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Both Sides Now w/ Huffington & Matalin on Debates' Winners-Losers, Ginny & Clarence Thomas, Al Smith-Jon Stewart

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Having focused previously on the impact of the economy, ads and money on the 2010 mid-terms, Both Sides Now this week looked at the variable of campaign debates with a woman who's briefed many candidates for them (MM) and a woman who was the head of the Cambridge Debate Society (AH). (Listen to highlights of this show below or go to for the entire program and prior ones.)

*On Debates: The women agreed that debates rarely matter unless there's a gaffe or unusually authentic moment (Bentsen-Quayle) and then they weighed in on several this week: Arianna argued that O'Donnell denying the scientific reality of evolution and Feingold pushing Johnson to renounce secret special interest money were potentially significant moments - Mary, however, thought that the issue of disclosure and outside money was small beer and that Giannoulis's mob ties were worse than Kirk's military lies. Arianna thought any lying about military service was especially disqualifying.

*Being Bullied to Death: Both were dismayed by the reported rise in LGBT teens taking their lives after being bullied but sharply disagreed about whether anti-gay remarks by folks like Carl Paladino and DeMint ("practicing homosexuals shouldn't teach in schools") contributed to an atmosphere where straight kids assumed it ok to pick on LBGT youth. Mary strongly disagreed with their remarks, saying that here she agreed more with Obama than DeMint - but discounted the link between bad words and bad conduct. Arianna thought such remarks poisoned" the air we breath."

*Virginia & Clarence Thomas: She heads an ultra-conservative group and calls Obama a "tyrant." Ok for a Supreme Court justice's spouse to do that or beyond the pale? The women agreed that Court spouses have their rights and careers - Mary said it would be "sexist" to stop her -- though Arianna thought it "really strange" for Ms. Thomas to say such extreme things while her husband rules on Obama's policies.

*"God Hates Fags": The Supreme Court is deciding whether the family of a fallen soldier could sue a religious sect for protesting outside their funeral with signs saying "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." Both women agreed that such signage was both disgusting and protected speech since government can't be in the business of allowing some protests but not others.

*On the Radar: A big week coming up for the women: Mary told how she and her husband James Carville would the keynote speakers at the legendary Al Smith Dinner this Tuesday night in New York City while Arianna described how the HuffPo was sending 250 buses next Saturday morning to Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in D.C.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by The American Federation of Teachers.

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