updated 12/17/2013 10:21:15 AM ET 2013-12-17T15:21:15

POLITICS NATION
December 16, 2013
Guest: Jim McDermott; Bernie Sanders, Bill Press, Cynthia Tucker, Cade
Bernsen, Faith Jenkins

REV. AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST: Good evening Ed. And thanks to
you for tuning in.

Tonight`s Lead, they can`t handle the truth. We`ve told you our Politics
Nation theory, ObamaCare plus success equals a Right Wing freak out. And
we`re seeing it again. Just listen to Former Senator Rick Santorum`s rant
on government-run health care in Former British Leader Margaret Thatcher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R) PENNSYLVANIA: She knew. Once you have people
prompt in getting free healthcare from the government, you can`t -- he
can`t take it away from them. And the reason is, it`s because most people
don`t get sick. And so, free health care is just that free health care
until you get sick. And then if you get sick and you don`t get health
care, you die, and so you don`t vote. It`s actually a pretty clever
system. Take care of the people who can vote and the people who can`t
vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible by not giving them care so
they can`t vote against you. That`s how it works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Take care of the people who can vote and get rid of the others?
You know, I feel I`ve heard that one before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Let`s repeal this failure before it
literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let`s not do
that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes. You know they`re running out of good arguments when they
bring up the death panels. It was the same story when a Republican state
senator from North Carolina tweeted this weekend, quote, "justice Roberts`
pen and Obamacare has done more damage to the USA than the swords of the
Nazis, Soviets, and terrorists combined."

I guess comparing health care law to hurricane Katrina is old news. Now
they`re going with Nazis. The truth is the law is helping real people.
159,000 have enrolled in plans through California`s exchange, more than
95,000 in New York. And through the federal Web site, 137,000 people
signed up in October and November. And 100,000 just in the first week of
this month. But Republicans don`t care about any of that. With all the
good news that this law is doing, they still want to get rid of it.

Here`s Mr. Bipartisan Paul Ryan saying he made a budget deal so Republicans
could focus on health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We like the fact for
the economy, no shutdowns. We also don`t want shutdown drama so we can
focus on replacing Obamacare. So we can focus on showing better ideas than
what this is coming to. We don`t think people like this law. We don`t
think it`s going to get more popular.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Remarkable. This is leadership?

Jim DeMint infamously thought Obamacare could be the president`s waterloo.
But it`s ripping the GOP apart. Why? Because it`s working.

Joining me now is congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington and
MSNBC`s Krystal Ball.

Thank you both for being here.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Rev.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Good to here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, Paul Ryan is saying he agreed to a budget deal so
Republicans could focus on replacing Obamacare. What do you make of that?

MCDERMOTT: Every once in awhile Paul Ryan tells the truth. The fact is
they`ve never given up on wanting to get rid of Obamacare because they
realize that all their efforts to convince the American people that
government never does anything good, there`s no reason to want government,
we don`t need government is simply not believed by the people. And when
they get health care through the government, they then say to themselves
you know, the people who brought it to us are the Democrats. It`s not the
Republicans. They want to get rid of government. And they are afraid this
is going to haunt them for the next ten elections.

SHARPTON: You know, Krystal, the House isn`t in session, but Republicans
are still attacking the health care law. Speaker Boehner, for example.
His blog posted today, quote, "Obamacare can`t be sold, can`t be fixed
either." How is this for leadership? They don`t want to fix the law. I
mean, when will they move on?

