updated 5/15/2009 1:33:05 PM ET 2009-05-15T17:33:05

Guest: Peter Orszag, Ron Wyden, John Nichols, Ron Christie, Mike Allen, Jamal Simmons, Dr. Lisa Jordan

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ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is THE ED SHOW.

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SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans. 

Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Health insurance and drug companies are telling President Obama they want to help on reform.  Should we trust them?  I‘ll ask the president‘s budget director, Peter Orszag, about that in just a minute. 

Shooter throws his old boss under the bus.  Cheney says the decision to torture came right from the top, President Bush. 

And my thoughts on the White House Correspondents‘ Dinner, the best jokes and why I‘m so glad Wanda Sykes took it to Rush Limbaugh. 

Plus, “Psycho Talk” and a great panel all coming out.

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.” 

They think you‘re stupid.  The companies that have butchered the middle class with rising health care costs are now going to be the watchdogs on this issue?  Give me a break. 

All right.  Here‘s what is happening here. 

HMOs, insurance companies, drugmakers and doctors are telling the White House they will voluntarily slow their rate increases down in the coming years.  They are offering $2 trillion in spending reductions in 10 years. 

Let me tell you something, folks.  That‘s absolute hogwash and I do not buy it. 

The very institutions that have drilled the American people with double-digit increases, year after year, are going to cut us a break?  Is this the reform you voted for? 

Now, the AMA, the American Hospital Association, the pharmaceutical manufacturers, and, of all people, the SEIU, say that, hey, let‘s all make sweet at the White House today.  The SEIU calls it a good start.

Here‘s what the president had to say on it today. 

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BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The groups that are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests.  They have not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country.  In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform. 

It‘s a kind of broad coalition.  Everybody with a seat at the table that I talked about during the campaign that is required to achieve meaningful health care reform...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You know, folks, I don‘t trust the people at the table with the president.  I think this is a major head fake and open field running, trying to absolutely dodge any reform that‘s out there. 

Mr. President, don‘t fall for this.  Don‘t fall for this.

These groups are offering an olive branch, but I‘ll tell you what, the consumers on the first day, it feels like a Trojan horse.  I think these groups are going to do anything and everything they can to derail any reform.

Single payer, not at the table.  Consumer groups, not at the table.  Doctors who want real reform, they‘re not at the table.  I don‘t trust them. 

Now, here‘s the pushback.  The right wing is making the government the bogeyman, saying that they don‘t want the government between the patient and doctor. 

Listen to this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM PRICE ®, GEORGIA:  The issue is whether patients and their families, along with doctors, are going to be able to make health care decisions.  If we insert the government between the patient and the doctor, that‘s not where the American people want it. 

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REP. MICHAEL BURGESS ®, TEXAS:  They are concerned that Washington will overreach, they will put that congressional committee between the doctor and the patient.  We have no place between the doctor and the patient. 

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SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  The American people are worried that we‘re going to place government or, should I say, bureaucrats between themselves and their doctors. 

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SCHULTZ:  They are pretty good, aren‘t they?   I mean, they‘ve got it all written down, all on the same page.  Or they just happen to say the same thing.

It should be noted, folks, that the same PR firm that directed the Swift Boaters is managing the effort to kill health care reform in this country.  That‘s CRC Public Relations.  Now, Rick Scott, who heads up the Conservatives for Patients‘ Rights, refuses to come on this program with me face to face.

Americans, I think we‘ve got to watch our backside on this one.  I just don‘t feel like this is headed for real reform. 

Now, that‘s just my opinion.  I could be wrong on this, but I don‘t see everybody at the table, and that troubles me.  And I don‘t believe that a bean counter from an insurance company is going to look after me and look after you when it comes to keeping costs down.  So this is a real challenge for the Obama administration. 

Joining me now is Peter Orszag, who is the White House budget director. 

Mr. Orszag, give me...

PETER ORSZAG, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR:  Otherwise known as a bean counter. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, OK.  That‘s all right.  I think you count them better than the insurance companies.  We‘ll start with that.

ORSZAG:  Thank you.  I hope so.  All right.

SCHULTZ:  OK. 

All right.  Give me some confidence tonight.  I mean, I‘ve gotten a lot of e-mail today, people saying, you know, we‘re not so sure about this, that this is, number one, totally inclusive and we can trust these organizations. 

What do you think? 

ORSZAG:  Here‘s the big deal from what happened today.  These organizations—so the hospitals and the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies—which have never before, at least to my knowledge, ever said we can wring efficiencies and reduce costs out of the health care system, have now said we can do that.  And the result of that will be lower premiums for families and lower costs for the government.  Now, we do need to make sure that they live up to it, and I agree with you on that, but I think this is a big step forward in terms of at least making the pledge and the commitment. 

