updated 3/15/2010 11:55:19 AM ET 2010-03-15T15:55:19

Guests: Adam Green, Elijah Cummings, Andrew Romanoff, Rep. Earl Blumenauer,

Jonathan Alter, A.B. Stoddard, Jack Rice, Steven A. Smith, Stephanie Miller

ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening Americans and welcome to THE ED SHOW from New York tonight. These stories are hitting my hot button tonight just who is responsible for killing the public option? Nancy Pelosi says it‘s dead, just a day after Sen. Dick Durbin the whip in the Senate said he would aggressively whip it The Senate. That Turd Blossom Karl Rove says he‘s proud the Bush administration used torture. Our panel takes that on in Rapid-fire response tonight.

And Tiger Woods is taking image advice from another Bush crony Ari Fleischer and Tiger could make his return to professional golf, in less than a month. Stephen A. Smith will take that on tonight, later on in the show.

But first, the story that‘s got us all, especially me, all fired up tonight. I tell you it was a gut wrenching news day for progressives. This afternoon speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will not include a public option in the reconciliation bill. You mean after all that work, all this time, it‘s a no? What a gut shot to the liberal left of this country and I guarantee you if it turns out this way, Democrats will pay a political price for this. There is no direct competition for the private sector in this insurance industry bill. A lot of liberals, such as myself, like we‘ve been backed into the corner watching Barack Obama, the president United States cut a deal with the corporate boys, first it was Wall Street and now it‘s the medical and insurance lobby. When will it stop? Now what we have, well we‘ve got this blame game going on right now, we got to a couple of games, first the blame game, you‘ve got Sen. Dick Durbin say hey, you get me a public option I‘ll whip it over here and will get it going, but then over on the House side, you say Nancy Pelosi says hey wait a minute, we had a public option in our bill and were not going to have any of this. So where is the White House this crucial moment of decision as to whether were going to have a public option in the reconciliation bill or not?

They are ominously silent. Now I find it really ironic that this letter that is circulating around from Sen. Bennett to Sen. Reid asking for the public option via reconciliation; 41 senators have committed to it and White House is quiet now that Nancy Pelosi comes out and says there‘ll be no public option. I find it ironic that president Obama won nine Bush states and he just needs nine more signatures from his own party on a public option, which polls in the majority, in every section of the country. If you were to ask every Democrat in this country if you want a public option they‘d say yes, except some conservatives over in the House who aren‘t quite sure if this is going to play well and they are district.

You know I find it really interesting that it is a primary fight that

brought this whole thing to a head, which all started in Colorado, we‘ll

get to that story a little bit later on in the show,

But it just seems to me that there have been a lot of deals that have been cut that you and I aren‘t privy to that just started a long time ago, I‘ll never forget Sen. Conrad, the chairman of the Senate budget committee, last summer, last summer he was saying we don‘t have the votes. It‘s not even his job to count the votes, but he was tasked by the White House to go get this co-op deal and work up the exchanges and that‘s what happened. Max Baucus has been a thorn in our side all along to the liberal left, we wanted single-payer, never at the table, never made a statement on public option, he‘s one of 16 senators that have not signed on to it. I mean it just, for liberals this bill sucks, I know that and we are really going to have to take on, a lot of guts to stand up and say you know this is the right thing to do we got to take this first step. I just keep thinking about, what Ted Kennedy would do right now, but the blame game that‘s going on, is going on with the Democrats. The fear game is being played by the Republicans.

Here‘s Nancy Pelosi, she won‘t have anything of it, when Dick Durbin says, hey you get me a public option over here and I‘ll whip it for you in the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I am not having the Senate, which didn‘t have a public option in its bill, put any of that on our doorstep. We had it, we wanted it, they didn‘t have it, it‘s not in the reconciliation. But it has nothing to do with whether we initiated here, we did initiate it, they didn‘t.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: That‘s right, she is correct on that, this isn‘t her fault, she sent a public option over there they didn‘t put it in the Senate bill.  And now the Senate can‘t get 50 signatures as of this hour they don‘t have 50 they got 41 commitments. So why don‘t you send Nancy Pelosi a letter over there with 50 Sen. Saying, OK will go reconcile, reconciliation on the public option you send us that, we‘ll do it. That‘s what Nancy Pelosi needs right now, I mean it‘s just a bunch of political gamesmanship that‘s going on.

Folks get out your cell phones; I want to know what you think about this tonight. Our text survey question is, do you think politicians care more about your health or getting reelected? Text “A” for your health, text “B” for getting reelected to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program.

