Guests: Bill Press, Scott Hennen, Adam Smith, Chris Van Hollen, Joe
Madison, Tony Blankley, Tom Harkin, Joe Sestak
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” at this hour.
House Republicans say Joe Barton isn‘t the issue. I say Joe Barton is the only issue. In fact, he‘s the poster child for the Republican Party, a group that‘s in bed with big business and big in oil. And their most recent vote proves it.
My commentary on that.
Plus, a face-off between Bill Press and Scott Hennen. The right and the left coming up.
Harry Reid is absolutely hammering Sharron Angle‘s ideas as crazy. I agree. I‘ll show you the tape and get “Rapid Fire Response” on that tonight.
Plus, I want to know what‘s the highest ranking military member serving in Congress, what he thinks about the whole McChrystal ordeal and how he got axed. Joe Sestak sounds off on the general‘s fall and a plan to get us out of Afghanistan.
And breaking news. Just moments ago, the Senate Republicans just blocked the unemployment benefits extension bill again.
My fight for the middle class heads straight to the White House tonight.
And understand what‘s happening here. Here you have—well, I was fired up about another story, but now I‘m fired up about this story because this just broke. There‘s so much to get fired up about.
Here you have the Republicans doing anything they can to protect big oil, but when it comes to the unemployment benefits, can‘t do it, boys. Can‘t do it.
I mean, I just think that this is such to the core value of the Republican Party about who they are. It‘s all about the money. It‘s all about their job security in Washington and who lines their pockets.
Well, here‘s the other story that has me fired up tonight.
I think the entire Republican party can‘t stand the fact that a foreign-owned multinational oil company is going to have to fork out $20 billion to create and take care of the mess that they absolutely have created. You heard me right. I said the entire Republican Party.
The Republicans just can‘t find it in their hearts or in their DNA to make Joe Barton step down as the ranking member of the Energy Committee after he said this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS: I‘m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case, a $20 billion shakedown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That story will never get old. That story is the core.
That sound bite is the core of what the Republicans are all about.
Only a few of them, a few Republicans, said that Barton‘s statement was wrong, but actions speak louder than words. Republican leadership, well, they circle the wagons around “Smokey” Joe, because his thinking is exactly what they are all about.
Listen to Minority Whip Eric Cantor try to change the subject this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, MINORITY WHIP: And some people want to make Joe Barton the issue, when the issue, as you say, are the beaches in Pensacola, and the economy that is being battered, and the environmental disaster of epic proportions in the Gulf. That‘s the issue, and how do we stop this gushing of oil. That‘s the issue, not Joe Barton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: No, it is Joe Barton, because Joe Barton is what you‘re all about.
You can tell the leadership went behind closed doors to figure out how to wordsmith this whole thing. Listen to “The Tan Man.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: Mr. Barton apologized to the members for, in his words, his poor choice of words. He retracted the statement last week and apologized, and I think that the issue is closed.
The real issue here is not what Mr. Barton said, it is, let‘s get the oil leak stopped, let‘s get the mess cleaned up, find out what happened, and makes sure it never happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Yes. And let‘s not mention we‘re going to make somebody pay for it.
Republicans are desperately trying to change their stripes in the middle of this battle. This is who they are. They still think the $20 billion President Obama is forcing BP to pay was nothing more than a Chicago-style shakedown.
This is what Barton‘s spokesman Sean Smith tweeted yesterday: “Joe Barton was right.”
After taking office, Barton‘s office took the tweet down almost as fast as they put it up.
Barton‘s fellow Texas congressman, Ron Paul, well, he put it this way:
“It is sort of a PR stunt, as far as I‘m concerned. BP had already been making a lot of payments to people that had been injured. I think they should pay. They are legal ways of doing this, but I‘m very suspicious of how this has come about.”
Suspicious. Hold it right there.
Not suspicious about what BP or Transocean was doing out on the rig, but just really suspicious about how the president has an obligation to make these people pay up.
What in the heck is the Republican Party talking about? Ron Paul says he wants BP to pay, but it seems that it just drives him nuts that President Obama is going to make them pay! Joe Barton and the rest of the Republican Party have never clearly stated who they think ought to pay for all of this.
I think what President Obama did was the greatest thing he could have done for the American people in a time of crisis. I‘m with the people who want to see this multinational corporation pay. And we‘ve got to keep, well, the boot on the neck, right, and make sure the American taxpayer doesn‘t get stuck with the bill.
But ask yourself this question if you think this is so political. Let‘s go back to last year, June 2009. Let‘s roll it fast forward to right now, June 2010.
