updated 6/23/2008 12:22:01 PM ET 2008-06-23T16:22:01

Guests: David Shuster, Michael Musto, Nancy Giles, Contessa Brewer, A.B. Stoddard, Reed Dickens, Heidi Harris

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: More of John McCain‘s own words that could blunt efforts by the far right to attack Michelle Obama‘s patriotism.  Why is the media ignoring this story while so many are obsessed over Michelle Obama‘s comments?

And: Obama versus McCain on the trail and on the air waves.  Who won the week two of the general election?

And it‘s our special Friday night‘s Winner & Losers, for a pooch who lost millions, to a designer who could make millions after Michelle Obama wore her dress.

Michael Musto, Nancy Giles, and Contessa Brewer, are with us.

VERDICT starts now.

Hi, everyone.

New information on the story we uncovered last night, another on-camera statement by John McCain that could undermine right-wing attacks on Michelle Obama‘s patriotism.  They have been blasting her for weeks, over a comment she made about being proud of her country for the first time.

Last weekend in a virtual town meeting, McCain responded to a voter asking about that.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  The question is from a gentleman who was educated both at Princeton and at Harvard, and the simple question was, how can he be proud of his country.  I‘ll admit to you, that it‘s tough.  That it‘s tough in some respects.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It‘s tough—tough in some respects to be proud.  He went to say that America has made mistakes, the war in Iraq was mishandled, but that he can be proud of the sacrifices the U.S. troops have made abroad.  Hardly controversial, but is it really that different from Michelle Obama‘s comment that even Cindy McCain now seems to be knocking?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 18)

MICHELLE OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S WIFE:  People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics.  And let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now, last night, we ask—is that really worthy of an uproar and yet this comment that we found from John McCain on FOX earlier this year is not?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HANNITY & COLMES”/FOX NEWS/MARCH 13)

SEAN HANNITY, TV HOST:  What does that do to a person to spend that much time in solitary confinement?

MCCAIN:  I think it makes you a better person.  Obviously, it makes you love America.  I really didn‘t love America until I was deprived of her company, but probably, the most important thing about it, Sean, is that I was privilege to have the opportunity to serve in the company of heroes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He used the similar phrase about not loving America until he was deprived of it, repeatedly on the trail in his 2000 campaign.  I said it last night, I‘ll say it again, I think McCain‘s comments are eloquent, but why is the media and right-wing media, in particular, obsessed over Michelle Obama‘s comments and basically ignored McCain‘s?

FOX News does not have that video clip online.  And get this—any reference to it is now gone from the transcript on FOXNews.com.

Joining me now: MSNBC correspondent and anchor, David Shuster; A.B.  Stoddard from “The Hill” newspaper; Reed Dickens, the former assistant press secretary in the Bush White House; and Heidi Harris, a conservative radio talk show host.

All right.  David, let me start with you in sort of a media angle on this.  Why is no one covering the fact that John McCain has made comments that if you want to take them out of context could seem as terrible as the comments as Michelle Obama?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Dan, I think, you‘ve got it exactly right.  I think the media should be covering this and the failure to do so is a big, but I think the other part about is, Cindy McCain is sort of the odd person out here because she was the one who said in “Good Morning America” the other day, “All I know is that I have always been proud of my country,” and it makes sort of Cindy McCain seem a little bit harsh and political but luckily for the McCain campaign, she‘s not the candidate, she‘s just the spouse, who may have spoken a little bit inartfully.

So, what it does is, John McCain comes across looking candid and eloquent as you say, Cindy looks a little bit harsh and political.  And maybe the media says, you know what - we‘re not going to spend any time focusing on Michelle Obama because in our view, it‘s just ridiculous to begin with.

ABRAMS:  Heidi, let me be clear, I‘m not criticizing John McCain.  I‘m criticizing people on the right who are going after Michelle Obama over comments that sound to me not dissimilar from comments John McCain himself has made.

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think John McCain‘s comments are entirely different but I think it‘s wrong to characterize Cindy as sounding harsh.  How does she sound harsh?  All she‘s saying is she‘s always been proud of her country and she kind of had to respond in some way because of what Michelle had said.  She‘s just contrasting herself with

Michelle.  I don‘t think -

ABRAMS:  Really?

SHUSTER:  Heidi, she says, “All I know is that I have always been proud of my country.  I have always been proud of my country.”

HARRIS:  Right, because she‘s separating herself.

SHUSTER:  Yes, but, Heidi, doesn‘t that open the door now for somebody to say, “Wait a second, if you want to talk about Cindy McCain‘s past, all I know is that I have never done X, Y, or X.”  Why does she want to go there?

ABRAMS:  And also -

HARRIS:  Well, she has no choice.

ABRAMS:  Heidi, you want to talk about a choice?  Laura Bush was asked about this question and here‘s how she‘d decided, chose to respond to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”/ABC/JUNE 9)

LAURA BUSH, U.S. FIRST LADY:  I think she probably meant I‘m more proud, you know, is what she really meant.  You have to be really careful in what you say.  Because everything you say is looked at, and in many cases misconstrued.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  See, Reed, that‘s the diplomatic way to respond to it.  That‘s the way that Cindy McCain could have responded to it.  Instead, you have, you know, some of these right-wing smear artists, in addition to others, continually going after Michelle Obama over these comments, that are not dissimilar from comments John McCain himself has made that no one is talking about.

