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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: Michael Moore, Frank Bailey

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine is the latest Republican to announce she will vote no on the Paul Ryan plan to kill Medicare.  I for one am not surprised?  Are you surprised?

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER:  Nope.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Paul Ryan budget is an albatross.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS:  Isn‘t that what Paul Ryan is suggesting which is completely changing Medicare?

NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think that it is too big a jump.

I like Paul Ryan.  Then they would say, how do you feel about Ryan‘s budget?  I would have voted for Ryan‘s budget.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  It‘s not just Newt—more Republicans are now running away from Paul Ryan‘s plan to kill Medicare.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Democrats plan to force a vote in the Senate on Congressman Ryan‘s budget plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s making people nervous here in Washington.

HALL:  Three Republican senators will vote against—vote against.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS:  Republican consensus privately is that they‘re very nervous about Medicare.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  They want to make sure that voters in next year‘s election will have a clear record of who stood where.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS:  And that suits some Democrats just fine.

SMERCONISH:  The Democratic leadership smells weakness on this issue.

O‘DONNELL:  Some Republicans are scrambling to defend the Ryan plan, but Democrats won‘t let up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They wanted to take Medicare away from future seniors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And now you want to throw tomorrow‘s seniors into that same pool of sharks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People in nursing homes would be dumped out of those nursing homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is the worst ideas I‘ve heard in the 35 years I‘ve been involved in public health.

O‘DONNELL:  The Ryan plan is already costing Republicans.

GUTHRIE:  A defining issue in this three-way race for Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Chris Lee resigned after a shirtless Craigslist photo.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST:  People don‘t like the Ryan plan. 

We‘re seeing that in New York 26.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If Republicans do lose, expect for them to take a step back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Republicans on the H are bracing for blowback if they lose this.

O‘DONNELL:  Another Republican with troubles, Sarah Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A new tell-all is out from a former staff of Sarah Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A book entitled “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Based on 50,000 emails the former governor wrote.

O‘DONNELL:  The author joins me.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, SENATOR MCCAIN‘S DAUGHTER:  I go on dates with men and, literally, Sarah Palin will come up in like the first 20 minutes.  And that doesn‘t put me in the mood.  You kind (INAUDIBLE) dating right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Good evening from New York.

Medicare was the issue today as voters went to the polls in western New York‘s 26th congressional district in a special election to replace former Republican Congressman Chris Lee, who resigned from his seat in February after the married congressman emailed this photo of himself to a woman he was trying to meet on Craigslist.

Republican candidate Jane Corwin was a formidable front runner at the beginning of the campaign in this district, which is heavily Republican.  John McCain won the district in 2008.  And Chris Lee won in 2010 with 74 percent of the vote.

But when Jane Corwin endorsed the Paul Ryan plan to repeal Medicare, which was pointlessly passed by the Republican House of Representatives and will never become law, the Democratic candidate, Kathy Hochul, surged in the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR:  “The Buffalo News” endorses Kathy Hochul.  Jane Corwin supports the Republican proposal for Medicare, which would turn it into a voucher system.

“The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle” endorses Kathy Hochul.

Hochul strongly opposes GOP plans to replace Medicare with vouchers.  Corwin remains a staunch supporter of the GOP plan.  A sign that Corwin is a strict GOP partisan.

KATHY HOCHUL (D), NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Kathy Hochul and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  On the weekend before today‘s election, Jane Corwin then desperately flip-flopped and said about the Republican plan to abolish Medicare which she has endorsed, quote, “It‘s starting a conversation that we absolutely have to have, but I‘m not married to it.”

With the polls showing Corwin trailing going into the election today, Corwin said she was the victim of Democratic Party distortion.  Quote, “I probably would have addressed the Medicare message coming out of my opponent quicker.  I have to admit when she started making these comments, ‘I thought this is so outrageous.  No one would ever believe it.‘  Apparently, some people did.”

In other disaster news for Republicans today, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said, quote, “If there is support for a supplemental for natural disaster assistance, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.”  Eric Cantor‘s demand that any federal government response to the tornado disasters be paid-for includes the standard Republican prohibition of paying for it by increasing taxes on billionaires in any way.

Joining me now is filmmaker Michael Moore.

Michael, welcome back to the show.

MOORE:  Thank you for having me.