BALL: They are not going to move on because they have nothing else to say.
And what I would really like to hear Paul Ryan or John Boehner or any of
these folks be asked is I want to hear them defend the status quo that we
have. Since they haven`t offered an alternative, let`s hear them talk
about how great the status quo is where we have highest costs in the
developing world, we have bad outcomes, we have people who can be tossed
out right on their ear for something that happened while they were covered
under their insurance policy and insurers can go back and say for something
as small as an irregular menstrual period, sorry, but you had this
condition where no longer covering you. People can have preexisting
conditions and never get covered. Women can be discriminated against.
Some people are unable to afford it. Many people are unable to afford it.
I want to hear someone defend that status quo because that is Republicans
are saying. They`re not saying they are going to fix it. They are saying
they want to keep the way things are and the way things were before
Obamacare. To me that is unconscionable. And I don`t think anyone in
America believes that`s a good thing.

SHARPTON: But that`s what they`re saying.

But Congressman, "the Wall Street Journal" reports today that insurance
companies plan to spend $500 million on local TV ads in 2014 pushing people
to sign up for health care plans. Insurance companies are investing half a
billion dollars. They expect the law to work. How will this impact the
GOP`s political strategy, Congressman?

MCDERMOTT: I think it really blows a hole in the bottom of their boat.
Their whole idea that they have to get rid of Obamacare and if they promise
people that, they can win elections and all the rest is clearly a bat
strategy because the insurance companies know that people want to have
security when they have an illness or an injury. They want to know that
things will be covered. They want to know that they won`t be bankrupted by
the illness or injury. And the insurance companies are going to go out
there and sell the president`s plan right into the face of the Republicans.

It`s kind of funny to watch in a way. We tried to do it by ourselves. Now
the insurance companies are coming on board and you`re going to see this
thing turn very quickly. A lot of people are going to start asking why
can`t we, if we live in Tennessee, have the same thing they have in
California and Oregon and Washington. And the answer is you can. All you
have to do is go down and sign up. I mean, it`s going to cost a little
something, yes, that`s true. But you can have it if you want it. And they
have tried to sell to people that it`s a bad idea and it has not worked.

SHARPTON: You know, Krystal, "The New York Times" reports today that a
number of Republican house candidates are looking to tone down their
rhetoric. They, quote, "shelved their incendiary remarks about President
Obama. They`re trying to mellow their messages. But it`s because they
want to narrow their focus on the affordable care act."

Once we`re a few months away from the problems with the Web site rollout,
will that message resonate at all, Krystal?

BALL: No, I don`t think so. And I think the question that people are
naturally going to ask is, OK. So we`ve heard you hate Obamacare. We get
that, right? We`ve heard that piece. We understand that. Yes, there are
problems with the Web site but we are seeing it working now. What else do
you have to offer? And they`ve never been able to figure that out.

I mean, they went after the 2012 election and they did this autopsy report
and they had some good ideas in there about how they could broaden their
base, how they can appeal to whiter constituencies. But because they have
been throwing this rhetoric at their base and this incendiary rather at
their base for so long, they are unable to turn that corner. And they`re
terrified of offering their own solutions because once you put a solution
out there, someone can pick it apart. So they think it`s safer just to
attack.

SHARPTON: But Congressman, at the end of the day I understand what "the
Times" is reporting, mellowing out on that, these people have closed down
the government. They`ve had the most extreme rhetoric you can remember.
They`ve acted as if votes, a Supreme Court vote and a general election for
president means nothing. I mean, all that they`ve done against this act
cannot just be swept away in some mellow election rhetoric at the end of
all of this.

MCDERMOTT: The American people will have their opportunity to correct this
in 2014. And they are going to say these folks have not given us one
positive thing.

Now, I`ve heard over and over again, Obama won`t listen to our plans, won`t
listen to our ideas. They have never put anything on the table to be voted
on. I sit on the ways and means committee in the House, which is the
committee where it ought to happen. There has never been a proposal put on
the table that we could vote on.

You can`t get something through if you won`t write it down and let people
look at it and read it and vote it. And they are afraid, as Krystal has
said, they are really afraid to do that because they know it would turn out
they would be offering an empty sack. There`d be nothing in it.

SHARPTON: Well, I`ll leave it there. You said it well.

Congressman McDermott and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your time.

