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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday July 6, 2011

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Guest Host: Al Sharpton

Guests: Joe Walsh, Bill Press; Pat Buchanan, Richard Wolffe, Joan Walsh,

Michael Eric Dyson, Sam Stein, Matt Lewis, Ward Connerly

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  President Obama unloads on Republicans.  Now, are they ready to compromise? 

Tonight, budget boiling point.  The president says quit using the debt ceiling as a gun against the American people. 

Republicans, he‘s not playing. 

           

Michele Bachmann makes a move.  She‘s surging in the polls.  Is Mitt Romney getting the message now? 

Plus, America, meet the new spokesperson for the gas and oil plot (ph).  Just wait until you hear about how Congressman Mike Kelly defends taxpayers subsidizing America‘s richest companies. 

And is George W. Bush secretly plotting to ruin a fellow Texan‘s presidential hopes? 

Welcome to the show.  I‘m Al Sharpton. 

Tonight‘s lead: fight to the debt. 

At a Twitter town hall today, President Obama blasted Republicans for using the debt ceiling as a hostage in budget talks. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners. 

Today, Republicans definitely did not sound like they are in a mood to make a deal.  At the White House, budget talks are set for tomorrow. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Thursday‘s meeting will give us a chance to see if the president means what he says.  Until now, the president‘s proposals have been inadequate and frankly indefensible. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  So will Republicans compromise even a little to get a deal, or do they just want to be the party of no? 

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Joe Walsh from Illinois, a freshman lawmaker who was elected just last year with Tea Party support. 

So, Congressman, are Republicans using a gun against the American people in these budget talks like the president says? 

REP. JOE WALSH ®, ILLINOIS:  Hey, Reverend Sharpton.  Good to be with you. 

You know, I‘ve got to—just to start, I‘m amazed he uses that type of analogy.  I mean, if a Republican talked that way, the media would jump all over him.  The man‘s got no shame. 

Look, this debt ceiling issue, this crisis, has got to be dealt with.  And we‘re not holding a gun to anybody‘s head.  But I am not going to place another dollar of debt on the backs of my kids and my grandkids unless this city structurally changes the way they spend money. 

SHARPTON:  Well, wait a minute.  No shame, so therefore you are saying that it is not shameful for Republicans to say that seniors with Medicare and people that are poor with Medicaid should sacrifice but people with private jets, with all kind of corporate loopholes, they shouldn‘t sacrifice?  We‘re talking about shame here? 

WALSH:  Again, Reverend Sharpton, the president‘s got your talking points.  If I had a dollar for every time he said “tax on private jets,” I‘d be a millionaire. 

He does not understand—and I said this last week, the train passed him by.  He doesn‘t understand how serious the spending crisis is, and he has no clue as to what he has done to contribute to this crisis. 

SHARPTON:  Well, let me ask you, Congressman—

WALSH:  But the American people passed him, Al.  They‘re passed him on this. 

SHARPTON:  If it‘s that serious, then why are we talking about those that have the most, not having to invest the most?  And if the American people have passed him by, then why, according to all of the polls that we have seen, the American people seem to be on the opposite side of what you‘re saying? 

The American people are clearly saying they want to see the rich pay more.  They clearly want to see Medicaid and Medicare not be touched. 

So what American people are you referring to?  Eighty-one percent want to raise taxes on millionaires.  Seventy-four percent want to end oil and gas subsidies.  Seventy-six percent want to protect Medicare. 

What American people are you talking about? 

WALSH:  Here‘s who I‘m talking about.  I‘m talking about the American people who sent people like me to Washington in January because they did not like what this president was doing, they did not like the fact that he added $4 trillion to our national debt in a mere three years. 

Look, here‘s what I‘m talking about.  You want a poll, Reverend Sharpton?  Seventy percent of the American people support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution because they don‘t—they don‘t—they don‘t believe that politicians in either party are going to balance their books like most Americans have to. 

I‘ve got a balanced budget amendment in front of the House right now.  The Senate‘s got the same.  We are going to change the way this town does business. 

We‘ve got an opportunity here to pass a balanced budget amendment. 

And Mr. Sharpton, Reverend Sharpton, wouldn‘t that be a great thing? 

Wouldn‘t that be a great thing?

SHARPTON:  What would be a great thing is that if we were able to deal in a rational way where American people are protected that are working class people, and not just protecting one end of the American economic ladder, those of the wealthy. 

Would you say, right now, looking at the American people that you just talked about, that you would go for seeing those that are wealthy begin to pay their fair share?  Just go back to the taxes they had before they got a cut.  Don‘t raise their taxes.  Let‘s just go back to the normal taxes they paid before they were given a tax break. 

Would you agree to that? 

WALSH:  Again, I think—

SHARPTON:  Would you agree to that, Congressman? 

