Guests: Sam Donaldson, Wille Brown, Bob Franken, Kennedy, Kim Serafin, Pauly Shore
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Tonight: Democrats prepare to make the big decision about what happens to the votes in Michigan and Florida.
Is Hillary Clinton keeping up the heat in hopes of getting the V.P. spot?
And is Obama‘s latest so-called “pastor problem” a real problem or just a right wing diversion?
Legendary White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson, former Mayor Willie Brown, and political analyst, Bob Franken, are with us.
And we look back at the week‘s Winners & Losers from Sharon Stone to Scott McClellan to “Sex in the City,” with talk show host Kennedy and Paulie Shore.
VERDICT starts now.
Hi, everyone welcome to the show.
Who would have thought it would come down to a Democratic Party Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting set for tomorrow morning, that it would turn into a major showdown that could determine the outcome of the Clinton-Obama battle and one that could now be marred by major protest?
They are meeting tomorrow to decide how to award those disputed delegates in Florida and Michigan. Each side will have surrogates making their case with the Clinton camp still pushing to have 100 percent of those delegates seated. If not, it could take the fight all the way to the convention. And with that threat looming, Democratic Party leaders have finally stepped forward to effectively tell the Clinton camp—don‘t even think about it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicting, quote, “By this time next week, it will be all over, give or take a day.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi warning, quote, “We cannot take this fight to the convention. It must be over before then.”
So, the question tonight: Is Clinton really ready to make good on the threat to take this to the convention if her side doesn‘t get their way tomorrow? And is this really just a Clinton power play to ensure that she gets offered the V.P. slot?
Here now: Veteran agency newsman, Sam Donaldson; former Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown; and former CNN and now political analyst, Bob Franken. Thanks to all of you for coming on. Appreciate it.
All right. Sam, let me start with you on this question of what the Clintons endgame is here because it‘s pretty clear they‘re not going to get 100 percent of the delegates seated and counting? So, does that mean they‘re going to actually take this fight all the way?
SAM DONALDSON, ABC NEWS: No, I don‘t think so at all. I mean, she sees the end is near. She‘s doing what she can. But she‘s going to get behind the nominee. Her only chance in the future to be a major force and maybe have another crack at the nomination down the road is to work hard for Senator Obama. If she‘s seen in any way to be undermining his chances of victory in November, she‘s through.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what the Terry McAuliffe, of her campaign, is still talking tough on this issue that all of them need to be seated. Here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, THURSDAY)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Our position has always been—let‘s seat all of the delegates, everybody voted. Now, it‘s about winning the general election. This whole process is about winning in November 4th. We cannot have 2.5 million people and others in the state feel that they have been disenfranchised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Willie, let‘s be clear. They‘re not all going to be seated and they‘re not all going to count. And so the question is, you know, they keep saying this and saying this and is it a power play?
WILLIE BROWN, (D) FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: It‘s totally and completely a power play. It‘s an effort to ensure that during the course of the discussions about how to do we include the Hillary people, how do we include that 49 percent of the votes, what will be the price we pay, what consideration will be given, it‘s been done before—the Jackson years in ‘88. We did the same thing, we resulted in Ron Brown becoming chair of the party. That‘s just a reality of all this participation.
ABRAMS: All right. But that in mind, Bob, is this a play for her to get the V.P. offer because, look—I‘m pretty convinced that the Obama camp, forget about what Barack Obama himself wants, they have no interest in having Hillary Clinton as the V.P., and yet it sure seems that the Clinton camp, at least, wants that offer? Could that be what‘s at play her?
BOB FRANKEN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what I think is in play here is when you‘re negotiating, you don‘t give an inch until you absolutely have to. If they would say—look we‘re happy with 50 percent then they‘re going to be offered 25 percent. By the way, I think, it‘s important to note that there‘s one thing that will not be happening tomorrow, contrary to the rumors, the keynote address will not be delivered by Scott McClellan.
ABRAMS: Well, but look, you know, Sam, look, I know how much the -
some of the Obama camp doesn‘t like Hillary Clinton but there‘s a new poll out of Michigan, a key swing state, that shows McCain versus Obama, McCain is up 44 to 40. When you add Hillary Clinton to the ticket, and it‘s an Obama-Clinton ticket versus a McCain-Romney—remembering that Mitt Romney is, of course, a favorite son there in Michigan—the Obama-Clinton ticket wins in the same poll by seven points.
Now, look, it‘s not that everything is about Michigan, but doesn‘t that tell us something that maybe they ought to think again about Hillary Clinton?
DONALDSON: I think they will think again. I mean, the Kennedys didn‘t like Johnson, and Bobby Kennedy that night in California argued—don‘t put him on the ticket. But, Sam Rayburn, the great speaker, said to John Kennedy, “Would you like to be elected” and John Kennedy said to his brother, “Yes, we‘re going to have Senator Johnson on the ticket.”
