updated 11/15/2010 9:56:15 AM ET 2010-11-15T14:56:15

Guests: Joan Walsh, Adam Green, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Press, Michael

Medved, John Nichols, Jonathan Alter

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

These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” at this hour.

Former president George W. Bush admitted he committed a criminal act on national television.  I say, let him brag about his crime in court, and let the justice system decide if it was legal. 

My commentary on that in just a moment. 

Incoming oversight chair Darrell Issa, now, this guy recently called President Obama, his administration, corrupt.  But he has absolutely no proof of any of this. 

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is furious and demanding a retraction. 

He‘ll twist some arms.  Tonight‘s story in “The Battleground” is coming up. 

And Tea Partying queen Michele Bachmann threw in the towel on her dream to dominate the Republicans.  Now Rand Paul wants to drive the crazy train.  That‘s coming up. 

But this is the story that has me fired up tonight. 

I think Congressman Darrell Issa is on a witch hunt to take President Obama down for absolutely nothing, with no proof.  But he doesn‘t have the guts to go after a president who just admitted a crime on national television.  A comment from former president George W. Bush to NBC‘s Matt Lauer has set off a wildfire of controversy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And so I said to our team, “Are the techniques legal?”  And a legal team says, “Yes, they are.”  And I said, “Use them.” 

MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  Why is waterboarding legal in your opinion? 

BUSH:  Because a lawyer said it was legal.  He said it did not fall within the Anti-Torture Act.  I‘m not a lawyer. 

And—but you‘ve got to trust the judgment of the people around you, and I do.  I will tell you this—using those techniques saved lives.  My job was to protect America, and I did. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, Bush doesn‘t think he did anything wrong because one of his handpicked attorneys told him waterboarding was OK, it‘s legal, go ahead. 

New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero, believes the former president just admitted to a crime. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK:  The United States has always considered waterboarding torture except during the Bush administration.  We prosecuted Japanese generals for waterboarding people.  We prosecuted American soldiers for waterboarding people in past decades.

The current attorney general, Mr. Holder, has said that waterboarding is torture.  We‘ve always regarded it as torture, and under our statute and under international law, we are bound to prosecute. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So what do we have here, more inaction?  President Obama‘s administration has turned the page on prosecuting the Bush administration.  That was kind of a long time ago, wasn‘t it? 

Now Bush feels like he‘s pretty much untouchable.  Republicans are attacking Nadler for calling Bush on the carpet. 

Fox News favorite, Congressman Peter King in New York jumped to Bush‘s defense right away and he told Politico, “Jerry and I are friends, but he‘s entirely wrong on this.  There would have been lives lost, and Bush deserves credit for what he did.”  King went on to say that, “Bush should get a medal for authorizing waterboarding”? 

Now, Republicans don‘t care if waterboarding is legal or moral.  When this story comes up, their first reaction is to praise the former president, make liberals look like they‘re nothing but a bunch of damn terrorist sympathizers.

Well psycho-talking Michele Bachmann played that card and played that garbage over and over on O‘Reilly‘s show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Bush is right.  Bush did the right thing.  All right?

He protected us.  He had to dunk these three guys.  And he did.  And he got information, and we captured a whole bunch of really bad, bad people from it. 

If you hear the left, this is the worst thing the United States has ever done, we‘re a terrible country for doing it. 

Why?  Why are they doing this? 

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  Well, it almost seems as though they need to come up with some sort of a case to defend the people who are making this action, the radical terrorists.  And here, take a look at the terrorists who have beheaded people like Daniel Pearl.  They don‘t think twice about that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The worse thing the country‘s ever done?  That‘s a dandy, O‘Reilly. 

I think the invasion was probably worse.  Of course, if we haven‘t invaded, we wouldn‘t be waterboarding anybody. 

Now, for those two hate merchants—and exactly what they are—to imply the left wants to protect terrorists is beyond “Psycho Talk.”  Republicans have no moral high ground when it comes to this issue of torture.  They don‘t have it anymore, never did.  Just because one of Bush‘s conservative attorneys gave the green light for waterboarding this technique, doesn‘t make it legal. 

Attorney General Eric Holder, I think, has a responsibility to investigate the former president, his attorney, and any other former administration official who played a role in all of this.  President Bush‘s new admission to this smoking gun, well, it‘s a whole new story, isn‘t it? 

But Congressman Nadler doesn‘t think that the attorney general‘s going to take any action. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  This is real, genuine, new information, in your opinion, and you‘re asking Attorney General Eric Holder to do this.  Do you think he‘ll do it, and do you think this is the smoking gun? 

NADLER:  Well, it is a smoking gun.  I‘m dubious that he will do it, because this administration, unfortunately, has taken the opinion, has taken the attitude that they‘re not going to look at any criminal actions by—within the prior administration.  They say, let‘s look forward, not backward.  By that standard, no one would ever prosecute any crime. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Look, it‘s time for the administration and the White House right now to face facts and play hardball.  Let‘s face it, Americans. 

