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Obama's Tee Time with Tiger Woods; Climate Change Legislation; SNL: "DJesus Uncrossed?"

Aired February 18, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our new half hour talk show: three hot topics, great guests, your comments on tap.

Today, President Obama's tee time with Tiger, the fight over climate change, and "Saturday Night Live" is pushing the envelope with Jesus uncrossed.

With us today is Sirius XM Radio host, Pete Dominick; "Politics365" chief political correspondent and Hiram College professor, Jason Johnson; CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro; and former special assistant to George W. Bush, Ron Christi. Welcome to all of you.

OK, on to our first topic, Talk Back: Should we have the right to see the president play golf with Tiger Woods?

The "Drudge Report" labeled it the super secret spring break, secret because we couldn't take photos of President Obama playing golf with Tiger Woods. Yes, that Tiger Woods, champion golfer and former serial adulterer.

In fact, reporters were not allowed near the president all weekend long. This as massive budget cuts kick in, in just two weeks, the president out of sight, not taking questions?

Ed Henry, the president of the White House Correspondent Association, says reporters are frustrated. Quote, "There's very simple but important principal we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead. And that would be transparency." So what's the big deal?

We had no problem getting photos of President Obama playing golf with ever popular Bill Clinton or with House Speaker John Boehner back when they were talking grand bargain, you know, to avoid the fiscal cliff. Is there a problem seeing America's number one family man alongside Tiger, is that it? Or as White House spokesman, Josh Ernest, says, is the president entitled to some much deserved down time with friends?

So Talk Back today: Should we have the right to see the president play golf with Tiger Woods? I'll start with you, Ron?

RON CHRISTIE, FOUNDER, PRESIDENT, "CHRISTIE STRATEGIES": Well, good morning, Carol. I think that the president should have in all fairness due to transparency release some photographs of him either teeing off with Tiger or perhaps when they finished.

He has the right to have his own down time. But the American people deserve to see what the president of the United States is doing. And I think if he is going to be out playing golf when we have troops committed overseas and at war. I think we deserve to see what he's up to.

COSTELLO: Yes I don't -- I don't see the big deal in not allowing a photo to be taken, frankly. Jason, what's the big deal?

JASON JOHNSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICS365: Look maybe he's a lousy golfer. But really the larger issue here is how people feel about Obama going on vacation. When he goes on vacation -- he really hasn't gone on vacation nearly as much as George Bush, nearly as much as Ronald Reagan, so I don't really care. Maybe he's a lousy golfer. Maybe Tiger Woods is asking for a new marriage advice. I don't know. But I'm more concerned of what Obama does, and not whether or not he's got a good score or he gets under 60. I don't care.

COSTELLO: It's just the optics of it, Ana. I mean, this is supposed to be the most transparent administration in the history of the world. Yet, no photo with some golfer?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it's the most transparent administration, but he doesn't have to go up for election anymore. So they're saying that he doesn't have to do anymore. When he was playing with Bill Clinton or with John Boehner, it's political. You know, it's his prerogative who he plays golf with. It's his prerogative whether he allows shots or not.

But also the White House Press Corps has a right to press to see the picture. What I would like to see a picture of, frankly, is the permission slip that Michelle Obama signed to let President Obama go play with and go spend a guys' weekend with Tiger Woods. That's what I'm more interested in.

COSTELLO: Exactly, Pete, because she took the girls skiing. President Obama is on his own.


NAVARRO: I know you know.

COSTELLO: Go ahead.

DOMINICK: Carol, I was just -- I was just thinking what Ana just said. I'm just thinking that like I would have loved to hear the conversation between the First Lady Michelle Obama and the President. "You're going, I'm sorry, you're going golfing with who?" "But come on, come on, sweetheart, he's the greatest golfer ever!" "Yes, he's also had sex with any woman he met, Barack."

So I mean, that must have been interesting. The White House clearly doesn't want a photo, which we know would be worth 1,000 words. As you said, Carol -- you know, the most, the best family man and the worst family man, they don't want them in the same photo. And we should have access.

And Ed Henry and the White House correspondents are right. We should have access so they can yell a question that's not going to get an answer. I'm more concerned with the other golfer. There was three with him: one of his top donors, you know. Just equals access. The big problem we have in the country with politics, the underlying issues is campaign finance. If you donate enough, you're going to get to go golfing with the President. To be fair, this guy he's considering for the Secretary of Energy but --


NAVARRO: Listen --

COSTELLO: Go ahead. Go ahead, Ana.

NAVARRO: Just as long as they don't go and place an order at Perkins Restaurant, I think I'm OK with the weekend.


