Guests: Michael Smerconish, Chuck Nice, Laurie Kilmartin, Tom O‘Neil
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, INTERIM HOST: United front: Obama and Clinton hold their unity rally, is this picture worth 1,000 words or maybe 270 electoral votes?
And is this change? After a series of backtracks, is Obama tacking too far to the center or is he just playing the game to win. We‘ll ask that question.
And we‘ll ask—who won the week, McCain or Obama?
Plus, time for this week‘s Winners & Losers, from Madonna‘s husband to Scarlett Johansson.
Here to make those calls, Chuck Nice, Laurie Kilmartin, and Tom O‘Neil.
Hi, everybody. I‘m Michael Smerconish, sitting in for Dan who‘s off tonight.
It happened this afternoon in a town called Unity. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton all smiles today in rural New Hampshire, as they came together the way that die-hard Democrats had hoped they would.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I‘ve admired her as a leader. I‘ve learned from her as a candidate. She rocks. She rocks. That‘s the point I‘m trying to make.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER PRES. CANDIDATE: We have gone toe to toe in this hard-fought primary. But today and every day going forward, we stand shoulder to shoulder for the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Clinton also spoke directly to her supporters about not defecting to John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: And to anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: As you can see, Clinton and Obama, they even color-coordinated. Obama‘s blue tie is matching Clinton‘s pantsuit. The two acting like old friends, laughing, sharing a hug. Could this picture of unity be the Democratic ticket or with Obama running strong in the polls, does he even need Clinton in order to win?
Joining me now: Political commentator, Ron Reagan; Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago-Sun Times”; and, MSNBC political analyst, Joe Watkins.
Ron, have we just taken a peek at the Democratic ticket?
RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I‘ll tell you, if they keep doing this together, because the chemistry looked pretty good. The body language looked good. If they keep doing this over and over again, he may have to pick Hillary as his running mate because the public will demand it. They‘ll be used to the idea of this as the dream ticket.
SMERCONISH: Lynn Sweet, you‘ve covered him for a long time. You know him better than any other journalist, is it within his makeup, his composition to forgive and forget and to make Hillary Clinton his vice presidential selection?
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: It‘s a business decision. If this is the only way he thinks he could become president, he would do it. But it wouldn‘t be a decision made lightly, especially with figuring out what to do with Bill Clinton. If probably it wouldn‘t be the first choice, but the picture today is one that few others could put them, you know, you could talk to few others and with Hillary Clinton and there is buzz and excitement, this transcends geography, you know, target base votes or whatever and you saw that.
So, I think whatever is going on inside of the vice presidential process here, they‘ve got to now start looking at what this picture looked like.
SMERCONISH: All right. Joe Watkins is giggling over here. What‘s all the—are you giggling because you‘re saying, “Hey, bring it” or you‘re saying, “Oh, no”?
JOE WATKINS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I think Lynn and Ron are being very nice. They‘re being polite because they‘re good people, but the reality is that this is Ali/Frazier. I mean, remember when Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier duked out three times. I mean, these guys, they‘ll appear together on the stage but there‘s still no love. This had all the civil (ph) today of an arranged marriage. I mean, something that you have to do because you have to do it but there‘s no love there.
SWEET: Hey, arranged marriages last for very long time.
WATKINS: Well, they do, but there‘s no love here. And what we failed to talk about is the fact that there were groups outside protesting this as it went on, there were Hillary groups that are still very strongly for Hillary and anti-Obama that were protesting this. So, you can‘t put aside the fact that there are still Hillary people who are very bitter about the way she feels about Barack Obama.
SMERCONISH: Well, I think, that‘s a great question.
Ron, let me ask you, you know, Lanny Davis for whom I have tremendous respect, he initiated a petition drive online saying, you know, “We‘ve got to make Hillary the vice presidential selection.” I haven‘t heard much about it. Is there a drumbeat in the country among Democrats to make her the V.P. selection?
REAGAN: Well, if it‘s a drum beat it‘s a fairly light and localized one. Lynn, I think, put her finger on the biggest problem of Barack Obama looking at Hillary Clinton as a potential running mate and that is Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton post-presidency has not been fully vetted. His dealings with certain, you know, dictators in Central Asia and all that sort of thing about gas deals, all of that has not really been aired in public. And I think Barack Obama has got to think very long and hard about whether he wants that to be brought into his campaign and it would come in with Hillary.
SMERCONISH: You know, I have to tell you, I have a minority view on this and it is that he was so mismanaged in the primary season. They should have run as a twofer, Joe. It‘s not my business to advise the Clintons but it‘s like they hid him in the basement and he was so damned frustrated that he would boil over. I still think he is a tremendous campaigner -
SWEET: Hey, Michael, he never hid in the basement.
WATKINS: No, he‘s a brilliant guy. Everybody knows that. That‘s the truth. But at the end of the day, you‘re not going to control him. He‘s the former president of the United States. He‘s not going to be controlled by anybody. He couldn‘t be controlled by Hillary‘s campaign. He can‘t be controlled by Barack Obama‘s campaign.
SMERCONISH: Lynn, you want to make a point?
