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PoliticsNation, Monday, April 29th, 2013

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April 29, 2013

Guests: Howard Dean; Michelle Cottle; Irin Carmon; Elyse Hogue, Jeffrey Rosen, Chuck Nice, Lauren Ashburn

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. Thanks to you for
tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, the GOP`s Chris Christy problem. He may be the most
popular Republican in the country because he worked with President Obama
after hurricane Sandy. Because he reached across the aisle to get things
done, because six months after the storm he still is saying things like


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Listen, the president has kept
every promise that he`s made. And the fact is, that`s what I was saying at
the time. What I was saying at the time, I was asked how the president is
doing. I said he`s doing a good job. He kept his word. We saw suffering
together. And when you see that, you`re either going to step up and be
responsible or you`re not. We stepped up and were responsible together.
And since that time I have to say, everything that they promised that they
would do, they have done. And so I don`t have any complaints or arguments
with him this morning on the issue of Sandy relief.


SHARPTON: Now, that`s leadership from both the governor and the
president. They put aside their political differences to find a common
ground for a greater good. That should make Christie a model for a new
improved GOP. But instead, it`s made him a lot of enemies within his
party. Conan O`Brien even joked about it at the White House correspondents


CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Also, I would like to acknowledge that
earlier this evening there was a confusion with the seating chart. For a
moment, someone accidentally sat Governor Chris Christie with the
Republicans. That was awkward and I apologize. Very awkward.


SHARPTON: But what`s really awkward is that governor Christie has a 67
percent approval rating compare that to the terrible 31 percent approval
rating for his party. It`s not complicated. When you do the right thing,
you`re rewarded. When you do unpopular things, the voters let you know.

That`s why senators who voted against background checks are getting
slammed in the polls. That`s what happens when you vote against something
that has overwhelming support against the American people. That`s what
happens when your oppose practically everything done by a president who
just won reelection with the big mandate. President Obama even joked about
the GOP`s failed reboot at the dinner this weekend.


still sorting out what happened in 2012 but one thing they all agree on is
they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me
self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with.


SHARPTON: The GOP has become a punch line. But, what they are doing
to the country is no laughing matter.

Joining me now is former Vermont governor, Howard Dean, former head of
the Democratic National Committee and Michelle Cottle from "the Daily

Thank you both for joining me tonight.


Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Governor Dean, six months later and Chris Christie is still
praising president Obama. When will the rest of the party find the
political courage to do things like this?

DEAN: I don`t think political courage is in the lexicon of the
Republican Party in general. But, the truth is, Christie is it a good
governor. And the reason he is a good governor is because he cares about
his state, not about his party. And if the fundamental failing of the
Republican Party in this country is that they put their party first and the
voters know it.

And Chris Christie did not put his party first. He does what good
governors do. He cares about the people of his state. He gets it done and
whoever is going to help New Jersey is who is he going to be with. And
that`s exactly what good governors do.

This actually, Al, is going to make him a better presidential
candidate for the Republicans, not that they would consider nominating him,
than it would if he took the Mitch McConnell line and just trashed

SHARPTON: No. I agree that he would be much more dangerous to the
Democrats than someone playing this far right line.

But Michelle, when you look at the fact, let`s take, for example,
those who voted no on back ground checks that are now hurting at the poll.
Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Ohio senator Rob Portman, Arizona senator Jeff
Flake. I mean, these are just a few that are down. Flake, down 32 percent
after the no vote on background check. Murkowski down 16 points.

I mean, when you stand against people, people stand against you, I
think sometimes they forget they are elected by the people not selected by
the big money guys and the lobbyists.

COTTLE: You do have a kind of split at you seeing what the bulk of
people, voters say that they support and kind of what small activists in
the party will come back and bash you for come election in time. You know,
as senator Flake pointed out, you know, the beauty of his vote here is that
he`s got a six-year term to serve and he is betting that people will cool
off about this before they go to the polls and vote for him again, whereas
the NRA does not forget and they come back and bite you come election time.
And that`s the kind of calculus these politicians are having to go through.

