MSNBC's 'Conservative' Scarborough Uses Leno Appearance To Slam GOP

Not content to keep his trashing of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party confined to his Morning Joe program on MSNBC, Republican congressman-turned-political commentator Joe Scarborough took his show on the road to Burbank, California, last night, slamming Republicans on The Tonight Show.

Appearing on the September 19 program, Scarborough started off the interview by stating the obvious, he is not a Republican, but a conservative -- well at least the sort of "conservative" that MSNBC can stomach to sign to a multi-million dollar contract.  [See video below.  MP3 audio here.]

Scarborough continued by using the typical MSNBC talking point that the current economic crisis is the fault of Republicans:

Republicans spent us into debt when they were in charge of Washington over the past ten years. If they hate and if they're angry enough -- then a lot of people on the far right will be whipped into a frenzy and will consider them conservative when really, all they are haters.

Scarborough then directed his anti-Republican rant by turning his eyes onto party nominee Mitt Romney:

It's just absolutely awful. He had a great convention film. They put that up. Then Clint Eastwood comes out and talks to a chair when prime time comes up, confuses half of America.  Had a very bad press conference on Libya. A lot of infighting, and then -- and then, of course, the video were he talked about basically writing off 47% of the electorate. 

Leno, who leans left politically, predictably lobbed Scarborough softball after softball, helping Scarborough paint a flattering self-portrait of himself as a reasonable rightie in a party full of “crazies.”  To his credit, Scarborough did talk about the benefits of conservatism and spoke favorably of the greatest conservative statesman of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, but this was after his vicious attack of Mitt Romney and the current GOP.

Conservatives would readily agree that Romney is no Reagan or Thatcher, but that he is the alternative in this election to a president whose spending binge would make FDR and LBJ blush with shame. Scarborough's too-cool-for-school bad-mouthing of the GOP only proves he prefers self-righteous smugness over being a strong conservative voice on an otherwise liberal network yelling STOP! at the Obama agenda.

For that conservative, viewers have to wait until S.E. Cupp's daily appearance in the 3 p.m. Eastern hour program The Cycle.


See relevant transcript below. 


The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

September 20, 2012

12:20 a.m. EDT

JAY LENO: Our next guest, the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which is celebrating its five-year anniversary on the air this week. Please welcome Joe Scarborough.  Congratulations on five years of Morning Joe.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: It is huge. Just huge.

LENO: Yeah, it is huge.

SCARBOROUGH: And the three people that watch have been there all five years. Thank you, guys. Thank you.

LENO: Now, now, what is it like being the lone -- I don't know if you’re the lone conservative -- are you a conservative or a Republican?

SCARBOROUGH: I am a conservative. Yeah, yeah.

LENO: So not a Republican.

SCARBOROUGH: And we've got one conservative here. Thank you so much. Our time's coming. In like 20 years.

LENO: Is conservative and Republican the same thing? Are you a conservative?

SCARBOROUGH: No, I don't think so. Not anymore.

LENO: Not anymore?

SCARBOROUGH: No, there're some crazies right now in the Republican Party.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: Like what -- what I consider conservative.  Back when I was in Congress, when people like Jeb Bush and I were considered too conservative –

LENO: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: For some reason is now moderate by today's standards.

LENO: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


LENO: Well, I've heard you being attacked as a RINO -- Republican in name only -- because you don't follow the party –

SCARBOROUGH: You know, the funny thing is you used to focus on ideology. Now, this has really happened the past three or four years. You're judged on whether you're a good Republican or not, on whether you hate Barack Obama or not.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: And it is bizarre because people who will spend us into debt. Republicans spent us into debt when they were in charge of Washington over the past ten years. If they hate and if they're angry enough -- then a lot of people on the far right will be whipped into a frenzy and will consider them conservative when really, all they are are haters.

LENO: Right, right.

SCARBOROUGH: And we get deeper in debt, and it just doesn't do us any good.

LENO: Yeah I agree. I agree with that.  Now, is it an understatement to say this is just a bad month for Mitt Romney?

