updated 6/17/2009 11:14:36 AM ET 2009-06-17T15:14:36

Guest: Susan Molinari, Stephanie Miller, Ron Christie, Laura Flanders,

Jamal Simmons, Michael Medved, John Harwood

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Americans. Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it's THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

David Letterman apologizes again to Sarah Palin. She turns it into a shameless political play; this woman is nothing but political slime.

And shooter, you're no better. Dick Cheney, I'm calling you out. Stand and up say, "I hope this country doesn't get hit again." That's what Americans want to hear.

And the right wing is going nuts over a $1 trillion price tag for President Obama's health care plan. Democrats, don't get weak knees on this, you cannot cave in, we need reform.

Plus "Psycho Talk."

All that, a great panel.

But first tonight's "Op Ed."

Governor Sarah Palin, will you place spare us the political slime?

Because that's exactly what it is. David Letterman, apology round two.

Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE NIGHT SHOW": I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed. And my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception.

And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right

thing here and apologize for having told that joke. So I would like to

apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow,

and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged

by the joke.

I'm sorry about it. And I'll try to do better in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: That was Letterman last night. Can we get back to late night TV now?

This is Sarah Palin's disingenuous acceptance of that apology. The full statement reads like this. "Of course the apology is accepted on behalf of young women like my daughters who hope men who joke about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve. Letterman certainly has the right to joke about whatever he wants to. And thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's right to free speech. In this case may that right be used to promote equality and respect." End of disingenuous statement from a politician and not from a mother.

You will never convince me, folks, that that came from the heart of a mother who was really troubled by what was said by David Letterman. I think this reaction from Sarah Palin reeks of political gamesmanship. I think it is so disingenuous.

Now, some of the people out there view that this was really a personal shot from David Letterman to the Palin family. They took it to heart. You know, it has nothing to do with politics.

So what we have here is an apology from a professional broadcaster, top of his field, has been for years and such an impersonal response from Sarah Palin. Where does it end? It doesn't.

Look at these protesters outside Ed Sullivan Theater today just down the street here in New York. What do they want? They want David Letterman out of a job. They want David Letterman gone. They want Letterman censored. They want the Palins to get some respect.

I wonder if they're-they can't be New Yorkers, they've got to be on vacation with nothing else to do and so they decided to do this. This is way overboard. And Sarah Palin set the table for this.

Joining me now is syndicated radio talk show host Stephanie Miller and Republican strategist and former Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

Congresswoman, Susan, I want to ask you first. Did that statement read like a mother or did it read like a politician? Maybe I'm wrong but I took it as a politician.

SUSAN MOLINARI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it read as both. First of all I think David Letterman did the right thing. I think the tone he hit last night was what we were all hoping for and looking for. I think we learned a lesson throughout this whole thing. As we do when people cross the line and they say they're sorry and we stand back.

I think that's what Governor Palin was attempting to do. I think she could have done it little more artfully.

Let me tell you something, I think she took up the gauntlet, not only because it was her daughter, but for women and children and girls and those jokes that are told on our behalf all the time. I think she showed some political leadership, which I think was very important in this arena. So you know, I give her credit for it.

I think she initially reacted as a mother and then reacted as a political leader.

SCHULTZ: Stephanie, did it read as a mother or as a politician?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO SHOW HOST: Two words, Ed. "Oh, please."

I mean, I think we all learned something from this, didn't we, Susan? That is, if you make jokes about the Palins, the terrorists win and you hate the troops. Are you kidding?

Ed is right. This is purely a political statement. And by the way, she's the one dragging her 14-year-old daughter through this. Nobody in their right mind thought this joke was about the 14-year-old. You can go to Huffington Post today, Ed, there are ten examples of the exact same or worse joke that Conan told, Leno told, "Saturday Night Live" told, they never said anything.

This is ridiculous. They put their daughter forward as a political prop.

SCHULTZ: Here's what bothers me about all this. And it depends upon how you're raised or how you feel about it.

When you apologize to somebody, it's personal. No doubt it was a personal shot. That's how Letterman views it now. Obviously his conscience worked on him over the weekend and he came back and he apologized. But he apologized to the Palin family. And their response was I think horribly impersonal.

Why couldn't she, Susan, just say, "David, thanks a lot, you're a pro," and move on and gain from it. But now Sarah Palin looks like this political animal from the North Country that just will not let up. What do you think?

