Thursday, June 30, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Playing With Fire

235 world-renowned economists, including six Nobel Laureates in economics, have called on Congress to quickly raise the federal debt ceiling without making drastic cuts to federal spending. The group warns that “Not doing so promptly could have a substantial negative impact on economic growth…” Well, it was meant to be a warning. To the people who want to defeat Barack Obama, it sounds more like a promise. You can’t stop the Republicans from forcing the US to default by telling them it would wreck the economy. That’s like telling an arsonist not to set fires because it will burn something down. The Republicans don’t give a crap about the debt ceiling any more than they care if you have a roof over your head.

The Senate has cancelled its July 4th recess to work on a compromise on the debt ceiling, the day after President Obama chided them to get to work. That tells you one thing—the Senate is controlled by Democrats. If this had been the Republican-controlled House they would have doubled their vacation. The Senate had been scheduled to take a week’s break for the Fourth of July. Yeesh. Even when a holiday is specifically named after ONE DAY, the Senate takes a week off. Even without the break, I hope that Mitch McConnell will still find a little time to get out and get some sun. Or at least finds time to ask John Boehner about finding a quality spray tan place.

Bachmann & Associates, Inc., the “Christian counseling” clinic that takes taxpayer money, is owned by Michele and her husband Marcus Bachmann. In a sense they’re brilliant—they’ve found a way to have the government pay them to be hypocritical about the government. Marcus Bachmann has said that God heals people at his clinic. Well Marcus, by my calculation that makes you pretty much unnecessary. Marcus calls Jesus Christ the “Almighty counselor.” Yes, Jesus certainly had some great advice on how to live. And it’s all available free to anyone. Shocker! Every piece of advice that we have any record of Jesus Christ ever uttering is available for absolutely free. And you don’t have to go through Marcus Bachmann to get it. In fact, it might be a lot clearer to you if you don’t involve Marcus Bachmann.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Flashback 2010: Michele Bachmann’s husband refers to homosexuals as ‘barbarians’ and faults public school for making more of them…

Thom Hartmann: Does President Obama's have a secret weapon to force Republicans to come to the table?

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A group of 248 economist, six of whom are Nobel Prize winners, sent a letter to Congressional leaders yesterday demanding a clean vote to raise the debt-ceiling - arguing that failure to do so could have, "a substantial negative impact on economic growth." The IMF issued a similar warning too. But as President Obama drew a line in the sand yesterday in debt-limit negotiations demanding that tax loopholes for millionaires, billionaires, and transnational corporations be closed - and Republicans drew a line in the sand on behalf of those tax loopholes - a debt-limit deal looks more and more unlikely. And as Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner's debt-deadline of August 2nd draws closer - some are looking at what a post-August 2nd America looks like if the debt-limit is not raised - and it's not pretty.

While the United States may not actually default on it's debts - it WILL have to cut off many day-to-day payments to critical programs around the country and prioritize its debts. On August 3rd - the day after the deadline - our nation will owe $32 billion - but will only have about $12 billion in revenue to pay up. That means about $20 billion will need to be cut out immediately - in just one day. But here's the thing - figuring out which bills get paid and which ones get pushed off - is solely up to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and President Obama. So if the Republicans REALLY want to play hardball on the debt-limit - then President Obama should hold them accountable and put their states on the chopping block first.

That could mean cutting off critical transportation and other federal assistance funds - and even Social Security payments - to red states represented entirely by obstructionist Republicans. While this isn't an ideal situation - it is President Obama's secret weapon to force Republicans to come to the table and compromise. Once folks in Eric Cantor's Virginia district see their Social Security payments cut off - you can bet Cantor's office will be flooded with calls from constituents demanding he raise the damn debt ceiling.

Let's put the real consequences of their obstructionism in their face - and watch the Republicans blink


(What do you think will happen? Tell us here.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Get to Work!

President Obama blasted the GOP and constantly-vacationing Congress today for whining about closing tax loopholes for the rich and failing to get a deal done on the debt ceiling. And as Republicans continue threatening not to raise the debt ceiling, some Democrats are pointing out that the Constitution actually requires the federal government to pay its debts. I guess Republicans didn’t listen when they were reading the Constitution out loud. Part of the 14th Amendment says “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” Translation: if you refuse to raise the debt ceiling, screw it—there is no debt ceiling.

Do As I Say Department: the clinic run by Michele Bachmann’s husband has collected over $137,000 in Medicaid payments since 2005, while Michele has been railing against Medicaid. This must be why Michele Bachmann doesn’t want Medicaid money going to the poor. She wants it all to be going to her. AND, on top of all the clinic money, Michele is a partner in a family farm that has received some $260,000 in federal farm subsidies. Yeesh. I think we could make a big dent in the federal debt if we just cut off the money Michele Bachmann is getting.

Glenn Beck says his family was harassed by fellow movie watchers when they took in a free movie being shown in New York’s Bryant Park. Beck described the crowd at the movie as “the most hateful people I’ve seen.” Gee Glenn, don’t you ever look out at the crowd at your own rallies? Beck claims one woman yelled “We hate Republicans” at him and his family, and later another man shouted “We hate conservatives.” Glenn, if you’re going to make up lines for the bad guys in your little story to say, at least make them more creative than that. New Yorkers yell things at each other all the time, and it’s always much more inventive than those stock lines. Of course, it’s possible that some people actually were rude to Glenn. I’m sure he wasn’t surprised… or disappointed. Deep down inside, every hate monger really wants to be a martyr. The lesson for Glenn is, they say people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Well, people who throw stones at other people for a living shouldn’t be surprised when a few stones get thrown back at them.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Jon Stewart tackled the ‘who is the bigger a-hole, me or Fox News’ question on last night’s Daily Show…

Thom Hartmann: Governor Rick Scott may have just won the race to the bottom

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The jobless are screwed in Florida. Governor Rick Scott may have just won the race to the bottom when it comes to unemployment insurance. Scott - one of America's most disliked Governors - signed into law yesterday a huge reduction in Florida's unemployment benefit system - cutting the number of weeks someone is eligible to collect unemployment from 26 down to just 12. The cut falls in line with Governor Scott's promise to corporations to lower their unemployment tax payments by $630 million. So again - screw over poor people to give rich businessmen tax cuts.

