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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday April 26th, 2011

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

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Guests: Earl Blumenauer, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Dana Milbank, Steve

Kornacki, Al Sharpton, Simon Rosenberg, Ezra Klein

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Cenk Uygur. 

President Obama is ramping up the fight against oil companies today, and he is calling them out for how they rigged the game in Washington, which is excellent news.  Today, the president sent a letter to congressional leaders, calling on them to end the $4 billion in tax breaks handed out to big oil every single year. 

The White House is betting it‘s an issue that will resonate with voters. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  To then tell them that, actually, we need to spend $4 billion a year of their money to subsidize oil companies who, this week, are reporting massive profits, is just not a credible argument. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  There you go, baby.  There you go.  That‘s on message.  That‘s exactly the right way to go. 

Now, even some Republicans are starting to waiver on this.  Speaker John Boehner shocked the GOP establishment by suggesting he supported ending the oil subsidies. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER:  Everybody wants to go after the oil companies.  And frankly, they have got some part of this to blame. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So would you be in favor of seeing some of these subsidies that are going to big oil at times of record profits—

BOEHNER:  It‘s certainly something that we ought to be looking at. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Doing away with these subsidies? 

BOEHNER:  We‘re at a time when the federal government is short on revenues.  We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to keep the government moving.  And they ought to be paying their fair share. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  That was a surprising moment of clarity from Boehner, so you knew it wasn‘t going to last.  Of course his people quickly walked it back.  Here comes the backpedal. 

His spokesman said, “The Speaker made clear in the interview that raising taxes was a nonstarter.  And he has told the president that.  He simply wasn‘t going to take the bait and fall into the trap of defending big oil companies.”

Except that‘s exactly what they do and that‘s exactly what that walkback is saying.  Oh, no, no, no.  Of course we will never, ever raise taxes on the oil companies.  In fact, we will continue to give them subsidies because they are our boss.  And so we reminded the Speaker who he works for and he said, of course, no, I will not be raising taxes on big oil, I will defend them. 

Now, this debate is over subsidies because we have got tremendous gas price problems.  Gas hit an average of $3.87 a gallon today.  And that climb towards $4 a gallon is starting to have political effects, which is unsurprising.

A new “Washington Post” poll shows 71 percent of Americans say high gas prices are causing them financial hardship.  And among Independents suffering from gas prices, just 28 percent approve of President Obama.  That is a devastating number.  And 60 percent say they definitely will not vote for him next year. 

Oh.  You have got to be concerned about that if you‘re the president -

and it appears he is. 

Now, a clear sign from the president that he has got to shift the debate back to where it belongs, which is the big oil companies and the Republicans who absolutely adore them.  And it‘s very encouraging today that he seems to have picked up on that fight. 

Joining me now is Congressman Earl Blumenauer.  He‘s a Democrat from Oregon where, today, gas prices unfortunately hit $3.88 a gallon.  And he‘s introduced a bill to roll back subsidies to big oil. 

So, now, Congressman, obviously you are on top of this.  You‘re the one who introduced the bill.  But does the rest of your caucus get the urgency of this?  I mean, as far as political issues goes, this could not be any larger. 

Is there a plan by the Democrats in Congress to say we‘ve got to focus on this and nothing else until we get this done? 

REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D),  BUDGET COMMITTEE:  Well, Cenk, we already did put this front and center during the debate on the budget two weeks ago.  We offered up some amendments that would have taken away these unnecessary tax breaks to be able to restore some of the Draconian cuts. 

And as you know, the president has put some of this in his budget proposals that he had already submitted.  And I will guarantee you, my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle will continue to beat this drum.  I—

UYGUR:  So, Congressman, here is the thing.  Look, I know obviously you‘re on the right side of this.  You‘re the one who introduced the bill.  The president has actually pushed for this every year he is in office, so you absolutely have to give him credit there.

The question is, how do we get it done, right?  Because the American people are definitely behind you.  What is it, 74 percent right now of Americans say that they want to end the oil subsidies? 

So, how do you force the Republicans to vote on this?  How do you actually get it to a point where they either say yes, I am absolutely with the oil companies and will continue to be every single day, or they say, all right, you win, you win, OK, we‘re not with the oil companies? 

BLUMENAUER:  Well, what is going to have to happen is that we are in the House, where revenue measures are supposed to originate, we have to get a crack on the side of the Republicans.  What we saw with Speaker Boehner responding—and I thought it was very encouraging that he would say that.  Remember, President Bush said that when oil prices hit $50 a barrel, they didn‘t need subsidies anymore. 

I think you are seeing a perfect storm where we have gas prices going up again.  This is an area we have been trying to work on.  The president is ramping it up.  I personally think that we have got some momentum here, and I think there‘s—I‘m optimistic that we can—

UYGUR:  Right.  But Congressman, I want to focus on, how do you use that momentum, right?  Because you‘re right.  I mean, obviously, 74 percent, and you‘ve got the gas prices going through the roof. 

