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NOW Asks CBS to Take Action Against Letterman; Interview With David Alan Grier

Aired October 7, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET


JOY BEHAR, HOST: Exactly what do the Democrats want to do in Afghanistan? Or with health care? Or jobs? It seems like Nintendo has been a game plan.

Then, why do men cheat on women? Is it because they`re hard-wired?

Plus, come out, come out, wherever you are. Courageous kids coming out of the closet.

And joining me in the studio, comedian, actor and now author David Alan Grier.

All this and more, tonight.

Ok, the continuing saga of David Letterman continues. Last week, he admitted he had workplace affairs and some people think it`s just a problem between him and his wife. The National Organization of Women, they don`t think so.

Here with me now is the president of the National Organization of Women, Terry O`Neill along with victim`s rights attorney Gloria Allred and comedian, resident male chauvinist...


BEHAR: Nick Dipaolo.

DIPAOLO: And you said Dick Dipaolo -- that was a Freudian slip -- wow.

BEHAR: Well, it`s the topic.

DIPAOLO: Wow, I see why I`m here.

BEHAR: You know Nick, I think, you`re going to get your ass kicked. So just relax for a second.

Terry, I want to start with you. NOW just came out slamming Letterman and asking CBS to take action. What action would you like to see here?

TERRY O`NEILL, PRESIDENT, N.O.W.: You know I think the first thing CBS needs to do is look at its own board of directors and its own decision makers and if half of them are not women, half of them need to be made women, immediately.

What we`ve got is a toxic workplace. And you know -- what seems to have been going on in the Letterman show is the kind of toxic workplace for women that goes on all over the country.

So, you know, people ask me, well, "why don`t you just call for David Letterman`s head?" And my answer is, that doesn`t change all the workplaces around the country. What will change that is, is real systemic, bringing women into equality in workplaces around the country. It wouldn`t that be amazing?

BEHAR: Well there -- yes. The NOW statement also says that, you raised the idea of abuse of power in the statement. Can you elaborate on that for a second?

O`NEIL: Sure. This is what I`m hearing from women all over the country. You know, I was in a situation once where this guy, every time there was -- sort of a new crop of employees brought in, he would choose one young woman that he was going to have sex with.

Well, the entire -- all the women in that workplace were affected. It was very demoralizing; there was very negative effect on the women in that workplace.

That`s what I`m talking about. It happens everywhere. And I think that the Letterman scandal allows us to sort of open up a window on what`s going on in workplaces around the country and think for a moment about how we can fundamentally change that.

BEHAR: Ok Gloria, you wrote an open letter to Letterman saying, even if it was welcome, what about the impact of your sexual favoritism on other staff members with whom you did not have a sexual relationship?

Now, I happen to agree with you, Gloria, about this. I mean, Nick, I`ll throw it to you for a minute. What about these other women that didn`t have sexual relationships with the boss? They don`t get promoted, they`re not on camera.

DIPOLO: But the one -- first, that`s overrated, being on camera.

BEHAR: That`s not what I hear.

DIPAOLO: But even the ones that he showed favoritism to...


DIPAOLO: ...what, they can`t fight off his advances? Are they that weak?

BEHAR: No, no, they not that they`re weak, is that they like it.

DIPAOLO: Well, just say no.

BEHAR: They don`t want to say no...

DIPAOLO: This just sounds like a Reagan...

BEHAR: But wait a minute, they don`t want to say no, they want to say, yes, give me the on-air, give me the promotion.

DIPAOLO: Well, that`s true. But that I don`t hear any of the other girls -- and from everything I`ve read in the papers, all the other interns say it`s a great place for women to work. Quote, "a great place".

BEHAR: Well, he got Gloria, why don`t you talk to that?

DIPAOLO: So when could they start whining...

BEHAR: He has...


BEHAR: He has given promotions and a lot of the top jobs at Letterman are women. So how do you respond to that?

GLORIA ALLRED, VICTIM`S RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes, I probably do more sexual harassment cases in my law firm and with my law firm than any other private law firms in the country for individuals suing employers.

So I can tell you that this situation is not a good one.

This is a situation where Mr. Letterman has admitted to having sex with more than one woman. So I think it`s fair to say that sexual favoritism in his workplace is widespread. And the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Joy, has said that if there is widespread sexual favoritism in the workplace, then that means that managers are sending a message that women are sexual playthings and that is demeaning to women.

And they are sending a message that managers may be saying that in order for women to advance, they`re going to have to engage in sexual conduct with the boss. That`s a hostile sexual atmosphere in the workplace and I think that the women who didn`t have sex with the boss may, in fact, have the right to file a lawsuit themselves.

So watch out.

BEHAR: Really? Really? What do you say to that?

DIPAOLO: He could sleep with all of them and rectify the whole situation.

BEHAR: I don`t think he has the strength.

DIPAOLO: Well, yes, number one.

