updated 1/3/2011 5:47:26 PM ET 2011-01-03T22:47:26

Guest Host: Cenk Uygur

Guests: Jesse Jackson, Jonathan Alter, David Sirota, Heidi Harris, Michael

Shure, Jane Hamsher, Lionel

CENK UYGUR, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, America.  Welcome to THE ED

SHOW. 

I‘m Cenk Uygur from “The Young Turks,” in for Ed Schultz. 

These are the stories that are hot tonight. 

The man who tried to kill the 9/11 first responders bill is talking about sacrifice.  Sacrifice. 

Republican obstructionist Tom Coburn is lecturing Americans about the need to sacrifice to fix the deficit.  He‘s warning the growing deficit will lead to apocalyptic pain. 

I wonder why the senator wasn‘t making apocalyptic threats when his party was fighting tooth and nail to extend the deficit-exploding tax cuts for the rich.  My commentary on that in just a moment.  You don‘t want to miss it. 

And a high-profile Evangelical leader comes out in favor in legalizing marijuana.  We‘ll tell you why Pat Robertson think it‘s such a good idea.  Is he dating Mary Jane? 

And the crazy birthers have met their match.  Hawaii‘s new governor is furious about the birth certificate lies about President Obama.  He says he can disprove them.  We‘ll tell you how.

That‘s all coming up. 

But we start tonight with the frauds in the Republican Party.  Yes, I said “frauds.” 

Members of the rest of the media, the Republicans are not honest actors.  Stop treating them like they are. 

They‘re a wholly-owned subsidiary of the rich and the powerful.  Case in point is Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.  He had the nerve to talk about shared pain, cutting our deficit, after the Republicans just gave the rich hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  If we didn‘t take some pain now, we‘re going to experience apocalyptic pain.  And it‘s going to be—

CHRIS WALLACE, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”:  Well, let‘s talk—let‘s talk—

COBURN:  -- out of control.  And the idea should be that we control it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Who is he kidding?  After the giant, mammoth, enormous tax cuts for the rich, now it‘s time for shared pain?  Which, of course, is code words for making you take your share of the pain. 

Look, I‘m not a Monday morning quarterback on this.  I told you from the get-go that they were going to cut the deficit off of your back as soon as they passed the tax cuts for the rich. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, later, when we do austerity programs, you‘re going to demand that the pain is shared equally, right, so the rich will also have to pay and not just the middle class? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Right.  And it‘s, oh, yes, of course.  And true to form, that‘s exactly what they‘re going to get ready to do right now, which is not to share that pain.  This was the GOP strategy all along—look out for the wealthy first and then blame the economic problems on the middle class. 

You want to help balance the budget?  Then go get the $400 billion and the tax cuts that we just gave to the top two percent back for us.  Period.  End of discussion.  Until they do that, we shouldn‘t cut a dime from the middle class. 

Coburn, who voted against the tax cut deal, not because it gave away too much of the rich, but because it did too much for the unemployed, then had the nerve to talk about sacrifice. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COBURN:  We could certainly cut $100 billion to $200 billion and help ourselves.  There cannot be anything that‘s not put on the table.  There will not be one American that will not be called to sacrifice.  Those that are more well-to-do will be called to sacrifice to a greater extent. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  I don‘t believe that for a second.  They just gave them $400 billion.  Are you kidding me? 

Also, this is the guy who just cut down the 9/11 first responders bill.  Remember, that was to cover the health expenses for those workers that worked down there.  Now they only get coverage for five years instead of 10, and thanks to Senator Coburn, the responders lost $3.1 billion in health care coverage.  It went from originally being a $7.4 billion bill in the House, to ending up with $3.4 billion in the end. 

Seventy percent of those guys have respiratory illness because they sacrificed for our country.  There was no bigger sacrifice, but Coburn cut their legs out.  And now he wants to talk about sacrifice? 

These are not honest actors.  The entire Republican Party has one and only one mission—help the rich and the powerful, and everyone else be damned.  At least one guy admitted it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have mores. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH:  Some people call you the elite.  I call you my base. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  And when you look at the numbers, you realize that George Bush actually wasn‘t kidding. 

Since 1980, the share of the nation‘s income that goes to the top one percent has gone from nine percent to 23.5 percent.  It hasn‘t been that high since, well, right before the Great Depression. 

The income of that top bracket has also gone up 281 percent since that time.  The rich have gotten much richer.  That‘s the Reagan revolution, revolution for and on behalf of the rich. 

Now Coburn has the nerve to talk about the destruction of the middle class. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COBURN:  I think that you‘ll see a 15 percent to 18 percent unemployment rate.  I think you‘ll see an eight to nine percent decline in GDP.  I think you‘ll see the middle class just destroyed if we don‘t do this.  And the people that it will harm the most will be the poorest of the poor. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  That‘s a good one!  So let me get this right.  We‘re going to balance the budget off the back of the poor and the middle class and not the rich, but somehow, in Republican logic, that‘s supposed to help the poor? 

The reality is that you and your party, Senator Coburn, destroyed the middle class by giving tax breaks to the companies who outsource their jobs.  And by the way, the Republican Party blocked a bill that would take away those subsidies earlier this year. 

