Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: John Heilemann, Dana Milbank, E.J. Dionne, Brent Lang, Rev. Barbara Rossing

           

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  The web is buzzing with predictions that the end is near.  And they don‘t just mean for Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The end is near.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And what‘s left behind isn‘t going to be a very pretty place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Maybe now is the time to, oh, behave badly.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  No, not the end of the world.  The end of political careers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pack it in, Newt.  It was a good run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  More on Arnold ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  People are still questioning how did this escape notice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We knew that Arnold Schwarzenegger had purchased this house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did cheating come naturally to the once scrawny boy from Austria?

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS:  And you won‘t believe the plot of his next film.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is it that drives powerful men to be so promiscuous?

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS:  Newt Gingrich is heading into day three of damage control, although -- 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST:  It‘s been a terrible eight days for Newt Gingrich.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  The week isn‘t even over.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN:  Republicans are outraged.  Democrats are sprinkling him with glitter.

O‘DONNELL:  And who sealed Gingrich‘s fate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  From Sarah Palin, from Rush Limbaugh, from conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.

MITCHELL:  Who is a literati?  Is it Rush Limbaugh?  Is it—which member of the conservative FOX establishment is the Washington cocktail party literati?

CILLIZZA:  I have never been called that ever.  I called my mom, I let her know that—

STEWART:  Don‘t you think he can come back from this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He did nothing less than attack a sacred cow in the Republican Party.

TODD: Sarah Palin is the latest to pile on.

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  Paul Ryan‘s plan would be social engineering and he didn‘t like it.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR:  She defends Newt Gingrich on an issue that really doesn‘t matter, and then she zings him.

O‘DONNELL:  Gingrich is done.  So who‘s left?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mitt Romney is out of the news, and precisely because of Newt Gingrich.

PALIN:  Looking for others who are ready to go rogue.

MITCHELL:  Let‘s talk about Jon Huntsman.

CILLIZZA:  He worked for Obama.

MITCHELL:  He is not a household name.

PALIN:  Still seriously considering it and praying about it.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  You‘re looking at a June entry date for a decision.  We may move that up.

O‘DONNELL:  But none of them will get their chance if Saturday is the apocalypse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There will be an earthquake like never before. 

The graves will open.

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

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER:  Come with me if you want to live.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Good evening from New York.

The Republican campaign for president just cannot get started.  After being dominated by the Trump silliness for what seemed like forever, this was to be the first serious week of the Republican presidential campaign.

Instead, it has become the week of the disaster called Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich has blocked any media attention to or the building of enthusiasm for any Republican presidential candidate who actually has a chance of winning the nomination, because the Gingrich flameout has been so spectacular.

Last night on this program, Gingrich was advised by his former press secretary, Rich Galen, on what to do next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICH GALEN, FORMER GINGRICH PRESS SECRETARY:  I think Newt is just going to have to go back, and, if he can, reboot the campaign, literally say, OK, that didn‘t work.  We‘re going to retool.  We‘re going to go dark for about—you have to go through the Iowa stuff—go dark for a week or so, retool it, and see if he can come back out and start the whole thing again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Go dark for a week or so.

Luckily for us, Gingrich obviously wasn‘t watching the show last night.  Today, Gingrich decided it was time to call Rush Limbaugh‘s radio show from the campaign trail in Iowa.

In the past, Newt Gingrich has been a warmly received guest on Rush‘s three-hour broadcast to the right-wing faithful.  But on Monday, after David Gregory led Newt Gingrich into a series of statements that infuriated the right, including calling Republican Paul Ryan‘s plan “right-wing social engineering,” Rush Limbaugh said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I am not going to justify this.  I‘m not going to explain this.  The attack on Paul Ryan, the support for an individual mandate in health care?  Folks, don‘t ask me to explain this.  There is no explanation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Newt obviously figured he could explain it all.  Get this all fixed—in one phone call to his old buddy Rush.  Here‘s how that went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  I need to ask you, because this was something you had said on Sunday with Gregory, that you didn‘t believe in left wing or right wing social engineering.  What is that?  Define social engineering.

NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone):  It‘s very straightforward.  It‘s when the government comes in and tells you how to live your life and what you‘re going to do, whether the values that lead it to do that are left wing values or right wing values.  And, by the way, it was not a reference to Paul Ryan.  There was no reference to Paul Ryan in that answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Newt was lying, of course, to Rush.  Paul Ryan was all over David Gregory‘s questions and Newt Gingrich‘s answers—the answers that had enraged Rush Limbaugh so much so that Newt Gingrich actually had to call Paul Ryan on Tuesday and apologize.