O‘DONNELL:  I want to start with Medicare and then get to Eric Cantor and tornadoes and how we respond to them.  Medicare has become the issue in this special election.  The special election is almost perfectly timed to kind of test where the Paul Ryan plan stands politically out there.  You see the Republican candidate running way from it.  We now have Republican senators running away from it.  Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown and others.

Big surprise: America likes Medicare.

You‘ve studied health care systems around the world, including Medicare.  What is the surprise that America likes this well run system?

MOORE:  They—it‘s no surprise at all because it‘s something that really works and works fairly well for people.  It—in fact, it is the system that all the other industrialized countries have.  They have a Medicare for all system.  And because of that, they actually are able to reduce their cost to where, you know, I think we spend something like $8,000 per citizen on medical costs.

The second country, number two, the number two spender is Canada.  They spend close to $4,000, half of what we spend.  And then France, Germany, Sweden, these other countries are $3,000, $2,000 per person.  It‘s crazy.

But they have found that actually you—you save money and you bring the deficit down when you supply Medicare for everyone.

So, you know—listen, these Republican have hated this forever.  You‘ve played on your show the scene from my movie with Ronald Reagan back in the 1960s talking about Medicare as communism and socialism.  And they‘ve believed this from the beginning.  And they don‘t really care who it helps because they‘ve been on a mission and now they see this is their moment, these two years, to try and do whatever they can do.

And what they‘ve done is they‘ve created a colossal, historic blunder of proportions that we couldn‘t have written the script for them.  And you used to do that for a living.  I mean, you couldn‘t—even if you had written it, how could you have handed it to them and say now, here, tell all the senior citizens in the country that you‘re going to get rid of the health care they‘re used to and double their out of pocket expenses and hand them coupons.

O‘DONNELL:   You know, in the “West Wing” writers room, if someone had proposed, the Republicans will say, “Let‘s abolish Medicare,” I‘d be the first one to say, no, no, that‘s science fiction.  They‘re not that crazy.  They‘re not that evil.  Don‘t—I can‘t—we can‘t do that.

MOORE:  Yes.  Well, welcome to science fiction.

O‘DONNELL:  Welcome to 2011.

MOORE:  Yes.  And we‘re in—but here‘s the great Orwellian part of the science fiction of the Republican Party with this.  There was a story today in “Talking Points Memo” on how they‘re planning to run against Democrats next year in the election, saying the Democrats are the ones trying to cut Medicare because there are provisions in the health care bill that passed last year that allowed for certain cuts in the Medicare advantage program.

And they‘re going to go after Democrats on this remarkably, even though they are the ones who want to eliminate Medicare, they‘re already planning advertising to go after Democrats.  In fact, we‘ve been watching it over the weekend in the 26th district in New York where the Republican now is saying no, no, it‘s the Democrat that wants to get rid of Medicare.

And they believe that they have so successfully lied to the American people for so long and gotten away with it.  Weapons of mass destruction, you know, and on and on and on.  They can get like 70 percent of the people sometimes go along with their craziness.

They think they‘re going to pull that off with this because now, they see the hole they‘ve dug themselves in by trying to get rid of Medicare.  And what the Democrats have to make sure to do here is don‘t play into this.  Don‘t feed into—you know, when you hear some Democrats say, yes, everything‘s on the table, everything—Social Security, Medicare, no.  No.  Everything isn‘t only the table.

You know, it‘s like if you were rewriting the criminal code, you wouldn‘t say everything‘s on the table—stealing, murder, child abuse, it‘s all on the table.  No.  Some things are not only the table.

This isn‘t on the table.  Medicare, off the table.  Social Security, off the table.  No Democrat should -- 

O‘DONNELL:  When the other side starts with, OK, taxes are off the table.  Why would you ever go into the negotiation with everything on the table?  Why—you‘re taking tax off the table.  OK, here‘s what I‘m taking off the table.

MOORE:  No.  First I would say—you walk into the room and they say taxes are off the table, you gently say to them: we‘ll come back when you take your tinfoil hats off.

O‘DONNELL:  Right.

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE:  You know, you want to act like a sane person.

O‘DONNELL:  So, the Republicans have handed the Democrats this incredible political opportunity.  We have voted—we all in the House of Representatives have voted to basically abolish Medicare.

How will the Democrats blow it?

(LAUGHTER)

O‘DONNELL:  Surely, there‘s a way in there that they can find somewhere.

