updated 4/6/2010 11:16:34 AM ET 2010-04-06T15:16:34

Guests: David Frum, Steve McMahon, John Nichols, Rev. Al Sharpton, Heidi

Harris, Stephanie Miller, Steven A. Smith, Robert Greenwald

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.

These stories are hitting my hot buttons tonight. 

Rush Limbaugh, the king of self-delusion, he actually thinks the president is doing interviews to get at him? 

Rush, it ain‘t about you, buddy.

I‘ve got more on this in just a moment. 

RNC Chairman Michael Steele suggests he‘s under fire because he‘s black.  I thought it was because of a $2,000 strip club receipt. 

The Reverend Al Sharpton will be here at the half to talk more about that. 

And Tiger Woods talked to the media today about his ongoing rehab and his use of prescription drugs.  Stephen A. Smith will be here for the “Playbook.”  Lots of sports tonight with the NCAA Tournament going on. 

And Politico is reporting at this hour that Republican National Committee chief of staff Ken McKay has resigned.  We‘ll put that to our panel later on tonight. 

But first, this is the story that‘s gotten me fired up. 

The president gets it.  He finally told America that right-wing talkers and the network across the street, well, they‘re a problem.  And I‘ve been telling you for weeks that conservative media is doing real damage to this country. 

Harry Smith asked the president about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY SMITH, CBS NEWS:  Are you aware of the level of enmity that crosses the airwaves and that people have made part of their daily conversation about you? 

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, I mean, I think that when you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck—

SMITH:  It‘s beyond that. 

OBAMA:  -- it‘s pretty apparent.  And it‘s troublesome. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, you know, the president didn‘t have to answer that, but I‘m glad he did.  You know, this was an honest answer.  He could have said, you know, I don‘t pay attention to that stuff, I don‘t listen to those guys, but he knows that millions of Americans do. 

Rush didn‘t like getting called out, so he e-mailed this to Politico over the weekend: “I know that a majority of Americans are angry at the regime‘s and the Democrats‘ constant attempts at character assassination of their opposition.  They want part of engaging us in an arena of ideas.  They seek instead to discredit and marginalize us, and it‘s gotten old.”

We should point out in the most recent ratings service that Rush‘s ratings has gone down.  But that right there is a classic.  Attack where you‘re weak. 

No single person in America—no single person in America with a microphone has done more when it comes to character assassination of the president of the United States than “The Drugster.”  Rush is no victim.  He spends three hours a day, five days a week electioneering against the president and the Democrats. 

Here he is today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  It is a regime.  They‘re governing against the will of the people.  Election be damned.  Public opinion be damned.  The budget be damned.  The Constitution be damned.

What the hell else is it if not a regime? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  This guy is delusional.  He thinks that the president did an interview to get him off his game, as if Rush doesn‘t have an agenda. 

Remember, this is the man who wants President Obama to fail.  There has never been any attempt by the hate merchants on the right to engage the Democrats on ideas. 

Screaming about socialism and government takeovers is getting the Republicans absolutely nowhere fast.  Elected members of the GOP really have gone to this guy on bended knee over and over again to kiss and make up if they did something wrong.  Yet, Rush, he wants to play, all of a sudden, the victim. 

He‘s the ringleader.  There will be no real debate until there is a regime change in the conservative media in the country.  And I‘m talking about those guys across the street. 

Glenn Beck and his network across the street act like the RNC of the North.  They pump out the hate and elected officials have to just fall in line.  And if they don‘t, they‘re going to get smacked up by 450 conservative talkers across the country. 

Former Bush speechwriter Frum just put it this way: “Republicans originally thought that Fox News Channel worked for them, but now they‘re finding out that it‘s the Republicans who work for Fox.” 

Frum is going to be here to talk about that in just a moment. 

But first, get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think about this tonight. 

The text survey is: Who do you believe is genuinely trying to make this country a better place?  Text “A” for Rush Limbaugh—see, you get top billing there, Rush—text “B” for President Obama to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Joining us tonight is David Frum, former Bush speechwriter and founder of FrumForum.com. 

David, good to have you with us tonight. 

DAVID FRUM, EDITOR, NEWMAJORITY.COM:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  This relationship between the conservative talkers in this country and the GOP, as you once knew it, is it different than it used to be? 

FRUM:  It is different.  But notice there‘s another relationship. 

It‘s triangular. 

There‘s a relationship between Fox and the president.  Every president would like to be able to choose his opponents, and President Obama knows that someone like Mitt Romney or somebody like Mitch Daniels, that these are people who can have broad appeal to Americans. 

