updated 8/14/2009 10:13:52 AM ET 2009-08-14T14:13:52

THE ED SHOW

August 13, 2009

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Guests: Tom Costello, Harry Jackson, Derrick Dawkins, Linda Douglass, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Karen Hanretty, Todd Webster, Jonathan Weisman, Mike Allen

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.

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

Tonight, let's ask the question, what would Jesus do? While Americans are vocal at town hall meetings, I find it very interesting that Christian leaders are silent when it comes to the public option and health care in this country.

I'm calling on Christian leaders to step up and speak out. Two passionate men of the cloth will join me coming up in a moment.

Dick Cheney back in the news. He says the statute of limitations has expired on many of his White House secrets. It turns out there was some love lost when Bush stopped listening to "Shooter."

Sarah Palin's doubling down on her death panel scare tactic, accusing the president of misleading you when it comes to end-of-life care. At the bottom of the hour, the congressman who proposed that very passage in the House bill joins me to separate fact from fiction.

And also tonight, NBC News has obtained exclusive video of the tragic plane crash over the Hudson River last Saturday. You'll see it here first, tonight on THE ED SHOW.

But first, tonight's "OpEd."

Ever wonder where the Christian leaders are on health care and the public option? The Christian right wing in this country, they have had no problem telling us how to vote in the past.

Back in 2004, the Catholics went after Tom Daschle in South Dakota; they preached against John Kerry in 2004; and in 2008, the Christian political operatives tried to tell us that Barack Obama was not a Christian. They've taken a strong stand on abortion, the marriage amendment and, of course, taxes. But why all of the silence?

Why all of a sudden is there so much silence on health care in America from this crowd? I don't understand it.

The four most influential Christian leaders in this country I think need to step up and speak up. I'm talking about Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham, and Mr. Dobson.

And Mr. Dobson, you're in retirement. You can come out of retirement for this one. It's that big of an issue and people will listen to you.

These Christians leaders need to get engaged and support a Christian president on the public option in providing health care for all Americans. Isn't it the Christian thing to do?

Their silence is deafening.

When Jesus walked the face of the Earth, he was feeding the hungry, he was clothing the poor and healing the sick. He didn't ask anybody for their health insurance card, and he didn't heal anybody for profit. Yet, we hear nothing from the Christian leadership in this country on health care reform and the moral obligation we face as a nation to address this issue.

This piece of audio from the Arlen Specter town hall meeting really struck me earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day, God's going to stand before you, and he's going to judge you, and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill. And then you will get your just desserts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: So, what's the makeup of these crowds? Well, true Christian leaders should be leading their churches to support this president on health care reform.

I'll say it again. Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham and James Dobson, let's just say that I think your silence is shameful.

What we are doing to American families is sinful. And there should be an outcry from the Christian community to support this president.

Don't stick your bible underneath your bed on this one, folks. How these Christian leaders can stand idle and dreadfully silent while the insurance industry makes billions at the experience of the American people to me is sickening.

Tell me, Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, just how much money have you made off peddling those books about Jesus and what he would have done on the face of the Earth?

Now, in fairness, not all Christians are silent. Earlier this week, actually a coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders launched a national advertising campaign backing health care reform in this country, calling it a fundamental religious issue.

I think so.

I want to know what you think. Is health care a moral obligation in this country? Text us tonight, will you?

Text "A" for yes and "B" for no to 622639. We'll bring you the results later on in the program.

Joining me now on the program to discuss this is Bishop Harry Jackson, a senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, and also author of "Personal Faith in Public Policy." And also with us tonight, the Reverend Derek Hawkins, senior pastor at the 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

Gentlemen, thank you for your time tonight.

This is, I believe, a very controversial issue when it comes to the faith, because a lot of people just don't know where the Christian leadership should go on this.

Bishop Jackson, is this such a moral issue that we should be hearing from Christian leaders and supporting the president in this country on this issue?

BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, SR. PASTOR, HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Well, Ed, you should be, but I think they have already been speaking out in some measure.

First of all, I'm not for the president's approach. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, I nearly died. If my care had been delayed or denied even six months, I wouldn't be here talking tonight. So, I want you to understand that what people are dealing with is not just the idea that everyone needs to be covered, but the idea of how you're going to do it.

