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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

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Guests: Alan Simpson, Arianna Huffington, Ken Vogel, Rev. Barry Lynn


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The president talked about jobs, Sarah
Palin talked about Mitt Romney, and Eric Cantor took a wide stance for
millionaires and billionaires.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m encouraging the
Congress to take it with utmost seriousness.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: The president loves to talk
about the shining balls of millionaires, billionaires, and jet owners.

O`DONNELL (voice-over): The president tries to govern while Congress
refuses to work.

OBAMA: The debt ceiling crisis over the last month, I think, has had
an unnecessary negative impact on the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The shift from talking about debt ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s making a pivot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: A mugging. You don`t talk about
what happened.

CANTOR: You talk about the shiny balls of --

O`DONNELL: The Washington players are already drawing lines in the
sand about the next round of deficit reduction.

CANTOR: Now is not the time for us to be considering tax hikes.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Back to our regularly scheduled
programming.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: This has been a mess.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It`s a bad deal, but it`s
a done deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This plan is two sacred cows strapped together by
a time bomb.

CANTOR: The shiny balls of millionaires, billionaires --

O`DONNELL: Former Senator Alan Simpson found a way to compromise, he
joins me.

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Smoking more than I ever dream
they ever produced in the trees and the weeds.

O`DONNELL: Sarah Palin jumps into the Republican presidential
campaign.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Our president, words, blah,
blah, blah, you know? It`s all talk and no real action.

Being called terrorists, real domestic terrorists. Appalling to have
been called, acting like terrorists.

MITCHELL: Sarah Palin is now really kicking Mitt Romney.

PALIN: Bless his heart, he did this.

CANTOR: Shiny balls --

O`DONNELL: Is Rick Perry`s religious revival proof that he`s not
running for president?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Is the country, really, ready for another
Texan in the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michele Bachmann`s life would be a lot easier if
Rick Perry does decide to stay in Texas.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`m calling on Americans to pray and fast
like Jesus did.

CANTOR: The shiny balls of millionaires, billionaires --

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Good evening from New York.

With the threat of a catastrophic debt default barely in the rearview
mirror, today, President Obama moved on to the other ongoing manufactured
congressional crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The FAA routinely gets its authorities extended through
Congress. It`s happened 20 times since 2007. This time, Congress has
decided to play some politics with it, and as a consequence, they left town
without getting this extension done.

Here`s what this means, thousands of FAA workers being furloughed,
including safety inspectors. It also means projects all across the country
involving tens of thousands of construction workers being suspended because
Congress didn`t get its work done, and that means folks who are on
construction sites, doing work, bringing home a paycheck now potentially
find themselves going home without one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president said it would be easy for Congress to put
those 74,000 people back to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: All they have to do is do what they`ve done 20 times since
2007.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But Congress left town for the remainder of the summer.
When they return in September, they will have about two months to make
noise while a super committee of Congress decides how to legislate another
$1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. The prospects of that super committee
reaching an agreement are bad and getting worse by the day.

Republican leaders already seem determined to appoint members of the
super committee who will not consider tax revenue increases under any
circumstances.

This afternoon, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor assured "The
National Review," the House is not going to support tax increases period.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the lesson from the debt
ceiling brinkmanship is that it worked. "I think some of our members may
have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at
shooting. Most of us didn`t think that, what we did learn is this -- it`s
a hostage that`s worth ransoming, and it focuses the Congress on something
that must be done."

Meanwhile, the public`s confidence in Congress is at historic low. A
CNN/Opinion Research poll taken this week, just 14 percent said they
approve of the job Congress is doing, while an overwhelming 84 percent
disapprove.

Joining me now is former Republican senator from Wyoming, Alan
Simpson, the co-chairman of the president`s National Commission on Fiscal
Responsibility and Reform.

Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Senator.

FMR. SEN. ALAN SIMPSON, FISCAL COMMISSION CO-CHAIR: Always a
pleasure. You bet.

O`DONNELL: Senator, what do you make of the Republican leadership in
the Congress saying that they won`t even appoint any members of that super
committee who will consider raising tax revenue in any way?

