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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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Good morning my little springtime chick-a-dees. It is Sunday, and there's political gibbering on the teevee afoot. My name is Jason, and because I wasn't smart enough long ago to become a chemical engineer or a classically trained oboist or a winemaker or a hobo without regard for my personal hygiene, here I am: semi-liveblogging the flickering images that appear on the screen and the sounds that cause my brains so much pain. As always, you can and should avert your eyes from the wreck of the soul that I am watching, and instead enjoy this "ransom note to a higher power, seeking deliverance from my earthly suffering." You can also feel free to avail yourself of the comment stream, to try out "The New Niceness," please? Or send me emails. You can also follow me on Twitter, for even more non-sequiturs!

OK, lights up on...

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

[Agh. Sorry folks. Internet's being mad glitchy today.]

Oh baby! Guess who's on the show today! Deficit commission olds Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles! CAN YOU HANDLE ALL THIS SIZZLE? This is like the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of structural deficit reduction and political compromise. Not much adventure or excitement or sex appeal. But still a cliff scene! Also, Mitch McConnell will belch talking points through his face, for money!

Hello again, Chris Wallace! Let's get it on with Simpson and Bowles. What are they going to do about this crazy deficit. What will Simpson do about it? He says that he and Bowles are on a suicide mission to fix the "unsustainable and unconscionable" deficits. We'll begin by throwing some platitudes at the problem, "We are not just Republicans and Democrats, we're Americans." Oh, guys! Y'all! Let's sell some Hallmark cards with that theme and use the profits to pay down the debt!

Bowles says Obama inherited a bunch of problems. So: drink! At some point, people associated with the White House will maybe have to stop saying that, but not today! Anyway: EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE. Social security, Medicare, a gravy boat, salt shakers. There will be Lazy Susans.

Simpson is not a "stalking horse for taxes," he insists, but he's a "stalking horse for his grandchildren." He hopes that he'll get all eighteen members of the committee to agree on the "letting of blood." That's his naive hope, he says. And nothing is off the table, not even the new health care bill. Bowles says he's with Simpson, and wants to give the American people "real actuarial numbers." And then he wants to sow trust in the people. And he won't rule out raising taxes or cutting spending, or maybe we'll break into Gringotts to steal Harry Potter's gold!

Alan Simpson is pretty wonderfully snarky and hilarious, actually! "If we can get the figures we can sit down with the American people and all bleed and bitch, from there." He should definitely blog his after-action reports of these commission meetings.

Will Democrats go along with cuts to entitlements? Bowles says, "They'll have to. Everything is on the table?" Simpson says that Social Security can be solved in "half a day" and is "the least of our problems." He goes on to remind that everything that's been suggested in terms of changes to social security over the past ten years affects anyone over 57, "These old cats, 70 or 80 aren't affected one whit! People who live in gated communities who drive their Lexuses to Perkins restaurants to get the AARP discount. This is madness!"

Simpson says that the commission will only work if everyone can trust each other: no leaks or political bombs.

Are spending cuts on the table? Yes. Are tax increases? Yes. The value-added tax? Yes. A jello-mold? Yes. "I'm not taking anything off the table," Bowles says. Except for "getting rid of this cliche: 'on the table.'" That's not on the table.

Kent Conrad wrote a book on the income tax? Is it being used in assisted suicides? or is that too painful a way to go.

Wallace asks if this is a cop-out? Simpson says no. Bowles says it's a "cop in." Okay, let's not make "cop in," a thing. No offense Coppin State University! I'm actually trying to help you out!

Bowles: "I believe that working with Al Simpson and the commission, we can get something done." Simpson says he's been on a bunch of commissions, and despite that "doesn't look at this with cynicism." So: the Deficit Commission Panel will be the happiest place on Earth, and will have a big table, with everything on it, and suck it, Perkins restaurants!

Now, let's downshift into inertia for a while with Mitch McConnell. What's the deal with that crazy-ass immigration law in Arizona? Does McConnell support it? He won't say. Instead, he'll pivot to a question on immigration reform. But he won't comment on the law, because he hasn't "studied it."