If you diminish the quality of care in America, that's an issue. So, what we have now is open checkbook and an open set of prescriptions that have no directions.

So, I'm against it based on insufficient information. They've got to come correct. They've got to come with the information that makes a difference. And I, like many others, believe that someone's life is not worth more because they're worth less.

And what I mean by that, the poor should have an opportunity to get health care, no question about it. But if you're going to slow down everybody else's health care, then I might be rich, but I've only got three months to live, and then I wind up dying because you have not specified the nature of your morality.

SCHULTZ: Bishop, I appreciate your answer. I do disagree with some of it.

Reverend Hawkins, what would Jesus do if he were walking the face of the Earth? What if we had the second coming of Christ in the middle of this debate? What would he say about the folks in this country who are going bankrupt because they have got a medical issue in their family, the hardship that families are facing?

What would the lord do?

REV. DERRICK HAWKINS, SR. PASTOR, 19th STREET BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, fortunately-and it's good to be with you, Ed, and with my good friend Bishop Jackson.

One of the things we can rest on is the fact that Jesus has already spoken about health care. In the 25th chapter of Matthew, he makes it very clear that we should have compassion, care and concern for the sick among us. And I think there are two important things that need to be understood here.

Before we get to clarity, there must be civility. And I think that one of the things that's incumbent upon Christian leaders to do is to implore those-and not just Christians who are at these town hall meetings, but any and everyone-that we won't get to the clarity if there's a profound lack of civility, as we've been seeing over and over again. And I hope and pray that in the coming days we'll have that clarity.

You know, one of the things that's important also to remember is that we don't have a complete work of legislation here, but one thing we do know is that there's some key elements in all of the proposed portions that hopefully will come together quite soon as a piece of legislation. One is portability. If I lose my job or change my job, I'll be able to carry my health insurance. I won't have a discriminating precondition clause where, if I've got a precondition, that I'll either be denied...

SCHULTZ: But Reverend, that's my question. You know, we're getting off into the policy weeds here.

HAWKINS: Sure.

SCHULTZ: From a moral obligation, as a Judeo-Christian nation, founded on Judeo-Christian principles, why are the big four that I named here tonight, why are they silent on this debate? Why can't they come out and support the president of the United States to cover all Americans?

HAWKINS: Well, even if they don't come out with the immediate support of the president, I hope they do come out with an understanding that it's an imperative. It's a moral imperative for people of faith to indeed have this as a front and center concern. So, I would hope, aside from the politics, that they understand the health care system in America is broken. The health care system in America needs to be repaired.

JACKSON: I agree.

SCHULTZ: And Bishop, does it bother you that it comes do you to the God almighty dollar in our society?

JACKSON: Well, it does bother me, but that is a reality.

My concern, Ed, is that Dobson has come out and talked about this, saying a few days ago, there was a group that were on a webinar with Family Research Council. Fifty thousand people gathered to talk about this within the Christian ranks.

I believe, though, that we're dealing with the president saying his way is the only way. And I'm saying we need to slow our role, make sure that we do the right thing, so that people like me don't wind up dead. And I think the issue is in the details. You can't have a...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: Well, I know we're having this discussion in this country and we're going through the details right now, but from the moral obligation of Christianity, it would seem to me that we would be hearing more from Christian leaders. And I hope they do get engaged.

Gentlemen, I'm tight on time. We have got some other things happening. I really want to bring you back. I knew that reverends and bishops coming on this program wouldn't be short of wisdom and words.

HAWKINS: Ed, listen, join us on Wednesday with the president, on Wednesday evening at 5:00, changeforhealth.org (ph).

SCHULTZ: Exactly. The president is engaging the progressive religious community to have a discussion next week on this.

JACKSON: I'd like to be in on that discussion.

HAWKINS: You can. Please, Bishop, join our call, changeforhealth.org (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate it very much.

And we will have more on this story in coming shows as this debate continues in this country.

All right. We have some breaking news now.

NBC News has obtained exclusive video of the tragic plane crash over the Hudson River that killed nine people last Saturday.

Now, we want to warn you, you may find these images in this videotape very disturbing.

Here is the crash as it happened. Watching the left side of your screen.

Joining me for more on this is NBC's Tom Costello, who has been working with officials and investigators on this all day.

