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Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston to Marry; Is Tea Party Billboard Racist?

Aired July 14, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a Palin family bombshell. Bristol and Levi Johnston are getting married. The happy couple, once estranged, reveal their engagement secret to the world and her mom on the cover of a magazine. What does Sarah Palin have to say about that?

Plus, the shocking billboard that compares the president to Hitler and Lenin. Tea Party activists are behind it, the NAACP condemns it. Who's right? Who's wrong?



KING: Good evening.

We begin with breaking news on what could be a turning point in the gulf oil spill tragedy. Let's get the latest from CNN's Ed Lavandera in New Orleans. What's the latest, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, right now, we know that officials with BP and the federal government are entering into the preliminary testing phase, getting ready for what's called the integrity test. And based on the readings that they get from this test over the course of the next 48 hours will determine whether or not this containment cap that they put in place on Monday will work as they hope it does, and if it does, it would mean we would finally see the end of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

So we're waiting to hear those results. That's expected to start tonight, and we'll be getting results throughout the day - or hopefully throughout the day and into the - over the course of the next 48 hours.

KING: One other quick thing, Ed. When do you think we'll "know" know? By Friday?

LAVANDERA: Yes, you know, at the end of this window is - the maximum this test is going to last, according to Thad Allen, is about 48 hours. Every six hours they're going to stop and - and measure the pressure readings and kind of compare notes on that.

High pressure situation is what they're looking for. Lower pressure means that they might have to go back to the drawing board. So we'll see how this plays out over the next 24 hours. But, at the very latest, 48 hours.

KING: Fingers crossed.

Thanks. Ed Lavandera, on the scene.

A billboard comparing Obama to Hitler and Lenin has caused a ruckus. The NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, has passed a resolution, blan - blasting, rather, the Tea Party Movement for what it calls continued tolerance of bigotry.

Meantime, the North Iowa Tea Party billboard has been papered over. But the controversy it ignited still rages.

Here to talk about it, David Webb. He's co-founder of TeaParty365 in New York City, also co-founder of the Black Republican Forum. He's a talk radio host on Sirius XM.

And Benjamin Todd from Kansas City. Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP.

All right, Ben. It was obviously a ridiculous ad, but it's one person in one party in one section of the country. Why raise a whole racist thing against the whole movement, Ben?

BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Well, you know, the billboard actually wasn't what prompted this. What prompted this were - are folks here in the "Show Me" state who, you know, had - knew that the Council of Concerned -- sorry, the Council of Conservative Citizens, the direct descendants of White Citizen's Council, a group that says that black people are not prepared - not genetically equipped to participate in democracy, has been promoting Tea Party membership and bragging about their influence and activity in the Tea Party.

That, in the midst of all these horrible signs we've seen, a congressman being spit on, you know, civil rights icons like John Lewis being called the "N" word as he enter Congress by Tea Party activists, Barney Frank being called the "F" word, you know, a gay slur as he enters Congress by Tea Party activists.

I mean, enough is enough. You know, we heard all that and we haven't heard Dick - Dick Armey or the other Tea Party leaders come out and just say, that's wrong, there's no space for - for bigotry in our ranks.


JEALOUS: That's what we want to -

KING: We have - we have David Webb. He's co-founder of TeaParty365 in New York. Do you condemn it, David?

DAVID WEBB, CO-FOUNDER, TEAPARTY365: I absolutely do, and the statement by Mr. Jealous that we haven't condemned these actions when they do pop up is blatantly false. Also, what is false is that there is no empirical evidence of these racial slurs. On April 24th, I signed a letter, along with many other leaders, to the Congressional Black Caucus. There was a $100,000 reward offered as a donation to the United Negro College Fund if there could be any video with all the cell phone cameras, all the cameras, and that we would ask that they provide evidence of this so that we could denounce it if it did happen. If it happened 15 times, Mr. Jealous, there is video of it, there should be, and we have asked for it. We have searched through every video available. Many have been provided.

So you are - you are attaching two things that are false, that are unproven, and that is dishonest.

JEALOUS: Well, I'd say go -

KING: Ben, how do you respond?

JEALOUS: Sure. I'd say go to NAACP -

KING: Ben?

JEALOUS: Yes, I would say go to and pull up all the signs from the Tea Party. Look at the video. You know - and - and, I would say, you know, there's a thing called eyewitness testimony, and the reality is that, you know, we heard again and again from people who saw this happen. John Lewis was one of the most credible people in this country.

But I would also ask Dave, look if there aren't a violent racist in your ranks, then why are we getting death threats for asking you to call out and - and to denounce the violent racists in your ranks?

WEBB: Well, first of all, to answer your question, violent death threats go back and forth across both sides.

JEALOUS: No they don't.