SHARPTON: But, isn`t it true, governor, that if there are groups on
the other side forming some of which formed when you were chairman of the
party and others are forming, and I know your brother was involved in one,
they are starting to have long-term biting on the other side using
Michelle`s term, biting. I think that there are more people out there
organizing than there once was that balances off the threat of the NRA.

DEAN: Yes. And Al, I was on "Morning Joe" a couple of weeks ago and
predicted that Max Baucus would retire. I didn`t know he was going to
retire within that week but he did. Here`s a guy who has raised $5
million. He`s been in the Senate for roughly 30 years and all of a sudden
his poll numbers dropped right through the cellar and he can`t beat Brian
Schweitzer in the primary and retires, which is a smart thing to do. But,
that was exacerbated by the vote he took on guns. There is no question
about it.

SHARPTON: No, there is no doubt about it.

Now Michelle, when Governor Christie was on "Morning Joe," he was
asked about his GOP backlash in support of President Obama during the
hurricane. Certainly supported Romney against the re-election. Let me
show you what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You are a pariah in your party in many
parts, a lot of fund-raisers, big fund-raisers are angry with you. A lot
of conservatives say they are done with you, you`re finished in national
politics because of what you did. Six months later, do you have any


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: All right. Next question.


SHARPTON: I mean, and I`m -- let me get this right, Michelle. I`m no
fan of Governor Christie. There`s a lot of things that he`s done in terms
of labor and other thing I think are absolutely wrong in New Jersey. I
just think that what he`s done here is what you`re supposed to do as

COTTLE: And if you talk to a lot of Republican donors, they will tell
you that they make a distinction between people like Christie and
Republican governors and who you see in Congress. People will talk to you
about the Republican Congress being broken. In a lot of reasons, that`s
because Republican governors have to get things done in their state. They
have to work with the president in this case. Whereas Congress gets to sit
around and do a lot of partisan sniping and play to an activist base that
finds this entire presidency illegitimate and the fastest way to get
shunned by that part of the party is to say anything remotely decent or to
show any kind of willingness to work with this president.

SHARPTON: When you see the background check vote, governor, and when
you see other things that have the overwhelming support of the American
public, if that sustained kind of anger and sustained kind of disagreement,
from anger to disagreement in varying degrees, do you think that this could
really impact the 2014 election if people stay where they are and the
turnout is galvanized.

DEAN: I think it could. And here`s why. If you look at where guns
are in terms of an issue that people are going to go to the polls on, it`s
about 4 percent that the public votes on guns. So in theory, this
shouldn`t be a big deal in 2014.

I tell you what really makes the public mad, though, and you can ask
Mike Bloomberg if I`m not right about this is when 80 percent or 90 percent
or whatever it was of the American people want something done and the
Congress deliberately votes the other way, Bloomberg got a bite on this on
his term limits when he overwrote his own term limits and now we have many,
many people -- it`s the idea that not so much they voted the wrong way on
guns because activists care about that, but not so much ordinary people

And when everybody in America knows that 90 percent of the people
supported the gun legislation and the Congress was in your face, no, that
is not a good thing and there will be ads on that going after the people
who voted against the background checks in 2014.

SHARPTON: Well, there`s no doubt about it, a lot of us are going to
try to keep reminding the people about that.

Governor Dean, Michelle Cottle, thank you for your time tonight.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

DEAN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, exploiting tragedy. How the right wing is sham
shamelessly using an abortion doctor charged with murder for political

And 13 years later, Supreme Court justice admits a big mistake with
Bush versus Gore. How that decision changed the course of history.

And the stars came out from the White House correspondents` dinner. A
good time was had by all. But don`t tell Sarah Palin. Why is she so

Stay with us.


OBAMA: Some folks still don`t think I spent enough time with
Congress. Why don`t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell, they ask.
Really? Why don`t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?




SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet?

Today, everyone was reacting to NBA player Jason Collins decision to
come out of the closet.

Tina said, this takes enormous courage and strength in this day and
age where hate is still so rampant.