Tom, how revealing is this videotape tonight? What do we learn from it?

What do we know?

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is the first piece of videotape, Ed, in which we actually get some sense of the trajectory of the flight path for both that sightseeing tour with six people on board and the three people on board that Piper small plane.

And what appears to happen here is the small plane appears to be climbing and banking. And literally, it would appear, could not see the helicopter that was climbing, and all indications are, as we slow this video down frame by frame, we see that the helicopter's rotor literally slices right through the right wing of that Piper plane. The plane then starts a nosedive, as does the helicopter.

This was shot by an Italian tourist who was on one of those boats right there on the Hudson River. If the video seem shaky and jerky, it's because he was literally testing out a new video camera, testing out the zoom. And you can see that he's kind of playing with it when suddenly, the helicopters comes into focus. He then focuses on the helicopter, and before you know it, he has what appears to have been-he appears to have documented, rather, this crash in midair.

The NTSB will now be going through this video frame by frame, and enhancing it to, in fact, get a good feeling for whether it gives them a feeling for what is the position of both aircraft, where did they strike, what's the trajectory, what's the flight path. Did, in fact, that helicopter appear within the blind spot of the plane?

But at this point, Ed, it appears to reconfirm the theory that the plane came up from behind that helicopter, maybe didn't see the helicopter, and then was taken out by the helicopter's rotor.

SCHULTZ: That will be studied day by day through this investigation.

COSTELLO: This is what the NTSB was asking for, and now they have it.

SCHULTZ: Yes. No doubt.

NBC's Tom Costello.

Thank you, Tom. Thanks for joining us tonight.

Coming up, President Obama has got to put the hammer down on Senator Chuck Grassley.

Chuck, we're on to you. Stop pretending that you're working with us to get health care reform done.

Linda Douglass joins me live from the White House with reaction to some of the comments the senator has made as of late.

Stay with us on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

President Obama, you have to admit, has stayed pretty cool throughout the health care debate that's taking place in this country. White House adviser David Axelrod dismissed the angry outbursts, saying, "There is a media fetish about these things."

David, I agree with you, there is a fetish about these things, especially when we hear Republicans lying on the campaign trail.

There is a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll that found that 34 percent of the people say that the rowdy demonstrations at town hall meetings have actually made them more sympathetic to the protesters' views.

Let me bring in White House Communications Director for the Office of Health Care Reform, Linda Douglas.

Linda, great to have you on tonight.

LINDA DOUGLASS, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF HEALTH CARE REFORM: Thanks for having me.

SCHULTZ: The guy making a lot of news right now is Chuck Grassley. I want to quickly play this piece of tape and get your response to this, because he doesn't sound like he's got the mood for any kind of bipartisan agreement.

Here's Mr. Grassley on the stump yesterday in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA: There's some fear that because in the House bill there's counseling for end of life. And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear.

You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life, you ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. We should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Let me just say that that is a flat-out lie, and I would like to know what the White House's response to this and the president himself.

DOUGLASS: Well, you know, it's hard to say exactly what the question was and what Senator Grassley was talking about exactly. I mean, it's a little surprising, because he's been an advocate for taking care of people at the end of life, for providing options for people who have Alzheimer's. He certainly has fought for people who are in nursing homes.

And he obviously knows that the claims that there's some kind of death panel, as some of these people have been saying, or euthanasia, that certainly is a complete misrepresentation. It's an actual falsehood, really, of what's represented...

SCHULTZ: But Ms. Douglass he's not...

DOUGLASS: ... in the legislation, which simply provides an opportunity for seniors to voluntarily get counseling on making a living will and making other kinds of end-of-life choices.

SCHULTZ: But that's not what Chuck Grassley is saying on the campaign trail. He is basically-yesterday, he endorsed the death panel and all this rhetoric that Sarah Palin's putting out there. And are you telling us that the White House still thinks he's a really good guy and going to operate in good faith for a bipartisan agreement?

DOUGLASS: Well, you know, Senator Grassley has been working very hard, as you know, with Senator Baucus and the other senators on the Senate Finance Committee to try to craft a compromise piece of legislation that would have bipartisan support, that would lower costs, that would protect your choices of your doctor and your plan. It would expand the choice of insurance plans for people, making them much more affordable. And certainly get rid of those terrible-the insurance rules that discriminate against consumers and say that you can't get insurance when you get sick.