And we are giving away $4 billion of our money every single year to the most profitable companies in the world.  That is why we keep pounding on it here on this show, and that‘s why you guys have brought it up. 

But how?  How do you do it?  Is there a way that you guys can say, hey, you know what, we are not voting on any budgetary issues, we are not going to do anything else until we resolve this issue? 

BLUMENAUER:  Well, under the rules of the House, the Republican majority dictate what goes to the floor.  We have opportunities with our motions to recommit, we have opportunities where we‘re going to be involved with negotiations between the House and the Senate on the budget to be able to focus on this with our colleagues in the Senate. 

We don‘t have as many tools since we are not in charge.  But I do think there are opportunities with the budget going forward, with the increasing public concern, with Speaker Boehner giving a little daylight to the issue.  I think there may be opportunities for us to put this in as the budget process moves back and forth between the House and the Senate. 

UYGUR:  I want to ask you one more thinning, Congressman, but I actually want to show you a clip from John Boehner in that same interview where he actually talked about the debt ceiling.  And there‘s a reason why I‘m going to show it to you, but let‘s watch it first and then I‘ll come and ask you about it.

BLUMENAUER:  Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  What did the president do?  He took exactly none of his own deficit reduction commission‘s ideas.  Not one.  Come on!  It‘s time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  I mean, when I watch that, that‘s incredibly disrespectful.  Here he is telling the president, oh, you better grow up.  Who is he to tell the president that?

The reason I run that for you is, look, these guys are always in your face.  They‘re attacking you personally, whether it‘s you, it‘s the congressmen in general, whether it‘s the president, all the time.

Is it time for you guys to respond likewise, to call out people, name names and say, John Boehner works for the oil companies and we are not going to let him get away with it? 

BLUMENAUER:  Well, I mean, there has been a concerted effort to be able to move these things forward.  We are having the ticking time bomb which is the Republican budget that is slowly unraveling before them.  The president, as you know, has advanced a series of initiatives dealing with accelerating the savings under health care.  He has put this particular item before Congress before. 

From my vantage point, I don‘t think we want to get into a name-calling effort with Republicans. 

UYGUR:  I disagree. 

BLUMENAUER:  But I do think—well, that‘s fine.  But I am personally working with my colleagues to be able to put this forward with the American public.  I don‘t think name-calling actually does a lot of good. 

UYGUR:  Look, you know, Congressman—

BLUMENAUER:  We are going to lose the name-calling contest with them. 

UYGUR:  No.  No.  You‘re wrong.  Look, I love you, but you‘re wrong. 

You know, here‘s why.  Here‘s why I say that.

Look, they call you guys names all the time.  That‘s why we just showed you the poll where people blame the president for the gas prices, because they did the stupid “Drill, baby, drill” bit and it worked. 

And they say, oh, it‘s the Democrats‘ fault for the gas prices when it‘s not, because they are vicious in how they attack you.  When you guys sit back and you‘re not as vicious, honestly, and you say well, you know, and the next thing you know, people blame you when it‘s not your fault at all.  That‘s why I say there is a purpose behind the name-calling.  It‘s not just to be, like, nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah. 

BLUMENAUER:  Well, I think we may agree to disagree.  I‘m thinking of Harry Truman, who talked about the Republicans complaining about giving him -- about him giving them hell, and he was saying no, I‘m just telling the truth and it will seem like hell. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

BLUMENAUER:  And I think our telling the truth, being focused and following through, is, I think, an appropriate response. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who definitely has the right bill on oil subsidies. 

Thank you so much for joining us.  Really appreciate it.

BLUMENAUER:  Always a pleasure, Cenk. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now let‘s bring in Katrina vanden Heuvel.  She‘s the editor of “The Nation.”  I want to get a progressive perspective here. 

Katrina, what does the progressive community have to do, whether it‘s magazines like “The Nation,” it‘s the blogs, et cetera, to turn up the heat on this issue? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  Well, I think it‘s citizens of conscience who care about the future of this country, because a 21st century clean economy, clean energy economy, is what it‘s about. 

But what interests me, Cenk, is, underlying all of this is, to me, the central issue of our time, which is corporate power.  It is corporate power that has bought the oil and gas companies the ability to evade taxes.  It has bought the oil and gas companies the ability to buy these subsidies, these senseless, wasteful subsidies, at a moment when the American people need reinvestment in their health care, their education.  And those things are being slashed. 

So, I think it‘s important for the congressmen, for the House, to call out what I might call the gas and oil party, the gang of polluters.  Call a vote, expose them for what they are. 

Democrats are taking money from oil and gas, but 75 to 80 percent of that money is going to the Gang of Polluter Party.  It used to be the Grand Ole Party.  Call them out.

And then propose smart legislation.  I would go beyond rolling back the subsidies.  I‘d talk about windfall profits tax. 

You are about to see—the price of gas is going up, Cenk.  But faster than the price of gas, what‘s going up, are the skyrocketing profits of the oil companies.  Reinvest that money in a wise, smart way, because people, overwhelmingly, Cenk, not just progressives—Independents and others—think that corporations have too much power in this country, and they are not paying their fair share by any length of the imagination. 

