updated 7/10/2009 10:11:41 AM ET 2009-07-10T14:11:41

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Mike Rogers, Jack Rice, Andy Barr, Rep. Joe Sestak, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, John Harwood, Ron Christie, Jamal Simmons

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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, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Breaking news at this hour.  Illinois senator Roland Burris says that he is not going to seek reelection.  We‘ll get reaction right off of the top of the show tonight.

Nancy Pelosi is vindicated.  The CIA director admits Congress was misled.  Minority Leader John Boehner admits he‘s using this conflict for political gain.

We‘ll hear from a Democrat and a Republican from the House Intelligence Committee in just a moment.

And a new poll shows the economy seems to be taking its toll on President Obama‘s popularity.  Vice President Joe Biden doing damage control today in the state of Ohio. 

And we‘ll talk with Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich at the bottom of the hour. 

And a Republican sex scandal gets, I guess you can say, dirtier and more complicated.  There‘s another senator allegedly involved? 

Plus, “Psycho Talk.” 

How about Sarah Palin on the front cover of “TIME” magazine?  What‘s that all about?

A great panel coming up, but first, tonight‘s “OpEd.” 

Well, how about this?  The CIA has been concealing—let‘s see what‘s another good word for concealing? -- hiding operations from the Congress since 2001. 

Now, gosh, what was happening back in 2001?  I think we were getting ready to go into war, weren‘t we? 

Folks, let me tell you something.  This is no longer an inside-the-beltway political fight.  This cuts right to the chase, cuts right to the fabric, to the core of the issue of how we run our country and how our government operates. 

And oh, by the way, who was calling the shots? 

The righties all along have had the target, and that target has been House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Back in May, Pelosi said the CIA gave her misleading and inaccurate information.  Republicans claimed she knew everything about torture all along. 

Now, CIA Director Leon Panetta told members of Congress there has not been full disclosure.  Now, this is a reversal, because back on May 15th, Leon Panetta said this: “It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.”  Now Panetta has changed his tune somewhat, supporting what Pelosi has said all along. 

Members of the House Intelligence Committee believe laws were broken and they want answers. 

Joining me on the phone because there‘s votes going on at this hour, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from the Hill, member of the House Intelligence Committee, and she also chairs the Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. 

Congresswoman, good to have you with us tonight, and I appreciate your time.  I know you‘re voting at this hour, so we‘ve got you on the phone here. 

There‘s a developing story out of your state.  Senator Roland Burris has just announced that he is not going to seek reelection. 

Now, Congresswoman, I realize that you have said that you‘re not going to run for the Senate, but does this announcement change your situation at all? 

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS:  No, and the reason it doesn‘t is because I‘m right in the middle of the work on the health care bill that‘s coming up.  All of the things I‘ve really been working on and waiting for all of my life are happening, really, some of them, in the next couple of weeks.  And so I‘m not changing my plans to run for Senate. 

But I do realize that Roland Burris has, you know, made a big decision.  And I think it‘s a wise decision for the state of Illinois and for him, as well, because the polling made it perfectly clear it would have been very hard for him to compete well in a primary.  And I think it would have been hard in a general election.  We want to keep that seat Democratic. 

SCHULTZ:  So you weren‘t surprised at all by this announcement based on what‘s going on? 

SCHAKOWKSY:  Not really, no.  I thought that it might come later, but I‘m glad that it‘s coming now. 

SCHULTZ:  Can you throw a name out tonight on MSNBC, on THE ED SHOW, on who you think would be a good replacement for the Senate seat? 

SCHAKOWKSY:  Well, I‘ll just tell you what the field looks like right now.  The state treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias, has announced that he‘s going to run, or at least set up an exploratory committee.  And Chris Kennedy, who is the son of Bobby Kennedy, has certainly made moves that he‘s looking at that seat. 

Who knows?  Under the new circumstances, with Lisa Madigan, our attorney general not running, there still may be more entries into the race.  So we‘re watching. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, I want to ask you now about this most recent revelation that the CIA has been hiding and concealing operations from everyone in the Congress since 2001. 

What does this call for at this point? 

SCHAKOWKSY:  Well, I think that it really calls for an investigation, first, anyway, by our Intelligence Committee.  And the chairman has said that he‘s collecting all of the facts and will be looking into having an investigation.  I‘ve written a letter to him urging that to happen. 

I do chair the Oversight Investigation Subcommittee.  I‘d be happy to do that, or the full committee. 

This is serious.  To not tell the United States Congress deliberately this wasn‘t an oversight, this wasn‘t an accident.  There was a decision made at the very top levels not to tell the Congress about a very serious operation, which, of course...

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman, I have to ask you, do you think that this deals with information in the run-up to war in the invasion in Iraq?  Because it goes back to 2001.  This isn‘t just about torture. 

