updated 5/6/2011 3:17:48 PM ET 2011-05-06T19:17:48

Guests: Alan Grayson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Lee Papa, Eric Boehlert

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW, from New York.

Now, I know you‘ve been watching Rachel, but the first official Republican debate is just wrapping up on FOX and it was a snoozer in South Carolina.  But we‘ll work our way through the wreckage tonight on that one.

This is THE ED SHOW.  Let‘s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  A solemn day at Ground Zero.

President Bush was asked to participate, but doesn‘t attend. 

Reportedly, he‘s upset that President Obama didn‘t give him enough credit for killing Obama.  Tonight, I‘ll give him the credit he deserves.

Also, more details on that big victory for Democrats on Medicare.

           

And for some reason, Republican leadership in the House won‘t formally recognize the heroes who killed bin Laden.  Dude, where‘s your patriotism?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s great to have you with us tonight folks here on THE ED SHOW from New York.

And this is the story that has me fired up first tonight: President Obama did the right thing.  He came to Ground Zero today to meet with first responders and the families of 9/11 victims.  He also met with firefighters and fired them up with this message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say.  And our commitment to making sure justice was done is something that transcended politics, transcended party.  It didn‘t matter which administration was in, it didn‘t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act—that they received justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Did I just hear President Obama say that it didn‘t matter which administration it was?

President Obama graciously invited former President Bush to the event, but he declined.  Originally, a spokesperson for the former president declined because he said Bush “has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight though he appreciated the invite.”

Well, this morning “The New York Daily News,” they had a different story.  They quoted a source close to Bush saying that President Bush didn‘t come because he feels President Obama hasn‘t given the Bush administration enough credit for killing Osama bin Laden.  The highly placed source was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure of the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and the right as setting in motion the operation that got bin Laden.  It rubbed Bush the wrong way.”

Well, if President Bush and members of his administration want some credit, they have come to the right place tonight.  Tonight, we‘ll give the Bush administration the credit they really deserve.  When President Bush took office, he was warned by Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger to focus on al Qaeda.  In fact, they inherited a plan for getting bin Laden and al Qaeda.  In early 2001 the Bush administration ignored Richard Clarke‘s attempts to focus them on just that, al Qaeda.  They were the problem.

In July of 2001, CIA Director George Tenet tried to tell the president the threat was Osama bin Laden and it was very real.  Bush said at the time, well, he didn‘t want to swat at flies.  In the meantime, the FAA issued at least five security circulars warning of possible hijackings.

On August 6th, 2001, a day that may live in infamy, Harriet Miers delivered the presidential daily briefing at Crawford, Texas down at the ranch.  The presidential daily briefing was titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in the United States.”

The Bush terrorism task force headed up by Vice President Dick Cheney met for the first time on September 10th, 2001.  We‘ll give them credit for that.

And credit for this.  September 11th, 2001, President Bush, here he is sitting in a Florida classroom, reading a book for six minutes while thousands of Americans were running for their lives in Lower Manhattan.  He later claimed that he didn‘t want to scare the children.

September 12th, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tells the president, “There aren‘t any good targets in Afghanistan,” and urges a strike on Iraq.

September 14th, President Bush goes to Ground Zero and delivers this message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  I can hear you.  The rest of the world hears you.  And the people—

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Key word there “soon.”  October 7th, 2001, here we go.  The U.S. Armed Forces launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Not long after, October 26th, 2001, here is President Bush signing the Patriot Act.  The government starts to wiretap Americans without a warrant, just a little bit of a violation of the Constitution.

In December of 2001, bin Laden escapes from Tora Bora because Rumsfeld and top U.S. commander, General Tommy Franks, held back the necessary forces for a classic sweep and block maneuver.

Early 2002, the United States starts using enhanced interrogation on detainees at CIA black sites.  Enhanced interrogation—I guess you could say that‘s a nice word for torture.  We didn‘t know it at the time, but we sure as hell know it now.

March 13th, 2002, just six months after 9/11, President Bush stepped out and said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Again, I don‘t know where he is.  I repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So, let‘s give the Bush administration the credit they‘re looking for.

