updated 8/20/2010 11:49:40 AM ET 2010-08-20T15:49:40

Guest Host: Cenk Uygur

Guests: Alan Grayson, Sam Stein, Terry O‘Neill, Rev. Al Sharpton, Eric

Boehlert, Joe Madison, Karen Hanretty, Bob Shrum

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening, and welcome to THE ED SHOW.

I‘m Cenk Uygur, in for Ed Schultz.

These stories are hot tonight.

The right-wing talk is working.  A new poll shows one in four Americans believes our president is Muslim.  They‘re all about ginning up fear. 

Beck, Limbaugh and the rest of them prey on hate.  It needs to stop. 

And I‘m going to be the cop that stops it. 

My commentary on that, and Congressman Grayson sounds off.  That‘s always fun.  That‘s in a moment. 

On the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in this country, the Chamber of Commerce has this advice for women: You want to make more money?  Marry a rich husband.  They‘re not kidding. 

Their statement ahead. 

And Sarah Palin goes to a new low, even for her.  She tells Dr. Laura to “reload” on her racist comments.  The Reverend Al Sharpton weighs in on these grizzly mamas. 

But I begin tonight with the GOP‘s old hate-baiting, scare-mongering southern strategy making a comeback.  But this time the right is going ballistic about the Islamic center near Ground Zero in order to gin up fears about American-Muslims, starting with this guy. 

But wait, President Obama‘s not a Muslim.  Look, I want to be clear on this because everybody seems to be getting this wrong.  President Obama is a Christian! 

Apparently it‘s not working, because that‘s news to nearly one quarter of America.  A new “TIME” poll shows 24 percent think the president is a Muslim.  That‘s mental. 

A Pew poll finds that 31 percent of Republicans he‘s Muslim.  That‘s more than the amount of Republicans who think he‘s a Christian, which, by the way, is the correct answer.  And even 10 percent of Democrats believe these nonsense rumors. 

This forces Obama supporters, including his spokesperson today, to say he‘s not Muslim!  Not that there‘s anything wrong with that.  But why is this idea even out there?  How did it get into the bloodstream of the American population? 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  “Imam  Hussein Obama.”  I want to be fair, too.  He probably is the best anti-American president the country‘s ever had. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  “Imam Hussein Obama.”  So they set up the idea that he might be Muslim without explicitly saying it, although that was really close.  Kind of like when Bush kept using Iraq and 9/11 in the same sentence. 

How do people get misled?  He doesn‘t know. 

But what‘s the purpose behind all this?  Look, this is a free country. 

What would it matter if he were a Muslim? 

Well, let‘s find out. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  On the 10th industry of after you‘ve killed 3,000 people, you‘re going to now build your mosque on there?  Really? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, according to Beck, Muslims, all Muslims, are responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks.  And if Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim, well, then I guess he must be guilty. 

I want to remind everybody again, not a Muslim, a Christian. 

This mosque controversy is just a convenient way to carpet-bomb the news cycle by screaming “Muslims, mosques and terror attacks!”  Well, from now, all the way until November, they‘re going to keep on going with this. 

And let‘s be clear.  The outrage over the Muslim community center in lower Manhattan isn‘t about location.  There‘s already a mosque three blocks away.  And it isn‘t about Muslim radicals.  The imam running this cultural center was used by the FBI and Bush administration as the model of a moderate Muslim. 

The outrage is about stirring up fear and hate against a minority group and exploiting that prejudice for political gain in an election year.  And if the Republicans can tap into that vein of fear and loathing that drives their base, they figure it can only help them in the polls. 

Look, that‘s what they do.  We‘ve seen this strategy before.  The right told that you Obama wanted to kill your grandma last summer.  Now they‘re trying to paint him as a Muslim, and hence a radical, maybe kind of like a neo-Nazi or a skinhead. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  The vast majority of the American people believe there is a freedom of religion that is ingrained in our Constitution, and that right of free expression of religion would be best exercised by not building here. 

Look, in that same First Amendment, there‘s a right of freedom of speech.  Who believes that, say, skinheads should show up at a black sorority convention and scream bigoted remarks?  Who believes there‘s a right of freedom of assembly?  Who believes that neo-Nazis should show up at a the B‘nai B‘rith hotel and have their meeting in the next meeting room? 

That are rights that everyone has, and we believe it would be prudent not to exercise them at certain times. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So here we go again.  The whole Muslim community is like neo-Nazis. 

Where have we seen this movie before?  Oh, right, on Fox News Channel.  Any chance they‘re driving this story as propaganda for their own political purposes? 

But look at what else Rove said.  He thinks Muslims should not exercise their First Amendment right to worship because it might offend someone. 

I wonder if Rove would an apply that logic to other rights, like maybe giving up your Second Amendment rights to make your neighbor feel more comfortable?  Or Fox News giving up their First Amendment rights if what they say offends someone?  Are they going to do that?  Of course not.  And that‘s the point. 

