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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, May 13th, 2011

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Guests: Michael Isikoff, Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner, John Ralston

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  Big surprise—well, sorry.  I‘ve been having a lot of trouble trying to feel surprised that Osama bin Laden was a porn hound.



TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  More information on what was found in the compound where bin Laden was hiding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  NBC News can now confirm that a stash of pornography was found inside the terror leader‘s lair.  A collection said so be rather extensive.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS:  You‘d like to think you can‘t make this stuff up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This intelligence is going to lead us to a lot of finds.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  We now know that the CIA has been able to meet with the wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The wives have been pretty much uncooperative.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  The bin Laden hard drives are full of surprises and his supporters are out of revenge.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS:  A devastating attack there today, killed 80 people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Two suicide bombers.  They coordinated their attacks, to be back to back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Although al Qaeda was significantly weakened with the raid and killing of Osama bin Laden, it is not dead.

O‘DONNELL:  The ethics committee puts pressure on the Justice Department to reopen the case against John Ensign.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS:  It is the talk of the town here on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just imagine if he were still a member of the United States Senate and that report came out yesterday.

RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST:  These details are cinematic and riveting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sex, lies, cover-ups, and even a spiritual advisor.  “Put your hands on and go home,” to which Ensign replied, “I can‘t, I love her.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This actually goes beyond politics and even the open Senate seat for who will replace Ensign eventually come November 2012.

O‘DONNELL:  And another Republican joins the list of candidates for president as the party still searches for the one who can win.

REP. RON PAUL ®, TEXAS:  I am very, very pleased that I am once again able to say that I am a candidate for the presidency in the Republican Party primary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is this is year for Ron Paul?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of the GOP elites, a lot of GOP establishments seem to be pushing Daniels to run.

MITCHELL:  Saturday night—we are now told by his producer that Mike Huckabee is going to announce his decision on the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If it‘s not Huckabee, who?

NARRATOR:  A recession is when your neighbor loses his job.  A depression is when you lose yours.  A recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.


O‘DONNELL:  The Navy SEALs were shooting bullets and video when they stormed the compound where Osama bin Laden was living.

Now, U.S. intelligence and military analysts are examining the videos from the cameras mounted in the Navy SEAL‘s helmets to get a minute-by-minute account of the operation.

But those aren‘t the only bin Laden videos that are making news today. 

The description of the other videos is best left to “Reuters.”

“A stash of pornography was found in the hideout of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. commandos who killed him.  The pornography recovered in bin Laden‘s compound consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive.  Though officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.”

In addition, to the fairly extensive stash of pornography recovered from the raid, NBC News has learned that American officials have interrogated the three wives of Osama bin Laden who were taken into Pakistani custody following the raid that killed bin Laden.  The interrogation apparently itself apparently took place within days of their detention.  It‘s believed the three women have not provided the U.S. with any new details about bin Laden‘s movements, activities or anything about al Qaeda.

In fact, the information provided appeared to be rehearsed—as if they had been told what to say if captured.

Joining me now is NBC News national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Michael.


O‘DONNELL:  Michael, the extensive collection of pornography that Osama bin Laden, to my shock and amazement, had with him—what does it do to his credibility as an al Qaeda leader as a leader of the movement that is—that has Islamic fundamentalists attached to it and has some Islamic element in it?

ISIKOFF:  Excellent question.  Well, first of all, kudos to Mark Hosenball of “Reuters” who broke that story, which has sort gone viral.  You know, it‘s interesting.  We don‘t know that this was bin Laden‘s videos.

O‘DONNELL:  Oh, yes—the official position of this show, Michael, from this point forward—that‘s Osama‘s stuff.  That‘s how we‘re looking at it.

ISIKOFF:  Fair enough.  There were three other men in the compound, the two couriers and his son.

But that said, you know what‘s interesting, Lawrence, I talked to a couple of U.S.—former U.S. counterterrorism officials today who said this is actually not that surprising.  They have repeatedly found pornographic material in—on the computers of al Qaeda operatives who have been captured over the years—so much so that they at one point suspected that coded messages were being sent through pornographic pictures being sent over the Internet.

