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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, May 20th, 2011

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Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Josh Green, Ann Louise Bardach, Jack Davis

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  So, with Mike Huckabee finally officially out of the race, which Republican candidates are going to get the evangelical vote?  And when do they think the world is going to end?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Some kind of Armageddon, some kind of earth-based destruction is imminent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lesser person could not have survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Maybe you‘d better reconsider that end of the world Christian stuff.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  Some are waiting for the world not to end tomorrow, but others are waiting for their presidential candidate to appear.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST:  What about Jon Huntsman?

JON HUNTSMAN ®, FORMER UTAH GOVERNOR:  I believe in God.  I‘m a good Christian.  I‘m very proud of my Mormon heritage.  I am Mormon.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS:  The other former governor with good hair.

HUNTSMAN:  How much trouble do you want me to get in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, a lot.

(LAUGHTER)

TODD:  Mitt Romney ended up with a pretty good week.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Another Republican says he is ready to step into the 2012 presidential race, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It comes as a no surprise to anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The plan to essentially end Medicare as we know. 

It‘s a litmus test for Republicans.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST:  It‘s rapidly becoming kind of a litmus test that reporters and activists are going to be asking these candidates where do you stand on the Ryan plan.

HUNTSMAN:  I would have voted for it.

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  I think my problem is I do have the fire in my belly.

O‘DONNELL:  Newt Gingrich keeps hammering nails into it be coffin of his campaign.

TODD:  Newt Gingrich‘s imploding campaign.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  How do you come back from having “Dancing Queen” as your ring tone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The situation may prove to be unget-outable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Most Christians, in fact, believe that there will be a second coming.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  Newt Gingrich trying to explain himself to his own conservative base.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He cannot stifle himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I found myself feeling sorry for him.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST:  They threw glitter on the guy, the whole episode, I understand now, has been nominated if for a Tony?  Did you know that?

O‘DONNELL:  And late night explains the rap amateur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It would really, really suck if we only got to live three weeks longer than Bin Laden, wouldn‘t it?

DYLAN RATIGAN, MSNBC HOST:  What‘s this all about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harold Camping says it is judgment day on Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a fudge factoring kind of thing.

SMERCONISH:  Where do you expect to be on May 22nd?

HAROLD CAMPING, FAMILY RADIO:  In heaven.

SMERCONISH:  And, sir, what if you‘re wrong?

CAMPING:  There‘s no possibility.  We don‘t have any plan B at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The bank a nice place to be in the world‘s about to be end.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Good evening from Los Angeles.

If the world does not come to an end tomorrow, on Monday, in Des Moines, Iowa, Tim Pawlenty, the candidate with the best shot at the Republican nomination, will officially announce what we have known for about a year, he is running for president.  Pawlenty has been running far behind the front runner in the early polls, Mitt Romney.  But the early polls up to now have been clogged with silly names of people who viewers of this program know were never going to run for president—names like Trump, Huckabee and Palin.

People who supported those names in the early polls will now be picking from a more realistic list of names in future polls.  So, Pawlenty wants to grab the attention and some polling momentum now.

Today, Pawlenty got help from a surprising source.  Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC run by two former Obama aides has released the first campaign ad of the 2012 presidential campaign.  And it is an attack on Republican front runner Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

NARRATOR:  Newt Gingrich says the Republican plan that would essentially end Medicare is too radical.  Governor Haley thinks the plan is courageous and Gingrich shouldn‘t be cutting conservatives off at the knees.  Mitt Romney says he‘s on the same page as Paul Ryan, who wrote to plan to essentially end Medicare.

With Mitt Romney, you have to wonder, which page is he on today?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  The ad, which is clearly pretending to be a Republican ad is running in South Carolina, a state that is key to Mitt Romney‘s strategy for winning the Republican nomination.

A Romney aide responded to the ad with this statement: “President Obama‘s first campaign ad is an attack ad.  President Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work.  With 9.6 percent unemployment in South Carolina, voters are looking for a jobs plan not a smear campaign.”