The conservatives don‘t really have an argument here.  This is what they do.  Led by Fox News, they try to scare you and divide us. 

Someone has to put an end to this vicious cycle.  And that‘s how we wind up here, with 70 percent of Americans thinking that building a Muslim community center in a former discount department store is an insult to the people who decide on 9/11, and nearly a quarter of the country thinking President Obama is a Muslim. 

If we keep going with this cycle and pretending that this is a real issue, then we all wind up helping them in their political hatchet job.  When the rest of the media follows stories ginned up by Fox to smear their political opponents, we all wind up working for Fox News.  And no one wants that. 

Now, tell me what you think in our telephone survey.  The number to dial is 877-ED-MSNBC.  Everybody‘s weighing in on this.  Obviously, you‘ve heard my opinion, but we want to hear yours. 

So, my question to all of you tonight is simple: Do you have a problem with the Islamic center being built near Ground Zero?  Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.  I‘ll bring you the results later in the show.

Now joining me, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, who‘s not shy about his opinions. 

So let me ask you this—the conservative propaganda seems to be working, Congressman.  But what‘s failing here?  Is it the media, is it the Democratic response?  What it is? 

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA:  It‘s the failure to concentrate on things that matter in ordinary people‘s lives. 

We have 15 million people in this country who don‘t have a job.  What is the Republican plan to help them?  They don‘t have one. 

We have over 30 million people in this country who still can‘t see a doctor when they get sick.  Why aren‘t we talking about that instead?  The answer is that they don‘t want to talk about that because they have no way to help them. 

They tried to scare everyone in the country by saying the president was black.  And that didn‘t work.  He got elected anyway.  So now they‘re moving on to saying the president is a Muslim. 

And believe me, if we got invaded by Mars tomorrow, the Republicans would claim that the president is a Martian.  But that doesn‘t solve anyone‘s problems. 

We have to work hard to solve the problems of ordinary people and rebuild the middle class in this country.  Let‘s concentrate on that for a change. 

UYGUR:  I swear to you that my next question was if they accused him of being a Martian, do you have to come out every once in a while and say the president is not Martian? 

(LAUGHTER)

GRAYSON:  It‘s sad.  Look, we really are cheating ourselves.  This can be a heaven on Earth.  This could be an outstanding place to live, the very top in the entire world. 

Instead, we‘re 50th in the world -- 50th in life expectancy, just below Albania.  We are dead last in math test scores.  And believe me, the math is the same in Seoul, Korea, as it is in here.  It‘s the same math. 

We have to work harder to solve our problems.  And we can‘t get distracted all the time by the people who want to distract us for their own selfish purposes. 

But if we are going to talk about 9/11, why don‘t we talk about how not so much the people who died on 9/11 were disgraced by the possibility of an Islamic athletic center several blocks away, how about the fact they were disgraced by a president who let it happen, who went on vacation for the entire month of August after he was warned in writing that Osama bin Laden was actually finding targets in New York City and learning how to take these planes and do terrible things with them?  The thing itself said “hijacking” and they did nothing about it. 

So, you tell me, why does President Obama have to be drawn into this at this point when the Republicans let us down this way so terribly and got us into two wars to boot? 

UYGUR:  I had a feeling you might say something interesting. 

OK.  And by the way, that memo also said they planned to attack New York and possibly Washington.  So—and if you remember, the guy who delivered that memo to them, the CIA guy, he said, all right, now you covered your ass.  You can go home. 

OK?  That‘s what President Bush did when he got that memo about the possibility of attacking. 

GRAYSON:  And then promptly spent the entire month of August on vacation.  So who really let down those people on 9/11?  Was it Barack Obama?  Was it the people who want to build some kind of health club in downtown New York?  Or was it the president of the United States right then, George W. Bush? 

UYGUR:  All right.

Congressman, now, you point out that one of the strategies is, hey, let‘s talk about the real issues.  And that‘s very fair.  Unemployment is what 91 percent of Americans say they care most about when asked in a poll.  But on the other hand, if you just leave these attacks lying out there, you see that they take hold. 

A majority of Republicans think that ACORN stole the election for Obama.  That‘s crazy talk. 

So how do you respond?  Do you not say anything?  Do you fight back? 

What do you do? 

GRAYSON:  One of the fundamental problems is Fox.  OK? 

Fox has turned into Monty Python‘s lying circus.  All day long they spew lies out, time after time, day after day, and they‘ve created this bubble of irreality around the people who listen to them, and it‘s a threat to this country. 

It is a threat to this country that you have people listening to Fox day in and day out, who are misinformed day in and day out, and believe it.  Because some of the people can be fooled some of the time, and Fox proves that every single day.

UYGUR:  All right.

Congressman Grayson, always an interesting interview.  Thank you for joining us.

GRAYSON:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  All right.

Now let me tell you the real story of the man who‘s the victim of this smear campaign—Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.  He‘s been a prominent voice for peace and anti-extremism within the Muslim community for more than a decade, well before 9/11. 