SIMPSON: It`s very sad. On the commission, it took us three months
just to establish trust. The 18 of us finally established that, and then
did have a proposal, which was endorsed by five Democrats, five
Republicans, one independent. That`s 60 percent. That will get you
anywhere in Washington.

It is -- watch the makeup of the super 12 and if they don`t put a
single member of the "gang of six" on there, you can know that it`s just a
structure that will collapse in its own -- well, I have a word, but we
won`t use it.

O`DONNELL: Well, Senator, that`s why I said, and I think others are
saying, that the prospects of that group being able to reach an agreement
are not good because they are saying, the Republican leadership is saying,
they aren`t going to put anyone on who they would risk end up in an
agreement on taxes.

And we have the Grover Norquist pledge, which we`ve talked about
before. There are only, by our count, 13, only 13 Republican members of
the House and of the Senate who have not signed it, and so, there are six
House Republicans who haven`t signed it, seven Republican senators who
haven`t signed it. And it seems that they would, in a fair world, be the
only ones eligible for membership on this super committee.

SIMPSON: Well, I think you want to look what Tom Coburn did, and he
had a beautiful piece today, but he`s got a lot of guts, because he went
out there and got rid of 6 billion bucks worth of subsidies and Grover
Norquist had the guts to call that a tax increase. And Tom said, one of
his great allies, Grover would be irrelevant in two years, he can`t miss.

But I`ll tell you, he`s a good guy with a very bad idea, and he went
and gathered up all those signatures when they were strewing roses in the
pathways out here. Everything was great. Grover comes up sign this.

Why would anyone sign anything before they heard the debate, before
they read the documents, before they did anything?

But I`ll tell you about Grover -- if he`s more powerful than the
president of the United States, and when Coburn nailed him, he said, if
you`re calling that a tax increase when you take away $6 billion ethanol,
that`s ludicrous. It`s also deceptive.

And when we`re digging into those tax expenditures and Grover and his
happy warriors are trying to call that a tax increase, that`s a damn lie
and he knows it. And if he can get away with that, elect him president.

But I`ll tell you one thing -- the only thing Grover can do to you, he
can`t kill you, he can`t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you
is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than helping
your country out of a terrible situation, you oughtn`t to be there.

O`DONNELL: Well, that seems to be where we are with some of the
people in question. "The Washington Post," by the way, Senator, to, I
think, your and my dismay, reports Grover Norquist one of the winners in
the debt ceiling crisis. "The Washington Post" said, "His pledge not to
raise taxes or revenues remains intact, as does his reputation as a `do not
cross` member of the GOP establishment."

He has been crossed, though, this year, and you make a very good point
that Tom Coburn crossed him. And Tom Coburn got about 30 other Republican
senators to cross on that ethanol subsidy and vote against him.

So, is that the kind of crack in the Norquist armor that we can hope
appears in that super committee?

SIMPSON: Well, if Grover Norquist is more powerful than the president
of the United States and the Congress, he should run for president.

Grover Norquist should be examined into. Where does he get his money?
I mean, it`s time to now peel all the layers of the onion off of Grover
Norquist. Any time anybody else gets this, quote, "famous and powerful,"
like, whoever it is, the president or whoever it is when you`re in the
spotlight, you want to dig in.

Where does he get his money? Where does it come from? How much does
he make? How many people you got on the payroll? What does he do? Where
does he get his money? Who is he slave to?

Somewhere that needs to come out soon because when a guy is this
powerful, you want to dig deep in the root. Now, I`m not talking about
salacious stuff and his personal life. I`m talking about where does he get
his scratch and how does he terrify people -- because he walk up to a guy
saying I`m going to defeat you? Why would you be afraid of anyone that
came up to you and said, "If you do that, I`ll defeat you"?

You must be a chicken if you fall from that crap.

O`DONNELL: Senator, I want to read from your op-ed piece in "The New
York Times" you co-wrote. It says, "We need new revenue to finance the
increasing cost of our health care system and an aging population, but it
should come from reducing or eliminating tax breaks, not from higher rates.
The tax code is riddled with annual tax breaks amounting to $1 trillion,
most of which are just government spending in disguise."