MOORE:  Right.  They are experts at, what‘s the old saying, snatching

defeat out of the jaws of victory?  How will they blow it?  They‘ll blow it

-- 

           

O‘DONNELL:  By one thing, by putting everything on the table.

MOORE:  By doing what I just said.  If they even imply now that Medicare is open for discussion, that will give the wedge, the little bit of light, the crack of light that the Republicans will need to go after them next year and say, just like they said, we‘re not the only ones that supported the war, 29 Democratic senators supported the war and they got away with that.  We‘re not the only ones.

“The New York Times” put all those stories on the front page about weapons of mass destruction.  It wasn‘t just us.  It was “the New York Times.”  You know?

So, they will run with that if the Democrats hand them that ball.  You know, where are they—please, don‘t do that.

O‘DONNELL:  The Republican candidates for president are not embracing the Ryan plan.  Newt Gingrich got in trouble a short time ago for straying from the Ryan plan and now we see other Republicans walks away from the plan.

What‘s the—what do you think the Republican presidential candidates are just going to have to hang back here on the Ryan plan and try to duck and see if they can survive the period of popularity of the Ryan plan in Republican circles, which seems to be rapidly disappearing?  How do they play it?

MOORE:  I think, some of them have already endorsed that.  I don‘t know how they‘re going to back away from it now, which is—

O‘DONNELL:  Huntsman has endorsed it.  Huntsman said, oh, yes, I vote for that.

MOORE:  Which is crazy, I don‘t know if you know him at all.  I don‘t know him personally.  But, you know, he is sort of the good-hearted Republican in that sense.  I mean, I don‘t agree with him and his politics or whatever.

O‘DONNELL:  He thinks gay people should have some rights.

MOORE:  Yes, but for a Mormon Republican from the state of Utah -- 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s a lot.

MOORE:  -- to hear those words, it‘s like me saying to you, hey, let‘s go run 10 miles after the show.  I mean, I kind of give him props for that a bit.

But—so the fact that he even feels the pressure to join the Paul Ryan brigade as they march off the cliff, he would become one of the lemmings.  It‘s utter insanity.

But in terms of Democrats blowing it, I just—look, it‘s like the Republicans right now, you know, they caught this great pass last November.  And they‘re now running away from the goal that they‘re supposed to. 

They‘re going in the opposite direction.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

MOORE:  And it‘s like—it would be like here‘s the Democrats, you know, because we‘re goodhearted people.   You know, liberals you know, love, peace, understanding—sensitive people.  And you see him carrying the ball the wrong way.  And you go, no, no, wait.  No, your goal‘s that way.

So, you just have got to hope that the Democrats will sort of buck up here and, you know, not do that.

O‘DONNELL:  The Gingrich flame out—is that a surprise for you? 

You‘ve been watching him for a long time.

MOORE:  Oh, we‘ve been best friends forever.  Back on my old NBC show here, I had a show many the 90s called “TV Nation.”

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s right.

MOORE:  And I went down and marched with him in Georgia in the Fourth of July parade.  It‘s very funny.  You can look it up on YouTube.  It‘s a very funny segment.

I‘ve known—I‘ve had these encounters with him.  I just think he‘s great for comedy.

O‘DONNELL:  He‘s been very good to this show.

MOORE:  He‘s good—he‘s the gift that keeps on giving in many ways.  And, of course, his time was there.  He blew it, you know?  He blew it when their talk—if you remember after they won in ‘94 hate the federal government—federal government, evil; federal government, bad.  Federal government building blows up in Oklahoma City.

If you remember—you were there.  I mean, you were part of the whole Democratic Party then.

That was the switch and Clinton and that was the end of them.  And they will flame out next year if they continue this process.

O‘DONNELL:  Michael Moore, stay with us.  We‘re going to be back with more from Michael Moore.

And later, the new book on Sarah Palin.  It‘s author, Frank Bailey, a former Palin aide, joins us with the inside story of Palin world.

And Bill O‘Reilly tries to correct Bill Maher on socialism, which, of course, means I have to correct him on socialism.  That‘s in “The Rewrite.”

And we‘ll have the latest out of Oklahoma as the damage reports come in from an evening of powerful massive tornadoes.  Initial reports say the death toll, so far, is at least seven people.  We‘ll show you some of the most dramatic moments of live tornado coverage that you will ever see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Some of the dramatic pictures from Oklahoma where tornadoes are touching down is ahead.

And, has Michael Moore found his first bipartisan issue with calls to bring troops home from Afghanistan.  More with Michael Moore next.