Romney still hasn‘t officially announced his presidential candidacy.  Romney also hasn‘t said where he stands on the Ryan Republican plan for abolishing Medicare which is—thanks to Newt Gingrich—the new litmus test for Republican candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR:  While I haven‘t introduced today my own plan, will in the future, it‘s not going to be identical to the Ryan plan, but it shares many of those same objectives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Another Republican candidate, Utah‘s Jon Huntsman, like Romney, a Mormon, and like Romney and Pawlenty, a former governor, had his answer ready on the new Republican litmus test question to which there is no good answer when “Good Morning America‘s” George Stephanopoulos put the question to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA:  How about Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget?  Former Speaker Gingrich is having trouble talking about that this week.  If you were in Congress, would you have voted for it?

HUNTSMAN:  I would have voted for it.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Including the Medicare provisions?

HUNTSMAN:  Including the Medicare provisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Huntsman‘s other answers in interviews today were not all Republican talking points.  On climate change -- 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN:  But do you believe that climate change is caused in part by human behavior?

HUNTSMAN:  Well, I think the scientific community would suggest that to be the case.  And I think in a world like we have, we should be deferring to the scientific community and not the political community to make decisions that are best left many the hands of scientists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  And on gay rights -- 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN:  I‘m for civil unions.  I believe in traditional marriage.  But I think subordinate to that, we don‘t do an adequate job when it comes to equality and fairness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Huntsman‘s inexperienced campaign staff found itself in a dust up with a “Time” news reporter Jay Newton Small captured in real-time on her Twitter feed:

“Just waited around to ask Huntsman a question, alas, he was too busy. 

Oh, well.

This is New Hampshire.  A little more retail answering voter and reporter questions.  A little less BMOC.

Trust me, I wasn‘t the only one who left with unanswered questions.

Huntsman campaign now called to yell at me about my tweets.  Note to press secretaries: yelling at reporters rarely ever engenders goodwill.

Now, Huntsman‘s press guy is calling me editor and spam texting me. 

Guess I hit a nerve?”

Joining me now from Manchester, New Hampshire, where he is covering Huntsman is Joshua Green, political editor of “The Atlantic.”

Thanks for joining me tonight, Josh.

Are you having anymore luck covering Huntsman and getting questions answered?

JOSH GREEN, THE ATLANTIC:  It‘s tough.  There‘s so much media covering him, that we reporters kind of outnumber ordinary actual voters by like two to one, three to one, at some events.  And you can tell that Huntsman and some of the voters themselves who come to see him are kind of annoyed by this.  You know, and his staff is a little bit upset about the way things are working out.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, this is one of those candidacies that everyone is waiting for.  He‘s been, in effect, working for President Obama as ambassador to China.  Now he‘s back.  He‘s been silent for so long.  The dam finally breaks today.

And we discover that this candidacy has some real problems.  He answered the Medicare question the way that gets you through a discussion with Republicans only, and gets you in tremendous trouble if you are someone who is ever going to find himself running against the Democrat for president of the United States.

And then he answers other questions in something that in a zone that is not considered Republican orthodox and can get you in trouble only with Republicans on global warming and gay rights, for example.

GREEN:  Yes, that‘s right.  Huntsman, one of the reasons there‘s so many reporters up here is he‘s a different kind of Republican.  He‘s trying to pursue the nomination in a different sort of way.  I mean, he comes touted as a moderate.

But, in fact, as we saw in that interview with Stephanopoulos and in his appearances today, what he really is, is a conservative who holds a few unorthodox positions.  But what he‘d really like to do is project an aura of civility.  So, you don‘t hear him attack Mitt Romney by name.  You don‘t hear him attack the president by name.  And it‘s really only his staff, I think, who are attacking reporters.

O‘DONNELL:  Josh, does it have a feeling of a little bit of modeling of the first “John McCain for president” campaign?

GREEN:  You know, it doesn‘t because McCain‘s tone was always kind of sharp and he was the maverick, and he was kind of charging after the special interests.  Huntsman is very smooth, very poised, speaks in broad generalities and platitudes.  And he‘s clearly trying to establish himself as a candidate who is kind of the adult in the race.  And is trying to distinguish himself from the Donald Trumps and the Newt Gingriches who have become kind of such a cable news embarrassment over the last three or four weeks.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, what are Republicans making of this first ad of the campaign that came from a Democratic group?

