Interview on "The Randi Rhodes Show"

Plus a bonus appearance by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

September 1, 2004

Randi Rhodes, Host: [commenting on intro music] Man, what is that? That's good! Love that!

33 after. Welcome! Governor! Howard! Dean!

Governor Howard Dean, chair of Democracy For America: Hey, how are you?

Rhodes: Hi, honey, how are ya?

Dean: I'm great. I'm in sunny and beautiful Chicago.

Rhodes: Yeah? Well, I just wanted to thank you, thank you so much, for getting rid of my old election supervisor, Teresa LaPore! She lost!

Dean: Ahh, isn't that great? She's calling for a recount, this is not done yet. She's the one who counts the votes, she can't find 6,000 of them. So we gotta worry about that.

Rhodes: Are you kidding me? 'Cause I'm in New York. Are you kidding me?

Dean: No, I'm not kidding.

Rhodes: She needs it? She's doing her own recount on her own election?

Dean: I don't know anything about that, but I know she's asked for a recount. They can't find 6,000 votes.

Rhodes: Oh, for God's sake.

Dean: That's exactly why we needed to go find somebody else.

We have a great guy who won the election last night---

Rhodes: I know, Dr. Arthur Anderson, yeah... I was in Florida for years and years and years. You'll get used to me.

Yeah, Wexler's my Congressman, and--

Dean: Oh, is that right? --

Rhodes: Oh, yeah.

Dean: So you know all about this, this is your district!

Rhodes: Oh, yeah. I was there for 2000, and--

Dean: The place of the hanging chads!

Rhodes: Well, that wasn't the problem. And now, you know, of course guys like you know it. The problem was that, you know, they just didn't want to count the votes. That 'equal protection' thing. That was amazing to me. That was--

Dean: You know what was more interesting, though? Is that the technology that they used to substitute is worse than the hanging chads.

Rhodes: I know it is, and...

Dean: The electronic voting machines. You really have to watch out for--

Rhodes: What are we--

Dean: They're all over Florida.

Rhodes: What are we gonna do about that?

Dean: Well, I think John Kerry is gonna have a legal team in every precinct, and...

Rhodes: Yeah.

Dean: ... and we need poll wor-- we're trying to get people to function as observers. We're really gonna have to have a team of observers in every precinct in America that has these machines, because they're so unreliable.

Rhodes: Well, what was that guy from 'dye-bold' or 'dee-bold', however the hell you say it, who said in Ohio, no less, the greatest swing competition ever, he said, you know, the owner-- "I'm gonna get George Bush the electoral votes that he needs."

Dean: Yeah, he said, "I'm gonna do everything in my power to reelect George Bush." [laughs sardonically]

Rhodes: What the hell was that all about?

Dean: He makes the voting machines. That doesn't give you a lot of confidence in the process, does it?

Rhodes: No, it doesn't. And I've talked to Bev Harris, you know, the Black Box Voting guru, really, and she says this is really bad technology. Yesterday I was reading the newspaper and I saw in there, that now they're gonna let some of the troops vote by email. Now, Governor, you know email is the most insecure method of communication on the Internet. So...

Dean: Yeah. I don't know if-- that's probably not legal in most states. There are some states that they have tried it. And I don't think they actually tried it in elections. The Democrats tried it in a couple of primaries, and I think Arizona tried it. But, there were some problems.

Rhodes: Yeah. Oh, no, it's the most insecure, really, of all the ways that you could use a computer. The most insecure method is email. There's, you know, different kinds of ways to use a computer to give yourself more security, which is why, you know, a lot of documents are PDF files, and there's just like a million different things you could do. But...

Dean: The best Secretary of State in America is a guy named Bill Bradbury in Oregon.

Rhodes: Yeah.

Dean: And he got a law passed in 1981 that said that you may not use any way of voting that...


Rhodes: That what?

I lost you!

[softly, plaintively] Come back! Come back, Governor Howard Dean, come back!

Sound Man: I think we lost him, I'll call him back, OK?

Rhodes: All right.

... In the meantime, just put somebody on the line wit' me, I don't really care who.

Sound Man: All right, gimme just a second to... ah...

Rhodes: Just pick somebody.

Sound Man: Let's just do this... Robert! in Idaho! You're on the air.

Rhodes: Idaho?? Oh, my God!

Robert in Idaho: Idaho!

Rhodes: Damn!

Robert: I'm here! Yeah, we spoke before, I told you about--

Rhodes: Oh, I remember you. I remember you. You're my only Idaho caller, how could I forget?

Robert: Well, I'm the only liberal in Idaho.

Rhodes: I know.