But won't this cost the GOP the votes of Hispanics, forever? McConnell won't say, but, uhm...duh. Think Michael Steele is busy revising his "can't do nothing for you, man" speech that got him in trouble for the 9,876th time?

McConnell wants a financial services bill that will benefit Wall Street, and is still calling the $50 billion fund that I call The Dismemberment Plan in tribute to the band of the same name, the "bailout fund." McConnell really will be the last man on earth to cling to the Luntz memo. Wallace calls him out on it. But McConnell just effing LIES and LIES. "It would be used to liquidate companies," Wallace dangles. "It will be used the same was we used TARP funds, back in '08." Of course, that is utterly wrong. TARP was used to KEEP FIRMS ALIVE, and purchase them additional lobbying power, so that they could have influence in DC and convince Mitch McConnell to fight against a Dismemberment Plan.

"Don't suggest to creditors that if you are a friend of the government, you're going to get a better deal." Uhm, Mitch? WHO HAVE YOU HAD CLOSED DOOR MEETINGS WITH NOW, TWICE. Your friends, the Wall Street banks!

Would McConnell accept a suggestion from the deficit commission that there be tax increases? He won't answer, other to suggest that he didn't tell his appointees what to think. Which kind of makes me think that he actually did tell them what to think, seeing as how no one asked that, but it came stumbling out of his pie hole, immediately? You know: the shriekings of a guilty conscience? I don't know! Regardless, he doesn't think personally that we have a problem because people are taxed too little. There muct be a way to raise revenues, through magic!

Now, some SCOTUS talk. Will McConnell filibuster? Because he once said that it was just wrong, wrong, wrong to do so. He took a principles stand! But since no one went along with his principles...well, he's prepared to use the filibuster. But, he allows, it would take a set of unusual circumstances to do that.

Is McConnell withdrawing his support from Charlie Crist? "Not today." But he'd better not be an independent, because than, McConnell would be "troubled," and would not have any Republican support.

And now it's panel time, with Hume and Liasson and Kristol and Williams. We'll talk about this crazy new Arizona law. Man, it says a lot about the rest of us Americans as people that so many people are willing to come through this arse of a state, filled up with a sizable population of gibbering fecal-demons just to live with the rest of us. I mean, has anyone told the rest of the non-Arizona population how awesome you people are? Y'all are awesome. Arizona, on the other hand, is going right off the rails. It's like the Stormfront website collided with a Tim Burton movie, or something.

Anyway, the brown people in Arizona have to carry papers with them and wear the right shoes in public or else they get endlessly harassed. Hume is optimistic to fault, suggesting that maybe the police are going to have to be trained carefully to carry out this crazy law without violating civil rights. But this is probably just going to be hell with the lid off. But Hume says that maybe this "somewhat draconian" law is going to work.

Ask yourself people, in a culture that takes EVERY GODDAMN THING and plays it out to the extreme end of absurdity, how do you think something that is, you know, a smidge draconian is going to go. I mean, we're talking about Arizona here! This is not, you know, "The Police Restraint State."

Anyway, an emailer passes along this piece of nostalgia!

His father and oldest sister were farming sugar beets in the fields of Hamilton, Mont., and his mother was cooking tortillas when 6-year-old Ignacio Piña saw plainclothes authorities burst into his home.

"They came in with guns and told us to get out," recalls Piña, 81, a retired railroad worker in Bakersfield, Calif., of the 1931 raid. "They didn't let us take anything," not even a trunk that held birth certificates proving that he and his five siblings were U.S.-born citizens.

The family was thrown into a jail for 10 days before being sent by train to Mexico. Piña says he spent 16 years of "pure hell" there before acquiring papers of his Utah birth and returning to the USA.

And that's a little taste of Somewhat Draconianism!

Bill Kristol, of course, says the bill is "not draconian," which means according to the unified Field Theorem of Kristol Being Wrong About Everything does not speak well of this bill.

Now the panel is bogged down because Juan Williams made the non-controversial point that Senate Republicans have repeatedly shot down immigration reform -- the reform that "liberal on immigration" Kristol claims to support. Hume and Kristol bitch, "Oh, but the Democrats are in charge now!" But don't the same people Williams is talking about still have the filibuster in their quiver in the Senate? SHUT IT DOWN, BRIT.