MOLINARI: I think she looked like a political leader who was saying, you know what, this was my daughter but it could have been somebody else's daughter. And I would have been almost as outraged.

So I think we're learning a lesson about lines we don't want to cross in race and gender. And I think, you know, it was a point that was well taken. You know, I think she was upset as a mother. But I think she handled it as a political leader.

This is a woman who ran for national office. She can't just comment relative to her family, she's got to sort of take it on for all of us.

SCHULTZ: Stephanie, is it just part of the territory? Did Sarah Palin go overboard bringing in the troops?

And what about these protesters? I don't see anybody in the Palin camp saying, "Back off." I mean, I get a sense that they want Letterman fired.

MILLER: Which is absolutely ridiculous. And yes, of course that statement was overboard, Ed. But since when does she speak for all women? Nobody asked me if she can speak for me, you know.

And I think this is ridiculous, in my opinion and many other people's. Bill O'Reilly was inciting violence against a doctor who was just murdered and nobody's calling for him to be fired. David Letterman tells a joke that he apologized for and he should be fired? Are you kidding me?

SCHULTZ: Does this, Susan, change the landscape of late-night television? Is this a wake-up call to a lot of people? What do you think?

MOLINARI: No, I don't think so. You know what? I don't think David Letterman should be fired. I think people just have to be careful. Look, Imus made a mistake and everybody sat there and said, "He's got to pay a penalty." David Letterman made a mistake; he crossed over the line in the insinuation.

I agree with Stephanie, I took it as the 18-year-old from the start. It still was over the line and was very negative towards one individual who happened to be 18. But he apologized. And I think you do-again, we all have to learn from where the limits are and the limits that society is going to set. Society set a limit. As a mother of two daughters I'm kind of glad about it.

SCHULTZ: Let me stay with you on this one, Susan, if I may. What's the political upside for Sarah Palin on this? Do you think people in the GOP are going to view her more favorably because of the way she handled this? Or, you know-I mean, she got a piece of Letterman, there's no way you can get around that. She got a piece of Letterman on this but is she going to gain more favor with Republicans?

MOLINARI: I think it shows that she cannot-whether you agree with her or you disagree with her, this is a woman who does not back down.

She gets in your face and she says, "What's bothering you." In politics, I think, we should all look at it and say again whether I agree or disagree, I wish more people were like that.

SCHULTZ: Stephanie, this is probably the best PR Sarah Palin's had since the election. What do you think?

MILLER: Well, and guess what? David Letterman is number one in the late-night wars so far. So maybe they both win on this one, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Well, look at her as far as the GOP is concerned. We keep hearing that it's Limbaugh, it's Cheney, it's people-you know, Gingrich, people that aren't even in a position of making any decisions are now head of the Republican party. Does this hurt or help Sarah Palin in her quest for future running, you know-what do you think?

MILLER: Well, I think to me, Ed, it exposes more hypocrisy. The people you mentioned, this is the party that's always lectured the rest of us about family values. And they're the ones that use their daughter as a prop during the campaign, when nobody was supposed to say anything, you know, about it.

And then of course, when the late-night shows make jokes about it, she's the one like I say that brought-dragged her 14-year-old through this because nobody even thought the joke was about her. Now she's in the spotlight. What parent would do that, unless it's for political reasons?

SCHULTZ: If I'm in late-night TV, I mean, I'm going after Sarah Palin as much as I possibly can. And that's the way the world turns.

But I really think, moving on politically, I think this might help Sarah Palin with-I guess, you could say soccer moms. But politically, the statement that she made in response to the apology is just-is so impersonal. It's not directed at David Letterman. So I think there's going to be a lot of people that are going to view that as disingenuous.

Thanks so much for joining us. Stephanie, Susan, thanks so much.

Thanks for your take on this.

MOLINARI: Thanks, Ed.

MILLER: Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Coming up, I've said it before and I'll say it again. I think Dick Cheney wants this country to get hit again. If that's not true, let him come out and say so; more on that on THE ED SHOW coming up right after this. Stay with us.

SCHULTZ: David Letterman apologizes to Sarah Palin. She responds by bringing up the troops. That is completely shameless, in my opinion.

Stay tuned, our panel's going to be commenting on that and a lot more at the bottom of the hour, right here on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

For several weeks I have been harping on the Democrats to get a spine.