UYGUR:  And the reason for that is what we just showed in the graphics there.  They spent in 2010, alone, over $146 million in lobbying. 

Look, the Democrats have to say these guys are bought.  They‘re bought and paid for by these oil companies.  And of course.  That is who they work for.  That‘s why they are funneling your money over to them. 

But it has a huge political angle, too, and I want to talk to you about that, because let me show you an old poll about George W. Bush and his approval rating compared to gas prices.  Right?

Now, there‘s a lot of issues here.  Obviously, 2001 happened. 

Obviously, the Iraq War happened.  Katrina happened, et cetera. 

But when you look at those two numbers—in red is Bush‘s approval rating; in blue is the gas prices—it‘s a stunning correlation. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But this has been part of our political history for decades.  But I think what‘s important is not simply to redirect the political conversation, the economic conversation, but to do so in a grounded, realistic way, which President Obama is beginning to do. 

And I think he has stood for—there have been cuts, and the nuclear power stuff I think is a big mistake, particularly on this anniversary of Chernobyl, 25 years later.  But there is a commitment to the a green energy economy, sustainable energy, efficiency. 

This is a moment for Americans to realize they‘ve got to use—take the windfall profits tax that some legislators are proposing and reinvest that money into people‘s pockets who would then buy more efficient cars.  We have been here before.  It‘s deja vu all over again. 

We need to wean ourselves and our addiction to this oil and gas.  And, Cenk, I think related to that is you‘ve got to do the political reforms.  At least the Democrats are pushing to get money out of our political system. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Absolutely. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And at least they are doing lobbying reform.  The Grand Old Polluting Party is in the pocket of big oil and gas.  So, call them out. 

UYGUR:  Absolutely. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Call them out. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation.”

Thank you so much for joining us. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Thank you. 

UYGUR:  And let me just tell the audience one last thing. 

Look, the president is definitely on the right path.  OK?  No question about it.  What he did today was terrific. 

I think he has got the to say there is no budget deal, there is no nothing until we stop giving away $4 billion of taxpayer money for no damn reason at all to the most profitable companies who are making all that profit from your high gas prices. 

It‘s a huge win politically, and much more importantly, it saves us $4 billion a year.  It is a huge win, policy-wise. 

He has got to press on it.  That‘s how you win.   It‘s a good first step today.  I hope they stay on that path. 

All right.  Now, coming up next, Donald Trump‘s questioning President Obama‘s academic record.  Jeez.  Why?  The guy went to Harvard Law School.  He was the head of the “Harvard Law Review.” 

Is it because of the color of his skin that he is questioning it?  Would Trump have questioned Obama‘s record at Harvard Law School if Obama wasn‘t black?  We‘re going to discuss that. 

And Congressman Paul Ryan meets the voters, and it ain‘t pretty.  We have a tape of angry constituents at a town hall in Wisconsin. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  If you‘re yelling, I just want to ask you to leave.  If you‘re just going to scream out like that, it‘s just not polite to everybody. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Oh, we‘ve got a lot more where that came from.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  The last time I checked, no one was fired up by the 2012 GOP field.  And I doubt the developments of the last 24 hours will change that fact.  Haley Barbour is now out of the race, and no one noticed, while, at the same time, Representative Ron Paul is forming a presidential exploratory committee, but we all knew that was going to happen. 

Meanwhile, with the first GOP debates scheduled for next week, RNC chair Reince Priebus is holding out hope that a viable candidate will finally step forward.  Earlier today, he said, “I think many people are going to feel compelled to get into the race and make a difference.” 

Whoa.  That tells you something.  When the head of the RNC is asking other people to join the race, obviously there is great dissatisfaction within Republican circles. 

Everyone is looking for a viable Republican who can beat President Obama.  But does such a person exist?  Is there a single viable Republican in the whole country? 

Well, let‘s talk about that.

Joining me now is columnist for “The Washington Post,” Dana Milbank. 

Also with me, political columnist for Salon.com, Steve Kornacki.

Dana, let me start with you.

You know, a lot of times people think, oh, I don‘t like these guys.  Oh, if just some magical unicorn Republican came in who could win over the Republican base but, at the same time, be viable in the general election, everything would be all right. 

Does such a thing even exist? 

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, look,, if it‘s $6-a-gallon gas, then all bets are off the table here.  But the significance of the Haley Barbour announcement is really saying that, no, nobody can beat Obama. 

Haley Barbour wasn‘t going to be the president, let‘s face it.  But he was the smartest political mind in that field, and nobody doubted his political horse sense.

And what he‘s saying, essentially, is that, look, folks, this is not going to be our year, and I‘m not going to waste our time.  And that, of course, adds to the frustration that is already out there. 

UYGUR:  Right.

MILBANK:  I was at that breakfast with Priebus this morning, and every other question was about Donald Trump.  And the poor guy is shifting in his chair and probably having trouble digesting his eggs. 

UYGUR:  Right.