SWEET: Here‘s the point, and we should remember that any talk of the vice presidential campaign, the first thing that has to happen with the Clintons is they have to decide to disclose to vetters, donors to the Clinton library and the Clinton foundation, so they control some of this process, too. I can‘t imagine that this could go forward in any sane way if they don‘t -
SMERCONISH: When I said—when I said they hid him, I was thinking of my particular home state, Pennsylvania, where they rolled him out in “B” markets but they wouldn‘t bring him to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.
Listen, I want to show all of you, some polling data from the “L.A. Times” initially, if we could put that up on the screen. Do Democrats think Obama should pick Clinton as V.P.?
Forty-two percent, Joe Watkins, are now saying no among D‘s.
Thirty-six percent—what‘s going on here?
WATKINS: Those are Obama‘s people. I mean, there‘s still a lot of bitterness here. I mean, Hillary Clinton got 18 million votes. There are a lot of people that like here, a lot of Democrats that think very well of Hillary Clinton but the reality is, that Obama‘s people still have blood in their eye when it comes to Hillary Clinton. And even though they‘re glad that she‘s appeared with him on the stage, they do not want her as Barack Obama‘s running mate.
SMERCONISH: Well, the data suggests that they‘re moving in Obama‘s direction regardless of whether she‘s the vice presidential pick. Let me show you one more bit of data, this is from “Newsweek.” Clinton supporters are moving toward Obama. In other words, would they vote for Barack Obama or John McCain if their candidate, Hillary Clinton, were no longer in the race. What had been a 53/34 margin has now grown to 69/18.
Ron Reagan, it doesn‘t seem as if he needs to select Hillary Clinton to win those votes.
REAGAN: No, I don‘t think he does. And, you know, the people who said that they would vote for John McCain if Hillary Clinton didn‘t get the nomination are insane, basically. I mean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two peas in a pod. John McCain is in an entirely different food group. A different, you know, stretch of the vegetable patch all together. So, that doesn‘t make any sense. And these people will come around and the Hillary people will end up voting for Barack Obama.
WATKINS: I don‘t know about that, Ron. I don‘t know about that. I mean, you have to consider the fact that John McCain is somebody that‘s worked in the past with Democrats. He‘s even bucked his own party to work with Democrats.
REAGAN: Yes. But he‘s not pro-choice and he‘s pro-torture.
REAGAN: But he‘s pro-torture and not pro-choice. And that‘s going to tick off a lot of people on the Democratic side.
SMERCONISH: I want to think big picture and I want to do so by showing you a piece of that that was published in today‘s “Washington Post” by Charles Krauthammer - if we can put that up on the screen.
“The truth of about Obama is uncomplicated. He‘s just a politician. When it‘s time to throw campaign finance reform, telecom accountability, NAFTA renegotiation or Jeremiah Wright overboard, Obama is not sentimental. He does not hesitate. He tosses lustily. And by the time he‘s finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous.”
That‘s Charles Krauthammer.
Ron, I voted for the first time in 1980 for your dad. I have never voted for a Democrat for president. I‘ve voted for plenty of Democrats but never for president. I‘ve not ruled it out in this cycle because I like this guy. But the events of the last 10 days or so, make him seem status quo; make him see like just a run of the mill politician.
REAGAN: I thought maybe, Michael, you‘d be worried he was too conservative.
SMERCONISH: No. He‘s getting warm.
REAGAN: He‘s doing what FDR did in ‘32. He‘s doing what a lot of politicians do and he is a politician. He‘s not somebody who came down from Valhalla. This guy is a politician. He‘s ambitious. He wants to win. And so, he‘s tacking to the center.
WATKINS: Ron, remember, this is a guy who said he was strongly in support of public financing for presidential campaign.
REAGAN: I agree with you.
WATKINS: And then he just turned his back on that and said, “You know what, I make more, I can raise more money, just blowing that aside.” So, he blew it aside.
REAGAN: I agree with you.
SMERCONISH: Joe, let me help you.
REAGAN: It‘s a little like, but not as bad as John McCain saying, “I‘m absolutely opposed to torture by Americans, but if the CIA does it, well, OK.”
SMERCONISH: But, Ron, he‘s not supposed to be the agent of change.
Let me show you my cheat sheet, OK?
REAGAN: That‘s exactly right.
SMERCONISH: Here are my notes and you can look at the things -
REAGAN: He‘s supposed to be the maverick.
WATKINS: That he is.
REAGAN: Well, not all the time.
SMERCONISH: FISA—here‘s what I noted a change of relative to Obama recently. FISA; NAFTA; Iran, whether he would sit down with any preconditions with Ahmadinejad; the public financing; and then, guns with that five to four decision, arguably the most important Supreme Court decision of our lifetime. And, I still don‘t know whether he believes the D.C. gun man is constitutional or unconstitutional.
Watch this from yesterday, Barack Obama on the Supreme Court decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX BUSINESS NETWORK”)
OBAMA: Well, I have said consistently that I believe the Second Amendment is an individual right and that was the essential decision that the Supreme Court came down on. And it also recognized that even though we have an individual right to bear arms, that—that right can be limited by sensible, reasonable gun laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I want to ask Lynn Sweet because of your institutional knowledge of Barack Obama, having watched him over a period of years, are you surprised by these, let‘s say, changes of heart by now presidential candidate Barack Obama?
