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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, October 17th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Monday show

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Guests: Joe Conason, Dick Gregory, Jonathan Alter


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: OK. If you`re shocked by the things Herman
Cain says, wait until you hear the man sing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, here he is -- the
president of Godfather`s Pizza, Herman Cain.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (singing): Imagine eating
pizza each and every day.

O`DONNELL: Herman Cain is not a one-hit wonder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: GOP presidential favorite Herman Cain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen minutes of fame for Herman Cain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Easy to remember 9-9-9 plan.

CAIN: Nine-nine-nine.

DAVID GREGORY, MEET THE PRESS: Who will pay more?

CAIN: Some people will pay more.

GREGORY: Who will pay more?

CAIN: The people who spend more money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That "Meet the Press" interview had me throwing
things at the television.

GREGORY: You think those people are going to rally around tax reform
where the wealthy pay less?

CAIN: Oh, yes.

I never thought I would be taken seriously.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is it 9-9-9, 6-6-6, black walnut ice
cream?

CAIN: Black walnut because it tastes goods all the time.

ANN COULTER: If we don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the
nominee and we`ll lose.

O`DONNELL: Republicans want you to believe that global economic
protests are just a show.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Do you stand by that comment about mobs?

(CROWD CHANTING)

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I think more important
effort to blame others.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Too big to ignore.

CROWD: Occupy Wall Street.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those with power and
privilege will often decry any call for change.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Full-scale takeover of a Lower Manhattan park.

O`DONNELL: And Bill Clinton goes Gaga.

LADY GAGA: I just thought we all would get caught up in a little Bill
romance.

(singing): I want your love and I want your revenge, I want your
love, I don`t want to be friends. Je veux ton amour, et je veux ton
revanche, je veux ton amour, I don`t want to be friends

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: A new poll out today has Republican presidential candidate
Herman Cain in a virtual tie with Willard M. Romney. Romney comes in at 26
percent, followed by Cain at 25 percent, with a five-point margin on error
in the poll. Rick Perry pulls up a distant third at 13 percent. Ron Paul
holds steady at 9 percent, followed by the irrelevant Newt Gingrich at 8
percent and the now even more irrelevant Michele Bachmann at 6 percent.

The poll indicates that none of the candidates are on solid ground
yet, with 67 percent of Republican voters saying they might change their
minds.

Herman Cain is the latest beneficiary of Republicans changing their
minds, but his front-runner status has not inhibited his rhetoric on the
campaign trail. Here he is in Tennessee on Saturday explaining how he
would stop illegal immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: We`ll have a real fence, 20 feet high with barbed wire,
electrified, with a sign on the other side that says, "It can kill you."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When asked about that statement less than 24 hours later,
here was candidate Cain`s reply.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: That`s a joke, David.

GREGORY: It`s a joke.

CAIN: It`s a joke. That`s a joke.

GREGORY: That`s not a serious plan?

CAIN: That`s not a serious plan. No, it`s not.

GREGORY: OK. You got a big laugh. That`s not what you`d do.

CAIN: That`s a joke. I`ve also said, America needs to get a sense of
humor. That was a joke, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Herman Cain has been campaigning to preserve America`s
sense of humor. Since this performance in 1991 at the Omaha Press Club
when he was still the CEO of Godfather`s Pizza.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here he is, the president of godfather`s pizza,
Herman Cain.

CAIN: Ladies and gentlemen, would you please give a round of applause
for the very lovely and delectable Godfather`s girls.

We have so many freedoms that it is easy to sometimes take them for
granted. So, it is helpful at times to try and imagine what it`s like if
we were to lose some of those freedoms.

(singing): Imagine there`s no pizza, I couldn`t if I tried, eating
only tacos or Kentucky fried, imagine only burgers is frightening and sad.
You`re lucky you have pizza to feed your kids, no defrosting or cooking and
no dishes you must do, imagine eating pizza each and every day. You may
sorry that is not food, but to me it`s so much more. It gives my life its
meaning and it pays a lot of dough.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post"
editorial writer and MSNBC contributor.

