'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, February 15th, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: February 15, 2015
Guest: Peter Keldorff, Steve Clemons, Sam Champion, Nina Khrushcheva,
Julia Ioffe, Keith Carson, Alan Zweibel, Tim Meadows, A. Whitney Brown,
Julia Sweeney, Lynn Sweet, Michael Steele, Rick Ungar, Gary Kroeger,
Rasmuth Raun Westh, Roger Wicker
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Another attack in Europe.
All right. Thanks for getting up with us this Sunday morning. The Sunday,
the day after Valentine`s Day. It`s a day that begins with much of New
England in the grips of yet another monster storm. We`re seeing record-
shattering snowfall totals in some places up there. Still no end in sight
to that. We`re going to be live in Boston just moments from now. Also
brutal Arctic chills, heavy winds elsewhere in the country. Some other
records being set there. We`ll have an update on that as well.
Also this morning, it`s day one of that fragile cease-fire between Russia
and Ukraine. It`s now under way. Already one pro-Russian leader is
renouncing it. Is the violence about to begin again? We`ll have a report
on that in just a few minutes. And a very big day in this building. A
very big night in this building. Just 12 hours from now, it`s going to be
the "Saturday Night Live" 40th anniversary spectacular. And four former
performers and writers from that show who will be at that special tonight,
they`re going to be here first this morning to watch some classic clips
with us, to share their memories, to share their stories. Really looking
forward to that segment later in the show today.
But first, deadly shootings in Denmark that the country`s prime minister
says represents a terrorist attack. Two victims dead after a gunman
attacked a cafe where a cartoonist who had satirically depicted the Prophet
Mohammed was speaking, and then later a synagogue in Denmark`s capital city
of Copenhagen. There are indications that all of this could have actually
been much worse. That suspected gunman now dead. Police saying they
killed him. No information about his identify is known yet. But the twin
attacks do bear an eerie resemblance to the deadly rampage in France just
last month, when a magazine that published disparaging cartoons of Mohammed
and a kosher grocery store were both targeted by Islamic extremists.
Now, all of this happening late Saturday Denmark time, starting at a cafe
where a forum with the title, "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression"
was being held. The French ambassador, his country still reeling from last
month`s terror attacks, in attendance at the forum Saturday, along with
Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has received multiple death threats from
Muslim radicals ever since drawing a cartoon of Mohammed as a dog in 2007.
Vilks is under 24-hour police protection. Heavy police protection also
stationed outside that cafe yesterday. The gunman trying to force his way
through security, force his way into the cafe. Firing about 30 shots in
the process, killing one person, wounding three police officers, then
escaping without making it into the cafe.
Hours later, just after midnight Copenhagen time, a second deadly attack.
This time outside the city`s main synagogue. A Jewish man shot and killed,
two more police wounded there. That synagogue also heavily protected by
police in the wake of the cafe attack earlier in the day. The man who was
killed apparently standing guard at the entrance to a building adjacent to
A massive overnight manhunt shutting down parts of central Copenhagen. At
5:00 a.m. police identifying a location where they believe the suspect to
be. The suspect then opening fire when confronted by police, then shooting
-- the police shot the suspect dead. They now say they believe this was
the man behind the shootings. Again, no word publicly on his identity, no
comments from police yet about possible motives, but the Danish prime
minister is saying emphatically that, that quote, "we feel certain now that
it was a politically motivated attack, and thereby it was a terrorist
attack." Other European leaders as well saying the same thing. The French
foreign minister calling the shooting a terrorist attack, saying that
France, quote, "remains by the side of the Danish authorities and people in
the fight against terrorism." The president of the European Council,
Donald Tusk, calling the cafe attack quote, "another brutal terrorist
attack targeted at our fundamental values and freedoms, including the
freedom of expression." And a columnist for "Charlie Hebdo," that is the
magazine in Paris that was targeted by terrorists last month, that
columnist saying in response to Saturday`s shootings, quote, "we are all
Peter Keldorff is a journalist based in Copenhagen. He joins us now live
on the phone. Peter, thank you for taking a few minutes this morning. Let
me just start with this. We`re seeing publicly no information yet about
who this suspect is, who this man who was shot and killed by the police is,
anything about his background. Are there any indications over there that
can clear that up at all? Any information on his identify?
PETER KELDORFF, REPORTER, DANISH BROADCASTING: Our intelligence service
has just said they know who the man was, and they knew him in advance of
the attack, and the police know the identity of the man they shot this
morning, but they do not want to reveal his name. So the news is they know
who the suspect, the guy they shot this morning, they know who he is, and
they knew him in advance. That`s the latest.
KORNACKI: All right. We`re having a bit of a problem with the audio
there, Peter. I`m going to thank you and let you go, but Peter said if you
weren`t able to hear clearly, Peter gave us some interesting information,
saying that the authorities in Denmark do know or do think they know who
this suspect is, who this man shot dead is. They have his identity, he
says, but they are not revealing it publicly right now. That again, coming
from Peter Keldorff, who we just spoke to on the phone.
Also new comments coming in this morning, new public comments, from the
prime minister of Denmark. This just moments ago. Let`s play that for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT, DANISH PRIME MINISTER: Our thoughts go to the
whole of the Jewish community today. They belong in Denmark. They are a
strong part of our community, and we will do everything we can to protect
the Jewish community in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And those words from the prime minister of Denmark come as the
AP is now reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is
calling for quote, "the massive immigration" of European Jews to Israel
following the Danish attacks.
Steve Clemons is an international correspondent and Washington editor at
large for "The Atlantic," and he joins us now. Steve, thanks for taking a
few minutes. Look, we don`t have any public information as we say from the
authorities in Denmark about who this is. I haven`t heard, we haven`t seen
certainly any claims of responsibility, claims of linkage from any
terrorist groups. At the same time, this just has all of the hallmarks of
what we saw in France last month. I mean, this started at an event where a
cartoonist who had depicted Mohammed in a negative light was speaking, and
then it went to a synagogue. And last month it went to a kosher grocery
store. So eerie, eerie resemblances here.
STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Absolutely. And Lars Vilks, who has a long
line of other attempts on him, and other terrorist attacks in Stockholm and
elsewhere, another terror ring arrested in 2010 suspected of trying to kill
him at this time. He was also on ISIS`s most wanted list like Stephane
Charbonnais of "Charlie Hebdo." It does bear that. And I think the other
interesting dimension is if the gentleman just on the phone is correct and
they knew who he was, that was also true in the case of France. It also
was true in a slightly different case, but importantly in Australia, where
there was the attack at the coffee shop. There are within our societies
people that are being watched, that have not yet crossed the line, but yet
just sort of lurk there with the possibility of doing that in some of these
cases who are animated, and we don`t know what animated this individual
yet, and certainly the attack on the synagogue is so deeply disconcerting.
And it was heartening to hear the prime minister`s words about that. But
this is going to open up all of those raw nerves again and insecurities in
various communities across Europe.
KORNACKI: If you could talk a little bit, we had a conversation last month
when this was in France and about the Jewish community in France, relations
with the Muslim community, Muslims who are sort of in the country but not
necessarily part of the society. That`s a dynamic that also exists in
CLEMONS: I think it exists across Europe, but what is ISIS and what are
its adjutants trying to do? They`re trying to create the impression of a
clash of civilizations, a clash of cultures, in which theirs is dominant
What I worry about Prime Minister Netanyahu`s comments, though I understand
the fear many Jews fear across Europe right now, that they feel as if the
integration project, particularly with Muslims in their societies, haven`t
leavened that out. So there is tolerance through those societies, that
that clash is something people are trying to take advantage of. And
Netanyahu, rather than standing by the prime minister and saying we want to
belong, lead, be part of that process of inclusion, is saying it`s time to
leave Europe, which enhances and actually increases the strain and the
sense that there is really a clash of civilizations under way. I find that
deeply distressing, and it will really undermine the European project, and
I think it will exacerbate this high fear world in which many Jews are
living, and I think it`s also unfair, candidly, to hold all Muslims
accountable for maybe what some individuals do. We don`t even know if this
individual was a Muslim yet, but that tension is something that`s become
palpable and very disconcerting and needs to be addressed directly and
KORNACKI: Right. That`s right. And again, to reiterate what we heard
from Peter Keldorff in Copenhagen just a few minutes ago, saying that the
authorities in Denmark, he says, do know who the suspect is and do know who
the man they shot is, are not revealing that publicly right now.
As you said, Steve, we don`t know if it`s a Muslim, if it`s not. It could
be a deranged person doing a copycat thing from France. So we don`t know
that right now. Obviously a lot that we will learn today. We`ll be all
over the story on this show throughout the day certainly here on MSNBC.
For now my thanks to Steve Clemons for joining us. Really appreciate it.
CLEMONS: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Turning to the big story at home here in the United States, and
that has to do with weather. Some of the coldest temperatures in a
generation in treacherous conditions all around out there as heavy snow and
blizzard conditions are moving toward New England this weekend. Already in
New England. Where dozens of crashes on Valentine`s Day as snow and high
wind led to multiple wrecks across central and northern Indiana highways.
One pileup counted as many as 20 vehicles. You`re seeing that there along
Interstate 90 in Erie County, Pennsylvania. A pileup involving over 100
cars. Only seven people suffered bumps and bruises with no serious
injuries miraculously there. Amtrak service between North Station in
Boston and Brunswick, Maine, has been canceled for Sunday, this holiday
weekend. We have someone who is brave enough to be outside for us right
now. The Weather Channel`s Sam Champion is in Boston, where something like
4,000 snowplows have been deployed or at the ready. Sam, it`s snowing
there. That`s not the headline, because it`s been snowing there for about
three weeks now, I think, but just tell us what life in Boston is like this
SAM CHAMPION, WEATHER CHANNEL: Exactly. You know it. This is your area,
right? You know Boston pretty well if I`m right.