On August 4th, 2002, President Bush goes golfing in Kennebunkport, Maine, and commented on the war on terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killings.  Thank you.  Now, watch this drive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Serious as a heart attack, huh?

October 7th, 2002, President Bush goes to Cincinnati to scare Americans into going to war in Iraq.  He delivers this lie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So, if we‘re looking for credit, there‘s more.

March 9th, 2003, Bush launches an invasion of Iraq, troop levels in Afghanistan decline slightly, and, of course, bin Laden continues to elude capture.

March 30th, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld told ABC News, “We know where the WMDs are.”

April 1st, 2003, remember this one?  PPC Jessica Lynch is recovered by U.S. forces, what the Pentagon framed as a heroic rescue was later revealed to have been staged.

More credit coming.

May 1st, 2003, President Bush lands on USS Abraham Lincoln and announces “mission accomplished.”

July 2nd, 2003, the war in Iraq escalates and Bush gives this warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  There are some who feel that the conditions are such that they can attack us there.  My answer is, bring them on.

SCHULTZ:  So famous, and never forgotten.

March 24th, 2004, President Bush jokes about WMDs at the Radio and Television Correspondents dinner.  Here‘s a dandy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Those weapons of mass destruction got to be somewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  April 28th, 2004, images of torture at Abu Ghraib are revealed.

September 7th, 2004, the death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, it reaches the plateau of 1,000.

And on October 29th, bin Laden releases an audiotape claiming he personally directed the 19 hijackers that hit the United States.

January 12th, 2005, WMD, weapons of mass destruction, the search in Iraq is declared over.

May 30th, 2005, Dick Cheney said that the insurgency was in its last throes.

Let‘s not stop.  There‘s a lot of credit to go around.

October 26th, 2005, military deaths—that toll reaches now 2,000.  At a time, it was the fourth deadliest month in Iraq.  Do those families deserve anything?

Late 2005, George W. Bush, well, he took the bold action and dissolves the bin Laden unit in the CIA.  You could say that‘s depleting resources.  That‘s arguable.

February 22nd, 2006, Iraq‘s golden mosque in Samarra badly damaged in a bomb attack that kills over a thousand.

November 8th, 2006, Donald Rumsfeld resigns as secretary of defense.

Not long after, January 19th, 2007, the cost of the war—well, it rises to a dandy number of $8.4 billion per month, your tax dollars for lies.

April 16th, 2007, the death toll of U.S. soldiers now reaches 3,300.

April 25th, 2007, Laura Bush tells the “Today” show no one suffers more than their president and I do.

August 7th, 2007, the number of troops in Iraq reaches the highest level of the war with approximately 162,000 forces on the ground.  Followed by the date March 23rd, 2008, the death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq now reaches the plateau of 4,000 lives.

The list could go on forever.  But we didn‘t even include the economic mess Bush handed the president of the United States right now, President Obama.  Listen to what President Bush told FOX News in an exit interview in 2008.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS:  How badly do you want to get Osama bin Laden before the end of your time in office?

BUSH:  He will—he will be gotten by a president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The most accurate prediction that George W. Bush ever made was right there.  It‘s the credit.  It‘s all about the credit.

So, President Obama gets the job done.  And not being an egomaniac, being a man of respect and dignity, being a man that certainly doesn‘t want to scar the office of the presidency, he does the correct thing.  He goes to Ground Zero because the families need it.  The country needs it.

It‘s a time of unity.  It‘s a time to heal.  It‘s a time to move forward.

And the president, in the wake of all the media chatter that‘s out there, he invites President Bush to join him today at Ground Zero and the president says, no, I‘m going to stay out of the spotlight, through a spokesman.  But then the story pops up in “The New York Daily News” today that President Bush is upset that his administration isn‘t getting enough credit.

What bothers me tonight about this story is that President Bush is not out there saying that story is not correct.  I just decided to stay away, maybe for personal reasons.  It‘s not about credit.  And it should not be about credit.

This is a low moment for America.  We have a chance now to bring the country together.

And let‘s just speculate a little bit here tonight if we can.  Do we know President Obama, the kind of character that he has?  Do you think that President Obama would ask former President George W. Bush to come to the Ground Zero memorial where it is and try to discredit it?  Or do you think that he might take a moment—we‘re just speculating here—that maybe President Obama, in front of the families, would have turned and thanked President Bush for his efforts on the war on terror.  But remember, it‘s about that petty thing called credit.