I think Senator Obama may very well calculate, as you suggest, that he really needs her vociferous supporters who are now saying—I wouldn‘t vote for him—come on ticket, take the baggage of maybe Bill Clinton and all the other problems, and then Senator Obama turns to Michelle, his wife and says—dear, I love you dearly, but I want to be elected president.
BROWN: I believe that he has already essentially said that when he said in Florida at the last town hall meeting just a few days ago, “I am prepared to do as Abraham Lincoln did as outlined by Ms. Goodwin in her book.” He said very clearly, “I intend to include everybody in the consideration of who shall help me gain the opportunity to be the president.”
And clearly, if you are speaking for 49 percent of the people, you clearly know your voice is going to be heard. Obama knows that, Hillary knows that, and I guarantee you, he will seriously consider Hillary Clinton as his running mate.
ABRAMS: All right. Because, look, here‘s the problem, all right? And this is just an example. We had all sorts of example of Obama supporters saying—no way, no how.
Representative Lacy Clay from Missouri, pro-Obama Democrat, “The divide that has occurred over the last year in this primary is pretty wide. I‘m not sure the Obama supporters will fall in line and support her. It‘s evident that she and her husband started down this racial path shortly after the South Carolina primary and they continue to hearken back to racial divides in this country.”
I mean, in addition to the racial issues, Bob, I mean, there are just a lot of Obama supporters who don‘t just not particularly like Hillary Clinton, but really now hate Hillary Clinton. And - go ahead.
FRANKEN: Well, I have a bit of a Machiavellian view of all this and we‘ve actually talked about this before, Dan. I think that there might be a secret deal, a private deal that publicly, he will offer her the job and that she will graciously turn it down in return for something else. I wouldn‘t be at all surprise if something like that happened and of course it would solve both problems.
ABRAMS: But see, again, we‘re all talking as if this is sort of real and yet, I get different panels together, Sam, and they‘re saying—no way, there‘s no chance. You know, that Obama camp would rather risk it than put Hillary Clinton on the ticket, you just don‘t buy it?
DONALDSON: Maybe he will. Maybe he will say and you know—checks and balances, I should have her on the ticket but there‘s too much baggage there, I‘m going to take a chance. I‘m doing well, I think I can do better. This is a Democratic year and the Democratic nominee ought to be elected president. So, I‘ll do it.
But why take a chance? I mean, you‘ve got Willie Brown, here‘s one of the smartest politicians, I think, in the country. You don‘t take a chance if you see something that can nail it down for you. You go ahead and take that.
ABRAMS: I agree. I‘d just think that—I‘ve been saying this for weeks now and every time I say it, I get so much angry e-mail from Obama supporters who just say that she is contrary to everything that this campaign has been about, that she is politics as usual, that she has too many—too much high negatives, et cetera.
But let me bring this back to Willie, to what we‘re seeing tomorrow at this meeting. This rules committee, the lawyers have said—you simply decent have the power to go 100 percent in seating the delegates. So, it sounds like what you‘re saying is that the Clinton camp already accepts that, and that they are effectively just saying it now as a negotiating ploy?
BROWN: I don‘t think they‘ll have a choice, frankly.
You‘ve got to understand that when the Democratic Party as a national committee, they set up these crazy rules, they didn‘t factor in the free independence of every state legislative body and every governor. The governor of Florida is not a Democrat. The legislature is not controlled by Democrats, the same in the state of Michigan as it relates to who controls it. They didn‘t set the dates. The party didn‘t set the date.
And so, when people stand up and say, you‘ve got to punish him, they are frankly wrong. You should make some kind of an accommodation. It should have been done a long time ago and it will be done this Saturday and it will be - it‘ll render each side somewhat unhappy but it will resolve the issue and it will be fractional seating of the delegates from each of those states.
ABRAMS: But the point is, but isn‘t the point though that the Clinton camp - I mean, the Obama camp can deal with only getting some of what they want. It seems to me, Bob, the Clinton camp can‘t deal with that because if that happens this is effectively over.
I mean, their only shot at this point, and correct me if I‘m wrong, but it seems to me their only shot, with Pelosi and Reid now saying this is over next week, with the party coming in on the Clintons, their only shot is to say—we‘re going to appeal Michigan and Florida and as a result this is going to go to the convention. It seems to me that‘s their only avenue.
FRANKEN: Well, remember, you‘re talking to the person who about three weeks ago on your own program, said effectively it was over. I didn‘t even say effectively. It‘s over. I think it has been over. I think what we have here is somebody who‘s trying to save face and plan for the future.
And let us not forget that the Democratic Party has a real big problem here and that is that Florida and Michigan are not exactly chopped liver. They are major, major states that they‘re going to need in the general election.
ABRAMS: So, I‘d just want to ask everyone real quick. Just to be clear. So, it sounds like no one on the panel thinks that the Clintons are actually going to take this to the convention, right, Sam?
DONALDSON: No, they are not going to take it to the convention.