KORNACKI: Yes, although I don`t really recognize it right now.
CHAMPION: Yes, it`s been a long time since Boston has had this much snow.
Probably, as we`ve said, never as you work on that 80-inch mark and a
little above it now in just 23 days. So folks around here are seeing snow
piles they just haven`t seen. Everybody`s benchmark is that blizzard of
`78. And of course, this has blown way, way, way past that.
Two blizzards in this area has never really happened this close together
before. We have blizzard conditions in the overnight. Really picked up
around midnight until like 3:00, 4:00 in the morning. The worst here
seemed to be right around 4:00, 4:30 all the way to about 6:00 in the
morning, where we got that thunder snow first starting here in the Boston
area. That`s the classic sign of this storm really ramping up. The power
of this storm right at about 4:30, through Boston at about 6:00 as we
started to look toward Plymouth.
I do want to show you where we are. This is Quincy Market, that`s Faneuil
Hall. They have their own snow removal teams, and they`ve been out all
night. They say they`ll be here until it stops snowing and that will be
later on this afternoon, trying to get ahead of the snow.
The other thing I kind of want to show you here, without damaging this in
any way or piling it, clumping it in any way, I want you to see this. This
is going to be a problem later on today. Look how light and fine and
powdery that snow is. It`s just unbelievable. It`s lighter than pulled
cotton. So whenever the wind picks up here, it just really grabs anything
that`s on the ground, anything you put in these snow piles, and just makes
whiteout conditions as soon as the wind starts. So even when the snow
shuts down, the governor just finished or they`re in their press
conference, I can see them in the press conference, and the governor has --
basically what they`ve been saying is give us some time. We need time to
get the roads clear. Even if the snow shuts down, don`t just clear out
your car and get on the roads. Give us until later on this afternoon
because we`ve got a lot to clear.
And when that wind -- I`m going to walk this way and show you the snow
pile. When that wind picks up, really and truly, even if it`s not snowing,
you`re going to think it`s snowing, particularly this close to the snow
Now, I`m going to try to stay out of the way of the Bobcat here because
these guys are working pretty hard and heavy and have been all night long.
But just to give you an idea of how high this snow pile is, gauge me at
6`0. This is just from this area right here we`ve been raking in. I`m
going to do it in a couple of tiers. This is the first tier. That`s
probably right around four or five feet. I haven`t even tried this yet to
get up on top of it. This is level with that first story of the building.
So this snow pile about 10, 12 feet high, and we`ve got more coming during
the day today. I think we still have another couple of inches left inside
this system. So exactly what they`re telling everybody to do, just hang
tight, let them get the snow removed. Even when the snow ends, guys, this
is going to be a windy one.
KORNACKI: We are actually hearing, Sam, while you were doing that, we
heard from the city council in Boston. They`re renaming that pile of snow
Mount Champion in your honor. So congratulations on that.
CHAMPION: This just in. I was going to put a flag on it for you. Just
send me a big MSNBC flag, I will run up and stake it for you.
KORNACKI: It`s on the way. Thanks for the report there, Sam, and good
luck in that storm.
Anyway, the biggest part of this for many Americans is arguably the cold
temperature, not just the snow on the ground. Some frigid temperatures.
MSNBC meteorologist Domenica Davis is here to show us that piece. Thanks
for being here.
DOMENICA DAVIS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: It`s not just the snow. We are going
to be dealing with extreme cold, dangerously cold temperatures along with
the wind. So power outages are going to be a continued concern, and it`s
not only for the New England area but even down into the mid-Atlantic.
So here is still the blizzard conditions, the blizzard warnings that we
have that go all the way up the coast from Boston up to Bangor, Maine.
Wind gusts will be upwards of 70 miles an hour. And that blizzard warning
goes until 7:00 in the morning. So this is some serious stuff. We could
be looking at winds along the coast, 70 miles per hour, 60 miles per hour
right around the Boston area. It gets a little bit better as you get
through New York and Philadelphia, but still those are strong winds that
will cause power outages for sure. So everybody on the northeast needs to
be aware of that today.
Here is the current wind gusts right now. We have 32 in D.C. It`s 39 in
New York. 28 in Boston. Those winds will pick up as we head through the
afternoon and especially this evening. Now, with those winds, it`s the
extreme cold, so this is really what we`re talking about, dangerous cold,
minus 23 right now for the feels-like temperature in Binghamton. In Boston
it feels like five degrees, and that is pretty good, but minus 3 for the
feel-like temperature here in New York. Windchills will get as low as
minus 15 along much of the northeast. So imagine that, Steve, you lose
power, even if it`s just for a few hours, you`re going to feel that. So
that`s our big concern today and tomorrow morning as well.
KORNACKI: Yes, that`s some scary stuff. We talk about the snow but the
cold, too, just as much of a problem, maybe more. Domenica, thank you for
that. Really appreciate that.
Still ahead in the show, 40 years in the making, the big "Saturday Night
Live" anniversary spectacular is tonight. We got a huge all-star table of
SNL performers and writers. You won`t want to miss that. That is coming
up later. But first, the tenuous cease-fire in Ukraine, is it going to
last? Has it already been broken? Details are straight ahead.
KORNACKI: We are keeping a close eye this morning on Ukraine. That`s
where that delicate cease-fire that European leaders furiously negotiated
this week between Russia and Ukraine is now in effect, or is it? The
president of Ukraine and the leader of the pro-Russian rebels in the
eastern part of that country both declared that fighting had stopped at
midnight local time, per the agreement. And there are signs on the ground
now that the fighting has, indeed, stopped.
But at the same time, another rebel leader is reportedly renouncing the
truce, saying it doesn`t apply to the key city of Debaltsevo. That is a
rail hub where rebels now have Ukrainian troops surrounded and they
apparently don`t want to let up. Intense fighting in and around that city
marking the run-up to the truce. It`s a city the rebels would dearly like
to take. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has warned that his troops
will respond if rebels strike. One Ukrainian lieutenant saying quote,
"this cease-fire won`t amount to anything. They`ll have a break and
regroup their forces."
This is a conflict that`s killed 5,300 people so far and has also been
resistant to past cease-fire attempts. Joining me now to talk about it is
Nina Khrushcheva. She is the granddaughter of the former Soviet Premier
Nikita Khrushchev. Author of the book, "The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey
into the Gulag of the Russian Mind." And Julia Ioffe, contributing writer
with the "New York Times" magazine. Nina, let me just start with you.
What you`re looking at this morning, big picture, the fighting has stopped.
You have this rebel leader saying it doesn`t apply to us over here. Do you
think this truce is real and can last?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, AUTHOR: This truce can last to a certain degree. It
cannot last the way we think it should last, that is there would be no
flares-up, there would be no fighting, because the fighting has already
happened. And I don`t think the rebels are going to give up Debaltsevo.
Because what they`re saying they have surrounded the Ukrainian troops, and
as long as Petro Poroshenko is not going to recognize it, they are really
going to demolish the troops. So in some ways, they are saying that
Debaltsevo is ours, and it is up to the president, to the Ukrainian
president, to admit it. And if he admits that, we will let them go.
KORNACKI: But he`s not going to.
KHRUSHCHEVA: He cannot admit it, either, because then Debaltsevo goes de
facto to Russia, and that`s what he cannot afford.
KORNACKI: So there`s a standstill here.
KHRUSHCHEVA: We already have a standstill here. There`s also already also
issues about the exchange of prisoners, because the prisoners are going to
be exchanged only -- they were unlawfully detained, but what does it mean
unlawfully? The whole conflict is unlawful, so I think there`s a lot of
sticking points, and I think the best thing we can hope or the best thing
that leaders can do is that probably meet again next week to address these
sticking points, and maybe agree on those, because if they don`t, these
points will continue to exasperate the cease-fire and maybe even unravel
KORNACKI: Julia, obviously looming over all of this is Vladimir Putin.
What does Putin want out of this in the end? Do we have a clear sense of
JULIA IOFFE, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: I think, you know, he clearly wants
Ukraine to be a failed state and a state that is ineligible to join the
European Union and NATO, which it already can`t do, given Crimea. Because
if there`s a territorial dispute, it cannot join the EU, it cannot join
NATO, which is Putin`s ultimate goal, right? To not have the EU and NATO
expanding right up to his border.
Past that, I don`t think he -- he`s also cornered himself. I think he has
to keep fighting, keep spending, and he doesn`t have -- this is not a man
who thinks really long term. This is not a man who thinks of an exit
strategy when he starts something, and we`re seeing that here. You know,
right now if you look at the map, you have a section of the Lugansk region,
a section of the Donetsk region, they have got an airport that`s completely
destroyed. They`re trying to get this rail hub and they are trying to get
the port of Mariupol, to try to make this land they`ve carved out of
Ukraine at least somewhat sustainable, somewhat cohesive and coherent.
But past that, what do they want? Do they want this region to be
independent? Do they want it to be a hugely autonomous region inside
Ukraine? It`s not going to be part of Russia, or is it? You know, part of
it is that Putin doesn`t think of an exit strategy, but part of it is also
that he likes to keep all options on the table and make sure he can go in
any direction at any time.
KORNACKI: What do you think of the Putin --
KHRUSHCHEVA: I actually totally agree he likes to keep his options open.
He`s a judo master. That`s what they do.
But I actually think that as much as we want to say and we do say he`s a
tactician, he`s not a strategist, there is some bit of a strategic thinking
here, because in Minsk, for example, he was adamant Donetsk was going to
remain part of Ukraine. He`s going to protect Ukrainian sovereignty. And
I think it is a larger plan here, because as long as Donetsk continues to
be part of Ukraine, it`s a very important destabilizing center or -- so
Putin can control his rebels or can influence his rebels so they can take
more territory or make sure that there is Russian-controlled territory
within Ukraine, not independent Ukraine, and that allows it to play out,
because it doesn`t have to play out tomorrow. He can play this out in a
So in this sense, he`s somewhat strategic, but in a very destructive and I
think ultimately, as Julia said, he`ll back himself into the corner,
ultimately destructive to himself way.