COSTELLO: I think more the issue for me, Ron, is that sequestration is looming. What? March 1st is like right around the corner. There's a fly in here. March 1st is right around the corner and the President is playing golf and Congress has gone (INAUDIBLE).


NAVARRO: Try on the wall.

DOMINICK: He was getting -- he was getting an advice from Tiger.

JOHNSON: Right, right.

COSTELLO: How to avoid sequestration. But go ahead, Ron.

CHRISTIE: Carol, your underlying point is exactly right. I mean, the sequestration was put into place. The President thought the Republicans would never ever swallow that poison pill of having an across the board cut to defense spending and domestic programs. We're talking $1.2 trillion over ten years, and we're talking about an $85 billion reduction that's looming in two weeks. We expect the President of the United States to be sitting down --


DOMINICK: The Republicans voted for it.

CHRISTIE: The Republicans voted for it because the President said he would veto the bill if sequestration wasn't in there. The point of the matter is they -- I didn't cut you off, sir. So we expect our President of the United States to be working. We expect him to be trying to find a solution to end this problem and not off playing golf with Tiger Woods.

COSTELLO: And what about Congress, Jason? JOHNSON: Yes, look. Come on. The President can pat his head and rub his tummy. Does anybody really think that when he's out golfing he's not actually working? He may not be discussing policy with Tiger Woods but, you know, even when George Bush was off at Crawford, Texas, I mean yes, he was moving brush around, but he was also doing policy.

So I don't think this is really an issue of whether or not Barack Obama is working. You may have some general concerns of whether or not he's involved in Congress, which he never is enough, but I don't think he's not working on this vacation. So a weekend with Tiger Woods, what's the worst that can happen?

COSTELLO: Well, let's see what our Facebook friends say. So the question -- the question again for all of you: Should we have the right to see the President play golf with Tiger Woods?

This from Anthony, "Why? If the President chooses not to be seen, that's his right. Back off."

This from Cheryl, "Tiger is known to be media-averse. Maybe the directive of no photos was his condition to play. He has the right not to be transparent."

Keep the conversation going. or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Our next Talk Back question: Is now the time for climate change legislation?


COSTELLO: Onto our second Talk Back question: Is now the time for climate change legislation?

In Washington, climate change activists billed it as the largest climate change rally in history. They were also chanting, "Hey, Obama, we don't want no climate drama."

Well, actually they do, as in right now. And why not? The President fueled the fire.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever see were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late.


COSTELLO: That was nirvana to climate change activist; hell no to climate change skeptics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Look, the government can't change the weather. I said that in the speech, no, we can pass a bunch of laws that will destroy our economy, but it isn't going to change the weather.


COSTELLO: Ah and there is the saying all those climate change activists in D.C., they want the President to block the Keystone pipeline. You know, the pipeline that will most likely add to our collusion problem, which in part causes global warming. But that pipeline will also create jobs and further energy independence and yes, gas prices are now $3.73 a gallon.

So Talk Back: Is now the time for climate change legislation? Jason?

JOHNSON: Yes. Barack Obama can do a lot about climate change, but really he needs to start simple. He needs to take an old idea that he and John McCain were pitching around in 2008, which is a promise to change all the federal fleet of cars. The FBI, the Federal Marshals, every year -- to electronic cars the reason that we can't get substantive climate change is because we can't convince industry and the car industry and everything else like that, that it actually makes sense financially.

So Obama can do a lot. He should do something that provides jobs and cleans the air and not just talk policy.

COSTELLO: Oh. that sounds so simple. Ana?

NAVARRO: Well, it sounds simple, but it's not. Look, good luck trying to pass any legislation through Congress that doesn't come from Congress. Right now, some of the controversial issues that stand a glimmer of hope are immigration and then maybe some aspects of gun control. But it is because in Congress themselves they have found common ground and they are pushing it themselves.

Unfortunately, the reality is that President Obama right now has the reverse Midas touch. Everything he touches turns to dirt. And it's not going to get through Congress and that's just where we are, folks.

COSTELLO: Everything turns to dirt, Pete?

DOMINICK: Well, listen. I would first ask for everybody to put up their hands on this panel if they believe a man is the biggest factor of contributing to climate change right now. I hope that's everybody, Carol. Obviously no, we're not all putting our hands up?



DOMINICK: Well, that's -- that's what is sad about this, it's really sad and it's Republicans and only Republicans in Congress that don't believe in science. Climate change is the worst -- the biggest threat to man outside of the nuclear holocaust. And the fact that we still have Republicans, some of which are on the Science Committee, that think -- that don't believe in science is embarrassing and it's horrific.

