Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nancy Pelosi on the Daily Show

Transcript and embedded video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, 2008-07-28, below the fold.

The Speaker addressed issues of ending the Iraq War, offshore drilling, public approval ratings of Congress, balance of power and limits on executive power, and restoring America's leadership in the world.

video clip from TheDailyShow.com:


Jon Stewart: Welcome back! My guest tonight — she is the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. She has a new book out called Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters. Please welcome back to the show Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Madame Speaker, have a seat, please. Enjoy! Nice to see you again.

Nancy Pelosi (D–San Francisco, CA): Great to be here, thank you.

Stewart: The book is called Know Your Power:

Pelosi: Know Your Power.

Stewart:A Message to America's Daughters; are you worried that by putting a message out to America's daughters, our enemies' daughters also get the message?

Pelosi: We want all daughters to get the message — and sons, too, to know their power as well.

Stewart: Now, what is their power?

Pelosi: Their power is to make change, to make a difference, to understand their uniqueness, to understand their strengths. So many times, women say to me — one of the reasons I wrote this was, women come up to me all the time: "How did you go from being a housewife to a House Speaker? How did you go from a homemaker to House Speaker?" And I tell my story, and in doing so, tell them how I —

Stewart: — inspire other people.

Pelosi: Well, hopefully they will draw strength from their own experiences, as I drew from mine.

Stewart: In terms of favorability ratings — when you were a housewife, what were the favorability ratings you were getting then? Because right now, House Speaker, it's been tough — it's been a rough ride.

Pelosi: Well, the Congress of the United States has always been an institution that has been mockable.

Stewart: I believe that is on our seal — in Latin — of Congress: We Are Mockable. [SVMVS DERIDICVLVM, or is it SVMVS DERIDICVLIS?]

Pelosi: I am more pleased about the ratings that the Democrats in Congress are getting, in every category you can name.

Stewart: The individuals, you mean?

Pelosi: Well, the individuals and the Democrats in Congress, and so, by 20 points, 15 points, you name the issue, we're ahead, so I feel confident —

Stewart: What do you feel good about? What would you say was — 'cause you guys came in with a head of steam. You said, you know, no blank check for the war, we're gonna check this President's unchecked power; do you feel like that's been accomplished?

Pelosi: Well, in the House of Representatives we have sent that bill over and over to the Senate with it hitting a brick wall over there, but I do feel good about things that we have done other than that. But in terms of Congress' performance on the war, I'm with the public on that: I'm disappointed. I hope that we can —

Stewart: On the war, you think that Congress has dropped the ball?

Pelosi: Not the House of Representatives. In the House, we have sent a "timeline," a "goal," whatever we thought they could accept, pass, and send to the President.

Stewart: Why can't the House of Representatives put a little bit of pressure on the Senate? In the hierarchy of the balance of power, are you the little —

Pelosi: No, the Speaker has awesome power for our house, but it's a bicameral legislature, and in the Senate, a majority doesn't matter; 60 votes —

Stewart: Senator [Harry] Reid (D–Nevada) came on the program —

Pelosi: I saw him!

Stewart: — he sat across from me; can I tell you something? It was a 6-minute interview; he was asleep for 4 minutes. He left and I just kept asking questions to the chair.

Pelosi: It's a tough job.

Stewart: I'd never seen anything like it. Is he just sad? What happened?

Pelosi: He's great.

Stewart: But can't you put the pressure on him, or publicly —

Pelosi: No, it's not him. Remember, you need 60 votes, so he gets the Democratic votes, and that's a majority, but you still need 9 more votes. That's why this election is so important. I mean, we have been able to accomplish a lot: we passed our energy bill, the minimum wage — first time in 10 years —

Stewart: Couldn't you take stronger — in terms of, you know, the war, why not just withhold funding? That could be done.

Pelosi: Well, we did that this last time, and we sent the bill over with no funding and conditions for how we would stay there; the bill came back from the Senate with the funding and no conditions on how we stay there. We need a new President.