OK, Jonathan. Follow that.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANALYST: I can`t, Lawrence. My head was
going to explode. Did you see the movie "Mars Attacks" when they played
the music and the heads -- the aliens` heads would pop in the little
helmets? That was almost me a second ago.

O`DONNELL: Now, your head would pop -- I mean, were in the open
talking about during his "Meet the Press" interview, you wanted to throw
stuff at the TV. What was the biggest throw stuff at the TV moment for you
during his "Meet the Press" interview? And we are going to come back to
his singing. Don`t worry. We`re going to come back.

CAPEHART: OK. The thing is when he said the 9 percent national sales
tax only applied to, quote, "new goods." New goods. Not used goods but
new goods.

Which if you go earlier in the interview, he`s talking about how with
the 9 percent national sales tax, always taxes would be transparent and
that would lead to, say, for I think it was a loaf of bread that prices
would ultimately go down because of increased competition. I called it
head scratchery.

But the idea you would have -- you were going to try to convince
people that their taxes aren`t going to go up because if they buy new -- if
they buy used goods, the 9 percent national sales tax doesn`t apply to
them. So, what do you say to everyone, particularly poor middle class
people who spend a bigger share of their income on food and medicine and
other necessities of life, that they`re going to get kicked with a big tax
increase.

O`DONNELL: Yes. The power to tax is the power to destroy, as we have
learned at many times.

The Democrats many years ago wrote a luxury tax into the tax code on
cars above a certain price, on aircraft and very importantly on boats. And
the tax applied only to new boats which should be a lesson for Herman Cain,
because what we did by having a luxury tax on new boats was completely
destroy the boat-building industry in the United States, in Maine and Rhode
Island and those places. And it collected zero money, because everyone
just bought used instead.

This would destroy the sale of new automobiles. It would just destroy
those companies. It would destroy new home-building.

There`s so much wrong with that tax. And he was also caught up on
that -- in talking with David Gregory about how it would actually be
additive in effect to all the state sales taxes that are already in place.

CAPEHART: Right.

O`DONNELL: So in some places, you know, you`d be paying 17 percent,
18 percent in sales taxes.

CAPEHART: Right. And, you know, in New Hampshire where there is no
sales tax, suddenly, the first -- the citizens of the state with the first
of the nation primary are going to be hit with a 9 percent tax that they`ve
never had before. I just -- I don`t understand how someone who is clever
enough to come up with a slogan like 9-9-9 isn`t equally clever in
explaining how it`s going to work or quite frankly I`m not even sure he
knows exactly how it will work.

O`DONNELL: Well, he never seems to be thinking about what happen
next. So, for example, on the weekend on Saturday when he said that thing
about, you know, have that fence and electrify it and electrocute people
trying to get into this country, he then when he was asked about it at a
national interview, he then backs up and says, oh, it was a joke.

CAPEHART: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Let me read to you, Jonathan, from his book, where this
idea also appears. He says he was giving a speech and he told his
audience, "Remember when the president joked during a discussion about
illegal immigration, `What do the Republicans want? Do they want a moat
with alligators?` I said to the crowd, `Yes, bring on the alligators and
make it a real big moat.` I heard a liberal reporter saying that`s so
uncompassionate.

I said, I don`t think it`s uncompassionate. If they can get into that
moat and get over my fence, which is going to be 20 feet high, they can out
swim the alligators, I`d give them a job. It wasn`t compassionate when
they killed some of our agents on the borders. It`s not compassionate when
they kill ranchers on the border.

It`s not compassionate when you sue Arizona. They ought to be giving
Arizona a prize. Stay tuned for Herman`s moat."

Now, after that paragraph, there is nothing in Herman`s book that says
this is a joke.

CAPEHART: Right.

O`DONNELL: This is very clearly what he thinks.

CAPEHART: Right.