Robert: [Laughs] That's not true, actually, I just talked to the campaign chairman here, and he said that we're like just inches from being a purple state.

Are you there?

Rhodes: Oh, really? No. Come on.

Well, you know, maybe--

Robert: They're saying that there's a chance.

Rhodes: Maybe. You know why? Idaho is fiercely independent. It's sort of like--


[Musical fanfare]

Sound Man: Randi, we have Governor Dean back!

Randi: All right. Robert, I'm gonna have this conversation with you about Idaho. And how you can promote Kerry over Bush. By appealing to people's independence.

Robert: Absolutely.

Rhodes: All right. So lemme go back to Governor Dean and I'll talk to you tomorrow about this, all right?

Robert: OK.

Rhodes: All right. Thanks. Listen tomorrow--

Dean: -- I didn't know Karl Rove was investing in the cell phone company.

[Rhodes laughs]

Dean: Hey, that was Randy from Idaho?

Rhodes: Robert from Idaho.

Dean: Robert from Idaho. That's great.

Rhodes: A liberal. He's a liberal in Idaho, and he thinks that he might have a chance of being a purple state, he thinks.

Dean: Well, you know something? Only liberals balance budgets. Conservatives don't balance budgets.

Rhodes: That's what I'm saying.

Dean: Ever since Ronald Reagan, and Idaho people are conservative about money, and we need to remind them that--

Rhodes: Yes.

Dean: --Remind them the biggest deficits in America's history -- Ronald Reagan, George Bush the First, and now George Bush the Second--

Rhodes: Yep.

Dean: All -- Only a Democrat has balanced the budget in the last 34 years in Washington. That's well worth reminding voters.

Rhodes: Right. It's Bill Clinton's economy that he inherited--

Dean: That's right.

Rhodes: --took advantage of, and stole.

Dean: And messed up.

Rhodes: You know, what I like the best about you is, you'll use the hard words. You know, I have said to certain Senators and Congressmen in my day, 'why don't you just say, the president is lying?' And they-- you know-- 'why do you have to pick the hardest thing to do', and 'Randi, I appreciate what you're saying, but you can't call the President of the United States a liar'-- why can't you?? I don't understand. They called Bill Clinton a liar for 8 years. Now, why--

Dean: Yeah, but you know, actually I agree with the Senators and Congressman on that. No respectable person-- Senator-- called Bill Clinton a liar. That was all the right-wing wackos that were doing all that.

Rhodes: Well, I dunno. Well, that's true that we--

Dean: I'm just saying-- I mean, look. The President didn't tell the truth, we know that.

Rhodes: Yeah, I know that.

Dean: What we don't know is if he knew that he wasn't telling the truth. We can guess, but we don't know that.

Rhodes: Which President are you talking about, this one?

Dean: George Bush.

Rhodes: Aww, naw. George Bush knew he was lying. George Bush had to know he was lying, because-- look. First of all, from--

Dean: well-- look. It could be that Dick Cheney altered those reports, and that Scooter Libby, who's his chief of staff, altered the reports before they got to the President, we don't know. I mean we know what the President-- 'cause the President didn't make any sense in what he did. But we don't know if he's -- his administration clearly lied. We don't know if he is the one that altered the reports and didn't tell us the truth, or if that was the people surrounding him.

Rhodes: Well, that's a pretty interesting take on it, but I'll say this. If you're gonna put your National Security advisor, your Vice President, etc on TV, right there on the TV, which is all that matters any more, and they're gonna sit there and say, "we didn't have enough imagination, and we never thought that airplanes would be used as missiles," when clearly, it was in the Hart-Rudman Commission as early as that if not before...

Dean: Right. well, I would never make the argument that this President is competent.

Rhodes: Right. Well, but--

Dean: He's not qualified to be President, there's no question about that. He's made us much weaker, our defense is weaker.

Rhodes: Right.

Dean: We are less less able to fight terrorism today than we were--

Rhodes: -- So you're saying that--

Dean: -- when he took office. There's no question the President's made us weaker both economically and--

Rhodes: -- So you're saying to me, that the reason why the Senators are givin' me a hard time, my own party Senators, guys that, you know, typically I can count on, givin' me a hard time, is because the President's got either a learning deficit disorder, I dunno, or he's got Cheney manipulating the intelligence to him, and no one in the administration includes him in the truth of the intelligence, and/or that the President is too lazy to even read it, and... so you can't prove he lied.

Dean: Right.

Rhodes: [Laughs sardonically] You're amazing.

I dunno. I dunno. That's pretty incredible to me.

Well all right, lemme work this one out with ya, then.

So, it's September 11th, and 4 planes are gonna make U-turns in the sky all across America. And the President is left on his own, he's sittin' in a chair, and he doesn't move. Could've been a nuclear attack. Could've been a dirty bomb on any of those airplanes.