He‘s so well respected, that he was the go-to guy on counterterrorism under the Bush administration when they reached out for Muslim-Americans.  And he also aided the FBI after the 9/11 attacks.  Nearly everything they‘ve told but this man is a lie. 

Now, for more, let me bring in Sam Stein.  He‘s a political reporter for “The Huffington Post,” and he wrote an excellent article about debunking these rumors here. 

Sam, what‘s the real story of Imam Rauf? 

SAM STEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Well, thanks for having me. 

In the past couple of weeks, we‘ve seen this imam sort of tarnished and tarred for being a radical Islamist, a conduit for Hamas.  And one of the things we wanted to do at “The Huffington Post” was sort of get a real sense of who he was. 

And all we did was a very basic LexisNexis search.  We pulled up old articles and then we called people who actually have associated with him.  And everyone pretty much said the same thing—this is a moderate Muslim voice, someone who has built his career upon bringing together the Muslim and American worlds, has worked in official and unofficial capacities as a diplomat to the Muslim world. 

And to sort of downgrade or denigrate his mission would be a real disservice to the country, is what we were told.  This is someone who you want to elevate, the type of moderate Muslim image that you want to show can co-exist in American society. 

And people like Walter Isaacson, who heads the Aspen Ideas Festival, he spoke out in horror at what was happening to this man and the treatment that he was receiving by some of the right-wing critics of the mosque he‘s proposing. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Now, and you mention in your article Madeleine Albright has great things to say about him.  But also, Republicans like Karen Hughes and Condoleezza Rice. 

So, now, if they worked with him in the past, is it incumbent upon them to come out and say, hey, you know what, wait a minute, this isn‘t right.  I know this guy, and what we‘re doing here is wrong? 

STEIN:  Yes.  And that was something I noted at the end of my report, was that here you have people who have worked with him side by side, or at least have sent him out on missions—the FBI, Karen Hughes, the Bush administration.  Not only that, but they also represent—have become to represent sort of the more moderate voice of the Republican Party, as the Bush administration, which did, to its credit, try to elevate moderate Islam and put it aside from the extremists. 

They‘ve been totally silent.  President Bush himself has declined requests for comment.  Karen Hughes‘ office declined request for comment from me.  And I think there‘s people who are certainly disappointed. 

The people who have spoken out happen to be conservative Muslim and Arab-Americans who actually worked in the Bush administration who sort of sat back in horror and watched as the rhetoric has flown left and right evolving around this project and this imam.  They‘re frightened at what‘s happening. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Sam, one more thing.  I want to show you video of this imam at the Daniel Pearl memorial here. 

STEIN:  Yes. 

UYGUR:  I‘m sorry, a quote from that.  OK.  I‘m going to read it to you. 

It says, “If to be a Jew means to say with all one‘s heart and mind and soul, here o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, not only today am I a Jew, I have always been one.  Mr. Pearl, if to be a Christian is love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I‘ve always been one, Mr. Pearl.  We are here especially to seek your forgiveness and of your family for what has been done in the name of Islam.”

Now, is it possible to get more moderate than that, for him to say I have always been a Jew, I have always been a Christian? 

So, how does a guy like this become the target of a hatchet job?  How did it happen? 

STEIN:  Very simple.  I mean, you have a project that people oppose on divisive cultural grounds.  And when there‘s really nothing to latch on to in opposition, you have to create a bogeyman. 

And so, in addition—to the opposition‘s credit, this imam has declined to comment on where the funding will come, but, you know, it‘s clear that his record shows he‘s been a moderate Muslim throughout his time.  But they‘ve tried to create a bogeyman as a way to gin up opposition to the mosque. 

And it‘s sort of a sad tale, because here‘s a man who literally, the day after 9/11, devoted his life and his life‘s mission to bridging gaps between the Muslim and American world.   And I think the lesson that‘s going to come from this latest episode is that maybe those bridges can‘t be built. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Let‘s hope the rest of the media learns this lesson. 

Thank you so much for covering the story.  We really appreciate it, Sam. 

STEIN:  Thanks, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, coming up, Sarah Palin is an absolute disgrace.  She tells Dr.  Laura not to retreat but to reload.  She wants to reload racism, reload on bashing gays.  It‘s flat-out scary that this person is influencing millions of people. 

Reverend Sharpton is here to respond.  That‘s going to be good. 

And President Obama makes good on a campaign promise.  The combat mission in Iraq is over.  And John McCain thinks this guy deserves the credit. 

I‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response.”

All that, plus Sharron Angle compares herself to George Washington.  And Bill O‘Reilly really has no clue.  So I‘m going to offer him one in the “Zone.” 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  It‘s the 90th anniversary of women having the right to vote.  Great.  And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is celebrating by blaming women for unequal pay.  They‘re not kidding. 

They‘re saying it‘s women‘s own fault that they earn less than men do. 