SCHULTZ:  How can we trust them?  They have double digits us on rate increases, they have denied coverage.  It‘s just—in many respects, the quality is good but the consumers in this country are furious about this. 

Now, why should we trust the people?  It‘s like the fox guarding the hen house, isn‘t it? 

ORSZAG:  Well, I think, again, we are seeing change. 

You, by the way, mentioned some of the opponents to reform highlighting the controversy over comparative effectiveness research, which would provide more information about what works and what doesn‘t.  I was in the meeting the president today when these folks came in. 

The American Medical Association and the pharma industry, both of which had raised some concerns about comparative effectiveness research, both embraced it in the meeting with the president today.  I think that‘s a significant change. 

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk about what does 1.5 percent over 10 years mean to me and all of the viewers tonight who are saying, look at my heath insurance costs going up?  Equate that for us.

ORSZAG:  Sure.  What it means is—and it may sound like a little amount, but as Benjamin Franklin taught us, the power of compound interest is really strong. 

If you reduce the growth rate by 1.5 percentage points per year, after five years or so the average family of four will be saving $,2500.  Over a 10-year period, we as an economy would save $2 trillion that we put into education, into infrastructure, into trips to Disneyland, other things that we‘d be doing with our dollars rather than unnecessary tests and unnecessary days in the hospital. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Orszag, why don‘t we have an actuary from the General Accounting Office or from the White House, from you, for that matter, on what single payer would actually cost?  It appears that single payer is totally off the table when surveys show the majority of Americans want that. 

Why don‘t we get the numbers on that? 

ORSZAG:  Well, I think there have been a variety of studies done.  I think the key thing that we‘re trying to focus on is reducing costs and expanding coverage.  There are lots of different ways of doing that. 

I know you favor a single payer.  Some people in Congress do also.  But there are other ways of getting efficiencies out of the system in addition. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  No offense on calling you a bean counter. 

ORSZAG:  That‘s OK.  No offense taken.  Can I be a cool bean counter? 

SCHULTZ:  No, I don‘t think you‘re coldhearted at all. 

ORSZAG:  OK.

SCHULTZ:  I just—I‘m having a hard time, because over the last 10 years, all of a sudden—they haven‘t done anything, and all of a sudden these companies are going to step up and say, hey, I can‘t wait to help.  What can I do?  I think they are afraid that what the American people really want is what they could get, and they don‘t want that. 

What about that? 

ORSZAG:  Well, I think what they have done, though, is they have said, we want to be a positive force in reform, not—unfortunately, what happened 15 years ago, they were a negative force.  They have stepped forward and said, we want to get reform done. 

I think, frankly, it was clear to them that we were proceeding.  We had a lot of momentum.  We‘ve got, if necessary, reconciliation instructions which will help get this done, if necessary.  And I think that what they were seeing is the train was moving and they wanted to try to jump on, and they stepped forward in a way that I haven‘t seen them do in the past. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Mr. Orszag, appreciate your time tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

ORSZAG:  Thanks for having me.

SCHULTZ:  For more on this, let‘s turn to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has been, in my opinion, a health care hawk. 

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

Do you trust all these people that are just stepping up all of a sudden after years of rate increases?  Do you trust how genuine they are tonight?  What do you think? 

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Ed, what I‘ll tell you is I would much rather have these people saying now that they are going to work with us rather than going out and spending billions of dollars to try to beat us.  I mean, they literally spent enormous sums the last time, and they certainly could do it again. 

The real key—and I think you touched on it—is there are a lot of good doctors and hospitals, but I‘m not going to take the fox‘s word that the hen house is safe.  We‘re going to write tough reforms, particularly insurance reforms, into the law.

SCHULTZ:  There‘s a different between a pledge and guarantee.  The word we got today was “pledge.”  Are you satisfied with that? 

WYDEN:  Absolutely not.  And it seems to me, particularly on insurance reform, what we‘ve got to do is write a law that outlaws cherry-picking.  These companies can‘t just take healthy people, send sick people over to government programs more fragile than they are. 

We need to write a law that outlaws discrimination against those who are sick.  We need to write a law that ensures community ratings so that everybody gets their costs held down.  Finally, we need to write a law that I think is the ultimate legal guarantee, and that‘s that all of our people get benefits that are at least as good as members of Congress have. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron, this is the word “trust” in big, bold letters across the screen.  You‘re asking and the administration is asking the American people to trust an industry that has really nailed us financially and hurt small business.

I mean, I hope it all works.  I hope there‘s going to be some real reform here.  But I don‘t see the single payer people at the table on the Senate Finance Committee.  And oh, by the way, meeting number two is tomorrow.

Can you give us an update on that?

