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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Read the transcript from the Tuesday 6 p.m. hour

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Guests: Barry McCaffrey; Steve Clemons, Eleanor Holmes Norton, John

Nichols, David Weigel

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Welcome to the show, everybody.  I‘m Cenk Uygur. 

Tonight, we begin with Libya, where, for a fourth day, allied forces continue to pound the targets in Libya.  It comes as the international coalition has expanded the no-fly zone over Libya, striking Gadhafi‘s military targets with 24 more Tomahawk missiles. 

Now, despite this, Colonel Gadhafi‘s forces are continuing their siege on rebel-held cities, killing more than 40 people and wounding close to 200 in the city of Misrata. 

Meanwhile, the international coalition has suffered its first setback.  An American fighter jet crashed overnight in the country‘s rebel-controlled east.  According to the U.S. military, the warplane went down late Monday after an equipment malfunction.  That is often what they say.  But both crew members safely ejected from the aircraft, which is very good news. 

Now, ever since this operation began, there have been many questions, and we‘ve been among those asking them.  What‘s our ultimate goal here?  Is President Obama doing the same thing President Bush did by not seeking authorization for the war?  Is this a split the baby approach that cannot work? 

Did we go in too late, or did we rush in too early without thinking it through?  Now, I think these are all legitimate questions, but don‘t worry.  Tonight, I have the answers. 

First, let me start by saying that after much deliberation, I have concluded that President Obama took the right course of action.  I‘m sure he‘ll be really relieved to know that I think so.  Right now inside the White House they‘re like, oh, Uygur is on board?  Oh, thank God. 

OK.  But let me tell you why. 

Oh, by the way, before I do that, I should also note that he is following a Bush doctrine, just not the one you‘re thinking of.  But, you know, it‘s always driven me crazy that no one in the country realizes that we had two Republicans presidents named Bush who had the exact opposite foreign policy. 

The first Bush declared a new world order where no nation could unilaterally invade another sovereign nation.  The second Bush obliterated that policy but unilaterally invading a sovereign country that did not attack us.  Iraq, in that case. 

Well, President Obama seems to be following the first Bush doctrine, otherwise known as the New World Order.  Now, to a lot of conservatives who believe in black U.N. helicopters taking over the world, that may seem like a dangerous policy, but they‘re crazy. 

In reality, it makes complete sense.  Now, if the whole world agrees that we should top one bad guy from taking over another country, or massacring his own people, we step in and take action.  But the world must agree, we cannot act unilaterally.  And that‘s what we‘ve got right here in this case. 

There was a 10-0 vote by the United Nations Security Council, the Arab League was in, our European allies led the charge, and it was nearly the mirror image of George W. Bush‘s bungling us into Iraq without any backup.  So many of President Obama‘s traits that drive me crazy on domestic policy wind up actually becoming very helpful in foreign policy when things like this are on the line. 

Why?  Look, in my opinion, he‘s hesitant to act and always seeks consensus.  Now, on domestic issues, this is a huge liability, because the Republicans are never going to give him that consensus that he desperately wants unless it‘s completely on their terms.

But in world affairs, acting without consensus leads to disaster.  And waiting to make sure everyone is on board is essential. 

Now, I understand that waiting another week might have cost us some ground in Libya.  And I was worried about that throughout.  But if rebels weren‘t in such bad shape, the other allies might not have signed up as they did in the end. 

Now, the second question is even if it‘s the right policy in theory, would it actually work?  Well, that depends on what you mean by work. 

Now, let me tell you what I think is the worst-case scenario.  We bring in ground troops, they get ensnared in the middle of a civil war, we get blamed for invading another Arab country, we waste a tremendous money and suffer many needless casualties. 

Now, the second worst-case scenario is that we do nothing, Gadhafi slaughters his opposition, stays in power, and the rest of the dictators throughout the world get the message that the way to retain power is by mercilessly killing your own people.  It appears that we have avoided those two options for the moment being. 

Now, the best-case scenario is that we provide air cover for the rebels, and they take out Gadhafi, and we hope for a secular democracy in Libya and move on with our lives.  Now, that‘s still possible and would be terrific.

But there is a middle-case scenario where we provide air cover, there‘s more of a fair fight on the ground, and Gadhafi wins anyway.  Yes, that‘s also possible when you don‘t bring in ground troops. 

Here‘s what I say to that—c‘est la vie, as our French allies would say.  We tried our best, we live in an imperfect world.  There‘s no way I‘m sending in ground troops, so we hope that our best efforts through the air and the sea help enough for the rebels to win.  Yes, that is splitting the baby, but for good reason, because the alternatives are far worse. 

