updated 11/16/2009 11:46:21 AM ET 2009-11-16T16:46:21

Guests: Jerrold Nadler, Evan Kohlmann, Judy Dugan, Sen. Bob Menendez, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Brad Blakeman, Jeff Santos, Lizz Winstead, Matt Barrie

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  And good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW in New York.

The alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be brought from Guantanamo Bay to New York to stand trial, along with four other suspected terrorists.  I say bring them on, it‘s the right move by the Justice Department.  They should be tried right here. 

The American people want to see justice, and the world will see democracy in action.  This is a chance for us to grab as a country the moral high ground and prove to the rest of the world that the United States is a just society. 

Here‘s President Obama this morning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice.  The American people will insist on it and my administration will insist on it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, we should give KSM a fair trial, then convict him and execute him.  That‘s how I see it. 

In America, we confront our enemies in a court of law.  We don‘t put them in a kangaroo court and kill them.  That‘s what the extremists do. 

Of course, Republicans and their favorite lap dog, Joe Lieberman, jumped right on the fear mongering today, warning that our safety would be compromised if these guys set foot on American soil. 

Now, check this one out.  Senator Kit Bond of Missouri says this: “The Obama Justice Department has prioritized political correctness over protecting the citizens of this country.” 

Kit Bond is an attorney who graduated first in his class at UVA Law School.  So I think it‘s pretty curious that he has no faith in the country‘s judicial system. 

How about John McCain getting into the act today?  He says, “Today‘s decision sends a mixed message about America‘s resolve in the fight against terrorism.”  Now, I think that‘s a contender for “Psycho Talk.”  

John McCain supports closing Guantanamo Bay, but it hurts the credibility of the United States.  The one sending the mixed messages is McCain. 

And then, of course, there‘s Lieberman, who never misses an opportunity to criticize or question the commander-in-chief, President Obama.  Lieberman says this: “It is inconceivable that we would bring these alleged terrorists back to New York for trial and give them a platform to mock the suffering of their victims.” 

The chairman—did you get that? -- the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee is worried we won‘t have enough security at home.  Tell that to the mayor of New York.  Michael Bloomberg thinks that we certainly do. 

This isn‘t about security.  It‘s about political gain.  The Republicans will never surrender this line of attack, including Joe Lieberman. 

Get your cell phones out, folks.  What do you think about this?  Did the Obama administration and the Justice Department make the right decision to try 9/11 suspects in civilian court? 

Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Now, joining me to start off tonight is Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents lower Manhattan, including Ground Zero. 

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK:  Good to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, how do you think your constituents feel about this?  How do you New Yorkers feel about this move to bring these alleged terrorists back to the ground where the country was hit? 

NADLER:  I think most of my constituents are solid, intelligent, level-headed people, and they want justice done and they want traditional American justice, which is that a person accused of a heinous crime is tried in the area in which the crime occurred.  And that‘s what we‘re going to do here.  In fact, I received word today from Sally Reaganhart (ph), one of the leaders of the victims‘ families, who is thrilled that we‘re finally going to get a chance to see justice done and to get these terrorists tried, given full benefits of American law and then the full penalties of the law. 

SCHULTZ:  The response from the conservatives, the Senate leadership today, Mitch McConnell, said this about the whole thing: “There are needless risks from this decision.  Our cities will face enormous security problems and our communities will be potential targets for attack.”

Do you agree with that?  What‘s your response to that? 

NADLER:  I think that‘s arrant nonsense and fear mongering.  The fact is, the terrorists certainly want to hurt us, and if they could, they would, regardless of any trials. 

But we know how to construct trials.  We know how to handle terrorists and very dangerous people. 

We have very dangerous people in our maximum security prisons in various places in the United States.  Nobody escapes from one of them. 

We conducted the trials and convicted them and sentenced them to long terms in prison—the people who bombed the World Trade Center, the Muslim terrorists back in 1993.  There is no danger from these terrorists.  Now, there may be danger from terrorists generally, but no more and no less because of these trials. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  What if they had gone a different direction?  What if they had tried them down at Guantanamo with a military court?  Would you have been OK with that? 

NADLER:  No, I would not have.  In fact, I think that while I applaud the administration for announcing that they‘re going to try these alleged terrorists, who I assume are terrorists, in courts here in New York, they also announced that some others would be tried in military commissions somewhere.  They didn‘t say where. 

And that‘s unfortunate, because people ought to be tried either in civilian courts or in military court-martials, and not in these jury-rigged military commissions where the evidence is not as reliable and the standards for evidence is not as reliable.  And we shouldn‘t have several different standards where, if we think we‘ve really got the evidence, we‘ll give you a full-fledged trial, and if the evidence won‘t stand up to quite that much scrutiny, we‘ll give you a second-class trial.  That‘s not justice. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, the conservatives are out there in full force tonight claiming that this is the wrong move, that we are going to be less safe, that New York is going to be more of a target.  And they‘re indirectly, I think, taking a shot at the security forces in this city. 

