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The Ed Show for Thursday, June 30, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest Host: Al Sharpton

Guests: Ed Rendell, Michael Eric Dyson, Steve Raysely, John Nichols, Ryan Reilly, Laura Flanders, Mike Papantonio, Eric Boehlert


REV. AL SHARPTON, GUEST HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Reverend Al Sharpton in for Ed Schultz.

Mitt Romney tries to walk back his comments on Obama running the economy, but it seems like he just made it worse for himself.  We‘ll show you al his latest campaign trail live and give you the facts.

This is THE ED SHOW.  And as Ed would say—let‘s get to work!




MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The president is a nice guy, and I know he‘s trying.  But he doesn‘t understand how the economy works.

SHARPTON (voice-over):  Mitt Romney tries to embarrass the president in his stump speech today.  He failed.  We‘ll show you how.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COLBERT REPORT:  We won!  I am super PAC and so can you!

SHARPTON:  Stephen Colbert‘s election victory sheds light on a real campaign problem.  We‘ll explain.

And the Glenn Beck era is over.

GLENN BECK, TV HOST:  You will pray for the time when I was only on the air for one hour every day.

SHARPTON:  Oh, I‘m praying for you, Glenn.  Eric Boehlert of Media Matters is here.  And tonight, my eulogy for “The Glenn Beck Program.”


SHARPTON:  Today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finally reversed himself on a factually untrue claim that President Barack Obama had made the economy worse.  But in order to do that, he had to lie again.


ROMNEY:  I didn‘t say things are worse.  What I said was the economy hasn‘t turned around.


SHARPTON:  What was that Governor Romney?

Here‘s what he said in New Hampshire just four days ago.


ROMNEY:  The Obama administration has not been able to deal with the number one issue that the country was concerned about as he became president, which was the economy.  He did not cause the recession, but he made it worse.


SHARPTON:  And just so there‘s no confusion, Romney said it two other times this month in his presidential announcement and the recent Republican debate.


ROMNEY:  Barack Obama has failed America.


ROMNEY:  When he took office, the economy was in recession, and he made it worse and he made it last longer.

What this president has done as slowed the economy.  He didn‘t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer.


SHARPTON:  You heard that?

So, let‘s listen one more time to what Romney said today.


ROMNEY:  I didn‘t say that things are worse.  What I said was that the economy hasn‘t turned around.


SHARPTON:  Romney tried to use one lie to fix another lie.  Nice try. 

As for stage craft, Romney has got it down.


ROMNEY:  We are standing on the side of the Allentown Metal Works.  This was the place that president Obama visited about a year and a half ago, and indicated that this was a symbol of the success of his stimulus program.  And as you look around and see the weeds growing and the windows boarded up, you can recognize that it‘s more a symbol of the failure of Obama economic policies.


SHARPTON:  But again, the truth gets in the way.  A close analysis shows the plant closed not because of federal stimulus spending but because there wasn‘t enough stimulus spending.  There wasn‘t enough spending on infrastructure to keep this plant alive.  And remember, the stimulus was one third tax cuts, and the Republicans still didn‘t vote for it.

But Romney is all about blaming the president and getting in some digs after Obama‘s own news conference.


ROMNEY:  And the president‘s time has been focused on playing golf and campaigning.  He‘s campaigning in Pennsylvania today, and blaming.  The president ought to be in Washington, meeting with Republicans, meeting with Democrats.


SHARPTON:  And at other times, Romney spoke with a smiling condescension.


ROMNEY:  The president is a nice guy, and I know he‘s trying.  But he doesn‘t understand how the economy works.


SHARPTON:  And Romney explained why he would be a better steward of the economy.


ROMNEY:  I spent 25 years in the private sector.  I know why jobs leave.  I know why they come.


SHAPRTON:  Oh, he knows all right, since as a businessman, his idea of building up a business was leveraged buyouts that lay off workers.  And while he was governor of Massachusetts the state ranked 47th in job growth.  That‘s 47 out of 50.

But, of course, Romney thinks the president‘s time is up.


ROMNEY:  Three years he‘s been in office.  This is the third year in his four-year term.  And he said on “The Today Show” in February 2009, just being after being inaugurated, he said, look, if I can‘t turn the economy around in three years, then mine is a one-year proposition.  Well, I‘m going to collect on that promise.