WEBB: But let - let's go to empirical evidence because if we're going to speak, let's speak from an honest and truthful point of view. There are signs out there that show up at the parties. I denounced them. Many leaders denounced them, so it's false for you to say they're not denounced.

On top of that, you cannot paint an entire movement, which has no single leadership, based on the actions of a few, when millions have spoken. If you want to juxtaposition this and be honest in your selective condemnation of racism, then you should also condemn the Condoleezza Rice monkey picture, which you never have, the George Bush Hitler picture, which you never have, and you should certainly be condemning King Shamir Shabazz, where if you took the black beret and black paramilitary uniform off and put on a white hood and white sheet, there would be marches still in Philadelphia to this day, and you have not done that. And that, my friend, is dishonest.

KING: Benjamin what do you want - what do you want? Both ways, Benjamin? How do you respond to what Dave had just said? JEALOUS: Yes. Yes. I want both groups. I'd love to see the New Black Panther Party denounce the bigots in their ranks. The reality is that the New Black Panther Party is much smaller and much less influential than the Tea Party.

With the increased, you know, power, the increased influence of the Tea Party comes the added responsibility to act responsibly, and they need to speak up. And it shouldn't just be the black members who speak up. I mean, we should see Dick - Dick Armey speak up and speak out.

Absolutely. You know, all those other -

KING: Ben -

JEALOUS: -- incidents are troubling.

KING: Ben, do you think the Tea Party is racist?


KING: As a party?

JEALOUS: No. I'm not saying the Tea Party's racist. I'm not saying Dick Armey's racist. This isn't about a policy disagreement that we've had before. All we're saying is stop being silent. Speak out, and condemn the racism clearly. Say that there's no space in the Tea Party -

KING: Well, I think David is doing that, isn't he? I mean -

JEALOUS: Well, David's doing that, but - but where's - but where's Dick Armey?

You know, I had a black Tea Party member from Texas who is also an NAACP member come up to me after my speech, put his arm around me and say thank you. He said - said, you know, I know there's space for me here. I've been active in the Tea Party. In recent months, I've begun to feel uncomfortable. I'm glad somebody like you is speaking out so I can stay active in the Tea Party, and there will always be a good space for me.

I love that David's active in it. I want David to stay active in it. But I want folks in Texas and down south to feel just as comfortable as he does up north.

KING: Let me take a break and ask David Webb if he'll call Dick Armey and see if Dick will speak out.

We'll be right back.


KING: All right, David Webb, have you called on Dick Armey to make a public stand against racist statements made inside the movement? WEBB: I have not personally spoken with Dick Armey on this issue, Larry.

However, I - I would like to go to two things that have been said in the past segment. Mr. Jealous talks of who they're calling out in the Tea Parties. In his own release today, he speaks to racist Tea Party leaders and then bigoted elements, so he's including leadership and elements, which is another thing that is clearly not all there.

JEALOUS: Right. I'm talking about Dale -

WEBB: These are your words, Mr. Jealous.

JEALOUS: I'm talking about Dale Robertson. I'm talking about Dale Robertson. You know Dale Robertson who sends out the racist e- mails -

WEBB: I don't - I don't know him personally, but -


KING: One at a time. Hold it.


WEBB: If I may finish my point. Dale Robertson has been denounced by many members in the Tea Party. I've never met the man personally, never dealt with him.

The issue here is that the NAACP, which achieved its core competency in '64 and '65 with civil rights and voting rights, has not adjusted its mission but is interested in maintaining its power base within the black community. Now it needs an enemy.

To the gentleman you spoke of - and I would ask that we do that - this, and I'll ask this of the nation, to follow this. I would like to have a private meeting with you, myself and that gentleman, off the record, for a conversation about his concerns with the Tea Party. The three of us can speak with him. If he is willing to go public after that meeting, Larry, I would love to come back on with Mr. Jealous and that gentleman and let him tell his side of the story. I think that's a fair rule.

KING: All right. That's fair. Ben - would you agree to that, Ben?

JEALOUS: That's great. But, also, if this was a unanimous resolution that came up through a network of 1,200 active branches and was voted on by more than 2,000 delegates, we also have to hear from the people who actually brought the resolution, the people here in the state of - you know, in the "Show Me" state who, you know, are so concerned about racist elements in the state, like the Council of Conservative Citizens who are - who are encouraging people to be active, saying that they're active, who are concerned about, the - the website for the white - you know, for white racists, who are, again, saying please get involved with - in the Tea Party. We are. Who are concerned about David Duke putting out a serenade to the Tea Party, saying when the Tea Party goes by, essentially, he feels like it's his fiesta.

Like, you know, to needs to be a bigger conversation. I would absolutely reach out to Chris and see if he'd be willing to talk, absolutely.

KING: All right, David, if he makes that happen, you'll sit down, right?

WEBB: Absolutely I will. I welcome conversation. I welcome discourse.