I want you to talk, Senator, to Democrats about this, because I think
there are a lot of Democrats out there, when they hear Republicans talk
about lowering rates, it sounds like -- oh, wait a minute, this is a give
away.

But the point you make that there are so many of these expenditures
within the tax code that you can end up, in effect, increasing my tax
burden even with a lower rate if you take away some of the richer
deductions and loopholes that I can enjoy. Go ahead.

SIMPSON: We were stunned. We were stunned. The commission was
stunned to find that there were over 180 of those things called tax
expenditures. They are really tax earmarks. They are really spending by
another name.

And they are used by about only 4 percent of the wealthiest people in
the United States. The little guy has never heard of these. He takes a
standard deduction.

There are stuff in there that would burn a hole in my heart I had to
go vote. Oil and gas depletion allowance, may be not necessary right now
in this atmosphere. Go look at the 180 of those babies and almost have
your finger down your throat. And we were saying get rid of them and then
do something all the conservatives have been shrieking about, all the libs,
get a fair tax code, broaden the base, lower the rates, get spending out of
the code, we did.

And we said we take the trillion bucks, we don`t spend it on something
else, that`s the key. We take it and we give them zero to $70,000, we pay
8 percent; $70,000 to $210, 000, you pay 14 percent ; over $210,000, you
pay 23 percent and lower the corporate rate to 26 percent from 36 percent
and the territorial tax structure, you solve a lot of problems and you pick
up a lot of scratch.

O`DONNELL: That was a winning argument with both parties in the
1980s, Senator. I hope you can prevail on it this time around.

Former Senator Alan Simpson, thank you very much for being with us
tonight.

SIMPSON: It`s a pleasure.

O`DONNELL: With the first round of the debt fight now over, how much
negotiating room does President Obama have in the next round? Arianna
Huffington joins me to talk about what happens next.

And later, Sarah Palin messes with Mitt Romney.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Former Baptist preacher, former Arkansans governor, former
Republican presidential candidate and current host of "Huckabee" on FOX
News, Mike Huckabee, has added a 9/11 profiteer to his resume. That`s
ahead in tonight`s "Rewrite."

But, first, President Obama is back home in Chicago to celebrate his
50th birthday, raise some reelection money and catch his breath before the
next big fight with Republicans. Arianna Huffington of "The Huffington
Post" is here to look at the road ahead for the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANTOR: The president loves to talk about the shiny balls of
millionaires, billionaires --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today, President Obama reiterated his plan to turn his
focus back to jobs now that the manufactured debt crisis is over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`m meeting with my cabinet here to make sure that even as
they have been throughout these last several weeks, they are redoubling
their efforts to focus on what matters most to the American people, and
that is how are we going to put people back to work, how are we going to
raise their wages, increase their security, how are we going to make sure
that they recover fully as families and as communities from the worst
recession we`ve had since the Great Depression.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When Congress gets back from its well-earned month-long
recess, Republicans pledge to use the debt ceiling negotiations as a
template to extort more ransom from middle class Americans while protecting
the rich from paying any more taxes. And yet, the Obama administration
pretends to be optimistic that next time, Republicans will be reasonable
and embrace a balanced approach on taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yet the president had to give up in this deal, his
call to extend the payroll tax cuts through next year.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: George, I`m very confident
that`s going to happen. You know, again, I`ve been part of all these
discussions, I listened --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you be so sure?

GEITHNER: Well, because I think it`s going to be very hard for
Republicans to prevent that from happening. It`s going to be very hard for
them to stand up and say they are going to try to block the extension of
the tax cut. It`s worth about $1,000 a year for the average American
family, untenable for them to block it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: President Obama`s advisors are counting on his positioning
as the most reasonable above the fray adult in the room to win over
independents in the 2012 election. But a new Gallup poll shows 33 percent
of independents approve of the deal, while 50 disapprove. That`s compared
to 58 percent of Democrats who approve and 26 percent of Republicans who
approve.