When he found out about it, when it already hit, he lied. He said "that was one bad pilot." Said he saw it. Walked into the classroom anyway. How do you explain that?

Dean: Ah, I don't. I wasn't there. [chuckles]

Rhodes: No, no, I mean, is that...

Dean: Yeah...

Rhodes: ...stupid? or...

Dean: You know, I wasn't there, and I don't know.

You know, I think the biggest issue is not that-- I actually think that we're gonna get farther not so much attacking the President's character, although I think that his character is such that people don't believe him, and don't trust him, a lot of people.

Rhodes: I don't.

Dean: The real problem of this President is he's such a failure. The first President to lose jobs since the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover. The first President to run half-trillion-dollar deficits, record deficit in the country's history. First President to make sure that half a million children got kicked off health insurance, because of his--

Rhodes: Well, he did that in Texas, too, you know.

Dean: Oh, yeah. 200,000 of those kids lost their health insurance in Texas while he was Governor. This is not a guy that you want to have lead the greatest country in the world. Because if you have him lead it very long, it won't be the greatest country in the world much longer. And that's really why I was so mad at the President during the campaign. I think this is a great country that we live in. And the people--

Rhodes: Oh, we all do. That's the whole reason why it hurts us so bad. To see what they're doing to it--

Dean: --That's right. The people of this country are great and they deserve better than George Bush.

Rhodes: I agree. You know what I used to say to people? I still do, and if I were in the studio I would say it, but I'm here at this Moonie convention, (she is broadcasting from the 2004 Republican convention, actually) I don't know what the hell this is, but it's really kinda creepy, I gotta tell ya. The look in people's eyes, and the things they say to each other, like, "The GOP is the party of God." Oh, it's just, it's unnerving. But... here's what I--

Dean: You know, we hospitalize people like that, sometimes.

Rhodes: Yeah, but we don't have mental health insurance any more. [they laugh sadly] We don't have sanitariums any more. Which we desperately need, you know. People are runnin' around on the Madison Square Garden floor. They need to have some insurance there.

But I used to tell people all the time, that they are smarter than George W. Bush. And quite frankly, we need a President that's smarter than me! I need a President that's smarter than the callers. And we don't have that with this guy. The callers to the show-- the callers to any radio talk show-- when you listen to them, they wrap their brains around issues, they read newspapers, you know, they work really hard at it. They're smarter than the President.

That's not what we deserve. We deserve real leadership. So. That's what I tell 'em.

Dean: How are you -- are you having any fun at that convention?

Rhodes: No. I'm not.

I really wish you were here! I really do. Just tell you, the bright spot of my day was Sheila Jackson Lee, 'cause I've been friends with her for a really long time.

Dean: Oh, she's great.

Rhodes: Well, I love everybody on Judiciary, because Wexler introduced me to everybody that he worked with, so I knew Conyers and her for years. But truly, she was the only bright spot in my day. I mean...

Dean: Oh, she's at the convention?

Rhodes: Yeah, she's standing right in front of me, actually. She can't hear ya--

Dean: [excited] She is??

Rhodes: Yeah, you wanna talk to her?

Dean: Tell her I said hello! She's great! Sheila Jackson Lee. She came to Wisconsin for us, and she's just a great, loyal person.

Rhodes: I'm gonna see if I can grab her for ya.

I tell you something, you know what happened to me? I was talking to Senator Grassley today. And I tried really, really hard to compliment him on his ability to do oversight and stuff. And, I dunno, he got really mad at me, because I pointed out the letters that he wrote to Ashcroft and asked him what was going on with this Justice Department. I have this-- wait, here she is.

I have a surprise for you. Say hello to Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee. Say hi.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee: Is this the Governor?

Dean: Yes it is. Hello, Sheila Jackson Lee. How are you?

Jackson Lee: Ohh, my. I am wonderful. Did you--?

Dean: We sure did have fun down in Texas campaigning together for Richard Morrison, who's gonna beat Tom DeLay for Congress.

Jackson Lee: We are excited about that. Frankly, that was one of the most exciting opportunities--

Rhodes: Wait a minute. You're running somebody against DeLay? I had no idea! Tell me!

Dean: Absolutely. And he's only 8 points behind. He's a great guy named--

Jackson Lee: An outstanding young man, right Governor?

Rhodes: [crows] Yess!! I never knew that!

Jackson Lee: We had a great round...

Dean: ... never run for office before. He's great.

Jackson Lee: Oh, he is. And he has a good heart. Richard Morrison.

Rhodes: Richard Morrison?