The National Employment Law Project says Scott's unemployment cuts, "go further than any other state in dismantling its unemployment insurance system." Currently - Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation at 10.6%. And, as we've seen elsewhere around the country - when Republican Governors cut programs that keep the poor and middle-class above water - then economies shrink.

So expect the already high unemployment rate in Florida to get even higher, and cost the state even more in unemployment insurance.


(Do you think he will be beaten? Tell us here.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Flake Is What Flake Does

Michele Bachmann’s campaign launch day included a major embarrassing gaffe. But then it wouldn’t really have been Michele Bachmann’s launch without one, would it? In fact, the odds of Michele Bachmann’s announcement day having a major gaffe were about the same as the odds of Michele Bachmann’s announcement day having an announcement. Bachmann paid homage to Waterloo, Iowa’s other famous resident, John Wayne. Unfortunately for Michele, movie star John Wayne is not from Waterloo. Mass murderer John Wayne Gacy is. I don’t think they’ve put up a plaque, though. Michele said “I want them to know just like John Wayne is from Waterloo, Iowa, that’s the spirit I have too.” Michele is actually closer to the spirit of John Wayne Gacy. Relax! I don’t mean because Gacy was a killer. I mean because Gacy was a clown.

Then today on Good Morning America, Bachmann was given an opportunity to clarify her remarks that our Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly to end slavery.” As you would expect with Bachmann, the explanation was more confused than the original confusion. As an example of a “Founding Father” who worked to end slavery, Bachmann mentioned John Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams was 9 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed. He wasn’t a “Founding Father.” At best, he was a “Founding Pre-Adolescent.” John Quincy Adams was the son of a Founding Father, but he wasn’t a Founding Father any more than John Wayne Gacy won a Best Actor Oscar for True Grit.

Pat Robertson says that New York’s legalization of gay marriage is going to lead to God’s destruction of America.
Maybe, Pat, but not before the wedding planners, photographers, and wedding cake bakers of New York make a mint. Reverend Pat invoked the specter of the city of Sodom, which he claims that God destroyed over the sin of homosexuality. In Pat Robertson’s vision of the Biblical world, God spends most of his time punishing people for homosexual behavior. No wonder there was so much murder and pillaging in the ancient world. God was too obsessed with the gays to take care of anything else. Pat said “In history there’s never been a civilization, ever in history, that has embraced homosexuality and has survived.” The conservative view of history is just a series of great empires that rose, suddenly became enraptured with show tunes and glitter, and then collapsed.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Hour Two Guest: Sen. Bernie Sanders joins Randi live today – sign his petition here
. Here’s a small taste of his epic floor speech yesterday…

Thom Hartmann; Another day - another Supreme Court decision in favor of big money in our politics...

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Another day - another Supreme Court decision in favor of big money in our politics. Yesterday - in another 5-4 ruling - the right-wing of the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that provides public financing of elections. The law was intended to level the playing field between people with huge fortunes and rich friends - and just average folks running for office, by supplying matching public funds to candidates who are being outspent by private money.

The law made sure that electoral politics in Arizona wasn't a "whoever has the most money wins" sort of game. But the high court ruled that any attempt by the government to "equalize electoral opportunities" - as in make sure both candidates are on a level playing field financially - is unconstitutional. But what is constitutional to the Conservative Supreme Court nowadays? The corporate takeover of our democracy - as was decided last year in the Citizens United case.

Thanks to this most recent ruling - look for even more corporate-owned candidates to spring up - as in more people who deny global warming - more war hawks - and more shills for Wall Street billionaires.


(What do you think? Tell us here.)

Sanders: Americans Want Shared Sacrifice to Solve Deficit

As deficit cut talks continue, Sen. Bernie Sanders joins Keith to stress all Americans -- not just middle-class Americans -- must make sacrifices to engineer an economic recovery.
via Keith Olbermann

Sign Petition here @ Shared Sacrifice

Dear Mr. President,

This is a pivotal moment in the history of our country. Decisions are being made about the national budget that will impact the lives of virtually every American for decades to come. As we address the issue of deficit reduction we must not ignore the painful economic reality of today - which is that the wealthiest people in our country and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing. In fact, the United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth.

Everyone understands that over the long-term we have got to reduce the deficit - a deficit that was caused mainly by Wall Street greed, tax breaks for the rich, two wars, and a prescription drug program written by the drug and insurance companies. It is absolutely imperative, however, that as we go forward with deficit reduction we completely reject the Republican approach that demands savage cuts in desperately-needed programs for working families, the elderly, the sick, our children and the poor, while not asking the wealthiest among us to contribute one penny.

Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share. At least 50 percent of any deficit reduction package must come from revenue raised by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit large, profitable corporations and Wall Street financial institutions. A sensible deficit reduction package must also include significant cuts to unnecessary and wasteful Pentagon spending.

Please do not yield to outrageous Republican demands that would greatly increase suffering for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. Now is the time to stand with the tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to survive economically, not with the millionaires and billionaires who have never had it so good.


Sen. Bernie Sanders;
and Co-signers

Monday, June 27, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Flake: Putting It Mildly

Michele Bachmann announced her candidacy for President of the United States today in her old hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. Perfect! The land of corn is the setting for the announcement of the “flake.”