Now, the Romney campaign responded to it saying that it was President Obama‘s ad.  It isn‘t.  It doesn‘t come from his campaign.  It is not legally something that can be coordinated with his campaign.

But it is a Democratic ad attacking Mitt Romney—seemingly trying to knock Mitt Romney out of the race which would therefore suggest that that Democratic group believes Mitt Romney is the biggest threat to Barack Obama.

GREEN:  Well, if you look at the polls right now, that‘s correct.  And, you know, Romney is one of the, quote-unquote, “adults in the race,” along probably with Pawlenty and Huntsman and a couple other guys.

And, you know, the campaign‘s getting started early.  I think they want to take these guys down a peg.  I think they want to make sure that voters know as early as they can what these candidates‘ shortcomings and weaknesses are and begin the process of defining them in anticipation of the race.

O‘DONNELL:  Joshua Green, political editor of “The Atlantic”—thank you very much for joining me tonight.

GREEN:  Good to be with you, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Forty-four percent of all presidential primary voters identify themselves as evangelical Christians.  With evangelical candidate Mike Huckabee gone from the race, how will the remaining Republican hopefuls position themselves to capture the evangelical vote?

Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC analyst and editorial writer for “The Washington Post.”

Thanks for joining me tonight, Jonathan.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANALYST:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  The opening Huckabee creates is huge.  He was tied for front runner in these early polls with Mitt Romney.  Who can move into that and who has the most difficult problems moving into the Huckabee gap?

CAPEHART:  OK.  So, the person who—the two people who could move into that gap left by Huckabee not running as you predicted and as we all kind of knew, one would be Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann if she does pull the trigger and jumps into the race, which it looks like she will.  She is someone who is a darling of the Tea Party, but also of evangelicals, very, very conservative.

And another person is Tim Pawlenty.  The man you say who you believe will be eventually be the Republican nominee in 2012.

One thing that‘s interesting when I was talking with your producer, excuse me, about this segment, she mentioned Tim Pawlenty.  And the thing about Tim Pawlenty is he‘s such a blank slate, I think a lot of people—one, they don‘t know who he is.  And, two, they don‘t really quite know his record as governor or the fact—of Minnesota—or the fact that, yes, he is indeed an evangelical who has taken many conservative positions from abortion to stem cell research to gay rights.  He‘s very much in line with evangelicals.

And once people start to get to know who he is and get to know his evangelical background, it will help him with the Republican Party faithful.  And that‘s going to be a big deal because the first contest, the Iowa caucuses, those caucuses are dominated by evangelicals.

O‘DONNELL:  And Pawlenty spending a lot of time in Iowa and is very, very willing and able to talk about his religion.  He actually converted from Catholicism to being an evangelical Christian.  So, he kind of spans a religious conservativism, Christian religious conservativism, and knows how to talk to many different groups on that.

Ron Brownstein has an important piece, I think, in the “National Journal” that‘s come out, where he advances the theory that Huckabee dropping out is actually bad for Romney because what Huckabee represented was a place where all the evangelicals could go, a Huckabee-like presidency where all the evangelicals could go and have no effect because it would never be enough to deliver the nomination to that person.  That may be the Bachmann role if Bachmann steps into this.  But if she doesn‘t, then the evangelical vote has to go find the candidate who either offends them the least or is open to their—to an appeal to those voters.  And that‘s where the theory becomes Pawlenty is the place for those votes to go.

CAPEHART:  You know, Ron Brownstein and you very well might be correct.  I think evangelicals are going to have to make the decision: do they want the evangelical candidate and will they stay lock step with him?  Or do they want the evangelical candidate who could possibly win?

I think that‘s the tension that we‘re starting to see within the Republican Party that the person who could gin up the fervor of the Republican Party base isn‘t necessarily the person who could actually secure the votes of moderate Republicans—those who are left—and independents who both President Obama and the 2012 Republican nominee will need in order to win the White House.

