right and you were wrong.”

No, mike.  First of all, she said most middle and low income workers don‘t pay taxes.  She was talking about middle class tax cuts.  Are you actually going to tell me that‘s true?  To qualify for the earned income tax credit, a single  filer has to make less than $12,590 a year.

And Jim Wisniewski says “some lower and middle income taxpayers can indeed can a refund check from the government even if they have not paid a dime in income tax.”  Look, Cheryl Casone said most, not some.  Many income—many middle  income earners don‘t.  How many middle income earners do you know who don‘t pay taxes on their income at all, and then get refunds?  Please!  She made a dumb comment.  That‘s it.  What‘s—we got one more here?  Come on, we got 30 seconds.  Give me one more!  Give me one more!  Come on!  All right.  There it is.

This is talking about Barack Obama now.  “While Barack Obama was being grilled in last night‘s debate about the flag pin issue, the camera panned to Hillary Clinton , and oh my god!  She wasn‘t wearing a lapel pin!”

Cindy, that wasn‘t the issue.  The issue was Obama saying he wouldn‘t wear one and then he‘s wearing one, bringing up the silly issue again.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Have a great weekend.

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,