WALSH:  Hold on, Reverend Sharpton.  You know what?  We would solve the deficit crisis again if the nation had a dollar every time the president raised a tax on private jet owners.  He‘s not serious.  He knows that‘s not going to do a thing.

SHARPTON:  I didn‘t ask you about the president.  I asked you about Congressman Walsh. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  And I‘m telling you this—he‘s playing politics. 

SHARPTON:  Would you look into that camera and tell the American people that you would love to see this country get on its economic shell (ph) foot by going back to where we have the same taxes that we had before the rich got their tax cuts?  Because, clearly, by any number of studies, if we went back there, we would gain a lot of money to cover just about where we are, this deficit, over a period of years. 

WALSH:  Hey, Reverend Sharpton, you make me a pledge.  Come out in my district with me and—

SHARPTON:  You can‘t answer a question with a question, Congressman.

WALSH:  I‘m going to right now.

SHARPTON:  I‘ll answer anything you want.  I‘ll come to your district if you want.  Just answer my question, Congressman. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  -- Reverend Sharpton, and they are overtaxed and they‘re over-regulated to death.  This president is destroying the private economy in this country. 

So when he talks about a tax on private jet owners, I don‘t take him seriously.  He‘s been doing nothing, sir, but playing politics for five months.  But the country has tuned him out. 

SHARPTON:  For the third time, you keep telling me about the president.  I know your feelings about the president.  I‘m talking about you. 

Will you say that we need to go back to the pre-Bush tax cuts so we can cover the deficit?  Will you say that we need to quit giving a discount to those that have the most so the people in your district will be able to deal with some of this deficit being brought down and we have a fair tax in this country? 

WALSH:  All right.  Are you ready for an answer? 

SHARPTON:  I‘ve been waiting for an answer for three questions. 

WALSH:  Reverend Sharpton, are you ready for an answer?  OK.  Here you come, my friend.

SHARPTON:  I would love it if I get one now. 

WALSH:  All right.  Here you come—no.  This country, in one word, no. 

This country is already overtaxed and over-regulated.  This city of Washington, D.C., has a spending problem, sir. 

We are spending way our kids‘ and our grandkids‘ futures.  The Republicans in the House understand that. 

SHARPTON:  Really?  Is that right?

WALSH:  The Senate hasn‘t passed a budget in two years, and this --  

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON:  Let me show you something.  If we eliminated—let me tell you something—let me give you an answer. 

If we eliminated—look at this graph. 

WALSH:  I gave you an answer.

SHARPTON:  If we eliminated the Bush tax cuts right now, we would have $3.9 trillion over 10 years -- $3.9 trillion is what we would have.  You‘re going to tell me that doesn‘t mean anything to the people in your district?  That doesn‘t mean anything to the American people?  When we are facing this kind of deficit, when we have people in the military—

WALSH:  Reverend Sharpton, you‘re not being honest, sir. 

SHARPTON:  -- we have people that are on Veteran Affairs that are suffering, that doesn‘t mean anything? 

WALSH:  Reverend Sharpton, you‘re not being straight.  And the president‘s not either.

SHARPTON:  That‘s a fact.

WALSH:  You want to balance the budget by taxing the American people, you‘re going to have to tax all of them. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  No, baloney.  You are going to have to tax all of them. 

SHARPTON:  That‘s not taxing people.  That‘s eliminating the discount. 

That‘s not raising one tax.  That‘s stopping the tax cuts.

WALSH:  And that‘s what this president is doing.

SHARPTON:  Congressman Joe Walsh—

WALSH:  You want to do something of substance?  Pass a balanced budget amendment.

SHARPTON:  -- thank you very much.

We will.  Thank you for your time. 

WALSH:  Thank you, Reverend Sharpton. 

SHARPTON:  Now let‘s bring in our MSNBC political analysts, Pat Buchanan and Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show” on Sirius Radio. 

Good evening, Gentlemen. 

BILL PRESS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Reverend Al.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Reverend. 

SHARPTON:  Well, let me start with you Mr. Buchanan.

How do you deal with the fact the president started today—said today in his Twitter town hall meeting that the Republicans should not be trying to put a gun to the head of the American people? 

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s the president of the United States who has engaged in an act of extortion.  What he is doing, Reverend Sharpton, is this—he is telling the Republicans in the House, look, you can go ahead and pass the increase in the debt ceiling that we want, and you can pass the budget spending cuts that the Senate Democrats and Republicans agree upon.  But if you don‘t give me new taxes, I will veto it and put this country into default. 

That is an act of extortion. 

SHARPTON:  What new tax?

PRESS:  What new tax?  Right.   

BUCHANAN:  The president is asking for tax revenues, and Republicans say look—

SHARPTON:  What new tax, Mr. Buchanan?

PRESS:  What new tax, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  Al, are you going to let me respond or what? 

SHARPTON:  Yes, if you‘re going to respond. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  I‘m going to respond. 

SHARPTON:  All right.