KORNACKI: We`ll see how it plays out. Thank you to Julia Ioffe of "New
York Times" magazine and Nina Khrushcheva with the New School. Still ahead
in the show today, a former "SNL" cast member is trying to be, could be the
next Al Franken, making the leap from "SNL" to politics. We`ll tell you
who he is and we`ll talk to him. That is coming up. And next, Rand Paul
maneuvers for a possible 2016 bid. We will tell you his plan. Stay with
KORNACKI: This week on the GOP campaign trail, a crafty maneuver by Rand
Paul that may, may, free him from facing a wrenching and potentially
campaign-killing decision. At issue is this, Kentucky state law forbids a
candidate from appearing on the same ballot for two different offices.
It`s a problem for Paul, because he wants to run for president next year.
He is also up for re-election as a senator in Kentucky next year. The
filing deadline for the Senate race will be next January, which happens to
be just as the Republican presidential primaries are starting to get under
way. So under the law, Paul would then have to choose. He`d have to give
up the presidential campaign and file to run for the Senate, or he would
have to walk away from the Senate in order to stay in the presidential
But Paul has a plan to get around this as "The Lexington Herald Leader"
newspaper reported this week. He`s written a letter to the Kentucky
Republican Central Committee asking the party not to hold a presidential
primary next year. Instead, to hold a caucus. The key here is that
caucuses are public meetings. They`re not secret ballot elections.
They`re run by the party. So if Rand Paul gets his way here, then his
dilemma is going to disappear. He will be able to put his name on the
ballot for the Senate again; he`ll still be able to compete in Kentucky`s
presidential caucuses. If he doesn`t get his way, though, then one of his
ambitions is just going to have to give.
Joining me to talk about Rand Paul, his plan, his prospects, we have this
morning`s panel MSNBC contributor Michael Steele, the former chairman of
the RNC and one half of the Sirius XM show "Steele and Ungar." The other
half, just so happens to be sitting next to him, Rick Ungar.
RICK UNGAR, FORBES: To his left.
KORNACKI: He is here as well. To his left. He`s also a senior political
contributor to "Forbes." And Lynn Sweet, friend of the show, Washington
Bureau chief with "The Chicago Sun-Times." She rounds out our panel this
morning. So, it`s Rand Paul question, is interesting to me. There`s a lot
I want to talk about Rand. I am curious about this dilemma in his way
around it. My read on it is, sort of the grassroots in Kentucky, the rank
and file Republicans in Kentucky, love this guy. If he wants them to do
this, they`re probably going to do this. So, he`ll probably get his way.
Do you agree, Mr. Chairman?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, basically. This is all inside
politics at the lowest possible level. I mean this is grassroots at its
best, and at the end of the day the party will likely give him his wish and
it`s an upside for the party, too. Because if they go the caucus route
then they can move up the line a little bit, for, you know, when they hold
their caucus. They don`t have to wait until the back of the line. So,
they can actually then as a caucus state much as we see in Iowa play a
major -- not a major, but more of a role in who the presidential nomination
is going to go to at some point.
UNGAR: Very Rand Paulian. Rand Paulian. Remember, this is the same guy
who had trouble getting accredited as an ophthalmologist. What did he do?
He created his own ophthalmology board that would accredit him. So, I give
him points on one respect. If he can`t get to where he wants to get to
through the normal system, he`ll just try and ...
UNGAR: He will find a way or make a way.
STEELE: We look for that creativity in a president.
KORNACKI: Well, let`s talk bigger picture about Rand Paul. Because I have
had this thought about him for a while. I always think - and I still think
he`s a really interesting figure in politics, and the interesting thing to
me was he takes a lot of this sort of libertarian ideology of his father
and he has the potential to bring it much more into the mainstream than his
father did. I think sort of the Achilles` heel of Rand Paul and I think
we`ve been seeing this lately is for lack of a better term, sometimes it
seems like he`s the guy who believes the forwarded e-mails. And when you
listen to him talk about like vaccines or something, when he got in trouble
on vaccines, he says sometimes these fringe things that sound like they`re
coming from his father`s universe and they`ve seeped into Rand`s campaign.
I think it hurts that effort to go mainstream.
LYNN SWEET: Well, you say Achilles` heel. How about Achilles foot, leg,
KORNACKI: I was trying to be polite.
SWEET: OK. He has a niche. He can`t get out of it. That`s the problem.
There is not a broad enough libertarian movement that could take him to the
Republican nomination. I do not see a path. Now, I covered his father`s
presidential races and he was along. He knows what it`s like. You start
with a good base, they will take you through, he`ll have enough money to
travel around the country. But here is another case, Steve, and gentlemen,
everything his father said will be part of what he has to talk about. And
when you look at the big Jewish donors, when you look at the Adelsons of
the world, when you look at his father`s record and statements on Israel,
for example, he is just not going to be able to talk his way out of it.
STEELE: I don`t necessarily buy all of that. I think that at the end of
the day Rand Paul has the same issue that Bush has, I mean and Jeb and Rand
are going to distinguish themselves in their own right having made their
own separate accomplishments. Look, you`re absolutely right, they`re part
of the ...
KORNACKI: Well, I mean Jeb`s father ...
KORNACKI: They have those newsletters with all ...
STEELE: And, look, to the extent that he has to answer those, he will, but
I don`t think they are going to upend any presidential campaign. I think
the real sweet spot is going to be in the trouble spot. They kill this
foot. It`s going to be moments like vaccinations. I mean if you are going
to come out and take those types of positions, then you better be prepared
to deal with ...
SWEET: But that marginalizes you. I think that`s my point.
STEELE: Well, that`s true. That`s true.
SWEET: And once you become ...
STEELE: But I don`t think it has to relate back to his dad so much as what
he does ...
SWEET: No, that`s - look, right. So he has enough to shoot himself in the
STEELE: Right. Exactly.
SWEET: But in case there`s a shortage, there`s a little bit more.
UNGAR: You`re right about Jewish donors, they are never going to flock to
Paul because of what his father`s history is, but I don`t think that`s
going to be his problem. His problem is, I know as a writer, right? For
every two columns I write where I criticize him, I will actually write one
where I go, well, gee, Rand Paul just did something kind of cool, but
that`s not good enough. Because when I`m criticizing him it`s for doing
something so uniquely stupid or flipping on a point within 24 hours. It
reminds me of some other candidates who I won`t name.
KORNACKI: I want to squeeze this in speaking of Rand Paul. And this sort
of shows that maybe the two sides of Rand Paul I`m talking about here, how
he`s interesting and unique, and you don`t see other politicians do this.
He put out yesterday, I guess, a Valentine to Hillary Clinton mocking the
idea that Hillary Clinton (INAUDIBLE). Hillary Clinton set up a pincher
(ph) for Valentine`s Day. And we can only imagine what it would look like.
And this is what he put out there. And on one level it`s sort of human,
right? Like you don`t see politicians doing this.
On the other hand, you might say ....
UNGAR: I think he misses the point of Valentine`s.
SWEET: But here is the other point. One of the reasons you have people --
there are a lot of reasons why people run for president. One is if he had
sent that and he wasn`t running for president, we might not pay attention.
It`s a platform for his ideas. I am not convinced he really is running a
campaign to get to the White House as much as he`s running a campaign of
his ideas and issues he cares about.
KORNACKI: Which explains then why it`s so important for him to be able to
run for the Senate and the White House at the same time.
SWEET: Always have a fallback.
KORNACKI: Get the LBJ rule in Kentucky. Anyway, my panelist staying put,
a lot more to talk about with then. Still ahead, you might know him as the
ladies` man, but this morning he is going to be on this show. Tim Meadows
joins our big all-star "SNL" round table, very excited about that. But
next, Joe Biden`s Valentine`s Day message for you. Stay with us. You`re
not going to want to miss this one.
KORNACKI: All right. There is just a ton going on this morning. So,
we`re going to get caught up with some of the other headlines that are
making news. Other things people are talking about. I have got my trusty
index cards to panel with me to talk about this. So, let`s see what we`ve
got. We`ll start with - this is from Politico. It says headline here,
"Activists bristle at Hillary Clinton`s fund-raising pleas. There are some
activists who are sick of all this "Ready for Hillary" emails they are
getting asking for money considering she`s not a candidate yet. Maybe a
downside for Clinton`s strategy of staying out of the public eye while her
supporters campaign for her. I`ve been wondering about this a little bit.
She`s in obviously better political position than we`ve ever seen for a
candidate for a major party nomination. So, now right now, I know she`s
not in trouble right now. But I wonder, is there going to come a point
when it looks like she`s not doing interviews, she`s not doing speeches,
she`s not answering questions? When do we get there?
STEELE: She`s damned if she does ...
STEELE: And she`s damned if she doesn`t. Just let Hillary be a
grandmother for the moment. Just let her be a grandmother.
KORNACKI: Do you think she only ...
KORNACKI: as a grandmother? And she`s thinking about.
STEELE: When we talk about this process, you wonder why the American
people are sick of the political process. It`s because of this - all this
nitpicking that we go through about these candidates who aren`t even
KORNACKI: But she`s meeting ...
UNGAR: She`s meeting with all these advisers behind the scenes. The staff
is being built up ...
KORNACKI: She`s not just having meetings about being a grandmother.
UNGAR: I`m completely cool with Hillary hanging back because there`s
nobody challenging her. But there is a problem. I have been talking to my
friends from the fundraising world, this is making their lives very hard.
And her numbers showed it.
STEELE: Why is it so hard for her to raise money?
UNGAR: Well, it`s not that - it`s the people who do it.
KORNACKI: You`re saying she did not raise what she should have raised.
UNGAR: No, she didn`t.
STEELE: What is that amount?