SWEET: No. He‘s very pragmatic. These hot button issues of guns and death penalty, the hottest of them, are issues that when you‘re a state senator from the south side of Chicago, you would be running, as he did, giving everyone the feeling that—you know, Chicago‘s a very anti-handgun town, besides Washington, D.C. It‘s most impacted by the Supreme Court decision, you know, striking down these gun bans and certainly the death penalty in Illinois. And that‘s the state where there‘s more trim (ph) on the death penalty because of how poorly it had been, we should try their (ph) impression—executed.
SMERCONISH: So, you‘re not surprised by these changes.
SWEET: I‘m not surprised because I have seen Senator Obama since he‘s come to the Senate, try to forge a road that does not leave him pinned down in any one position.
SMERCONISH: Allow me just to -
SWEET: Where you could say to the left or to the right.
SMERCONISH: Allow me just to squeeze in my right-wing talking point before the break, OK? This is today‘s “New York Times.” Here‘s the headline: “For Obama, A Pragmatist Shift Toward the Center.” Would they be calling John McCain a pragmatist so, if he had made the changes that Senator Obama had made?
WATKINS: Well, the question becomes, Michael, I mean, which Obama here‘s a brilliant guy, he‘s a wonderful world smith, Barack Obama is. I mean, he‘s brilliant on the campaign trail.So, which guy do you believe? I mean, which politician Obama do you believe, do you believe the guy that says that he‘s against guns or the guy that said he‘s kind of for guns? I mean, this is the same guy -
SMERCONISH: It takes a little shine off the apple. Listen, sit tight. We‘re all sticking around. Everybody is staying with us.
And coming up, who won the week, McCain or Obama? We‘ll have that.
And, we‘ll name the week‘s Winners & Losers, including Obama apparently shattering Scarlett Johansson‘s dreams of being his e-mail pen pal.
Plus, the National Guard‘s top brass gears up for a week in St. Thomas. Another reason Why America Hates Washington, that‘s next in 60 seconds.
SMERCONISH: Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington:
Leaders of the National Guard, gearing up for leisure time while their troops head for the front lines. As we speak, thousands of National Guardsmen and women are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan or waiting in wasty (ph) floodwaters to help residents in the Midwest.
This, as their top brass gather in St. Thomas for a week-long spring conference. The half day meetings will leave and national leaders plenty of time to golf and relax. Oh, and the total bill to taxpayers, probably over $1 million which might not be so bad if the National Guard didn‘t already have a $10 billion budget shortfall.
Leaders of the National Guard not exactly leading by example:
Another reason Why America Hates Washington.
We‘re back with our look at who won the week on the campaign trail, next.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
Another wild week out of the campaign trail as Obama and McCain went for the jugular over everything from terrorist attacks to battery packs. The question tonight, and every Friday night: Who won the week—
Obama or McCain?
SMERCONISH (voice over): McCain senior strategist Charlie Black kicked off the week with what certainly won‘t be the last campaign blunder, telling a magazine that another terrorist attack on U.S. soil would be, quote, “a big advantage for McCain.”
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I cannot imagine why he would say it. It‘s not true.
SMERCONISH: While some on the left blasted McCain over those comments, a top evangelical went after Obama over his interpretation of the Bible.
OBAMA: Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK, but eating shell fish is an abomination.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JAMES DOBSON, EVANGELICAL LEADER: I think he‘s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world views, his own confused theology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The battle of interpretations switched gears from the Bible to the Constitution, as the Supreme Court ruled for individual gun rights.
MCCAIN: Obviously, I‘m very pleased about that decision.
SMERCONISH: And against executing child rapists.
OBAMA: It basically had a blanket prohibition and I disagree with that decision.
SMERCONISH: Obama also disagreed with John McCain‘s proposed $300 million prize for anyone who can come up with a new and improved car battery.
OBAMA: When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn‘t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win.
SMERCONISH: It didn‘t take a rocket scientist to realize Bill Clinton would eventually come on board for Obama, but his one-sentence statement of support this week made clear it‘s going to take a little more effort to convince him than it took to convince his wife.
CLINTON: The next president of the United States, Barack Obama.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
SMERCONISH: Our panel is still with us.
Ron Reagan, the Charlie Black statement, not a PC statement, but I took note of the fact that the very day he stepped in hot water, the Gallup/”USA Today” Survey came out, the only issue where McCain had a commanding lead in the internals over Barack Obama, terrorism. I mean, the fact of the matter is what Black said was accurate, not PC, but accurate.
REAGAN: Yes, but the problem was, he said it. You and I can talk about this, Charlie Black and John McCain and everybody else can think what they think, but to have that come out of your mouth in the middle of the campaign, big mistake.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Joe, you and I will disagree on this. I think it‘s a good thing for Barack Obama to be duking it out with James Dobson.
WATKINS: Do you really? I think it‘s bad. I think it‘s a win for McCain. I think it‘s a loss for Barack Obama.
What it shows me, James Dobson is one of the most respected Christian leaders in the country. There are millions of people in the country who are believers in the Bible, who listens to what he has to say. He has a long history as a Christian leader in the country.
So, for him to come out and say that Barack Obama‘s theology is confused is a blow to Barack Obama, especially given Reverend Wright.