Not everyone was impressed with the great Gingrich apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  A politician either believes in what they just said in an interview or they don‘t believe in what they just said.  And if Newt Gingrich believes that it‘s right-wing social engineering to undo Obamacare and reform Medicare, to make sure that we provide a safety net for our seniors who are going to need health care coverage, then say so.  But don‘t apologize later just because the media has dinged you on what it is that you said.

It sounded pretty clear to me that Newt Gingrich‘s position, because he articulated this, was that Paul Ryan‘s plan would be social engineering.  And he didn‘t like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  So, today, Rush Limbaugh, in his single most alert moment as a radio talk show host, actually realized that Newt was lying to him about having made no reference to Paul Ryan on “Meet the Press.”  And Rush followed up with this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH:  Well, then what did you apologize to him about?

GINGRICH:  Because it was interpreted in a way which was causing trouble, which he doesn‘t need or deserve, and it was causing the House Republicans trouble.  One of my closest friends, somebody I truly deeply respect, emailed me and said, “You know, your answer hits every Republican who voted for the budget.”

Well, my answer wasn‘t about the budget.  I went back and said publicly and will continue to say, you know, I would have voted for the Ryan budget.  I think it‘s a very important first step in the right direction.  And I have consistently said that from the time that Paul first briefed me on it weeks before he introduced it.  You know, and I haven‘t talked with Paul Ryan about budget matters in the last four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  So, Newt and Newt alone is betting that that‘s the end of the Gingrich controversy and he can get with his campaign to nowhere.

Newt is currently scheduled to be a guest on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, by which time all of this stuff will surely be forgotten.

Joining me now is John Heilemann, national affairs editor at “New York Magazine” and the co-author of “Game Change.”

Thanks for joining me tonight, John.

JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE:  As always, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  The firestorm continues on Gingrich.  They just can‘t get this campaign started.  There was the big, you know, month or whatever it was of Trump, and now, here we are in the week of Gingrich.  What‘s going to get the Republicans out of this rut onto the real campaign?

HEILEMANN:  Well, you know, we‘ll have some decisions from some of these guys who are still thinking about running soon—guys who I think are serious potential candidates, guys like Jon Huntsman, who‘s up in New Hampshire this weekend.  A guy like governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, he‘s going to decide pretty soon.  That might get things going in the right direction.

But as long as we have Newt to kick around, and I mean, by we—I mean everybody, not just us, but the entire Republican Party.  A lot of people are going to keep having fun doing that.  And I think it‘s one of the interesting things that‘s happened this week is we‘ve realized just how shallow the reservoir of affection and respect is for Newt Gingrich residually in the Republican Party.

O‘DONNELL:  And for the guys like Daniels and Huntsman, the only serious players who are out there really thinking about this, does this kind of stuff put them off?  Are they looking for a clear weak—a clear space where they can come out and make their announcement and know they are going to get some kind of attention for that announcement?

HEILEMANN:  I think they‘re not that effective.  And I think that they‘re—that they are on their own timetables and they‘re going to make their decisions according to their own timetables.  And I think that there‘s, you know, if you wait for a clear week in the way that the modern political environment works, you could be waiting until 2016.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, Newt is getting just attacked for not paying, you know, just religious adherence to the Ryan plan.  Mitt Romney—last week came out and indicated maybe he‘s not word for word with Paul Ryan.

Let‘s listen to what Romney had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR:  I applaud the fact that Representative Ryan put forward a plan to keep Medicare solvent.  That‘s got to be our primary objective, and to keep our country fiscally solvent as well.  And he‘s also added choice to his plan and inserted market dynamics.  And I‘ll note that while I haven‘t introduced today my own plan, I 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:  Now, just a minute.  It‘s not going to be identical to the Ryan plan.

HEILEMANN:  No.  It‘s not.

O‘DONNELL:  What‘s going on there?  It has to be identical, doesn‘t it?

HEILEMANN:  No, I don‘t think it does.  And, in fact, I think that the

interesting thing about is I don‘t think there‘s not going to be a single -

there‘s not yet been a single Republican presidential nominee or potential nominee who has embraced the Ryan plan, and I don‘t think there will be one that embraces the Ryan plan, because all of them, even the nuttiest ones, are smart enough to be able to read the polls that show how unpopular it is, particularly among senior citizens, who happen to be large Republican primary voters, a large bloc of the Republican primary voters.