This is the problem Herman Cain now has. No one was really paying
attention to him before until he started rising in the polls. So, he
didn`t really have to be accountable to anyone. He could be clever at the
debates and then go on about his business selling his book.

But now that he is the front-runner poll-wise, he now is accountable
for what he says. The idea that he can say something as inflammatory as he
did on Saturday and then just brush it aside by saying, oh, it was just a
joke -- sorry, Mr. Cain, you`re on the presidential stage and the klieg
lights burn really, really hot. Your margin for error is very small.

And there are no rooms for jokes, no room for jokes that aren`t really
jokes.

O`DONNELL: We can`t leave this segment on this subject without noting
that we live in a country that is so great and so attractive that people
cross our southern borders and die in the process of doing it, trying to
get into this country. Every year, men, women and, yes, children die
trying to get across that border trying to get into this country to find
their better life in this country.

And for him to look at it exclusively from this side of the border
with absolutely no compassion to what it is those people are coming here to
try to get, and noting that they are actually already dying crossing that
border.

CAPEHART: Yes. Yes. This is -- Herman Cain is remarkably, what`s
the word I`m looking for? It`s not tone deaf.

And, you know, to talk about his compassion I think is a little too
easy. And I don`t know how much time we have left, Lawrence, but speaking
of compassion, his answer on abortion rights I thought was appalling. He`s
against -- he`s against abortion rights even in the case of rape and
incest.

And when he was pushed on whether, you know, whether the life of the
mother was in danger, he said, but that would be up to the family to
decide. Go figure that. I can`t.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s impossible to follow. But you can say what you
might about him, Jonathan. We cannot say he is tone deaf. The man is the
best singer to run for president in my lifetime.

CAPEHART: You know, I think you might be right.

O`DONNELL: No question about it. Jonathan Capehart of "The
Washington Post," thank you very much for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, as Republicans campaign for his job, President
Obama continues to campaign for his jobs bill.

And I will hand over tonight`s "Rewrite" to one of the "Occupy Wall
Street" protesters. The protester the NYPD did not try to silence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a man who marched with Martin Luther King will
show us the link between the protests Dr. King led and the "Occupy Wall
Street" movement.

And an "Occupy Wall Street" protester takes a brave and eloquent stand
against police brutality, telling the police to their faces that there`s
nothing tough about attacking unarmed peaceful citizens. That`s in the
"Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One poll found that 63
percent of Americans support the ideas in this jobs bill.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So, 63 percent of Americans support the jobs bill that I put
forward. 100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it.
Essentially, they said no to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was President Obama kicking off a bus tour at the
Asheville, North Carolina Regional Airport which would receive funding for
runway repairs if the president`s jobs bill had become law.

Senate Republicans effectively killed the president`s bill last week
when they voted unanimously to prevent debate on the bill, but the
president is not ready to take no for an answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We`re going to give them another chance to do their jobs by
looking after your jobs. So, this week, I`m asking members of Congress to
vote -- what we`re going to do is break up my jobs bill. Maybe they just
couldn`t understand the whole thing all at once. So, we`re going to break
it into up bite-sized pieces so they can take a thoughtful approach to this
legislation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Republicans still don`t have a jobs plan, but they now
realize they have to pretend to have one. So, they released an outline of
a plan last week which did not escape the president`s attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It turns out that the Republicans have a plan, too. I want to
be fair. They call -- they put forward this plan last week. They called
it the Real American Jobs Act. The real one. That`s what they called it -
- just in case you were wondering.

So let`s take a look at what the Republican American Jobs Act looks
like. It turns out the Republican plan boils down to a few basic ideas.
They want to gut regulations.

CROWD: No!

OBAMA: They want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants.

CROWD: No!

OBAMA: They want to drill more.

CROWD: No.

OBAMA: And they want to repeal health care reform.

CROWD: No!

