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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Abortion and Rape; Interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Akin Stays in the Race; Interview with Jeff Foxworthy

Aired August 21, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, staying in the race the man who brought you the empty chair, Congressman Todd Akin, and the man of course who said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Romney says he should quit but Akin says he's going nowhere. Will that hurt the Romney-Ryan ticket? Just days before the Republican convention? Top Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz has her say.

Plus, Gloria Allred. She was raped and had an abortion. She says Akin is a national disgrace.

And on the other side, a woman who says she's living proof that an abortion is the worst thing that can happen to a rape victim.

But social issues aren't the only thing that's come to the agenda. The economy, the Middle East, America's place in the world. I'll put all of that to one of my favorite guests, "The New York Times'" Tom Friedman.

Also, all-American comic Jeff Foxworthy gets serious on faith and family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF FOXWORTHY, COMEDIAN: I think his bus is heading towards a cliff unless somebody steps up and does something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Our big story tonight, Congressman Todd Akin. He left me talking to an empty chair last night when he dropped out of our scheduled interview. But tonight, he's decided dropping out is a bad idea. Well, at least when it comes to his Senate race against Missouri's Claire McCaskill. Early today, Mitt Romney issued a statement saying, "His fellow Missourians urged him to step aside and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."

The congressman has refused to back down. He let the 6:00 p.m. Eastern deadline passed. And now it appears he's in the race for good -- or for bad depending on your viewpoint.

When he talked to Dana Loesch on her radio show this afternoon, yet he sounded surprised at the uproar over his ridiculous comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: Basically I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day and everything changed overnight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Yes, but what a hell of a sentence it was. Now you've heard what the politicians have to say. Here now for more on our big story. Two women with very strong personal feelings on the questions surrounding rape and abortion.

Rebecca Kiessling was conceived from a rape and she's an attorney and national spokeswoman for Personhood USA. And Attorney Gloria Allred is a rape survivor who became pregnant and had an illegal abortion.

Welcome to you both.

This is clearly a hugely emotive issue. It's also an issue that I believe fundamentally should be debated the loudest by women. And that's why I'm glad that you're both on the show tonight. I know that you both have different views and you both come at this from very different personal stories.

Gloria, let me start with you. Because you were raped and you had an abortion. When you heard Todd Akin's comments, what was your reaction?

GLORIA ALLRED, ALLRED, MAROKO AND GOLDBERG: Well, both that what he said was actually inaccurate and also very dangerous. Because he is suggesting or was suggesting that in fact a woman who is raped can't get pregnant, which we know is false. And in addition that his record is that rape should not be legally available and safe.

I had an abortion after having been raped and become pregnant. And I had it when it was illegal for a doctor to perform it, although not illegal for a woman to have it. As a result of it's being illegal and unsafe, I almost died because I had an infection. I hemorrhaged. I ended up having to go to the hospital.

And my life was saved. But the point is this. We cannot go back to those days when abortion was a crime in the United States. And when many women died or were maimed by illegal abortions. And that is why what he did was very, very dangerous. MORGAN: How would you have felt if you had been compelled to have that baby by the rapist who raped you?

ALLRED: Well, that is the key point. No one should have that choice except for me it. It should be a woman who is trusted. A rape survivor who is trusted with the choice of whether to carry the pregnancy to term or whether or not to have an abortion. No politician sitting in Washington, whether it's Representative Akin or anyone else, should make that choice for me. And no person, as strongly as they may believe in their religious beliefs, should make that choice for me. I have the right to make that choice.

MORGAN: Rebecca Kiessling, let me turn to you because your mother was raped and she gave birth to you. Tell me a little bit about that and why that has formed your view, which is that all abortion is wrong.

REBECCA KIESSLING, CONCEIVED IN RAPE: My birth mother was abducted at knife point by a serial rapist. She went to two back alley abortionists. And I was almost aborted. But I was legally protected here in Michigan at the time. Abortion was illegal even in cases of rape. And so my birth mother was forced to carry me by law. And I owe my life to pro-life advocates legislators who saw that mine was a life worth saving. And now today my birth mother and I are both thankful.