He doesn‘t want to run against them.  He wants to run against Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who are much less popular.  And so he is choosing his opposition.  And the nature of this dysfunctional relationship is there is, again, a Limbaugh/Obama access with the Republican Party as its victim. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

Now, the arena of ideas—what is Limbaugh, in your opinion, talking about when he says the debate in the “arena of ideas” when the Republicans we know have been obstructionists since day one since the president got into office? 

FRUM:  Look, there is an arena of ideas, especially now, after the package of health care reform, to say, here are ways from a free market, limited government point of view to help health care work better.  The status quo is untenable.  Almost everybody agrees with that.  And the plan that passed through Congress has a lot of DNA leading back to Republican ideas from the debates of the 1990s and, indeed, to Mitt Romney in 2006, in Massachusetts. 

That‘s not what we want to talk about.  What we want to talk about are these narratives of mutual victimhood in which Republicans and Democrats compete to say, were we interrupted more, were we beaten up more? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you have this unique relationship, as I see it.  The Republicans have apologized to conservative talkers in the past.  They have also distanced themselves—not very much, though—from some of the things that have been said, and their silence gives consent in many respects. 

So, is the Republican Party afraid to break out with an identity of having real ideas in fear that they‘re going to get smacked down by Fox and conservative talkers? 

FRUM:  Well, if you come up with a—if you‘re going to come up with a positive agenda, that you‘re going to have to recognize that America actually is very much a country bunched up in the middle.  This is a country with a strong national consensus. 

There‘s a strong consensus that a lot of people should—held by a lot of people that health care coverage should be more universal, that there are forms that we should pursue, that there are ways to finance it that are nod burdensome on the economy.  That is not what makes—sells cable advertising. 

The technicalities can be kind of dusty.  What sells cable advertising is inflammatory passion, anger, rhetoric and this kind of victimhood story. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you take a look at the Tea Partiers, the Winston poll out, they asked, “What are the two main sources of your news?”  Forty-six percent of the people listed Fox News.  They went on for the breakdown of others—NBC News at 12 percent; ABC at four percent; CBS at three percent; CNN at 12 percent, MSNBC and CNBC at two percent. 

And compare that—if you combine them all, you have got the majority of Tea Party folks out there getting their stream of information from Fox News. 

Now, what does that mean? 

FRUM:  Well, cable has acres of time, as you know well.  And it has a lot of time in the middle of the day in particular, when audiences are relatively small. 

I don‘t understand why we don‘t use that time to say, let‘s have a three-hour discussion of what‘s in the bill.  People should know. 

You know, don‘t to it in primetime, don‘t interfere with people‘s evening exciting viewing.  But at least to have some basic agreement on information. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

FRUM:  What actually the bill says, what actually the bill would do. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, David, Ken McKay, RNC chief of staff, he is out tonight.  And Doug Heye would not say whether he was asked to leave or whether he resigned on his own. 

But what do you make of this in the light of the criticism and everything surrounding Michael Steele? 

FRUM:  Well, I know Ken a little bit, and he is a good and honorable man.  He‘s somebody who ought to be in politics.  And he has always been a voice for the broadest possible definition of what it means to be a Republican.  So I am hoping he has a big future ahead of him, and I salute him for all that he has done.  He has been a good force of the RNC.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks, David.  Good to have you on tonight.  Appreciate your time. 

FRUM:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Democratic strategist Steve McMahon is with us tonight. 

Steve, good to have you on.  What to you make of this most recent news moments ago that Ken McKay is out as the RNC chief of staff?  Is he the fall guy in all of this?  What do you think? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, it looks like he‘s a fall guy.  I mean, I think what‘s going on at the RNC is they‘ve lost control of the place.  And, you know, you‘ve got a resignation today that I think is an effort on their part to stem the damage and to change the conversation. 

I‘m not sure it‘s going to do that.  I think Michael Steele is under attack from the base.  I think Michael Steele is under attract from contributors.  And I think at the end of the day, as unfortunate as it may be for Michael Steele, the only way this story might end is for Michael Steele, himself, to move on. 

SCHULTZ:  What should the Democrats be talking about right now?  I mean, I just want to do a comparison here. 

A year ago today the market was 8,017.59.  Today the market closed just under 11,000, almost 3,000 points better, at 10,973. 

Now, why isn‘t that good news for conservatives?  That‘s their 401(k), that‘s retirement, that‘s education, that‘s savings, whatever you want to make it.  But Obama, of course, and his economic policy team, they don‘t get any credit for this at all. 

So what should the Democrats be selling on the road right now with so many of their people allegedly in election trouble? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I think the first thing the Democrats should be selling is, look at what we inherited and look what we did with it.  The stimulus package wasn‘t popular with everyone.  There‘s no question about that.  And it isn‘t working as quickly as most people would like. 

But the fact of the matter is the Dow was at 8,000 a year ago.  The financial system was on the verge of collapse.  And the worldwide economy was teetering on the brink of a calamity. 