OBAMA: That`s their jobs plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As you just heard, the Republican plan is simply a
compilation of bills that many Republicans have already proposed, none of
which were proposed as jobs bills -- bills to create a balanced budget
amendment, bills to repeal health care reform, repeal financial reform,
allow more offshore drilling, and it includes a grab bag of tax cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If they support the Republican plan, if they support the
Republican plan, then they`ll have to explain to you why they`d rather deny
health care to millions of Americans and let corporations and banks write
their own rules instead of supporting proposals that we know will create
jobs right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Joe Conason, editor in chief for the
National Memo."

Thanks for joining me tonight, Joe.

JOE CONASON, NATIONALMEMO.COM: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: So far, Joe, in campaign term, it is the man with the
plan, President Obama. And we are not suppressing any video of Republicans
with jobs plans. You know, there just isn`t anything there. I mean, you
look at the plan they took out. And it`s this collection of old tax cut
ideas of theirs, drilling.

CONASON: They oppose the Federal Reserve trying to great employment,
I mean, which is part of this job statute, as you know. I mean -- so,
they`re against jobs plans or jobs creation.

O`DONNELL: What about the politics of what we can now call the
politics of the 63 percent, according to polls, anyway? A very, very
substantial governing majority of this country of its citizens in favor of
the Obama approach versus the Republican approach.

CONASON: Well, L, as you know, the Senate doesn`t really work that
way. The senate is state by state. And kind of unbalanced in favor of the
Republicans by the very nature of how we elect senators.

So, the fact a big majority of people is for a fairer tax system,
wants something done about unemployment right now, doesn`t necessarily get
you very far in the Senate. It also unfortunately doesn`t seem to get you
any further in the House which ought to be more responsive.

And I think it`s because they`re in election mode. They`re in
election mode. They`re pandering to their base.

They think this will keep them from, for example, getting a Tea Party
primary in many cases, certainly in the Senate. From their colleague Jim
DeMint and his committee, you know, the Senate Ultraconservative PAC or
whatever it`s called. So, that`s the mindset they`re in.

Also, you know, it`s in their interest for the economy to continue to
slide or to stagnate. Why -- why do they want to help Obama from their
point of view improve the employment situation which remained so bad for so
long?

O`DONNELL: But this used to be part of the political dynamics, that
the incumbent parties which can be more than one because you could have an
incumbent Senate party and an incumbent House party as we do now.

CONASON: Right.

O`DONNELL: Incumbent parties had an interest in the economy doing
well. It was never thought that you could be running the Republican House
of Representatives and get yourself re-elected in a bad economy. There was
bad for all of the elected officials.

CONASON: They may find out that that`s still the case. I mean, no,
and we`ll see next year.

But I think they seem to be betting that they can do this, that they
can get away with this. And if the numbers are bad enough, you know -- as
you know, next year they have an imbalance in their favor in the number of
seats that are up. More Democratic seats are up. More Democrats have
retired. So, they`re just betting, hey, if we keep things bad, it will be
good for us, and bad for him.

O`DONNELL: Now, there`s a -- the polling for the president isn`t
great. His favorability stuff isn`t good.

But the place where it gets strong for him is when you go into one-on-
one matchups with Republican candidates. The president beats Mitt Romney
46 percent to 44 percent. The president beats Herman Cain 49 percent to 38
percent, as of today. The president beats Rick Perry best of all 51
percent to 39 percent.

At the same time, you have other polls come out where it`s just a
generic Republican candidate without a name, the president can lose in some
of these polls to the Republican without a name.

CONASON: Right.

O`DONNELL: As soon as you put a name on the Republican, the president
wins.

CONASON: Yes, well, quite clearly the Republicans, let alone the rest
of the country, doesn`t want to eat the dog food, right? They`re not
interested in any of what they see, with the possible of exception of
Romney. The number you cited there, a two-point lead.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s margin of error.

CONASON: It`s margin of error. And he has a shot. There`s no
question. He`s the most dangerous candidate for the president.