In case you didn’t hear, on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Michele Bachmann “Are you a flake?” (video below) It’s not a very useful question. Flakes tend to be unaware that they are flakes. Bachmann responded “I think that would be insulting to say something like that because I’m a serious person.” Well, yes, Michele, you’re serious. But then there is such a thing as seriously flakey. Wallace took a lot of heat for asking that question. Two things have been lost in the controversy. One, it’s an obvious question. And two, the correct answer is clearly “Yes.”

Michele answered Wallace by trying to list her non-flake credentials. She said
“I’m not only a lawyer, I have a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William and Mary.” And the sound you heard right then was thousands of William and Mary diplomas being ripped from walls all over America. As a follow up, Chris Wallace asked Bachmann “Do you recognize that now that you are in the spotlight in a way that you weren’t before that you have to be careful?” Well yes, Chris. That’s why I’m not calling for investigations into anti-American activities this very moment. Duh.

Bachmann has earned a reputation for being willing to say anything… except the truth. But Michele Bachmann is capable of tailoring a message to an audience. The problem with her tailoring is that she’s using a fabric of lies. Fact checking Michele Bachmann is like spell-checking Sarah Palin—you just get overwhelmed by the sheer number of wrongs. On the Politifact website’s listing of “truth meter” ratings for various statements, Michele Bachmann has more “Pants on Fire” than a 5-alarm blaze at the Levi’s factory.
And she gets away with it because she tells the lies that her followers want to hear. In the latest polls, Bachmann and Mitt Romney are essentially tied for the lead in Iowa. Hear that, Iowa Republicans? It’s The Flake versus The Fake!

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: The nuclear disaster in Nebraska just got worse

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You need to know this. The impending nuclear disaster in Nebraska just got worse. Over the weekend - a floodwall protecting the nuclear plant from the overflowing Missouri River gave way - inundating the facility in floodwater. The plant is less than 20 miles away from Omaha - Nebraska's largest city - and is now cooling its reactors and spent fuel pools with back-up diesel powered generators.

Officials say water has not breached any of the buildings yet which are designed to withstand flooding of 1,014 feet - but currently floodwaters stand at 1,006 feet - and they're expected to rise. It was a tsunami that triggered the world's worst nuclear meltdown at Japan's Fukushima plant a few months ago - and if floodwaters continue to rise and upstream dams can't hold them in Nebraska - then the same thing will happen here - and we might lose Omaha.

The rest of the world is ditching nuclear power - we're doing nothing except praying the flooding doesn't get worse.


(What do you think it will take for the US to abandon nuclear power? Tell us here.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Is it only a matter of time before Republican Governors get a rude awakening at the polls?

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You need to know this. The New Jersey State House passed a harsh anti-union bill yesterday - that shreds public employee benefits - cuts off cost-of-living increases for their pensions - and kills their collective bargaining rights. The bill includes the deepest cuts to public employee benefits in the state's history - and will affect more than 750,000 public workers like teachers, firefighters, and police officers. Despite thousands protesting outside the state capital - à la Wisconsin - Republicans in the State House jammed through the bill and the Republican Senate is expected to pass it Monday - handing Republican Governor Chris Christie a huge victory in his war against unions.

But the people of New Jersey are catching on to Governor Christie radical anti-middle class agenda - as recent polls shows his job approval plummeting. He joins other Republicans Governors around the country from Scott Walker in Wisconsin - to John Kasich in Ohio - to Rick Scott in Florida - whose poll numbers are falling through the floor.

So even though these guys thought they could get away with dismantling the working class in their state - it's only a matter of time before they get a rude awakening from voters at the polls.


(What are you doing to awaken voters to give these governors a rude awakening? Tell us here.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Ending Wars & Economic Saboteurs

Last night President Obama said he was going to speed up our pullout from Afghanistan. We’ve been there for a decade. Any movement at all would be a speed up. This has been the most drawn-out ending since Hey Jude. At least that long drawn-out ending gave DJ’s a chance to use the restroom. President Obama said “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.” Unfortunately, I think the Republicans want us to pull out of America too.

Democrats are finally explicitly calling out Republicans for sabotaging the economic recovery (video below), which they have been doing… explicitly. Dick Durbin said “Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama.” And if the best way to do that is to keep millions of other Americans unemployed… well, so be it!

Sarah Palin is whining about media reports that the remainder of her bus tour has been cancelled.
Palin claims that she just returned to Alaska because she had jury duty. Can you even imagine Sarah Palin serving on a jury? “Please, juror Palin, just say ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty.’ There is no such thing as a verdict of ‘you betcha!’” Palin said “the next leg of the tour continues when the time comes.” Yeah, when the time comes that Sarah craves media attention. I don’t know if you realize this, Sarah, but you can’t keep on teasing that you’re going to run for president in 2012 indefinitely. For starters, it won’t sound very believable after 2012 comes and goes. Does anybody really think that Sarah Palin is going to run for President? It would be a disaster and a huge embarrassment for her. Of course that didn’t stop Newt Gingrich.

A pilot at Southwest Airlines went on a rant about his attempts to enjoy the nightlife with female crew members, on a cockpit microphone that he didn’t know was live (complete audio). I’m sure everyone listening to it was thinking “What is Charlie Sheen doing flying an airplane?” The pilot called his Chicago-based flight crew a “continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes.” For the record, he was complaining. But I think there must be a website called “Gays, Grannies, and Grandes” for people who are into that sort of combo.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: Are the Republicans driven by putting one man out of work - President Obama?

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I've been saying for a long time that Republicans have one strategy - to crash the economy so that President Obama loses in 2012. Now - finally - it looks like Democrats have figured that out. In a press conference on Capitol Hill yesterday - top Democrats called out Republicans for stopping anything that will help the economy.

As Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said, "Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama."