Brandy says, I hope the positive feedback he receives from his fans
and fellow players outnumbers the ignorant comments that he`s bound to

Will said, why all the controversy? As the bible says, judge not lest
be judged.

We have got more on this historic announcement including my thoughts
coming up later in the show. But first, we want to hear what you think.
Please head over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like to join
us to keep the conversation going long after the show ends.


SHARPTON: The latest ground zero and the war on women`s rights is an
unlikely place. It`s a trial against Philadelphia abortion Dr. Kermit
Gosnell. Closing arguments were heard today. In a word, the case is
horrific. Gosnell is charged with killing four babies, allegedly born
alive and in the overdose death of a 41-year-old patient. The grand jury
report says he illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third
trimester of pregnancy and then murdered these newborns.

Let me be very clear. What this man allegedly did was beyond
reprehensible if guilty. If guilty, this monster deserves the justice
coming to him. But the right is now exploiting this horrible case to
attack women`s rights.


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I think what you`re going to
see with the Gosnel case is people will focus on, yes, the regulations but
also ending federal funding of abortion and that will come back in to play.


SHARPTON: Ending federal funding for abortion? This is not the
answer. With no legal right to an abortion, poor women are left to the
Gosnells of the world. These are the kinds of butchers who you get when
the right to choose is taken away. This is the ugly and dirty politics of
the right playing and we can`t let it happen. We can`t let them play this
to its logical conclusion and use distortions to do that.

Joining me now is Ilyse Hogue, the president of the NARAL Pro-choice
America and Irin Carmon from

Elise, what`s your response to the right wingers using Gosnel to
advance their agenda?

egregious. I mean, look. What this guy was doing, as you say, if
allegations are proven true, was illegal in all 50 states and by federal
law. It`s out outrageous.

I`m angered. I got to work every single morning to prevent women from
falling in to the clutches of Kermit Gosnel. But that woman you played
talking about ending funding, the anti-choice extremists have made sure for
decades that women can actually use federal funding like they would for any
other medical procedure. Pennsylvania got an "f" in our Pew decides report
simply because they don`t make funding available for this kind of medical
procedure that keeps women safe and keeps this medical procedure legal.
The anti-choice extremists are the ones that keep the Gosnells in business.
And we will just see more of it if they get their way.

SHARPTON: Irin, you know, what bothers me about this is that we are
talking here enforcement, not regulation. And they are trying to make it
regulation, not enforcement. I have no idea whether Gosnel guilty or not.
But I do know that in poor communities before you had federal funding and
the right to choose, that you had nothing but butchers available t poor
people and to try and use this case to return to that would increase the
level of danger, not decrease it.

IRIN CARMON, SALON.COM: Look, the tragedy is across the board,
whether we`re talking about abortion care or maternal mortality, there are
unforgivable racial disparities in terms of the level of care that women

SHARPTON: No doubt.

CARMON: And if Gosnel, in fact, is guilty of what he is charged with,
this is an example of that. He is no more representative of the abortion
care and the doctor -- the dentist that gave a bunch of his patients HIV
because he didn`t sterilize his equipment. Unfortunately, there will
always be doctors that commit crimes or they don`t live up to the standard
of car. The question is not, I mean, Marsha Blackburn, what is she want to
do? She wants to defund Planned Parenthood. She wants to stop federal
funding -- by the way, we don`t really have federal funding for abortions
in most cases. She wants to stop federal funding from going to birth
control, to STD testing, to counseling. They want to stop all the things
that we have placed right now that are preventing unwanted pregnancies and
allowing women to make decisions about their lives.

So, this is a real bait and switch. Last year we were talking about
Todd Akin. We were talking about birth control and Planned Parenthood.
What the right is trying to do now is change away from the fact that they
want to deny women the right to have choices over their destinies.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it. They are changing the premise to fit
their conclusion rather than getting a conclusion from the right premise.
This is about enforcement.

Let me ask you this, Ilyse.

When you look at the fact that they are also complaining on the right
about the coverage -- let me go to right wing radio talk show host Lars
Larson who has a theory on why he claims the media isn`t covering the
trial. Listen to this.