In one year, ask yourself, what has the Republican Party done? What have they done for you?
If you‘re watching me tonight, you know I‘m partisan, I‘m a liberal, absolutely. And I believe that the Republicans are completely on the wrong side of issues.
They‘re not for the working folk of America. They never have been. And they don‘t care about people who are losing their unemployment benefits after paying unemployment insurance all their working careers.
But you know what? They‘re going to complain like hell on Capitol Hill about, well, gosh, the president got $20 billion out of BP. They apologized to the corporation right there at a House hearing, but then the Senate goes over—the Senate hasn‘t done anything with all these bills that the House has passed, but tonight, in their world, the Republican world, they did the honorable thing.
They denied people some dignity. They denied people in the worst economy that was handed to Obama since the Depression.
The Republicans can‘t find it within their DNA, within their blood, within their veins to say, you know what? These are awful circumstances. We have got to help turn this country around and we have got to make sure that people aren‘t absolutely destitute until we do it.
I‘ll tell you what. If the Democrats can‘t make a commercial out of this and win seats, and add seats in the midterms, they might as well just pack it in.
Now, I know there‘s all these polls out there saying that, well, everybody is really mad at both sides. Why? Why are you mad at the Democrats? They‘ve been trying to help working folks out, they‘ve been trying to help out the middle class.
The Republicans won‘t let them. They‘re against absolutely everything.
We have a record—a record number of filibusters. Did you get that? A record number of filibusters. And yet, everybody is mad at everybody in Washington.
No, there is only one party to be mad at—the party that doesn‘t want to work with the president of the United States who won nine Bush states.
Gosh, I hope the Democrats have learned their lesson on this. You can‘t trust them and you can‘t work with them, and they‘re going to stand in the way every time.
It‘s still the Waterloo, it‘s still the Jim DeMint, if we can break him. That‘s their culture. It‘s still apologizing to the corporations. And it‘s just, here, let‘s take our finger and just stick it right on the working folk of America.
I am fired up about a lot of stories. And the reason being is because I did a road trip for my book, “Killer Politics.”
We went to Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Denver.
All those places, same story.
They‘re frustrated. They don‘t feel like America is working for them, and they know who is at fault. It‘s the Republicans. And tonight they voted one more time to prove to all of us just how heartless they are.
I challenge any Republican senator to give up your paycheck until we hit 7.5 percent unemployment. Do any of you have the guts to do that? You don‘t give a damn.
Tell me what you think in our telephone survey tonight, folks. The number to dial is 1-877-ED-MSNBC.
My question tonight is: Are you surprised that the Republicans are standing behind Joe Barton? Press the number 1 for yes, press the number 2 for no. I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
Now let‘s go left and right. And this country is left and right. We are divided.
So we go to nationally syndicated talk show host Bill Press and Scott Hennen, Fargo, North Dakota, conservative radio talk show host.
Gentlemen, I‘ll let you do the talking now.
Scott, we‘ll start with you first.
Are the Republicans at all concerned about any kind of image with the voters when it comes to protecting corporations and standing behind Barton? What‘s the take on that?
SCOTT HENNEN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think the Republicans have a point that Barack Obama and BP are the culprits here. They‘re joined at the hip. They‘re one and the same.
I‘ll give you five quick reasons why.
Nobel Prize-winning Energy Secretary Tony (sic) Chu praising BP, saying we‘re going to change the world together, partnering up with them, Ed. Now has the top BP former advisers as a top deputy up there.
You have BP, that was a huge donor to the Obama administration. You have BP and Obama crafting legislation together, job-killing cap and trade legislation, I might add.
Then you have what is Sheriff Salazar giving all these waivers, the Obama administration waivers, on the specific drilling operation in question. And that operation, waivers that came from the Obama administration for the blowout preventer they used and also the environmental studies being waived.
And then, finally, the totally abysmal, amateur way in which they‘ve responded to this spill. BP and Obama administration, one and the same.
So, I understand why everybody wants to change the story, but the story really is BP and the Obama administration (INAUDIBLE).
SCHULTZ: Bill Press, what‘s the counter-punch?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes. You know what? I‘ll tell you, there‘s two sides to this story, yes.
There is one party that‘s on the side of the people down there, the people in the Gulf, the fishermen, the oystermen, who have lost their way of life, at least for one season, maybe forever, who are standing with the tourist trade in Pensacola and the rest of Florida. And there‘s one party that‘s standing with BP. It‘s led by Joe Barton.