MORGAN: I totally respect and understand your position. But explain to me why if you're a woman in America, and 30,000-plus women in America are raped and impregnated by the rapist. Explain to me why they should not have the right as a woman to decide what happens to that baby. Because I can't think of anything worse for a woman who is raped than being compelled by the law of the country to carry and to bear and to bring up the child of the rapist that you despise.

KIESSLING: Well, I understand that you care about women and you have compassion for rape victims. And I understand that you feel that in order to show compassion that you have to support abortion in such a case. But I believe that that's based upon three fallacies. And one is that most rape victims would want an abortion. And that's not true. They actually choose abortion at half the rate of your average unplanned pregnancy, which is over 50 percent abort in the United States.

Rape victims, it's between 15 to 25 percent who abort. Most people think that 90, 95 percent of rape victims would want an abortion and that's not true. And I think it's very telling because the truth is that --

MORGAN: Let me --

KIESSLING: One should have --

MORGAN: Gloria wants to jump in here. Let me bring Gloria.

ALLRED: I just want to say, you know, these statistics are kind of mind-numbing. And I think the point, though, is the point that you raised earlier, Piers, which is what she's really advocating is mandatory motherhood. Compulsory pregnancy. That women should be forced to, if they become pregnant, take that pregnancy to term and give birth.

I don't believe that the government should force women into that situation. I have no doubt that she's well intentioned. I'm sure that others who believe in forcing women to continue pregnancies are well intentioned. But that doesn't mean they have the right to force me to do what they wish me to do. And I -- and this is much bigger than Representative Akin. It's bigger than Rebecca out there.

It's part of the GOP platform that there should not even be an exception for rape and incest for abortion. And so this is very, very serious. I don't want anyone to go back to the days when abortion was illegal. And when women like me almost died because we couldn't get safe and legal abortions.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Rebecca, this is the key thing for me with this is that -- it's not a disrespect to you and your position. I totally understand, as I say, why you would feel as strongly as you do. But my problem is for the American women who get raped and -- in fact, never mind in America, anyone in the world, but particularly we're talking about what happens in America here.

They get raped and impregnated and they are desperate, desperate not to have a rapist's baby. On any human level, shouldn't they just have a basic right in that situation to make that decision for themselves? Isn't that what a modern America should stand for?

KIESSLING: You know, modern America has said, according to the Supreme Court, that it is cruel and unusual punishment to give the death penalty for rapists. Even for child molesters. The Supreme Court has said that they did not deserve the death penalty. And I don't believe that I or any other child similarly situated deserve the death penalty for the crimes of our fathers.

I believe that this is --

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED: You know, it's only the death penalty if -- yes, it's only the death penalty if you think that an embryo should have more rights than an adult woman and that you consider an embryo a human life, or I mean a fertilized egg.

KIESSLING: Well, I --

ALLRED: And I know there are people like Congressman Ryan who literally have supported making an embryo a person as a matter of law. Considering that as a matter of law. I personally don't think a fertilized egg should have more rights than an adult woman. And that's what I believe.

And I -- by the way, a lot of -- women who are rape victims, it's not that they detest the fetus. That's not necessarily the reason that they want to terminate the pregnancy. There may be lots of reasons. There may be emotional reasons. There may be economic reasons. It may not be something that is going to work in their lives at that time to be -- they may care very much about being able to support a child, to love a child, to nurture a child, to make sure the child has everything the child needs. And they may feel that at that point in their life they can't do that.

MORGAN: And Rebecca, I mean, I will give you the last word here. All I'm saying --

KIESSLING: Gloria, I --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Wait a minute, Rebecca, let me just say, I would have total respect for any woman who is raped who believes that they can go through with the pregnancy and can give birth to that child. It would show extraordinary strength of character. As indeed your mother showed. But I would also have huge respect for any woman, and I totally would understand this, who just felt they couldn't do it. That just they could not go through with bearing a rapist's baby.

And that's why in the end doesn't it have to come down to individual choice? Why should that woman who feels that strongly the other way to you not have the same right that you did?

KIESSLING: You know, I may not look the same as I did when I was 4 years old or 4 weeks old unborn in my mother's womb. But that was still undeniably me. And I would have been killed. My life would have been ended.

I am very sorry, Gloria, for the loss of your son or your daughter. You may not think that their life matters. But you know what? That matters to me.