But, again, I don`t hear the other people -- the other girls crying that it`s an unfair place to work. I agree, sexual harassment, my definition is if a boss says, whether it`s a male boss or female, says to an employee, you can`t go any further in this company unless there`s some sexual...

BEHAR: It`s never that obvious. But it`s very subtle. It`s like, you want to go have a drink?

DIPAOLO: No but that`s...

BEHAR: And then the next thing...

DIPAOLO: And you go and you know what, no...

BEHAR: Well, but you do if it`s an attractive guy.

DIPAOLO: Well ok, then you`re wrong and not him.

ALLRED: Well, Nick?

DIPAOLA: Yes, Gloria?

ALLRED: Yes, Nick...


ALLRED: First of all, it`s an unequal power situation. So don`t expect the burden to be on the employee, that is, the woman worker, to have to fight off the boss. She`s afraid of losing her job. She needs the economic support that she gets from working.

And so he shouldn`t be engaging in sexual harassment in the first place.

And by the way, even if the women did engage in sex with David Letterman, that doesn`t mean that it was welcome to them. Just because they haven`t filed any complaints yet, or ever, doesn`t mean...


ALLRED: ...they welcomed those sexual advances by David Letterman.

DIPAOLO: Well, when you prove that he forced himself on these girls, then I`ll agree with you.

O`NEILL: It`s not that you know...


O`NEILL: Let me just -- it`s not about whether he forces himself on anybody. What it`s about...


DIPAOLO: Say no to the drink, then.

O`NEILL: is whether the women in the workplace are second-class citizens. And when the boss...

DIPAOLO: Well, we know that.

O`NEILL: ...says, I`m going to have serial sexual relationships with a number of female subordinate staffers in my office, then we know that he has divided the men from the women and the women are the second-class citizens and that is the toxic workplace.

BEHAR: Let me...

O`NEILL: And that goes on in more places all over the...

BEHAR: Let me jump in here and talk to Nick for a second.

DIPAOLO: All right.

BEHAR: Let me give it to you like this.

DIPAOLO: All right.

BEHAR: Let`s say you`re "Catch a Rising Star" ok, and a lot of comics have to get on stage...


BEHAR: ...but one of the comics, a guy, is sleeping with the women who is booking the room and he`s not as funny as you. But that guy is getting all the spots. How would you feel about that?

DIPAOLO: Getting the spots where?

BEHAR: On stage at "Catch a Rising Star. So try to follow. Try to follow this analogy.

DIPAOLO: Well, first of all, that would never work at "Catch a Rising Star," because we know who ran the place, a gay guy.

BEHAR: All right but that`s not the point. I just gave you that as an example.

DIPAOLO: All right the Comedy Star in L.A...

BEHAR: Ok, all right.

DIPAOLO: What do you want me to say to this? Life is unfair, but I don`t need an organization to representation me and paint me as a victim. I`ll step up, I`ll go the -- and hey, what`s the deal? I heard you`re sleeping with this un-funny person.

BEHAR: Go ahead jump in.

DIPAOLO: And I don`t need an organization...

ALLRED: And here is the deal, Nick.

DIPAOLO: Women can handle themselves...

ALLRED: Listen up. The deal is that women workers are entitled to equal employment opportunity.


ALLRED: ...and if they have to put up with sexual harassment on the job...


ALLRED: ...that interferes with their right to equal employment opportunity and to have a workplace that is safe from sexual harassment.

And please, stop calling women girls. We`re not girls, we`re women. And show us that level of respect.

O`NEILL: And you know it`s really outrageous to claim, oh, you`re just making women victims, when women recognize that we have been treated like second-class citizens and we stand up and say so and all of a sudden that we are called victimizers, I don`t think that`s right.

DIPAOLO: Second-class citizens. All they did was take you out and buy you drinks and dinner for the first 30 years of my life. Where is the second-class, seriously, the most spoiled people on the face of the earth. I can make that argument too.

And don`t tell me -- just think of David Letterman as a male cougar. How about that?

BEHAR: He`s a little old to be a cougar.

DIPAOLO: You`ve got to glamorize it...

BEHAR: A cougar is like a -- a girl -- a woman is 40 years old when she`s a cougar, not 62 with a 32-year-old girl. That`s another story.

DIPAOLO: All right, a Billy goat.

BEHAR: He`s a hyena. That`s what it this way, he`s a hyena, and a laughing one too.

DIPAOLO: Are you going to tell me somewhere in this country, there`s not some female boss who flirts with a young, handsome...

BEHAR: It happens very rarely.

DIPAOLO: No, guys don`t lie about it.

BEHAR: Let me ask you ladies another question. Why are men cheating at work so much? Is it because there`s no other place to meet men these days? If you go to bar, it`s kind of dangerous sometimes and you should meet them in college, maybe, and then you meet them at work.

Where else are we supposed to meet men? And where are men supposed to meet women, if not at work?

O`NEILL: Look, the question here with the Letterman -- I think that the Letterman case opens up a possibility of talking about the boss having sexual relations with a series of subordinate staffers.

