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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday April 28, 2011

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

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Guests: Peter DeFazio, Robert Reich, Nicole Sandler, Richard Wolffe, Amy

Holmes, Wayne Grayson

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

Today we saw 10 billion reasons why the oil companies‘ rigged game in Washington is not working for the American people.  Exxon Mobil reported $10.65 billion in profits through just the first three months of this year.  That‘s up 69 percent from last year. 

These obscene profits were fueled by rising gas prices.  Regular hit $3.88 a gallon today.  The earnings make a mockery of oil industry claims that they need $4 billion in corporate welfare checks handed out to them each year by the federal government. 

President Obama says these tax breaks and subsidies add up to a massive redistribution of wealth with taxpayers on the losing end. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  For $4 billion, we could do an awful lot.  And you know where we could get $4 billion?  By ending taxpayer subsidies we give to oil companies and gas companies. 

(APPLAUSE)

That‘s profits coming from your pocket into their pocket.  They‘re making enough profit. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Here-here.  Preach it.  Teach it. 

Now, the Republican response?  Drill, baby, drill.  Oh, for God‘s sake.  Come on, man. 

So, next week, they‘re going to start working on bills to fast-track drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and expand leasing areas off the coast, all with an eye toward doubling oil production in the Gulf over the next five years.  That way, oil companies can make even more money. 

Hey, by the way, have they shared benefits with you guys?  I mean, since they are making so much in profits, they must have given you a break on gas prices.  Right?

They haven‘t?  That‘s weird.  I thought the Republicans told me that if we give the largest corporations in the world huge tax breaks, somehow you would benefit. 

Instead, you got incredibly high gas prices.  Hmm.  Strange. 

Unsurprisingly, people are furious about these subsidies, and now Republicans are facing real pressure to roll them back.  Remember, for one magical moment this week even John Boehner seemed to be in favor of ending the subsidies.  Of course, he quickly backpedaled on that when his staff reminded him who signs his checks. 

Now, none other than Paul Ryan is also feeling the heat.  Check him out today at a town hall in this video from Think Progress. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The subsidies for the oil companies that the federal government gives, they‘ve got to stop. 

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  End the oil company subsidies.

RYAN:  I agree. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You will gain a lot of that money in the red back. 

RYAN:  Right. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  You agree?  That‘s strange.  Why did you vote against ending the oil subsidies twice then? 

Ryan says he agreed, but he also went on to talk about tax loopholes and shelters, not subsidies.  So, is he playing word games here?  Probably, because you know who he works for.  He works for the oil companies. 

Now, a similar thing happened to GOP Congressman Denny Rehberg, who was grilled on the subject at a town hall on Tuesday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNY REHBERG ®, MONTANA:  Everything is on the table as far as I‘m concerned, and that would be—the subsidies for oil companies would be one of them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, Rehberg also voted twice this year to extend the tax breaks for big oil.  Now he‘s having second thoughts all of a sudden.  He doesn‘t like how those town halls are going.  People are on to his game. 

So are several other GOP lawmakers, including Georgia‘s Tom Graves and South Carolina‘s Mick Mulvaney.  All of a sudden, they‘re all having second thoughts.  Fascinating, how that works.

Now, Democrats in both the Senate and the House are now fighting to schedule votes on these subsidies and force Republicans to go on the record once again defending big oil.  I like that strategy, because if I was them, I would tell the Republicans, go ahead, do it.  I dare you. 

Tell us why the American people need to give $4 billion in welfare to these gigantic oil companies.  I double dare you. 

Well, joining me now is Congressman Peter DeFazio.  He‘s a Democrat from Oregon.  He‘s part of the people daring them.  He‘s a member of the Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Progressive Caucus.  Also with us former labor secretary Robert Reich, now an economics professor at Berkeley and the author of “Aftershock,” which, lucky for you, is just out on paperback. 

All right. 

Congressman DeFazio, let me start with you.  What‘s your reaction to these gigantic oil profits?  There‘s nothing wrong with profits, but at the same time, $4 billion of our money going to them, how is it in any way justifiable? 

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON:  Well, it‘s extraordinary manipulation, essentially extortion.  Their volume is only up 10 percent, but their profits are up 69 percent. 

Now, how does that work?  Did they become incredibly more efficient? 

No. 

They are hand in glove with the OPEC people, with the market speculators, who are driving up prices unnecessarily over this panic about, well, what about Libya?  What about the three percent of oil that they produce?  Which OPEC is, of course, replacing.

And Exxon Mobil says, well, we don‘t set prices.  They‘re set in the world market.  And, on the other hand, they say, but if we had more domestic drilling, prices would be lower.  Well, wait a minute.  Prices are set in the world market, and if we added a little bit here in the U.S., the world market would change?  No. 

So, basically, they are kind of boxed in here.  And I believe that this is—they‘re profiting in numerous ways here. 