           

I don‘t think any of these guys—some will find a way to not attack it the way that Newt did.  But none of them, I think, are going to wrap their arms around it in a big bear hug.

O‘DONNELL:  So, the game has to be: praise Paul Ryan for his bravery, do not say there‘s anything specifically wrong with the Ryan plan, and then come out with your own thing that has some variation in it from Ryan, and hope the voters pay attention to your thing instead of Ryan‘s, because Ryan‘s thing scares voters.

HEILEMANN:  Exactly right.  And find some way to—again, to praise him in the way that you just said, but just specifically do not offer a plan up that anybody can say is abolishing Medicare, because that is what Paul Ryan‘s plan does.  And the words “abolish Medicare” scares the bejesus out of a large number of people that you want to vote for you if you‘re Republican presidential candidate.

O‘DONNELL:  Michele Bachmann, the most dangerous kind of politician, the kind with nothing to lose, is thinking about running for president.  Big news today, she‘s reading “Game Change” by John Heilemann.  Here‘s what she had to say about reading “Game Change” today which is the definitive book about what it‘s like to run for president.

She says, “‘Game Change‘ is a book that is very difficult to put down, at least I found it difficult to put down,” me, too, that‘s true.  “And it givers a person pause.  Btu the other thing that it does, I think, is informed me of what I don‘t want to do.”

Now, I‘m trying to read in there whether that‘s somebody saying “Game Change” scares me about running for president I‘m not going to run for president, or, yes, I‘m reading the manual about how to run for president and I‘m getting ready.

HEILEMANN:  Well, the first part of that, where she says it‘s impossible to put down, I have to praise her for her extraordinary discernment and literary capabilities—I think that we‘ve heard from a lot of candidates that publicly said, you know, they‘ve read the book.  Some have said it scared them off.

I think that Michele Bachmann is on the fast train to getting in.  And everything that‘s happened over the past couple of weeks, the things you cited earlier on the show—the implosion of Trump, the implosion of Gingrich, the unlikelihood of Sarah Palin, they all create a big opening for her that I think she sees—that she sees that she is going to seize, which is to say, she‘s got—there‘s a big—Mike Huckabee not in the race.  Social conservatives, Tea Party people—they do not have a champion now, and Michele Bachmann could be that champion, especially as a home state Iowa girl.  She could get in and really—really have a real effect on the race in those early days.

O‘DONNELL:  All right.  We‘re going to find out soon enough whether “Game Change” intimidated her or encouraged her to run for president.

“New York Magazine‘s” John Heilemann, thanks for joining me tonight.

HEILEMANN:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now is “Washington Post” columnist, Dana Milbank.

Thanks for joining me, Dana.

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST:  Good evening, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Dana, Michele Bachmann is heading back to Iowa, “Game Change” in hand.  She‘s reading on the plane, no doubt.  She says that the phones are ringing off the hook with people encouraging her to run, especially presumably after Huckabee made it clear what was already clear for months, that he was not going to run for president.

What does a Michele Bachmann candidacy do to this field?

MILBANK:  Well, she is giving every sign that she is entering this field.  In fact, I‘d argue that she‘s been an unofficial candidate in this race already.

You know, I think what it does is it essential is going to boil things down here.  I mean, you have Mitt Romney, who with the disappearance of Gingrich and Huckabee in different ways is really becoming the prohibitive front-runner, at least in the polls.  The party or at least the activists are looking for somebody who is not Mitt Romney.  And what Bachmann has the ability to do is go into Iowa, really bump out a guy like Tim Pawlenty, and it also makes Iowa not necessarily as important for a guy like Mitt Romney, so that he can take his fight over to New Hampshire.

So you can start—you can actually see her as a pretty significant counterweight, the grassroots Bachmann to the establishment Romney.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, Bachmann—the conventional wisdom is—will complicate Tim Pawlenty‘s campaign.  We have a “Time” magazine report saying that his former chief of staff, Charlie Weaver, has said, “Bachmann is going to be a pain in the ass in Iowa.”

That would be a pain for Tim Pawlenty specifically.  Tim Pawlenty, my pick—through process of elimination—to end up with the nomination, since everyone else has something wrong with them.