SCHAKOWKSY:  Yes.  I really am not going to talk about what was in it.  You know the time period that‘s happened right after the terrible tragedies of 9/11, is when this began.  But it would be a breach of my oath to tell what‘s going on. 

But it‘s serious enough that for eight years—in fact, it was when Leon Panetta was finally briefed on it, after serving already almost six months in his job as head of the CIA.  He was told about it finally.  He came down and informed the Congress. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, Congresswoman, I think there‘s probably a bunch of Americans out there tonight that are wondering, did someone take over our government after September 11, 2001?  And then all of a sudden, it was run by just a cabal and the Congress was left out of the loop totally?  And plus, this was a 180 by Leon Panetta, and I think it also exonerates Nancy Pelosi. 

Your thoughts on all that? 

SCHAKOWKSY:  Well, this is one of three serious breaches on my less than three years on the Intelligence Committee where the CIA actually lied or failed to tell us or misled the Congress of the United States.  So, you know, let the listeners judge. 

Nancy Pelosi said that there were regular—you know, a regular misleading of the Congress.  And I just want to say, too, that on both sides of the aisle, members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence have been outraged each and every time that this has happened. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thanks so much for joining us tonight. 

Now, earlier today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference, and she was asked about this situation.  Here‘s the question and response. 

She said, “Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States”—I‘m quoting what the head of the CIA said.  “What they briefed us on, perhaps they should release the briefing.”  And she says—she went on to say that, “I would be very happy if they would release the briefing, and then you will see what they briefed one time or another in the House and the Senate and the rest.”

So, it gets more interesting as time goes on. 

Congressman Mike Rogers is joining us now.  He‘s also a member of the House Intelligence Committee.  He‘s the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Counterterrorism and Human Intelligence. 

Congressman, what‘s your thoughts now with this new development and a reversal that we‘ve had by Leon Panetta, the CIA director? 

REP. MIKE ROGERS ®, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Well, I‘m not sure it was a reversal.  I have to tell you, I think there‘s a little political theater here. 

I was in that briefing, you know, rushed down because this urgent announcement.  And I think there‘s more questions to ask. 

But let me tell you this—this was a program that never fully got engaged.  It was canceled at some point, tried to bring back at some point. 

It never really reached even close to what its concept was.  And I still have questions if they‘re even obligated under that scenario to brief the Congress. 

So, I think when you come out and say things like they misled, which is a crime, they lied to Congress, which is a crime, there was nothing—and I‘m a former FBI guy and I take those facts seriously—there was nothing in that briefing that led me to that conclusion.  There would have to be a lot more to it than what was briefed for members to, in good conscience, say the CIA was lying and there was systematic lying.  None of it.  I didn‘t see any of that. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, I have to ask you, what is Leon Panetta talking about then?  He is saying that the Congress was withheld information all the way back to 2001. 

Are you denying that? 

ROGERS:  No, no, no.  That was exactly what I said to begin with. 

There was a program that in concept started in 2001. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, I have to ask you, you‘re saying a program?  It was just a program?  There wasn‘t any other information, that there‘s been full disclosure all the way through to the Intelligence Committee? 

ROGERS:  Well, obviously I don‘t know what I don‘t know, but I don‘t have any indication that that‘s true, no. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Would you be in favor of an investigation by the investigating committee of the Intelligence Committee? 

ROGERS:  Oh, sure, I think there‘s more questions to ask, no problem with that. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So where‘s the political theater here? 

ROGERS:  Well, let me tell you what happened.  I mean, obviously, you had this letter where they called and said no, no, no, you need—the seven members went and said you need to recant the fact that you say the CIA is truthful.  Well, that‘s a bit much, and that happened right after.  And then there was a letter written by the chairman two days ago, slipped under the doors of the Republicans after the offices were closed. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you talking about Silvestre Reyes? 

ROGERS:  I am, yes. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So he slipped a letter under the door? 

ROGERS:  Yes, and it was a little bit—and it used the words, “I have determined that we have been misled and lied to in at least one incident” in relation to Mr. Panetta‘s testimony. 

SCHULTZ:  So, are you saying that Silvestre Reyes, the chairman of the House Intel Committee, is playing political games with this story? 

ROGERS:  Well, I could clearly draw that conclusion given what the briefing was and what conclusion he came to.  Even you just said you think we ought to have more questions answered. 

SCHULTZ:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, I think there‘s more questions than answers right now, but I find it interesting that—I mean, here you‘ve got the chairman of the committee saying that the CIA lied and you‘re not so sure about that.  So I think it does call for an investigation. 

ROGERS:  No, I think we ought to get to the bottom of it.  But I find it convenient that it happened now and they used the same words that the speaker used before.

And here‘s my point.  I used to be an FBI agent on the street.  You get up there and kick around these folks and call them liars and cheats and criminals, it has an impact on what they do.