I mean, it is now the time to address climate change? No, it was 20 years ago Carol. We have to do something about this. We have to do it now. It's one of my biggest issues for me personally. I just bought a Chevy Volt. I'm trying to be the change I want to see in life.

But you know this is something that we have to pass down to our kids. This is something that the next generation has to make a shift on. And I -- you know, the fact that Republicans in Congress don't believe in science, it's -- it's embarrassing. It makes me an embarrassed guy.

COSTELLO: And Ron -- I mean, Pete does have a point. 98 percent of scientists out there believe climate change is caused -- is manmade. Pollution adds to global warming, there's really no doubt about that. So why can't anyone find any common ground?

CHRISTIE: There's certainly no doubt about that? I certainly dispute the 98 percent factor of scientists who believe that global climate change is real. The fact of the matter is that this President rather than trying to pass global climate change. He actually should try to change the economy in this country.

We have never had unemployment under 7.8 percent during the Obama presidency. Why are at this point are we going to pass more crippling regulations that going to hurt small business? That are going to retire the economic writ that we need.

My beloved home state of California, the home of the home of the greenies, the home of the hope and change and global climate change and whatnot, but you know what those green regulations have killed innovation in California. We certainly don't need that for the rest of the United States.

JOHNSON: See, this is -- this is exactly the sort of false dichotomy that we're talking about here. If you look at what Pete says and you look at what Ron says, both of these problems can be solved. If the President said look, "Let's start changing these cars over. Let's make the federal fleet at a Chevy Volt." You're putting people to work and you're fixing the economy.

The problem is both sides are pretending that they can't find a mutual solution. The solution has been out there for years and no one is taking it.


DOMINICK: The story -- the story --

COSTELLO: You know, Ana, we did it back in the '70s with acid rain.

NAVARRO: Let me try something.


COSTELLO: Well, just one second. We did it back in the '70s with acid rain. There was a terrible problem and the government sort of like worked with industry and they fixed that problem. Why can't we fix our problems today?

NAVARRO: Because nobody is talking to each other, Carol. Let's begin with that. The President doesn't talk to Congress. Congress doesn't talk to the President. Nobody is talking to industry. We are in a very dysfunctional place right now in Washington, D.C. It requires a lot of cooperation.

I see Pete shaking his head. But I would ask my friend Pete, well, listen, there was a time when President Obama first got elected when he had a majority in the House, when he had a majority in the Senate and when he did have the Midas touch and could walk on water. And could just about any legislation through and did nothing on climate change --


DOMINICK: That's because -- that's because we have a rule. That's because we have -- that's because we have an arcane rule in the U.S. Senate that prevents anything from being passed without 60 senators.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

DOMINICK: Without 60 senators instead of a simple majority. Cap and trade is cast by the House.


NAVARRO: Like -- like the Obamacare?

JOHNSON: Exactly.

DOMINICK: And it is not true -- it is not true. Everybody on the panel knows that it is not true. It's not true --

NAVARRO: OK, no shouting, no shouting. It's a little early in the morning, Pete.

DOMINICK: I -- Ana, you know I love you.

NAVARRO: Deep breath.

DOMINICK: You also know --

NAVARRO: Oxygen to the lungs.

DOMINICK: I am getting very little of that because it's so polluted. But Ana, as you know, this has nothing -- this has nothing to do with whether or not Congress gets along. It has everything to do with the oil industry owning Congress, including Democrats.

JOHNSON: Right, exactly. Exactly. DOMINICK: Absolutely why. Absolutely why? This is about campaign finance.

NAVARRO: Well, I would -- well then, let's say that, let's say including Democrats.

DOMINICK: I just did. Right.

NAVARRO: You laid the blame on nobody but Republicans.

DOMINICK: I laid a blame on Republicans because Republicans don't agree on the problem.


DOMINICK: They don't agree on the problem. All Democrats believe in the science that -- that the vast majority -- almost every single climate scientist -- download an app called Skeptical Science, everybody.


DOMINICK: Download the app for your phone right now. Skeptical Science.

COSTELLO: I will say, Jason, just to button this conversation up that the activist -- the climate change activists in D.C. they concentrated on the Keystone pipeline.


COSTELLO: Why concentrate on that? Couldn't they pick something else?

JOHNSON: Because it's a cute visual and it makes sense and you can have people dressed up as bald eagles covered in oil.

I mean look, this is what I'm saying. This is a real problem, and this is a problem that has a real solution. And it's up to the Republicans to finally stop just standing in the way of Barack Obama, and it's up to Democrats to actually fight for the issue.

I don't want to live in a world where we have to have El Nino and Hurricane Katrina and everything 10 or 15 months because we can't fix a problem that every common sense scientists agrees on. The solutions are there like I said.