But look, the thing is, Haley Barbour, he had no chance.  He polled at, like, half a percent.  So, if anybody was going to beat Obama, it certainly wasn‘t going to be Haley Barbour. 

But I‘m not saying whether some Republican can win.  I think, Steve, the problem that they have is they have got to go really far out right to win the primary, but then everybody says they are not viable in the general election. 

How do they get beyond that problem? 

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM:  Well, yes, I would read—first of all, I put a note of caution into this, and that is, you know, at this point, you know, 20 years ago, George H. W. Bush looked absolutely invincible.  And every big-name Democrat in the country was saying, I don‘t want to run for president, it‘s not going to be our year in ‘92.  And that is the only reason you ever heard of Bill Clinton, and Bill Clinton became president, because nobody else wanted the nomination. 

When you look at the Republican field right now, I think you can kind of split it into two groups.  I think you‘ve got two candidates who, whatever you think of them, they are boring, bland and generic enough that if they get the nomination and the economic conditions are right—that is to say, the economic conditions are not good—they can beat Obama next year.  That would be Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty.

There‘s a third I might put in that category, and that‘s Mike Huckabee.  I think he has done a lot of work to sort of transcend the image of just a Baptist preacher in the last two years.   He‘s a lot more popular now.

Then you‘ve got everybody else.  And I think everybody else is basically entirely unelectable no matter what the circumstances are.  That‘s like Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or Michele Bachmann, all of those guys.

And then there‘s the wildcard.  And like you say, the RNC chairman is even dropping hints about this right now.  Is there that sort of white knight who can come in at the last minute.

And I think a name to watch out there.  I have been saying this for months, and I really think it‘s Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey.

I think he‘s a guy who really genuinely excites the Republican base.  It doesn‘t send off all those warning bells in the sort of elite circles of the Republican Party that he is another Newt Gingrich, that he‘s another Michele Bachmann. 

Again, I know there‘s a lot of people that don‘t like Chris Christie, but I think you‘ve got to say something about the fact that he can go into New Jersey and he can win.  And frankly, he‘s not Mr. Popularity there right now, but he‘s also not like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, where the bottom is falling out. 

UYGUR:  Right.

But, Dana, look, there is these fantasies because they are outside of the race now.  People talk about Jeb Bush.  I don‘t know if they know, his last name is Bush.  Right? 

But once—if a Chris Christie entered, or a Jeb Bush entered, wouldn‘t they go right into the mud?  I mean, you can‘t get—or maybe we are seeing it wrong.  Maybe Mitt Romney or Huckabee, who I think are actually viable candidates in a general election, maybe they can get out of the primary without getting too much mud on them.

I mean, what is your thoughts on that? 

MILBANK:  Well, the problem is the longer these viable names hold back, the more the Republican primary field becomes this circus and people are going to say --  you know, word association, Republicans circus.  And it‘s going to be hard for any viable candidate to overcome that because of this vacuum they have created. 

And yes, there are potential big names out there who could conceivably jump in, but as I think you‘re suggesting there, once you‘re in the race, you‘re under a whole new level of scrutiny and you‘re no longer the white knight coming to the party‘s rescue.  And then we start finding out about positions that that guy changed, or reasons why that guy wouldn‘t be palatable to the base. 

So, what‘s interesting now is we‘re looking at a point where Obama, on paper, should be fabulously weak.  He‘s below 50 percent.  They should be lining up to challenge this guy, and something about the hesitance here tells you where they think things are going to be going over the next 18 months. 

UYGUR:  I think you are right. 

I want to give Steve the last word here.  But first, I want to show you a poll.  It‘s really interesting. 

When, they asked about Obama and the Republicans, well, there was a lot of people who don‘t want to vote either way.  Forty-six percent said that they will definitely not vote for President Obama.  But the same amount said that about Mike Huckabee, and 45 percent said they will definitely not vote for Romney. 

So, Steve, who the hell are they going to vote for? 

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI:  Well, yes.  I mean, I think the story here isn‘t so much that all these Republicans are holding out because they are scared that Obama is going to beat them next year.  I mean,  if the economy turns around, he will beat anybody they throw at him. 

I think the story is the Republicans don‘t have a bench.  I named Chris Christie as the guy who I think could get in and could really make noise on the Republican side.  I don‘t think there is anybody else who is on the sidelines right now who has that potential. 

The only other name like you mentioned is Jeb Bush, and I think for the fact that I stumbled and almost called him George, the fact that everybody has that first thought, it shows you why he is not going to run in 2012.  The Republicans just don‘t have, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that so many of their promising up-and-comers were wiped out in the last two elections, they don‘t really have a talent pool heading into this thing. 

So I think you are looking at a situation where, you‘ve got Romney, you‘ve got Pawlenty, maybe you‘ve got Huckabee, and then you‘ve got to hope if you are a Republican that the party elites can sort of wire the nomination for one of these guys and keep it out of the hands of somebody who is going to sink you in November. 

UYGUR:  Yes, I hear you.  I just—the Pawlenty talk, I‘ve got to be honest, drives me crazy.  That guy has zero percent chance of winning, if you ask me. 