What I don't welcome is selective - selective condemnation. And to you, Mr. Jealous, I would ask this question, if I could. Will you condemn King Shamir Shabazz and the New Black Panther Party for vile racism which most of the country has seen and heard for themselves, in a dynamic where King Shamir Shabazz sat there and spoke to a black man and a white woman, the same dynamic that, by the way, produced the president of the United States, the first biracial president of the United States? Would you condemn him now on the LARRY KING program?

JEALOUS: You know, and my parent - my dad's white and my mom - mom's black (ph). Statements like that have no place in our democracy. Statements like that should have no place in any group, and the leadership of the New Black Panther Party should absolutely stand up, denounce that, and - and if he's not willing to stop making comments like that, usher him out of the party.

That's what we do here at the NAACP. That's what responsible groups do. But I think you and I would both agree the Tea Party's much more powerful.

You know, and our concern is this, you know, Dick Armey -

WEBB: Well, racism - excuse me, Mr. Jealous, racism is not a function always of power. If there is a racist -

JEALOUS: But you and I agreed, right? I mean, you and I agree -

WEBB: Yes, we agreed. But you - you go to the power of the Tea Party versus Shabazz for this instance. That is not the function here. If racism happens, you should address it as it happens.

JEALOUS: Absolutely.

WEBB: If there's one incident in Congress, in the walk that has not been proven, you address that on a larger scale. You should address King Shamir Shabazz on the same scale and - and denounce him forcefully and forthrightly.

JEALOUS: Right, and I've done so here. And all I would say to David - David, I think you're familiar with the expression in our community, which is to whom much is given, much is expected, and a lot of power and prestige has been given to the Tea Party and there's a lot of expectations. You know - you know, including folks who are active in the - in the NAACP who are in the Tea Party, who are out of the Tea Party, they have expectations that you guys will act responsibly. That's all that we're asking.

KING: Guys, we have not heard the last. We shall be doing a lot more on this.

David Webb and Benjamin Todd Jealous.

WEBB: Thank you, Larry.

JEALOUS: Thanks.

KING: We will have a - who will have a bigger impact in the 2010 elections - the Tea Party Movement, NAACP? Which one? Neither? What?

That's next.


KING: Let's meet our panel.

Ben Stein is an economist, former presidential speechwriter, columnist "Fortune" magazine, author of "The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing". Stephanie Miller, talk radio host of her own program. Dana Loesch is co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party and a talk radio host as well of "The Dana Show". And Nancy Giles, social commentator and performer and a contributor to CBS' "Sunday Morning".

Let's go around, reaction to this dispute and what we just heard. Ben?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH WRITER: Well, it's interesting, I know lots of people in the Tea Party Movement. I've never heard one racist word out of any of them, and I was quite suspicious about it to start with. I thought it must be some kind of cover for racist feelings.

And I've questioned people close - people very close to me about it very intensely. I never heard a racist word out of any of them.

KING: What do you make of that billboard?

STEIN: It was the act of a very, very reckless and stupid person.

KING: Stephanie?

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST: Even the other Tea Baggers (ph), I loved that they - they actually didn't, you know, they condemned the sign, but only because they thought it was a waste of money. One of the leaders we quoted today said, well, he is sort of Hitler-esque, but it was not a - a good, you know - you know, spending of money, and I thought, "What? How can you be Hitler-esque?"

I mean, the thing is just - the Tea Party is going to do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and I couldn't be happier.

KING: Dana, you're co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party. What do you make of all of this?

DANA LOESCH, CO-FOUNDER, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY: I think Stephanie's comment about tea baggers, what are we, on the playground here? I mean, seriously, we're on - we're on Larry King's show, let's keep it classy. My whole thing about this is that -

MILLER: They call themselves tea baggers.

LOESCH: No, they don't. I was actually talking about your comment.

MILLER: They have tea bags hanging on their face.

LOESCH: But I'm not done talking so --

My whole - my whole thing with -


LOESCH: -- this is that the Iowa, the Tea Party in Iowa, with the billboard, here's the difference in this situation. When the Tea Party Movement sees the coops (ph) within its own party, they get drummed out, if there are any. This billboard, maybe it went a little bit too extreme, maybe it went a little bit too far beyond the boundaries of good taste.

MILLER: A little bit?

LOESCH: Stephanie, I'm not done, sweetie.

MILLER: OK. All right, sweetheart.

LOESCH: Maybe it went a little beyond the bounds of good taste. But, the thing is -

MILLER: All right, lamb chop.

LOESCH: -- the Tea Party Movements went ahead and they - they repudiated it. When the NAACP - when Kenneth Gladney was being made fun of at an NAACP-sponsored press conference in St. Louis and Harold Crumpton who's on the board of the NAACP stood by and laughed along as people at that press conference called a black Conservative activist or someone affiliated with the Tea Party an Uncle Tom and a Negro, the NAACP didn't condemn that at all, so I think that's (INAUDIBLE).