Their senior director of communications wrote this on the chamber‘s blog:

“It is true that culturally speaking, women are more likely to have make tough choices about work-life balance.  But as we all seek to fit our values into a dynamic 24/7 economy, let‘s not overlook the obvious immediate power of the individual solution, choosing the right place to work and choosing the right partner at home.”

He‘s saying if women just chose better jobs and better-paying fields they would be better off.  And did you catch that last part of his comment, that women would have more money if they just “chose the right partner at home”? 

What is this, 1955?  Are they serious?  Instead of asking for equal pay for equal work, women should just marry richer guys?  Wow. 

Joining me now is Terry O‘Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. 

Terry, what do you think?  Is that a winning strategy, for the Chamber of Commerce to say, hey why don‘t you just marry richer guys, you‘d be all right? 

TERRY O‘NEILL, PRESIDENT, NOW:  Yes.  I think that the United States Chamber of Commerce should consider changing its name to the Men‘s Chamber of Men‘s Commerce.  It‘s an incredibly stupid blog post that Mr. Peck put out. 

You know, talk about the 1950s, generations ago, women who stood up for women‘s rights were accused of having penis envy.  I don‘t know if you remember that.  And here‘s Mr. Peck, and part of what he said in that blog post was that women who stood up for equal pay are engaging in money envy. 

And I suppose for some men, penis envy, money envy, kind of the same thing.  Maybe for Mr. Peck it‘s the same thing. 

Yes, it‘s absolutely astounding that he put that out there. 

UYGUR:  So, Terry, a lot of people are going to say, hey, wait a minute, though.  Now, women sometimes do go into fields that don‘t pay as well, and some women get pregnant and then decide to stay at home either for some time or for—you know, and that‘s going to lower the amount of pay they get. 

Is that a fair criticism, to say that‘s why we have the disparity in pay? 

O‘NEILL:  Of course not.  It‘s completely unfair. 

In fact, the vast majority of workplaces in this country are severely sex segregated.  And golly gee, wouldn‘t you know that, systematically, every single time you look at it, the lines of work within any workplace that are dominated by women pay less, have less possibility of advancement, don‘t have the pensions, don‘t have the savings plans.  And the lines that are dominated by men pay more, have more opportunities for advancement. 

So, to say that these are women‘s choices is simply not the case.  I mean, unless you say that it‘s a fair choice for women to say, gee, if I go over and work in the part of this business establishment that‘s dominated by men, I will experience rejection and sexual harassment and other forms of verbal abuse daily, so my choice is to put up with that every day, or just to give up and go over to where women predominate.  That‘s not a real choice. 

And for the United States Chamber of Commerce to suggest that it is, is really deeply offensive to all of the women who work in this country. 

UYGUR:  And the Government Accountability Office, by the way, says women get paid less even if you account for industry, occupation, marital status, et cetera, et cetera. 

So one quick question for you.  Sarah Palin tweeted something on feminism and I wanted to share with you. 

“Who hijacked the term ‘feminist‘?  A cackle of rads who want to crucify other women with whom they disagree on a singular issue.  It‘s ironic and passe.” 

What do you think about that comment? 

O‘NEILL:  Well, I think that Sarah Palin does not stand up for women‘s rights across a broad array of issues.  Not only is she anti-abortion rights, she is anti a large number of rights for women, and she doesn‘t speak for the women of the United States. 

UYGUR:  Terry, thank you so much for joining us.  We appreciate it. 

O‘NEILL:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, coming up, O‘Reilly thinks there are no Muslims anywhere near Ground Zero.  This guy needs to get out more. 

I‘m opening his eyes and spinning him into the “Zone” next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  In “Psycho Talk” tonight, Bill O‘Reilly weighs in on the lower Manhattan Islamic center brouhaha.  To his credit, he thinks all the hype is ridiculous.  Fantastic.  But when he tries to explain why, well, the wheels fall off the wagon. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  This whole controversy is absurd.  If you just strip away all your ideology, it‘s not about freedom of religion.  There are more than 100 mosques in New York City.  More than 100.  OK? 

There isn‘t a Muslim within a mile.  Who‘s going to go to this thing? 

OK?  I mean, it‘s just crazy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So I don‘t get it.  Is he saying that there are already so many mosques around there, that this isn‘t an issue and the rest of the networks should shut up about it?  Or is he saying there are no Muslims within a mile of Ground Zero? 

It he‘s saying his network is full of it because they already have all those mosques there, then great.  We agree.  If he‘s saying no Muslims live within a mile of the planned Islamic center, well, let‘s take a look at lower Manhattan and find out. 

You see the World Trade Center site.  Then a couple of blocks away you have the site for the community center. 

Then a few blocks north of that, look at that, there‘s a mosque.  A few more blocks, another mosque.  I‘m going to climb out on a limb here and say that there are Muslims in the vicinity of Ground Zero. 