And I am very sorry for the loss to our world for generations now who have been aborted. And I was targeted for abortion. That was my near-death experience. And the fact that I was younger doesn't make it any less real or any less significant than someone who wakes up out of a coma to find out that they were almost killed in an automobile accident.

You know you talk about --

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED: By the way, there are many people in comas who get raped.

KIESSLING: I'm a woman -- Gloria, I'm a woman --

ALLRED: There are people in -- Rebecca, let me just tell you.

KIESSLING: Gloria, I'm a woman. I'm a woman, too.

ALLRED: Rebecca, I hear that. I see that.

KIESSLING: I'm talking, you can wait until we're done.

ALLRED: Yes, OK. Rebecca -- wait a minute.

KIESSLING: You know what, I know that you like to bully people, give me a chance to finish.

ALLRED: Let me just say that there two --

KIESSLING: You have interrupted me three times now.

MORGAN: OK. Gloria -- OK.

KIESSLING: Three times now you've interrupted me.

MORGAN: Rebecca, if I can just calm things down. She's actually trying to respond to an earlier point you made. But have your say now, Rebecca, what you want to say.

KIESSLING: OK. I'm a woman. You talk about how much you care about women. Well, what good is my right to anything as a woman if I don't have my right to life?

ALLRED: Well, let me just tell you, there -- you brought up people in a coma. I've dealt with cases of women who have been in a coma who have been raped. You talk about young people. There are many teenagers who are raped. Sometimes it's a date rape. Sometimes an acquaintance rape. Sometimes it's a forcible rape. Sometimes it's not a forcible rape but it is a rape.

And you know what, they need to have the right to choose, too. A rapist takes away the control from a woman by raping a woman. She at least should have the control of her life decisions after that.

MORGAN: OK. Listen, I respect both of your views hugely. I appreciate you coming on, being so candid . You've both been through extraordinary experiences. And this debate, I'm sure, will continue to rage. But for now, thank you both very much.

Next, from the intensely personal to the political. A top Democrat and what it also means for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tonight, Congressman Todd Akin defied Mitt Romney and most Republican Party and refused to pull out of his race against Senator Claire McCaskill. So is this a black eye for the Romney-Ryan ticket?

Well, joining me now for more on our big story, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

I guess you're probably rubbing your hands with glee, aren't you? Mr. Akin is going nowhere despite almost every single human being alive including on his own party demanding that he stand aside. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (R), FLORIDA: Well, that decision on whether or not to stay in the race for the United States Senate in Missouri is Todd Akin's. I would say that the sentiment that I'm feeling really tonight as a woman is incredible disappointment. Disappointment in the fact that Todd Akin on Sunday actually suggested that there was something called legitimate rape. And that biologically somehow victims of legitimate rape were able to block pregnancy, which is absolutely ludicrous.

But then you saw dozens of Republicans rushing to condemn those comments. And, Piers, those condemnations, they ring pretty hollow. When so many of them, including Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney's choice to run for vice president, over 200 Republicans co-sponsored the policy that reflects Todd Akin's sentiment.

When they co-sponsored HR-3 last year that would have changed into law the definition of rape to only mean forcible rape. And so, you know, forgive me if I'm less than -- I have not much belief in their protestations about Todd Akin's sentiment. When Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and dozens and dozens of their Republican colleagues have embraced that sentiment by co-sponsoring legislation that would do just that in the law. And then --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I mean there are people saying -- let me jump in there, Debbie. I mean, there are people saying, OK. Look.

SCHULTZ: No problem.

MORGAN: This is -- this was clearly a ridiculous thing for him to have said. He's made a fulsome apology. All right. He's decided to fight it out. He may or may not win.

But what people are saying is that President Obama rushing out to talk unannounced to the media, jumping on this issue, is because he was worried about the way that the debate was going over the economy. That Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan was actually doing quite well for them. And that this is a great way to get it all back to conservative social issues where Mitt Romney is more vulnerable.

SCHULTZ: I wouldn't say that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had a very good week. They started the week having to defend themselves on their plan to end Medicare as we know it. To shred the health care safety net for seniors, turn it into a voucher program, and instead of talking about be jobs and the economy which is the number one issue on voter's minds right now, they've been forced to talk about and defend their really terrible policy on Medicare which would turn Medicare into a voucher program, and increase health care costs for seniors by $6400.