You also made them disappear by giving every conceivable tax advantage to the rich, including dividend and capital gains taxes of only 15 percent.  You made them disappear by crushing their unions and the ability to negotiate with multinational corporations that are making them work longer hours for less pay. 

And how about balancing the budget?  When‘s the last time the Republican Party has done that in the last 30 years?  Oh, right, never. 

Reagan, giant, record-breaking deficits.  George H. W. Bush, huge deficits.  George W. Bush, even larger deficits than Reagan. 

The GOP never balances the budget.  Never.  Am I clear enough?  Because they‘re too busy giving tax breaks to the top one percent.  They view surpluses like the one Democratic President Bill Clinton gave them as a piggybank for the rich. 

Here‘s how much credibility the GOP has on deficits—none, zero, zilch, nada, not one iota.  No one should ever take them seriously on that topic. 

No, the Republican Party doesn‘t get to talk about the middle class or shared sacrifice or the deficit.  They have never given a damn about any of those things. 

They‘re the ones who created the problems in the first place.  And we‘d have to be crazy to try to let them put all of the pain on the middle class again. 

So, Dr. No, are we going to let you balance the budget off the back of the average American after you just helped to give your rich buddies another giant tax break?  In language that you can understand, Mr. Coburn, hell no, we‘re not. 

All right.   Now get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think, what I think is very clear. 

Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you think the Republican Party really cares about the middle class?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  I‘ll bring you the results later in the show, and that should be fun.

Now, for more on the class divide, let me turn to Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition. 

Reverend Jackson, great to have you here.  Now—

REV. JESSSE JACKSON, PRESIDENT, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION:  To you, sir. 

UYGUR:  -- I want to ask you here, is this just a matter of disagreement?  The GOP has this wonderful, brilliant plan for the poor and the middle class that we just can‘t understand, or is it that they just don‘t give a damn? 

JACKSON:  Well, there is a view of looking at the world from the mansion down, and those look at the world from the manger up.  It‘s Christmastime.

In the military there‘s not shared sacrifice because there are no drafts.  And so the poorest and the most threatened face the guns while the others benefit. 

I wish he would make that speech in Appalachia, where the coal miners supply the energy for the country, where Jessica Lynch, the first American soldier, female, taken captivity who graduated from high school with good grades but couldn‘t afford to go to college and didn‘t have a job, and went to the military as kind of a backdoor draft.  A coal miner dies every six hours a day from black lung disease, and they voted against health benefits for the coal miners, and yet voted far extending the budget for Karzai in Afghanistan.

It‘s not right and it‘s confusing. 

UYGUR:  You know, Reverend Jackson, is—people keep getting confused.  I mean, they keep voting for these Republicans.  They just won the House, right? 

And so I come to, why did that happen?  And if those coal miners and all the people that you just mentioned knew what was really going on, they would never vote for them.  So one of the answers I came up with—

JACKSON:  It‘s mass deception. 

UYGUR:  Well, that‘s it, though.  That‘s one of the answers that I come up with, is the rest of the media, to be honest with you.  And it‘s because—

JACKSON:  People should be voting in their interests and not their fears.  You know? 

I mean, 59 million Americans have no health insurance.  And those numbers are rising, while the insurance company‘s fees are rising.

We bailed out the banks, and yet, while they‘re now wallowing in profits, they‘re not lending.  Home foreclosures are on the rise. 

Forty-nine million Americans are in poverty.  They work every day but can‘t pay their house bill, they can‘t pay the rent, can‘t keep their children in college.  Forty-one million are now on food stamps.  And so there is this need to fight to rebuild our economy, bottom up, not just top-down, because you cannot depend upon those who trickle down to ever let it get down enough to help those stuck at the bottom. 

UYGUR:  Well, part of the problem in my opinion is the media calls everything even.  So whether the Republicans actually push for taxes or they try to help the middle class, it doesn‘t really matter because the media‘s going to call it even anyway. 

Look, let me take that a little further.

JACKSON:  It‘s kind of like ham and egg justice, you know?  You come in the house and you smell ham and eggs, and it blends perfectly.  It seems like it‘s one.  But whenever there‘s a vote, ,the hog votes against it and the chicken votes for it.  The chicken drops a leg—an egg, the hog drops a leg. 

So it looks even, but it‘s not even.  And the fact is one sacrifices much more.

In this case, those who worked the hardest and in fact pay the most taxes, who spill the most blood in the military—in fact, now you had the tax cut for the wealthy in December, but you have job cuts and health education cuts come February and March, unfortunately. 

UYGUR:  You know, I already love this show, because Jesse Jackson just said “ham and eggs” on air.  I can‘t get enough of that.  All right.

So, Reverend, one more thing here.  I want to put up a graphic here. 

Think Progress came up with this list of things they could cut if they actually wanted to share sacrifice.  They could cut $100 billion in defense programs.  Actually, the bipartisan deficit commission agrees with that.  Forty-five billion dollars in subsidies to oil companies.  A billion dollars in tax expenditures for big agricultural firms, $2 billion in unnecessary stock ownership incentives for the rich.  And the list goes on and on. 

So what‘s going on with the Democrat here?  Why don‘t they take as an example the oil subsidy and say we‘re going to stick to this? 