They see the future and the future is to be good.
ABRAMS: Willie, they‘re not going to take it to the convention?
BROWN: I don‘t know. They may very well take it to the convention, but that‘s not necessarily deadly.
Let me assure you that if the Clintons have any influence with the superdelegates, she would have had them all when she was clearly nine to 10 months ago, she was walking in the park as the nominee. For some reason, they held back.
You got too believe they aren‘t going to change that attitude by the conduct they are engaging in now.
ABRAMS: Bob, are they taking it to the convention?
FRANKEN: Well, I can‘t say for sure but I can only tell you as a reporter, I sure hope they do.
ABRAMS: All right. Everyone is staying with us.
MSNBC will have full coverage of that tomorrow at 9:00.
Coming up: The right wing media abuzz last night about a new pastor problem for Obama, a Catholic priest mocking Hillary Clinton at Obama‘s Chicago church. But now, it‘s gone more mainstream, Hillary Clinton weighing in as well. Could this stick?
And who were the week‘s big Winners & Losers? Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, “Sex and the City,” Rachel Ray and the dopey Dunkin‘ Donuts controversy over a scarf?
Plus: A former congressman using campaign donations to pay his legal fees, another reason Why America Hates Washington coming up in 60 seconds.
ABRAMS: Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: A former congressman in legal troubles transfers money meant for campaigning to his legal defense fund. The feds started investigating Pennsylvania Representative Kurt Weldon in 2006 over allegations he used his position to get clients for his lobbyist daughter. Weldon lost the seat he held for 20 years to Democrat Joe Sestak.
Now, Weldon closed his campaign accounts and siphoned off the last of the money, that $10,000 to his legal funds, to help pay his lawyers. That‘s in addition to $70,000 he‘d already transferred to the legal fund since the end of February.
Former Congressman Kurt Weldon using campaign dough to offset his legal woe: Another reason Why America Hates Washington.
We‘re back in a minute with the question of whether this Obama pastor issue is a real issue or a just right wing diversion, in a moment.
ABRAMS: Last night, the right wing media and FOX News were hyperventilating over Obama‘s, quote, “new pastor issue,” after a video circulated from a Catholic priest, an Obama supporter, giving a sermon at Obama‘s church on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 25)
MICHAEL PFLEGER, CATHOLIC PRIEST: When Hillary was crying and people said that was put on, I really don‘t believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought this is mine.
PFLEGER: I‘m Bill‘s wife, I‘m white. And this is mine. I just got to get up and step into the plate and then out of nowhere came—hey, I‘m Barack Obama. And she said—oh, damn, where did you come from?
PFLEGER: I‘m white. I‘m entitled. There‘s a black man stealing my show.
PFLEGER: She wasn‘t the only one crying, there was a whole lot of white people crying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. I mean look, Obama denounced the comments, saying he was deeply disappointed in the preacher‘s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric. The priest apologized. But today, the story gained more mainstream traction. It was in all the papers, morning television shows.
Hillary Clinton‘s campaign issued a statement, “We‘re disappointed that Senator Obama didn‘t specifically reject Father Pfleger‘s despicable comments about Senator Clinton, and assume he will do so.”
With the final three Democratic primaries just days away, the question, of course, is: Will any of this stick?
The panel is still with us.
Willie Brown, is this going to stick?
BROWN: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I suspect that those same people who published that must have a whole number of other sermon that have been preached in that church on Sunday and to charge Obama with the content of those services is as phony as all get out. The public knows that. I don‘t think it will stick.
ABRAMS: But there are - look, here are the connections, all right? This is—and again, FOX News kept repeating these connections again and again last night.
He was a former informal adviser to Catholics for Obama. He gave Obama‘s campaign $1,500 between 1995 and 2001. He‘s granted $225,000 ion 2001 for his church, Saint Sabina. He‘s being quoted as being a spiritual adviser in the past to Obama.
But you know, Sam Donaldson, it seems that‘s still pretty distant relationship.
DONALDSON: Well, Dan, the connection, I think, doesn‘t matter because that‘s missing the point. You can‘t blame Senator Obama for this.
But, when this priest gets up, it just once again proves the truth of the old saying—I can take care of my enemies, but Lord, protect me from my friends.
Senator Obama has run a pretty good multiracial campaign. He‘s got to do the same thing from here to November. He‘s got to improve his attraction to white votes and I think he can, but he can‘t if people like that - whether they‘re connected to him or not - jump up and talk about a bunch of whites and have white and black and all of this and you see the audiences applauding.
If he finds that he‘s pushed into a racial campaign, us against them, God forbid, he‘s going to lose. And so, that‘s where the hurt is. Not in connecting him to this priest. I think there is no logical connection that means he somehow is responsible for those words. It is trying to push the campaign into whites versus blacks, that‘s what hurts.
ABRAMS: But, Bob, it sounds like Sam is saying that no matter how you slice it here, just the fact it‘s being discussed at all is bad news for Obama.