I‘m proud that President Obama took the high road after taking out Osama bin Laden.  He tried to share the credit in a very heartfelt moment with the victims, with the families.  They‘re victims.  They‘re still alive, but they have been victimized by a terrorist who is no longer on the face of the earth.  And the president was ready to take the high road, but because of petty partisan garbage according to “The New York Daily Dews” it‘s about credit—just another sad chapter in the Bush administration years.

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think about this.  Tonight‘s question: is George W. Bush not getting enough credit or too much credit for bin Laden‘s death?  Text “A” for not enough, text “B” for too much to 622639.  And you can always go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining me tonight is former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson. 

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.

FMR. REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Do you believe that the Bush administration deserves any credit for killing Osama bin Laden?

GRAYSON:  Well, Sarah Palin was of course kind enough to give him some credit for that but I‘d like to give him some credit, too.  I‘d like to get him some credit for introducing America to $4 a gallon gasoline.

I‘d like to give him credit for, in the last 18 months of his administration, wiping out 20 percent of our national net worth, taking us from $62 trillion to the result of 200 years-plus of work by people, all the way down to $50 trillion in just 18 months.  That‘s $40,000 out the window for every single man, woman, and child in this country.  I‘d like to give him credit for that.

I‘d like to give him credit for the 50 million Americans who he left without any sort of health coverage, people who can‘t see a doctor when they‘re sick.

So, let‘s give credit where credit is due.  He is the worst president of my lifetime.  For years, I thought he was neck and neck with Richard Nixon.  But now, I‘m convinced he was the absolute worst.  Let‘s give him credit.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, about the story in “The New York Daily News” today, what do you think the real story is?  Do you think that President Bush didn‘t show up today and declined the invitation of President Obama because of credit?

GRAYSON:  I suspect that President Bush might have been passed out drunk the last three or four days, so I‘m not sure he made any conscious decision at all.

SCHULTZ:  Moving forward, why is it that Democratic presidents always have a hard time when it comes to security and Democrats are always on the defensive, and no matter what the scenario is or how the facts are laid out to the American people, it‘s always the Republicans going on the offensive even in a moment like this?  Your thoughts?

GRAYSON:  I don‘t know.  You know, Republicans seem to be good at starting wars, but they‘re not very good at winning them and they‘re certainly not very good at ending them.  It takes a Democrat to end the war, and I‘m still hoping we‘ll see that from President Obama—ending two wars the Republicans started.

SCHULTZ:  And moving forward, do you think President Obama has now secured any kind of rhetoric that might be out there to debunk it right on back that he has this thing known as national security all figured out?  Has his credibility really risen as the polls show it?

GRAYSON:  Yes, he‘s delivered.  He has delivered to the American people on this very important issue.  You could see people cheering in the streets when the word got out.  They‘re as happy as they were on V-E Day or V-J Day, because that particular war is over now.

The war that was needed to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, that has been accomplished.  And it is odd that it happened on the same day on the calendar as George Bush told us “mission accomplished” years and years ago when he hadn‘t accomplished much of anything at all.

SCHULTZ:  Former Congressman Alan Grayson, great to have you with us tonight.  Thank you for your take here on THE ED SHOW.

Remember to answer tonight‘s question at the bottom of the screen.  I want to know what you think.

They wrap themselves in the flag, honor our troops, but only when the commander-in-chief is a Republican.  John Boehner‘s latest attack on the troops.

And, later, FOX News holds a Republican debate and hardly anyone shows up but we‘ll show you the low lights here on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  I would hope that President Bush would issue a statement very soon saying that story in “The New York Daily News” is wrong.  If the tables were turned, the right wing noise machine would be having a field day, don‘t you think?

Next, I‘ll try to make sense of why speaker John Boehner doesn‘t want to honor our troops.

And we‘ll try to figure out why new patriotic songs, you know—love America—you know that song?  Why they haven‘t come out in Nashville, yet saying something about President Obama?  The ones to mark this time in our nation‘s history.