JACKSON:  Well, they should.  The irony is you have billionaires who met trying to give money back, saying they had too much.  The government is trying to give it to them and they‘re resisting it.

So even the wealthy know that they appear (ph) at the point now of such exploitation and such wealth until it‘s not even helping them by helping the nation.  So I would hope that when the president goes to the well, as it were, and speaks when he goes to the Congress in January, there will be some renewed commitment to have a revived war on poverty, because most poor people are not on welfare.  They work every day. 

I‘m with the homeless shelter in San Francisco a month ago, and most of the women and children, they work every day, but couldn‘t afford rent.  Or some of them are working where they lose husbands in Iraq or Afghanistan.

So it‘s time for (INAUDIBLE) our economy bottom-up, because those at the very top are drowning in wealth.   It‘s paper-driven, not even productivity-driven, and working poor are finding themselves facing four million more home foreclosures in the coming year. 

UYGUR:  Look, I say that because if the Democrats don‘t stand up and fight against the oil subsidies instead of balancing the budget off the backs of the poor and the middle class, I don‘t know who‘s going to do it, because we know the Republicans aren‘t going to do it. 

Reverend Jackson, real quick, last question for you, are you satisfied with what Obama has done so far, or do you think he‘s not fighting these guys enough like with that tax cut deal? 

JACKSON:  I think he‘s raised the right questions, but he finds himself often alone once he raises the right question.  I mean, he‘s a runner who needs blocking, who needs protection. 

When he raised the issue of bail out banks to stop a global recession, it was the right thing to do.  But it was not right for them not to reinvest in America.

When he raised the issue of a health care plan for all Americans based upon health needs, not just based upon money, it was the right question, but he was demagogued as being some socialistic force that‘s un-American.  I really think that we must keep driving him toward the (INAUDIBLE) than not.  But he has done (INAUDIBLE) a commendable job. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

Reverend Jesse Jackson, thank you so much for joining us.  Really appreciate it. 

JACKSON:  Yes, sir. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Merry Christmas to you as well, by the way. 

All right.  Now, coming up, Jon Stewart is being credited for shaming Republicans into passing the 9/11 responders bill, but that‘s making the Fox News crew very unhappy.  What was their ironic attack against Stewart? 

And look out Orly Taitz.  I love pronouncing it that way.  The new governor of Hawaii is going out on an all-out offensive against crazy birthers like you. 

I‘ll explain how ahead. 

Plus, the “Rent too damn high” party eyes the White House, and the president backs Michael Vick.  Why did he do that?  We‘ll explain. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Top presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett just announced that President Obama would be hitting the road a lot more often over the next two years, almost like the listening tour made famous by Hillary Clinton.  She claims it‘s because the president wants to hear more from average Americans. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE JARRETT, WHITE HOUSE SR. ADVISER:  He said it right before he left for vacation.  He said, “When I get back, I really want to figure out a way where I can spend more time outside of Washington listening and learning and engaging with the American people.  It‘s really what gives him his energy and his strength.  And so we‘re determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects that priority. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Come on.  Let‘s keep it real.  This isn‘t about listening to anybody, this is about politics.  He‘s starting to run for president again as soon as the next year begins.

When was the last time a politician listened to anybody on those tours? 

Here‘s who the president is listening to—Wall Street.  The person who‘s going to replace Larry Summers as the president‘s top economic adviser is believed to be another Wall Street supporter.  Did he get the advice to hire that person from an average American?  I don‘t think so. 

Look, I don‘t mind politicians politicking.  That‘s their job.  Just don‘t insult our intelligence by pretending you‘re doing it to listen to us. 

All right.  Joining me now is Jonathan Alter, “Newsweek” national affairs columnist, MSNBC political analyst, and the author of “The Promise:

President Obama, Year One.”

All right, Jonathan.  Am I being too cynical, or come on, this is about running for office?  This doesn‘t have anything to do with listening to people. 

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Both.  You‘re being too cynical and, yes, it is about running for office. 

But, you know, look, people‘s motivations are complicated.  And to draw with such a broad brush I think is not just unfair to Obama, it‘s unfair to the subtlety of these situations. 

He does believe in what his hero, Abraham Lincoln, called public opinion baths, where you go out, you meet the people, and you do learn things.  You hear about what‘s on their minds, and it helps you make more sophisticated political judgments. 

And I think everybody, including the president, knows that one of his failures over the last couple of years is that he fell out of touch with the American middle class.  He lost that connection. 

So I think that it‘s good that he wants to try to get that connection back.  It‘s not only good for the kinds of decisions that he might make, but as you indicated, it‘s good for him politically. 

UYGUR:  Yes.  You know, Jon, I love you, but I can‘t agree with that.  Listen—look, for example, the top economic adviser that we‘re talking about likely to be either Gene Sperling or Roger Altman, two huge Wall Street guys. 

ALTER:  Gene Sperling has never worked on Wall Street. 

UYGUR:  Oh.  No, no. 

ALTER:  He comes out of the Clinton administration.  Come on. 

UYGUR:  No.  He‘s gotten a lot of money from speaking and from consulting Wall Street. 

