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JOHN KING, USA

Obama to Set Up Commission to Probe Oil Spill; Rand Paul Weighs in on Criticism of BP

Aired May 21, 2010 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf.

There is damage control and then there is Rand Paul. Not my words but those of the senior republican I talked to today about the candidate who, at the moment, is driving much of America's political debate. We can all agree Dr. Paul is different and candid. From there though, the debate and the divide begins. And it is about more than one candidate, about more than just one of the 36 Senate races to be decided this big midterm election year.

It is a debate and a divide about the agenda of the tea party and the image of the Republican Party. Both are happy to talk about shrinking the size and the reach of government but some of what Dr. Paul says about laws protecting minorities and the disabled makes them a little nervous. Today, he added a new wrinkle when asked by ABC about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY SENATE NOMINEE: What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, you know, I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Dr. Paul defeated the Republican establishment's candidate to win that Kentucky Senate nomination, and it's unclear if he will listen now to appeals from party leaders, but there is an urgent effort underway to get him away from the cameras and to instill what campaign consultants like to call message discipline. How big of a problem is this? The senior Republican put it this way. If you're asking about this next Friday, you have your answer. So, where does Dr. Paul fit in the political spectrum? And is he as controversial on the right as he is on the left.

Erick Erickson is a CNN contributor and editor in chief of the conservativeredstate.com, among Dr. Paul's early backers also. Bob Barr is a former Republican congressman from Georgia and was a libertarian for president in 2008. That's 20 years after Rand Paul's father, Ron, led the libertarian ticket. Let's start there, gentlemen, on this Friday evening. And Eric, you first, a lot of eggshells here in Washington among national Republican leaders, Republican politicians, and even among some Republicans I spoke to today in Kentucky. Should they be on those eggshells?

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: You know, to a degree, yes. Although, I've spoken to a couple as well who bluntly were saying that he won this without them. He's probably going to continue without them. And maybe, it's a good thing if he loses so the tea party guys will shut up. I think it's a little disappointing to hear that come from a Republican, but that mindset is out there. I do think he needs to use the Jesse Helms strategy, which is to shut up, raise money, and be on TV, instead of giving interviews to national press.

He's not running in national race. Marco Rubio had this problem for a while with his campaign as well. They've been put on the national stage by a lot of press interest. He needs to focus on Kentucky, Kentucky issues, Kentucky media.

KING: Bob Barr, help me put Dr. Paul in his place on the political spectrum if he has one. Do you consider him a mainstream Republican? Is he more of a libertarian? A tea party candidate in Kentucky alone, there are 14, at least 14, different tea party factions. Do we know where to put him? Is that part of the problem?

BOB BARR, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: He's a little bit of all of the above, John. Clearly, he's being supported by the tea party movement, such as it is. I suspect that if one dissected the votes that he received last Tuesday evening, there would be a lot of both mainstream and new Republicans, probably some independents, but the problem is, he is a national candidate. He's running for the United States Senate. He's now in the big leagues, and he needs to learn pretty quickly, that if you're going to play in the majors, you need to understand the rule book.

It's not like it's anything new. It's been out there for a long time. His father's had to deal with it. And I think it's going to be a problem for him if he's going to continue to make statements like this without really carefully thinking them through beforehand.

KING: Let me ask you, Bob, to you first and then to Erick, what has he said that you object to, that you find you either disagree with strongly or you find to be out of the mainstream?

BARR: Well, it -- it doesn't have anything to do with what I disagree with. The fact of the matter is, when you're asked a question you can fully anticipate that you will be asked because these are questions of the sort that he, himself, has had to deal with earlier in the primary season. There are questions that his father had to deal with constantly, so, you know, he should have anticipated being asked a very simple question about whether or not you support the civil rights act and the ability of an African-American citizen of the country to be able to serve, be served, in the same manner as any other citizen.

The answer to that is u unequivocally yes. You don't need to think about it. You don't need to analyze it. And that's the sort of thing that you don't want to have to explain your answer later on because it's going to come back to haunt you over and over and over again.

KING: What makes him so different is that he didn't say unequivocally yes or no. What he likes to do is explain himself, and that is refreshing in some ways, but it also can be troublesome politically because he gave a long answer to that question which he said essentially there are ten planks in the civil rights act of 1964, I support nine of them. If I had a chance, if I were there at that time, I might have tried to change one of them that effects a private business.

His view seems to be, I hope, I'm being fair, I read it, read it, and re-read it that in the United States, founded on free speech, he believes, Erick, that if you have a private business and you have no public funding and you want to be essentially a racist jerk, you're allowed to be that racist jerk and to bar people from your private property or private business. Now, he says, he abhors racism and he would never support such business, but he believes it is community pressure, not the federal government that should come to bear on such a business if it exists. Is that about right?

