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The Ed Show for Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guest Host: Thomas Roberts

Guests: Amanda Terkel, Sally Kohn, Sen. Bernie Sanders, John Nichols,

Margie Omero, Tim Dickinson


THOMAS ROBERTS, GUEST HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Thomas Roberts, filling in for Ed Schultz.

The House rejected a bill to raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending.

While Republicans stand by Paul Ryan‘s Medicare slashing budget plan, Democrats say it should be off the table before the sides can come to any agreement.

As Ed would say—let‘s get to work!




ROBERTS (voice-over):  Over a barrel—Washington could do something to lower gas prices immediately.  Senator Bernie Sanders tells us why they won‘t.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  They were required to do that in January.  We are now in May and they have not yet done that.


ROBERTS:  More Republican recalls move ahead in Wisconsin.  We‘ve got the latest details.

Buyers‘ remorse?  Voters who helped usher in a new class of Republican governors wish they hadn‘t.  Could it help President Obama?

And how will this help the president?


SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  Oh, it would be a blast if they were this loud and if they smelled this good.  I love that smell of the emissions.


ROBERTS:  Sarah Palin‘s road show.  She‘s got the bus, but she‘s not telling anyone where it‘s heading, including fellow Republicans.


ROBERTS:  So, today, House Republicans held a vote on whether to raise the nation‘s debt limit and they got their way—a big fat no to raising this country‘s debt ceiling without conditions attached to it.

And according to furious Democrats, Republicans proved once again that they are willing to risk ending this country into default unless the budget is slashed and that includes the most contentious budget-cutting issue of the moment, Medicare.  The vote was 318 to 97 against raising the debt ceiling without conditions.

Now, if the debt ceiling is not raised by early August, the country will go into default with catastrophic consequences.  Today‘s vote was set up by Republicans to be a test vote, requiring a two-thirds majority that had no chance of being reached, even 82 Democrats voted no to avoid a political trap.  We‘re going to have more on that for you in a moment.

First, though, the dynamics of this fight are now very clear.  The nation‘s debt ceiling must be raised.  But Republicans have refused to do that without agreement on future cuts.  Those budget cuts are based on the Ryan budget, already passed by the Republican-controlled House and the Ryan budget includes the Medicare plan which would end Medicare as we know it today.

Now, Democrats were eager to portray the debt ceiling vote as further evidence that Republicans will go to any lengths to slash Medicare.


REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  This is about threatening to default on the full faith and credit of the United States unless we put into place the Republican budget, including their plan to end the Medicare guarantee and to slash Medicare benefits.  That‘s what this is all about.  They said, whoa, we‘re going to hold this whole thing up until we get our way.


ROBERTS:  House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer urged Democrats to vote no along with Republicans even though he supported raising the debt ceiling.  He said that Republicans would try to use a “yes” vote against them.


REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP:  Ladies and gentlemen, I‘m going to vote no on this.  We ought to vote for this.  We ought to have a clean bill.  And we ought to have both sides coming together and saying, America needs this for debts that we have incurred.

It‘s a good demagoguery vote frankly, ladies and gentlemen.  And if we vote for it, guess what?  You‘re for raising the debt limit without any fiscal discipline.


ROBERTS:  And then this from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER:  But the fact is that what is happening on this floor is not serious.  It‘s not serious.  But the subject it addresses is serious to stop this assault on Medicare which is the basis for this legislation today.


ROBERTS:  Now, the connection between the debt ceiling and Ryan‘s Medicare plan was becoming more evident even before today‘s vote.

From the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell who said this on Sunday:


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER:  To get my vote to raise the debt ceiling, for whatever that‘s worth, my one vote, Medicare will be a part of it.  The details of that are yet to be negotiated.  The president, to his credit, is at the table discussing with us the way in which you save Medicare.


ROBERTS:  Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said Republicans needed to take the Ryan plan off the table in order to get bipartisan agreement on the debt ceiling.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  The only way we‘re going to come to an agreement on the budget and the debt ceiling is if Senator McConnell and his Republican colleagues take the Ryan plan off the table and take it off now.


ROBERTS:  And House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor explained that once again, that when Republicans say everything is on the table, they mean that all spending cuts are on the table.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER:  Everything is on the table.  We‘ve said, as Republicans, we‘re not going to go for tax increases.  I think the administration gets that.


CANTOR:  But we‘ve also put everything on the table as far as cuts.


ROBERTS:  You know, tomorrow morning, President Obama is scheduled to meet with House Republicans over these very key issues.

Let‘s bring in the senior political reporter at “The Huffington Post,” Amanda Terkel.

Amanda, it‘s good to have you on with us.

Let‘s get straight to it.  We know this was a test vote, as we said, to test the waters.  But explain what Republicans were trying to accomplish by doing this today.  Was it just showboating?

AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTON POST:  Well, first of all, it was to give some of their members, their more conservative, maybe, members who were elected by Tea Party activists, some political cover.  They can now go back to their districts and say, look, I didn‘t do it to raise the debt limit, and what we need is to compare this with spending cuts.