But all the way up their integrated supply chain, they are saying, well, our refineries are doing better, our distribution is doing better.  And we‘re only making a little bit of money at the gas pump.  Yes, because they are taking huge profits before the gas gets to the pump. 

UYGUR:  Well, Secretary Reich, you know, the Republican philosophy is, if we help the giant corporations, eventually it will trickle down to you.  But Exxon‘s profits went up 69 percent and the GDP climbed only 1.8 percent.  That‘s very low.

Is it possible that, actually, these big oil company‘s profits and the high gas prices are actually dragging the economy down? 

ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY:  Yes, they are dragging the economy down, Cenk, because, obviously, when Americans are paying almost $4 a gallon for gas, that means less money in their pockets to buy everything else that is produced in the United States by American workers.  That means more layoffs.  That means a slowing economy. 

So it‘s very difficult for the oil companies to argue, as they have tried to argue even today, that the high prices and the high profits are justified and responsive to a growing economy, when in fact they are slowing the economy. 

UYGUR:  Well, let me stay with you for a second, Secretary Reich, because Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans say, hey, if we do more drilling, at least that will bring down the price of gas. 

Is there any truth to that? 

REICH:  Absolutely not.  First of all, it is a world market.  That is, if we were to drill and create even 300 billion more barrels of oil, which is kind of the maximum anybody expects we could possibly get, that would bring down gas prices only a tiny bit because it goes all over the world.  I mean, it replenishes gas and oil all over the world. 

But, secondly, Cenk, it takes a very long time for oil, even more oil, to find its way through refiners and to gas stations, which means that it would be a year or more before gas prices would actually decline. 

And finally, there‘s no evidence at all that additional drilling in the United States or on the Continental Shelf is actually going to bring down gas prices.  It‘s actually—given the monumental profits that oil companies are now making, there‘s no reason that those oil companies have to actually use those additional leases. 

In fact, they have been sitting on leases.  They haven‘t even been using the leases they now have.  They just want to show higher balance sheets because they can show that they have more land on which they could potentially drill. 

UYGUR:  Now, Congressman DeFazio, I want to show you some of the numbers here. 

Oil company PAC donations in just the last three months is $285,000. 

Of course, John Boehner has gotten a nice chunk of that.  He got $15,000.  Other Republicans like Senator Barrasso, Representative McCarthy, Representative Upton, Representative McKinley, they are all cashing in. 

When you look at the overall numbers, oil and gas contributions to John Boehner in his career, for example, is over $346,000.  So when I say they pay his checks, that‘s exactly what I‘m talking about.  And overall, in 2010, the oil and gas companies spent over $146 million in lobbying. 

So, do these Republicans care about the policy whether the gas prices go up, they go down, the drilling makes a difference, it doesn‘t make a difference, or is it simply that they are bought by the oil companies and that‘s why they do their bidding? 

DEFAZIO:  Well, there‘s certainly a lot of evidence that there‘s undue influence that comes with those contributions from the oil industry.  We aren‘t doing things that make sense for the American people. 

Remember, the other big factor here is market speculation.  Part of the financial reform was to limit position limits in trading of oil by speculators, financial speculators.  That hasn‘t happened yet because of pressure by the Republicans—they, in fact, want to undo that reform—pressure from Wall Street and, yes, the oil companies. 

Guess what?  Exxon Mobil trades, too.  And they make a pile of money because they know where the prices are going. 

So, we have both speculation, market manipulation, and undo influence on the policymakers.  It‘s a very bad combination for consumers. 

Consumers have got to get mad about this and push back and demand.  I mean, insult to injury. 

Give them a subsidy?  Come on.  That‘s a no-brainer.  If we can‘t do away with that by next Tuesday at midnight, when we go back in session, I think then the Republicans are just silly. 

UYGUR:  Deep trouble.  Yes.

Look, people are starting to get really mad about it.  Giving away our money is crazy. 

Now, Secretary Reich, let‘s talk about that speculation, because Congressman DeFazio brings up a good point here. 

We know the drilling, at most, creates a three-cent difference, as you pointed out.  That might or might not happen within a year from today.  But some are saying the speculation costs are as much as 70 cents a gallon. 

Is that really true?  Is that part of what‘s driving up the gas prices here? 

REICH:  Well, you know, the thing is, Cenk, we don‘t know very much.  A lot of this market is shrouded in secrecy.  We don‘t know how much of it is speculation.  That‘s why we do need to know more. 

Undoubtedly, when you see prices going up like this, when you see prices responding to potentially the tumult in the Middle East, other people‘s and other buyers‘ expectations that prices are going to go up, you have every reason to believe that speculation is going on.  And that‘s why, as the congressman says, Republicans have been pushing back on financial reform.  What we need to do is make sure that this kind of speculation is prohibited and fully transparent. 