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And be sure to catch Krystal on "the Cycle" week days here on
MSNBC.

Ahead, over one million people are about to lose unemployment benefits. So
where`s Speaker Boehner`s Congress? We`ll show you.

If you`re a right winger who thinks President Obama is a socialist dictator
abusing his power, then we found the game for you.

And affluenza outrage is bizarre that everyone is talking about. Was this
teenager who killed four, driving drunk too rich to jail?

And is the black Santa debate finally over? He made a big appearance over
the weekend. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His eyes, how they twinkle. His dimples they amazed.
And when I saw him, I proclaimed damn is that Isaac Hayes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on facebook
yet? Too rich for jail? It`s the story everyone`s talking about. The
wealthy teenager put on probation after taking four lives in drunk driving
accident. And it has dominated our facebook page.

Ruth asks, ask the teens who were tried as adults and spent most of their
lives in jail. Money talks.

Vanessa says, if this boy is too rich to go to jail for vehicular homicide,
then most Americans are too poor to go to jail for robbing banks and
dealing drugs.

That makes just as much sense.

We`ve got more on this story coming up, but first we want to hear what you
think. Please head over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like
us to join the conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Congratulations to Speaker Boehner. He`s set another record.
No, I`m not talking about the record low productivity. Pop the champagne,
because his House also set a new mark for time off. Speaker Boehner`s
House worked just 28 hours a week while in Washington. In session for
parts of just 35 weeks. All told, it`s the fewest numbers of hours since
records were kept in 2005. It`s a time of record inequality. They`re
showing how out of touch they have.

Twelve days from now unemployment benefits will run out for over a million
people. Right now, workers are calling for an increase in the minimum wage
demanding action from Congress. Amid all this, Republicans are setting
records for all the wrong reasons. But we did find one Republican working
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Raising a minimum wage does not raise
the standard of living. Raising the minimum wage doesn`t have one
significant economic benefit. The minimum wage is not about economics or
standard of living or any of that. It`s a leftist prop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s speaker for the party. They`re literally not working, and
that`s not working for America.

Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, let me go right to it. Twelve days to go for the long-term
unemployed and the house is not in session. What will it take to get
Republicans to take action, Senator?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, Al, this is just the continuation
of the Republican party`s war on working people and low income people. We
shouldn`t be surprised that they want to terminate extended unemployment
benefits. These are the same guys who voted for legislation which would
cut food stamps by $40 billion over a ten-year period. These are the folks
who want to cut Medicaid. They want to cut Social Security. They want to
cut Medicare. And their business is about representing the wealthiest
people in this country and the largest corporations.

And how that is going to turn around, Al, is only when tens of millions of
people stand up and say enough is enough. The function of Congress is to
represent the middle class and working people of this country and not just
billionaires and big campaign contributors.

SHARPTON: But Senator, they`re talking more conciliatory. You don`t buy
it?

SANDERS: No, I don`t buy it. I don`t buy it for a second. I mean, for
political reasons, they have reached the conclusion that shutting down the
government again would not be a particularly good idea. But these guys
have an extremely radical agenda. And if you listen to what they write and
what they say, they will decimate and try to repeal virtually every piece
of legislation, Al, that has been passed in this country in the last 80
years. That protects working families. These guys do not simply, not want
to raise the minimum wage, they want to repeal the minimum wage. And if
people of this country work for three bucks an hour.

SHARPTON: You know, we`re hearing new Republican threats to hold the
economy hostage by making demands over the debt limit. This time it`s
Congressman Paul Ryan. Listen to this, Senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We as a caucus along
with our Senate counterparts will meet and discuss what we want out of the
debt limit. We`re going to meet in our retreats after the holidays and
discuss exactly what it is we`re going to try to get for this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How do you go -- how do you deal with this, Senator? What do
you react to this?

SANDERS: This is how I react to it and everybody should understand this.