WYDEN:  What we‘re going to be zeroing in on is cost.  And I think you and I have touched on this, Ed.  I think it is outrageous for a person who‘s middle class, who‘s underinsured, doesn‘t have much coverage, to go out and subsidize designer smiles for high flyers.  What we‘ve got to do is go after these rip-offs.  It starts with insurance reforms, and then, particularly, cutting the outrageous administrative costs in health care. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Senator, are you willing to use reconciliation on this to make sure we get health care reform in this country? 

WYDEN:  Ed, I have been able to get a big group of senators on both sides of the aisle—I‘ve been working on this for more than two years—to say that we‘re going to support tough insurance reforms on a bipartisan basis.  As long as we can do that, let‘s buck for 70 votes in the United States Senate and make reconciliation irrelevant. 

SCHULTZ:  And you think that Republicans are going to work with you in ‘09 before the midterm?  You think that they will give this president a victory? 

WYDEN:  I think those Republicans have got to go home and they‘ve got say to their businesses that they have taken specific steps to hold costs down.  You start with the tough insurance reforms that I‘ve got Democrats and Republicans behind, and you can do that.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Senator Wyden, good to have you with us.

WYDEN:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  I know you‘ve had a lot of town hall meetings and you‘ve gotten an earful.  It‘s all about health care.

Appreciate it, Ron.  Thank you.

WYDEN:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Now, just a reminder, just an update, tomorrow the Senate Finance Committee is going to be holding its second hearing on health care reform, and at this hour there is no advocate of single payer having a position at the table. 

We‘ll be watching Senator Baucus get it together. 

And one other note.  You know, if single payer is so bad, why do we treat our veterans that way? 

Coming up, Dick Cheney throws President Bush under the table on torture.  Is this really enough to finally get an investigation, the former veep willing to say it under oath? 

Stay with us.

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BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS:  How much did President Bush know specifically about the methods that were being used?  We know that you—and you have said that you approved this somewhere down the line.  Did President Bush know everything you knew? 

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I certainly—yes, I have every reason to believe he knew a great deal about the program.  He basically authorized it.  I mean, this was a presidential level decision, and the decision went to the president and he signed off on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That, of course, was former Vice President Dick Cheney on “Face the Nation” yesterday.  He says the decision to torture went all the way to the top, that President Bush himself approved it. 

My question is, will Cheney say it under oath?  We‘ll follow up on that tomorrow with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Now, joining me now is Michael Isikoff, investigative reporter for “Newsweek “and an MSNBC contributor. 

Michael, good to have you on.  I know that you follow this closely. 

This just changes the landscape, does it not?  I mean, it seems like every 30 days, Cheney comes out and throws some more information out.  This one‘s a dandy. 

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I don‘t think that was a surprise to anybody.  It‘s always helpful to have people confirm publicly, on the record, what has been reported before many times, and I think this is probably the first time the vice president made it clear publicly that everything that has been talked about of late was approved at the very top. 

What I found remarkable about Vice President Cheney‘s interview yesterday was some of the language he used, which was actually kind of eyebrow-raising.  Twice he referred to President Obama and his administration as having come to power.  They‘ve come to power and are now dismantling these programs that have kept the country safe. 

Well, usually the way this works is somebody wins an election and gets sworn into office.  It‘s the democratic process at work.  I just found it very odd for the vice president to be referring to that as somebody coming to power or taking power. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, what do you think—is the White House ever going to react at Dick Cheney coming out every 30 days flapping his jaw and throwing smack around?  I mean...

ISIKOFF:  I think they probably don‘t mind it at all.  It‘s sort of a reminder of the guy and the guy‘s policies that they beat in the election. 

In fact, at one point, Cheney correctly said, and they campaigned against these policies, and now they‘re coming in and dismantling them, as though that was somehow surprising.  Well, yes, they campaigned, they won the election.  And now they‘re doing what they campaigned as saying they were going to do.  So, I just found it very odd that the vice president thought that was somehow surprising. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  This is another exchange that I thought caught our attention.  It was rather interesting.  No regrets, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER:  In retrospect, years have past, you‘re now out of office, do you think we should have done some things differently back then, or do you have any regrets about any of it? 

CHENEY:  No regrets.  I think it was absolutely the right thing to do.  I am convinced, absolutely convinced that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Michael, he‘s doing this every 30 days.  Why is he doing it?  Is it for the Republican Party?  Is it because he‘s afraid of a special investigation?  Is he just trying to win in the arena of public opinion? 

What do you think?

ISIKOFF:  I think it‘s about his legacy.  I think he sees this as the issue upon which he‘s most vociferously and repeatedly attacked, and he wants to vindicate himself.  And so he feels the need to talk out, to speak out, when former President Bush famously said that President Obama deserves his silence on these issues. 

Cheney is absolutely dedicated to his own vindication and his own legacy, so he keeps talking out like this.  I don‘t know that he‘s helping his case beyond the people who already believe him, because the fact is we did have an election. 