Ed, there is one reason why Joe Barton kept his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and you know why as well. Because he is the bag man for Republicans when it comes to an oil company.
Joe Barton has got a gas station. Think of it that way. And when the Republicans are running for re-election, they pull their car up to his gas station, and he pumps it full of oil money. He got more money from the oil companies than anybody else.
Follow the money, that‘s what it‘s all about.
SCHULTZ: Scott, who should pay for this mess?
HENNEN: I‘ll follow the money. The Obama administration is the one that has some explaining to do on the donations they‘ve gotten from BP. There‘s the partnership we all ought to be talking about.
And who ought to pay? Ed, BP has been going to pay, they have to pay under the law. The reason Joe Barton was right to call it a shakedown is because you‘ve got the banana republic Chicago way Obama administration with the gun on the table, the equivalent of Eric Holder across the table threatening to sue them criminally at the same time they‘re saying, hey, give us $20 billion.
This was all a PR move to change the subject.
And, by the way, let‘s talk about who is better for the little guy down there, and the shrimper. Two thousand skimmers in this country, and guess how many are down there? Twenty, less than there originally were.
Why? There might be a spill somewhere else.
They stopped the dredging. You know why? U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worried about some sand species or something. And then the other one—they stopped some boats the other day that were responding because they didn‘t have enough life jackets.
You guys call that sticking up for the little guy? This is an amateur hour that couldn‘t run a popcorn stand, this administration.
PRESS: Hey, wait. You know what, Ed? This rhetoric from North Dakota is getting a little heated here, but I want --
SCHULTZ: Hey, wait a minute, Bill. Don‘t pick on North Dakota now.
PRESS: All right.
SCHULTZ: Wait a minute. We might have a difference of opinion, but don‘t pick on North Dakota.
HENNEN: Ed and I will team up on Bill on that one.
PRESS: All right. I‘ll take it back, but here‘s the point.
I want Joe Barton, with Scott if he wants to go, go down to the Gulf, talk to those people and say, we think BP is the victim here. We all want to feel sorry for BP. See how far you get.
Ed, you noticed—
HENNEN: Nice try.
PRESS: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. If BP doesn‘t pay for this, you know damn well who is going to pay for it—the American taxpayer.
That‘s why Barack Obama got—not a shakedown. It was a down payment of $20 billion, and BP is going to have to pay more, and they can afford it. That‘s just about how much money they made in profits in one year, last year.
SCHULTZ: I call it a shakedown. It‘s a good shakedown. It depends upon what side of the issue you come down on.
Gentlemen, great to have you with us. Always a pleasure.
HENNEN: Wasn‘t necessary.
All right. All right.
SCHULTZ: Scott and Bill, good to be on tonight.
PRESS: Take care, guys.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, the president has really stepped up as commander-in-chief. But I can‘t help but notice he‘s sounding like W. with some of his terror talk.
I‘ll go head-to-head with a member of the Armed Services Committee on that next.
And, not-ready-for-prime-time Tea Partier Sharron Angle is her own worst enemy. Harry Reid is using her “Psycho Talk” against her.
I‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response” on that.
All that, plus the bin Laden hunter. Well, he‘s not giving up. And the people at Fox News were very quiet when Uncle Rupert Murdoch spoke out on immigration reform today.
All that‘s coming up.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, and thanks for watching tonight.
President Obama showed America who was in charge yesterday when he announced that he was replacing General McChrystal with General Petraeus. He handled the entire McChrystal dustup with tactical brilliance, I think.
But there was one thing that I took notice of, is when the president discussed the war in Afghanistan. Some of his remarks reminded me of George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a responsibility to do whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda. We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan society from within and launch attacks against innocent men, women and children in our country and around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Fight them over here instead of fight them here? I mean, it sounded so familiar. That kind of language makes it pretty clear, we‘re not getting out of Afghanistan anytime soon.
For more, let me bring in Congressman Adam Smith of Washington. He‘s a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, do you know what we‘re doing in Afghanistan? Do you agree with what the president just said? And is that a winnable mission since we‘ve been in there since 2001?
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Right. What we‘re trying to do in Afghanistan is we‘re trying to stop the Taliban from getting back into power, because the Taliban is allied with al Qaeda. And last time they were in power, they launched a number of attacks against us, including 9/11.
It‘s exactly what we‘re trying to do, is to make sure that the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies are not back in charge of that country. Now, that is no easy mission, but I think it unquestionably is something that is in our national security interests.