I think Romney and Huckabee, they have a real chance.  You know, they poll well, the Republicans like them, et cetera.  Gas prices being what they are, you never know what happens in the general election.

But Pawlenty, no way.

The guy who was really smart, just last thought on this, is Huntsman, ,who is not going to win this time, obviously.  But he‘s setting up recognition, and next time around, in 2016, if Obama wins, Biden‘s not going to run.  He‘s going to be too old.  That might be an interesting thing, but right now I think when you look at the primaries, I think the Republicans are in some trouble. 

They‘ve got to get out of there as soon as they can, but they‘re not going to be able to.  It‘s going to take a long time. 

All right.  Sorry.  I did a lot of the talking.

Dana Milbank from “The Washington Post” and Steve Kornacki from Salon.com. 

We appreciate you guys joining us tonight. 

KORNACKI:  Sure. 

UYGUR:  All right. 

Now, the folks over at Fox News are using Easter to portray President Obama as a closet Muslim.  Of course they are.  We‘ll show you how badly they mislead their audience.  Some great facts on that.  That‘s our “Con Job of the Day.” 

And Donald Trump says he is now looking into how President Obama got into Columbia University and Harvard Law School. 

Come on, man.  Look, this isn‘t just normal politics, it‘s, I think, deeper and uglier.  We‘ll talk about that as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  And now for our “Con Job of the Day,” let‘s take a look at Fox News‘ latest efforts to depict President Obama as un-American and perhaps un-Christian. 

So what‘s their argument this time?  The president hates Easter.

Fox takes issue with the fact that Obama didn‘t release an official proclamation about the holiday, prompting a Fox Web article that reads: “By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays.”  It‘s interesting that out of all the proclamations that Obama has made, FOX mentions the one about Muslim holidays.  But of course, FOX anchors, well they would never insinuate that the president is a Muslim, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Hey wait, this White House has never had a proclamation on Easter, the most holy of Christian holidays. 

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Now, the president has released statements and proclamation on Muslim holidays, Ramadan, et cetera, et cetera.  Bob, I‘m not questioning his religion but people say, why wouldn‘t he do it on this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  But they would never say that Obama is not a Christian.  Oh that would be tres gauche.  They‘re just implying with a wink and a nod.  Oh, he hates Easter.  And their misinformation campaign seems to be working, it‘s just a pew poll last summer found that 34 percent of conservative Republicans think the president a Muslim, flat out.  They just think he is.  They‘re dead wrong.  And FOX covered the facts instead of republican propaganda, that number might change, because viewers would see that the president took his family to Easter services on Sunday, hosted an Easter egg roll on the White House lawn yesterday and made comments about his faith at an Easter prayer breakfast last week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  There‘s something about the resurrection, something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ that puts everything else in perspective. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Yes, that seems really vague, right?  Where does he stand?  Gee, I wonder.  The guy‘s a Christian, it‘s so obvious, did they show that one on FOX?  Oh no, they didn‘t?  Oh, that‘s really weird.  But you got to hand it to them, man.  The president did not issue an Easter proclamation, so, they got him.  Any president who doesn‘t do that is obviously anti-Christian, right, we can all agree on that, right?  OK.  Good.  Neither did George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan.  Ever.  And they both had eight shots at it.  Did FOX News saying the same segment for Bush?  Where is President Bush‘s Easter proclamation?  That Muslim, no.  Huh.   That‘s really weird. 

All right.  The entire FOX News Channel is our con job of the day. 

Now, Donald Trump just won‘t stop.  He is now questioning how President Obama got into Columbia and Harvard Law.  The implication is obvious.  When we come back, we will discuss, is Trump a racist?  Reverend Al Sharpton definitely has something to say about that, he joins us live, next.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR:  Why doesn‘t he show his birth certificate?

If he was not born here, he can‘t be president.  It would be a disaster.  It would be one of the great cons of all time.

Why he doesn‘t just show his birth certificate?

I hope that someday he can produce it, because I think he is toying with the American public.

I‘ve been told that it‘s not there and it doesn‘t exist.  And if that‘s the case, that‘s a big problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  He was asked that—somebody told me a couple of days ago. 

Look, Trump‘s ugly birther rhetoric has pushing to the top of the polls.  But now, he‘s going even further, showing his true colors with the blistering assault on President Obama‘s academic record.  Full of hence and innuendo without a shred of evidence.  Yet another attack would clear racial overtones. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  He was a terrible student, terrible.  He went to Occidental.  I heard he was a terrible student, not like, OK.  I heard he was a bad student.  How does a bad student then go to Columbia and then go to Harvard?  How did this happen?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  You heard that.  You heard that from who?  It just mixed it up.  He presented no proof whatsoever.  But hey, just asking innocent questions, right?  More from Trump, quote, “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything, and they can‘t get into Harvard, we don‘t know a thing about this guy.  There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president.”  It‘s so obvious what he‘s saying there.  I have white friends who can‘t get into Harvard.  How did this black guy get in? 