REED DICKENS, FMR. ASST. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.:  Yes, I think—first of all, that‘s one of the reasons Mrs. Bush‘s approval has hovered in the 80s than most of this administration.  She‘s very classy.  I think too much has been made over Michelle and in fact, I think it‘s absurd what‘s been made over Michelle Obama‘s comments, but you have to pause and point this out.

The counter punches, I think the media goes and look for counter balance stories in the wrong places.  It‘s like, Obama and Reverend Wright story came out and they went looking for Hagee.  And that‘s stupid because that‘s not where McCain‘s vulnerability is.

Now with this story, McCain‘s vulnerability is not in this patriotism.  So, is it unfair?  Yes.  But the stories that are going to stick are when people think that there is some truth to it.  George Bush we thought was aloof and then the cash register showed us that Howard Dean, we thought was crazy, then he screamed and we didn‘t know (ph) for sure.  So, when things get said that confirm an existing negative perception, they are going to stick.

ABRAMS:  But the problem is, A.B., it‘s the chicken and the egg.  I mean, the question is, the existing perception—and the question is, you know, is it an existing perception or did they create that perception out of nothing?  And, look, I‘m the one who uncovered this McCain stuff.  I wasn‘t looking for tit-for-tat here.

We were researching the Cindy McCain stuff and we found that John McCain had made these comments—let me let A.B. get in here—and we were stunned.  There‘s John McCain talking about, you know, when he came - when he came to fall in love with his country.

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL:  Well, John McCain, because of his singular sacrifice, unlike any other we‘ve known with our public servants today, is always seen through the prism of this experience.  And so, it doesn‘t matter if he got on a bar stool and threw back a six-pack and said, “I‘ve never loved my country,” we still probably wouldn‘t believe him because he has served his country and he‘s sacrificed and he has a kid in the service.  I think that -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But, A.B., doesn‘t the media have an obligation to say, you know what, we‘re going to treat the candidate equally on this regard?  Is the media is going to go after Michelle Obama who‘s not even running for president on comments like this, don‘t they have an obligation?  Don‘t you, don‘t we have an obligation to say John McCain?

STODDARD:  I agree.  And they‘re very interesting and telling comments.  It‘s very interesting that they‘re also gone from transcripts, et cetera.  But I agree with you, Dan.  I‘m just saying that, I think that Reed is so right, that what we do is find someone‘s weakness and we make their rival have that strength.

And we find - you know, because Obama is new, McCain has to be the old.  Because Obama raises money well, McCain has to be cash trapped.  Because McCain is a patriot, Michelle Obama can‘t be patriotic, neither can her husband.  It is not fair but it tends to be what the game is like.

SHUSTER:  Well, when you‘re talking about media obligations, Dan, keep in mind, I don‘t think we‘re going to see Sean Hannity now describing John McCain as an angry man because he made these statements.  I mean, you made the point about them scrubbing the transcripts.  There are a lot of obligations the media has, I‘m just not sure FOX News is the organization we should be turning to, to do the right thing.

ABRAMS:  Heidi, I want to see, Heidi, if you‘re going to defend these kinds of comments from Sean Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HANNITY‘S AMERICA‘/FOX NEWSD/MAY 11)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST:  Michelle Obama doesn‘t seem to have many nice things to say about America.  And she even sounds really bitter.

You don‘t think she‘s a black militant?

This week, Michelle Obama still sounds angry.

Does she really believe that she‘s quoted it saying twice, “America is a downright mean country in 2008?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It wasn‘t all for Michelle from Hannity there.  But, Heidi, I mean, look, it‘s been a cause on the part of FOX News.  They‘ve followed, they‘ve been covering, you know, Reverend Wright‘s travel schedule, then they are covering every aspect of this Michelle Obama stuff.

I mean, isn‘t there something as a—is it fair to call you, I hope, a conservative radio talk show host—isn‘t there something about what the right has been doing here, in particular, looking at these new comments from John McCain where you say to yourself, “My goodness, we really haven‘t been very fair here, have we?”

HARRIS:  Well, listen, I‘m a conservative.  I don‘t want to see Barack Obama win.  I‘ll be upfront with you.  And Sean Hannity is a conservative.  He doesn‘t want to see Barack Obama win.

Listen, we‘re talk show hosts, all right?  We‘re not reporters.  So, as talk show hosts, we‘re paid for our opinion and our situation is a little bit different.  If Sean Hannity wants to say something against Barack Obama or Michelle Obama, that‘s his opinion and he‘s entitled to it.

ABRAMS:  I respect that, Heidi.  Heidi, that is one of the most honest and eloquent answer - no, I totally respect what you‘d just said.  The problem is, all right fine—as an opinionated talk show host, when you saw and heard what I just played from John McCain, did that opinionated talk show host say to herself, “Geez, I didn‘t realize that John McCain had made those kinds of comments.”

HARRIS:  No, not at all.  And I‘ll tell you why because nobody can question John McCain‘s patriotism or his sacrifice to his country.  Nobody can.  And the idea that he suddenly appreciated America more when he lost all of the wonderful things about America for all of the years that he was in captivity, who can argue with that?