That`s very different from office romances. And I think we need to be clear about that.

BEHAR: Oh so the difference that you are making is that if it`s the boss and an underling, it`s not good, but if it`s two equals, it`s ok?

O`NEILL: If it`s the boss and a series of subordinate staffers, absolutely, what he`s doing is creating an atmosphere where he`s telling everybody, the women are different from the men, the women are for sex, the men are for working.

And let`s face it, that`s exactly the -- that`s the impression that all of the workers get.

BEHAR: Ok, here`s an interesting factoid.


BEHAR: The infidelity rate for men and women over 60 is up. So we can blame that on Viagra, right?

DIPAOLO: Yes that and the Internet.

BEHAR: Nick, Gloria, Terry, thanks.

Back in just a minute with David Alan Grier.



DAVID ALAN GRIER, COMEDIAN: This is the Barack Obama I voted for. And this is Barack Obama the day after the election.

Barack, what are you doing? When you said hope and change, we thought you were talking about the country, not about your wardrobe.


BEHAR: From marching with Martin Luther King to "Dancing with the Stars," my next guest writes all about it in "Barack Like Me: The chocolate covered truth." Please welcome the lovely and talented David Alan Grier.

How are you? It`s great to see you. I saw you the other day on "The View," and here we are again.

GRIER: Yes. Congratulations on your new show.

BEHAR: Thank you. Who do you think is a better dancer, you or -- let`s watch this, Tom DeLay.




BEHAR: The worst, isn`t it? Thank goodness he`s out now.

GRIER: I`m not really watching the show, Joy, but I`ll tell you this...

BEHAR: Yes? You have some dish from backstage?

GRIER: No, because I was watching the ball game. That show is long. It`s two, three hours long.

BEHAR: You were pretty good on there, actually.

GRIER: Pretty good?

BEHAR: If there was a cage match, who would win?

GRIER: Me and Tom DeLay? I would just stomp on his feet.

BEHAR: Maybe he has the gout and he`s not admitting it.

GRIER: I don`t know. He`s a wimp. He should have kept dancing. Everybody hurts, everybody gets injured. Come on.

BEHAR: The hammer is just a little sissy?

GRIER: I thought he was going to last longer.

BEHAR: This book that you wrote, is this an answer to Sarah Palin`s memoir?

GRIER: I hope not because I never shot a moose. I slept with a moose, but I never shot one.

BEHAR: Was it good for you or the moose?

GRIER: That night, it was necessary.

BEHAR: You do what you have to do.

GRIER: Hello. I`m on the road.

BEHAR: It`s better than shooting. Make love, not murder.

GRIER: Wouldn`t call it love, but go ahead.

BEHAR: So now, you in your book, divide our current history before and after Barack.


BEHAR: That`s very interesting notion. What exactly do you mean by that?

GRIER: Well, to be serious for a moment, a lot of the book is about leading up to his election. And as an African-American man, I`m 53 years old.

BEHAR: You`re black?

GRIER: I am.

BEHAR: Oh, my god.

GRIER: I told you, I think, when we met, I was Puerto Rican. Why?

Here`s what it is. I think for a lot of my friends, especially a lot of my white friends, once he was elected, they were like, ok, is it over now? Is it over now?

BEHAR: Is racism over?

GRIER: Yes. Can we stop talking about it? Because I do think in this country, it`s uncomfortable, this national dialogue of race and what is it, how we define it?

BEHAR: So do you think white people feel guilty about racism in the country?

GRIER: Some white people do. Some white people do, some white people don`t. Do I like to instill guilt in them? Only if I`m caught out there and I have to. I mean, one of the things I say in the book, it`s hard to play the race card now. And I really enjoy certain myths. I`m not going to give up the black sexual myth. I want to keep that going.

BEHAR: You`ve got to keep certain things...

GRIER: Exactly. Let me pick and choose.

BEHAR: Some stereotypes work for you.

GRIER: There you go. There you go.

BEHAR: But the world has changed a lot since you were a kid.

GRIER: It`s changed somewhat.

BEHAR: And it`s changed a lot more since Obama has become president.

GRIER: It really has. It really has.

I mean, you`re saying, before and after, and like, before Barack Obama, I had to be like 48 years old, I`m in an SUV, I happen to be wearing a ball cap, cranking some sounds. I pull up to a stoplight. There`s a white family, they look at me, they lock their doors and speed away. This really happened.

And I`m like, really, I`m on television. Really? But I was like, wow, I still have it. I can still instill fear. After Barack Obama, a Prius pulls up, it has Obama `08, it`s full of white kids, they`re like, hey, what`s up, man?

BEHAR: That`s interesting.

GRIER: A little different.

BEHAR: Do you think Obama would not be able to get a cab in those days?

GRIER: I don`t think Obama would be able to get a cab today.

BEHAR: Even today?

GRIER: From an African cab driver in New York City.

BEHAR: At 4:30 in the afternoon, they all go off-duty. So I can see your point.