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

ISIKOFF:  We did have it, and people basically rejected his policy and his version of events. 

SCHULTZ:  What about this CIA report that goes back to May of 2004 that is going to contradict what Cheney has been talking about?  What about that? 

ISIKOFF:  Well, that‘s the CIA inspector general‘s report that actually does have the actual details of what took place during these interrogations.  We‘ve seen the Justice Department interrogation memos, what was authorized, and that has provoked quite a bit of debate. 

There‘s going to be a very interest Senate hearing coming up.  Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island is chairing it on Wednesday.

But the missing document and the one that I think people are most eager to take a look at is, what actually happened after the Justice Department authorized these techniques?  How far did they go?  Did they go beyond—did the interrogators go beyond what was authorized?  And a lot of people have said that the details are a lot uglier than we‘ve seen so far. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Michael Isikoff, thanks for joining us tonight, “Newsweek” magazine, MSNBC contributor. 

Also, later in this program tonight we‘re going to be talking about the alleged involvement and the accusations flying around Nancy Pelosi.  You‘ll want to see that, so stay with us. 

Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”   The nut filling in for Rush Limbaugh picks up on a truly disgusting joke about U.S. troops murdering Democratic leaders. 

That‘s next in “Psycho Talk.”   Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives? 

It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.” 

Oh, we‘ve got a two for one in the psycho zone tonight. 

First up, CBS golf analyst David Feherty.  That‘s right, a golf analyst.  Here‘s the background. 

Feherty, a Dallas guy who was asked to write an article about former President Bush moving to Dallas—so what does the guy do?  He starts writing about our troops.  Feherty suggests that they love their country so much, they would assassinate its leaders. 

Now to Rush Limbaugh‘s fill-in, Mark Davis.  This guy‘s a dandy.  He‘s number two to check in to the psycho zone tonight.  Why?  For reading Feherty‘s sick Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid death fantasy to millions of people over the radio.

Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MARK DAVIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  David Feherty writes, “If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there‘s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice.  And Harry Reid and bin laden would be strangled to death.”

David Feherty, gold analyst for CBS.  But his words speak enormous volumes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, it‘s that conservative talk entertainment, isn‘t it? 

Davis disseminates this insanity to millions on the radio.  Why? 

Because Feherty‘s words speak enormous volumes.  That‘s what‘s also sick. 

If Feherty has a death wish for Pelosi and Reid, then he should say so.  Instead, he says any U.S. soldier would attack Pelosi and Reid?

CBS Sports obviously distanced themselves from Feherty‘s writing.  The PGA Tour doesn‘t put up with this.  They criticized him as well. 

Feherty himself has apologized, to his credit.  Kind of a lame apology, but at least it‘s an apology. 

Now, I want Mark Davis to pocket his ego, to apologize for reading this stuff.  Talking about assassinating America‘s elected officials, pinning it on our troops, wanting to attack America‘s elected leaders, then reading it millions of radio listeners because it speaks volumes?  It‘s all serious “Psycho Talk.”  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Republicans are engaged in an all out campaign to shift the torture debate.  They are terrified of being held accountable.  And they think they can win by pinning it back on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN:  If we‘re going to have a full investigation, Nancy Pelosi should be the first witness. 

NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  She has a lot of explaining to do.  I don‘t.  Initially, she didn‘t know about it, had not been briefed.  Then had been briefed but it wasn‘t clear.  Now she‘s been briefed and, in fact, had been told it was all legal, so she didn‘t worry about it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, did they forget something?  They were ruling this country with an iron fist of August 2002, when water boarding was used at least 83 times against Abu Zubaydah.  That happened before the Bush administration even bothered to go to the Congress. 

But these guys think they can blame the Democrats now.  They think Americans will forget that the executive branch took unprecedented powers after 9/11, and then used the Justice Department to justify those powers. 

Well, question is, are they going to get away with it?  Nancy Pelosi is now the target of the right.  I‘m not here to protect Nancy Pelosi.  I want the truth, just like you do.  If we raise our right hand, let‘s get it on. 

But I really do believe that she has not been given an opportunity to fully explain, because she‘s on the Intelligence Committee.  She was involved in some secret briefings. 

For more on this, joining me now is John Nichols of “The Nation.”  John, good to have you with us.  I know you‘ve reported on this very closely.  Your thoughts on this total picture here; what about it? 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  Well, let‘s understand a couple of things, Ed.  First and foremost, Nancy Pelosi was a relatively new member of the leadership of a minority caucus in the House.  And at this point, when the Bush-Cheney administration was, as you suggest, exercising extreme executive power, the notion that Nancy Pelosi, in any way, formulated these policies or advanced or had any real advice or consent role in it is absolutely absurd. 