ABRAMS:  But he didn‘t use the word more.  That‘s the problem.  I mean, it‘s important because people keep misstating what Michelle Obama said and when it comes to John McCain, you add a word in there or two that puts it in context.  And look, again, I‘m not criticizing John McCain.  I think you‘re right about John McCain.

What I‘m criticizing is that the way the media deals with this stuff when it comes to Michelle Obama.

And, A.B., let me ask you, is it fair to ask the question—does the media look at Michelle Obama through a different prism than even, let‘s say, Cindy McCain?

STODDARD:  I‘m not sure.  I mean, I think that they take them—look, they‘re very impressive women.  And I don‘t think that they‘ve - I think that they‘re mothers first, I think they‘re wives, I think they have their own careers and I don‘t think they‘ve inserted themselves in this process very much at all.  I mean, I think that Michelle Obama‘s comments were taken, she says, out of context, she clarified her comments.

Cindy McCain happens, as I mentioned before, to have a kid in the service when she says, “I‘m just proud of my country.”  I mean, yes, she could apologize for the way that Michelle Obama and say, maybe she didn‘t mean what she said, but I don‘t think either of them have said to have (INAUDIBLE) and I actually don‘t think that the media has a different standard for Michelle Obama.

ABRAMS:  Well, I think they‘ve demonstrated differently.

Reed, a final quick word, I‘ve got to wrap this one.

DICKENS:  Yes.  I don‘t think the solution here is because some of the media has chased one stupid story; we should chase another stupid story.  I think the bigger point here is that the people who have known the Obamas for years have said that they seem like a little elitist.  McCain has his own hypocritical vulnerabilities.  I‘m not going to say what they are in camera, but he‘s got them and this is (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS:  Can I say one more thing, Dan?

SHUSTER:  Who are these people, Reed, who are these people?  When you say, “These people,” who are you talking about?

DICKENS:  These people about what?

SHUSTER:  When you say these people say the Obamas are elitist, name one.  What are you talking about?

DICKENS:  No, I actually know people who went to law school with

Obama -

SHUSTER:  Who?

DICKENS:  Who‘s long before - I‘m not going to say his name on camera.

SHUSTER:  You‘re going to make this charge on primetime television and you‘re not going to back it up?

DICKENS:  Hold on.  The media can use unnamed sources but I couldn‘t.

SHUSTER:  No, you‘re making a devastating charge and you should stand behind it by naming who you‘re talking about.

DICKENS:  But the media doesn‘t have to do that?  That doesn‘t make sense.  What I‘m saying is, there are certain perceptions out there about the Obamas and I think there‘s a reason why this stuck.  I don‘t think the story is fair.  I think it‘s absurd.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, look, nevertheless -

HARRIS:  Can I say one more thing about this, Dan, real quickly?

ABRAMS:  Five seconds.  I‘m getting killed.

HARRIS:  OK.  Barack Obama calls his grandmother a typical white person.  If John McCain called any human being on the planet a typical black person, he‘d be going from the race.  You talk about unfairness?

ABRAMS:  Unless, of course, John McCain had a black grandparent.  And he said my black grandparent X; he would probably get a little more leeway.

HARRIS:  But it would have taken out of context.  It wouldn‘t matter, he‘d be gone.  He would be gone from this race.

ABRAMS:  All right.

HARRIS:  You‘ve got to be fair.

ABRAMS:  What do you mean you‘ve got to be fair?  He doesn‘t—

Barack Obama has a white grandparent.

HARRIS:  It doesn‘t matter.  He called his grandma a typical white person.  What does that mean?  Am I a typical white person?  That‘s not fair.

ABRAMS:  Oh, my God.

All right.  Thanks to the group.  We‘re coming back in a minute.

Coming up: When Michelle Obama took her charm offensive to “The View” this week, she wore dresses flying off the shelves.  Cindy went to Vietnam to help her favorite charity.  Who won, who lost, the Winners & Losers are coming up.  And which of their husbands won the week?  Obama v.  McCain, both have trotted out the big guns and the big flip-flops, what‘s next?

Plus: The Justice Department official is under fire for allegedly giving taxpayer money to a golf group, who gets to play a free round of golf.  Another reason Why America Hates Washington is coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: A Justice Department official allegedly putting his interest in golf and his friends ahead of the best interest of children.  J. Robert Flores is under criminal investigation for among other things, steering millions in taxpayer-funded grants to group he had personal ties to, groups including the World Golf Foundation who‘s honorary chair is former President George Bush.

Flores gave the WGF $500,000 in taxpayer cash for a program called “First Tee,” even 46 other programs were rated higher by independent reviewers and career staffers.  Federal prosecutors are now investigating and it‘s another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with who won the week—Obama or McCain?  Up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.

Another wild week out on the campaign trail as Obama and McCain blast each other for flip-flops and go for the jugular—who won, who lost the week—Obama or McCain?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice over):  This week, a war of words over the war on terror.  Obama is supporting Guantanamo detainees‘ right to have some access to U.S. courts, McCain responds by dispatching a pair of his formal rivals to blast Obama.

RUDY GIULIANI, ® FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He takes a much softer approach, a defensive approach to terrorism.

FRED THOMPSON, ® FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Senator Obama would do well to stop apologizing to the rest of the world for America‘s attempt to protect itself during the time of war.

ABRAMS:  Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani—big names with big words.  But then again, neither of them won the Noble Prize or an Oscar.