ERICKSON: Yes, I think that -- that his point fairly well, and this is a conversation that's very hard to have in a newscast divided up to various blocks and various segments. We say all the time we want a real guy running for office. We don't want a professional politician. We want someone who has the news ones or takes time to explain himself. But when we get that, he's immediately labeled a racist because he didn't start his answer with a yes or no the way he probably should have because he's not a professional politician. That's a problem for him, but at the same time, are we going to give this guy a second chance.

He's what everyone says, he's all they've always wanted. The left had loved this guy for years. He's been on a lot of left wing shows because he doesn't support the war. He's opposed to the patriot act. They loved him until the moment he got the R next to his names who's denied officially. And now, they've turned on the guy. That's the disingenuous level of politics in America that a lot of people who support Rand Paul hate. And I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of weeks, his poll numbers are actually even higher in Kentucky.

KING: Did you view him, Bob, you're not a Republican anymore, per se, but do you think the national party has a problem here that needs to deal with?

BARR: Of course, the national party can't control every one of their candidates, and I certainly would not want to be a part of any political party that tried to control every one of their candidates, but the fact in the matter is that no matter how bright you are, no matter how your views resonate with the broad grassroots out there, you have to have, if you're going to participate in organized professional politics, you have to be able to answer questions quickly, succinctly, and clearly, and they have to be of the sort that don't require you to, for days afterwards, try and explain yourself.

I mean, that -- whether he's, you know, disingenuous or genuine in his answers and is just one of the guys or what not (ph) isn't the point here. When you play in professional politics, you have to be able to answer questions in a way that moves you on and doesn't get you mired in having to explain over and over and over again what you really might have meant but didn't quite say the way you perhaps should have said it, so let me explain it again syndrome.

KING: Are there any reservations, Erick, among those like you who supported him early, any reservations about this?

ERICKSON: Say that again, sorry.

KING: Any reservations at all among those on the right like you who said, we don't want the establishment guy, we want new, we want different, and essentially, we'll take the risk on a new comer who, yes, who will fall down and make some mistakes? Any reservations at all about him and about future races or before?

ERICKSON: I have reservations about Rand Paul alone. I don't agree with him on every issue, and he's certainly a wild card, but I like that about him. I'm not going to agree with him on every issue, but I like the fact that Kentucky is taking a chance on the guy who would go to Washington. And he's not going to be in the pocket of Mitch McConnell or the Republicans or the Democrats or anyone else. He's going to be his own person governed by his own philosophy, which by enlarge I agree with. That's the type of people we need to send to Washington.

KING: Bob Barr, Erick Erickson, we appreciate your time on a Friday night. It's a fascinating story in a fascinating election year. We'll keep in touch with both of you. Thank you so much. And a lot of politics still to come.

When we come back, the president's about to make a trip to Capitol Hill not to meet the Democrats, to break thread with the Republicans. We'll tell you about that.

Also, still to come tonight, when we go wall-to-wall, we'll show you the big financial reform bill finally cleared the Senate. What's in, what's out, and why should you care about this number, 5-1, remember that one.

When we come back in one-on-one, way, way, you know him, Peter Sagal. He's the host of the great program on NPR and we turn the tables and have a little quiz show of our own. It's Friday night, so you make your case. We wanted to ask you, does the guy or lady you send here, your congressman, your congresswoman, your senator, deserve re-election? Your answers just ahead.

And in play-play by tonight, you don't want to miss this. We'll break down the tape of Sarah Palin's new look. What's up with that? And happy birthday, Pacman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's already a fascinating political week and is more news breaking Friday night, as we speak. With me to discuss it here, our senior correspondent, Joe Johns, and our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin. Let's start with two breaking news items out of the White House.

Number one, the president has issued an executive order, we have reported plans to do this, but he's setting up a private commission to look into the causes of the BP oil spill. Not only to look at what the companies did but any government role as well. Former EPA Commissioner William Riley that was from the George H. Bush administration, I believe, and Senator Bob Graham, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida will be co-chairs of that. Politically, the president's trying to get on top of this, but there are risks.

JOE JOHNS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you know, people say, when you order a commission, nothing is ever going to get done, that's the first thing, but in this case, you really do need a commission. A lot of people are describing this as something long the lines of the challenger commission for the challenger disaster. The important thing is this is like high science with when you're out there with this deep water wells. People really don't understand the science. They don't know what's going on. They certainly don't know how to fix a leak like this. So, you got to have somebody to really get to the bottom of it. At this time, a commission's a pretty good idea.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's also a nice way to deflect the issue of will he or won't he support offshore drilling after this fact. Politically, it kicks the issue slightly off of the White House's front burner so that this commission can be studying it. I do think it's worth pointing out in the political environment the president is dealing with four Republican governors from the Gulf state. Not one of them has said the White House has failed us. Not one of them is from the president (inaudible). In this charged political environment, that's pretty impressive. They've done a good job of handling those guys, so far.

KING: So far. You talked about this charged political environment. The president on Tuesday, I'm told, is going to go up to Capitol Hill, not to see the Democrats but to break thread at the weekly Senate Republican luncheon. He wants to try to get to help on immigration reform, try to get some help on climate change. Good luck?

