Guests: Erika Harold, Penn Jillette, Flavia Colgan, Bill Bradley, Horace Cooper, Larry Flynt
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, HOST: And welcome to SATURDAY FINAL, I am Lawrence O’Donnell. If you want to be governor of California, you have got less than an hour to get your $3,500 and 65 signatures down in your county office and get your name on the recall ballot. The biggest name on the ballot? Arnold Schwarzenegger turned in his signatures earlier this morning, and he has turned the California recall into the biggest story of the week, and maybe the biggest story of the rest of the year. Do we have a tape of that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I’m running for governor and I promise you that I will be the people’s governor, the people’s governor. I will be there for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: It’s politics Hollywood style. So far this election has been more about show business than politics, which is no doubt why “Hustler” publisher Larry Flynt got his name on the ballot. He is going to be with us later in the show. And before I bring the panel in, I want to get this thing in perspective, where it stands right now with the man who knows California politics, I think, better than anyone else. “L.A. Weekly” columnist Bill Bradley.
Bill, we just had the late breaking development that a Democrat, one Democrat decided not to get on the ballot, John Garamendi.
BILL BRADLEY, “L.A. WEEKLY” POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. Ironically, Garamendi might have been the most substantively qualified of the two Democrats who looked ready to run. But of course, he’s out now, and we’re off and running with everybody else.
O’DONNELL: Which leaves the Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante as the only known Democrat on the list with an hour left in the filing, and the dreams of Dianne Feinstein getting on the ballot having faded a while ago and disappearing.
BRADLEY: I think it is essentially disappeared. I’m told by some top Democrats this afternoon that she will not file. This is really-I may be embarrassed in 45 minutes, but I doubt it. This is really not her sort of thing. She hates chaos. She loves Washington. And the idea of coming back here and campaigning in a tumultuous rock ‘n’ roll festival type campaign against Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot be appealing.
O’DONNELL: OK, Bill. Assuming no bombshells the rest of this hour on candidates, what’s the top tier-what’s the “A” list of candidates right now? People who can actually win this thing?
BRADLEY: Well, I’m going to cheat by looking at my little list here on the Blackberry. Because we have so many people, I don’t want to-I want to make sure I don’t leave anyone out. But clearly the “A” list candidates, the frontrunners have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Republicans. Bill Simon would also have to be rated a top tier candidate, because in the past last year, he was the Republican nominee, and came relatively close...
O’DONNELL: What Bill-what percent of those votes did Simon get in the general election?
BRADLEY: He got 42 percent and Davis got 47 percent. So it was much closer than expected. And then the final top tier candidate, of course would be the Democrats’ hope if the recall does actually pass, the lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante.
O’DONNELL: So, that’s are-that’s your top three.
O’DONNELL: And the Gray Davis’s name is not on that list because he could not actually get his name on the ballot. Gray Davis wins only if the recall doesn’t pass.
BRADLEY: That’s right. He cannot run to succeed himself.
O’DONNELL: OK. Who else is a serious factor in this race? Let’s call it the “B” list.
BRADLEY: The “B” list, the other, the second tier would have to be Tom McClintock, a popular right wing state senator from Southern California who will strongly contest Bill Simon for the conservative vote that Simon hoped to have locked up. Arianna Huffington, our friend the commentator, the one time conservative diva, who has now become the la passionaria of the California left. Peter Camejo, the Green Party nominee last year who got 5 percent of the vote as a protest vote, and in some polls I’ve seen is up to 8 percent. And then Peter Ueberroth, who is a late entrant into this race. He, of course, ran the very successful L.A. Olympics in 1984 and was commissioner of baseball in the 1980s, but we haven’t heard much from him in recent years.
O’DONNELL: Now, Ueberroth seems to be the kind of guy who can raise money fast for an election like this.
BRADLEY: Possibly. To be perfectly frank, I’ve not spoken with the man for eight years and do not really know what he has been doing until the last few days. I’m told he’s been a successful business person, but he’s been really out of public view. And If people do not think that he has the ability to contest very strongly, it will be hard for him to raise money.
O’DONNELL: Bill Bradley, you were on the campaign trail with Arnold this week before you knew it was a campaign trail. You were at “The Tonight Show” in the pressroom...
O’DONNELL: ...when he made that announcement. What was it like in that room?
BRADLEY: Well, people were stunned. People-virtually every journalist in America was convinced he was not running. I, of course, was not. I didn’t know for sure that he was running. In our conversations, he did not tell me for certain that he was running, but it was clear that he really wanted to run and was working hard to find a way to make it happen, but the press was absolutely stunned, as were his consultants. I mean, when I arrived at the Burbank studio, one of his top advisers asked me if I thought he was going to run. And I thought he was kidding, but it became apparent that even at that late date, his top team of advisers who helped elect Pete Wilson governor and senator four times were unaware of what his final decision would be. He’s really running as his own man.