AL GORE, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can.  Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States of America—Barack Obama.

ABRAMS:  While Obama proudly stands with the man who almost became president, John McCain pleas for the man who is.

McCain and Bush both tour flood-ravaged Iowa but the McCain camp assures all who will listen that they‘ll remain at least 30 miles apart.  And both candidates flooded with criticism over flip-flops, Obama reversing course on his pledge to accept public financing for his campaign.

MCCAIN:  This election is about a lot of things, but it‘s also about trust and it‘s also whether you can take people‘s words.

ABRAMS:  But those words could just as well apply to McCain himself, who, this week, supports drilling for oil off the U.S. coast, something he had long opposed.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  I think we can set up an interesting debate between John McCain 2000 and John McCain 2008.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Before I ask my panel who won or lost the week, first, I want to start on what they think is the most important issue that happened this week.  I‘ve also got news today about the money raised, money raised in May, talking about the public financing.

We just learned that Obama raised $22 million, just another $1 million than John McCain raised in the month of May.

David Shuster, what to you is the most important issue of the week was?

SHUSTER:  Well, I think, the most important issue is that John McCain was able to get his shots in at Obama for backing out of public financing.  So in that, I would say John McCain won the battle.  Barack Obama, though, will win the war when it comes to fundraising because he raised that money this month end without even trying and once he starts to sort of ratchet up the fundraising again, he may have $3 for every $1 dollar that John McCain has at the end of this campaign and that will be huge.

ABRAMS:  Reed?

DICKENS:  I think, at the end of the day, this is very much about what the story is.  It‘s not going to have lasting impact but I will say for this week, I would McCain came out on top for this reason—most of those first few stories you‘d listed weren‘t that big of surprise.  But Obama with no track record, not much experience in the private or public sector, his campaign is based on eloquent words and if we can‘t take him at his word, I think, obviously, that‘s something that McCain is going to bang away at.

ABRAMS:  A.B.?

STODDARD:  I agree.  I hate to agree.  I wish I could be different but, I think, the money story is a big story and a lasting story.  I don‘t think it will be damaging for Barack Obama in a long run, I think it will obviously be the net benefit.  He will carpet bomb (ph), swinging red states with all of that money and it is a long-term advantage.  It‘s the story when we‘re talking about longer.  I don‘t know that it will be damaging, but for this week, it‘s good for John McCain to have performed he‘d (ph) back on.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, you guys are more political experts than I am.  So, I want to ask you to correct me where I‘m wrong here.

I would have thought that the McCain attacks on terror were the story of the week.  Why?  Because I think that‘s the attack that‘s going to continue through the campaign, meaning public finance to me is an issue that we‘re going to hear about this week.  I can‘t imagine that it‘s going to resonate.  Yes, McCain may still bring it up, flip-flopping, fair attack, but I can‘t imagine that it‘s going to continue to resonate with voters.

I‘ve got to think that Barack Obama has to be concerned about what we see as now the seeds of the attack on him as being soft on terror.  A.B., am I wrong on that?

STODDARD:  He‘d expected this.  He saw it four years ago and he expected this.  They‘ve planned for this all along, so did Hillary Clinton.  This is the absolute Republican versus Democrat argument.  This as the Democratic Party is trying to get the White House and capture it and govern for the first time since 9/11.  This will be the argument.  It will be the defining argument and they‘re not surprised it will go on every week, the whole campaign.

SHUSTER:  But you‘re right on one part and that is, yes, I mean, terror is an issue where John McCain should be able to beat up Barack Obama but when you see John McCain surrogates beating up on Barack Obama because of Guantanamo Bay, in a week when the Supreme Court, with conservatives on the court, did the sort of ruling that Barack Obama supports, it doesn‘t make any sense.

McCain has to separate Guantanamo and the rights of detainees.  He has to separate that issue away from the broader issue on terror.  He didn‘t do a very good job on that this week and that‘s why I think Obama was able to withstand the attacks on that issue this week.

ABRAMS:  Reed, I‘ll tell you, I think, actually, Obama and this is

I disagree with David a little bit on this, I think Obama is the one who‘s going to have to distinguish, for example, the habeas corpus, which is basically just saying—they‘re not going to get tried in American courts, don‘t worry, they‘re not going to capture people on the battlefield and bring them back and put them in American courts.

       

No, Obama‘s got to be very careful to distinguish and say—look, all the courts are saying is they can make effectively this last-ditch appeal to the U.S. court.  That‘s all the Supreme Court is saying.  And I think that it‘s very important for Obama to minimize the significance of the ruling that I happen to agree with and I think that Obama agrees with it as well.

Reed, final word on this?

DICKENS:  I think Democrats have to be very careful with this ruling and tread very lightly on it.  I think you just summarized it perfectly.  Look, this is Obama‘s weakness on this election, at least, and everyone knows it.  No matter what‘s going on in Iraq, it‘s going to be his weakness.  I think, I would have to disagree.  I think the campaign, the financing is an issue for this reason—Obama ran as a post-partisan, post-racial, new kind of candidate and when his word stops to mean anything, you have to stop and say, that‘s funny.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I know that‘s the argument/talking point.  I‘m just

saying I don‘t buy that it‘s going to have any lasting impact, but I hear

you.  I‘m not -

DICKENS:  I conceded that round off the bat (ph).