UYGUR:  And I want the audience to understand one of the reasons that they don‘t want to end this speculation, which seems crazy to you and I, is because, again, they get paid by the bankers.  They get paid to protect the banks and to protect the oil companies, who are both getting incredibly rich off of those high gas prices that they‘re killing you and me.  Right.

So, Congressman DeFazio, the last question goes to you in terms of what are we going to do about it? 

Now, is it possible that the Democrats can say, hey, listen, we‘re not going to get any budget deal, we‘re not going to budge on your spending cuts, et cetera, et cetera, until at the very least, you take away this $4 billion a year in oil subsidies that is just nothing but corporate welfare? 

DEFAZIO:  Well, that‘s a minimal starting point.  That should be a no-brainer from what—the Republicans running from this issue now. 

We shouldn‘t even have to ask for that.  We should ask for something a little bigger. 

Maybe we have a speculator tax to try and rein in speculation, and we also move the Commodity Futures Trading Commission—move their proposed limits forward now, and we could do it legislatively.  We have got to stop this speculating on the market that is adding so much to the price that is dragging down our economy, as the secretary pointed out. 

If the Republicans, if they really care about the American people and about our consumers, and about the future of our economy, they will join with Democrats here.  We‘re certainly going to offer those sorts of things when we come back.  And I‘ve been offering them for a number of years. 

Remember, the Enron loophole is not yet closed.  Ken Lay is dead, Enron is bankrupt.  But we‘re still allowing the speculation that Enron muscled through during the Bush years to go on. 

UYGUR:  And you know that question to Congressman Ryan came from a conservative area in his district.  So I think a lot of the voters are getting it. 

And if you‘re a conservative, why don‘t you ask your Republican congressman, why do you continue to protect the banks and the oil companies?  It‘s a great question.  And I love that they are doing that in the town halls. 

But tonight, Congressman Peter DeFazio and Secretary Robert Reich, thank you both for joining us.  Really appreciate it. 

DEFAZIO:  Thanks. 

REICH:  Thanks, Cenk.

UYGUR:  All right. 

Now ahead, outrage at Paul Ryan‘s radical plan is boiling over at Congressman Allen West‘s town hall.  Why was this progressive constituent who wanted some questions answered handcuffed, thrown in jail, and maced? 

Nicole Sandler is here live to tell this unbelievable story. 

And Donald Trump responds to being called a racist, except his newest outrageous comment doesn‘t help his cause at all.  Even the Tea Party is turning their backs on him. 

And here‘s a quote: “I don‘t know how anyone survived.”  That was from the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  That‘s what he said after these massive tornadoes left a path of destruction and devastation so fierce, that the mayor doesn‘t even recognize parts of the city that he grew up in. 

We are live in Tuscaloosa tonight.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLIE GIBSON ®, NEW YORK:  In a decade, the plan‘s going to be broke.  So something needs to be done to save it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tax the rich! 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Tax the rich!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  How much do I love that?  You heard the people, “Tax the rich!” 

Look, that‘s great, because the Republicans always pretend that there‘s no other way to balance the budget than cutting services for you.  But there is, and people have figured it out. 

Have the top bracket and corporations pay their fair share.  What you just saw there was New York Republican Representative Charlie Gibson getting pushback because of his vote for the Paul Ryan plan.  And he‘s just one of many congressmen who are feeling the heat from constituents. 

Some, like North Dakota Representative Rick Berg, seemingly can‘t handle the heat, so instead what they‘re doing is rewriting history. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you vote to eliminate Medicare as it is today?

REP. RICK BERG ®, NORTH DAKOTA:  No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You voted yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  Yes you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Once again, score one for the informed constituents.  It is inarguable that Congressman Berg voted to end Medicare as it is today.  It is a lie to say otherwise. 

But his voters weren‘t done with him yet.  And they also want to know what happens to people under 55. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERG:  Fifty-five or over, OK, absolutely no change.  Absolutely no change in this Medicare proposal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As long as you‘re over 55.  If you‘re 54 --

BERG:  Let me just—this is a problem.  I want to show you this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So to hell with those people, is that what you‘re saying?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Again, they‘re right.  Why would the Republicans exempt people over 55 if they thought it was such a good plan?  Wouldn‘t they want current retirees and people over 55 to be able to bask in their wonderful Medicare plan too? 

Of course the reality is that they know the plan is disastrous for Medicare, and they didn‘t want to face a wrath of seniors.  So, basically, they told people under 55, to hell with you.  We‘re taking away your guaranteed benefits. 

And a new study really emphasizes just how costly that is for all of us.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that the Ryan plan drives Medicare costs up $34 trillion over a 75-year period.  Now, look, I know that‘s a long time frame, but $34 trillion?  What happened?  I thought the free market solutions were supposed to lower costs, not dramatically increase them. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALLEN WEST ®, FLORIDA:  We‘re talking about bringing in competition and free market solutions.