ALTER:  Come on, Cenk.  You know better than this. 

UYGUR:  And he‘s the guy who pushed deregulation in the first place. 

ALTER:  Gene Sperling is a policy—

UYGUR:  Come on.  Wait a minute, Jonathan.

ALTER:  -- wonk and a very creative and talented one.  Gene Sperling is the exact kind of guy we want in government.  He has some experience from the Clinton administration. 

UYGUR:  Not we. 

ALTER:  He has some policy creativity.  He‘s not bound by a lot of stupid ideology of the left or the right.  He‘s a problematic problem-solver who is more knowledgeable about the federal budget than anybody you could think of. 

To get some—you know, somebody who says a lot of populist things on TV, and you go, oh, let‘s put him in there—he likes to punch Wall Street, get him in there—that‘s not very smart.  That‘s not smart. 

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  Jonathan, get out of here!  No, no.  Well, first of all, there‘s no such thing, right? 

ALTER:  So who do you want in there, Cenk?  Who do you want?

UYGUR:  I‘ll tell you exactly who I want.  I want Joe Stiglitz.  He‘s only won about two Nobel Prizes, right? 

ALTER:  I like Joe Stiglitz, too.  Yes.

UYGUR:  So how about that guy?  That guy doesn‘t punch anybody.  He‘s probably one of the most brilliant economists we have in the country.  But Obama would never put him in because he‘s not pro-Wall Street enough, and you know it. 

ALTER:  Joe Stiglitz, by the way, I was interested to learn, because Obama did, through Larry Summers, stupidly snub Joe Stiglitz for most of 2009 -- recently he spent a fair amount of time with Stiglitz and he apparently has a lot more time for him now.  Better late than ever. 

And Sperling was one of those people in the Clinton administration when he was head of the National Economic Council who routinely brought Stiglitz in to see Clinton.  All that that NEC job does is—when it‘s done right, which I don‘t think Summers did—is to facilitate a conversation with a lot of different creative, smart advisers.  And the person you want in that job, whatever their background, is somebody who‘s going to give the president a broad range of advice. 

One of the big criticisms I had of Obama in the promise was that in his first year, he did not have a broad enough range of advice.  But don‘t say, well, we‘ve got to have somebody—you know, we can‘t have anybody with any—who‘s ever given a speech to anybody on Wall Street.  We can‘t have them anywhere near the president. 

That‘s just silly, Cenk.  It‘s silly. 

UYGUR:  No, no.  Jonathan, it‘s not that.  It‘s that he pushed for the deregulation, along with Summers and Rubin, in the first place. 

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Well, look, here‘s one thing that we could end on, a note of agreement.  If Stiglitz is part of the listening tour, I‘ll be ecstatic and it sounds like you‘ll be happy. 

(LAUGHTER)

ALTER:  Yes.  I want him to listen to Stiglitz and a lot of other people.  There‘s not a lot of creativity in policy development.  That‘s the main point. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Let‘s hope so. 

Thank you, Jonathan.  Appreciate it. 

ALTER:  Thanks, Cenk.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now coming up, Fox News takes on Jon Stewart.  They tell him to leave serious news to the professionals.  Now that‘s funny.  I‘ll give you the exact quotes. 

And who‘s tougher on the terrorists, President Obama or President Bush?  You might be surprised what one former Bush security chief is saying. 

Stay right with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  In “Psycho Talk” tonight, our pals at “Fox & Friends” are taking some shots at Jon Stewart.  “The Daily Show” host is being credited for pressuring Republicans into passing the 9/11 responders bill.  Stewart did that by putting aside comedy for one night and simply talking with first responders, letting them share their stories. 

And that‘s not sitting well with Gretchen Carlson. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETCHEN CARLSON, “FOX & FRIENDS”:  I think it‘s interesting when you have Jon Stewart, who apparently decided to get really serious on this topic, and have a serious show about it, you can‘t really—that‘s like mixing apples and oranges.  Come on.

I mean, people already think that his show is real news, which is a problem.  But—so then when you have comedy, and then one day you decide to just get totally serious—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s an activist. 

CARLSON:  But I don‘t know if that works in the mind of the American people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Activists.  And don‘t think that it works?  It totally worked. 

The bill passed, and the list of people praising Stewart for his effort begins with the White House, goes through New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and most importantly includes the 9/11 responders themselves. 

But, hey, Gretchen, I know you‘re just saying leave the real news to the professionals, like the dedicated journalists of Fox News scouring the globe to find the most serious stories and checking every last detail out very thoroughly? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Pay attention, because the Jetpack is ready for liftoff now.  It‘s called the Martin—it should be called the Brian—and will soon be available to the public.  The city of Los Angeles already ordering 10,000 Jetpacks for its police, paramedics and fire departments. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you kidding? 

CARLSON:  Can we afford that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Well, you‘re going to be shocked to find out that whole story was entirely bogus.  L.A. isn‘t going to buy one of those, let alone 10,000 of them. 

That‘s more supermarket tabloid fiction that made real news over at Fox.  They‘re this close to alien landings over there. 

Actually, they say that Obama was the alien, the illegal alien, like he was from Kenya and doesn‘t have a long-from birth certificate here, or something crazy like that.  They would never do that, would they?

