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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday June 20, 2011

Guests: Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, Howard Dean, Jane Hamsher, Jamal Simmons, Matt Lewis, Reggie Brown

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  The GOP‘s new sport for 2012?  Cliff diving. 

Huntsman jumps of a right-wing cliff and Mitt Romney has to follow.

Tonight, as the GOP lurches to the right, is it going to drag down their front-runner with it? 

Also, Howard Dean delivered an amazing speech at the Netroots convention, and he is here live on how progressives should fight back against the GOP.  Can‘t wait. 

And on Jon Stewart, well, he went Fox hunting, and he came out smiling.  We‘ll show you the part of the type that Fox edited out.  That‘s fantastic. 

Plus, yanked for jokes about Republicans at an Republican event.  The Obama comedian is live on this show tonight as well. 

Now, good evening.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.  Welcome to the show, everybody. 

Now, another day, another step to the right the GOP takes on their way off that cliff.  That‘s our lead story tonight. 

Tomorrow, Jon Huntsman officially joins the 2012 presidential race.  We know this because his campaign is out with yet another video of his impersonator driving motor cross.  But as you‘ll see, it turns out that dude is headed off the Grand Canyon, where he will “Thelma and Louise” off that right-wing cliff. 

Huntsman, who is supposed to be the most moderate Republican in the race, is careening toward the right wing as we speak.  He‘ll open his campaign in front of the Statue of Liberty just like party hero Ronald Reagan did in 1980. 

OK.  That‘s standard.  But while trying to channel Ronnie, he‘s apparently going to tell us how much he loves the crazy Ryan budget. 

Well,  there goes any talk of moderation. 

Now, keep in mind, this is the same Jon Huntsman who served as ambassador to China under President Obama and the same guy who told the president in a leaked cable, “I‘m proud to be part of your team.”  Now he is proud apparently to be part of Paul Ryan‘s team. 

All right.  While he is driving his dirt bike to the right, off that base, front-runner Mitt Romney is getting hammered for being too far left on Afghanistan after making these comments during last week‘s debate --  


MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I also think we‘ve learned that our troops shouldn‘t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. 


UYGUR:  Now, that sounds reasonable enough, right?  So, of course there was immediate trouble.  And when the pressure mounted from other right-wingers, here comes the backpedal.  Backpedal, backpedal, backpedal.  He is trying to get out of there. 

So, now Romany‘s people are now saying, “The governor was trying to address (concerns about this war).  He does recognize the strategic importance of victory in Afghanistan.”

But it would appear that‘s not enough for warmongers like McCain and Graham.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  If you think that the pathway to the GOP nomination in 2012 is to get to Barack Obama‘s left on Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, you‘re going to meet a lot of headwinds. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today.  That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world. 


UYGUR:  What would Reagan be saying?  He would be saying run for the hills, like he did in Lebanon.

But, all right.  Basically, what they are telling Romney is, how dare you not realize that defense contractors still have so much more money they can make in Afghanistan?  Get back in line.  And of course he is going to. 

And there is also abortion, and he is trying to stand up to them on that, but that‘s not going to work out well for them either.  We‘re going to get to that in a little bit.

And with the party moving so far to the right, who better to enter the race than Rick Perry?  He knows how to stoke the base. 


GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS:  That mix of arrogance and audacity that guides the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private sector job in this country. 



UYGUR:  Of course the crowd ate it up.  And after that speech, they gave Perry a standing ovation and chanted, “Run, Rick, run!”  What is he, Forrest Gump?

By the way, what‘s the talk about an affront to every freedom-loving American?  Look, speak for yourself, buddy.  All right? 

Now, you want to pick a fight on what freedom-loving Americans really think, you cowboy?  I‘ll be your Huckleberry. 

I‘d love to get him on this show.  That would be fun, wouldn‘t it?

All right.  Let‘s bring in the chairmen, though.  They‘re also fun.  Former DNC chairman Ed Rendell, he‘s now an MSNBC political analyst.  Also, former RNC chairman Michael Steele, he‘s now an MSNBC contributor. 

Michael, you know very well—welcome, guys, first of all.  Great to have you, as always. 

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Hi.  It‘s good to be back. 


UYGUR:  All right.

Michael, you know better than anybody what happens to Republicans when they say, hey, maybe that Afghanistan thing is not working out for us. 


STEELE:  Just a little bit. 

UYGUR:  So what happens there, Michael?  That‘s what I‘m most curious about.  When you make that comment, why do the other Republicans bring down that world of pain on you?  What do you think it is? 

STEELE:  Well, because I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they have bought into this idea that, you know, this strategy of nation-building is something that is what we‘re all about.  And I think that even a lot of folks who were for that early on are beginning to realize that, you know, individuals will decide for themselves the direction they want to go. 

We want to be there to support, we want to be there to do what we can.  But particularly in a situation like Afghanistan, where there is no clearly defined objective from the administration, where there is no very clear and defined outcome, and when you‘re seeing the dollars being poured into this thing, you‘re seeing the resources, and certainly the treasure of our men and women and their lives being sacrificed, it causes you to stop and think.  What are we doing here? 

And, you know, I have a real problem with folks in the party saying that because a Mitt Romney may question or any of our presidential candidates may question this now 10-year-old mindset, and say that they are somehow isolationists, it‘s just bogus.  They‘re not.