Williams eventually works his way around to saying that the big problem is that the Federal government has abandoned the border issue, and the drug problem that's seeping into the United States, and Hume agrees with this. My wife says, "Ha, of course, Brit Hume is the one who usually yammers about how bad it is that the Federal government do anything!"

Oh, yes! Ha. Lindsey Graham is sad that we're doing immigration now instead of the environment. As if Graham was a powerful legislator who could bring a bloc of support with him on any issue!

Kristol is pretty much right that Harry Reid's priority on this has electoral implications, but the idea that pushing reform is going to further add to the Democrats' electoral pains is a little strained. It may not really help them all that much, however.

Oh, FinReg reform is the topic now. This issue is really way past this foursome's ability to grasp. So, let's hope they stick to horserace crap. Hume does, he says that the prospects for a bill look good, but he honestly believes that anger toward Wall STreet has subsided.

Liasson says that the anger is real, and predicts that the GOp may make one, half-hearted attempt at blocking the passage. Kristol says that the leaks suggest that the Democrats aren't confident. Kristol is really terrible concerned that companies will have to take responsibility for the embarassing emails they send to each other. It's honestly embarassing to consider the catalog of concerns that Kristol is willing to get worked up about! We're not bombing the Green movement dissidents in Iran fast enough! Someone might learn that the people who run Goldman Sachs are awful human beings! How is anyone supposed to have any faith in people anymore! Oh, good, Juan and Bill are yelling at each other.

Bill Kristol, by the way, has more faith in the "Tea Party people" than the Simpson-Bowles group. "I think that the Tea Party people would be willing to look at entitlement cuts," Kristol says, as if he were talking about a learned panel of concerned and knowledgeable citizens, and not a group of affluent Republicans who like to throw parades to their bottomless self-regard and ability to shried dim platitudes at one another.

THIS WEEK

Today we have Austan Goolsbee and Bob Corker and Sherrod Brown on hand to take up the issue of FinReg. (Corker and Brown both sit on the Senate Banking Committee)

First off, the Goldman Sachs emails. They high-fived each other even as the housing market burned to the ground. Brown says the emails suggest that there are "all sorts of the conflicts of interests" on Wall Street, with companies working at cross-purposes. He says it makes a strong case for the Volcker Rule (frankly, a good reason to re-install Glass-Steagall). Corker, on the other hand, adopts a "wait and see" position on the matter. (Maybe he's shorting reform!)

Goolsbee won't "comment on independent regulatory investigations," other than to say that the emails will probably sow outrage among people and, yes, it makes the case for the Volcker Rule (or Glass-Steagall?).

Corker says that he "wants to see a bill," and he thinks it will get done and that everyone is working hard. He agrees that the template should be: derivatives reform, liquidation of too-big-to-fail, and consumer protection. That's sensible. The issue is, how strong will it be? (And I'll allow that passing a framework may be the important thing, and that teeth can always be added later...but then again, what: do you make the reform serious now, or after the economy is brought to its knees again, at some point in the future.)

That said, absent a "bipartisan agreement," Corker says all 41 GOP Senators will probably block the bill.

Now is the time that I'll remind everyone that Sherrod Brown talks like that guy in that David Mamet play that really needs to suck on a Sucret, or something! He talks like a Tom Waits song.

Brown says that the resolution authority will end the "too big to fail" problem, but pauses to just send an appeal to allow the bill to come to the floor for amendments. "I wish the GOP had more Bob Corkers." He says that he and Senator Kaufman will offer an amendment that will place limits on the size of banks. "We've got to deal with risk, to be sure, but we have to deal with the size of these banks," Brown says, because of the "ripple effect" they could have over the whole economy.

Goolsbee says that, "We're going to end 'too big to fail' and end the bailout era that began under the last President." Uhm, okay, dude, nice dig, but Obama supported the dawning of the "bailout era," too, so let's not get all shirty here, okay? Ending bailouts, and increasing accountability are good things. He characterizes the $50 billion fund as covering the funeral expenses.