I think she should call their bluff.  I think she should call for the release of all documents regarding these briefings.  And also I think she should offer, as Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on Intelligence, has demanded—she should offer to testify under oath. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, we have to find out who knew what, when, and

everything else.  We‘re hearing tonight that former Senator Bob Graham of

Florida, who was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he is

saying that he wasn‘t briefed on this.  And this is a man, if you know him

he writes down notes all day long about what his day is like.  So he keeps a diary.  If he says he wasn‘t briefed, does that lend any credibility to defend Pelosi? 

NICHOLS:  It lends a tremendous amount.  Bob Graham is known as a real straight shooter in Washington.  And something else, he‘s not merely saying he wasn‘t briefed.  He‘s also corroborating key details of what Nancy Pelosi has said. 

Now, again, I think we should have hearings on this.  I would prefer that it be a Senate hearing.  I would prefer that Bob Graham and Nancy Pelosi testify.  If the Republicans want them to testify first, fantastic, because what I think that they will be able to outline, and what they should outline, is a—the fact that they were lied to, that the Bush-Cheney administration lied to the Congress and the people of the United States about what are high crimes and misdemeanors. 

SCHULTZ:  John Nichols of “The Nation,” do you think that this most recent appearance by Cheney, and some of the things surrounding the allegations of Nancy Pelosi, and, of course, what you said about Bob Graham, what we pointed out tonight—wouldn‘t this increase the intensity of the majority party to do something when it comes to pushing forward for a special investigation on this?  And to move the attorney general in this direction?  What do you think? 

NICHOLS:  Well, I think that it should.  Unfortunately, there‘s a lot of game playing going on in Washington right now.  What Cheney and Pete Hoekstra, Lamar Alexander and others are doing is attempting to create the fantasy that this was a bipartisan scandal, that there was bipartisan approval of torture. 

There is very little, if any, evidence to suggest that.  But they are using the media as their vehicle.  Again, I think the key challenge here is for Nancy Pelosi to call their bluff, to push back hard.  If she does, I think we will get to that breaking point, where hearings will have to happen. 

And, again, if Nancy Pelosi were to agree to testify, then it would be very, very hard for Dick Cheney and George Bush to refuse to do so. 

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, why do you think Cheney is coming out every 30 days talking smack?  What‘s the strategy here? 

NICHOLS:  I think he‘s trying—I think he‘s—I read a biography of Dick Cheney.  I think he‘s trying very, very hard to keep Republicans in line.  He‘s afraid that his own party might cut him loose and use him as the sort of person to blame on all of this.  So he‘s trying to cover himself.  And I believe that it‘s mainly now an effort to, A, muddy the waters, as he always likes to do, but B, keep Republicans in line. 

SCHULTZ:  John, good to have you on tonight.  Great work at “The Nation,” as always.   

Let‘s turn now to tonight‘s political panel, former special assistant to George W. Bush, Ron Christie, with us, chief White House correspondent for “Politico” Michael Allen, and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.  All with us here tonight.

Ron, we‘ll start with you.  Dick Cheney says that George W. Bush knew about it.  What do you make of that? 

RON CHRISTIE, FMR. SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO GEORGE W. BUSH:  Well, gee, there‘s a big surprise, Ed.  Of course he knew.  The president of the United States was doing everything that he could to ensure that the country did not get attacked again.  I think it makes only logical sense to hear that, in fact, the commander in chief knew that enhanced interrogation techniques were being used.  I don‘t think there‘s any new scandal or any new surprise about that.  Of course the president knew. 

SCHULTZ:  The comment does backs up the Senate Armed Services Committee report that came out a few weeks ago, that said that it went up to the highest level of the administration.  What do you think, Jamal?  Is this going to intensify anything at all, these constant appearances by Dick Cheney?  Why can‘t the Democrats get off their duffs and do something here? 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think it‘s going to intensify people‘s belief that we did the right thing last November by kicking the Republicans out of the White House and getting a new administration.  The best thing about Dick Cheney coming out is it reminds us of how wrong the last administration was and how much we were really ready to get rid of it. 

So it‘s good.  You know, I‘ve got to tell you, Ed, I want to hear—what‘s not being discussed, I want to hear—if they‘re going to release memos about who did what and what happened in torture, I want to know what memos exist that talk about the number of people who were radicalized because they were tortured or mistreated in American or in the custody of our allies, and then let back loose. 

We‘ve got to know the entire breath of this thing.  And I think, in fact, there are people who are committed to do America harm after being in our custody.  We haven‘t talked about that enough. 

SCHULTZ:  Mike Allen, I want to ask you about the media.  In Washington, there were a couple of guys named Woodward and Bernstein that just didn‘t give up.  Is there more here?  Where is the tenacity of the mainstream media to just go after the story and demand full accountability?  What do you think? 