Do you see that your daughters were all different? How old are your kids?

GRIER: I only have one daughter. One child.

BEHAR: What`s her name?

GRIER: Her name`s Lulu.

BEHAR: Lulu. That`s cute.

GRIER: You hear my voice? Her name is Lulu.

BEHAR: That`s cute.

GRIER: Little Lulu. She`s almost 2. She`ll be 2 in January. And I revel in the fact -- I mean, to her, this is going to be normal. It`s like, you know, I`m going to be the cranky old black guy going, I remember when we couldn`t be president. Shut up, go on, get out of here.

I revel in that that it`s going to be no big deal that to be biracial, multiracial is no big deal. Those are the things I enjoy. That I grew up in a world that was very black and white. There wasn`t a lot of talk of, you know...

BEHAR: Multicultural.

GRIER: Exactly. What was your ethnic background? As a matter of fact, when people talk like that, you were suspect, especially in the black community. Anytime you started going, are you black or white? Well, my mother`s Venusian.

BEHAR: Venusian? From Venus?

GRIER: Yes. I have some Pyrenees. Are you black or white? You know. So that`s the kind of world I grew up in.

BEHAR: Now you had some advice for President Obama before he took office. Let`s take a look at that.


GRIER: I have a message for you, go out on top. Retire right now, pull a Dave Chappelle and get your ass to Africa. Quit while you are ahead, because it is all downhill from here. You know you`ve got a place to stay.


BEHAR: You`re funny. You know that?

GRIER: I may be right on that.

BEHAR: But do you think Obama, he should have taken your advice?

GRIER: No. This is it. He`s got to lead. We all knew that the honeymoon would be over.

BEHAR: He`s taking a lot of criticism right now.

GRIER: He is.

BEHAR: And Jimmy Carter -- I don`t know if you followed that -- but Jimmy Carter made a statement that a lot of the criticism is racially motivated. Do you think so?

GRIER: I think some of it is. You know, the guy that`s carrying the sign that says "Get back to Kenya" or whatever --

BEHAR: Africa.

GRIER: Yes, get back to Africa. Yes, of course. Some of it is racially motivated, but I don`t think we can get caught up in every criticism of Obama because he`s African-American is racially based. I mean, you call it as you see it.

BEHAR: What did you think of when Glenn Beck said that Obama was a racist? Doesn`t that sound stupid?

GRIER: I think Glenn beck is insane.

BEHAR: It`s so stupid.

GRIER: But I also have faith in the people. I was reading online a response to that. And someone posted, "Ok, so then he hates half of himself, because he`s half white. And he`s biracial."

So it doesn`t really...

BEHAR: There were cartoons at that time, pictures of him as a child sitting with his blond, white mother, saying he`s a racist, ironically.

GRIER: Yes. It`s inflammatory conversation. I mean, I don`t pay much attention to it.

BEHAR: Well, thanks so much for coming by.

GRIER: What happened?

BEHAR: It`s always a pleasure.

Nothing happened. In fact, you`re coming back on Friday. Change the shirt.


BEHAR: Thanks, David.

GRIER: Wait, wait, wait. Hi, Joy.

BEHAR: You`re coming back for more new and interesting stuff to talk about.

So stick around for a sneak peek at my interview, also, today, with Seinfeld creator Larry David, next. We have a little peek, little peek. And then he`s on tomorrow.


BEHAR: Tomorrow night, you`re in for a very special treat. One of the funniest men on the face of the planet, Larry David, my old pal, will be joining me to talk about everything from the "Seinfeld" reunion, on this season`s "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to his early days as a frustrated stand-up comic. Those were great days.

Here`s a sneak preview.


BEHAR: I remember you from the old days of "Catch a Rising Star." And you were what you would call a temperamental comic.

LARRY DAVID, CREATOR, "SEINFELD": Yes, temperamental.

BEHAR: The comics always loved to come into the room, and they`ll say, oh, Larry`s getting up, and everybody would look at their watch and see how long you would last.

DAVID: They didn`t know if I would have a breakdown on stage. You didn`t know really what was going to happen.

BEHAR: What would happen to you when you would get up there and you didn`t get the first laugh let`s say?

DAVID: (INAUDIBLE). I don`t react well to adversity. I`m a baby. Really, almost the way that John McEnroe used to be if he played tennis. If a call went against him, you know, and that`s how I was. If something went against me -- if a person, I could be doing great, and if I saw one person kind of start talking during the whole thing, I would go, "Hey, hey, you. Oh, what, you don`t like this? It`s no good."

BEHAR: And then you would walk off.

DAVID: I can`t do this. I`m getting out of here."

BEHAR: So that stops your act.

DAVID: One time I actually -- and I said this, I`ve done this story before, but I went up on stage, it was "Catch a Rising Star," went up on stage and I looked at the audience and I went, I don`t think so.

BEHAR: Just the way they looked.

DAVID: Just the way they looked.

And I left.