Now, for the record, we do know that Obama graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude.  Meaning, he did pretty damn well at the top law school in the country.  And that he served as editor of the Harvard Law review which is basically the top spot in the school.  So, why would you assume he had terrible grades if you have no facts to back that up?  Especially given his amazing academic accomplishments.  Come on, you know why.  Because Obama is black and he went to Ivy Leagues schools, he must not have deserved it, right?

And on his stance on birtherism, why is our first black president, the only one being challenged about where he was born.  Why didn‘t they question Clinton, or Bush or Reagan or McCain about where they were born?  Now, I know what people say, oh come on, obviously they were born in America, right?  They‘re so white.  Did you know McCain was born in Panama?  Somehow, that never became a big issue.  Oh, it‘s a military base.  Imagine of Obama was born on military base somewhere outside of the country.  Now, could President Obama‘s race has something to do with that as well? 

Come on, look, he‘s part of a disturbing pattern with Trump.  A couple of weeks ago, Trump was asked about Obama‘s higher proof of ratings among Africans-Americans in New York.  Here is the response. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I have a great relationship with the blacks.  I‘ve always had a great relationship with the blacks but unfortunately, it seems that, you know, the numbers that used either are very, very frightening numbers. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  The blacks, who says that?  Look, Trump never says that outright, he didn‘t say, oh, yes, yes, yes, I hate black people.  Of course, he‘s not going to say that.  But he doesn‘t have too.  The message is clear.  Barack Obama is different.  He‘s the other.  He didn‘t earn his way.  Why?  Because he‘s black.  Look at them.  You know what you call someone who judges people based on the color of their skin?  You call them a racist. 

With me now is the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Networks, speaking to us from Newark, New Jersey, tonight.  Reverend Sharpton, look, it‘s a high bar to call someone a racist.  Because that‘s, you know, it‘s a very powerful word and you just don‘t throw that around.  But at this point, one thing after another, for me, this school thing broke the camel‘s back.  I mean, why would they question his amazing academic record at Harvard, other than the color of his skin?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  Well, I think that the race overtones are obvious.  I also think that we should not go for the bait of giving Donald Trump another week of media frenzy by making an accusation to him than he denies and going back and forward.  The real question is, where‘s this evidence that he said he had this investigators around to president‘s birth.  It would seem to me that even American woman had gone to Kenya at the time of the birth of President Obama, there would be a passport record or Visa record, all of that would have to come out.  I mean, the fact the media has not really made Mr. Trump come forward since he said, he had all these investigators with an ink ling of evidence.  

Now, he goes into this whole thing of suggesting that by some affirmative action, the president went not to one, but two Ivy League schools and oh, I got it and became the editor of the Harvard Law review.  Affirmative action can‘t make you the editor of the Harvard Law review, Donald Trump.  I think that what Mr.  Trump should be called on by the media is to present his platforms if he is going to run for president.  When I ran for president in ‘04, we had to lay out what we wanted to—what we were running for?  What was our deal with the criminal justice system?  How do we want to deal with families in terms of the economy?  What do we want to do about the structure of how the unemployed were being structurally put into a place of unemployment and minorities double unemployed?  All the way across that we were dealing with energy.  

We laid this out.  We did over 30 debates.  He has not had to do anything but make reckless, unfounded charges against the president.  It‘s time that Mr. Trump wants to be taken seriously, the media ought to take him seriously and make him answer policy questions because he obviously has no evidence to back up anything he is saying about the president. 

UYGUR:  Now, the thing is, we do that night in, night out, he‘s got no proof on the academic record.  He‘s got no proof on the birther nonsense, he‘s got no proof on anything.  Look, when Savannah Guthrie asked him about right of privacy in Roe Vs. Wade, he said, what does that have to do with anything?  This guy doesn‘t know a thing, right?  He‘s joke.  I get that.  My question though in this regard is, what‘s the proper attitude to take?  When he takes this obvious racial, you know, lying with the school, with the birther thing, et cetera, is that right to call him out, not call him out.  What do you do?

SHARPTON:  To me, I think it is right to say the deadline is obviously trying to play a racial overtone.  But let‘s get to the real issue here, this country is facing serious debt, this country has various states and the deficits.  I‘m in New Jersey now, on my way to Elizabeth, rally with unions about that.  This country is facing serious problems in terms of global affairs, foreign affairs as well as in our local communities with education.   What‘s your plan on that, Mr. Trump?  Don‘t let him dictate the conversation.  If he wants to be taken seriously, if he wants to be considered a leading candidate for president, then make him do what the rest of us had to do. 

Answer presidential questions, playing games about the president‘s birth when everyone knows the answer, playing games when people know you cannot be the editor of the Harvard Law Review on affirmative action is to give him a pass.  He is the one that wants to be exception.  If he wants to run, make him strap up his sneakers and get on the track and run like the rest of us run or shut up and go back to your Trump Towers and play the TV host that you are.  It‘s time to put up or shut up.  The race card is not the way to run for president. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Reverend Al Sharpton, very clear, as always. 