And there have been debates within the intelligence community about whether to make this public, make the fact that the videos were found public to discredit al Qaeda, to embarrass al Qaeda operatives.  And, in fact, in almost every case they‘ve decided not to do so.  It would look clumsy.  It would look like crude propaganda—that was the fear.

And, also, if they ever brought any of these people to trial, it could be prejudicial in a courtroom if it has been released by the U.S.  government.  Obviously, that‘s not a concern here with the people in the bin Laden compound.  But it is—you know, while you and I and a lot of people might have been really surprised by this, professionals were not all that surprised to find this material in the compound.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, you‘re going to have to count me among the unsurprised that a bunch of guys holed up hiding out for years have collected a massive amount of porn.  I‘m afraid I‘m not going to be surprised by that.

Michael, in terms of the video, the helmet video, the most important video of the day, obviously, that shows the minute-by-minute action that we‘ve known since—from day one that was part of this, and those are the cameras that were delivering much of what was being watched in the Situation Room, what are they learning about that as they study it and what are the chances of us ever seeing any of it?

ISIKOFF:  Well, good question on whether we‘ll ever see it, because, look, there had been as we‘ve discussed on this show evolving accounts of what took place in that raid.  We know in the Sit Room they were watching it.  Yet, initially, there were accounts of bin Laden resisting with arms and then that, you know, changed a few days later—the whole conflict over the human shield or not.  That story changed.

So, I suspect that it‘s not as illuminating as one might think because clearly people were watching these in real time and yet seemed confused about what was on them.  So, you know, I think we should reserve judgment until we actually see the video if we actually see the video.

O‘DONNELL:  And, Michael, a deadly attack in Pakistan today.  Two suicide bombers attacked police recruits.  They killed 80 people.  Is there anything in that that indicates a link to bin Laden this is a revenge act for bin Laden?

ISIKOFF:  Well, as you know, Pakistani Taliban immediately said this was, in fact, a revenge act for bin Laden.  And then there were very quickly reports out of Pakistan, you know, casting some doubt on that—suggesting that it might have been done by some splinter groups for its own purposes.  And this is the group that is at war with the Pakistani government.  It just may be that the Pakistani Taliban is seizing the opportunity to make it seem like this was a revenge act for the bin Laden death.

Look, there are bombings in Pakistan all the time.  So, it‘s I think very hard at this point to link this particularly to the bin Laden raid.

O‘DONNELL:  NBC investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff—thanks for your time tonight, Michael.

ISIKOFF:  Thank you, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Former President George W. Bush made his first public comments about the killing of bin Laden during a business conference Wednesday in Las Vegas that he was paid to attend.

According to ABC News, here‘s how the former president described

finding out that bin Laden had been killed.  Quote, “I was eating souffle

at Rise Restaurant with Laura and two buddies.  I excused myself and went

home to take the call.  Obama simply said, ‘Osama bin Laden is dead.‘”

Bush also talked about meeting with the Navy SEAL team that killed

Osama bin Laden while he was in office saying, quote, “I met SEAL Team Six

in Afghanistan.  They are awesome, skilled, talented and brave.  I said, ‘I

hope you have everything you need.‘  One guy said, ‘We need your permission

to go into Pakistan and kick ass.‘”

Joining me now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” and MSNBC political analyst.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Good to be here, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL: Chris, there‘s President Bush saying he‘s talking to SEAL Team Six in Afghanistan and they say to him, the one thing we want is permission to go do what President Obama then years later sent us to do.

Doesn‘t President Bush realize what he‘s admitting to there?

HAYES:  Well, I think what‘s so interesting about it is it highlights in some ways the sort of initial and devastating conceptual flaw in the entire “Bush Doctrine” that grew out of 9/11 which was to link together states and stateless organizations like al Qaeda and basically to say we can‘t—it‘s going to be easier for the conventional U.S. military to hammer conventional states that give material support or, quote, “harbor terrorists,” than it‘s going to be do hunt them down around the world.