The Obama administration came in, they didn‘t want to bail out the banks, they didn‘t want to take over the auto companies.  They were forced to because of the policies that the Republicans left behind.  That‘s the first part of the story.

The second part of the story is the economy is improving and there are all kinds of indicators to suggest that, including people‘s 401(k)s.  But they also have to acknowledge that it hasn‘t happened as quickly as they would like and that they‘re doing everything possible to speed it up. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think the conservative talkers and Fox have got a grip on the GOP that they just can‘t get away from? 

MCMAHON:  Well, they obviously have a grip on the GOP, and the GOP has a grip on them. 

The fact of the matter is that this little thing going on with the president and with Rush Limbaugh is probably good for both of them.  For Rush Limbaugh, obviously, he‘s trying to bring up his ratings, which had fallen, and he needs to attack the president more and more and more and do more race-baiting and name calling to get that done.  But for the president, there‘s an important political objective here too. 

He wants to draw attention to the fact that Rush Limbaugh is the voice of the Republican Party.  That helps him with his base and it helps him, frankly, with the moderates who decide elections who are turned off by the rhetoric from the right, turned off by the targets that Sarah Palin puts over members of Congress, and turned off by the race-baiting and name-calling of people like Rush Limbaugh. 

So, I think it really works more for the president than it does for Rush Limbaugh.  Unfortunately, it probably helps Rush as well. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, I just think it‘s hilarious, Steve, that Limbaugh thinks that the president is trying to get him off his game.  I mean, I just—talk about being self-absorbed with self-importance. 

I mean, do you really think that President Obama, in that interview with Harry Smith, was thinking, oh, man, I can really get Limbaugh now, I‘m sure glad you asked that one?  I mean, it‘s just hilarious. 

MCMAHON:  Yes.  He did violate—the president did violate one rule of politics, which is never swing down, which is what he did when he swang at Rush Limbaugh.  But, you know, this notion that Rush Limbaugh wants to meet the president in the arena of ideas, somebody needs to explain to Rush and to the Republicans that “no” is not an idea. 

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

Democratic strategist Steve McMahon. 

Always a pleasure.  Thanks, Steve. 

MCMAHON:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  We have breaking news right now.  Rescuers are on the scene of a deadly mine explosion in Raleigh County, West Virginia.  At least six people are confirmed dead, roughly two dozen miners are still trapped. 

We are following this breaking story and will bring you updates throughout this hour here on MSNBC. 

Coming up, Michael Steele threw down the race card today, and the White House is calling his bluff with a great comment. 

The Reverend Al Sharpton will be here to break it down at the bottom of the hour. 

Plus, Tiger is taking Augusta by the tail.  He was one smooth operator today in front of the reporters.  He was a standup guy, I thought, staring down questions about performance-enhancing drugs and all of his personal issues. 

We‘ll get to that with Stephen A. Smith tonight.  He‘ll be here to see if he made the cut.  That‘s coming up in the “Playbook.”

And a red state hater crash-burns in the “Zone.”  You won‘t want to miss this one.  Flirting with the Taliban, what‘s that all about? 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  And thanks for watching tonight. 

More than 200,000 Americans could lose their unemployment benefits starting today because of the selfishness of one Republican senator.  Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn was the lone vote who blocked the Senate from taking up the benefits extension before the Easter recess.  Coburn claims he doesn‘t oppose extending the benefits, he just doesn‘t want it to end to the deficit. 

Yes, right. 

But the bottom line is, a lot of Americans are struggling to find a job in this economy, and Coburn just cut off their lifeline to make a political point. 

For more, let me bring in John Nichols, Washington correspondent for “The Nation.”

John, good to have you with us tonight. 

This is, if I may, a real cruel thing to do.  When you think about the billions of dollars that we ship overseas on missions that we don‘t even know if they‘re being effective when it comes to our security, we don‘t even bat an eye at it, to do this to folks who want to get back into the economy, it‘s as mean as it gets. 

How do the Democrats handle this? 

JOHN NICHOLS, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “THE NATION”:  Well, I think the Democrats have to be very aggressive with this.  Remember, we talk about Tom Coburn as one guy.  The fact of the matter is that he operates within the context of the Republican Party in the Senate, and he is the second Republican senator to play this game.  Remember that Jim Bunning did it before. 

So, the fact of the matter is the Republicans have been playing at this for a while.  It is essential that Harry Reid and the Democrats call them out, because, remember, a substantial number of Republican senators are in favor of extending these benefits.  They‘ll vote to do so once a vote is held. 