To question the strategy, particularly one that is not necessarily of your own making, and you want to be president, and you want to put your own imprimatur on it, I think it‘s appropriate.  So let these individuals go through the course of this, let these candidates decide where they come out on Afghanistan, so that they can have that honest conversation with the American people and stop trying to label them out of the party. 

UYGUR:  Right.

Look, there we go.  We start off with agreement with Michael Steele right off the bat. 

On the other hand, I really think that the Republicans don‘t let anybody do that, because I think they get a ton of money from the defense contractors.  But I want to go to Huntsman. 

Governor Rendell, look, this guy seemed like he was going to be a moderate.  And I remember actually talking him up on “The Young Turks,” saying, look, he has got some actual moderate positions, I‘m impressed.  And all of a sudden, there he goes, way to the right.  The crazy Ryan plan, and he‘s going to back that, apparently, as he enters here. 

Is there no hope for moderates in the Republican Party? 

RENDELL:  Well, apparently not.  The only thing I would say is run, Michael run, after hearing Michael describe what we ought to be doing, because that‘s a view that I think would be very, very attractive in the Republican Party. 

Look, first let me just say about the question, Romney in the war, I was watching another network on Sunday as I was working out, and they have in memoriam.  And they announced that 11 U.S. servicemen had died in Afghanistan and Iraq last week.  And I just felt sick to my stomach. 

I said, why?  Why now?  Why aren‘t we out of there?  Why are we spending money building the Afghani and Iraqi infrastructure when we don‘t spend any money building the United States infrastructure? 

It‘s time for us to gracefully exit and turn it over to the Iraqis and the Afghanis.  There is no more nation-building that we can do.  We have, as Michael said, spent our treasure. 

Now, as for Governor Huntsman, it‘s shocking to hear what you said.  One candidate who runs as moderate, who runs as a sensible moderate, can win the Republican nomination.  I believe that with all my heart. 

If some candidate says, I‘m not for the Ryan plan because, look, Medicare should not be dismantled, we should save money out of Medicare, we might reduce some entitlements, some of the benefit structure, but we‘re not going to turn it into a voucher program that is absolutely unworkable, we‘re not going to do that, period, and we are going to consider getting out of Afghanistan, someone runs like that, Cenk, and I believe they win the Republican nomination.  If they run the way all these candidates appear to be headed, someone is going to win the Republican nomination, but they‘re not going to become president of the United States. 

UYGUR:  Well, Michael, I want to go towards that question, which is, are they really hurting all their guys by forcing them to be absolutely right wing on every position?  Let me give you Michele Bachmann‘s quote.  Let me give you this as an example. 

Now, remember, Romney says, I‘m not going to sign this Susan B.  Anthony pledge on abortion because it would actually cut off funding to hospitals, which is way too much.  And here‘s what Michele Bachmann says:

“It is distressing that Governor Romney refuses to sign the SBA pledge even while claiming to pro-life.  Governor Romney should reconsider his decision not to sign the pledge just as reconsiders his position on the life issue during the last campaign,” taking another dig at him.

And it seems like Romney takes a step towards the center a little bit, they beat him over the head, and then he goes back to the right.  Is that a plausible strategy to win the overall election? 

STEELE:  It‘s not a plausible strategy.  And look, you‘ve got it on both sides here. 

You‘ve got progressives who have firm control now of the Democratic left, and so you have, you know, those Blue Dog Democrats who took a big hit in November trying to figure out where they fit.  The same is true on the right. 

The reality of it is that the folks are right now looking for leadership that is going to recognize the complexities of their lives and the everyday existence that they are going through.  And they want to be able to address that with some commonsense approaches. 

So, when you have someone like a Governor Romney saying what he is saying, for example, with respect to the pledge, that‘s the experience of a governor.  That‘s the experience of executive leadership that understands the fine balance between, you know, where I am politically as a Republican and where I need to be as the governor of my state or president of the United States. 

You know, all the hot rhetoric of a primary, whether it‘s right or left, comes back to bite the nominee when you get into that general election.  And people look you in the eye and go, well, when you said this, did you really mean that?  Because that‘s my situation and you just told me you don‘t want my support.  You‘ve got to be smart. 

UYGUR:  Yes, I am.

You know, when you say the progressives are in charge of the Democrats, I mean, I‘ve got to be honest, that makes me chuckle. 

STEELE:  Really?  You don‘t think so? 

UYGUR:  They‘re no way near in charge.  No way!  Not even close! 

The White House treats the progressives with tremendous disdain, let alone in charge.  They call them the R-word and everything you can possibly imagine. 

Who is the progressive in charge? 

STEELE:  So who is running the Democratic Party? 

RENDELL:  But Cenk, if I can interject here, I think that‘s one of the strengths of Barack Obama as a candidate, is that he can resist pressure from his own base, rightly or wrongly.  And you and I might disagree with him, Cenk, but on health care he resisted the pressure of forcing a public option, of forcing a showdown on that.  And on the budget last year, he resisted pressure from insisting that the tax cuts go.  And I think that the budget deal helped move us forwarded to some degree. 

So, look—and other issues.  I think he listens to the progressives, but he‘s his own person.  And that‘s what we want.

UYGUR:  Listen, he resists pressure from progressives in astounding ways.  I don‘t think it helps him at all, because I think he is to the right of the country.  And I think he would run a much more effective campaign if he ran as a real progressive and a populist and said, hey, I‘ll stand up for the middle class instead of Wall Street. 