So, Senator Grassley has been working on all of that for many, many weeks very hard. Obviously, he's got a point of view about this particular provision, but he has been working with the other senators to try to come up with health reform legislation.

SCHULTZ: I tell you, I have to give the White House credit. You wonderful folks over there, you have more olive branches than probably anybody on the face of the Earth. I commend you for that.

The final question I have for you tonight, Linda, is this: Does the president want dissenting voices at these town hall meetings when he goes to Montana, when he goes to Colorado, or are they going to be orchestrated? I mean, we haven't seen anybody really get up and challenge the president.

DOUGLASS: Well, it's interesting that they haven't.

You know, I think that probably what that really shows you is that most people want to engage in a polite, civil discussion. The president got some challenging questions when he was in New Hampshire. He asked for people who were skeptics that the public can buy tickets or get-not buy, but can have access to the tickets to these events. There's a variety of ways of distributing them, but they're absolutely open to the public.

People can come and ask the president challenging questions. He expects that and he wants to answer those questions. He brought some of those-the misinformation up himself so he could answer the questions himself. He's looking forward to doing that.

SCHULTZ: No, I thought he did a heck of a job in Portsmouth the other day.

Linda, thanks so much for joining us.

Linda Douglass at the White House tonight, who's been working on health care in a very, very tough way over the months.

Thank you.

DOUGLASS: Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Coming up on THE ED SHOW, "Dr. Doom." An elected official believes the president wants to use a pandemic disease or natural disease as an excuse to declare martial law?

We'll reveal this psycho talker next on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Time for "Psycho Talk" tonight.A fresh and original scare tactic, real fresh and original, from one of the best in the business, in fact.Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, remember this guy? He told us that a public option was going to kill us. He called global warming a hoax. And he's told all his town hall folks that the president, the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, are planning to use a crisis like a pandemic or a natural disaster as an excuse to declare martial law.

It's all part of socialism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA: They have one agenda, and that's socialism. I call it steamrolling socialism that's being driven by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and fueled by Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Oh yes. And he went on. They're trying to develop an environment where they can take over.

Well, actually, there's a history of that. Why would a government ever use a crisis to consolidate power and put military on America's streets? Oh, yes, you're right, there is a history, just not in democratic administrations.

Scaring your town hall seniors with threats of socialism and martial law?

That's fear-mongering "Psycho Talk," Congressman.

And coming up, "The Drugster" says Sarah Palin is dead right that ObamaCare would pull the plug on grandma's life. The congressman who proposed the end of life passage of the bill joins me to set the record straight right here on THE ED SHOW, next.

Plus, our panel will respond to my commentary on the Christian faith and the moral obligation to deliver health care in this country.

That's next up, right here on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing about his ObamaCare, he is going to let the old folks die. They'll tell you take a blue pill for pain and die. That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The president's going to let old folks die.

Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Sarah Palin wants you to think that. She wants you to think the government's going to kill her son. Newt Gingrich even backed her up on that statement.

Chuck Grassley, he's off his rocker. He's out there in these town halls stoking the already raging firestorm of protesters shouting that the president of the United States is going to knock off old folks!

They are wildly distorting a provision in the House reform bill that has a provision in there that would give you coverage for voluntary consultations with a doctor and a health care professional about your wishes, your family wishes.

For more, let me bring in the author of that section of the bill, HR.-3200, Section 1233. Congressman Earl Blumenauer with us tonight on THE ED SHOW.

Congressman, let me ask you straight up; are the Republicans lying about this alleged death panel? They're saying there's a death panel. You put it in there. You are the one. Are they lying?

REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: They are lying.

SCHULTZ: Thank you. That's what I wanted to hear, because that's exactly what they're doing.

Congressman, what is this provision that is causing this firestorm and striking fear in the hearts and minds of seniors across Americans?

BLUMENAUER: It is a bipartisan effort to make sure that senior citizens and their family have an opportunity to get consultation with the medical professional of their choice, to know what they're getting into, to know what their options are, how to make sure the family wishes are respected.

This was-came from bipartisan legislation that I introduced, that no Republican spoke against, and, in fact, has Republican co-sponsors, and has had Republicans tell me and speak publicly about the need to make sure that seniors' wishes are respected, and they get the tools and information they need.