So we have got to stop playing the games with the vote.  Hold it.  If Tom Coburn wants to vote against extending the benefits, that‘s fine.  He can explain that to his constituents.  But he shouldn‘t be able to stop the vote. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, when this happened during the Reagan years, Reagan cut taxes and unemployment went up beyond 10 percent.  It took him over 28 months to reel in the unemployment numbers.  This was never a discussion back then. 

Why should it be now? 

NICHOLS:  Well, the fact of the matter is the Republican Party has changed a great deal from the GOP that Ronald Reagan dealt with.  You know, in your previous segment you were talking about this 24/7 news cycle and the pressure of the right-wing talkers on the GOP.  And this is one of those places where you see it in play. 

The fact of the matter is that there are people who really do want not just President Obama to fail, but to have a real economic mess, because they know an economic mess makes it easier for Republicans to say that Obama and the Democrats are failing.  And that game has clearly moved deep into the political process, right into the Senate with Tom Coburn. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, the point that I‘m making is this country, we, as Americans, don‘t have the patience we used to have.  And maybe the 24/7 cycle has something to do with that. 

I mean, is Barack Obama—I mean, he has been under siege with negative publicity about the economy ever since the stimulus package was passed.  And we‘re not bleeding off 850,000 jobs a month.  The numbers are turning. 

The market, as I said, is up almost 3,000 points from a year ago. 

Yet, he‘s still the bad guy. 

I mean, where are these Republicans?  Are they in the market?  Did they miss not investing when things turned around? 

And Obama‘s team is not, I don‘t think, tooting their horn enough to say, look, this is where we were, this is where we are, this is how much time your guy Reagan got.  Why can‘t we get some kind of a grace period in here?  Our patience is gone, it seems like. 

NICHOLS:  Well, I think that America is impatient in many ways.  And this is a very angry time.  All the polls tell us that.  But the president has an opportunity here that he needs to take. 

Ronald Reagan was called the great communicator.  There‘s simply no question that Barack Obama is also a great communicator.  He needs to be speaking up aggressively and making it clear that in this moment, what Tom Coburn is doing is not making a point about the deficit.  What Tom Coburn is doing is slowing down the economic recovery, because when you stop these unemployment benefits, you squeeze money out of the towns that are hardest hit across this country. 

SCHULTZ:  You do. 

NICHOLS:  And you really do stall out economic recovery. 

SCHULTZ:  You hurt people‘s credit, you put them out of apartments.  A lot of Americans live in apartments, they can‘t make the payments.  It‘s really a cruel thing to do to make a point. 

John Nichols, always a pleasure.  Good to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

Coming up, a psycho wing nut with a big audience is bragging about using his shotgun to greet Census workers?  That CNN contributor lands in the “Zone” next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk,” hey, we start out the week with a brand new dude, new CNN contributor Erick Erickson. 

Now, you may know him best as the racist, sexist and politically incendiary editor of the Web site redstate.com.  But since he signed on with CNN, Erick has said he regretted some of his offensive statements that he‘s made and realized he needs to grow up now that he‘s on the national stage. 

Well, that lasted about four days.  Last week, Erick was on the radio talking about the Census.  And to his credit, he encouraged people to fill it out. 

But then he started talking about the American Community Survey, ACS, which is a more extensive questionnaire the Census Bureau sends out to 250,000 Americans every month.  That one is apparently so unacceptable, he calls for threats of violence? 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR:  We have become, or are becoming enslaved by the government.  This is crazy.  What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet, or about going to work? 

I‘m not filling out this form.  I dare them to try to come throw me in jail.  I dare them to.  I‘ll pull out my wife‘s shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door.  They‘re not going on my property.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  He‘s going to pull out a shotgun on a Census worker.  What a brave guy. 

In today‘s political environment, with partisan emotions at a fever pitch and with a record number of anti-government militias, my friends, that is dangerous “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Michael Steele‘s bondage-gate encore has him whipping out the race card and comparing himself to President Obama. 

The Reverend Al Sharpton is here to talk about that next. 

Plus, Tiger Woods is on the prowl for his fifth green jacket.  Today he didn‘t fold to the pressure when facing down a room full of hungry reporters.  But what matters most is whether he can still hit the ball. 

Stephen A. Smith is in the clubhouse for the “Playbook.”

Stick around.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR:  Do you feel that as an African-American you have a slimmer margin for error than another chairman would? 

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN:  The honest answer is yes. 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Why is that? 

STEELE:  It just is.  Barack Obama has a slimmer margin.  We all—a lot of folks do.  It means a different role for, you know, for me to play and others to play.  And that‘s just the reality of it.  I mean, but you take that as part of the nature of it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And thanks for watching THE ED SHOW tonight here on MSNBC.  That was RNC Chairman Michael Steele‘s first interview since the so-called bondage-gate incident.  Steele claims that he has a slimmer margin of error because he‘s African-American.  On the contrary, it‘s amazing that Steele still has a job with all the gaffes and missteps.  Reimbursing 2,000 dollars worth of charges at a strip club is just the latest embarrassment for the RNC. 