Plus, Bill O‘Reilly agrees with Bill Maher on socialism.  But O‘Reilly doesn‘t understand why he himself is a socialist.  That‘s in “The Rewrite.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  And we‘re back with Michael Moore.

Michael, you had a lot to say about the killing of Osama bin Laden and this country‘s reaction to it and the immediate aftermath.  It‘s now three weeks later.  The situation has cooled.  The excitement has cooled.

What are your thoughts about what this country went through in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden?

MOORE:  Relief.  Glad he‘s gone.  Everybody.  I mean—me, everybody felt that.

First thought was—in the very first thing I wrote that night was I said, this is the difference between when you have smart in office or stupid in office.  And Obama came in there, and like he said, on the first day, I believe him.  Get this guy.

The other guy, eight years, almost seven plus years, was making jokes.  I don‘t think about him anymore.  2005, 2006, they actually closed down the CIA station to find the guy.  No interest in it—the person responsible for the mass murder of nearly 3,000 people.

So it made me feel very good about Obama on that level.  I‘ve said what I have to say about what I think the importance of the Nuremberg trials were and the educational value of those to the world and to whose who are the victims of that.

And I never like it when we give up any of our rights or any of the ways—every time I take my shoes off at the airport, I just think the terrorists have won on some small level.  They‘re making me take my shoes off.  No, you take your shoes off.

You know, I‘m an American, a free country.  Why am I taking my shoes off?  You know, but it‘s a mentality that‘s like, that we get so—we just, I mean, the fearful thing about this is that there will be other terrorist incidents.  There will be other—sadly, we know this.

I mean—and how will we respond?  That‘s what I‘m worried about.  Will we want the police state that‘s going to protect us, or are we going to say, no, dammit, we‘re not giving up our rights.  You know, we‘re America and you will not make us change.

So—but I wrote a very nice, I think long piece about this a week or two ago.  It‘s on my website about the whole bin Laden thing.  Instead of trying to do it in a quick thing here, if people want to read that, they can read that and see where I‘m coming from.

But, you know, again, it just showed the difference between what we—who we have in the White House now and what we had for those eight years.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  I mean, I ran the Bush tape repeatedly about him having basically giving up.  There he was in a press conference saying, “I don‘t think about him much anymore.  And we don‘t know if he‘s operational in a cave somewhere.”

It turns out he wasn‘t in a cave.  It turns out he was operational.

MOORE:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  And the difference seems to be executive commitment to that pursuit.  But having achieved that pursuit, where does that leave us in Afghanistan?  Because when you listen to the president who initiated the war in Afghanistan, he was basically saying in the first two weeks, we were there to get Osama bin Laden.

MOORE:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  He then broadened it out, because he started to realize, wait a minute, I might not get this individual.  And so, he kind of broadened the target.

But what is the mission there now?

MOORE:  Yes.  Well, you tell me.

O‘DONNELL:  Sorry.  I ask the questions here.

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE:  I‘m going to start asking you some questions.

O‘DONNELL:  OK.  But you‘re starting to see this bipartisan agreement that the mission, whatever it was, and however we might want to define it, is over.

MOORE:  It‘s over.

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s accomplished.  We can get out of there now.

You have Republicans saying that.  We have Democrats saying that. 

Michael Moore has been saying that for a while.

MOORE:  So, we should get out.  We should get out as soon as possible. 

Absolutely get out of there.

This is not something that we can fix at this point.  Our own security establishment says that there‘s only a few dozen al Qaeda in all of Afghanistan.

A few dozen and we‘ve got over 100,000 troops there.  It‘s crazy.  It should end.

And I don‘t know what more needs to be said about it.  I don‘t know why President Obama continues to drag his feet on this.  It‘s not—it‘s just not what we need to be doing right now.

O‘DONNELL:  What is your general sense of what the Obama presidency has achieved?  Is it—when you look at what they‘re up against and it‘s not a dictatorship, they don‘t get to do everything they want—what is your satisfaction level about how they‘ve conducting the presidency and what they‘ve achieved?

MOORE:  I think there‘s 100 small things that have happened, things that people don‘t really hear about.  They‘re not big headlines, or whatever.  Things that happen, as you know, within the executive branch, changes that have occurred in these two years that have made this a better country—where there‘s more heart and caring and concern for people.