MIKE ALLEN, “POLITICO”:  Well, Ed, I think you‘re seeing that more and more.  By the way, it was fun to have you down here.  We had a great weekend. 

But I think you‘re going to see this covered very intensely.  People are going to be checking into these Republican claims.  The reason Republicans are trying to keep the heat on Speaker Pelosi is they want to make it sort of a case of mutually assured destruction.  They want Democrats to hesitate to hold these hearings, to hold the truth commissions, to hold people accountable, to pursue prosecutions, because they want to remind Republicans they could wind up as witnesses as well. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, do you agree with that? 

CHRISTIE:  I do.  But I find this whole dialogue very, troubling, Ed. 

I find it very, --

ALLEN:  Troubling, I always love troubling.

CHRISTIE:  I think it‘s very troubling that, in fact, what happened is that we made sure to protect the American men and women who live in this country from people who were trying to kill us.  Now, people are looking back in hindsight, trying to look at this through a political prism.  The administration did everything that it thought was legal, justifiable, and necessary to protect this country. 

Why don‘t we release the memos, Ed?  If we want to talk about investigations and memos, why don‘t we release the memos that disclose the number of attacks that were thwarted.   

SCHULTZ:  Hey, I‘m all about releasing information.  There‘s no proof that we are kept safe because we‘re torturing.  Jamal, your thoughts on this?  Why aren‘t the Democrats pushing hard?  But more than that, how many appearances is it going to take from Dick Cheney before the Democrats actually do something? 

SIMMONS:  I think what they are trying to do is move forward here, Ed. 

I think we have to pay attention to the fact that we got rid of the

Republicans.  We stopped torture.  We‘re moving forward with Barack Obama. 

I was Bob Graham‘s press secretary when he ran for president.  I‘ll tell you, Bob Graham is the guy who does keep meticulous notes.  If Bob Graham says that he wasn‘t briefed, he wasn‘t briefed.  This guy would know.  If he‘s corroborating a point that Nancy Pelosi made, I think those are good enough for me. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve got to ask you, Mike, how troubling is it for Nancy Pelosi to be in this position right now?

ALLEN:  This has been very stressful for her.  I think her staff believes that, in the end, the facts will bear her out.

SCHULTZ:  That‘s a key point.  Her staff thinks the facts will bear this out.  The American people are starting to wonder what she knew, when she knew it, and did she go along and authorize it.  What do you think? 

ALLEN:  Right.  And part of it is exactly what the content of the briefing is.  As you know, Ed, she said that they talked about this in a more conceptual manner, that they talked about how this could be done, as opposed to the fact that this was being done. 

I‘ll tell you that she and other Democrats are thrilled to have the

vice president out there, the former vice president out there.  Today, the

DNC even made a web ad featuring a clip from Vice President Cheney‘s

appearance.  The reason he‘s out there—you asked at the top of the show

the reason he‘s out there is he thinks that other people from the administration are not sufficiently making the case.  He believes that this type of interrogation was part of a whole program, as he called it—a 1984-ish word there—a whole program that kept the country safe.  That‘s why he‘s out there.  He thinks that it‘s been left to him. 

SCHULTZ:  Fellows, I think he‘s trying to win in the arena of public opinion.  And if he can do that, and the polls show that they are OK, on solid ground on this with the people, that the Obama administration won‘t push the issue.  We‘ll talk more about this in a moment.  Stay with us, fellows. 

Next up, what happens in Detroit doesn‘t stay there?  The future of American auto industry is tied to seven million jobs in this country, in health care, education, all kinds of sectors.  Failure is not an option, especially in a recession.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Tonight, in my playbook tonight, the ripple effect.  No matter where you live, believe it or not, you will be affected if the auto industry goes down.  More than 7.2 million American jobs are dependent on the U.S. auto industry, 7.2 million jobs. 

This is not just about Michigan.  It‘s Tennessee, Ohio, and Texas, states that you might not associate with the auto industry.  Plus, jobs you might not associate with the industry, like health care, education, restaurants, retail, millions of jobs, folks. 

Now, there is a group taking this story to the road, the Keep It Made in America Bus Tour.  It hit the road today.  This is an 11 state, 30 plus city tour.  Labor leaders, elected officials, workers, labor leaders, the lot. 

Joining me tonight is Dr. Lisa Jordan, PHD in economics, and a leading economist for this bus tour, Keep It Made in America. 

Doctor, thanks for joining us tonight.  What‘s the ripple effect here?  For some reason, I just think the American people—and I didn‘t until I did a lot of reading on this—really don‘t understand the domino effect and the ripple effect here.  Put some numbers to it tonight. 

DR. LISA JORDAN, ECONOMIST, “MADE IN AMERICA”:  Ed, I think you said it.  We are talking about 7.2 million Americans that are related to the auto sector and their families.  Let me just tell you a quick story.  We were in Spring Hill this weekend, and we talked to firefighters, an entire community worried about what is going to happen with the auto plant there. 