MILLER: OK. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

KING: Let's get Nancy Giles. Nancy, what do you make of all this?

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, where is the Tea Party's outrage when members of their own party spit on members of the United States -- LOESCH: That was proved false.

GILES: You know what? It wasn't proved false.

LOESCH: Let's not engaged in defamation and libel.

GILES: Excuse me. I'm talking so shut your mouth.

LOESCH: Well, be honest when you speak and I wouldn't have to interrupt you.

GILES: Excuse me. Excuse me.

LOESCH: Be truthful and I wouldn't have to.

GILES: Hey, be quiet. Where we you guys -

LOESCH: Speak the truth.

GILES: -- when -

You know, Larry, can you just turn off her mike. This is ridiculous?

KING: Oh, no. I'll run this show, Nancy. Go ahead.

GILES: I'm so sorry. They just - the thing that is so disturbing to me about the Tea Party is that their racist attitudes and the elements of the Tea Party that are racist and violent that show up with racist and violent imagery in their posters, that show up at rallies with guns, that show up and intimidate - emotionally intimidate people, helps move the Conservative, you know, far - closer and closer into - in contaminating the mainstream, doing things like -

KING: Well, that's a point.

GILES: -- criticizing Thurgood Marshall.

KING: Ben, you are a Conservative. Does the Tea Party Movement help or hurt your concept?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST AND FMR. PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER: I think it's going to hurt us in the election because it's going to divide the vote frankly. But -


STEIN: But I think it's done. But I think - but I admire their attitudes. And it is not even slightly about racism.

I mean, the people who carry guns at those rallies are in parts of the country where people just habitually carry guns. I mean, my wife and I live in North Idaho during the summer. When we go to restaurant, people just have guns lying around in their cars because there's a lot of hunting there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ben, that's just not honest.

STEIN: It's completely - it's completely honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not honest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a black -

KING: One at a time. Hold it. One at a time.

STEIN: Just a minute, Nancy. It's completely -

GILES: Nancy's not talking.

STEIN: I was there, you weren't. Nancy, I was there, you weren't, with all due respect. These are very fine wonderful people. They happen to carry guns in their cars.

GILES: Ben, if it was a black rally --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of (ph) them is black.

GILES: If it was a black rally with people carrying guns, you know that the response would be different.

STEIN: Nancy - Nancy, I didn't say it was a rally.

GILES: We're talking about rallies right now, Ben.

STEIN: I said outside the restaurant. I said (INAUDIBLE) -

GILES: Ben, we're talking about rallies. Ben -

STEIN: Nancy, I can hear.

GILES: -- we're talking about rallies.

STEIN: Nancy, I can hear.

KING: She said they're talking about rallies.

STEIN: And I said there are certain people -

GILES: We're talking about rallies.

STEIN: -- in parts of the - there are certain parts of the country where people carry guns routinely.

GILES: At rallies, Ben?


KING: Hold it. Stephanie, hold it.

MILLER: Ben, I'm not saying you're a Conservative or a lot of Conservatives I know are racist. But, you can't ignore that you've seen these kind of racist signs at Tea Party rallies, and this kind of rhetoric. You can't just --

STEIN: I can't ignore that there are irresponsible people in every part of the political spectrum. But the idea that a person who carries a gun is a racist and plans to use that gun -

MILLER: When they have a sign next to it that's threatening -

STEIN: If that said, it says I'm going to use this gun on Obama. There's nobody who's been shown to do that. That's just made up.

KING: Let me get a break. And, guys, what we're going to do is break. The panel will return. But we're going to interrupt the panel and talk about the Bristol Palin/Levi Johnston engagement shocker. Then we'll come back with the panel and get their thoughts on that next.


KING: Melanie Bromley is the West Coast Bureau Chief of "Us Weekly" magazine. She interviewed Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston for the magazine's cover story on their surprise engagement.

Levi, father of Sarah Palin's only grandchild, was our guest in April of last year. I talked then with him about his relationship with Bristol Palin. Watch.


KING: Did you like each other right away? You and Bristol?

LEVI JOHNSTON, FIANCE OF BRISTOL PALIN: Yes. And we were young and - I think we met when we're really little. I played hockey with her brother and, you know, growing up and went to school together, and I don't know. I always thought we'd probably get together at one point.

KING: Was there any chance the two of you could get together again?

JOHNSTON: You know, I - I don't see that ever happening. I just hope that we can come to understanding and become friends and raise this baby together.


KING: Obviously it happened. How did you get this, Melanie? How did you land this story?

MELANIE BROMLEY, WEST COAST BUREAU, "US WEEKLY": Well, actually, Bristol and Levi approached us. They wanted to tell their story in a controlled way. And they approached us and asked us if we would break the news for them.