FRANKEN: Right. I have to disagree with Mayor Brown. I think that there‘s a cumulative effect. This follows with Reverend Wright and it gives the white racists out there another reason to say - aha, see, it‘s Barack Obama.
It doesn‘t have to be really something that is sliced and diced by them. They‘re looking for an excuse, frankly, not to vote for Obama.
And I think what we‘re going to see then is that the Democrats are going to find some outrageous comment from some ultraconservative minister who is supporting John McCain. It becomes like a poker game where‘s—I see you‘re Afrocentrist and I raise you white fundamentalist.
ABRAMS: And look, and McCain - go ahead.
DONALDSON: Dan, if I may just say this. Dan, I will just say, that clip you just played is on YouTube. It‘s going to get millions of hits. And again, yes, the racists aren‘t going to vote for Senator Obama but I think he can overcome that. But people in the middle, who might have a little, you know, little worry about it or something and they see that kind of reaction, I think it hurts him.
ABRAMS: Well, what do you think, Bob, let me ask you as a former CNN reporter—FOX News, every hour, at the top of the hour last night, made this their lead story, in all of their prime time shows. And look, to be fair it was on all - you know, this was covered on the morning shows this morning. It was in all the newspapers.
But the lead every hour, on the hour, FOX News, I don‘t know, you may say that you think that it is fair. That this is a big enough story. Do you?
FRANKEN: Well, we‘re still talking about it on a Friday night. It is the kind of thing that captures people‘s attention. And that‘s, frankly, how much we‘ve fallen when it comes to the discourse in politics when they have this kind of discussion.
As I said, I think the significance is that the FOX News‘s (ph) of this world and Rush Limbaughs of this world, are going to seize on this. They‘re going to amplify it, as Sam pointed out, we have an Internet now and the advantage of the Internet is that everybody has a chance to put out his stuff. The disadvantage of the Internet is that everybody has a chance to put out his stuff.
ABRAMS: Yes. Here‘s what John McCain - and John McCain spoke about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think that kind of language and that kind of treatment of Senator Clinton is unwarranted, uncalled for and disgraceful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Mayor Brown, I have to say, do love the fact thought that John McCain now has the wonderful opportunity to come to Senator Clinton‘s defense because she‘s become increasingly irrelevant in the general election.
BROWN: Well, let me weigh in here for a moment. Be clear, that there‘s a certain number of people in this country who were never going to vote for Obama. They don‘t need another excuse, they will find one to explain it, and suggest that somehow they are not, in fact, racist. There are racists in this nation.
Mr. Obama has been able to overcome all of that. You don‘t put 75,000 people in the stadium in Oregon, nobody, including the Beatles have ever done that. This guy is so awesome.
Let me assure you that seeing some Catholic priest uttered words, gave him $1,500 -- that is not going stick to Obama. All you have to do is meet Obama and you instantly know he doesn‘t represent anything except building consensus, he does representing it differently. Harold Ford sent him a note, and that note said, “Introduce yourself to everybody, let them make a determination as to who you are.”
ABRAMS: Sam, final word on this and I got to wrap it up.
DONALDSON: Well, yes, Senator Obama has done well in the Democratic primaries and has done it in multiracial sets in many states but not all. But in the general election, take North Carolina, he won overwhelmingly. In the last election, North Carolina has gone Republican by (INAUDIBLE) 100,000 votes.
Can he do it in the general election? He has to have a lot of white votes. I think whites will vote for him as they have so far. But not if it becomes a racial divide from some of his friends as well as his enemies. Again, he can take care of enemies, but Lord, spare him from his friends.
ABRAMS: All right. I got to wrap it up. A great panel—Sam Donaldson, Mayor Willie Brown, and Bob Franken—great pleasure to have all of you on the program. I really appreciate it.
FRANKEN: Thank you, Dan.
DONALDSON: I enjoyed it.
ABRAMS: Coming up: Scott McClellan‘s public attack on the White House, will he be one of week‘s big winner or loser? And it‘s Friday night and our look back at the best of the week‘s campaign comedy.
Plus: FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly went on a rant last night against NBC that some might call, quote, “puzzling and sad.” The good new: He had advice for all of the employees here at NBC. Beat the Press is next.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press: Our daily look back at media hypocrisy, agendas, and the amusing perils of live TV.
First up: The true perils of live TV, Matt Lauer thing morning, with a guest explaining the benefits of a cell phone that isn‘t supposed to break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”/NBC)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just works. It‘s simple, it‘s a good phone, it doesn‘t break on you. The Razr, too (ph). The thing I like about it, sometimes the battery falls out but the system won‘t crash.
MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: You‘d just break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It did just break. I smashed that phone so many times now. Don‘t buy that one. However.