Many of the stimulus measures Republicans are voting down - like a payroll tax cut for employers - are the very same things they used to support - which is just more proof they don't give a damn about the economy - they only care about the 2012 elections.


(Is this the start of a new era? Tell us here.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Hey Big Spender

One of Newt Gingrich’s top aides confirms that Newt had a second line of credit with Tiffany’s jewelry store, this one worth up to a million dollars. I am shocked. Who knew that Newt Gingrich still has a top aide? New disclosure filings by the Gingrich’s will show “a $500,000 to $1 million line of credit at Tiffany’s.” That’s in addition to the other credit line for up to half a million dollars. I guess that one was just for impulse buys, like when you or I buy a packet of Tic Tacs in the supermarket checkout line.

As all this was happening, Newt’s two top fundraising advisors quit, probably because they’re in a pretty good position to know whether or not their next paycheck is going to bounce. It must be hard to be a fundraiser for Newt Gingrich. When you’re making those calls, you have to always be prepared to answer the question “You want money? Doesn’t this jerk have a million dollars to spend on jewelry?” I would imagine that the number one question that a fundraiser working for Newt Gingrich gets is “Are you serious?” This presidential campaign is starting to become the biggest embarrassment of Newt Gingrich’s life. And that is a very high bar indeed.

Rick Santorum is blaming the lack of knowledge of history among American high school students on “a conscious effort on the part of the left.” Santorum says the left wants “to desensitize America to what American values are so they are more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America.” Great. Hey Rick, just for the sake of our science classes… what color is the sky in your world? Santorum made his history education comments in Ames, Iowa, or as Michele Bachmann refers to it, the site of the Great Chicago Fire of 1492.

Finally, it seems that Sarah Palin’s little bus tour has ground to a halt. Sarah can’t complete a simple bus tour any more than she can complete a full term as Alaska’s governor. Amazing. Sarah Palin’s bus tour had no timeline or set itinerary… and she still couldn’t keep to it! From reading the postings on Sarah fan sites, a lot of her followers are getting angry and confused. Of course, all of Sarah’s followers were angry and confused to begin with. That’s why they’re her followers.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Need a smile today? Check out President Obama showing Michelle how it’s done…

Thom Hartmann: Are we on the verge of seeing a mass extinction in Earth's oceans?

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Are we on the verge of seeing a mass extinction in Earth's oceans? That's what a group of top ocean scientists warn in a new report released this week by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean. Because of pollution and global warming - the oceans are losing oxygen and becoming more acidic - threatening to trigger a mass extinction not seen in over 50 million years - when half of all the life in the oceans was wiped out.

Scientist Daniel Laffoley - a co-author of the report - said, "We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation...and we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems."

We all have to realize soon that we can't live above and beyond our environment anymore - if [the ocean] dies - then we die too.


(Will we save it in time? Tell us here.)

Tell Congress: Tax millionaires and billionaires

Republicans continue to hold Americans hostage in ongoing negotiations over raising the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget. Meanwhile there's an epidemic of home foreclosures. Unemployment is rampant. The cost of food, gas and health care is going up. Families across the country are falling into poverty, while many more are struggling just to get by.

And now the same Republicans who only months ago went to the mat to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are saying we cannot afford our social safety net because "we're broke."

There is something deeply wrong with our priorities as a country if we're cutting back on services for children and the elderly, the sick and the destitute, and anything that helps the middle class stay afloat while simultaneously cutting taxes for the likes of Paris Hilton and the Koch brothers.

Tell Congress: Tax millionaires and billionaires.

We cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the very people who've taken it on the chin during this economic crisis.

Progressives need to offer an alternative to the morally bankrupt and economically baseless dogma of "tax cuts for the rich, massive spending cuts for everyone else." And the alternative cannot be simply to propose slightly less brutal spending cuts. We need to put tax increases back on the table.

While some Democrats have fallen into this trap of accepting the rightwing framing of the debate, progressive champions Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading the fight for a real solution to our budget crisis.

They have each introduced a bill to raise the income tax rates on people who make more than one million dollars a year. And they need our help to start changing the narrative around the budget.

Tell Congress: Tax millionaires and billionaires.

Increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires won't be a silver bullet, but it would bring in tens of billions of dollars that would allow us to avoid some of the most brutal budget cuts we're now facing. And it would be a step toward making our tax system more fair.

The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing in a way that is deeply unhealthy to our society. The richest 1% of Americans are making 24% of the country's income, which is the highest share it has been since the 1930s. The 1930s were also the last time the richest 1% have so consistently paid such a low income tax rate. And as Michael Moore has pointed out, the top 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans put together.

This wide gulf between the haves and the have-nots not only affects our economy, it distorts our democracy. We have to take action before it's too late.

Tell Congress: It's time to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires.

Our country isn't broke. But if the Republican's intellectually dishonest claim that we are is met with silence, our country's moral compass may become broken.

We cannot shred the social safety net when it's most needed. It's long past time to require the super wealthy pay their fair share.

Tell Congress: Tax millionaires and billionaires.

Now, more than ever, we need you to speak out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Era of the Wizard

Jon Huntsman announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination today. If you don’t know who Jon Huntsman is yet, don’t worry. You’re never going to have to know. Huntsman is like the crew member you never saw before on a episode of Star Trek that gets sent down to a planet with a landing party of Kirk, Spock, Chekov, and Bones. You don’t have to know who he is. He’s going to be eliminated, and very quickly.

The setting for Huntsman’s announcement had the Statue of Liberty in the background. But the statue had its back turned to Jon Huntsman. As visuals go, I could think of a better one than having Lady Liberty seeming to say he could kiss her ass. Hunstman is a former CEO from a rich family. But you already knew that from the fact that he’s a Republican candidate for president. Huntsman may have trouble with conservatives. He served in Barack Obama’s administration, as ambassador to China. Conservatives would be more likely to vote for him if he had been the Premiere of China.