But as for the others, I mean, they`re sort of entertainment
candidates, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes, the White House is rooting for the others. They
would like to go against that.

CONASON: They were hoping Chris Christie might go, too, just to see
them tear each other up.

I think, you know, the president has an argument to be made on his
behalf. I just wish I would see him go out and do it more. The clips you
showed, great. I am happy when that guy shows up. He needs to show up
more.

O`DONNELL: That`s the guy who`s been showing up lately.

CONASON: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Joe Conason, editor in chief of "The National Memo" --
thank you very much for joining us tonight.

CONASON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Bill Clinton and Lady Gaga together again for
the first time. Just how inappropriate did it get? We`ll show you the
video.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, an Iraq war veteran goes toe to toe with
the NYPD and tells them there`s no honor of police brutality against
unarmed, peaceful citizens. The powerful eloquence of Sergeant Shamar
Thomas is in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Still to come in this hour -- you all know Chris Rock.
You all know Bill Cosby. Most of you remember Richard Pryor.

But the man who paved the way for all of them is Dick Gregory. He was
the first nationally famous African-American comedian of the television
age. He marched with Martin Luther King and got arrested with Martin
Luther King, and he eventually gave up show business at the peak of his
fame to become a lecturer and activist for peace and justice.

Dick Gregory has been marching for the 99 percent longer than most of
us have known how to march. My personal hero, Dick Gregory, joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: On Sunday morning, President Obama closed the dedication
ceremony of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with a speech that
highlighted the civil rights leader`s struggles and the obstacles the
nation currently faces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If he were alive today,
I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly
challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work
there.

Those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as
divisive. They`ll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are
unwise and destabilizing.

Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall to honor
the legacy of the assassinated leader and to dedicate the granite monument,
which is situated on the Line of Leadership between the Lincoln and
Jefferson Memorials.

Dr. King`s daughter, Bernice King, spoke about her father`s legacy and
what he would think about the recent Occupy Wall Street protests happening
around the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: We should never
adjust to the one percent controlling more than 40 percent of the wealth.

I hear my father saying we must have a radical revolution of values
and a reordering of our priorities in this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Over the same weekend Dr. King`s family and civil rights
leaders gathered to dedicate the monument, the Occupy Wall Street protests
grew even larger. Over 6,000 people marched to Times Square, where several
were arrested for taking down police barriers.

In Chicago, 175 people were arrested earlier Sunday after refusing to
take down their tents in Grant Park. Protesters in London clarified their
demands, while police and protesters clashed in Rome.

Today marks the one-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street
Protest and their calls for social and economic justice for the 99 percent.

Joining me now is author and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, who
attended the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication on Sunday. Thank you
very much for joining me tonight, Dick. It`s a great honor to have you
here.

DICK GREGORY, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you, my brother. Peace
and love to you. What a festivity.

O`DONNELL: Dick, you marched with Martin Luther King. And you heard
a -- what for you is a young president on Sunday.

GREGORY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Saying if he were here today. What are your thoughts
about what Dr. King would have to tell us if he were here today?

GREGORY: Well, he would say the same thing the president said. But
it don`t work. You see, remember, white folks is born in America with 300
years of white privilege. So you don`t deal with that the same way you
deal with people that come out of the slave pit and malleable and behaved.
You have a different DNA out there today.

And I think this is where America is making a mistake. They don`t
realize that they`re dealing with -- their children escalated in the civil
rights movement. Do you know white folks are not going to let firemen put
hoses on their children and beat them down under the ground? That`s how we
won.

I live in a country that praised us for being nonviolent. But if we
decided we`re not going to the war during the draft, we`re going to jail.
It`s OK when you`re dealing with me.

But -- so I would just say we won the greatest movement in the history
of the planet, is that 1960 civil rights movement. But remember, we wasn`t
the ones that got LBJ out there. It was those white kids. They didn`t
know you can`t go up in Kent and shoot white children like you can shoot
Mexicans and black folks.

