updated 6/11/2008 12:31:17 PM ET 2008-06-11T16:31:17

Guests: Pat Buchanan, Jerry Springer, Tanya Acker, Kevin Madden, Ray Clark, Gary Farrell, Mike Viqueira

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Breaking news right now: The House of Representatives—the clerk there is reading an impeachment resolution against President Bush.  Thirty-five articles against the president including the charge that the president created a secret propaganda campaign to push a false case for war against Iraq.

The resolution introduced by former Democratic presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.  Now, Representative Robert Wexler of Florida, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, is co-sponsoring the resolution.  A vote is expected tomorrow.

Now, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said impeachment is not going to happen.

We‘ll have a live report later in show as we continue to monitor what is happening there live tonight.

But first, is Team Obama trying to send a message to Hillary Clinton and her supporters today that says—don‘t count on the V.P. position?

Senator Obama has said the search would take place privately.  But today, Obama supporter, Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota is talking about a possible V.P. list, emphasizing the former military officials on it.

After talking to Obama‘s vetting team, Conrad told the “Associated Press,” quote, “We talked about many names, including some that are out of the box, but I think would be very well-received by the American people, including former top military leaders.”

Now, NBC News confirms that sources on Capitol Hill have been inserting a new name into the discussion, Retired General James Jones.  He joins 15 others on the so-called short list.

So, why is this information coming out now?  Is this the first effort to tell Hillary Clinton that said she‘d be open to taking the position, don‘t count on it?

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan; former Cincinnati Democratic Mayor Jerry Springer, oh, he‘s got a talk show, too; Democratic strategist, Tanya Acker; and former Romney campaign press secretary, Kevin Madden.

All right.  Pat, let me start with you.  Is this—Barack Obama has said this was going to take place in private.  We are getting the first leaks now that they are looking at top military officials, Kent Conrad coming out, other people talking about James Jones.  Is this a salvo on the part of Team Obama saying to Hillary Clinton—hey, cool your jets?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No.  I think this is less a vice presidential list than it is a Christmas card list.

Look, he is sending all this people, elevating all these names, which is very heartening to these individuals who are all being considered for vice president.  There are names on there that are probably being seriously considered.  Jim Webb would certainly be one of them.  Frankly, Hillary Clinton, if he is in real trouble in August, would be another.  And there are others he is doing because, you know, it salves the ego of these fellows.  That was this is about.

Secondly, what it does, Dan, is this—it surfaces a lot of comments about each of these individuals.  If they‘ve got problems, people will come to Obama‘s guys and say—hey, you can‘t pick Joe, he‘s got this problem.  This is just surfacing this, is done for the benefit of the press, it‘s done for the benefit of these individuals.  It‘s a good PR stunt.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jerry, do you agree?  I mean, because look - if you are in Hillary Clinton‘s camp tonight, right—and you‘re hearing about all of these other people.  Then, look, you‘ve got to believe, you have to have known that there are going to be other people considered, but when you hear Kent Conrad, an Obama supporter, a U.S. senator, focusing on top military officials, you‘ve got to be saying to yourself—gee wiz, does that mean it‘s not going to be our candidate.

JERRY SPRINGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I think it‘s outrageous to be thinking, frankly, about these other people.  I think the voters in the Democratic primaries have made a choice and the choice they made is that Hillary Clinton should at least be the vice president.

If she got as many votes as Barack Obama did, if people think she is qualified to be president of the United States, how is she not qualified to be the vice president?

And this should not just be a decision by Barack Obama.  It‘s important for the American people to decide who the president is, why is it not important for the American people to decide who the next president would be God forbid if that becomes necessary?  She‘s clearly the most competent.

ABRAMS:  Tanya, I want to stay, will come back to that, I want to stay focused on whether this is a message from the Obama camp saying to Hillary supporters—hey, guys, look, you are on the list, you‘re one of 16.  That‘s it.

TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think you very well could interpret this as being that sort of message.  Now, I don‘t know if they are trying to make this about it not being Hillary Clinton as much as they‘re trying to make it about the fact that there are a number of really impressive Democrats who would do well on this ticket.

So, I don‘t know if this much of a slam against Hillary as it is a clear suggestion that there are lots of people, lots of men and women, who could appropriately be considered as his number two.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Kevin, as I ask you this, we‘re going to be putting up what NBC News has confirmed as Obama‘s short list.  Unfortunately, it seems we don‘t have names under each of them which is unfortunate.  But if we do have a list with names, let‘s put that one up.

But the bottom line is, what do you think of this, Kevin?  This theory that maybe the Obama camp is saying by confirming these short lists, by talking about former military officials, that they‘re saying to Hillary Clinton—easy there.

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY:  You know, Dan, I don‘t think this is message.  I think this is a mistake.  Someone in the vetting process, someone in the Obama camp thought that they could go up in full confidence talk with United States congressmen and United States senators and the word would not get out about this list, which is a major, major mistake.  Having worked on Capitol Hill, nothing is a secret up there.

So, I‘m very surprised that a process which ought to be more discreet has now been made public.  And I do believe that the list being that long—look, at this point in the process, they cannot have a list defined by its limitations.  They have to put to as many names on that list as possible.