We talked to someone who owns a local coffee shop.  She‘s worried about if she‘s going to be able to make it.

We were in Granite City this morning.  There‘s a man there.  He‘s a third generation restaurant owner.  You wouldn‘t think about that, but his restaurant is right across from the mill.  And every day, he‘s serving lunches to those guys. 

That mill is shut down now. 

So we‘re talking about jobs that you wouldn‘t normally expect.  We‘re talking about the people who work in the paper factory where their paper goes to make car seats, makes synthetic leather.  We‘re talking about the chemical industry, where they make colors and dyes that go to the parts and supplies that then go into cars. 

So we‘re talking about an industry that supports about 26 percent of all manufacturing in this country. 

SCHULTZ:  And we‘re looking at Tennessee.  Look at the numbers here on Tennessee: a total effect of 261,000 jobs.  Now, most people would think—well, Tennessee, there‘s 83,000 auto jobs.  But the ripple effect would be 261,000. 

In Texas, it could affect almost a half a million jobs, 416,000.  And in Ohio, as if that state hasn‘t been hit hard enough already, 597,000.  Now, this bus tour is out and about in these states, trying to really gin up support and educate the American people on this.  Do you think the Obama administration recognizes the ripple effect here? 

JORDAN:  I think President Obama—I can‘t see that he could support the GM plan.  He said last week he was going to end tax cuts for companies that took their jobs overseas.  I can‘t imagine that he‘s going to support the GM plan that essentially wants us to give taxpayer dollars to ship jobs overseas. 

They want to send essentially four plants worth of jobs overseas and then import those cars.  We‘re out there saying that if you sell cars in America, you should build them there, and that taxpayer dollars should not go to ship jobs to other countries. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, is there any averting any of this?  GM looks like they are headed for bankruptcy.  Maybe not.  They have until June 1st.  But this is almost like a survivor bus tour.  Or am I being too critical on this?  What do you think? 

JORDAN:  You know, I think what‘s happening here is we‘ve been out in the field.  And people when they find out what is going on with the GM plan are angry.  One of the things about the Chrysler plan is at least there are conversations about bringing cars to the United States.  It looks like that plan might create 4,000 American jobs. 

The GM plan very clearly is going to export jobs.  Out on the road today, people are saying, if I had known what the GM plan was about, I wouldn‘t want my tax dollars to go to it.  People in the field are signing petitions, calling their Congressmen and their senator, saying, this is not a plan for America.  It‘s time that we said that if our taxpayer dollars are going to be used, they have to be used to create jobs at home.  That‘s what this is about. 

SCHULTZ:  And not outsource jobs. 

JORDAN:  That‘s exactly it. 

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate your time tonight.  Thank you. 

JORDAN:  Thank you for having me, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

A final page from my playbook tonight; American journalist Roxana Saberi has been free from Iran.  Her parents say that she will be going home to her home of Fargo, North Dakota within the next couple of days.  The 32 year old Iranian American was jailed in Iran for four months on charges of spying.  Today, an appeals court suspended her eight-year prison sentence.  The president, secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and politicians on the Hill repeatedly called for Saberi‘s release.  Washington had called the charges against her absolutely baseless.

This is an important step in President Obama‘s foreign policy strategy with Iran.  After decades of shunning Tehran, the president is using a new strategy.  You have to think—tonight, the Saberi has to think that it‘s certainly a step in the right direction. 

Up next, President Obama, well, he flat out brought down the house at the correspondents dinner on Saturday night.  I‘ll show you some of my favorite lines.  Plus, Wanda Sykes catching a lot of flak for what she said about the Drugster.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN:  rush Limbaugh says he hopes the administration fails.  So you‘re saying I hope America fails.  I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  That was comedian Wanda Sykes, the headliner at Saturday night‘s White House Correspondents Dinner.  Did she cross the line?  Time to bring back tonight‘s panel, Ron Christie, Mike Allen and Jamal Simmons.

Fellows, I have an opinion.  You hire a comedian; the rocks go with the farm.  Ron, I‘ll let you start this one.  Did she go too far?  Was it out of bounds? 

CHRISTIE:  She went too far, Ed.  It was disgusting.  You can say all you want about Rush Limbaugh, but I think it‘s disgusting when you equate someone with being a 20th hijacker when 3,000 innocent Americans were killed that day.  I think it‘s further disgusting that someone makes fun or makes light of someone who is recovering from substance abuse.  What sort of message does that give Americans who are recovering, knowing that they can get ridiculed? 