And a response comes from Commissioner Ray Kelly tonight.  He says, “It‘s highly appropriate that those accused in the deaths of nearly 3,000 human beings in New York City be tried here.  And the NYPD is prepared for the security required.”

NADLER:  Exactly.  There is no danger whatsoever from the people who are being tried.  They‘re prisoners. 

They will be well guarded.  They‘ll be in maximum security prisons.  There‘s no danger of that at all.  And it‘s frankly a strange notion to me to say that we can‘t try people and we can‘t keep them in secure prisons in the United States.  We do all the time. 

SCHULTZ:  Does this help this country regain the moral high ground or take the high road?  What message, if any, does it send to the rest of the world? 

NADLER:  Well, the fact that we‘re giving these terrorists, or alleged terrorists, a fair trial in the United States, in New York, where they committed the crime, puts us back on a moral high ground.  The fact that some people...

SCHULTZ:  You think they can get a fair trial?  You think they can get a fair trial? 

NADLER:  Absolutely.  I think they can get a fair trial and I think they will get a fair trial. 

SCHULTZ:  Why did the president and the Justice Department take so long to do this? 

NADLER:  That I can‘t answer. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you OK with the timing? 

NADLER:  Well, I wish it had been done earlier, but better now than later. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think it has anything to do with the president‘s poll numbers slipping? 

NADLER:  No.  I don‘t think it has anything to do with that.  They‘ve been going and doing what they have to do on this. 

SCHULTZ:  And what‘s the gamble about doing it this way? 

NADLER:  Let me just say, the president‘s poll numbers are going to depend on the economy and a lot of other things, not on this. 

SCHULTZ:  And what‘s the gamble of doing it in civilian court, in your opinion, if there is one? 

NADLER:  I don‘t think there is any gamble.  If we have—and I assume we do—solid evidence that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, for instance, confessed in open court, they will be convicted and they will be given very strong penalties, perhaps even the death penalty. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Nadler, good to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much.

NADLER:  Good to be here.

SCHULTZ:  For more, let me bring in Evan Kohlmann.  He‘s an international terrorism consultant and NBC terrorism analyst. 

Does this embolden the enemy, bringing these alleged terrorists back to the scene of the crime and having the trial here?  Evan, what do you think? 

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  I‘ll tell you what emboldens the enemy.  What emboldens the enemy is giving them a propaganda issue that they can raise again and again in their video recordings and their sermons.  And that‘s what Guantanamo Bay is.

Guantanamo Bay has become, for better or for worse, a stain on America‘s reputation.  And at this point, it is absolutely urgent for us to move in another direction. 

Now, any direction aside from that, to be honest, in my opinion, is in the favor of U.S. security and the favor of American security.  Is New York a target for terrorism?  Yes.  It was yesterday.  It was the day before.  It will be tomorrow as well. 

But it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the trials are potentially going to take place here.  It has to do with the fact that New York is a major economic and political center for the United States.  That‘s the justification. 

SCHULTZ:  Evan, I‘ve heard the legal skeptics all day long say that this is just going to be a circus, a jungle, it‘s going to be a legal nightmare because he was waterboarded 183 times.  And I think it needs to be pointed out that the Obama administration, early in this year, they have ruled waterboarding as torture, which tells me that they wouldn‘t go into a courtroom unless they had other evidence. 

What about that? 

KOHLMANN:  Right.  Right.

Well, I think if you look at the people that they‘ve picked here, they‘ve picked very carefully.  The five people that so far are being talked about being moved here to New York are people where the evidence is overwhelming, and it‘s not based upon evidence that was obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques.

Look at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi.  All three of these individuals have been identified by al Qaeda in their own videos as the key coordinators behind 9/11.  There‘s actually video of Ramzi Binalshibh and apparently Khalid Sheikh Mohammed meeting with Osama bin Laden, apparently in a planning session for 9/11. 

Let‘s also not forget that KSM and Ramzi Binalshibh actually went on Al Jazeera and proclaimed their guilt, openly admitted, said we are the coordinators of the holy Tuesday operation.  That kind of evidence is going to be extremely difficult to overturn. 

I think the question is, is whether or not, on a procedural issue like the issue of enhanced interrogation techniques, whether or not the information was obtained through those techniques.  Is that enough of a problem to cause a judge and a jury to overturn the verdict or overturn what should be a just verdict? 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  Well, Mr. Holder said today that he thought they had enough evidence to convict.  And also, he said they‘re going to seek the death penalty. 

What if we had gone the route—what if the Justice Department had turned it over to the military and had a military trial in all of this?  Would that have left the appearance to the rest of the world that we‘re being somewhat heavy handed?  There was a precedent that was set.  We‘ve had military tribunals for enemy combatants in the past. 