BEHAR: Now, here`s something you won`t see tomorrow night. This is right before the interview when Larry forgot to turn off his cell phone and who calls but Ted Danson.


DAVID: Sometime -- sometime next year, we`ll talk. It`s Ted Danson.

BEHAR: Ted Danson?


BEHAR: Can I speak to him for a second?

DAVID: Hold on, Joy Behar wants to speak to you.

BEHAR: Ted? He wants to be on the show.

DAVID: Oh, good.

BEHAR: Ted Danson, you`re booked. You`re booked. I`ve been watching you on that new show on HBO. You`re very funny on that and we have other things to discuss, politics, et cetera. You know, you`re more than a pretty face, Ted. You`re also hung like a (BLEEP)

DAVID: No, he`s not more than a pretty face and he`s not even a pretty face.

BEHAR: Tell him what you said.

DAVID: I said, you`re not more than a pretty face, you`re not even a pretty face. Yes. Okay. Go (BLEEP) yourself.

BEHAR: Every day is "Curb Your Enthusiasm".


BEHAR: Don`t forget, Larry David, tomorrow night.

Back in a second.


BEHAR: Last November Americans voted for change and we got some. First of all we got a president who has read a book and can speak in complete sentences. But health care, the economy, and unemployment are still in trouble. Not to mention the war in Afghanistan, which began eight years ago today? Joining me to discuss this is Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Hi, Maxine.

REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: Hello, Joy, how are you?

BEHAR: You know, I`m a big fan of yours.

WATERS: Well, I`m a big fan of yours and congratulations on this show.

BEHAR: OK. Thank you. A lot of people are upset with President Obama about Afghanistan. They are saying that he`s taking too long to make a decision, they want more troops, and if he doesn`t make a decision soon, what`s going to happen?

WATERS: Well, his back is up against the wall. He made promises during his election that he was going end the war, he is going to bring the troops home. He did say he was going to try to catch Osama bin Laden, so people sat still while he deployed troops to Afghanistan. And now with the request for 40,000 more, people are saying, wait just a minute, this is too much. We have a lot of problems and our domestic arena here and we don`t want to send more soldiers up.

We want to concentrate more on jobs, the unemployment rates are high, et cetera. And so he`s listening to the generals on the ground, and of course, there are those who are saying, you should do what the generals tell you. He`s taking time to go through and talk to everybody, including the leaders of Congress, et cetera, et cetera. People are all nervous. They don`t know what`s going to happen.

BEHAR: But this isn`t this the good war that we said that Bush should have fought in the first place? Isn`t this is where we`re supposed to be to fight terrorism?

WATERS: This is what he said, this is what he believed. We have always believed that we should employ diplomacy that we should try to help rebuild the infrastructure, we should make friends. Of course, we wage war in Afghanistan, but I don`t know if those air strikes where we killed civilians and those drones that were sent out that killed civilians helped us at all up there.

So now we have the Taliban and they just killed, recently, eight of our soldiers up in some remote area in Afghanistan and I`m wondering, why are these young people dying up in this remote area? What are we trying to do? What does "win" mean? Does this mean we have to kill all the Taliban? How do we know when we have won? I don`t know and this president has a difficult decision to make, but he`s got a base out there who are not happy about sending 40,000 more troops into Afghanistan.

BEHAR: OK. Well, one of the things you brought up was that we have a lot of problems, domestically.


BEHAR: Like unemployment. I mean, you said this morning, I saw you on a program this morning. You said, unemployment is at 50 to 60 percent in some areas. What happened to the stimulus money? We got $800 billion in the stimulus; $81 billion was for infrastructure. What happened to all that money? Why aren`t they fixing the roads like everybody promised in the Democratic Congress?

WATERS: Well, you know I think that the descriptions of what it was going to do might have been a little bit too much. For example, they did retain some teachers, police and firemen in these cities who would have been laid off, who would have lost their jobs and we were very appreciative in California because of our budget problems that we were able to not do as big of cuts as we would have had to have done had we not had the stimulus.

Joy, you know what I think the problem is? The bureaucracy has not allowed much of this stimulus money to hit the street. By the time you do a pre-bid conference and you go out to bid and you do the selection process, it takes time. So the infrastructure money for the shovel-ready projects that were supposed to be on the street to create jobs just has not been felt yet.

BEHAR: OK. What about -- let`s talk about health care, then, really fast. OK, what`s holding this up? Is it the -- I mean, we`ve got the majority in Congress now, the Democrats, what is holding it up? Is it the Republicans or the blue dogs? What`s going on?

WATERS: It`s a combination of things. As a matter of fact, you have been watching what has been going on the Senate side. And I have not been too kind to our Senators in the way that they do things and they have, you know, been very slow, very deliberate, and the house has been waiting on the Senate. We passed out three bills on the house side. We`re going to put all those bills together. We`re waiting until the Senate does whatever it`s going to do. I expect they`re not going to have a public option in that bill. We are --

BEHAR: Well, that`s terrible, I think. That was the -- that`s the one thing that will make health care significantly --

WATERS: That`s right.