KING: Together they called? BROMLEY: Together they did. And we've kind of spent the last year and a half developing a relationship with both of them and so they wanted to control this. They wanted to tell their love story in their words, and so that's what we did for them.

KING: What changed his mind from April?

BROMLEY: Well, I think that he's gone through a process of maturing. He talked a lot about how for the time that he was separated from Bristol, how he was depressed and how he wasn't really mature enough to be a father. And I think recently they spent a lot of time together. He's got to know his son, really for the first time, and so he's kind of changed his viewpoints - viewpoints on life and he's ready to be a dad and ready to be a husband.

KING: Because when he was here, he said they were denying him the right to see his son.

BROMLEY: Absolutely. And actually, he released a statement last week. He said that he's sorry and that some of the statements that he's made in the past were exaggerations or that they were lies. And he's admitted he wasn't really himself in that time so -

KING: What do you mean not himself?

BROMLEY: Well, he just - I mean, he said to me - I spent three hours with them at the weekend. And he said that he was depressed, like he was always in love with Bristol, that he missed her, and that he felt like, you know, that heart break and that being separated from her, he wasn't really acting the way he should have done.

KING: What about his criticism of his soon to be mother-in-law?

BROMLEY: Well, it's very interesting actually, because the statements he released last week was very general. And I really wanted him to go through the specifics of what he had said about her and clarify which were lies, which were exaggerations. And initially in the interview, he did not want to do that. He kind of refused. And then we kept going back to the subject. And actually in the end, Bristol was helping me get the answers out of him, because she also wanted to know the answers to things.

KING: And?

BROMLEY: And so there was some that he answered and some that he didn't. He admitted that the allegation that Sarah knew that he was having sex in the governor's mansion, for example, that that wasn't true. He's never been to the governor's mansion. He admitted that it was a lie that he taught Sarah how to shoot a gun, that that wasn't true.

He would not be drawn on his allegation that Sarah and Todd were -- that they were having marriage problems. He would not talk about that. But he did say that he was apologetic and very sorry for saying that Sarah had called her son Trig retarded. He apologized for that.

KING: He was quite critical.

BROMLEY: He was very critical.

KING: Politically critical too.

BROMLEY: Very. It was interesting because I think some of the conversation we had, actually, was the first time that him and Bristol had actually talked about stuff together. Because Bristol was wanting some answers, and admitted in the interview that she felt like they might have to go through some sort of marriage counseling once they're together. Because they need to kind of deal with this.

KING: The Palin family has issued this statement about Bristol and Levi's big news: quote, "Bristol at 19 is now a young adult. As parents, we obviously want what is best for our children. But Bristol is ultimately in charge of determining what is best for her and her beautiful son. Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives. We pray that, as a couple, Bristol and Levi's relationship matures into one that will allow Tripp to grow up graced with two loving parents in his life." That was well said.

BROMLEY: It was well said. And I think Bristol has had a really tough time as a single mother. She's been alone for 18 months. And at one point in the interview, she turned to Levi and said, do you realize how tough it's been for me? This isn't just her gaining a husband. It's also for her son to gain a father. And that's something that's incredibly important for her, that she has that support and that person by her side.

KING: Did you try to talk to Sarah?

BROMLEY: No, we didn't.

KING: Why not?

BROMLEY: Because Bristol wanted to release the news to her mother through the magazine. She was insistent on that.

KING: Don't you think that's a little weird? I mean, it's a phone, you call your mother.

BROMLEY: Well, it's funny. I kind of asked her why she would make that decision. She again talked about controlling the interview, but didn't directly answer the question. But reading between the lines, she had hinted to her mother that her and Levi were going to co-parent together. She had hinted that there might be a romantic relationship. But I don't think she really had -- was able to tell her mother that she was engaged.

And so this story, we've done eight pages on it. It's Q&A format. She's really told her love story and explained in detail why she's taken him back.

KING: Is it going to be a bigger selling issue? BROMLEY: I hope so. I hope it does well. I think that it's an interesting story. It's a love story. The bitterness between the two camps got so -- it was such a huge rift.

KING: Sure was.

BROMLEY: That I think for them to get back together, this is an incredible love story. And I wish them the best of luck. I hope it works.

KING: There are often conflicts between mothers and daughters. Do you think that exists here?

BROMLEY: I do to an extent. There's one thing, which is that Sarah and Todd actually eloped. They didn't even tell their parents. Bristol said to me, my mom is lucky to have an invite to my wedding. So I think that her daughter is almost following her lead, in a way. She's following her heart. She's chosen the man that she wants to be with. And she hopes that her mother doesn't judge her on that.

But she also said to me that if her mom isn't at her wedding, it's not going to be the worst thing in the world. The person that is going to be there is Levi and that's what comes first.

KING: When is the wedding?

BROMLEY: It will be very, very soon. I would imagine within the month. They're very determined to marry soon.