So, if f they have to eventually go ahead and they‘re pressured to raise the debt limit with some spending cuts, they could say this is what we had to do.  I already voted against raising it.  I didn‘t like it, but we had to do this.

So, it‘s some political cover, but it‘s also meant to reinforce their message that we need to have spending cuts paired with the debt limit.  And they can say, look, a lot of Democrats even joined with us.

ROBERTS:  Also, here‘s where it becomes a game of chess, Amanda, because Democrats were being urged by Congressman Hoyer to vote no.  So, since the measure had no chance of passing, did he have a valid point or does it make the Democrats look divided?

TERKEL:  He absolutely had a valid point.  No one expected this to pass.  I think the administration would have liked it to pass but no one expected it to.  So, he was just telling his members, look, you‘re going to have to go back to your districts.  They‘re going to try to air attack ads you.  So, don‘t give them ammunition.

I mean, Republicans will try to use it to their advantage either way.  But I think Hoyer was wise in telling his members vote how you want to.  If you don‘t want to vote against it, if you want to vote against it, you know, go ahead.

ROBERTS:  Amanda, there are these ongoing talks between the White House and congressional leaders over all of this.  Are Democrats worried that the White House will actually relent, maybe agree to some of these Medicare cuts?

TERKEL:  I think that‘s a constant worry.  I mean, even right after this vote, there were some Republicans saying, look, this strengthens our case.  The entitlement including Medicare need to be on the table and taken seriously.  And there are a lot of progressive activists who are very worried that Medicare is on the table in these budget talks.

I mean, they are trying to cut $1 trillion in spending.  You don‘t get there just by, you know, peddling at the edges with NPR and Planned Parenthood.

So, I think there‘s a lot of concern that this will happen and a lot of Democrats would like to see some tax—some raises in taxes.

ROBERTS:  Amanda, how troubling is it to Democrats that no matter what, Republicans have been very successful at being able to tie the debt ceiling to these severe budget cuts?

TERKEL:  Well, I think this is—I mean, I think this is—I think this is very troubling to Democrats.  Again, I think Democrats would like to see, you know, you can have some spending cuts, but you also need to raise revenue.

And that‘s something when Eric Cantor says everything is on the table, he means everything in terms of spending cuts.  He doesn‘t actually mean tax increases.  And that‘s where a lot of Democrats are saying, look, let‘s cut subsidies for oil companies, let‘s maybe raise taxes on the wealthiest, but that is something Republicans are saying we don‘t really want to do.

ROBERTS:  Amanda Terkel of “The Huffington Post”—Amanda, great to see you tonight.  Thanks.

TERKEL:  Thank you.

ROBERTS:  All right.  So, let‘s turn now to the founder and chief education officer of, Sally Kohn.

Sally, it‘s good to have you here because we want to get your perspective on this, because as we look over the history of what we have going on in Washington, D.C.—has there been anything like this before when we talked about the debt ceiling that‘s been raised historically over and over again by whether or not we‘re led by a Democrat or whether or not we‘re led by a Republican, but in an instance like this where it‘s being tied so dramatically to the spending cuts, by Republicans?

SALLY KOHN, MOVEMENTVISION.ORG:  Yes, no.  The answer is no.  I mean, we are at a new level of political threat here.  The Republicans are using this for political theater.

Yes, there‘s always been some gamesmanship over this.  It‘s political issue.  Of course, they play football with it.

But this time, the Republicans are seriously threatening to ruin the

future of our economy and the future of the middle class.  I mean, this is

let‘s be very clear—ideological terrorism.  They are threatening to blow up our nation‘s economy and our future for the sake of some political point.


ROBERTS:  I know you said it seems like football, but it‘s more like hot potato to all of us here at home watching this go on in Washington, D.C., and just kicking it around.  But you‘ve recently written about what you call the hype surrounding U.S. debt.

So, what do you mean?  I mean, are we part of that in our coverage of all of this?

KOHN:  I‘m not going to point fingers at you, Thomas.

ROBERTS:  All right.

KOHN:  I‘ll let you off the hook until I go back and review it later.

Look, here‘s the thing—you know, this is a manufactured crisis.  Yes, can debt be a problem?  Are there problems with Medicare?  Are reforms needed?  Yes.

But this is largely a manufactured crisis that is then being exploited by Republicans in order to cram down our throats a long-held ideological agenda to kill government and to kill everything that‘s made America work for the middle class and the poor.  So, the truth is, at this moment in time, look—businesses are sitting on record capital, record levels of capital that they‘re not spending.  Government is the spender of last resort.

And the thing I wrote about was the fact that in the private sector, successful businesses have two times, three times, sometimes 14, 15 times more debt-to-income ratios than the government.  Why is it OK for them and not us?

ROBERTS:  Sally, do you think the American public is adequately getting and being able to take stock of what‘s going on here to realize what‘s actually at stake?

KOHN:  You know, yes and no.  I mean, what‘s encouraging is that the American public opposes cuts to Medicare, sees through some of the smokescreen, this red herring the Republicans are trying to create and exploit.

But, unfortunately, Americans also believe that we have a real debt problem.  And the fact is you grow the economy, you fix the economy, you invest in our future.  Yes, using debt today, you pay down that debt tomorrow.

And if Republicans were really, really serious about the deficit, then half of their budget—or I‘m sorry 70 percent of their budget plan wouldn‘t be going to more tax cuts for the rich.  They‘d actually be lowering the deficit which their plan doesn‘t do.

ROBERTS:  When we talk about all of this individually, we talk about the fact that OK, at home we got to live by it.  If we don‘t got it, we can‘t spend it.  But in talking about this and what it‘s doing for our government, does this set a terrible precedent for what could happen in the future when it comes to the debt ceiling and then also the economy globally?

Because if we‘re not paying off our debts that sends a really bad message internationally.

KOHN:  It was Ronald Reagan in 1987 who said that defaulting on federal debt would be unthinkable.  Unthinkable.  That was Reagan.

Now, of course, that was a very different Republican Party than we have now, the sort of, you know, ideological terrorists who are playing—who are taking our government and economy hostage.  So, yes—I mean, it is a very—it is a different situation.

But we have to remember that family budget metaphor is the wrong metaphor to be playing with.  We should be thinking about instead the consequences of defaulting on your mortgage.  They‘re atrocious.  You lose your home.  You lose your whole family‘s way of life and existence.

This will—we will lose standing in the world, our future, our children‘s future, our grandchildren‘s future will not continue to go on.  But moreover, if the Republicans get their way and slash government by ¾, as they‘re planning to do with nondiscretionary spending, our kids also won‘t have the life that America has come to know.

ROBERTS:  We have until August 2nd.  Do you think we‘re going to be talking about this up until the very last minute?

KOHN:  I sure hope not.  I really hope that, you know, the reasonable majority of Americans, including the reasonable majority of Republicans, can bring some sense to Washington.

ROBERTS:  All right.  Well, you brought some sense to our set tonight.

Sally, great to have you here.  Sally Kohn, thanks for your time—from

All right.  So, if supply and demand are driving gas prices up, why do prices drop during one of the heaviest travel weekends of the year?

And then, for you, three more Republicans will have to face the voters of Wisconsin this summer to answer for the vote—their vote to strip workers‘ rights in the birth place of collective bargaining.

Back with more after this.


ROBERTS:  Hi, everybody.  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is getting 2012 advice from some pretty heavy hitters.  God himself has now apparently weighed in.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  Every decision that I make, I pray about, as does my husband.  And I can tell you, yes, I‘ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do.  And because it‘s such a momentous decision, not only for myself, my husband, and our 28 children, it is a momentous decision what ideas will I bring to bear.


ROBERTS:  The congresswoman still seems to be working on those ideas, particularly when it comes to whether “President Bachmann” would sign Paul Ryan‘s Medicare plan into law.  Now, she voted for the bill but then said her support came with an asterisk.

This morning, Bachmann was asked about her position.


BACHMANN:  The asterisk is that people don‘t recognize that this is about people who are 55 and under.  I don‘t want a 78-year-old woman to think that Medicare is going to be pulled out from under her because it won‘t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you were president, you would sign the congressman‘s plan into law?

BACHMANN:  Well, the other portion that I think is very important is that in the middle of dealing with all insurance and numbers, we can‘t forget humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I understand that.  But does that mean you would sign the bill or not?

BACHMANN:  Well, I think some version of this bill because Paul is right.  We have to sustain Medicare.  We can‘t let it just go away for senior citizens.


ROBERTS:  For now, Bachmann is keeping her 2012 decision to herself. 

She says she is going to make her announcement in Iowa sometime in June.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann‘s fellow Tea Partier, Sarah Palin, is even more coy about her 2012 plans.  But that‘s not stopping her from breathing in all that is good about America.

More on Palin‘s patriotic bus tour—coming up.


ROBERTS:  So, Memorial Day is traditionally a high travel holiday on the roads, but a funny thing happened at the gas pump this weekend.  Take a look.  Here is the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline today, $3.78.  The average price yesterday, Memorial Day, a half cent higher.

Now, one week ago, it was over $3.82.  And a month ago, more than $3.94.

So, based on supply and demand economics, the price should have gotten higher over the busy Memorial Day weekend, but instead the price has gone down—steadily over the past month.

And some lawmakers are turning their attention away from supply and demand and toward commodity speculation to explain the high cost of oil.  Several senators met last week with Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, to ask why his agency is not regulating oil speculation.

Senator Bernie Sanders led the charge.


SANDERS:  In the Dodd/Frank financial reform bill, the CFTC was required, not asked, required to deal with speculation.  They were required to do that in January.  We are now in May and they have not yet done that.


ROBERTS:  Senator Sanders is asking President Obama to get tough on the CFTC.  In a letter to the president last month, the senator wrote, “I urge you to make it clear to the CFTC that they must obey the law and establish strong oil speculation limits as soon as possible.  I would also urge you to ask for the immediate resignation of any CFTC commissioner who refuses to obey the law and nominate someone else who will.”

Now, according to a Senate aide, senators asked Chairman Gensler to implement emergency powers to crackdown on oil speculators, but he declined to do so.  And we asked the CFTC why it won‘t use these emergency powers, but a spokesman did not give us an answer in time for this broadcast tonight.

And joining me now by phone is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Sir, it‘s good to speak with you once again.

SANDERS (via telephone):  Good to be with you.

ROBERTS:  All right.  So, you‘ve said that the CFTC is violating the law and you‘re calling for the resignation of its members.  So, are your requests falling on deaf ears?  And do you think you‘re going to get anywhere with that request?

SANDERS:  Well, I think we will.  I think when you have the CEO of ExxonMobil—this is ExxonMobil—telling us that perhaps 40 percent of the price of oil today is due to speculation, when you have Goldman Sachs itself, and they are major speculators, suggesting that the price of oil has 20 percent effect because of speculation, we recently learned that in 2008 when we also had an oil spike the Saudi Arabian government told the U.S. government—told Bush administration, that there was not a need for more oil production, that the reason the prices were so high was because of speculation.

When you have all of that, I think the answer is that we have got to crackdown on speculators who control now about 70 percent of the oil futures market.

ROBERTS:  Senator, you asked Chairman Gensler to use emergency powers though on oil speculation back in 2009.  This is after that 2008 oil spike that you just talked about.

So, do you know why the CFTC won‘t use these powers if they will cause the price of oil to drop and do so considerably?

SANDERS:  Well, there are two issues.  The chairman himself has in my view the power to—has the capability to use emergency powers.  He refuses to do that.  I guess it‘s too bold an action for him.

What he—my understanding is they think they don‘t have the votes.  There are five people on the commission.  They only have two votes in order to begin to address the issue.

My view is they have got to raise the sense of urgency.  The president has got to become involved in this issue.

But the vast majority of the people believe this has something to do with supply and demand.  It doesn‘t.  More supply less demand.

We have required the CFTC to act.  They‘re not doing it.  The president must demand that they do that.

If they don‘t do it, those guys should leave office.  Other people should assume that position and fulfill what the law requires.

ROBERTS:  Sir, we‘ve been told by a Senate source that Chairman Gensler said as much as 85 percent of trading in the energy market is done by speculators, and yet he also said that he doesn‘t know if speculation is driving prices.  So, in your mind, how did those two statements square with one another?

SANDERS:  They‘re absurd.  I think when you have over 80 percent of the oil futures market controlled by speculators—these are the Wall Street guys, who do not use the product.

They‘re not in the airline business.  They‘re not in the trucking business.  They‘re not in the fuel business.

They are simply driving up prices to suggest on the part of Mr.  Gensler that he doesn‘t know what the prices are going up or down because of the speculation to me is a totally absurd remark.

ROBERTS:  So, instead of all of us depending on the CFTC, why can‘t we depend on you guys because the bill to curb energy speculation passed back in 2008 by a vote of 402 to 19.  So, why isn‘t there broad bipartisan support for such a bill any longer?

SANDERS:  Well, that‘s a very good idea and there may well be.  I think what the general feeling was that as a result of Dodd/Frank, the Wall Street reform act, these guys were required to act.  We thought that was good enough.

OK.  They did not act.  What‘s plan B?  And plan B I believe is that the Congress has got to bring forth legislation to force them to act.

ROBERTS:  If we see the prices going down, though, modestly as we‘re seeing right now, sir, does it take the heat off just a bit?

SANDERS:  It shouldn‘t because the whole issue—it really shouldn‘t.  There has been extraordinary volatility over the last three years of oil prices.  Gone up, gone down, gone up.

This is not doing—this is not a result of supply and demand.  This is an issue we have to get a handle on or else it will simply keep repeating itself.

When oil in my state, when gas in my state is $3.85 a gallon, which is a rural state, we are a rural state, people travel long distances to work, this is really taking a bite out of their paycheck.  This is an issue that‘s affecting millions of millions of working people.  It‘s affecting our entire economy.  We got to deal with it now and we have to make sure that it doesn‘t happen again and again in the future.

ROBERTS:  Is this something that has President Obama‘s attention?

SANDERS:  He has talked about it occasionally, but I don‘t think with the urgency it requires.  No.  I think if the president got up and said, you know what, we‘re going to deal with this speculation.  We‘re going to deal it with now.  We‘re going to deal with it tomorrow—that would happen.  He hasn‘t done that.

ROBERTS:  What would bring the urgency, the oil spike we saw in ‘08?

SANDERS:  You know, when gas is at $3.82 a gallon or close of or—was over $4 a gallon in many parts of the country, I think that is a sense of urgency.  When we know this is threatening, when the price of oil is threatening the fragile recovery that we‘re in right now, this is—requires a sense of urgency.  I wish the president was stronger on this issue.

ROBERTS:  Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont—sir, it‘s always good to talk to you.  Thanks for joining us tonight.

SANDERS:  Thank you.

ROBERTS:  Florida Governor Rick Scott may be America‘s most unpopular governor.  New polls show increased displeasure with Republican governors across the country.  We‘ll explore that.

And Sarah Palin, all American bus tour swinging by historic sites like Mount Vernon, the Liberty Bell, Gettysburg, and, of course, Trump Tower.


ROBERTS:  Hi, everybody.  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Sarah Palin‘s big bus tour described as a trip through our nation‘s rich, historical sites, has rolled straight into New York City.  On her list of historical sites evidently includes Trump Tower, where she met with the Donald earlier this evening before the two headed out for pizza with Trump‘s wife and Palin‘s daughter Piper.

Now, so far, Palin‘s all American road trip has fallen somewhere between a campaign swing and a nice family vacation.  She says she wants to invite people to participate in all that is good about America.  But that invitation is lacking crucial information.  Her staff is not revealing the tour schedule to supporters, reporters, or even local GOP officials.

And Palin spent time in Pennsylvania yesterday, including a visit to Gettysburg.  But the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party said, “I have had no contact with Palin.  I question the value of the theater by some candidates.”

Now, Palin says she is not revealing her itinerary because she wants the media to figure it out by themselves.


PALIN:  It would be a mistake for me to become some kind of conventional politician and doing things the way that it‘s always been done with the media, in terms of relationship with them, telling them to come along and we‘ll orchestrate this, we‘ll strip this, and we‘ll basically write a story for you, media, about what we‘re doing every day.  No, I want them to do a little work on a tour like this. 

The media can figure out where we‘re going if they do their investigative work.  Or they‘re going to keep try to, as you put it, go crazy trying to figure it out what we‘re doing. 


ROBERTS:  If you don‘t talk to them, why find you?  Anyway, one thing that we do know for sure, Palin made it clear that she is staying true to her “drill baby drill” mentality.  Here is her response to a question about whether all her bus tour events would be as loud as its Rolling Thunder kickoff. 


PALIN:  Oh, it would be a blast if they were this loud and if they smelled this good.  I love that smell of the emissions. 


ROBERTS:  He is convinced that al Qaeda is out to get him.  And he believes gay activists want to fire bomb his office.  Who are we talking about?  The delusional world of Roger Ailes coming up. 

THE ED SHOW made the Wisconsin 14 famous back in February.  And John Nichols is going to be here to tell you why the infamous Wisconsin Six might make this a long, hot summer for Scott Walker.  That‘s coming your way next.


ROBERTS:  Hi everybody.  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Thomas Roberts.  So it is going to be a sweltering political summer for Governor Scott Walker and six Wisconsin Republican state senators.  Today, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board cleared the way for recall elections of three more Republican senators who voted for Governor Walker‘s anti-labor bill. 

Last week, the board approved recall elections for Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper, and Luther Olsen.  Today, Rob Koules, Alberta Darling, and Sheila Harsdorf joined this list of Wisconsin Republicans who will have to fight for their jobs this summer. 

The “JS” online points out that at no time in U.S. history have attempts been made to recall so many legislators at the same time over the same issue.  The Government Accountability Board has yet to rule on any of the other recall petitions gathered on three Democrats that were part of the Wisconsin 14 who fled the state, you may remember, to temporarily hold up Walker‘s bill earlier this year. 

The board was ordered to decide on all nine senators up for recount, but was delayed by the enormous amount of petitions to oust the Republicans and the recount election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  The GAB is asking for an extension now to decide on the Democrats next week. 

Eric McLeod, the attorney for the recalled Republicans, objected to the extension. 


ERIC MCLEOD, ATTORNEY FOR WISCONSIN REPBULICAN SENATORS:  I am surprised that the board decided to proceed in light of the court‘s order that required that all of the remaining six be considered together today.  They seem unconcerned with the fact that the court required it and apparently intend to ask for forgiveness later. 


ROBERTS:  The board had been working under a plan to hold all recall elections coming up on July 12th.  But the delay could move the elections now to later on in July. 

So for more on all of these stories, we want to be asking the questions of John Nichols.  He‘s the Washington correspondent for “the Nation” and follows this really closely. 

John, it‘s good to have you back on.  Explain to all of us this distinction.  Why the distinction between the Republicans and the petitions signed to recall the Democrats? 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  Well, the Democratic petitions were gathered by Wisconsinites, mostly people from within the districts.  These were grassroots campaigns, neighbors going to their neighbors, gathering the signatures in a very one-on-one, traditional sense.  The way most people would understand it. 

The Republican petitions, the ones seeking to displace some of the Wisconsin 14, were gathered by folks from out of state.  You had a—the state Republican party hired a Colorado firm to bring in petition gatherers. 

And frankly, those Republican petitions are a mess.  They‘ve already had a number of names struck from them because of claims of fraud.  You had one instance in southeast Wisconsin, the district of Senator Rob Wurch, where the name of a senior Democratic legislator‘s father was on the petition to remove the Democratic senator, except the father had been dead for 20 years. 

So the Government Accountability Board has a lot of work to do to just sort through very messy, very troubling petitions. 

ROBERTS:  When we talk about the Government Accountability Board, or the GAB as a lot of people are going to hear it called, is this a bipartisan organization, John? 

NICHOLS:  Yes, it is.  The Government Accountability Board is perhaps better understood as a nonpartisan organization.  Its board is actually a group of retired judges, people who have served on the bench honorably, often for many years, taken retirement, and then were appointed to this board with an eye toward making sure that they‘re not political players. 

You don‘t have a bunch of former legislators or former reelected officials from the partisan side.  Our judges in Wisconsin, despite some of our recent races, are elected on a nonpartisan basis.  And so the whole of the board comes from nonpartisan background. 

ROBERTS:  From all of your reporting on this, do you think the GAB is going to approve this recall of any of the Democrats? 

NICHOLS:  Yes.  I think a couple of them will get through.  Ultimately they did over petition.  So they‘ve got signatures.  But I want to emphasize especially the petitions against Jim Holperin, the Democratic senator in the far northern part of the state, there is a lot of trouble with those petitions, a lot of concerns about people who were frankly encouraged to sign using fraudulent methods. 

ROBERTS:  John, explain when you expect to see these recalls to happen.  I imagine since this is dragging on, it‘s got to be embarrassing for the people and the authority leaders in Wisconsin to see this going through such stages of—I don‘t know—taking the democratic system through such mud. 

NICHOLS:  Well, Wisconsin is a dot your Is, cross your Ts sort of state.  They do like to get things right.  So people are relatively patient with this process.  But you‘re right, it is getting a little complicated. 

One of the big problems here is that you could separate these recall elections.  You could have the Republican senators who are up for recall placed on the ballot say July 12th or July 19th, and then have the Democrats placed on a little bit later.

But the two parties are really wrangling over that.  In the end, that‘s going to be the sort of trip wire, is can you keep all of these recalls on the same day?  That‘s what the Government Accountability Board is doing.  But it‘s getting very, very difficult because of different quality of these petitions. 

ROBERTS:  John, last but not least, in the state supreme court election, Joann Kloppenburg conceded to David Prosser today.  Is that going to help Walker, the governor, and the Republicans in any way? 

NICHOLS:  I don‘t think so.  I mean, David Prosser did have a lead.  He had been seen as the victor by an awful lot of folks.  Joann Kloppenburg‘s question was whether she wanted to pursue a legal challenge raising some of the issues as regards the voting practices, particularly in Waukesha county. 

She chose not to pursue that.  But really the truth of the matter is the focus in Wisconsin right now is on these recall elections.  And I think that‘s where the energy is going to be. 

ROBERTS:  John Nichols of “the Nation Magazine,” great to see you tonight.  Thanks. 

Scott Walker is pretty unpopular in Wisconsin, but apparently he‘s not alone in this country.  New polls suggesting buyer‘s remorse in several states that elected Republican governors last year.  We‘ll bring you more on that coming up next. 


ROBERTS:  New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has hired a lawyer to look into possible legal action after a lewd picture was allegedly sent from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old student in Seattle.  Weiner says someone hacked into his account and sent the photo as a prank, though he has not yet asked law enforcement to investigate it. 

Now the alleged recipient seems to back up the claim, saying that although she is a fan of the congressman‘s and although he follows her on Twitter, she had never met or spoken to him before.  Saying, quote, “there have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the Tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.” 

Weiner said today he is done talking about the story, calling it a distraction from issues that he cares about.  Strangely enough, though, a Canadian politician is wrapped up in this same type of story.  Listen to this, but more revealing—a photograph that uploaded to George Lep‘s (ph) Twitter account over the weekend. 

He says the picture was posted after someone stole his Blackberry. 

Up next, some union busting Republican governors have more than Twitter hackers to actually worry about.  Voters in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida just some of the states that are having serious buyer‘s remorse.


ROBERTS:  New polling shows that many voters who helped push Republican governors to victory last year now wish that they hadn‘t.  Surveys by Public Policy Polling show that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who won by six points in November, would lose to his opponent, Tom Barret, by seven points if a do-over election were held today. 

Ohio Governor John Kasich won with a two-point margin over Ted Strickland last year.  Today, he would lose by a whopping 25 points. 

Republican governors from Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Georgia would suffer the same fates according to this polling.  Only Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval would still win his race with a rematch. 

As for Florida Governor Rick Scott, he would take a 20-point tumble this time around.  It is a hypothetical outcome that has the attention of the White House.  “Politico” reports that President Obama‘s campaign team plans to make the unpopular governor the centerpiece of the president‘s re-election strategy when it comes to dealing with the Sunshine State. 

Let‘s bring Margie Omero.  She‘s the president of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling agency.  Margie, good to have you on tonight.  Let‘s get straight to this and dive in, because it is interesting to see these numbers, especially with some of these whoppers of being 20, 25 points, a loss today. 

Where did these Republican governors lose the most ground just over seven months? 

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  Well, it‘s interesting.  There‘s a few things that are really important here.  And one of the most important things from these polls is that independents are now saying that they‘re going to vote Democratic.  In the actual elections, according to official exit poll results, they voted for Republicans.  Independents went Republicans, but—for the Republican candidate. 

But now they‘re voting for the Democratic candidate.  This kind of pattern is what we saw in 2006, when Democrats took back the House.  We saw independents moving toward Democrats.  And in 2010, we saw independents moving toward Republicans. 

To see independents now shift again toward Democrats is really encouraging. 

ROBERTS:  Do you think that this buyer‘s remorse would extend to Republicans in federal government?  And does that mean Republicans are in danger of losing the House in 2012? 

OMERO:  I absolutely think that what we see from these polls and a lot of other polls, and what we saw in New York, the New York Congressional contest last week, is that there is buyer‘s remorse not just in Washington but in the states. 

And, you know, I get it.  People saw—people heard what might happen during the campaign and said, you know, of course Republicans aren‘t going to end Medicare as we know it or try and take back child safety laws and take on teachers, while giving tax breaks to—and giveaways to oil companies and to corporations. 

I mean, who would do such a thing?  In fact, that is what they did immediately.  Those are the kinds of actions that people have been taking Republicans in Washington and across the country, in a lot of state legislators.  And people have immediately decided this is not for us. 

ROBERTS:  Margie, you talk about Washington.  President Obama, though, is enjoying this bump in an approval rating.  Do you think that this rebound correlates to the declining numbers that we‘re seeing across this country for Republican governors?  Or do you think it‘s just still riding that wave of getting rid of bin Laden? 

OMERO:  I think there are a few things.  I think, one, people are getting a real close look at what Republicans—what the Republican agenda is and deciding it‘s terrible.  I mean, “The Hangover” was big last weekend, but what‘s a really bigger hangover is after the Republican takeover from 2010.  And the Ryan Plan has really been a disaster for Republicans, from a message strategy, from a message point of view, from what voters want to hear. 

You know, it cost them a safe congressional seat, what should have been a safe seat.  And it‘s going to cause them huge problems down the road. 

ROBERTS:  What do you make, though, of the reported strategy of the Obama reelection campaign to highlight these unpopular governors, specifically that of Rick Scott in Florida? 

OMERO:  These—all of these states are really crucial swing states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  These are all swing states that—and Georgia. 

ROBERTS:  Right. 

OMERO:  These are states that have been in play.  They‘ve been battleground states.  And the fact that there are these Republican governors who had no thoughts of good will, no benefit of the doubt, no honeymoon—they just immediately—just were immediately rejected by their own voters and by independents.  It‘s something that is going to benefit not just the Obama reelection campaign, but any other campaign—

Democratic candidate running for Congress or Senate or a state representative or a down ballot statewide. 

ROBERTS:  Margie, how are Republicans reacting to these polls, digesting them?  Are they going to have to alter their agendas over the next year and a half?  Is that really enough time? 

OMERO:  I don‘t know.  They seem to still have this kid in the candy store kind of attitude, where they‘re not really looking at what the voters think because if they had been, they wouldn‘t be in this situation.  They wouldn‘t be doing exactly the opposite of what the American people say they want. 

The American people don‘t want to end heating oil help for low income seniors.  They don‘t want to take away mandatory maternity care coverage.  They don‘t want to, you know, take away health care from children.

Yet these are the kinds of things—they don‘t want to redefine rape.  These are the kinds of things that Republicans have decided was their first number one priority, instead of working to create jobs for the working class.  That is what the American people really want. 

ROBERTS:  Margie Omero of Momentum Analysis, nice to have you on tonight.  Thanks. 

OMERO:  Thank you. 

ROBERTS:  Loyalists call him the Chairman.  Now new details emerge on the man who runs Fox News.  We‘re talking Roger Ailes.  It‘s an ED SHOW exclusive, next.


ROBERTS:  So he is described as a cross between Don Rickles and Don Corleone, a commanding right wing operative determined to take down the left.  And he does it all with the help of a highly profitable network that he runs, Fox News. 

Now the latest profile from “Rolling Stone Magazine” gives new insight into the man simply known as the Chairman, Roger Ailes.  In a moment, the writer of that profile, Tim Dickinson, is going to join me. 

Ailes is the master, though, at knowing his Fox News audience and playing into their fears.  But as Dickinson writes, Ailes is also deeply paranoid and fearful himself. 

When Ailes first moved into his office at Fox News headquarters here in New York, he believed that gay activists would fire bomb it.  He demanded, quote, “bomb proof glass installed in his office windows.”  Even going so far as to personally inspect samples of high tech Plexiglas. 

Ailes is also convinced that he‘s been personally targeted by al Qaeda.  Quote, “he surrounds himself with an aggressive security detail and is licensed to carry a concealed hand gun.  ‘You know they‘re coming to get me,‘ he tells friends inside his blast resistant office at Fox News headquarters.  Ailes keeps a monitor on his desk that allows him to view activity outside his closed door.  Once after observing a dark skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lock down.  The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor.” 

Joining me now, as promised, is the national affairs correspondent for “Rolling Stone Magazine,” Tim Dickinson. 

Tim, it‘s nice to have you with us.  His article, “How Roger Ailes Built The Fox News Fear Factory” appears in the current issue of “Rolling Stone,” available on news stands. 

Tim, I want to get straight to it, though.  Why is Ailes convinced that he is the target of these groups, basically gay terrorists and al Qaeda? 

TIM DICKINSON, “THE ROLLING STONE”:  I can‘t get to deeply into Roger Ailes‘ head.  I don‘t know what underlies these preoccupations of his.  But you hear them from multiple different sources.  And they seem to be true.  He surrounds himself by—traveling with him apparently is like an episode of “24.” 

He‘s got this big black SUV and guys who deliver the package from the car to the office headquarters.  But I think we can get distracted by some of these juicier details from sort of the broader sweep of Ailes‘ life, which goes straight from Nixon through Reagan through the first Bush and then he sort of goes under ground. 

ROBERTS:  Right. 

DICKINSON:  And is working for big tobacco, trying to take down Hillary-care.  And then right into fox news.  Roger Ailes has always said that he has had a break between his two lives, his life as a politico and his life as a broadcast executive. 

And I think the main takeaway from my piece is that that is a fiction.  And it‘s a lie that he has told to the American people.  He‘s told it to Congress. 

But there is this dramatic through line where everything he wanted to do as an operative with Richard Nixon in 1968 he is now doing now 24/7 on his political network. 

ROBERTS:  Speaking of that network, I can‘t speak to al Qaeda, but I can speak to the gays.  I know they‘re in his newsroom and they‘re on his air.  So I‘ll just say that.  But anyway, you‘re right that Fox News stands as the culmination of everything Ailes tried to do for his old boss Richard Nixon, who you brought up. 

Is his ultimate goal to destroy President Obama?  And does he believe that he can actually achieve that goal? 

DICKINSON:  I think Roger Ailes, if you pumped him full of sodium pentothal, he is a God and country guy.  So I think he views it as he is trying to save the country from Barack Obama.  If you talk to the White House, they‘ll tell you that in their conversations with him, he‘s bringing up—as sort of the demented view of Fox—of the administration that you get on Fox News is Roger Ailes‘ view, that the darker interpretations of what the Obama administration is doing, he believes those. 

Those aren‘t contrived in his mind.  So he views himself as sort of someone who is trying to save America from this terrible president.  I think he thinks he can do it.  I think he really—it‘s under-appreciated, but Fox has this sort of whip function with the GOP.  And he can—when you have this 24/7 megaphone, you can really bring people into line and help shape the agenda in a very powerful way, raise money for candidates, get people elected. 

Look at John Kasich, the former Fox News host who is now the union busting governor of Ohio. 

ROBERTS:  Yes, no.  Exactly.  that‘s a great point, because he really is the first candidate of the Fox News party, the new governor of Ohio.  But voters want a do-over in Ohio.  But none of the Fox News pundits that Ailes recruited are polling very well against Obama right now. 

Do you think viewers can catch on to the Ailes strategy here? 

DICKINSON:  You know, I think if Huckabee had entered the race, it would have changed the situation dramatically.  So I think the strategy there—he gave Huckabee a show as sort of a throw away, according to my sourcing.  And Huckabee really took to it and enjoyed it, and has sort of taken to the life of a TV star rather than a political candidate.

But if Huckabee had joined the race, we‘d be having a very different conversation.  And Sarah Palin is still the elephant in the wings. 

ROBERTS:  In the tour bus right now. 

DICKINSON:  Exactly.  With Donald Trump at Trump Tower.  But—

ROBERTS:  When you were researching for this article, Tim, what surprised you the most, the most eyebrow raising for you? 

DICKINSON:  I was someone who never really was too troubled by what Fox News appeared to be.  I thought that there is room in the media landscape for left wing and right wing media.  But what I was really shocked by was the totality of what they were doing, the active collaboration with the Republican party, the talking points that come out of Mitch McConnell‘s mouth -- 

ROBERTS:  Right. 

DICKINSON:  -- on the same day that they come out of Sean Hannity‘s mouth.  So this is—as the former media critic of Fox News told me, the question is no longer whether Fox News is an arm of the Republican party, but whether it‘s become the torso instead. 

So this is—you know, this is a 24/7 propaganda outlet for the Republican party.  But it‘s unclear who the boss is.  You know, it seems that the chairman is the boss. 

ROBERTS:  Real quickly, I have about five seconds.  Does Fox News survive if Roger Ailes isn‘t there? 

DICKINSON:  That‘s a good question.  It‘s an open question.  It‘s hard to see who would have the same skill set and the same political juice that Roger Ailes would.  I think it will continue certainly as a successful TV program.  But whether it will have that—that same political juice, it will be hard to say.

ROBERTS:  All right, Tim.  Thanks so much.  We got to run.  that‘s THE ED SHOW for tonight.  I‘m Thomas Roberts.  Thanks for joining us.  Take care, everybody.



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