Steele may have made another gaffe in today‘s interview by saying that the president—and President Obama also has a slimmer margin for error.  It sounds—Steele‘s implying that President Obama is being unfairly criticized because he‘s black. 

Joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network.  Reverend, good to have you on tonight. 

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Put his comment—how should we receive that comment?  Do you agree with it? 

SHARPTON:  Well, first of all, I think, in fairness to Steele—and obviously he and I don‘t agree on a lot of political things—he was responding to a question.  I don‘t know how he could have answered it honestly another way.  I think the fact is that African-Americans are given a slimmer margin of error, and in other cases I think sometime women are as well. 

But I think that what is interesting, as you pointed out, Ed, is then when we say that that is true of the president, when those of us who are considered progressive or Democrat, they should not say we‘re race-bating.  This is just a fact of life that many people, particularly African-Americans, and others when they‘re talking about things they‘ve suffered, feel that, no matter whether you‘re Republican or Democrat. 

It‘s not an excuse, it‘s a reality.  I think in this case Steele was responding to a question, not necessarily making a charge. 

SCHULTZ:  Reverend Sharpton, do you think it‘s harder for the GOP to be critical of Michael Steele because he is a black man? 

SHARPTON:  No, I don‘t.  I think it‘s not hard at all.  I think he‘s been probably criticized from day one, if we‘re going to say that Rush Limbaugh, as I believe, is one of those that has been one of the major forces galvanizing and driving the republican message.  So I think he has been criticized.  I think the question is whether or not they‘re going to deal with the fact that in response to a question, he answered something honestly.  I think he would have been basically dishonest—that most Americans would know would have been dishonest if he said it wasn‘t a slimmer margin of error. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think Steele is now somewhat backed into a corner, damned if you do, damned if you don‘t?  We see today that RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay is out.  We don‘t know whether he was asked to leave or whether he resigned.  It looks like Steele is trying to straighten things out. 

SHARPTON:  I hope he is.  I think that he should not be held to any different standard than any other chairman.  Whether or not a chairman—and I don‘t know the answer to that—sees everything that is filed with the Federal Elections Commission or not, I don‘t know.  If they don‘t, and if in the past there‘s been gaffes, then they need to treat him the same way.  If they have, then they need to treat him the same way.  I think that‘s what we‘re not hearing.  I don‘t know if a chairman sees every expenditure. 

SCHULTZ:  Your thoughts on Limbaugh claiming that the president is now involved in character assassination in trying to get him off his game. 

SHARPTON:  In terms of getting who off what game?  I think that the problem that Limbaugh and them is having is what is the game that they‘re trying to be on?  I think the problem is a lot of what has been perpetrated and attempted to be sold to the public has just blown up in their face, because it‘s basically not true. 

SCHULTZ:  It isn‘t.  I‘m looking forward, Reverend Al, to be a part of your National Network Conference -- 

SHARPTON:  We‘re looking forward to having you. 

SCHULTZ:  -- Convention next week. 

SHARPTON:  We‘re looking forward to having you at the National Action Network convention.  And I might add the chairman of the Democratic and Republican party have agreed to come.  So we‘re going to have a conversation and see where we are in this country.  Couldn‘t have it without you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m looking forward to it.  Reverend, good to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much.

We want to update you on the breaking news.  Rescue teams are frantically trying to free trapped coal miners after a deadly mine explosion in Raleigh County, West Virginia.  At least six people are confirmed dead; 21 miners are still trapped.  We‘ll continue to update this story for you as it develops here on MSNBC.

Now let‘s turn to our panel for some rapid fire response on these stories tonight.  A new poll confirms that Tea Partiers are conservatives who don‘t like the Republican party.  That could be good news for Democrats in the midterms.

New details about the group that sent warning letters to all 50 U.S.  governors?  The FBI thinks it was a harmless publicity stunt.  But investigators fear it could incite others to violence. 

And liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, who celebrates his very young 90th birthday this month, may be ready to step down from the Supreme Court. 

With us on these stories, Stephanie Miller, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, and Heidi Harris, who is a talk show host on AM 720 KDWN in Las Vegas.

All right, the Tea Partiers, These are conservatives who aren‘t happy with the Republicans.  Heidi, do you think that poll is accurate? 

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think it probably is, absolutely.  The Republicans spent a lot of money during the Bush years, and a lot of people aren‘t thrilled about the Republicans.  However, I don‘t think that necessarily portends well for the Democrats.  I wouldn‘t be counting their chickens yet.  That doesn‘t mean those people who are disaffected are going to go for the Democrats.  I don‘t think that‘s going to happen. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie, your thoughts on that? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:   Well, I guess I am counting my chickens, Ed, because I think that peels votes away from Republicans.  I think we‘ve seen that already with the infighting in the Republican party and among the Tea Party.  I mean, Sarah Palin got booed campaigning for John McCain by Tea Baggers who are for his opponent. 