And then at the end of the week, they had to defend Paul Ryan's hypocrisy on the stimulus, where he voted against it, but then really got caught not being truthful about the fact that he'd asked for stimulus funds for projects in his districts in which he said the reason he thought that they should be funded is because they created jobs.

All while saying he opposed the stimulus plan because it did nothing and created no jobs. So they had a tough week and now they -- week two is a little bit even more tough because it's been very clear that the Republican Party led by Mitt Romney after today, they issued their Republican Party platform that will be adopted at the convention next week.

Fully embraces a human life amendment to the constitution with no exception for rape, incest or the life of the mother. And so we've got a sentiment expressed by a Republican member of Congress. We've got legislation co-sponsored and embraced by the Romney-Ryan ticket that would actually put that sentiment into statute.

And now we have a Republican Party platform that was designed by Mitt Romney, that says that there is no -- there should be no exception for a woman when she wants to terminate a pregnancy.

MORGAN: OK. Listen, you've made your point. Let me go now to Republican Margaret Hoover who is a CNN political contributor.

Let me ask you, Margaret Hoover, what is your reaction? I mean, clearly, whichever way you dress this up, it's pretty embarrassing for Mitt Romney. I mean he has tried to make this guy stand down. Everyone believes he should stand down. And he's just said no, I'm going to carry on. Even if it means they now lose this crucial Senate seat. This is what it could be. Could make all the difference.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well --

MORGAN: And this guy won't go anywhere. Where does that show that Mitt Romney's authority, his leadership? The guy doesn't want to listen to him.

HOOVER: Well, I -- Mitt Romney will become officially the leader of the Republican Party when he accepts the nomination next week in Tampa. He did at first have more timid language about whether Akin should stand down and then -- and then took on very firm language. But by the way, it's not just Mitt Romney that Representative Akin ignored. He ignored John Cornyn, the head of the National Senatorial Committee. He ignored every Republican leader who made explicit and private pleas with him to step down.

So I don't know if it's a reflection on Mitt Romney as much as a reflection on Representative Akin and his own sensibilities and, frankly, stubbornness at staying in the race when even super PACs and the senatorial committee pulled out $5 million of advertising that's going to be in his state. He's going to have a much tougher race now. But let's keep in mind, he still might win.

I mean Claire McCaskill was down 11 percentage points and was -- is not expected to win under any circumstances. Regardless of who had won that Republican primary. Again, it's not good for the Republicans because Democrats do want to continue talking about the war on women. And they are getting traction there. Although not -- they weren't winning entirely either. Remember that the numbers started to change for them when Ann Romney came out and said she's a woman, she worked her whole life. As soon as she got involved in the debate, the numbers started to tick down for Democrats on the war on women. So I understand that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz wants to say that she's offended as a woman. And look, I'm a pro-choice Republican. I'm not thrilled about this platform committee either.

I've been working on this. And a lot of pro-choice Republicans have been working on this in terms of the infrastructure of our party for many, many years, and will continue to do that. We know that this doesn't reflect the majority of Republican's view. We know that 67 percent of Republicans don't approve of this language in the platform. And this is something that the Republicans have to work out in terms of their own party establishment.

MORGAN: I mean, the big problem for Mitt Romney is that he will be desperate to get this back to the economy where he was beginning to score some points against President Obama. But of course the Democrats will be equally desperate to continue this debate and agenda on social issues like the inflammatory issue of abortion.

And in Todd Akin, they now have, if he stays in this race, as seems to be the case, they've got the perfect reason to keep it right up there as an election issue.

HOOVER: Well, you're precisely right. And that's why they're calling it the Akin platform. Right? So yes, that's the deal. But what -- I mean the truth is, Americans are voting on the economy this time around. And to be fair, Piers, as we talk about this issue, abortion, and the electorate, neither side perfectly embodies the Democrats, nor the Republican platform, embodies the sentiment of the republic.