KING: Civil wedding?

BROMLEY: Yes. Actually, it's going to be a religious ceremony. But it's going to be very small. There's only going to be about ten people there. She talked about how she wants a chocolate fountain. That's what she wants at her wedding. She also wants her father to walk her down the aisle. That's something that she has thought about and dreamt about since she was a little girl. If it doesn't happen, she will still get married.

KING: Do you guess that they have spoken now, Sarah and her daughter?

BROMLEY: I would imagine so. Last week, Levi released a statement and actually, they had not heard from Sarah since that statement was released. But I would imagine that there was some sort of conversations that took place today.

KING: Good work, Melanie.

BROMLEY: Thank you.

KING: Melanie Bromley, West Coast bureau chief "US Magazine." They got it. Will the engagement have an effect on Sarah Palin's political career? Our feisty and outspoken panel -- you know about that already -- they're back, next.


KING: We're back with our panelists, Ben Stein, Stephanie Miller, Dana Loesch, and Nancy Giles. First Stephanie this time. What do you make of this story?

MILLER: Wow, does this mean there's hope for Mel Gibson and his ex? This is shocking. Isn't it? I think, as human beings, some things aren't partisan. I'm glad -- you know, hopefully the kid will have parents. It is weird, like you said. I don't know that my mother would want to read things in a magazine about me that I hadn't told her. Like things that I was getting marry his.

KING: Dana, any political affect on Sarah?

LOESCH: I don't think so. Obviously, it's probably a little bit difficult for her as a mother to see her daughter inter into a permanent relationship with someone who said the things that they did. Grace follows repentance. If they are able to work out and they're happy and healthy in their choices, who are we to judge?

KING: Ben?

STEIN: It seems to me that Sarah Palin is such an unlikely character for really high office that it won't have much affect at all. It's interesting, what she says often appeals to me, but she seems herself, personality-wise, to just not even be close to presidential level. So I don't think it's going to have much affect one way or the other on national politics.

KING: Nancy, what do you make of this story?

GILES: Larry, I smell money. I smell lots of money changing hands. I think that maybe the magazine, they granted the interview, might have paid the two of them some money. I think that there will be books. I think a clothing line. Probably the baby will have some sort of diaper line. I smell a lot of money going back and forth.


MILLER: I think, Nancy, the stuff he said in the first place was true, don't you? I'm just saying, come on.

GILES: I've always thought that. I almost wonder whether the Palins paid him to now be part of the happy family and maybe -- even though Ben doesn't think so, I think she may actually try a run, believe it or not, for president.

STEIN: Oh, she'll try, she'll try.

GILES: I think this makes her a nicer looking candidate, wouldn't you think?

STEIN: I think it makes her a nicer looking candidate.

MILLER: All the family values are intact now.

STEIN: Very far-fetched idea that she would be --

KING: Dana, do you believe that the couple went to "US" or do you think "US" offered money?

LOESCH: I think maybe -- I think both are absolutely possible. It's probably a little bit different than I would approach it going to tabloid magazine, were in their position. People do what they do. Whether or not they got compensated for it -- maybe they did. I just -- we're just such a voyeuristic society. I'm just happy to see a couple working it out in the media. It's nice to see. We have the Mel Gibson breakdown and all of that. So it's sort of refreshing --

MILLER: They put them forward at the convention, come on. They used them as political props. Look at our family values.

LOESCH: Oh, yeah, well, the president of the United States brought his daughters out too, but I don't believe in going after people's kids that way, the president's daughters or Bristol Palin.

STEIN: Has there ever been a situation where a magazine paid famous people to get married before? Has that ever happened?

GILES: If so, this could be it.

STEIN: Why are we even discussing that? It doesn't seem --

KING: We're going to other things now. OK. Dana, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has some key congressional Democrats riled up. He acknowledged this weekend that Republicans could regain control of Congress in November. What do you think's going to happen in November? Do you think Gibbs is right?

LOESCH: I think Gibbs is being honest. It's nice to see. I think he's being very honest and probably, it rattled some people, because the narrative is, oh, well, we're going to win, we're going to keep these seats. That's not where all the polling data -- that's not what all the polling data is showing. The polling data showing that the majority of Americans are losing confidence in this administration. They're not happy with the way things are going concerning jobs. Our unemployment rate is at 9.5 percent.

So they're -- you know, they're not very happy. I think we're a little bit too close to the midterms here in order to really back- pedal and turn a lot of that around. So I think that, right now, they're just sort of setting expectations kind of low. And they'll probably come in a little bit lower than that. Whether or not Republicans will take back the House, I don't know.

KING: Stephanie, off-year election, generally the party in power loses.