BUCHANAN:  Republicans believe in their heart, and they have made a pledge, and they don‘t know of economic philosophy where you raise taxes when the economy is flat on its back, Al. 

SHARPTON:  How are you raising taxes to eliminate tax cuts?  That‘s not raising taxes. 

BUCHANAN:  What you are doing—let‘s take the executive airline industry, Learjet, Cessna and the others.  You hammer them with taxes, which is what you‘re doing.  And that industry will go overseas, just like the yachts and the boat industry went overseas. 

(CROSSTALK)  

SHARPTON:  Bill Press, can you believe that Pat Buchanan is having a fit for private airplane owners and yacht makers, his own words, not mine, when while we‘re talking about saving Social Security and Medicare?  I mean, my heart is really bleeding now.  And to cancel tax cuts is not raising taxes, Bill. 

PRESS:  All right.  First of all, you know, I think, look, Pat has written a lot of books.  Pat is a master of the English language.  He knows damn well he‘s not telling the truth when he says the president wants to raise taxes. 

He does not want to raise taxes.  And Pat cannot name one new tax that the president is leveling.

And let‘s deal with the fact.  Everybody agrees we‘ve got to raise the

debt ceiling.  Everybody agrees we have to couple raising the debt ceiling

and this is a big win for the Republicans.  Never done before with a long-term budget plan to bring down the deficit. 

And now everybody agrees also that it‘s got to be a balanced approach.  So they‘ve agreed to $1.6 trillion in cuts, and what the president is saying is there‘s $400 billion in tax subsidies, tax giveaways, as Al, you mentioned, to the oil companies, to the corporate jet owners, to the hedge fund managers, that we can no longer afford. 

Now, if the Republicans don‘t buy that—you know what?  As David Brooks said yesterday in “The New York Times”, they are idiots.  They don‘t know how to govern.  They won.  They ought to take yes for an answer and take this deal. 

SHARPTON:  Mr. Buchanan, David Brooks, who‘s a conservative columnist, said, come on.  You‘re no longer acting like a normal party.  You‘re marginalizing yourself. 

I mean, can‘t you even hear from your own people that ideologically have agreed with the Republican line? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, Reverend Sharpton, you showed some polls just a minute ago that showed 80 percent or 70 percent don‘t agree with the Republican on this or that or the other thing.  If the Republicans are standing up for their convictions and beliefs against a tide of public opinion, that may be political courage and it may be political conviction.

Now, on David Brooks, I don‘t agree that he‘s a great conservative, Al.  I think I‘m known as a conservative.  But let me talk to Bill Press‘ points. 

You mentioned yourself, Al, let‘s go back to the Bush rates.  You‘re talking about raising taxes. 

We don‘t believe when the economy—when guys are out of work, 16 percent of our labor force is underemployed or unemployed, do you hammer the private economy.  Now, just one more point. 

You mentioned the yachts.  I don‘t have a yacht.  I went down to—

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON:  You mentioned the yachts.  You mentioned the airplanes. 

BUCHANAN:  Al, I went down to Bay Water Boats down in Georgia when they had the luxury tax.  They used to make a hundred boats a year.  They were making one a month.  All these working class guys, black and white, lost their jobs. 

PRESS:   Hey, Al—

SHARPTON:  Go ahead, Bill.

PRESS:  Do you remember—I just want to say, remember there used to be this old “New Yorker” cartoon—a guy walks into this yacht show room, right?  And the salesman says to him, “If you have to ask what the price is, you can‘t afford it.”  It‘s the same thing. 

Look, I‘m not going to sit here and weep for these yacht owners and these corporate jet owners.  If they can‘t afford to pay their taxes, they can‘t afford the damn jet.  But they do not deserve a special break.  Neither do the hedge fund managers.

You want some numbers?  That‘s $3 billion, right? 

SHARPTON:  That‘s right.

PRESS:  Three billion dollars for the corporate jets.  That‘s $33 billion over 10 years.  Four billion dollars for the hedge fund managers.  Forty-four billion dollars.  And for people to walk away from those savings like Congressman Walsh did is just dead wrong. 

SHARPTON:  Let me ask you this quickly because I‘m running out of time.

Pat, Bill, who‘s going to win this? 

BUCHANAN:  The Republicans, if they stand firm and they stand by their convictions.  President Obama will cave, Al, as he always does. 

PRESS:  Al, let me tell you, Obama is not going to cave.  Republicans have already won.  If they don‘t take this deal—I think Obama should stand tough, take a lesson from Mark Dayton in Minnesota, and let them shut down the government and pay the price. 

BUCHANAN:  He will have to shut down the government, Bill.  He‘s got the veto power. 

PRESS:  Well, then veto the damn thing. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON:  Pat, I‘m waiting to see the yachts have a march around Washington in the Potomac River.  We‘ll have a big yacht protest by the elite. 