Paul Ryan among many other Republicans cast the votes which created the
deficit we`re now struggling with. Ryan voted for two wars. Forgot to pay
for those wars. Voted for tax breaks to the rich. No offset. Voted for
Medicare part "D" program which was not paid for. And by the way, many of
them voted to deregulate Wall Street, drive us into the recession, and lack
of revenues coming in.

So, I find it absolutely hypocritical for these people to say, let`s
balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick, and
the poor when their votes caused the deficit in the first place.

SHARPTON: You know, it`s funny, in an ironic way, not humorous way.
Because he`s always talking about President Obama raising the debt ceiling.
But you`re pointing out his own voting record while he`s making these
threats and predictions about they`re going to have a retreat afterward and
figure out what to do.

SANDERS: Exactly.

Al, let`s not forget that when Clinton left office in 2001, this country
had a $236 billion surplus and the economists projected that surplus to
grow. After Bush and Ryan and all of these guys voting for wars they
didn`t pay for, et cetera, that`s what happened to drive us into the
deficit.

SHARPTON: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you for your time tonight.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Republicans throw around the "I" word like it`s some
kind of game. Now it is, literally.

How can a teenager get away with killing four people in a trunk driving
accident? Big news tonight in the affluenza case that has everyone
talking.

But first, Rush Limbaugh gets some coal in his stocking for tonight`s nice
try, got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Rush Limbaugh is jollier than ever this Christmas season. He`s
fighting the good fight against the war on Christmas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: As you know, every year to one degree or another there are
attempts by the left to eliminate Christmas. If they could they would
totally eliminate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The left wants to eliminate Christmas? That`s scary. How do
they plan on carrying out this nefarious plot?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Outlawing Christmas carols or not being allowed to say Merry
Christmas, but having to say happy holidays. You can outlaw Christmas
trees if you want. You can outlaw Christmas decorations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sounds sinister. Well, let`s see what those notorious leftists
the president and the first lady are doing to get rid of Christmas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Merry Christmas, everybody!

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The night before
Christmas where all through the house, not a creature was stirring. Not
even a mouse.

B. OBAMA: Merry Christmas!

M. OBAMA: Chestnuts roasts on an open -- Oh, I forgot the press was here.
OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Better not let Rush catch you caroling, Mrs. Obama.

But Christmas isn`t just about carols and decorations. Mr. Limbaugh,
President Obama knows the reason for the season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. OBAMA: Each Christmas we celebrate the birth of a child who came into
the world with only a stable`s roof to shelter him. But through a life of
humility and the ultimate sacrifice, a life guided by faith and kindness
towards others, Christ assumed a mighty voice teaching us lessons of
compassion and charity that have lasted more than two millennium.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Rush, did you think we wouldn`t notice you`re on the "Politics
Nation" naughty list? Nice try, but you`re getting coal in your stocking
this year because we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This week back in 1998, Republicans in the House voted to
impeach President Bill Clinton. It was the first time a president had been
impeached in 130 years. Even Richard Nixon was never actually impeached.
But Republicans did it. Over something that wasn`t even remotely close to
a high crime of misdemeanor. Now, they are back at it with President Obama
throwing around the "I" word, impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: We want all tools available to use
including that impeachment.

REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: So, tell me how I can impeach the
president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If he continues, could that build up to make a case for
possible impeachment?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All options should be on the table.