What does Pawlenty have to do to steer around the Bachmann obstacle course?

MILBANK:  Pawlenty is in a real problem here because if you look at it the beginning of this race, you look at it on paper, you‘d say, well, Tim Pawlenty really should be one of the front-runners in this race, given his governing experience, given his status as an evangelical Christian, given his geography and his ability to work across the aisle.  It just hasn‘t happened and it just hasn‘t fired the electorate.  And his one chance really was in Iowa, where he could be stronger than Romney.  And now you have, from his own state, Michele Bachmann coming in and potentially stealing all of the thunder.

So, the person that has to be the most pleased at least in the short term s Mitt Romney, who‘s continuing to escape even though, as you point out, it would appear that he has a fatal flaw.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, if Michelle Bachmann gets in there and starts picking up actual vote outcomes in the single digits of percentages, you know, 5 percent, 6 percent, 7 percent, something like that, comes way back in the pack like that, will that hurt the kind of right-wing version of Republicanism as it moves through the presidential campaign?

MILBANK:  I‘d be surprised if Michele Bachmann couldn‘t do better than that, and I‘d be surprised if others couldn‘t follow her lead.  I mean, we see this already.  She was the first to go after Obama today on the Middle East speech and other Republicans came around that.

So, she‘s already becoming, for better or worse, that sort of a thought leader in the Republican field.  So, you know, you got have to remember that in Iowa, polls are almost insignificant because it‘s such a tiny sliver of the electorate that goes to caucus.  And these are definitely, you know, 2/3 of them are religious Christians.  These are Michele Bachmann‘s people.

O‘DONNELL:  Michele Bachmann, thought leader, hadn‘t really seen her that way before.

Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post”—thanks for joining me tonight.

MILBANK:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: President Obama offers help for the Middle East and Republicans declare that that‘s dangerous.  What effect will his comments have on a two-state solution and on his meeting with Israel‘s prime minister tomorrow?

And the end of the world is coming Saturday.  That is if you believe a certain zealot who‘s made a lot of money scaring people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  If you like me, you missed the great debate this week between Bill O‘Reilly and Jon Stewart—tonight is your night.  We‘ll show excerpts of the debate.  And we‘ll give you the surprising results of the rigged FOX News O‘Reilly instant poll on who won the O‘Reilly-Stewart debate.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Today, President Obama delivered a major foreign policy speech that addressed new realities facing the Middle East since the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the democratic uprisings known as the “Arab Spring.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region.  And through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.  So we face an historic opportunity.  We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  President Obama did not mention autocratic U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates in his speech, but he announced financial incentives aimed at helping Egypt and Tunisia preserve their nascent democracies, including canceling approximately $1 billion in debt for Egypt and guaranteeing $1 billion in new loans through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

President Obama also endorsed a Palestinian demand that the borders of a future Palestinian state be where they were before the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.  The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves and reach their full potential in a sovereign and contiguous state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s office immediately responded that the 1967 lines are indefensible and “that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.”

Republican presidential hopefuls immediately and falsely accused President Obama of abandoning support for Israel.

Mitt Romney released a statement saying, “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.  He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace.”

Potential presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann tweeted, “Once again, President Obama has betrayed our friend and ally Israel.  And Obama‘s call for 1967 borders will cause chaos, division, and more aggression in the Middle East and put Israel at further risk.”

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, columnist for “The Washington Post.”

Thanks for joining me tonight, E.J.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST:  Good to be with you, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  E.J, the 1967 borders are obviously a very, very controversial place for any American president to go.  Why did President Obama choose to do this now and choose to do it the day before Benjamin Netanyahu meets with him?

DIONNE:  Well, you know, it‘s ironic because if you actually look at the original Clinton plan for the Middle East, that almost came to pass, or at least had a chance of coming to pass—it was the 1967 borders with swaps.  The “with swaps” part is very important.

The other irony is if you go on the Web site of “Haaretz,” one of the leading Israeli newspapers, Ari Shabek (ph), one of their best columnists, had a column up this morning telling Netanyahu, “If you want to have peace talks, you have to endorse the ‘67 borders.”

So, this isn‘t some radical notion, but they were magic words coming out of the president.  But I think only in the most overheated precincts could a speech be seen as anti-Israel because he gave Prime Minister Netanyahu two things he really wanted.  He said—the president said, “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel in the United Nations in September won‘t create a Palestinian state.”  We were siding with Israel in a fight that‘s coming up in the U.N.