But O‘Reilly seems to think that there‘s some kind of Muslim free zone within a mile radius of the community center.  Did you know that there are more than 600,000 Muslims in New York City?  They‘re part of this community, so much so that there were dozens of Muslim-Americans who were killed at Ground Zero on 9/11. 

So, suggesting that there are no Muslims within a mile of the proposed Islamic community center is nothing but “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Sarah Palin thinks America isn‘t fair because people were actually outraged when Dr. Laura said the N-word 11 times.  Now Palin and Dr. Laura are blaming these men for everything. 

Reverend Sharpton and Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, they fire back ahead.  Watch out.  They‘re coming. 

And the last U.S. combat brigade heads home from Iraq, a campaign promise made good by the president.  So why isn‘t he saying anything about it? 

I‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response.”

All that, plus you will not believe what happened when this bull charged into the stands in Spain. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Sarah Palin has unleashed her inner grizzly in defense of Dr. Laura and her right to freely drop the “n” word.  After learning that Dr. Laura was quitting her radio show, Palin tweeted dome advice to her, “Dr. Laura, don‘t retreat.  Reload.  Steps aside because her 1st amendment rights ceased to exist, thanks to activists trying to silence.  Isn‘t American not fair?”  If I remember correctly Palin said that the building of the mosque near Ground Zero had a first amendment right but out of respect for others, they should not exercise it but she thinks Dr. Laura‘s comments were a great way to exercise her first amendment rights.  So, let‘s take a look, is it OK to reload on statements like this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, SYNDICATED TV TALK SHOW HOST:  I really thought that once we had a black president, the attempt to demonize whites hating blacks would stop.  But it seems to have grown.  And I don‘t get it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  I don‘t get it.  Why won‘t black people just stop complaining already?  We already gave them a black president.  So, all the studies showing blacks in this country have a harder time getting jobs and housing magically stopped the minute Barack Obama took office.  Is that what happened?  But Palin doesn‘t seem to have a problem with those comments.  He also tweeted, “Dr. Laura even more powerful and effective without the shackles, so watch out constitutional obstructionists.  And be thankful for her voice America.”  Without the shackles, right?  Because she was the one being held down by the man as she broadcast on 100 of radio stations all across the country?  And Palin wants us to be thankful for the woman who said, “If you‘re gay or lesbian, it‘s a biological error.” 

Who said, “Feminism destroyed the sanctity of motherhood.”  What happened?  I thought Sarah Palin was the champion of women.  Does she think the feminist who got her the right to run for office destroyed motherhood?  Finally Dr. Laura once also told her mother that she should place her autistic child in a home because, quote, “he might not be fixable.”  And she needed, quote, “to have a life outside of this torture.”  This is the woman Sarah Palin is supporting?  This is the person she thinks should reload? 

All right.  Now, let me bring in Reverend Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network.  Reverend, is Dr. Laura right when Barack Obama got elected, did we just magically solve all the racism in the country?

REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  I mean, it is so absurd on its face.  The fact of the matter is that we still face a nation with instructional inequalities.  I mean, blacks in national data almost two to one unemployed.  We still have a huge gap in education and health care as well as in the criminal justice system.  I think what the election of President Obama was a very, very progressive step, I think America grew a lot but if we‘re to act like we‘re at racial equality, that is an illusion.  And I think than anyone grown knows bet than that.  I think, we must give America credit for progress but progress is not arriving at the destination of having a racially equal society. 

UYGUR:  So what do you think is more offensive, Sarah Palin backing Dr. Laura saying the “n” word 11 times or backing the context of what Dr.  Laura said?  Because around the “n” word, she said some pretty loathsome things and stereotypes about black folks.  Which part do you find more troubling?

SHARPTON:  I think the context, the context.  Clearly I don‘t agree with the word.  About three years ago, we all came out civil rights groups like ours saying, bury the word.  Many of us have used it, so we said, let‘s go against black hip-hoppers and artists and comedians as well as whites saying it because it‘s wrong.  But aside from the word is the context.  She not only talked about blacks since President Obama seems to be doing more in terms of whites, in terms of demonizing was her term whites.  She inferred that if you‘re in an racial marriage and feel that you‘re being treated wrong or things being said by your in-laws, maybe you shouldn‘t be in a marriage.  I mean, she took shots at a whole bunch of things contextually that racially insensitive to say the least.  But what is amazing is she says this and then when people like us respond, she says, oh, I have the first amendment right.  She does.  And we have the right to respond.  You can‘t say things and then tell everybody else shut up.  You can‘t respond.  We merely responded without first amendment rights.  

UYGUR:  So what‘s the right answer here?  Because you know, I heard the whole thing and she said, oh, black people have a chip on their shoulder.  She didn‘t even listen to what the caller‘s issue was, she‘s made all these assumptions.  I don‘t think the “n” word is necessarily magical.  I understand your stands on it but the context was worse.  What do you do?  What do you do about Dr. Laura?  What do you do about Sarah Palin 100 percent backing her?