UNGAR: That - well, I don`t know --
STEELE: What is that amount?
UNGAR: They`re not satisfied.
STEELE: All these smart people would tell her - tell her what the amount
she should be raising then.
KORNACKI: When she - when she ...
SWEET: I have a little different theory. Quickly on the money and then
speaking out. The thing is, there`s a lot of - there`s a lot of people who
are raising money on her behalf who are also making money off of this, and
that`s the subtext here. It`s not so much met her mark or not, because
she`s not controlling it. People are getting ...
UNGAR: Where is my 15 percent?
SWEET: People are making livelihoods on it. And when does she have to
announce? Whenever she feels like it. Because this - you just said there
is no competition. There was a thought a while back maybe sooner than
later, but later is later.
KORNACKI: Yeah, no, and I get there`s no pressure. I just wonder if at
some point people are going to say wow, all these big issues happen - and
we haven`t heard from her.
SWEET: No, but actually, filing dates are going to start happening for
UNGAR: She`s making the media mad, too, because if we can`t see her - we
KORNACKI: You decoded me. OK. I want to get to this one, too. We got
some - I mean Joe Biden has a Valentine`s Day message for you. We can`t
not play this for you. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: Hey, folks. Happy Valentine`s Day.
This year get someone you love something really special.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, Valentine`s Day is just a scam by
greeting card companies.
BIDEN: Well, let me tell you something, who cares. Some piece of advice,
man, take it seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Duly noted.
BIDEN: I think you are going to find it`s more affordable than your cell
phone bill. Kablooey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: One and only Joe Biden. And you talk about Rand Paul`s greeting
UNGAR: I`m sorry, that wasn`t even the strangest thing Joe Biden said this
KORNACKI: No, in Iowa --
UNGAR: That wasn`t even close. I hope I can say it - He said it on TV.
When you`re giving a speech and talking about your butt buddy, this isn`t
KORNACKI: That`s a direct quote from the vice president talking about a
94-year-old former congressman.
SWEET: A quick point, the White House this week used these very comedic
videos, the president did one that was hilarious by BuzzFeed, in order to
encourage people to sign up for Obamacare, the deadline is February 15th.
I think these are wonderful examples of trying something to reach different
audiences and self-deprecating humor is the best political humor when you
make mockery of yourself.
KORNACKI: That`s right. And you break through to people maybe who
STEELE: Particularly when the joke is in health care.
KORNACKI: There you go.
UNGAR: Let`s not go there yet.
KORNACKI: Let`s move on to - Let`s move on to the next index card after
that. How about this one? This is just a quick one. This is time - Slate
puts this up. Their headline is wind chill blows, it`s time to get rid of
a meaningless number. They say the wind chill factor. You always hear,
you know, it`s nine degrees, but it really feels like negative six. They
say it`s trumped up sensationalism. I say that`s crazy. It definitely
feels like negative six, and I want to know.
STEELE: But do you really care? I mean what`s the ...
STEELE: Could you smell the difference between negative six and negative
KORNACKI: No, but ...
STEELE: All right, so then ...
KORNACKI: Try the negatives ...
STEELE: What`s the point?
UNGAR: I have my own words to describe it when it`s this cold, and we`ll
let that happen.
SWEET: Actually, it does make a difference between thermal underwear or
KORNACKI: Here you go.
KORNACKI: So tell it to people - but they didn`t take that point. Anyway,
panelists - they will be back next hour. And still ahead, an update on the
breaking news we`ve been following this morning, those deadly shooting at a
Denmark synagogue at a free speech event yesterday. Also, closer to home,
another blizzard bearing down on the northeast. Why the snow, why those
winds may not be the toughest challenge yet for New Englanders.
KORNACKI: All right. We are tracking that blizzard that is pounding New
England this weekend. And it could dump more than two feet of snow on
parts of Maine. On top of all that snow that`s already there. The snow
may not be the most dangerous part of this storm. NBC`s Miguel Almaguer is
live for us in Boston where it`s just coming down right now. Miguel, take
MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Steve, good morning. Yeah, blizzard-
like conditions overnight and while the snow does look beautiful it could
get ugly out here later on today. We`re going to expect to see steady snow
for much of the day here in Boston and New England. In the city of Boston,
they`ve been dealing with about 80 inches of snow already this winter. Now
they can see another foot in places like Maine. They could see two feet
and as you mentioned, the big concern not necessarily or not only the snow,
but later on the wind. We could see hurricane-force winds up to 75 miles
an hour near the cape and it`s also going to be bone chilling cold after
much of this storm passes. We`ll have an arctic blast where the wind chill
could dip to negative 35 degrees in some areas, so this storm just the
beginning of a series of weather makers that`s going to drop the
temperatures out here. Certainly a brutal weekend and a brutal holiday.
Back to you.
KORNACKI: All right. Thanks to NBC`s Miguel Almaguer live in Boston. If
you`re in Boston, stay inside, I guess. By the way, opening day at Fenway
Park, can you believe this? Look at those scenes we just saw, six weeks
away. They are going to have a baseball game apparently. Anyway, we put
out the call yesterday on Twitter, on Facebook, on social media. We asked
you to send us your snow pictures and your response was tremendous. And we
want to have you keep tweeting those at us logging in on Facebook with your
snow selfies. And we want to show you some of the best ones that we got
in. Take a look at some and guess where they`re from. Tip, for instance,
here, this one is from Craig Reposa shoveling out the mailbox. Where is
he? I`m going to guess Medway, Massachusetts, because that`s what the
screen says. Medway, Mass. There we go. They`d be on up. I like that.
Next up, viewer Howard, and if you recognize him, you could probably guess
where he is - that is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean yesterday. Lake
Champlain up in northern Vermont. He sent that in, and there was another
sent in by Twitter user Sherry Voleba, not as much snow on the ground
there. What do you think that is? That is the capital city of Ohio,
Columbus. Ohio, recently passed over for the Democratic convention. This
one is from Barney. Let`s take a closer look at it. Yes, that is former
Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank sending us a photo from Maine where
he now lives. And this came in Saturday afternoon from a fan named Rachel.
She kind of looks a little familiar. I don`t know. You have seen her
before. Yes, Rachel Maddow, there she is, in New Hampshire with a fish.
What a day for Rachel Maddow. Anyway, still ahead, just how serious is the
threat of another government shutdown? And what Congress has to do if it`s
going to avoid it if it wants to avoid it? And next, this former "SNL"
cast member could be running for Congress. We`re going to ask him all
about that right after this.
KORNACKI: Tell me if this sounds familiar. A "Saturday Night Live" alum
deciding to take a shot at politics. But this time we`re not talking about
Al Franken. It`s another former cast member who is now eyeing a move to
Capitol Hill. Gary Kroeger, who was on "SNL" during the early 1980s may be
running for Congress in Iowa next year. Kroeger is a Democrat. He says he
won`t make a decision until the spring. He`s also in town for tonight`s
big 40th anniversary "SNL" spectacular and he joins us now. Gary, welcome.
GARY KROEGER, FMR. SNL CAST MEMBER: Thank you for having me, Steve.
KORNACKI: So, it`s interesting timing here. You`re back here for the 40th
anniversary tonight. Al Franken is the example that everybody thinks of.
You had said in the press that you wanted to ask him for advice. We
actually had Al Franken on our show last week and we said what advice would
he give you. And we play his answer and maybe see what you think of it.
This is what Al Franken said to us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL FRANKEN: You`re running for a job that`s a very different job than
being a comedian, but a lot of people, you know, young people ask me how do
you become a senator because I`m a senator now, and I say do comedy for 40
years and run for the Senate, and so far that has worked every time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So have you followed the 40-year track?
KROEGER: You know, it`s perfect. It`s a perfect answer. And here is the
serious answer. Yes, I was in show business for 20 years. I`m now in
advertising, creative director of an advertising agency. If you look up
politics in a dictionary, I think it says showbiz meets advertising. It -
I was the satirist. A comedian, an actor, but I think, you know, any
artist tends to look at the world through a different lens. They see the
inequities, they see what`s different, the ironies, they see the
abstractions. And when you think that way to communicate, I think the
politics is perfect. I think that`s why a guy like Al Franken actually
looks deeply into issues.
KORNACKI: I will ask you this, though, as Franken has been so interesting
to watch. And he made kind of a wry joke as you see in interview last
week, but basically, Al Franken from 2008 when he got elected to the
present day is very different publicly than the Al Franken that America new
for decades and he seems to have made a very intentional calculation that
he basically doesn`t want to be funny in public. He wants to cultivate a
very serious reputation. He doesn`t want to have any of his opponents be
able to say he`s just a lightweight comedian. You have to ignore him. And
it feels to me at least, I don`t know him but it feels to me from afar -
he`s basically had to give up a chunk of his personality to get into
politics. Do you feel that way?
KROEGER: Well, I would go so far as to say he`s the same Al Franken. I`m
sure at the party tonight he`s - I don`t know. But I`ll bet at home he`s
Al Franken. I`ll bet he`s funny, I`ll bet he`s a satirist. I`ll bet he`s
the same person. I`m the same person. I`ve always been serious about
politics. I have always been serious about the human condition. I have
always been a serious liberal. I like to say progressive because it
implies action. I have always been serious, but I fell into comedy and I`m
marginally funny. It was just my job. But it didn`t mean that I went home
and said, hey, everything is funny. My son is here. I don`t tell him,
hey, make fun of everything. No, absolutely not. It`s a different
KORNACKI: You are - I mean you`re back in town for the special tonight.
Your era had some personalities, Eddie Murphy was part of ...
KORNACKI: Then Joe Piscopo ...
KROEGER: I`m a fan tonight, because I`m a footnote in the "SNL" book,
right? I`m a fan tonight. I get to see these people and say hi and show
my son, there`s Will Ferrell. I mean this is ....
KORNACKI: Who was your favorite to work with back that day?