Now let me get to the gamesmanship that‘s being played over by the fear mongering that‘s taken place over on the right. This is John Boehner, here is what he has to say:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO: Democrats of all stripes are hearing from their constituents. And their constituents have been pretty vocal in telling them we don‘t want $500 billion worth of Medicare cuts, we don‘t want $500 billion in new taxes, we don‘t want to this mandates on employers, that may cost me my job and cost me my healthcare. It‘s a very dangerous proposal that they‘re putting forward; to take the best healthcare system in the world and to turn it on its head.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: I mean there so many lies in that statement I don‘t even know where to start, but I find this one really entertaining. “Democrats of all stripes are hearing from their constituents.” How do you know? Oh that‘s right Mr. Boehner, you‘re so close to the Democrats, you know exactly what the constituents are doing when it comes to calling Democratic offices, yeah I bet. When you use the word dangerous, here is what‘s dangerous folks, this is what‘s dangerous, 45,000 people who die every year because they have no health insurance. Here‘s another danger, to the middle classers of so this country, double-digit increases in your health insurance premiums, pre-existing conditions, that‘s pretty dangerous, because that determines whether you can get insurance or not. Getting dropped when you get sick and some protection area measures there, that‘s dangerous. Mr. Boehner you got it all wrong.

Let me bring in Adam Green tonight, cofounder of the Progressive Change campaign committee. Adam good to have you with us; I want to start with the White House, what do you make of the fact that Barack Obama won‘t put it to the firewall and try to get the final nine signatures for the public option on the Senate letter? What‘s your response?

ADAM GREEN, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Now the White House has been consistently lacking on this. If we‘re going to pass the public option, you know, this movement started with the grassroots and we‘re going to need some bold numbers of Congress to step up, that‘s the bottom line.  The White House, we, if they jumped on that would be an incredible bonus, but we can do this without them and we have to do without them.

SCHULTZ: How are you going to do it without them? Now I‘m told that there‘s not actually 41 signatures, there‘s 41 commitments, I want you to clarify that, but if you‘re so close, I mean who do you expect to sign on the final nine?

GREEN: Well let‘s be very clear, in some cases a commitment is better than a signature. I mean in many cases people are on video or directly talk to a reporter and said, I support the public option, I want it. But let me tell you something tonight Ed, we can break a little news here, you know we have been being very conservative with our vote counting, but over the weekend we‘re going to be updating our whipcongress.com site. And we can say with confidence that there are at least 51 votes for the public option in the Senate, if the House goes first.

SCHULTZ: Nancy Pelosi not going to go first unless she, unless you convince her that there‘s 51 or she sees a piece of paper where there‘s 51 or if there was a deal that was cut long ago that everybody said yah we‘ll talk about the public option, but it isn‘t going to happen. What do you think?

GREEN: Well let me, you‘re right, she needs to see a piece of paper, I have a piece of paper, let me run it by you real quick. Basically we‘ve heard all day, our own whip count 41 being quoted against us, but there are lots of commitments that are in the bag to indicate how people would vote if the house when first. Kay Hagan from North Carolina, not on our list yet, she told the Huffington Post this week, she would support a public option, her only reservation is, will the overall bill pass? Obviously if the House goes first and she‘s voting on the final bill in the Senate she would be there.

Claire McCaskill told us this week on video four times, she supports the public option. Tom Harkin was on your show, he said that the only thing holding him back from supporting the public option, publicly, was whether the votes were there in the House. Well obviously if the House goes first and passes it to the Senate, he would be there. The same with Jay Rockefeller, Jay Rockefeller said in his statement, that everybody uses to say he‘s against the public option, that he has adamantly for the public option, his only question is the viability. Well if the House passes it and it goes to the Senate and it‘s the final, final vote, he would be there, there‘s no doubt he‘ll be there. Herb Kohl today, e-mailed his constituents, he was reported to us by multiple people, and he said flat out, I support the public option and he wants to look at the overall bill, but of course if it‘s the final, final bill, he‘s going to be there. He supports the public option.

Mark Begich told us on camera this week that the public option is not make or break for him, he‘s happy to support it, as long as overall healthcare reform passes. Well again if the House passes it and it comes out to his vote, he‘s not going to be against it. That brings us up to 47, Ed; we‘re going to post all of this at whipcongress.com, but wait there‘s more; Max Baucus, he issued the original white paper supporting the public option. When he voted against it in the finance committee, he said, I‘m only voting against it, because I don‘t believe the votes exist, but if the House passes it and it comes down to his vote, there is no doubt that he will, do what he‘s always done, been a team player and vote for it. Mark Warner and Jim Webb have both been publicly on record, Jim Webb signed a letter with Sherri Brown demanding the public option a couple of months ago, Mark watershed quote “I want to make sure there are some competitive alternatives to the insurance companies,” and then he supported the public option in the past. He would not be the final vote against it.