Huntsman wants voters to know that in high school, he used to play keyboards in a prog-rock band called Wizard. Believe me, Jon, you don’t want anyone to know that. Prog-rock? Really? I’d rather vote for someone who played in a band that had safety pins stuck through their cheeks. Hell, I’d rather vote for someone who still had safety pins stuck through their cheeks. Not only was he in a prog-rock band, he was in a prog-rock band named Wizard, which, on the list of most generic prog-rock band names, appears at number 1. It actually appears at numbers 1 through 10. I’m sorry, but you cannot have been in a prog-rock band and be the President of the United States. Prime Minister of Germany? Definitely. Or go run for leader of Middle Earth or something. Of course, Huntsman’s message could strike a chord. But if it’s like the rest of prog-rock, that chord will just lead to a pretentious organ solo based on a concerto by Bach.

Oh, and then there’s the little matter of Jon Huntsman’s family chemical company doing business with Iran—in fact, selling deadly weapons materials to Iran. That’s enough to sink his candidacy right there. Throw in a propensity for self-indulgent keyboard solos, and you’ve got yourself a classic Star Trek “expendable crewman.” Watch out for Romulans, Jon.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: He had no other option to receive medical care - except for prison

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A North Carolina man - James Richard Verone - was sent to jail earlier this month after he tried to rob one dollar from a bank. Verone's motive for the petty crime was simple - he wanted to go to prison so that he could get healthcare. After he was laid off as a delivery driver for Coca Cola - Verone found himself without health insurance and in constant pain due to arthritis. He was repeatedly denied health insurance - and denied disability. So he had no other option to receive medical care - except for prison.

So Verone walked into a bank and slid a note to the teller saying he is robbing them for just one dollar. Unfortunately - there are more than 50 million people just like Verone who don't have health insurance and thus are blocked from seeing doctors in America. Republicans like to argue that the United States doesn't go the way of every single other industrialized nation on the planet and offer healthcare as a basic right because we are "an exceptional nation" - we're not like Canada or France with their "socialized medicine." But at least in Canada you don't have to go to prison to get life-saving healthcare.

If serving time just to see a doctor is what being exceptional means - then the conservative vision of America truly has become a nightmare.


(How do you think America is exceptional? Tell us here.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Stewart vs Fox

Jon Stewart was on Fox News this weekend, saying that Fox News viewers were the most consistently misinformed viewers in America. It was a self-validating statement in that it was the first accurate statement on Fox News in recent memory. Chris Wallace responded “I don’t think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us.” Sadly he may be right. A lot of Fox News viewers don’t want to hear disturbing truths. They want to be told reassuring lies. The function of Fox News isn’t to inform people, it’s more to anaesthetize people. Fox News is where people who don’t know the facts go to get their opinions confirmed. Odd, at a time when reality shows are all the rage, Fox News is succeeding with programming that has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

This weekend featured a lot of big speakers at the Republican Leadership Conference. Somehow they all seemed to prove the point that “Republican leadership” is an oxymoron. When Rick Perry spoke, the crowd at the conference chanted “Run, Rick, run!” Oh, don’t worry, he is… from his record at Governor of Texas. Texas leads the nation in creating minimum wage jobs. Hey, somebody has to do the dirty jobs. But in Texas it seems like everybody has to do the dirty jobs.

Ron Paul won the straw poll at the conference in a landslide, with 612 votes to Jon Huntsman’s 2nd place finish with 382 votes. That’s a pretty good indicator of how well Ron Paul would do in the general election—not the landslide, the 612 votes.

Michele Bachmann also spoke. She has a new haircut, with her hair is piled up higher in the back than in the front. Maybe she’s trying to appeal to the “sloping forehead” crowd. If so, at least that means she’s clear on who her base is. Michele delivered a rambling, rather disjointed account of the Bible story of Jonathon. If you’re not familiar with that one, you won’t be any more familiar with it after hearing Michele Bachmann’s account. I’m not too sure what the point was, but evidently the path to job creation begins with defeating the Philistines.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Despite no evidence suggesting so, John McCain decided to blame ‘illegal’ immigrants from the Arizona wildfires…

Thom Hartmann: Who's screwed? People who eat...

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Who's screwed? People who eat. Last week - House Republicans passed the Agriculture Appropriations bill that cuts $87 million from the FDA and $35 million from the USDA food inspection program. Republicans Congressman Jack Kingston defended the legislation saying, "Do we believe that McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken...aren't concerned about food safety? The food supply in America is very safe because the private sector self-polices."

If the private sector does "self-police" then I wonder what Congressman Kingston thinks about the four people who were killed by an e. coli outbreak in Washington state last week. Not to mention last year's salmonella outbreak in eggs and spinach. One out of every six Americans gets sick from food contamination every year - and 3,000 people a year eventually die from a foodborne illness here in America. Not exactly high marks for an industry that Republicans argue can police itself.

So we can add food safety to the list of things Republicans would cut before raising a nickel of taxes on billionaires in America.


(Do you think this will create jobs as food tasters for the rich and powerful? Tell us here.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Randi Rhodes: He's Just Like You

It’s Friday, ya bastids!

Have you heard the one about the clueless millionaire? Mitt Romney “joked” to a group of unemployed people that he was “unemployed” too (video below). Any more jokes like this one, and he is likely to remain that way.
Romney said “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” Oh, do tell your story, Mitt. I bet it’s a real tale of riches-to-riches. In terms of gaffes, it was a perfect storm—Mitt Romney’s lack of empathy with human beings meets Mitt Romney’s lack of a sense of humor. Romney is worse at being a comedian than he is at being a candidate, and that’s not an easy mark to beat. Romney trying to make jokes is almost as pathetic as Michele Bachmann trying to make sense. Mitt should do like Michele and just quit even trying. He is the worst person in the world at trying to be funny. I thought George Bush was bad at it. Mitt makes George Bush sound like George Carlin.