LAUER: Live television, Nicholas (ph), way to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Next up: More perils of live TV. Sometimes, the whole TV thing (ph) doesn‘t work quite as it‘s supposed to. This is FOX‘s Shep Smith yesterday interviewing a guest about a four-day workweek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “STUDIO B”/FOX NEWS/THURSDAY)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX HOST: You know, I wonder why it is everybody isn‘t doing just what you‘re doing, right? That‘s me talking to you, bro, how are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, me. I‘m sorry.
SMITH: Yes, yes, you. Just me and you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, forgive me. Oh, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Shep‘s good.
Finally: FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly had another, “I‘ll do it live” moment last night. This time, his anger was directed at us. Fortunately for all of us, he offered up some helpful advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”/FOX NEWS/THURSDAY)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX HOST: I wouldn‘t work, Bernie, and I don‘t think you would either I don‘t know about Jane, for any organization like NBC, which is in the tank, dishonest, has been dishonest and doesn‘t deserve any credibility. If you‘re working for them, you‘re part of it. You‘re part of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want—you want everybody to quit?
O‘REILLY: Yes, I would.
JANE HALL, GUEST: But, Bill, you know -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Bill, he‘s right. I want to live a clean and honest life.
Bill O‘Reilly, I don‘t want this. I don‘t want it.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Welcome back. The week‘s “Winners and Losers” coming up. But first, the late night shows and YouTubers are at it again. So here‘s our favorite campaign humor of the week, candidate by candidate.
JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”: Hillary Clinton had a campaign rally in Boca Raton, Florida yesterday, after which 30 percent of the people said they liked Hillary‘s speech. The other 70 percent said it was good to see Florence Henderson again. That‘s it. A little confused.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: And all of them pulled their names from the Michigan ballot, except for Hillary Clinton. Then huge surprise, Hillary won Michigan. Not of course that it would ever count.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It‘s clear this election they‘re having is not going to count for anything.
COLBERT: Then 23 states later and trailing Obama, Clinton added -
CLINTON: I believe the Democratic Party must count these votes.
COLBERT: Now, some say this is inconsistent. But I say, she‘s being remarkably consistent in saying whatever it takes to win.
VOICE OVER: Young Hillary Clinton -
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: One, two, three, four - connect four.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: Actually not all of the spaces have been counted yet. So I‘m not going to officially declare you the winner.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: But I won.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: No, you didn‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: Yes I did.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: No, you didn‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: Yes, I did.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: Yes, you didn‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: No, I didn‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: You‘re just ganging up on a girl. I‘m trying to compete in a man‘s world.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: But I got four in a row. That has nothing to do with you being a girl.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: Sexism is ugly.
CONAN O‘BRIEN: Barack Obama has speaking to a Jewish group and he told him that his name Barack is the same as the Jewish word Baruch(ph) which means one who is blessed. That‘s what he said, yes. Obama had a harder time explaining his middle name Hussein. Things got quiet there.
LENO: When speaking in Montana, Barack Obama got a standing ovation when he said it was time to take back the country. The bad news he was on an Indian reservation.
O‘BRIEN: Democratic primaries are almost over. Next month, one of the last Democratic primaries will be held in the state of Montana. That‘s going to be one of the last ones. Montana, yes. Barack Obama was expected to win the support of Montana‘s black voters but they both moved to Idaho.
COLBERT: You know who didn‘t get a break last week? John McCain, who took a lot of heat over his endorsement from two controversial preachers, Rod Parsley and John Hagee. Now, I‘m normally a big fan of Rev. Hagee. He lost me when he called the Catholic Church, quote, “the apostate church and the great whore.” I‘ve got no problem with the apostate part because I don‘t know what that word means. But the great whore? You‘re talking about a religion that is against condoms and the pill. We would be terrible whores.
STEWART: By releasing the nearly 1200 pages of his medical records on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, what would a 1200-page document be without totally unnecessary draconian parameters? First, the records were made available for three hours and could not be taken out of the room. Second, no Internet or cell phones were allowed. Third, if you left the room for anything but a bathroom break, you were not allowed to return. Fourth, well, I think that‘s entirely - I think that actually - that one was necessary. I‘m looking at you, Brit Hume.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The horror. The horror.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for the week‘s “Winners and Losers.” From Scott McClellan‘s bombshell book to Rachel Ray‘s controversial look to Sharon Stone getting the hook, who won and who lost this week?
Joining us now, radio talk show host, Kennedy. Senior editor of “In Touch Weekly,” Kim Serafin, former CNN correspondent Bob Franken and actor and comedian Pauly Shore.
First up, Dunkin‘ Donuts caves under pressure from far-right wing blogs to pull an ad featuring Rachel Ray. In the ad Ray is wearing a scarf that someone the fringe thought looked too much like the traditional scarf worn by some Palestinian terrorists. Dunkin‘ Donuts said no symbolism was intended, but they still yanked the ad.
Kennedy, in calling - I‘m calling Dunkin‘ Donuts a big loser. I‘ve been calling them since for a while for caving on this. Absurd, right?
KENNEDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think clearly Rachel Ray is a big Muslim extremist and she was calling for the ultimate jihad through Munchkins.
ABRAMS: Yes. Pauley, what do you make of this one?
PAULY SHORE, COMEDIAN: First of all, why was she doing an ad for Dunkin‘ Donuts to begin with? I mean, she‘s big time New York City, you know what I mean? She should be doing like New York bagels or something.
ABRAMS: Bob Franken, it seems to me - look. The bottom line is they caved, right? I mean I think that they overthought how many people really cared about this.
BOB FRANKEN, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I don‘t know I agree with you. I don‘t think if you turn on the food channel any time soon, you‘re going to see Rachel Ray doing the 30 minute halal meal. It just isn‘t going to happen. No, I think right now - with the Internet, I think right now just about anybody who has a grievance is able to amplify it.
ABRAMS: But it‘s a big company. They got a lot of money.
KENNEDY: They didn‘t like the scarf, though. If you look at the scarf - but poor Rachel Ray doesn‘t have a long neck, so she was just trying to work with what she has.
FRANKEN: Well, in addition to which, you could spill some of the sugar from the doughnuts on it. It would really ruin the look.
ABRAMS: I mean, fine. Kim, you want to make a fashion statement about it, that‘s one thing. But Dunkin‘ Donuts - I mean, I don‘t know. Maybe I‘m viewing them as a Holy Grail - Dunkin‘ Donuts and holding them up to a standard I shouldn‘t. But I‘m thinking, Dunkin‘ Donuts is caving because someone said that they thought it looked like some sort of Palestinian scarf?
KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”: Yes. I think they want to stay away from any sort of controversy. I mean although by caving to it, it made it almost a bigger story, I think, because - I don‘t think anyone would have thought of this as any sort of symbolic kind of thing she was wearing. I mean there are certain things like when gang members put teardrop tattoos down their faces, like that‘s clearly a symbol for something. The scarf, not so much, and Dunkin‘ Donuts certainly made it a bigger story, I think, by caving.
FRANKEN: Well, I think the reason they caved is because they got a complaint from the Policemen‘s Union. That was it. There was going to go all their business.
ABRAMS: Yes. All their business - you mean the far, far right business that they might have lost. Instead, you know, I hope some reasonable people are going to say, “Huh? Really?”
Everyone is staying with us. Up next, “Sex and the City” panned by its hometown papers, 2,000 fans had tickets kept out of the New York premiere. Is it possible “Sex and the City” is a loser? And Scott McClellan dishing out for years; now he‘s dishing in his new White House book. Turns out the White House has had the book a month ago. Winner or loser. Plus, “Reality Bites”, a magician rides through a ring of fire. Did I mention he was blindfolded? We‘re back in 60 seconds.
ABRAMS: Now to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape. Tonight, our continuing series, “Yes, It Happened in India.” A magician hops on a motorcycle blindfolded and rides through rings of fire - on fire, at least the rings are. But the magic man wasn‘t done. He then set off on a 30-mile cruise in traffic still blindfolded. The accident-free stunt reportedly part of a highway safety campaign. Yes, really, it did happen in India. We‘re back in a moment.
ABRAMS: We‘re back with the week‘s Winners and Losers” with our panel. Next up, “Sex and the City, The Movie,” which finally opens today. It has been a rough go. Organizers overbooked the premiere earlier this week, leaving 2,000 Carrie Bradshaw wanna-bes standing outside Radio City in the rain. That wasn‘t even the real premiere. They had that in Europe, not even in the movie‘s hometown in New York.
And now two hometown newspapers, the “New York Times” and “Post,” both pan the movie. Now, Kennedy, you‘ve seen it. I‘m going to call it a loser just on the fact they didn‘t have the premiere in New York and they left all these people in the rain. How was it?
KENNEDY: I was surprised they didn‘t have the premiere in New York. I, along with a packed house of mostly 20 and 30-something women, went at midnight last night in Santa Monica. And it was long and kind of boring. It was a two-and-a-half hour movie. I was shocked.
SHORE: Yes. You guys, I was at that movie as well. I was actually sitting behind Kennedy and I asked her, you know, in the third act if she could just kind of move to the left because I couldn‘t really see the scarf that was on Carrie‘s head. You know what I‘m saying?
ABRAMS: I got it. Bob.
SHORE: Wait, that was the last story. That was the last story. Sorry.
FRANKEN: It better not be a loser because I understand they are already shooting a sequel for next summer. That‘s going to be based here in Washington. They‘re calling it “Sex in the District.” The only difference is going to be that Mr. Big will become Mr. Big Ego.
ABRAMS: Wow. You know, listening to the comparison between Pauly Shore humor and Bob Franken humor ...
KENNEDY: No. No.
ABRAMS: ... it‘s like the two polar opposites. You‘ve got the Pauley Shore humor and then you‘ve got the D.C. Bob Franken humor. All right. Kim, go ahead.