Tapper wants to know more about accountability, citing these Wall Street crumbums who get to destroy the world and return to their homes in the Hamptons in their Aston-Martins. I may have to get into it with Jake on why he chose the Aston-Martin -- I mean, that's James Bond's car and he fights for justice! But, for the sake of argument, I'll allow it.

Corker says he plans to offer changes to the resolution authority to claw back "everything the executive team has made" during the period that they effed everything up. That would be pretty bad-ass, actually! Goolsbee says, no clawback, but there's a "requirement that they're all fired." That said, he's okay with that being on the table. He's not into the idea that amendments be offered just to stall and delay the bill. But, hey, I can get behind Bob Corker, out seeking pounds of flesh. If it were a petty thief, we'd take it out of their hide, so Wall Street should face the same set of circumstances.

On derivatives reform, Brown says the double game has to end, and again cites the Volcker rule. "It's a good sign" that Chuck Grassley put his name on Blanche Lincoln's derivatives bill. Goolsbee reminds that the $600 trillion of derivatives that are being traded on "in the dark" threaten the entire economy. He says the President will not allow any loopholes that keep derivatives in the dark.

But Tapper presses him on his original question: whether or not the administration would support the separation of derivatives trading from banks that have federally insured deposits. Goolsbee hems and haws, as you'd expect an administration informed by Larry Summers -- sage Harvard endowment genius -- to do. Bob Corker says, "I think what Austan is saying is that he doesn't support it, and I don't either."

"I don't think separation is appropriate," Corker says. Rather, he supports transparency in the market, and the proper capitalization of these firms.

That was a pretty effective segment, as far as blowing out where the gaps in compromise remain and how complicated the issue is, because on each line of the bill, entirely different coalitions can form. (As promised on Twitter, precious little talk of the "who's up who's down" aspect of this.

(Jake's got video of these segments for you.)

[HEAVY SIGH: Today my typical outpouring of agita at these shows is taking a backseat to the rage I am experiencing getting kicked off the internet every single time I turn around. I blame that volcano in Iceland!]

Anyway, it's panel time, with George Will, Cynthia Tucker, Paul Krugman, and Alexis Glick.

Will says, no FinReg doesn't end "too big to fail" because it fails to address the interconnectedness issue that was at the center of the financial meltdown. Tucker doesn't have much faith in the GOP's side of the negotiations, citing the travails of the Gang Of Six, and the GOP's standard, "let's start over" position, coupled with the power and influence of lobbyists, who want the GOP to "mischaracterize the bill."

But, as Tapper points out, the financial/insurance/real estate sector is giving more cash to the Democrats: $65 million and change as compared to about $52 million. Krugman says that yeah, the Democrats are too close to Wall Street, but the difference in campaign contributions may be written off to the fact that the Dems are in power.

He goes on to assail McConnell for "trying to stop reform with the most dishonest argument in the history of politics," claiming that the regulating the banks is a bailout of the banks. Paraphrasing him, it's like the best thing to do for fires is to abolish the fire department, because then people will know that they shouldn't allow fire to happen.

From there, he agrees with Will that TBTF is not really the problem, it's the interconnectedness, the bill allows for the graceful liquidation of TBTF firms, but he also maintains that it addresses the interconnected "shadow banking" as well. "It doesn't end the 'too big' bit, but it may end the 'fail.'"

Glick says the "absolutely" need transparency in the derivatives market, but that it's going "too far to say that the large banks should not have a derivatives market." Will says that what Republicans fear is more government involvement in this business, especially as it pertains to the finance arms of organizations like GM and General Electric. Krugman says that these banking mechanisms nevertheless have to be brought under the penumbra of regulation in order to address the interconnectedness.

Now, we'll take up the issue of Arizona, in re: "By the time I get to Arizona," where I will be wearing a sombrero, singing "Guantanamera," and carrying my passport, I guess, so I can say, "Suck it" to Arizona cops.

Will says that Arizona has over 400,000 illegal immigrants, and that this is not Arizona's fault, and that the Federal government shouldn't "lecture" Arizona. Nevertheless, he allows that the law is ridiculously unworkable from the standpoint of policing.