The majority of Americans want abortion to be rare, limited and legal. They believe the decision to have an abortion is between a woman, her family, her doctor and her god, not the government. So neither party's position. I mean Planned Parenthood, by the way, is a party that is not even -- is refusing to stand up for Republicans who have very favorable records voting for abortion. So this debate doesn't characterize the American electorate's view, I think, on abortion entirely fairly either.

MORGAN: No, I mean, it's just extraordinary to me that the GOP would still want to have a platform that says that you're completely implacably opposed to abortion including in cases of rape and incest. I think given 70 percent of Americans according to the last poll I saw believe that it should that, you know, even if you're opposed to abortion, if you're raped, or if you're impregnated by a family member, you should be allowed to have an abortion. It seems just so anachronistic to me.

But anyway, the debate will continue.

Thanks to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and to Margaret Hoover. When we come back, we will have more from "New York Times" Thomas Friedman on Congressman Akin and the biggest problems facing America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have this funny idea, Mitt and I, that if you encourage success, you get more of it. It's a good thing. If you demonize success, if you resent success, you get less success and less prosperity, less jobs, less take-home pay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Trying to kind of keep the focus on the economy while in Pennsylvania today. And "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman says that America is facing four more challenges and not dealing with any of them very well.

He's the co-author of "That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invested and How We Can Come Back." And Tom Friedman joins me now in a primetime exclusive.

Tom, welcome back to this show. First of all, your reaction to this whole Todd Akin fiasco? What do you make of it? And what does it mean for the presidential battle?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, obviously, what he said is despicable and outrageous, and it's good at least to see his own party trying to banish him from the race. But the fact that he is not dropping out, the fact that he co-sponsored legislation, you know, related to this issue with Congressman Ryan, I think is going to be a real ball and chain for the Romney-Ryan ticket with women and men in this country.

So I think it's something that's clear they're trying to get him out of the race because that will obviously defuse it for the moment.

But if they can't, it looks like he won't leave, it's going to be I think a real problem for them with women in particular. But with men as well.

MORGAN: But that is a big problem, if it's with women, because women are going to be one of the main battlegrounds of this election. I mean, President Obama has a better percentage of women in America who like him over Mitt Romney. This is not going to close that gap. This is going to probably widen it.

The more that the Democrats -- and you can see by President Obama's press conference yesterday. The more that he can get the agenda on to social conservative issues like this, then I would imagine the more he thinks he will increase and widen the gap for the female vote. FRIEDMAN: You know, I think that's all exactly right, Piers. I would simply add that if we're going to have an election campaign about abortion, we're not going to have election campaign about education, infrastructure, immigration, debt, deficit and entitlement.

And what it's going to mean is that when this campaign is over, with us teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff, the foundations, the mandate really to forge any kind of compromise isn't going to be there. So it has implications I think for the country over and above. The abortion issue itself is serious. But we have other issues that we have to face as well.

MORGAN: Let's turn to these other issues, because it's a provocative book but a very important one and a very timely one. What is the core of the problem for America incorporated, when you look at it, do you think?

FRIEDMAN: You know, Piers, what we've really argued in this book is we didn't get here by accident. We didn't become the world's richest country by accident. We actually had a formula for success that really goes back to our Founding Fathers. And every great president has really nurtured and enhanced this formula.

It was educate our people up to and beyond whatever the technology was, so they could get the most out of it, have the world's best infrastructure, roads, airports, telecom, bandwidth, so commerce could really flow. Third, have the most open immigration policy, so we could attract the world's most energetic immigrants and most intellectually talented ones to start 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, first or second generation immigrants.

We had the best rules and regulations to incentivize risk-taking and to prevent recklessness. And lastly, we had the most government funded research to push out the boundaries of science and technology, chemistry and biology, to really give our venture capitalists the chance to pluck these incredible flowers and start new companies.

That was our formula for success. And if you look where we are today, one reason we are where we are today is because we've gotten away from that formula and those pillars. They're all, in some degree or another, in need of real repair. We're going to have to get back to that. That's the only way we get out of this recession, this ditch, this low point we're in, Piers.

We can argue about all these other issues and social issues until the cows come home, but unless we get back to this formula -- that's why our book, it has a backward looking title, "That Used To Be Us," but a forward looking theme. Because the whole argument is we did this before. We didn't get here by accident. We don't need to copy China or Brazil or India.