KOHLMANN:  Yes.  Well, I think it‘s important to understand, first of all, that the military attorneys, both the prosecutors and defense attorneys, are of the highest caliber.  I mean, these people are extremely dedicated, and they should be commended for their work. 

But I think aside from their work and aside from their caliber, I think the issue is for the world at large and for American credibility.  Does it help American credibility to put the masterminds of 9/11 on trial in an open civilian court? 

Does it pose legal challenges?  Sure.  But for our own credibility as a country, foreign policy for our friends and neighbors, it is exceptionally important. 

And, you know, look, these guys think they‘re real tough.  Well, you know something?  Welcome to New York. 

You know, I think there are a lot of people who are very eager to get these folks over here.  And if you think about it, in some ways Barack Obama and AG Holder here have put the A team on this case. 

You‘re talking about the southern district and eastern district of New York, two of the toughest federal districts in this country.  More terrorism convictions than you can count.  And, I mean, this is really the A team.  I mean, these people are going to attack us with the gusto, and I think you‘re going to get a fair verdict, you‘re going to get a just verdict, and a verdict that‘s backed by evidence that can be shown and proven in court. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Evan Kohlmann, appreciate your time tonight. 

Thanks so much.

KOHLMANN:  Thank you very much.

SCHULTZ:  And while we‘re speaking of justice tonight, this just in.  Former congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana has just been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for bribery and other charges.  You may remember he‘s the congressman who put $90,000 in bribe bucks in his freezer. 

Coming up, the dirty dogs over UnitedHealthcare are asking their employees, well, to be the hit men on health care reform.  My next guest got her hands on a letter they sent to staffers telling them what to do. 

We‘ll talk about that.

Also, “The Drugster” sucking up to America‘s biggest nobody.  And his psycho babble, well, it lands him in “Psycho Talk.” 

All that, plus “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead in the house tonight. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

I told you you can‘t trust these guys.  Big insurance companies have absolutely no shame.  They‘re going to do anything they possibly can to kill reform. 

Now, check this out. 

UnitedHealthcare, the country‘s largest insurer, is pressuring employees to do their dirty work for them and lobby Congress against the Senate health care bill.  Consumer Watchdog says the e-mail sent to employees are full of misleading GOP talking points such as the claim that millions of Americans will lose coverage. 

They also say the campaign amounts to intimidation of employees of United Health Group, and its main operating division, UnitedHealthcare.  And UnitedHealth isn‘t alone in its dirty tactics. 

Joining me now is Judy Dugan.  She is the research director for Consumer Watchdog organization.

Judy, good to have you with us tonight. 

What are they telling the employees to do?  And is this a directive? 

JUDY DUGAN, CONSUMER WATCHDOG:  It‘s phrased as a directive in one way, but then at the end of the message, what they do is say, well, of course, this is completely voluntary.  Except the employees know that the company has full access to their e-mail, they can tell whether they sent the directed e-mail to a senator or not.  They can tell if the employee may have changed the message. 

Of course it‘s pressure, no matter what they say about it being voluntary. 

SCHULTZ:  Seventy-five thousand employees work at this company. 

They‘re the number one insurance provider for insurance in this country. 

What if the employees don‘t do this? 

DUGAN:  We don‘t have any evidence of them—of any punishment for people not doing it, but there is a sense of pressure there, a sense of, if you don‘t do this, you‘re not on our team, we really need this, we are in favor of very good health care and we want you to help us get there.  Of course, what they‘re trying to do is tell the employees to say to their senator, you know, a public option would be terrible.  It‘s government-run health care and it will cause millions of people to lose their insurance. 

SCHULTZ:  Are they really GOP talking points?  How do you know they‘re GOP talking points? 

DUGAN:  Well, you just Google it and you see where the quotes that they‘re using will turn up.  And it turns up on sort of hit blogs, not in the general conversation.  These are obvious talking points that are passed around on the major political blogs. 

SCHULTZ:  Have you ever seen this before in your research on what companies do and how they try to fight legislation?  Is this another day at the office for the way things work in Washington? 

DUGAN:  Well, I think it‘s a little more extreme than most companies would dare to do.  And, in fact, we think what they‘re doing is probably illegal in California, possibly in Connecticut and a couple other states.  But yes, I have seen it with energy companies.  For instance, Exxon has organized big pep rallies of their employees to oppose any legislation on global warming. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Judy, thanks for your time tonight.  I appreciate it very much.

Coming up, something tells me “The Drugster” has not been hanging out at the library lately.  He thinks Sarah Palin‘s book is one of the smartest things he‘s ever read?  That flips him right into the psycho zone. 

Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, it‘s “The Drugster.”  He must be at it again, popping pills, and he must be doing it while he‘s reading Sarah Palin‘s new book, judging by what he said about her today on his radio show. 