BUCHANAN:  Al, those workers I saw down there don‘t make as much money as Al Sharpton does. 

PRESS:  We‘ll go for a rid on Pat‘s yacht, Al.

SHARPTON:  And I‘ll pay whatever tax is my share, and I won‘t explain complain about it. 

PRESS:  Exactly.

SHARPTON:  In the spirit of the president‘s town hall meeting today, later in this show I will be answering your Twitter questions live.  Everything from the deficit to dead-ender Republicans is fair game, so tweet me @TheRevAl.  We‘ll read some of them live at the end of tonight‘s show.

Coming up, can Michele Bachmann stop the Mitt Romney express?  A new poll shows she is the only one running with a real shot to stop Romney. 

Plus, bought and paid for.  A Republican congressman defends big oil.  And now we know the real reason why.  Incredible Republican hypocrisy, made to order. 

And is the Bush family working against a Rick Perry presidential race? 

It‘s getting ugly down there in Texas, and we‘ll have the story. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  The GOP presidential field is in real trouble, and today we got some evidence that it might even be in crisis. 

The race has become a between establishment candidate Mitt Romney and Tea Party queen, Michele Bachmann.  No one else is even close. 

The field is so scattered, that Ron Paul is tied for third place. 

Even Rudy Giuliani is polling high, and he‘s not even in the race. 

And the Republican fund-raising is lower than John Boehner‘s golf score.  Romney is trouncing the field with just over $18 million.  But other establishment favorites like Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman are barely hanging on.  And Newt Gingrich‘s campaign is on life support. 

So is this it, or is Michele Bachmann emerging as the Tea Party‘s battering ram against the Willard Mitt Romney? 

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, and with me, editor-at-large for Salon.com, Joan Walsh. 

Let me ask you first, is the Bachmann threat a real threat, Richard? 

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, she is a threat herself to Mitt Romney, but I actually think the space that she represents is more of a threat. 

Look, she needs to call Donald Trump to figure out how this movie ends.  Because you could rise very quickly on this kind of platform and then you sink very quickly. 

But what she is showing, what Donald Trump showed before her, was that there is space for a populist insurgent type of Tea Party candidate who can capture the spirit that is driving the base here.  I personally don‘t think it will be her.  I think it‘s going to be someone like Rick Perry or Sarah Palin, because she is peaking too early.  The one thing you don‘t do in Iowa is peak too early, and the summer before the first caucuses is way too early. 

SHARPTON:  Are they waiting, Joan, for another Tea Party hero to come from the wings like a Rick Perry or a Sarah Palin?  Is that what they‘re waiting on? 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM:  I don‘t know that anyone is waiting.  You know, I mean, agree with Richard, she‘s peaking early.  And I also think that a lot of her surge represents just people‘s interest in somebody fresh and new, and they don‘t really like the choice of candidates they have.  So that‘s good for her.

But the longer she is in the race, and the more reporters are digging into her background, and the farm subsidies, and the Medicaid to the clinic while she rails against federal funding, her husband‘s atrocious words about gay people, her own crazy words—

SHARPTON:  Well, let‘s talk about that a minute, Joan.  She stayed out of the same-sex marriage for the last little while, but she said publicly, in the past, a lot about how same-sex marriage was a critical issue.  Her husband has referred to homosexuals as barbarians. 

If she stays out there, building the momentum—she‘s tripled her support.  If she doesn‘t peak early, as Richard says, and stays out there, will these things come back to haunt her? 

WALSH:  You know, I think they will.  Of course she‘s got a very strong religious base that sadly may agree with her on gay marriage.  I don‘t know that they agree that gay people are barbarians.  Good Christians wouldn‘t say something like that.  But beyond that base, I don‘t know where she goes. 

And I think she is actually muting some of those points of view right now, Reverend Sharpton, because she‘s trying to make this and they are all trying to make this about the economy.  So they‘re thinking that that‘s really going to be the club with which to batter President Obama.  But the more people dig into her background, her foster kids, there is just a lot that‘s not known about her, and I think --  

SHARPTON:  Well, how would she do with women voters, Joan and Richard?  She has been publicly quoted talking about how she is submissive to her husband.  How will that play? 

She said in 2006, I believe, that she preached to her husband that she was submissive to her husband, and that she pursued a law degree because her husband told her to.  And Bachmann told women in the audience, “The lord says: be submissive wives.”

Will that hurt her with Tea Party voters?

WOLFFE:  You know, look, female voters are not monolithic.  So it depends who you are talking about. 

I think what‘s really interesting about the social conservative values, I guess they are, that she‘s trying to speak to with these kinds of comments, it‘s just that they don‘t mesh with the Libertarian streak that the Tea Party also represents.  And when they dip their toe into this social stuff, how do they carry on appealing to people who want people to live in freedom and live their own lives? 

So it‘s very prescriptive.  It‘s—it is actually monolithic, saying women should follow a certain rule because I‘m told this or that.  That‘s not going to appeal to those Libertarians, especially those younger voters. 

So that‘s why I just don‘t think the Bachmann version of the Tea Party is what‘s going to carry.  And that‘s why in New Hampshire she‘s really within the margin of error.  She hasn‘t broken through. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON:  Let‘s look at the support in New Hampshire.  And what does this really say in terms of where this is being stacked up now? 

Her support has tripled since early June.  Her favorability among Republicans, up 26 points. 

Is this a problem for Romney, or is this something that he will overcome? 

WALSH:  Well, I think Romney has a lot of problems.  You know, he won the great quarterly fund-raising primary, right?  Except he lost to one person.  And that is Mitt Romney, at the same quarter, in 2007, as Richard knows. 

He out-raised himself four years ago.  So it‘s a very interesting time, because clearly, just like wealthy Republicans are sitting on a lot of money and not creating jobs in this country, they‘re sitting on a lot of political money.  They‘re really not sold on this field, and they‘re not being generous with anyone. 

No one is really blowing everyone away compared with past races.  On the other hand, since we all lived through 2008, and I remember the beltway clamor—this field is terrible, we‘re going to get somebody else in here.  And we got Fred Thompson and he went nowhere. 

At a certain point it‘s too late to get in unless you really have a huge national presence.  And I know that‘s not (ph) Sarah Palin, but I just don‘t see it.  I do not see her running. 

SHARPTON:  Well, will Sarah Palin or Rick Perry entering the race be their solution?  Can either one of them come in this race and energize and really bring some vigor into what seems like a dull bunch right now? 

WOLFFE:  Yes, I think they can, Reverend Sharpton. 

You know, we‘re looking at a very short-term attention span for voters, for the media.  These people have a national brand.  And the enthusiasm level for any of these guys—

SHARPTON:  But their brand is so marginalized, though, would they hurt the ultimate goal of winning in November?  They may at one level bring some excitement, but would they push the parties so far to the margins that it ends the race in November? 

WOLFFE:  Well, that‘s academic unless you win the nomination.  These people can go national.  They can take it to Super Tuesday.  They can raise big money to get into California and New York and seal the deal there. 

But honestly, if you‘re Mitt Romney, and you‘re only sitting on 20 points in New Hampshire, your neighboring state where you own a property, you‘re 20 points ahead of someone like Michele Bachmann—this is a weak field.  Anyone sitting on the sidelines right now is thinking, hey, I don‘t need to take any scrutiny until after Labor Day and I can get in and blow this field apart. 

WALSH:  Right.

SHARPTON:  Well, as you—

WALSH:  That points to Palin.  But I just have my doubts.  We‘ll see. 

SHARPTON:  Well, thank both of you, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, and Salon.com‘s Joan Walsh. 

Thanks very much. 

WALSH:  Thank you. 

WOLFFE:  You bet.

SHARPTON:  Ahead, Republican Congressman Mike Kelly gets ripped at a town hall sticking up for big oil.  His woeful defense is our “Con Job of the Day.” 

And is George W. Bush secretly planning to take down Rick Perry‘s presidential campaign? 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  A republican congressman defending big oil, that‘s not new.  What is new?  Doing it when you have investment in big oil companies.  And that‘s our con job of the day.  Think Progress reports Pennsylvania Freshman Mike Kelly, face angry voters at a town hall when the conversation turned to oil subsidies, he voted for. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Why are we subsidizing them?

REP. MIKE KELLY ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  So if you really want to understand the whole thing, I would say that number one, we want companies to be profitable. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Folks, oil companies are doing just fine, on profits. 

ExxonMobil made almost $11 billion in the first three months of this year.  We taxpayers subsidize oil companies, so they can make more money.  But wait until you hear Congressman Kelly‘s other argument. 

KELLY:  Anybody have a retirement, pension?  Anybody have a portfolio?  Regular pension, OK?  I want you to very carefully look at those portfolios.  Those are usually made up by profitable companies. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  As for his portfolio, the congressman 2009 records show he had put up to $6 million invested into oil and gas companies.  They were recently bought by ExxonMobil.  They are also involved with gas drilling in an area that cuts into the congressman‘s district.  Could this guy have any more connections to big energy?  Turns out yes.  The oil and gas industries also gave more than $20,000 to Kelly‘s 2010 campaign.  Usually we say politicians are bought and paid for.  We don‘t mean literally.  But Mike Kelly‘s relationship with big oil is not only too cozy for comfort.  It‘s also our con job of the day. 

Coming up, I‘ll be answering your questions from twitter.  So tweet me at TheReval.  I‘ll respond to your questions at the end of the show. 

Still ahead, bad blood between Rick Perry and George W. Bush revealed. 

This could get ugly.  

And hypocrisy alert.  Why are Tea Party freshmen asking for handouts? 

Oh, yes, we caught them.  That‘s next.        

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to the show.  Now, to discuss some of the biggest political stories.  We bring in our Power Panel. 

Joining me now, Georgetown University professor and MSNBC political analyst, Michael Eric Dyson.  Also with us, Sam Stein, he‘s a political reporter for The Huffington Post.  And finally, Matt Lewis, a senior contributor for The Daily Caller. 

Our first question, are freshmen Republicans playing the hypocrisy game?  Sam, you‘ve got a great report out today exposing how House republican freshmen are quietly begging federal agencies to fund hometown projects while blasting spending in public.  Here is one example.  Representative Stephen Fincher writes, the Transportation Department asking for $13 million to fund a building project.  Two days later, he‘s out ripping out of control and reckless spending.  Sam, it seems like they are trying to have it both ways.  

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  Well, yes, but I think the more honest interpretation is that they recognize that there are actual benefits.  Stimulative economic benefits to spending on infrastructure projects.  It‘s not a secret.  Spending on infrastructure does create jobs and in does helps in the districts.  And the explanation that this congressman gave to me when I was researching in reporting this article was that, yes, they like the spending because it is effective.  The spending they don‘t like is wasteful spending.  Well, what is wasteful is different in each congressman‘s eyes and interpretation.  And so, yes, they are trying to have it both ways in some respect. 

SHARPTON:  But Matt, I mean, how can you say that if you are doing infrastructure and you are building and creating jobs, it is wasteful.  But if it is in my district, it is effective and efficient.  You can‘t have it both ways, Matt.  

MATT LEWIS, THE DAILY CALLER:  Right.  Nobody wants to own ox gored (ph).  And the definition of pork is spending in somebody else‘s district.  So, it definitely looks hypocritical.  I mean, I would say, one could make the argument that it is entirely possible to be, for cutting spending, and also to be for a specific infrastructure project.  But you‘re right, it doesn‘t look good.  

SHARPTON:  Dr. Dyson, does it look good or just straight out hypocritical?  

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I‘m with you Reverend Al.  It seems to be pretty hypocritical because one person‘s pork is another person‘s gain.  The reality is that if you are talking about infrastructure spending being good because it is targeted, it‘s specific, it enables those communities and look, I‘m sympathetic to those congressman because you had high rates of poverty, you had the necessity of investment and infrastructure and the like, but the reality is there‘s so many other communities where this same problem occurs.  And yet those communities are being written off as addicted to the public dough.  So, this ends up being welfare for those who claim that they are against welfare.  This ends up being public assistance in the name of, you know, furthering the public good, for those who and other districts turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to this.  So, I think it‘s pretty fundamentally.

SHARPTON:  Well, so much for the Tea Party.  It seems that in some areas, the Tea Party wants a little sugar in the tea.  In others they want us to have it unsweetened.  But let me ask you this question, Sam.  There‘s been articles out, published reports lately, saying that some of the new elected freshmen won‘t return after 2010.  Will some of these things come to haunt them and kind to make them one term Congress people where they really got in on—that they really haven‘t lived up to the ideology, they‘ve preached and helped to usher them in?

STEIN:  Well, that‘s the buy in their face (ph).  On the one hand, they want to bring jobs back to the district.  And to do that, you need to get spending in the district.  On other hand, they have this philosophical demand to cut spending in every corner because that‘s the Tea Party pressure, that‘s the conservative pressure.  So yes, they face a real bind here.  And I‘m guessing that a lot of them will be axed simply because of the lack of ideological consistency.  Others might be axed because they‘re having gap in the bacon back home in the job creation. 

SHARPTON:  Now, let me ask you another question, politically.  Matt, there has been published reports about the tension between the Bush family and Rick Perry.  In fact there are those that suggest that the Bush family is about to do a Texas two-step on Rick Perry‘s future.  If they have similar accents.  But the two Texas governors, don‘t really like each other.  Bush people, back Perry‘s opponent in the last republican primary.  Probably because he is too much of a real Texan for them.  What is going on here?  And is the Bush family going to throw a wrench in Perry‘s presidential campaign?

LEWIS:  Well, these rumors are true.  You know, it is ironic that one of the biggest arguments against Rick Perry as it is too much like Bush, when in fact the two really don‘t get along.  And this goes back for, you know, several years.  I do think that, you know, Rick Perry is a very real, you know, possible winner here.  I think he‘s got a lot going on for him.  I think he could very likely win the nomination if he gets in.  And I do, you know, I don‘t know that George W. Bush is going to spend a lot of time focused on it.  But you‘re right, I mean, they tried to stop him before and it didn‘t work.  You know.  George Herbert Walker, Bush backed Kay Bailey Hutchison when she primaried. 

SHARPTON:  Right.

LEWIS:  And he ended up winning by double digits.  So they tried to stop him before.  I don‘t think they can stop him again.  But there is no love lost there.  That‘s for sure. 