So, you know, I think there‘s more disarray on the right now than there is on the left certainly. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie, what do you make of this group that sent out letters saying they would—if governors didn‘t remove themselves, they would be removed?  How do you view that? 

MILLER:  I think that‘s dangerous rhetoric, Ed, when we see a lot of cases of real violence that you cannot deny, that is fueled by a lot of this right-wing rhetoric and anti-government rhetoric.  And, you know, I understand that that may not be their goal.  But what does that say to the crazies that they can leave or be removed?  What does that say? 

SCHULTZ:  Heidi, is it over the top?  What do you think? 

HARRIS:  I think that rhetoric is over the top, no question about it.  I actually listened to one of those broadcasts of that so-called group, who has a so-called radio show—who doesn‘t these days, right?  The guys are wackos.  They don‘t speak for conservatives.  These guys are wackos.  No one takes them seriously.  No one is going to believe them or follow them because they sent out some letters.  They‘re desperate for attention. 

I don‘t agree with anything they say.  By the way, it‘s interesting if you read some of their rhetoric, they‘re also against foreclosures.  How is that a conservative value?  Go ahead, bring the foreclosures, get the free market working again.  I don‘t even know what these guys stand for.

SCHULTZ:  Heidi, I want to ask you—let‘s do a Limbaugh story here tonight.  Limbaugh claims that the president is playing out character assassination.  You agree with that? 

HARRIS:  I‘m not going to bash Rush Limbaugh or any other host.  I don‘t bash you either or Stephanie or anybody else.  Rush is a master of, you know, making it about himself as far as talking, you know, and making the argument about his show, which is great.  That‘s why he makes millions of dollars and he set the stage for all of us.  We‘re thankful for that. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, he didn‘t set the stage for a lot of talkers, but he likes to take credit for that.  Here‘s I guess the way I view, is that he claims the president is engaged in character assassination.  Now, Stephanie, I find it ironic that this is a guy who has ripped apart Obama on the airwaves countless hours for the last several years.  What do you think? 

MILLER:  Well, you know, it‘s like a parallel universe, Ed.  Obviously, Rush Limbaugh is the one engaged in character assays nation, you know, with the name calling and wants the president to fail.  I don‘t think anybody, even if you don‘t agree with the president, believes he‘s involved in character assassination.  By the way, Heidi, I spend my entire show bashing you.  I‘m disappointed that you don‘t bash us.

HARRIS:  I wish you would, Stephanie.  That‘s so sweet.  I know you love me.

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk about this 90-year-young Supreme Court justice who is talking about stepping down, John Paul Stevens.  This is going to open a big opportunity for the Obama administration to put a liberal on the court.  Heidi, what do you think? 

HARRIS:  Well, maybe, unless he steps down after November.  You never know what‘s going to happen during the election.  I don‘t know what will happen.  Of course he‘ll put a liberal in there and he‘ll put somebody in there who is going to be another wise Latina.  It‘s not going to be a white guy, we know that.  It‘s not going to be a conservative.  Who knows?  We‘ll see what happens in November. 

MILLER:  I want the most liberal person ever, Ed, for balance.  I want Shakira.  I want make Michael Moore, maybe Castro.  And I said it here on THE ED SHOW, Castro. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie Miller, Heidi Harris, good to have you on tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

Coming up, long shot—long shot Butler tries to knock off the powerhouse Duke in the championship game.  Donovan McNabb is following the shoes of old Sonny Jergensen.  He‘s going down to the Capital, the nation‘s Capital. 

And Tiger Woods was on his game in front of the media at the Masters.  Steven A. Smith will be here to talk about a very busy day in sports next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, Tiger Woods will tee off at the Masters on Thursday, playing in his first tournament since he won the Australian Masters November 15th of last year.  First, he had to face the media in a press conference this afternoon.  He didn‘t give specifics about his extramarital affairs, and he didn‘t elaborate on the events surrounding his infamous Thanksgiving night car crash. 

But he did acknowledge his personal failings and took full responsibility for his actions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER:  The way I was thinking caused so much harm with the people that I love and cared about the most on this planet.  I lied to a lot of people, deceived a lot of people, kept others in the dark, rationalized and even lied to myself. 

When I stripped that away and started realizing what I‘d done, the full magnitude of it, it‘s pretty brutal.  And I take full responsibility for what I‘ve done. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Tiger also said he was blown away by an encouraging reception from the fans during his practice round this morning.  And he says that despite all that‘s happened, he‘s still ready to play some golf and win this tournament. 