First of all, he predicted the state-controlled media are going to fail to see the brilliance of her work. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  And people who get hold of this like the AP or any of the state-controlled media are going to focus on—the soap opera aspects of your book and they‘re going to ignore what is truly one of the most substantive policy books I‘ve read. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Whoa!  The substance of Sarah Palin is just knocking me over right here. 

Rush, now I know you don‘t read very much, but one of the best policy books you‘ve ever read?  Well, I guess when you don‘t get past the third grade, that‘s probably how it ends up. 

But since when does Sarah the quitter care about policy?  Limbaugh insists that she does. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  This woman, Governor Palin, clearly is jazzed by policy, particularly environmental policy and energy policy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, I remember her complex policy prescription on the environment. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR:  We will drill here and drill now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SCHULTZ:  And this is Palin‘s substance on energy... 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  The chant is: “Drill baby, drill.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, yes, we‘ll never forget that one.  Must be a short book. 

Saying that her book is chockfull of substance policy, that‘s oxymoronic “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, well, if you have no spine, eventually it‘s going to catch up with you with the people.  And a new poll shows that the Democrats, hey, they ought to have a heck of a backache right now all over the country. 

I‘ll ask senator Bob Menendez how he plans to fix it before 2010. 

Plus, I‘m with the president when it comes to abolishing the Bowl championship series in college football.  You know, why don‘t we have a playoff system?  We‘ll address that in the “Playbook” later.

And also, “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead is with us tonight in “Club Ed.”

Stay with us.  We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Democrats, are they missing an opportunity to seize the moment politically as the winds of change are blowing in this country, or are they simply blowing it? 

Let me tell you something, folks.  The polls are coming back to bite the Democrats.  As it‘s said in Ohio, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. 

Here are the latest numbers out of Ohio from Quinnipiac. 

Fifty percent disapprove of the job the president is doing.  Fifty-three percent disapprove of the job he‘s doing on the economy.  Fifty-seven percent disapprove of the job he‘s doing on health care. 

And now a Republican is leading the race to fill the retiring Republican seat of George Voinovich in Ohio.

Former OMB budget director Rob Portman is leading both Democratic candidates?  He was Bush‘s budget director. 

Democrats, are they doing so badly that the voters would actually turn to a Bushy to solve their problems? 

Now, the economic meltdown happened on their watch, and the American people understand that.  But the Democrats need, I think, to show a little bit more toughness in leadership.  Or is it just timing? 

You know, I‘ve said before that the Senate doesn‘t move as fast as society in today‘s information age.  People are pretty angry at the lack of action on jobs and health care.  And I think the Americans are pretty much used to a culture of political takeover.  That‘s what we saw in the last eight years, our way or the highway.  The Democrats, in contrast to that, you could make the argument they look a little bit weak right now.  The party in power needs to get it in gear.  If the polls are going to start to move like this, it could be trouble in 2010. 

Let‘s bring in Senator Bob Menendez.  He‘s the chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.  Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), DSCC CHAIRMAN:  Good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Is there concern at this point you might have something slipping away?  The trust of the people that came over and voted for change?  Is that happening too slow?  How would you speak to that tonight, sir? 

MENENDEZ:  First of all, Ed, after two great cycles and the fact that midterm election history, going back to the Civil War, is against us, I still think we‘re going to have a good year next year, because—number one, is they‘ve got—Republicans have a series of retirements of incumbents, six of them.  We have five great candidates in six of those states, five of them.  We have some great candidates up and running.  All of our incumbents are up and running, mostly in pretty good position. 

Finally, most importantly, the fact of the matter is Republicans have made a fundamental mistake.  They have ceded to us the two most important issues before the country, the economy and health care.  They stood by while health care premiums rose double digit for the last several years, out of control, and they also enabled George W. Bush to give us the worst economy since the Great Depression. 

In fact, when we juxtapose what we have done and will do by the time November of next year comes along, against the Republicans, we will be in a good position to not only maintain this majority, but try to see if we can enhance it. 

SCHULTZ:  Why do you think some independents—and the liberal base, I think, is a little frustrated.  I hear it a lot on the radio.  I‘m not making this stuff up.  Is that of any concern at all?  Is this all going to work itself out? 

MENENDEZ:  Well, Ed, I think, you know, and if your readers—if your viewers, I should say, go to the DSCC.org, where we have a lot more information about next year‘s races and what we‘re doing, the reality is that, look, we‘ve had already a tremendous record.  We passed a major stimulus package to get this country moving in the right direction, an omnibus bill that changes our energy paradigm, so we stop sending money abroad, greatest expansion of children‘s health care, consumer credit card legislation, landmark legislation, FDA control of tobacco, equal pay for equal work. 