RENDELL:  Go back to your central point.  The central point is that the Republican candidates cave to the pressure.  Barack Obama, whether you and I agree with him on an issue or not, does not cave to the pressure from the left wing of the Democratic Party. 

STEELE:  No, he doesn‘t. 

UYGUR:  Michael, go ahead.

STEELE:  He caves to the pressures from the right.  That‘s why we have the Bush foreign policy strategy and that‘s why we have the Bush tax cuts in place.  Is that what you‘re saying?  I mean, so he‘s—

UYGUR:  Actually, that is what I‘m saying.  And that‘s what sucks about it.


RENDELL:  No, he doesn‘t cave to anybody‘s pressure.  He‘s his own person and he makes his own decisions.  And again, some of us might disagree with him. 

You might disagree with some, Michael.  I bet you and Cenk disagree with others that you probably would agree with.  But Barack Obama is his own man.  And that‘s an important thing for a leader. 

STEELE:  So you‘re saying that none of the candidates on the Republican side are their own person? 

RENDELL:  No.  They are all scared silly by the right wing.  Scared silly. 

STEELE:  Oh, OK.  All right.  Well, we‘ll see how scared President Obama is come next spring when he needs the left. 

UYGUR:  And let me get one last thing here.  Let me introduce one last thing here.  And I want to ask Governor Rendell here. 

Look, they‘re calling this phenomenon the money blurb, when, theoretically, both sides do it, but again, it seems like it is almost all right-wingers.  When Michele Bachmann says something crazy like challenging Barack Obama‘s, in her words, anti-American views, all of a sudden she raises a couple of million dollars.  Right?

When Joe Wilson, as he yells out, “You lie!” in the State of the Union, raises a million dollars.  I mean, Michele Bachmann, of course, is the queen of this. 

Doesn‘t that also push them to the right because they get rewarded financially for doing it? 

RENDELL:  No, there‘s no question.  And no one—and I think, Michael, if somebody like a Huntsman or a Romney said enough, we have to govern this country and we have to tell American people the truth—you‘re not going to put hospitals out of business by the Susan B. Anthony thing, you‘re not going to have a plan that strips Medicare and turns it into a voucher program where no health insurance company will sign up someone who is 82 years old for $15,000 -- if someone told them the truth—the only person telling the Republican voters the truth, Cenk, is Ron Paul. 

STEELE:  But you‘ve also got, Governor, Republican leaders that are telling truth to the American people about what‘s to come with this behemoth health care coverage that we‘ve got coming down the pike.  You know, the cap and trade schemes and all of the other plans that have come out of administration, that sap away the ability to create the kind of jobs that apparently everybody wants.

UYGUR:  Which, by the way—

RENDELL:  Governor Huntsman was for cap and trade. 

UYGUR:  Which, by the way, the reason Huntsman originally was for cap and trade is because it was a Republican idea.  Another Republican idea adopted by the administration.

All right.  But you know where I stand on that.

By the way, let‘s give Ron Paul his due here.  At that Republican Leadership Conference that we showed you Perry was speaking at, et cetera, he actually won the straw poll quite convincingly, as can you see there. 

RENDELL:  And why?

UYGUR:  Right.

RENDELL:  And why?  He tells people the truth on the wars.  He tells people the truth on a lot of different things. 

UYGUR:  And they do respond well to that.  He got huge applause lines when he said let‘s get out of Afghanistan in the Republican debate. 

STEELE:  That‘s true.  But Governor, having been in those straw polls, you know how they ultimately work, too.

RENDELL:  No.  The straw polls aren‘t important.  But one thing that is important, Michael, people, when they vote for president, governor, mayor, they are looking for someone who will lead, who will make the thing work. 


STEELE:  And I think that‘s going to be the fine point of this election, because the president has not led on some critical issues right now. 

UYGUR:  All right.  We‘ve got to leave it right there. 

STEELE:  That‘s why we‘re seeing the numbers the way they are, Governor. 

RENDELL:  Your party isn‘t leading, they‘re all following the right wing.  They‘re following—

STEELE:  But your party is in charge.

UYGUR:  All right.  We‘ve got to leave it there, guys. 

STEELE:  Your party is in charge.  Come on. 


UYGUR:  We‘re having fun.  All right. 

RENDELL:  God bless you.  You have an incredible position.

UYGUR:  All right.  The chairmen, Ed Rendell and Michael Steele.

Always fun.  Thank you guys. 

All right.  Now, when we come back, the Bachmann tax con job.  She is all about protecting taxpayer money.  Right?  Well, it turns out that there is a great new report about her and how is she spends the taxpayer money.  We‘ll follow that money trail tonight. 

Plus, fueling the fire.  John McCain blames raging wildfires in Arizona on illegal immigrants.  Where the hell did that come from? 

And the interview everyone is talking about, Jon Stewart‘s epic appearance on Fox News. 


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”:  You were not making a political comment? 

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  You really think that‘s a political comment? 


STEWART:  You‘re insane. 


UYGUR:  We‘ll show you how it all went down and show you what Fox cut out.  That‘s fantastic. 

Stay with us. 


UYGUR:  The American people are begging for jobs, but politicians on both sides of the aisle have been obsessed with spending cuts instead.  But this past weekend, finally some good news. We finally heard the revenue side of the equation being mentioned in regard to budget talks. 