SHARPTON:  Well, I think that what you do with Dr. Laura is you express to those that subsidize her, advertisers and the radio stations that a lot of the listeners and a lot of their consumers think that is insensitive and don‘t want to spend their money with people that would subsidize that.  I mean, if I did it on my radio show, if you did it on your show, people have the same right.  That‘s their right to say, I don‘t think if I‘m going to buy you a product you ought to advertise with people that use certain things that‘s offensive.  Then it‘s up to advertisers.  With Sarah Palin, I think the irony is on August 28th, next Saturday when many of us will be marching on Washington remembering Dr. King‘s dream, she‘s going to be in Lincoln memorial with Glenn Beck on that day after she just told this woman to reload on then racially insensitive language.

I think people need to understand on that day as we remember the real dream of Dr. King, what is Sarah Palin thinking about a dream when she tells someone to reload, racial insensitivity that didn‘t offend Al Sharpton or National Action Network or Media Matters.  It offended the black caller who is a listener of Dr. Laura.  And when the woman said that‘s offensive and called her on it, she said, I‘ll say it again.  No apology, no thinking it through.  No remorse.  She kept loading, and now Ms. Palin says, reload. 

UYGUR:  Thank you so much for joining us, Reverend Sharpton.  

SHARPTON:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  Always interesting.  And you know Sarah Palin being on where Dr. King gave that speech might be violating hallowed ground.  I mean, I‘ve heard that argument before. 

So now for more, let me bring in Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters for America.  Eric, apparently this is all your fault for quoting Dr. Laura.  What‘s the matter with you?

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA:  People hate when we post their transcripts and full context and let people listen to and hear what they say.  This is typical what we hear from this sort of conservative commentator.  You know, they get caught, some saying something bigoted and offensive and rather than really take responsibility, they play the victim.  You know, there‘s a mob out to get them.  Look, free speech, the first amendment does not guarantee you the right that someone will advertise on your show.  It does not guarantee you the right that people won‘t be offended.  This notion that Media Matters took her free speech away is absurd.  And for Sarah Palin to double down on that and claim that you know, Dr. Laura‘s free speech is under attack is absurd.  There‘s just no truth to it and people are offended and Dr. Laura again doesn‘t want to take responsibility.  She wants to play the victim.  That‘s what the conservative commentators always do.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Eric, I get Dr. Laura and all you‘re doing is quoting her and letting people decide.  But how about Sarah Palin?  Because, now, look, conservatives do guilt by association all the time.  

BOEHLERT:  All the time.  

UYGUR:  Yes.  And is it fair to do that to Sarah Palin in regards to Dr. Laura? 

BOEHLERT:  Well, she‘s doubled down today, I mean, she‘s now posted a long defense of Dr. Laura.  She‘s on the record saying she backs her.  She‘s on the record, you know, attacking people that have called her out, called Dr. Laura out for being insensitive and bigoted commentary.  So, she‘s made a plan that she absolutely thinks Dr. Laura is in the right.  People do not have, really have the right to criticize her and again, no one‘s taking responsibility here.  They‘re playing the victim.  Sarah Palin basically her job now is to play the victim at the hands of the so-called liberal media.  So again, she‘s doubled down.  And people I think have every right to ask for all the candidates that Sarah Palin has endorsed in the fall, what do they think about Dr. Laura‘s comments?  Do they think Sarah Palin is right?  Maybe they should start weighing in on this, as well.  Sarah Palin has nationalized this debate by weighing in on this matter. 

UYGUR:  That‘s an interesting twist.  I hadn‘t thought of that.  All right.  You guys are sneaky.  All right.  Thank you, Eric.  Stop quoting people, right. 

Now, let‘s get some rapid fire response from our panel on these stories. 

Combat operations in Iraq are over.  President Obama kept his promise to end the war but he‘s not taking a victory lap.  Meanwhile, John McCain says, we should be giving credit to Bush.  And our panel takes on the polls that show almost a quarter of the country and nearly a third of republicans think President Obama is a Muslim. 

With us tonight, Joe Madison, XM Satellite radio show host and Karen Hanretty, a republican strategist.  I used to fill in for Joe a long, long time ago in Washington.  All right.  Joe, good to have you here. 

JOE MADISON, XM SATELLITE RADIO SHOW HOST:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  Does John McCain have a point there?  You know, George Bush did the surge, the violence went down.  And we can be leave?

MADISON:  Well, we can leave but the question is, what do we leave?  And when you look at the recent violence throughout Iraq, we‘ve got real problems.  I don‘t know what the victory quite honestly is.  He may have a point.  I mean, you know, president, former President Bush did set some timelines.  President Obama to the—to many progressives who are upset think that he is trying to outdo Bush, of course, the White House doesn‘t want to hear that.  So you know, you can spread the—maybe—you know what?  Maybe they are a relay team.  And Bush has passed the baton and now President Obama is finishing the last legging. 