And the sort of initial phase of the, sort of, quote, “global war or terror” was all about that state-based action.  That what has given us the boots on the ground in Afghanistan.  It‘s what‘s gave us the Iraq war in it‘s own kind of twisted way.

I think the second phase which began under Bush and has continued and has sort of gotten even bigger as my colleague at “The Nation,” Jeremy Scahill, has shown, is this approach that is the approach that we saw with bin Laden—which is going after these targets no matter where they are.  And there is an irony there that he‘s mentioning this, because, of course, under the original “Bush Doctrine” we should be declaring war with Pakistan, which hopefully and thankfully no one is considering doing.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, I want to go back once again since President Bush this week now has finally said something about Osama bin Laden.  I want to go back to the tape of what President Bush said about bin Laden, about six months after 9/11.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  Deep many my heart, I know the man‘s on the run if he‘s alive at all.  I—you know, who knows if he‘s hiding in some cave or not.  We haven‘t heard from him in a long time.  I don‘t know where he is.  I—I repeat what I said, I truly am not that concerned about him.


O‘DONNELL:  Chris, with him knowing that that tape is out there, and knowing that I‘ve played it and replayed it, because I think it‘s the most important statement that you have with the presidential—the Bush presidential podium about Osama bin Laden, for him to be in Las Vegas talking about this and talking about Navy SEAL Team Six saying we just want to go into Afghanistan and get him.  And Bush not having anything to say to them about, OK, here‘s the plan.  Let‘s go do it.

Then we find President Obama is how we actually get this thing done.  It doesn‘t seem like President Bush has even found the right embarrassment level for his administration ignoring bin Laden.

HAYES:  Well, he said—the honest, I‘m honestly not that concerned about him, which became kind of infamous statement.  I mean, first of all, let me say that the entire scene that is painted of this Bush thing is, like, there‘s sort of plutocratic caricature that he‘s at the Bellagio at a hedge fund conference and interrupts his souffle eating to go take this call.  I mean, it‘s like it‘s really beyond parody.

But in terms of substance of it, I think what we‘ve seen is basically Bush has decided to not do much publicity except around the book.  And basically what we‘ve seen instead are his kind of surrogates taking to the pages of “The Wall Street Journal” and other op-ed outlets, to FOX News, to try to make this very tortured—I used the word advisedly—retroactive argument about how it really was Bush that deserves credit for this.

But I think it‘s incredibly hard to come to that conclusion and Bush himself doesn‘t even seem capable of making the case.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, he did nothing to help deliver himself any of that credit this week.

Chris Hayes of “The Nation”—thank you for delaying your Friday night partying to join me.

HAYES:  Always a pleasure, Lawrence.  Thanks.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: Ron Paul‘s in for 2012.  What about Mike Huckabee?  The former governor will announce his decision tomorrow night on his FOX News show.  And a LAST WORD exclusive, I will reveal what Huckabee‘s decision is going to be.

And later, the John Ensign scandal spreads.  How the former senator turned his affair into something that could land him and even his parents in prison.  Yes, his parents.  That‘s if the Justice Department decides to reopen the case.

And Rand Paul is in “The Rewrite” again.  This time for the unpardonable thing he has said about slavery.


O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: the Republican presidential race.  A wicked, big, major cable news worldwide exclusive—I will tell you exactly what Mike Huckabee is going to say about running for president on his show tomorrow night.  And I‘ll save you having to watch his show.

And later, Rand Paul thinks he knows what it feels like to be a slave. 

That‘s tonight‘s “Rewrite.”


O‘DONNELL:  Breaking FOX News: Mike Huckabee announced today that tomorrow night he will announce on his FOX News show which loses in the ratings to MSNBC‘s prison documentary every Saturday night, whether he will run for president.

NBC News has learned—no, wait, I can‘t drag NBC News into this. 

The LAST WORD has learned—I shouldn‘t drag the whole staff on this.

OK, OK, Lawrence O‘Donnell has learned—not exactly learned so much as figured out—that Huckabee will announce tomorrow night while America engrossed in prison life that he like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump will not run for president.

So, if you want to go see “Bridesmaids” tomorrow night, don‘t worry, you‘re not going to miss anything on Huckabee‘s show.