Joining me now is Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of
the AOL/"Huffington Post" Media Group.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Arianna.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Now, we all in our endeavors try to present optimistic
views of what is to become. You at AOL/"Huffington Post" will
optimistically tell people how the business is going to look a year or two
from now. There are certain situations where it`s hard to kind of, you
know, fake optimism.

How should the president handle this after this situation where they
took the debt ceiling hostage and they ran this crazy negotiation? He has
to somehow suggest that there`s an optimistic course here.

HUFFINGTON: I think he needs intense therapy to explain to himself,
first of all, why he did what he did, because there`s no rational
explanation. There`s no economic explanation. You know, economist after
economist, most recently JPMorgan told its top clients that this deal is
going to reduce the growth rate by over 1 percent, 1.5 maybe -- JPMorgan.

Lawrence Summers have been going around doing show after show saying
that 1 percent increase in the growth rate over the next five years would
have had a much greater impact on the deficit, not on jobs, not on
anything, but on the deficit than any of the cuts being projected right
now.

So, it makes absolutely no economic sense.

As you just pointed out, it makes no political sense for the
president, because if this was all intended to convince the independents
that he`s the most responsible grownup in the room, they are more upset by
the deal than Democrats are -- and Democrats are going to stay with him,
they are not going to go anywhere.

Young voters are not going to come out in the large numbers they came
out in `08. Independents are not going to come out for him in the large
numbers they came out in `08. So, it makes no political sense. It is
disastrous for the country.

I mean, the pain that`s out there is really palpable with almost 25
million people unemployed or underemployed to have a horrible story in "The
Huffington Post" yesterday.

And you and I have daughters and the idea that 245,000 students are
now registered on a site called seeking arrangements, trying to find sugar
daddies.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: I don`t want to hear about it. I don`t want no, no.

HUFFINGTON: But you must hear about it.

O`DONNELL: I know. I know. I have heard about it.

HUFFINGTON: It`s not a like few thousand women. You know, we`re
talking about an epidemic --

O`DONNELL: Right.

HUFFINGTON: -- of kids graduating from college cannot pay for their
college debt. Over $3 trillion in college loans, more than credit card
debt.

So, there`s something horrific going on in this country and we cannot
understand -- I don`t think anybody has really explained why the president
did what he did.

O`DONNELL: All right, let`s do -- it`s a difficult thought
experiment. Let`s do the thought experiment that you actually could afford
to be one of those contributors, like you somehow could come up to the
money --

HUFFINGTON: Somehow.

O`DONNELL: -- to contribute to the Obama reelection campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON: Not as expensive.

O`DONNELL: You are at the high-dollar event at Chicago and he takes
you aside and he says, Arianna, what should I do?

HUFFINGTON: I would say, Mr. President, you really first to
understand what you`ve done. Really, you cannot solve the problems in the
future if you don`t understand how you got us here -- taking
responsibility, you know, like in AA, right? Acknowledge that your life
and the life of the country has become unmanageable and you need a
fundamental course correction. I don`t think anything is going to be pure
rhetoric.

And what is so sad is this man who moved the nation. He moved me, I
think he moved you --

O`DONNELL: He did.

HUFFINGTON: -- in `08.

I remember the Iowa primary, in one of the most moving nights of my
life

O`DONNELL: Absolutely.

HUFFINGTON: -- and to hear him now, ands you know, it`s laughable.

O`DONNELL: There he is in Chicago right now addressing -- I don`t
know if it`s the high dollar or low dollar event, low dollar.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Take the jacket off, roll up the sleeves, it`s probably a
low dollar.

Is it the Herbie Hancock stage of the speech, I don`t think he`s
getting any substantial quite yet.

But -- so, Arianna, going forward, how does he run -- how does he
govern and run this reelection campaign at the same time?

HUFFINGTON: Well, as you can see, running the reelection campaign is
clearly the highest priority, because he`s already had 37 fundraisers this
year, and it`s been an intense year.

O`DONNELL: But it`s not an unserious priority. He`s trying to keep
Democratic control of Supreme Court nominations, all sorts of important
presidential things for the next four years going forward. That is not
something people should think, oh, you know, why is he spending time on
reelection?