On the issues, get a pair. You know what I mean?

Let me give you an example of what it looks like to have a spine in conversation. Dick Cheney says that we are less safe under President Obama. And he says and he just keeps saying it one speech after another, one interview after another. He even has his daughter out there working the talk circuit.

I've said with the GOP in complete disarray and no leadership, I think Dick Cheney wants this country to get hit again for political gain. That's their political comeback. He wants to set up the "I told you so. See, the Democrats just can't defend the country. Obama's weak and has been all along."

Democrats, now, here is how you have a spine. This is "MORNING JOE" this morning right here on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST, "MORNING JOE": I want this on the record. You believe the former vice president wants Americans to die in a terrorist attack so he can gain a political advantage?

SCHULTZ: You got it, Joe. You got it.

I think Dick Cheney's all about power. I think Dick Cheney is all about seeing this country go conservative on a hard right wing. And I think he'll do anything to get it that way.

I think he's one of the most ruthless politicians in the history of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Got it? I want to thank everybody who's listened to my radio show and watched this television show, for e-mail support.

And it's kind of sad that a lot of people in this country agree with that. It's sad that a former vice president would think that this is the best political play that the Republicans have is to go out and attack Barack Obama on security. Obviously he's trying to protect his backside in case we all decide to have an investigation and really find out what war crimes took place.

Look. I think Dick Cheney is all about power. That's my personal opinion. The blogosphere is all over this now.

So let's get some answers. Mr. Cheney, I'm working-I know I'm working at the wrong network but I really would like to interview and I'd like to ask you. Because I would like you to make the statement that you don't want this country to get hit. That you will work with the president of the United States to make this country safer.

And get behind closed doors over there at the White House and explain how superior you were. And you just happened to miss that Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6th, 2001. You know, the one that had those pretty ominous headlines that nobody seemed to pay attention to.

And I'd also like to have Richard Clarke right next to you, Mr. Cheney. And I'd also like to have, let's see, who else could we get in that interview? I think there was a CIA agent that might have something to say as well about your patriotism.

I'm sick of it. I am so sick and tired of the right wing owning the sound chamber and the Democrats afraid to get a pair and to get a spine and stand up to this nonsense.

Barack Obama and the Democrats are doing everything they can to make sure that this country is safe. That is a diss on every professional in the security agencies in this country when Cheney talks like that.

But you see, if we do get hit, God forbid, it sets up the narrative, "I told you so, the damn Democrats, they just can't get it done on security."

Now, I appreciate all the support. But on this program, hey, I'm opinionated. I say what I want to say. But I also want to bring in somebody who may have a different view.

But before I do that, just to give you an idea how this is playing out, I tell you what. This is a career high for me. I had no idea I would ever be mentioned on "The View."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, ABC CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Joe Scarborough's objection is that he can't believe that anybody would say such a thing about his beloved Cheney. Ed Schultz this morning, who is a liberal person at MSNBC, says he thinks it's true. He thinks Cheney is, in fact, wanting to have another terrorist attack so that he could prove his point, that his tactics with Bush were correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The part I like about it is she called me a liberal.

Joining me is Ron Christie who we have sparred with in the past. He's on our panel from time to time; he has served the vice president as his deputy assistant for domestic policy. Ron was also with the vice president the morning of September 11th and the following day.

Ron, tell me. What am I missing about Dick Cheney? Why does he continually go out and grab the cameras and set up the narrative that we're weak and position the party against Barack Obama? Why is he doing that?

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, Ed, where to start?

I think what you're first missing is that Dick Cheney is a patriot. He's a man who has served his country with honor and distinction, HAS ten years in the House of Representatives. He was the secretary of defense. And he served eight years as vice president of the United States. Everything that Dick Cheney has done in his public career is on behalf of the American people.

Dick Cheney also is a private citizen. He has left public office. He does not seek higher office. He's entitled to his opinion. And I think whether you agree or disagree with his opinion, he's entitled to it. He has earned the respect of the American people, given his position.

But for you, Ed, to suggest that the vice president of the United States is now running around the country hoping for another attack, hoping that innocent people will be killed to score a political difference is absolutely shameful. It's absolutely off the rails.

That's not why he's saying it. He has his opinion. He's entitled to say where he disagrees with the administration. But for you, Ed, to suggest that he wants innocent people to die for politics is just way beyond the pale.