And finally Robert Byrd, that brings us up to 50 by the way, and number 51 Robert Byrd, one of Ted Kennedy‘s best friends in the Senate; has been a champion on this stuff all along. He indicated this last week for the first time that he‘s comfortable with the process of reconciliation and there is no way frankly in hell, that he would vote against his friend, Ted Kennedy‘s final wish to pass comprehensive health-care reform. One vote more than is needed, this, this, I just want to say this, the House can say with confidence that if they pass the public option the votes will be there in the Senate, no doubt about it.

SCHULTZ: OK, so that is the latest and the best reporting I have seen anywhere on a head count of the public option, we are really getting to it now. So you‘re challenging the House, telling the House, just have a leap of faith and go first, put the public option in and we‘ll get it done.  Adam Green great to have you with us, we‘ll have you back again obviously.  Joining me now is Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings. Mr. Cummings appreciate your time, Congressman what‘s your response, what‘s your response to that reporting right there tonight, from that website bold progressives.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: You know as much as I would like to go along with that, I can, I can fully understand where Nancy Pelosi is coming from. We passed the public option, you got to keep that in mind, we did it already. And so we‘re in a situation right now where, and I haven‘t talked to Speaker Pelosi about this issue today, but I can imagine what she‘s trying to say. Her best chance of getting a piece of legislation through and particularly based upon what the parliamentarian told us today, is that we‘ve got to pass a Senate bill. OK, pass ‘the‘ Senate bill and then make changes to it through the up or down vote, 50 plus one. And so when you; I hear what the senators are saying, but they didn‘t send us a bill with a public option. We sent them one.

So Ed, as much as I want to, I want a single-payer, I want public option, but you know what, I also want to make sure we get a piece of legislation through. And I think what Nancy Pelosi is saying, and let me tell you something, I have watched her, I have talked to her, I have seen her in meetings, she wanted this public option very badly, but she‘s also very practical. And I don‘t know how much we can depend upon the Senate; I heard what was just said, but we have not had the greatest track record with the Senate, I‘ll be very frank with you. I‘m not knocking them, but we got a get a bill through.

SCHULTZ:  OK, well, so there‘s absolutely no way at this point, in your opinion, because of what the Speaker said today, that there could be any revival of the public option—no evidence, videotapes, signatures, verbal commitments that would change the House members minds? Is this all about getting conservative Democrats on board and getting some of the 39 who voted against the House bill the first time around?

CUMMINGS: I think, I think it probably is. It‘s a very delicate balance, this is, I mean it‘s easy for people to sit on the sidelines Ed, and talk about trying to pull these votes together, it is not an easy task and keep in mind you‘re talking to somebody who is an extreme progressive.  But I also realize, and you and I have talked about this before Ed, it‘s not always about getting what we want, it‘s getting what we can get. And so rather than, I think what Speaker Pelosi is saying is, rather than, as much as she wants the public option, rather than muddy the waters, she knows that the easiest and most, the soundest route, is to pass the Senate bill and then do the up or down vote, some call it reconciliation, I call it 50 plus1. And we‘ll get a bill.

SCHULTZ: Appreciate your time tonight, I know everybody wants a bill, but the way this is going to play out, is that the base is not being heard, the public option polls, in the majority all over the country, and there‘s going to be a lot of questions that are going to have to be answered later on.

CUMMINGS: Sure there is going to be questions Ed, but they can‘t blame the House, the house is pass it, keep in mind.

SCHULTZ: No, no, no, but if, what if, but if you‘ve got the commitment, if you got on record 50 and that number keeps going; I don‘t know why you can‘t play it out for a few more days, but Congressman great to have you with us. I know you‘ve worked hard on it.

CUMMINGS: It‘s always a pleasure. It‘s always a pleasure.

SCHULTZ: Thank you sir.

Coming up, my next guest may be the best hope the Democrats have to keep the majority in the Senate; progressive champion Andrew Romanoff of Colorado joins me next.

And Tiger Woods may be back on the course for the Masters, but were hearing he hired a Bush spinmeister to rehab his image?

Plus (inaudible) is proud of water boarding and Fox and Friends is gone to the dogs. All of that and so much more, coming up on The Ed Show right here on MSNBC, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE Ed Show. Competition is a great thing, especially for the Democrats. A primary challenge from Joe Sestak is keeping Arlen Specter honest in Pennsylvania on the progressive issues.

Blanche Lincoln having her feet held to the fire by Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor in Arkansas with a primary coming up. And in Colorado a pointed freshman Senator Michael Bennett has become a fierce fighter of the public option after getting a primary challenge from the left. Bennett has always supported the public option, but he has stepped up getting 41 Democratic senators to commit in writing to voting for the public option, if it comes up for vote in reconciliation.