The worst part of it, Ed, is the president of the United States was shown laughing.  You can laugh about a joke.  You can laugh about something.  But laughing about 3,000 Americans who were killed on September 11t, and suggesting that Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, I found was beyond the pale and disgusting. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, I‘ll have an answer the that.  But Jamal, I‘ll let you take it first.  What do you think? 

SIMMONS:  I think Ron is getting a little worked up about a joke that clearly was not—you know, I think a lot of comedians come to Washington.  They try to do something that is funny.  They try to also do something that‘s going to be edgy.  Because why?  We‘re sitting here talking about Wanda Sykes now on your show.  And people are doing that all up and down the dial. 

So I think we‘re playing into the hands a little bit.  But it was—was it across the line?  Maybe. 

One more thing before we go, I‘m from Detroit --   

SCHULTZ:  We‘ll get to that in just a second.  We‘ve got time for that tonight.  I want to go to the sound bite of Robert Gibbs today.  He responded to the Wanda Sykes comment at the podium on Saturday night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy.  I think there‘s no doubt that 9/11 is part of that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What do you think, Mike Allen?  Is that‘s something that the White House just had to distance themselves from? 

ALLEN:  Look, when you look at Wanda Sykes‘ record, this was much tamer than it could have been.  People wondered how far she would go.  As you know, some of the stuff is very racy, very blue.  She stayed away from that. 

The first couple seemed to enjoy it.  I was at a reception with them right before they went out, and the first lady said to her, point to her husband, the president—she said, I hope you get on him tonight.  So she was looking forward to it. 

I think this—if Wanda Sykes wanted to give publicity to Rush Limbaugh, she‘s certainly done that. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, hasn‘t Rush Limbaugh Repeatedly made President Obama the target of a lot of jokes?  Let‘s see, a song parody during the campaign, the disparaging remarks about palling around with terrorists and all the rhetoric that‘s come out.  I mean, come on.  This is a banquet.  Everybody knows it‘s jokes.  Everybody knows it‘s about fun.  You know, there‘s a lot of Americans that are hooked on drugs that can‘t write the check like Rush Limbaugh. 

Not to mention, at the Heritage Foundation banquet the other night, he was mocking this recession, where millions of people have lost their jobs.  I mean, can‘t you lighten up a little bit on this? 

CHRISTIE:  I‘m sorry, Ed.  I was in the White House on 9/11.  It‘s a day that I think is very tragic for this country.  And I do not think—it‘s one thing for Rush Limbaugh, who is a political commentator and a conservative commentator, to say what he says about the president.  I think it‘s another for a woman to get up on the dais and equate another American for being the lost 20th hijacker when 3,000 people were killed. 

I don‘t see the humor in it.  And Jamal says, lighten up.  I don‘t see the humor in this at all.  It‘s just disgusting to me. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Let‘s move forward to the auto industry.  Jamal, back to you on this.  What is this bus tour going to do, if anything?  We all know that there‘s going to be massive job losses if we don‘t support the auto industry.

SIMMONS:  There‘s going to be huge job losses.  I was in Detroit about ten days ago for a conference for about four days.  Like I said, I‘m from there.  And you just hear it.  Every single conversation, people are talking about, and not just people who work for an auto company, but people who work for all the other industries.

I have a column that‘s coming out in the “Politico” tomorrow basically arguing that the president needs to go to southeast Michigan, go to Detroit.  He needs to look the people in the eye, have a conversation, hear from them directly, because a lot of people are feeling a little nervous that he‘s sitting in the White House making decisions about this industry and he hasn‘t talked to auto workers and their families yet. 

SCHULTZ:  Mike, is the untold story that labor in this country is getting a little frustrated with this president?  What do you think? 

ALLEN:  Certainly there is some frustration.  But this administration recognizes your point, which is that you feel in every state.  My Pop Warner team was sponsored by Fletcher Joan Chevrolet.  One of the most important stories today, the “Wall Street Journal” says that this week, Chevrolet and Chrysler dealers are going to find out if they can be in business; 2,600 of the 6,200 GM dealers in this country are going to find out that they are not going to get any more cars. 

That means local communities are not going to have people to sponsor their teams.  Chrysler also submitting a list, the dealerships that it‘s going to keep using, to bankruptcy court.  The others, they say, they‘re going to wind down. This is terrible for those communities. 

SCHULTZ:  Fellows, there‘s going to be a ripple effect on this, big time.  And I think it‘s going to have political ramifications.  Ron Christie, Mike Allen, Jamal Simmons, thanks for joining us tonight.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz. 

For more information, or send me an e-mail, you just have to go to Ed.MSNBC.com, or check out WeGotEd.com.  That‘s my radio website.  Townhall meeting coming up June 13th in Buffalo, New York.  and get text alerts about THE ED SHOW sent to your phone.  Just text the word Ed to 622639. 

We‘ll see you back here tomorrow, same time, 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, on MSNBC.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews, the man, is next.

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

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