COSTELLO: OK, what do our Talk Back -- what are our Facebook friends saying about the question? Is now the time for climate change legislation?

This from Bill, "Now is the time to talk about it, for sure. How can you argue this the logic? We should err on the side of the planet. It's the only one that we have."

This from Henrik, "Making bank robbery illegal didn't seem to help much. More laws certainly not the answer, because it means more government bureaucracy."

Keep the conversation going or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Next Talk Back question: Did quality "Saturday Night Live" cross the line with "DJesus Uncrossed"?


COSTELLO: Final Talk Back for this Monday. The question for you: Did "Saturday Night Live" cross the line with "DJesus Uncrossed"?

"DJesus" with a D, anyway. I know. It's "Saturday Night Live". It's comedy. Free speech and all that, I know. But I must say the skit called the ultimate historical revenge fantasy, "DJesus Uncrossed", bugged me. It is Lent and Christians around the world are celebrating Christ's sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Do we really need to see Jesus wielding an Uzi and a bloody sword?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess who's back. "DJesus Uncrossed". He's risen from the dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's preaching anything but forgiveness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "h" is silent.


COSTELLO: It gets really bloody from there. I know. I get it. Jesus was played by Christoph Waltz, the guy in "Django Unchained". And I should be LOL-ing, but I'm really not. It's OK to joke about Jesus, even during one of the holiest seasons on the Christian calendar?

But maybe it's not OK for Jesus, who was all about forgiveness, to portray Jesus as a psychopath hell bent on revenge.

Talk Back question: Did "Saturday Night Live"" cross the line with "DJesus Uncrossed"?

Pete, I'm going to start with you because you understand these things better than I do. What do you think?

DOMINICK: Yes. I'm a stand up comedian. I just don't believe in crossing the line. I agree on pushing it as far as you can.

This is a send-off of Quentin Tarantino's movie "Inglourious Basterds" and the "Jesus Unchained" -- I mean "Django Unchained". I mean that's what this is and I thought it was hilarious. I thought it was really, really well written. I thought it was risky, of course. I think Christians should be able to laugh at themselves and their savior. I think "Saturday Night Live" would really impress me if they would do that with Islam but I know that they won't.

COSTELLO: Oh my God.

DOMINICK: The only problem with this sketch is that Jesus was played by an awesome actor, the host Christoph Waltz, because he's a white guy. And Jesus looked a lot more like Ron Christie or Jason Jones, who are on this panel.

COSTELLO: And when I was watching this, I laughed at first especially when they said the "h" was silent, I thought that was really funny. But then they had Jesus like with semi-automatic assault weapons gunning down the Romans, you know, out of revenge. And then it just started to bother me.

NAVARRO: Well, Carol and Pete, since I'm not going to go to hell, I'm not going to say I found it funny. And I'm not going to laugh at it. And I'm not going to watch it.

Listen, you know, "Saturday Night Live" chooses what they put on. And we choose what we watch. That's what being in a free society where we respect freedom of speech means. One of the things that differentiates us from other societies for example, we don't go out and threaten Salman Rushdie's life when he says something that we don't like about a deity. That's just how it works. It works that way.

Sometimes they put things that you like. Sometimes they put things that you don't like and you always have the clicker as your choice and your vote.

COSTELLO: But that's such an easy excuse to me. Freedom of speech. We have the right to change the channel. But we also have a right to talk about how it's just not right, don't we, Jason?.


JOHNSON: I thought it was perfectly hilarious.

NAVARRO: And Christians have a right to protest.

JOHNSON: And I thought it was perfectly hilarious and people can be mad at this if they want to. I was impressed that they managed to do a spoof of Quentin Tarantino without constantly using the N word since he seems personally obsessed with it.

I completely agree with Pete. I was like, it is comedy because they have a white Jesus and everybody knows the guy is much more likely to be Arabic. At the end of the day, I just don't care.

It's a segment on "Saturday Night Live", which hasn't been relevant in 15 years. If people can get excited about it, I don't really care. If I'm not that moved by it.

COSTELLO: Ron, go ahead.

CHRISTIE: I just didn't like it. I think we're in one of the holiest times in the calendar for Christians. I cannot imagine if they had done the same thing to the Prophet Mohammed, we would have been hearing boycotts. We would have been hearing people all upset. But there's somehow a mentality that you can insult or you can spoof Jesus Christ. I didn't think it was that funny.

But again, I agree with my other colleague. If you don't like it, you can change the channel. And I certainly did.