JOHNS: Yes.

(LAUGHING)

JOHNS: Well, but the important thing is, he is making a showing to the country that he's trying to reach out to the Republicans to do something. I mean, these are the kinds of promises he made during the campaign.

YELLIN: Absolutely.

JOHNS: So, if he shows that he's at least trying to reach out to them, and they say, you know, stonewall, no way, Barack Obama tried.

YELLIN: Exactly. He needs to say, I tried. Every time I'm out, talking to voters, when they blame him for the gridlock in Washington it's because he's the one who promised to change it. They know he's not the cause of it or only the cause of it, but he is the one who said it would be different, so it's his fault in their view, many of them, for not changing it so he has to try.

KING: That's exactly right. I think that's one of the biggest forces driving our political climate right now. People had high expectations that this town would change and not only has it got changed, but many people think that it's worse. Here is the candidate of the week. You are in Kentucky for much of the week. Rand Paul wins this election. He's the darling of the tea party movement. He is the hottest thing in politics one day, now, he's the biggest controversy in politics. He thinks maybe he deserved a honeymoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY SENATE NOMINEE: I thought I was supposed to get a honeymoon. When does my honeymoon start?

When does my honeymoon period start? I had a big victory. I thought I got a honeymoon period from you, guys, in the media.

I think what troubles me is that the news cycle gotten out of control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The news cycle got out of control or the candidate got out of control?

YELLIN: I actually think that he's a lit savvier than we give him credit for. I mean, he is definitely stepping up (ph) with these issues, but I do not -- I'm an outlier here. I do not think this is going to necessarily hurt him in Kentucky.

JOHNS: You're right. I grew up in Ohio, spent lots of time in Southern Ohio, worked in Kentucky, worked in West Virginia. The things this guy has said, I don't see how they really hurt him in Kentucky at all. Now, the national media, the political establishment is going nuts over it, and it may have a big effect on the --

KING: The democrats think it might wake up, the civil rights stuff might wake up the African-American base which has been dormant, so far, in the primaries. But in Kentucky, it's a much smaller percent instead of most southern states. I think it's 7.7 percent is Kentucky.

YELLIN: I think that it could help the Democrats paint the tea party broadly nationally as on the edge, on the fringe, have race problems. Maybe, they can get traction on that, but in Kentucky, first of all, it's a coal state. So, there might be some sympathy for BP. So, those comments might not have traction you think they would. And then, generally, they like the fact this, they think, guy speaks truth. And they expect the media to ambush him. So, it's just an example of the national media playing gotcha games.

JOHNS: And when you talk about the African-American community, you're exactly right about that, too because this segregation business that got stirred up with his first remark, people who have been around for a while remember and realize that this is the kind of argument that has been used all along. I'm not racist, I'm just saying the government shouldn't go into this particular area. They shouldn't mess with business. That was precisely the argument against the civil rights act to begin with.

KING: That's one of the many, many, many fascinating races. Jessica, Joe, thanks for coming in on Friday night.

And next, wall to wall, what outnumbers Congress, 5-1? You want to know because your money's riding on the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In wall-to-wall tonight, the effort to toughen regulation of Wall Street. The Senate finally cleared its version last night, breaking partisan gridlock. A lot of your money rides on this, but guess what, a lot of other money being spent to influence the debate. Let's take a look right here. Five lobbyists for each one member of Congress working on this issue. The Chamber of Commerce, 85 lobbyists, the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association 54, Citigroup 38, Moody's 13, Bank of America 11. You get the picture. $1.3 billion spent on lobbying the Congress on financial reform.

And the debate is not over because the House and the Senate have different versions. So, let's go over the magic wall, take a look at what's in, what's out, and where this debate goes from here. If you look at this right here, here's the Senate bill. When it comes to oversight, it has an oversight council and a new consumer protection bureau under the federal reserve and the FDIC would resolve failing banks. But look at the House version here, the consumer protection bureau, it's a little bit different. So, they need to work out there differences here. They're close but not exact. So, they have to be worked out.

Capital reserves, the Senate says the banks have to keep more emergency cash on hand, that's where the things happen. The House version, pretty close as well, keeps emergency cash on hand. On derivatives, the House version is more lenient than the tougher Senate version. Senator Blanch Lincoln in a tough re-election battle, she wrote this provision many believe, though, that in the conference committee, when they merge this together, that this version will prevail, one of the things to keep an eye on. Not included in this, regulators can force banks to sell assets. That's not in this plan. Maybe it'll come up in conference committee. That is what a lot of the lobbying money was spent to keep that out of the bill.