O‘DONNELL:  And as Ron Brownstein points out in his long piece about this, there is—as he puts it—a theological tension between Mormons and evangelical Christians.  And so, there is a big roadblock religiously for them going to Romney or going to Huntsman.  And that again is what starts to direct the traffic in the Pawlenty direction.

And then, for Romney, the other problem they have is they‘re looking for fidelity to policy positions over time.  And you just don‘t get that with Mitt Romney.  He‘s flip-flopped on way too many things for them.

CAPEHART:  Right.  And that ad you showed from the new Democratic group, you know, Mitt Romney, has flipped and flopped on a whole host of issues that the Republican Party and Republican Party base really cares about.

And in the clip you just showed of Jon huntsman now—you know, I‘m listening to what he says I‘m nodding my head thinking, wow, this guy has courage.  This guy is bucking the party.  Unfortunately, it might be the very thing that keeps him from getting any traction being—saying that, you know, climate change very well could be manmade and that we should focus—we should pay attention to the scientists; saying nice things about gay rights and, you know, the fact that gay couples should have some sort of legal recognition.  That‘s not going to go over well with evangelicals or a lot of people in the Republican Party base.

O‘DONNELL:  And if his calculation is embracing the Republican—ultraconservative abolish Medicare position buys me some credit on the other issues, there‘s no evidence in Republican politics that it works that way.  If you‘re running in South Carolina, you‘ve got to be with them on everything.

CAPEHART:  On everything.  And that‘s, you know, on the Democratic side, with progressives and the far left, they want you to be with them on everything.  And we‘re going to see it play out quite nicely and interestingly on the far right as we watch Huntsman, Romney, Pawlenty, Bachmann and whoever else jumps into the pool as they try to figure out how they can corral the base, corral the middle and get independents in order to take the Oval Office from President Obama.

O‘DONNELL:  MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart—thank you for joining me tonight, Jonathan.

CAPEHART:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, the reason why the tabloids stayed away from Arnold Schwarzenegger until now.

And this used to be the face and bicep curl of New York‘s 26th congressional district.  The Tea Party candidate who wants to replace him joins me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Still to come: when the world doesn‘t end tomorrow, we‘ll still have Twitter‘s endless stream of jokes about it.  A few of the best are coming up.

And up next, the special relationship between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the tabloids, and why that special relationship kept him out of their pages for so long.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Two more setbacks today for Arnold Schwarzenegger—producers pulled the plug on his planned animated television series entitled , “The Governator.”  “In light of recent events, A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics and Archie Comics, have halted production,” they said in a statement.

“The Governator” had cast Schwarzenegger as a superhero balancing crime fighting with family duties.  Also, today, Universal Studios theme park in Singapore has reportedly disinvited the former California governor from opening festivities this weekend.

The tabloids are now in a frenzy over Schwarzenegger‘s admission of fathering a child outside of his marriage.  Which leads to tonight‘s big question: why did the tabloids go silent during Schwarzenegger‘s political career?

Joining me now: Ann Louise Bardach of “Newsweek” and “The Daily Beast.”

Thanks for joining me tonight, Annie.

ANN LOUISE BARDACH, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST:  You bet.

O‘DONNELL:  Annie, you wrote a piece back in September of 2004 in “Los Angeles Magazine,” which we all devoured every word of here in Los Angeles and maybe not every else, unfortunately, is entitled, “How Around Tamed the Tabloid Beast.”  Take us through that exactly.

He had problems with the tabloids before he started his political career.  There was a devastating article that came out in “Premiere” magazine about him.  And that seemed to get him focused on how he could control this kind of press.  What did he do?

BARDACH:  Well, basically the short answer is he went into business with the tabloids.  Arnold wanted to run in 2001.  He started to make preliminary phone calls, making arrangements, getting advisors.

Then the “Premiere” piece came out.  It was devastating.  But it was nothing compared to the tabloids because, every week, the tabloids could go after him and they did.  For 10 years, 15 years, Arnold was a constant tabloid target because he had so much wreckage, past and present wreckage.  And so—and he sold magazines.