And it differs a great deal from President Bush. President Bush was the one who moved us away from Afghanistan, away from the Afghanistan-Pakistan center, which was where al Qaeda was threatening us from, and moved our attention over to Iraq, which is what candidate Obama talked about endlessly as his foreign policy focus—shift the focus back over to where al Qaeda is.
SCHULTZ: Well, and I give the president credit, because that‘s exactly what he talked about on the campaign trail. There are no surprises there.
SCHULTZ: But this seems to be dragging on and on—more casualties, billions of dollars—like there is no end to it. So, I mean, do you believe that the president knows what he is doing in Afghanistan and that this is a winnable mission? And if we do leave, that the Taliban is just going to be gone? I mean, we‘re going to be in there forever.
SMITH: Absolutely, I believe the president knows what he‘s doing. I believe that General Petraeus knows what he‘s doing, and I believe they do have a plan. Because it is not what a lot of people have described.
We are not imagining that we‘re going to turn Afghanistan into some perfect representative democracy abounding in economic prosperity. We simply—
SCHULTZ: But Congressman, if you‘re going to keep the Taliban from coming to power, we are going to have to have a constant and consistent presence there.
SMITH: I think—if we‘re saying—we‘re not saying we‘re going to completely eliminate the influence of the Taliban in that region. That is not our goal, that is not our objective.
We simply want to make sure that they are not strong enough and that the other institutions in power in Afghanistan are not so weak that they allow the Taliban to take over. The president does not have illusions on this front. He is not saying we are going to completely eliminate the Taliban, he doesn‘t talk about some grand, complete and total victory.
We simply have to stabilize the country enough so that the Taliban don‘t get back into power, which is why it is—
SMITH: -- important that the president has said we‘re not going to be there forever and we‘re going to start drawing down next summer. That‘s why it‘s important to set that date to make it clear it is not an endless commitment..
SCHULTZ: But if the conditions are right, we‘re going to draw down next year. Isn‘t that correct?
SMITH: Well, yes, but the point is—
SCHULTZ: OK. So, who knows?
SMITH: -- it is not an endless commitment.
SCHULTZ: It‘s still a crap shoot. It‘s still a war zone and a crap shoot, and we‘re still there. And this is as open-ended as anything else.
SMITH: It is not as open-ended as anything else. I will disagree with that.
And Ed, you and I have talked about this a great deal. This is a very, very difficult mission. But the fact is, it is not made up that al Qaeda and the Taliban are allies and have plotted against us and continue to plot against us.
The president is speaking about a very real threat to this country and other western targets. And we cannot simply ignore it.
Now, it‘s quite possible that as we go forward, having this number of troops over there is not the best way to confront that threat. I think the president‘s review that he has called for in December is perfectly appropriate. But I hope that those of us on the progressive side of the aisle, in our concern about the excessive militancy under the Bush administration, don‘t pretend that al Qaeda isn‘t a threat.
They are. And this is primarily where they are.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
SMITH: Thanks, Ed. Appreciate the chance.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, the oil fumes must be getting to Marco Rubio. He wants to “Drill, baby, drill” as tar balls flood his shores.
The Republican golden boy slides into the “Zone” next on THE ED SHOW.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, new member of the club, Florida Senate candidate and Republican golden boy Marco Rubio.
The Tea Partying joker thinks that deepwater drilling is safe. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO ®, FLORIDA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: So now you‘re talking about deepwater drilling, and I only want to say that it can be done safely. There is evidence that it can be done safely. It‘s being done safely all over the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Evidence? Is that with or without the safety equipment?
Marco Rubio is the kind of candidate that appeals to low-info voters.
In fact, he‘s a low-info candidate.
Let‘s go back to the interview for just a second. Take a look at what is right over Marco‘s shoulder. Pretty clear evidence that deepwater drilling is not safe.
And by the way, Marco, you should probably take a look in your own back yard before flapping your mouth about how safe this deepwater drilling is. Actually, if you‘re looking for something to do this weekend, you could go dig your toes into the white sands of Pensacola Beach. Does that look safe to you?
For a guy who is running for office to say that deepwater drilling is safe while oil is lapping up on his state beaches, that‘s “Psycho Talk,” no doubt about it.
Coming up, the rightis are standing by oil lover Joe Barton. This is who they really are and how they really think. But it is red meat for the Democrats.
The chairman of the DCCC, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, blasts off next.
And Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are teaming up. Believe it or not, it‘s a good thing.
Details coming up.
All that, plus an investigator says Sarah Palin‘s defense fund was illegal. She‘s got to give it back. Almost $40,000 in donations. Well, that‘s pocket change to her now.