Joining me now is Steven A. Smith, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and columnist for “The Philadelphia Enquirer.”  I think his appearance today was a ten.  It was genuine.  It was sincere.  I also think it was very important for him if he‘s going to play well in this tournament.  What do you think? 

STEVEN A. SMITH, “PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER”:  I think you‘re absolutely correct.  I think it‘s what it should have been when he spoke in that 13 minute soliloquy or bogus press conference or whatever you want to call it February 19th.  I think it was an extension of what it should have been on March 21st, when he spoke to both ESPN and the Golf Channel. 

I thought he was exceptional because he came across as genuine and sincere.  And more importantly, he answered questions without getting into the salacious details that were really none of anybody‘s business to begin with.  I was very, very pleased with his performance today. 

SCHULTZ:  He admits to drugs as a result of injuries, but doesn‘t have a drug problem.  Your thoughts on that? 

SMITH:  I believe him.  I believe him.  He‘s a golfer.  I mean, if you‘re a basketball player or a football player or something along those lines—not to say that you can‘t be inhibited by playing the sport of golf if you were injured.  But it‘s an entirely different ball game considering the physical nature of those respective sports I mentioned.  When he said he‘s never taken any illegal drug whatsoever, I‘m going to take him at his word.  Regardless of what he‘s done in his personal life, he has been recognized—he is recognized the world over as the greatest golfer on the planet. 

I mean, there‘s nothing to take away from him.  Until he proves otherwise, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. 

SCHULTZ:  Steven A., I thought he was really sincere today.  I thought Tiger knocked it out of the park.  When he was asked questions about his sponsors and retaining them, he talked about himself.  This guy has been through some intense counseling.  And how is he going to play? 

SMITH:  I think he‘s going to play all right.  I mean, I don‘t know if he‘ll win simply because of the rust.  The bottom line is that unless he‘s been playing every day, he has to be incredibly rusty.  You have to give him a boat load of credit because he manned up.  Any time you man up, you get that monkey off your back, per se, and you‘re allowed to just go out there and shred that burden. 

Remember, he said he wasn‘t enjoying the game of golf, yet he still won 14 major titles.  Imagine how great he‘ll be now that he‘s got that off his shoulders, that he‘s not a phony and a fraud anymore, and he‘s got rid of that.  Now he can just focus on the game of golf and not try to keep of lies.  This man could actually end up being better than he was before, if you can imagine that. 

SCHULTZ:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb goes to Mike Shanahan‘s team, the Redskins. 

SMITH:  That‘s a very good move for the Redskins, deplorable move on the part of the Philadelphia Eagles, as far as I‘m concerned, not because they‘ve traded Donovan McNabb, but because of the reasons behind it.  If you want to have a youth movement and move in a different direction, say so.  If you don‘t want to pay the man after his contract expires, and don‘t want to give him a long-term contract extension years from now, say so. 

But to give the impression that you‘re legitimately trying to compete for a Superbowl championship—you‘re saying that Kevin Cobb, his backup, is on the same level as a man that accumulated 32,873 passing yards in 11 years for you.  That‘s an absolute insult. 

Then to trade him to a team within the conference, that‘s the ultimate insult.  It‘s the Redskins‘ gain, no question about that. 

SCHULTZ:  Does Butler have a chance tonight against Duke? 

SMITH:  No.  I mean, on the surface, it‘s the NCAA basketball and it‘s Cinderella time, and anything could happen.  If there was one team that was tailor made to beat up all over Butler, it‘s the Duke Blue Devils.  They hit perimeter shots.  They have great guard play.  They‘re exceptionally well-coached.  And outside of their three scorers, everybody else knows how to play within themselves and to play their role.  It would be an absolute miracle if Butler were to win tonight.  But miracles do happen in the NCAA tournament. 

SCHULTZ:  The president threw out the first pitch today.  He didn‘t hit the dirt.  It was a high lobber.  It was outside.  It was a ball.  If you could get it to the catcher, that‘s all you have to do. 

SMITH:  I‘m proud of him.  If you remember a few years back, when he threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, it was absolutely awful.  It was almost embarrassing watching him on the mound.  Today, he was much better. 

But I will say is this, you see he didn‘t give the Nats any good luck because they got beat down by the Philadelphia Phillies, who will, by the way, win the National League again. 

SCHULTZ:  Early on, he‘s calling it.  Steven A., great to have you with us tonight. 

SMITH:  All right, Ed, take care. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, if you‘re going to war, you need to know who‘s on your side.  Here we are at war in Afghanistan and there are some serious doubts as to who President Karzai is standing with.  Award winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald will give us his thoughts as we “Rethink Afghanistan,” next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Breaking news—we want to get you another update on the breaking news out of West Virginia.  Rescue teams frantically trying to free trapped coal miners after a deadly mine explosion in Raleigh County.  That‘s about 30 miles away from Charleston, West Virginia.  At least six people are confirmed dead; 21 Miners are still trapped. 