Also, no strict statutory limits on executive pay. You're mad about all those bonuses, executive pay that is not in there yet. Wild cards in this debate, the Volcker rules that essentially separates, tries to separate where an investment bank and commercial bank can do, tougher rules essentially to protect your money. That's a wild card if this debate goes forward if they do with that. And someone who exempts car dealers, they think all these tough rules will make it harder for car dealers to have their own financing system, so you can buy a car. Watch that one as the debate goes forward. So, the senate has a version, the House has a version. Now, they have to try to marry them together. The president says it's a top priority. We'll watch it for you.

Next, though, the former extra in a Michael Jackson video who went on to write the book of vice. He hosted a radio quiz show, too. You know who he is. We'll go one-on-one in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: It's time to go one-on-one.

KING: This should be an easy question for all you political junkies. Who hosts NPR's weekly program where listeners get to test their knowledge of current events against some of best and brightest minds in the news and entertainment world. Wait, wait, don't tell me. It's Peter Sagal. He's joining us for a little fun. Maybe, we'll call this, wait, wait, week in review.

PETER SAGAL, "WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!": Exactly.

KING: You take great pleasure, and you have a gift of finding the obscenity, the differences, the oddities in our politics. One of the headliners this week has been the Senate tea party candidate from the state of Kentucky, Rand Paul.

SAGAL: What's interesting about Rand Paul, he's not a racist. There's no reason to think he's a racist. He just doesn't really believe that the government has done any good for anyone ever, which is a novel position to take, I guess, it's defensible. Then, why does he want to be part of the government?

KING: Here's one this week that just breaks the hypocrisy reader and is the congressman from the state of Indiana, Mark Souder, who's a family values conservative.

SAGAL: Don't go, Mark. Don't go.

KING: Except, except, he acknowledges an inappropriate relationship, but he decides he's going to resign immediately from the Congress. I want you to listen to his reasons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK SOUDER, (R) INDIANA: I sinned against God, my wife my, and my family, by having a mutual relationship with a long-time member of my staff. In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any person of failing is seized upon, twisted for political gain. I'm resigning rather than put my family through a painful, drawn-out process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAGAL: What have we come to, sir, when a moral Christian abstinence education fighting for guy can have an affair with a member of his staff and everybody does let him -- KING: Maybe you're drawing the line in the wrong place. Maybe you can't have an affair with a member of your staff with whom you taped a video.

SAGAL: Yes.

KING: About abstinence education. Let's take a look a little of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've been a long time advocate for abstinence education, and in 2006, you had your staff conductor report entitled "Abstinence and its Critics" which discredits many claims per made by those who oppose abstinence education.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAGAL: This is a disapprover film of Washington hypocrisy. And what I love about this and I've watched it many, many times in slow motion, back and forth, just watching him is not so much his extraordinary hypocrisy of sitting around and talking about abstinence education and the need to teach morality to our kids with the woman with whom he was having an affair as he was speaking -- not as he was speaking, because it would be right before or after he was speaking, but what you see about the relationship. This is what's so interesting, she can't get in a word in edge wise. She keeps trying to interrupt, and he just keeps talking over and one wonder what they did in private, if they reverse roles, if --

KING: You've watched this how many times?

SAGAL: I've watched it many times. I like to set up the multi- angle.

KING: I try not to voice too many opinions here, but I'm going to voice this one, you have too much time on your hands.

SAGAL: Clearly.

KING: This maybe my favorite of the week. Despite all the other rich materials, Senator Ben Nelson, who is a former governor, now a member of Congress, who is among those in the big debates about credit card reform, bank reform, Wall Street reform, he says this, I've never used an ATM. So, I don't know what the fees are. It's true. I don't have to use one, but I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms.

SAGAL: Maybe he's trying to tell us something because there are those of us who wonder what the federal government knows, and maybe, he's sending a signal that, in fact, he's seen area of 51 and he knows about the hologram.

KING: He did explain himself further, by holograms, Nelson clarified, that he meant the bar codes on products read by automatic scanners in the checkout lines at stores. SAGAL: Maybe he meant the Senate Democratic leadership. Have you ever touched Harry Reid? Because I swear I've seen the video somebody passing his hand right through him.

KING: This network, you know, is the expert on holograms.

SAGAL: I know. I appreciate that.

KING: I can assure you, I haven't actually touched Harry Reid.

SAGAL: I've walked through Wolf Blitzer on my way to the rest room just the other day, he didn't notice.

KING: He didn't notice?

SAGAL: No, like I said, it was like --

KING: Here's -- here's one of my favorite politicians ever was Bill Clinton. Just because of his tenacity, not taking a stand on his policy, but this was a guy who would not quit. He's out campaigning in the Pennsylvania district this past week, essentially trying to tell people if you're thinking about voting Republican, think again. And here's what Bill Clinton says, "Forget about politics. Think about decisions you made in your life when you're really mad. There's about an 80 percent chance you made a mistake."

I'm going to hope -- I hope he's just skipping the part when he ran for president, people were really mad.

SAGAL: They were. You voted for me, you look what you got. You think, yes, Bill Clinton is someone who, I think, has reason to know that you shouldn't make certain decisions in moments of, shall we say, emotional extremists. I think that he may be a case in point for why you want to think things through before you say, order that pizza.