The disruption at the Weiner press conference was from someone from Howard Stern’s show. Howard Stern has millions of dollars. Can’t he hire someone who would at least yell something funny? Really, there are points to be made. Heck, there are jokes to be made. But this moron did neither. The guy’s name is Benjy Bronk. He’s like some sort of suicide bomber with a whole lot of not-funny strapped to his chest. The Howard Stern radio show is in danger of becoming to scandals what Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church is to military funerals. Come on, we know what the function of a shock jock is. There is nothing wrong with being irreverent. But these outbursts weren’t irreverent, they were just irrelevant.

What a world. Anthony Weiner is gone, and David Vitter remains. I would accuse the Republicans of having situational morals, but that implies that they have morals in the first place. At least David Vitter will always be know as “the prostitute guy.” And that’s if he’s lucky. To a lot of people, he’s the “diaper guy.” David Vitter has about as much chance of being thought of for his work in the Congress as OJ Simpson does of being remembered for his exploits on the football field. Here’s one last observation, and one last “Weiner” double entendre—when you compare what David Vitter did to what Anthony Weiner did, shouldn’t Weiner be the one who is hanging in there?

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: The IMF announced today that the global economic recovery is in danger...

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The IMF announced today that the global economic recovery is in danger. Citing mounting opposition across Europe to austerity measures - and the failure of the US government to find a way to raise the debt ceiling - the IMF cautioned in three newly released reports that the entire world could slip back into financial instability.

The report reads, "We have entered into a new phase of the crisis that I would term the political phase, where hard political decisions need to be made because the window for substantial policy action is closing. Time is of the essence." Austerity measures are threatening to take down the Greek government where tens of thousands of protestors have rallied in the streets and gone on strike brining the European nation to a standstill.

And in the United Kingdom - where austerity measures have already been implemented by the government - the economy is shrinking.


(What way out do you see? Tell us here.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Norman Goldman: Today, justice is served on US

Norman Goldman June 15th 2011 Full Show
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Today, justice is served on US - we need to get US organized! I see a lot of groups on our side - can we all work together?

We NEED to all work together - the economy is not performing for US! It IS performing for the top 1% - the rich are indeed getting richer and the middle class is indeed getting poorer.

The President is about to be sued over Libya. What are the prospects for that? Should he be sued? Can WE sue George W. Bush for HIS war crimes?

Gay rights continue to progress. I have "Senior Legal Analyst" stories for you!

My Harper's Magazine arrived - it's time for "Harper's Index"!

On Beyond The Norm - Facebook privacy settings - I guide you through them.

Fierce independence means criticizing our friends when they do wrong - we will prove that again today at the place where fierce independence IS the norm - The Norman Goldman Show!


Randi Rhodes: Weiner Gone

Well, Weiner pulled out. Hey, don’t judge me. I’ve got to unload these Weiner jokes while they’re hot. Hey, there goes another one! In the end, Weiner just couldn’t stand up to the pressure. OK, now I’m not even doing it intentionally. Let’s start again. Anthony Weiner announced his resignation today at the same Brooklyn senior center where he announced his first run for NYC city council back in the early 90’s. He may be resigning to spare himself and his family any more embarrassment, though I’m not sure more embarrassment than this is even possible.

I can guarantee that nobody is happier that Anthony Weiner is going away than David Vitter. He’s still in the Senate, though I imagine this whole affair caused him to soil more than one pair of diapers. It’s an impressive example of survival. David Vitter took a licking and kept on ticking. Anthony Weiner didn’t even get a licking, and he’s out of here. Vitter never really paid the price for what he did. Well, he paid the prostitutes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t know what a hooker who specializes in unusual requests charges for a diapering, but I can’t imagine that what Vitter paid was anywhere near the price that Anthony Weiner ultimately paid. Weiner’s unfortunate last name really gave this scandal traction. David Vitter might have been forced to resign if his name had been David Diapers.

Turning to wieners who are sticking around, Texas Governor Rick Perry might be running for President of the United States, now that he seems to have given up on his threat to have Texas secede from the United States. Rick Perry is what would happen if you put Mitt Romney’s hair on Michele Bachmann’s empty head. Perry first became Governor of Texas back in 2000 when George Bush quit to become president. It’s not easy to go downhill from George Bush, but Rick Perry pulled it off. Perry is the longest serving governor in the history of Texas, at over 10 years now. It’s a testament to how big Texas is that Rick Perry has still been unable to completely destroy it. During a recent period of drought and wildfire, Rick Perry proclaimed a “Days of Prayer for Rain.” I’m surprised he didn’t sacrifice a goat. He did sacrifice a good-sized chunk of the budget for the state agency that was fighting the wildfires. If you have as much faith as Rick Perry does in the power of prayer, pray for God to deliver Texas from Rick Perry.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: The US Conference of Mayors is jumping into the anti-war effort

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The US Conference of Mayors is jumping into the anti-war effort. Tomorrow - the conference will introduce a resolution to call for a quicker end to US foreign wars around the world. If it passes - it will be the first anti-war resolution passed by the Conference of Mayors since Vietnam.

Even though the mayors have no power over the funding of these wars like lawmakers in Congress do - mayors around the country see first-hand the effects of this war - in particular the costs - as more and more cities in America are going broke while hundreds of billions are spent dropping bombs in the Middle East.

(Do you think the resolution will have any affect? Tell us here.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Wisconsin state Supreme Court rules for stripping collective bargaining rights, against democracy

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The Wisconsin state Supreme Court came through for Governor Scott Walker yesterday - ruling that his union law that strips collective bargaining rights and forces public workers to pay more for their healthcare and pensions can now go into effect. Reacting to the court's decision - Walker said, "the Supreme Court's ruling provides our state the opportunity to move forward together and focus on getting Wisconsin working again."