SCHULTZ: Why-the polls are showing that this fear tactic is working. The president and his efforts to reform health care starting to slip with seniors. So how do you turn this around?

BLUMENAUER: Well, it's exactly what you're doing here, Ed, is putting the spotlight on a blatant, obvious lie.

SCHULTZ: But you have Senator Grassley out there basically endorsing this rhetoric. In fact, he mentioned your House bill on the stump, telling people that they should fear you, Congressman.

BLUMENAUER: What's happening is every independent observer who has fact-checked this gives a four Pinocchio, pants on fire liar rating. Every major newspaper that's editorialized-people are seeing that this is a categorical untruth, that they are trying to spread falsehoods.

And I think, Ed, what's happening is that you're getting unprecedented attention. And something that is this blatant is not only exposing the lie about this provision, but it's showing the lengths to which they will go to prevent health care reform.

SCHULTZ: Congressman, that is it. I just find it, as a news consumer, hard to believe that someone of Chuck Grassley's stature in the Senate, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, after all these years in the Senate, would just be making a mistake on a House bill, which he probably hasn't even read yet. Also stoking the fire on this, of course, is Sarah Palin.

I want your response to this; her latest posting on her Facebook:

"President Obama can try to gloss over the affects of government authorized end of life consultations. But the views of one of his top health care advisers are clear enough. It's all just more evidence that the Democratic legislative proposals will lead to health care rationing, and more evidence that the top-down plans of government bureaucrats will never result in real health care reform."

Well, I would like to point out that there's rationing going on right now by the insurance industry. Dispel that myth right there about rationing, congressman.

BLUMENAUER: Well, the point is we are making choices now. Millions of Americans have health care rationed, because they can't get access to it or it's only through an emergency room. The point is there's nothing in this legislation that speaks to rationing.

It's the opposite. It gives access to people. It removes the fear of bankruptcy that is stopping a number of people from taking advantage of health care opportunities. And it's part of what they're try to go do to change the subject, making up things, keep layering argument after argument that's bogus. And hopefully they think something will stick. Well, I think it's catching up with them.

SCHULTZ: Finally, Congressman Blumenauer, we've seen some pretty contentious town hall meetings. You guys are going to end up going back to Washington working on this. I'm just curious, are you so hot under the collar about this, after being so maligned by the conservatives-if you bumped into Charles Grassley in the hallway of the Congress, would you tell him to his face that you're not telling the truth to the American people?

BLUMENAUER: Absolutely. This-I find this deeply offensive. And frankly, there are a number of friends of mine that I plan on following up with to try to understand what's in your head. This is stuff that you supported last month. Why aren't you speaking out in support of it now?

SCHULTZ: Congressman, great to have you on the program. Keep up the fight. You're welcome here any time. I appreciate your honesty tonight. Thanks so much.

BLUMENAUER: I appreciate your work.

SCHULTZ: You bet. Let me bring in our panel tonight; Democratic strategist Todd Webster, "Wall Street Journal" White House correspondent Jonathan Weisman, and also Republican strategist and former communications director for the Republican Congressional Committee, Karen Hanretty.

Karen, are the Republicans lying out there or are we just not hearing the right things? Is this all part of the strategy? What do you think?

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I have to agree with you tonight, Ed, that this rhetoric about the death panels is really overblown and not accurate. I don't know if they're lying or they don't understand what is in the bill. I agree. They should have read all 1,000 pages of it as well.

If they're opposing it, I want them to have read it. Look, I'm all for, you know, folks going and talking to a doctor, clergy, an attorney, whoever, and making these decisions before they reach the point where their children and spouses have to make the decision, very difficult decisions. My parents have made those decisions. My husband has made those decisions.

I think it's very important.

I think the real-I think the Obama administration really dropped the ball, though, on the messaging on this.

SCHULTZ: I think they've got to get tough. I don't think there's any doubt about that. Todd Webster, you worked on the Hill for a long time. You were with Tom Daschle. There was always rumors about Tom. They were trying to vilify him for years. It finally got him out of office. When does-we just had a Congressman here say that Grassley is lying. When does the White House start talking like that? When does the White House take off the gloves and forget this bipartisan stuff?

TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, a lie will travel half way around the world before the truth gets its sneakers laced up. We're now seeing why they wanted to get health care done before the August break, because the longer this sits out here, the longer the insurance companies and HMOs have to try to organize these-latching on to bogus issues and creating mini fire storms.

It's interesting that this is happening in August, because this death panel issue is like the lobster boy at the county fair. It's a sideshow from what the real issue in this health care debate is, which is health insurance reform, which is whether the status quo is going to be allowed to continue, whether insurance companies can continue to discriminate against people who have preexisting conditions, whether 40 million Americans are going to have no health insurance whatsoever.

And it's whether insurance premiums are going to keep going up 35 percent a year, and Americans are going to have less coverage.

SCHULTZ: Jonathan, I know a lot of media people go on vacation in August. I don't think anybody is leaving right now. This is as hot as it ever gets in August. Does this put more pressure on President Obama to become aggressive and answer some of these? He did it the other day in Portsmouth, but didn't go so far to point fingers.

JONATHAN WEISMAN, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right. Look, I'm going to point out another thing that's against you, Ed, here. You know, Barack Obama really rallied this country during the election by talking in much loftier terms. He tried to bring us toward our better angels, and talk about what's good for the country.

In fact, his approach in the last few weeks has been about you, what's in it for you? He hasn't really appealed to the country to say, look, this is not about your health insurance. This is about what is best for our country, what is best for 46 million people without insurance, what is right or moral about our-about reforming the health care system.

Instead, he's had these little fights. These are little skirmishes, instead of the big, broad battle he should be waging.

SCHULTZ: Let me ask you, Jonathan; next week he's going to have a conference call with some religious leaders. What do you make of that? That is playing to the moral fiber of the country, is it not?

WEISMAN: Right. I think that maybe that's when he gets his footing. It's a very interesting battle with the Evangelicals. The Evangelicals are pressing the idea that this is going to fund abortions, this is going to do euthanasia. They're playing small-the Evangelicals who oppose this are playing small boar on it. Obama is going to try to play big and talk about morals. And we'll see who wins out.

SCHULTZ: All right. Panel, stay with us. We've got so much more coming up. Appreciate your time tonight.

Also, Dick Cheney's blowing off some steam about former President Bush. It sounds like he believes the former president was a political sell-out. That's next in my playbook. And more with our panel. It's all on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Playbook tonight; Dick Cheney's back, and he's trashing his old boss. In discussions about his upcoming memoir, Shooter's telling folks how he really feels about his former partner in crime, George W. Bush. And his feelings aren't warm and fuzzy.

It turns out during his second term, W started standing up to his former puppet master, once his approval ratings started to tank. It seems Shooter saw this as a moral weakness.

Let's bring in "Politico's" chief political correspondent Mike Allen. Why do I feel like we're going to be talking about this for the next ten year? I mean, these guys got all kinds of stuff for us. Mike, how big of a division do you think there was between Bush and Cheney down the stretch?

MIKE ALLEN, "POLITICO": Of course, there was a big division from day one, as you know, Ed. These two leaders took very different approaches. They had very different backgrounds. And they sure hope we're going to be talking about it. They both have books coming out.

SCHULTZ: They have books coming out. But how far do you think Dick Cheney will really go in criticizing the former president?

ALLEN: I think he will not criticize the former president. His book will make news. They say he's going to be candid. They say the statue of limitations is gone on some of the confidences that he would have kept. But we're seeing, Ed, is an over-dramatization of some very real differences. The vice president and his supporters have felt like the president should have been more aggressive in recent months in defending their national security policies.

The president's team wishes that the vice president would pipe down a little bit. Their view is that until very recently, you had an incredibly popular president. We're George Bush. We're never going to win an argument with Barack Obama.

So they've been seeing things a little differently. What we saw in that story in the "Washington Post" today was the suggestion from the vice president that the president had gone soft at the end, that he had not fought the good fight, even when things were looking bleak.

SCHULTZ: Is he talking about Iraq? Is he talking about Afghanistan?

What is he talking about?

ALLEN: Specifically, he was not talking about those. We're told the vice president hasn't said it quite this way. But we know at the end there was a very personal difference from them. The vice president felt very strongly then, feels strongly today that his aide, Scooter Libby, should have been pardoned for his role in the CIA leak case. The president did not do that. And it's a bur between the guys to this day.