NICOLE SANDLER, HOST, “THE NICOLE SANDLER SHOW,” RADIOORNOT.COM: 

You‘re talking about privatizing it.  That‘s not competition.  That‘s adding a profit motive to it.

I want to know how a profit motive makes Medicare more efficient.  How is a 75-year-old who‘s obese with high blood pressure going to get insurance?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, that was Nicole Sandler.  And she was arrested after asking that question. 

Now, why was a constituent arrested for asking a question at a town hall event with her congressman?  That‘s crazy. 

Well, Nicole joins me now to help answer that question. 

Nicole is also the host of “The Nicole Sandler Show” at RadioorNot.com.

Nicole, great to have you here. 

SANDLER:  Thanks, Cenk.

UYGUR:  Yes.  And I‘m glad you‘re out of prison.  This is crazy. 

(LAUGHTER)

UYGUR:  So, first, let‘s talk about how this town hall was structured so people get a sense of what happened. 

SANDLER:  Well, they called it a town hall meeting, but when I got there, we were given cards to fill out in order to ask our questions.  Sorry, to me a town hall meeting means constituents get to talk with the congressman and ask questions and have back-and-forth.  If I had known it was going to be a lecture, I probably wouldn‘t have shown up. 

UYGUR:  You know, it‘s funny, because I saw the first question that they asked, and of course I want the audience to understand this because it‘s important.  You go to a town hall, you get to ask your congressman questions. 

But if they prescreen the questions, you just get the questions that they like.  The first question was, “How many czars does Obama have and how much does it cost us?”  Of course they selected that one, because they loved that question. 

SANDLER:  Right.

UYGUR:  So it makes a mockery of the whole town hall. 

So, you said—you thought, all right, I‘m going to ask a question anyway.  Now, look, Nicole, some people might have thought that‘s rude.  You‘re not listening to your congressman and how he structured the meeting. 

But why in the world were you arrested? 

SANDLER:  Good question.  When I was—right after that clip you played, I was told I would have to leave.  And a bouncer kind of guy was called over, a Fort Lauderdale police officer, who grabbed my arm and escorted me out. 

And as we were leaving, there was some media around me and asking me questions, and I finally stopped.  And the police officer kept grabbing me and pushing me. 

And so I stopped.  I turned around.  I had a little flip camera with me.  And I said, “I want your name and badge number.”  And he said, “Fine,” and then turned around again, he pushed me again, and at that point I screamed at him. 

And I said, “Get your hands off of me!”  I think I said it a few times pretty emphatically.  And at that point, he said, “That‘s it.  You‘re under arrest.” 

I was like, really?  I mean, my boyfriend was there, and he said, “What are the charges?” And he said, “Trespassing after warning.” 

I know.  Right?  I don‘t know if you have seen the police report, Cenk, but apparently the officer accused me of physically accosting him, said I pushed him repeatedly.  The video clearly shows the opposite, right? 

UYGUR:  Right.  No, look, I saw the video.  It‘s not a matter of witnesses.  It‘s on tape.  And it‘s just not what he said. 

And the other thing that amazes me is it took about 30 seconds or less for them to come get you.  It‘s not like you were up there giving a lecture for two minutes or five minutes and not letting anyone else speak. 

I mean, if you can‘t ask a 20, 30-second question at a town hall event and be arrested for—what was it, trespassing without—

SANDLER:  After warning. 

UYGUR:  After warning.  You had been warned not to ask questions of your congressman.  Nicole, why didn‘t you listen?  What did you think, this was a democracy? 

SANDLER:  Actually, I did, Cenk.  You know, I thought it was a democracy. 

And the fact that I‘m arrested for going to a town hall meeting and trying to ask my congressman a question is absolutely absurd.  I‘ve heard what he wants to say.  I want my congressman to listen to what I have to say, and that‘s why I went. 

UYGUR:  And by the way, did he ever answer your question?  Because your question was actually excellent. 

SANDLER:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  It was about privatizing Medicare.  And that‘s the real question here, how is that going to affect things?  And did he ever give an answer?  Or since you weren‘t fawning over him he doesn‘t answer those questions? 

SANDLER:  That‘s it, I guess.  And, in fact, I wasn‘t there, so I don‘t know if he answered it. 

UYGUR:  That‘s a good point.

SANDLER:  But from other people who were there, yes, they told me, no, of course not.  He just went on with his talking points. 

UYGUR:  Nicole, one other thing.  In jail, what did they do?  They put you in a cell by yourself and then you apparently got maced.  Why did you get maced? 

SANDLER:  Yes, because I dared to challenge the guard.  The Broward County Police Department—or Broward County Jail guard who—he put a bunch of us in a room, and they forgot about us for over an hour and left us in this sort of storage room. 

And when we got out, I told him he owed us an apology.  And he got all sarcastic. 

And I said, “We‘re human beings and we deserve an apology.”  So he put me in solitary confinement, which plays weird tricks with your mind. 