We‘re asking these people to go overseas and risk their lives to get us information.  We ought to have more respect for them than that.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  Well, but I think the American people, Congressman, just want to know if somebody took over our government and there was a bunch of secrecy, and the Congress was left out of the loop after 2001.  I think it‘s a pretty fair question.

ROGERS:  Well, and I‘ll tell you, we‘ve been briefed on more extensive, more impactful programs than what this one was, and you need to understand that.  So, there was not this pattern of not telling us things.  We were briefed on some programs that had some very serious consequences and used the same law of which the concept of this program that didn‘t very work very well and never got running was briefed.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Mike Rogers, thanks for joining us tonight.

ROGERS:  Hey, thanks for having me.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Let‘s turn to former CIA officer Jack Rice. 

Jack, your take on this tonight?  What does this all mean, if anything, this back and forth, but you‘ve got a retraction—at least I believe it‘s a retraction—by the CIA director? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA OFFICER:  Yes, this is very serious, Ed.  I mean, when Leon Panetta says “we made a mistake,” not he, but meaning the CIA made a mistake, that they didn‘t give all of the information—in other words, there may have been more, they just didn‘t provided it—then, actually, that they gave false information, that something that provided was not accurate, the real question is exactly who drove this. 

Was it the briefer or briefers to Congress directly?  Was it somebody at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters saying this is what you‘re going to do, this is what you‘re going to say?  Or was it somebody at the White House who said to the CIA, who then told those briefers, you‘re going to do this? 

This is very important because you said this at the beginning of your program.  The bottom line here is about not just transparency, but accuracy.  The CIA has an obligation and has always had an obligation to provide this information to these intelligence communities.  And when they don‘t provide it accurately, we have a very, very serious problem. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you find it interesting that Dick Cheney has been so vocal and so visible in the last six months? 

RICE:  Well, isn‘t it interesting when, all of a sudden, he has this newfound desire for transparency?  Well, you know what?  Welcome to the room, baby. 

Let‘s see some transparency now.  Let‘s see what we‘ve got, and let‘s see exactly where this came from and all of the orders came from too. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, thanks for your time tonight.  Appreciate it so much. 

RICE:  Yes, sir.

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, former CIA agent, with us here on THE ED SHOW.

Coming up, the plot thickens in the Ensign affair.  There was either hush money or extortion, whatever you want to call it, but the total was $100,000.  And it now involves a fellow Republican senator. 

What‘s going on here?  We‘ve got all of the juicy details when we come back here on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

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SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Senator John Ensign‘s sex scandal gets more complicated by the minute. 

It has now been revealed that Senator Ensign of Nevada used private funds to pay nearly $100,000 to his mistress‘ family.  In a statement today, Ensign‘s lawyer says, “The gifts are consistent with a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others.”

This revelation follows a TV interview Cindy‘s husband Doug Hampton did yesterday.  In that interview, Doug Hampton said Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and others had tried to encourage Ensign to compensate the couple and help them relocate to Colorado? 

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  These men were the ones that said what we need to do is get Doug Hampton‘s home paid for and we need to get Doug Hampton some money, and we need to get his family to Colorado. 

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SCHULTZ:  Now, there are accusations that another member of the Senate was allegedly conspiring to help Senator Ensign financially cover the affair. 

Senator Coburn shot back today.  Senator Coburn tells Politico that he will never disclose to anybody, even in a committee, what kind of talks he had with Senator Ensign, and suggested that his position as a doctor, physician and as an ordained deacon could keep the information privileged forever. 

Joining us now is Politico‘s Andy Barr. 

Andy, good to have you with us tonight. 

Actually, we tried to book the producer of “Cheaters” tonight, but he couldn‘t make it. 

Andy, good to have you with us here. 

All right.  How far does this go, Coburn‘s involvement?  And is there a possibility of some real ethical behavior being challenged here? 

What do you think?

ANDY BARR, POLITICO:  Well, that‘s really like the big thing of this story today.  Usually you have a revelation like this and the affair, and it‘s going to hurt Ensign.  Really, all the news today is really kind of hurting Coburn. 

Ensign is going to face a Senate ethics investigation, he‘s facing calls in his own state over this thing.  And a crew (ph) filed a request for—to investigate the senator today. 

But Coburn getting wrapped up in all this is really a problem for him.  The two are very close.  Coburn, of course, has shared a lot of information back and forth over this and has apparently known for over a year about the affair.  And so the real problem now and the real revelation is Coburn‘s involvement in this. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, let‘s all follow the money.  Do you think it‘s legal? 

BARR:  Well, in terms of the legality, we‘re talking about money being transferred from Ensign‘s parents to this couple, each in, like, $12,000 denominations, which is, I believe, the lowest—or sorry, the highest amount they could do and not have it be taxed.  The legality of it, you know, that‘s going to be determined, of course, by the Ethics Committee and so forth. 

SCHULTZ:  Andy, how do we know it‘s not extortion?  How do we know that? 