BEHAR: Improved in this country, is the public option.

WATERS: Competition!

BEHAR: And they`re going to throw the public option under the bus. Is that what`s happening?

WATERS: Well, the Senate side, we can`t expect very much from them. I don`t think they`re going to have public option in their final bill. But I want to tell you something, Joy. We`re going to get it on the house side. It`s going to be a terrible fight if we don`t get this, I mean, you know, the bricks are going to fly. We have got to have public option.

BEHAR: The bricks are going to fly. Congresswoman, stay with me. I want to bring in tonight`s panel, OK.


BEHAR: Steve Kornacki, a political columnist with the "New York Observer," and media commentator, Sam Seder, welcome, guys. Let`s get back to Afghanistan, quickly. Even the lovely Sarah Palin is weighing in on the Afghan debate on facebook. Which some people say should be called shut your facebook. This is what she wrote, "Now is not the time for cold feet, second thoughts, or indecision. It is the time to act as commander in chief and approve the troops so clearly needed in Afghanistan." Does she have any influence in policy making? What do you think about this?

STEVE KORNACKI, "NY OBSERVER:" Well, first of all, she sort of contradicts herself. You know, act as commander in chief and do exactly what the military leaders tell you. Isn`t the commander in chief supposed to be the one that makes the final decision? In terms of her influence, it`s minimal to nonexistent. What you`re really seeing here is a woman who wants to run for president in 2012, knows that you`ve got to stand up to Obama and the base.

BEHAR: But, really, does she have any influence, really and truly, at the end of the day? Do we have to be scared of this woman in the next election?


BEHAR: Presidential.

SAM SEDER, MEDIA COMMENTATOR: I think it will be very entertaining to see her run, but I don`t think this is about her presidential aspirations; this is about her selling a book. I think that`s it, end of story. To the extent that she has any impact on policy, it has maybe facebook policy, but certainly not about foreign policy.

BEHAR: I mean, it`s a woman who quit her job -- she quit her job to write a book, and now she`s telling Obama what to do. Maxine, Congresswoman, do you have a response to Sarah at all in this case?

WATERS: No, I don`t think she`s worthy of a response. This is a woman who`s writing a book and someone remarked the other day, she hasn`t even read one. So I don`t care what she has to say.

BEHAR: Isn`t that in the long tradition of Republican behavior? I mean, they had Bush, he never read a book, now we have her, she never read a book. It`s typical, isn`t it?

WATERS: I think so, Joy.

BEHAR: OK. President Bush started this war in 2001. Remember? Remember this? Let`s look at this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.


BEHAR: You know, oh, country, President Bush, you did fail. It was a half-baked attempt in Afghanistan, am I right?

SEDER: Within -- I think, within, literally, within months of when he`s saying there, he was already diverting $700 million of money that was to go to our forces in Afghanistan into prepping for Iraq. I mean, I think that was the game plan from day one. They didn`t put enough ground troops in the beginning. They let Bin Laden go in Tora Bora (ph). To a certain extent, Afghanistan was window dressing, I think, for an administration that really wanted to go to Iraq.

BEHAR: And yet, President Obama seems to be getting the blame for this war and getting a lot of flak for it. Listen to what Representative Boehner said yesterday.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: We do recognize that he has a tough decision and he wants ample time to make a good decision. Frankly, I support that. But we need to remember that every day that goes by, the troops that we do have there are in greater danger.


BEHAR: Congresswoman, isn`t it a bigger danger to act rashly in this case and send more troops in without a plan? I think that you would agree with that, yes?

WATERS: I would agree. And the president has said such. He says that it`s not a matter of having more troops. What`s the plan, what`s the strategy? And supposedly, this is what he`s trying to get a handle on. As you know, you know, the troops that are there and we`re losing these young people every day, have not broken up any training camps in any recent times. I haven`t seen any information that tells us they found training camps where the terrorists were. You know, what I worry about, Joy, is up between that border, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is a no-man`s- land. Everything is going on up there.

These Taliban and the terrorists, what have you that operate up there, can traverse those mountains with bare feet? So we send our soldiers in there, but what`s the mission? What are they trying to accomplish there? If they are looking for terrorists, then I would tell them, look in Somalia, look in Yemen, and look all over. I mean, what are we doing? What is this all about?

BEHAR: Isn`t it a better strategy, though, to find terrorists by using wiretapping and moles in these places, the way we`ve done it in the United States. We found out a lot about terrorist attempts here with that.

KORNACKI: Well, this whole thing, from the very beginning, go back to 2001, it was like, what was the point anyway? Because Afghanistan, it`s impossible to sort of build a country there. A functioning country, like we would define it. It`s been defined as the second most failed state in the world, next to maybe Somalia. But Obama gets some of the blame here. I know he just became president, but he raised expectations this during the campaign, for a strategic, political reason during the campaign. And I think a lot of us saw this coming during the campaign.