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I‘m just saying, that I think next week, you‘re not going to find a lot of people apart from John McCain talking about public financing.  But we shall see.

SHUSTER:  And everybody knows that if John McCain had the kind of fundraisers as Obama did, he would do the exact same thing.

ABRAMS:  Yes, fair enough.

DICKENS:  Of course.

ABRAMS:  David Shuster, A.B. Stoddard, and Reed Dickens, thanks a lot.  Good stuff.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Dan.

DICKENS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: The week‘s other Winners & Losers—a woman sues Victoria Secret because she says a piece of her thong injured her eye.

And culture warrior, Bill O‘Reilly brings this Heinz mayo commercial over from the U.K.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HEINZ COMMERCIAL)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, aren‘t you forgetting something?

I love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A shocker.  O‘Reilly is upset about it.  But why did he put a British ad on U.S. television.  That‘s next in Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INAUDIBLE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT/CNN/THURSDAY)

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST:  And the federal government now says thousands of Americans may have been sickened by those contaminated tomatoes and the FDA, well, it says it still doesn‘t know the source of the outbreak.

I‘ve heard a lot of reasons over the years as to why George W. Bush would be impeached.  But for them to leave the Food and Drug Administration in this state, that is a long, to me, sufficient reason to impeach a president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Let‘s try that again.

It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press.”  First off, some talk about impeaching President Bush over anything from going to war in Iraq to torturing terror suspects, illegal wiretaps.  But CNN‘s Lou Dobbs believes there‘s an issue far more important.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST:  And the federal government now says thousands of Americans may have been sickened by those contaminated tomatoes and the FDA, well, it still says it doesn‘t know the source of the outbreak.

I‘ve heard a lot of reasons over the years as to why George W. Bush should be impeached but for them to lead the Food and Drug Administration in this state, that is alone to me sufficient enough to impeach the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Seriously, that‘s the reason Dobbs thinks the president should be impeached, because of tomatoes.

Fox News culture warrior Bill O‘Reilly dedicated part of a segment to a quote, “very controversial commercial.”  Heinz is running in England, not in the U.S. that makes a joke about two men kissing.  O‘Reilly was baffled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  It‘s confusing to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bill?  Bill.

O‘REILLY:  I just want mayonnaise.  I don‘t want guys kissing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  If you don‘t want guys kissing and just want mayonnaise, don‘t import an ad from England that never aired in the U.S.  Once again, the late-night comedian knocked around the presidential candidates this week so it‘s time now for our first general election edition of the week‘s campaign comedy.  A look at our favorite political humor of the week, candidate by candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, COMEDY CENTRAL:  Baracknophobia.  It is defined as the irrational fear of hope.  The irrational fear that behind the mild-mannered facade, Barack Obama is intent on enslaving the white race.  It‘s true.  Wake up, white people.

The sickness manifests itself mostly through rumor often in the form of the only e-mail that your grandmother has ever been able to successfully forward.

JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST:  Barack Obama announced this week he‘ll visit Iraq and Afghanistan before the election in November.  He says he wants to see an area that‘s been overrun by violent extremists.  It sounds like he already misses his old church.

CONAN O‘BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST:  Yesterday Barack Obama said if he becomes president, he will replace the White House bowling alley because it‘s something he would never use.  That‘s what he said.  Yeah.  Apparently this is the same reason president bush got rid of the White House library.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TALK SHOW HOST:  What is a typical Father‘s Day like for you in the Obama household?

OBAMA:  You know, there‘s usually some experiment with waffles.

KIMMEL:  And if you get gifts from the children as a public official, are you required to report those gifts?

OBAMA:  If they are over $50, but my children are stingy so generally we don‘t go over that limit.

LENO:  At the Joe Lewis Arena, Al Gore endorsed Obama and a number of women fainted during Barack‘s speech.  Not from the speech.  It‘s just that Al Gore turned the air conditioning down.  You know, global warming and it got quite hot and they just passed out.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST:  And now of course you‘ve got the Barack Obama and John McCain and they are already putting together debates.  We‘re going to have a series of debates.  And here‘s how it‘s going to be.  Barack Obama says after each question he wants a one-minute response.  And John McCain said after each question, he wants a five-minute nap.  So that‘s way that‘s going to go down.

O‘BRIEN:  Yesterday on “The View” I don‘t know if you saw that, Barack Obama‘s wife Michelle with all the co-hosts, she did that.  And then she said that it‘s the new high-five.  That‘s what she said.  After hearing John McCain asked, what the hell is a high five?

MCCAIN:  I know you‘re making a lot of comments about my age and I‘m telling you I‘m ready.

KIMMEL:  Senator McCain, if you‘re watching me make jokes about your age, perhaps you are not fit to be the president of the United States.

STEPHEN COLBERT, TALK SHOW HOST:  It‘s no secret that one of John McCain‘s secrets as a candidate is distinguishing himself from President Bush.  But he‘s so different from president bush already.  The only issues that agree on are education, immigration, Iraq, abortion, Supreme Court judges, Social Security, tax breaks for the wealthy, wiretapping, trade, health care, the Middle East, same-sex marriage and Medicare.

But they could not be further apart on Catherine Heigl‘s feud with her “Grey‘s Anatomy” producers.