On the flip side - President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO called the ruling an "affront to our democracy." With a 4-3 ruling - the judges overturned a previous decision by a county circuit judge who ruled that the procedure in which the law was passed out of the state legislature violated the state's open meeting laws - requiring proper notification of the public before any new laws are passed - this voiding the law. The deciding judge on the high court was Justice David Prosser who recently won a controversial re-election to the court earlier this year after 12,000 votes mysteriously showed up in Waukesha County to put him over the top. Many on the left have questioned the results of that election since.

Governor Walker's union law has triggered a polarizing debate in the state - and a number of protests by labor organization outside the capitol building in Madison. And now that the law will finally take effect - expect even more lawsuits to come down the pike.


(What do you think democrats should do now? Tell us here.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Randi Rhodes: The Seven Dwarves

Last night there was a debate of the Republican presidential contenders. It was a big debate. The problem is that there are no big Republican candidates. And sorry, all you fans of midget wrestling, but the Seven Dwarves were pretty nice to each other. The candidates wanted to appeal to the GOP base and still look electable, which is kind of like trying to get a triple “X” rating and still appeal to families.

Michele Bachmann used the occasion to announce that she was in fact running for president. The fact that she was participating in a presidential debate was a pretty big tip off, though. It’s still not Bachmann’s “official” announcement, which will take place later in Waterloo, Iowa. One way or the other, that will be her Waterloo. It’s a little ominous to launch a campaign in a place named Waterloo, but then Michele Bachmann is probably unaware that there is a Waterloo other than Waterloo, Iowa.

The irony is that the Fox News viewers that these candidates really want to reach probably didn’t even know this was going on. Since the debate was on CNN, Fox News put up an embargo on any information concerning it. The only people watching were people who think the Republican candidate field is a bizarre spectacle and who were tuning in to watch the freak show. They should have had a bearded lady and a fat man. But then Chris Christie says he isn’t running.

Pawlenty and Romney didn’t go at each other, which was kind of a relief. Two guys that stiff and awkward fighting would look like a couple of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots. The day before, Tim Pawlenty had coined the term “Obomneycare” to cudgel Mitt Romney with. But when asked about his attack while Romney was on the stage with him, Pawlenty acted like… well, like a Pawlenty, as in “Don’t act like such a Pawlenty.”

Bottom line: I don’t want to say this was a group of crazies, but it kind of reminded me of the group in the “watching the World Series” scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I was waiting for Jack Nicholson to start doing the play by play.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: So is this just a case of Republicans believing that privatization is always better?

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New Jersey is becoming ground zero in the Republican campaign to turn public schools into corporate profit centers. Governor Christie's education plans include a new $825 million private school voucher program paid for by cutting $820 million out of the public education budget. The program was designed by Christie and his Education Commissioner - Christopher Cerf - who just happened to previously be the President of the world's largest for-profit school corporation - Edison Schools, Inc.

So is this just a case of Republicans believing that privatization is always better? Not turns out Governor Christie used to be a lobbyist on behalf of Edison Schools Incorporated - and routinely lobbied the state on behalf private schools.

And now as Governor - Christie is giving the ultimate kickback to his former employers - the state's entire public education system and over $800 million bucks. Chris Christie - the best governor money can buy.


(What should be done? Tell us here.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thom Hartmann: So is that our new strategy in Afghanistan - capture innocent people just to boost numbers?

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Let the white-washing of Afghanistan continue. Last year - General David Petraeus touted a successful military operation by Special Forces in Afghanistan that led to the capture or killing of over two and a half thousand rank and file Taliban fighters in a 90-day period between May and July. But - as investigative journalist Gareth Porter uncovered - that number is a crock. Turns out that nearly 90% of those "captured Taliban fighters" were ACTUALLY just innocent civilians and were released just days after capture.

That's kind of like how a handful of prisoners at Gitmo were detained just because they were wearing the wrong Casio watch. So is that our new strategy in Afghanistan - capture innocent people just to boost numbers? Anybody remember the infamous Vietnam "enemy body counts" that included civilians in bombed villages?

This is the worst kind of history to have repeat itself.


(What do you think? Tell us here.)

Randi Rhodes: Freaks & Geeks (Mostly Freaks)

Tonight there will be a debate in New Hampshire featuring seven of the GOP’s White House hopefuls. And hope is about all most of these candidates have. It’s not clear if this debate will cause any major momentum shifts. For one thing, that’s hard to do when nobody has any momentum. Mitt Romney is the front runner. And for the most part, he’s running from his own record. You might see the other six attacking Mitt Romney, while Mitt Romney pretends not to know who this “Mitt Romney” is. It’s possible that the other candidates may pile on Mitt Romney. And a pile of these candidates is a real pile of… well, let’s just say it’s a real pile.

Tim Pawlenty has a chance to make himself better known. That shouldn’t be difficult, his name is perhaps the least known name in America. If you pick ten names at random out of a phone book, eight of them would be better known than Tim Pawlenty. The bad news for Tim Pawlenty is that people don’t know who he is. The worse news is that once they find out, they don’t care. Tonight, will Pawlenty come out swinging? Wow. I just realized how unnatural it is to see “Pawlenty” and “swinging” in the same sentence.

Newt Gingrich will be there… if he still has enough staffers left for someone to arrange to get him on a flight. Did I say “get Newt Gingrich on a flight”? Sorry. I meant to say “get Newt Gingrich on a private jet.” With no staff, Newt and his wife are going to be on their own getting to this debate, planning out a route on Mapquest and booking rental cars and hotels through Travelocity. Newt, we all know the condition your campaign finances are in. Try Priceline.