ABRAMS:  But, Pat, don‘t you risk alienating Clinton voters who right now are in the process of figuring out, what do I do, what am I going to do now, now that my candidate is out, and then a couple of days later, you see this new list out there with 16 names on it, and you have a U.S. senator saying—you know, that a lot of these military people, the people we‘re looking at?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think that—look, there is no doubt about it that Barack Obama, one of his problems is a perception—he‘s young, he‘s fresh, inexperienced, doesn‘t know anything about foreign policy, not the man to be commander-in-chief.  I‘m not surprised he would be looking at Wesley Clark or General James Jones, someone like that people have talked about them.

But, I think, again, I think, this is a PR thing.  They put these things out there.  They got Joe Biden on out there.  Richardson endorsed him.  He‘s on there.  They‘ve got all these folks.  You‘ve got Ben Nelson on there.  And it makes him, it helps these individuals in their state.  It‘s a PR exercise.

I do wonder, my guess would be, I agree with the gentleman who said—you know, this is a blunder.  Now, it seems to me, probably, if it weren‘t a blunder, it may have been deliberate that he wants to air all these things.  I don‘t see this as any kind of insult to Hillary Clinton at all.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Jerry.  You want to get in.

SPRINGER:  Yes.  I‘d just think that this is a tremendous sign of weakness because let‘s be honest.  If Hillary Clinton is not selected, the only conceivable reason that she‘s not selected is because Barack Obama, because the perception will be that Barack Obama can‘t handle her, that she‘s, you know, she‘s going to be on her own.  She‘s too strong.

Well, if we are presenting to the American people that Barack Obama should be the leader of the free world, how can we say he can‘t handle Hillary Clinton?  It is an absurdity not to choose her.

ABRAMS:  Tanya?

ACKER:  How did we get from the notion that if he doesn‘t pick her, he is weak?  I mean, I‘d just, I really have to take issue with that.  Hillary Clinton is an incredible woman.  She‘s an incredible statesperson.  She‘s a political hero of mine.  She‘s not the only Democrat who‘s qualified to be Barack Obama‘s vice president.

And the notion that if he doesn‘t pick her, he‘s suggesting he can‘t handle her, I mean, that really diminishes them both.

MADDEN:  But let‘s look at it right now - Dan, if I may.

ABRAMS:  Let me let Jerry respond and then you, Kevin.

MADDEN:  Sure.

SPRINGER:  OK.  It‘s not a question of—the people have decided.  The people have voted.  You are basically saying Barack Obama should make the choice and not the voters of the Democratic Party.

ACKER:  That‘s the way our process works.

(CROSSTALK)

SPRINGER:  And why do we accept that?  We‘re Democrats.  We‘re supposed to say that people should decide.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Hang on.

BUCHANAN:  Let me agree with Jerry Springer here on one thing.  I do, in the old days, anyone who got as many votes as Hillary Clinton would come in there almost as a co-equal in that convention and they would say in effect look, you‘ve got this great army, we‘ve got this great army.  They perfectly complement each other and I should be on the ticket.

And I think that‘s the old day, it might be better.  But Jerry, I will say this, in the new day and age, you‘re supposed to sit back and it is as though who he is going to ask to the prom.  You know, and he gets to pick and choose.  I, frankly, like the old way that Jerry Springer is talking about.

ABRAMS:  Let me let Kevin in.  Go ahead, Kevin.

MADDEN:  Well, look—Dan, at the very least, we have to recognize the fact that the Clinton supporters right now are in mourning.  This was a mistake in the fact that it may, it just may have nudged a lot of these voters towards John McCain.

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to talk about that later in the program.  But so the bottom line is, Pat, you‘re not convinced that this is (INAUDIBLE).  So, do you think - it sounds like Pat and Kevin think this was probably a mistake in terms of the leak, right?  Is that fair to characterize this?

MADDEN:  Absolutely right.

BUCHANAN:  Yes, it is a leak and they‘re surfacing a lot of names.  I don‘t take it seriously, to be honest.

ABRAMS:  And Jerry, do you agree with that?

SPRINGER:  Well, I think that‘s probably why they did it.  I do agree with Pat with that.  They‘d just trying to make everyone feel good but I still think it is a horrible decision for our party.

ABRAMS:  Tanya, final word and then I‘m going to move on.

ACKER:  I don‘t agree with any of you.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  None of you know what you are talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  You can finish your thought, Tanya.  Go ahead.

ACKER:  No.  I really, I don‘t.  I think that Barack Obama—I think this campaign—his campaign is making it clear that while Hillary Clinton should be in contention for this and she appropriately should be, I think that she does have a lot of voters behind her, and I don‘t want to give that short list (ph), there are a number of other qualified people who would bring a lot to this ticket.

ABRAMS:  But she shouldn‘t - Tanya, you don‘t think they should be saying anything to say at this point—she‘s one of the top three, she‘s one of the top one, she‘s way up there as opposed to just one of 16?

ACKER:  You know, it might be more appropriate to say she‘s on the short, short, short list.  Not just on the short list.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Everyone is staying with us because coming up -

BUCHANAN:  Dan, if this is the short list, I‘d hate to see the long one.

ABRAMS:  Yes, exactly.