Stay with us.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for staying with us here tonight on THE ED SHOW.

Imagine for a moment that President George W. Bush committed to finding Osama bin Laden instead of insisting on going into Iraq.  Imagine that bin Laden had been captured or killed on Bush‘s watch instead of President Obama‘s.

Now, imagine the Democrats in Congress refusing to honor the mission that brought bin Laden to justice.  Pretty hard to imagine, right?  Well, that‘s exactly what House Republicans are doing today.

Let me explain.  This week, the Senate passed a resolution honoring the men and women who helped take down bin Laden.  They did so unanimously.  Can you believe this?  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate voting 97-0 in favor to do it.

But Speaker Boehner over in the House—well, he doesn‘t want to pass a similar resolution in the House.  He says the mission has already been acknowledged.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I think all of the members have issued press releases recognizing those who are responsible for the success in taking down bin Laden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Did you hear that?  A press release.  That shows you folks just how much they really care.

You see, Boehner banning voting on symbolic resolutions—he did that when he took over in January.  And he doesn‘t think saying thank you to our troops is important enough to break that pledge.  Why not?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  We‘re pretty well committed to the house doing substantive work on the floor of the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Aha!  Substantive work—he must be talking about votes on defunding NPR and Planned Parenthood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  And all of the commemorative resolutions that used to be brought to the floor of the House, some of them I thought were quite meaningless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Really.  So, he must be referring to resolutions members of his own caucus proposed while Democrats were in charge—a resolution to make sure we celebrate Christmas, a resolution to honor a march promoted by Glenn Beck.

But when it comes to our troops, Speaker Boehner thinks a press release is going to get the job done.

Joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network.

It is at this point about respect, is it not?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  No.  It is not only about respect.  It is certainly that and you‘re right.  But it‘s also about at what point do you go above the partisan banter and say there are some things that you step outside of the norm?

I mean, all Americans were threatened and all kinds of Americans were killed in 9/11.  So, I mean, this is not a unified way of saying we‘re going to break out of whatever self-imposed ceremony because it‘s self-imposed.  What will?  Imagine if Nancy Pelosi had said the same thing with the right wing would be saying about her tonight.

SCHULTZ:  Well, it seems Republicans do everything they can for the troops when they‘re in a position to gain.  But in this—who would gain, who would also be recognized, would, of course, be President Obama for making the decision.

SHARPTON:  Exactly.  They would have to also salute the president and the flawless way it was carried out.

And let‘s be clear—and you‘ve been saying it, Ed—this president took tremendous political risk doing this.  Imagine what the Republicans on the floor of the House would have been saying if anything had gone wrong in this operation.  And they would have been able to say and the president‘s own advisers advised against it and he went and did it anyway.

The fact that it‘s the reverse, they want to now—not give him full credit, we see, all of the sudden, the articles saying George Bush wants credit.  We‘ve not seen George Bush‘s people denounced those articles or say those articles are wrong.

So, what are we looking at here?  Even something as serious as this, we can‘t get past partisan banter.  This is, in my opinion, very petty and trivializing something very significant.

SCHULTZ:  Well, should the Democrats in the House smack down this?  I mean, should they make more of an issue of this and just smack down the attitude of the speaker?

SHARPTON:  I think they should press it.  I think they should challenge him.  If I were on that floor, I would make him stand up and argue with me why this shouldn‘t supersede whatever self-imposed rules the House made—really the Republicans in the House made—if they don‘t want to do proclamations anymore.

SCHULTZ:  Everything in the last week, Reverend, has been noted by many as an opportunity to bring the country together.  You have spent a career trying to bring people together in the name of justice and civil rights and what‘s fair in society.

Is it not fair right now for Americans to expect all this partisan bickering to go aside and give due what people are due, and put politics aside?  How should the president try to accomplish that?

SHARPTON:  Well, I think the president has tried the last couple days to do that by reaching out and inviting former President Bush, by trying to set a nonpartisan tone.

I remember when 9/11 happened.  I was in New York.  I lived in New York.  And there wasn‘t the partisan bickering when everyone stood with George Bush when this happened.  Why?  Because everyone faced death that day—blacks, whites, Latinos, common workers is who was killed in that building.