On some of the larger issues, you know, of course—I mean, I‘ve expressed my disappointment.  I wish the health care bill would have been much stronger for a single payer system than what we got.

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re Medicare for all guys.

MOORE:  Right.  I mean, you know, I‘m sorry that we didn‘t have them.  I‘m sorry we‘re still in the wars.  I mean, there‘s a number of things that I wish, you know, that he—look, he showed incredible backbone and decisiveness with the Osama bin Laden thing.  Man, I just thought, jeez, please stay in that place and on all these other things that you‘ve got to do here while you‘re in office.

O‘DONNELL:  What about some of the forgotten successes or ignored successes like the auto industry bailouts?  Chrysler, paying back -- 

MOORE:  Today.

O‘DONNELL:  Today, the bailout.

MOORE:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  I mean, this was a decisive action that saved how many jobs and the auto industry.  Forgotten.  Just forgotten.

MOORE:  Because Republicans again attacked the bailout of the auto industry because they don‘t really care for unionized auto workers or whatever.  But, of course, there‘s not a single Wall Street guy in jail yet for the huge theft that took place down there.  And the controls are still not on Wall Street—thanks to the Republicans not, you know, blocking things in legislation.

But here—the auto thing is a good example too of where I wish Obama would just—if he should just ratchet it up another notch.  Yes, you save the jobs of all my friends back in Michigan, but now that we sort of control the car companies, let‘s get them doing mass transit.  Let‘s get them doing things that are going to save this planet because the internal combustion engine is not going to get us to the 22nd century.  It‘s not just going to—we‘re not going to have a planet.  That has to stop.

And I just thought, jeez, you‘ve had this power, you know, you can do things.  And it‘s kind of like, no, let‘s just get the money back from the auto companies and it‘s all going to be OK.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, you know, the ignoring by both I think the media but also the Republicans refusal to acknowledge what happened there is, is just one of the big lies of our economy these days.

MOORE:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  We have an auto industry now because activist president took an action when he had to take an action.

MOORE:  And, you know, he took that action during a week when he had all these other things going on.  Think about this, I hope the Democrats really just remind Americans next year that during a week or two when they were trying to force him to show his birth certificate, when they were trying to shut down the federal government.  They were trying to shut down the federal government while federal government knew where Osama bin Laden was and trying to get him.  They wanted to shut it down and they want to prove that he was a citizen of this country.

I mean, you were so powerful on this.  And don‘t interrupt me while I give you this compliment.  But I‘m telling you.

O‘DONNELL:  What if we run out of time?  What if—all right.  You‘re in charge, it‘s your show.

MOORE:  I‘m just—oh, well, thanks.  Can Keith come back and be my co-host?

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

MOORE:  But, seriously, you on those nights when you went against Trump.  And you—not just Trump, you went against NBC.  You went against your employer.

There was one of those shows I thought you were going to whip out a stopwatch and put it on the table because you essentially said by the end of this hour, Donald Trump should be fired from this network.

How is it that you‘re still here?  I mean, I‘m serious.  You went after NBC| in a very large way, called them out on the fact that they‘re supporting a guy who is spewing racism.  That‘s exactly what it was.

And you know, you have no—you have no real dog in this hunt, right? 

I mean, you‘re a white guy.  What do you care, right?

And yet, here we were going after this in such a strong, powerful way.  How is it, tell us—tell us now on live television what you went through with management here?

O‘DONNELL:  Nothing.  No response to it at all.

MOORE:  Nothing?

O‘DONNELL:  But we actually are out of time.

MOORE:  Oh, right.

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  I have to let you keep going.  People are going to think management‘s in my ear right now.  We‘re out of time.

MOORE:  Remove him.  Remove him.

O‘DONNELL:  We have to do a Sarah Palin tell all in the show.  We got stuff  to do.

MOORE:  Yes, all these things—so, let me—let me say two things. 

Today is the 70th birthday of Bob Dylan.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, it is.

MOORE:  We all owe him a great deal.  Talk about a hero and a great American that gave so much to our culture and our society.  I just wanted to say that.

I wanted to say this to the tornado victims that the last worst tornado of this size that actually the Joplin tornado broke the record of how many people died was in Flint on June 8th, 1953.  And it‘s something everybody from Flint knows about and lived with for years and years and years after because of 120 people that were killed and about 900 injured.  Hundreds of homes destroyed.