The president and the vice president talked occasionally, but not a lot. They were never close personal friends. The vice president was always there to serve the president. He feels like he did that job. Now he's moving on to serve himself.

SCHULTZ: So that just threw gasoline on the fire and the friction between both of them, because obviously Cheney wanted his buddy pardoned throughout all of this.

But one other thing; a story that's developing, you know, as the days unfold here, post-bush era. That's Karl Rove, and these e-mails that have come out. How vocal do you think Dick Cheney is going to be in defending Karl Rove? Would he get involved in that? Obviously, he must have known what the heck was going on. It was an attack on the Judiciary. But it just seems to me that there is going to be a lot more coming from these two gentlemen.

ALLEN: I think that's right. I think if the vice president talks about this, or when he's asked about it, he'll frame his answers in terms of the office, and the presidency, and the release of these e-mails. But those e-mails are juicy. It's becoming a campaign issue. Just tonight, the New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine, is calling on his opponent to answer questions about the Rove e-mail. So if Karl Rove is becoming an issue in a bunch of states, that's quite a surprise for an administration that we thought was sort of history.

But Karl has a book coming out, too. They all do. So he doesn't mind being on the griddle a little bit for that reason, too.

SCHULTZ: I do too. But it's a year away. I want to ask you one more question. The president's going to go on the road tomorrow. We're talking health care now. He's going to do a town hall meeting in Montana, Max Baucus' backyard. If there was ever a time to call out a colleague who has really been tough on health care reform, and not giving the president what he wants, it would be Max Baucus. What's the mission here?

ALLEN: Well, the mission is none too subtle. You drop Air Force One onto somebody's house and I think they probably get the message. Tomorrow, Ed, "Politico's" Carol Lee is reporting that the tickets are going to be given out for the president's town hall on health care in a little different way. It's going to first come, first serve, which means there could be more dissent, and a little more excitement.

People have said the president is good at asking questions. He should just go ahead and take the tough questions. Nobody is going to rattle him. And he doesn't get tagged with the suggestion he did after the last one, that the questions were too easy, because the people were screened. So we may have a little excitement tomorrow night in Montana.

SCHULTZ: Great information. Thanks, Mike. Mike Allen from "Politico" with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.

Coming up, I want you to ask yourself this question: what is your church doing about health care? Anything? I'm calling on the leadership of the Christian community to explain to me where they stand when it comes to helping the sick. I'll put to to our panel next on THE ED SHOW. The moral issue here on THE ED SHOW, on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back. We've asked you for your input this hour. Our text question tonight: is health care a moral obligation? Text A for yes, B for no to 622639.

The panel is back; Todd Webster, Jonathan Weisman and also Karen Hanretty. I want to talk health care first, for just a moment, before we get to our moral discussion here tonight on where the Christian community is on health care in this country.

Our friend Bill Press, radio talker, was at the press briefing with Robert Gibbs, and asked him this question about basically trusting Senator Grassley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Can you still count, seriously, Chuck Grassley as an ally in getting your health care bill passed?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I still think there is the possibility of bipartisan agreement through the Finance Committee in order to make progress on a piece of legislation that can pass the Senate.

PRESS: He seems to be playing rope-a-dope with the White House.

Leading you along and then slamming.

GIBBS: Well, I will-I guess we'll see about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Todd Webster, is the White House playing softball on this issue? I think they are. What do you think?

WEBSTER: Well, I think you need a bill through the Senate. You need 60 votes. It will be easier-the program will be stronger if they do have Republican support for it. I think, you know, the clock is ticking, but it's not in the final seconds yet. So I think they ought to try to hold out for as long as they can, and try to get, if not Grassley, then Olympia, or Susan Collins, or some of the moderate Republicans.

SCHULTZ: But Jonathan Weisman, the senator from Iowa has made it very clear that he will are not support anything that has any language of a government program or a public option. How's the president going to navigate around that?

WEISMAN: You know, look, remember, you heard Robert Gibbs talk about getting something out of the Finance Committee that would progress the process. The idea is, you just keep the shark moving so it doesn't drown. Whatever comes out of the Finance Committee is probably going to be what the Senate bill looks like.