Finally, I asked to be out when they brought lunch.  He told me no.  But then the door to the cell opened, so I stepped out, sat down on the step right in front of it, and he saw me and started yelling at me to get back in the cell. 

And I said, “Please, sir.  Please just let me stay out here.”  And he said, “Are you disregarding my order?”  And I said, “Well, please just let me stay out here.” 

And he sprayed mace—I mean, like, a lot of mace in my eyes, my mouth, my face, my hair, to the point where they evacuated the whole ward of all the women that were in there because their eyes were burning from it. 

UYGUR:  Well, Nicole, you should have known not to challenge President Mubarak like that.  I mean Congressman West. 

SANDLER:  I‘m sorry.  I thought this was America.  I thought we were in America.  I thought this is what we‘re supposed to do.  Right? 

Democracy is a two-way street. 

UYGUR:  Exactly. 

By the way, so the audience knows, eventually, Allen West said that if you support Medicare the way it is now, that it will mean the end of America.  You can kiss it good-bye.  That means he‘s simply admitting absolutely that he does not believe in Medicare as it is now. 

But Nicole, thank you for joining us and sharing your story with us. 

An amazing story.  Thank you. 

SANDLER:  Thanks so much, Cenk.  I appreciate it. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, freshman Congressman Scott DesJarlais—if I‘ve got that right -

is a quick learner when it comes to Republican hypocrisy.  He promised to repeal the health care law, but you‘ll love what he did instead.  That‘s our “Con Job of the Day.” 

And of course it‘s not over.  Donald Trump has more to say about the president, but we‘ve got something to say about him.  We‘ll show you what a charlatan this guy is, and you‘re going to love the China and the Harvard stories. 

You don‘t want to miss that. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  And now for our con job of the day.  We‘ve got a Tennessee congressman who railed against the federal health care law but you‘ll going to be shocked to find out, he doesn‘t mind getting credit for what it pays for.  Really?  Freshman Congressman Scott DesJarlais campaigned on a promise to repeal the health care overhaul and he actually voted to do so in January.  DesJarlais said, he was just doing what the people wanted. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS ®, TENNESSEE:  By voting to repeal this unnecessary health care bill, we will effectively put a stop to the creation of a massive entitlement program that we did not want, we do not need and we cannot afford. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  So, you can see under no circumstances would he take money from this hideous program, he just voted against, right?  Right?  Well, as Think Progress points out, DesJarlais constituents in Crossville, Tennessee, seem pretty pleased to have gotten a $4.5 million grant from the affordable care act to build a new health clinic.  In fact, the state health commissioner says, the clinic will help care for the areas, large uninsured population.  Now, that‘s exactly one of those things that the health care bill was supposed to help with.  But instead of condemning this grant as a hideous socialist handout, DesJarlais sent one of his aides to deliver the check.  So his office takes credit for what he desperately tried to destroy. 

I‘ve been covering politics for over 15 years.  But these politicians, they still amaze me.  So, DesJarlais hates government involved in health care except when he‘s the one handing out the check.  That‘s our con job of the day.  Now, Donald Trump launched another attack on President Obama.  Of course he did.  Now republican senator is bashing him and demanding to see his birth certificate.  How does this affect the Republican Party? Richard Wolf and Amy Holmes on how popular Trump is with the republican voters any way and why that is?             

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Donald Trump‘s tower of trash is piling up even higher with new details exposing his outrageous hypocrisy.  One of Trump‘s biggest targets is how President Obama has handled China.  Trump claims Obama is too soft when it comes to China‘s economic policies with the result that American manufacturers just can‘t compete. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR:  How can our economy ever be strong, ever, when we have other countries making our product?  It can‘t happen.  China is making our products.  They‘ll going to be bigger than us because they are making our products. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, are you ready for this?  Guess who has a line of clothing and accessories, many of which are made in China.  Trump.  Of course.  So, you‘re attacking Obama for looking the other way on China while literally giving them your business.  So, Donald Trump, are you proud of the fact that your businesses buy from China?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I buy a lot from China.  I buy a lot of things from China. 

Not that I‘m proud of it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Wait, you‘re not proud of it?  Good thing you‘re still doing it then.  And criticizing President Obama for it.  And yet Trump‘s hypocrisy train keeps rolling ahead.  Trump says, he heard from a mysterious source that Obama was a quote, “terrible student.”  Even though we know that President Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.  You almost literally cannot get better grades than that.  But Trump says, he‘s got questions about how a terrible student can get into top schools.  Quote, “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can‘t get into Harvard.”

But it just so happens Trump knows one guy whose son apparently didn‘t get great marks and did get into Harvard any way.  Real estate developer Charles Kushner who‘s son Jared just happen to marry Trump‘s daughter Ivanka.  Charles Kushner reportedly pledged $2.5 million to Harvard in 1998.  Daniel Golden, formerly of “The Wall Street Journal,” now of Bloomberg news, writes that the donation apparently did the trick.  Quote, “Jared was not in the school‘s highest academic track in all courses and his test scores were below Ivy League standards.  School officials were surprised when he applied to Harvard and dismayed when he was admitted.” 