SCHULTZ: No, it's not for politics; it's for control, Ron. It's just not Ed. Apparently the blogosphere is all over it. Apparently I can show you thousands of e-mails of people who think the same thing. I'm not going to back down from it. That's the point.

You left out the five deferments. You left out what a patriot he was when it comes to five deferments and serving the military with-obviously he was on a pattern to dodge that or am I missing that as well?

CHRISTIE: Ed, again, I think Joe Biden, the vice president, current vice president, had it right on "Meet the Press" the other day. He said, you can always question somebody's judgment but you should never question their motivation. I would dare say to you, Ed, that given a man who well could have been in the public service arena for all of his career; he decided this is something that he wanted to do when he could have been in the private sector and made a lot of money.

My point is...

SCHULTZ: He hasn't made any money off his position at all, Ron. In fact I think Dick Cheney is still probably making minimum wage. The argument could be made that he's a war profiteer and we've let him get away with it.

But tell me about this. Have we forgotten that CIA agent, because her husband took that trip, there was no political maneuvering there at all. Have we forgotten about the Scooter Libby trial?

I mean you are weeding (ph) a few things, Ron.

CHRISTIE: We haven't forgotten that, Ed. But again, let's stick with you. You were the one who made the comment this morning where you said that he wanted innocent people to die.

SCHULTZ: I'm not the only one, Ron. Wait a minute now. Don't...

CHRISTIE: No, but Ed, Ed, you might not be the only...

SCHULTZ: I said what I believe, that Dick Cheney wants this country to get hit for political gain, because that party is in such disarray right now. They have no plan for health care, no plan for education, no plan for the economy but to cut taxes again. The only card they can play, damn, maybe if we can get hit again, we can show everybody the Democrats are weak. That's what I think, Ron.

CHRISTIE: And I appreciate the fact that you have an opinion, Ed, but I think that it's a wrong one. You said that's what a lot of people think.

You have a microphone and you have the ability to talk to the American people. For you to suggest the former vice president wants innocents to die I think is shameful.

Let's stick to the issue...

SCHULTZ: Wait a minute. Let's stay on this, now. Apparently, there's somebody overrunning the CIA, I think his name is Leon Panetta. He said the same thing and then, of course, was strong-armed and had to back off it. So I know I'm not alone.

CHRISTIE: I think what Director Panetta said was disgraceful. I think that he needs to spend his time focusing on issues at central intelligence rather than sparring with a private citizen with their private opinion.

But again, you say the Republicans are in disarray, they don't have a plan for health care. Republicans respectfully disagree with the fact that the president of the United States wants to spin this country into bankruptcy...

SCHULTZ: I just wanted to focus on Cheney. Ron, you're a good sport, I appreciate the conversation. I appreciate your service for what you did for the last administration. I know you could go off in the private sector and make a heck of a lot more money yourself. But I do believe that about Dick Cheney. We'll visit again.

CHRISTIE: And I don't-we'll visit again. It's shameful, Ed.

SCHULTZ: No, it's not shameful. No, there's nothing shameful about having a passionate opinion based on the actions of a man who just won't shut up about it.

CHRISTIE: It's shameful, Ed, to suggest that innocent people should die to prove a political point, when you know that's not true given his service.

SCHULTZ: It's my opinion and that's where I'm at, nothing shameful about it. I know a lot of Americans stand with me and I'm not going to back down with this.

Ron, good to have you.

CHRISTIE: And a lot of them stand with me, Ed and think it's disgraceful.

SCHULTZ: They do. There's no doubt that Dick Cheney has created a narrative of division in this country. He's a master at that, no doubt about it.

CHRISTIE: So has Barack Obama.

SCHULTZ: Good to have you on, Ron. I got to run.

CHRISTIE: Pleasure.

SCHULTZ: Next up with THE ED SHOW, "Psycho Talk." More GOP fear-mongering on health care; the government wants to get between you and your doctor. We'll tell you about that next on "Psycho Talk."

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: All right, my favorite segment in THE ED SHOW, "Psycho Talk."

We've got a senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl. Check this out. Just hours after President Obama warned critics that they are going to be using scare tactics to try to derail health care reform, here we go, the number two Republican in the Senate took to the senate floor and did just that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA: Nothing should come between the physician and the patient. And we're concerned that there is something that's being done that we need to stop. Because it could, in fact, insert government bureaucrats in between the patient and the physician.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: What the heck does that mean? You mean to tell me that the government's going to get between you and your doctor? And me and my doctor? Dr. Glatt (ph) in Fargo who's been taking care of me 30 years? Is there's going to be government surveillance here?