GRAHAM:  No one on the Republican side is going to vote to raise taxes, but I think many of us would look at flattening the tax code, do away with deductions and exemptions, and take that revenue to help pay off the debt. 


UYGUR:  Finally, revenues are on the table. 

Now, remember why this is so important.  The less revenue that they raise, the more they are going to take out in spending cuts from the middle class and the poor.  The rich should have to pay their fair share if we‘re going to balance the budget.  That is why revenue is so important. 

And even Senator Mark Warner says his colleagues in the Gang of Five are committed to including revenue. 


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA:  Roughly $3 in cuts, and a dollar of that cut will be interest savings with $1 in revenue.  That‘s the framework we‘re looking at. 


UYGUR:  Look, I‘m not sure I agree with the equation, but it‘s a start.  Great. 

So how will they bring in more revenue with taxes? 


WARNER:  The way we‘re dealing with revenue is not raising taxes.  We‘re actually going back to the Reagan approach which is lowering tax rates, getting rid of a lot of the tax exemptions.


UYGUR:  Are you kidding me?  Did you just hear that?  Just when you thought there was a shred of sanity in D.C., their idea for the revenue side is to lower taxes. 

So, look, they might take away home mortgage deductions, which hits the middle class pretty hard, and then lower rates for corporations in the highest brackets.  Look, I‘ve got to be honest with you, I think these guys are jokers. 

That was a Democratic senator telling you how they plan to redistribute wealth back up to the top even more.  It‘s enough to make you lose faith in the party entirely.  And, of course, when you get to the Republicans, they‘re much, much worse.  They‘re like, yes!  Lower taxes on the rich, what a brilliant idea!

But there is one guy with an entirely different perspective.  He thinks we should look to the people, not the politicians, for leadership. 


HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN:  There has been a lot of angst about whether all the promises are kept, whether we really have change we can believe in.  We ought not to think about people in Washington as responsible for the change that we can believe in.  We are responsible for the change that we can believe in. 


Change does not come from Washington, D.C.  Change comes from the bottom up, and we will make change in our own communities, and then it will spread outwards. 


UYGUR:  That was at Netroots Nation this past weekend.  And of course I couldn‘t agree with that idea more.  But let‘s talk about how we fight back against that D.C. machine. 

Joining me now, that man arguing for that bottom-up change, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. 

Governor Dean, thanks for being here tonight.  We really do appreciate it. 

DEAN:  Cenk, thanks for having me on. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Look, you and I totally agree.  You can‘t rely on Washington politicians, and you‘ve got fight from the bottom up.  I hear you on that. 

But at the same time, here they are in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats.  The Gang of Five—used to be Gang of Six—telling us, how, well, you know what?  We‘re going to probably raise the retirement age, Social Security, Medicare.  We‘re probably going to lower taxes as we take away some exemptions and subsidies, et cetera. 

How do we fight back against that? 

DEAN:  Well, there‘s nothing wrong with a good primary.  The Tea Party showed that.  So we ought to be doing that kind of stuff.

Look, we don‘t see the specific proposals yet.  Proposing raising the retirement on Social Security has already been done, first of all. 

Secondly, proposing raising the eligibility for Medicare is insane.  All that does is kick more people off health insurance in a country where we don‘t have nearly enough people who have health insurance to begin with. 

Third of all, this presupposes that this is all about the politicians in Washington.  The problem with health care is not Medicare or Medicaid.  The problem is the health care system. 

As long as you have (INAUDIBLE) service, costs all over every program, whether it‘s Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance, is going to go up about three times the rate of inflation.  There is a very interesting column by Paul Krugman this past week which—Krugman, sorry—which showed that the insurance industry costs went up much faster than Medicare costs did. 

So, you know, and there are some ideas that are being kicked around Washington that probably makes some sense, but there are a lot that don‘t make any sense at all.  And we need to be really clear about what those are. 

We‘ve got to see their ideas first.  I‘m not willing to pooh-pooh the whole Gang of Six—or Five, or whatever it is—because they haven‘t really put their ideas on the table.  But this idea that they‘re going to reduce corporate taxes, especially since a lot of big companies don‘t pay any taxes whatsoever, that‘s a nonstarter. 

UYGUR:  Look, every single hint coming out of that Gang of Five says that they‘re going in that direction.  They are talking about tax holidays from money they‘re bringing in from abroad, et cetera. 

Look, you know, it‘s frustrating because those are the Democrats.  You mentioned primaries.  I‘ve got to follow up on that.

OK.  So if you are talking about primaries against guys who are giving away corporate tax cuts, et cetera—

DEAN:  Absolutely.

UYGUR:  -- I‘ll name names.  For me, Mark Warner, everything he said to me has sounded absolutely Republican.  It would be crazy for progressives to let him run again without a challenge, because then what‘s the point of having a Democratic senator?  But of course as you mention primaries, people are going to ask, well, how about the top dog, President Obama, who, you know—it was his deficit commission that came up with a lot of these ideas in the first place. 

DEAN:  Yes, I‘m not a fan of primarying President Obama.  If I were, I‘d do it myself, and I‘m not.  I‘m supporting the president. 

Look, he hasn‘t done everything we would like on the progressive side of the aisle, but he‘s got two great Supreme Court justices.  He has a terrific executive order that asks the federal government to comply with Kyoto by—I‘ve forgotten what the date is, but that‘s an extraordinary step—move forward.  We don‘t have nearly the health plan that we should have, but it‘s a big step forward. 