O’DONNELL: All right, Bill, stay with us, and now I want to bring in our panelists this week. They are Democratic political analyst Flavia Colgan, and Horace Cooper who has a column on GOPUSA.com. Penn Jillette of “Penn & Teller,” and the current Miss America, Erika Harold.
Erika Harold, you have got what-like a month left, two months left?
ERIKA HAROLD, MISS AMERICA: I’ve got six weeks left, it’s coming to an end for me.
O’DONNELL: And that’s not because of a recall. That’s because...
HAROLD: No, no.
O’DONNELL: ... of a fair election.
HAROLD: Absolutely. A fair selection process, no recall.
O’DONNELL: OK, panel. Let’s take a look at Maria Shriver in her very first campaign appearance today beside her husband.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA SHRIVER, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S WIFE: I wanted to say how proud I am of my husband for his courage to enter this race, for his commitment to the people of California. I think he is a serious, compassionate, smart, calm, compassionate man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: She is so good. I wish-I wish she was getting on the ballot. I would be so quick to vote for Maria. But, you know, panel, she talks about courage. It took courage for Arnold to get into this race. But isn’t Arnold really the Cowardly Lion in this one? Look, think about it. He was afraid to run just a year ago in a real campaign in the general election because he was afraid he would lose the Republican nomination to Bill Simon, someone more conservative than him. Then he was afraid that he would lose the general election to Gray Davis, because in a general election, I’m sorry, but you need 51 percent of the vote, not 15, like he can use to win two months from now.
And today, still today, and since this thing started, he is desperately afraid to talk about any issues at all in this campaign. Cowardly Lion? What do you think, Horace? Let me hear from Horace Cooper, he is the Republican who is going to defend Arnold right now. Go ahead.
HORACE COOPER, GOPUSA.COM: Of course, let me eat a little crow. I predicted last week that Arnold would not run.
O’DONNELL: As we all did, as we all did.
PENN JILLETTE, CATO INSTITUTE: No, no. I didn’t. I didn’t.
O’DONNELL: What did you say?
COOPER: You didn’t care.
JILLETTE: I said I didn’t care at all, and that’s much closer to what is going on right now than anyone else, what anyone else said.
COOPER: I care.
O’DONNELL: All right. Let me listen to Horace to see if he agrees with me that this is the most cowardly political thing...
COOPER: Not at all. Not at all.
O’DONNELL: ... he could possibly have mounted.
COOPER: This is probably the most adroit, clever, sophisticated effort. This head fake on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s part is just phenomenal. You have got Di Fi getting out of the race and any other prominent Democrat not having any time to get things together. The entire Democratic Party in the state of California is in disarray.
O’DONNELL: But is it courageous or cowardly, courageous or cowardly, pick one of those.
COOPER: I predict, I predict...
O’DONNELL: Horace, is it courageous or cowardly?
COOPER: It is-it is phenomenally courageous.
O’DONNELL: OK, Flavia Colgan, courageous or cowardly?
FLAVIA COLGAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: I have to agree with-I have to agree with Horace. I think this is extremely politically savvy. He wouldn’t have done well.
O’DONNELL: Is it-we know it’s savvy because he can win with 15 percent of the vote. Everybody, listen to the question. We know it’s savvy. We know the show business part has been great. The question, listen. Is it courageous or is it cowardly? Because he is afraid to run in a real election.
COLGAN: Two. One, I think it’s courageous because there is going to be every person researching every tax return...
O’DONNELL: That’s right.
COLGAN: ... corporate and otherwise. His dealings with women, his supposed womanizing. I think the part that shows cowardice is the fact that all he speaks about is in platitudes and cliches and quotes from movies, and he refuses to give specific details, policy, you know, answers for how he plans to deal with the very serious problems facing California.
O’DONNELL: OK. Erika Harold, Erika Harold. Arnold’s candidacy is a gauntlet thrown at the doorstep of “The National Enquirer.” Just because...
HAROLD: You said that so well.
O’DONNELL: ...just because he is inviting “The National Enquirer” back into American politics to study his background, is that the only thing that makes this courageous?
HAROLD: No, I think any time someone submits their name for a political office and intends to run a substantive campaign, it is courageous, because they do so knowing that they are going to be scrutinized and that they-they are going to lose a lot of popularity. He’s one of the most popular action figures in movies today.