Joining me now is Andrew Romanoff, Democratic candidate, for the Senate on the Democratic ticket in Colorado; he is challenging the appointed Senator Bennett from Colorado in a primary coming up in August. Mr. Romanoff, you are the house speaker, house leader should I say, in Colorado for four or five years, is it your jumping into the primary that has forced the public option letter that we‘ve been talking about now for weeks, what do you think?

ANDREW ROMANOFF (D), COLORADO SENATE CANDIDATE: That‘s a good question Ed, certain we saw a number of senators go back and forth to try to treat the public option as a multiple-choice exam, I think you heard a lot of folks say last year, gosh we‘re all for the public option, but we can live without it and will vote for the bill even if it‘s not in there. That‘s not leadership and it‘s too bad I think that we‘re still having this debate now nearing the middle of March when the time to stand up and make a difference was back in December when so many senators were cutting so many backroom deals and killing the public option to begin with. I‘m happy that this thing is still alive and I hope we will get the competition, the accountability we need for the insurance industry as Sen. Warner said.

SCHULTZ: Are you more of a progressive then Sen. Bennett, because that is really what this is all about, isn‘t it?

ROMANOFF: It‘s hard to keep track of my opponent‘s positions here, I will tell you what I believe, I think too many Coloradans and too many Americans for that matter are paying too much for insurance that covers too little and too many don‘t have any coverage at all. Now you‘ve done a really valuable service, I think Ed, in pointing this out over the years and I‘ve met too many folks in this state who are losing their coverage and too many families who are losing their loved ones. I think sometimes what‘s at stake in this debate gets lost in Washington DC. I‘ll just give you one quick example, I met a man just the other day that when I pointed out to him 45,000, 45,000 Americans are losing their lives because of his health care crisis, he said, I know one of them, and he handed me the obituary of a coworker, 63 years old a fellow in Colorado Springs, work for a living, work for a company that didn‘t provide coverage, had high blood pressure, couldn‘t afford the medicine he needed to stay alive, his heart burst, and he left a wife children and grandchildren.

SCHULTZ: You have been consistent on the issues all along, Mr.  Romanoff, and you‘re polling very well in Colorado. If Bennett defeats you in the primary and goes up against Jane Norton, I mean the polling right now is that 43 percent, they are going even at 43, and of course if we were to have you at 44 percent and 39 percent that‘s how it looks right now, if you were to win or should I say go up against Norton. So you got a feel pretty confident about this.

ROMANOFF: We‘re going to win this race and you‘re right, the polling consistently now says I am the strongest Democrat to hold the seat in November. A poll that just came out this morning, as you mentioned, now puts me of every single leading Republican in this race. If Democrats want to send a leader to Washington, if they want to send a message, if they just want to hold this seat in November, they‘ll nominate me. And they can start Tuesday night at our precinct caucuses.

SCHULTZ: Andrew Romanoff good to have you with us. Keeping it interesting in Colorado, no doubt about that. Thanks a lot.

Coming up those kids over the right-wing networks morning show are some pretty sick puppies. One of them in the doghouse and in Psycho talk next, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And the Friday night edition of Psycho talk starts right now.  The folks over at Fox and Friends, well I guess you could say they have going to the dogs. This morning they were chatting about a Newsweek article written by a veterinarian. She argued that patients should be involved in deciding what diagnostic test to get when I go to the doctor, just like pet owners get to decide what test their dogs and cats get at the vet. Well the Friends took that legitimate argument and injected it with a dose of crazy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FOX CORRESPONDENT: A very brilliant veterinary oncologist has a suggestion.

STEVE DOOCY, ANCHOR: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED FOX CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she says we should treat people like they treat their dogs.

DOOCY: It makes a lot of sense. Karen, the vet, writes you know what the way we do it, perhaps we could take a lesson from it, because we actually go line by line over the treatment rather than just having the doctor order a bunch of tests that you don‘t really know about you go line by line, because there‘s only 3 percent of Americans who have pet insurance. And so we‘re on the hook for the charges, so if Americans were on the hook for all the tests and stuff it would be a lot different.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: (LAUGHTER) You know it‘s all about the money, it‘s about being on the hook for the money isn‘t it? America‘s favorite weatherman Steve Doocy is right; it would be different, if you were on the hook for the cost. Only rich people could afford healthcare. Folks, that‘s not a solution, we know that. The idea is to fix the way insurance works not to eliminate it altogether. A few minutes later, Fox news analyst, Peter Johnson Jr., declared he wasn‘t on board with the plan to treat people like dogs, but it wasn‘t because he was concerned about Doocy making stuff up, Jr. is worried that it would mean pulling the plug on grandma.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER JOHNSON JR., FOX ANALYST: Growing up all I ever heard, and it always made me so sad, and sometimes I hate to go to certain movies, that when the dog passes away, in the end, but you hear, ‘oh the dog got put down‘ are we going to start applying that to humans are we going to start putting ‘the dog down?