BEHAR: And what do you mean?

KORNACKI: He wanted to be the anti-Iraq war candidate, not the anti- war candidate. So, by contrast, he would say, I`m against the war in Iraq, but I want to do it right in Afghanistan and he set that expectation.

BEHAR: We`ll let you have the last word on that. Thanks very much, Sam, Steve, Congresswoman, thank you for joining me. Back in just a minute with something that`s been bugging me.


BEHAR: David Letterman, who makes fun of everyone else`s sex life gets caught cheating on his partner of 23 years with young women who work for him and his ratings go up, up, up. In fact, on Monday night, he beat every show on NBC prime-time. And being embroiled in a sex scandal doesn`t hurt in politics either. I remember when Bill Clinton was doing the nasty with Monica Lewinsky. His approval ratings were even higher than when he was just doing his job.

The people of South Carolina are rallying around Mark Sanford, their Christian governor, who somehow mistook an Argentinean woman`s vagina for the Appalachian Trail. How fabulous is that? Next time, if Sanford wants to win in a landslide, maybe he should have an affair with a Swede and tell his wife he`s snowboarding in Minks.

Let`s face it, sex sells. Sex scandals may ruin marriages, upset families, and become national embarrassments, but so what? The main thing here is that Americans are transfixed. They don`t want to miss one little salacious detail. It`s a ratings bonanza. This is a new show and I could use a little leg up. Maybe it`s time for me to have a dalliance of my own. This studio is crawling with men. Hank, I don`t mean too much offense, but there`s no friggin` way, even I have standards, but that`s just me.


BEHAR: Gay rights advocates are marching on Washington on Sunday. Why? Because Americans have a long way to go in the fight for gay rights. As if coming out of the closet wasn`t hard enough, imagine coming out of the closet in middle school. That`s what three of my next guests have done. Joining me to discuss this are Christian Siriano, designer and author of "Fierce Style" and he is fierce, and three openly gay teenagers from Oklahoma, Misty, Austin, and Ben. Christian, let`s start with you. What was your experience coming out?

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO, DESIGNER: Well, it`s interesting. My story really isn`t very tragic. It`s pretty, just, simple and it just kind of was the way I was. And I never did a whole kind of, oh, mom, I`m this way or this way, it kind of just happened. But I think, also, that was because I went to an art high school.

BEHAR: What about when you were younger? Were you playing with dolls?

SIRIANO: Of course. I had all the American Girl dolls. No, but I think, I was also really into sports and I was into other things, so I was kind of like well rounded, maybe. No, I was just interested in everything. And I think my mom was just kind of in denial for years. And then, finally, it was just like, OK, he`ll make money one day.

BEHAR: I know, because you`re so creative. What about your dad, though, sometimes the fathers are harder with the boy.

SIRIANO: It is interesting. I think with my dad, it was never a big discussion and it never really was something so serious for him, because he, himself, is a bit eccentric.

BEHAR: Why, what`s wrong with him?

SIRIANO: No, no -- I know, right. Trust me, let me tell you, he wears three-piece suits and owns a bakery. So it`s questionable. But I think with my dad, he was so -- and he loves fashion and style. And he was just so into kind of the same things my sister and I were into, so I don`t know, I think he was just open, which is nice.

BEHAR: That was lucky for you.

SIRIANO: It was lucky.

BEHAR: Misty, how old were you when you realized you were gay?

MISTY, CAME OUT AT AGE 12: I kind of knew all along. My mom said when I was like 3, I would tell the waitresses they were pretty, but I didn`t officially come out of the closet until I was 12. And I came out to a group of friends and I asked them to keep it to themselves and they couldn`t keep it to themselves and the next day the whole school found out. And I kept it to myself and I was like, OK, I can`t do this forever. So I was like, guys, I`m bisexual. Let`s get it out there. Bisexual.

BEHAR: How did you know you were bisexual?

MISTY: Girls are pretty, they smell good, they have the nice skin, and they like to look all pretty. It was just something about them and I felt like I could neck more with a girl than a guy, but I wasn`t going to leave these guys hanging. I was going to give them the chance. But it took me a year to come out full lesbian. It was hard, but I got through it.

BEHAR: You got through it. How about you, Austin? How did you come out and how did your parents` take it?

AUSTIN, CAME OUT AT AGE 11: Well, I came out through my counselor. I told a couple of friends and then it kind of got around a little bit and people started asking me and I didn`t really deny it at all. At first, I did a little, but then people were just asking me and I was like, yeah. And I haven`t had really any trouble in school. My mom, she took it well. My dad, we haven`t really discussed it at all. We don`t talk about it.

BEHAR: Your father`s in denial?

AUSTIN: Well, I don`t talk to him that much, so we haven`t discussed it at all.

BEHAR: Ben, were you worried about the reaction to your coming out in Oklahoma, very conservative state?