Well, coming up, we got the issue.  We‘ve got the issue we are all just talking about.  Everyone is staying with us.  John McCain is actively reaching out to Hillary‘s voters on his Web site.  They have even posted a photo of McCain and Clinton with their baseball caps and sunglasses.

And: The far right‘s smear machine is kicking into gear asking for proof about where Obama was born, trying to imply that he wasn‘t born in the U.S.  Will this nonsense have any impact?

Plus: FEMA says it will stop giving out ice to hurricane victims, the folks who did such a great job after Katrina effectively telling the victims of future hurricanes, deal with the heat.  Another reason Why America Hates Washington is coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington.  The hurricane season is upon us and there is word that FEMA will no longer hand out ice to hurricane victims.  At the National Hurricane Conference in April, FEMA officials said they would supply ice only for medical emergencies or life-saving circumstances.  And that means anyone who isn‘t on his or her death bed is just out of luck.

A Mississippi congressman is calling FEMA officials, quote, “A bunch of buttheads” for this decision.  A local FEMA spokesperson says the new policy is still subject to change.

But for now, FEMA is putting the freeze on ice bags during a disaster:

Another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We are back with John McCain making the move on Clinton supporters, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.

John McCain is now actively courting Hillary Clinton voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS”/MONDAY)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  I also want to repeat my respect and admiration for Senator Clinton and the campaign she ran.  I believe that she inspired women all over the world including in this country and I respect her.  We‘d obviously love to have the support and are getting some of that support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  On the McCain Web site, they‘ve even posted this picture of pals Senator McCain and Senator Clinton with a posting that reads, quote, “It‘s clear that John McCain and Hillary Clinton respect each other—and there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain headquarters.”

She has endorsed Obama.  They‘ve voted for her in a Democratic primary.  But according to a recent poll, 17 percent say they will vote for McCain if Clinton is not Obama‘s V.P. and 22 percent say they won‘t vote at all.

The panel is still with us.

All right.  Jerry, why do make of this?  I mean, McCain is clearly making an effort to get these Clinton voters.  And a lot of Clinton voters are saying—I‘m not going to vote for Barack Obama.  I‘m going to vote for McCain.  Is it going to work?

SPRINGER:  No, not very much.  I mean, I was a Hillary supporter and I want her to be on the ticket but I‘m certainly, going—in any event, vote for Barack Obama because they share the same statement stance on the issues that are important to me and I think to a lot of Democratic voters.

However, when you look at Hillary‘s vote, most of the people that voted for Hillary voted for Hillary because they wanted her to be president.  But there probably were some people that voted for Hillary, to be honest, they‘d voted for her because they didn‘t want Barack Obama.  And if those people made that decision based on issues having to do with race, for example, then they won‘t vote for Barack Obama—whether or not Hillary‘s on the ticket or not.

ABRAMS:  Pat, look, this is an active campaign by the McCain camp.  If they can win this, they may be able to win this election.  Is it going to work?

BUCHANAN:  Right.  Well, that‘s exactly right.  The Hillary Democrats will decide this election.  If a significant number go to McCain, he wins Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, it‘s over.  This works, Dan, when a candidate from the plank of the party wins the nomination.

Goldwater won the nomination in ‘64.  The moderate Republicans all moved over to Lyndon Johnson and he reached out to them.  In ‘72, McGovern and the left wing of the Democratic Party won the nomination and we went after the Wallace voters, the Scoop Jackson voters, on the right wing of the Democratic Party, George Meany of the AFL-CIO.

We corralled enough of them to win 49 states and 61 percent of the vote.  That‘s the situation we seem to have now.  McCain is doing a very smart thing but he ought to do it with issues rather than photographs of him hugging Hillary.

ABRAMS:  Here is Obama talking about this very issue about whether he‘ll be able to win over all the Clinton voters.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  I lost those states to Senator Hillary Clinton who had a similar economic agenda to mine.  I didn‘t lose those states to John McCain who has no economic agenda to address the problems in those states.  And that‘s why, for example, in a state like Pennsylvania that I may have lost to Hillary Clinton, every poll shows me leading John McCain by a significant margin.  I think people ultimately are going to vote their interests.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Tanya, the CBS News Poll from May 30th to June 3rd showed that among Clinton supporters, 63 percent said they would vote for Obama, 22 percent for McCain.  Well, actually, the numbers that I‘m showing are different than the ones up there.  But, the numbers I have here, we‘re—look there is a significant percentage.  Someone let me know in my ear what the exact percentage.  There it is -- 63 percent.  Right, 22 percent saying they‘d vote for John McCain.

Do you think that number is going hold up?

ACKER:  No, I don‘t.  I mean, I‘ve said over and over again, I don‘t think that‘s an enduring statistic.  I think that in this very close primary race, if Hillary ended up on top, then you would have heard the same thing from a lot of Barack Obama supporters.  You have seen (AUDIO BREAK) doing God knows what and suggesting that he was—you know, that they were—he somehow was entitled to those supporters.

And I think, I want to go back to Pat Buchanan‘s point because it‘s an important one.  The reason why it has to be about photographs and the great affection he has for her is because it can‘t be about the issues.  I mean, John McCain and Hillary Clinton could not be further apart on health care, on the economy, on Iraq.  So, to the extent he wants to make a pitch for those voters, all he can do is have pictures of them on faux vacations and talk about what a great gal he thinks she is.