HUFFINGTON: Absolutely not. It`s a very legitimate priority. But
the point is that, the most important number going into 2012 is going to be
the unemployment number and there`s absolutely no prospect at the moment
that would make us believe that unemployment number is going to be below 9
percent.

Now, that is really the greatest fear for the White House. And, of
course, Mitt Romney again and again is talking about the failure of the
president to produce jobs, and he doesn`t have to tell us how he would have
done it. He just has to point out to that failure.

And when the president again and again talks about -- I mean, I went
through and looked since 2009 how many times he has said jobs priority
number one, the sustained focus of this administration, the relentless
focus of this administration, we are pivoting to jobs, nobody believes it
anymore.

O`DONNELL: Arianna Huffington of "The Huffington Post" -- thank you
for two things, thank you for joining me tonight and thank you for on the
Sunday shows for carrying the growth first argument, grow the economy
before getting ahold of this deficit. Thank you for both of those things,
Arianna.

Sarah Palin blasts Mitt Romney while praising Michele Bachmann on the
debt ceiling despite the fact that both candidates share exactly the same
view.

Plus, Rick Perry`s religious mega-rally set for this weekend could
turn out to be a bust. What does it tell us about his possible
presidential campaign plans?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Still to come this hour: what we`ve all been waiting for,
Sarah Palin jumps into the Republican presidential campaign.

And Mike Huckabee has started a new business, which lands him in
tonight`s "Rewrite" because, technically, his new business makes him a 9/11
profiteer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Sarah Palin jumps into the
Republican presidential campaign. No, not as a candidate, just as a
troublemaker. If you`re a Republican candidate for president and Sarah
Palin blesses your heart, look out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Bless his heart, I have respect
for Mitt Romney, but I do not have respect for what he has done through
this debt increase debate. He did this: he waited until it was a done deal
that we would increase the debt ceiling and more money would be spent, more
money borrowed and then spent on bigger government. And then he came out
and he made a statement that he didn`t like the deal after all.

You can`t defer an issue and assume that the problem is going to be,
then, avoided. No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney, bless his heart, as they say in Boston,
thought he wasn`t going to have to run against Sarah Palin. But now he`s
where no Republican candidate wants to be, in a fight with Palin, even
though she`s not going to be on the ballot. And Palin has decided which
candidate she wants to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Michele Bachmann, she spoke out, and she cast her vote
according to her principles. She stood true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Palin knows Michele Bachmann can never be president and
she also knows that Michele Bachmann can prevent Romney from getting the
nomination. And then there`s Romney`s distant cousin, former Utah Governor
Jon Huntsman, who is still having trouble getting attention. Here he is in
New Hampshire today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- run for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who?

HUNTSMAN: Jon Huntsman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard about you this morning, as a matter of
fact.

HUNTSMAN: I hope it was good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well -- it was just a small Tweet, if you will.

HUNTSMAN: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do know there`s competition between you and
Romney.

HUNTSMAN: We`re all candidates, right? We`re all candidates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, "Politico`s" Ken Vogel. Thanks for
joining me tonight, Ken.

KEN VOGEL, "POLITICO": Hey, pleasure to be with you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Ken, it`s pretty easy to figure out that the only way
Sarah Palin loses her position in Republican politics, and loses it
permanently, is if a Republican wins the presidency. The second bad thing
that can happen to her is when there`s a Republican nominee. That is going
to overshadow her.

So she really doesn`t want to see a Republican beat Barack Obama.
That`s just bad for her business for the next four years, isn`t it?

VOGEL: We`ve certainly seen her try to disrupt the field and try to
stay at the center of the spotlight on quite a few occasions. You mention
her kind words for Michele Bachmann, but let`s not forget that when Michele
Bachmann did her roll out in Iowa, Sarah Palin was there screening this
documentary about her.

Ditto with Mitt Romney. When he was up in New Hampshire doing an
event, Sarah Palin found a way for her bus tour to go through New Hampshire
at exactly the same time. So she has a bit of a track record here of
stealing the spotlight from these candidates.

I think it`s clear that she wants to stay in the spotlight. I also
think it`s becoming increasingly clear that the window is closing on the
potential for her to actually be a candidate.