And it was the year before I was born.  It just—I remember all through my childhood the impact that that horrific tornado had.  And there had not been a tornado like that until the one in Joplin this week.

So, you know, I think our prayers and everything go out to everybody there.  And let‘s hope that Mr. Cantor and the Republicans like you said—they‘re going to try and stop the aid to help these people.  I mean—it‘s like they already lost the election next year.  Are they—I think they‘re trying to lose 2014 now?  I don‘t get it.

Let‘s help these people.  Put the partisan stuff aside and do that.

Thank you for giving me that extra time.

O‘DONNELL:  That will be Michael Moore‘s last word for tonight.  But you must come back.  And you don‘t have to talk about me when you come back.

MOORE:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  Michael, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up: Bill O‘Reilly takes one small step towards agreement with Bill Maher and me on socialism.

And the dramatic moment as a storm chaser gets caught on the deadly side of a tornado.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up: in a new tell all book, former Palin campaign administrator Frank Bailey says about her former boss, “Her fragile emotional makeup was unnerving.”  He joins me next.

And later, we‘ll show you incredible video of a storm chaser following a massive tornado through Oklahoma.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  In “The Spotlight” tonight, a new book published today, “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years.”

Joining me now, the author of the inside account of Palin world, former Palin aide, Frank Bailey.

Frank, thanks for joining us.

FRANK BAILEY, AUTHOR, “BLIND ALLEGIANCE TO SARAH PALIN”:  Thank you, sir.

O‘DONNELL:  In the book, you write, “Her fragile emotional makeup was unnerving.  To stay in her good graces, counterattacking anyone who opposed her became top priority.  We went after opponents in coordinated attacks, utilizing what we called FOX News surrogates, friendly blogs, ghostwritten op-ed, media opinion polls—that we often rigged—letters to editors, and carefully edited speeches.

Nobody needed to be told what to do.  We understood Sarah‘s silent mandate to do something now.

I personally participated in character assassinations effectively, casting undue ethical shadows on her opponents.  Something I deeply regret.”

When did you come to deeply regret that?

BAILEY:  You know, during that—during that four years with Sarah Palin, there were certainly moments that I regretted what I did, but km just kept on pushing on.  And kept on doing what I did.  And there was a turning point in August of 2009 that I write about in the book where it truly—she ditched out on an event that was important to me personally, important to what I thought our administration stood for, she then lied to the media about it and then threatened legal action against the organizer.

And that was the last straw.  If there was a blinders coming off moment and a moment where I had to sit back and examine what I was doing, what I had done with my life in the last four years—that was really it.

And you know, Mr. O‘Donnell, I have to tell you, I had to go back to

some of those people over the last months and say, I am sorry.  You know, I

some of the stuff that I did to you personally was wrong.

           

And, you know, confession is good for the soul.  I would like to say that.

O‘DONNELL:  You were involved in the so-called Troopergate incident in which you actually made a phone call to the people who were in control of these state trooper jobs.  And it was basically Palin world saying, why haven‘t you fired this state trooper, because he was in a divorce proceeding with Sarah Palin‘s sister.

BAILEY:  Yes.  It‘s a complicated story, but absolutely.  That is only one example of me taking a cause for in this case Todd Palin—and later to find out both Palins—and pushing it way over the top.  Way further than I ever should have.

And certainly this call was recorded.  What‘s disturbing about this, and one of these moments that came out of my telling the story of Troopergate is there‘s a moment on there where we‘re all sitting in her office, in the governor‘s office, you know, many days before my tape had been uncovered.  And she talked about, you know, nobody‘s talked to the Department of Public Safety about this guy, right?  And I‘m like, no, I have on numerous occasions.

And then within a day, she sent out a press release saying exactly the opposite.

I was in an awkward, awkward spot.  What do I do?  You know, the news media was bearing down on me.  How do I answer questions that are going to give up my boss and my boss‘s husband?  It was tough.

O‘DONNELL:  In the book, you say the communication between Todd Palin and Sarah Palin isn‘t as close and coordinated as people might think.

BAILEY:  Right.  I mean, you know, again, I found myself in strange position where Todd is pushing me to do things that were maybe his agenda or what, maybe what he believed was best for Sarah.  And then, Sarah, of course, would disown anything that I did because it wasn‘t politically helpful to her at the time.

You know, I talk about in “Blind Allegiance” how Sarah at one point said—in Todd‘s presence—“I don‘t trust him.”  And it was basically that, you know, he talks.  He talks to people.  And he can let influence push him around.