UYGUR:  And so, Karen, how about that?  Does President Obama deserve credit for keeping his campaign promise?  

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I think he absolutely deserves credit for not pulling the troops out sooner to sticking to this timeline.  You know, really quite frankly, sticking to the Bush/Petraeus plan.  The surge I think has allowed President Obama to pull these troops out.  It‘s a surge that President Obama opposed but I do think, I give him credit for this, and you know, I don‘t know how the left cannot give President Bush credit for the surge.  It probably came too late.  I wish it had come sooner.  But you know, I think this is something that people on the left and the right can look at and say, this is a good day.  This is good for the U.S. troops.  I think it‘s good that we‘re leaving Iraq, we‘re leaving it much more stable.  I think than anyone certainly on the left thought that we would be able to leave it.  

MADISON:  So, I‘m certainly not one of those who think we‘re leaving it stable.  That is.

HANRETTY:  I would say more stable.  

MADISON:  It is not.  OK, well that‘s all relative because anybody who reads the headlines.  

HANRETTY:  Well, they have a democracy that‘s been functioning for a couple years.  And I think that‘s much more.  

MADISON:  Kind of.  

HANRETTY:  Than many people ever thought was possible.  

MADISON:  They don‘t have a democracy.  They don‘t have a democracy. 

UYGUR:  I want to go onto the next issue.  By the way, Karen, I‘m one of those people who could make that argument against Bush, but that‘s for another day.  And by the way, their government is not set yet.  But those are for another day. Let‘s go onto the poll that shows that nearly a quarter of Americans think that Barack Obama is a Muslim. 

Joe, how did we get to this point and who‘s at fault for such a large percentage of the population just believing something that isn‘t true at all?

MADISON:  Because people keep hearing the lie over and over and over again.  The man is baptized a Christian.  Look, in Washington, D.C. where I live, he goes to church on Easter.  He goes to black churches throughout Washington, D.C.  The reality is he has confessed that Jesus Christ is his lord and savior and he is not worship at one mosque.  The reality is that people don‘t want to believe it because it‘s just a way of a continuing to make him appear like he is illegitimate.  This is stupid.  This is absolutely stupid.  And people ought to start thinking for themselves instead of letting loud-mouthed talk show hosts think for them.  

UYGUR:  There‘s something to be said for loud mouthed talk show hosts.  But Karen, look the liberals didn‘t put this smear out there.  So, isn‘t it obvious that the conservatives did?  And isn‘t that a big problem?

HANRETTY:  I think there should be a new Murphy‘s Law that we just all need to agree to which is 25 percent of the American people are always going to believe something crazy.  It‘s just like back in 2007, 2006 and 2007, polls came out showing that about 25 to 35 percent of Americans thought that George Bush and the Federal government were somehow implicated in 9/11.  And in fact, 35 percent of democrats thought that.  So, you‘re always going to have a percentage of the population that believes some crazy conspiracy.  And by the way, I don‘t think it‘s a conspiracy if you think President Obama is Muslim.  I don‘t think that having a Muslim president is a bad thing.  I don‘t know why we‘re—it‘s kind of bizarre to me that we equate thinking that he‘s a Muslim with being something bad.  He‘s not a Muslim.  

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Joe, I wonder where we got that idea.  Maybe FOX News?

MADISON:  Yes, where did that happen?

HANRETTY:  But how about the fact that.

MADISON:  You know, we agree.  

HANRETTY: .on the left continuously for a number of years, it was George Bush knew about 9/11.  That‘s insane, too.  I think you have to agree that a portion of the population is always going to believe something bizarre.  

UYGUR:  All right.  We got to leave it right there guys.

MADISON:  You know, but you can‘t bring up George Bush.  That‘s what the right keeps saying. 

UYGUR:  We‘ve got to go, Joe.

MADISON:  OK.

UYGUR:  We‘ve got to go.  Joe and Karen, thank you so much.  Thank you, guys.  I appreciate it. 

All right.  Now coming up, jobless claims spiked to their highest level in nine months.  And now some critics say President Obama is turning his back on the middle class.  Bob Shrum responds. 

And a bull runs into a crowd.  You won‘t believe how this ended. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.            

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Still not too late to let me know what you think.  The number to dial is 877-ed-msnbc.  Tonight‘s cell phone survey question is, do you have a problem with the Islamic center being built near Ground Zero?  We want to know what your opinion is, we know mine.  Press one for yes, press two for no.  Again, the number to dial is 877-ed-msnbc.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  In the Playbook tonight, the economy is going from bad to worse.  And some critics are saying the president has forgotten about the middle class.  Today, new jobless claims spiked to their highest levels in nine months.  Bankruptcies both personal and business are at the highest level in nearly five years.  What should the president do?  A second stimulus package or just ask for more patience?  The president hammered the republicans for blocking the small business bill today.  Let‘s watch that.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Unfortunately, a partisan minority in the Senate so far has refused to allow this jobs bill to come up for a vote.  Many provisions in the bill were actually authored by republican senators.  It has been praised as being good for small business by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.  A majority of senators are in favor of the bill.  And yet, the obstruction continues. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Come on, even the right wing Chamber of Commerce is in favor of it.  Look, you know I‘m tough on the president but he‘s right about this one.  This bill can actually help and it‘s refreshing to see some fight in him. 