While Darrell Issa and the Republicans clogged up Congress with subpoenas and frivolous hearings, Bush and Cheney will never see the inside of a courtroom.  Are you happy about that? 

I think that there‘s a whole bunch of Americans out there, including me, that think the Bush administration broke the law and got away scot-free.  If Issa wants to play ball, Eric Holder, well, I think that he ought to get in the game.  That‘s right, let‘s make it political.  What the hell?  They do it all the time. 

Tell me what you think in our telephone survey tonight, folks.  The number to dial is 1-877-ED-MSNBC.

My question tonight is: Would you like to see George W. Bush face prosecution for authorizing waterboarding?  Press the number 1 for yes; press the number 2 for no.  I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining us now is Joan Walsh, editor-at-large, Salon.com. 

What can liberals, what can Americans, Joan, expect in the aftermath of these comments, nothing or something? 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-ATT-LARGE, SALON.COM:  Nothing.  Nothing, Ed.

I mean, the administration said a long time ago that they were going to look forward, not backward.  You know, Dick Cheney has basically confessed to being part of this decision to authorize waterboarding.  There‘s plenty of evidence that they ordered it. 

You know, I have to say, again, listening to the president, watching the president talk to Matt Lauer about this, and then that shrinking little admission, “Well, I‘m not a lawyer,” you know, sort of, again, swiping away briefly the moral and political justification for this and responsibility for this, then taking it back.  You know it‘s—I was going to say it‘s unbelievable.  It‘s very believable. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan, is this another case of where the Democrats are illustrating to the American people that they just don‘t have the guts to follow through?  I mean, if you—I‘ll guarantee you, our poll tonight is going to be heavy—yes, they want to see the attorney general take action on this. 

But here‘s the difference.  We have the Republicans who can‘t wait to get the gavel and to go after President Obama, and just to find something.  They‘re like a blind squirrel in the forest trying to find any acorn they can.  OK?

All right.  Now, here‘s—the Democrats, oh, no, we‘re not going to do that.  This, in my opinion, is what infuriates people on the left.  This isn‘t fair.  We‘re getting a cheaper cut.  We‘re not getting justice. 

And I really commend Congressman Nadler for coming up today and yesterday, last night on the show, and saying that he thinks it‘s the smoking gun. 

What do we have to do to get them to shake free and go do something on this? 

WALSH:  I don‘t know.  I mean, I commend Congressman Nadler myself.  I agree with you, Ed. 

I‘m going to try to really back in a little bit, just a little bit, Ed, because I don‘t want to be like them.  I don‘t want us to be like them. 

I don‘t want us to be hunting for things that really didn‘t happen.  I don‘t want millions of dollars spent under a Kenneth Starr investigation.  I don‘t want Dan Burton back alleging that the Clintons had something to do with the tragic death of Vince Foster.  I don‘t want any of that. 

SCHULTZ:  I hear what you‘re saying, but we have an admission there. 

WALSH:  No, I know. 

SCHULTZ:  We know exactly that waterboarding is illegal. 

WALSH:  It‘s illegal. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s been stated by the current attorney general.  And now we have the word of an attorney, a conservative attorney in the Bush administration. 

WALSH:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  You mean to tell me that the Obama administration‘s just going to take their word for it and move on?  This is wrong. 

WALSH:  It is wrong, it appears to be that that‘s what they‘re doing.  You know—people have been prosecuted for waterboarding our soldiers, as well they should.  It is an international war crime, and we really are duty-bound to prosecute it.

But you and I have been having this conversation for a couple of years, and it‘s not happening.  And, you know, we just keep—we have to keep talking about it, and we have to keep standing up for our values, and not being cowed by the likes of the Fox braying hounds, as well as, you know, Bush now taking this victory lap, when we all know that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed gave up the most information before he was waterboarded. 

Basic human kindness and care and smart interrogation got all the information that helped us.  They‘re also lying about the effectiveness of torture.  So, it‘s corrupt on so many levels, but I‘m just not optimistic that we‘re not going see any action, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I am really disappointed that we aren‘t seeing more of a push from other congressional members.  It‘s—if this was a Democratic president, holy smokes.  You know what they‘d be doing with it. 

WALSH:  Oh my God. 

SCHULTZ:  It would be just be—

WALSH:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  It would be unbelievable, and it would be nonstop. 

WALSH:  It would be. 

SCHULTZ:  The thing that bothers me about Issa, on the other hand, is he‘s making reckless statements with absolutely no proof.  And we‘re calling him on the carpet on that later in the show.

WALSH:  And we should.

SCHULTZ:  So, what it comes down to, on a lighter note, I guess what we‘ve got out of the Bush administration was a couple of wars, a pretty good movie that‘s coming out, and a lousy book.  Outside of that—and a bunch of debt and deficits.