And he also said that the inclusion of Hamas in the Palestinian government raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel.  He was backing them up on that, too.

So, I think he was trying to present a kind of balanced ticket to push these talks forward, and definitely did not throw Israel under the bus.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  There are things said every day by Israelis in Israel, and Israeli commentators, in the Israeli press, that in the United States, within our politics, would be considered by some, anti-Israel as we‘ve seen with this.

Now, former Utah governor and the former ambassador to China for the Obama administration, Jon Huntsman, had a different take on this.  Let‘s listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN ®, FORMER UTAH GOVERNOR:  This is a complicated issue that goes back in history some time.  And when you‘ve got—when you‘ve got sensitive negotiations under way, I think the first question that ought to be asked is, if we respect and recognize Israel to be the ally that it is, we probably ought to listen to what they think is best as they move forward.  And my guess is they probably want to work this out over time at the negotiating table.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Now, there‘s a far more diplomatic response from a former diplomat.  But not the kind of response that exploits the Republican politics that are now active in the Republican presidential primary.

What does that say about what general Republican reaction will be to what the president has said?  And at the same time, throw in your take on what it says about Jon Huntsman‘s chances in a Republican presidential campaign.

DIONNE:  Well, you know, I think that the Republicans are going to be thinking a lot about having someone who sounds reasonable on foreign policy.  Obama got a lot stronger on foreign policy.  He created an image of strength for himself by getting Osama bin Laden.

Huntsman actually said, in much more diplomatic language, things not all that different from what the other Republicans were saying, but he sounded like a diplomat.  But I think what you‘re seeing in American politics is really interesting alignment.  You‘ve got the Republican Party, on the whole, very sympathetic to the views in Israel, of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud Party.  Liberals and Democrats tend to take positions closer to those of the Kadima Party, the centrist, and the Labor Party, a center left party, both of them a little more inclined to push the peace talks further.

And so, I‘m not surprised that Republicans took this line today, and I also think they obviously have an eye on reducing President Obama‘s advantage among Jewish voters in the United States.  He got 74 percent in the last election, and they‘d love to push that down to 60 percent or below that.

And so, I think they see an opening where some of the Jewish community are a little nervous and they‘re not sure it‘s the right thing to do is to push Netanyahu.  And so, they‘re going after that.

O‘DONNELL:  E.J. Dionne of “The Washington Post”—thanks for your insights and wisdom on this one.

DIONNE:  Thank you.  Good to be with you.

O‘DONNELL:  Still to come—Arnold Schwarzenegger puts his movie career on hold for obvious reasons.  How did the press find out about his long-held secret?

And Bill O‘Reilly takes on Jon Stewart.  Who won the debate?  We‘ll report.  You decide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”:  It‘s a big story, especially here in California, where our emergency reserve of puny nicknames is running desperately, desperately low. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   From terminator to governator to impregnator to separator. 

            UNIDENTIFIED MALE:   He fathered a son with the family‘s housekeeper. 

            UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   Yeah.  Talk about “True Lies.”  What a scum

bag.  It took the former governor 10 years to get “Total Recall” on this one. 

            UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   He was dubbed the grope-inator. 

            UNIDENTIFIED MALE:   It‘s like Arnold got a little “Jingle all the

Way” on the side, if you know what we mean. 

KIMMEL:   I guess we know what you mean.  I don‘t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s entertainment lawyer issued this statement today, putting his movie career on hold: “at the request of Arnold Schwarzenegger, we asked Creative Artists Agency to inform all his motion picture projects currently underway or being negotiated to stop planning until further notice.  Governor Schwarzenegger is focusing on personal matters and is not willing to commit to any production schedules or timelines.  This includes ‘Cry Macho., the Terminator franchise and other projects under consideration.  We will resume discussions when Governor Schwarzenegger decides.”

On “the Today Show” this morning, one of “the Los Angeles Times” reporters who broke the story that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a child outside of his marriage described how the reporters closed in. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   We received a tip.  My colleague Mark Vrabac, actually a longtime veteran political reporter, got the tip that the couple had separated.  And we began working that tip.  And we were able to confirm it.  And then the couple released their statement confirming it. 