And this is the same man who took credit for killings at embassies in Kenya and killings in Tanzania.  So, you‘re talking about somebody that the whole world could say, wait a minute, this was a bad guy.  I don‘t celebrate anybody‘s killing, but I certainly celebrate stopping something that really touched all of us.

And if we can‘t unite when a precise successful mission went forward, if we can‘t get past the bickering like we did when George Bush was president in 2011 when it happened, I think it‘s a sad commentary on those that can‘t rise to that occasion.

SCHULTZ:  Did the president do the correct thing today?  He is being criticized by a number on the right saying that he‘s taking a victory lap.  The president being here today—was it the right thing to do?

SHARPTON:  I think that a victory lap would have not been to come.  To come and lay a wreath on the grave of those that were killed, to talk to the families of victims is to do the opposite of a victory lap.  It is to really say this is about the lives of Americans that were lost.  This is about trying to give some justice to those who will never have those family members again.

I think by his coming it‘s to put focus back on what this was all about and not about him.  Just walking into partisan or bipartisan gatherings at the White House would have—leaving it there would have been the victory lap.  He brought it back to the scene of the crime, to the victims of the crime—and I think that was not only appropriate.  I think it was applaudable.

SCHULTZ:  Do you think New Yorkers wanted him to do it?

SHARPTON:  I think New Yorkers absolutely wanted him to do it and Americans wanted him to do it because many of us that are in New York, live in New York, and even in the aftermath of this, are living in the trauma of what happened then hoping nothing happens in reaction to this because we lived under this for days, for weeks.  We didn‘t know what was going to happen next.  We didn‘t know where the next thing was coming from.

And the president at that time, George Bush, who got unprecedented support, when he rode down to Ground Zero, decided not to go after who was the one that did it.  He went after weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that was not there.

Many of us felt disappointed in that because he had unprecedented bipartisan rallying around him to say, we‘ve got to stop this kind of conduct on American soil.

SCHULTZ:  Reverend Sharpton, great to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much.

SHARPTON:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

SCHULTZ:  Eric Cantor is backing off the GOP Medicare plan.  He‘s calling it a starting point?  We‘ll tell you what that really means.

And later, the great debate—watch some Division III fireworks take place as the five Republicans talk amongst themselves.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Don‘t you think that this is a day, a week when our country should be very proud of the work that our military, our intelligence teams, and, yes, our president have done?  We should just be busting with pride right now. 

I mean, I think I can say that we—with tremendous confidence—that this was a brave mission based on a gutsy call by President Obama.  I mean, all of us, except maybe one portion of America I‘m waiting on.  And that‘s Nashville, Tennessee. 

You remember these country western singers that just loved to make all these patriotic songs, Lee Greenwood and he‘s proud to be an American?  Toby Keith, come on, dude.  Give me a song, man.  We took down the number one terrorist in the world.  Does it have to be a Republican president all the time? 

President Barack Obama, he waves the flag, too.  Come on, Nashville. 

Give me a song.  If you won‘t do it, we‘d like to hear from our viewers.  If you have a patriotic song or even a rendition of another song already in the can and ready to go, you can go to our blog at Ed.MSNBC.com and leave a link to it. 

We‘ll check them out and maybe even play it on the air, because I think President Obama and the SEALS deserve a song from those fun loving American red necks in Nashville, Tennessee who love Democratic presidents, and it doesn‘t matter who the president is, what color he is, what his background is, what his education is, he‘s an American. 

Give me a song. 

Even Speaker John Boehner is giving himself wiggle room on the Republican Medicare plan.  That‘s because the GOP just got their butts kicked during two weeks of town halls.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.  Republicans pretty much are in disarray after reports that they‘re backing off their plan to end Medicare as we know it.  Today, Eric Canter‘s spokesman said that the starting point is the Ryan Budget, period. 

Did you hear that?  Starting point?  Which means that they are prepared to back off.  Well, just a couple weeks of town hall meetings with constituents saying we like our Medicare as it is.  One of my favorite polls says it all; 80 percent of Americans want Medicare and Medicaid left alone. 