Tapper points out that all the same, the Arizona authorities, under the law, are subject to legal action if they do not do enough to combat illegal immigration, so, what defines "reasonable?"

Tucker points out this is why many law enforcement agencies oppose the bill because it's crazy. She adds that it is an "invitation to racial profiling," and hearkens back to apartheid in the way it will force people who look a certain way to carry papers on them at all times. (Let's face it: anyone who is here illegally from Switzerland is not going to picked up because of this, unless they, you know, spill too much mole sauce on their shirtfronts.

Krugman says the border enforcement is "not a deep issue of principle," but a matter of the tough talkers not willing to spend the money it takes to enforce the law. He notes the irony that the Tea Party types who decry big and intrusive government are all foursquare behind this measure, ALMOST AS IF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A POLITICAL MOVEMENT OF INCOHERENT WHINERS. Hint, hint!

Krugman is also worried about being mistaken for the president of Brazil and getting deported, to the home of the Brazilian President, I guess, which is probably not smack dab in the middle of some favela. (Someone needs to option this idea as a movie!)

Glick says that maybe the Arizona bill is a good thing because it's something that will spur the government to action. Let's hope this methodology catches on, I guess!

Will thinks the Phoenix police can handle it and doesn't despair of their ability to handle the law, but just five minutes ago it seemed that he was saying this places an undue burden on the same police?

Tucker says that the law is going to breed a ton of lawsuits. She also says that this issue will be hell with the lid off when it comes to debate, even worse than health care, and will create fissures in the Democratic party. Krugman says that yes, divisions in the Democrats run deep, as it will for the GOP -- the social wing that hates immigrants versus the business wing that loves cheap labor. Glick remarks on the fact that John McCain is right in the middle of this mess, because he's facing a primary battle -- so he's backing it now.

Will thinks that we just need to put troops at the border and build fences and promise that there will not be widespread amnesties. Tucker wants to know where the money will come from to pay for that, and Will insists that it's just "a rounding error in the GM bailout." I think that maybe Will wants a very rickety fence, if he believes that!

Krugman notes that it's really hard to secure a border. Hey! Maybe someone should talk to the Coast Guard about how hard it is!

When a task force consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and officers from Sanibel Island and the Lee County Sheriff's Office was alerted about a fast-moving boat containing 27 possible Cuban migrants just east of Sanibel Island's Bowman's Beach at around 9:40 p.m. on Sunday night, the chase was on.

With plenty of horsepower to spare.

"The migrants were in a 35-foot craft with multiple engines moving at an extremely high rate of speed," Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson said. "We were chasing them in 25-foot Coast Guard small boats that move in excess of 40 knots, and their craft was moving in excess of 40 knots, as well."

Maybe we'll get Aquaman to build a fence, too!

Finally, the Story of Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio. Will he become an independent. Is that his only option? Will says he can lose honorably in the primary, and live to fight another day, but he seems bent on committing "hara-kiri." Krugman and Tucker note that it's just one more step in the march against moderate Republicans. Glick points out that it's a race that emphasizes the wedge issue of the stimulus package and a place where the Tea Party candidates are having an opportunity to affect a race.

OK, so: as you know, next week, MEET THE PRESS is going to embark upon the most significant journalistic innovation in the show's history: new furniture. Soon, the comfort that powerful political operatives and the penniless pundits of America will enjoy will be, at last, at a level of opulence befitting their station. And I hope MEET THE PRESS goes all out. I want to see chairs that offer deep tissue massages. I want to see steel cages, where bondage performers play out scenes of middle-class angst for the delight of David Brooks. I believe that every single utterance of a DLC talking point should earn the utterer a tab of Ecstasy. NOTHING BUT COMPLETE AND UTTER EROTIC FULFILLMENT WILL SUFFICE! If guests are not treated as Friskies led kittehs, upon a ship of tuna, guided along by cartoon turkeys to the Ancient Pleasuredomes of Cat Food Bliss, their every sensual need tended to with loving care, then clearly, journalism has no real future, and we should just all strip to our skivvies and wander as madmen through the woods, clawing at nuts and grubs, communing with the woodland creatures evermore in the hopes the Nature herself shall redeem our existence.