SHARPTON:  There‘s a reason why that might sound slightly familiar.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In February, 2009, President Obama was very confident that his economic policies would turn the country around within a year.  He said, and I quote, “A year from now, I think people are going to see that we‘re starting to make progress.  If I don‘t have this done in three year, then there‘s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Well, Mr. President, your policies haven‘t worked.  Spending our way out of the recession hasn‘t worked.  And so, Mr. President, we take you at your word.


SHARPTON:  Romney even complained about how much money the president‘s campaign might end up raising.


ROMNEY:  He‘s going to raise $1 billion?  We‘re not going to raise anywhere near that kind of money.


SHARPTON:  Thanks for the financial disclosure, Governor.  But if you could raise that money, you certainly would.  Besides, you don‘t need it with groups like Karl Rove‘s Crossroads to fill in the gaps and then some.

Let‘s turn to NBC News political analyst and former governor of the state of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell.

Governor Rendell, thanks for joining us tonight.

ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Reverend Sharpton, pleasure to be with you.

SHARPTON:  It‘s hard to know where to begin.  Romney threw so much out there.

But let‘s begin with the claims about the Allentown plant.  What‘s your response to that?

RENDELL:  Well, your analysis was exactly right.  That plant didn‘t close because of the stimulus.  It closed because we didn‘t investigate enough money in infrastructure in the stimulus.  You know, you said Reverend Sharpton that 33 percent of the stimulus was tax cuts.  It was actually 40 percent.  Out of $870 billion, and the Republicans always like to rail and say, we spent $870 billion!  Well, actually $350 billion of it was tax cuts.

SHARPTON: Forty percent.

RENDELL:  Forty percent.  So that‘s number one.

We should have had more infrastructure spending.  And, in fact, Barbara Boxer and Senator Inhofe, a conservative Republican, tried to triple the amount of infrastructure spending in stimulus itself.

But let‘s also look at what stimulus did do.  I think I always like to think I know what I‘m talking about.  But I particularly know what I‘m talking about tonight, Reverend, because I was governor at the time.

In the first full year of the stimulus, 2009, orders for steel out of the Pennsylvania‘s steel plants increased by 43 percent.  Concrete, 40 percent; asphalt, 51 percent.  Those workers that had been laid off were recalled because of stimulus.


RENDELL:  Stimulus invested $31 billion into the state of Pennsylvania, and because of it, our economy grew and turned around.  Pennsylvania today has a 7.4 percent unemployment rate, almost two whole points less than the national average, and I think the healthiest of any of the industrial states because of stimulus, because we invested state money on top of stimulus, because we invested in our own growth.

SHARPTON:  And this is the state -- 

RENDELL:  Governor Romney does not know what he‘s talking about.

SHARPTON:  And this is the state he stood and said this today in front of this plant really, distorting the facts of what you‘re laying out, and you were the governor at that time.

Mitt Romney and the Republicans seem to be arguing that if we had done nothing but give more tax cuts to wealthy, the economy, since those tax cuts have been in place for 10 years.  Can you tell me how that would work?

RENDELL:  Well, I‘m mystified.  You know, the Republicans say if we cut tax, that will create jobs.


RENDELL:  But the only period of great job growth we‘ve had in the last quarter of a century was right after Bill Clinton raised taxes on the top 2 percent of the people in this country.

The Republicans were screaming and yelling, we‘re going to kill—we can‘t tax the job creators.  It‘s going to kill the economy.  What happened?  As you know, 23 million new jobs created.

SHARPTON:  President Clinton raised taxes and we were able to create jobs.

RENDELL:  Took off.  The economy took off.  So, it‘s basically a tremendous fallacy.  There‘s no ifs, ands, and buts about it.

And look, the CBO, which is nonpartisan, has said that the stimulus kept the unemployment rate from—without it, it would have been a point or two points higher.  So, instead of 9 percent, we‘d be looking at 10, or maybe 11 percent unemployment.

And in Pennsylvania, the Council of Economic Advisers said that stimulus spending either created or retained—help retained 136,000 jobs.

SHARPTON:  Now, let me ask you, Governor, they are saying, the Republicans basically, have been saying that nothing should have been done, no stimulus.  If nothing had been done, your point is that unemployment would be even higher and more of these types of plants would have closed?

RENDELL:  Absolutely.  And it‘s not just my assertion, Reverend Sharpton, it‘s the CBO.  The CBO has said it loud and clear and definitively.