Now tell me again how Jon Stewart doesn‘t understand what real news is. 

So, Gretchen, instead of worrying about a comedy show that occasionally makes people think, how about producing a real newscast that doesn‘t make us laugh?  For you to take a shot at Jon Stewart over news is hilarious “Psycho Talk.”  

Now, coming up, how much does it take to buy a politician?  Some new numbers we‘ll show you, and it shows you exactly how much politicians made by selling us out. 

David Sirota is going to join us to tell us why our political system allows our politicians to be bought like this. 

President Obama is on Michael Vick‘s side.   Is that the right thing to do, and is it politically smart or not?  I‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response.”

Plus, President Obama gets an unlikely challenger for 2012.  And the governor of Hawaii takes aim at the birthers.  We‘ll tell you how, you‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Cenk Uygur of “THE YOUNG TURKS” in for Ed Schultz.  A lot of us have the sense that our politicians are bought and sold by the lobbyists.  Now there are some numbers to back that up, about the most recent Congress.  According to “Washington Post” analysis by the numbers provided by the nonpartisan groups, Center for Responsive Politics and the Sun Life Foundation, 35 members of the drafting committee handling the financial reform bill took $440,000 in donations in the three weeks that they were putting together that bill.  And you‘ll never guess which industry gave them all of that money, yes, shocking, but it was the financial industry.  Ah, I didn‘t see that coming. 

The lawmakers wrote an incredibly soft financial reform bill that left most of the major problems completely unaddressed.  Weird how that works, huh?  And then when the Senate was considering a $30 billion bill to help smaller community banks, what‘s weird is that there was another payday, $469,000 rained in this time, again in a wild coincidence, it was the financial industry who poured in the money into three days surrounding that vote.  The realities, the system is deeply and institutionally corrupt.  It‘s designed for payoffs on every bill.  The problem isn‘t individual politicians, though they really don‘t help much, the problem is the system itself.  Our representatives don‘t represent us.  They represent the people who pay them, the lobbyists. 

Joining me now to talk more about this is David Sirota, a radio show host, nationally syndicated columnist and author of “The Uprising” which sounds pretty good to me now.  David, is our system broken?

DAVID SIROTA, RADIO SHOW HOST:  It‘s absolutely broken, and it goes to the very question that you‘ve raised, which is who do these politicians work for?  And really who‘s paying for them to go to work? And now they get paid a taxpayer salary, but their re-election is oftentimes based on how much money they can raise.  And the vast majority of the money that they raise comes from extremely wealthy people from lobbyists, from special interests with issues before Congress.  So, we have a system of legalized bribery in this—in this country.  And it gets what it pays for.  And what is being paid for are votes on major issues that affect these special interests.  

UYGUR:  You know in that “Washington Post” story, Harry Reid was asked and he said oh no, no, the  money didn‘t affect me at all and it was weird when they asked every single politician, they all said no, no the money never ever affects me and again we‘re going to go back to this theme of the media.  Is part of the problem is the media, are they too credulous?  They get, oh, Harry Reid said, it doesn‘t affect them so I guess, that must be the case.  

SIROTA:  Well, look, politicians are going to say that the money doesn‘t affect them because what else would they say?  They‘d say, well, yes my vote was bought.  They can‘t admit that truth but it‘s a truth that we all know and the question is, what is going to be done about it, right?  That‘s the question that is rarely ever asked by the media.  If politicians continue to deny that money has a corrosive effect, has an influential effect on their votes and the media continues to accept that and often time right out of their stories of the influence of money, right?  At least the “Washington Post” piece was a story about money.  Typically you see a pieces in “The New York Times,” the “Washington Post,” the “Wall Street Journal,” the simply don‘t even mention money as an influencing factor in a vote.  So, the question really is not who is buying what because we know almost every vote is being bought, it‘s what can actually be done about this, and nobody in Washington wants that question asked. 

UYGUR:  Yes, not mentioning the money is goofy.  I mean, it‘s not one of the factors, it‘s at least 90 percent of the factor when these bills—

I mean, when was the last time they went and did a speech on the Senate or the floor of the House and another senator or congresswoman went oh yes, well, that‘s a really good idea, I  will change my vote.  No their votes are already decided based on the money.  So, David, let‘s go to the heart of it, how do we fix it?  What‘s the magic bullet to make it so that it‘s not based on the money but actually in our democracy is based on our votes?

SIROTA:  The magic bullet is what Arizona and Maine have done and other municipalities which are public financing of elections where taxpayers start saying, all right, listen, we‘re going to get the government that we pay for.  We are going to basically fund our elections.  We are not going to allow private special interests to fund our elections. 

We‘re not going to allow private special interests to fund our politicians.  That if politicians qualify for the ballot, they‘re entitled to a certain amount of public financing.  That‘s we the taxpayers being willing to invest in our own political system.  Until we‘re willing to do that, we‘re going to get the best system that private special interests have paid for.  

UYGUR:  Yes, if we pay them, they work for us.  If the lobbyists pay for them, they work for the lobbyists.  That‘s that simple.  All right.  David, great conversation, I appreciate it.  All right.  Now. 

SIROTA:  Thank you.  