I think that is the Obama doctrine, which is achieve consensus, do the best you can, and leave it be.  And in this case I think that‘s as good as we can hope for.  I‘m on board.  Like I said, I‘m sure the White House is relieved. 

Now let‘s bring in other voices to have a discussion on this. 

Joining me now is MSNBC and “Nightly News” military analyst General Barry McCaffrey.  Also, from the New America Foundation, Steven Clemons, publisher of “The Washington Note.”

All right.  General McCaffrey, I think you‘re a little bit more skeptical than I am.  Tell me where I‘ve got it wrong. 

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY (RET.), MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think, first of all, taking on the Gadhafi regime was a good thing to do.  We should have done it when they brought down our plane over Scotland.  He‘s a menace to the neighborhood.  He was without friends in the Arab world. 

However, having said that, I would be cautious about asserting we have unanimity.  We don‘t have unanimity in the NATO.  The Turks and the French are both out of the box.  We don‘t have a command and control system that‘s agreed on.  We don‘t have an end state. 

The Arab endorsement of our efforts was hardly robust.  I mean, we got six Qatari aircraft maybe headed to the Mediterranean right now, and that‘s about it.  So I‘m a little bit concerned about us trumpeting. 

The first Gulf War, we had an Egyptian corps, a Syrian corps, a Saudi division.  We had all sorts of involvement by the Arab community to take down Saddam.  So I don‘t think we do have a coalition.

Then, finally, I think, look, at the end of the day, if we wanted to go in there, you‘ve got to make it come out right.  We should never commit American military power unless we win our objectives in the end. 

The no-fly zone is a political gesture of no value.  If we‘re going to use air power, we‘ve got to use it to bust up Gadhafi‘s military center of gravity, which is his armor.  Right now they‘re murdering hundreds of civilians, and we‘re not fulfilling the U.N. mandate if we let that happen. 

UYGUR:  All right.  I just want to clarify, the French, of course, are on board, the Turks are not.  They of course have also significant financial interests in Libya.

MCCAFFREY:  The French are not on board.  They do not want NATO involved as a command and control for this second phase of the operation when we step out of it.  The French are not joining consensus. 

UYGUR:  Well, I thought they were the ones that pushed for the no-fly zone in the first place. 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, they did.  They would like to see it continue not as a NATO operation, which they‘re always trying to undermine, but continue with a political committee meeting in Paris that would govern the war.  And the Turks are even farther out of box. 

UYGUR:  Right.  They‘re for it, they‘re just not for a NATO operation. 

MCCAFFREY:  Right, which is the only serious command and control capability other than U.S. unilateral, which is what we‘ve done up until now.  We have got a four-star U.S. Army general as the strategic commander, and we‘ve got a three-star U.S. admiral as the on-scene tactical commander, so this is a U.S. operation so far. 

UYGUR:  Right.

Steve, let me go to you.  Look, one school of thought is what General McCaffrey states, and it‘s a fair point, saying, hey, if we‘re going to go in, we‘ve got to go in all the way, otherwise don‘t go in at all.  Another school of thought is basically what I laid out, which is basically, hey, you know what?  At least the people in Benghazi didn‘t get slaughtered and they have got a fighting chance now.  And it‘s better than the two other scenarios where we do nothing or we send in ground troops to go “all the way.”

What do you think?

STEVEN CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION:  Cenk, I think you hit the nail on the head.  I‘m so proud of you.  You‘ve become a progressive realist, joining my corner of the foreign policy debate. 

You know, some years ago I helped commission a book called “America in the World: Conversations on the Future of Foreign Policy” with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius.  And they essentially would have come out where you did. 

You know, America is about trying to achieve great and good things.  But at the end of the day, you‘ve got to make sure the stock of power that you have to address other matters in core national interests remain strong.

One of the things that I worry about Libya, despite wanting to protect the people, is that the quality of opposition in Libya certainly isn‘t what we saw in Egypt.  Egypt is of vital national interest to the United States, it‘s the 900-pound gorilla.  But right now our bandwidth is pretty much stretched with what‘s going on in Libya. 

I was talking to some senior White House officials today who said that Barack Obama is absolutely committed to a very disciplined handoff.  And to some degree, he‘s already baked in the “c‘est la vie” comment, because we don‘t know how this is going to come out.

Gadhafi could be gone tomorrow or he could still be there years from now.  And hopefully we‘ve affected the equation in some way that other players can continue to be stakeholders in whatever outcome.  But the United States is not going to be able to determine all of that, and I think Barack Obama is making that happen.  And I think you guys are on the same page, interestingly enough. 

UYGUR:  So, Steve, I mean, fill out though what General McCaffrey‘s concern there is.  Who are we handing it off to?  Because if the French are not fully committed, as General McCaffrey is concerned about, and the Arabs are certainly not fully committed, who are we handing off to? 