That‘s his own school official saying, I can‘t believe they let this kid in.  It‘s amazing what $2.5 million will do.  But Trump is complaining about Obama‘s grades, when a white kid with a record of bad grades gets into Harvard, well, that makes sense.  When a black kid with great grades get in Harvard, that‘s still not good enough, his black, he must not have deserved it.  Gee, I wonder why people think that this has racial overtones.  Trump is undaunted anyway and now he‘s launched an even more of these racially attacks on President Obama. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  You look at what‘s happening with gasoline prices where he said he has no control over prices, which he does if he gets on the phone or gets off his basketball court or whatever he‘s doing at the time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Come on?  Really?  Get off the basketball court?  Look, if he just said that outside of the rest of the context, you might say, oh well, you know, Obama plays basketball.  But within the context of every other thing he said including I get along great with the blacks, now he says Obama should get off the basketball court?  Come on, man.  Look, it‘s not just me calling him racist anymore.  And by the way, I‘m not afraid to say that.  I think Donald Trump is a racist.  But now people raising from Jesse Jackson to Bob Schieffer, having asking the same question.  Bob Schieffer? 

OK. 

With me now, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe and Amy Holmes, co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “America‘s Morning News.”  All right.  Great to have you guys here.  Richard, you‘re right here. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Look at this.  Good to have you in the studio. 

AMY HOLMES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I wish I could be there. 

UYGUR:  Amy, one day.  One day, it‘s going to be great.  So, let me start with you, Richard. 

WOLFFE:  Yes.

UYGUR:  We got all this stuff.  Despite this or maybe because of this, new poll out, Rasmussen, Trump at number one in the republican field, 19 percent. 

WOLFFE:  Nineteen percent.  Makes you number one, right?  And in this environment, everyone says, well, that means he‘s got some mojo but really, he‘s not going to get any further.  Now, what they speaks to is that, in addition to having a multicandidate field, that‘s going to be enough in this scenario to capture this hardcore.  There is a group of Republicans who is yearning for someone in the space.  Someone outrageous, populous, who can capture media attention and punch the president in the face.  That‘s what it amounts to.  If it‘s not Trump, it will be someone else.  But let‘s be clear here, if this is the peak of the bubble and I think most people would say it is, 19 percent is going to be heavy for him but it‘s never going to get him over the top. 

UYGUR:  Well, I hear you.  But on the other hand, you can make the same case for Huckabee or have anyone else.  They have less than him.  You know, so, who‘s to say they‘re not speaking?  Look, I agree with you.  I think he‘s probably speaking, that people are going to get tired of it.  On the other hand, what does it say about the Republican Party that he‘s leading?  I want to ask Amy that question.  Amy, do you think it‘s because of this nonsense or despite this nonsense that he‘s leading?

HOLMES:  Well, I think it‘s because of this nonsense that he‘s putting himself out there.  And, you know, taking shots punching Obama in the face as Richard put it.  But I agree that Donald Trump does not have a chance to become the republican nominee to go up against Barack Obama.  “USA Today” had a poll out this week that found that 31 percent of Republicans who were asked said that they thought the Trump would make a poor or terrible president.  Sixty four percent of Americans who are asked said that they would not vote for Donald Trump.  So, I think what this says about the republican field is that it‘s a weak, field that the other candidates are not drumming up this kind of support and enthusiasm that you would want from your republican  nominee.  I think basically people have as much interest in the GOP candidates right now as they do the Royal Wedding which is to say not much. 

UYGUR:  Now, look, I‘m going to be a little tougher.  I‘m going to be a little tougher on the Republicans, Richard.  Because I don‘t think it‘s just that it‘s a weak field.  I think the republican voters like Trump.  I mean, you can say it‘s because he‘s punching them in the face.  I hear you, right?  But maybe it‘s because, partly because he‘s being populous.  So, I hate China.  He said China is raping us.  OK? 

WOLFFE:  Right.

UYGUR:  You know, but at the same time he‘s saying things that seem racist to people from ranging from me to Bob Schieffer who is not a, you know, fire thrower by any stretch of the imagination.  Maybe it says something about the republican voters that they like that kind of stuff. 

WOLFFE:  Yes, look.  Not only is it ridiculous because it‘s Trump and it‘s overblown and everything else.  But none of the things that matter to Republicans does he stack up.  So, he says he‘s against abortion.  How does his social conservative credentials stack up to his personal life?  Never mind his previous position on abortion.  How does his business policies, populous stack up to the realities of the business word?  The United States is part of the well trade organization.  You cannot just slap a 25 percent tariff even if you want to, even if you think it is the right thing.  We are hemmed in. 