ABRAMS:  But that‘s going to be the argument, Kevin Madden.  I mean, the argument is going to be that the McCain camp is going to make is that Obama is to the left of Clinton, they‘re going to say that McCain is to the right of Hillary.  And if you‘re looking for something in the middle, they‘re going to hope that you‘ll go with McCain.

I mean, effectively, that‘s going to be their argument.  They‘re going to try to pigeon-hole Obama further to the left.

MADDEN:  That‘s exactly right.  The McCain campaign knows right now that the calculus towards their victory is in the big middle.  And Pat Buchanan is right.  John McCain can‘t do it by just identifying with Hillary Clinton, what he has to do is identify them with the issues.

Now, Tanya says there is a big difference on the issues.  But John McCain has always had a very good job - has always done a good job of mixing a little bit of economic pragmatism with strong national security posture and that is what these women voters and these voter in these blue-collar areas really care about.

ABRAMS:  Pat Buchanan, final question.  Could this effort to woo Hillary Clinton hurt McCain with people further to the right?  Some of the real conservatives say, what is John McCain doing palling around with Hillary Clinton?

BUCHANAN:  But the point is, what Hillary Clinton‘s Democrats, are many of them Reagan Democrats, who socially and culturally have enormous amount in common with Republicans and conservatives.

McCain‘s problem, Dan, is this.  Rally and energize the Republican conservatives and evangelicals in that base and bring home the Reagan Democrats that Nixon and Reagan brought home.

ABRAMS:  But can you rally them by also wooing Hillary Clinton?

BUCHANAN:  If you go leftward on issues, you will alienate both of those bases.  What I‘m saying is the Reagan Democrats are socially and culturally well to the right of liberal Republicans.

ABRAMS:  All right.  This panel is staying with us.

Coming up: The right wing smear machine already have their sights set on Obama.  One of the largest conservative publications asking for his birth certificate to prove what his real middle name is.  Apparently, they think he may have made up Hussein.

And at this moment, articles of impeachment are being read against President Bush.  The House clerk is reading all 35 of them.  That is happening live.  We‘ll get a live report.

Plus: Over at FOX News, they apparently think it‘s funny to tie up their unpaid interns to re-create stories.  That is next in Beat the Press.

What‘s your VERDICT?  E-mail us at: verdict@msnbc.com.  We read e-mails during the P.O.‘ed box at the end of the show.  Please include your name, where you‘re writing from.

We‘re back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: As I said last night, us news folks are generally kind of nerds.  So, it‘s funny to hear TV news folks talking about what a dork Barack Obama looked like the other day while out for a ride.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where is he going?  And I was thinking maybe to get a pocket protector for his nerd pencil.  What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, but look, here is the caption from our staff writer (ph), Dan.  Obama campaigns for the dork vote.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX HOST:  By the way, means not going out biking looking like a well-intentioned dork.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  First of all, safety first.  And by the way, I bet even with that get up, he looks much cooler than most of them would.

Next up: FOX‘s John Gibson putting his foot in his mouth again, after saying this to a caller on his radio show.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOHN GIBSON, FOX HOST:  You don‘t know what Barack Obama stands for.  You just like him because he‘s—he‘s like you and you want to see one of you up there and you don‘t care what he stands for.  Is it OK if I care what he stands for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, listen, he is not one of me.  He is himself.  He is not one of me because he is a black guy or something like that, that don‘t make him one of me.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Yikes.  Maybe (ph), he just can‘t stay out of trouble.

Finally: Apparently, interning at FOX News is different than most internships.  While discussing a story about a teacher who disciplined a student by taping him to a chair somebody thought—hey, you know what would be fun?  Let‘s take one of our unpaid interns and tape her to a chair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We had a little problem with an intern this morning and we‘d decided we were going to—this is Sasha.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  University of Missouri students should be happy because she goes to Kansas.  So, this intern had to be restrained.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sorry, Sasha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Little Sasha, are you OK?  You, poor thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, we will release a statement later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Hopefully the statement read—Sasha quit her internship after being humiliated on national TV.

We need your help Beating the Press.  If you see anything right or wrong, amusing or absurd, please go to our Web site: verdict.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box, please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: The right wing smear machine is gearing up against Obama, now calling for his campaign to debunk rumors by supplying a birth certificate to show he was not born in Kenya.  Will it work for them to create the rumors and then ask for proof that they‘re not true?

And later: The guy who climbed up the side of the 52-story “New York Times” building with no rope or harness, only after watching someone else do it.  Did he see the first guy and decide it was a good idea?  He‘s with us in his first live TV interview, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

DAN ABRAMS:  Breaking news tonight on the Floor of the House of Representatives right now - the House clerk is reading an impeachment resolution against President Bush.  You‘re looking at live pictures from congress - 35 articles of impeachment against the president.  A vote is now expected tomorrow.  MSNBC congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira joins me from D.C.  Mike, is this for real? 

MIKE VIQUEIRA, MSNBC CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Oh, it‘s for real.  And last night, if you had tuned in to C-Span, you would have seen the sponsor of this resolution, these 35 articles of impeachment.  Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the Democrat from Cleveland, nay of the presidential race, readied himself and it took, Dan, almost four hours for him to do it. 