UNIDENTIFIED FOX CORRESPONDENT: Are you talking about a death panel?

JOHNSON: Well, it sounds like it doesn‘t?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: (LAUGHTER) I can‘t believe that. Those ‘righties‘ can always bring it back to the death panel, can‘t they? Fox and Friends entire conversation on treating people like dogs is ridiculous, psycho talk.

Coming up, now at the public option is in the rearview mirror, House progressives will have to take a gigantic leap of faith on this healthcare bill. Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer will tell us if he‘s ready to take that jump next. Plus, well this Fifth Avenue penthouse in Manhattan is up for sale; hey it‘s the drugsters place; wonder if it stinks like cigars?  Stephanie Miller we‘re calling you in to just a little Psycho talk into the cellar, that‘s coming up in Club Med, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching on this Friday night.  Today, it‘s been a volatile day when it comes to health care reform.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the public option is a non-starter.  That hurts if you‘re a good lefty.  The president delayed his trip to Indonesia so he can keep fighting for the bill that he wants. 

There are reports tonight that the House may be ready to vote next Saturday, a week from tomorrow.  For more on all of that, let‘s bring in Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer.  Congressman, good to have you on tonight.

What does it signal to you that the president is not going on this Asian trip?

REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON:  We‘re definitely in the end game here, Ed.  We‘re starting Monday the reconciliation process with the budget committee.  We‘ve been working today.  We‘ll be  actually working on it Sunday, ready to move forward.  The president is engaged.  We‘re coming down to it right now, where it‘s going to be make and break.  I think the indications are increasingly positive. 

SCHULTZ:  Will you vote for the bill?  And do you think that any of the 39 Who voted no on the House bill will vote yes on this Senate bill and the reconciliation package? 

BLUMENAUER:  Well, I‘m swallowing hard.  We‘ve had conversations before about things that we care about, like the public option.  But this is an opportunity for us to be able to actually move the ball forward.  We‘ve got an excellent opportunity to correct the Senate bill, make it better, throw in tens of billions of dollars for student loans in the offing. 

I think that there will be some people in the 39 that will go with this.  I think that Stupak dozen is shrinking.  And I think that people are looking hard at what the reality is, in terms of if we fail to act, what it means for the American people. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you think it means for the Democratic party if they pass this without a public option, and it looks like that‘s not going to happen?  Do you think that could you go back into your district and say, hey, this is a really good bill and you can convince them that you should stay in office? 

BLUMENAUER:  Well, let me just say that I have people that were literally protesting, having die ins, because they were so absolutely committed to having single payer.  And now we‘re getting calls, people saying, vote for this thing, move it forward.  Too much is on the line. 

We‘re going to be involved in hand to hand combat to refine and improve it for months, several years to come.  But we have an opportunity to turn the corner.  And we‘re not done with the bill, and, indeed, the reconciliation.  You saw the overwhelming vote the House in favor of taking away the anti-trust exemption for the insurance industry, and we pulled Republican votes. 

We‘re in a situation now where our health system is not sustainable. 

I think people are understanding it.  Is it a certain amount of risk?  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think the Speaker will get the votes? 

BLUMENAUER:  You know, nobody has lost money voting on Speaker Pelosi and her ability to deliver votes in a crunch. 

SCHULTZ:  But the leap of faith, there‘s going to have to be a leap of faith here. 

BLUMENAUER:  Yes, absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  And there will be no leap of faith on the public option.  But there is still a big leap of faith.  And do you think that this is as gutsy a vote as cap and trade? 

BLUMENAUER:  I think it is in several senses.  We‘re relying on the good faith and functionality of the Senate, which doesn‘t always happen.  But for my vantage point, the opportunity of passing this bill, fixing it, working with the president and the Senate on an on-going basis—I think it‘s worth it, and I‘m prepared to do it. 

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

BLUMENAUER:  Always a pleasure, Ed.  

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s go to Jonathan Alter, columnist for “Newsweek” and NBC News analyst.  Jonathan, you have said all along that we would come to this point, that there were going to be some things that the liberals were not going to get, and some conservative Democrats were going to hold out to the very last minute.  I think you‘ve called it right. 

I‘m not happy about the way it‘s coming down.  I want the public option, obviously.  But the fact that the president is not going on this trip, the fact that Nancy Pelosi has told House members to clear their schedule; are we really at the end game?  What do you think? 