Republicans who fund this party know that, they know that you cannot just go to OPEC and say lower the oil prices.  Don‘t you think other presidents would have tried?  So, his business proposition doesn‘t stack up.  His social conservatism doesn‘t stack up.  All he has is being outrageous about the president and if that‘s all it takes for this group within the Republican Party, I don‘t think it‘s all republican voters but that 19, 20 percent, then that is really republican.  Those people will vote independent if this guy or Ross Perot type figure, if there‘s an independent third party person that comes in with this kind of agenda, they‘ll do it, they‘ll run independently. 

HOLMES:  And that‘s a big fear for the GOP. 

WOLFFE:  Amy, let me ask you this.  But, yes, that is.  But I think that if the other candidates are watching this, they got to be thinking to some degree, hey maybe I should emulate this.  That‘s how politics works, right?  So, is this going to drive them farther right wing or is it going to say to a guy like Huckabee, hey maybe my populous stick can really work here, because at least the populism side of this seems to be working. 

HOLMES:  Well, if the other candidates are looking at this and seeing how they drove a Donald Trump‘s negative, they‘re not going to be emulating this.  In fact, I think a lot of people looking at this thing, this is a flame that is going to burn out very quickly and probably already has.  As for the racist charge for Donald Trump, I think that‘s too easy.  I think that Donald Trump is something more and that would be a malignant narcissist.  Now, I confess, I do not have a degree in psychology.  But if you were to run together, all  of this self-regarding things that this man has said about himself, that‘s what‘s great about being me and I‘m a very smart man, I‘m a very, you know, all of this kind of stuff.  And remember the ugly things that he said about Rosie O‘Donnell, he called her a pig, I mean, it was really outrageous and unspeakable.  This is the guy who‘s willing to hit below the belt no matter who it is or what it‘s about to be able to advance his cause and his interest. 

UYGUR:  Amy, I‘m going to actually disagree with you a little bit here.  And let me tell you why.  I don‘t think that Trump is a racist in terms of, you know, like he hates black people.  He can‘t stand them or anything like that.  But as far as assumptions, stereotypes, et cetera, I mean, when you got a guy who graduated magna cum laude, head of the Harvard Law Review, there‘s literally not a single position probably in all of academia that is all prestigious at that in terms for a student, right? 

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES:  As a Princeton graduate, I would disagree.  Donald Trump, I think would, you know, this is a kind of guy who would try to, you know, take shot at Steven Hawking‘s intelligence.  I mean, let‘s remember that he has made a carrier of being a bully.  That is the basis of his TV show.  You‘re fired. 

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Three different attacks seem to be centered on his race, right?  So, if he‘s. 

HOLMES:  Well, they actually centered on his intelligence and to sports right in this. 

UYGUR:  Yes, I‘m not buying it.  OK.  I see, clearly I think a lot of people in the country see clear racial overtones to what he‘s saying and I don‘t it‘s an accident.  I mean, he‘s a clown but his savvy enough to be at 19 percent at the top of the polls, so I think what it is, is he thinks this is what these guys like, a little bit of racial overtones. 

All right.  Look, great conversation anywhere you slice it.  MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolfe and radio show host Amy Holmes, you guys are great.  Thank you for joining us. 

HOLMES:  Thank you. 

WOLFFE:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, the southern part of the country just had the deadliest storm in 37 years.  It‘s amazing.  We had a mile wide tornado that left more than 250 dead.  Can you imagine what a mile wide tornado looks like?  That‘s amazing.  The scene of the destruction was unimaginable.  We‘re going to go live to Tuscaloosa with a reporter who survived the storm and has some amazing stories to tell.  That‘s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  We‘ve got the deadliest storm in 37 years in this country.  It‘s amazing.  We‘re going to get a live report from on the ground to see what happened, that‘s coming up, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Total devastation, that is the effect of the tornadoes that had ravaged the southern United States.  The National Weather Service reports that 137 twisters touched down across the region.  That‘s an amazing number.  And as many as 280 people were killed in six states.  Making it the deadliest tornado outbreak since 1974. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  We can‘t control when or where a terrible storm may strike.  But we can control how we respond to it.  I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover.  And we will stand with you as you rebuild. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Overnight, the president declared an emergency in the hardest his state which is Alabama.  Where more than 190 people have died.  And over a million are without power.  FEMA officials have been dispatched to help coordinate relief efforts.  Tomorrow, the president himself will travel to Alabama to meet with survivors and emergency response teams.  Some of the worst storm damage was in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.  Where a mile wide tornado left a massive path of destruction.  It‘s hard to even imagine that.  The mayor of Tuscaloosa said the devastation is so bad, there are parts of the city he doesn‘t recognize and he doesn‘t know how anyone survived. 

Joining me now from Tuscaloosa, Alabama is Wayne Grayson, he‘s a reporter for the Tuscaloosa news.  Wayne, first, when did all of this strike and where were you?