KROEGER: Well, you know, when I got there, Eddie Murphy`s career exploded.
We got there, we were the new kids, me, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Brad Hall and
"48 Hours" came out and suddenly, there was a star of such magnitude on the
show - on a show that wasn`t about creating stars , per se, it was on - and
suddenly it was like being on the Lucy show. Eddie would come out and the
whole audience would stop and applaud. We`d kind of wait for the applause.
KROEGER: I mean it was phenomenal. But here is a 19-year-old, 20-year-old
kid. I never in my life saw anyone more talented than Eddie Murphy. His
ear was so in tune with everything.
KORNACKI: And he`s - and he`s back there tonight. Final questions, you
played Walter Mondale in 1984.
KROEGER: Yes, I did.
KORNACKI: Mondale is going to campaign for you?
KROEGER: Well, I hope that he does and I can honestly say I`ll do the best
Walter Mondale, show to Walter in the world.
No, those of you out there who have no idea what I`m doing, this is a good
KORNACKI: It is the best Walter Mondale. Also, I think it`s the only
Walter Mondale impersonation, but I love that. That was great. Gary
Kroeger, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you.
KROEGER: Thank you for having me.
KORNACKI: And have fun with that show tonight. Another hour of news
straight ahead. We`re going to go live to Copenhagen with another update
on this morning`s breaking news over there. Stay with us, please.
KORNACKI: Another shutdown? All right. And thanks for staying with us
this Sunday morning. If you`re just joining us, we want to bring you up to
speed on the breaking news we`ve been following all morning. Two deadly
shootings in Copenhagen, Denmark, followed by the suspect being killed by
police. Denmark`s prime minister calling these attacks an act of terror.
Other leaders in Europe echoing that call as well. Police believe the same
man is responsible for both shootings, one at a free speech event, another
at a synagogue hours later. Officers shot and killed the suspected gun
man. They have not yet publicly identified him. Two men were killed,
three, including the shooter. Five police officers also wounded during
this violence. Joining us now on the phone is Rasmuth Raun Westh, he is a
security reporter with the Danish newspaper "Information." Thank you for
joining us. I appreciate you are taking a few minutes. Let me just start
if there`s any update if you have heard from the police, from any
authorities over there. We heard last hour they may know who the suspect
is, but they`re not ready to report it publicly. Do we know when that will
be that they`re ready to come forward with this information?
RASMUTH RAUN WESTH, "INFORMATION" NEWSPAPER: Yeah, hi, it`s good to be
with you, Steve. What we know so far is that, as you said, they haven`t
published the name of the killer, but he is known to both the police and
the intelligence services. What they`re working on right now is trying to
establish whether he was a foreign fighter in Syria or in Iraq as in
whether he might have fought for, for instance, the Islamic State. Shortly
after he was shot at Noerrebro station in the neighborhood near where he
allegedly lived, a number of apartments in the nearby neighborhood, one
that is known for having a large population of Arab immigrants was searched
by the police.
KORNACKI: It also sounds, Rasmuth, just reading these - the accounts of
what happened yesterday, what strikes me, is a heavy security presence at
this free speech event and then after what happened there apparently people
at the synagogue requested police presence for their event at night. It
sounds to me like this could have potentially been much worse if it hadn`t
been for this extra security presence at both of these events.
RAUN WESTH: Yeah, undoubtedly it would have. 80 people were attending a
girl`s bat mitzvah in the synagogue in the - in Krystalgade, which means
Chrystal Street in central Copenhagen. This is the most central mosques
for the Jewish community here - here in Copenhagen. And as you said, right
after the attack at the free speech event, they requested armed officers to
come protect them. As you know, sadly, a 30-something-year-old Jewish man
who was defending the synagogue was shot, but he may have avoided a much
bigger attack, yes.
KORNACKI: All right, Rasmuth Raun Westh on the scene there in Denmark.
Appreciate you taking a few minutes this morning. Turning now to that
ticking clock here at home. Domestic politics. We get the money running
out, Congress stalled, Republicans torn, Democrats thinking they have the
advantage. Here we go again, shutdown watch officially on yet again. But
now with just five legislative days remaining before the Department of
Homeland Security runs out of money, that`s supposed to happen on February
27th. This is the first shutdown impasse since Republicans won full
control of Congress in last year`s elections.
Now, we haven`t seen this exact dynamic before with Republicans controlling
everything on Capitol Hill and Obama in the White House. At issue here is
President Obama`s immigration actions deferring deportations for up to 5
million people. Those have made conservatives furious. They passed a bill
in the Republican House to fund the Department of Homeland Security, but
also simultaneously to undo all of Obama`s immigration executive actions.
But Democrats in the Senate are now stalling that bill demanding that
Republicans simply pass a clean bill, what they call a clean bill, that
provides funding for DHS, no strings attached. Senate Republican leader
Mitch McConnell, who has promised no more shutdowns, asked Republicans in
the House to send over a new bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. Mitch MCCONNELL, (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I`ll tell you, I think it`s
clearly stuck in the Senate. We can`t get on it, we can`t offer amendments
to it, and the next step is obviously up to the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But John Boehner and House speaker put the ball right back in
the Senate`s court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: The House has done its job.
We`ve passed a bill that funds the department and stops the president`s
unilateral actions with regard to immigration. It`s up to Senate Democrats
now to do their job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Republican leadership is hearing from a growing chorus of GOP
moderates warning against a shutdown, warning that it would hurt the newly
in charge party`s image with voters there. Remember what happened the last
time around in 2013, but the Tea Party right insists that this time is
going to be different. The Democrats will be the ones getting the blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R ) TEXAS: And for Senate Democrats in a partisan vote to
filibuster funding for the Department of Homeland Security is both reckless
and irresponsible. The House of Representatives has done its job. It`s
voted on funding for DHS, and Senate Democrats are playing partisan
politics with our national security by preventing the Senate from even
taking up that funding bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, who runs the National
Republican Senatorial Committee telling Politico, "I have not been one to
wave the bloody shirt very often in my 20 plus years in the Congress, but
on this issue Republicans are funding the government and our Democratic
colleagues are refusing to even get to the issue, even to show their voters
back home where they stand. And joining us now is Senator Roger Wicker
from Mississippi and also our panel joining us, sitting in for this, we
have MSNBC contributor Michael Steele, Rick Ungar a senior political
contributor in "Forbes" and Lynn Sweet with "The Chicago Sun-Times." So,
Senator Wicker, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. I appreciate
it. I wonder what your reaction ...
SEN. ROGER WICKER (R ) MISSISSIPPI: Glad to be with you.
KORNACKI: I wonder what your reaction is to the sound we played there from
your leader in the Senate, from Mitch McConnell, basically saying, hey,
look, this bill with the House passed is now stalled in the Senate.
McConnell said he doesn`t want any more shutdowns and he says the House
should now send something new over. Do you agree with that?
WICKER: You know, I think Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are both right.
I`m not even sure that what they`ve said is contradictory, but let me say
this, Steve. In the time since the top of the hour, I think you`ve said
the word shutdown five or six times. There`s no one that seriously thinks
the Department of Homeland Security, but the functions will go on. I think
it`s fair to the people that worked there, to remove that uncertainty.
Here is the situation. The House of Representatives has passed a bill
fully funding the Department of Homeland Security. The Senate Democrats
will not even vote to take up that bill, and so we`re at an impasse.
KORNACKI: But senator, senator, the key ...
WICKER: We are going to have to hear from the voters back home and I hope
they`re insisting this week to those elected Democrats who said the
president was wrong in doing this, I hope they`re telling those senators
then the solution is to take up the bill and let the process begin to work.
KORNACKI: The key though, as you say, Senator, is, yes, the House has
passed a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security.
Democrats` position on this is that they also want a bill that would fund
the Department of Homeland Security, but what they don`t want is what
Republicans in the House attached to it and what Republicans in the House
attached to it was language that would basically undo all of the executive
action that President Obama took on immigration, including what he did back
in 2012, which allows certain law-abiding children of the undocumented in
this country who have graduated from college, who are in college or served
in the military. It allows them to stay in the country. Democrats are
saying take all that language out and just fund Homeland Security. We`re
fine with that. Why is that not OK?
WICKER: Well, there are two things there. You mentioned two executive
actions, one is back in 2012, one last November or December. I think
that`s an issue that could be discussed. Let`s let the Senators vote on
this. The House took the bill up. It was open for amendment in the normal
process. The way you get to a resolution in the Senate is, first, to bring
the bill up. And so what Democrats have been doing for two weeks now with
this filibuster is filibustering a motion to proceed to the bill. We`re
willing to have an open amendment process. If there are nuances there or
if there are - if there are - if someone wants to strip out all the
language that the House of Representatives has put in there, then a
Democratic member of the Senate can offer that amendment and the people
back home can see how we vote on that. I think the people want Homeland
Security funded, but I think they also think that if you`re going to make
major changes in immigration law and in executive amnesty, it needs to be
done by a bill passing the House, a bill passing the Senate, and signed by
the president, and not by unilateral action, and, frankly, many members of
the Democratic caucus in the Senate have said as much.
KORNACKI: All right, Senator, I want to give ...
WICKER: They JUST won`t get on the bill and vote that way.
KORNACKI: I want to get our panel in here a little bit. Rick has a
question for you.
UNGAR: Senator, Rick Ungar here. I mean don`t you find it at least
slightly ironic that you have got members of the GOP in the House, it
appears Senator Ted Cruz suddenly being absolutely shocked that there are
Democrats who would want to filibuster this bill? It was only seven weeks
ago where we came to the end of an era where Republicans were filibustering
in record amounts. Doesn`t this kind of play a little bit silly to the
WICKER: Look, the facts are this, we need to fund the Homeland Security
Department. It`s fair to the people that work there. The way to do that
is to do what the House has done and pass a funding bill. We can`t get it
even to the floor in the United States Senate. It`s really not very
SWEET: Well, actually, Senator, this is Lynn Sweet here. It isn`t simple
either. It does seem like you`re looking to force the Democrats to take a
roll call hit. Why not just have a fair fight on immigration, take it out
of the bill, and then because the Republicans do control the Senate, you
can call those immigration provisions up for an up or down vote at will.