News trucks are headed to the scene right now.  Stay with MSNBC for complete coverage of this breaking news story. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is upping his anti-Western rhetoric, despite the fact that the United States is pouring billions of dollars into his country.  Just yesterday, Karzai threatened to join the Taliban—the Taliban—if the Afghan parliament doesn‘t support his effort to resist U.S. and U.N. control. 

The threat comes alongside reports that the Taliban is dominating some areas of Afghanistan, despite a concerted effort by United States Marines to win over the local population.  Meanwhile, the American-led military command in Kabul says it has admitted to killing two pregnant women and a teenage girl during a NATO raid back in February. 

For more, let me bring in Robert Greenwald, founder of Brave New Films, the production company behind the documentary series “Rethink Afghanistan.” 

Mr. Greenwald, does any of this news come as a surprise to you?  I mean, you know, Mr. Karzai, for lack of a better term, seems to be a turncoat on the United States. 

ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS:  Well, Mr. Karzai is a corrupt leader who is detested by most of the population in Afghanistan.  I‘m surprised that he went so far as to say he would join the Taliban if we didn‘t do what he wanted.  But I‘m not surprised at his attitude, Ed, because this is not somebody who rules democratically. 

It‘s really important to remember these are not good guys over there, this administration, this government.  And the only reason he‘s in power is because of our money and our muscle behind him.  That‘s a huge, huge mistake for the security of the United States, for the safety of the United States, and for the people of the United States. 

SCHULTZ:  So Mr. Karzai, I think about him being at the State of the Union when George W. Bush was president, and the accolades that the Bush administration gave toward Karzai as the future of Afghanistan.  What do you think now? 

GREENWALD:  Well, I don‘t think he was ever the future.  He was barely the past, because remember, his brother is a warlord.  He‘s on the payroll of the CIA.  They stole the election with over a million ballots that were not accurate.  The thing that we need to ask ourselves is what are we doing there?  If the leader of that government is saying he‘s going to join the Taliban, why are we spending 300 billion dollars on that war? 

Just think about this for a minute, Ed.  We could have bought 46 million scholarships for people to attend college for a year on what we‘ve spent in the war in Afghanistan.  That‘s a travesty, and it‘s time to get out. 

SCHULTZ:  What does it do to the Obama administration logistically? 

How do they pivot to make the right move if they‘re not going to get out.  The president is committed to fighting terrorism.  This is the big footprint in the world right now for the American troops to do this.  How does the Obama administration make sense of this and pivot around this? 

GREENWALD:  Well, fighting terrorism is an important thing, but you don‘t go and occupy a country, a Muslim country, where you then make more and more enemies.  You referred to the story before.  Those two pregnant women killed by the forces, Ed, one of them had ten children and the other had six children.  They were part of a party of 25. 

Can you imagine what we are doing when those people are killed by our forces in night raids?  That‘s not a way to effectively protect us or battle terrorism.  That‘s a recruitment tool for terrorism.  And we remember, even General Petraeus has said al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan.  Why are we there? 

SCHULTZ:  What do you think the Democrats will do with this news, now that Karzai has talked about joining the Taliban, now that he‘s threatening other people in the country, and positioning himself and the government against the United States?  What would be the majority party‘s move?  What do you think? 

GREENWALD:  Well, I think what they should do—and we‘ve been talking about this at “Rethink Afghanistan” and the work of Derrick Crow (ph) and Jerome Starky (ph), who have uncovered this cover-up, is to say there should be an immediate investigation.  They should not be voting for money.  There‘s a supplemental coming up that will have 30 billion dollars attached.  They should be asking themselves, why—why are we spending 200,000 dollars every minute, every minute? 

SCHULTZ:  I want to switch subjects if I can, Mr. Greenwald, because you put together the documentary “Out-Foxed.”  What do you make of this most recent volley between Limbaugh and the president? 

GREENWALD:  Well, I think it‘s consistent with the whole approach, which is smear, attack, name call.  And sadly, Ed, there is literally no truth anymore in what Limbaugh is doing, if there ever was, I should paraphrase that.  We need to keep—be very aggressive about it, because what Fox does, what Limbaugh does is—we talked about this the last week.  They repeat over and over the same distortions. 

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

Tonight, in our text survey I asked, who do you believe is genuinely trying to make the country a better place?  Eighty five percent of you said President Obama; 15 percent said Rush Limbaugh.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out my radio website at WeGotEd.com.  I have a book coming out on June 1st

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on MSNBC.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

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