WAYNE GRAYSON, REPORTER, TUSCALOOSA NEWS:  The storm actually came in around 5:00 or 5:30.  It‘s kind of hard to tell a time frame.  Everything kind of moved so quickly.  To be honest, you know, we had known that the storm was going to come for a couple of days.  It was definitely big news here on all of the local channels and definitely a lot of our stories focused on that.  And for that, you know, for yesterday we were kind of just waiting for whatever was going to happen and, you know, around 4:00 it kind of seemed like maybe nothing was going to happen, but then we received word that a tornado had been on the ground in Geiger, had touched down in Geiger which is about southwest of here.

And it would be here within an hour, and hour and a half.  And at that point, sirens started going off near the newsroom and actually our editors came to us and said, if you have any friends or family or pets even that you would like to bring here to the newsroom and, you know, get down in the basement and hunker down and get ready for this thing, feel free to bring them up here.  And at that point, I actually called my wife and she ran and got our two dogs from our apartment, which is actually just about a mile from where I‘m standing here, and brought them to the newsroom.  And we all got together and huddled in the basement of the newsroom together and waited it out.  We didn‘t actually see or hear the tornado.  Thankfully, it was, you know, it came nowhere near us, that unfortunately, you know, you go a couple miles down from the newsroom here on 15th street which is right in front of me here and that‘s where the path is clear as day.  Whenever we realized that—go ahead. 

UYGUR:  So, Wayne, obviously you have to be inside when this thing hits, right?  That‘s why the news reports were so important.  Because if you‘re caught outside and you‘re in its path, there isn‘t much you can do, right?

GRAYSON:  Yes.  Absolutely.  But, you know, the reporters and the writing staff was inside.  But we had two of our, you know, amazing photographers—caught at the car and actually a videographer—who were actually out on the streets, caught video, caught photos, some of Dusty‘s photos have been in a lot of the papers around the country today.  They actually braved it and got out here.  And it took a lot of guts to do that while, you know, we were inside, just kind of waiting for it to blow over, so we could go to assess the damage.  But we were very eager to get outside. 

UYGUR:  Wayne, I hear you.  Tell us what‘s happening on the ground now.  How bad is the damage and what are people suffering through?

GRAYSON:  You know, it‘s kind of hard to describe the damage.  You know, especially for someone who spends their time writing and describing things, you know, and when you get back to your desk and you have no idea how to put things into words, it can make things very difficult.  But to basically sum it up, you‘ve got about a mile from here in a neighborhood called Alberta, it has been flattened.  It‘s definitely, it‘s may be the hardest hit area. 

UYGUR:  Right.

GRAYSON:  And folks there not only have their homes been knocked down, they also don‘t have any food.  They don‘t have any water.  And they don‘t know where they‘re going.  So, that‘s the scariest thing about all of it. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Wayne Grayson, thank you so much for the report. 

We‘ll be right back.       

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Now I‘m going to try to explain to you guys how the Fed and the banks basically colluded to rob us.  OK.  And in terms you can understand, imagine that you lent some money to a friend.  He said, look, I‘m in dire need, and I need $10,000.  Are you crazy, 10,000, that‘s so much?  But, you said, all right, I‘m going to give it to you, and of course, you‘re a friend, I‘m not going to charge you interest.  But at some point, you needed the money back, and so, you go to your friend and said, all right, give me the 10,000 back.  And he says, all right, but I‘ll loan it to you at three percent.  Wait a minute.  I gave you the money in the first place.  What do you mean you‘ll loan it back to at three percent?  What would you think of that guy?  At the very least, he‘s a jerk, right?

I don‘t think you wouldn‘t talk to him again.  But look, that‘s what the banks did on a gigantic scale to all of us.  A newly released study from the Congressional Research Service shows that banks borrowed from the Fed at nearly 0 percent and then lent it back to us at around three percent.  For example, Bank of America.  They borrowed at the comically low rates of .25 to.5 percent and they lent it back to the treasury at 3.5 percent.  Now, they did this with at least $15 billion.  Do you know how much you would make if you got to ran that same scam?  About $450 million, free. 

It pays to know someone at the Fed.  Now, this is all done on your dime.  For example, again, JP Morgan Chase, they borrowed .3 percent.  They lent to the treasury at 2.1 percent.  They did that with about $20 billion that they borrowed from you.  And the list goes on and on.  At one point, the Fed sort of giving out money at .0078 percent, that‘s free money.  And they lent out at about $3 trillion that way.  Do you know what the banks were supposed to do with that money by the way?  They were supposed to lend it out to you, the consumers and small business, did they?  Nope.  Around 2009, same time period credits to households went down $234.5 billion and for non-corporate businesses they went down $296 billion.  They didn‘t give you the money.  They didn‘t lend it to you.  They just took it.  You should be really mad at that.

If somebody do to you in your personal life, you know, you would be, but they did.  That‘s the show everybody.  HARDBALL starts right now.

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