But that's next week. By God I cannot bear to look upon the current set of MEET THE PRESS, it's threadbare accoutrements mocking the human drive for excellence. SUFFER NOT MINE ORBS TO WITNESS SUCH A BASE ENVIRONMENT.

Instead, we're going to look at a show that we haven't watched in ages. A place where time has stood still. A place where comfort is of concern to no one. A place where nobody learns anything, and nobody hugs, and the milk of the cup of human kindness is drunk by none. A place of which the great American Stateman and Hero, Andrew WK, once said that "death will come, on little cat's feet."

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

Yes, we are doing this, for some reason!

Oh, boy! Time to bathe in the crapulence! ISSUE ONE, bellows Mr. McLaughlin, shall be financial regulatory reform. Barack was straight up blowing up Wall Street this week! Not that Wall Street gave much of a damn! But, okay: the ingredients: BAILOUTS, VOLCKER RULE, TRANSPARENCY, CONSUMER PROTECTION, and EXECUTIVE PAY. How will the panel feel about this terrible cockblocking of Goldman Sachs, etc.? And their BAD DERIVATIVES? Because Goldman feels they have been unfairly fingered. (For fair fingering, see next week's MEET THE PRESS.)

And what about Goldman being Barack Obama's second-best pal, in terms of campaign contributions. Obama says that he never promised them a Rose Garden, for sure! PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE PEOPLE WHO WERE APPOINTED TO IMPORTANT POSITIONS.

"Is Goldman Sachs getting a bum rap," asks McLaughlin. Pat Buchanan says that "they had it coming!" Goldman's straight up planting time bombs! Suck it, Lloyd Blankfein! "In China, these people would be put up against the wall for economic crimes." OH YES, THIS IS THE SWEET SWEET NECTAR OF LETTING IT ALL DANGLE PRECIPTITOUSLY!

Eleanor Clift says she wants to align herself with all of that except for the whole Chinese firing squad stuff he was fapping himself to. "It's like rigging the World Series." I assume she means the sort of "rigging" that excludes the Pittsburgh Pirates and other small-market teams not being able to contend for one.

Monical Crowley comes to Goldman's defense. "The last time I checked, in this country you are innocent until proven guilty." That's a sentiment that was in short supply when Crowley was taking up the topic of Justice Department lawyers, ha ha, but whatever, Monica, you just groove on that, why not.

She is astonished that anyone would "assume the worst about Goldman Sachs!" Also: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Fed are the real enemies, here. But Mort Zuckerman's gonna sort all this out for everyone. GOD LOOK AT THAT TERRIBLE COFFEE TABLE FROM THE SEVENTIES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM. Anyway, Zuckerman says that the buyers knew and that Clift's condemnation was wrong wrong wrong.

Buchanan insists that Goldman is a bunch of "big hustlers" that are "totally arrogant." Zuckerman says, whatever, they are successful! LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!

Clift says that she is "not for destroying Goldman, just punishing them." Crowley insists that the government is to blame, here, so LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE EVEN HARDER!

YAY! About a solid minute of nothing but yelling!

Buchanan is going nuts! "What is the social benefit," he asks, of these practices. Zuckerman jumps on with the Fannie/Freddie backing! And more yelling! Clift says that Fannie/Freddie just rode the bandwagon "that the private equity firms" started. More yelling! Clift says that the Republican base is especially outraged by this.

McLaughlin shout-asks if the Goldman fooferaw will help pass FinReg, and Buchanan and Clift basically form a chorus of "Duh." "It'll grease the wheels on this baby," says Buchanan, filling my head with the image of greased babies. Clift says, "The Republicans are in full retreat."

Man, twelve minutes of this show have already passed! This is like the crystal meth of talk shows. I GOT THE ICE IN ME!

Zuckerman allows that the outrage will help pass the bill. SOMEONE PLEASE COUNTER WITH SOME OUTSIZED PRONOUNCEMENTS! Crowley: "It's an executive power grab!" Clift: "The laissez-faire days that led us over the cliff are over." Oh, yes! That'll give viewers the adrenal spike they came for!