SMERCONISH: But let me do Ron Reagan‘s work on this one, alright? The Republican Party needs to moderate. Well, it‘s enough of the fringes of our party dictating the course on which we‘re going to travel. This is a race that‘s going to be won in the middle. And that‘s why Obama is right, to have an arm-wrestling match with James Dobson.
WATKINS: I don‘t think so. At the end of the day, there are millions of Americans who believe that the Bible is the word of God. They believe the Bible. They may not be church-goers every single Sunday but at the end of the day, they believe the Bible.
REAGAN: So is Barack Obama, Joe.
WATKINS: Well, the challenge for Barack Obama is to overcome the
Jeremiah Wright controversy that -
SWEET: Oh, no, that‘s -
WATKINS: Well, I‘m saying that because people don‘t know Barack Obama that well and he did belong to the church for 20 years. He did finally separate himself from it.
SWEET: Well, hold on. You‘re slipping into—let‘s try and keep this a little fair fight here. And that is, people have been—there have been Talmudic discussions over just the first five books, much less everything else for centuries.
The idea that Obama is having a fight with Dobson over his theological beliefs, at least I suppose, makes it clear to people who don‘t know that he‘s a Christian, that he is at the least. But, I think it‘s slack and unfair to bring Reverend Wright into this.
WATKINS: I don‘t think so.
WATKINS: I‘m a pastor of a church. I mean, somebody would certainly judge a member of my church if I were saying crazy things on the stage.
SWEET: But we‘re talking about (INAUDIBLE) -- we‘re talking about
Bible, you‘re bringing up -
SMERCONISH: I want to get another one in here.
SMERCONISH: And it‘s the prize that was offered by John McCain for somebody who comes up with a battery that leapfrogs the electric or hybrid car. Won‘t the market itself kick in a lot more money, Ron Reagan, than $300 million? Do we really need government to write that check?
REAGAN: Well, and if government‘s going to write a check, why is it $300 million? Let‘s put in a few billion into this. Come on, let‘s think big here. This is a gimmick by John McCain. This is like his gas tax holiday, an illusion of movement.
SMERCONISH: Lynn Sweet, how do you think that plays here?
SWEET: Well, I want to say that maybe he‘ll have a bonus for journalists that write stories, that you could have all kind of sweepstakes here. It shows that he‘s trying to do something creative but it didn‘t quite rise to the level of captivating the nation. So, anything that lets Obama in a sense mock McCain isn‘t good for McCain.
SMERCONISH: Joe, defend your guy.
WATKINS: I‘ll gladly defend him. I think, at the end of the day, that this shows that John McCain is willing to be innovative and creative and he got to be. If he can get some creative scientists, some smart person to figure out a way to help us decrease our dependence on foreign oil and to help us get a gazillion miles to the gallon, that‘s a good thing for America.
Ultimately, it helps the planet and helps all us. So, I think it‘s just another way of John McCain showing, “You know what, I‘m willing to think outside the box. I‘m willing to be creative here and as commander in chief, I‘ll do the same.”
SMERCONISH: Bottom line, who won the week?
WATSON: I think John McCain did.
SMERCONISH: Ron Reagan, who won the week?
REAGAN: Barack Obama.
SMERCONISH: Lynn Sweet?
SWEET: Obama. The show today, there‘s—Unity was a big story.
SMERCONISH: Everybody is putting on their usual jerseys. Thank you, panel. We appreciate you being here. Thank you, Ron Reagan. Thank you, Lynn Sweet and Joe Watkins.
SMERCONISH: Coming up, the week‘s best late night jokes at the candidates‘ expense and the weeks‘ Winners & Losers, including a dubious honor for George W. Bush.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
The late night shows and YouTubers, one again giving it to the candidates. So, here, once again, our favorite campaign comedy of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMEDY CENTRAL)
DAVIS WHITE, DIRECTOR OF ADVANCE: Hey, I‘m David White, I‘m director for advance for Senator McCain, welcome to JohnMcCain.com. We‘re going to give you an exclusive tour to the Straight Talk Express.
JON STEWART, TV HOST: Oh (BEEP). Yo, yo, yo! Yo, skeeter, yo, slim. Get in here. McCain‘s about to take us on his bus, yo!
WHITE: It‘s 45 feet long, about 13 feet and three inches high.
We‘ve got 550 horsepower. He‘s got eight tires sitting on 22 inch rims.
Take that, Hollywood.
STEWART: Oh, damn, 22-inch rims, that‘s some standard size rims for a bus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG GERGUSON”/CBS)
CRAIG FERGUSON, TV HOST: Arnold Schwarzenegger may join McCain today. I know, it‘s very awkward moment when they shook hands and McCain‘s hand broke off.
FERGUSON: Did these guys think they have in common, you know, with their gorgeous wives, the Republican donors, the man boobs (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: I don‘t know if you had notice, but that John McCain now has got a bandage on his head. Did you see that? John McCain, the poor guy get a bandage on his head. Here‘s what happened. Apparently he tried to answer the iron. Ow!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘ve got a problem. I just get so angry when Democrats attack McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn‘t go and put the devil over John McCain. He is a lot angrier, he‘s a lot of a lot (ph) more, he has no honor.