And so, after the “Premiere” piece, he did all this damage control, but what happens, a month later, there‘s another tabloid piece about Gigi Goyette, who is just one of, you know, he‘s his dalliances.  But it was another devastating piece and he realized, my God, how do we clean up the wreckage here?  It really wasn‘t fixable.

And a month later, they did yet another piece and they taunted him.  And they said, why Arnold can never be governor?  And it says, “Arnold‘s Dirty Secrets.”

At that point, Arnold, who‘s very shrewd, very canny and so his wife, Maria Shriver, said, what are we going to do here?  And he did a brilliant, strategic move.  He went into business with AMI, which wanted to be in business with “The Body & Muscle” magazine.  So, it was great symbiosis.  And they formed a brilliant partnership which took Arnold out of the tabloids and put AMI, which owns all the tabloids, in the muscle body-building magazine business.

O‘DONNELL:  And he actually signed on, as I recall, to do a column, occasionally, for one of the muscle magazines for a massive amount of money -- more than I‘ve ever heard of any magazine columnist.  And that was it.

BARDACH:  A million-point-two-five.  That‘s right.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  And he intended to continue that income stream while he was governor.  That income stream actually became controversial when he became governor.  But that deal was what quieted and stopped the tabloid investigations of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

BARDACH:  That deal was very hush, hush silence until I wrote this piece.  It was very under the carpet.  I mean, it was kind—the details of it did not come out until this piece was written, which we recently—you know, we ferreted out more details in “Newsweek”/”Daily Beast” piece.

But it was really pushed under the carpet.  The pushback and the blowback from Arnold‘s campaign was significant.  You know, during the reporting of this piece, oh, this stuff is not true, et cetera.

But it was true.  And a lot of things that I wanted to publish back then we didn‘t publish as did “The Los Angeles Times.”  I mean, they really came after reporters saying this stuff is just not true.  The women backed off.  It was a very powerful pushback campaign.

O‘DONNELL:  Annie, back then at time of the recall campaign, you‘re a California-based reporter, you know a lot about this subject.  What was the press hearing if anything about the possibility of a child outside of the Schwarzenegger marriage?

BARDACH:  I heard definitively that there was at least one child.  I heard from multiple different sources about possible other—another child.  I got to tell you at one point we were just overwhelmed with tips.

There was no question in my mind, my editor‘s mind that we had at least one son outside the marriage.  But again, you need confirmation and mainstream publications use lawyers.  And Arnold‘s campaign was very, very aggressive.  We dealt with his famously combative lawyer at the time, Martin Singer (ph), who, you know, was very strenuous on Arnold‘s behalf.  And we, you know, we pulled back on this.

But there was never any doubt in my mind and when this all started to break a couple of weeks ago that they were splitting up, the first call I made to my boss at “Daily Beast”/”Newsweek” was love children, you know?  It was obvious that this would be at the—that the chickens had come home to roost.

O‘DONNELL:  Annie Bardach, not one of the surprised at the revelations that we‘ve picked up about around Schwarzenegger.

Annie, thank you very much for your reporting.  Thank you for joining us tonight.

BARDACH:  You bet.

O‘DONNELL:  Still ahead, Newt Gingrich will try to escape his own

words and Republican outrage on Sunday morning.  That‘s in “The Rewrite.”\

But in order to see Newt‘s Sunday morning interview, we‘ll all have to survive the rapture tomorrow.  The late night guys are not going silently into the rapture.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The whole world has to know that judgment day is near. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is not an option.  We have to say it again and again and again.  May 21, 2011, is the day of judgment. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s the warning from 89-year-old Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, Harold Camping.  He is using his radio empire to trick an unfortunate few into believing his prediction that Jesus Christ will return to Earth tomorrow and start killing people in a big way, starting with a giant earthquake beginning here in Los Angeles at about 6:00 p.m. local time. 