MILLER: Yeah, absolutely. The thing Dana doesn't mention about these polls, Larry, is everybody hates everybody. You know, they hate Republicans more, and Democrats in Congress. You know, the president's approval ratings are higher than both of theirs. So I think it's no secret that people are not happy. But I do think that Gibbs was trying to get the Democratic base moving, which he should, because take a look-see at some of Sharron Angle and Rand Paul's ideas and you might want to rethink not turning out for the midterms.


STEIN: I think everybody's quite worked up. I don't think the Democrats are as worked up as they were when President Bush was president. Then the Democrats were just in a frenzy. I'm not sure that they are at this point anymore. I am very worried, again, about the Tea Party splitting the Republican vote, between traditional Republicans and more activist Tea Party Republicans.

KING: Nancy, what do you make of Harry Reid being critical of the president?

GILES: Well, I -- well, I think in a way what it shows is that all the Democrat are also not single-minded. And in some ways, maybe that's a good thing. I was going to say regarding the midterm elections that I think Robert Gibbs is keeping expectations low also. By the time we get to September, October, we might have a better feeling for what's going to happen.

But I don't -- I think we might lose a few votes. But I don't think it's going to be as bad as a lot of people are categorizing.

KING: How about the Senate, Dana? What do you read in there?

LOESCH: In the Senate? Oh, gosh, that's going to be -- that's going to be tough. I would like to see us flip a couple more seats. I think Harry Reid's in danger. I happen to like Sharron Angle's very limited government. I think Harry Reid's working very, very hard to paint her as this big-time extremist. But, quite honestly, Republicans should be talking about limited government and more individual responsibility and individual liberty. I like that idea. That's the whole entire basis of our Constitution.

MILLER: When you say limited government and Sharron Angle, you mean taking a wrecking ball to most of it, including Social Security and Medicare.

LOESCH: If you're talking about Ponzi schemes, entitlement and corrupt departments, then yes.

MILLER: So Social Security's a Ponzi scheme?

LOESCH: I don't know about you --

STEIN: A lot of people are not going to get money. You young people are not going to get money.

LOESCH: The Baby Boomers, I think, should be able to get their money. Quite honestly, I have more faith in myself dealing with finances than I have in the government. We have a triple deficit and a 9.5 unemployment. The government has not shown themselves to be responsible concerning all of that.

KING: Wouldn't you say Social Security is still popular in America?

STEIN: Wildly popular. It's wildly, wildly popular. George Bush discovered it too. It's wildly popular. Medicare is wildly popular. I don't think people should be playing games with it.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. Don't go away.



KING: All right. What do you make of -- do you think this Gulf thing, Ben, will have any effect on the races this fall?

STEIN: It shouldn't, although that fellow in Congress should not -- at the hearing, said he would like to apologize to BP. Although there was some reason in a complicated way to say that, he should not have said it the way he said it. If the Democrats don't apply that to Republicans, maybe it will work. It's Obama who turned down the skimming equipment from Holland and Norway. So it goes both ways.

KING: Do you think it's going anywhere politically, Dana?

LOESCH: I do. I think we're going to see it brought up, definitely, in midterms. And the impact of that, I don't know. I mean, I think a little bit, maybe, have something to do with the lack of confidence in the administration. But I tend to agree with Ben here on this one, too, as well.

I do think the administration will probably have to answer for this in 2012, concerning turning away some of the help and perhaps the inactionary period, that it took so long to actually finally see something happening down there. I think this is going to play out for quite a long time. Whether or not it's going to have a huge impact in midterms, not sure.

KING: Nancy, what do you think?

GILES: I always thought it was interesting that a lot of the people that called for smaller government were screaming, where's the government when the whole accident happened. But I think the basic tragedy of the environmental damage that BP has done is nonpartisan. It's just awful. And my biggest hope is that they're able to cap the damn well, and stop the oil from leaking.

KING: Stephanie?

MILLER: My job has been outsourced to Ben Stein tonight. What with him beating up on the Tea Party and Joe Barton, I don't know what else to say. I think that, you know, it's pretty clear that the Republican party have become the GOBP. I mean, they're the ones defending BP. It's not just Joe Barton. No, no, it's not just one guy. Rand Paul says it's un-American to criticize BP. I mean, they're on the wrong side of this issue, as usual, Larry.

You can not ignore that all this lack of regulation was a Bush administration that is being championed by current Republicans. They don't want any regulation. And that's what led to this.


STEIN: Look, the judge ruled that there was no reason to have a moratorium. He ruled it twice. Now they have a whole bunch of scientists saying we don't need to have a moratorium. It happened under Obama. If he thought the regulations were too lax, he had a year to change them.

MILLER: You're right on that

STEIN: It's a mistake by the whole government. It was a giant mistake.

LOESCH: To add on to that, people knew that there were problems with this particular well as early as February. Yet it continued to operate. Regulations were not enforced. And it contributed to this accident.

GILES: That's absolutely --


GILES: I thought you were talking about BP, because they were really the ones that knew the system wasn't working so well.