COSTELLO: Well, absolutely, but you bring up an interesting point. I think that Jesus is used by many different factions for many different things. Jesus means different things to different people, and he's used constantly, and maybe that's right or maybe wrong. But it confuses people, doesn't it? In a way?

JOHNSON: I mean I don't see how you can be confused. It's a character. We live in a Christian country. You culturally know who Jesus is, whether or not you believe in Jesus being the son of God. So I don't see why people are that offended -- or confused.

DOMINICK: This is more -- this is more of a parody of Quentin Tarantino's scripts and films and gratuitous violence than it is really anything to do with Jesus Christ.

COSTELLO: Quentin Tarantino's movies are parodies of history.

CHRISTIE: Exactly.

DOMINICK: Yes, exactly, and he's just -- In "Saturday Night Live", he's doing the hypothetical. By the way, Christoph Waltz also played the Pope in "Saturday Night Live" and a hilarious sketch about, you know, the Pope retiring and what kind of a retirement plan he should. Pay for all securities -- very, very, funny. We don't have anything about that.

But I mean, this is the definition of comedy. Absolutely, people are going to be offended. People are always offended. I'm on stage doing the most harmless joke about my new puppy, Carol --. People are like, I don't appreciate that talking about a puppy that way. It happens, people are entitled to their beliefs but as Ana says -- You can use a clicker, as Ana refers to it. A clicker.

COSTELLO: Well, like I said, I didn't mind they were poking fun at Jesus, because I do believe maybe Jesus had a sense humor, right. At this particular time, when we're so close to Easter, when we're in the Lenten season, it's just --

DOMINICK: Let's be honest, no Christians were up. It was late on Saturday night. They were getting ready for church.

COSTELLO: Now, see.

NAVARRO: Well, listen, let's just give up "Saturday Night Live", let's give it up for Lent. Let's give up "Saturday Night". COSTELLO: Look, Ron's sitting there silent over there. Help me out.

CHRISTIE: Look, Carol, the only thing I would say is what I just said a few moments ago. I can't imagine. Let's be real honest about this. If you had the Prophet Mohammed in the same skit, in the same sketch doing the same things, I think there would be an outrage. There would be a backlash. There will be all sorts of people who would be very upset.

In our society, however, it seems to me that there's a certain level of political correctness. You can make fun of Jesus. You can parody Jesus. But you can't do it to the Prophet Mohamud. We're going to be consistent about this. Let's do it.

I just think it's offensive. You shouldn't be doing that to religious figures, in my view.

COSTELLO: Well, I think the comedians in that skit -- if they had made fun of the Prophet Muhammad -- would be hiding today.

JOHNSON: I also doubt you have any Muslim on staff or any Muslim comedy writers at who are at SNL who probably would have said there's a way we can write this comedy. Part of why we can make fun of them is there's a sense of national ownership. It's a Christian country, we can make fun of a Christian character. It's not a Muslim country, so making fun of Muslim characters is a problem.

DOMINICK: That's a great point.

COSTELLO: That is a great point. And maybe in the end that says it all because, Ana, I think you can joke about Jesus, you feel closer to him somehow. Or am I reading this too deeply.

CHRISTIE: No, no, no, no.

DOMINICK: I didn't say anything.

NAVARRO: No, I think it's a nice thing. That's the beauty about Jesus. He means different things to different people. He means all things to all people. When I go to my friend Donna Brazile's house, Jesus is black. When he comes to my house, Jesus is Hispanic. Every now and he's even blue-eyed and white and blond. He means all things to all people.

And look, do have the right to protest. You guys will remember back when that singer many, many years ago Sinead O'Connor tore out the picture of the Pope, and they were very loud protests. We do have the right to protest.

COSTELLO: Go ahead. Wrap it up, Pete.

DOMINICK: Jesus was very self deprecating himself. He had a great sense of humor. There was a roast remember -- the Final Suffer. I mean he understood comedy. See what I did there? See what I did there.

COSTELLO: I'm sending you to confession right now.


NAVARRO: He's going to hell after his segment.

COSTELLO: I have to wrap this up. I want to thank my guests for joining me today. Pete Dominick, Jason Johnson, Ana Navarro and Ron Christie.

Thanks for talking back.

DOMINICK: I'm on Twitter.

COSTELLO: Thanks for talking back.

Now your responses to the third topic. Did "Saturday Night Live" cross the line with "DJesus Uncrossed"?

This from Mike, "SNL always crosses the line. That's what makes it SNL."

This from Sandy, "The skit was shameful. Clearly SNL has stooped to the lowest to write and perform a skit that attacks so many people of faith across the world.

Keep the conversation going. or tweet me @CarolCNN.


COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me today. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with John Berman.