O’DONNELL: That’s right.
HAROLD: And he has a lot to gain-has a lot to lose at this point.
And I think it is courageous.
O’DONNELL: OK, Penn Jillette, you’ve been squirming. Is he courageous or cowardly?
JILLETTE: He has nothing to lose. And I don’t even think he wanted to run for governor. I don’t think it’s savvy. What Bill was saying was they didn’t even know when he went in. I have been on “The Tonight Show,” I don’t know, over a dozen times, whatever, Letterman and all that stuff. When you are out there, you are terrified. You need to keep things interesting. You need a joke.
I think that Leno asked him a question. He didn’t have a joke. He had no place to go so he said, what the hell? I’ll run for governor.
Knowing he would get a strong reaction. I was backed into a corner on
Letterman. I dumped cockroaches over him. You’re panicked out there;
you’ll say anything. Now he has got to pay for not having a joke on Leno
by running like a fool for governor of California.
O’DONNELL: All right, all right.
JILLETTE: It’s not courageous. It’s built out of panic.
O’DONNELL: We are going to hold it right there. That brings us to the exit quiz for this segment for both the panel and the audience. The exit quiz is, which of the following candidates for governor of California has actually seen combat, been in a real live fire situation? Is it Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican millionaire Bill Simon, or Arianna Huffington? The answer right after we come back from this break. You are watching SATURDAY FINAL on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: My decision, obviously, this is a very difficult decision to make, and it was the most difficult decision that I have made in my entire life, it’s the one in 1978, when I decided to get a bikini wax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Welcome back to SATURDAY FINAL. OK, for our quiz answer we are going to go to Bill Bradley in Sacramento, California political expert. Now let’s just remember the question is, we know that one of the candidates in this campaign has played a soldier in the movies and has been in an awful lot of combat but always wearing make-up and carrying toy guns. Who among the following candidates for governor today has actually been in combat? Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Simon, or Arianna Huffington? Bill Bradley, the answer, please.
BRADLEY: The answer actually is none.
O’DONNELL: None of the above.
BRADLEY: That’s correct. Gray Davis, I’ve known him for over 20 years. I’m friendly with him. He’s a terrific guy. He did serve in Vietnam. He does have a Bronze Star for meritorious service, not for valor in combat. He was not a front line combat officer. He was a Signal Corps officer, and he’s told me that helicopter he traveled in moving from unit to unit to check out the radios may have been fired upon from below on occasion, but he was not actually in combat.
O’DONNELL: But that is as dangerous a situation as anyone else on that list has ever been in their lives, isn’t it?
BRADLEY: Well, we don’t know. I mean...
O’DONNELL: Well, when Gray Davis was in Vietnam in helicopters getting shot at, Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Venice Beach and the biggest worry he had in his life was how the bikini wax was turning out, right?
BRADLEY: Yeah, I think, though, actually Schwarzenegger also was in the army-it happened to be the Austrian army.
O’DONNELL: OK, all right.
BRADLEY: But Gray would never describe himself as a combat officer.
O’DONNELL: That’s because he’s a modest man. All right, joining me now is Wayne Johnson, the lead strategist for Bill Simon, who just joined the campaign today. Wayne Johnson, candidate Simon once again, this is a rerun; he ran for governor last year, came close, couldn’t pull it off. Do you have a new strategy this time?
WAYNE JOHNSON, STRATEGIST, BILL SIMON CAMPAIGN: Oh, certainly. I think that a recall election is quite different than a general election. You are right, he did come very close after having $60 million of mud thrown at him. But there are a lot of things that are different this time. Governor Gray Davis wasn’t truthful about the budget, the size of the budget deficit, the size of the problems in Sacramento. He was not truthful about Bill Simon. And I think the voters understand that now.
O’DONNELL: What are you going to do differently? For example, you guys were dragged through a month-long controversy about, is candidate Simon going to release his tax returns? You saw Arnold Schwarzenegger getting one of his very first questions on “The Today Show” the other day about releasing his tax returns. And suddenly, and I don’t know if this is true or not, his audio wasn’t working and he was saying to Matt Lauer, I can’t hear you. Do you guys have a better answer to Matt Lauer than “I can’t hear you” if he demands to see you tax returns.
JOHNSON: Am I allowed to do that?
O’DONNELL: Yes. Yes. You want to do it now? How is your audio right now?
JOHNSON: I think that-I think that I was not on the campaign with Bill Simon last year so I can’t speak to those issues. But I do believe that in a 60-day campaign, the sort of issues that we’re going trough right now about tax returns and those sorts of things really are going to frankly take second place, as you know, I realize...