In other Republican loser news today, perennial presidential candidate Ron Paul announced the renewal of his perennial losing presidential campaign on ABC.


PAUL:  Today and, at this moment, I‘m officially announcing that I am a candidate for president in the Republican primary.


O‘DONNELL:  Congressman Paul then demonstrated on MSNBC exactly how he will lose the Republican nomination for president.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  Do you think the state of Texas should legalize heroin and prostitution?

PAUL:  I think that under the right circumstances, we should legalize freedom, and that is part of it.  As long as people don‘t force things on other people, I don‘t feel threatened by that.


O‘DONNELL:  That answer will, of course, doom Congressman Paul with Republican primary voters who need to hear not just that he didn‘t feel threatened by heroin and prostitution, but more importantly, that he doesn‘t feel excited by heroin and prostitution.

Republicans are still desperately searching for an electable candidate, preferably one who‘s religion has never championed polygamy and whose governing record has never championed an individual mandate in health care.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ladies and gentlemen, your governor, Mitch Daniels.


O‘DONNELL:  Last night, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels took the stage at the Indiana Republican Party spring dinner to chants of “Run, Mitch, run.”

To launch a presidential bid, Governor Daniels will have to convince his family.  His wife Cheri told reports after the event, “We‘re having a lot of talks.  It‘s not just me.  I have four daughters and I have three sons-in-law.  And everybody has a voice.”

That statement was obviously a setback for a candidate trying to appeal to Republican voters who are looking for an authority figure who doesn‘t have to check with all of his sons-in-law for approval of his presidential decisions.

Governor Daniels‘ wife is now being lobbied by someone who was once the most important wife in American politics.  According to CBS News, former First Lady Laura Bush has called Cheri Daniels personally to encourage her to support the effort and offer advice on how to define what her role in the campaign and potentially many the White House would be.

Joining me now “Huffington Post” reporter and MSNBC political analyst, Alex Wagner.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Alex.

ALEX WAGNER, HUFFINGTON POST:  Thanks for having me, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  All right.  First of all, Huckabee.  So, here‘s the thing

Roger Ailes has actually been scrupulous about this whole FOX News people running for president thing and he said to them, if you‘re running, if you‘re thinking about running, get out of my house.


Huckabee stayed.  Huckabee is not going to be allowed by Roger Ailes tomorrow night to announce on FOX News that he‘s running for president.  So he‘s going to announce he‘s not running, right?  Impeccable logic there.

WAGNER:  Yes, Mike Huckabee I think is going to be announcing the sale of children‘s history DVDs, his new business.  Living—our living history or living our history, learning our history, I believe it is, and is not—as you surmise, I think, Lawrence—going to announce that he‘s running for office, which comes as no great surprise.  I mean, this is a guy that has said he didn‘t know how he felt about running for president; who has seemed very reluctant to get on the fundraising trail, who has a $2.8 million or $2.3 million mortgage that he has to pay for, and who hasn‘t had the, quote-unquote, “fire in his belly,” according to his top aides.

And I think the writing was on the wall today when, you know, top aides, you know, former advisers to Huckabee, hey, what‘s he doing?  And they had no idea.  I mean, if this guy was running for office, ostensibly, he‘d have some kind of campaign structure in place.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, there‘s absolutely—all the signs indicate that we know exactly what‘s going to happen.  No suspense there.

Tough week for pretty much all the rest of the field, starting with, of course—and the important thing about Huckabee is he has been a front runner in the polls.  And so, as of next week, we can start doing polls that take his name out and we‘ll see where that support ends up flowing.

The other big front runner in the polls, Mitt Romney, a very difficult week.  He thought he was going to get the health care situation behind him.

After watching Romney‘s health care speech last night, “The Wall Street Journal” which had attacked him yesterday, today said, “He is in for a year in which Republicans attack him on policy while Democrats defend him on policy, but attack him as a hypocrite—who knows what GOP voters will make of al of this.  But we won‘t be surprised if Mr. Romney‘s campaign suffers as many broken bones as Knievel.”

Alex, it‘s over for Romney before it starts.  I don‘t see how he gets out of this health care hole.