OMG! What started it? Let's yell about that! Zuckerman says he wants some reform so long as none of his precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire) Wall Street firms get blamed. THEY DON'T DESERVE BLAME, FOR NEARLY DESTROYING THE WORLD.

McLaughlin asks, "Do you think Obama's actions are bad for America?" Buchanan starts yelling, "Goldman Sachs is not America!" Zuckerman: "This is attacking the lifeblood of our economy!"

"I think FinReg can be defeated," says McLaughlin, doing his typical best to not pay attention to anything that anyone on his show ever says in his presence. AND HALFTIME!!

Oh, yeah! That's the stuff, right there. My blood is racing! My heart is pounding! FUN FACT: Our own Sam Stein goes crazy for this show.

Oh, wow! We're going to talk about Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, now? Yeah, dude, I was feeling nostalgic for the news that took place two weeks ago, so why not? For some reason, the show is playing "Come Together" by the Beatles! And showing clips of Palin calling Bachmann a "fireball" and Bachmann saying that the world is Palin's oyster! WILL THEY BE THE LEADER OF THE TEABALLS?

Clift notes that the Tea Party people are way more into Rand Paul, and they don't want Palin to be president. But really, it's like a 55-45 split on that.

Crowley insists however, that the Tea Party movement is actually composed of 40% independents and Democrats. This is basically what we call lies. Let me pass the mic to Greg Sargent:

Folks pushing the idea that the Tea Party is mainstream and bipartisan are seizing on this headline from The Hill over the weekend:

Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party members are Dems or independents

Turns out, though, that this story is about a poll released last week by a Republican-leaning firm that found 57% of Tea Partiers are self-identified Republicans, 28% are independent and 13% are Dems. So yeah, 41% are either indy or Dem, with Dems making up a small majority of that group.

But a total of 85% are either Republican or independent. Given that experts say the ranks of independents are swollen these days with defectors from the GOP, these numbers suggest the Tea Party crowd tilts overwhelmingly to the right.

The new Gallup poll illustrates this even more starkly. The 28% of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters break down this way:

* Forty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters are Republicans, 43% are independents, and only eight percent are Dems. That means a huge majority -- 92% -- are Republicans or indys, and again, many of those indys could be former Republicans or lean GOP anyway.

* Seventy percent of Tea Party supporters say they're conservative, and only 22% say they're moderate. And who knows what they even mean by that word to begin with.

* A whopping 79% of Tea Party supporters are non-hispanic whites. Only 65% of Americans were non-hispanic whites as of 2008.

* Fifty-five percent of Tea Party supporters make over $50,000 a year.

Crowley says that Palin and Bachmann has taken the concept of "modern feminism and turned it on its head." That's pretty much true, but not in the way that Crowley thinks.

Zuckerman says that Bachmann is the more competent politico, and that people don't put much faith in Palin. He says, though, that the "gangster government" line, is pretty flatly ridiculous. Crowley says that her "driving point" was that the government was not responsive to a "majority of the American people," and in this fantasia, the "majority of the American people" are, like, 20% of the people.

McLaughlin wants to know who will be the top and who will be the bottom in the Palin/Bachmann relationship, to no one's surprise. Michael Steele can point him to a club in WeHo that can settle that issue out.

OH YAY TIME FOR "PREDICTIONS." Will Goldman Sachs "settle," by which I assume he means, "out of court" and not "for a guy who will make Goldman Sachs happy, if not ultimately fulfilled sexually." Buchanan says yes, Clift agrees, Crowley says that they will "stand and fight," Zuckerman says, "Meh, eventually," and McLaughlin says, "NEVER! RAHHHHH! BLAHHHHH!" And then his trainers rush on stage to tase him before he can destroy the one coffee table they can afford to maintain.

OH WOW. That was a glorious rush of pants-staining piffle and angry yelling! Let's do that again in a couple months, or so.

Anyway, I am now going to settle this rush of blood to my head with some Scotch, or something. I am very sorry that my internet was so streaky, today, because I had hoped to -- you know...finish this by sundown. We'll strive for perfection next week, when MEET THE PRESS reveals its beautiful new ottomans and stuff! In the meanwhizzle, I hope everyone has a great week.