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  I think we are.  You know, I have agreed with you all along that a public option would be desirable.  But you can‘t make the perfect the enemy of the good, as the president has been saying all along.  We are on the eve of a historic and positive change in this country. 

I think Congressman Blumenauer hit the nail on the head.  This bill could be fixed in the years to come, possibly with a public option, if we build public support for it.  But you‘ve got to start somewhere.  And this is a very good place to start. 

It looked dead after the Massachusetts election just in January.  It‘s back alive.  The president believes in what he calls a philosophy of persistence.  And the indications are that it‘s going to pay off. 

The only thing standing in its way now—let‘s be real clear about this—are Democrats.  The Republicans are irrelevant.  This is about whether Democrats, both liberal Democrats and conservative Democrats, who have often very legitimate objections to the bill, can swallow those objections in the greater interest of ensuring 31 million Americans and ending discrimination against sick people and all of the other good things that this bill does. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s got good stuff in it.  Jonathan, what do you make of the progressive movement, PCCC, out there, saying that they can get 51 senators committed to this?  Your thoughts on that? 

ALTER:  Fifty one senators committed to the basic reconciliation process or the public option? 

SCHULTZ:  The public option.  They won‘t give it up. 

ALTER:  Well, I mean, it‘s great for them to, you know, struggle for it all the way, as long as it doesn‘t prevent anybody from voting against the bill.  My understanding, from talking to the majority leader‘s office yesterday, is that the votes in the Senate are still not there for a public option, not even 51, that they‘re in the high 40s.  So it‘s going to fall short.

But I could be wrong about that.  I hope I‘m wrong.  It would be wonderful if they could do that.  The main point is it just can‘t stand in the way of moving forward.  If this bill were to somehow not pass, the Democrats would be slitting their own throats and they would be destroying Barack Obama‘s presidency. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s the next point I want to make.  So if this passes, and if next Saturday is the big day, and they get it all signed and everything, this really sets up the president going out to the districts across the country saying, look what we‘ve done, selling the good, versus the Republicans selling the bad.  And that‘s really going to set up the midterms.  Or would that not be an issue?  Would there be too many months between now and the midterms for that to matter?  What do you think? 

ALTER:  It‘s a great question.  John Cornyn, who is the Republican senator who runs the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, he says he wants to make repealing the bill the centerpiece of their efforts in November.  And my feeling is, bring it on. 

A lot of this stuff kicks in right away.  For instance, the insurance reforms kick in right away.  So people will be protected by those reforms, protected from the tender mercies—not so tender mercies of the insurance companies right away.  So if the Republicans want to run on repealing that, great.  That means they won‘t pick up nearly as many seats as is now being expected. 

They are trying to say, oh, the Democrats are going to destroy themselves politically if they pass this bill.  The opposite is true.  It‘s much better for the Democrats going into November to have a bill under their belts.  It will look like they can get something done.  I think they can limit their losses. 

SCHULTZ:  I think the historical moment here will be just how big a leap of faith the House members are going to take with the Senate.  Jonathan, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

ALTER:  Thanks, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Now I want to get some rapid fire response from our panel tonight on these three top stories.  The public option is dead, or is it?  Do we have nothing but a political blame game to show for it at this point? 

Karl Rove says he‘s proud the Bush administration used torture techniques like water boarding. 

And the House voted 420 to one on a resolution that would reopen the investigation into Congressman Eric Massa. 

With me now are former CIA officer Jack Rice and columnist for “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard.  A.B., looks like the public option is going down.  Your thoughts tonight? 

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  Ed, you and I have had this conversation so many times over the last year.  I didn‘t think the votes were there.  I still don‘t.  It‘s possible, as Jonathon Alter said, and Congressman Blumenauer, that perhaps in the future, when they go to amend this, and try to fix this bill with future bills, that they get—the support for the public option that wasn‘t there in 2009. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you think of Nancy Pelosi not wanting to take the political heat for it today? 

STODDARD:  She can‘t, Ed.  She doesn‘t have any more slack in the sail.  There‘s no more—you don‘t take on any more water at this point.  They just have to pass what they have. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, what‘s the play here, in your opinion? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA OFFICER:  I think it‘s logical to pass this.  I‘m unhappy that there isn‘t a public option.  I wish there were.  But if the Democrats don‘t pass this, this would be political suicide.

The republicans are going to tear them up regardless.  We already know that.  The problem is you absolutely lose the base, who will then turn around and say, wait a second, you‘re not any better than the Republicans are.  They must have that or they are not going to get anybody out there voting for them.  And they are desperately going to need that for the midterms. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, Jack.  What do you think of Karl Rove saying, torture is OK? 