That has a lot of people reassessing their weekend plans.  This Tweet from “the Daily Show.” “happy Friday.  Consider this Tweet your daily reminder of the coming apocalypse.  Your days are numbered.  Have a good one.” 

“New York Times” columnist Nick Kristof Tweeted, “not sure I should bother writing my Sunday column if the world may start to end on Saturday.”

Nate Silver of 538.com Tweets, “Obama may get a big bounce in the polls from this rapture thing.  No more Evangelicals.  Still elex likely to come down to the economy.” 

Then there‘s this Facebook post from T. Thomas in New York: “given that the world is ending tomorrow, I‘m having New York Burger Company for lunch, extra fries.” 

Our own Sarah Mueller went to the crossroads of the nation today, Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, to let some people give us their LAST WORD before the big day. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It cannot be wrong.  It is 100 percent—it‘s going to happen. 

Thousands upon thousands of listener can verify that.  No.  You can say—we believe the Bible was written by God himself.  And that God is perfect and he cannot be wrong. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve already been told.  I don‘t need—I‘ve been given all the provision I need.  I believe it‘s going to happen. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Last supper, what are you going to have? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know.  I think I‘ll do a bit of Psalms and then I‘ll do a bit of the New Testament and John. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re telling people a lie.  This is a lie. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Christ is coming. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Christ is coming, but he‘s not coming tomorrow. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Still ahead in this hour, Newt Gingrich‘s spokesman has delivered something truly precious to the Rewrite.  Well, it‘s actually Stephen Colbert and John Lithgow who made it precious, as you will see. 

But first, a special congressional election in New York draws national attention and a lot of money, as the Tea Party candidate makes it a three way.  That candidate, Jack Davis, joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  In the Spotlight tonight, we are mow only four days away from the special election to replace Congressman Chris Lee, who resigned from New York‘s 26th congressional district seat after the media learned that the married congressman had emailed this picture to a woman he was trying to meet through Craigslist. 

Lee‘s district is considered New York‘s most conservative district, only electing one Democratic candidate in the past 58 years.  The district voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 and for McCain in 2008. 

But so far, Republican candidate and state assemblywoman Jane Corwin is running in a virtual tie with the Democratic candidate, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul.  Running third in the race is the Tea Party candidate and millionaire businessman Jack Davis, who has run for the seat as a Democrat three times already. 

Here is how the Davis campaign is trying to pull votes from the Democrat and the Republican. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t have a job anymore.  Company‘s moving to China. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How can they pay for my chemo therapy without health insurance. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will mom be OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Both parties support trade deals that ship our jobs overseas.  Jack Davis will fight to keep jobs in America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now, Tea Party candidate for New York‘s 26th congressional seat, Jack Davis.  Thanks for joining me tonight, sir. 

JACK DAVIS, TEA PARTY CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS:  Lawrence, thank you very much for the invitation to meet with you tonight.  I‘m looking forward to the interview. 

O‘DONNELL:  What made you switch from your previous candidacy as a Democrat to a Tea Party candidate for this seat? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Actually, I‘ve been a Republican all my life.  I was a Goldwater Republican.  I voted for Reagan twice.  I voted for all the Republican presidents. 

It started—I had a big problem with Dick Cheney when he was vice president.  He came to town for a fundraiser.  I spent 2,000 dollars to go to the fundraiser to talk to him about free trade and the damage it was doing to our country. 

He pretty much dusted me off and headed—after I paid all that money, he had his goons escort me out of the Park Lane Hotel—the Park Lane Restaurant, excuse me, and even beyond the building before I could talk to the media. 

So that soured me completely with the Republicans on their free trade policy.  Shortly after that—go ahead. 

O‘DONNELL:  The trade policies between the parties I think, as your ad indicates accurately, are virtually identical, especially the presidential position on trade, whether it be a Democrat or Republican president.  Within the congressional parties, there are some differences.  But—

DAVIS:  In fact, this was back in 2004 when this happened. 

O‘DONNELL:  The polls, there are polls all over the place here.  Some indicate the Republican is in the lead.  Some indicate the Democrat‘s in the lead.  Some have you in second place.  So have you in third place.  Do you see any kind of realistic chance of getting into the lead here by election day? 

DAVIS:  Absolutely.  I‘ve got to win this election.  The people need me.  I love America.  And I‘m fighting for Americans to create jobs, farms and industry.  That‘s the message that would resonate. 

In fact, listening earlier on your program here, if any of your president wanted to win this election, they‘d look at my program and they‘d run on that program.  Saving jobs, get out of the NAFTA, the CAFTA and the WTO.  Put Americans back to work. 

O‘DONNELL:  You have drawn an awful lot of Republican attention to your race.  Karl Rove, the speaker of the House very intent on trying to get you out of this race.  Have you had Republican pressure directly applied to you to try to get you out of this race? 

DAVIS:  No.  They know better.  I‘m a stubborn guy.  I‘m in it for the long run.  Nobody‘s contacted me personally.  They just do a lot of dirty ads and negative ads and telling lies about me, and trying to get the voters not to follow me and vote for me. 

O‘DONNELL:  Now you have the means to self-finance this race and keep your candidacy alive, even with the Republicans pouring money in on the Republican side of the campaign.  Without your own money to be able to hold on in this campaign, do you think you‘d be able to still be standing at this point? 

DAVIS:  Probably not.  I‘m self-funding my campaign with three million dollars.  And looking at—since I‘ve run it before, I know what the costs are.  We set up a good program of a million dollars for TV and another amount for the radio and another amount for the mailers.  We‘re right on budget. 

O‘DONNELL:  Jack Davis, Tea Party candidate in New York‘s 26th district.  Thank you for joining us tonight. 

DAVIS:  Thank you very much, Lawrence.  I appreciate the interview. 

Good night. 

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, Newt Gingrich will try to restart his presidential campaign on Sunday, after the world doesn‘t end. 

But before that, a member of Newt‘s staff will get very special treatment in the Rewrite.  And Newt will also get his share of attention in our roundup of the late night comedians.  . 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Five hundred thousand dollars at Tiffany‘s?  There‘s a simple explanation.  The guy clearly buys his engagement rings in bulk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  “Dancing Queen”, there‘s a ring tone for you.  Time for tonight‘s Rewrite.  As we have chronicled this week on THE LAST WORD, things have been a bit rough for Republican presidential candidate Newton Leroy, Gingrich. 

On Sunday with David Gregory on “Meet the Press”, Newt ended up attacking his own party. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT:  I don‘t think right-wing social engineering is anymore desirable than left-wing social engineering.  I don‘t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for free society to operate. 

I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors. 

DAVID GREGORY, “MEET THE PRESS”:  But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting which is completely changing Medicare? 

GINGRICH:  I think that is too big a jump.  I‘m against Obama-care, which is imposing radical change.  And I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.  I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care.  I think the idea—

GREGORY:  You agree with Mitt Romney on this point? 

GINGRICH:  I agree that all of us have a responsibility to help pay for healthcare.  I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy.  I‘ve said consistently, we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you‘re going to be held accountable. 

GREGORY:  But that is the individual mandate, is it not? 

GINGRICH:  It‘s a variation on it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Newt then issued an exquisitely produced video from a parking lot—a parking lot, on Monday, changing his mind about the individual mandate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH:  I am for the repeal of Obama-care.  And I‘m against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong.  And I believe unconstitutional. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Then on Tuesday, newt made the inevitable call to Congressman Paul Ryan to apologize and, of course, blamed David Gregory for setting him up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH:  First of all, if you go back and listen to the question David Gregory asked me, I should have said I‘m not going to answer it.  It‘s a hypothetical baloney question that had no hope of happening. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  He then said “any attempt by Democrats to quote him word for word would be dishonest.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH:  So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.  Because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  That same day, a video surfaced showing Newt getting berated by a Republican voter in Iowa. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re an embarrassment to our party. 

GINGRICH:  I‘m sorry you feel that way. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why don‘t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  And he and his third wife, Callista, were showered with glitter at a book signing in Minneapolis. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stop the hate.  Stop the anti-gay politics.  It‘s dividing our country and it‘s not fixing our economy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  OK.  Now we‘re not encouraging that glitter thing.  Don‘t go dumping that stuff on people. 

And yesterday, while giving a speech, Newt was interrupted by a cell phone, his cell phone, playing Abba‘s “Dancing Queen.”  As first reported by “the L.A. Times,” the phone actually belonged not to an Iowan listening to that speech, but yes, to Mr. Newt Gingrich himself. 

Newt later said, quote, “my wife warned me this would happen.”  Adding that “Mamma Mia” was an amazing film. 

But the most unprofessional and abjectly pathetic thing out of Newt‘s campaign this week, their attempt to rewrite all his self-imposed bad press by actually blaming the media for Newt‘s troubles.  The statement from Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler was given to the “Huffington Post.” 

And it reads more epic Greek poem than a press release.  So Stephen Colbert got the idea to bring in Emmy and Tony-winning award John Lithgow to read it word for word.  What you are about to hear is John Lithgow saying what Rick Tyler wrote word for word. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN LITHGOW, ACTOR:  The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding.  Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. 

The firefight started when the cowardly sensed a weakness.  They fired timidly at first.  Then the sheep, not wanting to be dropped from the establishment‘s cocktail party invite list, unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. 

Now they‘re left exposed by their bylines and handles.  But surely they had killed him off.  This is the way it always worked. 

A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught.  But out of the billowing smoke and dust of Tweets and trivia, emerged Gingrich.  

Once again ready to lead those who won‘t be intimidated by the political elite, and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  What could possibly be funny about a week that begins with the end of Trumpism and ends with the end of the world?  The writing staffs of the late night comedy shows had a very good week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, “LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON”:  Donald Trump announced today he is not running for president even though—not going to do it.  Even though he said he has no doubt that he could win. 

Really?  That‘s not how you quit a presidential race.  That‘s how you quit a student council race.  Whatever, I could beat Jessica if I cared. 

CONAN O‘BRIEN, “CONAN”:  You‘re happy, but this is devastating news for Trump supporters, all of whom, by the way, are late night comedians. 

DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”:  I wouldn‘t worry about Donald.  He‘s already got another project going.  This guys got stuff coming and going.  Forget the president.  Look at what he‘s working on now.  There it is.  It‘s Trump Abbottabad. 

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Were you surprised how quickly Trump pulled out?  If Arnold pulled out that quickly, he wouldn‘t be in trouble today. 

FALLON:  The weird thing is he just slipped it in a speech and hoped no one was listening.  He was like, we have to work out the budget problems and education.  And I fathered a child with the staffer, and Medicare, Social Security.  It‘s so crazy. 

O‘BRIEN:  This may explain his campaign promise to leave almost no child behind. 

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  You may recall that about a week ago, former Speaker of the House and Lego figurine head model Newt Gingrich declared his candidacy. 

COLBERT:  And of course, everybody freaked out about this news. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As recently as five years ago, Gingrich carried debt of up to 500,000 dollars with Tiffany and Company of New York, one of the premier jewelers on the planet. 

COLBERT:  Five hundred thousand dollars at Tiffany‘s?  There‘s a simple explanation.  The guy clearly buys his engagement rings in bulk. 

STEWART:  This could very possibly be the second to last “Daily Show” ever. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A California radio station has paid for hundreds of billboards to warn drivers on their way to work that they have less than a month before the end of the world as we know it. 

O‘DONNELL:  Eighty nine-year-old radio host Harold Camping says the world is going to end next Saturday. 

COLBERT:  He‘s 89.  Actuarially speaking, he‘s probably not that far off. 

KIMMEL:  According to a radio broadcaster named Harold Camping, this Saturday, May 21st is Judgement Day. 

It would really, really suck if we only got to live three weeks longer than bin Laden, wouldn‘t it? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  You can have THE LAST WORD, possibly your LAST WORD ever, online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com.  Be sure to Tweet @Lawrence me if you see any sign of the rapture arriving tomorrow night. 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next with a special cocktail to end the show.  Good evening, Rachel. 

END   

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