There is not any question that this president is a—you know, has been a president who has done some of the things he said.  I think we‘re going to get out of Iraq by the end of the year.  That‘s another one.  Maybe we‘ll see by the end of the week a troop reduction in Afghanistan. 

That‘s another one. 

These things are not going to happen under a President Romney or a President Michele Bachmann.  So I‘m not a fan of primarying the president at all. 

UYGUR:  Well, let me throw out a wildcard here, because I hear you, and historically, primaries have hurt the president.  And I have agreed with that up until this moment. 

And, of course, having a Bachmann or a Romney would be an absolute and utter disaster.  And then you think about the Supreme Court and how important that is, and what the Republicans would do with that.  So I agree with you on all of that.

But I‘m now beginning to think if they go in this direction, and the president signs off on it—and these are very conservative positions—I actually think a primary might help the president, because it would force him to the left, where the real country is at.  Because the country isn‘t in favor of cutting Social Security and Medicare. 

DEAN:  No. 

UYGUR:  They‘re in favor of raising taxes on the rich.  Maybe if we get the president to go in that direction it helps him and doesn‘t hurt him. 

DEAN:  Cenk, I don‘t think that the Democrats in the Senate and in the House are going to vote for these kinds of crazy proposals that we‘re hearing about lowering taxes for the people who make a million dollars a year, or getting rid of home mortgage deductions.  Now, if you ask me, would I be in favor of limiting home mortgage reductions for the first $500,000, yes, or the first $400,000, and eliminating it after that.  That‘s what they are talking about by getting rid of the home mortgage deduction for people who have houses that are worth $400,000 and $500,000.  That‘s different. 

UYGUR:  Yes. 

DEAN:  So we don‘t know exactly what they are proposing yet, and I think we ought to find out before we ought to start talking about primarying everybody.


DEAN:  But I‘m not opposed to primaries anymore.  There are some people which we‘re not going to name on the show, but you‘ll see Democracy for America primarying some people, and I will be supporting some of those candidates. 

UYGUR:  Right.  And listen, there is no question about it.  It‘s all in the nuances.  It‘s all in how they do it.  Right?

But all the signs have been bad so far.  And I‘m trying to get out in front of it before they think it‘s a brilliant idea that everybody agrees to, that we should do these things that the Republicans want to do.  Right?  So that‘s part of the reason to have that conversation now. 

DEAN:  Absolutely.  That‘s right.  We want to draw the line. 

But let me just say something else that we disagree on a little bit.  I think it‘s OK to repatriate all those tax dollars that the—I mean, all the profits that are stashed abroad without paying taxes if they invested in job creation, research and development, all of it.  You bring it back and you pay it out in shareholder dividends.  You have to pay a big tax on it.  You bring it back and you invest it in jobs in America, then I‘m OK with it. 

So, there‘s lots of different ramifications, and we don‘t know what they all are. 

UYGUR:  Right.  So let‘s talk about jobs.  You mentioned jobs there. 

Obviously, enormously important. 

DEAN:  Right.

UYGUR:  Mitch McConnell is trying to put it on the president.  Let me just show you a video of that, and let‘s talk about it. 


BOB SCHIEFFER, “FACE THE NATION”:  Do Republicans have any plans to do anything on the unemployment front, or are you just going to let things take their course? 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  No.  I think what we‘re doing is encouraging the president to quit doing what he‘s doing.  Quit overspending.  And we‘re hoping with the debt ceiling discussions we can begin to address deficit and debt. 


UYGUR:  Well, what‘s fantastic about that is he admits it, we‘re not doing a damn thing.  Right?  And so, on the other hand, is the president making a mistake by not coming out with a big jobs bill and saying, I‘m for creating jobs and they are against that? 

DEAN:  Well, look, I think we ought to be really clear that we‘re going to support jobs.  That‘s what this campaign is about. 

We have spent too much time talking about spending and not enough time talking about jobs, which is the principal issue that everybody is worried about.  We have once again let the Republicans set the agenda. 

This is about jobs.  Now, the Republicans may believe that if you can reduce deficit spending, you can get jobs.  That‘s fine.  But this is about jobs, it is not about spending.  And we ought not to let the Republicans set that agenda. 

The Republicans have no agenda.  Mitch McConnell has said he has one thing on his agenda, and that‘s to make the president a one-term president.  Well, that‘s fine for the Republican Party.  It doesn‘t help the country very much. 

But the Republicans aren‘t terribly interested in the country.  They‘re interested in power so that their corporate patrons and sponsors like the Koch brothers can get more and more for themselves and make sure middle class America has less and less. 

The Republicans are in the business of destroying the American dream.  To rekindle the American dream, we need jobs.  We need to push the do-nothing hate mongers out of the way that are trying to undermine the president.  And I do think we need a jobs bill, but it‘s hard to even get that because the Republicans won‘t vote for that either. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, thanks for being with us tonight and thanks for shedding a light on it.  We appreciate it.  

DEAN:  Thank you.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, when we come back, Michele Bachmann reels on taxes.  Because she is rising to fame on those same taxpayer dollars.  The great details of a report that shows how she spends your money.  

Plus, major controversies surrounding this Obama impersonator.  The republican leadership conference cut his mike off.  He joins us live with the jokes they refuse to let him make.  And we report, you decide.  The unedited tape of Jon Stewart‘s epic FOX News interview.  Wait until you see what they cut out.      