O‘BRIEN:  Yesterday was Father‘s Day.  John McCain says he made plans to spend it with his grandchildren.  Of course McCain‘s grandchildren couldn‘t make it because they spend they day with their grandchildren.

LENO:   President Bush spoke at a campaign rally in support of John McCain.  They raised millions and millions of dollars, most of which will we be used the repair the damage of President Bush supporting John McCain at a campaign rally.  It‘s kind of a wash.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  It is time for the week‘s winners and losers.  I‘ve taken off the tie.  It‘s time to get kooky.  From Michelle Obama‘s talk show dress, to Cindy McCain‘s cookie mess, to Lindsay Lohan‘s Emmy withdrawal to Matthew McConnaughey‘s bar crawl.  From Leona‘s pooch losing its rich to a thong with some hazardous glitches.  Who won and who lost this week?  That was nice wasn‘t it?  Thank you.

Joining us our very own Contessa Brewer, anchor here at MSNBC, columnist at “The Village Voice” Michael Musto and social commentator Nancy Giles.

First up, the face off between the candidates wife‘s.  Michelle Obama versus Cindy McCain.  Cindy McCain praised for her Operation Smile charity trip to Vietnam but on tha tsame trip she questioned why Michelle Obama wasn‘t always proud of her country.  And that is nothing compared to another recipe scandal.  Two months after blaming an intern for taking several recipes word for word from the Food Network, now her recipe for oatmeal butterscotch cookies submitted for the “Family Circle” bakeoff turns out to be suspiciously similar to a Hershey company recipe.

And Michelle Obama co-hosting “The View”, fist bumping the ladies, her $148 dress becoming a fashion sensation, flying off the racks.  She once again had to clarify those same proud of her country comments.  Who won and who lost between these two potential first ladies?  Michael?

MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”:  Oh, Michelle definitely.

ABRAMS:  Really?  Why?

MUSTO:  Because the dress is fabulous.  It‘s symbolic.  It‘s black and white.  Get it?  She always wears symbolic outfit.  She wore that purple dress, which is the red and blue states combined.  But she did beautifully and always gets the hard question, like what‘s it like to be the problem on the ticket.

Cindy McCain gets, tell us about horticulture.

ABRAMS:  What‘s with the cookie caper?

CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  There‘s not that much of a difference.  Two-thirds of a butter scotch chips, three quarters of a butter scotch chips.  And besides that, anybody who says that they‘ve made—they are lying.  They don‘t make up their own recipes.  They all get—My great grandmothers left me a box of recipe.  And they all came off the Bisquick, the noodle package and the Campbell soup can.

MUSTO:  Or they all stole it from Seinfeld‘s wife.

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR:  All I can say is just say slice and bake, which is what I do.  People say they love my chocolate chip cookies at Christmastime.  Pillsbury slice and bake.  Just admit it.  Cindy should just say, I don‘t bake.  I don‘t bake.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of the fact that when Cindy McCain was asked the whole thing about proud of her country question rather than passing on it as Laura Bush did, she went for it and said, well, I‘ve always been proud of my country.

GILES:  Oh.  Ick.

BREWER:  Of course she‘s always been proud of her country.  What else is she going to say?  She answered the question.  I don‘t want to answer the question?

ABRAMS:  It sounds like she‘s putting up the dukes.  Getting ready to .

BREWERS:  That is whatever mail in the country is hoping for.  They are hoping that Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama are putting up the dukes.  It‘s not going to happen.

GILES:  Look at this.  She‘s free, white, what is she, 45 or 46?  What is not to be proud.  She‘s rich.  She has money rolling out of her toes .

MUSTO:  And if they wrestle it‘s only a $148 dress, who cares?

GILES:  It‘s $99, by the way, the dress.

MUSTO:  It‘s going down as we speak.

GILES:  Online.  Online.

ABRAMS:  Bottom line, who won the week?

GILES:  Michelle.

MUSTO:  Oh, Michelle.

GILES:  Big winner.

BREWER:  Michelle.

ABRAMS:  I think I‘m going to go with Michelle because I just think that there was no capers and Cindy has the cookie caper this week.  So everyone is staying with us.  Up next, more of the week‘s winners and losers.  Did “Juno” or Jamie Lynne Spears encourage high school kids to get pregnant together?  Lindsey Lohan says no to an Emmy nomination for a role that she played literally for a few minutes.  Of course, I don‘t think anyone knew that she was in the running.

Plus a helicopter stunt pilot crashes after trying to do a loop.  He is OK. 

“Reality Bites” is coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle?  Minus or plus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There it is.  The little pink plus sign is so unholy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That ain‘t no etch-a-sketch.  That is one doodle that can‘t be undid, homeskillet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  “Juno” explores, some would say it celebrates teen pregnancy, which has been in the news a lot this week.  Yesterday, Britney Spears sister, Jamie Lynn, age 17, gave birth to a baby girl.  Now many asking whether those kinds of stories encouraged 17 Massachusetts girls at one high school to get pregnant.  None are older than 16.  Some may have even had a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.  One of the fathers reportedly is a 24-year-old homeless man.

So the issue, I think, one of the questions talks about, is this a win lose for teaching sex education in schools.  But Contessa, you seem to think that this is happening everywhere?

BREWER:  It‘s happening all over the country.  There are all kinds of communities that have children get pregnant.  And that‘s what they know.  They don‘t understand the concept of waiting until you‘re old enough to support a baby to have children.