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: If we were to impeach the president
tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives
to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Republicans have been talking about impeachment so much that
it`s become like a game to them. And now it is a game, literally. It`s
called scandal, the impeachment card game. And if you know any right wing
conspiracy nut who suffers from Obama derangement syndrome, then your
Christmas shopping is done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Scandal, the card game that pits opponents against each
other as they endeavor to build the best case for impeachment. There are
cards like complicit media, stone walling, executive privilege, immunity,
and midterm election shakeup. These make the game more unpredictable and a
whole lot more fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow. I mean, just wow. This is a real thing. It sold on the
birther website World Net Daily and it`s a deep dive into the right wing
mind-set. Pick a case for impeachment. Maybe it`s Benghazi. Look.
There`s a scapegoat and an actual goat. Or the IRS controversy or the NSA
stuff. Or maybe you`ll like just a plain old abuse of power. Whatever
your path impeachment, is fun for the whole family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: People are drifting apart and games are a great way for
family and friends to get back together. Four people can play a game of
scandal in less than 30 minutes. Scandal is attractive enough to display.
And left on a desk or an end table, it serves as a wonderful conversation
piece. So get a deck of scandal for your right-minded friends and family
and get a deck for yourself. And don`t just use it as a status symbol.
Play it and have some fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A status symbol? A conversation piece? Impeachment. A great
way to bring your right-minded relatives back together during the holidays?
And it just shows how pathetic the Republicans has become.

Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Cynthia Tucker and radio
host Bill Press, author of "The Obama Hate Machine." Thank you both for
being here.

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thanks, Reverend Al.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING COLUMNIST: Good to be here, Rev.

SHARPTON: Cynthia, what`s next? Succession the board game? I mean, what
should it take?

TUCKER: You know, Reverend Al, this would be funny if it didn`t involve
representatives in the United States Senate and the United States Congress.
Because as ridiculous as this card game is, as you know, there are elected
representatives who have been throwing around the word impeachment. That`s
their fever dream. That is what they want Santa Claus to bring them more
than anything else. A reason to impeach Obama. And so, while the American
people are waiting for Congress to solve their problems --

SHARPTON: Right.

TUCKER: Too many of its members are out there trying to find a way to
impeach a president who has done nothing wrong.

SHARPTON: And they are making it -- they`re attempting to make it more
palpable to the public with games like this. So, it doesn`t seem like an
outrage that you want to impeach a president for doing nothing wrong, less
known anything that would be consider the high crime on impeachable act.

PRESS: Yes. I was looking for the high crimes and misdemeanors among the
cards that you played there, Reverend Al. The thing I would like to point
out is, you know, this does not stand alone. That`s what`s so troubling
about it. This started in the 2008 campaign. Remember Sarah Palin accused
the president of hanging out with traitors. Paling around with traitors.
Right? And with terrorists. I`m sorry. And then right after the
president was in the White House. I mean, Janet Porter who was an aide to
Mike Huckabee said, she wouldn`t be surprised if
President Obama was a Russian spy.

You know, Glenn Beck said, he was trying to bring about the new world
order. Rush Limbaugh said he was trying to destroy capitalism. In that
book, my book, "The Obama Hate Machine," I look back, Reverend Al.
President Obama has been subject to more personal ugly attacks than any
other president in history. And that`s saying something because there`d
been a lot of stocks in the bank.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it. You know, Cynthia, it`s not only the
impeachment crowd. It`s like they want to make their own rules as they go.
They have nothing to do with what the country is built on and run by even
when we have to deal with things we don`t like. Let me give you a case in
point. Today`s "New York Times" has a big story about sheriffs refusing to
enforce gun safety laws. One sheriff is quoted in saying, "the supreme
court does not run my office. Just because they allow something doesn`t
mean that`s good constitutional sheriff is going to do it." I mean, how
dangerous is this kind of thinking from people who were supposed to enforce
our law? They can reject laws that they disagree with politically.

TUCKER: Well, you know, Reverend Al, I can`t help but think back to the
1950s and `60s in the Deep South.

SHARPTON: Right.

TUCKER: When there were so many segregationists who were absolutely
opposed to the laws of the land. And absolutely opposed to enforcing them.
It didn`t matter what the Supreme Court said. It didn`t matter what the
laws were passed. They were going to defy them. And you will remember
that turned out to be a very ugly and very violent period.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

TUCKER: People died.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

TUCKER: Because of the refusal of some people to accept the laws of the
land. And this makes me think of that period

SHARPTON: And not only some people. Law enforcement. But, Bill, you
know, Mother Jones had a disturbing report that the leading GOP candidate
for Senate in North Carolina Greg Brannon, in October he spoke at a rally
to nullify ObamaCare. That rally was co-sponsored by secessionist group
called league of the south. This is the leading Senate candidate in North
Carolina.