And interestingly, Governor Romney in January of ‘09 on CNN and in December of ‘08 on “Meet the Press” said he was in favor of stimulus spending.  Not surprising, is it?

SHARPTON:  Well, flip flopping has been a long habit of his, I think.

RENDELL:  Not surprising.

SHARPTON:  Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell—thank you for your time tonight.

Let‘s bring in a staff representative of the United Steel Workers, Steve Raysely.

Thank you for joining us, Steve.

STEVE RAYSELY, UNITED STEEL WORKERS:  Pleasure to be here, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON:  Mitt Romney says the Allentown Metal Works is a symbol of Barack Obama‘s failed economic policies.  Tell us what you believe led to the closing of that plant?

RAYSELY:  Failed economic policies, but not President Obama‘s, his predecessor‘s.  Eight years of that and I have letters from the company officers that talked very clearly about the economy for years had been going south and it hurt not only this manufacturing plant, but its customers, suppliers and everybody else.

SHARPTON:  Really?  Well, Romney makes it sound like Bush economics had nothing to do with hurting a plant like Allentown.  What do you say to that?

RAYSELY:  Bush economics had a lot to do with hurting a plant like that.  Not only economics, but these failed foreign policy agreements that we‘ve reached with various foreign countries.  We‘re working right now to try to reach another agreement with Colombia, which is going to do nothing but take manufacturing and jobs away from not only the steel industry but every other industry in the United States.

SHARPTON:  Mitt Romney was out there today in front of this closed plant.  To your knowledge, has Mitt Romney ever shown up for the middle class wage earner in this country?  Any actual clear, actual show of support?

RAYSELY:  Never.  In fact, we just went through at Downtown Metal Works, there were two politicians that helped us out.  And I didn‘t have to go to them, they came to me.  One was Senator Casey, who was tremendous, gave us a lot of help, and Governor Rendell, whose Department of Labor an Industry in Pennsylvania helped us a great deal getting TAA certification for my members so that they could get additional benefits, health care and various other things that working people need.

SHARPTON:  Steve Raysely of the United Steel Workers—thank you for your team tonight.

Coming up, Michele Bachmann‘s husband says he‘s her wife‘s strategist. 

So, why won‘t her campaign disavow his remarks on homosexuality?

Also tonight, the debt ceiling deadline is getting closer, but the Republicans are playing a game of chicken with the nation‘s future.  Can President Obama successfully strike a deal?

And later, my duet with funk legend Bootsy Collins.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW.


SHARPTON:  MSNBC and THE ED SHOW have teamed up with the National Association of Free Clinics, to hold a health clinic on August 29 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Because of your generous donations, the organization has held seven other clinics around the country and have helped over 13,000 patients receive care.

To make a donation or to learn more about volunteering at the New Orleans clinic, visit their Web site at  You can also text health to 50555 to make a $10 donation by phone.

Up next, John Nichols and Michael Eric Dyson on the latest outrageous Bachmann comments.  Only this time, they‘re not from Michele, but her husband.

Stay tuned.


SHARPTON:  Over the past few days, NBC News has learned how Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her family have benefited from the very government programs she denounces.  Bachmann previously slammed Medicaid for swelling the welfare rolls, even though Christian Counseling Clinic run by her husband has collected annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 since 2005.  This on top of $24,000 the clinic received in federal and state funds from a state grant.

Now, the Bachmann campaign is responding to that report.  A spokeswoman telling CNN, quote, “Medicaid is a valuable form of insurance for many Americans and it would be discriminatory not to accept Medicaid as a form of payment.  As a state-sponsored counseling service, Bachmann and Associates has a responsibility to provide Medicaid and medical assistance, regardless of the patient‘s financial situation.”

As the “Minnesota Independent” reports, the clinic has been previously accused of engaging in reparative therapy or treatment at changing one‘s sexual orientation.

Dr. Marcus Bachmann denies this, but has been very vocal on his views about homosexuality.

Here‘s a radio interview he gave just last year.


DR. MARCUS BACHMANN, REP. MICHELE BACHMANN‘S HUSBAND:  We have to understand, barbarians need to be educated.  They need to be disciplined.  And just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn‘t mean that we‘re supposed to go down that road.  That‘s what‘s called the sinful nature.