And then we understood there was something more to the story, and we began investigating that using, I have to say, good old fashioned shoe leather reporting.  We were able to confirm that there was, in fact, a child with a former household staff member, and we brought the information to Schwarzenegger, and he confirmed it to us. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:   Joining me now, a man who also covers the world of Hollywood, Brent Lang, reporter for TheWrap.com.  Thanks for joining me tonight, Brent. 

            BRENT LANG, THEWRAP.COM:   Thanks for having me. 

            O‘DONNELL:   We just one of the “Los Angeles Times” reporter

describing how they got this story.  I still don‘t have any idea how they got this story listening to her description, what went from the Schwarzenegger marriage is separating to Arnold Schwarzenegger has another child that no one knows about.  How did they get there? 

LANG:   Well, I think, as she said, good old-fashioned shoe leather reporting and a tip, a tip that there was a child involved.  The Times apparently went and pulled the birth certificate.  Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s name was not on the certificate.  But they were able to find a photo of the child.

And let me tell you, Lawrence, he looks just like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  So with that—armed with that photo, they felt that they had the backing to really push the issue.  They went to Schwarzenegger, and they got the confirmation. 

O‘DONNELL:   We have access to that photo here.  We‘re not showing it.  People who need to see it, it‘s online.  But I don‘t really see why just a photo with some presumed physical similarities would crack Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s defenses on this or the mother of the child, and how “the L.A. Times” finally zeroed in. 

LANG:   Well, I think, you know, to be honest, Lawrence, “the L.A.  Times”” is keeping that closely guarded.  They have told “The Wrap” that it is a state secret.  But they—I think with the photo, with the relationship of the housekeeper to the Schwarzeneggers, and with the backing of the name and the power and the prestige of “the L.A. Times,” they were able to get this confirmation. 

I think unlike TMZ, for example, this is a paper that has the institutional knowledge about how you go after a story like this.  There‘s a difference between being, you know, a digital scandal sheet, so to speak, and being what is really Los Angeles‘ paper of record. 

O‘DONNELL:   And certainly the credibility for that initial story appearing on page one of “the L.A. Times,” that didn‘t leave anyone wondering about the credibility of that story. 

LANG:   Exactly, Lawrence.  Yes.  And mark Vrabac is a veteran political reporter.  He has good sources.  And presumably Mr.  Schwarzenegger—Governor Schwarzenegger felt that he would get a fairer hearing in “the Los Angeles Times” than he would in Harvey Levin‘s website.  And I think that‘s probably a safe assumption. 

O‘DONNELL:   Brent Lang, reporter for TheWrap.com, thanks for joining us tonight. 

LANG:   Thanks, Lawrence. 

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, the apocalypse.  This man says the world is going to end in two days.  How he has prepared for the rapture?  By saving 70 million dollars. 

And a sign that the world might actually be coming to an end, Bill O‘Reilly actually admits the truth about his debate with Jon Stewart.  That‘s in the Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK0

O‘DONNELL:  Dominique Strauss-Kahn, now the former IMF chief, was both indicted and granted bail today in the sexual assault case against him.  Prosecutors told the judge they fear Strauss-Kahn, arrested while aboard a flight waiting to take off for Paris, poses a flight risk with his wealth and connections. 

This week, Bill Maher treated, “you can‘t claim you‘re not a flight risk when they arrested you on a flight.” 

But the judge granted bail with conditions.  Strauss-Kahn will have to post one million dollars cash and a five million dollar bond.  He‘ll be kept under house arrest at a New York apartment with armed guards.  He is expected to spend one more night jailed on New York‘s Rikers‘ island. 

The Rewrite is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Time for tonight‘s Rewrite.  Remember way back there when Donald Trump was running for president—pretending to run for president?  Way back then, last week, Jon Stewart agreed to showdown debate with Bill O‘Reilly on the burning question of the day, the day the debate was set up anyway—the burning question of the day, how bad for America is Common, the most noncontroversial rapper in the history of rap. 

Remember what seems like a couple of years ago now, when Common was being attacked by the Fox News world for some lyrics in one of his songs, the only song of his that‘s controversial at all?  Those lyrics were wrongly interpreted to be violent, anti-cop, anti-American messages. 

Well, that was all actually just last week.  The reason it feels like a couple of years ago is because, as predicted here, on Monday, before the great debate, Donald Trump ended his fake presidential campaign. 

And nobody, not even Fox News viewers, cared anymore about Common.  O‘Reilly ran an instant poll on his website on the question of who won the great debate about Common.  O‘Reilly and Fox News are not exactly known for running the most objective instant polls out there in the polling world. 