I mean, that‘s where we are.

WALSH:  Huge debt and deficits.

SCHULTZ:  I want justice!

WALSH:  Don‘t forget the (inaudible).  I mean, don‘t forget a city that hasn‘t recovered from Hurricane Katrina.  We could go down the list, and we know that it‘s true and it‘s tragic.

But, you know, on this one, I don‘t say give up on talking about it.  And I will talk about it.  I just don‘t—I just think I‘m going to handicap this and say we‘re not going to get any action, and, boy, do I hope I‘m wrong, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you with us, Joan Walsh.

WALSH:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate your time tonight.

Coming up, Bachmann‘s big power grab just bombed, and Rand Paul‘s stepping up to lead the Tea Partiers.  I‘ll track the crazies in “The Playbook” coming up.

What in the heck is going on with the Bush tax cuts?  And the White House is sending mixed messages.  They‘re trying to clarify it late tonight, and we‘ll talk about that, but they better do some clarification. 

We‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response” on that. 

Plus, a radical right-wing talk show host gets booted off a congressman‘s payroll; a Fox Newser cracks up; and “The Tan Man” says, “Hell no!” to the high life. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Stay with us.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

This next story, in my opinion, is all about guts, who can make the tough choices. 

President Obama‘s Deficit Commission is getting hammered from the left.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the proposed cuts to Social Security “simply unacceptable.” 

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says that the commission‘s bottom line for working Americans is “drop dead.” 

But in all of the bad news, there is a bright spot.  Guess what else the panel recommended to save a whole bunch of money?  The public option.

Gosh, who‘s been saying that since the day he came on board at MSNBC? 

Republicans keep saying that they‘re willing to be bipartisan.  Well, here‘s a chance to prove it. 

I challenge the incoming Speaker, Mr. Boehner, to work with Democrats on creating a public option to bring down the deficit if that‘s what they‘re really concerned about. 

For more, let‘s bring in Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. 

Adam, good to have you with us tonight. 

I want to play—give you a sense of how I think the Democrats have really shifted on some principles when it comes to what‘s fair game on cuts, what the priority list is, and how you stand up for it. 

This is Senator Kent Conrad, back with Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” in 2002.  June 9th was the date, 2002.  He was the budget director—the budget director was Mitch Daniels of the White House.  He was on “Meet the Press” with Conrad. 

This is what Conrad had to say about the tax cuts coming up with the Bush administration -- 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA:  The administration told us that we could have a massive tax cut, and they would still be able to have maximum pay-down of the debt and protect Social Security.  Now what we‘re seeing is, they got the massive tax cut, but now, instead of maximum pay-down of the debt, they‘re asking for the second biggest increase in the debt in our nation‘s history.

And on protecting Social Security, instead of protecting it, under the president‘s budget plan over the next decade, they will be taking almost $2 trillion out of Social Security to pay for other things, to pay for his tax cuts, to pay for his other spending. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It sound like back then, Social Security and Medicare and all the great institutions that the Democrats have put in place ever the decades that have worked for Americans, that was important. 

But this is Senator Conrad today --  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONRAD:  Well, I proposed some weeks ago that we extend all the tax cuts for a period of time until we are able to fundamentally reform the tax system.  The idea that you don‘t have to touch revenue, that‘s not going to do it.  The idea that you don‘t have to touch Social Security or Medicare, that‘s not going to do it. 

Hey, Social Security and Medicare are both headed for insolvency. 

That‘s a fancy word for saying they‘re going to go broke. 

So, look, people can say we just want to keep what is.  What is, is not affordable. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Boy, what a difference eight years makes.  All they have to do is let this legislation expire.  It‘ll roll in $3.7 trillion to the Treasury over the next 10 years, and we could do one hell of a job of bringing us back to fiscal sanity. 

Adam, am I right or wrong?  And do you see a shift? 

ADAM GREEN, PCCC:  Yes.  You know, Democrats and people who voted for President Obama have been asking, where are the fighting Democrats these days?  And it turns out they‘re in the past. 

The dream team apparently is the Barack Obama of 2008 and the Kent Conrad of 2002.  I want those guys back. 

But, really, Democrats lost this past week because they didn‘t fight hard enough for popular progressive priorities.  And it‘s hard to think of a more popular one than Social Security. 

It‘s absurd that people would put that on the table, especially in light of the polling that we announced yesterday that showed that even among last week‘s Republican-leaning electorate, when asked, “How do you prefer to reduce the deficit?”  Over 40 percent said tax the wealthy.  Over 20 percent said, well, let‘s cut military spending, especially the wasteful military spending, and only 12 percent said touch Social Security. 

So, there is no mandate for this, and what we need right now are Democrats to stand strong.  We need the Kent Conrad of 2002 back.