I want to know how the government's going to get between me and Dr. Glatt when he wants to give me some cholesterol medicine or maybe some medicine for high blood or something like that or if I've got a bad back again. What's the government going to do?

This is fear-mongering to the max. You know what the government's going to do if we ever did get to what we really want in this country, universal health care? They'd get in with a check.

You pay taxes then the government pays the check. And nobody gets in the way. You still have choice. Senator Kyl, for you to go on the senate floor and say that the government's going to get in between you and your doctor is "Psycho Talk."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Tomorrow, President Obama will lay out the most sweeping financial regulation since the Great Depression. It cracks down on Wall Street, and includes a new watchdog group solely devoted to protecting consumers. CNBC's John Harwood got an exclusive interview with the president this afternoon, just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: People invest in this country because they have confidence that, if they read a prospectus, somebody's made sure that what's in there is true. If they take out a loan, that there are laws in place to make sure that they're protected. And, you know, unfortunately, the growth of the non-bank sector, as well as all the complexities of financial instruments, outstripped those old regulatory regimes.

If we can get that right, that I think is a permanent improvement that will enhance, and not impede the operation of the free market.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood joins me now. John, thanks for your time tonight. Another great interview. I was watching it back in the news room here. I want to know, how determined is the president to get regulatory reform on Wall Street? Is he going to be a Wall Street cop or does he just want to give these guys a smack on the wrist? What's your sense?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No, I think he's going after it. They did make some political compromises along the way. We discussed that as well, because you've got different regulatory agencies that are jealous of their turf. You've got Congressional committee chairs who want to keep their jurisdiction over certain parts of the system.

So we didn't end up with a single bank regulator, which some people have talked about. But the president said that his goal was to close the gaps in the system, provide additional consumer protections, investor protections. I think he means to get this passed on a timetable just as rapid as the one that he set out for health care reform, for example. He wants to get that done this year.

SCHULTZ: OK. And of course the big number out there is one trillion dollars. You asked the president today about health care. This was his response on health care and the cost of it all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If health care is still going up five, six, seven, eight percent a year, if it's going up three times faster than wages, then we are going to see a federal government that is broke. So how we do that-I'm open to Social Security and how we can make some tweaks to that. That's the easier challenge.

I think when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, the biggest cost drivers are ones that we can reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: John, there's an awful lot on the table there. Let's see, we got Wall Street. We got paying for health care. And we got entitlements that it sounds like the president wants to reform as well. What do you think?

HARWOOD: Well, he said he wants, as soon as he finishes this round of legislation over health care and energy, financial regulation, to turn to those long-term structural problems that are causing the accumulation of so much debt and deficit, when you look out over the long term. He said, that keeps me up at night.

The question is going to be the details. He said he was open to tweaks in Social Security. Didn't say which ones. Didn't embrace the suggestion or the idea that I threw out for his reaction on, say, raising the retirement age or means testing.

But I do think he's trying to send a signal that I'm not kidding about this. And once we finish what's on our plate right now, we're going to turn to that long-term. But he does place an awful lot of stock, as you heard in that answer, to the effects of health care reform, even if we can't quantify what those are going to be.

SCHULTZ: John, in Buffalo on Saturday night, I did the first of a series of town hall meetings. And the word bipartisan came up. I think there's an undercurrent out there; Democrats, liberals across the country, want to know how many votes do you have to have to get what you want? This is the president talking about bipartisanship today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: My general principle is, I always want bipartisan support. Whether I get bipartisan support or not for any given proposal isn't always up to me. It has to do with the short-term political calculus and the tactics that the House Republicans and Senate Republicans determine.

What I do have control over is accepting bipartisan ideas, bipartisan policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: How adamant, John, is the president on a public option in health care?

HARWOOD: He's got-he indicated some flexibility in that answer. And in fact, I think he was speaking out to you, Ed. Because he said, I know some liberals are upset with me, that I haven't proposed a single payer. I've heard you sound that theme yourself on your show.