UYGUR:  Yes, thank you, man.  

Now, let‘s get some rapid-fire response from our panel on these other stories.  Republicans have been hammering President Obama for two years, saying he‘s too soft on terrorists, and saying that he hasn‘t done enough to keep our country safe.  But now Bush‘s former director of National Intelligence says, President Obama is just as aggressive in pursuing terror threats. 

And here‘s a shocker, Peter King of “Sports Illustrated” and NBC sports reported President Obama called the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to congratulate him on hiring Michael Vick.  The president talked about the importance of giving ex-cons a second chance. 

Now with us tonight Michael Shure, political correspondent and guest host for a wonderful program called “THE YOUNG TURKS,” and Heidi Harris, a conservative radio show host in Las Vegas who I am sure you were also has a lovely program.  

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Yes, of course.  

UYGUR:  Let me pitch to a clip first.  Let‘s take a look at what Mike McConnell had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MCCONNELL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  My observation is that the new administration has been as aggressive if not more aggressive in pursuing these issues because they‘re real and so regardless of which side of the political spectrum. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  And you commend them for that?  

MCCONNELL:  I do commend them for that.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, Heidi, I assume you agree with Mike McConnell, President Obama has been doing a terrific job on this.  

HARRIS:  Oh, absolutely.  You know, there‘s no way to quantify how much he‘s actually avoided is there, you know, when Bush kept us safe for eight years, nobody gave him the credit he deserved, everybody said, well, you know, well, we don‘t really know that there‘ve been any credible threats.  Well, really?  That‘s the government‘s job is to make sure that you don‘t know about credible threats.  And when James Clapper last week didn‘t even know about arrests in the UK, don‘t we need to know about terror arrests and other countries? He didn‘t even know that, that‘s Obama‘s intelligence chief, no, not so sure.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Michael, is this a different way of McConnell, though, kind of high-stepping here, going, hey, we got you to do the same exact civil rights violations that Bush was doing, so ha ha.  

MICHAEL SHURE, “THE YOUNG TURKS”:  Well, I mean it is a double edged sword in that way.  You know, Heidi says the Bush administration kept us safe for eight years, the Bush administration, you know, ignored some pretty important memorandums that came across their desk from Richard Clarke and others.  So, there‘s a question as to whether or not this administration‘s actually keeping us safer because as far as we know at this point they‘re paying attention to everything.  But, you know, further to what you just asked, yes, I mean, you know, there are some things that have gone on that have left liberals, that have left Democrats uncomfortable that have continued from the Bush era.  You know, intelligence gathering strategies but the other problem is that you know for Republicans is you can now see that without waterboarding, without torture, you can still have solid security, at least according to former Bush administration officials. 

UYGUR:  Heidi, one last quick question, on the wireless wiretapping, are you ecstatic that Obama is breaking the law like Bush was?

HARRIS:  I don‘t like anybody breaking laws but I‘ll tell you what you‘ve got to do what you‘ve got to do to get the information, so you know what, if you have got credible information, I have no problem with it at all times if it keeps us safe.  You see the whole point is that they keep us safe, we‘re not supposed to ever know how close we‘ve really have come whether it‘s the local Police Department or whether it‘s our National  Intelligence, that‘s the whole point.  

UYGUR:  I like the fourth amendment so I rather they didn‘t do that but we move onto the next issue.  Peter King reporting that President Obama called the Eagles‘ owner in saying, hey, you know what, good job on hiring Michael Vick.  Heidi, what do you think?  Is that politically smart, and are you in favor of that move?

HARRIS:  I think Obama should have stayed out of it.  Listen, I have got five rescued dogs in my House, several of them have been abused by people of the likes of Michael Vick, all right?  So, I have no patience for him.  He‘s a (inaudible) monster who tortured and abused animals.  I would never have given him a shot to the NFL.  Let‘s not forget, he lied to Roger Goodell, he lied to the people in Atlanta about it until he was absolutely caught and his back was up against the wall.  And he couldn‘t lie anymore.  I don‘t know if he‘s got regrets.  The best things that‘s ever happened to him is Tony Dungy, who by the way is a class-act of a human being, Tony Dungy took him under his wing.  Tony Dungy hopefully he‘s got him on the straight and narrow.  Although, the only thing, it seems to me to stop Michael Vick was losing everything and being thrown in jail.  I don‘t know if he‘s really changed his attitude towards dogs.  I wouldn‘t let him clean up my backyard grass for my dogs, OK, that‘s how I feel about Michael. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Heidi is very clear on it.  Michael, what do you think?  

SHURE:  Yes.  I have two dogs only one of whom I am afraid to say, it was a rescue but, you know, I think that this is the American system.  You go to jail.  He served two-and-a-half years in prison, and what‘s supposed to happen to prisoners when they come out?  This is why there‘s so much recidivism.  He comes out, he got a job because he‘s good at something but he served his punishment which is exactly what is supposed to happen.  He went through the penal system and came out and now he‘s doing extraordinarily well and I would guess that you know—I mean, I would love to know what Heidi‘s feeling about what people who go to jail should do when they get out of jail?

UYGUR:  Yes, you know. 