Thank you so much for joining us.  We really appreciate your time. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, ahead.  Congressman Paul Ryan has got on the extreme right with his radical plan to privatize Medicare.  And now, it looks like he‘s paying the price.  It couldn‘t take the heat of this town hall today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  This plan does not affect you.  This plan does not—it doesn‘t.    

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Hey, radical ideas have consequences my friend.  We‘re going to show you those consequences when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Paul Ryan is paying the price of his extreme Medicare plan when we show you that, there‘s some great town hall sound bites there, he‘s getting booed, it‘s fantastic.  And by the way, what other story we‘re going to do for you?  A local republican, well, he was definitely against pot smoking until he got busted for, we‘ll tell you.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  A Rhode Island state lawmaker who was criticized by his state government by invoking the image of pot smoking Guatemalans has been arrested for marijuana position.  Of course, earlier this year, Republican State Representative Robert Watson try to highlight his colleagues misplaced priorities by saying, quote, “I supposed if you‘re in gay man from Guatemala who gambles his smokes pot, you probably think that there were onto some good ideas here.”

Gay Guatemalans, they find a new target every day.  Now, the man who seems so concern about Americans smoking pot, allegedly drove to a police checkpoint with marijuana in his car after drinking.  He was arrested for marijuana and paraphernalia position.  “The Providence Journal” reported that Watson‘s eyes were quote, “extremely glassy and bloodshot and then he smelled like quote, “distinct odor of marijuana.”

Of course, he vehemently denied the charges, though he didn‘t made that quote, “trace evidence of marijuana was in the car.”  Which by the way is pretty much admitting the charges.  What‘s in also recently dismissed the debate over decriminalization of marijuana as a waste of legislator‘s time.  I guess that time could have been better spent talking up.

Paul Ryan gets an earful from anger constituents, those awesome clips, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RYAN:  The international average for the corporate tax is 25 percent. 

Ours is 35 percent.  Hey, come on, everybody, let me, all right.

(PEOPLE SCREAMING)

If you‘re yelling, I just want to ask you to leave.  If you‘re just going to scream out like that, it‘s not just polite to everybody.  I mean, look, we got media here.  Let‘s prove to this people that Wisconsinites can be cordial with one another, come on.       

UYGUR:  Look, I love that every time.  Because they were so excited when the Democrats were getting shut shot it down on their town hall events.  They‘re like, ha ha, you got shot it down—come on, come on.  Please stop it.  Now, look, Congressman Paul Ryan is planning his republican fly all the way to right with his plan to privatize Medicare.  And his constituents are obviously not happy about it.  That could be just hurdles from Ryan town hall meeting this afternoon, and that unrest continued. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Being under 54 on Medicare, I already knew I‘m screwed. 

RYAN:  If you‘re already on Medicare, your grandfather is on the current system, that‘s the proposal.  Even if your under 65.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Well, I don‘t, I already knew that I‘m screwed but my concern is.

RYAN:  Definitely everything you read.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Or everything I heard.

RYAN:  Sure.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Thank you.

RYAN:  Not today though, believe that, yes.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  I like that he‘s challenged on it.  By the way, he‘s saying, no, no, no, if you‘re over 55, you‘re fine.  If you‘re under 55 and not on Medicare yet, then you‘re screwed.  Well, thank you very much.  I really appreciate it.  The Republicans of course have shifted the conversations so far to the right now.   

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post argues that President Obama‘s now considered a liberal.  Even though, he has many of the same uses a moderate republican from the 1990s.  But has the GOP shifted the spectrum so far to the right that they form right wing clip?  Look, that‘s what it looks like in their town halls across the country now?  Whether its Ryan‘s district in Wisconsin or you just saw or in Orlando, Florida where Congressman Daniel Webster face outrage from his own constituents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(INAUDIBLE)

You‘re a liar.  You‘re a good damn liar.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  A lot of fun.  For more, let me bring in Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein.  Also joining us is Simon Rosenberg, the founder and executive director of the New Democratic Network.

All right.  Guys, I want to talk to you about both things.  If the Republicans have gone too far right, and if that has shift to the spectrum for Democrats.  Ezra, I mention your article.  I thought it was really interesting.  I know because I was a moderate republican in the 1990s.  And the president is way to the right of me now.  And I have hardly changed any position.  So, it tells why you think that that‘s true.

EZRA KLEIN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  So, I have three examples and I‘m talking here about domestic and economic policy.  The first Cap and Trade plan was George H. W. Bush, he says, it was a clean era of 1990 and it was about acid rain.  As a late of 2007, Newt Gingrich voted for that plan.  By the way, he was saying, Cap and Trade for carbon would be a great idea.  He would quote, strongly support that idea.  An individual mandate health care bill.  That was the republican alternative to Clinton character, the employer mandate and the single payer.  It was created by a guy named Mark Poly (ph) who is the conservative of the communist that—he told me.  I did it because I was worried about single payer.  As late as 2005, Mitt Romney was doing an individual mandate plan as late as 2009.  Chuck Grassley was saying, individual mandates had bipartisan support.  And of course, that‘s what Barack Obama‘s plan. 