ABRAMS:  But they give each other high fives?

BREWER:  Yes, they have baby showers for 16-year-olds and they should because the 16 year old is not going to be able to buy the product on their own.

GILES:  Ayayayay.  The other problem is when I was that age the big celebration did you get Pro-Keds or Converse All-Stars.  And it‘s shifted into high gear, beyond just going steady, who‘s the baby‘s daddy.

ABRAMS:  Apparently a 24 year old homeless man.

MUSTO:  And he‘s very tired right now.

GILES:  He‘s not the one father of all of them, ayayayay.

MUSTO:  It is a little bit disheartening that the punkest thing these kids can think of doing is let‘s get together and raise a family.  In my dad it was burn down buildings.

BREWER: . raise a family.

MUSTO:  They didn‘t pay attention when they watched the movie “Juno.”  She gives the baby away.  She didn‘t watch it to the end.  They gave it to Jennifer Garner.  Give it to her or give it to Angelina.

BREWER:  Blaming the movie?  I watched this movie.  Is nothing that celebrates having, it‘s sad.  And they‘re talking about “Knocked Up,” too?  That girl had a full on career.

ABRAMS:  But different.  “Knocked Up” to me, again, there‘s a question, though, as to whether sort of Hollywood et cetera has been glorifying lately.  Jamie Lynn Spears, 17, everything‘s great.  She‘s 17.  You know what?  She‘s got an enormous amount of money and their family is there, et cetera.  That‘s not the typical .

BREWER:  She had a full on career before she got pregnant.

ABRAMS:  Right.

BREWER:  And made all kinds of money and, by the way, she just bought a three-bedroom house.  How many normal 16-year-olds on their own can go out and buy a three bedroom house?

GILES:  With all that money I hope she spends a little bit on therapy and maybe a little some family .

ABRAMS:  I don‘t want to call a winner or loser on this one.  Let‘s just call it whatever.

The next one is my favorite story.  All right?  Trouble.  Leona‘s dog still a rich bitch.

GILES:  I can‘t believe you said that.  That is so, so wrong.

ABRAMS:  It‘s a totally a legitimate word in this context and she was, at the start, she is not as rich as she was at the beginning of the week.  The so-called Queen of Mean died last year, shocked her family and friends, left her dog 12 million bucks.  Two of the grandkids got nothing.  A judge has agreed to reduce the Maltese‘s inheritance by $10 million, leaving it only a couple million to get on.

Helmsley‘s grandchildren now get $6  million in scraps.  But I was amazed in assessing the pooches expenses, that 100,000 a year was for security and only 1,200, Michael, a year, for food.  That is why this dog is the real loser.  Forget about the fact that the dog lost $10 of its $12 million.  Why is this dog only getting $1200 a year in food if it‘s got $2 million to use?

MUSTO:  Leona was the crazy bitch.  I‘m joking.  I didn‘t go there.  This is crazy.  The dog deserves the finest food.  Even with the reduced budget, the dog is doing better than me.  I am not losing sleep.  I live a walk up in Murray Hill.  The dog is getting golden biscuits and velvet toilet paper.

GILES:  Spending 100 bucks a month on food, that‘s pathetic.  That dog is getting CostCo food.

MUSTO:  Newsflash, Nancy, I‘m a guy.  I‘m not a dog.

GILES:  Get this.  The dog spent $3,000 for miscellaneous expenses.  What is that if the food is even less?

MUSTO:  Acupuncture.

ABRAMS:  Massage.

BREWER:  I think Leona Helmsley is the loser here.  Can you imagine, they are saying, we don‘t know if she was mentally competent to make a will in the first place?  Doesn‘t that call into question her whole queen of mean?  If you‘re not mentally competent to make the will, maybe the whole queen of mean thing is because you‘re actually losing it.

ABRAMS:  That would mean that we feel sorry for Leona Helmsley as opposed to ...

BREWER:  I‘m throwing it out there.  Devil‘s advocate for the poor old lady.

ABRAMS:  What about the grandkids?

BREWER:  They are the winners.  They‘re getting more money.

ABRAMS:  They are fighting the dog in court.  I mean, people, we‘re taking this—we‘re fighting with a dog.

GILES:  How about making the statement?

ABRAMS:  Think about the court ruling.  Think about the plaintiff and the defendant, OK?

MUSTO:  But Raul Felder (ph) is handling the dog pro bono.  So the dog doesn‘t have to spend the money on legal help.

ABRAMS:  All right.  So the dog is the loser and the grandkids .

GILES:  The grandkids won a bit.

BREWER:  Winners, kind of.

ABRAMS:  But the fact that they have to sue a dog.

Lindsay Lohan, snubbing the Academy, the Emmy academy, if there is such thing, the Emmys before they can snub her, Lindsay pulled a Katherine Heigl this week taking herself out of the running.  Remember, Heigl was a loser for dissing the writers saying that the material in “Grey‘s Anatomy” was not Emmy-worthy.  She is trying to get out of doing that show.

But isn‘t Lindsay a loser thinking that she‘s be considered for a four-line “Ugly Betty” cameo, Nancy?

GILES:  I was stunned at this because if Lindsay doesn‘t watch it and Katherine Heigl, they will both be replaced by New York, that stunning actress from the “I Love New York” series on VH1.