Now let‘s take a look at a sample of the debate, so we can judge for ourselves, before I reveal to you the results of the rigged O‘Reilly poll. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:   Common traveled to Cuba, all right, to meet with Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey State trooper.  Common said, quote, “damn, this was somebody who fought for my freedom.” 

This is a cop killer.  This is a woman who gunned down, along with two other accomplices—a woman who is a member of the Black Liberation Army, who they found 16 live rounds in her purse.  And this guy thinks she‘s great. 

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:   You are saying that he is celebrating a cop killer or promoting cop killing.  Is that—

            O‘REILLY:   I‘m not saying he is promoting cop killing. 

            STEWART:   Well, people on your network on. 

            O‘REILLY:   Well, just speak to me. 

            STEWART:   All right.  I‘m talking to you. 

            O‘REILLY:   Celebrating a cop killer, yes. 

            STEWART:   OK.  Here is the only distinction I would make here, and I

can‘t speak for him.  What I think he is doing is not celebrating but honoring someone he thinks was wrongly convicted of cop killing.  I think he believes she was convicted unjustly. 

O‘REILLY:   The president of the united states, though, takes him into the house, all right?  Thereby validating him.  Come on, that was a bad decision. 

STEWART:   You‘re saying that by having him at the White House, that in essence was tacit approval of everything he‘s ever done? 

            O‘REILLY:   No. 

            STEWART:   To some extent. 

            O‘REILLY:   No, it validates him.  It elevates him—

            STEWART:   As an individual? 

            O‘REILLY:   As a poet or whatever. 

            STEWART:   Are you familiar with Leonard Peltier? 

            O‘REILLY:   Yes. 

            STEWART:   Leonard Peltier was convicted of killing two FBI agents. 

            O‘REILLY:   Now we‘re going out to Wounded Knee. 

STEWART:  It‘s similar.

O‘REILLY:  No, it‘s not?

STEWART:  Why is it not?

O‘REILLY:  Because you‘re pettifogging the issue.

STEWART:   It‘s the exact same thing.  It‘s a guy convicted of killing a law enforcement official, no?. 

Guess who wrote a song about Leonard Peltier?  Bono.  Guess where he was?  At the White House.  Booya.  That‘s a rap word.

O‘REILLY:   Bono, did he actually come out and say that he was innocent? 

            STEWART:   I think that‘s the crux of the song. 

            O‘REILLY:   No.  I think he was raising questions about it and the -- 

            STEWART:   Now who is pettifogging?  Now I can‘t even see you through

your pettifog. 

No, that is exactly the same.  Bob Dylan wrote a song about a convicted killer named Hurricane Carter.  He‘s been to the White House. 

Why are you drawing the line at Common?  There is a selective outrage machine here at Fox that pettifogs only when it suits the narrative that suits them. 

This guy is in the cross hairs in a way that he shouldn‘t be, whether you agree with him or not.  You may think he‘s ignorant in believing that Assata Shakur is innocent.  You may think he is ignorant in believing that Mumia is. 

But then guess what?  Bono can‘t go to the White House.  Springsteen can‘t go to the White House.  Bob Dylan can‘t go to the White House.  You‘ve got a lot of people that aren‘t allowed to sit in the White House because they have written songs about people convicted of murder. 

            O‘REILLY:   I‘m making you president of the United States. 

            STEWART:   Every time I come here you make me president of the United

States. 

O‘REILLY:   It‘s insane, I know.  So you‘re sitting there, and you know on your resume—OK—you already have Reverend Wright.  You have Bill Ayers, OK?  And then a guy named Common comes in. 

STEWART:   You mean that Fox News has all of these people as—they basically connected the dots as though these are the most influential people in my life? 

O‘REILLY:   No, you have a history of associating with dubious people. 

You know that.  I know it.  Everybody knows it. 

STEWART:   Can I be honest with you? 

O‘REILLY:  Yes, please.

STEWART:  If I‘m the president, and I‘m booking my own poetry slams, throw me out of office.  And by the way, songs are not literal.  You know that, right?

            O‘REILLY:   Stop it. 

            STEWART:   When the Weather Girls sing “it‘s raining men,” it‘s not

really precipitation of males. 

