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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday July 15, 2011

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

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Guest Host: Al Sharpton
Guests: Michael Burgess, Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, Josh Trevino, Karen Finney, Alicia Menendez, John Becker, Jonathan Capehart

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: The L word: how Republicans decide to go ugly. Tonight, “The President is a liar,” says Sarah Palin. And she‘s just the latest to say it. Is this really a winning strategy?
Rick Perry may be the Republicans great hope. But did you hear about his Al Gore problem?
And Rush Limbaugh‘s cockeyed theory; go ahead, Rush—

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Just blame the Democrats.
SHARPTON: Today the President called Members of Congress to do the right thing.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not an issue of salesmanship to the American people. The American people are sold. The problem is, members of Congress are dug in ideological.
This is not a matter of the American people knowing what the right thing to do is. This is a matter of congress doing the right thing and reflecting the will of the American people.
SHARPTON: But there still seems to be some resistance on principle some say. Politics, others say. We‘ll see.
Joining me now is Republican representative from the state of Texas, Congressman Michael Burgess. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus. Thank you for joining me, Congressman.
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS ®, TEXAS: Always a pleasure to be with you, sir.
SHARPTON: Now Congressman, let me ask you, do you think that it is good and even advisable it go against the will of the American people? The President cited there in that statement you just heard, that the American people is with him on this, not with you and the Tea Party. How do you respond to that?
BURGESS: Well, Reverend, with all due respect, I in fact agree with the President. But in my district that I represent, which is a fairly diverse district, 89 percent say do not raise that debt limit, do not give the federal government any more money. It has enough. It needs to find a way to make do with what we‘re already giving them.
SHARPTON: So are you saying that your district runs counter to the American public because poll after poll says contrary? I mean, look at these polls. We have several polls here that gives a totally different picture.
And we have Republicans say—let me give you polls Congressman. You got 67 percent of Republicans saying that the package should include spending cuts and tax hikes. That‘s one poll. You have another poll saying the same, that the approval, 66 percent to 31 percent disapproving, raising taxes on those earning above 250,000 a year; that‘s a second poll. Third poll: 61 percent, spending cuts and tax hikes. I mean, all of these polls seem to clearly back what the President is saying.
BURGESS: Well, if that‘s what you believe, encourage the President to run on that message. And perhaps we will have a different run in the White House next year and maybe that will solve a lot of our problems.
SHARPTON: But that seems to be what Americans believe. I just showed you three polls. All right, fine.
BURGESS: Reverend, all I know is what I see and hear from everyone I meet at home. And I recognize I live in Texas. I live in north Texas. But I‘ve got to tell you I have a pretty diverse district that runs the gamut of far right and far left. And I‘m not sensing a ground swell that says, you know what, You guys don‘t have enough of our money to spend. We need to find a way it get you some more. That‘s not what I‘m hearing.
I‘m hearing, you make do with what you‘ve got, not a penny more. You know, good and well, there are plenty of places in this government where money is spent inappropriately. We see it every single day.
SHARPTON: Well, I don‘t disagree that. And I don‘t think that many people disagree. It‘s a question of whether it‘s shared sacrifice. Maybe you don‘t hear it enough because we‘re not getting enough information to the diverse people in your district.
For example, do the people in your district know that you have hedge fund guys that are making all kinds of—let me give you an example, you got a guy who last year—look at this chart—who made $4.9 billion, the equivalent of 184,000 people in your district, and we‘re not going to close the loophole on his taxes.
I think that your people in your district would be very concerned if they knew that while you in Washington are fighting for this guy to have the right to do that they are paying their share. Whereas the shared sacrifice that this guy‘s loophole has him able to pay a state tax on earned income.
BURGESS: You know good and well, Al, that that individual—I don‘t know who that individual is. I suspect he is an Obama contributor last time.
SHARPTON: Doesn‘t matter who he contributes to. You are contributing to him making money as long as you have the loophole there.
BURGESS: The fact of the matter is that individual does not pay taxes. You know that as well as I—the very rich, ultra rich in this country, the John Kerrys, they don‘t pay taxes. They have folks to figure that—
SHARPTON: Well, then why are you protecting them?
BURGESS: I‘m not protecting them—I‘m protecting—
SHARPTON: Well, then why don‘t we say that they should pay their share?
BURGESS: -- the mom and pop that run a business in my district, who earn $300,000 in their business but reported only personal income taxes.
BURGESS: Fine, Al, you take every jet in this country, you take every corporate jet in this country. You take every corporate jet in this country, see what you get for deficit reduction but you will also kill all of the jobs for the guys that maintain those jets—
SHARPTON: Oh that‘s right. Flying around in corporate jets giving out jobs, that‘s what they are doing. That‘s why we give them loop holes.
BURGESS: No, you all did this in 1991.
SHARPTON: You all who?
BURGESS: All of you guys, Democrats.
SHARPTON: Let me tell you something—
BURGESS: You killed those industries.
SHARPTON: I got it. Since we‘re going to talk about what we did, you said that you regretted voting for the debt ceiling to be hyped once? You really regret—one of the worst things you ever did.
Listen to you what you said in January. I want just to remind you.
BURGESS: Just on face value, no, I don‘t want to expand the debt limit. I have voted for it in the past. It was one of the worst things I ever did my life. I will not go there willingly again.
SHARPTON: So you, you remember saying that. That was you.
BURGESS: Absolutely.
SHARPTON: But you not only voted for it once. You voted for it in three different occasions. You voted for it in 2003, you voted for in 2004, you voted for it in 2005; yet all of a sudden in 2011, it‘s one of the worst things you ever did. Were you engaging in political masochism? Where you were just beating yourself up doing things you really hated doing?
BURGESS: The fact of the matter is, I voted for it in 2005, President Obama said it was a mistake and we shouldn‘t do it. Maybe I should have listened to him then.
SHARPTON: That‘s your answer as to why you voted three times for the debt ceiling and are not voting for it now is that President Obama said something?
BURGESS: The fact of the matter remains, Reverend, if we raise the debt limit without serious reductions in spending in this country, you know, you can talk about how Moody‘s and Standard & Poor‘s has given us warnings, but they have also given us severe warnings on the spending levels. And if we don‘t bring those under control, you and I can have all the political discussions we want but we‘re not going to cause the problem.
SHARPTON: The President said—
BURGESS: The President has not said diddly—
SHARPTON: there were spending and tax cuts—why do we only have to deal with one side—shared sacrifice means shared sacrifice, Congressman. We aren‘t saying spending shouldn‘t be dealt with but you are saying don‘t deal with taxes.
BURGESS: Have him something put down on paper. Have him put something down on paper. Congressional Budget Office told Paul Ryan, we can‘t score a speech from the President. You‘re going to have to get him to offer a plan so we know what he is talking about.
SHARPTON: If the President of the United States—
BURGESS: This is the problem. You get into those negotiations and everything shifts. Everything you agree upon one evening is different the next morning. There is no certainty there. The President needs to put something down on paper and deliver it to congress.
SHARPTON: If the President of the United States, Congressman, says to your leadership, to let‘s put everything on the table discussions on programs that are painful to my party and your leaders say, with your support, that they‘re not going to talk about it as long as there are taxes on the table. What do you mean put it in writing? You say there‘s nothing to talk about unless it is my way or the highway?
BURGESS: Did not say that at all. Look, you want to know? Here is a painful truth for you, Al. We talk about the entitlement problem. We do have a big entitlement problem in this country. But the President refuses to allow this, the Affordable Care Act to even be part of the discussion right now. Tell me that man is serious about what we are doing there.
SHARPTON: The President has said let‘s put it all on the table.
BURGESS: Al, the President has said this is a sacred document. The Affordable Care Act cannot be touched in these discussions. He said it over and over again. I‘m sorry, the man is not serious.
SHARPTON: The Ryan budget in itself, you would have to lift the debt ceiling and it adds $6 trillion—look at it—to the national debt over the next decade. It would require increasing the debt ceiling to do the Ryan Budget. So you just said you were paying to vote for it again but you would support the Ryan budget which in fact would raise the ceiling. I‘m confused Congressman.
BURGESS: The fact of the matter is you do have to start somewhere. And we all know that these changes are going to occur over time. So, you don‘t—
SHARPTON: Oh, so now they are going to change. So the problem is that we just don‘t want to do what Mr. Obama, and we want to talk about the so-called entitlement until they‘re paid into Social Security. People that are paying Social Security shouldn‘t be entitled to their Social Security but millionaires should be entitled to their corporate jets. That‘s what you like as an entitlement.
BURGESS: The size of the government is the problem sir. The government is too big and spends too much. That is where we need to concentrate working on a solution. I‘m happy if the President wants to join us on that.
SHARPTON: Are you and all clear that if we let the Bush tax cuts expire, that we would cover a huge part of the deficit and it would really show a spirit of shared sacrifice. And even though people in your party are not dealing with it, it would be $420 billion. And I guarantee you, if we close loop holes no matter how infinitesimal you think it may be on the loop holes of corporate jets, I tell you a secret, Congressman, they are not riding around in those jets distributing jobs.
BURGESS: Listen, Al, last December President Obama put a plan on the table to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years. I voted against it. I didn‘t think we would afford it. Why don‘t you talk to him about that?
SHARPTON: I did. And he said he would never do it again. He did it to extend unemployment insurance. But again, you are the guy, I just played it by the way, so you couldn‘t say you weren‘t, that said it hurt you, hurt you so much that you did it three times and the country has done it 74 times. But when this president says let‘s do it, of a sudden it is out of the window. But you said you raised it three times in the last two years.
And you said would you raise it again under the Ryan plan but wouldn‘t raise it to help save grandma‘s senior citizens and would not raise it to save Medicare and Medicaid. But the Ryan budget which would spend $6 trillion over the next decade, you‘d raise the debt for that.
SHARPTON: Congressman, thank you and have a great weekend. Thank you for joining me.
BURGESS: I wish this president had not placed this $1.5 trillion in his first month in office. I truly wish he had not. Unfortunately he did and that‘s why we are where we are today.
SHARPTON: I think that when he inherited a deficit, when in fact the preceding president had inherited an enormous surplus, I regret that that happened. I think this president had to deal with a very different hand. When you go from a surplus that could—where Bush left the—
BURGESS: It was raining money here in February of 2009 and it didn‘t do a darn bit of good other than dig us deeper into this hole.
SHARPTON: Congressman, I‘m going to get an umbrella out with this raining of money. And I want you to come back next week and I‘m going to show you how if I add hole in the umbrella I wouldn‘t have got wet or hit with a dollar bill. Would you come back and be my guest again? I would love to end my week with you next week.
BURGESS: I‘ll come back any time. I‘m not going to educate you.
Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you. I‘m going to hold you to that. You‘re going to come—I need to you educate me. I really want to learn.
BURGESS: You‘re right, you do.
SHARPTON: Especially about how it took you so long and so many times to understand that debt relief was bad only when this president came in, did you finally get this awakening. I really want you to teach me how that happened.
Coming up, Rendell and Steele, one on one.
SHARPTON: Sarah Palin, the latest Republican to call President Obama a liar. It‘s shameless and it‘s not reality. That‘s next.
SHARPTON: We‘re back to talk about the “Liars‘ Club” in the Republican Party. After President Obama warned today about the danger of not raising the debt limit, Sarah Palin blasted out a tweet saying, quote, “Obama lies, economy dies.” This kind of shameless attack is a growing trend in the GOP.
OBAMA: If we‘re serious about this and everybody is willing to compromise, for a decade, for 15 years or 20 years, if we‘re willing to seize the moment that would require or would be some shared sacrifice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, quit lying.
MICHELE BACHMANN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is simply not true. I call on the President and the Treasury Secretary to tell the truth.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: We cannot trust him to further manipulate our economy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s just not true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quit lying to the American people.
SHARPTON: Fox News is also pushing this line of attack. His Web site is asking users if they believe the White House‘s claim about the debt deadline, 89 percent think the President is lying. Obviously, this makes it difficult for a president who is trying to find Republicans willing to use some common sense and make a deal.
The President wants to do something serious about the debt. But the President and the Republicans are at odds because they just seem to want to call him a liar.
Now, it‘s time to meet the chairmen: joining us now, former DNC chair and Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell; and former RNC chair, Michael Steele.
Let me start with you Governor Rendell. You have always been one of the most respected political figures in the country. Have you seen this level, this tenor, this kind of name-calling as a consistent line throughout a party before a sitting president?
ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: I think it is hard to remember when. I mean there was some name-calling directed at President Bush. But I never did it. I disagreed with his policies but I thought he was a very decent and honorable man.
We‘ve got a problem in this country, a problem with partisanship, a problem with all the rancour and bitterness. And for our political leaders on either side of the aisle to engage in name-calling doesn‘t do anything to advance the ball. I think it is one of the reasons people are getting sicker and sicker about Washington, D.C.
And let me tell you, as a political strategy, I think it‘s crazy. I think it‘s going to back fire dramatically. I think Independent voters, some moderate Republican voters are going to hear this stuff and they‘re going to will say “Enough. Enough. Get down to the business. Do your job. No more name-calling.”
SHARPTON: Chairman Steele, yes, there‘s been name-calling some on Mr. Bush and others. But the fact is that the President here is being called a liar about saying that we need to deal with this August 2nd deadline.
SHARPTON: Something that everyone, including Moody‘s, is saying we‘ve got to deal with? How do you call that a liar? Are you calling the President a liar about the seriousness—just a second, I‘m asking you.
STEELE: Don‘t wrap me into that.
SHARPTON: I‘m asking you.
STEELE: Those individuals, I can‘t speak to why they said what they said. Look, the reality of it is, I agree with the governor that, you know, the name-calling has no place.
But people want to diminish the rancour that occurred during the Bush years regarding the war. You hear that same rancour regarding the economy and the debt. The reality of it is that rancour reflects frustration, whether it comes from an elected official or from someone out there watching it on television.
And it needs to be addressed by the individual parties by having their representatives, leaders, come to the table and solve the problem. I think in agreement with the governor, that‘s where the American people are right now. Don‘t give me the hyperbole. Don‘t give me the hot language. Don‘t give me the name-calling. Give me the solution.
To the extent that the President as the Congressman noted in your previous segment would put something on paper and clearly define where he is prepared to cut, where he is prepared to address the hard choices that not just the Congress but the White House and Senate Democrats also have to address. I think you will begin to get past some of this.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you Mr. Steele, I mean, you have today Paul Krugman saying, has the GOP gone so far out that—I‘ll read you what he says—“The modern GOP fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of a Democratic presidency, any Democratic presidency. As a result Republicans are automatically against anything the President wants even if they supported similar proposals in the past.”
The reason I‘m quoting Krugman here is because you have Republicans voting against what they voted for.
STEELE: Right.
SHARPTON: I just talked to a Congressman who voted three times to lift the debt limit. All of a sudden this year, it‘s the worst thing in the world when he‘s done it over and over again and would do it again with Ryan.
It‘s like if this President announced tomorrow that we all should be saluting George Washington, the father of our country, they‘d say, “No he‘s not, take that back.” I mean where do you draw the line here? Everything he says is wrong, Chairman Steele?
STEELE: No, everything the President says is not wrong. I have spoken out and others in the party have spoken out against those who see, appear or create this image or impression that everything the President says, you know, is wrong. But I think the reality boils down to some philosophical disagreements in some cases. In the case of the Congressman whose, you know, he said, look, I made the mistake of voting for those debt increases.
Just now the question is, is it a mistake that the President is requesting a debt increase when he was so clearly against a debt increase when he was a senator. Just as in January of this year, the President said he wanted an absolutely clean bill on the debt increase. He didn‘t want any other attachments to it. Now today he says that he does, he will accept those attachments. That he doesn‘t have to have a clean bill.
So look, the reality for both parties and all of the principal players Reverend is that they have to be very clear and very succinct about what they want so the American people will understand, what does this look like on august 3rd?
We can‘t answer that question today. We‘re going to continue to have that problem.
SHARPTON: Governor Rendell—
RENDELL: Well, let me respond if I can.
SHARPTON: Yes, do.
RENDELL: Let me respond to that. And I agree with a lot of what Michael said. But first of all, understand that these Republicans, who are calling the President a liar, know better. Because all they have to do is pick up the phone and call the job creators that they always talk so lovingly about Al. And the job creators, the business leaders, the GE‘s, General Motors, those people will tell them, Wall Street will tell them unequivocally, if you don‘t raise the debt limit, it‘s going to be a financial disaster for the economy.
Not Democrats, not President Obama but the Republican business job creators that Republican Party usually speaks so lovingly about. That‘s number one.
Number two, Vice President Biden has had talks and he represents the President. He‘s had talks and which we‘ve outlined $2 trillion in cuts. Democrats agreed to a proposal that would be 83 percent spending cuts and 17 percent revenue increases. That sounds to me like a terrific deal for people who want to cut the cost to the government.
So Michael, I think it is unfair to say that the administration hasn‘t outlined what they‘re willing to do. The President went as far as saying he would accept raising the age limit for Medicare, which is a toxic thing for a Democrat to say. I think he deserves—
STEEL: Well, I think if you go back and look at the press conference, number one, the President didn‘t exactly say that. He kind of carved out some exceptions in that. And number two, with respect to those specific cuts, they aren‘t specific. They are not written down. They have not been presented to the House leadership, specifically identifying what those cuts are.
That‘s where a lot of Republicans have a problem. They‘ve been in this negotiating position before, when they‘ve been told we‘re going to cut the spending if you agree to tax increases. Taxes go into place, the spending cuts never materialize; they want something a little bit more hard core and I don‘t blame them.
SHARPTON: Chairman Steele, that‘s not what they said. I think that Governor Rendell is right. What they said is that we are not going to continue talking if taxes and ending the Bush tax cuts are on the table.
You‘re saying something that was not—they are not saying, put it in writing on how you‘re going to do taxes and spending. They‘re saying if taxes are on the table, there is nothing to talk about.
RENDELL: And it‘s not even taxes—
STEELE: But you can understand why they‘re saying that. It is because the spending cuts never materialize.
SHARPTON: But Michael that‘s—
RENDELL: That‘s a little bit of a sophistic argument because let‘s assume we have an 83-17 framework, and that‘s what everyone sort of agreed to, not the Republicans because they don‘t want to raise having any revenue. Heaven forbid we close loopholes; 38 percent of the Americans don‘t pay any income tax. Michael, you know that‘s wrong.
Let‘s assume we have 83-17. Let‘s assume the Democrats lay out where they want the 17 to come from. Before you vote for it, make everyone agree where the 83 percent cuts come from. It‘s simple. Just agree to the concept.
STEELE: Right. But that‘s the problem no one—they‘re not—apparently from what I understand at least, there‘s not that level of specificity, Ed, which is what people have been trying to get to.
SHARPTON: Because you won‘t meet—how are you going to get to specificity if somebody says, look you have to take off the table whatever I want.
STEELE: Al, the reason the meetings have not worked the way they have or people expect is because they haven‘t had the level of specificity. When the administration is prepared or Treasury Secretary and others to put down specifically where they want to see those cuts, then I think the conversation will move forward.
SHARPTON: All right.
RENDELL: Michael, in fairness, real quick Al, in fairness, it is not that they haven‘t specified 83 percent. It‘s that no one in the Republican Party has agreed to any revenue increases—
Rendell: -- including closing loop holes. If they did that, then say, ok Democrats, before we sign off, let‘s see the 83 percent. We don‘t want to see 83 percent ten years from now. We want to see it—
SHARPTON: You‘ve got to get educated like me. They are really flying around on those private jets thinking about jobs.
RENDELL: Yes, that‘s right Al.
SHARPTON: Former DNC chair, Ed Rendell; former RNC chair, Michael Steele, thank you.
STEELE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And you know Michael, people say I beat up on Republicans too much. So both Mr. Rendell and I want to wish you a wonderful weekend.
Ahead, Rick Perry has an Al Gore problem. And it could turn the Tea Party against him.
And Rush Limbaugh, the economist; you won‘t believe his latest conspiracy theory.
Stay with us.
AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: Rush Limbaugh says credit agencies are in cahoots with the Democrats. That‘s our con job of the day.
Because Republicans stonewalling on the debt limit, Moody‘s might have to downgrade the government‘s credit rating. But Rush Limbaugh thinks Moody‘s has an ulterior motive.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Congress, tightened its regulation of credit ratings companies last year with the so-called Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform consumer protection act. So these companies, like Moody‘s, know which side of the bread their butter is on. They realize that they now have to tow the line and advance the interest of the Democrat Party.
SHARPTON: First of all, just because credit agencies face new regulations, doesn‘t mean they‘re beholding the Democrats. And it is particularly wrong to say Moody‘s is leaning left. Since Moody‘s chief economist Mark Zandi is a former advisor to John McCain. And today in the Washington post, Zandi wrote, quote, “the Obama administration and Congress must raise the federal debt ceiling by August 2nd. That‘s all there is to it. Zandi knows a failure to raise the debt ceiling would hurt the stock market, raise interest rates and risk payments for Social Security and Medicare. Even John Boehner admitted earlier this year that failing to raise the debt would be a disaster.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: Do you agree with administration officials and other economists that defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States would be a financial disaster?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That would be a financial disaster. Not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.
SHARPTON: But Rush Limbaugh would rather make up conspiracy theories than pay attention to the facts.
LIMBAUGH: Just think about it. Obama is elected president a mere two-and-a-half years later, Moody‘s is talking about the possibility of the United States defaulting on our debt.
SHARPTON: Rush Limbaugh‘s ridiculous effort to distort reality is our con job of the day.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to the show. Now to discuss some of today‘s biggest political stories, we bring in our Power Panel.
Joining me now is Alicia Menendez. Senior advisor to New Policy Institute. MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney. And finally Josh Trevino, vice president of Communications at Texas Public Policy Foundation Think Tank.
First question, is the GOP savior Rick Perry haunted by an inconvenient truth? A recent New York Times highlights Perry days as a democrat in Texas, in the Texas assembly at that, we endorse massive tax hikes, but it gets better. Let‘s not forget that Perry was the state campaign chairman for Al Gore during his 1988 presidential run. Josh, is the former Gore loving democrat really the guy to save the Republican Party.
JOSH TREVINO, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: Yes, Al, once upon a time there was this mythical creature called a conservative democrat that used to walk the land. Rick Perry is one of them. Many other people were conservative Democrats back in the day. As the Democrats went through the great sort in American politics and the liberals went left to the Democratic Party and the conservatives went right to the Republican Party, Rick Perry was actually on the leading edge of that way. If you know, he‘s a democrat pass where he was a conservative throughout isn‘t going to hurt him in the republican eyes. It is the same career art that Ronald Reagan had. It is the same career art that Ronald Reagan had. It‘s the same career art that a lot of good conservative Republicans have, including guys like Phil Gramm here in Texas. So, frankly, it‘s only going to help them because we Republicans, we love converts and we love people who have been conservatives their whole career, and Rick Perry has.
SHARPTON: Karen, I‘m a little confused. Reagan was a democrat in California which was a lot different than being a democrat in Texas. And in ADA going into ‘92, there was something called triangulation. I don‘t think the Democrats went left. I think the Democrats went center. So, tell me why Josh has rewritten history. I mean, Josh, what he is talking about? They went to the right, the Democrats.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Texas has got a bunch of story of a bunch of different people like Democrats who became Republicans and Republicans who became Democrats. I mean, you know, a couple of people who actually worked for George Bush II. We had one point or another been Democrats and Republicans and Republicans and Democrats. But I agree that I don‘t think it‘s going to hurt him and as a couple of reasons, number one, I think he has more than maybe he‘s overcompensating. Do you know guys sometimes do that, for the fact that he used to be a democrat. And he‘s very clearly conservative now. But remember Michele Bachmann also was a democrat once. And so you know, most of the common theory is that if Perry gets into the race, that he is going to be the biggest challenge to her. Well, that‘s going to be something the two of them can duke out between each other.
SHARPTON: Alicia, what do you think? Do you think that this will be something people would say that he may move in certain ways where the political wind is or where the opportunity lies or you think it is no big deal, others have done it, why not him?
ALICIA MENENDEZ, SR. ADVISOR, NEW DEMOCRAT NETWORK: No, Reverend, for sure. And I think he is actually a prime case of someone who is such an astute politician that his views really do change with the political wind. I mean, you look back even ten years ago, when he first become the governor of Texas, he was passing what were really moderate pieces of legislation. Hate crime bills that protected members of the LGBT community. He endorsed and supported a lot of people who were more moderate. Appointed them to positions in his administration. So, we have the record of being a moderate and we‘ve seen him over time become more and more conservative. I think what we have to watch is what happens when he enters this primary where we know that most of these candidates are going to be lassoed further to the right. The question is not, who is he today. But who is he going to be in a year‘s time.
SHARPTON: Next question. Scared like a FOX. Rupert Murdoch is purging some of the top executives in his global media empire. This morning, the head of the British side of the empire, Rebekah Brooks resigned. This afternoon, “Wall Street Journal” head Hunt Show Les Hinton resigned. As well, an attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department is investigating News Corp, too. Karen, what does this mean for Murdoch‘s empire in the U.S. including FOX news?
FINNEY: Well, I have to be honest, Reverend. I‘m enjoying this story very much. I‘m very sorry for the revelations that we heard in terms of the phone hacking and the pain that has caused people. I think what it means is that where there‘s smoke, there‘s fire. I mean, it is pretty odd the way they move so quickly to shut down News of the World. Then, they move very quickly, you know, they are clearly trying to stop the bleeding. But unfortunately I think with each of these actions, it becomes increasingly clear that there is probably more in there. And ultimately reports have indicated what they are really trying to do is seal off as much of this as possible from Rupert Murdoch‘s son. It was part of why they moved him from the U.K. to the United States as he is the heir apparent. Sounds like though we‘re probably going to find out a lot more before this is over with.
TREVINO: You know, I think what is interesting at this point is that all of the wrongdoing, that the massive wrongdoing right now is on the British side of the pond. And so, when you have Les Hinton today who resigned as head of the Dow Jones company which contains the Wall Street Journal, he was resigning because he was actually on the British side when a lot of the wrongdoing there happened. It doesn‘t surprise me that the attorney general at this point is trying to make some political hay with investigations of allegations of hacking the 9/11 victims phone calls. But, you know, that is yet to be proven. I would adopt a wait and see attitude. I‘m not convinced that this is going to spread any meaningful way to the American side, beyond what it already has. But yes, of course, people are going to try to score political points off of it.
MENENDEZ: It is not just about political points. It is about the fact that they had committed crimes in an industrial scale. There is no telling the scope of how far this goes. The only thing I think we know for certain is that these are people who will do anything it takes to win. And so, I don‘t think we have yet to see the full extent of what they‘ve done and I also think we need to watch and see how they handle and try to contain this crisis moving forward.
SHARPTON: All right. But besides criminal allegations which will either come or not come, the political implication going into 2012, can this in effect hurt their standing in an election year in terms of the impact they would have in supporting certain candidates?
FINNEY: I think absolutely it could. I mean, we have already seen that their stock has taken quite a nose dive around some of these allegations. And I want her—something else because I think it is relevant to your question and that is clearly there was a culture that was created where this kind ever behavior was either permissible or people kind of looked the other way. This is a global corporation. It is not much of a leap to say, well, just because it was only going on in the U.K., that doesn‘t mean it necessarily wasn‘t happening here in the United States and other places. And I think certainly, if we find out that there were either practices like this or others that are either you know, unethical which they do a lot of things unethical, but even more so than what we currently know, or illegal. Absolutely, it hurts FOX News and it hurts that empire ability to kind of be the king maker that Roger Ailes wants to be.
SHARPTON: All right. Alicia, well, we have to hold it there. Thank you, Alicia, Karen and Josh.
TREVINO: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thanks for a great panel.
Ahead, the Bachmann family values. Her husband speaks out on the pray away the gay controversy.
SHARPTON: Republicans are doing everything they can to suppress Democrats from voting. It‘s time to fight back.
SHARPTON: Michele Bachmann is building up ahead of political steam. But today, an issue came back that could haunt her campaign. Her husband, Marcus, is now admitting his Christian counseling clinic tries to cure gays of homosexuality. In an interview, he says quote, “Will I address it? Certainly, we‘ll talk about it. Is it a remedy form that I typically would use? It is at the client‘s discretion. We don‘t have an agenda or philosophy of trying to change someone.”
Well, joining me now is a man who went undercover 20 exposes the Bachmann clinic. John Becker, communications director for Truth Wins Out, a gay rights group. And to discuss the political implications, Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor. Let me go to you first, John. What did you find out going undercover about the operation?
JOHN BECKER, TRUTH WINS OUT: Well, Reverend Sharpton, we found out that without a doubt, the Bachmann clinic practices what is called reparative therapy which is a practice that discreted by every single major mental health and medical, professional organization in this country. As you said, it tends to cure people, to change homosexuals from gay to straight. It carries significant risk of suicide and it does not work.
SHARPTON: Now, is this at the discretion or request of the client or is this set up and they are told in effect or indirectly told some implicit way, that they need to be cured?
BECKER: Well, the question we wanted to answer going in was whether or not that therapy was offered at the clinic. So I posed as a man who is struggling with homosexuality and wanted to get rid of it. But if the Bachmann clinic had been acting according to the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association, a patient coming and seeking that how will be told. There is no basis and research for this therapy that you‘re asking for rather than trying to get rid of your homosexuality. Let‘s work on building you up so that you are comfortable with who you are. That would be the ethical thing to do. But I was not told that. I was told that it was just, you know, I was given that therapy without any kind indication of the negative risks or the fact it doesn‘t work.
SHARPTON: Jonathan Capehart, the fact that this clinic gets public funds, we established here that it does get state and federal funds. Does that give us not, and we just put it up, med case, $137,000. Federal state funds, to the employees, 24,000. Does that not raise it to a different level when in fact you may have taxpayers who in fact could be gay that are paying for this practice?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Right. Absolutely. Now that Congresswoman Bachmann is running for president. She is now being held to a level of scrutiny that I don‘t think—I think she may have realized that in theory but now it is coming back to bite her into practice. And the fact that federal money, taxpayer money is going to a therapy that as John said, all of the major psychological mental health and health groups have said is unethical, is dangerous. I think calls into question, one, how the Bachmann‘s make their money? And two, how does she think that being involved in this and her family being involved in this, how that‘s going to play on the campaign trail and with voters? Let‘s just say, this might play well in Iowa and South Carolina where the caucus voters in Iowa and the primary voters in South Carolina tend to be very, very conservative. But let‘s say, she gets the nomination. This is not going to play well with the independent voters she‘s going to need in order to win the presidency. No matter who the—who she is running against.
SHARPTON: Well, in the debates, and in her interaction with opponents, couldn‘t she force an argument here that they would need to have to denounce her or have to deal with this? Could this be a device of issue going down the line? Or there are a series of debates? I‘ve been to the debates.
CAPEHART: Yes, you have. And sure, absolutely. But it also depends on whether her opponents wants to go down the road, attacking her but then having to answer the question themselves, which would then put them in a sticky situation with people they‘re trying to get votes from now.
SHARPTON: We‘ll talking about putting them in a sticky one, look at how she answered when she was asked about it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What is your opinion on reparative therapy and it s it something that is conducted at that center?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Well, I‘m running for the presidency of the United States. And I‘m here today to talk about job creation. We are very proud of our business. And we are proud of all job creators in the United States. That‘s what people really care about.
SHARPTON: Reverend Sharpton, what are you doing after the show? This morning, I had eggs for breakfast.
CAPEHART: You know, what Reverend, what this shows is that Michele Bachmann is learning very, very well from her campaign consultants who have told her, to be very focused and disciplined and stay on message. You can you ask her anything and it is all going to be about job creation and bringing the country back. This is a very sticky question, a very controversial question, a very problematic question for Congresswoman Bachmann.
SHARPTON: It is a long way though, it‘s a long way Jonathan, until the end of the primaries. You won‘t get away with that.
CAPEHART: Exactly. She‘s never get away with it.
SHARPTON: She won‘t get away with that long. John Becker from Truth Wins Out. Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for the Washington Post and MSNBC contributor. Thank you both.
BECKER: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: We‘ll be right back.
SHARPTON: There‘s a story out there that I don‘t think is getting enough national attention. And that is the fight about voting and limiting voting, and in my opinion, lessening the effects of the voting rights bill of ‘65. Florida comes to mind. It has a voting bill that cuts early voting from 14 days to eight days. And forces third party registration groups to turn in voter registration cards within 48 hours. Well, you would think that that doesn‘t mean anything? Yes, it does. Because the Florida state league of women voters, Deirdre Mcnabb, the president announced, that when we look at the laws, we felt that this would put our thousands of volunteers across the state who have register for voters for 70 years in Florida in a grave disadvantage. And they are not doing it this year.
We have seen these states across the country are now, look at this, 30 states have voter ID laws. And eight other states are considering these laws. President Bill Clinton, former president of the United States says, it is a new form of Jim Crow. I say, Jim Crow was defeated by Americans that said, everyone should have the right to vote. But we are not facing Jim Crow, Mr. Clinton, we are facing the James Crow Jr. Esquire, is the next generation. Little more polished. Little more sophisticated. They call it by different names but it‘s the same results. They are anti-voting. Anti-America. Anti-democracy. We have to beat them too.
Thanks for watching. I‘m Al Sharpton. “HARDBALL” starts now.
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