ABRAMS:  It‘s just so presumptuous that Lindsay Lohan is saying, I had a wonderful four line cameo in “Ugly Betty” and I don‘t want to be considered for an Emmy this year.

MUSTO:  Ellen Burstyn was nominated for two lines so it could happen.  And I actually think Lindsay is a good actress but this is becoming de rigeur if you have no chance.  Take me out of the running.  Why don‘t I alert the Pulitzer to take my column out of the running?

GILES:  We had a pact backstage and we‘re all taking ourselves out of Emmy consideration.

BREWER:  I‘ve got to say this.  I watched that “Ugly Betty” episode.  This is how much Lindsay Lohan was in it.  Also, Britney Spears, remember her on the sit come, she does, Britney Spears make Lindsay Lohan look like Glenn Close compared to .

ABRAMS:  Michael Musto, why do they have Emmys for people with two lines in a show.

MUSTO:  Because they don‘t look at the clip.  They see the clip and they think that‘s the whole often that is the whole performance.

That‘s crazy.  Mike Myers is now petitioning the Oscars for “Love Guru,” take me out of the—no problem.

ABRAMS:  Everyone is staying with us.  Up next, more of the winners and losers, including a woman who says she was wronged by her thong.

And Matthew McConnaughey might name his unborn child Bud.  His brother kid is named Miller Lite.  My producer swears to me this is not a joke.  He swears it.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Next up, wronged by a thong.  Victoria‘ Secret sued over a panty-related injury.  Yes, 52 year old Macrita Patterson (ph) claims she was putting on her decorative low-ride g-string when a metallic staple popped off and hit her in the eye.  She pled her case on THE TODAY SHOW to Meredith Vieira earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Meredith, I was putting on my underwear from Victoria‘s Secret and the metal popped into my eye.  It happened really quickly.  I was in excruciating pain.  I screamed.  That he that‘s what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Patterson has so far refused Victoria‘s Secret‘s request to examine the garment, which makes you wonder rather than a design malfunction, Michael, might it maybe have been the wrong size?

MUSTO:  I where tongs and I have no problem with the metal.  I thought this was a spurious lawsuit at first.  But there is a rash of this stuff going on.  Last night Michael Jackson almost choked to death chewing on boxer shorts.  It‘s just terrible.

ABRAMS:  Youch.

GILES:  If you‘re going to buy a thong with some sort of metallurgy on it, you‘ve got to take your lumps with that.  I‘m sorry.

BREWER:  She‘s a woman in her mid-50s and she‘s telling the whole world that she bought that pair of panties.  What is this, the new granny pant teas?

GILES:  Apparently.

MUSTO:  I don‘t want them to fit her.  I don‘t want to see her in them.

But I also don‘t want to see her sue me so you look terrific.

BREWER:  And it was last year which I find hilarious.

ABRAMS:  Yeah.  Loser.

BREWER:  Loser.

ABRAMS:  Finally, father to be, Matthew McConnaughey girlfriend is set to give birth.  So where was McConnaughey last week?  He was bar hopping solo in Nicaraqua.  He reportedly got so drunk he eventually passed out in a ditch.  Some witnesses say he was hitting on every woman.  He denies that but admits that he was drunk.  Now there are reports he may want to name his son after his favorite beer, Bud, as in Budweiser.  This is the best part, his older brother apparently already named his son after his favorite beer, Miller Lyte, L-Y-T-E.  No joke.  At least he‘ll show his son these lovely pictures from TMZ while mommy was eight months pregnant and he will be able to say—he‘ll be able to say .

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, Bud, let‘s party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Thank you, thank you.  I thought of that by my lonesome.

OK.  Took a long time to get there.  Matthew McConaughey, anyone going to say he is a winner?

BREWER:  The bartender is.  Imagine all the money he made off of Matthew McConaughey drinking.

ABRAMS:  Yeah.

MUSTO:  Baby bud.  And it‘s a girl, right?  No, look, happy to hear he broke up with Jake Gyllenhall and Lance Armstrong and on to a happy new life.

GILES:  There is a winner.  The picture of the woman facing McConaughey and probably like pushing her tushy at him.  I think she was the winner.  She was in there dancing with him.  Matthew McConaughey.

BREWER:  That‘s what I call people if I can‘t remember their names.

ABRAMS:  Miller Lyte.

BREWER:  That is strange.  Miller, OK.  Lyte?

ABRAMS:  Can I tell you the number of times I said to Mark Connecker (ph), my producer, I said I want you to look and confirm for me that that is really the name.  I said because if I go on television and say if it was a kid named Miller Lyte and it was a joke.

GILES:  It was Red Stripe instead.  You‘ll be in trouble.

ABRAMS:  I would be upset.  Apparently it‘s true.

BREWER:  That‘s sad.  It means someone needs to go back to the baby book of names.  They‘ve got a thousand in here.

MUSTO:  It means we‘ve finally found a worse parent than Jamie Lynn Spears. 

And it‘s a guy this time.

ABRAMS:  On that note.  Contessa Brewer, Nancy Giles, Michael Musto, thank you.

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  You can e-mail us about the show.  And I‘m sure you have a lot of thoughts.  Some of them probably— verdict@msnbc.com.  See you Monday.  Have a great weekend.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2008 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2008 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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