The history books we need to read are our own. The country we need to really study is America.

MORGAN: I mean, I suppose the key question in all this is with a country that's 16, 17 trillion dollars in debt, how is it going to finance the kind of plans that you're talking about to get itself back on track? I mean, what -- when you look at the Ryan Budget Plan, Romney's amendment of that, you look at what President Obama is saying, what do you think is the most sensible way forward for America to finance all this?

FRIEDMAN: You know, there's no question to me that we have to agree on one thing, that the only way to deal with the budget deficit that big is with both tax revenue and spending cuts. And if we try to approach this problem by saying we're going to do it all in the back of taxes or we're going to do it all on the back of spending, we're simply not going to get a deal and we shouldn't get a deal.

Now, President Obama has put forward a proposal to deal with the problem with taxes and spending. I've argued I think his proposal is insufficient. But at least he's there in theory. Right now, the Romney/Ryan budget says we're going to do all this with spending cuts.

Piers, I'll tell you, Ryan and Romney could win this election. They could win the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, you know, and the best chili shop in Washington, D.C. I don't care what they win, there's no way the Congress and the country is going to do all of this on the back of spending cuts. You'll have nothing left to run the country with.

MORGAN: Most certainly food for thought there, Tom. When we come back, I want to go global with you. I want to talk about Syria, Iran and Israel, because it's not just the economic battleground in America that's important right now. It's also America's place in the wider world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We're now just getting around to tough sanctions on Iran. Should have been done ages ago. We should make it very clear that we're going to put in place crippling sanctions. And by the way, when Ahmadinejad said this last week about Israel -- I won't even repeat it, the awful, offensive, obnoxious things he said about Israel should lead to him being indicted under the genocide convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Mitt Romney on Monday taking a jab at President Obama over his Iran policy. But is the Romney/Ryan ticket up to speed on foreign policy generally?

Tom Friedman is back with me now. Tom, when you hear Romney talking tough on Iran, and we've also got the Syria situation bubbling away as well, do you think that the Romney/Ryan ticket has enough foreign policy experience to know what to do about these two crises?

FRIEDMAN: I think they have an incredibly weak foreign policy biography between the two of them and a rather weak team, frankly. To hear Romney criticizing President Obama for just getting around to sanctions. Wait a minute, there were eight years of the Bush administration where we, you know, dilly dallied around to getting around to serious crippling sanctions.

Romney talks like the Bush administration never happened, you know, both in time and in some of the decisions it took. So it's really ludicrous. You can criticize Obama on a million things. But on Iran, I think he's done actually quite a good job, finally, of getting around to something that wasn't done in the previous eight years, and that putting in some really tough, pinching sanctions on the Iranians.

MORGAN: If you're Israel right now, and they've been increasingly concerned about Iran now for quite a few months, when you hear what Ahmadinejad actually said about Israel, that would really concern me, if I was Netanyahu or the other leaders in Israel. Why shouldn't they try and take some kind of preemptive action now, if that rhetoric is going to actually be born out by some form of action from Iran?

And why shouldn't they assume it will be coming their way?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, it's a very legitimate question. I think Netanyahu's concerns about Iran are not imagined. They are very real. They should be taken seriously.

I think the question that Israelis have to ask is, A, would it work? Technologically can they take out these Iranian nuclear facilities? What happens? What will be the Iranian reaction in terms of retaliation? Will this be a one-day thing? Will it be a 30 day war? Will it drag on for months? Close Israel's airport? Cripple Israel's economy? Kill Israeli civilians and Palestinians who also live there will be caught up in this?

And what will be the impact on the global economy? What will the European reaction be? So on the question of should Israel be concerned, absolutely. I think it's a really difficult decision. If Iran goes nuclear, you can bet it won't be long before states around it like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, will certainly think about, if not acquire, a nuclear weapon.

You'll see an end to the global -- possibly an end to the global nuclear proliferation regime. In other words, we will live in a much more dangerous world, even though we, the united states -- I, living in Washington, D.C., may not immediately be under the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

MORGAN: And in Syria, we heard President Obama yesterday saying if there's evidence of Assad using chemical and biological weapons, then he would definitely intervene in some way. The problem is there's this absolutely horrific humanitarian crisis unfolding there. Isn't it time that somebody did something?