But, you know, these deals are done behind closed doors when the senators and the House members and the White House meet to hash out the final deal. That was always what President Obama wanted done before the August recess, so we didn't see this kind of mayhem we're seeing.

Well, they're going to have to do it in September. First, they need to get something through the Senate.

SCHULTZ: Karen, I thought the president did an excellent job in Portsmouth, New Hampshire the other day. He debunked all the right-wing bullet points, and even made it very clear that the president of the United States-as president, he is willing to raise taxes. Now, it's been a while since we've had an answer like we got yesterday. If you're at 250,000 dollars a year and more, he's in favor of a tax increase.

How's that going to fly with, number one, his colleagues? Do you think the Democrats have got the guts to go down the road?

HANRETTY: No, I don't think they have the guts. Ed, I'm not entirely sure why you think the president is so gung ho about a public option. I think he's more than willing to compromise on the public option. He's going to sell out the left wing of his party on health care. When he's done with that, he's going to sell out the left wing of his party on cap and trade.

SCHULTZ: If he does that, he'll be a one-term president. I really believe that.

HANRETTY: He's going to sell you out, Ed. I guarantee it. He's more than willing to toss aside a public option in order to get some sort of bipartisan bill on health care out of, you know-before the end of the year. It's going to happen. You can cry on my shoulder when he does it.

SCHULTZ: Karen, there can be no fundamental change in this country unless there is a public option. So if the president wants to take that gamble with his base, then I guess he only wants to be in the White House for four years. I think he's going to have a real hard time. He's going to disenfranchise a lot of people.

I'm not afraid to say that. I honestly believe that. He has to get the victory on the public option. Todd, your thoughts on it?

WEBSTER: I agree completely. But I think Paul Begala, who is probably the smartest person at articulating the Democratic message that we have in the party, was saying this morning in the "Washington Post" the if you look at what FDR did on Social Security, when it first came out, it didn't cover farm workers. It didn't cover domestic workers. It didn't cover a lot of people. And it was an important incremental step.

Better to get half a loaf than get the perfect bill. That said, I think those-the cutting up the loaf ought to be happening, as Jonathan said, at the final conference between the House and the Senate and the White House. For now, the pressure needs to stay on it. There ought to be and needs to be a public option.

SCHULTZ: Now, the president is going to meet with religious leaders next week on a conference call for about 45 minutes next Wednesday. How big a play is this, Jonathan? If he doesn't make headway and if he doesn't get the support of the Christian community, how the heck is he going to get it done?

WEISMAN: You know, this is a president during the campaign who made a big public outreach to Evangelicals. He had this idea that there were going to be younger, more malleable Evangelicals, that weren't going to be totally fixated on one issue, abortion. Now, he's going to try to put that into play. Right now, it's going to be a tough sell, because the Evangelicals have been nailing him on this idea of abortion and euthanasia.

He might be changing the subject too late. He should have been doing this a long time ago, frankly.

SCHULTZ: Karen, where is the Christian leaders in this country? The four that I named at the top of this show tonight, they've been very silent on the moral obligation to cover every American. This is a big play. What do you think?

HANRETTY: I think it's interesting. You were saying earlier, if Christ came back, if this was the second coming, what would he do? We know that when Christ walked the Earth, he was very careful not to let the Pharaohs entrap him in legalistic disputes. And I think that would be the case with this 1,000-page health care bill.

I think the Christian community, we have an obligation to care for the poor, children, orphans and widows. And that is our commandment. And I think a lot of churches do that. I'm not sure that there's something in the Bible that talks about should you have a single health care payer program, should-and I think it's very-I think it's very, quite frankly-I think you really pushed the limits, Ed.

SCHULTZ: I'm not pushing the limits. I'll tell you what, Karen, we're out of time on this tonight. But I want to say, I am not pushing the limits on this, because if Jesus were to come back and have the second coming while we're on the face of the Earth, I don't think he would be denying care to anybody.

HANRETTY: You think in the middle of the rapture, he would be thinking of health care? You're insane. I love that. That's crazy. The middle of the rapture, the Christians, those who have dedicated their lives to Christ

SCHULTZ: We're going to talk about this tomorrow night.

HANRETTY: That's great.

SCHULTZ: "HARDBALL" is next. Have a great one.

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

END

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