Those are all in to law.  Now we‘re going to do health care.  The reality is when we do that, in addition to everything else we‘ve done, and remind the electorate—because next year Democrats won‘t be the only ones on the ballot.  Republicans will be too.  We will make a very clear comparison at the end of the day that they stood in the way of progress and change.  We actually worked to create that progress and change and move the country in the right direction, despite what we inherited.  And I believe that will bring us success. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, you listed off a number of things the Democrats have done.  Why isn‘t that registering?  It‘s got to be about the jobs.  Jobs are that big.  If you don‘t turn this thing around on jobs in the next six months, what does that mean? 

MENENDEZ:  Look, first of all, we did so much so soon that is law.  Those aren‘t just one bill passed the House or the other.  Everything I mentioned is law.  They‘re significant achievements. 

But clearly the economy is job one.  Clearly getting health care done is the most immediate thing that we will get done.  And we will get it done.  And it will be successful.  And we will bend the cost curve.  And we will be able to give people who have no health insurance.  And we will give for those who have health insurance a better set of circumstances than they have right now, while we pay for it and also help reduce the deficit as a result of it. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re very confident. 

MENENDEZ:  Then we keep moving the economy in the right direction and I think we see growth already in the economy. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re very confident tonight.  That means you think the 60 votes are going to be there?  There are a lot of liberals in this country that want to see Joe Lieberman stripped of his chairmanship.  Would you go along with that? 

MENENDEZ:  You know, Ed, we are a 60-majority party because we are a big-tent party, unlike the Republicans, who say they‘re a big tent, but actually don‘t have room for anyone who isn‘t to the extreme right. 

SCHULTZ:  You have to get 60 votes, senator. 

MENENDEZ:  We will.  Let us—We can have this discussion if we don‘t get 60 votes.  Give us the opportunity.  You‘re going to see 60 votes.  You‘re going to see a health care bill that, at the end of the day, when we‘re finished, and is on the president‘s desk, that you and I and every Americans will be proud of. 

SCHULTZ:  Despite all the trouble that Joe Lieberman is causing so far, you‘re still not ready to throw him under the bus?  There are about 12 other Democrats that are.  But you‘re not there yet? 

MENENDEZ:  We wouldn‘t have gotten a whole host of things done at various times this year without Joe Lieberman‘s vote.  I‘m looking to move the country forward, just like you are.  That takes 60 votes in the Senate, because Republicans are betting on the president failing.  They‘re betting on us failing.  What‘s horrid about that is that means the country fails.  Go to DSCC.org, and you‘re going to be able to see how we‘re going to do this.

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you with us tonight. 

MENENDEZ:  Great to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  For more let‘s bring in Congressman Chris Van Hollen.  He‘s the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  Chris, good to have you us with tonight. 

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), DCCC CHAIRMAN:  Good to be back. 

SCHULTZ:  There is an undercurrent across America, where liberals are little upset at the pace of this health care thing moving, and the Stupak amendment that‘s causing problems for the Democrats right now.  In fact, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos is encouraging people to shy away from giving to the DCCC, based on how some of your folks have voted.  What do you make of that?  Will that have an impact?  Are you concerned about it? 

VAN HOLLEN:  Ed, we got the bill out of the House.  It was a historic vote.  It was, as you know, a very close vote. 

SCHULTZ:  But what about the money, now? 

VAN HOLLEN:  That would be a big mistake.  If we become like the Republicans and become the small-tent party, we‘re not going to have the majority that we needed to pass that legislation.  Even with the majority we have, it came down to 220 votes.  You start purging Democrats like the Republicans have purged their members, as they did in New York 23, in some other races last cycle, that‘s a very fast trip to becoming the minority party.  When that happens, you‘re not going to be able to pass the Obama agenda.  You‘re not going—

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, you sound tonight like you‘re not concerned about the liberal base defecting. 

VAN HOLLEN:  I am concerned about turnout next year.  If you see that kind of low turnout next year that you saw in Virginia and New Jersey, in these elections we just had, that will clearly be a problem.  That‘s why we have to get moving, Ed, on passing health care reform.  We got it out of the House. 

SCHULTZ:  The Stupak Amendment is going to be a problem.  If it comes back to the House in tact, as it left, you have a problem.  If it doesn‘t, you have to problem.  I mean, is this abortion issue going to be basically the issue that deep sixes health care reform?  How are Democrats going to deal with this?  This big tent has enough conservatives to kill it on one end and enough liberals in the caucus on the other side to kill it, depending on how it comes back.  How are you going to get around it? 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, we‘re going to work to revise the Stupak amendment.  Some of us are going to work very hard to revise it, either in the Senate or in the conference committee.  You‘re absolutely right.  If everybody takes the position they‘re going to draw absolute lines in the sand, then health care reform will be the victim.  We‘re not going to allow health care reform to be the victim of this. 

So we‘re going to work to modify, to change the Stupak amendment.  But everyone faced a very difficult choice in the House.  Speaker Pelosi faced a very difficult choice.  Do you throw health care reform overboard and say, forget it, or do you allow an up or down vote on the House floor on a provision that many of us disagreed strongly with, In order to move the process along, and the bill along? 