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, good god, yes. Good god. You know when your Vice Presidential nominee that you pick goes on there and says that you're inarticulate, I mean, seriously.  It’s like Honey Boo Boo questioning your fashion sense.  It is a bad sign. Come on I need something from over there. It's like, when Honey Boo Boo -- there you go. Thank you very much.

LENO: There you go!

SCARBOROUGH: It's just absolutely awful. He had a great convention film. They put that up. Then Clint Eastwood comes out and talks to a chair when prime time comes up, confuses half of America.  Had a very bad press conference on Libya. A lot of infighting, and then -- and then, of course, the video where he talked about basically writing off 47% of the electorate. I don't know. When I ran for Congress, I wanted everybody to vote for me.

LENO: Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH: And everybody to give me their vote. Everybody to give me their money. You write off 47%. And you talk that way, i mean –

LENO: How do you defend what he said? I hear people on both sides. I hear conservatives saying, "No, he was just trying to appeal to these particular people." But –

SCARBOROUGH: I just thought it was so pessimistic to be writing off 47% of the population.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, they just want. You know, they just want Washington to take care of them.

LENO: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: That's not the way -- you know, people like Margaret Thatcher, people like Ronald Reagan. They actually believed in what they believed because they believed their policies would help the working poor. They believed their policies really would lift, lift people into the middle class and into prosperity. And instead of just writing off 47% of the vote say, "I'm just focusing on the 52%, 53%."

LENO: Yeah, I remember.

SCARBOROUGH: It's just so limiting.

LENO: Even George Bush, when he knew he wouldn't get this particular constituency, he still went there.

SCARBOROUGH: Well and that was the key. You know, George W. Bush in 2000, he would campaign in inner cities. And he did that because he was sending the message that he wasn't just going out trying to win votes of the rich. And it sent a message. It sent a message to a lot of Americans that this wasn't just about the 1% versus the 90%, the haves versus the have-nots. But, if you really do believe that giving people more freedom, letting people get more of their money, letting people run their businesses  the way they want to run their businesses -- if you really believe that, then you believe that freedom leads to prosperity. And again, Margaret Thatcher -- Margaret Thatcher was a a shopkeeper's daughter. Ronald Reagan, he wasn't a rich guy. You look at a guy like Paul Ryan. I mean, Paul Ryan comes from a swing district that voted for Bill Clinton, that voted for Barack Obama. And he's a middle class guy. My dad was unemployed for 18 months back in the early '70s. You could not get him to vote for a Democrat if his life depended on it because he really did believe less taxes, less spending, balanced budgets led to economic growth and that he'd get a job. There was no resentment there like we're seeing today, unfortunately, on both sides.

LENO: Now, after the speech, the 47% speech, he then came out and defended it. Right call? Wrong call?

SCARBOROUGH: That's a wrong call.

LENO: Wrong call? What should he have done?

SCARBOROUGH: Just say I made a mistake. I mean, it's a radical thing to do. But just say, "I made a mistake." He's got a great opportunity.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: You're seeing conservatives wringing their hands. Now, the Wall Street Journal editorial page -- a lot of us are wondering, how are you losing to Barack Obama?  The guy -- I mean, we're $1 trillion in debt more every year. We've spent more money on this stimulus bill than ever before.  The economy has not picked up. And yet, you've got two candidates that really aren't telling us what they're going to do over the next four years. Like Barack Obama, you know, he's kind of like Elvis in Vegas. He's playing the old hits. He's saying the same things. Nothing really new. But what's Mitt Romney -- I mean, neither one of these guys are telling us how they're going to get Americans back to work. How they're going to get us out of Afghanistan. How we're going to start reinvesting more in our own country than reinvesting, like I said, like in places like Afghanistan, which is absolutely maddening. There is such a disconnect between Washington and the rest of America.

LENO: So you're a conservative. Who would have been your candidate? Let's say they put you in charge. You're in charge of the Republican Party. Who do we run?

SCARBOROUGH: I like Jeb Bush.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: I like Chris Christie.

LENO: But that would be hard, another Bush. I mean, I think Jeb Bush is really good. But you just have people go, "Oh, it's the Bush family again."

SCARBOROUGH: You're probably four years from now you're going to have another Bush against another Clinton.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: It's going to be Jeb against Hillary, and that will be a lot of fun.