SHARPTON:  Joining me now is John Nichols, Washington correspondent of

“The Nation” magazine, and the one and only professor of sociology at Georgetown University and author of “Can You Hear Me Now,” Michael Eric Dyson.

Good evening, gentlemen.


SHARPTON:  Let me start with you, John Nichols.  The Bachmann campaign has not commented on her husband‘s remarks.  Is this a badge of honor for her as a Republican or will it hurt her in the long run?

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION:  Well, Reverend, you‘re asking the right question.  It‘s a complicated game that Michele Bachmann is playing.  On the surface, when she goes on national programs, TV interview, she tries to appear relatively moderate.

But she is really appealing to some pretty base instincts on the part of particularly Iowa caucus-goers.  Remember, that‘s a state where a lot of the people who do go to the caucuses tend to be extremely conservative in their views towards gays and lesbians, as well as their views on abortion rights.  And, frankly, I think that even as she speaks about issues like slavery and some of the race issues that have come up so far, she‘s played a lot of games politically, refusing to deny things, refusing to back off, even when she makes mistakes.

And I think that sometimes at the national political level, we see that as a bungling.  But there‘s a second level of communication to her base that I think may actually be going rather well for her.

SHARPTON:  Let me ask you Dr. Dyson, one would only imagine what would happen if a Democrat candidate‘s spouse said something similar.  Do you see anyone coming forward, though, and asking Michele Bachmann to disavow her husband‘s remarks?

DYSON:  That‘s a great point, Reverend Sharpton.  I have seen no one coming forward to say this is wrong, to call gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people barbarians is ludicrous and itself a touch of barbarism.  And to suggest these people need to be un-gayed, that they must be de-gayed, that they must be altered in their orientation is to really forsake the ultimate commitment to counseling truth, which suggests that you take the patient as she or he is.

Of course, you try to help them towards a more healthy role, but you don‘t try to change who they are.  You try to help them able to become the best people they can become.

But to have a preordained belief that homosexuality itself is a sin, Dr. Bachmann talked about the sinful nature of homosexuality, really mitigates against the kind of therapeutic intervention that would be redemptive and edifying.  You don‘t help them out.  You end up reinforcing their pathology.

And I think if a Democrat had said this, if something progressive had said this, they would be called upon to renounce their statements and then perhaps even to resign themselves, to not participating in the highest level of American politics.  I think it‘s a double standard here and they need to be called on it.

SHARPTON:  Well, let me give you something else, Dr. Dyson, this just came in.  You haven‘t heard this.  This just came in.  Herman Cain who I took on here the other night a little bit, he told “The New York Times” magazine that the media is, quote, “scared that a real black man might run against Barack Obama.”

He went on to say, and I‘m quoting him now, “a real black man is not timid about making the right decisions.”

What do you think of those comments, Mr. Dyson—Dr. Dyson?

DYSON:  Well, you know, Reverend Sharpton, we know that President Obama has been assaulted recently by many people claiming he‘s not a real black man and he shows just how real he is.  We talk about hip-hoppers who engage in the politics of authenticity, trying to say they are the only real black men or black people and we castigate them, we suggest to them that we should be critical of their viewpoints because they don‘t have a kind of litmus test to determine real blackness or a copyright on it.

Herman Cain cannot possibly suggest that he is the only, quote, “real black man” and that Obama is afraid of a real black man.  Obama is as real a black man as we might be able to conjure.  He continues every day to act as president of United State of America.  He is not ashamed of his African roots—his African-American roots.  He continues to enliven the conversation around issues important to African-American people.

Now, one can be critical about him not being forthcoming about that, but one can never suggest that he‘s not, quote, “a real black man.”

And this kind of personal assault is part of the vitriolic attack upon a person when people lack serious substantive arguments.  And it seems to me that Mr. Cain lacks a serious argument.

What are your arguments that would suggest that Obama is not doing the right thing?  But to play the authenticity card, that‘s for whack rappers and middle of the road entertainers.

SHARPTON:  Well, he keeps saying, let‘s not talk about race while he talks about race.  So, he‘s not going to bring up race, but he‘s the real black man.  He‘s not going to bring up race, but the media doesn‘t like a black conservative.  So, it‘s sort of like I‘m going to bring it up, what I‘m going to mention.

Mr. Cain is quite interesting.