I want to point out, Ed, something that I think is very important.  We have expanded our majority.  In no case have we replaced a pro-choice Republican with an anti-choice Democrat.  So to suggest—

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, it still comes down to the votes now.  If it doesn‘t come back to the House side and that Stupak amendment is gone, you may not have the votes to pass health care reform. 

VAN HOLLEN:  We‘re all going to have to agree that we have to get health care reform done.  Let me go back to your earlier point.  If we take the position in the Democratic party that we‘re going to somehow purge everybody who disagrees with us on one issue or another, we‘re never going to have the votes to get health care reform.  We wouldn‘t be in a majority.  We picked up 54 seats in the last three years. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you concerned about these poll numbers?  Look, you lost a gubernatorial seat in—across the river in New Jersey and also in Virginia.  You have poll numbers slipping around the country like in Ohio.  That‘s big territory for you.  What‘s happening out there?  You know, you have to be somewhat concerned that the grip of the Democrats is not what it was a year ago. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, first, the two elections that took place recently that were a referendum on what we‘re doing in Congress and where the federal issues, like health care and the economic recovery bill—where those issues were directly in play, were New York 23, where we picked up a seat that the Democrats had not had since the Civil War and the Congressional seat in California. 

SCHULTZ:  So you see no connection to the polls in Ohio to anything that happened on the East Coast? 

VAN HOLLEN:  No.  We won those.  I totally agree with you that, number one, we have to get health care reform done.  That was a commitment we made in 2008.  We need to show that we can deliver.  Then we need to continue to focus back on the economy.  That was the first thing we did in Congress.  It was the centerpiece of the Obama agenda. 

You‘re absolutely right.  We need to focus on more efforts—a job creation.  And the other thing we need to do is pass this legislation and make sure that never again will Wall Street be able to hold the rest of the economy hostage.  The Republicans—

SCHULTZ:  Good luck on that. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, the Republicans are resisting efforts to reform the

·         and that is a big issue.  They are, once again, on the side of the special interests, big Wall Street money.  We‘re on the other side.  We‘re on the side of reform.  That will be a big issue. 

SCHULTZ:  It will be.  Congressman Chris Van Hollen, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Good to be with you.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Joining us now is radio talk show host Jeff Santos from Boston tonight, WWZN, and also Brad Blakeman, a Republican strategist and columnist.  Gentlemen, do the poll numbers mean anything?  Jeff, what do you think? 

JEFF SANTOS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, they‘re problematic because the Democrats need to lead.  They need to lead just like the Republicans did when they have a one-vote majority.  They got things through.  Budget reconciliation, Harry Reid.  You do it, 50 plus one.  You get the first part of it done with the whole concept of health care.  You go to jobs.  You get it done 50 plus one, with Joe Biden, the budget reconciliation. 

SCHULTZ:  Jeff, you think that Harry Reid should say reconciliation right now?  You‘ve heard enough from Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson? 

SANTOS:  Enough of Lieberman, enough of Ben Nelson, enough of Conrad and mini Max Baucus.  Let‘s go with people like Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd and our friend Bernie Sanders. 

SCHULTZ:  Brad Blakeman, why are the numbers going where they‘re going?  Is it just the slow pace of reform, or is it that people are all of a sudden disgruntled?  What‘s your take?

BRAD BLAKEMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I think people are disenfranchised.  We saw it in New York—rather, New Jersey, and here in Virginia.  People want jobs.  They want the economy fixed.  They don‘t want a manufactured crisis on health care to trump that which concerns them.  That‘s the economy. 

What good is affordable health care, assuming the Democrats can give us that, if they don‘t have a job to pay for it? 

SANTOS:  Let‘s get the health care done first, then we can do it. 

BLAKEMAN:  The economy is number one.  Don‘t you guys get it? 

SANTOS:  The economy is number one?  That‘s why not one Republican voted, except Olympia Snowe, for the first stimulus package.  That goes to help people. 

BLAKEMAN:  The stimulus is an utter failure, even by our president‘s standards. 

(CROSS TALK) 

SANTOS:  It‘s going to get a second one done because you guys are not going to spend for it. 

(CROSS TALK)

BLAKEMAN:  The president promised unemployment would not go over 8.5 percent if a stimulus was passed.  He failed.  It‘s over 10 percent. 

(CROSS TALK)

SANTOS:  The fact is Republicans don‘t care. 

BLAKEMAN:  Now we‘re going to play with numbers?  Come on.  It is what it is.  The economy is number one.  The Democrats can‘t see that. 

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  I want to bring in another issue, if I can.  The Justice Department made a huge decision today.  The alleged terrorists are going to be tried in civilian court.  Jeff Santos, was that the right move? 

SANTOS:  I think it‘s the right move.  We have to be careful about overreacting to every decision that comes out.  It‘s makes us look like, oh, well, it could be bad or could be good.  It‘s a fine decision.  Let‘s move forward. 