But what he said was, that is not the goal of my public option. It is not intended to ultimately be a single payer plan. But he also said that he was open to this idea that Ken Conrad, the senator, has offered of a co-op as an alternative, say, to a full-throated public agency option.

So I don't know how you feel about that, Ed. But he was certainly opening the door to that discussion with Republicans to try to get their support.

SCHULTZ: John, great to have you on. Thanks so much. Great interview again. John Harwood at the White House for us tonight.

For more, let's turn to our panel tonight. Laura Flanders is the author of "Blue Grit" and the host of GritTV.com. Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist. And Michael Medved is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author of the book "The Ten Big Lies About America."

Laura, what do you think of the president seemingly backing off on single payer? And it didn't sound like he was really pushing hard for a public option.

LAURA FLANDERS, GRITTV.ORG: Let's face it, no president, not even any Democratic president, has ever taken the lead on single payer. We are way further down that road than we were in 1992. That's due to grassroots movements, community organizing.

I think it's inevitable. It's going to happen sooner or later. Is it going to happen right now? I don't know. We're talking about it. You're helping. This is a movement that's going to keep growing. And the president's going to eventually be a part of it.

SCHULTZ: Michael Medved, the numbers are out now, one trillion dollars. What does that tell you when you hear that number?

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it depends on which trillion dollars you're talking about. There are a lot of trillion-dollar expenses here that have been part of the Obama program so far. I actually was very encouraged with the conversation recently involving Senator Conrad.

And I think what's happened with this debate on health care is that some of the more moderate Democratic voices in the Senate, in particular, people like Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, are taking command of the debate.

I disagree with both you and Laura on this. I think that when people get real reform, which actually brings down some health care costs, and takes care of most, if not all, of the uninsured, that people are going to want to give that a chance to work before they move immediately on to what you desire, which is a single payer system.

SCHULTZ: We'll have more on health care in a moment. Jamal, I want to ask you about how far do you think the Democrats, the majority party, can go when it comes to reforming Wall Street and preventing what we have just been through in the last six months? What do you think?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think they can go pretty far. The American public has been through heck over the last few months when it comes to Wall Street. I sat in the meeting today about 401-Ks with some junior staffers at my firm. They were talking about, what do I invest in? I said, who knows?

I think people want to have-people want to have a strong regulator. They want to have somebody that's going to tell them, as the president said today, whether what they're investing in is safe, whether what the companies are saying is actually true. And then I think the Democratic Congress is going to give him a long, long leash in order to get this done, because the American public are demanding it.

SCHULTZ: I think the big word here is oversight. We'll have more on this in a moment. Panel, stay with us.

Next up in my playbook, President Obama's health care plan gets a price tag, one trillion dollars. The righties are going crazy over that number. Hey, I personally think it's cheap. I think it's worth it. It's time for the Democrats to show a spine on this one. We really don't care how much it costs, do we? We just want to get everybody covered.

We'll talk about that next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, I want to talk about the figure that's being thrown around for Senator Ted Kennedy's health care reform bill. The Congressional Budget Office says it's going to cost a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, and would still leave millions of Americans uninsured.

Now, let's set the record straight on this. The CBO report, this is an incomplete-let me say it again, it is an incomplete estimate. The CBO said the calculations are preliminary. That's because the bill is still being drafted.

Everybody wants to get to the money right away. Now, I've said this before. I personally don't care how much we spend to fix this thing. I've seen enough bad stuff out there when it comes to health care in this country. It is destroying families. Just remember that's the cost of going into Iraq. That's the price tag right now.

I think the Obama administration runs a political risk here if they don't get this thing done. The American people know exactly what they voted for. The president, in John Harwood's interview today, seems pretty determined to get this done. But he's so stuck on bipartisanship. And I don't know why.

He's pushing ahead with a grassroots effort. Today, he sent an e-mail out, calling for Americans to once again build a coast to coast operational ready, knocking door to door operational, you know, getting volunteers out there, going to the social networks, saying, we've got to show the world how we really change things in America.

Let's bring our panel back. Laura, can he get it done? Can he use the same playbook and framework that he did to get elected to do something about health care?

FLANDERS: You know, I mean, we're seeing it around the single payer initiative. That's how we're getting this far. I don't know? Does he have the same kind of structure, the same kind of organization? I'm not sure.

You're absolutely right, this question of health care should not be about profits, should not been how much it's going to cost. It should be about morality, and the importance of covering all our people. We've got 250,000 people getting unemployed, losing their jobs every quarter. These are people who are losing their health insurance with those jobs. That link has got to be broken.