SHARPTON:  Dr. Dyson, there is nothing more exciting than a little infighting among the right.  It‘s just gets new excited.  What do you think?  Are we going see them destroy each other with the candidate that might save them, if Romney doesn‘t excite anybody?  

DYSON:  Well, it is a true blood sport.  You know, people were earlier on announcing that Sarah Palin wouldn‘t really jumping the race.  She would use all her juice to throw it behind Rick Perry and that Rick Perry would be the favored, you know, candidates for the Tea Party accolades.  But I‘m not sure here if the boiling matting is of the Bush party, so to speak, begins to interrupt some of the design structure of the Perry candidacy.  But I must say to you Reverend Al, it is a bit delicious to stand back and see that the infighting and the negativity among the two, it is kind of a makes the old heart go thunder.  

SHARPTON:  But Sam, if Palin comes in, says I‘m not running, goes behind Perry, helps get Perry  a momentum to get the nomination, doesn‘t she become an albatross around his neck for the general?

STEIN:  Probably not in that situation because there is a section of the Republican Party that really loves Sarah Palin.  And that might be sufficient enough to win the nomination.  What is really telling about this round of stories is how insufficiently conservative George W. Bush is for many people in the Republican Party.  Rick Perry positioning himself as a conservative alternative in Texas to George W. Bush, it would be a surprise to a lot of national observers.  Although, on the same token, in the last couple of years, of the Bush presidency, you did hear a lot of these types of complaints.  

SHARPTON:  What I‘m saying, wouldn‘t Palin hurt a general election?

STEIN:  Oh, yes.  If you moved it to the general election, then yes, it becomes a huge albatross but I‘m sure Rick Perry would like to cross that bridge when he gets there.  

SHARPTON:  Well, the questions becomes, as he get there and if we got there, does he get there being helped or not by having this Tea Party brand.  And I think Matt, that is the big question, whether the Tea Party at the end of the day helps or hurts the Republican Party?  It might bring excitement but it might not be the thing that they really need if they are going to have a serious contest in 2012.  

LEWIS:  Look, I think the Tea Party helps.  But let me say this about Rick Perry.  The thing that I think he has going for him more than anything, first of all, he has executive experience, governor of Texas.  Now the longest serving governor.  But he has the Tea Party appeal.  He has appeal to social conservatives.  He can be the southern candidate.  But he‘s also has establishment appeal.  Aside from the Bush folks who don‘t like him.  So, he‘s the one guy who kinds of brings it all together.  Nobody else brings it all together like that.  And that‘s why Rick Perry has a real shot, you know, despite the fact that Karl Rove. 

SHARPTON:  Oh, no, there is no doubt.  He is unique.  He‘s the only one I know that, is thinking about running for president of a union, that he talked about succeeding Trump.  Thanks for a great panel discussion.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Thanks.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Thank you. 

SHARPTON:  Ahead, is there an orchestrated campaign to ban affirmative action in America?  Our next guest, Ward Connerly, is leading person in that charge.  But what does the right wing and their money have to do with that?  That‘s next.                  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  The right is stealing the language of the civil rights movement to attack affirmative action.  We will debate the man leading the way on that and in the spirit of the president‘s town hall meeting today, I‘ll be answering your twitter questions tonight.  Tweet me at TheReval.  I‘ll respond later in the show.              

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Yes, today, we show you about a crucial court ruling that overturned a ban on affirmative action in Michigan‘s polls and other public institutions.  Anti-affirmative action legislation had been introduced in nine states over the last decade.  The driving force behind this initiatives is Ward Connerly, a political activist whose been spear heading this effort since the 90s.  He says, he just wants a color blind society.  But his financial records shows he‘s being fuelled by right wing cash, a network of conservative powerhouses have made sizeable donations to Connerly‘s, a civil rights group.  Among them, John Moores and News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch.  So, is this really a fight about race and equality or is that the right wing funding him to turn around laws?

Joining me now is Ward Connerly, the founder of the American Civil Rights Institute.  Mr. Connolly, we have talked before you and I disagree on affirmative action.  But let me ask you this.  You call your group a civil rights group.  Isn‘t it really a group that is put together with the right wing can use your group to really  fight a lot of the things civil rights groups are for in this country?

WARD CONNERLY, FOUNDER, AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE:  No, it‘s not, Reverend Al.  Civil rights don‘t belong just to block people and quote, “minorities,” they belong to all-Americans.  They flow from the 14th amendment to the constitution.  Sixty four civil rights act which I would assume that people in the center and on the left would also support. 

SHARPTON:  No one would disagree with that.  I didn‘t say anything about blacks and minorities.  I said civil rights.  Women were impacted by the legislation you proposed in Michigan that was just overturned.  I didn‘t say anything about blacks and minorities, you did.  Let me ask you this, you talked about the 64 civil rights act.  You consider yourself a civil rights leader?