Tonight, he‘s having the reading clerk do it because it‘s going to be introduced and he has agreed, as Dennis Kucinich, with Democratic leaders who in turn agreed with Republican leaders to let it just happen this way in exchange for Dennis Kucinich agreeing to have it referred to the Judiciary Committee, which means that it‘s not going to be taken up on the House where we‘re not going to be discussing the impeachment of President Bush any time this year, at least until November and into next year, when we do get a new congress and a new president.

ABRAMS:  The Democrats - the Democratic leadership did not want to vote on this, right?  

VIQUEIRA:  Well, if you remember a couple of months ago, Dennis Kucinich surprised everyone and turned the House upside down for a few hours one slow afternoon when he introduced a point of personal privilege, which were vice presidential impeachment resolution proceedings, articles of impeachment for Vice President Cheney. 

Republicans felt very mischievous and when it came time to vote for that, they decided to let the debate go ahead.  They were going to vote in favor of the debate.  As a matter of fact, after the debate closed, a number of them went and were changing their votes.  The object there was to embarrass Democrats because they felt that the American public would feel that it was a waste of time. 

In this way, Dennis Kucinich gets a lot of what he wants.  He gets attention to his causes.  For some of these 35 articles of impeachment, let me tell you, a couple of what they are, just so we can get a flavor of the substance of this thing, article one is the secret propaganda campaign, according to Kucinich, to manufacture a false case for war. 

Then there‘s falsify with criminal intent, conflating the events of 9/11 and the false Iraqi threat according to Kucinich, renditions, secretly authorizing torture, spying on American citizens.  Things a number of people have been upset about and clamored for impeachment proceedings because of some of these things when Democrats took over and of course, Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership has said all along for the last 18 months that it is off the table, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Mike Viqueira, thanks very much.  Let me - just real quick on this, Jerry Springer, as a Democrat, is this something that you‘d want, articles of impeachment? 

JERRY SPRINGER (D), FMR MAYOR OF CINCINNATI:  No.  And first of all, it makes no sense.  Obviously, you know, he is not going to be president eight months from now so what‘s the point?  So, you know, if you want to make a statement, great, but this is a crazy thing to put before the U.S. Congress now.  It cannot happen. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me move on with this.  We are going to keep following it.  If there are any major developments there, we‘ll bring them to you.  But I don‘t want to mislead you.  I think that guy is going to be reading for a while and we are not expecting any major developments.  We will.

Barack Obama launching a new unit to combat rumors on the Web as the right wing smears against Obama are multiplied.  The man behind the famous Willie Horton ad that worked so well against Michael Dukakis in 1988 has launched a Web site about exposing Obama. 

The “National Review Online,” a publication that builds itself America‘s most widely read and influential web site for conservative news is calling on Obama to release his birth certificate to debunk rumors spread on the Internet, such as that Obama‘s middle name is actually Muhammad. 

I love the idea he might have chosen Hussein instead.  But obviously, the point is to spread as many rumors as they can about Obama under the pretense of saying they need to be debunked.  Will these non-smear smears actually work? 

The panel is still with us.  MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, the former Democratic Mayor of Cincinnati and talk show host, Jerry Springer, Democratic strategist Tanya Acker.  And former Romney campaign press secretary Kevin Madden is with us. 

All right.  Pat, let me start with you.  I mean is this really going to work?  I mean “The National Review” demanding his birth certificate, saying that we need to debunk all these rumors? 

PAT BUCHANAN:  Well, I think it‘s simply raising questions.  Look, John McCain was born in the Canal Zone.  Does he qualify to be president?  Barry Goldwater was born in the Arizona territory, does he?  Gov. Romney‘s father - there was a question when we were running against him in New Hampshire.  He‘d been born in Mexico of American parents. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  I think this - this is opposition research.  I don‘t take this as a smear.  I think they are raising questions ... 

ABRAMS:  Wait.  But Pat -

BUCHANAN:  ... on Barack Obama.  It‘s good to have people out there answering them and getting them down. 

ABRAMS:   Pat, number one is “Rumor one, Obama was born in Kenya.  If it were true, it would probably raise a major question of does he qualify as a natural born citizen?”  That‘s not just an issue; that would mean he is not actually allowed to be president, right?

BUCHANAN:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) If there is an issue out there, well, give them the birth certificate and put an end to it, for heaven‘s sakes. 

ABRAMS:  Tanya?

TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  The point here is that what we have is another situation where you‘ve got these ideologues who are creating boogiemen and then saying, “OK, come here now and knock them down.  I mean it‘s insane.  I mean it‘s like saying that you know, Pat Buchanan, “Prove that I am not your illegitimate black child.”  You know what I mean?  Like why - seriously, I mean it‘s that type of nonsense. 

BUCHANAN:  Prove it. 

ACKER:  And so what this is, is a very deliberate attempt to shift the

conversation from a conversation about issues -

ABRAMS:  I see, you started a rumor, Tanya.  I‘ve got to get, Pat. 

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY:  You started a rumor already.  That‘s going to be all over the Internet tomorrow.

ABRAMS:  Pat, you want an opportunity - Pat, do you want to clear up the air on that? 