LOESCH: They notified MMS, absolutely.

GILES: They didn't spend any money on research for emergencies.


MILLER: The president is not Aquaman but, you know, the fact is he got left probably the biggest mess in the history of this country. So should he have gotten to those regulations, yeah. But really, he had an awful lot of messes that he's been cleaning up.

LOESCH: At some point he's got to take responsibility.


STEIN: Why did Obama turn down the offer from various European countries for help with skimming?

KING: Why did he?

STEIN: I don't know.


MILLER: There was a lot of help offered. There was a lot of help taken. STEIN: He turned it down.

LOESCH: He turned a lot down.

STEIN: There might have been some reason, but I don't know what the reason was. It probably had to do with unions. But he turned down --

MILLER: That's a right-wing talking point. It did not have to do with unions. He took help from a lot of places.

LOESCH: Who did he take help from?

MILLER: I don't want to use the word Cluster-F on the Larry King Show --


MILLER: If you're running the operation, you don't know what they did or didn't at the time.

KING: When we come back, we'll talk about the emergence in the campaign of Bill Clinton. What affect that will have? Don't go away.


KING: Before we get a phone call in, Bill Clinton going to have a big effect, Ben?

STEIN: I don't know, he might. Among some Democrats, the guy is magic. In terms of fiscal policy, he was the best president maybe we've ever had. He deserves some thought.

KING: Will he have clout?

STEIN: I don't think he has clout, but he deserves a good place in history.

KING: Stephanie, does he have clout?

MILLER: I just want to marry Ben Stein tonight. I don't know why. I think he does. He shows the big dog can still hunt in Arkansas. I think absolutely he's a factor.

KING: Dana, do you think he'll have an impact?

LOESCH: I think he will. I think he will attract the moderates. In the nicest way possible, and I'm saying this in regards to life span, he is like a political cockroach. Nothing phases this guy.


LOESCH: No, you guys know where I'm going with this. He gets through anything. He will plow through any controversy.

KING: Nancy, what do you think? GILES: I think he wants to be relevant. I think this is a tough time for him, because he has realized, finally, that he wasn't the first black president, and his wife is secretary of state. And he wants to get into the newspapers. I just feel this need from him for power and relevance.

KING: And everybody likes her, right?

GILES: She's doing a great job, I think.

MILLER: She's doing a great job. And I think the budget director is a great idea, to bring back that Bill Clinton left, you know, a huge surplus that turned into a huge deficit.


KING: Silver Spring, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for taking my call. My question is, I honestly cannot understand how it is that Barack Obama has been in office for what now a year, a year and a half and he's getting blamed for all of the things that basically transpired throughout the Bush administration.

MILLER: Thank you. .

CALLER: That was eight years.


MILLER: You have the smartest callers.

STEIN: I'm from Silver Spring too. He's getting blamed, I think, primarily for spending a great deal of money without much effect. And I think otherwise he's not getting blamed for much. But the stimulus package of roughly -- roughly, very roughly one trillion dollars. It doesn't seem to have had much affect. I think that's upset people. Quite a lot of money we threw at --

KING: He got a health bill through.

STEIN: He got a health bill through, but it doesn't really take effect for about four years for most Americans. So we won't know how that works. But the spending is upsetting.

MILLER: Ben, you can't -- we were losing 700,000 jobs a month when he took office. The stimulus -- you can argue about how many job. But somewhere around two or three million jobs it's created.


KING: Dana, go ahead.

LOESCH: In May, the majority of jobs were created in the public sector. That's not the way you stimulate the free market and create jobs. The bottom line is, sure, I didn't like Tarp. There were things I didn't like under Bush. But you've got to be honest here, the triple deficit, the tons of spending, the lack of effect from the stimulus, these are all things for which he has to take responsibility.

MILLER: How do you explain that we're going in the right direction, Dana? We are going in the right direction.

LOESCH: How are we going in the right direction, Stephanie?

GILES: All I'm going to say is where is the outrage when Bush spent and spent and spent and spent? And I appreciate the caller who said what a lot of people are feeling, which is that in a year and a half to undue the mess that actually started as far back as the Reagan administration, and their love of deregulation, it's a tall order. It's a lot to ask of someone.

MILLER: And why is 30 million, Dana, too much spending to give people unemployment benefits in this kind of economy.

LOESCH: Why don't you give businesses tax cuts and allow businesses to create jobs, instead of trying to create them through the IRS?

STEIN: Why don't we just say, let's give the unemployed more help. It does seem extremely heartless not to help the unemployed.

GILES: I agree with Ben.


KING: That's it for tonight, but we have not heard the last. I think all four of these are going to be back. And we appreciate the new love affair between Ben Stein and Stephanie Miller. This is shocking but true. "US" magazine will have it next week. Anderson Cooper now. Anderson?