So it is intriguing to hear her say nice things about Michele
Bachmann, with who we understand she has something of a rivalry, at least
at the staff level. And they would really be competing for the same
constituency. So she could, in fact, help Michele Bachmann, certainly in
Iowa.

And clearly she could hurt or perhaps she intends to hurt Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: Well, yes. she`s definitely come out of the closet as an
opponent of Romney. The bus trip that got in Romney`s way, she could
always pretend oh, gee, that`s just coincidence. But there`s no
coincidence about I am going to attack what Mitt Romney has done in
relation to this whole debt ceiling thing, and I`m going to praise what
Michele Bachmann`s done.

What about Huntsman and the other players in this thing trying to get
attention in this world? Huntsman -- everybody thought in the media anyway
that he was going to get traction and move pretty quickly. He has a lot of
establishment around him, but he doesn`t seem to be able to get any
traction going.

VOGEL: He`s having an extremely hard time. And he made the joke
about Mitt Romney in the clip that you played, but that`s what he wants to
be. He wants to be the number alternative to Mitt Romney. And there are a
number of folks who are competing to for that in sort of separate tracks.

We have him and Tim Pawlenty kind of competing in this track where
they are trying to be the mainstream establishment alternative to Mitt
Romney. Then we have Michele Bachmann over on the right trying to be the
conservative alternative, and possibly Rick Perry, the governor of Texas,
waiting in the wings. If he got in the race, I think it would really shake
things up, and Mitt Romney could find himself answering more questions and
engaging more.

He really hasn`t engaged. We had a story today where we talked about
the "Mittness Protection Program," where he hasn`t done a whole lot of
events. And at some point here shortly, he`s going to have to engage, both
with the voters and with his opponents.

Right now, he`s raising money. He`s engaging with fundraisers and
doing a good job of it. But the campaign starts in earnest Labor Day at
the latest. He`s got to start engaging.

O`DONNELL: We have declared on this show the "Mittness Protection
Program" to be the political phrase of the year so far. So congratulations
to "Politico" on that one.

Tim Pawlenty has to be sitting there thinking when are they going to
get to me? Meaning it`s great news for him that Sarah Palin has come out
and unloaded on Mitt Romney. He`s just sitting there waiting to -- to
surface as the -- as you put it, the kind of reasonable establishment
candidate. He was the first one in. He was the first Romney alternative
in there.

Does he have an advantage because he was the first one in?

VOGEL: Certainly in Iowa. And that`s what he`s betting on. He`s
done a great deal of organizing in Iowa, investing a lot of money,
resources, staff, in Iowa. We have the Ames Straw Poll coming up. That`s
a huge test for him.

We look at some of these things and we have a tendency to wonder
whether we`re over-inflating some of these false milestones. But in that
case, he is focused on it. And he has inflated it. And if he does poorly,
it is going to be a real problem for him going forward.

O`DONNELL: Ken Vogel of "Politico," thanks for joining us tonight.

VOGEL: My pleasure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Mike Huckabee has decided to mark the 10th anniversary of
the deadliest terror attack on our country by turning it into a cartoon,
one he hopes you`ll pay to see. That`s in the Rewrite.

And bad news for Rick Perry`s controversial P.R. stunt disguised as a
prayer rally. Not that many true believers are taking part. Is it an omen
for the presidential campaign he might be planning?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. Mike Huckabee`s got to make a
living. We all do. Let`s listen to Mike explaining his latest hustle to
the longest-running out-right crazy person in broadcasting, Pat Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, "THE 700 CLUB": Former Governor Mike Huckabee joins us
now from Little Rock. Mike, it`s good to have you back on "The 700 Club."
Welcome.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Pat. It`s a
delight to be here. I know that you too are a student of history and
probably like me are frustrated that so many kids don`t have a clue about
the real American history and how great a country we really have.

ROBERTSON: What are you teaching in this series you`re doing?

HUCKABEE: Well, one of the things we want to do is to show that
American history is very positive, that this is a good country. So many
kids today, 25 percent of high school seniors surveyed did not know who the
first president was. Less than three percent of high school students could
answer even three out of ten questions on the citizenship test.