SERAFIN: I have to say, still a winner. Absolutely, “Sex and the City, The Movie,” absolutely a winner.
KENNEDY: Oh, no!
SERAFIN: As Kennedy was saying, I mean I‘ve been hearing about people going with their girlfriends, buying blocks of tickets, going and getting cosmos beforehand.
SHORE: We don‘t have a choice. We don‘t have a choice.
SERAFIN: And also, this is four years later - Right. I mean a winner for women not -
KENNEDY: You don‘t need a cosmo. But you‘re going to need a speed ball so you can stay awake through it.
ABRAMS: Next, former press secretary Scott McClellan ...
KENNEDY: Where am I?
ABRAMS: ... turned on the Bush administration this week with a bombshell book about his days in the White House, offering up a tough account how the White House misled us into war.
Now, it‘s getting assaulted by many on the right until I hear them show they got the facts wrong, not just they disagree with him, or find him reprehensible, or even reprehensibly criticizing the president, then I think he‘s got to be a winner. Now, he‘s alienating all his long-time allies to get this book out. And we learned today the Bush administration, Bob, has known for over a month what would be in McClellan‘s book. He submitted a copy weeks ago per White House policy.
So can we at least say, Bob, that there‘s something disingenuous about the shock of all of these people in the White House who seem puzzled and sad, and not the Scott they knew, and they‘ve known about this book for a month?
FRANKEN: Well, as I understand it, didn‘t he take some stuff out? I mean that‘s the stuff I‘d like to see. In addition to which -
SHORE: Of course, you‘d like to see it.
FRANKEN: Sure, of course. But doesn‘t this remind of you “Casa Blanca,” “I‘m shocked. I‘m shocked.” Yes, sure, they waited until they had no choice but to react and had time to organize a campaign against Scott McClellan. By the way, the combined topics - I doubt very seriously if this is going to be an Oprah book selection.
ABRAMS: Yes. And there‘s a rumor going around that Pauly Shore was actually asked to review the manuscript before it came out. I‘m not sure.
No one actually believes that that -
SHORE: Yes. I‘m going to be playing the role of the Monica Lewinsky scandal which a lot of people don‘t know that Scott actually and Monica Lewinsky actually hooked up - that‘s in paragraph 16. People are going to see that. She‘s coming back.
ABRAMS: Next up, Sharon Stone.
KENNEDY: Scott McClellan is a giant man-baby.
ABRAMS: Sharon Stone got in trouble for saying this about the earthquake in China that‘s killed more than 60,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: I‘m, you know, not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don‘t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought is that karma, when you‘re not nice, that bad things happen to you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now, Stone apologized.
ABRAMS: It wasn‘t enough for many in China.
ABRAMS: And Christian Dior dropped the actress from its Chinese ads. Many Chinese cinemas say they won‘t show her movies. Pauly Shore just heard it for first time. Kennedy, what do you make of it?
KENNEDY: Well, many American cinemas won‘t show her movies either because she doesn‘t make movies anymore, because no one will employ her as an actress because she sucks.
KENNEDY: She‘s crazy. She‘s a crazy, crazy person.
SERAFIN: I mean, Sharon Stone is only in the news these days because of
SHORE: You know what -
ABRAMS: Hang on one second, Pauly. Go ahead, Kim.
SERAFIN: She‘s only in the news these days because of charity events that she goes to and movie premieres that she shows up to. She really hasn‘t had a movie out there. And this was kind of as she passed along the press line. It was a throwaway comment. It wasn‘t like this sit-down interview that she did, you know, on the discourse of policies around the world. I mean I feel like there‘s so much emphasis put on this, probably because of all the things leading up to Olympics and compounded by that. So she‘s getting sort of (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
KENNEDY: There‘s no throwaway comments to the communist Chinese, though.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Pauly.
KENNEDY: There‘s no such thing as a throwaway comment.
SHORE: She still said it.
ABRAMS: Yes, she did.
SHORE: She still says it.
ABRAMS: Everyone is going to stick around. Up next, Oprah Winfrey may still be number one. Her ratings are down and many now saying it‘s because she endorsed Barack Obama. Do we buy it? Can Oprah really be a loser? We‘ll be right back.
ABRAMS: We‘re back with the week‘s “Winners and Losers,” with our panel. Up next, Oprah Winfrey endorsed Barack Obama last fall. And who knows what effect it would ultimately have on his candidacy. But what about Oprah? She hasn‘t been doing as well. New ratings figures show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has lost almost two million viewers over three years, down seven percent this year alone. And the Oprah‘s magazine has lost readers too, almost 300,000 since 2004.
Now, some say it‘s not just this year, and others say it‘s this new religion that she‘s been advocating. But regardless, can you really ever call Oprah a loser, Kim Serafin? You‘re shaking your head.