Ron Paul will be there to bookend the debate. While everybody else stays in the mid-range of Republican crazy, I guarantee that Ron Paul will say the one thing that makes the most real sense, AND the one thing that is the farthest out there. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain will bring up the caboose of the Crazy Train. Michele’s first challenge is to face the right direction. Herman Cain has to prove that he’s not just a silly novelty act. And that task is complicated by the fact that he IS a silly novelty act. But remember, there are no winners and losers here. Just losers.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Rick Santorum got a head start on the rest of freak show pack yesterday on the Meet the Press…

Friday, June 10, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Newt's Big Fat Greek Implosion

It’s Friday, ya bastids!

Yesterday, all of Newt Gingrich’s top advisors got together and resigned. It was the first coordinated thing the Gingrich campaign has done. Now Newt’s future is almost as questionable as his past. It seems that Gingrich’s campaign aides didn’t want to be associated with a disastrous failure, which begs the question of why they signed up with Newt Gingrich in the first place. Newt’s senior advisors confronted him after he returned from a luxury cruise of the Greek Isles.

Gingrich defended his cruise holiday as a chance to “get away and think.” Of course. If I need to think, the first place I go is Mykonos. Then maybe a couple stops in Santorini and Rhodes before winding up in Corfu. But Newt says he wrote two policy speeches while on his luxury cruise! Right. Policy number one—make sure you get all the bacon you want from the breakfast buffet before they change it over to the lunch buffet. It was evidently Mrs. Gingrich who insisted on the luxury cruise, because a half million dollars of Tiffany’s jewelry only goes so far. Hey, between the bling and the cruises, the third Mrs. Gingrich is getting to be very expensive. If Newt Gingrich’s two divorces don’t cost him the nomination, his third marriage surely will.

There’s a lot of new news, but we can always fit Anthony Weiner’s penis in! Andrew Breitbart is livid at shock jocks Opie and Anthony for stealing his picture of Anthony Weiner’s penis. Somebody should tell Breitbart that things may have gone too far when you start to claim a proprietary interest in another man’s penis. I mean really, what does this boil down to? Andrew Breitbart is shouting at Opie and Anthony “Hey, that’s MY penis!” It’s not “your” penis, Andrew. We know you want it. We know you wish you had it. But it’s simply not yours, OK? Breitbart is whining “I want an investigation from Sirius into what the hell happened there.” It’s not too complex, Andrew. You showed your penis to a couple of jocks and they grabbed it. As though Anthony Weiner isn’t feeling bad enough already, now he has to deal with the knowledge that Andrew Breitbart is carrying around a picture of his erect penis. It’s enough to make you lose your erection.

Finally, Pat Robertson is pushing “Teavangelicals,” a combination of the Tea Party and the Religious Right. What do you get when you combine Tea Party and Religious Right? People who believe in the Word of God, but can’t spell it!

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Stephen Colbert does a better job explaining Mitt Romney’s business history in 5 minutes than the corporate media has done in 5 months...

Thom Hartmann: As long as Senator David Vitter, a client of the DC Madame - keeps his job - then Republicans should shut up on Anthony Weiner

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In an interview with the New York Post - thoroughly embarrassed New York Congressman Anthony Weiner again confirmed that he is NOT resigning over the Twitter lewd photo scandal - and a new poll out in his Congressional district shows his constituents support him.

The new Marist poll released yesterday revealed 56% of voters think Weiner should stay in office - while only 33% think he should go. So if it's up to the constituents - as Republicans argue when one of their guys steps in a sex scandal - then the constituents have decided they want to keep Weiner as their Congressman.

And as long as Senator David Vitter - who was a client of the DC Madame - keeps his job - then Republicans should probably keep their mouths shut about Anthony Weiner.


(What do you think will happen to the Republican Party now? Tell us here.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Don't Ask Ann Coulter About Ann Coulter

Have you heard? There’s been a leak of Anthony Weiner’s penis. And yes, we all look forward to being able to discuss current events without snickering. But for now, let’s make the most of it. The notorious “full salute” photo of Anthony Weiner has evidently, uh, gotten out. Andrew Breitbart wasn’t any better at keeping Anthony Weiner’s penis under wraps than Anthony Weiner was. I don’t know if you’re familiar with standard pricing practices on blackmail photos, but having the photo out there in the public tends to severely depress the asking price. You’d think a guy would be more careful with a picture of a Congressman’s penis, but then you’d think that about Anthony Weiner in the first place.

Anthony Weiner’s wife is pregnant. She’s currently traveling overseas with Hillary Clinton, for whom she works. Well, if Anthony Weiner is hoping for someone to counsel his wife on patience and forbearance, he could hardly do better than to have her spending time with Hillary Clinton.

If you ever wondered if there’s a single person out there that Ann Coulter will not slander, it turns out there is… and it’s Ann Coulter. Ann was on Piers Morgan’s show and absolutely refused to talk about herself. Piers asked about Ann’s age. He should know that women are sensitive about discussing their age. But then whether or not Ann is a woman is a question that’s open to debate. Come on, Ann! Viewers just want to know the basics about you. Single or attached? Sunrises or sunsets? Boxers or briefs?

Herman Cain’s idea for securing our border involves building something like the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China was continuously built over the course of some 2,000 years. I think we need a shorter-term solution. And the situation today is different. The Chinese built the Great Wall to prevent intruders from pillaging, raping, and slaughtering. We just need a wall to prevent people from coming here and picking lettuce. Herman Cain said “We have put a man on the moon, we can build a fence!” Hey, if we can beat the Russians to the moon, we surely should be able to beat the Mexicans to America. It should be easy. We’re already here!

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Jon Stewart on Anthony Weiner’s apology to Bill Clinton and the cameo roll that The Daily Show has played in the scandal…