We have really a history deficiency among young people. So the
purpose of this is to take these animated videos, they are very watchable
for kids. It`s designed for kids. I think adults could learn something,
but we make it very clear, this is for seven-year-old kids.

But we want them to understand who they are as Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So what Mike -- what Mike wants you to do for your seven-
year-old kids is go to LearnOurHistory.com and plunk down 19.95 for a DVD
that will teach your seven-year-old about 9/11, because, of course, there`s
no way you could trust a school or a book to do that.

And here`s what Mike will teach your seven-year-old about 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who would do something like this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: See, this is exactly, exactly why we need Mike. There are
way too many descriptions of criminal activity in the news and in American
history that do not, in the very first adjectival phrase about the
criminals, include their religion.

I`m sitting here right now with no idea what Casey Anthony`s religion
is. Nobody has told me. And I`ve watched a lot of Casey Anthony stuff.
When Mike Huckabee does his DVD for seven-year-olds on the Casey Anthony
trial, every seven-year-old is going to know her religion as soon as they
know her name.

Now, sure, Mike could have called them Middle Eastern terrorists or
Saudi Arabian terrorists, but he knows that it`s their religion that made
them terrorists, not where they`re from.

Now, I haven`t seen Mike`s Christopher Columbus DVD yet. But I`m sure
it`s entitled something like "How Catholics Discovered America." because
religion makes people do good things too, not just bad things like 9/11.

All right, let`s keep rolling Mike`s 9/11 for kids video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al Qaeda is led by Osama bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time for Jihad is upon us. Death to the
Americans!

CROWD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, look at the police and firefighters heading
right into the middle of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: See, in show business you would find that the thing about
casting is you try to get the best actor. But what you`re really getting,
the only thing you can ever really get is the best actor who`s available.
So I guess the best actor Mike could get to play a New York City kid in awe
of fire trucks was a kid from Arkansas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the police and firefighters heading right
into the middle of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the passengers learned about the other
hijacked planes and decided to fight back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s our plan, bring down the Taliban and al
Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Again, casting is best available actor. Yeah, Colin
Powell is from New York City and doesn`t talk like that. But when you`re
casting for videos for seven-year-olds, the perfect Colin Powell isn`t
going to be easy to get. But one thing you do actually control in animated
videos, completely control, is wardrobe.

Colin Powell was a general and wore a uniform before, like long
before, he became secretary of state, where he actually kind of dressed,
you know, basically like me. But nowhere in Mike`s sales pitch for these
DVDs does he make any claim of his historical accuracy in wardrobe, so I`m
giving him a break on wardrobe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. and its allies broke apart al Qaeda and
cut off bin Laden from his followers and his money.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: I can hear
you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us
soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Look, I try to be very understanding and, yes, even
forgiving about what some people have to do to make a living. I mean, look
what I`m doing. Who am I to get all judgmental about how you make a buck?

But I know some of you less forgiving types out there are looking at
Mike`s DVD and thinking, you`re kidding me, former Baptist Pastor Mike
Huckabee has become a 9/11 profiteer?

A former Republican presidential candidate has become a 9/11
profiteer? No, no, no. Rudy Giuliani doesn`t count, not in my book
anyway, because although he`s made millions and millions of dollars in
lecture fees all because of 9/11, the guy actually was mayor of New York
City during 9/11. And that`s a legitimate component of his memoirs, as he
presents them for sale in the lecture business, no matter how falsely he
presents them.

But this Huckabee thing, yeah, strictly speaking, you know, if you
want to be like, you know, a strict constructionist about 9/11
profiteering, Mike Huckabee is now a 9/11 profiteer. But I, for one, am
going to go to bed tonight confident that we live in a country where the
parents who actively seek educational supplements for their children are
going to aim a little higher than Mike Huckabee`s DVDs.