SERAFIN: No, she is definitely a winner. She‘s always a winner. I mean still the person you go to if you want to promote your book. If you‘re Sharon Stone and want to apologize for your comments on China, you‘re going to go to Oprah. If you‘re Rachel Ray and want to talk about your scarf issue, you‘re going to go to Oprah. I mean no matter who you are, she‘s still the go-to person. She‘s always a winner. She knows how to handle it. She‘s had the number one show for something like 471 weeks in a row. This might just be bleep in the radar.
ABRAMS: Kennedy, do you think it had an impact?
KENNEDY: I do. I think that she alienated 75 percent of her viewers by endorsing one candidate. It was a no-win situation for her, the choice between Hillary and Barack. There was no way she was going to gain very much by endorsing Barack. I think her ego got the best of her and she felt it was an anointing. But I think her audience was already kind of oversaturated and then a lot of them became turned off.
FRANKEN: Well, I think what it probably means is that Barack Obama is not going to name her as vice presidential candidate. Other than that, you know, this has been going on for a while and I think that‘s the saturation may have finally taken effect.
ABRAMS: Pauly, is this the reason you‘ve resisted endorsing a candidate because you‘re concerned about the impact?
SHORE: I would have to say, you know, at this point I think Barack Obama needs to call Chuck Norris from the Huckabee campaign and bring that back because everything is getting screwy. There‘s going to be no effect on the Oprah Winfrey camp. I think she is fine. I think, you know, she‘s helping kids out all over the world and Africa. I heard she‘s opening an adoption agency in Sweden. I think that‘s her new move. It just was on the Internet about ten minutes ago. I think she‘s going to be working with the Swedish kids. So she has a big heart and it is - I agree with Kim, it‘s a bleep - it‘s a little bleep in this week‘s situation because of the polygamy trial.
KENNEDY: You know what? She should have had a series of conversations with the three major candidates right now, call them debates, call them discussions where she allowed them to answer questions that her audience have.
ABRAMS: Yes, that‘s smart.
KENNEDY: Posed the questions for them.
ABRAMS: Yes, I agree with you.
FRANKEN: What do you think John McCain is going to think about New Age cures to stress?
ABRAMS: Finally, divorce court for former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey and ex-wife Dina. Remember, McGreevey had a big press conference declaring he is a gay American with his wife by his side. Now, he says he‘s too poor to help his wife out. His ex says she has her own problems and misses her old lifestyle.
Now, she wants upwards of $50,000 a month in alimony. Things got a little testy and political in the courtroom today. The 41-year-old hospital executive says she‘ll be unemployed her hospital closes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ATTORNEY: And you are able to continue earning at your earnings track record of $82,000 per year, is that correct?
DINA MCGREEVEY, EX-WIFE OF FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR JAMES MCGREEVEY: I
have not been offered a job so I don‘t know what the salary will be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ATTORNEY: Are you able to continue to working at your earnings track record of approximately $82,000 per year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ATTORNEY: It is not an answer, Judge. She avoids every question that I ask. She thinks she‘s Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I mean, that was yesterday. But, I mean, Kennedy, look. I‘m not even asking for legal analysis but just this sort of common sense. The lawyer citing Hillary Clinton in an effort to show that she‘s not telling the truth.
KENNEDY: Does she really need $50,000 a month? She was the first lady of New Jersey. They‘d have a budget crisis if the first lady is getting $50,000 a month. Good Lord, if I can go from maybe $80,000 a year to $50,000 a month, sign me up. I‘ll divorce the gay guy.
FRANKEN: Well, you know, I‘m really surprised that the divorce proceeding is contentious that never happens. I have no idea whether she needs $50,000 a week. I don‘t know how many times she goes to Starbucks. I don‘t know.
ABRAMS: Let‘s assume for a minute, Kim, that it‘s not, you know, a sort of - that he‘s not a Pauly Shore level, where, you know, he‘s been, you know, making that kind of bucks for as long as Pauly has, all right? Let‘s assume McGreevey doesn‘t have kind of money, all right?
SERAFIN: Yes. I think she kind of squandered any feeling people had for her, any sympathy people had for her, especially with the Spitzer case kind of echoing a little bit. We all remember her standing next to McGreevey and then Eliot Spitzer‘s wife standing next to Eliot Spitzer. This just - it just came across like somebody said, McGreedy.
ABRAMS: Pauly, final thoughts?
SHORE: Is this the same lady that was on the YouTube video that was crying?
ABRAMS: No, it‘s not!
SHORE: No, no. I‘m just kidding. You know, unfortunately, you know, the law states that, you know, the women, you know, if they get a certain amount of money in the divorce cases, I mean that‘s - I guess she‘s entitled—you have to stick with the law, right?
ABRAMS: Legal analysis from Pauly shore. What a better way to finish the program! Kennedy, Pauly Shore, Kim Serafin, Bob Franken. Thanks a lot. That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Verdict.MSNBC.com is the Web site. Have a great weekend.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.