LARS LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We`re going to pretend that
doesn`t exist because we can`t possibly tell the story without violating
all of our beliefs that abortion is a right and any way it gets done to any
baby at any number of weeks is completely appropriate for any reason


SHARPTON: I mean, first of all, do you believe there`s been a blackout
in the media and the surrounding coverage of this media s. It so, is it
some way to protect a woman`s right to choose?

HOGUE: Well, listen, Reverend. Irin wrote the best piece on the fact
that there had been no media blackout. But, I will tell you, as a new
president of a Pro-choice organization, I want more media scrutiny on this
case because that`s the only way we are going to turn these anti-choice
extremists crocodile tears into policies that actually protect women by not
throwing up obstacles for them getting safe and legal abortion care.

You have to remember, the same voices talking about making this a
mandate on abortion care are the same voices that would keep these same,
poor women from accessing contraception. They simply don`t believe that
women should have choices over their own future.

SHARPTON: Irin, let me say this. The vast majority, 92 percent of
abortions, are done before 14 weeks. Just over one percent are beyond 20
weeks, just over one percent. Arkansas just banned abortion at 12 weeks.
North Dakota at six weeks. This Gosnel case is horrifying but it`s not for
the real fight on the right to chooses at, really.

CARMON: Right. And the tragedy is that later abortions take place
often because women cannot access the care that they need early. Who is
passing these restrictions that make it harder for women to access abortion
in a safe way? Republicans in many states. They are the ones that are
shutting down clinics. They are the ones that are creating these onerous
and unsafe restrictions on women`s rights to choose which actually ends at
meaning that they seek abortions later and they are driven in to the hands
of people like Gosnel.

SHARPTON: All right, Elyse Hogue and Irin Carmon, thank you for your
time this evening.

CARMON: Thank you, Reverend.

HOGUE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a Supreme mistake? A former justice now regret
Bush versus Gore. What if that decision was never made?

And do not adjust your TV set. Mark Sanford is debating a cardboard
cutout of Nancy Pelosi. I`m getting in to the debate next.


SHARPTON: Big news in South Carolina tonight. Disgraced former
governor Mark Sanford turns South Carolina congressional candidate will
debate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, his Democratic opponent for Congress. I
wonder how he will do against a real person.

To warm up, he took on an inanimate object.


idea of bouncing budget, Nancy Pelosi has made a consistent stand against
balancing, as I think so people here in the first congressional district
would like to see.


SHARPTON: Yes, America, Mark Sanford bating a cardboard cutout of
Nancy Pelosi complete with an easel and you can even see some feet below
that cut out. And he build this as an actual event. He says he did it
because he wasn`t getting face time with Colbert Busch. But let`s see what
she will face tonight.


SANFORD: I would ask you Nancy, where do you stand on stimulus? And
so, my question to you, Nancy is, where do you stand on NLRB? Let me say
it again, Nancy, where do you stand on NLRB? She`s not going to answer
that one.


SHARPTON: She`s not going to answer that one? She`s not going to
answer any of them, Mark. She`s a poster. But Sanford has a history of
questionable decisions, like lying about hiking the Appalachian Trail when
he was really visiting his mistress in Argentina. He took out a full page
ad last week when he explained how he trespassed on his ex-wife`s property
and used his cell phone as a flashlight. First he was there because he
didn`t want his son to watch the super bowl alone. But lately, he admitted
that another son was home.

But let`s let him respond to these questions. I`d like to welcome him
to "Politics Nation" for an exclusive interview. Mark, thanks for joining
me. Let me give you an opportunity to clear up some questions before the
night`s debate.

First, I want to ask you, why did you trespass? OK. Let me ask
again. Why did you trespass? He`s not going to answer that one. Let me
ask this. Why did you use your cell phone as a flashlight? Are you
surprised to see your numbers falling in the polls?

Did Governor Sanford think we`d give him a pass on his very debatable
stunt? Nice try, but we got you.