And no matter how much former Baptist Pastor Mike Huckabee abjectly
debases himself to sell his thoroughly stupid DVDs, he can only become a
9/11 profiteer if the DVDs actually make a profit. I`m betting we live in
a country that`s better than Mike Huckabee and won`t deliver him a profit
for what he`s trying to push on seven-year-olds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Former Democrat and current Republican Texas Governor Rick
Perry is deflecting criticism stemming from a prayer event he organized
called "The Response." The free event takes place this Saturday at Reliant
Stadium in Houston which has a capacity of over 71,000 seats; 8,000 people
have registered to attend so far.

In a video address on the event`s website, the man who`s thinking of
running for president admits that the nation`s troubles are so severe that
he, like me, is ill equipped to solve them himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: With the economy in trouble, communities
in crisis, people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God`s help.
That`s why I`m calling on Americans to pray and fast like Jesus did, and as
God called the Israelites to do in the Book of Joel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: One of the event`s primary sponsors is the American Family
Association, an Evangelical group whose leadership has condemned
pornography, abortion, homosexuality, and First Amendment rights for
Muslims. These Southern Poverty Law Center classifies them as a hate
group.

And televangelist John Hagee will speak at the event. He once
suggested God sent Hitler to slaughter Jews so that they would flee to the
promise land. He also called Catholicism, quote, "a godless theology of
hate."

Perry invited the Obama administration, Texas legislature, and all 50
U.S. governors to attend the event. Only one person accepted, Republican
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, through his spokesman, though, now says the
governor is on vacation this weekend, and that it is, quote, "left to his
discretion whether he`ll actually make it to hang out with people who think
Catholicism is a "godless theology of hate."

Even Governor Perry is downplaying his role in his own event. He told
reporters last week "I`m going to be there. I may be ushering for all I
know."

And I`m going to be here tomorrow night. And I may be ushering for
all I know.

Joining me now, executive director of Americans United for Separation
of Church and State, Reverend Barry Lynn. He is also an ordained minister
in the United Church of Christ. Thanks for joining me tonight, reverend.

REV. BARRY LYNN, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE:
Nice to be here.

O`DONNELL: Reverend, you and the ACLU of Texas are running another
event called the Family, Faith and Freedom event the night before Governor
Perry`s. If I could get to Houston this weekend, why would I want to go to
your event rather than one where I can hear that the religion I was
baptized into, and which is the single-largest religion in the United
States of America, Catholicism, is a Godless theology of hate.

I`ve never heard that case made before. Where else am I going to hear
it?

LYNN: Yes, well, you`re not going to hear it at our rally because
this is a very inclusive event. We do have a very prominent African-
American Baptist pastor who`s going to be speaking. As the United Church
of Christ pastor, I`m going to be speaking.

We have a humanist speaking as well. We`re trying to be inclusive.
The big problem with this whole event is not merely the rancid icing that
you`ve been talking about, the people that he`s associating with, but the
fact that the governor, a politician, has decided he should initiate a
prayer meeting, a Christian prayer meeting, in fact.

Now I`ve been to Texas many times, Lawrence, as I`m sure you have.
I`ve never noticed the date of dearth of preachers in the Lone Star State.
Couldn`t some of them have gotten together and done this if they had wanted
to?

So he`s got bad company that he chose. These guys like John Hagee and
the folks from the American Family Association, one of whom recently said
that Anders Breivik, the mass killer in Norway, had the right analysis of
the problem in western Europe, that is too many Muslims. He, of course,
said I don`t think he should have shot anybody.

You don`t have to go into the dark recesses of the Internet to find
this stuff. It`s promoted by the very organizations that are involved with
this rally. So either he has the worst vetters in the world or he really
doesn`t care about the nature of decent discourse in America, because what
you`ve just described and what I`ve just talked about is not the way
serious people debate any issue at all.

O`DONNELL: I wish we had more time to talk about it, reverend. I
think what it does she show is he has absolutely no idea what the real
politics of running for president are. This is the kind of candidate who
would get wiped out very quickly on a national stage.

LYNN: If he doesn`t fill half of those seats on Saturday, it is going
to be a political disaster you might say of Biblical proportions.

O`DONNELL: Well put, Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United. Thank
you very much for joining us tonight.

LYNN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. And you can follow my tweets @Lawrence.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Good evening, Rachel. You look
fabulous after spending the night on an airplane.

END

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