KING: All right. You're our guest. But we're going to be rude.

SAGAL: Please, I'm used to it.

KING: We're going to turn the tables -- we're going to turn the tables on you.

SAGAL: Oh, Lord.

KING: You know, you are the host of this wonderful program, does great trivia. Carl Kasell's not here, I'm sorry. I will be the judge. But you can try answering this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The Obamas hosted their second state dinner this week. The person in charge of the whole affair was featured in the segment we like to call the most important person you don't know. Who is she?

Bonus question: Who did the Obamas host at their first state dinner?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAGAL: All right. So, the first question I'm going to skip, as Ralph Fiennes says I'm going to take the second question first. They hosted the prime minister of India.

KING: Ding, ding.

SAGAL: Ding, ding, ding, yes. So nobody remembers that. The only thing they got to remember is the Salahis.

KING: Yes, they hosted the Salahis and the prime minister of India.

SAGAL: There were the Salahis and there were some other guy who was wearing some kind of turban, I believe. But who cares?

KING: Pretty good on the first one. Number two.

SAGAL: All right. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Which tea party candidate for Senate announced on this show that he would buy President Obama a plane ticket to his state? Hint: you might recognize his last name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAGAL: Well, that's got to be -- by the way, who is that man? He seems friendly enough.

KING: That's the hologram, you walk through the hall. That is --

SAGAL: If I remember then, he was -- he was saying, immaterial (ph). I'm sorry. Anyway.

The question was, who sent the -- offered President Obama. Well, it must be Rand Paul because I recognize his last name, right?

KING: Yes.

SAGAL: That's the little hint if I didn't know the answer. That was too easy.

KING: All right. This is my favorite one in the mix.

SAGAL: All right.

KING: Ready? Because I want -- I want to actually know about the answer to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Which guest on this show was an extra in a Michael Jackson music video?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAGAL: Now, I want to say that I didn't hear a word he said because I was distracted by the bra ad about his left shoulder which is really -- can we see that again?

KING: Are you embarrassed?

SAGAL: No, I'm not embarrassed by this. In fact, I come to understand that no matter what else I do, cure cancer, you know, win the wars and save America, this will be the lead in my obituary. I was an extra in the Michael Jackson video "Remember the Time."

Now, the funny thing is that when you tell people, as I have occasionally to do, that you were an extra in the Michael Jackson video, everybody assumes you're a zombie. "Thriller," no. Remember the time he's on the go in kind of ancient Egypt and I was --

KING: You know, it is back there. Yes.

SAGAL: Come on. You've seen this. You've got the complete DVD collection at home.

KING: I do not play. I do have memories of these things.

SAGAL: And I was the snake charmer. But before everybody goes to their DVD collection, I'm not actually in the video. I was hired. I was costumed. I was on set ready to go, but I even had the snake, the snake handler was, there I had the snake. I was working with the snake. It's a very professional snake.

But they never shot my scene. So I'm not in it, sadly. I was paid and I did meet Michael Jackson.

KING: You've been carrying that burden for a long time?

SAGAL: I have. I have. He - that's why I wear one glove. He -- I shook his hand -- he said, "Very nice to meet you," and I said, "Very nice to meet you." I felt a connection.

KING: That's important.

SAGAL: Yes.

KING: Peter Sagal, thanks for coming in.

SAGAL: Thank you, John.

KING: Here's the bonus question just for you: Which Supreme Court justice is known at home as Mr. Coolest? The answer, coming up in just a few minutes. It might surprise you.

But first, you tell us whether your congressman or woman deserves to be re-elected. It's "Make Your Case" after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: TGIF, we made it to Friday, which means today's most important person you don't know is you. It's part of our commitment to bring you into the conversation. We always read our Facebook postings, out tweets, all the comments sent in to our blog.

And every Monday, we ask a question, and give you all week to make your case by posting a video on our Web site CNN.com/JohnKingUSA.

This week's question: Does your member of Congress deserve to be re-elected?

Here's sampling of your responses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MICHELE HARBIN, LOUISVILLE, KY: Yes, I do think my congressman does deserve to be re-elected. I'm happy with what he's doing and he's staying connected to the community.

CHRIS ANASTASIADIS, LONG ISLAND, N.Y.: I don't think they should be re-elected. And nothing ever changes in my area. So, I do think they should be replaced by someone new and forward thinking.

LISA FAUTH, ST. LOUIS, MO.: I would be in favor of the congressman serving term limits like the president does. I feel like they -- sometimes, they get in there and they just stay for the rest of their time.

ROB DWYER, BEND, OREGON: I'm against term limits. We have a pretty big country. We've got 300 million people here. Nobody who has no experience would be able to govern this country.

MIKE MAIER, CORVALLEIS, OREGON: Most of my representatives and one of the senators are up for re-election this time. I think they're beginning to get some things through and that's very good. So, yes, I will vote for both of them again this time.