OBAMA: We are the party of tomorrow. He‘s the party of yesterday.
He‘s the past, we‘re the future.
Who they got, John McCain?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”/ABC)
JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: She‘s got a huge debt and while I‘m sure she appreciates the sentiment behind it, the way Obama‘s camp is going about raising money, I think is a little insulting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: She‘s desperate, hopeless, alone. Her name is Hillary.
And she needs someone to make a difference in her life. Won‘t you help? Just nickel a day will give her a pant suit purchased on credit; 25 cents a day will pay off the campaign advisers who crafted her failed strategy; 50 cents will pay for one of those annoying 3 a.m. ads; and $1 a day will pay back a chunk of the $5 million that she loaned herself to stay in the race after it was obvious to everyone she had lost.
Please, give generously and help Hillary find her smile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL RAY, TV HOST: It is such an exciting, wonderful time to be an American. And I think that your campaign has really created this great wave, this great fervor.
STEWART: Thank you, Rachel.
STEWART: Now, show me again how slicing up a hot dog makes a nacho garnish that‘s, and I‘m quoting now, yummo (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN/NBC)
CONAN O‘BRIEN, TV HOST: Ralph Nader‘s in the news today. Ralph Nader attacked Barack Obama for refusing to accept public financing for his campaign. And said that Obama was too closely tied to big business. Yes. Yes. Then the guy sitting next to Nader on the park bench said, “Shut up.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: How do you battle against a hydro-headed beast like the media if you‘re Michelle Obama? You attack it head on—appearing on the cover of “Us” weekly, and of course, on “The View”.
MICHELLE OBAMA, SEN. OBAMA‘S WIFE: I have to be greeted properly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fist bump, please.
STEWART: And that is how all the women of “The View” became terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Up next, it‘s Friday, time for the week‘s Winners & Losers, featuring Guy Ritchie who may be “Super Ritchie” if he and Madonna get divorced. Reportedly, there‘s no pre-nup.
And Obama disses Scarlett Johansson, saying they never had an e-mail relationship. Ouch.
CHRISTINA BROWN, MSNBC ANCHOR: I‘m Christina Brown. Here‘s what‘s happening. The swollen Mississippi River burst through a levee in Winfield, Missouri, flooding farmland and threatening a hundred homes. Meantime severe storms killed two people in Iowa.
And the Justice Department settled a lawsuit filed by a former Army scientist who was named as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks. The government agreed to pay Dr. Stephen Hatfield $5.8 million.
Now back to Michael Smerconish.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back. I‘m Michael Smerconish in for Dan who‘s taken the night off. Time for this week‘s winners and losers. From Scarlett getting the brush off from Obama to Madonna‘s divorce drama and as Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft, San Francisco tries to give President Bush a smelly sendoff.
Who won and who lost this week? Joining us now, Chuck Nice from VH1‘s “Best Week Ever,” comedian and contributor to 23-6.com, Laurie Kilmartin and senior editor at “In Touch Weekly” Tom O‘Neil. Our first topic tonight, Madonna and Guy Ritchie calling it quits. Madonna has lined up Paul McCartney‘s divorce lawyer to start the process of ending their seven year marriage but according to “The Times” of London they did not have a prenup, staggering, which means the starting point for any divorce settlement would be a 50/50 split and Madonna‘s fortune is estimated at $600 million. Friends of Ritchie insists that he won‘t go after her Madonna‘s money but still he‘s likely to make out pretty good.
TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”: At least $100 million. But I think the big loser is Madonna because in the fine print I heard that Guy is going to insist she has to give up the fake British accent, the name Madge has got to go and all those fine British tweeds she wears and that little riding crop she carries has got to go. Our Madonna carries a whip, wears no clothes and has a bustier. That‘s it.
SMERCONISH: But Laurie, there‘s no Heather Mills in this.
LAURIE KILMARTIN, COMEDIAN: I think Madonna is a total winner. She should not be married anyway. I don‘t know why she wants to be married. She‘s leading a life most women wish she led. Why can‘t be she happy being a ho? God gave her lemonade and she‘s trying to make it into a lemon. Stop being a wife and enjoy your life.
SMERCONISH: Chuck, what do you think?
CHUCK NICE, VH1: I think that guy is - I‘m going to give him a sarcastic loser in the way—in the way that Kevin Federline is a loser for fathering children with Britney Spears, in the way that Larry Birkhead is a loser for being the father of her baby. Guy Richie, only $100 million? can you really make it on $100 million these days?
SMERCONISH: One movie that did well on his part, I‘m out of the loop, but one movie of his that I saw that was decent, that‘s it.
KILMARTIN: The first one, “Lock, Stock and” stump him, right?
NICE: And two smoking bums or whatever it was. It didn‘t make any money. Nobody knows who this guy is. He‘s married to Madonna and we still don‘t know who he is.
KILMARTIN: Yeah, Guy. Like I still think that‘s just an adjective.
That‘s not even his name.
SMERCONISH: The lawyer is-n me is she‘s turned to McCartney‘s lawyer to rattle the saber and get him to back off from Jump Street, to put the whole thing to bed before it gets started.
KILMARTIN: I think it‘s interesting these rock stars keep getting married in England because their spouses get a lot less money than they do in California.