SWEET: Almost at will.
WICKER: You know, I think it`s interesting that someone would suggest that
it`s not fair for elected members of the United States Senate to take a
vote on a very important issue.
SWEET: Oh, I didn`t suggest that. I`m just saying ...
WICKER: And to take a vote on an issue where they have suggested that the
president`s action is not the way to do it. That`s what Claire McCaskill
of Missouri said. This is not the way to do it. Senator Manchin of West
Virginia said, I disagree with the president`s action there. And somehow
the question suggests it`s not fair to make Democratic senators vote on the
very policy that they`ve said they disagree with.
SWEET: Let me just say really quickly.
WICKER: I just find that a very interesting suggestion.
SWEET: Well, quick follow-up here. The Republicans have been in charge of
the chamber just a few weeks. Why not show that you can govern without
having even talk of these showdowns that people hear all the time, as you
mentioned in bringing this up. Just try to govern and not create all this
drama and take out the contentious part and do it separately.
WICKER: Voters gave the Republicans the majority of the United States
Senate for the first time in eight years last November, and the question
suggests that our response to that should be to do exactly as the Democrats
have suggested. I just think that`s an interesting -- that would be an
interesting approach, to win the election and then do exactly what the
Democrats want. We have a process. Democrats need to get on the bill,
then they can offer the amendments and the American people can see where we
KORNACKI: And Senator Rick Wicker, let me just end with this. If this
process plays out and what Mitch McConnell seemed to be suggesting this
week ultimately happens and that is that a bill emerges from the House to
the Senate that does not maybe include this immigration language and that
does fund the Department of Homeland Security, would you ultimately be
comfortable with supporting that?
WICKER: You know, I really don`t think that`s going to happen. I come
from the House of Representatives. I served there 13 years. You know,
we`ve got a math problem in the Senate, a bill has got to get to 60. In
the House it`s got to get to 218, and, frankly, I think the John Boehner
Republicans are on the high ground there having funded the department,
having said that the president`s executive amnesty is not legal and not
authorized and we want to make that clear. To me they`re on the high
ground and, frankly, I think Mr. Boehner would have a hard time getting 218
votes for what is -- what they`re calling a clean bill. We can do both of
these things, but the point is we can fund the Department of Homeland
Security and also express ourselves. If we take the position we can`t do
riders on executive amnesty, then we`re also saying we can`t do riders on
the EPA. We can`t do riders on the Corps of Engineers. And there are
riders on almost every funding bill. So to say we`ve got to have clean
bills for the next two years or somehow we`re not fulfilling our duties I
think is - that`s an argument that`s not going to make it.
KORNACKI: Five legislative days, as we say, remaining between now and that
deadline. And I think you get a sense of it today. A lot still separating
where Republicans are on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are on Capitol Hill.
We will see how this plays out. Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi,
really appreciate the time this morning. Thank you.
WICKER: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. Still ahead, there are so many memorable moments
from "Saturday Night Live`s" 40-year history. In just a few minutes we`re
going to be joined live by some of "SNL`s" legendary cast members and
writers to talk about some of those moments. And next, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
has some choice words for Congress. We`ll bring you the very first look at
what the Supreme Court justice told MSNBC in an exclusive new interview.
That`s right after this.
KORNACKI: All right, time to catch up on some other news making headlines
this morning. Panel is back with us, the index card segment. Big stuff on
these index cards, though, just handed to me. Hot off the presses. Ladies
and gentlemen, three brand new polls, Republican and Democratic
presidential race in each of the three critical early primary states. Let
us show you these numbers and begin in Iowa with the Republican caucuses.
You see Mike Huckabee running in first place. New NBC/Marist poll here.
Jeb Bush maybe a little bit unexpected, right behind him. Scott Walker has
had a very good few weeks. They are clustered at the top there. Then you
see the rest of the names. On the Democratic side in Iowa, Hillary
Clinton, the state where she finished third in 2008. She`s near 70
percent. Joe Biden down at 12. Notice, they did not include Elizabeth
Warren in this poll. Warren saying that she`s not running. She`s not
included. Hillary right now dominate in Iowa.
Move to New Hampshire, the Republican race in the first primary state, Jeb
Bush, out in front with 18 percent. Again, Scott Walker doing well, Rand
Paul, a very libertarian minded electorate in New Hampshire. Chris
Christie at 13.
Take a look at the Democratic side in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton, 69
percent. Next door Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, he is at 13.
Biden falling down to eight right there. South Carolina, first in the
South, this one comes with an asterisk. Lindsey Graham on the Republican
side, the favorite son included. He says he`s thinking of running for
president. A lot of people skeptical he`ll actually will. You put him in
his home state, he takes a slight lead right there on the Democratic side
in South Carolina. Again, Hillary Clinton very, very strong there. Joe
Biden at 20 percent.
So talk about some of these early numbers. We always say they`re very
early, but I think they`re relevant right now on the Republican side for
two reasons. And one is, when we say they`re really early, the only thing
that matters is name recognition. But when your name is Bush and these are
your numbers, I think that`s a problem. And the second thing is, yes,
Scott Walker has been having a good few weeks here.
SWEET: All right. I think ...
KORNACKI: Go ahead.
SWEET: I think that, you know, the polls show who has momentum, and I know
that is name recognition but the reason in this period of the preprimary
primary, it`s the money primary. That helps with fundraising. Fundraising
helps to find who is viable. I want to remind you that when then-Senator
Barack Obama first mounted a challenge to Hillary Clinton when he started
in `07, it was his first quarter fundraising numbers that were strong and
comparable to Hillary Clinton ...
KORNACKI: They got the same ...
SWEET: ... that made him viable and put him - and vaulted him to the top
rank. Jeb Bush is expected to have multiple millions of dollars. He`s
going to have an event in Chicago in a few days where he will take out more
than $3 million in just one day.
KORNACKI: But he just had a $100,000 a head event here in New York.
STEELE: You know, I`m sorry, I`m just not a fan of anyone taking polls
right now. This is the most ridiculous science there is at this point
because, a, number one, you`re not talking to voters who are actually
engaged at this point, who are actually going to be going to the polls and
voting in November 2016.
KORNACKI: No, no, but the Iowa caucus goers on the Republican side,
they`re engaged right now.
STEELE: They are not - trust me, they`re not that engaged. They`re not
SWEET: But aren`t the donors engaged?
STEELE: But donors - This is a difference between - that this is a poll of
donors, that`s a different conversation, then a poll of voters.
SWEET: No, no, not a poll of donors.
STEELE: But the donors look at the polls of voters --
UNGAR: Why does Michael Steele want to put us all out of work?
STEELE: I`m not trying to put people out of work, I`m just trying to bring
perspective to this because we create frontrunners that don`t exist. There
is no front-runner because no one is nominated. No one ...
KORNACKI: But doesn`t it say to you - but Michael, doesn`t it say there is
a problem for Jeb Bush?
KORNACKI: With universal name. Well, we always dismiss.
STEELE: No. I think he`s doing better.
KORNACKI: We dismiss early polls. We say they only measure name
recognition. So nobody knows then ...
KORNACKI: When Jeb Bush ...
STEELE: When Jeb Bush actually announces he`s running for president of the
United States. Let`s see - let`s see ...
SWEET: Things don`t wait.
STEELE: But that`s going to be coming in two months.
SWEET: Well, but so I`m not saying if it was my own money I would
commission a poll, but since they exist, the reality is, Mike, we live in
the real political world.
STEELE: But this isn`t real.
SWEET: Hold on. Donors look at these polls. You know that.
STEELE: Jeb Bush is not going to lose -
STEELE: One dollar on this.
UNGAR: I`m just going to say one thing. If I`m Scott Walker, I`m getting
copies of what you just showed. I`m framing them, I`m hanging them in my
den because he`s not going to see that for long. Scott Walker will fade
KORNACKI: We`ll see, but the other thing he`s doing is sending that to
every single big dollar donor saying you want an alternative to Jeb, take a
look. I got traction.
SWEET: Small dollar, too. This is what this is about.
KORNACKI: Michael Steele doesn`t like the polls. I do. All right. Next,
I got - MSNBC`s Irin Carmon interviewed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg just on Friday.
Here`s a sneak peak on what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC REPORTER: I`m wondering how you see the current state
of race relations in our country.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG: People who think you could wave a magic wand and the
legacy of the past will be over are blind.
CARMON: Should we be worried that all of those great achievements of the
civil rights movement are being rolled back?
GINSBURG: Some day we will go back to having the kind of legislature that
we should where members, whatever party they belong to, want to make the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. That`s just a sneak peek, MSNBC`s Irin Carmon, an
exclusive interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The
entire interview you can catch it, and you`re not going to want to miss
this, Monday night, 9:00 p.m. on "Rachel Maddow Show." You can watch it
all there. Make sure to mark your calendar for that. My thanks to our
panel for today, Lynn Sweet, "Chicago Sun-Times", Sirius XM`s dynamic duo
of Steele and Ungar, we finally got them on camera. And catch their radio
show every week. Michael Steele, Rick Ungar, thank you all for joining us.
And still ahead, that all-star panel we`ve been talking about all morning
of former "SNL"ers talking 40 years of stories, behind the scenes memories,
working for Loren. The whole deal of that is coming up next. But before
that some of my favorite "SNL" political parodies from over the years. A
lot of fun clips for you. Stay tuned.
KORNACKI: So we all know there`s been 44 presidents of the United States,
but there have only been 7 presidents of "SNL." Seven presidents of
"Saturday Night Live." Of course tonight the big 40th anniversary
spectacular in this building. Very excited to be watching that tonight.