PRESS: Well, I`m glad you used the word nullification. Because I was
saying since he was talking, this really takes me back to quick second on
the sheriff, to 1860 when John Calhoun of South Carolina came up with this
doctrine of nullification.

SHARPTON: Right.

PRESS: Which is, we don`t have to follow the laws that we don`t believe
in. And I think, you know, people, I don`t care whether they`re law
enforcement officers or not, they`re breaking the laws, they ought to be
arrested for breaking the laws.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s interesting you emphasized nullification because at a
nullification seminar last year, Brannon, the same leading candidate now
for the Republicans of North Carolina, he called health care law tyranny.
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What happens if you don`t pay taxes? You go to jail.
And the doctors who don`t partake in it, we go to jail. How is this not
tyranny? The more -- the more tyrannical the state, right? That`s what we
have today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, Bill, nullification, tyranny. I mean, isn`t this all
about delegitimatizing the president, particularly this president, so they
can undercut his agenda?

PRESS: Shows me two things. Yes. Number one, they are out to
delegitimatize the president and they have from the very beginning. Two,
it shows that this Tea Party, you and I have talked about this before
Reverend, the essence of this Tea Party is a racist institution. It is
born of the fact that they cannot stand the fact that a black man is
president of the United States. But it also shows me that despite what
happened in Virginia, right? This Republican Party hasn`t learned one
lesson. They still will go as far right as they can. As extreme on the
extreme fringe of Republican Party. That`s who`s leading the party today.

SHARPTON: And Cynthia, you hear them beginning to say we`re going to run
some candidates that have mellow rhetoric. But you`re not hearing leading
Republicans denounced this kind of extremism. Even when Boehner kind of
reprimanded them on the budget deal that Ryan had worked out with Senator
Pat Murray. They still have not taken them on on things like nullification
and impeachment. They have not directly gone after this kind of extreme
unwarranted rhetoric.

TUCKER: Reverend Al, they`re afraid to. They`re afraid to go after this
rhetoric because they have a too many constituents who cheer that rhetoric
on. And they have a whole right wing media machine that says the same
kinds of things. And, you know, they`re scared to death of Erick "red
state" Erick Erickson. They`re scared to death of Rush Limbaugh. And Rush
Limbaugh and Erick Erickson are the very types who are out there cheering
this sort of thing on

SHARPTON: I`ve got to leave it there. Cynthia Tucker and Bill Press,
thank you both for your time tonight.

PRESS: All right, Reverend. Thank you.

TUCKER: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Coming up, too rich for jail? The Texas tragedy that has the
criminal justice system under fire. How did affluenza set this teen free?

And is the black Santa controversy finally over? You decide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You heard of secret Santa. Well, here`s a secret for
you. I`m black as hell.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s the Texas travesty that`s got everyone talking. The
teenager who one judge says is too rich to jail. Today we`ve learned that
five civil lawsuits have now been filed against Ethan Couch. The 16-year-
old who was driving drunk when he killed four people and paralyzed another.
And there`s new outcry against the judge who handed down that sentence.
Judge Jean Boyd. A petition is being circulated demanding that she be
removed from the bench. Already more than 9,000 people have signed it.