And it just, not only myself, but other very close aides put us in awkward, strange positions.

O‘DONNELL:  How did John McCain picking Sarah Palin for V.P. change Sarah Palin?

BAILEY:  I think it changed her a lot.  I think once she got the taste for that national spotlight, certainly after that campaign, we didn‘t see an interest in being governor anymore.

And for those grassroots people that—you know, I kind of ran with and followed, it was disturbing because we had entrusted that job to her as a state of Alaska.  And it‘s why many people that believe like I do are disillusioned with her because she missed out on an amazing opportunity to show that she was a leader.

O‘DONNELL:  Frank Bailey, author of “Blind Allegiance,” wish we had more time.  sorry.  We got to wrap it up.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BAILEY:  Thank you so much for having me.

O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, Bill O‘Reilly tries to lecture Bill Maher about socialism.  But O‘Reilly gets lost in his confusion.  I‘ll show O‘Reilly just how much of a socialist he is.

And later, a storm chaser is on live TV following a tornado as the twister turns in his direction.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, we are all socialists now.  Even Bill O‘Reilly, as he will discover in tonight‘s “Rewrite.”  And we have the most frighten tornado video we‘ve ever seen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  In “The Rewrite” tonight, once again socialism.

As the only socialist in cable news who actually knows he‘s a socialist and admits it because as I‘ve explained in this space before and as “Newsweek” correctly explained in 2009, we are all socialists now—I am heartedly encouraged to report that the American argument over socialism has just smartened up a tiny bit.

The socialism argument is the single stupidest argument we have in our society because Americans generally do not know what the world socialism means.  Bill Maher helped define it on his HBO show on Friday night—and that caught the eye of socialism hater Bill O‘Reilly who is, of course, also, like the rest of us, a socialist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  Now, I‘ve known Bill Maher for years.  And recently, as you know, he‘s taken a drastic turn to the left.  We‘ve documented that on “The Factor.”  Here‘s the latest.

BILL MAHER, TV HOST:  You know, in Europe, socialism is just another political party.  And it doesn‘t mean that we‘re against making a profit.  It just means that government takes over certain things like hospitals, and prisons and the military that shouldn‘t—schools that should not be run for profit.

O‘REILLY:  Well, Maher‘s absolutely correct.  By why—why would any clear thinking human being want to give the government more power that erodes freedom?  Bill, are you hearing me?  Don‘t be a pinhead.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O‘DONNELL:  OK, don‘t get distracted by the pinhead bit.  Let‘s listen again and concentrate on the first thing O‘Reilly says about Bill Maher‘s definition of socialism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MAHER:  You know, in Europe socialism is just another political party.  And it doesn‘t mean that we‘re against making a profit.  It just means that government takes over certain things like hospitals and prisons and the military that shouldn‘t be—schools that should not be run for profit.

O‘REILLY:  Well, Maher‘s absolutely correct.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O‘DONNELL:  There you have the single biggest advance in the stupid socialism debate in my adulthood.  Bill O‘Reilly is saying that Bill Maher‘s definition of socialism is, in his words, absolutely correct.

So, Bill O‘Reilly is saying that socialism doesn‘t mean that we‘re against making a profit.  It just means that government takes over certain things like hospitals and prisons and the military and schools that shouldn‘t be run for profit.

We have, for the first time in the history of the profoundly stupid American debate between those who fear—do not fear socialism and those who do, something of an agreement as to what socialism actually is and isn‘t.

Now, let‘s listen again to the rest of what O‘Reilly has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Well, Maher‘s absolutely correct.  But why—why would any clear thinking human being want to give the government more power that erodes freedom?  Bill—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  So, letting government take over certain things like hospitals, prisons, the military and schools erodes freedom.

Like all deeply confused socialism haters who are actually socialists, O‘Reilly doesn‘t always realize what he‘s saying when he talks about socialism.  He just said that public schools erode freedom, that a government-run military erodes freedom.  The same person has told you endlessly that the American government-run military promotes freedom and promotes freedom around the world.

And who would O‘Reilly prefer to run the military?  Does he think it would be better if the oil companies ran the military directly?

Of course, not.  O‘Reilly is a good and faithful socialist on the military.  He thinks the government does a better job of defending the country or making war, which, by the way, are not the same thing than the private sector ever could do.  He might think mercenaries like Blackwater can be pretty good at killing people.  But he is very glad that we have the government-run group Navy SEAL Team Six to disturb Osama bin Laden‘s sleep.