WAGNER:  Yes, this is the “ouch” (ph) heard around the world, I think, Lawrence.  I mean, we thought health care was going to be a problem.  And obviously, the Romney campaign has taken—made a strategic move here to try to address it at the beginning.  Much like Newt Gingrich has tried to put his nontraditional marriage front and center, and address his infidelities with social conservatives.

But, Romney, he‘s got nothing here.  I mean, if you saw that address yesterday, I think it was weirdly halting, sort of sweaty, sort of awkward.  And look, “The Wall Street Journal” is at him.

And then you have the White House today, Jay Carney, the press secretary, saying, you know, Romneycare was the basis for our national health care plan.  We embrace this.  We think it‘s great.

I mean, he‘s been very much a lose-lose situation on that.

O‘DONNELL:  “The Wall Street Journal‘s” following my lead and saying some good things about the prospects for Tim Pawlenty, even though he‘s in single digits in the polls.  Once all the fake candidates get cleared out, it looks like Pawlenty might be able to make a move.

And just quickly, before we go, a final word on Ron Paul.  He actually

what I loved about his announcement, he said, he‘s happy to be announcing again that he‘s running for president.  You know, you‘re never supposed to announce again that you‘re running for president.


WAGNER:  Glad to be back here.

O‘DONNEL:  Yes, glad to be back here doing this again.

WAGNER:  Exactly.

O‘DONNELL:  So—but he‘ll be able to stay until the end, right?  He‘ll have enough money to stay until the end and be the last man standing before the nominee takes the stage.

WAGNER:  Absolutely.  He‘s shown pretty, you know, real fundraising prowess.  And I think also, he‘s going to have some social conservatives that are really going to rally around his extreme libertarian views, even though that may include legalizing heroin and prostitution and doing away with most federal agencies.  He‘ll be there for a while.

O‘DONNELL:  Alex Wagner of “The Huffington Post” and MSNBC—thanks for joining us tonight.

WAGNER:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, Glenn Beck‘s cruel attack on Meghan McCain—now her father, Senator John McCain, has something to say about Glenn Beck.

And later, the week that was on late night.  Some of the punch lines that were just too good to miss.


O‘DONNELL:  The McCain family feud with Glenn Beck continues.  The background, as you know, Meghan McCain appeared in a public service announcement encouraging people to protect from sunscreen to help prevent skin cancer—a disease both of her parents have struggled with.  The campaign caused Glenn Beck to make horrible remarks about Meghan McCain.

Cindy McCain responded by saying Beck‘s personal remarks about her daughter were filled with, quote, “vitriol and hate.”

Then they Meghan McCain released an open letter to Beck trying to educate the educable Beck about the example he is setting for his young teenage daughters about body image. 

And now comes Senator McCain. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I understand very well why my family might be offended by personal comments from anyone.  I now think I can relate more closely to Harry Truman, who took some umbrage at a critic who criticized his daughter‘s singing. 


O‘DONNELL:  That‘s John McCain stopping just short of openly, physically, threatening Beck.  This is exactly what Harry Truman said in 1950 about “the Washington Post” critic who didn‘t like his daughter‘s singing.  “Some day I hope to meet you.  When that happens, you‘ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes and perhaps a supporter below.” 

Coming up, the John Ensign scandal.  How did the Senate Ethics Committee staff build such a strong case against Ensign when the Justice Department either couldn‘t or wouldn‘t.  John Ralston of “the Las Vegas Sun” will explain all. 

And later, the dangerous dementia of Rand Paul is in the Rewrite.  This time our most profoundly ignorant senator thinks he knows what it felt like to be a slave. 


O‘DONNELL:  In the Spotlight tonight, justice in the Ensign case.  Yesterday, the Senate Ethics Committee released a report that found substantial credible evidence that John Ensign committed federal crimes and would have recommended his expulsion from the Senate if he had not already resigned. 

The Senate Ethics Committee referred its findings to the Justice Department for further investigation and possible prosecution.  But on December 1st, 2010, the Justice Department announced that it had found no criminal conduct by Senator Ensign. 

Up until this point, the only person the Department of Justice has indicted is the man who lost his job after his boss and best friend had an affair with his wife.  Doug Hampton, who served as a legislative aide to Senator Ensign, was indicted for violating the one-year lobbying ban when Senator Ensign helped him get a lobbying job by, quote, “pressuring contributors and constituents to hire Mr. Hampton even though he had no public policy experience or value as a lobbyist other than access to the senator and his office.” 

For example, when prominent Nevada constituent, Sid Rogich (ph), declined to hire Mr. Hampton, Senator Ensign instructed John Lopez, his chief of staff, “to jack him up to high heaven and inform the constituent that he was cut off from Senator Ensign and could not contact him any longer.” 

Joining me now is John Ralston, a columnist for the “Las Vegas Sun,” and host of “Face to Face.” 

John, thanks for joining me tonight. 


O‘DONNELL:  What do you see as the big difference between the Justice Department investigation, as far as it went as of December 1st, and the Senate Ethics Committee investigation as it was revealed yesterday? 

RALSTON:  Well, it looks like the Senate Ethics Committee took it seriously and the Department of Justice did not.  Just reading that almost 70-page document, you said substantial credible evidence.  There is a mountain of evidence that John Ensign provided false statements, tried to obstruct justice and actually got his parents to mislead the Federal Election Commission, in addition to shredding documents, going off of his regular Senate email accounts, switch to gmail so people wouldn‘t know what was going on. 

And that he actually set up meetings for Doug Hampton, conspiring to violate that one-year cooling off ban.  Doug Hampton‘s indicted and John Ensign isn‘t?  How do you figure that? 

O‘DONNELL:  The cooling off ban applies—it seems to me, as I understood it, it applies to the person who is actually going to do the lobbying.  That the crime there would be committed by Hampton because he had to wait 365 days before doing it.  But there does seem to be a conspiratorial complicity of Senator Ensign‘s part, that it seems you could get some kind of conspiracy charge related to what they already have on Hampton. 

RALSTON:  That‘s exactly right.  Federal prosecutors I‘ve talked to about this case say that if you could prove that Ensign was complicit in helping Hampton, who admitted he violated the cooling off period, but has always said that John Ensign knew he was doing it, encouraged him to do it.  That‘s why he tried to get him those jobs, including the one that you mentioned that he unsuccessfully tried to get him with Sig Rogich, who is one of the most prominent consultants in this state. 

Prosecutors have told me there‘s plenty of places outside of the cooling off statute to charge Ensign with conspiracy.  That document, prepared by a former prosecutor, Carol Elder Bruce (ph), lays out in very stark terms how John Ensign helped Doug Hampton, how he erected a system so it would go undetected, that he clearly conspired and violated those statutes these prosecutors have talked about. 

O‘DONNELL:  John, there‘s no question that Senator Ensign, as you read the report, is the driving force.  He is the corrupt energy at the center of this thing.  There‘s no one pulling him along.  This is not one of those stories of, oh gee, the senator tripped over one of these little ethical trip wires they have, that he didn‘t know about. 

People are telling him to stop.  People are trying to get him to stop.  And he is basically letting people know I can‘t.  And kind of basically admitting, I‘m out of control here.  That‘s the way it reads. 

RALSTON:  Exactly.  It does read like that.  It‘s riveting and revolting, as I‘ve described it.  He created this vortex of corruption and sucked all these other people into it.  Some of them innocent, maybe some of them not so much.  But he hurt his party.  He hurt the state.  And he hurt the U.S. Senate.

And he only left—only because he was going to face expulsion. 

O‘DONNELL:  And in his farewell speech to the Senate, he actually warned other senates, saying make sure you hire people who will prevent you from doing these things that I wanted to do.  Make them fight you when you want to do it. 

It was very insulting speech to his colleagues as he was leaving the Senate. 

RALSTON:  Yes.  Stop me before I act badly again.  That was very sad.  But at every turn here, Ensign has lived in an alternate universe, totally delusional about his own complicity in this, actually playing the victim after Doug Hampton went on a course of revenge that has finally resulted in what Doug Hampton said he always wanted, Ensign to resign from the U.S.  Senate. 

O‘DONNELL:  John Ralston of the “Las Vegas Sun,” thanks for staying on this story.  Thanks for joining us tonight. 

RALSTON:  You bet. 

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, Senator Rand Paul shows how much he doesn‘t know about slavery, like how much slaves were paid.  The unconscionable lies Rand Paul tells in a Senate hearing are in the Rewrite.


O‘DONNELL:  On the day that his father Ron Paul announces another losing campaign for president, Senator Rand Paul makes his inevitable return to the Rewrite. 

By now, you may have noticed that in the Paul family, the apple does not fall far from the tree.  But it does fall just far enough to create a confused and truly unique mind. 

Rand Paul has followed in his father‘s libertarian footsteps.  But instead of being the echo of his father, he usually sounds like the slowest student in a libertarian seminar.  Our public discourse is now filled with inappropriate references to some of the darkest chapters of human history. 

You heard me quote Newt Gingrich last night saying people like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz.  Glenn Beck has been admonished for even worse inappropriate invocations of the Holocaust. 

In a Senate hearing this week, Rand Paul found himself invoking slavery.  But he was not comparing something to slavery.  He wasn‘t using slavery for emphatic rhetorical effect.  He said that people like you and me believe in slavery.  Believe in slavery was his phrase. 

Here‘s why Rand Paul believes we believe in slavery. 


SEN. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY:  With regard to the idea of whether or not you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies.  It‘s not an abstraction. 

I‘m a physician.  That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me.  It means you believe in slavery.  It means that you‘re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses. 

If you have a right to their services—


O‘DONNELL:  So in the world according to Rand Paul, it means you believe in slavery if you believe people have the right to health care.  There are over 104 million people who have a right to health care in this country right now, a legal right.  That legal right—that legal entitlement to health care was established through Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. 

Let‘s take a look at how that legal right to health care enslaved the physicians of America. 

In 1960, the median physician‘s income in the United States was 10.838 dollars.  In 1966, the first year that physicians began receiving income from Medicare, the median salary went up to 15,706 dollars. 

Over just the next two years, the median salary for physicians increased more dramatically than it ever had in history.  In the first two years of Medicare and Medicare, payments to physicians—their incomes rose 64 percent to 24,512 dollars. 

And 40 years after that, in 2008, the median salary for physicians was 186,044 dollars.  That‘s 100,000  dollars more than their salaries would have increased if their salaries had just been adjusted for inflation.  And the median salary for specialists, much more important number, was 340,000 dollars as of 2008. 

Specialists, having been, of course, the chief beneficiaries in the surge of physician incomes driven by people over 65 having the right to health care.  American doctors are by far the highest paid doctors in the world. 

And what of the nurses and janitors that Rand Paul believes were enslaved in 1965 when health care became a right for one third of Americans? 

Their wages have skyrocketed accordingly.  In fact, the skyrocketing wages in the health care sector is what keeps medical inflation much higher than the general level of inflation in the economy. 

Those janitors in those hospitals are unionized.  Slaves were not unionized. 

Now let‘s consider the wages of slavery.  This is the sort of thing that Ron Paul seems to know and that his not so up to speed son seems genuinely ignorant of.  Perhaps as a father, Ron Paul did all too good a job of sheltering his son from the harsh realities of life and from the harsh realities of our history. 

It may come as a big surprise to Rand Paul to discover as a physician specialist, whose median income, as we‘ve pointed out in this country, is now over 340,000 dollars, that slaves were actually paid much less than that. 

How much less, 340,000 dollars less.  Rand Paul, a medical specialist, who‘s lived and worked in the country where physicians make more money than anywhere else in the world, actually has the ugly, hysterically self-centered and vile audacity to equate his rich self to a slave. 

Nothing more unhinged from reality and decency has been said in the United States Senate in our time.  It is utterly unpardonable. 

Now there are smart liberals and ignorant liberals and smart conservatives and ignorant conservatives and smart libertarians and ignorant libertarians.  And then there are demented libertarians.  What more evidence would you need to diagnose dementia than this? 


PAUL:  If I‘m a physician if your community and you say you have a right to health care, do you have a right to beat down by door, with the police escort me away and force me to take care of you?  That‘s ultimately what the right to free health care would be. 


O‘DONNELL:  That is pure, unadulterated dementia.  That speaker could not pass a medical competency test for mental competency.  Medicaid has provided free health care since 1965.  Free health care.  Not once has a physician‘s door been beaten down by police to provide that free health care. 

But in the demented dreamscape that is Dr. Rand Paul‘s vision of health care of health care in America, he actually believes, quote, “you have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you.” 

I think he believes that.  There is no fact pattern that could ever lead you to believe that.  That statement has no facts in it, only feelings.  It is a statement born of fear and hatred of government. 

Such are the feelings that have given birth to the Tea Party.  Such are the feelings that control now the dialogue in the Republican party, that define the limits of thought in the Republican party. 


PAUL:  It means you believe in slavery.  It means you believe in slavery.  It means you believe in slavery.  It means you believe in slavery. 


O‘DONNELL:  The more you say it, the more you believe it.  The more you say it, the more they believe it.  The more they are allowed to say it without condemnation, the more Dr. Rand Paul is allowed to equate the unprecedented wealth of the American physician with the unspeakable suffering of American slaves, the more we allow unmitigated madness to seep into our politics and poison this country.


O‘DONNELL:  Stephen Colbert went to Washington today planning to put your money where his mouth is.  Colbert season opening in the wake of the Citizens United ruling, and is filing a request to create his own super PAC.  He already knows exactly what he wants to do with the money. 


STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  I don‘t know about you, but I am not willing to ride in the back of the bus.  Especially since with all this super PAC money, I will be riding in a private jet. 


O‘DONNELL:  Colbert and the rest of the late night gang had a lot of fun with the news this week.  Please join me in watching everything that I missed in late night this week. 


JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Let‘s move on to the latest developments are in the death of Osama bin Biden—Laden.  Damn it.

COLBERT:  Let‘s go to tonight‘s breaking news about what happened eight days ago.  Osama bin Laden continues his crowd pleasing death. 

I was particularly impressed by the coverage in “Der Tzitung,” Brooklyn‘s Hasidic newspaper of record.  Jim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now you see her, now you don‘t in.  A Hasidic paper in New York, they ran this White House situation room photo from the bin Laden raid.  There‘s one problem.  It removed Hillary Clinton. 

COLBERT:  Impressive.  Normally getting rid of Hillary Clinton requires an entire presidential primary. 

CONAN O‘BRIEN, “CONAN”:  In a recent interview about the killing of Osama bin Laden, former Vice President Dick Cheney—Dick Cheney said that he gives President Obama high marks.  Yes.

And he said, trust me, I know how hard it is to shoot someone in the face. 

JIMMY KIMMEL, “LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY KIMMEL”:  The team that killed Osama bin Laden found drugs for erectile dysfunction in his house.  I guess that‘s what the president meant when he said he had hard proof it was bin Laden. 

DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”:  Heretofore not seen videos of Osama vin Laden that they got in the raid.  Take a look at this.  It‘s fascinating. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Al Qaeda now has green screen technology.  Check it out.  I‘m at the Grand Canyon.  I‘m at Home Depot.  Now I‘m with Han Solo and Chewy.  I‘m at Dollywood.  Here‘s my five-day forecast. 

COLBERT:  So this past week, when by all rights Obama and his team could have strutted their stuff all over the news shows on the weekend, Andy Card and company went into action.  Of course to steal this much glory, you‘d have to reassemble the whole team, the best of the best. 

The architect.  Oh, yeah, the possum.  Dr. Henny-Penny.  The Don Cheadle character lady. 

Why are we listening to the Bush administration people anyway.  They didn‘t get bin Laden.  They‘re like the Winklevoss twins of getting bin Laden. 


O‘DONNELL:  The laughs get THE LAST WORD for this week.  You can have THE LAST WORD or the last laugh online at our blog, ,  You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence. 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next.  Good evening, Rachel.


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