Prosecutors have asked that the judge sentenced Couch to 20 years behind
bars. But Boyd handed down just ten years probation instead. No jail
time. In her ruling she agreed with Couch`s attorney that he, quote,
"Might not get the kind of intensive therapy he needed in a state-run
program." And so, this is where the 16-year-old will likely spend the next
year. At a $450,000 a year rehabilitation facility. That offers chef-
prepared meals, equine therapy, martial arts training, yoga, and nature
hikes. But the same judge offered a very different ruling last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But we discovered the same judge sent a 14-year-old
African-American boy to prison last year. For killing just one person,
punching him to the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: At least one report says that Judge Boyd wanted to send that
young man to a private facility to. But is unclear if his family could
afford it. And it`s believed that no program wanted him. Two different
systems of justice in play. One for the rich. One for the poor. What`s
just about that?

Joining me now is Texas Attorney Cade Bernsen and Faith Jenkins, a former
prosecutor. Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

FAITH JENKINS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

CADE BERNSEN, TEXAS ATTORNEY: Thanks, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Cade, let me start with you. Doesn`t this case highlight the
inequalities we see every day in our criminal justice system?

BERNSEN: It does, Reverend. It`s -- this ruling by this judge is
absolutely outrageous. It`s really struck a chord across the country, in
fact. And those of us whether you`re involved in criminal defense work or
in my case, civil rights work who try to make sure that everybody has a
fair access to the courts and that the law and justice is provided to them
as well as other people, this ruling in allowing this junk science of
affluenza to even be uttered in a courtroom, I think it`s a step back for
those of us that seek social justice.

SHARPTON: Yes. Now, I like the term junk science that he referred to with
it affluenza. Faith, you know, the psychiatrist who testified that Ethan
Couch had affluenza lists consulting services for criminal attorneys first
under his areas of expertise. That`s before he even mentions his actual
therapy experience.

JENKINS: Right. I mean, he`s paid to come in and render an opinion at the
one he did in court. I`m going to take the term a step further and say our
entire criminal justice system suffers from affluenza. Because if you are
rich, there`s a different standard of justice for you. You can afford
better attorneys. You have better resources to defend yourself when you`re
accused of a crime. And as a result, if you have money, you get a better
outcome in your case in your case, in many instances. So, I take the term
a step further and I use it to associate with our entire criminal justice
system and what we see with people who are poor and try to defend
themselves.

SHARPTON: Now Cade, we saw this judge sentence this young man Couch to ten
years of probation. Killing four people in a car accident that he was
drunk and he`d been cited before or been involved before in being warned
about driving drunk and one time found passed out in a car with a 14-year-
old female with him who was naked. Yet she sentenced a 14-year-old
African-American boy, some say while she wanted to put him in a facility,
we don`t know if he had the money or not, no facility would take him. But
she gave him ten years in jail. I mean, where once he becomes grown, he
still is transferred to an adult facility and have to do years more. Isn`t
that kind of harsh compared to what she did to Couch?

BERNSEN: Reverend Al, you`re exactly right. There`s no doubt. It is what
it is that rich people and poor people get treated differently in our
criminal justice system. I think it`s outrageous that that young man --
or, say, a young man or woman who comes from poverty gets caught
shoplifting. They get hammered by the courts and then we`ve got white
collared people on Wall Street that are bilking shareholders and bilking
clients of millions of dollars, defrauding the government, defrauding the
shareholders. They get slapped on the wrist. So I think to say that the
justice is blind. I mean, that`s a stretch. There are the haves and the
have nots. It`s been like that for a long time. And us as attorneys,
we`ve got to -- and as activists and in the media we have to just keep
fighting, we can`t give up.

SHARPTON: You know, Cade, a lot of attention is being directed at this
judge. She`s retiring in December of next year. But is there anything
that can be done about this? I mean, can we -- what is the Texas law?
What can be done about this?

BERNSEN: Well, you were talking about impeachable offenses before this.
If you want to talk about a real impeachable offense, it would be something
like this. But you can`t impeach a judge. You know, I would hope that the
people can file complaints with the Texas bar. There`s grievance
procedures that the family of the victims can probably pursue. And I don`t
represent them, but I would say go for it. And, you know, it`s convenient
apparently that she`s not running for re-election. Because I would hope
that the voters need to show these judges when they make despicable
decisions like that, they`re going to be held accountable. But grievances
can be filed. And I would encourage that those families to do so.