BARR:  Well, we don‘t know unless we know the relations of the conversations, unless we know exactly what the deal was.  And, of course, you know, Coburn and Ensign have kind of hit back and say that what is being alleged is been mischaracterized, they‘re not corresponding with the story that‘s being told by Hampton and others. 

And so, you know, this still is unfolding.  It‘s a bad thing for Ensign.  We‘re talking about months of unfolding possibly on this. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

BARR:  You know, any time you have a scandal like this, the kind of drib drab is what kills you.  If it gets all out immediately, you can survive these things, but it‘s when you have day after day and news cycle after news cycle, where there‘s new information coming out, that it just really damages it. 

SCHULTZ:  Any indication from the Ensign office as to what he‘s going to do?  Is he planning on staying in or is this pressure mounting for him to resign? 

BARR:  You know, from the Ensign office so far, they‘re not really responding to any calls for him to resign.  I think that‘s something you‘re going to see ramp up towards the end of this week, maybe beginning next week, from those in the state first.  You‘ll see that from the state rather than his Senate colleagues. 

You know, what I‘d be most worried about, though, if I were him is getting Coburn wrapped into this.  If there‘s any hint that there‘s any sort of planning or plotting between those two, it‘s bad business for both. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Thank you, Andy. 

Andy Barr of Politico. 

Up next on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”  When Republicans, when they start talking about science, it really gets interesting.  A right wing state senator from Arizona gave us a dandy about the Earth and uranium mining. 

It‘s next on THE ED SHOW in “Psycho Talk.” 

Stay with us. 

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SCHULTZ:  Oh, yes, welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  It‘s “Psycho Talk.”  

We‘ve got a dandy for you tonight, a state senator from Arizona. 

Now we‘re going to have a little fun with science tonight.  It‘s always interesting when Republicans start talking about science. 

Here‘s how it went down in the state of Arizona at a Senate hearing about uranium mining in the state.  Now, in this clip you‘re about to watch, Republican state Senator Sylvia Allen is in the process of arguing in favor of mining.  Now, let me point your attention to the senator‘s casual disregard for science when mentioning the age of the Earth. 

Here it is. 

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SYLVIA ALLEN ®, ARIZONA STATE SENATOR:  This Earth‘s been here 6,000 years—and I know I‘m going on and on and I‘ll shut up.  It‘s been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn‘t been done away with.  And we need to get the uranium here in Arizona so this state can get the money from it and the revenue from it. 

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SCHULTZ:  It makes Jon Kyl look pretty smart. 

Anyway, forget the environment.  After all, the Earth has been here for 6,000 years.  By the way, creationists actually do believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old. 

“Discover” magazine‘s “Bad Astronomy” blog points out the irony of the senator‘s comments.  You see, the irony is she‘s talking about uranium mining.  And it‘s through the radioactive decay of uranium that we know the Earth is a billion years old. 

That‘s unscientific “Psycho Talk.” 

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SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Here are my “Ed Lines” tonight. 

For the first time, the United States has joined with other G8 nations to fight climate change.  It‘s about time.

At this week‘s summit in Italy, leaders agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.  They also put a cap on rising temperatures.  The problem is large developing nations like China and India aren‘t on board.  And today, President Obama spoke about the importance of sticking to the agreement. 

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We know that the problems we face are made by human beings.  That means it‘s within our capacity to solve them.  The question is whether we will have the will to do so, whether we‘ll summon the courage and exercise the leadership to chart a new course.

That‘s the responsibility of our generation.  That must be our legacy for generations to come. 

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SCHULTZ:  Meanwhile, back in Washington, climate change legislation has stalled in the Senate.  Work on the bill has been postponed until after the August recess.  New Senator Al Franken of Minnesota met with Supreme Court Nominee Sonya Sotomayor today.  Senator Franken is on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  That means he‘ll take part in the judge‘s confirmation hearings that will start next week. 

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi guaranteed, guaranteed that a health care bill that comes out of the House will include a public option. 

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER:  Congress is moving with comprehensive health reform that provides affordability, accessibility, quality, and it will have, coming out of the House, a public option.  A public option is—by one name or another, is essential to the success of real reform that will work for the American people. 

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SCHULTZ:  The speaker also said she still intends to get health care legislation through the House before their August break.  Let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, cNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood with us tonight, and also political writer for the “New York Times” and Republican strategist Ron Christie is with us tonight. 

Ron, we‘ll start with you.  President Obama, is he making some head way on climate change?  Are we getting some people on board with the United States?  Or should we say that we‘re finally getting on board?  Is he making head way there?  What do you think? 

RON CHRISTIE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I think it‘s too early to say.  Obviously, this is a key priority for the president, and it‘s one thing he wanted to talk about with his fellow heads of state over in Italy.  The thing I‘m concerned about, as you look at global climate change, is if you‘re going to impose this sort of a cap, if you‘re going to put these severe restrictions that are going to impact American industry and our economy, you have to make sure that China, India, and some of the other developing nations are also going to come on board. 