DYSON:  Exactly.  Yes.  He should put that—the Godfather Pizza stuff is great, but it might work there.  But it certainly doesn‘t work within the broad spectrum of the American politics and I think people will see that ultimately.

SHARPTON:  Who do you think he‘s playing to on this, Dr. Dyson?  Is he trying to gear up the conservatives into feeling like I‘m taking this guy on?  And I‘m—what is his end game here?

DYSON:  Yes.  That‘s a great point, Reverend Sharpton.  I think what he‘s trying to do is say look, because it‘s been perceived that Barack Obama is off-limits, that President Obama, we can‘t talk about him as a black person because the media is hyper sensitive, the liberal media won‘t allow us to interrogate him to the same degree we would somebody else, so now, Herman Cain steps in as a symbolic representative of the fear of Republicans but now the courage of Republicans to step forward and say we‘re going to take Obama on.

So, while denouncing speaking about race on the one hand and then pretending he won‘t speak about it, he uses race in the most fundamental sense to try to attack Obama.  And I think it‘ contradictory and I think, yes, he‘s playing to his Republican base to try to show he‘s the strong man that is needed in the Republican Party.

SHARPTON:  All right.  John Nichols and Michael Eric Dyson—thank you for joining us.

We have more proof that Wall Street traders are responsible for high gas prices.  But will the latest news lead to proper regulation?

And Steve Colbert takes on the Federal Election Commission and wins. 

We‘ll play his victory speech, coming up.


SHARPTON:  THE ED SHOW has told you for months that excessive speculation by Wall Street traders is driving the high cost of gasoline.  But Republicans always say there are no studies to prove the connection between speculation and high prices.  It doesn‘t matter to them that the president has acknowledged the problem. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It is true that a lot of what‘s driving oil prices up right now is not the lack of supply.  There‘s enough supply. 

The problem is that oil is sold on these world markets, and speculators and people make various bets. 


SHARPTON:  Even the CEO of Exxonmobil, Rex Tillerson, admitted to a congressional hearing that speculators add about 30 dollars to each cost of each barrel.  Goldman Sachs told its investors the same thing. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s what you do here. 


SHARPTON:  And even House Republican Leader Eric Cantor was filmed telling a room full of spectators that Republicans will block regulations that prevent their ability to bet online.  But despite all of this, congressional Republicans still say there‘s no study to prove a link between speculation and high prices—until today. 

A new report by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Elmhurst says speculation has caused a surge in gas prices all year.  In May, customers paid an additional 83 cents per gallon because of speculator. 

That adds up to more than one billion dollars across the country.  The report calls on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to put a trading limit in place.  Chairman Gary Ginsler has rejected previous calls for position limits. 

President Obama wants to ends all subsidies and close tax loopholes to reduce the deficit.  But Republicans won‘t budge.  Can a deal be struck? 

And Glenn Beck has spent the last 29 months predicting the end of the world.  But the only thing that‘s ended is Glenn Beck‘s TV show. 


SHARPTON:  As the August 2nd deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling grows closer, Democrats and Republicans actually appear to be farther apart than ever.  President Obama‘s news conference yesterday was essentially a public admission that negotiations have failed. 

Republicans are insisting on a balanced budget amendment to lock in spending cuts and prevent any taxes on the rich.  Senate Democrats say they are united on a budget plan that protects entitlement programs. 

Meanwhile, attack ads paid for by Karl Rove‘s political action committee are claiming that any tax increase will harm the economy.  But one of Rove‘s biggest donors isn‘t buying it.  Home Depot founder Ken Langone told Lou Dobbs the richest Americans should be making sacrifices. 


KEN LANGONE, FOUNDER OF HOME DEPOT:  We‘ve got to take some pain. 

LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR:  What kind of pain? 

LANGONE:  Well, I say this as a devout Republican.  I think in these negotiations, I think number one guys like me, I‘ve said this before, there‘s a caveat.  I shouldn‘t get Social Security. 


SHARPTON:  I should pay more taxes.  But all the money generated out of those actions should be entirely devoted to paying down debt. 


SHARPTON:  Joining me tonight is Laura Flanders, host of Grit TV on Free Speech TV and editor of the book “At the Tea Party.”  And in Florida, we‘re joined by Mike Papantonio, host of the “Ring of Fire” radio. 

Are the Republicans really prepared to let the country default on its debt?  Or will they ultimately listen to businessmen like Langone, Mike?