SCHULTZ:  Brad, what do you think? 

BLAKEMAN:  I think it‘s an utter failure on the part of the president.  The president is a coward to announce this in Japan.  He owed it to the American people and the victims to announce it here in America, and explain to us—

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Nadler said tonight he thinks New Yorkers will go along with that. 

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  But Congressman Nadler said tonight, on this air, that he thinks New Yorkers want the trial to be right here, and it was the right decision. 

BLAKEMAN:  I don‘t care what Nadler says.  I lost my nephew on 9/11. 

I was the only one—

SANTOS:  I was in New York on 9/11.  Don‘t tell me.  Don‘t give me that stuff, because I was in New York on 9/11.  I saw what happened firsthand. 

BLAKEMAN:  I don‘t care where you were.  The fact of the matter is it‘s dangerous for America to treat this as a criminal prosecution—

SANTOS:  It‘s dangerous to play the fear card—

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Jeff, one final question for Brad.  Why is it dangerous for America?  Why would we be less secure when we have tried terrorists in civilian court before, and the ones who hit the World Trade Center in ‘93 are behind bars right now? 

BLAKEMAN:  Here‘s the difference, Ed.  These are enemy combatants.  We are at war.  The president says we are at war.  Why treat this as a law enforcement action?  We don‘t send policemen over to Afghanistan or Iraq.  We send the military.  These guys are enemy combatants, not criminal defendants. 

SCHULTZ:  I disagree.  It‘s all going to work out. 

Gentlemen, thanks for your time tonight.

Coming up in the playbook, it‘s about dog gone time we level the playing field when it comes to college football.  Why do we have a computer choose the champions?  Some great teams have really gotten the shaft in the past.  I‘ll tackle that in just a moment.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, I have to do this story.  I know we‘re the place for politics, but there‘s a political angle to this.  College football tomorrow; nine and zero TCU is at home against eight and one Utah.  The Horned Frogs are 20 point favorites.  There are two non-BCS conference schools that are still unbeaten, TCU and Boise State.  Neither one of those schools will get a shot at the national championship, even if they run the schedule out.  There has never been a better example as to why college football should have a playoff system. 

Folks, there‘s big money in this.  Bowl games are worth millions of dollars.  And there is some government help coming along.  You have people in the Congress, including the president of the United States, who would like to see this thing happen.  There‘s already bipartisan support for it, Orrin Hatch, Barack Obama. 

So, what is going to happen?  This is big news down in Texas.  Let‘s go to the Cowboys‘ stadium, sports anchor and reporter from NBC Five in Ft.  Worth, Matt Barrie. 

Matt, does the performance of the Horned Frogs this year make the best case yet for a playoff system in this country? 

MATT BARRIE, NBC FIVE:  Ed, I think from a certain standpoint is does.  A lot of people are talking about TCU as not only one of the best teams in the country, but a team that, quite possibly, could be the best team in the country.  If you look at where they are right now, and you stack them up against Texas, Florida and Alabama, they‘ve certainly done their justice to get out there and make the case that they deserve a shot at the national championship. 

Unfortunately, the way the system is set up, they‘re not in the SEC; they‘re not in the Big 12; they‘re not in the Pac 10; and they‘re not in the BCS conference.  They have to hope for some pretty big-time upsets between now and then to even get a shot. 

I think a lot of people, when they watch TCU, they‘re going to say, wait a second, regardless of what conference these guys are in, why aren‘t they getting a shot to play for the national championships? 

SCHULTZ:  How do you think fans would feel across the country if Congress got involved and said, OK, we‘re going to have a college football playoff series? 

BARRIE:  You know, that‘s kind of—it‘s a tricky question.  I think if you look at it, a lot of people—it depends on where you come from.  In the great state of Texas, if Congress gets involved, people will be all for it.  The Texas Longhorns just a year ago should have had a shot to play in the national championship.  It just depends on where you go.

I think right now, with the climate our country is in, a lot of people would be for it.  A majority of people would sit there and go, wait a second, we‘re talking about health care, we‘re talking about unemployment rate, we‘re talking about our economy; why is Congress wasting their time on a college football playoff when we have athletic directors and university presidents that could lock themselves in a room for a month, figure out a way for this to be beneficial for the student athlete, think about a way for this to be lucrative for the university. 

Ed, let‘s be honest, what we‘re talking about here is money. 

SCHULTZ:  Oh, yes.  We‘re talking about big money and higher education and state budgets are tight right now.  That‘s why I think a playoff system would be the way to go.  Here‘s the president of the United States.  He‘s a fan of the playoff system. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football.  You know, I am fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other.  Get eight teams, top eight teams right at the end; you have a playoff, decide on a national champion. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  There you go.  You have pretty good football down in Texas, with the University of Texas and TCU.  This might be one time where Texans want to see the government get between them and their favorite college football team. 