O‘REILLY:   All right. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:   And the result of the rigged O‘Reilly Fox News poll, a poll of Fox News viewers, devoted O‘Reilly fans, they actually voted, as expected, in a landslide, 79-21.  But in the biggest shock in the history of Fox News, the landslide was for the wrong guy; 79 percent of Bill O‘Reilly‘s audience said that Jon Stewart won the debate, 79 percent. 

And so I am forced to Rewrite my description of this particular Fox News viewer poll, and only this Fox News viewer poll.  I will now remove the word “rigged” from my description of the O‘Reilly Fox News poll of the great O‘Reilly-Stewart debate. 

Bill O‘Reilly actually brave enough to admit that he lost.  Something tells me we better not get used to that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:   That was Jon Stewart, adding his Spotlight to the teachings of the Family Radio Network founder and self-taught Bible scholar Harold Camping, who insists the world will end this Saturday, May 21. 

This evening, the top three searches trending on Google were, “end of the world May 21st,” “May 21 rapture,” and “Harold Camping.” 

A result of Camping‘s multi-million dollar international campaign of billboards, pamphlets, and subway bus and radio ads.  As for how Camping plans to enjoy the rapture, he told Reuters today, “I‘ll probably try to be very near a TV or a radio or something.  I‘ll be interested in what‘s happening on the other side of the world as this begins.”

Camping describes on his website what he believes he will see on his television.  “A great earthquake will occur.  This earthquake will be so powerful, it will throw open all graves.  The remains of all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God.  On the other hand, the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed.”

According to Family Radio IRS filings, Camping‘s organization received over 18 million dollars in donations in 2009 alone and is worth over 70 million dollars. 

That‘s right.  Harold Camping for one is sitting on 70 million dollars, just in case the world doesn‘t end on Saturday. 

Joining me now, New Testament professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Barbara Rossing.  Thank you for joining me tonight. 

BARBARA ROSSING, LUTHERAN SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AT CHICAGO:   It‘s great to be with you.  Thanks for having me. 

O‘DONNELL:   This is a recurring phenomenon, the predicting of the end of the world.  This is a very specific version of it.  Where does this sort of thing come from? 

ROSSING:   Well, I mean, one can say it‘s based in the Bible.  Jesus does talk about the end of the world.  But this whole notion of trying to predict it, as if the Bible were a script laying out predictions, that‘s a fairly recent phenomenon, really made popular—invented, in fact, by a British preacher in the 19th century, John Nelson Darby. 

And ever since then, people have been trying to calculate.  Actually, even before that, in the 1840s, the Millerites.  So it‘s a longstanding American tradition to try to predict when the end of the world will happen. 

But I would certainly argue it‘s not Biblical to be able to calculate the date.  Jesus tells us not to try to figure out when the date is going to happen.  He says he doesn‘t know.  Only the father knows. 

O‘DONNELL:   And so how many calculations on the end of the world have to be wrong before people give up, and they just kind of go with Jesus on this, and live in the ignorance of that question? 

ROSSING:   Well, it will be interesting to see what happens on May 22nd.  But a lot of times in the past, followers of these predictors haven‘t been dissuaded when their leader‘s prophecy don‘t come true. 

But I think it‘s an enormous distraction.  I even call it a racket.  I don‘t think we should be chasing after predictions like this.  But whether Camping‘s followers, who have sold everything and are going after this script, what their reaction will be on May 22nd, we don‘t know. 

O‘DONNELL:   Well, this is actually his second prediction of the end of the world.  The first one was, I don‘t know, 10 years ago or something.  It didn‘t happen. 

            ROSSING:   1994. 

            O‘DONNELL:   And he went back to work on it because he forgot to read

a particular book of the Bible.  Is that how this happened? 

ROSSING:  Well—and he forgot about the year zero.  He says he calculated wrong.  And other people have said the rapture was going to happen in 1988, because they took the year of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and said that it would happen within a generation after that. 

And they were proved wrong of course when it didn‘t happen in 1988.  And then they went back and recalculated—others did—and said maybe it‘s 40 years after the holy sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied by Israel in ‘67.  So maybe it means it will be 2007. 

All of these predictions have come and gone.  And the end has not happened yet. 

O‘DONNELL:   All right, Reverend Barbara Rossing, stay by the phone Saturday afternoon.  Thank you for joining us tonight. 

ROSSING:  Ok.  Thank you. 

O‘DONNELL:  You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com.  You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence. 

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

END   

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2011 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

PASTE THE TRANSCRIPT HERE, LEAVE THE LINK

Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide