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Dems to Decide on Florida, Michigan; School Under Fire for Handing out Contraception; PC Police Ruining Comedy?
Aired May 29, 2008 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL GRAHAM, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, McCain tries a new tact against Obama.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama has been to Iraq once.
GRAHAM: Will saying Obama hasn`t been there enough to understand what`s going on work for McCain in November?
Plus, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan defends his book on "Today".
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences.
GRAHAM: And so would the entire Republican Party. We`ll check the fallout his book is creating.
And a teacher humiliates a 5-year-old autistic child in the classroom. The controversial story, and what is being done about it, coming up.
GRAHAM: Hello, everybody. I am Michael Graham sitting in for Glenn Beck.
As the presidential primary season winds down, the Republicans have their presumptive candidate in John McCain. But Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are still slugging it out, though Obama leads in states, delegates and the popular vote, Clinton refuses to call it quits, claiming she`s winning the virtual Dungeons & Dragons primary, apparently.
However, a meeting of the Democratic Party rules committee could change her mind. An analysis by party lawyers calls for Michigan and Florida to lose at least half their delegate strength at the party`s convention in August. Half the delegates. That could be the final nail in the Clintons` coffin, and cut Denver streetwalker profits in half.
They`re going to try and settle this whole thing at the DNC rules committee meeting this weekend.
Leslie Sanchez is a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, and Peter Fenn is a former advisor to Al Gore and a Democratic strategist.
Welcome to both of you.
Peter, on behalf of Americans who love watching politics as entertainment everywhere, please don`t stop it! Go to the convention. We`re having a great time.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, yes.
GRAHAM: Politics has not been this fun since, well, Monica left the White House. Please don`t stop.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh!
FENN: Well, thanks, Michael. I think Leslie would love to agree with you on that, too.
FENN: I`d just as soon finish this sucker up on the 3rd of June, thank you very much. And I do hope that tomorrow leads to -- leads to finishing it up, I must say.
But I don`t know. You know, I think -- they`re talking about demonstrations out there on the part of the Clinton folks, which I think is a big mistake. I don`t think it will help anybody. But we just have to see how it plays out tomorrow and might even go into Sunday.
SANCHEZ: Go Hillary.
GRAHAM: There are actually votes that are going to occur involving, you know, actual voters, which apparently are now ignored entirely by the mainstream press. Hillary beats the snot out of Barack Obama, by 41 points and 35 points, nobody seems to care.
But Peter, before I go to Leslie, I want to ask you about that idea of the protests this weekend as this rules committee meets. Barack Obama actually sent out an e-mail to his supporters saying, "Please don`t make a scene."
Hillary Clinton is saying, "Let`s have a throw-down." What are the two strategies here?
FENN: Well, look, Barack Obama is looking to the general election. He thinks he`s got this thing wrapped up after -- after June 3. He thinks the super delegates are going to go with him. He doesn`t want to create any conflict, any back and forth. And I think, you know, basically he`s right.
But the Clinton campaign, look, they`re in their last throes here. And I`ve been arguing for the Clinton folks to carry this through to the 3rd.
But you know what this reminds me of, Michael? I don`t know how many folks saw the recount movie on Sunday or Monday, but you know, this is like the Brooks Brothers riot in southern Florida here. We`re getting all these demonstrators coming in. And I think -- I think this is not good for the party. And I`m really upset at -- you know, I don`t think Hillary`s folks should be doing it.
GRAHAM: Peter, I`ll tell you this -- Leslie, I`m ready for you and I to get someone else to run so we can have a convention fight. What do you say? Let`s get Mitt back in the race.
SANCHEZ: You know, there you go. What is wrong with open democracy?
GRAHAM: That`s right.
SANCHEZ: I mean, the only thing -- he didn`t do the plug for, you know, HillaryClinton.com. So should we add that in there? Every speech she gives, you`ve got to have that plug in there.
You know, I think that it`s a good experience. Let`s be fair. Cut to the chase. It`s going to take the Jaws of Life -- I`ve said this before -- for Hillary Clinton to get out of this race. She has really put all the commitment into it.
And any two candidates that raised almost a half a billion dollars have a lot of intensity on each side. These are not voters that are going to really, you know, recede quietly. She has 49.5 percent of the vote. Basically, she`s been very competitive. She`s making a strong case about being able to win swing states with swing voters.
So, I think you`re going to see, this is the beginning of the process on Saturday, not the end.
GRAHAM: Leslie, there are Democrats watching you right now going, "She`s gloating."
GRAHAM: "They just want to drive Obama out."
I want to ask both of you. You`ve got Barack Obama, who`s been running now for almost a month against someone who cannot win. She cannot do the delegate math. And yet he`s lost to her repeatedly. He`s going to lose to her in Puerto Rico. She`s picking up momentum, you know, among voters.
This -- Leslie, come on. Hasn`t she proven, objectively -- I used to be a political consultant. Studied politics. She is, in fact, the stronger candidate.
SANCHEZ: You know, that is truly the case she`s making. And we said it before. Anybody who has that much support, what is wrong with letting them, you know, continue on...
GRAHAM: Don`t you think she is the stronger candidate? Be honest. If you were just picking a candidate to win for the Democrats at this point, wouldn`t you pick Hillary Clinton?
SANCHEZ: I think she would have a -- it would be much more competitive in the sense that you have a lot of swing voters, a lot of women, middle-class voters that would be, you know, deciding between her and John McCain. It`s much more competitive.
I mean, the Obama folks are going to say, "We changed the map. We can compete in Virginia." But the reality is, they have a problem. For the Democrat coalition to win, they have to get that middle/working-class white voter that you see through the Rust Belt. And he`s just not been competitive. So she has a strong case.
GRAHAM: Peter, how about it? Hasn`t Mrs. Clinton proven she is the stronger candidate?
FENN: I mean, I`m not sure of that. Look, I think they`re both strong candidates. I think the key issue here for the Democrats is unity as they go into November.
If those Democrats that voted for one or the other comes behind the nominee, the Democrats will win in November. There`s no question in my mind.
And, you know, you have to remember, that in 2000, 51 percent of McCain voters said they would not vote for George W. Bush. They did. And in this case...
SANCHEZ: But you know...
GRAHAM: I think this...
SANCHEZ: There`s a great point to that. There`s a great point to that. McCain was not in the race as long. It was not as...
GRAHAM: That is true. That is true.
SANCHEZ: ... as vicious a fight as it was this time. And it`s really apples to oranges. I know Paul Begala tried to use that argument.
GRAHAM: There`s another -- Leslie...
SANCHEZ: And it really is not the same.
GRAHAM: But there`s another point here, which is that Barack Obama is uniquely challenging candidate to vote for if you`re focused on foreign affairs. He is uniquely less experienced. We have not had anyone, you know, since Lincoln, at best, with this background.
I want to ask you Peter, I think Senator McCain is making a smart strategy to keep going after Barack Obama on foreign policy, on how he would lead us in the future of Iraq, instead of talking backwards. How does Obama, a guy who, let`s face it, the International House of Pancakes is pretty much his resume. How does he stand up to that?
FENN: Look, I`ll tell you. I think that Barack Obama`s judgment on - - on the war in Iraq was absolutely the right judgment. I think that his judgment on the necessity of not, willy-nilly, inviting foreign leaders over for tea, but actually negotiating and talking with our enemies, as well as our allies, makes sense.
And I think that the more that this race becomes about Iraq policy and bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, as -- as McCain sings, then more folks will go towards Obama.
FENN: I really think this -- the folks in America have had it with this war.
GRAHAM: Leslie, you can hit him next. Wait, right here. Right here. Come on. John McCain is right. Barack Obama would negotiate with Ahmad- whack-a-job who wants to wipe Israel off the map, but he won`t sit down and talk with General Petraeus. That is the fact on the ground. Isn`t it?
FENN: Listen, I`ll tell you. There`s no question he`s already talked to Petraeus but -- in hearings. But I think you`re going to see a level of engagement and a level of debate in this -- in this campaign, which is going to -- which is going to show people that there are clear differences between Obama and McCain on foreign policy.
And you have to remember, John McCain can go to Iraq as many times as he wants, but he ought to get the Shia and the Sunnis together and figure out who he`s talking about, not have Joe Lieberman whispering in his ear, explaining to him, "Whoops, no, you got it wrong."
SANCHEZ: Oh, my gosh.
FENN: That`s a little bit of a problem for him, Leslie.
GRAHAM: Go ahead, Leslie.
SANCHEZ: Well, there are clear differences between the two in foreign policy. No doubt about that. Obama is reading the Cliff Notes, and John McCain is teaching the class. I mean, that`s one way to think about it with respect to this.
And the Democrats are incredibly concerned that the way they lost in 1984 with taxes and the way they lost in 1988 on crime is the same way that they`re going to lose on foreign affairs with Barack Obama, because he`s a political neophyte here. He`s still learning the ropes.
And ultimately, you know, I did a lot of research on this in 2004. People want to talk about health care. They want to talk about the economy. But they want to know that there`s not U.S. vulnerabilities exposed. Are they going to come back home because of that? Swing voters tend to be very pragmatic when it comes to that and look for security and somebody that`s proven.
GRAHAM: You know, Peter, I think the question is -- we`ve got to wrap up here, but I think the question is will Barack Obama look tougher when he finishes this fight with Hillary Clinton, not, you know, stronger or -- will he look tougher? Right now, I think she`s made him, I think, look relatively weak. But if it gets to -- I`ve got to let you go.
FENN: Yes, but see, I think he`ll be -- I think he`s looked a lot tougher. He`s taken a lot of hits. He`s been strong. I think he`s going to be a very strong candidate in the fall. A lot stronger than you might think.
GRAHAM: Look, I can make a cheap-shot Sunni-Shia thing about how Obama thinks...
FENN: Cheap shot?
GRAHAM: I can make a joke about how Barack Obama thinks Iraq is one of the 57 states of the United States he plans on visiting. But I`m not going to do that.
Leslie, Peter, you guys were great.
Coming up, controversy over one high school`s decision to give out condoms to students without permission from their parents. You know, parents? That story, in just a minute.
GRAHAM: Coming up, more fallout from Scott McClellan`s Bush-bashing memoir. Is the former White House press secretary doing what`s admirable, or is he just throwing the president under the bus to sell a few books? We`ll have the story in just a bit.
But first, when they say that public schools should teach about Trojan warriors, I don`t think this is what they had in mind. Two school health officials in Gloucester, Massachusetts, resigned after they were told they would not be allowed to hand out condoms and birth-control pills confidentially to students.
You know, we never had take-home work like this when I was in school.
They say that the spike in teen pregnancies prompted them to take matters into their own hands. If only the kids had, we wouldn`t be having this conversation.
While schools across Massachusetts handle it differently, it turns out you can`t just hand out contraceptives without parental consent in the school, and plenty of parents in Gloucester are pissed.
Wendy Wright is the president of Concerned Women for America, and Elizabeth Snyder is a sex educator at Healthy Futures, a pro-abstinence program based in Boston.
Wendy, Elizabeth, welcome to the show. So glad to have you.
Wendy, I`m trying to figure out how we got the idea that you can medicate my daughter at my public school without me ever finding out about it?
WENDY WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: It`s crazy. But we have a federal program, the Title Ten program, that provides our tax dollars for family-planning programs around the country that prohibit the clinic workers from telling parents that minor girls and boys are getting contraceptives. So, we have that problem.
In Massachusetts, I was glad to see that there were enough responsible adults who stood up and said, "No, we don`t want" -- nice word is confidential -- really, it`s a secret program, keeping the information secret from the parents that minor girls would be getting contraceptives, including oral contraceptives.
And as one parent wisely noted, you can give the kids the pills, but who`s going to be around to make sure they take them?
GRAHAM: Elizabeth, isn`t that part of the problem here? The notion is, "Hey, you`re old enough to be a cheerleader in high school. You`re old enough to make these decisions both with medicine and about sexuality."
ELIZABETH SNYDER, SEX EDUCATOR, HEALTHY FUTURES: Definitely. I think that our society keeps telling us that we should give more and more responsibility to young people to make really important life decisions, and the reality is, it`s our job, as the community and as the adult, to help them make those decisions, including decisions about sexuality and relationships.
GRAHAM: You know, this is what I don`t get. And it`s a broad question about the relationship that I have with my kids.
In Portland, Maine, Glenn Beck talked about it here on the show. You had the story where 13-year-olds were going to be given birth control without parental knowledge or consent.
We had a story in Massachusetts where a judge ruled that, if you didn`t want your second-grader to be studying same sex, you know, content in public schools, the school had no duty to inform the parent and the parent had no right to do anything about it.
Wendy -- I thought that -- I`m stuck with the bill when they screw up. Shouldn`t I have some say as a parent?
WRIGHT: Yes. We have a serious problem with the school authorities who believe that -- they care for these kids more than parents do, which is ridiculous. As you mentioned, they`re not going to be around when the kids are suffering the consequences of these bad decisions.
So, what we need is more school officials recognizing the proper rule of parents. And respecting that rule of parents. And as it turns out, surveys show that the person that kids most highly respect, the opinion of those that they most highly respect are their parents.
So, when these school officials and these medical directors at these school clinics try and step in between, and they seem to think that they know better and know more about how kids ought to be raised, that`s when the parents really need to be stepping up and saying, "No. These are -- this is my child. I should be making this decision, and frankly, I can make a better decision than you can about my child."
GRAHAM: OK, Elizabeth, let`s talk about sex. Because that`s what I want to talk about. And I love the fact you have a pro-abstinence program. I have one, too. It`s called marriage.
And no, but I object to this idea that -- you hear it from Gloucester, Massachusetts, and the officials who are there, that the kids are going to have sex anyway. But isn`t it the case that we have seen a decline since the early `90s, not just in teen -- teen pregnancies but, in fact, more and more teenagers, when given the abstinence message and given more medical information, more information, they are choosing to wait longer to have sex.
Haven`t we had some success on this in the past?
SNYDER: We have. I think that the tide is turning, and young people young people are realizing that all that comes along with becoming sexually active is not fun and games. And we`re definitely seeing in the classroom, in our program, many students make a decision to wait.
And I think that they need to hear that more than 50 percent of high- school students are not having sex. And I think a lot of times the message says that they`re all having sex, and they think that there`s this kind of group-think mentality going on. And really, it`s not the case. They -- they definitely need to be hearing trusted adults telling them that they do not have to have sex.
GRAHAM: You know, some people right now listening to you think you`re insane, that, you know, kids are just going to have sex. And I think it`s because of the media culture, which presents teen characters on TV shows and, you know, movies, obviously, where everybody is hooking up. They`re hooking up all the time.
And I know some 17-, 18-year-old boys who wish that was the case. And fortunately, it`s not.
But this notion that kids are trapped in this, "I`m just going to have sex. There`s nothing we can do about it." I mean, Wendy, we don`t say to kids, "We know you`re going to smoke. Here`s a pack of cigarettes" at the school. "We know you`re going to get in trouble. Here, we`re going to give you some Fight Club lessons."
I thought the premise was that we fight to set the standards and give the kids tools so that they can try to meet those standards.
WRIGHT: We do. But sadly, there are too many people who profit from kids being sexually active. You have groups like Planned Parenthood that, frankly, would be out of business if kids were not sexually active.
And so we have too much of a powerful lobby behind those who want to encourage kids to be sexually active and who profit from the very diseases and the pregnancies that a child may have.
GRAHAM: But Wendy, I want to follow up on that, because I don`t know how much of it`s just profit. And I think -- I think there are school officials who honestly believe that parents are a nuisance and in the way.
And this doctor in Gloucester was -- he actually said he was outraged that the hospital overseeing this clinic would not let him give girls birth-control pills without their parents` knowledge or consent. He was outraged about a limit on his behavior.
He`s a doctor who has never seen my daughter before in his life, and he thinks he should have more power than me? I think that does reflect the public school mentality.
WRIGHT: It does, sadly. And as it turns out, that doctor belongs to a medical practice that is connected with a competitor to that hospital. So, you do have to wonder about -- even about his profit motive.
But you`re right. Sadly, there are too many school officials and administrators who think they know better than parents. And we even have the decision out of a California court that claimed that, once a parent drops their child off at the school, that parent has no right or responsibility to know what is being taught their child.
GRAHAM: You know, I know Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton think they`re under assault all the time from the media. Try being a parent with kids in public school. You live in a cultural war zone.
Elizabeth, Wendy, thanks so much for joining us.
When we come back, I`ll tell you why political correctness is killing comedy. Gee, I thought it was Howie Mandell. Stick around.
GRAHAM: It used to be that everyone wanted to be a liberal because liberals had all the fun. Somewhere along the line, things changed. The left got hijacked by the PC police. You can`t say anything anymore without hurting someone`s feelings or getting called a homophobic, bigoted sexist who`s obsessed with Internet porn. But enough about me.
Meanwhile, the funniest stuff that "Saturday Night Live" has done in years has been their skewering of the Democrats on the left. And the best things in the box office are movies like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Juno," all with classically conservative themes at the heart of their humor. So, why does the right get a bad rap when it comes to comedy?
Joining me now is comedian Nick Di Paolo. Nick, by the way, will be at Caroline`s comedy club here in New York tomorrow night.
Nick, I`m telling you. When I was a kid, the liberals were having all the fun. The conservatives were grousing about naughty movies and stomping out bags of flaming cow flop on their front porch. What the heck happened?
NICK DI PAOLO, COMEDIAN: Well, I don`t think, if you`re asking the question, you know, who`s funny, people to the right or to the left, I think the average person on the street is going to instinctively say, well, the left, because, you know, you got "Saturday Night Live." You`ve got "The Daily Show," "Colbert." And I would answer that with, is that because these guys are funnier, or is that because these networks and the people who make these movies, you know, they lean to the left also?
I know it`s cliche to say that the mainstream media is liberal, but it is, in my opinion. And I`d rather hang out with people who lean to the right. I find them funnier, because they have more of a tendency to speak to the truth -- I mean, you watch "The Daily Show." They go after, like, you know, white middle-class people, Catholics.
DI PAOLO: And it`s very safe. And I perform every night on the NYU campus at the Comedy Cellar in front of kids, you know, students at NYU. And some of my jokes are met with silence, and I know they`re funny, but they`ll put their left-wing views...
GRAHAM: Not allowed to laugh at it. It is the laugh that`s making these rules: "You can`t say that."
If you had told me that the left`s standards for conversation would be my grandmother`s from South Carolina, you know, where I was never allowed to tell any jokes that were offensive, i.e, actually funny, I wouldn`t have believed you.
You look at "South Park," for example. Those two guys have a fundamentally conservative libertarian world view. They make fun of everybody. If you turn on, like you said, Jon Stewart or Bill Maher, he`s going to make fun of slow-moving targets: "Look at the rich, white, heterosexual guy over there. Get him, get him!"
DI PAOLO: Yes, well, that`s -- that`s my point exactly.
And there`s good -- there`s funny conservative guys. We had a show. You probably were a fan of it, Mike. It was called "Tough Crowd"...
GRAHAM: Terrific show.
DI PAOLO: ... with Colin Quinn on Comedy Central. That was one of the few shows in the history of television where they let white guys speak frankly about, you know, white heterosexuals, about gays, blacks, women, and people loved it. Fans of that show were of all different stripes and colors. I had older black gentlemen on a plane telling me how much he loved the show. I`d see 16-year-old Puerto Rican girls on the street in New York, say, "What happened to `Tough Crowd`?"
DI PAOLO: And we just don`t get enough of this stuff anymore.
GRAHAM: Are your comedian friends telling you what my talk show hosts tell me, which is if we have a President Obama, comedy will be dead? Not because of any, you know, political action or government action, because everyone will be so scared of saying anything.
You`ll be scared to order blackened red fish, because you`re afraid that an African-American or a Native American will beat the crap out of you for it.
DI PAOLO: Well, I think this campaign has actually been a blessing, because you`ve got a woman and an African-American, you know, running for the Democratic nomination. Because all of a sudden, all of this political correctness, this environment that they created over the last 20 years, is coming back to bite them in the ass.
GRAHAM: You are absolutely right.
DI PAOLO: I`m enjoying it.
GRAHAM: Nick Di Paolo will be at Caroline`s comedy club tomorrow night.
Up next, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, zero or hero? We`ll have some answers.
GRAHAM: Coming up, a kindergarten teacher in Florida has her students vote "Survivor" style to remove a child with autism from their class. Yet another gold star for our public education system.
We`ll have that story next.
But first, the fallout continues today from former White House secretary Scott McClellan`s tough-talking new memoir, "What Happened." Even though he was quiet as a mouse while a member of President Bush`s circle, it`s clear now that he had plenty to say, none of it flattering regarding the president and his most senior advisers.
Among the most scandalous charges -- perfect for book sales, by the way -- is the administration`s handling of the prelude and eventual war in Iraq, making aggression the only option. McClellan claims the president believed his own spin, an assertion he defended this morning on "The Today Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEREDITH VIEIRA, "THE TODAY SHOW": You seem to stop just short of saying that President Bush and his administration flat-out lied.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, actually, I say in the book -- I say this was not a deliberate or conscious effort to do so. What happened was that we got caught up in the excesses of the permanent campaign culture in Washington, D.C.
VIEIRA: What does that mean when you say that?
MCCLELLAN: Well, what it means is that everything is centered on trying to shape and manipulate the narrative to one`s advantage. Each party -- or each side is trying to do that. That`s what Washington has become today.
They are trying to manipulate the narrative to their advantage. And that`s the way the game is played. It`s a battle over power and influence. And how can we -- how can we win those battles, how can we win over public opinion, instead of, you know, what it should be more on, which is bipartisan deliberation and compromise. That`s become a distant second.
VIEIRA: But however you word it, isn`t it lying, Scott? Isn`t that what they were doing?
MCCLELLAN: Well, the point I make, that whether it was or not, it`s just as problematic. And you get caught up in trying to sell this war to the American people.
Paul Wolfowitz went and said publicly that the rationale that we all agreed on that would be the best selling point for this war was the weapons of mass destruction. And obviously the connection to Iraq. And much of that information was based in what could be substantiated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: So, is it a lie or not, Scott? Answer her question, please.
Joining me now with their thoughts are Leslie Sanchez, Republican analyst and CNN contributor, and Bernard Whitman, Democratic strategist and president of Whitman Strategies.
Now Bernard, I`ve got to say, having watched people on the left bash Scott McClellan as being the dopiest kid in what was considered a dopey class to begin with now elevate him to an icon, it is pretty ironic. This is all about politics, isn`t it?
BERNARD WHITMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, actually, it confirms what we have suspected for an awfully long time, that the Bush administration has consistently lied, manipulated, misled and deceived the American people. Not just on the war in Iraq, mind you, but on everything from the Valerie Plame affair to Hurricane Katrina. And Americans are sick and tired of it.
GRAHAM: I hate to ask this question, because it always opens a can of worms. But could you name a lie, please? I mean, weapons of mass destruction, Valerie Plame, you do know it was Richard Armitage who turned her in. Whatever people say, there`s a lie, maybe you`re right. I can never get them to tell me, what was a lie?
WHITMAN: Look, the lies went from everything from no, we didn`t leak it, to, yes, there are weapons of mass destruction, to everything`s going fine, our response is going incredibly well down in Louisiana. I mean, look, this administration has taken the "gotcha" politics to a whole new level.
They have taken the permanent campaign and distorted it so badly that few Americans can even trust anything that comes out of Washington these days. And I think that`s why we`ve seen tens of millions of Americans flock to Barack Obama and his message of hope, of optimism, and of change in Washington. He wants to end these politics as usual and bring in a new era of civil discourse in telling the truth to the American people.
GRAHAM: Look, Bernard...
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That`s...
GRAHAM: Leslie, I want to pick it up.
But come on, no one says Obama lied about his uncle liberating a camp with the Russian army. He just made a mistake. WMD falls in there.
But Leslie, Scott McClellan, you know, turning on the team, you know, it is the number one news story in this news cycle, that`s for sure.
SANCHEZ: Well, there`s no doubt about that. I mean, but let`s look at it for what it is. Call a spade a spade.
This is a guy without a job who`s trying to profit from the sale of a tell-all book. I mean, there`s no doubt about it. I have a book, and you know a lot of these publishers will push them to -- push the envelope as much as they can, and apparently they pushed it far enough that Scott was willing to betray his friends and the person who basically brought him to the dance. That`s the unfortunate part.
I don`t think there`s anything shocking or new. The liberal and the left bloggers are going to try to make this and distort it, when the truth was exactly what you just said. On the case of WMD and going to war, we know that those decisions were made based on the information that was available at the time. Everybody in the global community agreed. This is not news.
WHITMAN: And look, this is what I don`t get. I want to ask both of you this.
Tell me something that we didn`t know, which is that the intelligence was wrong about weapons of mass destruction, and that Scott McClellan is an unimpressive person. I used to be a P.R. flak (ph). I would watch him do the White House, you know, press conferences. I would almost cringe. Oh my gosh.
This guy was a dope then, he`s a dope now. Isn`t he, Bernard?
WHITMAN: No. I think that, you know, it is far from unfortunate when you finally get someone in the Bush inner circle which prides loyalty more than anything, someone to come out and have the courage to tell the truth to the American people.
Look, we all suspected it, we all thought they were a bunch of liars. But now you`re actually get someone who was there at the table admitting to it.
I think that the burden of truth and honestly weighed very heavy on Scott McClellan, and I`m glad that finally he had the courage to come out and tell the truth. And you know what my point is? John McCain talks a lot about the Straight Talk Express. And it`s pretty clear that John McCain has be a co-pilot on the BS express for the last eight years. And I think the American people see that.
SANCHEZ: I think that`s a lot of the Democratic talking points. I think the truth is that even Scott`s superiors, people like Dan Bartlett, people that, you know, were in charge of what he was saying, basically said they disagreed, they didn`t know he felt this way. He probably should have stepped out of the role.
And the bottom line is this is a guy who would have been selling life insurance in Austin had the president not given him that opportunity. Let`s call it for what it is. And it`s really unfortunate that he felt he had to betray, you know, all of his confidences and really the support that he had...
GRAHAM: Bernard -- I`m sorry. I didn`t mean to interrupt you.
SANCHEZ: ... from the circle. No, no, no.
And you talk about this change in Washington. I don`t know what this change is. In 2006, the Democrats thought they had this big change. They moved into Congress, and now they have a 16 percent approval rating because they are ineffective and it`s the same politics as usual.
GRAHAM: Here`s what I used to think. Bernard, you used the word "courage." And I just don`t know how you can possibly say that a guy who happily sucked up a paycheck every week from a friend, a guy -- President Bush gave him a job for which he was clearly not qualified and kept him there for a long time, held him out (ph) again and again.
If it was true that, as you claim --and apparently there are none listed in the book -- lies were being told to get us into war in Iraq, how can you say it`s courageous to stay there and tell the lies? Wouldn`t it be courageous to leave when it mattered? Separate from politics, don`t you have a problem with the character issue here when it comes to Scott McClellan?
WHITMAN: Look, I`m not going to stand up here and defend Scott McClellan`s standing up to the podium and pushing the Bush agenda. My point is, look, I wish he had come clean much earlier. He`s done so now. And I think any time someone has the courage to stand up and tell the truth to the American people, that`s not unfortunate. That`s courageous.
Had he done so earlier, I would have applauded him even more so. But we have got to understand that the administration, no matter Democrat or Republican, has a solemn responsibility to tell the truth. And in the Bush White House, the truth is whatever they happen to think on a given day is going to sell their message.
GRAHAM: Leslie, do you think...
SANCHEZ: You know...
GRAHAM: Wait, wait, Leslie. Do you think Bernard would be praising him if he came out the day after the November election for having finally having courage? If this wasn`t the lead-up to the election, would Democrats and the mainstream media be celebrating the courage of Scott McClellan?
SANCHEZ: Isn`t that like Rumsfeld leaving after the election? I`m sorry. It`s like deja vu.
But you know, nobody`s happy, you know? That`s the bottom line. I think the timing is suspect. The fact that this is somebody...
GRAHAM: Gee, you think?
SANCHEZ: Yes, who does it five years after the fact, you know? And trying to make a -- or trying to say he`s trying to change the culture in Washington when the people who had the most political capital, being the administration he served, are walking out the door -- it`s like, the last one out turn off the lights -- is really nobody there to carry that mantle. It doesn`t make a lot of sense and it looks like he`s profiting from the sale of a book.
GRAHAM: Leslie, Bernard, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
Coming up, a kindergarten teacher holds tribal council and votes a 5- year-old out of her class? I`ll have all the details in just a minute.
GRAHAM: The tribe has spoken. You are voted off the island. Those words can be tough to hear, but when you signed up for the festival of humiliation that is reality TV, you get what you deserve, as well as your own starring role in a stolen sex tape.
The same can`t be said in a classroom of 5-year-olds. You`ve got to see this next story to believe it.
GRAHAM (voice over): Five-year-old Alex Barton will be starting his summer vacation early. His mother doesn`t want him to return to school after what allegedly happened in class at Morningside Elementary Wednesday afternoon.
MELISSA BARTON, MOTHER: I will never be able to send him to school again without first worrying, is something going to happen?