NINO LAROCCA: It is time to get fresh blood in this Congress because you cannot have an incumbent there since the time of the Roman Empire.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KING: We thank you for your views, as always. Please keep them coming. And here to help me steer the conversation as we go forward, Democratic activist Hilary Rosen, Republican strategist John Feehery.

A pretty good mix there. Some anti-incumbent sentiment, but some -- one guy said, I think they're starting to get it. So, it kind of hard to figure that one out.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They're paying attention. This is good.

KING: Paying attention part is good. JOHN FEEHERY, CONSERVATIVE STRATEGIST: The message from Tuesday, I mean, it was throw the bums out. Arlen Specter, gone. We got Rand Paul. He's the biggest anti-incumbent out there in the history of mankind. And, you know,, I think with what's going on in Arkansas, she's going to be in trouble, Blanche Lincoln.

So, I think --

KING: So, you think we need that old, this was not a representative sample? This is not a scientific sample?

FEEHERY: We had the Capitol in the background, so it's probably a lot of folks around here. So, I don't think this is -- this is not a representation of outside of the Beltway.

KING: That was a happy tourist making their --

ROSEN: I'm not sure there was any one good message out of this Tuesday night. You know, for people looking for signs, I think this was murky.

KING: People looking for history have their eyes right now on the Texas board of education because it's busy, some would say, rewriting history. So far, today, according to the "Dallas Morning News," they voted to reinstate Thomas Jefferson on the list of most influential political thinkers in world history.

In general though, the new social studies new guidelines reflect the school board's conservative outlook. Students will have to contrast the intent of the founders with the separation of church and state. They'll learn to call the U.S. government a constitutional republic rather than democratic. They'll also study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar and the abandonment of the gold standard. And the books will have more about religious figures like John Calvin.

All this is very important because the standards for Texas often end up in books that end up across the country because Texas is so big. Texas and California essentially set the standards for national school books.

ROSEN: So, they don't have to make multiple editions.

KING: Right. Where -- this is a healthy debate?

ROSEN: You know, it's OK if it's debate. Every debate, I think, the more kids learn about, that's fine. What's not OK is rewriting actual history and we're proud of our democracy. We promote it around the world in countries we even -- we even invaded other countries and encouraging them to have the same kind of democracy we have.

So, the idea that we would, you know, shy away from the word just because it happens to name a political party is pretty offensive.

FEEHERY: I'm an old history major and I have a master's degree in history, and I know that history is always rewritten. That's part of the process. So, a healthy debate has got to be part of the historic process.

And sometimes, the facts are disagreed with. Sometimes people have different views and that is part of the historical process. This is probably healthy, although I think that, as Hilary, says there's going to be an alternative view and you got to be able to fight those things out.

KING: Debate is a good thing. We agree on that in here.

All right. At work they call him Justice Antonin Scalia. What is he called at home? The supreme answer came out at a congressional hearing.

(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever considered tweeting or twitting?

JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I don't even know what it is. To tell you the truth, I've heard it talked about, but you know, my wife calls me Mr. Clueless. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So, Justice Scalia has not tweeted, his wife calls him Mr. Clueless.

FEEHERY: A lot of clueless people there. You know --

KING: Ouch!

FEEHERY: Tweeting is not for the uninformed. It's very difficult thing to do tweet. And I still don't know all of these slash and hash marks and stuff like that.

KING: Do you think he could ever write an opinion in 140 characters or less?

ROSEN: Not so tough. I'm wondering what -- you know, people like me can't call Justice Scalia clueless but I suppose he can himself clueless. The thing that we aren't talking about, Justice Breyer was asked the same question. He not only knew what tweeting was, he actually witnessed multiple Twitter menus and thought it was pretty cool.

So, you know, I actually -- it makes me nervous that something as significant a cultural phenomena as Twitter is or other things, a justice doesn't know it.

KING: It's an interesting point. They handwrite their decisions. They have people who type them for them. They're on the -- I think it's --

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: Yes. You have to wonder what kind of real life world they're living in and whether they can make decisions that affect us all.

FEEHERY: These guys are real busy trying to figure out the laws of the land. I'm not that concerned that they're not figuring out the latest fad.

ROSEN: I like that Elena Kagan is young enough to know what tweeting is and will be there through technological change.

KING: I suspect she won't be tweeting though.

All right. Take a look at this. This is going to make Hilary excellent happy. I know it.

Southbound drivers in I-95 in south Florida see this -- a big sign with a big smiling face of the former President Bush. And the question: "Miss me yet?" Signs like this have been popping up all over the country, all paid for anonymously.

ROSEN: That's great. You know, my favorite thing about this as I read about this today, and all of these responses were like -- no, I don't miss you, stay away. We don't need this. Even from Republicans who just assume he stays away.

FEEHERY: Well, I'm assuming that the next election is not going to be about George Bush, it's going to be about Barack Obama. I'm not all that pleased that the president's book is coming out right before the election. Let's keep this election about the current president, not about the last president.