BUCHANAN:  I‘ve lost the documents.  I‘ve lost the documents. 

ACKER:  But seriously -

ABRAMS:  Rumor number two, that Obama‘s middle name is not ‘Hussein‘ but actually ‘Muhammad.‘”  I mean Kevin, this is my favorite one.  The notion that somehow - maybe he picked the name Hussein as his middle name and his real middle name is Muhammad. 

MADDEN:  Well, you know, I was a kid growing up in an Irish neighborhood. 

I didn‘t want to tell any of my neighbors that my middle name was Anthony.  And all, you know - everybody on the Italian of the neighborhood would have been mad at me.  But look, this has much more to do, Dan, with new media.  It used to be years ago that this sort of stuff would end up on flyers on somebody‘s windshield wiper and people would take it off and throw it away. 

But now, it‘s sitting out there in the internet, and innuendo -

ABRAMS:  But so why is your “National Review - “

MADDEN:  My “National Review,” right.

ABRAMS:  Your party‘s was your party‘s “National Review” then getting into this game? 

MADDEN:  Well, look, I mean if they have legitimate questions out there and

there is -

ABRAMS:  Are these legitimate? 

MADDEN:  Are they legitimate questions?  That is up for the voters to decide.  But if it‘s innuendo like that and it‘s not true, then the best thing that Barack Obama can do is exactly what he is doing.  He‘s setting up a truth squad and going out there and knocking these rumors down. 

ABRAMS:  The third one is something that Jerry knows a lot about.  It‘s a question of who is your daddy, all right?  Rumor number three, his mother did not want to name him after his father and his birth certificate says ‘Barry.‘All right.  Look, I mean this is just - I mean, Jerry, every one of these, rumor after rumor, that the “National Review - “ I think Tanya makes a good point.  It is sort of like someone saying, “Pat Buchanan, prove that Tanya is not your illegitimate child.” 

SPRINGER:  Well, I think the fact is this is purely racist.  It‘s xenophobia.  They are trying to build - they are trying to scare a group of people that maybe could sway the election.  They are trying to scare the American public to believe that oh my gosh -

BUCHANAN:  You know what I think they are doing, Dan?  You know what they‘re doing, Dan?

SPRINGER:  I think it‘s race.

BUCHANAN:  I think what they‘re doing, Dan, they are trying to get some silly network to pick this up and put it on the air. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  Just like Dan just did. 

ABRAMS:  Well, you know what?  Well, here‘s what Obama -

SPRINGER:  That‘s right. 

ABRAMS:  And that‘s a fair point.  And here‘s what Barack Obama said about that very issue on January 15th

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE:  First of all, let‘s make clear what the facts are.  I am a Christian.  I have been sworn in with a Bible.  I have pledged allegiance and lead the pledge of allegiance sometimes in the United States Senate.  In the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place.  These E-mails were going out in Iowa.  They were going out in New Hampshire and we did just fine. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you about that time, about Pat‘s point.  I mean do you think that the mainstream media - do you think people ought to pick up on this to debunk it or should they just ignore it?  When an organization is as big as the “National Review” is calling for this, do you think that the rest of us ought to just say, “Oh come on, they are trying to stir up trouble.”  Or should we point out now nonsensical it is? 

ACKER:  I‘m really of two minds about it, Dan.  I have to be honest.  Because on the one hand, you know, there‘s a part of me that says we should all be a little more high-minded and keep this conversation focused on issues that are going to really impact the lives of Americans.  But you see where that sort of high-minded approach got John Kerry as he got swift boated right out of an election.  So, and I think in this sort of mass media age, we do - It think Obama does have to have the right sort of rapid response team in place.  But you know, I‘m pretty conflicted about how much we should even be talking about this right now.

BUCHANAN:  Dan -

SPRINGER:  I think what he might do -

ABRAMS:  Real quick, jerry and then Pat.  Go ahead, Jerry.

SPRINGER:  OK.  What I think he might do is the next time he is on the Senate Floor at the same time that John McCain is, he should quickly take out his birth certificate, show it to John McCain - because John McCain is a man of character, and he will then simply say, “I saw the birth certificate.  He‘s an American.”  End of story.  End of story.

ABRAMS:  Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  Dan.  Dan, I have been getting and I‘m sure you all have, E-mails pushing me, “Pat, you ought to know this.  You ought to know this, you ought to know that.”  And you just - what you have to do is resist the temptation and somehow drop it out on airwave.  Just ignore it until some reputable, frankly, news organization decides it is newsworthy and at that point, that it should be discussed. 

ABRAMS:  Is the “National Review,” Pat -

BUCHANAN:  The point, Dan, don‘t do it.

ABRAMS:  Pat, the “National Review” is not a reputable news source, right? 

You‘d agree with that.

BUCHANAN:  Well, I mean the “National Review - “ I mean if they‘re putting this stuff out, I don‘t know why I‘d put it on the air.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Well, look.  I mean, the bottom line is that, you know, maybe the “National Review” is, as they say, the most well-read conservative source of information is not a trustworthy source of news.  So fair enough. 

BUCHANAN:  There were some questions.

ABRAMS:  Jerry Springer, Pat Buchanan, Tanya Acker, Kevin Madden, thanks a lot. 