FRIEDMAN: The problem with Syria is that unlike other Arab awakening revolutions -- you know, Libya imploded. Egypt imploded. Bahrain imploded. Yemen imploded. Syria explodes. It goes out, because all the minority and majority factions in Syria are connected in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Jordan, in Iraq in the same way. That's what we're seeing. We're seeing this spread to Lebanon. Here's the problem, Piers. We have to look at this I think honestly and soberly. And the fact is this, there's only one way to stop fighting there. I don't think it's a humanitarian zone, a no-fly zone. You have to occupy the country. You have to do what the United States did in Iraq. You have to take it over. You have to kill the bad guys. You have to basically suppress the extremists in all communities.

You've got to knock heads together, force them to write a new social contract, how to live together not under an iron fist, as they've been living, but actually with communities who recognize, you know, a democratic government and are willing to accept and protect minority as well as majority rights.

And because, deep down, I think all the leaders in the world know that, that if you touch it, you own it, all right, nobody wants to touch it. And so we've got this terrible situation where not only is the killing getting -- the velocity of the killing increasing every day, but it's now spreading. So sooner or later, either it's going to have to be an international force that goes in there or this is going to continue.

One of the problems is you've got the Russians and the Chinese saying, you know, don't you dare.

MORGAN: Yes, it's deeply worrying. Thomas Friedman, it's a riveting book, written with your co-author Michael Mandelbaum. It's called "That Used To Be Us, How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back."

I commend it as a great read to everyone. Thanks for joining me. I appreciate it.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Piers. Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: Coming up, comedian Jeff Foxworthy goes from rednecks to revelations with his new Bible project.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF FOXWORTHY, COMEDIAN: As Christians, probably that's an area that we fail in a lot, is we don't just love on people. Because that's -- changes people's hearts.

And so I try to remember that all the time. It's like when somebody's being surly or nasty, instead of getting angry back, I'm like, oh, dude, man, somebody messed you up. I'm just going to love on you a little bit.

I think if we all just did that, it would be a different world that we lived in.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is best known for his "you might be a redneck" one liners, but he's also the largest selling comedy recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy award nominee and a best selling author. Now he's got a new project, "the American Bible Challenge" on the Game Show Network.

And Jeff joins me now. Welcome.

FOXWORTHY: Thank you.

MORGAN: How are you?

FOXWORTHY: I'm well. Yourself?

MORGAN: Here's the thing, I'm a Christian, you're a Christian. But I spent the last 18 months at CNN, because of the Republican race to be nominee primarily, dealing with a lot of issues where the Christian element of the Republican party get a good kicking, because either they said something silly or inflammatory or whatever it may be.

As a Christian in America, a high-profile one, how do you feel about that? Do you feel that being Christian has become almost a bad word in a country that's still predominantly Christian?

FOXWORTHY: We have a branding problem probably. And some of it is we've probably brought on ourselves, you know. It's like with this new show, when -- obviously based success of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," GSN comes to me and says what would you feel about doing something similar but a Bible show.

Immediately I step back and I was look, boy, I don't know if you can do this about the Bible. I said to my wife -- I said if anybody beats me up, it won't be the secular world. It will be a Christian group because somewhere along the line a lot of us have lost that joy.

And if you believe God created these attributes into us, that's one of them. that's joy. But we get back to that legalistic thing on performance. And really the message of Christianity is it's not based on your goodness, it's not based on my goodness, it's based on the mercy of a loving God that loves us way beyond what we're capable of loving him.

MORGAN: Part of the problem, it seems to me, is when I've had real die hard Christians on the show, Kirk Cameron was a good example, somebody who is probably not a bad guy -- I don't know him, but he's probably not a bad guy. And he has his believes. But he absolutely fundamentally believes homosexuality is a sin, for example.

But it was he talked about homosexuality, it was the way he talked about it, as if it was the end of the world as we know it, an abomination, et cetera, et cetera, that -- it's that that grates with people in modern America, I think. It's the language deployed by Some Christians about their beliefs which are just inflammatory.