KING: Maybe he can get the Texas school board to delay the publication or something like that.

All right. Headline in today's "Washington Post" in the style section caught my eye. Here's the quote, "Senator Chuck Schumer is positioned to be Senate majority leader." It's a profile of the Democratic senator from New York.

It goes on to say this, "During his three-decade legislative career, Schumer, 59, has developed a reputation as a razor-elbowed, shamelessly self-serving, media-addicted political monster. He is also arguably the single most effective lawmaker of his generation."

Really? We decided to check in with the Library of Congress on this. Since 1999, 16 bills Schumer sponsored have been signed into law. That averages out to two-thirds of a law per year. Compared to some other senators' records over the same amount of time, Schumer's 16 laws is right up there.

But most effective? That's arguable. We should say some of the laws, one of the Schumer laws is to register sex offenders. That's something I think most people support. A lot of them are in post offices and things like that as well.

Arguably the most effective legislator of his generation?

ROSEN: Well, let me just say, Harry Reid is going to be the next majority leader. I think he's going to win his re-election and I think all the speculation about Chuck Schumer doing that is silly.

Having said that, you don't have to be -- you don't have to have your name on a bill to be effective. He builds coalitions. He's on important committees that have single-handedly, you know, created a significant amount of reform. He helped get the regulatory reform bill through the Congress over the last week. I don't think it would and happened without him cajoling and his expertise. I think he's effective.

FEEHERY: Well, he's very effective at raising Wall Street cash. I mean, he's got $21 million in the bank, mostly from Wall Street. He's very good for doing Wall Street's bidding. Very good at that. And there's nobody who's better at getting in front of the camera than Chuck Schumer.

KING: He's been a little shy lately.

FEEHERY: Yes, but he's awesome. There's nobody getting in front of the camera better than Chuck Schumer.

KING: All right. You guys stand by, because when come back, play by play. Washington or Wall Street -- which one do you think needs to be reined in? Our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick is on that case.

But first, Sarah Palin as you never seen her before. That's in play by play -- just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Here comes the play by play.

KING: All right. You get the drill. Friday night play by play. We have John and Hilary still with us to break down the tape today.

The Senate passes its financial reform bill last night, finally breaking a bit of a partisan logjam. The Majority Leader Harry Reid is ecstatic and he wants to say thank you to a Republican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: And for Scott Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts. He stepped forward early on and we had a hiccup down the road a little bit after that, but it was a mistake that both of us made. There's no irreparable damage there. We both understand each other very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Hiccup, hiccup. Here's the hiccup.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Before I leave here, I want everyone to understand, I don't know a lot about everything, but I know how to count votes. And I'm not going to be giving any names and verses, but a senator broke his word with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Detente piece, misunderstanding?

ROSEN: Two things matter to me in that -- those clips. One, nothing more important in Washington than your word. That matters. Number two, Harry Reid got regulatory reform past the Senate, and Scott Brown voted for it.

KING: Their point on the misunderstanding was Senator Reid who was white hot about it at first, their conclusion now is he's new to the Senate, they speak a funny language, and there was an honest misunderstanding of translation.

FEEHERY: Yes, there was. There was a mistake there. I think they didn't communicate that well. I mean, Brown is new to the Senate. There's no doubt about that.

And I think that he was trying to get something else in the Senate bill that didn't come through. And that's why he said, I'm going to vote against this. He also had a couple of Democrats vote against it. So, he thought he could.

You know, this is one of those things that when Harry Reid is a minority leader, it won't be a problem.

ROSEN: But, you know, remember, this was the same bill that Republicans block voted against time and time again. Harry Reid kept at it, kept it on the floor, and ultimately, this week, several Republicans ended up voting for it because they had to. It's a tribute to Harry Reid.

FEEHERY: Well, it's a tribute to the process, too. The process is an open process. And I think that's a good thing for democracy that they had plenty of time to debate the bill. They didn't try to jam it through.

KING: There's been a lot of controversy this week about what Republican, tea party candidate Rand Paul has said. I want to play you something that a Democrat said that you might or might not find controversial. But this is Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, in his campaign, doing an interview in his home state, talking about why he thinks voters should never give Republicans control of Congress again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Why would you want to put people in charge of government who just don't want to do it? I mean, you wouldn't expect to see al Qaeda members as pilots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEEHERY: Well, you know with Grayson, you get this from this guy, because he's a smart guy. He knows exactly what he is trying to do. He's trying to get the left riled up on his side. And he doesn't really care about civility in debate. He's just trying to be that kind of figure so he can become a rock star in the media, especially the Democratic crowd.

ROSEN: He's a passionate guy. I think he's going to get reelected.

KING: That's what we call passionate?

ROSEN: But I do think that terrorism and 9/11 have sort of gone up there with the age-old never talk about Nazis in a political race. It's equal. This is not a good thing to say. He shouldn't have said it. It's going to come back in the next couple years.