SPRINGER:  Great to be with you.

ABRAMS:  Up next, yesterday we told you that FOX NEWS suggested the Obama fist bump could be a terrorist fist jab, so that would make all these people, including Bush 41, suspects.  “Reality Bites” is coming up, and later, the first live TV interview with that guy, the second man to climb up a 52 storey New York building last week.  What was he thinking or not thinking?  We‘ll ask him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now, to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape.  Recently, FOX NEWS anchor questioned whether the Obama fist bump might be a terrorist fist jab.  As “Media Matters” pointed out, that would make all of the following suspects - Anna Kournikova, Bush 41, Yankee Sluggers, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter, Sen. Joe Lieberman - you know, all potential you know whats.  The anchor E.D. Hill has since apologized for the comments, but apparently, the network has decided to replace her show.  I liked her.  We‘ll be right back. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  This is another climber going up the outside of the “New York Times” building at 41st and 8th right now.  This is a live shot.  A man free climbing, there is no rope, no tether.  He has simply begun to free climb the outside of the “New York Times” building.  At this point, my gosh, he‘s got to be 20, 30 stories off the ground without a rope, climbing up the outside of the building.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  His daredevil climb up the side of the 52-story “New York Times” building last week captivated the country and left many asking, “What the heck was he thinking?” 

Tonight, Ray Clark, a Manhattan IT manager by day, daredevil climber by night, is here for his first live TV interview to answer that question. 

On Thursday, he became the second person to make the 750-foot climb at the top of the New York skyscraper in one day, with no rope and no harness.  He came just hours after another climber, French daredevil, Alain Robert, completed the same feat. 

Clark was met by New York City cops at the top of the building, charged with reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct.  He was released from jail on Friday.  And tonight, he joins us along with his attorney, Gary FARRELL(ph) for his first live interview.  Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on.  Appreciate it. 

GARY FARRELL, RAY CLARK‘S ATTORNEY:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  So you‘re sitting at home.  You see this other guy climbing up the building and you say to yourself, “I‘ve got to do that,” and you do it the same day? 

RAY CLARK, DAREDEVIL WHO CLIMBED NYC SKYSCRAPER:  I was at work and I had planned to climb that building perhaps two years prior.  And so this day, my friend called me.  He knew my plan of climbing and so he actually probably was on the building.  I wasn‘t.  I looked online and saw someone else was on the building, and then I went to - I brought shirts, I brought my shoes. 

ABRAMS:  You brought the shoes with you here on the show.  I mean, so you brought specific climbing shoes to do this? 

CLARK:  Yes, yes. 

ABRAMS:  Now, a lot of your friends tried to stop you from doing this, right?  I would assume any real friend of yours would try to stop you from doing this. 

CLARK:  Well, they gave me words about - that I shouldn‘t do it.  But this is - I‘m experienced with climbing tall structures and rocks. 

ABRAMS:  But come on.  I mean, you know, you look at those divots on the building, right?  I mean they are almost ladder like.  But some of them were breaking when the other guy was walking up.  I mean this is rally dangerous stuff.  You know, if you fall, if something falls off the building it is risking other people‘s lives, isn‘t it? 

CLARK:  Yes.  I‘m confident in my skill and my ability to get to the top of it.  I wouldn‘t have jumped on there if I knew I couldn‘t get to the top of it. 

ABRAMS:  You were winded, though, for a while.  I mean it looked like you were tired.  There were people you were looking in windows who were taking breaks.  We‘re going to put a video of a point where it looked like you were, you know, taking a few breathers and people were looking at you from the inside. 

CLARK:  Yes, it is a 52-story building.  You might want to stop at some point and rest your arms and take a breath.  But I didn‘t consider at that time that people on the ground would be injured if I fall or the fireman should fall.  I didn‘t take that into consideration but -

ABRAMS:  But now in retrospect?  I mean you‘re thinking about that stuff.

CLARK:  Yes, in hindsight, I say it might not have been the wisest thing to do. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I mean, Gary, let me ask you as his attorney.  I mean if he calls you up ahead of time and says, “Hey, Gary, I thinking about climbing up the “New York Times” building.  As his lawyer, I assume you‘d say to him, “Hey -“

FARRELL:  Think again. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Don‘t do it, right? 

FARRELL:  Of course.  That is a no-brainer, Dan.  You know, every watching those, but -

ABRAMS:  How much legal trouble is he in now? 

FARRELL:  Well, he‘s facing misdemeanor charges as you said, and we hope to keep them as misdemeanor charges.  The district attorney had asked for an arraignment.  They were considering upgrading the felony charges, and that gives us great pause and we‘re trying to work through this.  We have a court date tomorrow. 

ABRAMS:  And you‘re not denying that‘s him, right?

FARRELL:  No.  This is not a who-done-it, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Right.  Right.  That‘s it.  That‘s you on the building?

CLARK:  Yes.  But the reason I climbed - I was - I mean, it wasn‘t about me.  It was about the cause that I was climbing for, which is malaria. 

ABRAMS:  But, I mean, come on.  There are better ways to spread the word.  I mean -

CLARK:  Sure.  Well, you have a podium - I mean every human should do what he can in his ability to do good for the world.  And I can paint a picture.  I can do plenty of things, and one of them is climbing.  And so if you have a podium in which you can use, then paint yourself up with a message and get up there. 