I guess those town halls had an impact.  Remember House Republicans voted yes.  They voted yes for the Ryan Budget.  Then after catching a little heat from the American people out on the road, they began calling the Ryan Budget a starting point. 

The GOP leadership‘s position on the Ryan Budget has left many Republican lawmakers confused, according to a top Republican aide.  The quote is, “it‘s a big problem,” he says.  “Things are unraveling.” 

Good. 

And the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Dave Camp, would be moving—will not be moving on the Ryan Medicare Plan through his committee.  Well, he says, “I‘m not really interested in laying down more markers.” 

That‘s the comment from the House Ways and Means Committee chairman. 

And House Speaker John Boehner said this: “my interpretation of what Mr.

Camp said was a recognition of the political realities that we face.” 

So what does this all mean?  Let‘s bring in Professor Lee Papa, also known as the Rude Pundit, and ironically on the heels of our last segment, we should point out, a graduate of the University of Tennessee. 

Are House Republicans, you know, feeling the effects of really a butt kicking by the American people?  Has this, in a different kind of way, been the Tea Party celebrated by the Democrats out saving Medicare and Medicaid on the road? 

LEE PAPA, “THE RUDE PUNDIT”:  I think so.  I think one of the things I‘ve loved is the look of panic in the faces of freshman Republicans when they‘re at their town halls and people start rising up against them, and they realize, all of a sudden, that Boehner and Cantor have screwed them. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, the Republicans are so disciplined when it comes to message.  How did this unravel? 

PAPA:  I think that they misunder—they misunderestimated?  I sound like George W. Bush.  They under estimated—

SCHULTZ:  A lot of that going around tonight. 

PAPA:  They under estimated what they were elected for by the Tea Party even.  They talked jobs and taxes.  And then all of a sudden, they come in talking Medicare and Medicaid.  And some 50-year-old guy woke up and put away his powdered wig and tri-corner hat and realized this is real. 

SCHULTZ:  What does this say to the White House when it comes to negotiating with Republicans that, you know, they will back down?  They filibustered just about everything.  They did in the last session of congress.  It was a record number of filibusters in the Senate.

But does this prove that there is a breaking point?  And does this prove that there is some wiggle room in the budget?  What do you expect out of the Republicans? 

PAPA:  I think that they‘re going to play a good publicity game.  They have to keep pleasing those Tea Party people.  And they have to keep pleasing that conservative punditocracy.

But I think they know that with Republican senators like Lamar Alexander already backing away, with their presidential candidates not signing on to the Ryan Budget, that they need to demonstrate that they are willing to compromise.  I think that‘s what people want. 

SCHULTZ:  So is it safe to assume that the Republicans have still no health care plan other than to destroy what the last Congress passed? 

PAPA:  Well, they have to keep up with their quota of hurting poor people and the elderly. 

SCHULTZ:  Moving forward, what do you think is going to happen with the budget?  Where is this going to end up? 

PAPA:  I think it‘s going to end up in—they‘re going to try for a stalemate.  You hate to think about this in political terms, but certainly Obama‘s hand has been strengthened with the citizens of the country, considering the events of the last week. 

SCHULTZ:  Does Wisconsin—is Wisconsin, in your opinion, really a microcosm of what‘s happening across America?  We have seen all of these radical Republican governors go after public workers, go after budgets, in a manner in which we have never seen before.  And now they‘re seeing things unravel a little bit in Washington. 

What does that mean?  Is there a correlation? 

PAPA:  I think there is going to be a retrenchment on the state level. 

You see the state governments going after Medicaid very strongly right now.  And I think that if they‘re going to lose the battles at the federal level, then they‘re just going to take it down, like every other issue, to the states. 

SCHULTZ:  Professor Lee Papa, the Rude Pundit, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

Coming up we‘re going back to the wall.  Corporate profits going through the roof and income inequality in the United States is getting worse.  We got a story to tell.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for staying with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.  Folks, America is hurting when the middle class is at risk of turning into the haves and the have nots.  Let‘s go to the wall.  The numbers tell the truth. 

Profits for large—the largest 500 companies in the United States soared by 81 percent over last year, according to “Fortune Magazine.”  Even the editors of “Fortune” have come forward and said, we‘re rarely seeing such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans. 