Jackson Lee: Right. He's a strong environmentalist.

Rhodes: I'm gonna give him money. Morrison. And I'm gonna get people to give him money.

Jackson Lee: He is an exciting young man. He is.

Dean: He's got a website. He's one of our Dean Dozens, so you can look him up on

Rhodes: I will! I had no idea! So glad I talked to the two of you together! Oh, my.

You know how I got to talk to Governor Dean about you, was, he said, 'are you havin' a'-- he hears how upset I am, he said, 'are you having at all a good time there?' I said 'no, I wish you were here.' I told him the only bright spot in my day was Sheila Jackson Lee. He says, 'oh, I love her!' And I said, 'Well, I'm lookin' right at her.' 'Oh, go get her!'

So I'm so glad that I could give you a little tiny--

Jackson Lee: -- mutual admiration society. Governor Dean's efforts across the nation, I just want everybody to hear this, is one of the most powerful, effective grassroots efforts. In fact, America is thirsting after a grassroots effort to restore the average, common, ordinary person back into the political process. I want to be part of that, Governor, and you know I'm full--

Dean: You are part of it--

Jackson Lee: -- full, part of--

Dean: -- you are.

Jackson Lee: -- of working with, and we saw a lot of those voters in Texas, and the one thing that Governor Dean has reminded us in Texas, I think he had a thousand people in the ballroom...

Rhodes: Wow.

Jackson Lee: ... two Saturdays ago in Houston, is that Texas is longing to be in the Democratic column, and the progressive column, and I think we have a great opportunity, and Governor Dean is taking that message all over the country. We're grateful.

Rhodes: Well, you are--

Dean: -- The other message about Texas is-- we want those to be-- you know, Texans are very proud people, and their last two governors, including George Bush, have them last in health insurance, children's health insurance, their public schools are rapidly becoming last in the country. We need Texas back in Democratic hands so Texans can be proud to be number one again.

Jackson Lee: Absolutely. And we have the kind of people who care about people, who are willing to improve education, health care, and jobs. And frankly, that's the message that you're carrying forward, and John Kerry and John Edwards are carrying forward. We are all a big team, that's what we are.

Rhodes: I wanna be part of your team! Now you ask Sheila Jac-- I don't know Governor Dean all that well. I think this is what, the second time we've ever spoken, right?

Jackson Lee: This is a great lady, by the way, Governor.

Dean: Well, I'm happy to talk with her.

Rhodes: It's only the second time I've ever talked to you, Governor, but Sheila Jackson Lee and I go back, probably six years, something like that. And, you know, I was in a little tiny town, in West Palm Beach, Florida, and she had no reason to talk to my listeners. They couldn't vote for her! And she'd just come on anyway, and just help me out every time I ever needed it. And boy, I just tell you, we've been radio buddies and we finally got to meet in Boston and then here. So this is great, I'm glad we could all talk.

I had no idea De-- that-- that-- 'Dean', I almost called you, like, 'Howard', you know ... [Jackson Lee chuckles] I don't even call her 'Sheila', ask her. I don't after all these years, I can't do it.

Dean: Her first name is 'Congresswoman'.

Rhodes: It is to me!

[They laugh]

Rhodes: Actually, you know what I call her? I call her 'the gentlelady'. I call her 'the gentlelady from Houston', is what I call her.

Dean: Uh huh. That's right.

Rhodes: But, you know something, Governor, is the idea that you're out there doin' all this, I didn't even know! You've got to tell people like me! I had no idea.

Dean: Well, we are. We've got a big organization called We have a thousand candidates around the country, some running for Congress like Richard Morrison, some running like Dr. Anderson, against Teresa LaPore, who Dr. Anderson knocked her off.

Rhodes: Thank you for that. Oh, God, the Floridians are so happy.

Dean: The inventor of the 'butterfly ballot', so we were happy to see her go.

Rhodes: And he won, didn't he?

Jackson Lee: Yes.

Dean: He did, by about 3 points. But now she's asked for a recount, so she gets to count the votes.

Jackson Lee: Well, that's all right, Governor, we'll be down in Florida for that recount.

Dean: Yes, we're gonna need to be too.

Rhodes: Eeee! I love you guys!

Thanks, Governor Dean! I'll talk to you soon.

Dean: Thank you all very much.

Rhodes: And if you need me, call me, okay? And I'll do the same... Thank you.

Jackson Lee: Pleasure to talk to you.

Dean: Congresswoman, thank you so much for everything.

Jackson Lee: Thanks for being down in our district. We all enjoyed it.

Dean: We loved it. Thank you.

Jackson Lee: Thank you.

Rhodes: Thank you!! [they laugh]

--- End ---

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