CLEMONS:  I think General McCaffrey knows that our handoff is going to be optical.  You‘re not going to see the ships and planes and Tomahawk missiles.  But we essentially are the keepers of the blueprints and the architecture in the back room, the coordinator of a joint task force from African command, so that we can help synthesize these systems. 

You know, it‘s the old adage that it‘s not just manufacturing things, it‘s the R&D element behind the scenes.  And I think that‘s what the United States is going to continue to play.

I think France sees itself as wanting to own this franchise.  For whatever political reasons it has, it wants to maintain a lot more latitude in this, and I think President Obama is perfectly willing to let Sarkozy play that role. 

I mean, if there‘s going to be blowback, it could hit them more than us.  But I do think that we will continue doing—what they‘ve been saying is we have unique capacities.  And those unique capacities are not just drones and Tomahawks.  They‘re the ability to synthesize and put together very complex systems in ways that no other country in the world can.  And so I think that we‘ll be playing that role, which will be a background role. 

UYGUR:  General McCaffrey, last question to you. 

If it turns out the rebels do take out Gadhafi at some point, now we‘ve spent a lot of money doing this, we lost a jet, et cetera, et cetera, and it has downsides.  But if all that comes to fruition, is it a win for us? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I think taking Gadhafi out is the right thing to do.  I can accept a moral argument for saving Benghazi and striking Gadhafi, but I would caution, again, when the U.S. commits military power, and the president of the United States says Gadhafi must go, if we then take military action involving attack on a sovereign nation, getting allies to come, however reluctantly into this on it—and by the way, the French and the Brits never would have started this if we hadn‘t said we‘ll set it up for you. 

So I think we‘re in a little trouble right now, and I don‘t want this to come to a bad ending.  I think we ought to make it come out for the better for the Libyan people—you know, Colin Powell‘s old statement, if you broke it, you own it. 

UYGUR:  All right.  General Barry McCaffrey and Steve Clemons, editor of “The Washington Note.”  Thank you both for your time tonight.  We appreciate it.

CLEMONS:  Thank you, Cenk.

MCCAFFREY:  Good to be with you, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Always an interesting conversation. 

Now, John Boehner is criticizing President Obama for Libya.  But are he and his fellow Republicans consistent on their stance on U.S.  intervention, or does it depend on which president and which party is in power?  The tapes do not lie.  We‘ll show you. 

And the assault on the American worker is backfiring.  New numbers show that it‘s not going well for Republican governors like Walker and Kasich.

And I want to know how Glenn Beck knows what God is thinking.  Oh, my God.  God is talking to Beck?  Oh, boy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Now, last segment we examined President Obama‘s views on foreign policy.  Now let‘s take a look at the Republican views on intervention abroad. 

Well, we instantly run into a problem.  Those views seem to completely depend on who is in office, a Democrat or a Republican president. 

Let‘s start with Mitt Romney, who‘s almost definitely running for president this time around.  During the 2008 presidential campaign, he showered President Bush with praise for taking the U.S. to war. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR. MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR:  The president has acted out of his desire to keep America safe, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping this country safe over the last six years.  Let me continue with my own thoughts on the issue of, do we follow his policy or create a new one?  He did the right thing in responding and reacting to the fact that we got attacked. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, Romney hails Bush for getting us into two long, messy wars whose missions still aren‘t accomplished.  But at least he‘s clear.  Romney‘s for U.S. intervention in the Middle East.  That‘s strong!

But this week, when he came to Obama, all of a sudden Romney had a different position.  Referring to the president, he says, “And without a compass to guide him in our increasingly turbulent world, he‘s tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced.  We‘re following the French into Libya?  I appreciate the fact that others are participating in this effort, but I think we look to America to be the leader of the world.”

So let me get this right.  When Bush led us into Iraq, we owe him a debt of gratitude, but when Obama leads us into Libya, he‘s weak and indecisive. 

But there‘s a long history of the GOP changing their foreign policy stance depending on who the president is at the time. 

In 1985, President Clinton proposed sending 20,000 American troops to Bosnia to help enforce peace.  Among the 221 Republicans who pushed a non-binding resolution opposing that action was John Boehner. 

All right.  Fair enough, except that in 2007, when Democrats wanted to pass a non-binding resolution opposing Bush‘s plan to send more troops into Iraq, Boehner suddenly realized he couldn‘t stand non-binding resolutions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Now, a non-binding resolution is nothing more than political theater that means nothing.  And I believe that it demoralizes our troops in the field. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Demoralizes the troops.  But his 1995 resolution saying almost the same exact thing apparently didn‘t demoralize them. 

But since that first flip-flop, I‘m sure Boehner must have been consistent, right?  So he‘s going to totally back Obama so we don‘t demoralize the troops today, right?  Right?

Well, maybe not.  Here‘s what he said about Libya.

“Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the America people and the Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved.”

I can just feel the troops being demoralized as we speak. 

And while we‘re at it, whatever happened to all those Republicans who used to say that criticism of the U.S. effort in Iraq was emboldening the enemy?  Remember?

In 2004, George Bush said some of John Kerry‘s comments about Iraq could “embolden the enemy.”  In that same year, John Thune warmed that Tom Daschle‘s words “emboldened the enemy.”  And in 2007, Dick Cheney said that if the Senate passed a resolution against President Bush‘s Iraq plan, it would  “be detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.” 

Except now that it‘s a Democratic president, I guess it‘s OK to embolden the enemy a little bit by questioning our commander in chief in times of war. 

Right, Sarah Palin? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKA FMR. GOVERNOR:  I won‘t criticize what his foreign policy has been, but to answer your question, certainly there would have been more decisiveness.  Less dithering, more decisiveness. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  How can she say that about the commander in chief emboldening the enemy? 

Well, at least John McCain has been consistent throughout.  He was a hawk on Iraq, he‘s a hawk on Libya, saying Obama should have moved faster. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  He waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it, but now it is what it is.  I wish we would spend more time planning on how to defeat Gadhafi than planning on how to get out.  Look, the blood of Americans is on Gadhafi‘s hands. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  All right.  Look, so he‘s a hawk, he‘s against Gadhafi.  No question.  As Sarah Palin‘s uncle would say, there you go, baby.  There you go.  That‘s a consistent Republican.

Oh, wait a minute.  I‘m just getting something in now.  I think this is what you‘re supposed to when you get something in, right? 

OK.  All right, yes.  Apparently, Salon is reporting that McCain has played a big role in recent years in building a better relation with—

Libya, even leading a delegation to Tripoli. 

Well, that must have been a long, long time ago, right?  What‘s that? 

Oh.  It was in 2009.  Oops. 

Here‘s some McCain quotes on Libya from then. 

“We discussed the policy of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defense equipment to the government of Libya.”  Yes, that‘s defense equipment to Libya.   McCain also noted that, “Ties between the United States and Libya have taken a remarkable and positive turn in recent years.” 

What happened?  I thought Gadhafi was a proven quantity with American blood on his hands. 

Look, sometimes I get it.  There‘s different situations leading to different conclusions.  I know that.  But it does seen that, overall, Republicans have an amazing ability to base their views on foreign intervention on whoever happens to be in office. 

Democratic presidents are dithering and ineffectiveness.  Their innovations are unacceptable.  Republican presidents are strong and brave, and their interventions always rock. 

Funny how that works out. 

Joining me now is Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C.  She‘s been a little bit more consistent.  She has reservations about Iraq, and she certainly has reservations about Libya. 

Let‘s talk about that.  What are your reservations about Libya here? 

REP. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Well, I have reservations that I think even those in support of the president will have, that there‘s no congressional authorization.  I‘m pleased that after we hyped up about it, he sent a letter where he lays out what he thinks he‘s doing.  I have problems with the fact that he seems to say he‘s following the U.N. resolution, and yet he said—he‘s going beyond the U.N.  resolution, because he want Gadhafi out, whereas the U.N. resolutions says it‘s into humanitarian concerns. 

I think that what I need from the president is not off with your head for going into Libya.  I understand that there‘s some good that‘s been done already. 

When the—when Benghazi was—the attack on Benghazi, the rebel-held Benghazi, was repelled.  But he really does need to do more than send us a letter.  He needs to do what every Republican president has done, which is to come under the War Powers Act, get a discussion in Congress, a debate, take a vote.  He probably would win it, but he needs to come and do it. 

UYGUR:  So, you know, that of course would have required more time in this case.  So if the president had come to you and said, look, I want congressional authorization, it might take more time, et cetera.  But you‘ve got the vote coming up, and he says, all right, now I want your authorization for this.

Would you have voted yes or no? 

NORTON:  With what I know now, I couldn‘t have voted yes, because I know too little.  For example, is this a no-fly zone or is this an attack on Libya?  How are we really going to help the rebels?  That‘s what I‘d like to see happen. 

The rebels now are fighting back, but they have no arms, or very few arms, and no communication.  So if we‘re going to drop bombs there and make sure that Gadhafi doesn‘t advance on them, what are we doing to make sure they win?  There are so many questions that the president needs to answer, and I think given the stance that he took on Iraq and Afghanistan, I think he would agree. 

UYGUR:  But Congresswoman, I‘ve got to put you on the spot here.  You don‘t like the middle of the road approach, but would you have liked the approach of either we do nothing, or the approach of, hey, you know what, we go in there with ground troops, help the rebels, get Gadhafi out? 

NORTON:  I certainly don‘t want to see us open a third war in the Middle East, where, at this time, we could leave the Middle East, or at least Libya, more unstable than we found it.  Look, this is a society of tribes.  All that Gadhafi did was to haul (ph) them together.  Is this a civil war or is this an Egyptian-type revolution? 

UYGUR:  So you wouldn‘t have gone in? 

NORTON:  Not without a greater explanation. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Well, that‘s fair enough.  I mean, that‘s your stance.  At least it‘s clear.

NORTON:  It certainly couldn‘t have been because he was killing his own people, especially since this looks more like a civil war than it does like the Egyptian revolution. 

And don‘t start my on killing your own people here, because if that is the new standard, there are about a dozen places in the world we ought to be.  I happen to be on the rebels‘ side, although I have another problem.  Who are the rebels? 

UYGUR:  You have got a lot of questions, Congresswoman.  And those are fair questions. 

NORTON:  Yes.  I was on conference call with Democrats on Saturday, and our intelligence people said they don‘t have any intelligence from Libya.  So I—look, the American people deserve these questions.  They support what‘s being done because they don‘t like to see any transformed by a dictator. 

So I can go with that.  All I say to the president is, please come home and tell us all the reasons and tell us how you‘re going to get out of there. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, of Washington, D.C.

Thank you so much for joining us. 

NORTON:  Always a pleasure. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Thank you. 

Now, before he was even a congressman, Mike Pompeo turned to the Koch brothers for help.  And it‘s payback time.  I‘m going to connect the dots for you in a second when it‘s in the spotlight tonight. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Welcome to our first-ever spot light feature.  That spotlight coming in, that was awesome.  Tonight, we are putting Mike Pompeo, the congressman from Koch Industries in the spot light.  Yes, I said from Koch Industries.  As the Washington Post, Dan Aya (ph) reports, Pompeo has a history with Koch Industries.  Before he was even a congressman, Pompeo needed funding for Kansas Aerospace Company.  He turned to Koch industries for help and receives that funding.  So, far no problem but he clearly owes these guys.  Last year when he decided to run for Congress, he turned again turned to Koch industries for help.  This time, he received $80,000 from Koch which helps diminish U.S. house set, OK.  Now he really owes these guys. 

Now, let‘s see if he found a way to start repaying them yet.  Well, it turns out Congressman Pompeo hired a new chief of staff, who just happens to be former Koch Industries lawyer.  That‘s I‘m sure a wild coincidence and pretty convenient, but has he actually taken any action to help Koch Industries?  Well, it turns out he‘s also proposed legislation that would benefit many of Koch‘s businesses.  Really?  Didn‘t see that coming.  First, he proposed an amendment that was approved in the House budget bill to eliminate funding for the Obama administration‘s consumer protection database.  That database would allow people to make informed decision when buying certain products by having access to intra reports, some things like toys, cribs and strollers. 

He also proposed an amendment in the budget that was passed to defund an EPA registry of greenhouse gas polluters.  Both of those programs have been listed as top legislative priorities for Koch Industries, which has spent more than $37 million on lobbying since 2008.  Another wonderful coincidence.  Of course, when you‘re one of the top polluters in the country and you don‘t want people finding out about injuries your products cause, it might help to have a U.S. congressman in your back pocket.  Pompeo of course says that he just happens to be a libertarian, who would have for more pollution on state products, anyway?  OK, maybe not exactly his words.  And all that money that he took from Koch Industries for his personal gain, for his campaign, were totally irrelevant.  And I‘m sure it was.  Hey, we shine the spot light, you decide. 

Now, more than ever, the people are behind American workers.  Wait until you see the free fall that republican governors in the Midwest are going through.  John Nichols in The Nation magazine has been on the story from the start.  He joins me next.  And Tim Pawlenty joins Newt Gingrich in exploring 2012, but it turns out they both have been exploring Photoshop.  Want to guess what race they added to their ads on their Web sites?  We‘ll tell you.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  While Republicans across the Midwest were working to take away union rights, we said, they might be able to win the short term legislative battle.  But their draconian measures would cause them to lose the long-term war of public opinion.  And now we‘re starting to see that play out, now just in Wisconsin, but across the Midwest.  Steve Bennett of the Washington Monthly reports that governor of three states with recent high-profile union battles are feeling the heat in the polls big time. 

In Ohio, Governor John Kasich eked out a victory November with a 49 to 47 win over incumbent Governor Ted Strickland, but a recent poll shows if Ohio voters had to do it over again, Kasich would lose by 15 points.  Only 40 percent of the people would vote for him.  And it‘s worse for Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan.  When he took office in January, his favorability rating was 59 percent.  It‘s just very high.  Since then, it‘s taking a 15 point nose dive to 44 percent.  And in Wisconsin, the Koch funded union busting Governor Scott Walker is also hurting.  When he was elected in November, 35 percent of the people had an unfavorable view of him, but this month, that number shot up 18 points to 53 percent unfavorable.  Now, after those dismal numbers, these Republicans must be feeling a little something like this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Someone help me, I‘m still alive, but badly burned.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Badly burned.  Meanwhile, the president may have benefited from the republican assault on unions.  Even though he barely weighed in on the subject, in Ohio, a key battleground state, a recent poll shows the president is doing significantly better, his potential 2012 challengers, than he was just three months ago.  At that time, he was up by just two points against Mitt Romney.  Only one against Mike Huckabee, he has a six point edge on Newt Gingrich and seven on Sarah Palin.  But now he‘s up by six on Romney, seven on Huckabee, and he‘s blowing away Gingrich and Palin by 12 and 16 points respectably. 

And while Ohio‘s internal union battles may not be wholly responsible, but the president turned around in the polls, it seems like the illusion of Republicans being the answer to our nation‘s problems is over.  And this is the president‘s main advantage going into 2012.  It could be worse, it could be those guys. 

Joining me now from Milwaukee is John Nichols, Washington correspondent for “The Nation.”  All right.  John, at this point, are the Republicans feeling the heat of those polls?  Are they seeing those polls in a slight panic like hey, you know what?  We might have gone the wrong way here.

JOHN NICHOLS, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  There‘s simply no question they‘re feeling the heat.  And I can tell you these both from what their actions publicly, there‘s a desperation to the way that the Republicans have tried to force this bills forward trying to do it rapidly, often making serious mistakes that have opened up a host of legal problems for them.  They‘re in the courts all over the place, and there are going to be constitutional challenges.  But additionally, you‘re seeing that behind the scenes desperation. 

Frank Luntz, the republican messaging guy who actually came up with the contract with America back in the 1990s has been flying around of these states needed secretly with the governors.  Of course, the secret has come out now.  We know that the day after Governor Scott Walker took a fake call from somebody he thought was David Koch.  That next morning, he was sitting huddling with Frank Luntz trying to figure out what to do.  And so, what we know is that they‘re very, very concerned, they recognize they‘ve got a problem.  Unfortunately, they push themselves into a corner that‘s going to be very hard for these republican governors to get out.    

UYGUR:  All right.  Let‘s play a fun game here, John.  I know it‘s a, you know, little political.  But look, we‘ve got six republican state senators in Wisconsin that are up for recall.  There‘s more, but they‘re really targeting those six.  And then you‘ve got Walker in Wisconsin, who‘ve got Snyder in Michigan, and you‘ve got Kasich in Ohio.  Those, they could also be up for recall.  Those three governors. So, out of those nine, how many of them do you think actually get recall?

NICHOLS:  Well, here‘s the big deal.  And I think we need to look at it.  And the many steps that you would go up in this process.  The first recalls would be those state senators in Wisconsin.  If three of those six states senators who are targeted, if three of them are defeated, and replaced by Democrats, then control of one  house of the Wisconsin legislature flips to the Democrats.  That creates the situation where Walker‘s agenda become stalled.  That‘s a very, very significant development, something that almost never happens, but it is likely to happen, in fact, I think quite likely.  Then you start to look at those gubernatorial recalls.  Those are big deals.  We‘ve had only two gubernatorial recalls in the history of the United States, one in North Dakota and one more recently in California. 

UYGUR:  I remember that. 

NICHOLS:  Now, we have the prospect of as many as three, yes, of course.  And now, we have the prospect of as many as three in a region that is the key presidential battleground.  Think about that instability for the Republican Party, that as they go into the 2012 election, you‘ve got three of the governors who were supposed to be in place to help carry a republican nominee to victory battling for their own political survival. 

UYGUR:  All right.  President Obama‘s got to be loving this.  He needs those states that big swing in Ohio is amazing.  Now, I‘ll tell you what, if they get two out of the three republican governors, that‘s a huge, huge win for the Democrats, and in my opinion the middle class and the Republicans, well, they probably won‘t change their ways anyway.  Because they get funded to do this stuff.  But it‘s an important development.  John Nichols, thanks so much for covering this or joining us tonight on this. 