O’DONNELL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but are you going to release them? Because obviously, that’s the demand that’s on the table for all candidates right now. Is Bill Simon going to quickly release his tax returns and get it over with?
JOHNSON: He already has.
O’DONNELL: You already have. When?
JOHNSON: Bill Simon already has.
JOHNSON: That’s a good question.
JOHNSON: Bill Simon...
O’DONNELL: He’s got a new one. He’s got this year’s April 15.
JOHNSON: He is not done yet.
O’DONNELL: OK, he is not done yet, he’s got an extension? OK.
O’DONNELL: What’s your strategy against Schwarzenegger? You are going to be-you are running on Schwarzenegger’s right. What is your strategy?
JOHNSON: Well, I think that it’s very important to understand that a recall election brings out base voters. There’s going to be a variety of candidates on this ballot, they are going to be taking a variety of positions, but when voters go in and vote on question A, the Republicans — they are going to be looking for the Republican on the ballot that most conforms to their own views. What needs to be done? And it’s not going to be a popularity contest, it’s going to be a question of who do they believe has a plan, who is prepared to walk into the governor’s office, make the kind of cuts that are going to be necessary.
O’DONNELL: Now that in the last campaign, that plan remained a mystery. Bill Simon never got terribly specific about what he was going to do with the budget in California. Is he going to give us line item specificity this time? And if so, when?
JOHNSON: The situation has deteriorated so much. We are in a real fiscal crisis in California. As he said today, in his announcement, everything is on the table as far as cuts.
O’DONNELL: OK, so that’s pretty specific. There’s not a single thing he wouldn’t cut. He would cut elementary education, for example?
JOHNSON: What he said today was that if you can show us a budget that doesn’t have any waste, that does not have any fraud, that does not have any mismanagement, then that should be off the table. But you have got to go in willing to make cuts in every area, every department is going to have to go through and make that kind of critical analysis. This is a financial crisis unlike anything else we have ever faced.
O’DONNELL: When are we going to see? When do you think we are going to see your first TV ads?
JOHNSON: I think the first TV ads in the campaign are going to start very soon. I don’t think they’re going to be coming from us.
O’DONNELL: OK, and do you accept Arianna Huffington’s pledge today to spend no more than $10 million?
JOHNSON: I’m sorry, I wasn’t familiar with that pledge. I just saw her in the hotel this morning...
O’DONNELL: She (UNINTELLIGIBLE). When she was trying to muscle Arnold out of the picture on the steps of today, when Arnold was going up with his signatures, Arianna pledged to limit limit her spending. She pledged to limit her spending to $10 million. Is that something you will agree to?
JOHNSON: We had that option when we filed our paperwork and we chose not to check that box.
O’DONNELL: All right.
JOHNSON: That is the spending limit.
O’DONNELL: So wait? So you’re not going to have a spending limit on your campaign?
O’DONNELL: OK. We’re going to leave it right there. We are going to watch very carefully how you spend that money, you don’t have a long time to do it. When we come back, we will get our panel’s winners and losers. Stay with us right here, on SATURDAY FINAL.
O’DONNELL: Welcome back to SATURDAY FINAL. It’s time to go to the panel for this week’s winners and losers. Penn Jillette, your winner and loser of this week.
JILLETTE: My winner is L.O.D. Lawrence O’Donnell junior. Because finally...
O’DONNELL: Me? I’m your winner?
JILLETTE: You were my loser a few weeks ago for not giving a stupid...
O’DONNELL: Let me check my pockets. What did I-what did I win, what?
JILLETTE: You won because you are not able to challenge Arnold Schwarzenegger on looks, money, success, strength, lifting heavy things, and anything. Name recognition, but you can challenge him now for political chat. You can rip him apart for politics. Until he wins, you absolutely are the winner in this battle against Arnold.
O’DONNELL: So I’m your winner?
O’DONNELL: ... for taking on Arnold, successfully so far in your view.
JILLETTE: I think, very successfully.
O’DONNELL: OK, go ahead. Who is your loser?
JILLETTE: My loser is the Wayne County Chandler Park Family Aquatic Park security staff in Detroit who busted or tried to bring in police to bust a 3-year-old girl for not wearing a top in a swimming pool.
O’DONNELL: No, they didn’t.
JILLETTE: They said a topless 3-year-old had to be thrown out because she might tempt pedophiles. And they called the police. And to the wonder of it, the police were cool about it and said, no, no, no, she’s 3 years old. But the security people wanted to bust a 3-year-old for being topless in a public pool.
O’DONNELL: OK, Flavia Colgan, your winner and loser.