MIKE PAPANTONIO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  There‘s not going to be a deal here, reverend, because the Republican party is owned and operated by corporate America.  And corporate America has told McConnell and Boehner not to budge on issues like 80 billion dollars in subsidies for big oil, factory farms and weapons peddlers. 

They‘ve been told don‘t budge on 100 billion dollars that America loses every year on offshore banking that corporations want to take advantage of.  What they‘ve been told they can do is decimate Social Security, decimate Medicare, decimate domestic programs, as long as those domestic programs don‘t benefit corporate America. 

We know the truth.  The truth is Ronald Reagan, this mythical icon hero of the Republicans, raised the debt ceiling 17 times.  You had George Bush, the boy, who raised the debt ceiling seven times, after he squandered 500 billion—

SHARPTON:  But they don‘t seem to mention that in this last few little few weeks. 


SHARPTON:  I want to ask you this, though.  Treasure Secretary Tim

Geithner is planning to step down after the debt ceiling debate is resolved.  What do you make of that news getting leaked out today?

LAURA FLANDERS, GRIT TV:  Well, I think, you know, there were some Democrats who were saying maybe this is about trying to make the Democratic side look weaker at this point.  But I think there will be a deal eventually.  There‘s even talk today about some kind of deal. 

They want to bring this up again right before the next election, right before—you know, a year and a half from now.  There is, as I see it right now, really a debate between a deal and a dance.  There is no business getting done here right now, because this dance is serving both parties. 

What the country is talking about is jobs.  The Republicans do not have a jobs plan.  They have this deficit drama.  And the Democrats—well, there is the progressive caucus that‘s out there.  They held hearings at the—


SHARPTON:  Democrats have questioned the debt ceiling‘s constitutionality.  Are they going to pursue that strategy? 

FLANDERS:  I don‘t think that‘s really where the people are at?  I don‘t think that the top topic here.  We want to talk about, you know, business leaders and what is it going to take to actually create some jobs here.  Are these business people or they, I don‘t know, bullies? 

SHARPTON:  But Mike, talking about business people.  Business people don‘t want us to default on the debt.  When are business leaders going to step up and deal with this? 

PAPANTONIO:  Well, real business people, reverend, understand what it means to default on this debt.  It‘s virtually impossible to do what the Republicans are threatening.  That‘s why we can‘t have Obama blink.  I don‘t think he‘s going to blink. 

I love the way he‘s talking now.  You know what he‘s doing, reverend?  He‘s educating the American public that we have a Republican party that‘s become obstructionist because they understand who they owe their loyalty to.  It‘s not the average American.  It‘s corporate America. 

FLANDERS:  He better not be about to blink, Mike.  He better not be. 

SHARPTON:  I‘m going to have to blink.  I‘ve got to go.  Thank you, Laura Flanders and Mike Papantonio.  Thank you. 

Comedy Central‘s Stephen Colbert gets down to start his own super PAC. 

He celebrated the occasion with a campaign finance knock-knock joke. 

That‘s next. 


SHARPTON:  As you may or may not know, the late, great James Brown, godfather of soul, was a very special man to me.  He was like an adopted father to me.  You see a picture of he and I 35 years ago in my early 20s. 

And even though he has been gone for almost five years, the world needs to know that James Brown is still the man. 

Last night on BET‘s “Monique Show” funk legend Bootsy Collins, who came from James Brown‘s band, and I paid tribute to the godfather of soul when we debuted a new song, “James Brown is Still the Man.”

I‘m speaking.  I don‘t sing.  And Bootsy is doing the funk.  You can buy the song on Bootsy‘s new album.  Here‘s a taste from last night. 


SHARPTON:  Every time we use our art and our music to lift those of us that are down at the bottom, to look towards the top and dream for a better day, I know that‘s James Brown.  He‘s still the man. 

Every time I see a kid—black, white, Asian, Latino—come from nothing and believe they can go somewhere and beat the odds, I know that‘s James Brown.  He‘s still the man. 


SHARPTON:  See, I can preach on beat.  Up next, Steve Colbert‘s big day and my eulogy for Glenn Beck‘s show is coming up.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.



STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Moments ago, the Federal Election Commission made their rules.  Ladies and gentlemen, I‘m sorry to say, we won!  I am a super PAC!

I don‘t know about you, but I do not accept limits on my free speech! 

I don‘t know about you, but I do not accept the status quo. 