“Rapid Fire Response” on that, next.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW, right here on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to the Ed show. Battleground story tonight. The republicans, well, they don‘t want to hold Joe Barton accountable for apologizing to BP. They don‘t want to strip him of his leadership post on the Energy Committee, so they just better get used to ads like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS: So, I apologize.
ANNOUNCER: The Republican Party, standing up for big oil and apologizing to BP. What do they say about holding BP accountable?
Unidentified man: I think that sounds really un-American.
ANNOUNCER: That we shouldn‘t be so hard on BP.
Unidentified man: Stop demonizing BP.
Unidentified man: Absolutely.
ANNOUNCER: And republicans call BP‘s escrow fund a shakedown.
BARTON: So, I apologize.
ANNOUNCER: Apologizing to big oil. This is how republicans would govern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Good ad. Eric Cantor says, Barton is not the issue. He‘s correct. The issue is Barton represents what the Republican Party stands for. This is how the righties sink. They are more concerned with protecting Joe Barton than standing up for the victims in the gulf coast.
John Boehner, force Barton to issue a cover his backside apology so to
speak for calling BP‘s $100 billion damages a fund. The government fund,
the government shakedown. Nobody believed it and nobody thought he really
meant it. Barton‘s twitter posted this yesterday. Joe Barton was right in
reference to the shakedown comment. Predictably as soon as people saw it,
the tweet was deleted and some press flak in Barton‘s office took the blame for it. I think it‘s pretty obvious that there is a real pattern here.
Joining me now is Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the DCCC. Congressman, good to have you with us.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D), MARYLAND: Good to be with you Ed.
SCHULTZ: Is this just red meat for the democrats? Is this going to be the theme into the mid-terms?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it‘s going to be a big piece of it, for obvious reasons. Number one, Joe Barton is not any republican. He is their point person on energy policy. If they were to take back control of the house, which they‘re trying desperately to do, he would be the guy who shakes the energy policy. Number two, he‘s not alone. He has a whole bunch of folks in the republican caucus who use the same language, who criticize the president for sticking up for the fund. And the reason this resonates with the American people is they understand that Joe Barton did speak for the republicans when it comes to their energy policy and when it comes to dealing with big corporate special interests. Time and again, we‘ve seen them side with the big corporations, whether it‘s the big oil companies or in voting against Wall Street reform, they voted with all the big Wall Street firms. So, the reason this is important is that let the American people know once again where the republicans stand. And there were the big corporation against the average citizen.
SCHULTZ: Why do you think this will resonate? I mean, you know, we had a story on here last night at one of the oyster companies. They‘ve gotten some pretty good checks here early on. The owner was on there saying that, you know, BP is doing some things. Why would you think this would resonate?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it resonates because it lets people know exactly where the republicans in the house stand on energy policy. When you have.
SCHULTZ: And you think that their rank and file of the republicans are right with Joe Barton on that and behind closed doors they might even be high-fiving him?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we‘ve already seen a bunch of the rank and file rush to his defense. We know that the day before Joe Barton made those comments publicly, 115 members of the republican study group had issued a statement criticizing the president for the same reasons that Joe Barton criticized the president. So, this is not an isolated incident. He‘s not just any member. He spoke for a broad, you know, part of the caucus, which is why that caucus is not going to be able to make the decision to replace him, because at the end of the day, he was giving voice to what has been in the past, the republican energy policy, and it reinforces the point that we‘ve been making to the voters, which is you‘ve got a real choice in this election.
SCHULTZ: No doubt.
VAN HOLLEN: Do you really want to go back to the Bush-Cheney oil policies that Joe Barton was there working on since day one?
SCHULTZ: So if the election were tomorrow, would you hold the house?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes. We would. Yes.
SCHULTZ: Would you lose seats?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, we got a long way to go before the election, Ed. If we know this is an uphill climb, we now hold almost every swing district in the country. We picked up a lot of seats in the last two years, but I do believe that the American people are going to focus on both candidates in every one of these races around the country. It will be a choice for them.
SCHULTZ: But oil is going to be an issue in this campaign, and oil will play favorably for the democrats, correct?
VAN HOLLEN: Oil will be an issue because the republicans continue to stand on the side of big oil as we‘re trying to move this economy toward a clean energy economy, invest in jobs here rather than overseas and work on all the components of an energy policy that helps the whole country, not just the big oil companies.
SCHULTZ: Good ad. I got to hand that to you. I mean, that‘s a heck of an ad. I mean, between the most—well, the vote just an hour ago and the senate knocking down the bill to help the folks who are unemployed and Barton‘s comments on big oil, I mean, you guys got all the material in the world.