COLGAN: My winner for this week is Howard Dean. He was on the front of “Newsweek,” on the front of “TIME.” And on shows like this not that long ago, he was considered a long shot, and now he’s at the front of the pack. He could be peaking early and another Paul Tsongas, but for this week, he’s definitely a winner.
And my loser is California. As if having a crippling budget deficit and hemorrhaging population weren’t bad enough, they’re now playing a starring role in a TV reality circus with porn stars and Gary Coleman and everyone jumping into the race.
JILLETTE: Where’s the porn star?
COLGAN: She just-she got in today. I think her name is Carey.
JILLETTE: Just Carey?
COLGAN: She showed up-she showed up to get her things with her American flag around her breast,s and then Arianna knocked over the mic today. So this is just becoming more ridiculous with every day that passes.
O’DONNELL: All right. We get it-we get it. Erika Harold, Miss America, the only real winner among us. This week’s winner and loser.
HAROLD: My winner this week was the people of Liberia. If President Taylor actually leaves on August 11 like he said he would, then the people of Liberia will have for the first time in 14 years an opportunity to be free from some of the oppression and degradation the regime has brought about.
My loser this week was Gray Davis. I don’t think anybody had a worse week. The state Supreme Court refused to intervene. He is facing opposition within his own party. And it was just a bad week to be Gray Davis.
O’DONNELL: Horace Cooper, your winner and loser.
COOPER: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, is going to be the next governor of California. His start this week was phenomenal and I think it only goes up higher from here.
O’DONNELL: Your loser?
COOPER: My loser is Gray Davis, just as Erika said. And Lawrence, I said to you last week, you would get more votes than him because Gray is not allowed to get any votes. He either will be retained or recalled, and he is going to be recalled. And he is at 20 percent today, and he is only heading downward. He is the loser of this week.
O’DONNELL: OK. But the really big loser, the bigger loser than Gray Davis was Darrell Issa, the Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who spent $1.7 million of his own money to pay $1 per signature for everyone of those recall petitions signatures, and then ended up crying his way out of the race this week, as soon as Arnold Schwarzenegger got in. No worse loser than that.
Larry Flynt is going to be with us when we come back right here on SATURDAY FINAL. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA ®, CALIFORNIA: To work on issues of national importance, and it is my desire. It’s my desire, it’s my desire to see that the recall continues, that Gray Davis is recalled and that California has a brighter day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Welcome back to SATURDAY FINAL. Joining me now is the publisher of “Hustler” magazine and candidate for governor of California, Larry Flynt. Larry, let’s start off with the question that stumped Arnold Schwarzenegger. Are you going to let us take a look at your tax returns?
LARRY FLYNT, “HUSTLER” PUBLISHER: Absolutely. I have no problem with that. But, I would like to add that all of this populist rhetoric that you’ve been hearing from Arnold and the other candidates, not one single person that’s entered this campaign has come up with a plan to balance the budget.
O’DONNELL: And you-Larry, you have a plan. You have been more specific than anyone else so far. What is your plan?
FLYNT: Well, I think that California gaming regulations should be expanded to authorize slot machines to private casinos. This will provide about $3 billion a year income stream, which you could easily take to Wall Street and float a bond issue that will totally retire the deficit.
O’DONNELL: Wait, Larry. So California casinos do not have slot machines?
FLYNT: No. They do not.
O’DONNELL: That’s the big cash cow in Vegas is the slot machine, right?
O’DONNELL: But hardly ...
FLYNT: And of course, Vegas would ...
O’DONNELL: Let me just get numbers in perspective though. There’s a $38 billion budget deficit in California. The revenue from gambling in California now runs around $5 billion or so. How do you tax an amount ...
O’DONNELL: ... let’s say that doubles from slot machines. Let’s say it is $10 billion. How do you tax that enough to get you the numbers we need?
FLYNT: Well, see, what you do is you go to Wall Street and you float a bond issue based on the income stream that you would have.
O’DONNELL: OK. So what you’re saying is you would use that revenue tax to basically pay the loan ...
O’DONNELL: ... that pay the interest on the loan on what you could do for the budget.
FLYNT: But, meanwhile, the important issue here is no one’s taxes will get raised and no important social programs will be cut.
O’DONNELL: What programs, Larry, what programs would you be willing to cut?
FLYNT: I’m not so interested in cutting as I am making some modifications. Immigration is a huge problem in California. I think the immigrants-illegal immigrants here should be allowed to stay. But then I think we should shut the border down, even if it means using the National Guard.
O’DONNELL: But, that’s all federal, Larry. That’s all federal stuff. I mean, this-it reminds me-you’re reminding me of Schwarzenegger on the first day when he said he wanted to fix health care for old people. That’s Medicare. A federal program.