But I do accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. 


SHARPTON:  That was Stephen Colbert earlier today, celebrating after the Federal Elections Commission voted to allow him to form a super PAC, a type of political committee made possible by the Citizen United Supreme Court ruling. 

A super PAC can be used to raise unlimited funds for federal elections, as long as the money isn‘t spent on specific candidates.  The only restriction the SEC imposed today was that Colbert can only promote his super PAC on his Comedy Central show. 

Basking in the glow of his victory, Colbert responded to those who have questioned his sincerity. 


COLBERT:  Some people have cynically asked, is this some kind of joke?  Well, I for one don‘t think that participating in democracy is a joke.  I don‘t think wanting to know what the rules are is a joke. 

But I do have one federal election law joke, if you would like to hear it.  Knock knock. 

CROWD:  Who‘s there!

COLBERT:  Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions. 

CROWD:  Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who? 

COLBERT:  That‘s the thing.  I don‘t think I should have to tell you. 


SHARPTON:  For me, let me bring in Ryan Reilly, who has been reporting on this story for “Talking Points Memo.”  Why is Colbert doing this, Ryan? 

RYAN REILLY, “TALKING POINSTN MEMO”:  I think it‘s all part of an elaborate sort of ruse on the commission to sort of poke fun at some of the lax campaign finance regulations that have come up and sort of been an issue in recent months. 

It‘s something that a lot of—you know, some of the good government groups are very concerned about, the implications that this particular decision could have for other politicians. 

You have a number of politicians who have PACs and then they also have their own programming on Fox News.  You have Sarah Palin.  You have Karl Rove, who‘s constantly talking about his super PAC on their program.  So there is a bit of worry about what this could mean for other—for other PACs.

SHARPTON:  What does the FEC decision today tell us about campaign finance law in a post-Citizens United world? 

REILLY:  Well, I think there‘s a lot of good questions that sort of come up because of Citizens United.  The FEC has come under a lot of criticism recently because it‘s the—a lot of people do not think it‘s enforcing to a great extent.  It‘s not enough providing enough disclosure mechanisms. 

And there‘s just been a ton of criticism recently.  So I think this sort of poked fun at the situation and brought it to a larger audience.  You know, this is something the FEC typically never has anywhere near this type of—size of audience come out to any of their meetings. 

I mean, it‘s usually typically a few reporters and some lawyers who show up.  But this is a situation where you had throngs of people standing outside of the commission.  You had lines down the block with people trying to get in. 

SHARPTON:  But one thing I noted, one commissioner who voted against Colbert.  What was his reason? 

REILLY:  He was actually on the conservative side.  He had some technical questions, but I think broadly, he agreed with most of the impetus of the decision. 

SHARPTON:  But some groups were concerned this ruling would set a dangerous precedent.  Do they have reason to be worried? 

REILLY:  To a certain extent.  So what the commission ended up deciding is that they would be allowed to pay for any expenditures on his network alone.  So any sort of ads that they would run on the program would be fine. 

But they couldn‘t pay, without at least disclosing such expenditures, for commercials to run on other networks.  And they also couldn‘t pay for administrative costs for the PAC. 

SHARPTON:  Ryan Reilly, thanks for joining us. 

REILLY:  Thanks so much for having me. 

SHARPTON:  Glenn Beck is done at Fox.  And he peddled conspiracy theories right up to the very end.  We‘ll take a trip down memory lane next.


SHARPTON:  After 29 months of red phones, conspiracy theories, finger mongering and tears, Glenn Beck is finished at Fox News.  Today, Beck spent most of his final show taking his viewers on a walk down memory lane, celebrating two and a half years of anti-progressive propaganda. 


BECK:  We‘ve really done some amazing things together. 

Two and a half years ago when this program first game on the air, did you even know what progressives really were?  I mean, besides car insurance?  What was that? 

Dietrich Bohnhoffer (ph), I didn‘t know him until about a year or so ago.  Ben Franklin, Andrew Jackson, the road to serfdom.  Social justice, a phrase that is so dangerous because it can be used for good.

We‘ve done it with chalkboards.  Is that bizarre.

Man it‘s been a wild ride.


SHARPTON:  Of course, Beck left out a lot more of his memorable TV moments, like take a look at a few of these. 


BECK:  This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seeded hatred for white people or the white culture. 