Before that, though, to whet your appetite, we thought we`d take you down,
a trip down memory lane, to look at those seven presidents in its 40 years
that "SNL" has lampooned, has skewered, has just had a lot of fun with. So
let`s take a look. It all began back in 1975, Chevy Chase, no one knew who
he was back then as Gerald Ford, the unelected accidental president in the
fall of 1975 for the first time ever, "SNL" took aim at a president and
this is what it looked like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHEVY CHASE, COMEDIAN: If I don`t win, I will continue to run in the
primaries, even if there are none. And now for my second announcement,
live from New York, it`s Saturday night!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Gerald Ford was a star athlete at the University of Michigan,
one of the most physically gifted presidents we ever had. He stumbled a
few times coming down airplane steps, and that became the basis for the
Chevy Chase caricature that would haunt him for his presidency and for many
Let`s take a look at who else we have here. Jimmy Carter was portrayed by
Dan Aykroyd. Dan Aykroyd could do a pretty good Southern accent. There
were some funny sketches of that through the years. Then you move into
Ronald Reagan. This is one of the richest characters, one of the richest
presidents SNL had to work with. You see Phil Hartman playing him in the
mid 1980s. Others who took a shot at this, Joe Piscopo played him for a
bunch of years. Also Robin Williams came in once and played Ronald Reagan.
But one of my all-time favorite SNL sketches really, political or
otherwise, was Phil Hartman as Ronald Reagan in 1986, this is as the Iran-
Contra scandal, remember that, is breaking, everybody had thought of Ronald
Reagan as this detached, friendly, soft president, and SNL decided to turn
that image around. This is what they did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL HARTMAN, COMEDIAN: The red countries are the countries we sell arms
to. The green countries are the countries where we wash our money. The
blue countries --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Mr. President, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s your 11:30 photo opportunity. The little girl who
sold the most girl scout cookies.
HARTMAN: Damn! Okay. Let`s get it over with. Everybody out. Come on,
This is the part of the job I hate.
Well, hello, little girl. What`s your name?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I still laugh whenever I watch that. Some great Reagan
sketches. Then there was Reagan`s successor, Vice President George H.W.
Bush. Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush. George Bush Sr. of course. A lot
of trouble sometimes stringing sentences together. A lot of run-on
sentences, thoughts that would kind of start and you wouldn`t know where
they would end up. So Dana Carvey had a lot of fun with that through the
years. And here he was, this is the fake presidential debate in 1988.
Dana Carvey versus Jon Lovitz`s Michael Dukakis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN: All I can say is, we are on the track, we`re
getting the job done. We can do more, but let`s stay the course. A
thousand points of light. Well, unfortunately, I see my time is up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Vice President, you still have 1:20.
CARVEY: What? Well, no, Diane, I must have spoken for at least two
minutes. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Dukakis, rebuttal.
JON LOVITZ, COMEDIAN: I can`t believe I`m losing to this guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But Michael Dukakis did lose to George Bush, Sr. in 1988. Dana
Carvey had four years of that presidency, and then Bush Sr. defeated in
1992 by Bill Clinton. And you talk about someone who SNL could have a lot
of fun with, comedians could have a lot of fun with. Bill Clinton
certainly at the top of that list. We associate I think Darrell Hammond
for most of the `90s as the Bill Clinton impersonator. That is the one we
most remember. My favorite though for the first couple of years of the
Clinton presidency was Phil Hartman, again. Phil Hartman played Reagan, he
played Clinton. He was my favorite all-time cast member. Really
versatile, really talented. So first two years of the Clinton presidency,
here is a great sketch. It`s Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton. Jan Hooks
(ph), who had been on the cast before, she comes back to play Hillary
Rodham Clinton, and then Dan Aykroyd. He comes back to play Bob Dole, and
this is what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN AYKROYD, COMEDIAN: All right, Hillary. One more word and you`re going
to be a stain on that back wall. Do you want to go, do you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on.
HARTMAN: Come on, you two, come on!
AYKROYD: You stay out of this, Bill, I`m doing something you should have
done a long time ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was the Clinton years, and then take a look after Clinton.
Of course, George W. Bush. Reagan, Clinton, Bush, a lot of easy juicy
characters for SNL to have a lot of fun with. Will Ferrell, this was very
iconic. It started even before Bush became president. The 2000 debate,
Bush versus Gore. Here is Will Ferrell as Bush in that debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, we are almost out of time, so instead I will
ask each candidate to sum up in a single word the best argument for his
candidacy. Governor Bush?
WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN: Strategery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In some ways a word that defined the Bush presidency. After
George W. Bush, of course that brings us to the seventh and so far final
SNL president, Barack Obama, who was played originally by Fred Armisen for
a few years. Jay Pharaoh took it over. I have to say in all honesty, this
is not an SNL thing, this is I guess a comedy thing, Obama has probably
been the toughest president for comedians to have fun with. He just
doesn`t lend himself to caricature as much as some of these other guys did.
Not quite as over the top. But SNL still has two years I guess to figure
Anyway, still ahead in the show today, our big SNL panel, they are here.
But before we get to them, a live report from the weekend storm that is
slamming the northeast, so stay with us.
KORNACKI: It`s been another absolutely brutal weekend for folks in New
England. They have been braving yet another winter storm, this the fourth
to hit that region in as many weeks. The Weather Channel`s Keith Carson is
live for us now in snowy, Portland, Maine. Tell us about what`s going on
KEITH CARSON, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: Good morning, Steve. We`ve got a
couple of inches of snow so far. We`re here in Casko (ph) Bay, which is
right off the Portland waterfront. As far as the snow coming down, it
hasn`t been that bad. Winds still picking up out of the north, about 25 or
30 miles an hour. That`s kind of been the story with this storm even down
across southern New England, Massachusetts, Cape Cod seeing some really
strong wind gusts as that low pressure system, what we call in the weather
world bombs out or becomes very strong over the ocean. The winds are
trying to wrap into the center of the storm, that`s why they`re coming in
out of the north here in Portland. They`re going to continue to get really
strong throughout the day.
I think the bigger story with the storm, at least in Maine, is that it is
extremely cold. When these wind gusts get going, our windchill factor,
minus 5, minus 6, and that`s been consistently the case through the
morning. So you end up with a light kind of snow. It`s easy to move
around for sure. But as the winds crank through the afternoon, we are
going to get into the range of windchills where it`s dangerous to be
outside. So I think that is the story for a lot of people here. They need
to stay inside, and Steve, you know, New England is obviously pretty tough,
northern New England pretty tough, but when you get the windchills in the
minus 15 to minus 20 range later this afternoon, you are going to want to
stay away from that.
KORNACKI: Yes, that is even cold by Maine standards, I think. Weather
Channel`s Keith Carson live for us in Portland. Appreciate the update this
And still ahead in the show, he is one of the biggest stars to come out of
SNL in its 40 years. Eddie Murphy is going to be here in this building
just hours from now, and so are my next guests, the super star SNL
superstar roundtable, they will be here now, and a few hours from now.
KORNACKI: All right. As you might have heard once or twice on the show
today, we are only hours away from the 40th anniversary Saturday Night Live
special. There`s no mistaking, it is a big day in this building. Security
is tight. The red carpet is getting rolled out for all the huge names
taking part in a 4 1/2 hour event tonight, but right now, before all the
festivities, I am very excited to be joined by four SNL alums. We have
have with us at the table Julia Sweeney, cast member probably best known
for the androgynous character Pat. A. Whitney Brown, was an SNL writer,
featured performer, famous for his commentaries at the weekend update deck.
Alan Zweibel is one of the original SNL writers who worked closely with
Gilda Radner on creating some of her most famous characters, like Roseanne
Roseana-Dana, and a familiar face to fans of the show, Tim Meadows, who was
in the cast for ten seasons and played the outrageously funny ladies man.
So I told you guys in the break, I have been looking forward to this panel
all week. I`m guess I`m just curious, you`re back in this building. A few
floors up where you actually would do the show, but what`s it like being
back? Are you having a lot of memories this week? What`s the feelings
ALAN ZWEIBEL, FORMER SNL WRITER: It`s great. It sort of washes over you.
You come into the place, and it`s stirring. The building itself is
stirring, and I remember the energy I used to feel every single week. You
got a rush of it just walking in.
KORNACKI: And you are getting it again. Are you guys running into cast
members you haven`t seen in a while?
A. WHITNEY BROWN, FORMER SNL WRITER AND PERFORMER: My palms started
sweating as soon as I saw the building. I started getting anxiety. I was
like I`m going to work. I had to convince myself I`m not. But to this
day, that closing theme relaxes me, because it means --
JULIA SWEENEY, FORMER SNL CAST MEMBER: The show is over.
BROWN: You got a day off. You got 12 hours off.
TIM MEADOWS, FORMER SNL CAST MEMBER: I sort -- to me it`s -- the security
is so much different here now than it was back when we were here. Like you
just would walk in basically and just come upstairs. And now it`s like,
you know, picture taken, all this other stuff happening.
KORNACKI: That`s all I know.
MEADOWS: We used to roam around the halls here, too. Like Tom Davis
showed us a place up on the roof where you could go out and see the evening
and do stuff.
ZWEIBEL: Whoa, whoa. See the evening.
MEADOWS: You can look up at the stars and have a couple beers.
KORNACKI: Lots of stories through the years about what goes on sort of off
the air or after the show. Was it as wild as we have heard?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They actually used to smoke cigarettes in the building.
SWEENEY: In the building. That`s probably the most outrageous thing.
KORNACKI: So you guys -- some of you overlapped. Some of you sort of span
different eras on this show. I thought one thing I wanted to do is play
some of the clips from some of your iconic moments and just to remember
them for the audience, but also to see what you think. Julia, I want to
start with you. We mentioned the it`s Pat character. This was an absolute
sensation. I can`t remember exactly when it started, early `90s, I guess.