NICHOLS:  It‘s great to be with you.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Thanks, John.  Now, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich are exploring how to doctor their Web sites and television adds, so they can pretend minorities like them.  And false prophet Glenn Beck is at it again.  Now God is telling him what to say, oh, boy, that ought to be interesting.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce, the guy who famously led the fight for draconian ant-immigration laws in Arizona.  Well, that genius has another brilliant idea.  He‘s a big believer in tentherism, which is the maniacal and completely inaccurate theory that the constitution‘s Tenth Amendment means that most of the federal government‘s powers are illegitimate and that states are supreme.  During a Tea Party rally recently, he took this radical concept to a whole new level.  He actually told people in the crowd that they were not citizens of the United States.  Seriously. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSELL PEARCE ®, ARIZONA SENATE PRESIDENT:  We existed better Congress, the states, we—we created the Congress, we created the federal government by compact.  Do you know you‘re not a citizen of the United States, you‘re a citizen of a sovereign state. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  The only problem with that is that it is completely wrong.  The 14th amendment to the constitution clearly states that, quote, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States.”  Maybe next time Pearce should actually read the constitution before he gives a whole speech about it.  I love the word on how to position, where we have to prove that Americans are actually citizens of the United States.  Next week, we prove to Republicans that white is white and black is in fact black. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Tim Pawlenty has now joined Newt Gingrich in announcing that he is officially exploring running for president in 2012.  I am so tired of these.  I‘m exploring the idea of exploring a possibility of exploring space to explore a Web site that might explore a candidacy.  Come on, men.  All this is nonsense to try to get more media attention.  You‘re either in or you‘re out.  Otherwise, I suggest you drink a tall glass of shut up juice.  But these announcements might not be getting them to caught a media attention that they had in vision. 

Pawlenty made his non-announcement on Facebook with a two-minute action-packed video.  Showing how connected he is to the community.  The problem is, he used stock footage for the minorities on the tape.  The shot of this smiling pro-Pawlenty Asian girl and the footage of this lovely African-American family standing on the front porch are both clips from Getty stock footage.  Look at all these wonderful minorities who support me.  Or once got paid to have their picture taken for a completely different purpose many years ago. 

Of course, Pawlenty is not the only politician to use stock photos in campaign materials, but you think he could at least be a little less blatant about it, especially after Newt Gingrich took heat for doing the exact same thing, when he launch his exploratory face, using a lively diverse stock photo in the background of the Web site announcing his own lukewarm foreign to the 2012 election.  Look at all of these black and Asian folks who have never been to a Gingrich rally, and who have no intention of backing his candidacy.  These stock photos aren‘t the only things that these two guys are faking, they have both massively flip flopped on climate change.  Like any good conservative, kind of presidential candidate, Pawlenty is now anti everything green.  But as governor of Minnesota, he could not have been more in favor of clean energy.  A democratic state senator from Minnesota, pointed that out recently, by releasing a video Pawlenty‘s past positions including a radio ad he cut in 2008 with then Governor Janet Napolitano.  Uh-oh. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  We don‘t always share the same views.  

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY:  But we both agree it‘s time for Congress to deal with the real threat of climate change.  

PAWLENTY:  So, come on, Congress, let‘s get moving.  

NAPOLITANO:  In state after state, we‘re taking action.  Now it‘s Congress‘s turn.  

PAWLENTY:  Cap greenhouse gas pollution, now.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  What happened, big guy?  All of a sudden, you don‘t like it so much?  Of course, now that Pawlenty‘s running for president, he‘s disavowing his years of support for clean energy development, saying, quote, “yes, it was a mistake, it was stupid, I was wrong.  I changed my position.”  A mistake?  That‘s awesome.  Oops, did I accidentally make a pro-clean energy ad with Janet Napolitano?  How did that happen?  Are we supposed to really believe you suddenly changed your position for any reason other than getting conservatives to vote for you and big business to give you money?  But it may actually be worse for Newt.  Today, he‘s all about getting rid of the EPA, but he did a global warming PSA ad well.  And his was with someone even more damning than Napolitano, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, FORMER SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:  We don‘t always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES:  No, but we do agree our country must take action to address climate change.  

PELOSI:  Together, we can do this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Oops.  There‘s a big oopsy doopsy oopsy poopsy, did he screwed that one up?  Of course, now that Gingrich is kind of sort of maybe running for president, he‘s calling President Obama‘s environmental policies a war on American energy.  One he apparently helped to launch a couple years ago with Nancy Pelosi. 

Joining me now is David Weigel, political reporter for Slate, and an MSNCB contributor.  David, come on man!  Republican voters can‘t buy this, can‘t they?  I mean, you look at those add, and you see, all of a sudden these guys switched, they have to see through this nonsense.  