I feel like President Obama is just saying you know what, I‘ve got that 3.5 trillion dollar budget we‘re doing.  Is this cold? 

I tonight am going to take you from French Fries to riots.

Nazi tactics are progressive tactics.  Why would you get a gun?  To prepare for tough times. 

You‘re not alone.  I‘m turning into a fricking televangelist. 

America, I‘m going to shoot straight with you.  I think I‘ve wasted your time. 


SHARPTON:  Joining me now is Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters.  I didn‘t get invited.  I‘m sure you had a party over at Media Matters today.  Where was my invitation? 

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS:  It‘s been a big week.  We had a party earlier in the week.  We had a couple hundred people come over and celebrate the farewell of Glenn Beck.  Look, we‘re all better off with Glenn Beck not on TV.


SHARPTON:  You were the one, Media Matters, that had a list of his advertisers.  And you made—you helped 27 percent dip in his ratings.  I mean, how much of those factors do you think helped lead to the end of his show? 

BOEHLERT:  Well, there was a lot of it that was going on.  You played that clip where he called Obama a racist.  That began this massive ad boycott.  Fox refused to take responsibility.  Beck refused to take responsibility and that opened the door to, I think, the most successful ad boycott ever. 

Three hundred, 400 advertisers told Fox, no way, we‘re not going near him.  As you mentioned, ratings down pretty dramatically.  It didn‘t make sense to keep him. 

SHARPTON:  But, you know, one of the things that got me, Beck always claimed to be a history buff.  I want to play you a clip of what he said to me when I was on his show. 


BECK:  I was thinking about this today with you.  You were at Martin Luther King‘s elbow. 

SHARPTON:  No, I was after King.  I worked more with Jackson. 

BECK:  You were not walking with King?

SHARPTON:  No, Mrs. King and Martin.  I‘m only 55.  I was 13 when King was killed. 


SHARPTON:  Facts clearly optional for Beck.  But lots of people buy into it.  How much of this kind of stuff do you think led to his demise? 

BOEHLERT:  Unfortunately, I don‘t think Fox ever decided we‘re embarrassed by Glenn Beck.  I think they decided, again, it was more of a ratings and revenue and things like that. 

But what‘s interesting is that exchange was unusual, because there was someone there to fact check him in real time.  Usually he just goes on and on spouting this nonsense, and there‘s no one there to say, by the way, you got it totally wrong. 

SHARPTON:  Next up, his online TV channel, and his Restoring Courage trip to Israel.  What happens to him?  He says he‘s going to be bigger than ever.  Will he?

BOEHLERT:  No.  Glenn Beck was a nobody before Fox News.  I‘m pretty sure he‘s going to be a nobody after Fox News. 

SHARPTON:  Fox hasn‘t announced who they‘re going to put in his time slot.  Do you know? 

BOEHLERT:  No.  They‘re going to have sort of a summer tryout.  They announced today they‘re going to have a whole bunch of different people filling in.  We‘ll see if they‘re committed to, frankly, the crazy programming of Glenn Beck or if they‘re going to rein that 5:00 hour in. 

SHARPTON:  Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, thank you.  And thank you for joining us. 

Let me just say this about Glenn Beck.  I grew up a minister and in the civil rights movement.  But as you saw earlier, I had the pleasure of being adopted in my teen years by James Brown, the godfather of soul. 

He took me four hours 20 to Las Vegas.  And I had never been to Vegas as a boy preacher or anything.  That wasn‘t where we would go. 

And he showed me there was the big show rooms.  But outside there was the lounges.  There were flamboyant, flashy acts that played the lounge.  But the more seasoned acts of quality played on the main stage inside. 

I remember last year, when we led a big march in Washington commemorating Dr. King‘s “I Have a Dream Speech,” Glenn Beck was at Lincoln Memorial with a huge march, tens of thousands of people. 

And a lot of people with me were a little upset, as I was, at his, in my opinion, not respecting the principles of the speech.  But notwithstanding that, I wasn‘t too concerned about his day in the sun lasting.  Because of James Brown, I knew the difference between those that had a lounge act and those that would make it in the main room. 

See, the problem, Glenn, is you have to have something to say to stay. 

Blackboards, crying, all of that doesn‘t work in the main room. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Reverend Al Sharpton, filling in for Ed Schultz.  You can find me on the radio every day from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Eastern time.  To check listings, go to 

“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. 






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