ABRAMS:  But now, thinking about the fact there were other people whose lives could be at risk -

CLARK:  Right.  Now, in hindsight, yes.  It was not the wisest -

ABRAMS:  Are you done climbing buildings? 

CLARK:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  That‘s it?

CLARK:  Yes.

FARRELL:  He‘s retired, Dan.  Here on your show, he is officially retiring. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And the good news is breaking that you are officially retired.  And you know, did you suspect that criminal charges might be filed against you? 

CLARK:  I knew I‘d be incarcerated and with criminal charges.  Yes, I expected this. 

ABRAMS:  Your dad didn‘t seem so thrilled about this when he was interviewed.. 

CLARK:  No.  My folks aren‘t too happy with this.

ABRAMS:  Is there anyone who‘s happy about this?  Maybe apart from the fact that your lawyer has gotten a little extra money for representing you?  I mean, I would assume—was it worth it?  I mean I guess that‘s the question.  Was it worth it? 

CLARK:  People are speaking about malaria, so that‘s the positive effect of it.

FARRELL:  He‘s got (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  He has gotten a lot of E-mails from people around the world.  A person from India E-mailed him today saying thanks.  Thanks for bringing our cause to the forefront.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in New York.

ABRAMS:  But was it worth it?  I think in retrospect you are sorry you did it. 

CLARK:  I am sorry that I did it.

ABRAMS:  OK.

CLARK:  I won‘t do it again.  I won‘t recommend anyone doing it.

ABRAMS:  I watched it live.  I was scared - you scared the heck out of me, all right?  I mean I was watching it.  I was sure you were going to fall.  I don‘t know why.  I just was watching a guy climb a building.  And I‘ll say one thing that I‘m glad you didn‘t fall and that you are here and that you‘re safe and you‘re well.  But I‘m glad to hear you are not doing this again. 

CLARK:  Yes, thank you. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Ray Clark and Gary Ferrell, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Good to see you. 

FERRELL:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser be, Barack Obama who has apparently been E-mailing with pal Scarlett Johansson; Paula Jones and Jennifer Flower is now pals in selling their Clinton stories for $1.99; or Shawn Combs who‘s telling all his pals, call me Puff Daddy again.  Your E-mails, we call it the “P.O.‘d Box” coming up as well.  Coming up in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Its time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  Our first loser, LAPD beating victim, Rodney King, who famously asked can, “Can we all just get along?”  Now, he‘ll have to try to get along with notoriously difficult to get along with actors, Gary Busey and Jeff Conway among others.  It‘s his own fault.  He agreed to appear on VH1‘s “Celebrity Rehab” as they try to clean up their acts with the cameras rolling.  It is a good thing he is trying to deal with his problems.  I can‘t imagine it will help having Busey and Conway around.

Loser, P-Diddy, now Puff Daddy again after his possession trial.  He changed his name to P-Diddy, but apparently he is changing his name back to Puff Daddy.  Why would anyone care?  I guess we do.  Since we are doing the story, maybe we‘re losers, too. 

Our big losers, Paula Jones and Jennifer Flowers sinking to a new low.  The two women who claimed to have had encounters with former President Bill Clinton are now offering Internet viewers lurid details of what they happened for just $1.99.  

Our big winner of the day - Barack Obama.  No, not because he‘s the presumptive Democratic nominee, not because he can get 70,000 people to show up at one of his rallies.  No, because he‘s apparently E-mail buddies with Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson.  The actress and Obama supporter says in a new interview with Politico, that the two trade frequent E-mails.  That makes him a winner in my book!

Time for the “P.O.‘d Box.”  Last night we talked about whether Obama can win over Clinton if - Clinton voters, if he doesn‘t put her on the ticket. 

Darlene, “Dan, get a clue.  Stop talking about whether Hillary supporters will get behind Mr. Obama.  Of course, they will.”

Really?  Becky, “I‘m sick of people saying that ‘We, Hillary supporters, will come around.‘  I assure you, we  will not - ever.  There‘s a reason we backed her and it has little to do with the party.”

Ann Albarella, “Your guest who thinks Hillary supporters will vote for Obama based on issues is dead wrong!  I won‘t vote for Obama unless Hillary is his running mate.  Not picking her to run with him would be an insult to Sen. Clinton and the millions of women who supported her.”

And so many blasted Clinton last week after not immediately withdrawing from the race after the final primaries.  I said I didn‘t see why it should matter that she waited a few days.  Ria from Brooklyn, “Democrats were upset with Hillary‘s speech on Tuesday night because she did not acknowledge that Barack was the nominee and made it seem like she was taking her fight to the Democratic convention.”

Look, I agree, Ria.  I, too, was troubled by that.  But others were saying it was just horrible that she hadn‘t pulled out of the race immediately.  And I was saying, I thought it was OK, that it was OK she pulled out three days later. 

As always, we appreciate your feedback.  You can E-mail us verdict@msnbc.com.  Please include your name, where you‘re writing from.  Our Web site is Verdict.MSNBC.com.  See you tomorrow night.

                                                                                                               

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END   

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