It`s a -- you know, it`s the whole thing, it`s different. That`s how
King -- 100 years from now, this planet, if we survive this -- and I got my
doubts if this country can survive this, because I don`t think they know
what they`re dealing with. They look at the book and they think they`re
dealing with ordinary demonstrations. Bet your life.

Look, they asked the same questions, just different, that they said
about us. They call them stinky. They don`t know what they want, this and
that. And the whole thing. Just like Obama. They call him everything,
but they can`t call him dumb. One thing they can`t call him.

But everything else. So now they`re going to start treating those
children the way they treated Negroes. And it`s not going to work. They
know what they want. What? Nothing. We want it all to change. And it
will change.

It`s the mistake we`re making with Herman Cain, 9-9-9. You can laugh
at it if you want to. And you can listen to all your academia and talking
about this and talking about that. That works OK when you`re sitting
around the table at Harvard or MIT or Morehouse, but it don`t work with my
grandmother. She got fill out stuff. She don`t even know what`s on it.
She`s talking about simpler things.

You know what`s interesting, I`m listening to people react to Herman
Cain, especially in the black community, that the black folks reacted to
Obama. Most of them didn`t think he could win. Most of them thought he
was a joke. And then they found out -- they need to explain some stuff to
me about last week. We all went to bed last week and woke up Herman Cain
was number one. I say, wait a minute, somebody need to explain that.

I mean, as good as he did that night, he should stay in bed.

O`DONNELL: We`re all trying to figure out how he got to number one.
Dick, I want to read something to you from your 1964 autobiography, whose
title I cannot say on television, but we will put it up on the screen for
people to see so they can find it. It`s still in print, still in
bookstores.

I read this in high school. There was no book that influenced me
more, changed more of my thinking than your book when I read it in high
school. I want to read you this one passage from your autobiography. You
say "in 1952, I was a welfare case and in 1963 I, was on a list of famous
men. In America, with all its evils and faults, you can still reach
through the forest and see the sun. But we don`t know yet whether that sun
is rising or setting in our country."

How do you feel about that passage today, Dick? Is the sun rising or
setting?

GREGORY: It`s setting. America is less than one-fifth of the world`s
population. Ninety four percent of all the hard drugs on the planet is
consumed by us Americans. That`s not counting alcohol, nicotine, snuff and
all the other stuff. There`s something wrong with the nation that calls
themselves the most Christian, the most God-fearing nation in the world,
and need that type of drugs to hold up. That`s kind of sad.

That`s what our children are telling us. They`re telling us something
is wrong and it needs to be fixed. It`s like you get a headache. Any time
your head hurt and you didn`t get hit in your head, that`s the universal
guide telling you something`s malfunctioning.

So we sit up, we have a country here that mix up capitalism with
democracy. And then all at once, when the money -- let me tell you
something, when the hard story -- don`t compare these economic times with
the Depression -- the Great Depression.

Why? Because during the Great Depression, white folk didn`t have
nothing. OK? In 1950, 71 percent of white folks in America didn`t own a
car. I dare you to teach me how to ride a bicycle and then try to unteach
me how to ride a bicycle. That`s important.

And the only reason we survived 1936, that Great Depression, because
Roosevelt had the wisdom to know that when you start changing the economic
-- when you start mass production, you have mass layoffs. And the only way
you can save it is you have to create mass consumption.

That`s what the WPA, paid me to dig a hole that didn`t need to be dug.
Then my cousin came out that night and filled it up. We get that check and
said we worked for our living. He was clever enough. You older folks out
there, remember the fireside chat? He didn`t talk about how bad the
economy was. When he come in that living room on the radio, he said, you
have two chickens in every pot and a car in every garage. But he didn`t
say he was going to put it there.

There`s something that when you talk to me and I trust you and I feel
you, then things change. And so when we realize that this is a whole new
ball game, it`s a whole new economic -- and the Tea Parties, people say,
well, they`re racist. They might have been, but that`s not what brought
them into the street. What brought them into the street is they`re scared.
Fear.