CONNERLY:  I think so. 

SHARPTON:  You were involved in the 60s?  You were 15-years-old.  Were you involved in the civil rights movement in the 60s?

CONNERLY:  I was involved in California.  I was involved in the first fair housing, the passage of the first fair housing law, the run for fair housing act.  

SHARPTON:  When was that?

CONNERLY:  In 1962.  

SHARPTON:  All right.  And were you involved with Dr. King and others in civil rights movement in the 60s?

CONNERLY:  No, sir, I was not. 

SHARPTON:  When did you become. 

CONNERLY:  Wait, wait, let me answer your question.  That does not disqualify me from saying that I‘m a civil rights proponent. 

SHARPTON:  When did you become a civil rights leader in your judgment?

CONNERLY:  When I realize that many of those on your side of the aisle had misappropriate that term and have perverted it, and so it belonged to only certain people.  

SHARPTON:  When is that?  

CONNERLY:  Civil rights is something I belong when I was on the board of regions.  And I found that the university was giving points. 

SHARPTON:  When is that?

CONNERLY:  Let me answer your question.  When I found that the university was giving points, extra points to certain people in order to achieve diversity and inclusion at the University of California.  

SHARPTON:  OK, but you had no problem with people giving points to give contracts when you‘ve got a contract when your company in a racial set aside contract for energy.  

CONNERLY:  Get your facts right, Reverend.  

SHARPTON:  Did you not get three contracts.  One of them for a million dollars sir?

CONNERLY:  No, sir.  They went to the California building officials, which was one of my clients.  My firm didn‘t get it.  Get your facts straight, Reverend.  

SHARPTON:  Oh, OK.  And your company worked with this contract and you had no problem with that at that time?

CONNERLY:  No, not at all.  Because the contract. 

SHARPTON:  For them to get a non-bid contract based on the fact they were a minority company was not. 

CONNERLY:  They were not a minority company.  It is trade association of building departments in the state of California.  

SHARPTON:  It was listed as a minority company, sir.  

CONNERLY:  It was not a minority country.  California building officials, Reverend Al, is a state association. 

SHARPTON:  So you are saying it was not a minority company that you had with you and your wife.  

CONNERLY:  No, sir it was not. 

SHARPTON:  So, that you did not.

CONNERLY:  The contract went to California building officials.  

SHARPTON:  And you did not get this contract and later say, it was repugnant the things that you did, but it was not affirmative action.  That‘s not true.  

CONNERLY:  I thought it was repugnant then, and I think it‘s repugnant now...  

SHARPTON:  Oh, now, you do think it was repugnant. 

CONNERLY: .to get a contract.  Reverend Al, why don‘t you listen to what I have to say?  That people should get contracts if their private parties on the basis of their own merit.  Low bid.  The contract was given to California building officials by the California legislature because they were the only association that represented the interest of the local governments.  

SHARPTON:  Well, I have to leave it there.  But at least you concede that what you said was, that it was repugnant.  And I think again, civil rights are for everybody, you‘re right.  And everybody means having an even playing field and clearly when the courts just ruled at your initiative was unconstitutional, I think that‘s good for women and minorities.  Everybody.  Thank you, Mr. Connerly.  We‘ll be back with your tweets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  In the spread of the president‘s twitter town hall, we have been asking you to sweet us on the big issues of the day.  Our first tweet.  Only 4RM say, quote, “GOP attacks on collective bargaining are not about budgets but about decimating huge democratic organizational tool.  Agree?”  I couldn‘t agree with you more.  I think that what has happened is that they have tried to take away the rights of workers because they‘re trying to break unions because they see unions as a major organizing entity to help the opposition of those that are trying to do things that don‘t hurt the working class of this country.  And I have been around the country on that and will continue.  So, I agree with you wholeheartedly on that. 

Second, Franklin Amoo tweets, “The way to create jobs, especially for middle and working class Americans is to rebuild and upgrade the nation‘s infrastructure.”  You know, I couldn‘t agree with you more.  Because as I travel the country, the bridges, the tunnels, the roadways, I mean, you‘re not talking about work that doesn‘t need to be done.  We‘re not talking about creating jobs that are unnecessary.  We need the infrastructure rebuilt and it would create jobs at the same time. 

From New Eyes.  He tweets, “Please speak on the New Georgia immigration law.  Migrant with fake IDs to work can be jailed 15 years which is equal to second degree murder.”  I think that it is atrocious what is going on in Georgia, I think that immigration is a civil rights issue.  I think that we are dealing with states that are trying to nullify federal law.  We must continue to fight it.  I also got a lot of tweets from you that kind of liked our debate with Congressman Walsh.  You know, I was in debates a lot in 2004.  I can give a few bits of debate information to those in the republican primary.  Thanks for tweeting me this evening at TheReval.  And thank you for watching. 

“HARDBALL” starts right now. 

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