We can do better than this and we've got to start right now.

SCHULTZ: John Harwood asked President Obama today about the insurance industry and what's happening and how he views all of the expenses that are out there for the American people. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, I understand why insurance companies wouldn't want it. Because if they're making huge profits and there's no competition, then why wouldn't they want to keep that? I understand that. I'm sympathetic. But I think the average American says to themselves, why is it that all these members of Congress, including all the Republican members of Congress, they have essentially a public option. They essentially have the ability to look at a menu of choices, and exercise those choices. Why shouldn't ordinary Americans have that as well?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Jamal Simmons, what do you think? Can the president get this done? And is he speaking to the hearts and minds of the American people?

SIMMONS: I think the president can get this done. But I think Laura's absolutely wrong. And Ed, I think you're a little wrong on this too. We've got to cover people. But we also have to be concerned about the cost of this. Cost is what's hurting middle class families who are trying to cover their family's. Costs are what's hurting some of the big companies that are out here, trying to compete around the world. They're carrying all these health care costs.

We as taxpayers have to be concerned about how much we're going to pay for this over the course of the next couple of generations.

SCHULTZ: Jamal, I want Michael's taxes to go up. Michael, I think you could probably throw in a little bit more on this.

MEDVED: Well, I'm sure we can all throw a little bit more in. But that's not enough. What you're talking about-if you're talking about a trillion dollars, that's 1,000 dollars per year per household in the United States. It's 10,000 dollars more over the course of 10 years. And that's in addition to what we've already done with the national deficit.

Right now, we're running a deficit that's 13 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. The highest it ever was before since World War II-

SCHULTZ: But we've got a country that is now seeing the middle class gutted because of health care premiums. Stay with us, panel. We'll get back to it. We'll get back to this and other things.

History is being made in Iran. Voters are taking things to the streets, into their own hands. We haven't seen anything like this since the 1979 revolution.

NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel joins me live with the latest on the election recount next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets again today to protest the election, which they say was rigged in favor of President Ahmadinejad. Many wore black in honor of the seven who died yesterday. This is the biggest rally in Iran in 30 years, since the 1979 revolution.

President Obama is in a tough position. He wants new diplomacy with Iran on its nuclear program, and he doesn't know who's going to be in charge when the dust settles after this election. Today, the president made another careful statement about the election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's not productive, given the history of U.S./Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling.

There are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate, and want to see greater democracy. How that plays out over the next several days and several weeks is something ultimately for the Iranian people to decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Here with me now for more on the latest developments in Iran is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. I wouldn't want your job for all the money in the world.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It's the best job in journalism by far, by far.

SCHULTZ: OK. To the point here, I think the American people want to know, is there potential for revolution here? I mean, a real-

ENGEL: There's the potential. But I don't think that's where we're heading. But if this continues, and the Iranian state reacts very badly, and has a bloody crackdown that it can't control, yes, there's the potential for a revolution.

What we have now is protesters demanding that Mousavi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, be replaced as the president. Mousavi is an insider. He's part of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He's part of the establishment. They're not calling for an overthrow of the establishment.

SCHULTZ: It looks like Ahmadinejad has a real grip on that country.

ENGEL: Well, it doesn't look so obvious today. If you see hundreds of thousands of people taking over the streets over the last several days, using the Internet, defying bans on communications and gatherings. So it is-his grip on power is certainly being tested in a way he didn't expect.

SCHULTZ: What kind of recount-any credibility? Is that going to take place?

ENGEL: A recount will take place. It could take place anywhere between now and the next ten days. According to the officials involved in this, members of all of the different opposition candidates-there were four candidates in these elections-should all be present at the recount. But will there be enough of a recount to change the vote? There's quite a big margin right now. According to the official results, Ahmadinejad won twice as many votes as Mousavi. And that's what struck people as simply unbelievable.

SCHULTZ: Richard, what about press access? Have they shut that down?

Is it more restricted now?

ENGEL: I'm here and I'd like to be there. A lot of reporters are leaving that country tonight. Today, in fact, the government banned all foreign journalists from leaving their bureaus, from going outside with cameras, and told them that they should leave the country. I had a visa. It expired, and it wasn't renewed. Other people had a few more days on their visa and are now being told to leave.