Let`s play a clip and ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve got a new member ready for an evaluation, can you
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I was going to go to lunch. Can`t you do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think you`d be better with this client.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? Is he a rich gorgeous hunk?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it`s a hunk of something.
SWEENEY: Who is going to evaluate me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And, of course, Tim Meadows in that sketch, too.
Julia, where did the idea come from?
SWEENEY: Well, I was at the Groundling Theater in Los Angeles, which is an
improv group, and I was working as an accountant in the day, and there was
a couple of people that I was working with that were irritating to me in a
very specific way, and one of those people drooled a lot and stood too
close. And I was trying to imitate him. That was a guy, but there was
also this other girl, and when I tried to do it, I couldn`t really
convincingly exactly do a guy, and I decided maybe the joke will be that
you can`t tell the difference, but I didn`t think that was going to be the
main joke. But then that became, of course, the main joke.
KORNACKI: Some of these sketches, I guess, they become instant sensations.
SWEENEY: That wasn`t exactly true, because the first time I did it, it was
the last sketch of the show. It was Kevin Nealon, it was just he and I. I
was just on the show. People didn`t really know who was playing Pat, and I
didn`t even think I got a good audience response, but then a couple of
weeks later Roseanne Barr was hosting and she had seen that show and wanted
to do it again. And then we wrote -- Christine Sander (ph) and I wrote all
the Pat sketches. I came out as Pat and got this fabulous entrance
applause, which really threw me, and then from then on it was popular.
KORNACKI: Roseanne played a role.
KORNACKI: Interesting there. So, Tim, you also had several -- you had one
very iconic character and that`s the ladies man. We want to play a clip
from that, but also this is interesting, too. This is where SNL kind of
merges with news and with politics. Monica Lewinsky (inaudible), after
that scandal, she actually did an appearance on Saturday Night Live and
then on the "Ladies Man." Let`s take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEADOWS: Will you please welcome my guest, Ms. Monica Lewinsky. Come on,
everybody. Yes. Oh, yes. Now, Ms. Lewinsky will be quite helpful to us,
because I have been told that when it comes to matters of the heart and her
own personal relationships, she`s known for showing very good judgment, is
MONICA LEWINSKY: That`s right, Leon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A great line.
KORNACKI: What was that like that day, that night?
MEADOWS: It was a weird week. Because we knew -- we were told she was
going to be on the show that week or she was available for sketches, and I
was not a fan of having her in the sketch, and it was one of the rare times
I said, I`m going to be hands off, I`m not going to write. Then Andrew
Steele (ph) and Dennis McNicholas (ph) wrote the sketch and I realized how
funny it was going to be. So I contributed a couple of things there, but
it was a weird moment. It was like literally this person we had been
making fun of, she had been in a lot of sketches, and Molly (ph) did her,
very funny, the job of doing her, we had her right here in front of me.
And I was a little embarrassed.
KORNACKI: How was she?
MEADOWS: She was very sweet. Actually very nice. I had a little bit more
compassion for her after I met her, and then actually I ran into her in
L.A. at -- our kids were at a nursery school thing, Mike`s son -- I don`t
know, she was nannying or something like that, and we talked, and it was a
very friendly talk. And then my ex-wife, I told her about it, and she was
like, what, how dare you talk to Monica Lewinsky. It`s like, nothing
happened. We just talked. It`s not like we had an affair over the nursery
KORNACKI: I remember the day she was on, it was kept secret I guess all
week, and the word started to leak out. I guess some time Saturday
afternoon that this might happen. I was in college at the time, and there
was this buzz building all around the school, and everybody that night had
to be in front of the TV at 11:30 to see this.
We have to squeeze a break in. We have more clips, more memories we want
to get to on the other side. We`ll take a quick break, stick around, we
will be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS MILLER, COMEDIAN: And now with a final comment on the electoral
process, here is the man that I look up to most in the entire world, A.
Whitney Brown with the big picture. Whitney.
BROWN: Well, my friends, over 200 years ago the fathers of our nation
created the office of president. I know it probably seemed like a good
idea at the time. After all, in those days all you had to do was vote for
the man you liked the most. And now finally in 1988, it`s come to the
point where you have to vote against the man you dislike the most.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A. Whitney Brown is a writer and also a commentator on weekend
update. Of course you recognize Dennis Miller there.
BROWN: As a writer, I got to write all of the intros. Dennis had to say
whatever I put up on the teleprompter. It just got more and more
hyperbolic as time went on.
KORNACKI: Interesting. Dennis had to bite his tongue and--
BROWN: He had to read whatever was there. I don`t even know if he knew
what he was saying.
KORNACKI: Weekend Update is sort of its own thing within Saturday Night
Live, that`s an institution. Before there was "The Daily Show," before
there was Colbert, you -- this was the first place to really parody the
news like that.
BROWN: In a sketch or two, I played a dead body in one of the sketches,
and I was in the Reagan mastermind sketch.
KORNACKI: Yes, we mentioned that earlier.
BROWN: The amazing thing about that, I think that`s a (inaudible) joint.
I think it was the first, in the seventh year of his presidency, the very
first time anyone had ever satirized him as opposed to parodying him.
Everyone played him as dumb. But playing him as a mastermind--
KORNACKI: Going against type, basically.
BROWN: Right, satirizing as opposed to parodying. So that was, you know,
that`s still one of my favorite sketches. I think that was Frankensmigle
(ph) and maybe Downey (ph).
KORNACKI: I want to get in to Alan Zweibel, so a writer for the show in
going back to some of the classic original cast members, most famous, you
had John Belushi, the samurai deli. I want to play a Gilda Radner sketch.
This was Roseanne Roseana-Dana, play this for everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILDA RADNER, COMEDIAN: A Mr. Richard Fanner (ph) from New Jersey writes
in and says, dear Roseanne Roseana-Dana, last Thursday I quit smoking, now
I`m depressed, I gained weight, my face broke out, I`m noxious, I`m
constipated, my feet swelled, my gums are bleeding, my sinuses are clogged,
I got (inaudible) and I have gas. What should I do?
Mr. Fanner, you sound like a real attractive guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Al, you start to see the talent there, and so many
incredible characters and such talent. What was it like working with her
and putting the sketches together like that?
ZWEIBEL: It was amazing because my skill set was before I got to the show
was joke writing. Here I was with a bunch of improv players like Aykroyd
and Belushi and in particular Gilda, and I had never seen that kind of
energy come to a sketch before. And it was just great, because anything I
would do, they would take it and bring it up to this level. So it was
really fun. That character was an amalgam of a couple of different
energies. Richard Fanner (ph) from Fort Lee, New Jersey was her brother-
in-law, so I just turned him into a national institutional as this dumb guy
from Ft. Lee, who would write these stupid letters every week.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting to listen to where the inspiration for these
come from, sort of everyday living mundane things. I`m curious, you guys,
just to go around, you worked with so many of the big names and maybe names
that people have forgotten but are still really talented. Who were some of
the best characters, the best actors, the funniest people you`ve gotten to
work with on this show through the years?
BROWN: Phil Hartman.
KORNACKI: Phil Hartman, I`ve always said Phil is my all-time favorite.
BROWN: Phil, yes, Phil Hartman.
MEADOWS: We used to call Phil the glue. Because you couldn`t -- he held
everything together, because he could do everything. He could do
impressions, he could do voices, he could play the straight man, he could
be the funny guy. He taught us -- he taught me how to read cue cards in a
sketch. Like, he literally pulled me to the side and said this is how you
do it, because I was going back and forth and I was looking nervous. He`s
like, no, Meadows, this is what you do, you look at the cue cards and you
don`t take your eyes off the cue cards.
And then he told me, also, he just goes, and you`ve got to know your joke.
Always know the joke in the sketch. So I would learn -- I would do my
lines to the cue cards, but I always knew how to do my punch line to the
person or to the audience, whatever. I was like, you don`t mess that up,
ZWEIBEL: Plus you would write ten jokes into a sketch and he would bring
you 12 laughs. He was really good at that.
SWEENEY: He always made it better.
MEADOWS: One of my favorite sketches that I wrote that I didn`t appear in,
you were actually in it, Julia, it was called soap opera digest.
SWEENEY: Oh, right.
MEADOWS: It was about this actor Alec Baldwin, who just could not read
very well, so he would pronounce Yale University like Yaley University.
MEADOWS: So Phil Hartman was just a soap opera actor in this sketch, but
we would cut to him for these like intense stares, and they got bigger
laughs than the actual writing of the sketch. I was with Downey watching
it and Downey just goes, you put the glue in there, he`s going to do that.
He`s going to make the sketch way better.
KORNACKI: I would ask this too, the guest hosts, anybody have a really
good or a really bad guest host story?
ZWEIBEL: A great guest host was Buck Henry for me. Because I used to
write the samurais for Belushi, so it would be easy to have Buck walk into
a delicatessen, order a sandwich, not make any mention whatsoever that
there was a samurai guy making a sandwich for him, (inaudible) slicing it
with a thing, and he would just talk about the Super Bowl the next day. So
me as a writer was writing this for a writer, and it was just really cool
how he underplayed it and understated everything.
KORNACKI: My favorite guest host of all time, we were trying to come up
with these the other day, actually was Leslie Nielsen. The guy from the
"Naked Gun" movies, came on, and there was just some all-time classics.
I wish we could do this for five, ten, 20 more minutes. Unfortunately we
are at the very end of the hour. My thanks to the great roundtable. SNL
alums Julia Sweeney, A. Whitney Brown, Alan Zweibel and Tim Meadows. Have
fun tonight, we are all jealous of you guys getting to go to that thing.
And of course the big show airs tonight at 8:00 p.m., on NBC, a red carpet
special starting at 7:00. Thank you for getting up with us today. Of
course back next weekend Saturday, Sunday, 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. First
you are going to watch Melissa Harris-Perry. That is next. Have a great
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