FLYNT: No, no, no. The state has a lot to do with illegal immigrants, because don’t forget, they’re paying medical benefits, they’re paying educational benefits. There is a lot of benefits ...
O’DONNELL: Do you think they should be allowed to have driver’s licenses? That’s an issue in California now.
FLYNT: The people that are here, yes. I’m talking about, you need a cut off point. And that cut off point, you should set a date for it. And then we should live by and it have an orderly immigration system. And I think the federal government will work with the state of California on this matter.
O’DONNELL: Larry, I just-you are, by now, by the way, in the last three minutes, you’ve just established yourself as the most specific candidate running for governor of California so far. I have one more question. Does it take courage for you to run for governor? People are saying it takes great courage for Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for governor. Is that what it took for you to do it?
FLYNT: Absolutely not. I mean, I’ve been involved in politics most of my adult life. But, Lawrence, I want to address one other problem which is extremely important. In the last two decades in California, we’ve spent billions of dollars building prisons to do nothing but warehouse people. More money needs to be spent on intervention and less on incarceration. It costs much more to incarcerate people than it does to treat them. So there’s a lot of areas that we can save money in.
O’DONNELL: OK. There’s another issue Larry Flynt is talking about. A different approach to imprisonment in California. Let’s get panel in here. Penn Jillette coming to us from Las Vegas, Nevada. You know a little something about gambling. Do you think gambling can be the solution to California’s money problems? And do you think Larry is the guy to get us that solution?
JILLETTE: Well, you know, I love Larry. He is a ...
O’DONNELL: Tell Larry. Larry’s still with us.
JILLETTE: Oh, and Larry ...
O’DONNELL: Address Larry.
JILLETTE: ... you know I’m a big hero, you’re a big hero of mine, Larry, and I like all you’re talking about. I really wish that all the candidates would actually give specifics. But as a person sitting in Las Vegas, Nevada, where slot machines pay everyone’s salary here ...
O’DONNELL: Including yours, Penn Jillette.
JILLETTE: Including mine. We really don’t want slot machines in California. Speaking for Nevada, we do not want slot machines in California. So, no. You won’t make any money from them. No one will use them. You’ll just waste it. You’ll throw it away. Don’t do slot machines. You’ll lose all your money. Let us take that burden. Please, Larry. Please.
O’DONNELL: Larry ...
FLYNT: We know we would have a huge problem from Nevada because ...
JILLETTE: You would declare war on Nevada.
FLYNT: They’ve put up a lot of money to keep Vegas style gambling out of California.
O’DONNELL: Well, Larry, you know, one thing that Arnold talks about generally is bringing jobs back to California. This sounds to me like it might help. You’re talking about bringing casino jobs to California.
JILLETTE: Oh, no. No, that wouldn’t help.
O’DONNELL: And pulling people off of Route 15 driving from California
JILLETTE: Oh, that’s a bad idea. Bad.
FLYNT: Again, that’s Arnold’s populist talk, you know. That’s a pipe
dream. The jobs that’s left aren’t coming back, you know. He needs to
talk about basic specifics and the need to California
COOPER: I have got a couple specifics ...
O’DONNELL: All right. Wait. Horace Cooper, Larry Flynt, Horace Cooper has a question.
COOPER: Real quick. Number one, are you going to run a clean campaign? By that, I mean, are you going to make sure no investigators are hired by you or your organization or supporters to somehow find unflattering details? Number two ...
O’DONNELL: Well, let him answer number one. Larry, answer number one.
FLYNT: All my skeleton are out of my closet. I wear them on my ...
COOPER: Not yours. Your opponents.
FLYNT: In this campaign-no. In this campaign, I’m not interested in anybody’s personal sex life. I was during impeachment of Bill Clinton because I had a lot vested in him. I think he is one of our greater presidents.
O’DONNELL: Larry, you know how the scandal press operates. What-do you expect the “National Inquirer” to sit out this election?
FLYNT: I don’t want to just loosely throw things out, but I know that there’s some red meat out there.
COOPER: This is exactly what I was just asking. Question number two though, is ...
O’DONNELL: Question number two. Go ahead, Horace.
COOPER: You said ...
FLYNT: No. I’m not going to do it, but I ...
O’DONNELL: We got you. We understand. Larry, we got-we understand exactly what you’re saying. Go ahead, Horace. Number two.
COOPER: Other than specifics, excuse me. Other than expanding advice, what specifics are we looking at in terms of the California deficit? When you’re looking at $20 plus billion, there have got to be things that California has been doing that they have got to stop doing. You can’t just say we can have our cake and eat it too. No income tax cuts, and ...