VAN HOLLEN: Let me just say, Ed, in the house, we also passed a very important bill called the disclosed bill to give voters the right to know who is spending money in these elections. Because as a result of that terrible supreme court decision, corporations and foreign control companies can secretly spend millions of dollars. So, we said let‘s shine a little sunlight on this, and unfortunately, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would prefer that the voter not know who is spending all that money to influence their vote.
SCHULTZ: That is just amazing. They want secret money into elections. Unidentified funds going into elections. I mean—I don‘t know how the American people are going to be missing on this one. Chris, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
VAN HOLLEN: Great to be with you. Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Now, let‘s get some rapid fire response from our panel on these stories tonight. OK, here we go. Alaska investigators say a legal defense fund set up to fight ethics complaints against Sarah Palin was illegal, but they say she—it wasn‘t Palin‘s fault, OK? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a new commercial out in Nevada. He calls Sharron Angle‘s ideas to scrap Social Security and Medicare crazy.
And FOX News Mastermind Rupert Murdoch is teaming up with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on illegal immigration, Murdoch is for amnesty. I wonder how that‘s playing across the street with all the righties who like to talk down about immigration reform.
With us tonight, Joe Madison, XM Satellite Radio Talk Show Host and Tony Blankley, syndicated columnist, with us tonight as well. Gentlemen, good to have you on. Let‘s talk about Sarah Palin. Joe, is this big trouble for her? She‘s got to pay back $40,000, but it would seem to me that it speaks somewhat to her character that she must have known this was illegal. What do you think?
JOE MADISON, XM SATELLITE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that‘s the real question. What did she know, when did she know it? The reality is of course, that $400,000, even though it‘s a lot of money to a lot of people. I‘m certain with her new contracts and speaking fees, it‘s a drop in the bucket. But you‘re right. The real question that has to now be answered is what did she know, when did she know it, and I suspect that this probably is no more than a 24-48 hour story.
SCHULTZ: Tony, do you agree with that, or does this blemish her at all as a possible candidate?
TONY BLANKLEY, COLUMNIST: You know, I think we already have the answer to the question because the findings said, quote, she acted in good faith and relied on a team of attorneys to make sure the fund was lawful, limited donations to $100 per person. So, I think we know that she was not ethically in violation, it was a technical violation and keep in mind, if you remember back to that time, she was being gang-attacked by legal charges, she‘s on 14 ethics charges going at her. They were doing everything they could to, you know, her and her family. One of the reasons that she cited she couldn‘t be governor was she would spend all her time try to defending herself against most of these phony charges. So, it was a tough time and she was cleared of wrongdoing, and any of us who have been in politics know at some point you have to rely on the lawyers to know whether you‘re following the rules that are required or not.
MADISON: That‘s what the finding was, bad. But I wouldn‘t want the American people to think that every charge against her didn‘t have merit. I mean, come on, the people in Alaska know darn well that some of those charges were very legitimate.
SCHULTZ: Would we be going too far, gentlemen, to assume that as governor of a state that she would actually know the law when it comes to campaigns, when it comes to legal defense funds, that she would do at least some research to find out what the boundaries are? Tony, is that expecting too much out of a governor?
BLANKLEY: I would ask you whether you think that anyone knows every law, any federal law and the technicalities of the election laws? I mean, I know a lot of election lawyers here in Washington and both parties hire them all the time because you can‘t make heads or tails out of all the macaroni and cheese that you have that constitutes election law these days.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think if I was setting up a legal defense fund, I would make sure that I was squeaky clean, it looks again to her, to me anyway that she‘s a little bit loose on the details.
MADISON: I think they‘ll need to find a better shot than that to take Sarah down.
MADISON: I mean, it‘s a shot. It won‘t take her down, but it‘s a punch.
SCHULTZ: All right. Let‘s go to Nevada where Harry Reid has taken out this commercial. Let‘s play it and talk about it. Here it is.
Harry Reid had an ad on Sharron Angel. He says that everything that she is proposing as far as getting a Social Security and Medicare, he is calling it in his ad absolutely crazy. So Joe Madison, the attack is on. Is this what Harry Reid has to do to be successful in this campaign?
MADISON: Especially in Nevada with all the retirees who understand that insurance—I mean, I‘m sorry—that Social Security is insurance. It‘s not welfare, it‘s insurance. I mean, my God! Can you imagine what would have happened if seniors around this country, particularly in Nevada, turned their checks over to the gamblers on Wall Street? I mean, it would have been mass suicide in that state. The reality is he‘s on target, and this is exactly what he should be doing.
SCHULTZ: Well, he is behind on the polls. Here‘s the ad again. Now, we‘ve got to hear this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Since you‘ve heard Sharron Angle wants to wipe out Social Security, now she says it‘s like welfare.
SHARRON ANGLE, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: My grandfather wouldn‘t even take his Social Security check because he said he was not up for welfare.
EDWARD COYLE, ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS: The money that people have invested in Social Security all their working lives is their money. To call it welfare is just plain insulting.
ANNOUNCER: Sharron Angle would end Medicare and Social Security.
COYLE: People depend on these checks. It‘s their livelihood, it‘s their food, it‘s prescription drug costs. This is crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And an NBC News, “Wall Street Journal” poll shows asking people how they felt about a candidate who supports facing out Social Security. Sixty six percent uncomfortable. Tony, is this a bad route for her to travel?
BLANKLEY: I think, my favorite ad, I‘m going to change the topic a little bit. My favorite ad on the poll this weekend is one by Reid son Rory where he doesn‘t use his dad‘s last name because right now his father is flat lining at about 40 percent, plus or minus one or two percent in all the polls, she‘s ahead of him by 48 to 41 currently. As you know, as an old veteran, that when the incumbent is down below 50 percent, most of the undecided will breaks against him or her. So, my guess is that the election time, she will probably win 55, 57 percent of the vote. He is just, I think, dead in the water.
MADISON: But you saw what Tony just did. He never addressed the issue about Social Security.
BLANKLEY: Yes, I notice. Exactly.
SCHULTZ: And we also ought to notice that Harry Reid only spent a fraction of his money. There‘s going to be a lot more where that came from. Gentleman, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks Joe, thanks Tony.
BLANKLEY: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, hope is fading for hundreds of thousands of people losing their unemployment benefits. And I‘m not going to give up the fight on this. My pledge heads to the White House. Next in the Playbook. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And it‘s still not too late to let us know what you think tonight, the number to dial is 1877-edmsnbc. Tonight telephone survey question is, are you surprised that the republicans are standing behind Joe Barton? Press the number one for yes. Press the number two for no. Again, the number to dial is 1877-edmsnbc.
SCHULTZ: And in my Playbook tonight, senate republicans once again blocked legislation to extend unemployment benefits. The vote less than an hour ago was 57 to 41. Hold it right there. Fifty seven people in the senate want to help those folks out there that don‘t have benefits and that‘s not enough the way it‘s set up. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is feeling defeated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader: We‘ve heard enough here today about unemployment compensation. These are real people, these aren‘t numbers. These are people. This is Bob and Mary and Jane and Dave who are desperate for these little checks they get every week. And so we have mayors, we have governors who have spoken out but the republicans have turned a deaf ear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, this just tells all of us who the republicans really are. More than a million, more than a million Americans will have lost their unemployment insurance by the end of this month, and the righties just don‘t care, it‘s all about the money. But even if the bill had passed, it would not have helped the 99ers. Folks who have already exhausted their unemployment benefits and have been out of work for more than 99 weeks. A group of 99ers wrote a letter to the President of United States and have been trying to get an elected official in Congress to deliver it directly to the president. They have been told it‘s hopeless. Well, I promise that I would not let this issue go, and if no elected official is going to step up and give these folks a voice, I guess I have to.
Mr. President, the 99ers are begging. I‘ve been out on the road. I‘ve talked to them. They are begging for help. And I‘m asking you tonight to do something executively. Make it a big issue and step forward, and if the republicans won‘t do it, paint it for who they are and what they‘re doing to Americans who have been outsourced and are now stuck with this predicament. I mean, people are losing their homes because they lost their job, and remember, this is the worst economy since the ‘30s, but the republicans, oh, no, it‘s all about the money. Heck, they‘re trying to negotiate tax breaks again for the top two percent.
Let me turn to a Senator from Iowa, Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. I could go on for 20 minutes but I need two minutes from you. What in the hell is going on in the senate?
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Well, Ed, I share your frustration and your anger. This is the eighth week that we‘ve tried to get through the unemployment benefits. For eight straight weeks, republicans have said no. And Harry Reid is right. This is about people who just want to put food on their table, feed their kids, just get by from week to week. They‘re not living high on the hog, and in fact, as you pointed out, the 99ers aren‘t getting anything at all. I can‘t tell you how frustrated we are in this. The republicans, what they‘re saying is they want to protect the tax benefits for the wealthiest one-half of one percent but we can‘t help the people who are out of work, and needs just a helping hand, a couple of hundred bucks just to get through a week.
SCHULTZ: Senator, is it over? Is this issue done?
HARKIN: Well, we‘ve tried for eight weeks. The republicans have consistently said no. I just talked to the leader. I think we may try it one more time next week before the fourth of July, but it looks like the republicans are unyielding. They will not let us get unemployment benefits to people who are out of work, and that, Ed, is unconscionable. In my 35 years here, I have never seen anything like this. Never.
SCHULTZ: A record number of filibusters and this is obstruction on steroids, is it not?
HARKIN: It is. I mean, we can‘t do anything, Ed. I mean, I can understand maybe they want to filibuster the health care bill, this and that, but these are people that are out of work. They have nothing. There is nothing there for them and we‘re just trying to get them through the roughest period of economic downturn, as you pointed out, since the depression, and the republicans are saying no. It‘s unconscionable.
SCHULTZ: Senator, I know how where your heart is and I know hard you‘ve worked on this, I appreciate it so much. Let‘s keep up the fight.
HARKIN: We are. We are.
SCHULTZ: And let me ask you before we go here. How adamant is the president about this? He‘s been somewhat quiet about it. What is he saying and in your opinion, what could he do, if anything?
HARKIN: Well, he needs to let the American people know what‘s going on here, but obviously he‘s been distracted with McChrystal, in Afghanistan and all that kind of stuff, but he‘s got to turn his attention to this and turn to it very soon and he‘s got to use the bulletproof to the White House to let the American people know why we‘re not getting these unemployment benefits out to people who really need them.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks for speaking out. I appreciate it.
HARKIN: You bet.
SCHULTZ: Coming up. The highest ranking military member serving in Congress. We weigh in on General Stanley McChrystal‘s fall. Admiral Joe Sestak sounds off on that. And our plan to get out of Afghanistan sometime. That‘s next. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back. Finally tonight General McChrystal is out. I think a lot of Americans are worried about where the war is going in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history.
Joining me now is Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, a member the House Armed Services Committee. He is the retired three star admiral and the highest ranking military officer ever to serve in the Congress. Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. Are you convinced that we have a solid strategy and an exit plan for Afghanistan?
REP. JOE SESTAK, D-PA.: I am not convinced that the strategy we have, which I supported as we went in, has quantifiable metrics by which we can measure if it is a sound strategy. The president told us a year ago in March, no more blank checks. He said we would have accountability for this war, metrics, quantifiable metrics, he said, and I‘ve talked about this before. We don‘t have them yet. We don‘t have them with regard to Al-Qaeda‘s safe haven in Pakistan. We have some less than quantifiable metrics regarding Afghanistan, but if the real focus is the extermination of Al-Qaeda‘s safe haven in Pakistan, we have not been provided those by the administration yet, and that‘s the only way we‘re going to know if it‘s working.
SCHULTZ: All right. Would General Petraeus be able to change that?
SESTAK: I think that these metrics aren‘t hard to provide, and yes, I don‘t think this is was something that just a general can provide. He provides his input but then there are also issues like is the civilian government in Pakistan supporting our effort. And those are combination of the civilian and military leadership. Without a question, this can be done, but we just need them. Americans wants some practical leadership now. We know we‘ve got a sound strategy, we think, but now we have to see what the plan is, because as you also mentioned, the key word exit strategy. Every warrior knows when you go into conflict, you have to be ready to exit to an alternative strategy or something, and you can only do that if you have benchmarks, and that‘s what we lack.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, speaking of exit, I know you have to go and vote, I appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so much.
SESTAK: Thanks Ed for letting me be here but thanks for letting me go.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
I just want to make one comment about what the senate did tonight. What we find out that we still having a hangover for the most selfish generation in the history of this country. And I think it‘s fair to point out that most of the republican senators are old and they are wealthy and I think that they are totally out of touch. They sit there with their fat paychecks and their fat retirement, and with just a callous attitude, they shut down those Americans who are suffering across this country in the worst economic time that was ever handed to any president since the depression.
And you think the republicans are there to help? Hell, no. It is shameful. The boys that died on Omaha Beach, they never thought it would be like this. Tonight in our telephone survey, I asked you, are you surprised that the republicans are standing behind Joe Barton? Seven percent of you said yes, 93 percent of you said no. That‘s the Ed Show. I‘m Ed Schultz. hardball with Chris Matthews is next. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night on THE ED SHOW. Thanks for joining us.
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