SHARPTON: On December 12, 2000, millions of Americans rush to their
TV sets to catch the big breaking news. The Supreme Court`s decision in
Bush versus Gore deciding the presidential election.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: NBC Dan Abrams and Pete Williams are just outside
and they are reading the ruling even as we go to them. What do we know?
Is this a split decision?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, it would appear to be, Tom. It doesn`t
appear, as I look through here, to be a five-four opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It has come to an end and four of the 25 electoral
votes will go to George W. Bush. The governor of Texas, he is the
president of the United States.


SHARPTON: That was it. George W. Bush named president-elect more
than a month after Election Day. The decision ended the recount in
Florida. It ended talk of hanging chairs. It capped off a recount process
in which republican operatives stage protest interfere with the recount.
After all that, a five to four Supreme Court vote gave us this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I George Walker Bush do solemnly swear --

solemnly swear --


SHARPTON: Literally changed the course of history but now Sandra Day
O`Connor, one of the five justices who sided with Bush, has some big
regrets. In a new interview, she says, quote, "Maybe the court should have
said we`re not going to take it. Good-bye." She also said, probably the
Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day. Folks, that is
the understatement of the year.

Joining me now is Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington
University. And legal affairs editor of The New Republic. Jeffrey, first
of all, thanks for coming on the show.

JEFFREY ROSEN, THE NEW REPUBLIC: It`s good to be back.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, were you surprised by these comments by
Justice O`Connor?

ROSEN: I have to say that I was surprised and I was also impressed.
As it happens, I interviewed Justice O`Connor during the summer of 2011 and
at that point, she seeing much less contrite about Bush-Gore. She said it
wasn`t the end of the world. The definitive media recount prove that Bush
would have won anyway. So, she said, forget about it. It`s over. The
tone of these comments is very different.

It suggests a justice who has been thinking hard about whether it was
wise for the court to intervene, has thought seriously about the effects of
the decision and frankly, I think Justice O`Connor gets a huge credit for
having really grappled with an important aspect of her legacy and thought
in retrospect that really the Supreme Court may have made a mistake by
getting involved in the first place.

SHARPTON: So, what was the change from 2011 until now? You think it
was just reflection or do you think -- let me race this. Americans seem to
feel that justices are partisan. When asked in 2012 -- would decide on
health care for example, 17 percent said the decision would be based on
legal merits but 75 percent said that it would be based on politics. So do
you think she started in her reflection thinking that maybe Gore -- Bush
versus Gore began the public`s not trusting the court, not being partisan?

ROSEN: It`s an interesting question. Justice O`Connor is certainly
concerned about the court`s legitimacy. But she has been surprisingly
willing to criticize the court in recent years and said, she disagree with
many of the decisions that reached since she stepped down. She`s
criticized the Citizens United decision. And she said, she sort of thought
the first amendment was made for individuals. It`s clear that she would
have voted differently on cases involving affirmative action, gender

The ability to sue for religious discrimination. So, I think for all
these reasons, she may have been thinking that she`s not so happy with the
way the Supreme Court has been thinking since she left and in good
conscience she thought back on the wrong decision. Bush V. Gore and
thought that maybe the court shouldn`t have started down this path to begin

SHARPTON: If the court had not started down this path, I mean, look
at some of what we got out of the Bush presidency. You`ve got two wars,
certainly the war in Iraq, the opening of Guantanamo Bay. The approval of
torture techniques, appointments of Justice Roberts and Alito. I mean, a
lot of history changed based on that vote and one would think that she
would have to think about that.

ROSEN: It`s true. It`s remarkable how many of our modern
constitutional debates and discussions emerged since that decision and, you
know, Connor -- Justice O`Connor has suggested, well, even if the court
didn`t get involved, Bush still would have won. But in fact, according to
the standards that the judge in the Florida case wanted to apply, which was
counting the over votes as well as the under votes, Gore might have eat out
an hour victory. So, she may have been thinking about the effects of that
and realized that so much stemmed from that decision that the appearance of
the court is being partisan really was an unfortunate casualty of the whole

SHARPTON: No question about it. Jeffrey Rosen, thanks for your time
this evening.