RICE:  You know, it‘s amazing.  I realize that opinions are subjective, but facts are not.  Apparently, unless you‘re in Karl Rove‘s world.  That‘s the wild part.  I guess the argument is because there‘s never been an attack on American soil, a successful attack, therefore torture makes sense.  That‘s completely illogical in every sense of the word. 

Let‘s look at the other side of this.  What torture has actually done is it has driven people to try to attack the United States.  Of course, that doesn‘t fit into that Rove-esque world.  So there you have it. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., it‘s not a startling revelation that Karl Rove thinks that torture is OK, is it? 

STODDARD:  No, it is not.  And, Ed, remember that Obama has continued many Bush national security and terrorism policies.  Water boarding not being one of them.  That‘s right.  Water boarding not being one of them.

But on the other remaining issues where he‘s tried to depart from the Bush administration, he‘s now on fire from Republicans and the American public.  Water boarding may not be included, but there are still people in this country that support water boarding and torturing detainees and terror suspects.  That‘s just the truth.  He‘s walking a very tough political line on terror policy. 

SCHULTZ:  Also, A.B., what about the Massa investigation?  A safe vote to keep the investigation—or reopen the investigation on former Congressman Massa?  What do you think? 

STODDARD:  The Democrats had no choice but to agree with their Republican colleagues that it must remain open.  No choice at all. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, your thoughts on that?  It‘s part of being in the swamp, isn‘t it? 

RICE:  I totally agree.  At least they are stepping up.  What we saw from the Republicans, again and again, was when they would see one of their‘s go down, go bad, if you will, they would all sit back and say, maybe we should sit back, maybe we shouldn‘t really look at this one.  At least we‘re seeing some intellectual honesty from the left. 

Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B. Stoddard and Jack Rice, thanks for joining us in our rapid fire segment tonight.

Coming up, golf needs Tiger Woods and Tiger Woods needs the Masters.  We‘ll break it down for you with Steven A. Smith for you next in the playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, Tiger Woods could be back on the golf course as early as April 5th.  The Associate Press is reporting that he‘ll try to make a come-back, go for the green jacket Augusta.  But Tiger‘s reputation is also in need of a comeback.  For that job, he‘s reportedly hired George W. Bush‘s old secretary, Ari Fleischer.  I guess if he can sell an illegal war, he can probably handle Tiger‘s girl problems.

Making matters a little trickier for Fleischer, today the Florida Highway Patrol released their records from the night of Tiger‘s infamous car crash.  They reveal that Tiger‘s wife was not allowed to ride in the ambulance with him because of concerns about domestic violence.  They also say that Elin Woods turned over two bottles of pain pills to the police.  And she said Tiger had taken some earlier in the day. 

Police were unable to get a subpoena for Woods‘ medical records for that night, which probably—may have shown that he had been under the influence of drugs.  We don‘t know. 

For more, let me bring in nationally syndicated radio talk show host and columnist for the “Philadelphia Enquirer,” Steven A. Smith.  Steven A., if you‘re on the tour and I‘m on the tour, we want Tiger to play.  That‘s a lot more viewers watching me and you trying to make a hole in the one. 

STEVEN A. SMITH, “PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER”:  There‘s no doubt about that.  He‘s the best in the world.  You expect him to win every time he‘s out on the golf course.  He doesn‘t always win, obviously.  No one does. 

But at the same time, he‘s got 14 major titles.  He‘s the best in the world.  You will always want to see the best.  To be the man, you‘ve got to beat the man.  I didn‘t make that statement up.  That‘s former wrestler Rick Flair.  But nonetheless, it applies. 

SCHULTZ:  What is going to happen?  What kind of theater are we going to see?  What kind of sports theater are we going to see, and drama could be played out when Tiger Woods shows up to play professional golf again? 

SMITH:  There‘s no question, there‘s going to be a whole bunch of theater.  But it‘s not going to be the type of theater that Tiger Woods is accustomed to.  Certainly there‘s going to be people out there.  Everybody in the world is going to want to see him play.  They will get the biggest viewership ever, as far as I‘m concerned, because all eyes will be on Tiger.

At the same time, you‘re going to have a lot of paparazzi, people taking pictures of him, taking shots of him.  You‘re going to have a lot of people out there clamoring to ask him questions.  You‘ll see balls thrown in his direction, in terms of people asking about the multitude of affairs he‘s had.  You‘re going to see basically a circus. 

Because of that, it‘s going to make things even more interesting to watch. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, he‘s lost some sponsorships, and the three big ones are Gatorade, AT&T and Accenture.  But Nike has stayed with him all along.  Will he bounce back in that arena? 