SMERCONISH: Yeah, no doubt about it. Great issue. We‘ll move on to the next one. Up next, Scarlett Johansson dissed by supposed pen pal Barack Obama. The actress bragged to politico.com a few weeks ago that she and the senator exchanged e-mails and in one time he wrote to her and said that questions at one debate were, quote, “silly.” Obama shot down the story this week when he said Scarlett doesn‘t even have his personal e-mail address. Quote, “She sent me one e-mail that went to my personal assistant who forwarded it to me. I wrote back saying, you know, thank you for what you do. Suddenly, we‘ve got this e-mail relationship.”
Chuck, I think he was trying to avert any Clinton inferences right off the bat.
NICE: Of course it is. You know what, grow a set, Obama! You got the hottest woman in Hollywood who absolutely is exaggerating her e-mail relationship with you, when normally it‘s the opposite way. Normally guys are lying about the fact that they have a relationship with Scarlett Johansson. Her valet is telling people, I‘m seeing Scarlett Johansson. No, just because you physically see her doesn‘t mean you‘re in a relationship. Here she is lying about the fact that she has some kind of e-mail relationship with him and he says, let me set the record straight. You idiot.
KILMARTIN: I think she‘s a loser because wasn‘t—she doesn‘t understand that everyone in America gets an e-mail from Barack Obama.
SMERCONISH: I get 20 of them a day.
KILMARTIN: The next president is the king of Spam. So when he says, you, he means the global usted, not to Scarlett Johansson.
SMERCONISH: He was out there raising money in Hollywood this week. Maybe her friend in that community are going to feel like he didn‘t treat her so well. I don‘t know.
O‘NEIL: I look at it this way, I think he‘s moving up. I think he started with the original Obama girl, who was the singer, moving up to an actress. Could this be the whole Clinton thing? He would go after the big-haired, gum-snapping diner girls from Little Rock. Now we have a president with his priorities right.
SMERCONISH: Next up. Billionaire Bill Gates logging off at Microsoft today. The tech guru told NBC‘s Tom Brokaw he‘ll remain a key player in the computer corporation but plans to focus the bulk of his attention on his charity. But what else does Bill Gates have planned for his new-found free time? Recently he started in a celebrity studded spoof video about his retirement plans. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s good for the set, man. You want to let it go or keep going?
BILL GATES, MICROSOFT FOUNDER: Well, am I ready to take my shirt off?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not yet.
GATES: Big pimping, yeah, you know me.
JAY Z, RAPPER: Got it. Killin‘ ‘em, Billy G.
GATES: Thanks, Jay.
JAY Z: It was great. Not so much.
GATES: Hey, it‘s Bill.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bill Shatner of “Star Trek”?
GATES: No. The other Bill.
OBAMA: Bill Clinton?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Hey, Chuck, not the geek I made him out to be.
NICE: There‘s no way you can say that Bill Gates is a loser on any level.
NICE: And this was actually funny. Which, you know, here‘s a guy who is a billionaire, retiring and now he‘s got to rub it in my face by showing me that he doesn‘t know what he‘s going to do with his life. You know, like a 19-year-old who‘s actually trying to figure out his way. I hate you, Bill.
SMERCONISH: Hey, I want to show the three of you, a picture that ran in the “New York Times” today of the original Microsoft crew. Check this out. Gates is, I think, in the lower left hand corner of the screen when we get that thing up there. The only thing that I found to be missing from this picture—we don‘t have it? OK, well, we‘re going to find that picture. It‘s a group of people that you just wish would now dedicate themselves to solving the energy crisis in this country. In other words, we need his brain cells functioning on all of our behalf.
KILMARTIN: I think in this story, the loser is McCain because this is how bad the economy is. Bill Gates can‘t get a job? This is really depressing.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Tom, when he sees Steve Jobs getting all the money and all the glory, one wonders if he‘ll stay retired.
O‘NEIL: Well, I think that there is a job opening right here at MSNBC. Where is Dan Abrams tonight? He‘s so overworked, he has got to take a night off. I think there‘s a model at that other cable channel, with “Hannity & Colmes.” I think if Dan with accept a co-partnership with Bill Gates, it‘s a natural, MSNBC.
SMERCONISH: He‘s doing God‘s work with the charity so we give him lots of credit for what he‘s about to go do.
NICE: If he were to make the charity out of one little black comedian, I‘d be more than happy to accept .
KILMARTIN: You mean Gary Coleman? Oh, you, OK.
SMERCONISH: Or a bald talk show host.
NICE: There we go.
SMERCONISH: We can all use the scratch. We got a lot more issues coming your way to dissect. Everybody is staying with us. Coming up, more of the week‘s winners and losers, including the worst shows on television and George Bush‘s memorial sewage treatment plant. We‘re back in just 60 seconds.
SMERCONISH: Now to “Reality Bites.” A dose of reality caught on tape. Tonight, the art of air guitar. These would-be lead guitarists don‘t need to work an instrument to get a crowd worked up. In fact, fans packed the venue to pretend to watch people rock out. It was all part of an air guitar contest in Paris this week. The competition was tough and the lucky winner got an ironic first place prize, a real guitar. We‘ll be right back with the week‘s winners and losers.
SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back. We‘re reviewing the week‘s winners and losers with our all-star panel. Our next topic, it is the dog days of summer and the networks are dragging out some of the best and worst TV has to offer. Over on ABC, two of the worst, “Wipeout” which has contestants humiliating themselves as they struggle to get through obstacle courses and life isn‘t much better for the participants of “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” who have been shipped off to Tokyo to be shamed.
Over on NBC, the Hoff, David Hasselhoff is back on “America‘s Got Talent” doling out judgment on the talented and the talentless. While washed up celebrities are put to the test doing circus tricks on “Celebrity Circus.” Also on NBC, a controversial new reality show called “Baby Borrowers” has teenage couples scared straight when they‘re given babies to raise for a three-week trial period. Laurie, what do you make of it?
KILMARTIN: I think it‘s winner city. I don‘t know why they‘re shopping with babies with teenagers. I think they should give member a mortgage they can‘t afford, a spouse who hates them and a drinking problem. That‘s my life right there. And the thing with the Japanese show, they should have a show where Japanese people come here and they go on “Wheel of Fortune” and the only letters they can buy are “L” and “R”.
SMERCONISH: It reminds me of that Massachusetts town, Gloucester, Mass, where they say 17 girls in high school are pregnant. I like the idea of putting them on that show to change a few diapers. Maybe that would have scared them straight.
NICE: This show is genius because any time the fact any time you can slough off your kids on somebody else for three weeks and get paid for it, that‘s awesome.
O‘NEIL: But you are putting teens, infants in the care of teenagers who have the same collective judgment—these are the people who gave us Taylor Hicks as the star of “American Idol.”
SMERCONISH: Easy to sit back and complain about it, the garbage on TV—people watch it and they wouldn‘t put it on. That‘s the bottom line.
NICE: Yeah, well, ABC, you know, the two shows they have coming out, one would have been excellent if they had gone with the right host. Which was me. Because I was up for that job. It was me and three other guys. That‘s what it got down to. Let me just say, ABC, you made a mistake. The show sucks.
KILMARTIN: Shame on you, ABC.
NICE: Shame on you.
KILMARTIN: You know, “Celebrity Circus” makes you not want to be famous.
It‘s like, there goes my last dream. Why would you want to do that?
NICE: Exactly. You know, I‘ve always wanted to run away and join the circus and now I have to get famous to do it so that would be cool.
SMERCONISH: Our next topic, San Francisco wants to pay tribute, quote/unquote, doing the finger thing to President Bush when he leaves office next January. Listen to this. Citizen group is seeking to get an initiative on the ballot to rename a major city structure after the 43rd president. Yes, the local water pollution plant in San Francisco may soon be named the George W. Bush sewage plant. They‘re asking all San Franciscans to participate in a, quote, synchronized flush on inauguration day. They say that would be a fitting monument to this president‘s work. Chuck?
NICE: No! No! First of all, the people of San Francisco, great town that it is, they got it wrong. This administration has had an abysmal record when it comes to the ecology. And sanitation water treatment centers, don‘t they clean up water? This is just .
SMERCONISH: This is an honor.
NICE: This would be an honor for the Bush administration. You‘re actually doing the opposite. You‘re doing something that would honor what he thinks he has done. Now, if it were the George W. Bush raw sewage dumping plant, I‘m all for it.
SMERCONISH: I guess it falls to me to defend the guy, knowing this would be in bad taste. I‘m the skinhead here, it comes with my territory. Tom, what do you think?
O‘NEIL: I think the winner is us, the citizens, who knew we had the power to name the most horrible place in town for the person we hate the most. Let‘s say the town dump, you don‘t like Donald Trump, it‘s the Donald Trump Dump, and now think of the prison for the criminally insane. Who would you give that to?
KILMARTIN: Dick Cheney. I think all awful things should be named after George Bush. If you have a chancre sore in your mouth, call it President Bush. And when it clears you can call it Barack Obama.
SMERCONISH: History may judge him far better than we‘re judging him here tonight. Don‘t you think?
NICE: I think it would be wrong to name anything like that after any president. You still have to respect the authority of the office.
SMERCONISH: Thanks, Chuck.
KILMARTIN: No, you don‘t. No, you don‘t.
O‘NEIL: I‘m with Laurie.
SMERCONISH: Mayor Gavin Newsom and a whole host of folks don‘t want this to happen. They think it will be a bad reflection on the town.
O‘NEIL: It‘s in poor form, to be honest.
KILMARTIN: I think that‘s what everyone thinks San Francisco is like anyway. I‘m from there. I don‘t think it‘s a poor reflection. It‘s an accurate depiction of the hatred.
SMERCONISH: Everybody is staying with us. Up next. We continue with this week‘s winners and losers. Maybe another beach brawl. Wait till you hear this, oh man. Brewing between the paparazzi and surfers defending Matthew McConaughey
And Boy George has offered to sweep New York City streets again if the U.S. will only reconsider granting his visa request.
SMERCONISH: We‘re back, dealing the week‘s winners and losers with our all-star panel.