O’DONNELL: OK, Horace, we’ve got the question. Larry, what’s the answer?
FLYNT: You can start-you can start out by rolling back that $300 license fee tax, you know. And I’m sure when you get to digging around and studying the issue, it’s going to be painful. But there’s some cuts that can be made.
COOPER: Painful? With all due respect, that is a platitude, and I just want to make sure that we understand that what we have with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a person who has a life of self and personal discipline and has surrounded himself with professional ...
JILLETTE: Oh, Horace, a cut it out.
O’DONNELL: Horace. Horace, No, no, no, Horace. We’re not allowed to compare a guy-Horace. Stop. Everyone stop. Horace, you are not allowed to compare Arnold Schwarzenegger to Larry Flynt until Arnold Schwarzenegger says three specific sentences in a row. Flavia Colgan, go ahead.
COLGAN: Horace, you’re saying how great Arnold is. Larry Flynt has just given more specifics in five minutes than Arnold has had three press conferences.
COOPER: He is giving out a bunch of platitudes. Arnold’s income tax
COLGAN: What I want to ask-no.
COOPER: ... is coming out Monday
O’DONNELL: Horace, stop, stop. Forget it.
COLGAN: Those are platitudes. But I want to ask Larry Flynt, and by the way, I think that putting slots is a great way of generating revenue and a lot of other states have done it successfully and used to it decrease class size and help their budget deficit and expand prescription drugs. My question to you though, is, are you going to divest your own personal interest in casinos so there’s not a conflict of interest?
FLYNT: Well, if I had not been in the casino business in California, I would not have even had this idea. I don’t really see it as a conflict of interest.
COOPER: Neither does Gray Davis.
FLYNT: If it improves my financial status. I’ll be happy with that.
O’DONNELL: Larry, let me ask you about something Arnold has said, which is, it is really good that he’s a rich man, because if you elect the rich to public office, you don’t have to worry about them being corrupted. Larry, can the rich be corrupted?
FLYNT: I have got more money than Arnold and all the rest of the candidates put together. And yes, the rich can be corrupted.
O’DONNELL: Flavia, go ahead.
HAROLD: Lawrence, can I jump in real quick with a question?
O’DONNELL: Go ahead.
COLGAN: As miss America, I can speak on behalf of ...
O’DONNELL: Oh, I am sorry, it is Erika Harold.
HAROLD: Yes. Mr. Flynt, governors of states are quite often invited to speak to children. Would you consider yourself to be a good role model for young people?
O’DONNELL: Larry, that’s Miss America asking you that question, so be respectful to her in your answer.
HAROLD: I have to ask on behalf of the children ...
O’DONNELL: Be respectful in your answer.
FLYNT: I think so. I love children. I care about children. They’re the future of our country. I spend half my time speaking at college, universities, and campuses, and it’s all because I’m astutely aware that that’s the generation that’s going to lead us into the future.
HAROLD: If you think ...
O’DONNELL: OK. Larry, thanks ... Erika, we’re to have break it there. Larry Flynt, thank you very much. Larry Flynt, the straight talking Larry Flynt.
Stay with us. Straight ahead, the panel is going to get to the stories that we’re not talking about and maybe we should be. SATURDAY FINAL continues right after this.
O’DONNELL: And we’re back on SATURDAY FINAL. Now for the, why aren’t we talking about, segment. This is when each of our panelists must begin their statement with, why aren’t we talking about. Who we going to first here? We are going-let’s go with Penn Jillette. Penn, why aren’t we talking about-use those words exactly.
JILLETTE: I shall. Why aren’t we talking about the fact that Christianity is anti-gay? There’s this whole gay bishop thing. Everybody fighting about it. All your major Abrahamic religions, the whole Mediterranean ancient cults, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, in their basic sacred texts, they are anti-gay, anti-woman, and pro-slavery. You can’t vote on God’s word. Why don’t they just accept the fact that Christianity is anti-gay and get it over with?
O’DONNELL: Something of a theme for you. Flavia Colgan, what aren’t we talking about ...
COLGAN: Why aren’t we talking about how absurd it is that the president is now blaming the media for the worst economy we’ve had in decades? He is saying that cable networks have put a ticker up on saying that we’re going to war to turn people from investing. No one was beating the war drum louder than the hawks and the White House.
And it’s a lot more terrifying to have the Secretary of Defense saying, we don’t know how long we are going to be in there. It’s unknowable to know how much money we are going to spend than having a president say there’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The president should take a hard look at his three tax cuts to the rich and try those on for size instead of trying to blame the media for the economy.