SMITH:  I don‘t think there‘s any question.  Simply because once he gets—he gets back on the golf course, if he wins, then everything is fine.  Everything is copacetic, especially if he—you know, if he has pretty much rekindled his relationship with his wife.  Even if he did it but he were honest about it, and said, hey, I‘m just not ready to be married, I don‘t think he would receive the exorbitant number of endorsements that he had before. 

But I think you will see people, slowly but surely, re-ingratiate themselves with him, simply because he‘s a winner.  But if he gets back together with his wife, and she stands by his side, obviously that will make him look a lot better in the eyes of the public.  We‘ve seen from watching Tiger Woods that he cares about that as much as he care about anything else. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, Steven A, the decorum and the demeanor of the fans at the Masters is very respectful.  It‘s different from the other tournaments.  Do you think Tiger, if he is choosing the Master‘s to make the first play back—do you think there‘s a reason for it? 

SMITH:  In all likelihood, yes.  He‘ll take that into consideration.  Nobody wants to put themselves in the kind of heat that he‘s ultimately destined to experience.  When you consider how much of a controlled atmosphere the Masters is in Augusta, the reality is that that‘s going to help him immensely.  They are going to do everything that they can to keep the focus on the game of golf, and not on the other things surrounding Tiger over the last three months. 

They will go to extraordinary means to make sure that he‘s protected in that regard.  And I think the golfers will do their part in helping everybody focus on the game itself as well. 

SCHULTZ:  One other subject quickly.  Best team in the NBA; who is your pick? 

SMITH:  Cleveland Cavaliers. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you on, my man. 

SMITH:  Always.  No problem. 

SCHULTZ:  God to see you.

Coming up, my next guest shows a thing or two about groping and Sarah Palin.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Stephanie Miller—get that smile off your face.  We‘re right back with Club Ed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  If it‘s Friday, it‘s time for Club Ed.  Tonight, we have nationally syndicated radio talk show host and close personal friend Stephanie Miller. 

All right, we‘ve got to get your take on the two psycho sisters, going to be gathering at the lunch table in Minnesota.  Sarah Palin going to campaign for Michele Bachmann.  Are we ready for that?  What do you think? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Boy, Ed, there‘s a think tank, huh?  I don‘t know about you, but I would be shocked, Ed, shocked if they did not solve peace in the Middle East and cure cancer at that whole consortium there.  I heard there‘s only going to be a photo op with Sarah Palin at this point.  I think that‘s sort of what she is at this point.  No sort of questions, answer, brain power, nothing like that.  She‘s kind of the Heidi Klum. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think Bachmann will use the hand stuff too, that Sarah Palin‘s been using of late?  Or is she going to be able to stand on her own two fee?

MILLER:  She needs even more than that, like an etch-a-sketch.  You know, if you can‘t make it, Ed, you can donate at HotRepublicanChicksWithNoClue.com. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Now you recently moved here to New York.  I want to know why you didn‘t put a bid on Limbaugh‘s pad.  I mean, look at this. 

This is a crib and a half.  The first thing I noticed, Stephanie, is that -

do some French people live there? 

MILLER:  Gosh—may I just say, Ed, you know, you and I have successful radio shows.  But we need to start taking some Oxycontin to afford a place like this.  And for all of the gay bashing he does on his show, he found himself some really good gay designers.  If Liberace were still alive, Ed, he would kill for this place, is all I‘m saying.  

SCHULTZ:  Well, I noticed that he‘s got an oversized bathtub.  What do you think of that? 

MILLER:  Ed, you‘ve just forced me to think of Rush Limbaugh naked, and I will never forgive you for that. 

SCHULTZ:  I also noticed he‘s too cheap to buy a flat screen. 

MILLER:  He might have to catch himself on TV and that‘s a little frightening. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you make of Ari Fleischer trying to manage Tiger Woods‘ comeback into good favor with the American people.  What do you think of it? 

MILLER:  Ed, you‘re a sports guy.  This is the guy that engineered Mark McGwires, oh, the steroids did not help me hit home runs press conference, and George Bush‘s Saddam has WMD press conference. 

Tiger hired this guy?  I think he needs to just come right out and say, I‘m still banging the cocktail waitresses, but I‘m a really great golfer.  You know I‘m lying because Ari Fleischer is repping me.

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie Miller, always a pleasure.  Great to have you with us tonight.  Appreciate your time in Club Ed. 

Also, in tonight, our text question, I asked our audience, do politicians care more about your health or getting re-elected?  Well, three percent of you—three percent think that they are really concerned about your health; 97 percent say, getting re-elected is what it‘s all about. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com.  My radio website is WeGotEd.com.  You can catch my radio show on XM 167 from noon to 3:00, Monday through Friday.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.  Have a great weekend.

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

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