GRAHAM: Alex`s mom admits he`s had behavioral problems and can be difficult at times. She says he`s undergoing tests to determine if he suffers from autism and other disorders. But she claims a Wednesday incident pushed the lines of discipline into the realm of abuse.
BARTON: Took him and stood him in front of all of his classmates this week, asked every single child in the class who was president to tell Alex why we don`t like him. And his words were, "Tell Alex why we hate him."
GRAHAM: After having each child individually ridicule the boy, she says the teacher continued belittling him.
BARTON: Then they had a vote if he deserved to stay in the class or not.
GRAHAM: Like a twisted reality show, Barton says in a 14-2 vote, his classmates voted the 5-year-old out of the classroom.
BARTON: I never thought that she would subject my child to such mental abuse.
GRAHAM: Barton filed complaints with DCF and police. She says the teacher overstepped her bounds.
After conferring with the state attorney`s office, police found no grounds for charges, but the school district is investigating the incident. Barton believes other students may have suffered as well.
BARTON: If other parents who have had this teacher or currently has this teacher, come forward, talk to your kids. Find out what she`s been doing, because this is wrong.
GRAHAM: The school district says it`s investigating the incident, and for now, the teacher has been reassigned to a non-teaching role, which given the state of our public schools, I`m not sure that really makes a difference.
Joining me now is Wendy Murphy, professor at the New England School of Law and author of "And Justice for Some." And Laura Kirby McIntosh, a teacher and mother of a child with autism who started an online petition, hoping to get this Florida teacher fired.
Laura, you are in Canada. This happened in Florida. How did you hear about it?
LAURA KIRBY MCINTOSH, MOTHER OF AUTISTIC CHILD: I was just online late Sunday night, and saw the story come across the wire, linked to a Florida newspaper to confirm that it was true. And couldn`t believe my eyes when I read what had happened.
GRAHAM: And what kind of response have you gotten with your online petition?
MCINTOSH: Well, at last check, I`m told it`s up over 3,000 signatures. It`s taken off in a way that I could haven`t imagined.
GRAHAM: And you`re the mom of a child with autism, but you`re also a teacher.
MCINTOSH: That`s right.
GRAHAM: Look, I had some dopey teachers. And by the way, when I was in class, the vote was unanimous to get rid of me. That`s a separate issue.
What do you do with a teacher like this? Isn`t that really the fundamental problem here?
MCINTOSH: It really is. I mean, I`ve been teaching for 15 years, and it`s a profession that I absolutely adore. And this whole situation is not something that I took lightly.
It takes a lot to take a teacher like me to start a petition to suggest that somebody should not be in the profession. But even if one part of this story isn`t true, even if I -- I haven`t heard the other side of the story, the idea that any teacher would use public humiliation as a form of discipline, to me, is just fundamentally wrong, and she`s not somebody who should be looking after 5-year-old children.
GRAHAM: You know, Wendy, when I first saw this story, I thought, where`s Wendy Murphy on this case? We have to get her involved. She`ll straighten this out.
What can parents, students, the other parents in the school, what can the community do?
WENDY MURPHY, NEW ENGLAND SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, first of all, let me say thank you to Laura, because what a wonderful parent, what a wonderful role model for the rest of us.
MURPHY: I tell you, I would start a petition. I don`t have to because she did. But that`s one thing parents can do.
Parents should work together. When one child suffers, it really is a signal to the rest of us that all of our children are not getting a good education from a healthy, responsible teacher. Now, there is a possibility that there are other victims of this teacher out, because any teacher who functions like that, especially with a potentially disabled child -- he`s 5 years old.
GRAHAM: But is there legal recourse? That`s my question.
MURPHY: Well, this is what I was going to suggest to you, is there`s got to be something wrong with her. And when a teacher is that bad, there are legal options. And let me give you a couple of them.
First of all, you can bring a basic lawsuit against the school for her behavior. She`s an agent of the school. Now, lawsuits against schools are tough. In some states, they have outright immunity. They can do whatever they damn well please and almost never be held liable.
But a kid with disabilities? Americans With Disabilities Act kicks in, it`s kind of like a civil rights claim. You can sue a school. You should sue a school. And it isn`t about the money. It`s about sending a message and getting that teacher out.
GRAHAM: Absolutely. But you know, remember, we are talking about allegations at this point. And also, it`s Florida, so we haven`t seen the hanging chads yet. I mean, it could be the vote is not even this close. We don`t know.
But to be serious for a second, Laura, I have a question though about the issue of mainstreaming kids.
GRAHAM: You`re a teacher and the mother of a child with autism. Let`s say that the teacher is a nut, which she apparently is, and that the kids were put in a terrible situation. What if it is a case this child was, in fact, so disruptive that the other kids were having trouble learning? I mean, could it be that in a very inappropriate outrage, this unacceptable way, there`s a message here about what`s going on in the classroom?
MCINTOSH: Well, I think your question raises a number of points. Certainly, parents of typically developing children sometimes have concerns when students with disabilities are integrated into a mainstream classroom.