Stewart: Couldn't you, at that point, say —

Pelosi: No.

Stewart: We do need a new President; I would say that. Let me ask you this —

Pelosi: Our election in '86 [sic], we thought the President would listen to the will of the American people. It was very clear they wanted an end to the war. That wasn't true.

Stewart: Which election? 2006?

Pelosi: In 2006. Now, that was Step One; 2008, we get a Democratic President, bring the war to an end, and return to a position of leadership in the world.

Stewart: Is Congress, as it is made up today, obsolete? With a powerful President, is Congress sort of a vestigial — unless it has 60 votes in the Senate and a huge majority in the House of Representatives.

Pelosi: Fair question, because —

Stewart: Seriously?

Pelosi: — because the Republicans in Congress vote so much as a rubber stamp with the President that they are abdicating the role of Article I — we are the first article of the Constitution, the Congress of the United States — but if you say, "I'm just going to vote with the President, stick with the President every time," then he has power that he should not have.

Stewart: When you exercise that kind of — let's say Barack Obama is fortunate enough to win the Presidency, and you —

Pelosi: Yes, let's say that! [claps]

Stewart: — or, or — I don't want to play favorites here — or Hillary Clinton. Let's say either one of them —

Pelosi: All right. [claps]

Stewart: — is fortunate enough to do that. Are you saying that the Democrats will exercise more and more stringent oversight over a Democratic President than the Republican Congress did over President Bush?

Pelosi: Well, the same thing: I mean, the point is —

Stewart: No rubber stamp.

Pelosi: No rubber stamp, and in terms of, for example, domestic surveillance, no President, Democrat or Republican, should have the power that this President claims to have. So it isn't — and the Congress of the United States has to assert its prerogatives, and this Republican Congress has been a rubber stamp for so long, but that will change.

Stewart: Tell me about the drilling; that's the one thing I couldn't wrap my head around. You know, I know there's talk about drilling in some offshore areas; you didn't want that to come up for a vote.

Pelosi: Well, in the past 2 weeks or so, the President is trying to maintain that, but for the offshore drilling in protected areas, the economy would be in great shape. I can't let him get away with that. So the point is this: did you know that, in the "Lower 48," there are 68 million acres [28 million hectares] that are approved for drilling, 33 million [13 Mha] of which are offshore. In Alaska — you wanna drill in Alaska, we'll give you Alaska: there are tens of millions of acres in Alaska approved for drilling. But they want to drill in the protected areas.

Stewart: Is there oil underneath those acres?

Pelosi: Oh, tons of oil. Great oil.

Stewart: Can't you just open up the whole damned thing?

Pelosi: Well, why would you — in other words, we're saying to them —

Stewart: You say drill the stuff you've already got.

Pelosi: "Use it or lose it!" Drill where you have the environmental permits and the approvals to go ahead, or lose that and let somebody else drill that.

Stewart: I'm saying, let's steal everybody else's milkshake. [reference to the film There Will Be Blood] That's what I'm saying: let's get the straws in there —

Pelosi: As long as it's chocolate, right.

Stewart: Exactly.

Pelosi: Well, then, but also —

Stewart: So you think, no vote for that?

Pelosi: Well, for two weeks, they've been saying, "Oh, she won't let us have a vote on it!" For ten years we couldn't have a vote on the minimum wage, and nobody made a big fuss about that, and when we came in, we brought it to the floor vote on the minimum wage, the first time in 10 years. So they can try to make their case —

Stewart: It's an ugly little world up there in Washington, innit? It's not fun.

Pelosi: It's not for the faint of heart to be there. It's rough.

Stewart: What happens when you see people at a bar afterwards — I'm not saying you go to a bar, but let's say you go to a bar and you see a guy from the other side and you guys look at each other — I mean, do you ever just walk up to somebody and say, "Let's go outside, my brotha"?

Pelosi: No, just right there, go pow! [pantomimes punching Jon Stewart in the face]

Stewart: Know Your Power, people; it's on the bookshelves now. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi!

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Click below for embedded video and transcript...