O’DONNELL: OK. Erika Harold, Miss America, why aren’t we talking about ...
HAROLD: Why aren’t we talking about the social and moral obligation the media has in covering high profile allegations of rape? Especially in the Kobe Bryant case, I think we’ve accepted. as a society. that this type of coverage has to degenerate into some sort of media circus and free for all, and the interests of the accused and the accusers are not being served. So I think we need to be having a discussion about what is the social and moral obligation of the media.
O’DONNELL: Do you do that off the teleprompter or do you have that memorized? No, the way Miss America-it’s just so beautiful, the way you do that.
HAROLD: Well, thank you very much.
O’DONNELL: OK. Horace Cooper, why aren’t we talking about ...
COOPER: Why aren’t we talking about the recently released Democratic leadership council polls showing hemorrhaging support among white male voters? When the gender gap existed and it was hurting Republicans, it was a front-page story and we talked about it endlessly. But what we are seeing as a result of this survey is that Democrats start off with a loss of about two-thirds of white male voters.
There are about 30 states that cannot be carried, that Bill Clinton and Dukakis and other Democrats in the past were able to carry by getting at least some competitive level of white male voters. This is a serious problem that the Democrats are having.
O’DONNELL: OK. We are going to hold it right there. We are going to come back for our final segment on the California recall right after this.
You are watching SATURDAY FINAL on MSNBC.
O’DONNELL: We’re back on SATURDAY FINAL. Let’s go to Bill Bradley, the “L.A. Weekly” columnist in Sacramento for our roundup here.
Bill, the filing deadline is minutes away, no more big names in. It looks like the grand total on the ballot might be as high as 80. What is Arnold-you know Arnold Schwarzenegger. You’ve traveled with him around the state. What is he waiting for in terms of getting into the specifics on this campaign, or is he going to run a Nixon campaign with Nixon ‘s secret campaign-secret plan to end the war in Vietnam? Is he going to have the secret plan to balance the budget in California?
BRADLEY: Well, I think-first off, by the way, my understanding is he is going to release his tax returns. And incidentally, Larry Flynt is wrong, we do have lots of slot machines in California already, so...
O’DONNELL: Larry Flynt is wrong?
BRADLEY: It’s amazing, isn’t it?
O’DONNELL: Bill. Bill, be careful, you really want to say that Larry Flynt might be wrong about this public policy discussion we just had?
BRADLEY: It’s astonishing, isn’t it?
BRADLEY: I know it comes as a shock to you-to the entire panel. Schwarzenegger is a very smart guy. He knows a lot about education, crime issues. He’s a very good campaigner, very good public speaker. I think that he has a very experienced team of people who elected Pete Wilson governor and senator four times.
I think he’s not going to be playing it coy. He’s going to roll out his message in various phases. And this is just the opening phase. Obviously he has to be specific, and he knows that. We’ve talked about that. I think what we’ve seen, some of these miscues in some of these interviews, basically he does not want to say what he doesn’t necessarily know, and he does not want to get off on tangents like ...
O’DONNELL: Well, he’s going to have to know it pretty quickly. Let me go to the panel on this one. Am I the only one who is at all bothered by-ow-I don’t know what to call it. He doesn’t speak English as well as I think he should. He’s been here for 35 years. He had this line the other day where he said he wants to bring the governments back to the people. How many governments does he ...
COLGAN: I think you should banish hasta la vista out of his political lexicon and ...
O’DONNELL: He’s dropped that. He has dropped the movie lines for the last 24 hours.
COLGAN: I just-oh, that’s fantastic. That’s a great development. I disagree with Horace in terms of his star rising. I think he has tremendous name recognition-celebrity, and you know, perception of leadership now, he’s up on a pedestal, and I think you can only go down from there.
O’DONNELL: Penn. Penn. Penn, you know Siegfried and Roy. Have they mastered the language any more?
JILLETTE: I know Siegfried very well, and he has been in the U.S. about the same amount of time as Arnold, and he speaks better than Arnold Schwarzenegger. And that’s a guy who works with tigers. That’s a magician. And we’re not the smartest people in the world. We are not.
COOPER: First of all ...
JILLETTE: Also, Larry Flynt did say on private casinos there would be slot machines. I think that Larry Flynt might have been right. I mean, to bet on Larry Flynt above Bill Bradley ...
O’DONNELL: OK. We are going to have to hold it right there. That’s our time for this week. Thanks to Bill Bradley and to the panel. We are going to be back here next week with more of the same right here on SATURDAY FINAL on MSNBC. Prompter had a little trouble there.
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