BARRIE:  Oh, look, absolutely.  If there was a playoff last year, Texas Longhorn fans would have been for it.  Obviously, this year, TCU fans would be for it.  I think if you talk about politicians getting involved, if you‘re a politician and you‘re doing an interview on ESPN, or you‘re doing an interview on a sports network, and you come out and say, hey, let‘s have a playoff, baby, they‘re in a perfect network at a perfect time to do that.  I don‘t know if it sends the right message. 

SCHULTZ:  Matt Barrie, TCU wins by 20 tomorrow, I assume, and they run the schedule out.  Good to have you with us. 

BARRIE:  Guarantee they‘ll win by two touchdowns.  You bet.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Good to have you with us tonight. 

Coming up, disgraced beauty queen and sex tape star Carrie Prejean just told Larry King he‘s inappropriate.  “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead will explain what‘s happening there next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  It‘s Friday.  It‘s time for Club Ed.  That means Lizz Winstead is in the house, co-creator of “The Daily Show” and the brains behind “Wake-Up World.”  You can also find Lizz at Twitter.com/LizzWinstead.  Good to see you tonight, Lizz.

LIZZ WINSTEAD, “WAKE UP WORLD”:  Hi, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s happening with this health care thing and the Stupak amendment?  I mean, that throws us back to the dark ages, doesn‘t it? 

WINSTEAD:  You know, Ed, here‘s what I don‘t understand: the Democratic party platform is a pro-choice platform.  I would like to know why the Democrats, who are pro choice, aren‘t saying suck it up to the anti-choice Democrats?  Saying we‘re going to cover abortion in this bill, because it is safe and legal and the law of the land. 

Instead, women that I know who are progressive pro-choice women feel like, yet again, it‘s us being put up as some bargaining chip.  We‘re sick of it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So what do you think the progressive Democrats should do, the caucus?  I mean, they‘re saying if it comes back to the House that they would vote against health care reform.  Would you go along with that? 

WINSTEAD:  You know what?  A bad health care bill—Ed, you always say it brilliantly.  A bad health care bill, that‘s just going to cost a lot and not insure a bunch of people and puts women‘s choice issues on the line, is horrible.  If a woman wanted to, you know, get married her whole life, and then she finally finds a husband that cheats on her, but people say, you should just stay with him because he‘s a good provider.  It‘s a bad idea. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Let‘s get to the news business.  Our friend, Lou Dobbs, has called it a career at CNN.  America‘s angry anchorman, he‘s all gone now, at least for a while.

WINSTEAD:  I saw your loving tribute to Lou last night.  I almost balloon boyed on you tonight.  But I didn‘t.  People are saying, what‘s Lou Dobbs going to do now?  I think he should do what we all do, which is watch the second run of Chris Matthews at 7:00 with a bottle of tequila in one hand, and our dreams in the other, and just hope for a better day. 

SCHULTZ:  Right.  How about the beauty queen, Carrie, who had a hard time on Larry King the other night?  What was that all about?  What‘s her program?

WINSTEAD:  OK, I have a couple of things about her.  First of all, she goes on Larry King and she is insulted and says he‘s being inappropriate.  That‘s bad enough.  Larry King is always inappropriate, A.  B, she doesn‘t understand they‘re going to take calls.  That confused her. 

It‘s like, you know what, Larry King was the second person Thomas Edison called when he invented the home.  It‘s insanity. 

Not to mention, what kind of respect does this woman want?  She‘s so delusional about herself.  The only reason—she uses the media to go on TV to complain that the media is bashing her.  The bottom line is the only thing she has contributed to society is that she‘s a decrowned pageant pod, who just is famous for gay bashing, and she‘s got, what, a bakers‘ dozen full of sex tapes.  That‘s what she has to offer. 

Are you kidding me?  What do you want people to ask you?  Your brilliant plan to get us out of Afghanistan?  In fact, Ed, maybe you should have booked her on your show last night to talk about Blackwater, instead of Jeremy Scahill.  She‘s ridiculous.   

SCHULTZ:  She‘s very ridiculous.  Lizz Winstead—one more thing, the Congressman from Louisiana has been convicted, going to jail for 13 years for having 90 K in his icebox.  Remember that? 

WINSTEAD:  You know what, poor William Jefferson.  When you‘re going to have illegal funds around, you know, the freezer?  First place they look.  Mattress second, freezer first. 

SCHULTZ:  Lizz Winstead, always a pleasure. 

Earlier in the show—thanks so much—I asked you, did the Obama Administration, the Justice Department, make the right decision trying 9/11 suspects in civilian court?  Ninety percent said it was the correct move;

10 percent said no. 

We‘re going to be in Seattle on Sunday night for a town hall meeting.  We‘ll see you there.  You can go to our website at WeGotEd.com and get ticketed for the event.  We‘re back on Monday, 6:00 Eastern, here on THE ED SHOW.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on MSNBC.

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

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