ROSEN: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Ahead, they tried to suppress -- voters. But today, we
know it only fired us up.

And Sarah Palin unloads on the D.C. partygoers at the White House
Correspondents` Dinner. But she forgot to look at who partied in the past.

And big news tonight about a major barrier broken in pro-sports and
President Obama`s praise for his courage. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: You can`t win if you don`t fight. Especially when it comes
to your rights. Remember these scenes in major swing states? The never-
ending lines to vote? Some voters had to wait up to eight hours just to
have their voices heard. And remember these billboards that popped up in
minority neighborhoods? They tried to scare people away from polls by
warning voter fraud is a felony. But guess what? It didn`t work. The
effects of what they did didn`t work. The efforts to block the vote only
fired minorities up. We don`t have the full numbers yet, but we`re hearing
today that black turnout did not only drop, it did what it did in 2008. It
matched the records that was set that year, 2008.

That`s thanks to people like 102-year-old Desiline Victor who stood in
line for three hours, so she could exercise her right to vote. We fought
back and it worked but we can`t let our guard down now. Republicans in
North Carolina`s House of Representatives just passed a bill requiring
people to show voter ID at the polls. Today protesters are at the capital
voicing their opposition to the bill.

They are not quitting and neither are we. We covered this issue
aggressively on this show and we will continue to fight for the right to
vote as long as they are out to suppress the vote, we will take it
seriously. Others may view this as some political gain but we take it as a
fundamental right.


SHARPTON: The red carpet was out this weekend for the White House
Correspondents` Dinner. It was Hollywood meeting in Washington. Conan
O`Brien headline the big event. Michael Douglas was there. So, was Sharon
Stone. It is not often you get the cast of the reality show "Duck Dynasty"
in the same room as Eric Cantor. In fact, it didn`t make for lots of --
like Barbara Streisand and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Some would even call me and my colleague Chris Matthews an odd couple.
You could see we had a great time. But not everyone was in on the fun.
Former FOX News contributor Sarah Palin tweeted, quote, "The White House
Correspondents` Dinner was pathetic. The rest of America out there working
-- while this D.C. -- clowns throw themselves a nerd prom." Pathetic.

That`s an interesting take on the dinner especially because Todd Palin
went in 2009. And look at this. The governor`s daughter Bristol was there
just two years ago and Palin herself attended the MSNBC after-party in
2011. If only we had a video to prove it. Oh, wait.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: My daughter went to the dinner
so I`ll hear the scoop from her.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And, you know, is this your first time at a White
House Correspondents` event?

PALIN: Yes. Todd`s been here a couple years ago. Bristol has been


SHARPTON: The Palins had a nice time when they went to the dinner and
everybody did this year, too. Come on, Sarah, lighten up. We missed you.
I know you would have found the President funny.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I get it. These days I look
in the mirror and I have to admit, I`m not the strapping young Muslim
socialist that I used to be. I understand second term, need a burst of new
energy, try some new things and my team and I talked about it, we were
willing to try anything. So we borrowed one of Michelle`s tricks. Some
folks still don`t think I spent enough time with Congress. Why don`t you
get a drink with Mitch McConnell, they asked. Really?


Why don`t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?


I know CNN has taken some knocks lately but the fact is I admire their
commitment to cover all sides of a story just in case one of them happens
to be accurate.


The problem is, the media landscape is changing so rapidly. You can`t
keep up with it. I mean, I remember when buzz feed was just something I
didn`t college around 2:00 a.m. I`m also hard at work on plans for the
Obama library and some have suggested that we put it in my birth place but
I`d rather keep it in the United States.



SHARPTON: That one must have been for Sarah. Joining me now is
comedian Chuck Nice and Daily Beast contributor Lauren Ashburn who was also
as the Correspondents` Dinner. Thank you both for being here.

CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN: It`s a pleasure.


SHARPTON: Lauren, what is going on with Sarah Palin? I mean, she
only likes the dinner when her family members go.