UYGUR:  Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann has catapulted to the national stage after just four years in Congress.  And she‘s partly done it by using tax payer money.  That‘s our con job of the day.  Roll Calls investigative reporter Paul Singer reports, Bachmann played fast and loose with rules banning House members from using their congressional office accounts for political activities.  Singer found Bachmann‘s offers shelled out more than $3,000 for a rally in 2009 opposing the healthcare overhaul.  Bachmann‘s office claims the event was a press conference, which is funny.  And says, the taxpayer dollars can pay for that.  But participants didn‘t take any questions from the press and it certainly sounded more like Bachmann was rallying the Tea Party faithful.  


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  The biggest vote in the United States, the biggest voice in the United States is your voice, the voice of the American people. 


UYGUR:  Now does that sound like a press conference that the American taxpayers should pay for?  Of course, no question from the press as we told you.  But that wasn‘t the only time Roll Call found Bachmann use official resources for activities with political overtones.  Bachmann advertised that rally on our Web site even though congressman aren‘t supposed to solicit political supports on their House Web sites, her office paid in advisor for a month in 2010 until he was out of her campaign payroll.  And in 2009, Bachmann‘s office paid about $1,000 for travel expenses for TV appearance.  Bachmann‘s office says, the advisor helped with constituent services and house rules don‘t ban using public money to travel to media appearances.  But using taxpayer funds to build up your public profile and set up political rallies where you say you are protecting  their abusive taxpayer funds is more than a little ironic and easily our con job of the day. 

Now, ahead, Jon Stewart goes into the FOX hole and crushes Chris Wallace.  He blasts FOX News and calls Wallace insane, that‘s fun.  But they edit out a very important part of the interview.  What they edited out, we will show you just how they work over there.  We will show you that when we come back.      


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome back to the show everybody.  As you can see is the Power Panel time.  It‘s time to discuss of course some of today‘s biggest political stories. 

Let‘s bring in the Power Panel.  Joining me now is democratic communications consultant Jamal Simmons, he served as a communications adviser to the DNC during the 2008 campaign.  Jane Hamsher, founder and publisher of and Power Panel regular.  And speaking of Power Panel regular Matt Lewis, senior contributor for The Daily Caller. 

All right.  First question for the panel.  Is Jon Stewart right about FOX News?  He was on “FOX News Sunday” and got into this heated debate about the network in Chris Wallace.  


JON STEWART, POLITICAL SATIRIST:  The embarrassment is that I‘m given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the media does.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”:  I don‘t think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us.  I think our viewers think, finally, they‘re getting somebody who tells the other side of the story.

STEWART:  Right.  And in polls.

WALLACE:  No, no, no, one more example.

STEWART:  Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? 

The most consistently misinformed?  FOX, FOX viewers.  Consistently.


UYGUR:  And Jane, is this an admission by Chris Wallace by saying, yes, yes, we present the other side.  We‘re not fair and balance.  We present the conservative right wing republican side.  

JANE HAMSHER, FOUNDER, FIREDOGLAKE.COM:  Well, you know, I think it is critical to note that they then went on to cut out the piece about Bill Sammon‘s comments regarding you know, cutting the news, you know, determining how they were going to fix it that Jon Stewart tried to point out.  It is—they are misinforming their viewers.  They‘re deliberately misinforming their viewers.  And they think that other media figures are doing the same thing.  When in fact they are probably just being lazy.  You know, the problem is that we‘ve got a traditional media who aren‘t doing the hard work of sorting out what truth and the facts are.  They are engaging in he-said she-said journalism.  And it leaves the field free for sun—you know, propagandas like FOX News to rise up and have an audience that is incapable of understanding what the truth is from the not-truth.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, I‘m going to get to that edited tape on just one second.  But Matt come one, fair and balanced, this is a joke, right?  I mean, and the thing is, if they just said, hey, you know, what?  We‘re conservative, that‘s it, that‘s we are.  I would say, all right, God bless.  Go forward.  It‘s a free country.  

MATT LEWIS, “THE DAILY CALLER”:  Look, I think clearly some of FOX News‘s viewpoints do have a viewpoint.  Some of their shows like Hannity clearly is a conservative viewpoint.  Bill O‘Reilly, a little bit more iconoclastic but clearly he has viewpoint.  But I think, you know, Ed Henry from CNN is going to FOX News.  I think he‘ll be a straight journalist.  I think when Major Garrett was at FOX News, he was a straight journalist.  I think Chris Wallace does a great job with “FOX News Sunday.”  So, I would sort of compare it and I think MSNBC is not all that different.  I would compare it to a newspaper that has straight news and then an opinion section.  And I think the viewers can sort out, you know, are smart enough to sort out what is opinion and what‘s news.  

UYGUR:  Well, Matt, that goes to this edited, unedited portion of the FOX interview.  Because I think that‘s an example of why I don‘t think you are quite right on it.  There is a major difference.  So, first, let‘s show the audience what they saw on air with Jon Stewart.  Let‘s show that first.  


STEWART:  It reminds me of, you know, in ideological regimes, they can‘t understand that there is free media other places because they receive marching orders. 

WALLACE:  How do you explain me?  You think I get marching orders?