Our next topic, the paparazzi versus surfers in Malibu, defending the privacy of Matthew McConaughey. Last weekend Matthew‘s surfer buddies got in a brawl with photographers taking pictures of the actor while he tried to catch a wave. Now things could get ugly again this weekend as threats are flying back and forth online there‘s going to be another rumble on the beach between these two groups. Tom? Sounds like it‘s something out of a movie.
O‘NEIL: It really does. Do we need another picture of Matthew McConaughey without his shirt? Come on.
KILMARTIN: As women, yes, we do. How dare you step in on that? That‘s outrageous. I‘m leaving this show.
SMERCONISH: You would take on the surfers, in other words?
KILMARTIN: Yes, yes.
SMERCONISH: There was a movie years ago, I think with Patrick Swayze where bank robbers were surfer dudes and they wore masks like American presidents.
NICE: “Point Break.”
SMERCONISH: Is that what it was?
NICE: “Point Break.”
SMERCONISH: That was an awesome flick.
NICE: Yeah, and I would rather hang out with those surfers in that movie than these nimrods. Just because you hang out at the beach every day doesn‘t mean you own it, moon doggy. I hate to break it to you. If people want to take a picture of Matthew McConaughey, they should be able to.
SMERCONISH: They get out of control, the paparazzi type, right?
NICE: Maybe they were just going to the beach, did you ever think of that?
KILMARTIN: The paparazzi going to the beach and they happened to stumble upon a celebrity in Malibu? Are you that gullible? Now I know why you didn‘t get that show.
SMERCONISH: Is that a lens or are you happy to see me?
KILMARTIN: How about instead of obsessing with taking a good picture of Matthew McConaughey someone put him in a good picture so I can watch him for two hours.
SMERCONISH: Could be tomorrow morning. Big brawl in Malibu. Who knows?
We‘ll find out as the weekend event unfold.
One more, one last topic. Eighties pop icon Boy George denied a visa by immigration officials to enter the U.S. earlier this week, effectively shutting down his plans for a summer tour until he gets his impending criminal matter resolved in the U.K. I know, you slipped out for tickets, right? This gets better. George was arrested last year in London on charges of assault and false imprisonment of a male escort. He appeared on the “Today Show” this morning where he was supposed to kick off the summer tour. Look at that hat. He said he hopes he gets his visa soon.
KILMARTIN: He‘s ready for summer.
NICE: Oh, I am—I am completely and utterly crest-fallen. What am I going to do with all this makeup now? I went out and bought a brand new set of makeup and androgynous clothes so I could see George—what‘s his last name? Boy George.
KILMARTIN: Calm down, Boy Chuck.
O‘NEIL: The big surprise is that he has enough fans for a tour. Come on. This was a guy who had a kitsch act in the ‘80s he was like Tiny Tim without the ukulele, who knew that 20 years ago later there are enough people to fill concert halls?
SMERCONISH: I would love to know the venue sizes. I was thinking the same thing.
KILMARTIN: Our economy is in the tanker. This guy pays people to have sex with him. How can we turn him away? We should bring him to Las Vegas to pump up the local economy. If he pays in euros, all the better.
SMERCONISH: The allegation is false imprisonment of the escort. He handcuffed the guy or some such thing and wouldn‘t let him ...
NICE: What he calls foreplay.
KILMARTIN: There you go.
SMERCONISH: I love the hat.
O‘NEIL: The hat is very festive.
SMECONISHJ: Did you see that?
O‘NEIL: You would look good in that hat.
SMERCONISH: There it is. I don‘t know what‘s going on with the green things there. That‘s Boy George this morning on the “Today Show” announcing the cancellation of the tour. Saying he would love to come if only he could sweep the streets.
NICE: Something is wrong when people are willing to come and clean up our town are turned away. This guy wants to clean up New York City for free and we tell him no. But yet Naomi Campbell can come here and smash people in the face with a cell phone.
KILMARTIN: Tell Lou Dobbs this is a good immigrant. This is one we want.
SMERCONISH: This is my question. Who would be the opening act for the Boy George tour summer 2008?
NICE: All I‘ve got to tell you, Michael, is never say opening act and then Boy George.
NICE: I don‘t want to go into why. I‘m just letting you know you don‘t do that.
SMERCONISH: Could be Madonna after the whole Guy Ritchie divorce. Who knows?
KILMARTIN: Probably be Guy Ritchie. Let‘s be honest.
O‘NEIL: He‘ll be looking for a job.
SMERCONISH: Right, Guy Ritchie and then Boy George and then Madonna would be the next. Final thoughts on Boy George before we say good night. It‘s been a great show.
O‘NEIL: I want to know why he needs a visa. We don‘t need a visa to go over there. Are they pulling a fast one on him? Are they saying we don‘t want you?
NICE: It‘s the visa.
SMERCONISH: What he ought to do is go to Mexico and cross the border like everybody else has been doing.
KILMARTIN: That‘s the way you came into this country, gosh darn it.
SMERCONISH: Easy enough. What a great crew you are. Thank you so much for being here. A good Friday night. We wish you a great weekend. Thank you to Chuck Nice and Laurie Kilmartin and Tom O‘Neil. That‘s all the time for tonight.
Good news. Dan Abrams will be back in the saddle next week. Have a great weekend, everybody. And look out for those surfers in Malibu, whether they get in that brawl or not. Good night.
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