And God do not occupy the same space. The sooner we know that -- we
sit around and we talk to the military people, we talk -- what you need to
do is bring in some of the top minds on this planet that understands the
whole social structure of human beings and sit down. You can`t solve a
problem with me.

You know what? The Democrats and the Republicans -- I get hit by a
car when I leave this studio tonight and everybody is sitting around
arguing about am I hurt? No, just help me. That`s all. I just want to
hear a nice, kind voice and we`re not hearing that.

O`DONNELL: Dick Gregory, I can`t thank you enough for joining me
tonight. I have to tell you that your books, starting with your
autobiography and then your rewrites of American history, have rewritten my
understanding of the history of this country and our common experience.
Dick, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

GREGORY: Thank you, my brother. Love you. Peace.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Marine sergeant reminds the police what they
are there to do, to protect the people. His message is next in the
Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. As the Occupy Wall Street
protesters moved into Times Square during a march on Saturday, this is what
some of the protesters encountered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS TALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There was one protester who made the NYPD -- the NYPD made
no attempt to contain, an Iraq war veteran who shamed the brutalizers among
the police as no one else could.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. SHAMAR THOMAS, U.S. MARINES: This is not a war zone. This is
not a war zone. These are unarmed people. It doesn`t make you tough to
hurt these people. It doesn`t make you tough to hurt these people. It
doesn`t. It does not make you tough to hurt these people.

There`s nothing tough about it. Nothing. You want to go fight, go to
Iraq and Afghanistan. Leave these people alone. They`re U.S. citizens.
U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens. U.S. It does not make you tough to do this
to them. It doesn`t.

Stop hurting these people, man. Why are you all doing this to our
people? I`ve been to Iraq 14 months for my people. (INAUDIBLE) They don`t
have guns. They don`t have guns. They don`t.

Why are you hurting these people? It doesn`t make any sense. It
doesn`t make any sense.

How do you sleep at night? There`s no honor in this. There is no
honor in this.

There is no honor in this, man. There`s no honor in this (EXPLETIVE
DELETED). There is no honor in this (EXPLETIVE DELETED). There is no
honor in what you`re doing to these people. No honor.

You`re here to protect us. You`re here to protect us. Protect us.
Why are you hurting U.S. citizens? This is the United States of America.
Why are you hurting people?

If you want to go kill or hurt people, go to Iraq. Why are you
hurting U.S. citizens? Why? Do you get honor out of this? Do you get
honor hitting people with batons? Is that what you get?

There`s no honor in hurting unarmed civilians. My mom, my father,
everybody has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, where I did 14 months in Iraq.
My father was in Afghanistan. My mother did a year in Iraq. We fought for
this country.

I don`t come home -- I`m in New York City. I am from New York City.
These cops are hurting people that I fought to protect. There`s no reason
for this.

There`s no -- there`s no honor in hurting unarmed civilians. I won`t
let it happen. Have a good night.

(CHEERS)

(CROSS TALK)

THOMAS: Sergeant Shamar Thomas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: .Shamar Thomas later posted this statement online. "I am
not anti-NYPD. I am anti-police brutality. There is an obvious problem in
the country and peaceful people should be allowed to protest without
brutality. I was involved in a riot in Rutba (ph) Iraq in 2004. And we
did not treat the Iraqi citizens like they are treating the unarmed
civilians in our own country. No one was brutalized because our mission
was to win the hearts and minds. Why should I expect anything less in my
own country?"

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Bill Clinton celebrated his 65th birthday quietly at home
in Chappaqua, New York. But that wasn`t good enough for the attention
starved former president. So two months later, he celebrated his birthday
again with a weekend-long party in Hollywood this weekend. He got things
started at a Friday night party at the Hollywood Palladium and he kept
partying right through Saturday night with a concert at the Hollywood Bowl,
featuring performances by Bono, Kenny Chesney, Stevie Wonder, Usher and
Lady Gaga.

It was impossible to keep track of the double entendres in Lady Gaga`s
performance, both intentional and unintentional. She chose to serenade the
only president forced to testify under oath about romance gone bad with a
personalized version of the greatest of her greatest hits, "Bad Romance."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LADY GAGA, SINGER: I just thought we all would get caught up in a
little Bill romance.

(SINGING)

GAGA: Bill, I`m having my first real Marilyn moment. Tonight, I`m on
the edge with you.

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When it was his turn to take the stage, Bill Clinton did
nothing to distract attention from some uncomfortable parallels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, how cool
is it to be 65 and you get Lady Gaga? Come on. She said she was going to
have a Marilyn moment. I thought, my God, I get Lady Gaga and I will have
a heart attack celebrating my 65th birthday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, "Bloomberg View" columnist and MSNBC
political analyst Jonathan Alter. Jonathan, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.

JONATHAN ALTER, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Hey, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I don`t know where to begin. It just doesn`t get weirder
than that. There`s former First Lady, current Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, who we all know has had these very difficult discussions with her
husband while president about his bad romance choices.

ALTER: It was a long time ago.

O`DONNELL: But what`s the statute of limitations on the public memory
of these kinds of associations?

ALTER: Well first of all, there`s no statute of limitations on what
this was based on, which was Marilyn Monroe singing a very sexy version of
"Happy Birthday Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy in 1962. So this is
almost --

O`DONNELL: Let`s finish it for the kids out there. Is it to your
satisfaction documented that Marilyn Monroe was, in fact, having an affair
with President Kennedy?

ALTER: No.

O`DONNELL: But it`s off -- it`s like presumed. It`s awfully close.

ALTER: Look, you can be thankful that it wasn`t Monica Lewinsky
herself that was out there doing a number. This is America. This is what
happens in America. I think you have to put it in a little bit of
perspective, which is, has he been a good ex-president or not? And even if
he has these, you know, moments of what could be considered roguish
behavior, tackiness, whatever you want to call it, this was for charity.

He`s raising hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes. And he
and Jimmy Carter have dominated, you know, all of the assessments of ex-
presidents because they`re actually using their celebrity to bring people
together and do something.

O`DONNELL: Jimmy Carter has never had a birthday party like that.
Jimmy Carter does not party in Hollywood for two nights in a row, two
months after his birthday.

ALTER: I was a wet blanket on these things. I was a little bit of a
prude in the `90s when he was president of the United States, and you know,
he was talking about intimate details of his sex life in depositions that
ran on television. That was humiliating for this country.

This is not. This is just --

O`DONNELL: How hard is it to steer clear of these references and
these echoes, instead of standing on a stage and laughing about these
echoes?

ALTER: You know, I guess I can`t get too worked up about it. But I
do think that it is helpful to remind people that this guy was impeached
for things that people really disapproved of at the time. There`s been
some publicity lately. I think it`s actually inaccurate that there are
folks in the Obama White House who worked for Bill Clinton who long for the
days of Bill Clinton.

That`s simply untrue, based on my reporting. Because he was -- it was
misery for them for much of the second term because of the Lewinsky scandal
and the impeachment battle. There is a tendency to forget this.

So when he stepped into a situation like this and those memories come
flooding back, it can make people think, you know, maybe things aren`t
quite as bad in the White House as we`ve been hearing lately.

O`DONNELL: This was a fund-raiser for charity. If you want to get
people there and sell tickets, no one can do that better than Lady Gaga.

ALTER: She does it pretty damn well. You know, we don`t give enough
publicity to what the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative
are doing around the world. These are important projects.

O`DONNELL: In his speech, he talked about that and he thanked people
around the world, Thousands of people who worked for the initiative and for
his foundation. So we`ve chosen the weird, embarrassing, odd parallel
moments. There was a lot more to it.

Jonathan Alter of "Bloomberg View," thank you very much for joining me
tonight

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Good evening,
Rachel.

END

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