DAVID WEIGEL, MSNCB CONTRIBUTOR:  If they explain themselves, I think what they point to is the 2009 leaked e-mail scandal that you might remember, the climate-gate scandal is what I guess critics called it.  The much to do about nothing is what everybody else called it.  You know, University of—they had a lot of their e-mails leaked over about ten years of them that had them discussing how they don‘t take climate change skeptics seriously, things like that.  And if you look at the discussion that‘s happened on global warming, I mean, I think it‘s a combination of that, a combination of democratic president pushing these policies, and then also add in a little bit of, you know, there are some parts of the country not being as hot as they could be, and you‘ve seen republican opinion that there is global warming happening just collapse.  So, these guys are kind of following the base. 

UYGUR:  Oh, come on, Dave, that has nothing do with it.

WEIGEL:  I‘m just explaining it, not endorsing it. 

UYGUR:  Yes, I know, but these angry e-mails, what a weak excuse.  There was investigation after investigation on that, and it showed that it had nothing to do with disproving global warming that it didn‘t do that, et cetera. 

Come on, now, look, but my real question is, it‘s not like all of a sudden, they‘re like, oh my God, these angry e-mails, right?  No, so the real question is, was it business interests who give money to these guys, so they can run for president, or is it the conservative voters that they care more about and they have now been convinced that global warming is amid, who are they really trying to address here?

WEIGEL:  I think it‘s more the conservative voters.  If you went back to 2009, 2010, a lot of the energy industry was interested in some kind of energy bill passing the Congress.  So, some kind of Carvin tax.  And so, that was actually the wave against this by, you know, kind of libertarian think tanks by republican voters, by republican politicians, you know, part of their argument was that, oh, this is all a big business plot to put more  money in the pockets of Al Gore and the rest of these guys.  I mean, and I really think, guys like Gingrich and Pawlenty, those videos look really bad and we‘re going to see a lot of them, especially when Mitt Romney gets tired of being called a flip-flopper, and wants to throw one back at him.  The way they get explain this, oh, I was suckered by these wily liberals who fooled us all into thinking those global warming, you know, even—can‘t you?  

UYGUR:  Yes.  That would be a great argument for Newt Gingrich, I was beguiled by Nancy Pelosi.  She made me do it.  I was so weak that I had to agree with Nancy Pelosi, she did Jedi mind tricks on me.

All right.  David Weigel, thank you so much for your time tonight.  It looks like they‘re in trouble.  They have to realize we have recording devices, we actually record those things that they said earlier.  All right.  Thanks, David.

WEIGEL:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  And now, Glenn Beck is apparently talking to the almighty. 

What are the transmissions he‘s getting?  We‘ll tell you next.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Now, I often criticize FOX News here.  FOX News takes shots at other networks.  That‘s all part of the course.  We‘re all having fun.  For example, I think Glenn Beck is a clown.  And I‘m given to understand that his viewers find me overweight, I didn‘t see that coming.  And apparently a most questionable complexion.  But Beck as usual has taken this over the top, he‘s now come to the conclusion that this entire network is against God. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  I believe that MSNBC has become the most anti-God network ever put on the air.  It‘s possible in the history of America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  That‘s funny.  Now, that was last Friday.  And on this Monday, he added some prophetic flourishes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  If you really want to understand what we‘re talking about, you have to understand the book of revelation, which we know that there are people that don‘t believe in that.  We showed you that on Friday‘s broadcast.  There‘s a whole network that seems to be the anti-God network.  I will tell you this, the world is about to be plunged into complete and utter darkness, despair, quite honestly, famine will follow. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, whenever people go on silly rants like this, I was thinking, how do they know what God is thinking?  If God has chosen Glenn Beck as his messenger, it is a curious choice indeed.  Doesn‘t it sound like he thinks he‘s a prophet, he‘s talking about the will of God, upcoming famines, the only thing missing is raining frogs.  I mean, this guy even knows what channel God is watching.  I‘m getting this message, he‘s kind of into Jersey Shore, he thinks Sammi should really leave Ronnie, but he‘s worried that Snooki might be possessed by demons.  He loves—and can‘t stand CSI L.A.  He says, come on, didn‘t we already have like seven different CSI‘s ?  What is next?  CSI Albuquerque.  I don‘t think God is saying well that, nor making comments about MSNBC.  Beck seems to know a lot of specifics about on what‘s running through God‘s mind.  Now, that‘s curious about a guy like this, pretending to stand up for the church, has made famous like this before.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  I beg you, look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church Web site.  If you find it, run as fast as you can.  Am I advising people to leave their church?  Yes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, that doesn‘t seem very Christian, does it?  So, let me have this right.  Jesus, for protecting tax cuts for the rich, protecting the money changers, I mean, the banks.  And he‘s for more and more war.  Oh, yes, he‘s also against social justice and MSNBC.  Anyone else thinks that maybe Beck is getting his channels crossed when he thinks he‘s talking to God.

All right.  Thanks for watching everybody.  “HARDBALL” starts right now. 

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

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