BEN, CAME OUT AT AGE 14: Yeah, I always felt like Oklahoma is more closed minded, you know, they weren`t really accepting of gays.

BEHAR: That`s why everyone comes to New York.

BEN: Right, we really do.

BEHAR: People come to New York. It`s a gay place to come. We have fun here, we have gay people, and we love everybody in New York. Not really, but whatever.

MISTY: Some days.

BEHAR: Christian, do you think that the culture has changed much from when you were in middle school?

SIRIANO: I do -- I think so. I mean, for me, it just was reality TV. Because I think it`s so real and so in people`s lives and so personal and everyone`s different. And I think, especially for me, that`s kind of how I kind of put it out there, very publicly.

BEHAR: You know, this was surprising to me. Gay middle schoolers have it tougher than gay high schoolers. Isn`t that interesting?

SIRIANO: Middle school is tough.

BEHAR: Middle school is --

SIRIANO: It really is.

BEHAR: According to the Lesbian State Education Network, 91 percent of gay middle schoolers were harassed based on their sexuality. The rate of physical assault against gay in middle school has nearly doubled the rate in high school. Now were any of you beaten up or hit in some way?

BEN: No.

MISTY: At my school I was -- I got verbal abuse a lot, but it actually came down to me sitting in the cafeteria having French fries with ketchup and ranch thrown at me during lunch. I was told to shake it off, it was just kids. It came down to another personal friend of mine who came out as bisexual and she actually did get beat up for her sexual orientation. It was to the point where I didn`t want to walk to school anymore because I was so scared middle school is a lot harder.

BEHAR: Very much harder. Apparently. Well, Misty, Ben, Austin thanks. Christian stay right here. We`ll be right back.



(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I need to tell you something. You are a tranny who looks like a hot mess and not in a good way. You`re a tranny, out of control super tranny from Transylvania who is not apologizing for it.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Is that good? I`m sorry; I don`t understand a word you`re saying.


BEHAR: That was Amy Poehler`s impression from SNL I`m back with the real Christian Siriano, designer and author of "Fierce Style." How do you feel when you see that?

SIRIANO: Every time I see it, it kind of scares me because I actually can`t do it that well. No, it`s, I mean, it`s funny.

BEHAR: It`s so funny. They imitate me, too. It`s funny.

SIRIANO: It`s amazing. I think it`s an amazing compliment and I do sound like that so it`s OK.

BEHAR: The Gay and Lesbian Straight Education Network has launched a campaign to reduce the use of homophobic remarks. Take a look.


(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Are you going out tonight?

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): I can`t my parent`s say I have to be home after work.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): That`s so gay.


(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): That is so Emma and Julia.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Why are you saying that`s so Emma and Julia?

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): You know, when something is dumb or stupid, you say that`s Emma and Julia.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): Who says that?



BEHAR: So that phrase, that`s so gay, everybody, uses it, I think. A lot of people use it. What`s your reaction? Does it hurt your feelings?

SIRIANO: I think for me it isn`t as personal because I think that -- I think people just -- I think there are so many words that people throw around just like that`s so gay or you`re so gay. It`s -- I don`t take it as personal but I know people that do. I do think that it`s one of those things that -- I don`t know. It is hurtful in a way, but --

BEHAR: It`s a stereotype.


BEHAR: If someone says, oh, throw pillows on the couch in a certain way, that`s so gay, does that offend you?

SIRIANO: That does.


SIRIANO: It only offends me to a certain extent, I think because having that stereotype is kind of what -- I think it just gives everyone else kind of in the industry or everyone else in your life kind of the same reasoning to treat you that different way. Just because of your sexual orientation, which I don`t think it should be such a --

BEHAR: I think that, you know, let`s say it`s a black thing. You wouldn`t say that`s so black. People would get offended. That`s so Jewish. You wouldn`t say that. People don`t. The gay community has a point.

SIRIANO: They do.

BEHAR: But sometimes political correctness drains all the fun out of everything, too. You know --

SIRIANO: Maybe I`ve said once in my life, that`s so gay.

BEHAR: OK. Let me hear about your book.

SIRIANO: It`s about style, looking fabulous. You are fabulous. Love these earrings.

BEHAR: Want them?

SIRIANO: Can I borrow them? No. It`s fun, its fashion, it`s not serious. It has tips. Great celebrity quotes. All about style.

BEHAR: You`re having a lot of fun, aren`t you?

SIRIANO: It`s good. It`s been a busy year.

BEHAR: Whoopi is in the book, you dressed her, didn`t you?

SIRIANO: For the Tony.

BEHAR: For the Tony.

SIRIANO: It was fabulous. Pirate blouse. What can you do with that?

BEHAR: She loves the pirates --

SIRIANO: She loves the blouse, the poncho. Look at those legs. Have you ever seen that?

BEHAR: No, she has great legs. Skinny thighs. Thanks for Christian and all my guests for joining me tonight. Thank you for watching. Good night, everybody. Good night, John Boy. I`m going say that every night for a while.