The Debt Commission is going to require the president to submit and Congress to consider reforms to lower spending, such as add a robust public option and/or all payer system in the exchange.  I mean, it‘s very clear right there of what should be done. 

But, of course, the Republicans, they are saying, now that that they want to repeal the health care bill, and they want nothing to do with any kind of government involvement.  So we‘re still in the middle of an ideological fight for the country, even when we start making tough decisions about what we‘re going to do as far as our taxes and our money is concerned. 

Do you think that the Obama administration is throwing in the towel on the Bush tax cuts?  Have we lost that fight? 

GREEN:  I don‘t think we‘ve lost it, but we‘re on the verge of losing it if we don‘t push back massively and tell President Obama, look, this is the time to fight.  Don‘t compromise with your enemies.  Don‘t compromise with those who are trying to hurt the American people.  Fight them and win. 

And it‘s not an accident that just in the last few hours alone, about 60,000 people have gone to our Web site, boldprogressives.org, to address this exact issue and tell President Obama, fight, don‘t cave. 

We‘re telling him, we need you to fight to repeal the Bush tax cuts.  And it‘s not an accident that there‘s two issues in the news right now.  Do we cut Social Security, and do we give the super wealthy a tax cut? 

Those two completely connect with each other.  And we need President Obama to be fighting for Social Security and against tax cuts for the rich.  It‘s that simple. 

SCHULTZ:  Adam Green, good to have you with us tonight.  And great work at PCCC.  You folks, you‘re on top of it.  I‘m with you. 

I mean, I just don‘t see how in the world the Democrats can‘t draw a line in the sand and say, look, you want fiscal sanity?  Let‘s go back to the old tax rates, back before Bush, back when the Clinton administration was creating jobs. 

Let‘s go back.  Let‘s give that a try for a couple of years and see if we can start getting our house in order.  And you could still work on the spending as well. 

But I see a definite shift in the priority list when it comes to the Democrats.  This is going to be a very important lame-duck session.  And I‘ll tell you, a lot of basers out there are going to get off the ship if they don‘t see some toughness from the Democrats during this lame duck on this issue. 

Coming up “Smoky” Joe Barton, he‘s another dandy, the loser who felt like he was so sorry for what BP had to go through.  Now he‘s dropping dandies left and right.  He‘s freaking out over light bulbs and calling himself “General Patton.” 

Well, this marches him right into “The Zone,” next. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, “Smoky” Joe Barton out of Texas is another one of these Republicans who think the recent election means that—making (ph) -- just have a complete takeover of the country. 

Now, he‘s in the running to be the chair of the House Energy Committee, but that seat may be too small to hold his massive ego. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS:  With the new Republican majority in the House, we are going to set the conservative agenda for a better America.  Speaker Boehner will be the Eisenhower and Chairman Barton will be the Patton. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Hmm?  Patton, huh?  A guy who apologized to BP as comparing himself to General Patton? 

He must have gotten confused with all that Nazi rhetoric flying around this election season.  Barton‘s war is against the energy-efficient light bulbs, if you could believe it.  He wants to repeal a law that phases out old light bulbs in favor of more environmentally-friendly ones. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARTON:  We prohibited in a few years the sale of incandescent light bulbs.  The traditional incandescent light bulb, I believe that you could get four for $1.99.  The little squiggly, pigtail ones were one for $9.99. 

Now, if you‘re Al Gore, you can afford $10 a pop for squiggly, pigtailed fluorescent light bulbs.  But if you‘re mainstream America, two or three kids, mom and dad working outside the home, that‘s not a very good deal. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What have we done?  I think he‘ll be a great Wal-Mart greeter, don‘t you? 

A guy who wants to lead the Energy Committee should learn something about how energy actually works, don‘t you think? 

Now, on average, energy-efficient CFL light bulbs cost about three times more than a regular bulb.  Let‘s get this right now.  But they last around eight times longer! 

So you buy a lot fewer of them.  And they use about four times less electricity.  That‘s a good thing.  So your electric bill goes down.  That‘s another good thing. 

Now, these squiggly, pigtailed lights that have got these righties all confused, they actually end up, doggone it, saving you money. 

Maybe Joe should stop gloating about the election and focus on issues, because comparing himself to Patton, and waging war against green technology, that is dimwitted “Psycho Talk” for sure. 

Coming up, Darrell Issa—ooh—he called President Obama one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.  Really?  I really believe he‘s on a witch hunt with all these hearings that he‘s planning. 

It‘s about you, Darrell, and your other brother Darrell (ph). 

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is going nose-to-nose with Issa on this issue.  He‘ll fire back in “The Battleground” story in a moment. 

“Caribou Barbie” should stick to reality TV.  We‘ve now got proof that the Republicans, heck, they don‘t even like her.  I‘ve got “Rapid Fire Response” on that.

Plus, Michele Bachmann waves the white flag, and “The Tan Man” lies low.  And “Shooter” is in “The Playbook” tonight. 

We‘ve got a lot coming up in the next half hour.  Stay with us.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The “Battleground” story tonight, Darrell Issa‘s witch-hunt against President Obama.  What is this all about?  Issa went on national television and accused the administration of using stimulus funds as, “quote, walking around money.”  Folks, he is flat out accusing the administration of improperly funneling federal funds, federal dollars, to political allies without any proof.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich is furious.  He wrote a letter to Issa asking him to put up or shut up.  “That term, walking around money, he wrote, as you may know, refers to the use of certain political campaigns of money for off-the-books wholly unaccountable and potentially illegal purposes.  Therefore, I‘m writing to demand that you produce your evidence or retract your comment.” 

We reached out to Congressman Issa‘s office today.  And here is their response through a spokesman, “We‘ll have plenty of time to settle these questions in the new Congress.”

Let‘s bring in Congressman Dennis Kucinich now, who wrote the letter to Mr. Issa, asking him to show proof because he was on earlier this week on one of the other network saying that this money was being floated as political payback.  Congressman, in your opinion, how serious is this?  This is an accusation. 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Well, it‘s serious when you consider that Mr. Issa‘s the presumptive chair of an investigative committee that has the power to compel the production of records and to subpoena people to appear before the committee.  He has to be very judicious in his approach to the use of that power.  And what I heard was something that went beyond intemperate and went to the point of making charges, absent any real evidence.  When you are in a position of being a judge and the person who holds that gavel has great responsibility to the American people to handle and conduct himself in a way that reflects on or in the House of—in credit to the House of Representatives and to the American people. 

And so I wrote Mr. Issa that letter, saying that if you have such evidence, bring it forward.  But if you don‘t, he‘s going to have to retract what he said.  Because you cannot make those kinds of charges when you‘re chairman of a committee, when you‘re the one who supposed to be able to judge the evidence that‘s presented.  And if you make a charge without the evidence, that is a real problem for our Congress.  

Here is the comment that was made by Mr. Issa, which I think is a bold accusation, without proof.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA ®, CALIFORNIA:  His administration received $700 billion worth of walking around money in the stimulus and used to just that way.  A great deal was used for political payback.  His administration has a lot of explaining, where the $700 billion went.  Where investigations that should have gone on particularly into ACORN, an organization that he had passed, influenced with, and should be willing to do a lot to end.  I think those have to be dealt with. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Political payback, that is his quote, right there.  And I appreciate you challenging him on this because they just throw it out there.  And see if it‘ll stick.  This is a congressman who said earlier that he thought that President Obama was one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.  He later backtracks on that, when he was called on it, but here he is again.  Now saying that he used it for political payback.  Your thoughts again, congressman?

KUCINICH:  Well, it‘s one thing to talk about politics, but when you start to imply that possibly illegal conduct is involved, one has to be very cautious and one must be very reserved with the kind of power of that gavel of an investigative committee.  And I hope to talk—I will talk to Mr. Issa when we return to Congress next week to, not just caution him, but to tell him that it‘s absolutely mandatory that he either produces this evidence or retract it.  He cannot, as the presumptive chair of an investigative committee, proceed in a way that causes people‘s reputations to be besmirched absent any evidence whatsoever.  That is an inappropriate way to proceed, and Mr. Issa is going to be properly cautioned about what the American people and Congress has—have a right to expect with respect to the conduct of the chairman of that very important investigative committee. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, another story I want to bring up with you tonight is the deficit commission proposals.  In short form there‘s some pretty tough stuff there, if we‘re going to reach this $4 trillion mark of trying to set our country free, economically.  They want to slash Social Security.  Raise their retirement age, they also want to set new limits on Medicare.  And they want to end several middle-class tax cuts on its surfaces and it‘s not completely detailed, what‘s your first impression of what former Senator Simpson and Erskine Bowles have come forward with?  

KUCINICH:  Well, we know that the committee already is—was stacked with individuals who  represented various interest groups who have long wanted to privatize Social Security and who believe that Medicare ought to be reduced.  The fact of the matter is that if you reduce Medicare or Social Security benefits, you‘re actually contributing to the acceleration of the wealth of the nation upwards.  You cannot take any more from the middle class, they‘re already suffering.  You can‘t tell people to work a lifetime and put their money into Social Security, that the benefit levels are not going to be there and we cannot reduce actual Medicare services to people who depend on them.  Now we can cut the Pentagon budget. 

We can cut it substantially without in any way jeopardizing our defense.  We can get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Which will save the American people hundreds of billions of dollars of in tax money.  We have to take a new approach.  So there is a way to deal with the deficit and we also have to start thinking of how do we get America back to work, Ed?  You know, we can keep talking about deficit.  There‘s 15 million Americans who don‘t have a job, there‘s 12 million underemployed, there are people who are still worried about losing their homes.  We‘ve got to get America out of this financial ditch and this obsession of taking care of the deficit through cutting Social Security benefits and Medicare is just wrong.  And it‘s not going to fly.  We have to go forward and provide for prosperity in this country and not cause the middle class to be thrown overboard.  