And then the final example is a budget deal to cut the deficit with both spending cuts and tax hikes which again George H. W. Bush in 1990, that was his plan.  He said it was necessary and he did it, and it work.  And so, I make two points in the—one is, we sort of shifted the policy debates such that always different things and moderate Republicans wants fought for, and now considered sort of wild life liberal ideas.  And the second is, it‘s odd to see Republicans having abandoned so many of them because they actually work.  The Cap and Trade did and the acid rain problem.  The individual mandate did work in Massachusetts and George H. W.  Bush did set the stage for balance budget in the ‘90s.  So, they‘ve not only given up on their old policies, they‘ve given up on their successful policies too.

UYGUR:  Look, I think that point is inarguable, it‘s the point I always make.  This spectrum has obviously shifted before our eyes.  So, Simon, let me ask you about that.  I mean, when you put in several liberties too, that‘s even worst.  God, right now, we‘re authorizing, dropping bombs on top of the United States citizens without a trial from predator‘s strikes.  I mean, if Reagan did that, people would have gone ballistic, it would have been crazy, would have been unthinkable, right?  I mean, so the hold spectrum has shifted.  Do you think it‘s a mistake for the Democrats to just keep moving further and further right along with the Republicans?

SIMON ROSENBERG, NEW DEMOCRAT NETWORK:  Yes, of course it is.  And I think that Ezra has great analysis here because I think the Republicans, what he‘s saying is that it‘s not just—to the right.  But there have been things that work, and if you look at all the major challenges that we face today, clean energy.  How are we going to get wages and income up again?  How are we going to dealt with the health care crisis in the United States?  The Republicans are not really coming to the table, with anything meaningful.  And what we have is, a political party has become very reckless, very irresponsible, you know, proposing kind of cockamamie ideas at a time of great national challenges. 

And I think the challenge that the Democrats is to not, you know, find equal distance between a bunch of bad ideas that are out of the mainstream.  But to stand their ground and to make sure that they—and I think the president did, I want to get to the president more credit than I think that he‘s gotten on in some quarters, is that I think he‘s drawn a very bright line recently between an economic agenda that‘s focus on investment and people and the future and the republican agenda that is really more—austerity in denial of many of these great problems.  I think the president has created a brighter line here. 

UYGUR:  Right.

ROSENBERG:  And I think that that‘s where we‘ve got to go.  That‘s where the Democrats need to go forward. 

UYGUR:  So, Ezra, now let‘s look at the other side of the corner, right?  So, we think the Democrats have move too far to the right, I certainly believe that fervently, but you know where to match, and the republican have gone even further right, and to your point of rejecting the original proposals and going with more right wing proposals.  But now, look at him, they look like they just ran against the breakwater right there.  I mean, people hate their Medicare plan.  And idea that what happened in Orlando was because people, he‘s like, oh, we‘ve got to give tax cuts to the rich, you know, and that‘s where we‘re to cut Medicare.  People like oh, I got, no, no, don‘t do that.  So, have the Republicans also made a terrible mistake here?               

KLEIN:  An argument—actually goes the other way that what happened is that Democrats moved and Republicans—because they needed way to oppose democratic ideas and moved as well.  So, I don‘t know the date, I think it‘s gone in a very partisan direction as oppose to a sort of the thought to policy direction.  Something interesting that happened when John Boehner was trying to defend the Ryan plan, as he said, you know, the Ryan plan is just like bringing the Obama health care plan to Medicare.  And I thought, you know, John Boehner, I thought you hated the Obama health care plan.  I—his head over and over and over and over again. 

And so, more even than it‘s right or left, what‘s striking about what happened to the Republicans the last couple of years, is that, in their baited to oppose whatever Democrats have done.  They‘re sort of given up on having solutions, or at least they‘ve given up having consistent solutions.  In Ryan, they have a lot of the Obama-care principles, when it comes to Obama-care, they hate all the Obama-care principles, and that‘s going to make it I think very tough of them going forward because they‘ve left themselves, it‘s been easy to be an opposition party, being against everything.  But when you win a house of Congress and then when you actually have to run in the presidential, he need to be force some things again.  But they‘ve not let themselves a lot of good things they can before.           

UYGUR:  Right.  Guys, unfortunately, we‘re out of time.  I love this conversation.  And, you know, the other thing I‘d love to know is when are we going to talk about the progressive budget?  You know, Rachel Maddow has made that point, I made that point.  I don‘t know why the president isn‘t bringing that up.  But it‘s part of moving the spectrum.  But look, Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post,” and Simon Rosenberg from the New Democratic Network.  Guys, thank you for coming on.  Great conversation. 

ROSENBERG:  Sure.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, I want to thank everybody for watching.  Of course, you can follow me online at TheYoungTurks.com where we get into a lot more in depth conversations on this.  We‘re also on YouTube at TheYoungTurks.  You can write to us and I often read your comments, not only on The Young Turks but here on Facebook or Twitter, you see it right there.  And guess what?  “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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