HARRIS:  No, I‘m not—listen, I‘m not saying the NFL doesn‘t have a right to give him another job.  That‘s the decision that Roger Goodell and the team owners make, that‘s OK.  It‘s their game, they could play it the way they want to but I think it‘s disgusting that we in America will applaud a guy just because he‘s good looking and can throw a football regardless of character.  I mean it‘s so sad to me and it happens in athletes, it happens in entertainers.  I think we have the wrong heroes.  And that‘s what bothers me about it.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Guys, we‘ve got to leave it right there, unfortunately.  But you know, Obama, it‘s a fascinating thing that he did, maybe it‘s for Pennsylvania votes.  Remember they play you know an important state.  So think about that, too.  All right, Michael and Heidi, thank you.  And by the way the guy who came up with that was not me, it was one of our followers on twitter.  I think that it was Spike Rogan, so nice point made by him.  

All right.  So now, coming up, what do Pat Robertson and I agree on?  Let‘s just put it this way.  If there was ever a time we‘d agree, it would be at 420. 

And an old friend is running for president.  He knows one thing about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The rent is too damn high.  The “Playbook” is next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  It‘s still not too late to let me know what you think.  I‘m going to a virtual listing tour.  Tonight‘s text survey question is, do you think that the Republican Party really cares about the middle class?  Text A for yes, text B for no to 622-639.  The results are coming up.       

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  In the “Playbook” tonight, the people who want to legalize marijuana just got an endorsement that‘s sure to spark controversy.  I‘m not sure if he was high when he said it, but Pat Robertson, the crazy right-wing televangelist just came on in favor of legalizing marijuana.  That‘s right.  The Christian conservative preacher who once said that hurricane Katrina was God‘s way of punishing America for abortion, wants to legalize pot. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVISION EVANGELIST:  I‘m not exactly for the use of drugs, don‘t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana,  criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing, I mean, it‘s just --  it‘s costing us a fortune and it‘s ruining young people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Legalize it, amen, Brother Pat!  I say, welcome aboard.  In order to get legalization through, you need both sides to join the fight.  So this is a great development in my opinion and as a result of this story, hell has just frozen over because I just agreed with Pat Robertson.  Just to remain consistent though, Robertson blamed the freezing on the gays. 

For more on this.  Let‘s turn to Jane Hamsher, founder of the Progressive Web site, Firedoglink.com, Jane launched a campaign to support marijuana legalization and influenced ballot measures like California‘s Prop 19.  Jane, actually, Pat Robertson‘s spokesperson came out and said, this is not a call for decriminalizing marijuana.  Are we supposed to believe him or our lying eyes?  It sounded like it, didn‘t it?  

JANE HAMSHER, FIREDOGLINK.COM:  Yes, it kind of did.  You know, what can I say?  I think that there was a lot of desire on the right to have some moral leadership on the issue.  Because the Republicans need an issue that appeals to young people and this sort of libertarian streak that says, let me do what I want with my own body is you know something that is appealing to young men of both political persuasions.  However, they were trapped by their own decades‘ worth of cultural conservatism, the cultural wars, so they needed somebody with his moral authority to come out and say, look, ten years, you shouldn‘t get ten years for spooking a fatty, right?  And so, I think that this is something that they really want on the right but it‘s going to take a long time for them to turn the ship around.  

UYGUR:  So, do you think this is planned or is he going off of the reservation there?  I mean when we did this story, some people said, he had kind of glassy eyes.  Is this just Pat Robertson being crazy or is this part of a right-wing strategy or an evangelical strategy?

HAMSHER:  Well, just in passing, I would note that if Jonathan Alter thinks that Gene Sperling is not a Wall Street guy that he has a passing familiarity with the 420 club, too.  But be that as it may, I think that he‘s actually, Pat Robertson is actually speaking what a lot of people on the right or are thinking behind closed doors but they‘re afraid of their own base.  They don‘t know what to do.  They‘re afraid that all of the people that they‘ve been launching it with pitchforks and tortures in the culture wars for all these years are going to turn on them and they‘re probably right.  So, Pat Robertson, whether planned or not planned, it‘s sort of a safe first voice but a lot of the people in the Republican Party would very much like to get behind this.  We know, we‘ve heard, they‘re just afraid to admit it in public, so he‘s kind of giving them a little bit of a license to do that intentionally or unintentionally.  

UYGUR:  Well, Jane, is it realistic that we would ever get republican-elected officials, senators, congressmen to decriminalize marijuana, is that realistic?

HAMSHER:  Oh, sure, if the Democrats decide they want to criminalize it, it will be the Republicans‘ next issue, isn‘t that how it works?

UYGUR:  Well, I suppose that‘s how it works but—so we‘ve got to get the Democrats to accidentally propose criminalizing it, I suppose.

HAMSHER:  Well, you know, Eric Holder‘s been doing his part.  He‘s been saying that they would have tried to challenge Prop 19 if it had passed and it was goings to cause, you know, people who were stoned to be driving.  I don‘t know.  All kinds of ridiculousness and I think that‘s one the reasons that it opened up things up on the right was because the Obama administration was sort of aggressively against it.  