All right.  Now, joining me now is democratic strategist Bob Shrum, he‘s also a professor at New York University.  Bob, this whole idea that the president has forgotten the middle class or has not done enough for unemployment, et cetera, is that just a communication problem for the president that he hasn‘t communicated how much he has done for them or is there some truth to it?  

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, first of all, he‘s done extraordinary things at a level we haven‘t seen from any president in terms of progressive achievement in 50 years.  Secondly, I think the biggest part of the problem is that the economy is in tough shape.  And the economy‘s in tough shape because the party of no succeeded, they succeeded in making the stimulus bill too small.  They succeed in making sure that it had too many tax cuts in it and the president who I think wanted a second stimulus bill was simply told he didn‘t have the votes.  The republicans wouldn‘t vote for it probably to a person.  And there were a lot of blue dog democrats who were against it.  But I think blaming the president—go ahead, I‘m sorry.  

UYGUR:  You know, it‘s OK.  But now look, blaming the republicans now right before the elections, it seems like you‘re really late to the party.  I mean, Barack Obama kept reaching out and reaching out and they kept hitting below the belt.  And he‘s playing patty cakes with them.  So, now is it too late to turn around and say, oh these guys that I was trying to make deals with, they are actually the bad guys?

SHRUM:  No actually, I think what he ought to do is come out of this legislative period, set a big speech that sets the frame for the midterm elections, go out there and show that he and the democrats have been fighting for ordinary people and the republicans have siding with special interests.  And that‘s true on issue after issue after issue.  If he doesn‘t draw that kind of big dividing line, if he simply says, look the choice in the selection is, do we want to go forward or go back, I fear that there are going to be a lot of people out there who are going to say, well, maybe I do want to go back, not to Bush but to a time of full employment, to a time when home values were secured.  The president inherited this mess.  He‘s doing I think as good a job as anybody could do with it, but he now has to go out there and be the politician in chief, he has to stop talking about  bipartisanship and he has to talk about what the real differences and stakes in the battle are.  The one other thing I would add by the way, is just because Robert Gibbs was stupid enough to attack progressives doesn‘t mean the progressives should be stupid enough to attack Barack Obama.  We ought to be pushing...  

UYGUR:  It depends if he deserves it.  If he deserves it.  If he‘d gone all the way.  If he had actually made the changes, then there would be no reason for it.  But instead, he went halfway because of the republicans.  He‘s all I‘m going to reach out to them.  Patty cakes.  

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  We have a constitutional system of government and a distorted system in the Senate where you‘ve got to get 60 votes to get anything through.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Bob, we got to leave it there. 

SHRUM:  But let‘s not forget, presidents tried for 100 years to pass health reform. 

UYGUR:  Right.  It depends on what kind of reform but we got to go. 

SHRUM:  This president finally did it and by the way, he did it with the help of progressives. 

UYGUR:  We‘ve got to go.

SHRUM:  OK.

UYGUR:  Bob, thank you, thank you.  I appreciate it. 

SHRUM:  You‘re welcome.

UYGUR:  It‘s a good conversation. 

All right, now, look, a couple of final pages.  Roger Clemens has been indicted.  The seven-time Cy Young award winner was indicted by the Feds for allegedly lying to Congress about using steroids and growth hormone.  He faces charging of obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury and of throwing a bat at Mike Piazza.  All right.  That wasn‘t in there.  

And fans got way more than they bargained for at an event showcasing Bull in Spain last night.  Things got completely out of control when the 1,000-pound bull takes a turn and charges into the crowd.  It runs through the stands knocking over people.  Fans are running for their lives.  One guy tries to pull the bull down by the tail which is a terrible idea.  Employees of the bull ring managed to control and kill the bull.  Stay classy, Spain. 

Coming up, Sharron Angle‘s totally unfounded delusion that she‘s just like America‘s founding fathers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Welcome back.  Sharron Angle is a gift that keeps on giving.  She says she‘s just like America‘s founding fathers.  Is that right?  The founding father who‘s started a revolution against the conservative monarch for their rights were conservatives?  They were probably the biggest liberals the world has ever seen.  And somewhere in Nevada, Harry Reid is saying thank you. 

Tonight in our phone survey, I asked you, do you have a problem with the Islamic center being built near Ground Zero?  Eighteen percent said yes, and they‘re wrong, 82 percent said no. 

All right.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.  Thanks for watching.  Tomorrow on “Today,” Meredith gets an exclusive interview with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  “HARDBALL” starts right now. 

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