O‘Reilly just told you that government-run prisons erode freedom.  Well, prisons are supposed to erode freedom.  Prisons are supposed to erode freedom for murders forever.  And government has been running prisons for as long as prisons have existed on this planet.

O‘Reilly—if O‘Reilly would just look at his anti-socialism script for one more minute before it gets loaded into his teleprompter, even he would realize he is not opposed to government-run military, government-run schools, and government-run prisons.  That leaves only hospitals in Bill Maher‘s list of things government runs because they should not be running for-profit.

We have some hospitals in this country that are completely government-run hospitals, owned and operated by city governments, for example.  Veterans hospitals owned and operated by the federal government.

The single biggest source of revenue for all hospitals in America, including privately-run for-profit hospitals is federal government money from Medicare and Medicaid.  If government was not in the hospital business, we would have far fewer hospitals and much, much more expensive hospitals.

O‘Reilly has never advocated closing government-owned and operated hospitals, and he will never advocate that because he‘s enough of a socialist to understand that they fill an important need—a need that would not be filled by the marketplace.

But let‘s not concentrate on O‘Reilly‘s confusions.  Not tonight.

Let‘s celebrate his contribution to the socialism debate, his inching toward us, inching toward an agreement about what socialism is.  The only difference between O‘Reilly and me on socialism is a relatively small difference in degree.  We‘re about this far apart.

I‘m in favor of a tiny bit more socialism in our economy, particularly in the health care sector and O‘Reilly is in favor of a tiny bit less.  That‘s it.  That‘s all that separates the admitted social itself from the socialism-hating socialist who doesn‘t know he‘s a socialist.

Let‘s hope that O‘Reilly lives long enough to get to the bottom of his confused, hateful relationship with socialism and realize that he‘s almost as much of a socialist as I am.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Today, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon declared a state of emergency for 14 Oklahoma counties as tornadoes tore through her state, tossing cars, splintering trees and leveling houses.  At least four people were killed and several people injured.

Tornado warnings are still in effect for north Texas and southern Oklahoma.  Severe thunderstorms are expected to push toward Joplin, Missouri, tonight.  The tornado killed at least 122 people there on Sunday.

NBC affiliate KFOR provided live coverage of the storm in Oklahoma this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go, David.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mike, it‘s getting more violent.  It‘s getting bigger.  It‘s getting bigger.  I thought it was weakening.  It‘s picking up speed.

Mike, I think I‘m going to run into this dangerous place right now.  Hang on just a second, Mike.  I‘m having to outrun it, literally, that‘s the closest I‘ve ever been.  That was crazy.

Right now, it‘s right in front of me.  Take our stream.  It‘s another a quarter-mile wide tornado.  It‘s a quarter-mile wide, maybe a half-mile wide maxi tornado.  There‘s a power flashes.  Crossing Gregory Road right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get out of the way.  Get below ground.  You‘re out of time.  Do it now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, it‘s—look how big it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh my gosh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get out of here!  Get out of here now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Maxi tornado coming into Piedmont.  Piedmont, get out of the way.  Piedmont, get out of the way.  Get below ground right now.  It‘s crossing northwest highway at Gregory and Simron (ph) Roads right now. 

Maxi, wedge, multi-vortex tornado.

Get to your safe room, storm cellar, basement, interior closet or bathroom may not do it.  Get out of the way.  Get out of the way or get below ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, hopefully, they will get everybody—we just had a power flash.  Hopefully they will get everybody out of there and safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh my gosh!  The motion is tremendous.  David Payne (ph), are you still with us?  Violent tornado coming into Piedmont.  David, are you there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, Mike, can you hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go.  Yes.  Go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a half-mile wide wedge.  It‘s another killer tornado.  It went across Highway 1 as it intensified and it almost got us.  It intensified right on top of us.  Amazing.  It‘s it‘s a half-mile wide. 

Just crossed Gregory Road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look at the debris rolling—look at all the debris.  That‘s Goldsby.  That‘s the town of Goldsby being hit by a tornado right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  These people came out of their house, Mike.  I don‘t know—they‘re trying to wave us down.  We don‘t know if somebody‘s hurt or what.

But they just came out of their house.  I cannot believe that.  Pull back.  That‘s their house.  It‘s just gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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   

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