UYGUR:  All right.  So, that‘s what the viewers saw on FOX News.  Now, let‘s show you the unedited version.  


STEWART:  It reminds me of, you know, in ideological regimes, they can‘t understand that there is free media other places because they receive marching orders.  And if you want me to go through Bill Sammon‘s e-mails and. 

WALLACE:  Do you think I‘ve ever—how do you explain me?

STEWART:  Oh, I think you do a nice job.  And I‘ve told you that on the show.  I think you are one of the most interesting -- 

WALLACE:  Do you think I get marching orders?  


UYGUR:  Notice they cut out the Bill Sammon part because Bill Sammon is the guy who sends the e-mails to their anchors including their news anchors saying, this is the way you should twist the news.  Jamal, isn‘t that a giant difference right there?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT:  You know, Cenk, I think everybody edits some of the stuff.  It is clear if you watch FOX News during the day that how they choose their stories, there‘s a slant to it.  You watch at night, there is a clear conservative slant to it.  There are some people on there, who are pre-straight, the Bret Baiers, the—of Major Garrett was ever heard before.  But, you know, the reality is FOX News has a conservative perspective, and that‘s the perspective they are offering.  And they‘re a lot of people who want to see that may watch it.  And they seem to be making, you know, I guess a fair amount of money at it, I guess Roger Ailes is pretty happy.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Jane, one last thing on this.  Look, the Bill Sammon e-mail show them saying not the Hannity and O‘Reilly et cetera.  But their so-called news anchors.  This is how you cover the news,  by changing the words making it more against Obama or more against the Democrats, isn‘t that an enormous difference between the other networks and FOX News?

HAMSHER:  Well, absolutely is.  And when you‘ve got situation when you‘re sending these kinds of things to your anchors, I mean, you know, what‘s left but for someone like Jon Stewart to come and make fun of the situation.  You know, that‘s sort of what we‘ve got left.  I mean, Chris Wallace was trying to accuse Stewart of having an agenda.  Now, he is very much in the tradition of people who mock these things, who make fun of them.  And it is absolutely worthy of mockery.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, we‘ve got to move on to the next question.  And that is, why is McCain fanning the flames on immigration.  Here‘s what he have to say about Arizona wildfires this weekend.  


JOHN MCCAIN, 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. 


UYGUR:  Now, McCain‘s office released this statement.  For years, federal state and local officials have stated that smugglers and illegal immigrants have caused fires on our southern border.  During the press conference on Saturday, Senator McCain was referring to the fires on the Arizona-Mexico border, not the wallow fire.  Now, we should point out, his comments came while he was speaking at a news conference about the wallow fire.  Matt, come on, is that credible that all of the sudden he is back pedaling and saying, oh, no, it was about other fires that I meant this.  

LEWIS:  Yes, I don‘t know, I mean, Cenk, I mean, I don‘t have a lot of anything interesting to say to say about this.  I mean, look, he says that there is substantial evidence but apparently there‘s not.  I mean, clearly, I think some fires have been sorted by illegal immigrants.  I will say this.  Some people have argued that John McCain is saying this for political purposes.  The guy is not up for reelection for six years and he is going to be like 150 when that happens.  So, I don‘t really get that.  I think he misspoke.  But now they are trying to sort of walk it back and argue, well what he really meant was this, I don‘t know.  

HAMSHER:  He is trying to—he is trying to prove that he is the most you know, anti-immigrant.  He is going to be the most, you know, xenophobic.  And, you know, there is no way you can mistake the biggest wildfire in Arizona history.  

LEWIS:  Like, where is being xenophobic, you know, where‘s that get you?

UYGUR:  Let‘s talk about that.  Let‘s talk about that.  Jamal, I want to ask you about this.  Look, back in 2007, McCain was the one pushing for actually a descent immigration bill.  And now all of a sudden, he is so far right on it that everything is the immigrant‘s fault.  There‘s a fire, it is their fault, et cetera.  And he has become this massive right-winger on this issue.  Just a quick span of four years.  Isn‘t that the most telling part of this story?

SIMMONS:  Yes.  He has totally pivoted over to the right.  At the same time, let‘s remember.  John McCain is the same guy who on September 15th of 2008 came out and said that everything was fine with the economy.  This is a guy who just pops off at the mouth.  This is the reason why the American people didn‘t pick him to be president.  He doesn‘t have the temperament.  He doesn‘t do the research.  He doesn‘t portray kind of a serious image about the national leader.  I just think we can‘t trust him on something like this where clearly, he is pandering to the people in his state that he needed to get him re-elected.  

UYGUR:  All right.

SIMMONS:  In six years.  Come on.  

UYGUR:  We‘ve got to leave it right there, guys.  We‘ve got to leave it right there.  Sorry, but it‘s a great panel as always.  Jamal Simmons, Jane Hamsher, Matt Lewis.

SIMMONS:  Cenk, very quickly, can I just say, you know, we‘ve launched today a campaign, 40 hours for 40 students for the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation.  And if you go to, you can get to help those kids in Michigan who are trying to go to school.  

UYGUR:  God bless education, God bless Rosa Parks.  

All right.  Thank you, guys.  Now, this Obama impersonator was getting belly laughs from a GOP crowd while making fun of the president at a republican conference.  But then he went off the republican candidates and they yanked him.  He is here live to bring us the unfold jokes.    