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Dennis Kucinich, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.  

Now, let‘s get some rapid fire response from our panel on these stories.  The White House is hitting back after reports said that the president was ready to cave in on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  

The Pentagon says, repealing Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell would have virtually no negative impact on the troops.  So what will the new majority do with that issue?

And a new poll shows that Sarah Palin is by far, the most polarizing of the potential 2012 republican presidential candidates. 

Joining us tonight, Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host.  And Michael Medved, also a conservative and nationally syndicated radio talk show host.  Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight.  Bill, you first, what is happening on the Bush tax cuts.  Where is the administration?  Are they wavering, and what do you think the expectations are of the base?

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think it‘s pretty clear, Ed.  Two things, number one, Barack Obama has just handed John Boehner his first big victory.  And the second thing is that President Obama, one more time, is caving in before he‘s even had a vote, before there‘s even a fight.  Look, Ed, if the president in his news conference last week says, he‘s willing to compromise, if Robert Gibbs told us that at the White House, if David Axelrod told, “The Huffington Post” that this deal is done.  They‘ve decided they‘re going to fold just like they folded on the public option.  

Well, this is the response this afternoon from Mr. Axelrod.  The White House response to Axelrod‘s story in “The Huffington Post.”  “This story is overwritten, nothing‘s changed from at what president said last week.  We believe we need to extend the middle-class tax cuts.   We cannot afford to borrow $700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  Full stop, period, end of sentence.”  Does this.

PRESS:  Now, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Does this clear up the issue, Bill?

PRESS:  No, no.  I don‘t think that it does.  I think what it means is that David Axelrod mistakenly, he got out a little ahead of the story.  He realized that he shouldn‘t have said everything that he said to “The Huffington Post.”  But Ed, this is the big difference, the president was saying a week ago, no way, no how.  We‘re going to extend the tax cuts for the middle class and not extend the tax cuts for the wealthy.  

SCHULTZ:  OK.  

PRESS: .because right now it‘s changed.  We‘re open to extending.  Ed, they‘ve given up on this thing.  

SCHULTZ:  All right so, the headline on “Huffington Post” this morning was “White House Gives in on Bush Tax Cuts.”

PRESS:  Sam Stein got it right.  

SCHULTZ:  Michael Medved, is that an appropriate headline, what do you think?

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  It seems to me that it is and it‘s a good thing too.  I mean, look, the one thing where the White House I think says, no, we‘re not—we cannot afford to borrow $700 billion, they‘re not going to have to, because no one is talking at this point about making all of the tax cuts permanent.  I know that the Republicans are demanding it, but they‘re not going to get it.  What they‘re going to do is extend this for a year or two and then take up some of the recommendations.  The excellent recommendations of the deficit commission which call for a total restructuring of taxes, lowering tax rates for everybody, rich and poor, alike, and getting rid of loopholes, I think that‘s a great thing.  

SCHULTZ:  Bill?

PRESS:  Well, I was going to say, you know, Ed, you know what‘s going to happen, they will extend it—Michael is right to this, they‘re going to extend it for a year or two years.  And guess what‘s going to happen in a year or two years, they‘re going to extend it for another year or two years for the same old phony argument.  This is a permanent extension, just disguise as a temporary extension.  

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, this lame-duck session we‘re going into is a defining moment for the Democrats when it comes to a gut check.  Where do you stand on protecting Social Security and Medicare with this deficit reduction commission?  Where do you stand on the Bush tax cuts?  Will they be all extended or some and how much will they fight?  I mean, it would seem to me after all we went through getting the Obama administration where they are, getting the majorities, Bill Press, why are we having this conversation again? Don‘t we know what the hell we stand for?  What do you think?

PRESS:  No, no, no, we should not be having this conversation.  I mean, look the Democrats have to stand for what Democrats have always stood for, Ed.  There is no public clamor for cutting Social Security.  There‘s no public clamor for cutting Medicaid.  

MEDVED:  I would say Kent Conrad today who is a member of the commission, who is a democratic senator from North Dakota, Ed, you know him well.  Kent Conrad said it very well, if you don‘t go along with our recommendations, OK.  What‘s a better plan?  There has to be a recognition that we have a deficit crisis.  We have to deal with it.  It‘s a threat to the national security, as Admiral Mullen has said, the head of the joint chiefs.  So, OK, if you don‘t want to have trims in the growth of Social Security. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, all we have do is get government out of the way and let the legislation expire  and go back to the old tax rates and we‘ve got everything handled.  That‘s $3.7 billion over ten years.  We‘re looking for $3.7 trillion.  And we‘re looking for $4 trillion.  We can suck it up and do some belt tightening, can‘t we?  I mean, this is not a heavy lift for Americans if we just let the legislation expire.  Michael, what‘s wrong with that?  