UYGUR:  All right, let‘s see where it takes us.  I mean it seems impossible in Washington these days but maybe state by state, we can do it.  So, Jane, thanks for joining us.  Really appreciate it.  

HAMSHER:  My pleasure.  

UYGUR:  All right.  And now some final pages in the playbook, Joe Miller is finally backing down.  The Tea Partier from Alaska says, he‘ll stop trying to block Lisa Murkowski from being certified as the winner their U.S. Senate ballot, but Miller is vowing to continue his legal challenge over the vote count which he argues was flawed, allowing voters, for example, to misspell Murkowski on the ballot.  How dare they, that‘s so easy to spell. 

Miller claimed to be against frivolous lawsuits earlier until of course, he decides to pursue one.  With that kind of hypocrisy, no wonder he won the GOP primary.  Note to Joe Miller, you lost dude, you‘re a loser, it‘s over.  The quote, Spike Lee, in a quote, De Niro, clean up, go home.  Clean up, go home.  I love the head motion. 

All right.  Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High Party just gave everyone in the media a great Christmas present.  In the interview with Revolution Radio, he slammed President Obama over the auto bailout and then he asked the president to invite him to serve in the administration and then he took it over the top.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY MCMILLAN, RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH PARTY:  If you don‘t do your job right, I‘m coming at you.  I know Barack Obama is an internet hog.  I know he know that I‘m out there but what he haven‘t heard yet is that Jimmy McMillan is  running for the president of the United States of America.  I‘m coming after his black ass.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Oh, damn.  I can‘t wait for those debates.  Can you hear the people?  I can and they‘re saying, the rent is too damn high.  On the upside, if he makes it to the White House, he won‘t have to pay any rent.  

And now coming up, Hawaii‘s new governor is declaring war on the birthers and birther queen Orly Taitz wants to take her conspiracy theories to Broadway of all places.  Lionel will settle who is right and wrong on this when we come back.       

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  The birthers better watch out.  Their crazy theories of President Obama is a secret Kenyan and was part of a prenatal conspiracy to capture the White House, I‘ve been mocked by most Americans, rightfully so and largely ignored by government authorities but not anymore.  The new governor of Hawaii, former Congressman Neil Abercrombie, has declared war on birthers.  Governor Abercrombie told “The New York Times,” quote, “it‘s an insult to his mother and to his father.  I knew his mother and father, they were my friends.  It is disrespectful to the president, it is disrespectful to the office, President Obama‘s a big boy.  He can take sticks and stones but there‘s no reason on earth to have the memory of his parents insulted by people whose motivation is solely political.”  Governor Abercrombie says that not only that he know the president—actually the president‘s parents of course, but he actually saw a baby Barack Obama soon after he was born in Kenya, I mean Hawaii, Hawaii. 

For more, I want to turn to Lionel of Lionel media.  He‘s also a New York Pix 11 News commentator.  All right, Lionel, how does the governor seeing baby Obama in Hawaii play into the conspiracy?  Did they bring from Kenya to see him or no?  

LIONEL, NEW YORK PIX 11 NEWS COMMENTATOR:  Cenk, by the way, long time no see.  First, I do not understand why this supposed friend of the president is bringing this up.  This thing had been watered down pretty much slowed to a crawl in terms of the interest, whatever interest there was.  I don‘t understand any of this.  Why would this Governor Abercrombie right now bring up this issue when we‘ve all forgotten about it? Number two, everybody has accused the president from being a socialist to a Muslim to a venetian, if there was anything to this possibility of his being born elsewhere, I think it would have been vetted by now.  Number three, there had been court after court after court who has dismissed this accusation.  Today I was watching Chris Matthews and Clarence Page, and Chris had a good point. 

He said, they keep talking about a long for him.  I thought that it was taxes, I didn‘t know but there‘s apparently a law for him.  Chris asked, why doesn‘t he show it?  Clarence Page said, well he doesn‘t have to.  I don‘t understand why people just don‘t say, listen, this I can prove.  If you want a long form or short form, and the next point is, you would think that why doesn‘t our CIA with all of its ability to forge or somebody just make whatever document somebody wants just to shut people up about this.  I mean, isn‘t it moot—you‘re a lawyer, is it moot, it‘s a statute of limitations, lawsuits?  I mean, how long is this very minuscule conspiracy theory going to be resurrected before it finally goes away?  I mean, two years into it, it‘s a bit late right now.  This does nothing but to fuel these four, five people who even care about this issue in the first place.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Lionel, we‘re out of time, but the governor says, by the way, the reason he brought it up is because according to privacy laws he can‘t release the long form.  By the way, they‘re going to do a musical on the birthers, that‘s going to be awesome.  

LIONEL:  Indeed.  

UYGUR:  This is going to be one of the worst things you‘ve ever seen. 

All right.  Lionel, thank you so much, man. 

LIONEL:  Thank you, sir.

UYGUR:  We really appreciate it.  All right.  It‘s good to see you again.  

LIONEL:  Look, tonight in our text survey I asked you, do you think the Republican Party really cares about the middle class?  And 11 percent said yes, 89 percent said no.  That‘s awesome.  Now that‘s THE ED SHOW, I‘m Cenk Uygur.  And you can always check me on the Youngturks.com.  Thanks for watching.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.

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