ASHBURN: I mean, she was being a little bit of a clown herself. You
can`t go to a dinner and then ditch it the next year or at least go to the
parties. She`s looking for anything right now to attach on to because
she`s out of the limelight. She`s out of her Fox contract and she needs to
be noticed. That`s really what`s happening here.

SHARPTON: Yes. OK, Chuck. Grade the president. How did he do?

NICE: You know what, as a comedian, I`m a little upset with him
because he made doing my job look way too easy. Straight up, hands down,
"A" all the way.


NICE: I mean, his timing was impeccable.

SHARPTON: His timing is great.

NICE: I mean, comedy is all about timing, man. So whenever you can
deliver the joke, I know -- and people are like, well, he`s got writers.
Yes. Yes. So does Jon Stewart. Shut up.


NICE: But the fact is, whenever you can deliver a joke the way he did
and bring down the house the way he did in front of the people who
basically will be your detractors the next day.


NICE: Man, you really hit it out of the park. It`s called a home

SHARPTON: No doubt about it. And Lauren, you were there as I was.
What was his best line?

ASHBURN: I think the socialist line was probably the best line.
Making fun of the fact that, you know, he`s buying into for the birther
conspiracies. That was a pretty good one and I think that was the one that
got the most laughs. Conan O`Brien however, on the other hand, did not get
as many laughs at all. I mean, I think he got one out of three. He had
these very rapid fire jokes and there were a lot of times when the room
just went flat. There was nothing.

SHARPTON: Well, I think he did not do as the president. Well, you
know, Chuck, you`re the professional comedian here.

ASHBURN: Yes, right. Don`t ask me. Ask Chuck.

SHARPTON: Yes. Let me play a little Conan and get your assessment.



CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: When you think about it, the President and I
are a lot alike. We both went to Harvard. We both have two children and
we both told Joe Biden we didn`t have extra tickets for tonight`s event.
Speaking of dinner, tonight`s on trace were halibut and filet mignon. Or
as CNN`s John King reported it, lasagna and couscous. If the President
laughs, everyone laughs.

And if the FOX News table laughs, a little girl just fell off her
bike. I`d like to acknowledge that earlier this evening, there was some
confusion with the seating chart. For a moment, someone accidentally sat
Governor Chris Christie with the Republicans. That was awkward and I



SHARPTON: All right.

NICE: You know, I have say that I don`t want to say anything bad
about Conan but I think he followed the president and the president is a
better comedian. I hate to say it, but he looked nervous and he also if
you`ve noticed the difference between the delivery, Obama is relaxed, he`s
comfortable in his own skin, he`s kind of like, yes, this is how it is.


NICE: Joke. Whereas Conan is looking down, he`s reading, he comes
up, delivers a punch line, looks back down, Reid`s comes up, delivers a
punch line. And you know, that`s not the kind of cadence that you need in
order to bring out laughs from people.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, I thought. I was there. I agree with you,
Lauren, that he didn`t get as many laughs as the president but he got some.
But let me get back to Sarah Palin a minute because I don`t want to lose
perspective on her since she wants some attention.

ASHBURN: You`re the comedian, Al.

SHARPTON: I mean, she certainly had some friends at the
Correspondents` Dinner. Bill O`Reilly was there, Newt Gingrich who Palin
voted for in the 2012 primary. Even -- Christie, O`Donnell, even I`m not a
witch Christine O`Donnell. So, it wasn`t like you just had Democrats there
or people that she always criticizes. People she supported was there.

ASHBURN: But what`s great about this dinner is that people can
actually take shots at their own party, they can take shots at the other
party, but it`s ingest. I mean, President Obama is joking but not really.
Sarah Palin on twitter was not joking. She was very angry. And it does
not fit the tone of this dinner and one of the great things about
Washington in this very humor-impaired town, is that we do get together
once a year and poke a little fun at each other. And that tweet, her
attitude was more of the outside bipartisan no thank you atmosphere that we
are in.

SHARPTON: And Lauren is right. Because I went -- when Bush was

NICE: Right.