MEDVED:  OK.  If you let the legislation expire, Ed, what that means for an average American family earning about $50,000 a year is $2,000 more a year in taxes.  Nobody wants a middle-class tax hike in the middle of the recession.  Maybe except Ed Schultz.  

SCHULTZ:  It‘s called sacrifice.  Everybody has to sacrifice for eight

now it‘s ten years.  We haven‘t been asked to sacrifice anything.  We‘re putting it on the backs of the kids.  And so now when the legislation is expected to expire at the end of the year, we as a country, don‘t have the guts enough to say you know what, we‘re going to take care of our house, we‘re going lot to this go. 

(CROSSTALK)

MEDVED:  Let me tell you why.  

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s extend Social Security and cut Medicare, that‘s where they want to go.  Fellows, I have to ask you about Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.  Michael, you first, what‘s going to happen on Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell?

MEDVED:  Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell is eventually going to go away but I think it will only go away when the military brass and every branch of the service say that it should.  And right now, you have people in the Marine Corps, the new commandant of the Marine Corps totally against removing that policy.  

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, Bill, what do you think?

PRESS:  I think the commandant, the Marine Corp ought be fired.  Look, Ed, can you imagine Harry Truman taking a poll to decide whether or not to allow blocks on the military note.  This is a bad policy, the president ought to. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill Press, Michael Medved, always a pleasure, you guys are great.  

PRESS:  All right.  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up.  Some new details emerged on how W. got bossed around by shooters.  Folks, don‘t get fooled again.  Cheney was calling off the shots.  John Nichols literally wrote a book on this and he‘ll reveal all the dirty secrets when we‘d come back in the Playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s still not too late to let us know what you think.  The number to dial tonight is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  Tonight‘s telephone survey question is, would you like to see George W. Bush face prosecution for authorizing waterboarding?  Press the number one for yes, press the number two for no.  Again, the number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my “Playbook” tonight, W. confirms in his book what I‘ve thought all along.  Shooter‘s been calling the shots in this administration.  Bush explained it to Matt Lauer. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  In a conversation I think over lunch you had with Dick Cheney in the period of build-up to the war in Iraq, he said to you, are you going to take care of this guy?

FMR. GEORGE W. BUSH (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yes.  

LAUER:  Or not?  First of all, I was surprised by the tone that the vice president would use with you, was it surprising to you?

BUSH:  No.  I mean that‘s—we have a very frank relationship.  And he would give me his unvarnished advice.  

LAUER:  But his comment leads to the question, was Dick Cheney pushing you to go to war with Iraq?

BUSH:  It doesn‘t matter whether he was or not.  He might had been saying let‘s go, but I said, no. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Bush can say he was the decider, as much as he wants.  The fact is shooter ran the show.  Let‘s bring in John Nichols, Washington correspondent of “The Nation” the author of the book, “Dick: The Man Who is President.”  Well, is this new information and does it shed more light on what you wrote about John?

JOHN NICHOLS, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Actually, I think it does shed a little bit of light.  There is—something that we should focus on here.  The vice president of the United States was saying to the president before any declaration of war, are you going to take care of this guy?  There was a clear pressure there to take out a foreign leader without any sort of investigation or authorization.  I think that this is the sort of stuff that we should pay attention to.  We should listen closely to what Bush is saying. 

You‘re right, it suggests that Bush was not in charge that Cheney was driving an agenda.  And I‘m intrigued at this point where we have Darrell Issa talking about launching a whole bunch of investigations into manipulations within the Obama White House.  I‘d like to see some Democrats in Congress move some resolutions, maybe in the Senate, use the judiciary committee to take a look at exactly what Dick Cheney was doing.  I don‘t think we‘ve sorted that out.  And remember, we still have troops on the ground.  People dying.  

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  

NICHOLS: .because of Cheney‘s manipulations.  

SCHULTZ:  Do you think Bush is telling the truth, when he says he was thinking about dumping Dick Cheney off the ticket?

NICHOLS:  Well, here, you know, look, I think George W. Bush tried to, you know, man up a little in this book, and suggest that he was actually in charge.  The fact of the matter is, the way that that section was written, it sort of, well, Cheney said that he‘d go if I wanted him to but I told him to stay.  The reality is, if you look back at the whole story line, it was Cheney who put himself into that vice presidency in the first place and he was the one deciding whether he was going to go.  

SCHULTZ:  John Nichols, always a pleasure.  

NICHOLS:  Good to be with you.

SCHULTZ:  Great work on “The Nation,” you bet. 

Final page in the “Playbook,” the tan man says, he‘s going to fly commercial when he becomes speaker of the House.  He said he‘s been traveling back home to the district like this for years.  He promises to keep the air tan habit alive.  We‘re going to hold you to that, John.  