SHARPTON: You know, Faith, you said that the whole system had affluenza.
When you look at the fact that those without money make up the vast
majority of the jail system, 83.5 percent of jail inmates made less than
$24,000 a year. Before their arrest. And when you look at the racial
disparity in prison sentences. It`s 19.5 longer for black men than white
men.

JENKINS: Oh, the disparities are very clear, when I look at cases like
this, like this young man who was given the second chance, I think about
the kids if anyone should be given a second chance, they should be those
kinds that are born with two strikes against them. They`re born into
abusive homes, neglectful parents, their homeless, they`re poor. They have
all these challenges they face their entire lives, they commit crimes. We
have no problems sending those kids to jail. But this young man who`s had
every opportunity in life, be given every chance in life to succeed, he`s
the one that gets the second chance.

SHARPTON: It`s more than a second chance if he`s been warned before.

JENKINS: It is.

SHARPTON: This is like the third incident we`re hearing about.

JENKINS: Third, fourth, whatever it is, he is not going to prison. His
life is not going to be impacted by being sent to a Texas juvenile prison.
He`s going to have this private rehabilitation center. And that`s where
he`s going to go. And the distinction there is huge. And people don`t
understand, once you send these kids into these Texas institutions into the
prisons, their lives are forever changed. So, it`s a huge second, third,
fourth opportunity for him.

SHARPTON: You know, Cade, you`re a still rights attorney. I`ve been in
civil rights all my life. We`re not excusing anybody`s behavior. The
young man that punched a guy that died two days later, all cases ought to
be treated equally. But how do you have one do ten years in jail and go
from juvenile jail to adult jail and another one saying he was so rich he
didn`t understand the consequences. He does no jail time. He gets
therapy. We`re talking about equal protection under the law. We`re not
talking about protecting anyone or giving favoritism to anyone.

BERNSEN: No, Reverend Al. You`re right. You know, for that matter,
clients should be able to bring up poor man`s syndrome. Being born into a
poor family and a bad neighborhood, you know, it`s not fair. But this
sends a terrible message to children from wealthy families and children of
poor families alike.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

BERNSEN: And no, we`re --

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there, Cade. But I thank you for
coming on. Thank you both for your time.

JENKINS: Thank you.

BERNSEN: It`s on honor. Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Is Santa Claus white, black, none of the above? Who cares? But
we`ll get a report live from the North Pole. It`s Saturday night. Santa
weighed in in a big way in the controversy. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Megyn Kelly Santa Claus mess. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: FOX News Channel`s Megyn Kelly sparked a national fire storm
last week after saying that Santa Claus is white. On Friday, she followed
up by saying the segment was light hearted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I realize that the piece by Harris which
went on to argue that Santa should be a penguin was also tongue in cheek.
That`s in part why we covered the story in the first place. Humor is part
of what we try to bring to this show. But sometimes that is lost on the
humorless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Humor? I guess there`s a lot of humorless people out there that
didn`t get the joke in this. You want humor? Santa himself is responding
on "Saturday Night Live".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You heard of secret Santa. Well, here`s a secret for
you. I`m black as hell.

(LAUGHTER)

His eyes how they twinkled. His dimples they amazed. And when I saw him,
I exclaimed, damn is that Isaac Hayes? I`m surprised that people never
thought I wasn`t black. Have you ever known a white man to wear an all-red
suit?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I can`t believe that you and Mrs. Claus are black.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, she`s not black.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: She`s not?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No. No, no, no, no. You think a black woman would
tolerate living out in the middle of snowy wilderness? No. If Mrs. Claus
was black, Santa would be living in Atlanta near her momma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Funny or not, let`s just say when it comes to comedy, we report,
you decide. Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts
right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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