So it will be interesting to see what these leaders decide as they sit down over the next couple of days.  It‘s too hard and too early for me to say whether or not he‘s established any meaningful progress. 

SCHULTZ:  John Harwood, does it make the president—put him in an almost untenable position to go overseas and talk about climate change; yet, when his party‘s in power in the United States, he‘s having a had time getting a climate bill through, cap and trade, whatever you want to call it? 

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC ANCHOR:  We know, Ed, that a cap and trade bill for carbon emissions or any kind of limitation on carbon emissions is extremely difficult to achieve politically.  Already the administration has gotten what it can claim as a success in the House passage of the bill.  Senate passage is going to be tough, which is why Barbara Boxer, who chairs the committee, delayed it until September. 

But I think we‘ve seen in the House bill Henry Waxman and Democratic colleagues sort of defy the odds and expectations in how rapidly they got that through.  So I don‘t think you can rule that out.  It is critical, though, Ron‘s point, that—for the United States to achieve the political consensus to act on this, they‘ve got to have buy in from China and India and other developing countries. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you think, Jamal?  How is the president doing on this issue? 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, he didn‘t sound like he had, you know, triumphed on this issue in his remarks earlier.  But I do think he—Ron is right in this point.  We do have to get China and India on board.  They are emitting a lot of the emissions that we‘ve got to worry about.  At the same time, though, Barack Obama has done more and the Democrats in the Congress have done more in the last six months than George Bush did for eight years. 

In fact, if George Bush had not pulled us out of the Kyoto process, we might have been able to get these folks on board.  The United States has got to be a leader on this.  They‘re moving the ball forward.  We‘ve got to bring the rest of the world to our side. 

But we can‘t go back to where we were under the Bush era.  And I think the Obama administration is doing pretty well on that front. 

SCHULTZ:  Fellows, I don‘t know how you‘re going to get China on board when we owe them a boat load of money.  But that‘s a side story. 

John, I want to ask you, as we move forward with this situation with the CIA, where should the Congress go?  And how much of a problem would this be for the Obama administration with the Democratic base if they decide not to pursue what the CIA has not told the Congress since 2001? 

HARWOOD:  Boy, I think if you‘re Barack Obama, the White House staff, Nancy Pelosi, you want this issue to go away.  It‘s a distraction from the things like energy legislation and health care that they‘re trying to achieve. 

So I recognize that some on the Democratic left want to have a full throated discussion of these issues and whether the CIA‘s been truthful, but you notice that it‘s Republicans who have been trying to keep this issue alive a lot more than Democrats.  This letter helps Nancy Pelosi by providing some backup for her claim, but they don‘t want to prolong this discussion. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron, what do you think of the reversal made by the CIA director Leon Panetta? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, I think it‘s too early for us to come to any sort of firm conclusion about what may or may not have happened.  I think the guest that you had on earlier in the show, Mike Rogers, a very senior member of Congress, a former FBI agent, had it right.  I think the Congress needs to investigate this issue more closely.  I think the Congress should take a look at it.  But we shouldn‘t rush to political judgment because, Ed, the men and women who are in the CIA who are protecting the American people are hit time and time again, and I think it‘s a distraction to the American people to keep hearing, oh, the CIA lied. 

Let‘s get to the bottom of the facts and let‘s not make any political theater. 

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t think it‘s the people inside the CIA that lied.  It‘s the people that left the CIA, that came over to the Hill that didn‘t fully disclose anything.  The workers of the CIA and the agents, I don‘t think that‘s what we‘re talking about.  Now Jamal Simmons, what about this reversal?  Does this exonerate, in any way, shape or form, Nancy Pelosi, because she said all along she was given inaccurate information, and it now comes out under testimony by Leon Panetta that, hey, we really haven‘t told you everything.  In fact, we‘ve been concealing stuff since 2001. 

SIMMONS:  It certainly does strengthen the speaker‘s case.  And I think here‘s the one thing; this is one of the reasons why the American public was so eager to get rid of Republicans in the White House, because we know that there have been a lot of things that have happened over the course of the last eight years.  We don‘t know all of the details.  But we know that the Bush White House didn‘t get it all right. 

That‘s one of the reasons why Barack Obama‘s sitting there.  And I think Leon Panetta held himself up pretty well by releasing this and letting this out.  So we do need to know who did what and when.  And I think the question is, was it the CIA at fault?  Or was it the people in the White House who ordered the CIA not to release the information? 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  She claims that the media‘s bugging her all the time and not fair to her.  But this picture on the front cover of “Time Magazine” looks pretty fair.  She‘s called “The Renegade.”  It is Sarah Palin. 