You know, my son can be disruptive. He can have outbursts of temper. And he can be aggressive. And he can say things that he doesn`t think about the consequences of.
Certainly my son`s not easy to teach. But there`s an opportunity to learn about differences. There`s a lesson. There`s a possibility to learn not just about tolerance, but about compassion.
And that`s a teachable moment. As teachers, that`s what we look for in the classroom, is, is there an opportunity to learn, rather than shun the child or humiliate him publicly?
What about teaching them to understand? You know, why does this boy hum and sing to himself? Why does he have difficulty in conversations? And what can we do to support him and include him? These children are not going to be able to live all of their lives without encountering people with disabilities.
GRAHAM: And you know, this story, Wendy, highlights the amount that we have to rely on teachers and their judgment, which always makes it disturbing, because I have four kids, three of them in school, one of them starts kindergarten next year. And if a teacher is truly just a lousy treacher -- and let`s face it, there are lousy -- lousy TV show hosts, as I`m saying right now.
MCINTOSH: No comment.
GRAHAM: It`s almost impossible in the government system to get rid of teachers, no matter how flawed they are. Look at this teacher. She`s reassigned. Will she ever be gone, and what can the citizens and taxpayers do about that?
MURPHY: Well, let`s hope she`s not working with children and she`s doing secretarial stuff. But unions are a problem.
If you are a tenured teacher who is horrible and abusive, unions will support you in your quest to keep your job. That`s embarrassing.
Lawmakers can and should be doing something about that. We can pass laws that make it easier to get rid of bad teachers.
MURPHY: We`ve never really rallied about that. We should.
And, you know what? I have five kids. I`ve had the phone call every so often -- your kid`s being disruptive, or they`re singing, or whatever. You know what? Take the kid out of the classroom.
Here are the choices. Berate the child...
MURPHY: ... destroy the child`s sense of self-esteem and worth in front of all their friends, or, oh, I don`t know, take the child out of the classroom? What do you choose? I`m not even a teacher and I know the right answer.
GRAHAM: Yes. But Wendy, you and I live in Massachusetts. And as you know, state senate just voted to say that if a teacher failed the basic skills test three times, they were going to let him or her teach anyway. And that`s why we`ve got to have the standards, because challenges like autistic children, but addressing the needs of the whole class, are so tough.
We have got to count on good judgment.
You two have been great guests. Thanks so much for joining me, Laura, Wendy. I really appreciate it.
MURPHY: Thank you.
GRAHAM: We`ll be back in just a minute.
GRAHAM: With gas prices over four bucks a gallon, a lot of people are exploring the ideas of public transportation in hybrid vehicles. But not everybody. There are still places in this country where you are what you drive, thank God. And it doesn`t matter what it costs, as long as you get to cruise down memory lane.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They were burning rubber when I arrived at a supermarket parking lot. In America, roaring gas prices are burning a hole in drivers` pockets.
Gas prices and times change. Welcome to the weekly car rally of the Rockin` Rodders.
(on camera): Why keep an old car?
MIKE DELVECCHIO, CLASSIC CAR OWNER: I`ve had one since high school and never wanted to get anything new.
ROTH: Did something special happen in high school in that car?
DELVECCHIO: A lot of things. We can`t talk about them though.
ROTH (voice over): Boomers cruisin` with cars rolling out of the past.
(on camera): Is Marty McFly in the back seat by any chance?
(voice over): I would soon learn more about men and their cars.
(on camera): What kind of relationship -- I said, what kind of relationship do you have with your car? How would you describe it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m in love with it.
ROTH (voice over): America has always been in love with the automobile.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look. There is even plenty of room for the feather on her hat.
ROTH: Since invention in the 1890s, the car has been at the center of the American dream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fred, you`re part of this garage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re damn right I am.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP (singing): Tomorrow we`ll be servicing your cars.
ROTH: And the movies revved up the glamour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is she gonna ride with you?
ROTH: From "American Graffiti" to "Rebel Without a Cause," speed and romance went hand in hand.
I don`t share the love. You see, I don`t drive.
(on camera): This is just what I love: cars, cigars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready?
ROTH: All right. Let`s head west.
Gas prices are going over $4 a gallon. Maybe the love affair not so big with the car anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the love affair is still there. It`s just that people aren`t traveling.
I get in these cars, I feel like a kid again. It just feels great. Brings you back memories of when you had your cars back in the day.
ROTH (voice over): Brian and the Cruisers don`t drive their hobby cars enough to really get hosed at the pump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t even know how to pump gas?
ROTH (on camera): I wouldn`t know. Like, I would put this in my mouth.
Why don`t you take the train or bus? Isn`t this like a pain in the neck, this loading up of gasoline?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the way it`s done, Richard.
ROTH: I think you`re actually converting me slightly. I am getting to like the car a little bit more, riding with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve always had a love for cars.
ROTH: We`re like Thelma and Louise. We can -- let`s go. Where`s the cliff?
GRAHAM: That`s CNN`s Richard Roth.
Thanks for watching. I`m Michael Graham, filling in for Glenn Beck.
From New York, good night.