LENO: Do you think that will happen? Do you think that will –

SCARBOROUGH: I really do. I really do.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: I think that's where we're going. But, I like Chris Christie out of New Jersey. And this is what I like about Chris Christie.  The guy, we interviewed him early on -- he had like a 32% approval rating. He was going. He was going after a lot of sacred cows. And we said to him afterwards, we said, "Governor you're going to lose if you don't cut this crap out."

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don't care. This is what I believe.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: The guy kept doing what he believed. He's sitting right now at 59% in the bluest of blue states.  And you see the same thing with Democrats.

LENO: Yeah, but he's not ready. He's not ready.


LENO: I watched that speech. I mean, he's good. He looks for the next go-around, not for this go-around.


LENO: Let me ask you this. Who has the edge on foreign policy?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, right now -- and this is another thing that is just driving Republicans crazy.  It’s usually a Republican advantage.  The Democrats have a big advantage in foreign policy right now because Mitt Romney has made one mistake after another.  The Libyan press conference was absolutely maddening to me. Because here you have a U.S. Ambassador that has lost his life, and it's almost like his political guys rush him out there the next day. It's like Peggy Noonan, Bill Kristol, others.  You could have waited a a couple days before he had that press conference. And also Afghanistan. One of the maddening things to me is we continue to spend $2 billion a week in Afghanistan in an endless war. And I really thought the president should have brought the troops home three years ago. And we said it at the time.  And yet Mitt Romney is talking about staying their even longer.

LENO: Well, he said –

SCARBOROUGH: We've been around this country over the past five years since we've been doing this show, giving a lot of speeches on college campuses. I've given a lot of speeches across America. I have yet to meet one person who says, "Afghanistan, that's a great idea! Let's stay there for another five years. Let's spend $2 billion a week." It just doesn't make sense. And it's our sons and daughters dying over there. But again, there is such a huge disconnect between Washington, D.C. and the rest of this country that the war goes on, and, on, and, on.

LENO: Now, Obama in Congress. Okay, let's say Obama wins.


LENO: Do the Republicans still keep this -- no, never going to do anything? I mean, I hate it when both sides work against the good of the country. I mean, at some point –

SCARBOROUGH: At some point you have to work.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUIGH: You know, I got elected back in the 1990s. And I ran in '94 and got elected, and I ran against Bill Clinton.  The guy drove me crazy. You know, he'd be on T.V. going -- "I feel your pain." I'd be like, "He's lying! You know he's lying! Shut up!" And he gets to Washington -- and, of course, I have to deal with the guy, right?

LENO: Yeah, yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: But I hated him so much. And I remember going to his, going to his –

LENO: And why? Why did you hate him so much?

SCARBOROUGH: He drove me -- because he was –

LENO: You just said you hated the word hate.

SCARBOROUGH: I hated the guy so much. And I remember going to his Chief of Staff and I was like, "I can't stand your boss. I feel so bad about hating your boss."  He goes, "Don't worry about it, Congressman. He hates you, too."


SCARBOROUGH: But here's the point. You had a Democratic president who couldn't stand Republicans, vice versa. We balanced the budget for the first time in a generation. Balanced it four years in a row for the first time since the 20s. We passed welfare reform. Our troops won two wars, created 22 million jobs. I'll tell you, we actually put politics in the back seat. Now, of course, we impeached him, too. It was the '90s. It was thing to do at the time.

LENO: What are you saying, hate is the key? Is that what you're saying?

SCARBOROUGH: No. No. No.  The key is to not make it personal. To get past the animosity. Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan.

LENO: Sure.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, they had a rule. They went after each other. They clawed each other's eyes out. But they had a rule. Literally, at 6:00 Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan became friends. O'Neill would go down to The White House.

LENO: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: They would sit there like, you know, two Irish politicians.

LENO: Two Irish guys drinking. What are the odds of that?

SCARBOROUGH: Drinking whiskey, telling lies. But they worked together.

LENO: Joe, thank you very much, my friend.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks a lot.

LENO: Congratulations. Five years, Morning Joe.   

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