It turns out that income inequality in America is higher than at any other time since the Great Depression.  Take a look at this.  Income inequality in the United States, no doubt, is on the rise.  We‘re not as bad as Uganda.  That‘s good to know, isn‘t‘ it?

But we‘re worse than Pakistan, Ethiopia, and some other countries.  This doesn‘t happen in a vacuum.  It happens when taxes on the rich, the richest Americans, are at their lowest level in decades, you know, the job creators. 

It happens when all of those corporate profits just don‘t trickle down into more jobs, and when the big banks don‘t make loans to ordinary Americans.  It happens when the middle class feels the effects of declining union membership. 

This is the graph that tells the story about the middle class.  As union membership decreases, the middle class income shrinks in this country. 

Here it is.  Since 1967, as you see union membership with one line, you see middle class incomes with another.  If I had to use only one graph on this big Eddy board, this is the only one I would ever need. 

I‘m still waiting for a Republican to come in here and tell me that unions don‘t help the middle class and all wage earners in this country when it comes to setting the bar.  And by the way, the average compensation of CEOs at the big companies in this country was more than 11 million dollars last year. 

An average salary of 11 million dollars a year.  Let‘s compare that to the salary of a Navy SEAL.  SEALS have been in the news quite a bit lately.  Wow.  Millions versus a pittance.  The base salary of a Navy SEAL is about the same as that of a teacher.  You know how teachers have been under attack, 55,000 dollars a year, according to Think Progress. 

Look at it.  This tells you something about what the value is in America when it comes to who‘s getting the job done.  It really doesn‘t matter.  It‘s just a matter of who can get into position to control the money, because it really doesn‘t trickle down, and fairness is not in our system. 

It‘s kind of everybody for themselves in this economy.  It‘s the battle of the minor league all stars, the great Republican debate, minus all the front runners.  Next, commentary on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Finally tonight here on THE ED SHOW, there‘s an old saying; when you don‘t have any ideas, you don‘t have anything to talk about. 

Here‘s who did not attend the very first Republican debate of the 2012 campaign season.  Palin wasn‘t there, neither was Bachmann.  Can you believe that Bachmann turned away the camera time?  I can‘t believe it.

Trump, Romney, Mitch Daniels, Huntsman, Gingrich and the Huckster, Huckabee.  None of them were there tonight.  Pretty lengthy list, if you ask me.

Come on, I thought you wanted to president.  Get into the debate. 

This is what it‘s all about. 

The debate hosted by their friends at Fox News, and of course the South Carolina Republican Party.  It just wrapped up a few minutes ago.  Five guys did show and say some stuff.

But the most interesting part of the snooze fest was when the conversation turned to the people who weren‘t there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I supported him.  I‘m running now rather than supporter Mr. Romney because he did not win.  So I‘m going to try my time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Congressman Paul, a lot of folks consider you the founding father of the Tea Party movement.  Now Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has founded and heads up the Tea Party Caucus in the House.  Has she eclipsed you?

REP. RON PAUL ®, TEXAS:  Well, she‘s not here tonight, so—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And the division three fireworks didn‘t stop there.  Three of the five candidates—this is good to know—they‘re running on a torture platform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Raise your hand if you would support a resumption of waterboarding under any circumstances.

TIM PAWLENTY ®, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA:  Under certain circumstances?

(CROSS TALK)

PAWLENTY:  Certain or any?

WALLACE:  Under any circumstances that you could imagine, not all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Leave it up to Pawlenty to word smith it.  Joining me now is Eric Boehlert, senior fellow, Media Matters.  Great to have you with us tonight.  The online chatter, of course, out there is that Herman Cain won the debate tonight.  He‘s coming out of nowhere, very flamboyant.  He‘ll say stuff.  He knows he has nothing to lose.

What do you make of Romney and the rest of the crowd not being in there?  Why the calculation of them not to be there tonight?

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS:  I think it‘s an embarrassment for Fox News.  I mean, this is the Fox News primary.  The Fox News primary season has begun.  We always knew this was going to be a unique campaign because there was going to be a Fox News candidate.

They are no longer sort of observers the way these networks were in the past.  They are an active participant.  This was their first bell that they rang.  As you pointed out, half the people didn‘t show up.