UYGUR:  And major controversies developing over an Obama impersonator.  He was cheered for ripping the president but yanked when he went after Michele Bachmann.  Now, which one these guys joins us next?  Look at that.  That‘s pretty good.  All right.  Stay right with us.



REGGIE BROWN, PRESIDENT OBAMA IMPERSONATOR:  We‘re more than half way through June already.  Now my favorite month is February.  Black history month.  You see, Michelle, she celebrates the full month and, you know, I celebrate half. 


UYGUR:  Now that was Reggie Brown of course impersonating the president at the republican leadership conference in New Orleans and the crowd ate it up.  Look, Obama, race jokes, great.  Then he turns to the Republicans and look at what happens when he is talking about Michele Bachmann. 


BROWN:  Now what can I say about Michele Bachmann that she hasn‘t already said about herself?  The other day, she called me a one-term president. 


UYGUR:  Yes, right after one-term president they cut his mike and then they escorted him off the stage.  Fantastic.  Well, let‘s talk to him. 

Joining me now is comedian and President Obama impersonator Reggie Brown.  Reggie, come on, what happened there, man.  You were in the middle of some good jokes about Tim Pawlenty and how he needs a spinal transplant.  Next thing, they bring out the guys to walk you off the stage.  What happened?

BROWN:  Well, the way they explained it to me that afternoon was that I went over my time limit and my time was simply up.  So, you know, they started playing the music.  The gentleman came on stage and nicely said, something to the effect of sorry your time is up.  So I said, it‘s my time to go.  God bless you.  God bless the United States and walked off stage.  Went back stage and got. 

UYGUR:  Right.  Reggie, let me read you the RLC President Charlie Davis‘s quote on this.  

BROWN:  Oh, yes.  

UYGUR:  He said, “had I been in the room, I would have pulled him sooner.  We have zero tolerance for racially insensitive jokes.  As soon as I realized what was going on, I rushed back stage and had him pulled.”  But what‘s interesting is that your so-called racially insensitive jokes were ten minutes earlier.  They pulled you in the middle of the republican routine.  

BROWN:  That‘s correct.  You got it. 

UYGUR:  That‘s correct.

BROWN:  I mean, I don‘t know what else to say.  You got it. 

UYGUR:  All right, Reggie.  Now there is two jokes you didn‘t get to tell.  

BROWN:  Yes. 

UYGUR:  The American people are dying to hear it.  Go ahead.  

BROWN:  Well, first, I want to say something about Sarah Palin.  Now back when I was elected president, I said I was living proof that anybody, anywhere, could become president of the United States.  And well, Sarah Palin is living proof that you shouldn‘t believe everything that I say.  So there we go.  And then, I said, and you got Chris Christie, who is talking about running for president.  Now, while I do think that he is a whale of a candidate, he can‘t run for president.  He can barely even walk for president.  So you know, I had a few other things there and I ended a nice little parody to I will survive, called I am Barack. 

UYGUR:  Right.

BROWN:  And round out the show.  But, you know, we are going blow for blow, if we did something against left, we did it for right, and we do a balanced show.  And it is all in good plan and it wasn‘t my intention to offend anyone.  

UYGUR:  Yes.  Look, I‘m the one to laugh at that Chris Christie joke. 

OK.  Given my weight situation, but I‘ll let you see the jokes either way.   

BROWN:  Thank you.

UYGUR:  So, Reggie Brown.  Thanks for joining us tonight.  We really do appreciate.

BROWN:  Thanks for having me.

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, when we come back.  What I found out at the Netroots convention, that‘s very interesting.  We‘ll be right back.


UYGUR:  Now, I spoke at the Netroots Nation Conference that happened over the weekend and that is a gathering of one of the largest liberal gatherings in fact in the whole country.  And a lot was made of disaffection of the progressives have over the president.  And you know, I think it is a very validation that we need to discuss.  But let‘s look at the numbers to see if it really holds up.  First of all, 80 percent say that they strongly or somewhat approve of Obama‘s job performance.  So, that is a lot of progressives saying, of course, that‘s a pretty solid number.  When you break down the numbers, it is a little different. 

Now only 27 percent strongly approve of the president.  Now, you are at a very liberal convention and you‘ve got a theoretically liberal president.  That‘s not a high number.  But look, what is a high number is 53 percent, somewhat approve, 13 percent somewhat disapprove and seven percent strongly disapprove.  But I want to talk about the people who are little concerned about the president.  Why are they?  Well, I‘m going to give you an example of why they are.  Let‘s look at an ad from 2008 when President Obama was running for president.  Let‘s watch. 


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  I‘m Barack Obama and I approved this message.  The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies.  And you know what?  The chairman of the committee who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making $2 million a year.  Imagine that.  That‘s an example of the same old game playing in Washington.  I don‘t want to learn how to play the game better, I want to put an end to the game plan. 


UYGUR:  See.  That‘s what the concern is.  That ad is called Billy. 

He was talking about Billy Thompson who represents the drug companies.  Well, in the first six months of the Obama administration, they met with Billy Thompson 11 times at the White House.  And what happened, we had no drug re-importation.  They extended the life of the patents for the drug companies which are monopolies.  And Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies.  The problem is, the system stayed the same.  That‘s what we are worried about.  Not this little issue or that little issue.  The game is the same, President Obama just tried to play it a little better. 

All right.  I hope that helps explain a little bit.  Thank you for watching the show, “HARDBALL” starts right now.  

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