She was so bothered by the media, she had time to pose for that cover story.  John Harwood, I don‘t know what you think, but I want to know what you think.  But it seems to me she‘s loving this attention right now.  And it certainly isn‘t hurting the Republicans. 

HARWOOD:  She‘s absolutely loving it and she‘s going to love it all the way to the bank.  I think, if you‘re Sarah Palin, it is plain that she cares a lot less about what she was hired by the voters to do in Alaska than she is about taking her family off the spotlight.  And I think it‘s a fairly safe assumption that she‘s going to enjoy making a lot more money in the private sector than she would as governor of Alaska. 

Whether or not it‘s possible for her to resuscitate her political career on the national stage, I‘m pretty skeptical about that.  But I‘m not skeptical about her ability to make a lot of cash fairly quickly. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, this has been a great week for Sarah Palin.  What‘s negative about being on the front page of “Time Magazine.”  Look at all this videotape, people chasing her fishing and everything else.  This is the most positive thing the Republicans have had cooking in the media for a long time. 

CHRISTIE:  I don‘t know about that.  I only hoped, Ed, that we‘d go one day on MSNBC where we didn‘t talk about Sarah Palin.  I think John‘s right.  I think in the aftermath of her decision to step down, I think she‘s going to travel in the lower 48.  She‘s going to raise a lot of money for the party, raise a lot of money for her family.  Sarah Palin‘s going to do just fine. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron, let me point out that MSNBC did not put Sarah Palin on the front cover of “Time Magazine.” 

CHRISTIE:  I said this would have been the first day that we haven‘t talk about her on MSNBC.  And again, here we are. 

SCHULTZ:  Stay with us.  We have a lot more coming up.  Coming up on THE ED SHOW, we have got the latest poll out of Pennsylvania shows less than a third of the voters think Arlen Specter deserves to be reelected.  Congressman Joe Sestak is taking him on.  We‘ll visit with him in our playbook when we come back right here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  In my playbook tonight, the race is on in Pennsylvania.  I love this story.  I love competition.  Congressman Joe Sestak came on this show back in May, on THE ED SHOW, and announced that he was most likely going to challenge Arlen Specter in the Democratic Senate primary. 

Well, it‘s now official.  The Congressman has said unequivocally that he is in the race.  Now we‘ll see how good a Democrat Arlen Specter actually is.  And I can tell you where Congressman Joe Sestak stands on a public option.  I know where he stands on the Employee Free Choice Act.

And polls in June showed Arlen Specter‘s favorability rating at a 17-year low with Pennsylvanians.  I think there is an opening here for Congressman Sestak.  But there‘s no question about it, this won‘t be an easy race.  Senator Specter has the support of President Obama and Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell. 

Listen to what Governor Rendell said right here on THE ED SHOW back in May about this race. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I‘m a great admirer of Joe Sestak and worked hard to get him elected and reelected.  I‘m going to work hard to get him reelected when he runs for Congress next year, not for the Senate.  Joe should not run for the Senate in the Democratic primary.  He‘d get killed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Wow.  Let‘s find out how Congressman Sestak plans to mount the challenge against Specter.  Congressman Sestak is joining us by the phone, because the Congress is voting at this hour.  Joe, good to have you with us. 

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Good to be back aboard, Ed. 

Thanks a lot. 

SCHULTZ:  I understand that you just got back from touring Pennsylvania, rural Pennsylvania.  It‘s taken us a week to get ahold of you.  What are the folks out there saying about this race.  Are they encouraging you to do this? 

SESTAK:  Oh, without any question.  There is a great unease, and you saw it reflected in a poll that you just said, where people actually say, wait a minute, we actually do need a choice.  And more from that, there‘s some buyers remorse in the rank and files.  I‘ve been to about 36 of the 67 counties so far, got back in it at about 2:30 a.m. this morning, back down to Washington to the votes today.  And everybody seems to be saying, look, how about giving us an opportunity to vote for someone who is really a Democrat. 

Everybody is all of a sudden saying he might have been a fine Republican, as we would look at him from this side.  But all of a sudden he‘s converted. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, Congressman—

SESTAK:  We don‘t feel really comfortable. 

SCHULTZ:  What are you hearing about public option and an insurance plan that would give the public an option to jump in and go against the private sector?  What are you hearing from Pennsylvania? 

SESTAK:  Everybody wants it. 

SCHULTZ:  Everybody wants it?

SESTAK:  I hear across the board as I‘m talking to these Democratic committees.  Here‘s why, in Pennsylvania, particularly, 70 percent of all private health care plan are in two companies across Pennsylvania.  And we know it.  We‘re 42 percent of the population lives, the Philadelphia region, one company has 70 percent.  And everyone‘s talking about how come my health premium‘s gone up 86 percent the past seven years.  Arlen Specter hasn‘t done anything to address this issue. 

Everybody‘s for this, let me tell you. 

SCHULTZ:  Will you support the Employee Free Choice Act? 

SESTAK:  Yes, I co-sponsored it. 

SCHULTZ:  You will? 

SESTAK:  Without a question.  It the unions say they can support a compromise, and that‘s good governance, and they want it, I will.  I‘ve always said that.  But no, the Employee Free Choice Act—we have mischief being done out there, with 32 percent of the time if someone tries to organize, according to President Bush‘s NLRB, they are fired or intimidated. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, the Franklin Marshall poll came out and asked folks if Arlen Specter deserved reelection.  Back in June, he was at 28 percent.  Back in March, it was at 40 percent. 

SESTAK:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  Then there was also the question about the primary voters, which way would they go; 33 percent with Specter, 13 with you.  But the undecided number is 48 percent.  Can you defeat Arlen Specter in a Senate primary? 

SESTAK:  I would not get in unless I knew I would prevail at the end.  And two other pieces of information have been out there in the polls.  One of them in that poll you just cited said if anyone knew who Joe Sestak and Specter, who would you vote for?  Fifty five percent went for Joe Sestak, 42 percent for Arlen specter.  In addition, in another poll, 67 percent of the people in the Democratic primary said, who voted in that poll for Arlen, said if there‘s a credible alternative, we will vote for him. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. 

SESTAK:  Great to be back. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, the make-up of this, folks, is very interesting.  Let‘s see where Arlen Specter stands on a public option.  Let‘s see where he stands on the Employee Free Choice Act.  Two issues that you just heard Joe Sestak is adamantly behind, and will work with the unions and the working folk, and wants a public option.  We‘ll find out if our Arlen Specter is a real good Democrat or not. 

Coming up, Vice President Joe Biden got aggressive in Ohio today.  He went after Republicans for offering nothing but a tax.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich will join me right here on THE ED SHOW when we come back.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Trouble in the heartland.  A new poll shows President Obama‘s numbers down slightly and suddenly there might be some hand wringing going on here.  The GOP says it proves he‘s too liberal for the country and the Democrats get scared and run to the center.  I, of course, keep them from doing that.

A Gallop poll shows President Obama‘s approval rating among independents is starting to drop a little bit.  In the month of June, an average of 59 percent of independents approved of the job he was doing.  That‘s down four points from the average in May. 

Let‘s not miss the forest here, folks,  The president still has the support of 59 percent of independents.  But it comes on the heels of pretty bad numbers out in Ohio.  These numbers are all about the economy.  Quinnipiac poll shows that in May 57 percent of the people approved of how the president was handling the economy.  That dropped to a 46 percentage rate.  And at 48 percent, they say they disapprove of how he‘s handling the economy. 

Today, Vice President Joe Biden hit the road in the Buckeye State to talk up the stimulus package, and hit back at the Republican critics. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What would they do?  Would they repeal the tax cut for 95 percent of the American people once again?  Give it to the wealthiest Americans?  Well, ladies and gentlemen, would they do nothing? 

I hear nothing other than the criticism.  I hear nothing affirmative.  Ladies and gentlemen, I didn‘t take this job—Barack didn‘t take this job to do nothing. 

We took this job to rebuild America.  That‘s what this is about. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now on the phone is Ohio Congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.  Congressman, good to have you with us.  I know votes are going on and that‘s why you‘re on the phone tonight.  You folks are working. 

But Congressman, do you think the administration is doing everything it can in your state of Ohio to get the economy cranking again? 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Well, of course it can do more.  But we have to realize that stimulus money in Ohio has been going to absorb the cost of another 200,000 people, women and children, on to Medicaid.  Funds are being released according to Government Accountability Office even faster to states and agency had anticipated. 

But you know what?  It‘s not enough, Ed.  We have to have a New Deal type program to put millions of people back to work rebuilding America.  And I think this is where the administration is going to have to take another look at the economic needs of the country, address the almost 10 percent unemployment directly, address the need for 2.5 to three trillion dollars worth of infrastructure needs to be built, and get America back to work. 

And if it does that, the economy will start picking up.  But right now, Ohio has a lot of problems, no question about it. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, are you in favor of a second stimulus package?  Or are you talking about something greater than what we‘ve already put out there to the tune of 780 billion dollars? 

KUCINICH:  Well, the first stimulus had 100 billion dollars for infrastructure.  We really need a massive injection of infrastructure building on the scale of a New Deal.  The New Deals rebuilt a good part of America, bridges, water systems, sewer system, roads, and, you know, reclamation projects.  There‘s so much that can be done.  And we need that right now.  We need to put people back to work. 

SCHULTZ:  So are the Democrats failing right now at rebuilding this economy? 

KUCINICH:  We need to do more.  It‘s just not enough.  And I think the administration is starting to come to the realization that as much as they feel they‘ve done, they‘re going to have to do more.  And that means that we‘ve got to get America back to work.  When you have millions of people out of work, unemployment going 10 percent and perhaps even higher in many areas across the country, we just have to do more. 

And I‘ve been saying this from the beginning, Ed.  We‘ve got a great opportunity to take a page out of the New Deal and put millions of people back to work rebuilding America.  It‘ll stimulate the economy immediately.  It‘ll help businesses.  It‘ll help the commerce of the country.  And we need to put provisions on there to make sure we buy American. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Kucinich, if those jobs aren‘t created, is the Obama administration and the Democrats in trouble in Ohio? 

KUCINICH:  You know, I have to tell you, I never looked at this thing in pure partisan terms.  I think it‘s about whether the American people are going to have an economy that is going to meet their needs.  You know, for jobs, for health care, for education; and the economy has to be directed towards that.  And I‘m hopeful that as this presidency of Barack Obama‘s, which is still—it‘s still new—that he‘s going to be focusing even more on creating programs to get people back to work and rebuilding America. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

KUCINICH:  Good talk.  You bet. 

SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s get back to our panel tonight, Jamal Simmons, John Harwood, and Ron Christie.  John Harwood, it sounds like it‘s getting pretty rough for the president and the administration in the heartland.  It is all about jobs.  What‘s the timetable?  When do we have to see these numbers turn around? 

HARWOOD:  Well, this is a real timing problem for the administration, because they expect unemployment to keep rising through next Spring.  Leave alone what it is right now, it‘s going to keep going up.  I talked today to Henry Waxman, a senior member of the House, chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee.  He said if the economists tell us we need a second stimulus, we ought to do it and we can get the votes.  But it has the potential to exacerbate those bad numbers among independents, because they‘re concerned about the deficit.  And you have to wait a while for that stimulus to work. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, are the Democrats and is the Obama administration failing with its economic recovery plan?  Or is the jury still out? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, I think both.  Obviously they told the American people that if they passed the stimulus recovery plan that unemployment wouldn‘t go above eight percent.  Now you have it at 9.5 percent.  And most economists are predicting that it‘ll be well over 10 percent into next year.

I think the administration has a very small window now.  They sold the American people on why they needed the stimulus.  What they promised has been delivered.  And I think independents now, they say they want to cut the size of the deficit rather than put a health care bill through.  The Obama administration, in my estimation, has about six more months before people start turning against them on their stimulus package. 

SCHULTZ:  Jamal, is a second stimulus package on the way?  Is it imminent?  What do you think?

SIMMONS:  I don‘t know if it‘s imminent or not.  I think we might need a little more time.  Remember, the stimulus package they put in place, the two-year program that got about—the White House is saying they‘ve got about 25 percent of the stimulus funds already obligated.  In Ohio, where Joe Biden was today, they say 80 million dollars in contracts for 52 projects have been lent in the state. 

Across the country, you‘ve got tax cuts, 43 billion dollars in tax cuts, 65 billion dollars in aid to states for Medicare.  So they‘re moving money. 

I would like to see some of it get out the door a little bit faster.  But I think they are obligating the funds and trying to get it out the door as fast as they can. 

SCHULTZ:  This might be a political opening, you never know, for the Republicans.  This is Minority Leader John Boehner today on what‘s happening in his state. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Mr. vice president, where are the jobs?  The administration promised the stimulus would keep unemployment below eight percent.  They promised the stimulus would create jobs immediately.  It‘s pretty clear now that the administration was wrong.  The bottom line is this: the stimulus isn‘t creating enough jobs. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, John Harwood, I think that the vice president went to Ohio for a reason today.  They can‘t lose the sound chamber out there.  They‘ve got to keep convincing folks they‘ve got the answer. 

HARWOOD:  Absolutely, and they believe that they will get a bigger bang from the stimulus as the months go on, and that, in fact, the economy is recovering.  But how long are people going to be patient and give them time before they say to President Obama and the Congress, you‘ve got to do something else? 

SCHULTZ:  Ron, does this put pressure on the Obama administration to make sure they get public option in the health care bill?  That would change a lot of lives in Ohio. 

CHRISTIE:  I think it might, but I don‘t think they have the votes to get a public option through the Senate the way it‘s currently drafted now.  There are many centrist Democrats who are worried about the overall price tag for this when it creeps over a trillion dollars.  So I think the Democrats are in a very, very difficult spot right now. 

It gives us Republicans now an opening we‘ve been looking for. 

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, Jamal, what do you think? 

SIMMONS:  I think the first quarter of this year, we‘re losing jobs, 700,000 jobs a month.  That number‘s has been going down.  We had a bad month last month.  But it‘s now in the 400,000, sometimes 500,000 range.  The economy is getting worse slower, which is a hard political case to make, but if by next year it‘s flat lined, it‘s going up a little bit, Democrats might be OK in the fall. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, great conversation tonight.  Thanks so much.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  “HARDBALL” starts right now here on MSNBC.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

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

END   

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