So that‘s sort of embarrassment for them.  And who knows?  I mean, the politics is—it‘s already a late season.  Nobody—a lot of the players aren‘t still in.

Here‘s the gaffe: if you listen to Rush Limbaugh, if you watch Fox News, if you‘re on the right wing Internet, Obama is a monster.  He‘s a socialist.  He‘s destroying this country.

But then they have a debate and they can‘t find enough people that want to run against Obama.  There seems to be a gap there.

SCHULTZ:  Gingrich and Santorum have had their contracts terminated by Fox News.  I guess they were on suspension for a while, but now it‘s a done deal.  They‘re out the door.  What‘s that mean?

BOEHLERT:  It doesn‘t mean much, as Media Matters has found.  Between the time they were suspended and now, they got just—almost as much screen time as before.  So this seems to be sort of a little charade that Fox News might be doing.

Now, if Santorum and Gingrich in the coming months are basically not on Fox News at all, except for debates—we‘ll see—that‘s a clear change.  But right now it seems sort of a word game.  And they have to decide about Huckabee.

SCHULTZ:  Interesting question tonight; Ron Paul got asked about heroin.  Are these the type of questions that you‘ve got to answer correctly to win the GOP nomination?

BOEHLERT:  I guess.  I mean, he has a unique position.  He sort of, you know, dances with this legalization.  So he is going to get some of the stranger questions. 

SCHULTZ:  Tim Pawlenty—I think you could look at this debate tonight as an opportunity for someone who doesn‘t have very good name recognition to take advantage of the opportunity.  For some of these candidates, they just couldn‘t pass it up? 

BOEHLERT:  Yeah.  I think so.  But if the reports are true that Herman Cain sort of beat Pawlenty.  And he is sort of up against what people are describing as the B and C team.  That probably doesn‘t bode all that well. 

SCHULTZ:  Candidates got asked about bin Laden‘s death photo, and a lot more hand wringing here.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you could raise your hand, if as president you would put out a photo of a dead Osama bin Laden.  Just to be sure, Mr.  Cain, you would not? 

HERMAN CAIN, GOP CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT:  I would not. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What do you make of that? 

BOEHLERT:  Well, it‘s interesting.  This is part of the debate.  The Republican party and the conservative movement seems to be split.  I mean, there are definitely Republican members of Congress that agree with the White House, which is pretty rare these days that they agree on anything.

So it doesn‘t seem to be a slam dunk case except in the extreme right wing. 

SCHULTZ:  Eric, when do these candidates have to show up?  When do they have to get in? 

BOEHLERT:  I would think by June, you know.  NBC and “Politico” moved their debate back I think, the next big event they have to be in. 

Again, this is sort of embarrassing.  Fox News is the player in the conservative movement.  They put out the call and they couldn‘t even get a full lineup. 

SCHULTZ:  Who is Fox backing right now through—giving the analysis of Media Matters when you dissect their wordsmithing, who are they really behind? 

BOEHLERT:  Well, six or eight months ago, it was clearly Sarah Palin.  Two months ago, six weeks ago, it was Donald Trump.  The candidates that they get behind seem to be flaming out. 

I don‘t know if I was running for the White House if I‘d want to be the next Fox News candidate. 

SCHULTZ:  Based on the answers tonight from what I saw and from what I‘ve heard in my earpiece, Donald Trump would have done pretty well. 

BOEHLERT:  He would have made headlines.  He is much—he is better with the quips and that sort of thing.  This was a very wordy night.  Nobody‘s going to remember this debate in three hours.

SCHULTZ:  But of course I endorsed him.  So I would say that Trump did the best job.  I‘d love to see him get it. 

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters, great to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

Tonight in our text survey, I asked is George W. Bush not getting enough credit or too much credit for bin Laden‘s death?  Six percent say not enough; 94 percent of you watching say way too much. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, we‘d like to take you to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  I‘m now on Sirius and XM, the radio show, “The Ed Schultz Radio Show,” channel 127 from noon to 3:00, Monday through Friday. 

Glad to have Sirius as part of the Ed family.  I‘m glad to be a part of their family. 

“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now.  We‘ll see you back here Monday night.

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