SHARPTON: I went a couple years when President Bush was president,
Linda Johnson Rice had me as a guest before I was -- people go.

NICE: Exactly. It`s one of those things where it`s considered all in
good fun. And, you know, it`s like we`re playing tag. This is faith, I`m
faith, you know. You`re at the base. So now, everybody is on neutral
ground and you`re just having fun. Maybe Sarah Palin is mad because they
invited like the people from "Duck Dynasty" and she`s like, I had a way
better reality show than those people. So, could be something like that.

SHARPTON: Could be. Could be Lauren, that she doesn`t have a reality
show or a real show at all anymore at Fox. So maybe, she`s a little angry
at the media as well as political leadership.

ASHBURN: But she`s always been very angry at the lame stream media,
as she calls them. And so this kind of anger that we see on her -- from
her twitter is very in keeping with who Sarah Palin is right now and it`s
also very in keeping with the way twitter operates as a whole. And as you
said, this dinner brings Washingtonians together. We have a terribly
divisive, terribly divisive political atmosphere here in Washington and at
that event it`s the only time when people can be very self-deprecating.


ASHBURN: And so it`s not a time when you`re taking a gun and, you
know, really trying to shoot someone down. But here you`re sort of taking
a bow and arrow and missing it a little bit.

NICE: But you have to consider the source, I mean, we`re talking
about the person who ridiculed the President for reading from a
teleprompter instead of having the decency of reading from his own hand.
So, you know, this is the kind of criticism that she levies at situations
like this.

SHARPTON: Well, people wanted to know that I think she at least
watched it but I`m sure she was in the backyard looking over at rush.
Chuck Nice and Lauren Ashburn, thank you for your time.

NICE: It`s a pleasure.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the courage of Jason Collins, the pro basketball
player that breaks down a barrier forever. And gets a call from the
President. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Sometime a leader is choosing to make change. Sometimes
change chooses the leader. Today, change chooses Jason Collins. He`s a
12-year NBA veterans. All the players know them. And today, they learned
who he really is. In a story for Sports Illustrated released today,
Collins wrote, "I`m a 34-year-old NBA center. I`m black and I`m gay."

He revealed his heart-breaking struggle. "The strain of hiding my
sexuality became almost unbearable in March when the U.S. Supreme Court
heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage, less than three miles
from my apartment. Nine jurors argued about my happiness and my future.
Here was my chance to be heard and I couldn`t say a thing. I didn`t want
to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still

That`s how deep this struggle was. He goes on to explain that the
events that helped move his decision to come out. "I realize I needed to
go public when Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at
Stanford told me he had just marched in Boston`s 2012 gay pride parade.
I`m seldom jealous of others but hearing what Joe had done filled me with
envy. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march
for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and
say, me too."

Well, today support came from all over the country. President Obama
called Collins to say he was impressed with his courage. Michelle Obama
tweeted, this is a huge step forward for our country. We`ve got your back.
The Boston Red Sox invited Collins to throw out the first pitch in an
upcoming game at Fenway Park. Kobe Bryant tweeted, "Don`t suffocate who
you are because of the ignorance of others." Hashtag -- courage.

Tennis player Andy Roddick simply said, "props." And tennis legend
Martina Navratilova tweeted, "Hey Jason Collins, you are now an activist!
Freedom is a sweet feeling indeed. It is not easy to come out when one is
still active. Shouldn`t be an issue but it is. That`s why so many don`t
do it until after -- until after. You`re a brave man, 1981 was the year
for me, 2013 is the year for you."

Nineteen eighty one is the reference to when she became the first pro-
athlete who come out while still playing her sport. That took real
courage, the same kind of courage that Jason Collins showed today. I keep
telling people, you can`t stand for some rights, some self-expression, some
civil rights and not stand for all. We cannot be the custodians of
intolerance and beg for freedom and tolerance and understanding and one
nation at the same time.

Collins deserves all of our embraces because Collins brought us closer
to how we all must stand for all of us to have, one nation with one right
under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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