So the government is trying to crack down. In a way, it's trying to crack down on a very traditional, obvious target, foreign journalists with cameras. But it is the protesters with cell phones that are really getting out the message.

SCHULTZ: Did Ahmadinejad leave to go to Russia because he's nervous about security? What do you think?

ENGEL: No, I think he's trying to say that everything is normal, business is as usual; there's a small domestic problem, but that it is being worked out. And as he descended from that plane and walked the red carpet, he was greeted quite warmly by Russia and China. So he's trying to brush it off and be very dismissive. It is an approach that is just infuriating the demonstrators, who think he's being smug and dismissive.

SCHULTZ: Richard Engel, thanks so much. Appreciate it. NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel with us tonight on THE ED SHOW.

Breaking news right now, Senator John Ensign has just admitted to having an extramarital affair at a press conference. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA: I will not mention any names, but the woman who I was involved with and her husband were both close friends and they both worked for me. Our families were very close. That closeness put me into situations during a very difficult time in my marriage, which led to my inappropriate behavior.

We caused deep pain to both families. For that I'm truly sorry. I am committed to my service in the United States Senate, and my work on behalf of the people of Nevada. I will not be taking any questions. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Let's bring back our panel tonight, Laura Flanders, Jamal Simmons, Michael Medved. Michael, not to dance on his problem right now, but I think this is just another ugly reminder that the Republican party is struggling with a few family values from time to time.

MEDVED: Well, it happens with both parties. I mean, I don't have to bring up the names of Corzine and Spitzer, two east coast Democratic governors. Look, this is a huge problem and you know it, Ed. You've been around politicians. You've been around politics. You know that when it comes to hypocrisy, and it comes to bad personal behavior, we tend to be equal opportunity offenders, Republicans and Democrats. No one party has the claim on bad behavior.

SCHULTZ: Well, not to dance on this issue, but Senator Ensign, back on July 13th, 2004, did go to the Senate floor defending the sanctity of marriage, and urging the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Laura, you want to respond to that?

FLANDERS: I bet you do too. I mean, it isn't called the Grand Old Hypocrisy Party for nothing. It's not a matter of personal behavior. If he has his problems, his family problems, how he treats his friends, that's his business. It's the political behavior that we have a problem with, as political people, and that's political behavior. When you go up there and you say certain relations must be protected and have the protection of the state, and other people who love each other, well, they can't be allowed the same privileges and rights-that's what he's doing when he's up there defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

And frankly, I wish the Obama administration wasn't defending it too. And that's the behavior that's the problem. The hypocrisy is just adding insult to injury. But there's insult there. There's injury there. This shouldn't be allowed to just be water under the bridge.

SCHULTZ: Jamal-I've got to get Jamal in here. Hold on, Michael.

Jamal, how did Senator Ensign handle that right now?

SIMMONS: It sounded pretty lawyerly to me. I think we cannot be too sanctimonious here. We've got a long list of Democrats who have had some of these problems. I spent a lot of time in 2007 in Nevada working for the Nevada party on the caucus and working for Senator Reid. Reid ran against Ensign in a very tough race in 1998. Ensign was very popular. Senator Ensign's very popular in Nevada. It will be interesting to see what happens to him in that state.

If he thinks he's got national ambitions, this is going to do a lot of damage to any national ambitions he may have had.

SCHULTZ: Panel, great job tonight, I appreciate your time.

Before we go tonight, I do want to give you the results of our text survey. We asked you if Dick Cheney wants this country to get hit again for political gain; 98 percent of you said yes; two percent of you said no.

That's THE ED SHOW. I'm Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, you can go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out our radio website at WeGotEd.com. We've got a couple of town hall meetings coming up. We're going to be in Madison, Wisconsin on July 19th, a Sunday night, from 7:00 to 9:00. We're also going to be in Portland, Oregon, on Friday night, July 31st, at the Baghdad Theater.

Hopefully, we can get the folks out there to talk about the issues they are concerned about. Tomorrow, we'll have more on the financial regulations that the Obama administration wants to bring forth to protect consumers from what happened in the last six months in dealing with Wall Street.

That's our show tonight. Coming up next on MSNBC, the place for politics, the man, "HARDBALL," Chris Matthews. That's coming up right now.

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

END

Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC 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 NBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyright or other

proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal

transcript for purposes of litigation.>

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,