And FOX News host, Megyn Kelly, totally lost it.  Talking about a man who was saved from a heart attack with a cold blanket. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Isn‘t that incredible?  Don‘t you want to know more about that, I mean, it gives you a little hope if you keel over from a heart attack, they get the frozen blanket there, I mean, maybe you just have your spouse stock you in the freezer.  Not really.  You need a big freezer.  And really, you know, your spouse isn‘t going to want to do that.  That won‘t. 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  All right, moving on.  

KELLY:  Moving on. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Megyn, if you really want to get a good laugh, you should watch some of the other shifts on your very own network. 

(LAUGHTER)

Coming up, Glenn Beck, well, he can‘t help but crazy Bachmann get power, so Rand Paul is stomping into stealer thunder.  More on the power plays with this new group.  Next, on THE ED SHOW.                                     

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Any finally tonight, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is out of the running for the number four leadership position in the House.  She dropped her bid for republican conference chair, it turns out that she needed, I guess, more than Glenn Beck and a couple of tea parent wackos on your side to win this thing, but Bachmann‘s failure doesn‘t mean these folks are going to be fading away anytime soon.  Senate-elect from Kentucky, Rand Paul wants to lead a bicameral Tea Party caucus in the next session of the Congress. 

Tea Party kingmaker Jim DeMint, you better watch your back buddy.  This guy means business.  Let me bring in Jonathan Alter, national-affairs columnist for “Newsweek” and MSNBC political analyst.  I have to give Rand Paul some credit, Jonathan.  This would be change.  A bicameral Tea Party caucus.  What kind of problems do you think that would pose for Republicans in a sense might have their heads screwed on right?

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, that‘s going to cause them a lot of problems, it‘s going to be very interesting for those of us in the press, because they are going to be noisy.  They‘re going to be going on cable TV.  They‘re going to be standing up for their interests even though Rand Paul is a lowly freshman in the minority.  Normally, when you‘re in that situation, you have no power.  He will get plenty of attention, we‘ll see whether he can turn that to their advantage.  But I think when they move forward with their agenda, Ed, it‘s very important for the folks who don‘t think they‘re necessarily taking the country in the right direction to come back at them and expose them as hypocrites in areas where they might be hypocritical.  For instance and this is a really big issue that doesn‘t get very much attention in the eastern media, but you know from your neck of the woods how important it is, farm subsidies.  

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  

ALTER:  Farm price supports.  Bachmann comes from Minnesota.  Rand Paul has a lot of farmers in Kentucky.  You‘ve just got the deficit commission that recommended deep cuts in farm subsidies.  They are—farm subsidies are socialistic by their definition.  They should be against them.  We‘ll see when their ox is getting—and their constituents are suffering from what I think is often legitimate cut of those subsidies and see how they react.  

SCHULTZ:  You make a great point.  These Tea Partiers want to go after these billions of dollars in subsidies but we have a cheap food policy in this country. 

ALTER:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  Minimum wage earners can go into the grocery store and feed themselves.  We‘re not subsidizing the farmer, we‘re subsidizing the consumer and making it easier for everybody in this country to buy food.  

ALTER:  Well, we‘re subsidizing a lot of wealthy farmers. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s true.  It‘s not a perfect bill.  It‘s not a perfect bill but when it comes to disaster relief, price supports and everything is cyclical.  There‘s going to be some tough times and this is where it‘s going to cost some conflict for some these Tea Partiers who are out in the middle of the country.  

ALTER:  Right.  

SCHULTZ:  Because that is their economy.  But I have to say that for Rand Paul to do this, it is going to be separate him away from the Republicans and you know how the narrative it is, this is what the American people want.  This is what—and he‘s going to get a lot of attention.  He could be a major player and I think politically it‘s pretty brilliant putting him on notice. 

ALTER:  Yes, he could be in the same way that DeMint became a big player and Coburn shortly after they arrived.  So seniority is a little bit less important than it used to be but you have to remember how much these guys loathe, DeMint, Coburn and even Rand Paul.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

ALTER:  They helped him in the general election but remember, Mitch McConnell is from his state.  He was a strong supporter of Rand Paul‘s opponent in that Kentucky GOP primary.  So, there‘s some bad blood there between the regulars, the Republican Party establishment, and these Tea Party folks.  It‘s not quite civil war yet but there‘s some serious strife in the grand old party.  

SCHULTZ:  And I should point out on the show the other night, you called it spot on about Michele Bachmann.  Thanks, Jonathan.  Good to have you with us.  

ALTER:  Good to see you, Ed.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Earlier tonight, we asked in our telephone survey, would you like to see George W. Bush face prosecution for authorizing waterboarding?  Ninety percent of you said, yes.  Ten percent of you said, no. 

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 Web site where we blog at wegoted.com.  You can comment on all of the news stories.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night from Minneapolis.

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

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