KING: Here we go to something lighter, right? I want to show you some pictures of Sarah Palin. She's campaigning out in Idaho today for a candidate. That's not the normal look. Now, she acknowledges her luggage got lost and the campaign she was for went out and paid $300 just for this outfit and she cut a check.

Look, that's the Sarah Palin we know. Now, What do we think? A little fashion statement?

ROSEN: That's, you know, it's the hippie community in Idaho that she was appealing to. You know, the tie dye is back.

KING: Tie dye is back. All right. Hilary said it right here.

FEEHERY: My fashion sense is so cute. You know, she looks fine to me.

KING: All right. So, see this right here? See this right here? You guys know what today is?

ROSEN: The joystick.

KING: The joystick. You know, there are some people play Pac- Man this way. This is the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, OK? Wait until you see. Watch this.

I'm going to go to the wall here and do something for you real quick. Pete on the street is going to be with us in just a moment. I promise you. But you have to see this as we go to break, because look, you can play with a pogo stick or do magic wall Pac-Man.

We do magic wall Pac-Man here. See? We're going play.

Pete is on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Now you see, this is magic wall, Pac-Man version here. I like to make Pete Dominick very jealous.

You know, he's out. He gets to go out on the street. He gets to meet real people all the time, enjoy fabulous campaigns, but I'm in the studio. Hey, Pete, I got magic wall Pac-Man, my friend.

PETE DOMINICK, JOHN KING, USA OFFBEAT REPORTER: You have the reputation, John King, of being the magic wall master. And you stink at magic wall Pac-Man. Come on.

KING: What do you mean a stink at magic wall Pac-Man, I am eating them alive right now, buddy. I am rocking and rolling in here. You play Pac-Man?

DOMINICK: I love Pac-Man. But do they have magic wall Frogger?

KING: Uh-oh, time to get out of dodge. I don't know, we'll work on it for you, Pete, I'm about to get taken.

Pete, so you've been asking while I'm getting beat here in Pac- Man about: does Congress getting this right, cleaning up this Wall Street thing?

DOMINICK: Well, not only is Congress getting it right, but is Wall Street going to behave? Are they going to behave and do people on the street doing their normal lives -- do they ever try to find some loopholes to make a little extra scratch? I went out to ask them that question.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINICK: Do you think Wall Street should behave now that the U.S. Senate has regulated them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the U.S. Senate going to behave?

DOMINICK: It might be a better question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll still find a new way of sneaking by.

DOMINICK: Really? You think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to find loopholes in any existing law, they're going to find loop holes. That's what they do.

DOMINICK: Who is more ethical, senators or Wall Street bankers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that's a toughie.

DOMINICK: I think they sleep together, don't they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so.

DOMINICK: Are they working together behind the scenes, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, they're in cahoots, you mean?

DOMINICK: Yes. Do you think they're in cahoots?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I agree to that.

DOMINICK: Do you think Wall Street needs a pacifier?

Who do you think is smarter, a U.S. senator or a Wall Street investment banker?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In capitalism, I would say the one who makes the most money.

DOMINICK: Who wins in Trivial Pursuit, the banker or the senator?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably the senator. They seem to have a lot more time on their hands.

DOMINICK: Decathlon, U.S. senator or investment banker?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitch McConnell.

DOMINICK: You follow all the rules on your job, sir? You follow all the regulations? You never break the law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I never break the law.

DOMINICK: You never do anything to make a little extra dough? Sometimes you don't turn on the meters just to make a little extra cash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always put it on.

DOMINICK: Do you ever break the rules at your job to make a little scratch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little tiny bit. You would, too.

DOMINICK: Of course. That's why I'm asking you for 5 bucks right now. I'm not supposed to do that. But, hey, listen, I need a little extra.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got change for a $20?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINICK: Well, most people, there you have it. They're not sure, John. But you have to tell me, John King. You're the expert on politics. They put in these regulations. Does Wall Street follow the rules or do they find loopholes?

KING: Loopholes is a magic word here in Washington. We'll see.

Remember. How a bill becomes a law, remember? The Senate passed it. The House has passed its. Now, they got to put them all together. The Democrats say they'll get there. But already, I mean, outspending five to one number of lobbyists for members of Congress working on this, more than $1 billion dollars spent. One of the things critics like to say is Goldman Sachs says it doesn't mind this bill at all. Therefore, there must be a few loopholes in it. That's what they say.

DOMINICK: Yes. So this -- the House bill and the Senate bill come together. Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and the president -- does it get stronger or does it get weaker?

KING: On the derivatives front, they think it will get weaker in the conference committee, but that's one of the wildcards we have to watch, is to think all the vocal rules and all that.

I want you over the weekend to study the vocal rules, Pete, not play Pac-Man. I'm going to play Pac-Man. You study the vocal rules. We'll see you on Monday.

Everybody out there, have a great weekend. Thanks for spending some time with us. We'll see you on Monday night.