FOXWORTHY: I understand that. And if you look at the life of Jesus, the people you would have thought would have run the other way, the gamblers, the prostitutes, those were the people that were attracted to. Because he had an ability to just love all people.

And so I think any time you're excluding anybody, that's not the message of Jesus.

MORGAN: How literally should people take the Bible? And should the Bible be an evolutionary thing, rather like the Constitution was amended a few times.

FOXWORTHY: Piers, that's not for me to say. I don't know the answer to a lot of those things. Those things are too deep for me. It's like even having a show like this, I'm like, God, really, I'm an idiot. You know I'm an idiot. And yet you want me to take this show off of a -- not on a Christian network, but on a mainstream network.

MORGAN: You've actually stumped a bit for Mitt Romney. Let's watch a little clip of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOXWORTHY: This country made an emotional decision in 2008. We went for the guy that made great speeches. And then we found out when he got in office, that's what he did. He made great speeches. He had no substance. He did not know how to run a country.

I called Governor Romney and I said I want to ask you something, because I'm putting my fanny on the line here. Can you fix this? And he never hesitated and he said yes, I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Obviously he's the man now charging towards the White House, hoping to get there in November. Has he lived up to the expectation, hopes that you had?

FOXWORTHY: Well, here's the -- I mean, I always avoided politics, especially as a comedian because you're alienating half the thing. In 2007, one of the things that President Obama ran on was cutting the deficit of our country in half. And if you sit there and study what's going on in Greece and what's happening now in Spain and Italy, as a comedian, you take things to the simplest level.

You cannot spent more money than you're bringing in. But our nation's doing that. And that worries me to death. That alarms me. I think about the world that my kids are going to have.

So I think the business of being president, it's exactly that. It's running one of the biggest businesses in the world. That's what the government of the United States is. I don't think we're running that business very well right now.

We have three years without a budget. You wouldn't run a company like that. I think this whole election is down to just that. It's who is going to create more jobs.

MORGAN: For you, Romney is the more likely of the candidates?

FOXWORTHY: He's a successful businessman. It's kind of weird in this country now. It's like people -- he should be made to feel ashamed because he's been a success in business. I think he's a businessman. And I think you look at the job situation in this nation, it's bad. You look at the debt situation in this nation, it's bad.

And I think this bus is heading towards a cliff unless somebody steps up and does something. We're all going to regret this.

MORGAN: Jeff, you make some good points. "The American Bible Challenge" premiers this week, airs Thursdays on GSN. Best of luck with it.

FOXWORTHY: Thank you so much. Yes, the cool thing about it, nobody plays for themselves. They give all the money to somebody else.

MORGAN: That's a very good cause. I like that. Nice to meet you.

FOXWORTHY: You too.

MORGAN: Coming up, Only in America; why a winning streak turns out to be very, very bad luck to some Atlantic City gamblers.

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MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, a wise man once said you've got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. To that advise from Kenny Rogers, I might add you've got to know when to shuffle the deck.

Unfortunately, the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City failed to head that basic rule in the gambling 101 playbook. And now the casino is compounding its mistake by suing more than a dozen gamblers. All of this could have been avoided if everyone had just remembered that George Clooney rule from 2001's "Oceans 11."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: The house always wins. You play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The trouble is that in this case the house didn't win. The trouble began in April when something very strange happened during a low stakes game of mini-baccarat. The players noticed that the same sequence of cards was being dealt over and over again.

In fact, 41 consecutive times. Understandably, their bets got bigger and bigger; 14 gamblers won a total of 1.5 million dollars and were promptly surrounded by casino security guards who couldn't work out what on Earth had gone wrong. Nine players cashed in over half a million dollars worth of chips, but the casino then refused to pay out the rest and went on to sue all the gamblers, claiming the game was illegal because, wait for it, the cards were unshuffled.

This wasn't the players' fault, of course. This was the casino's fault. The player's lawyer, Benjamin Dash, says "there's absolutely no law in New Jersey that would permit the Golden Nugget to declare the game illegal because it failed to provide shuffled cards."

Well said, Mr. Dash. My advice to the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City is this: pay up those gamblers their winnings, because they won them fair and square. And my second bit of advice is get someone next time to shuffle the damn deck of cards.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.