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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: Howard Fineman, John Nichols, Meghan McCain, Tom Brokaw, Janice Min


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: In day two, the Herman Cain campaign sticks
to its brilliant strategy to suppress coverage of the Cain campaign finance
scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Herman Cain was making it up as he
went along.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Is he making it better or worse?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: Worse.

SCARBOROUGH: Made it up as he went along.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We didn`t know what was
going to be in that report.

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: He`s had six or seven different lines
of defense.

CAIN: What I knew and what I didn`t know. What I can now remember
and what I couldn`t remember.

SCARBOROUGH: Herman Cain was making it up as he went along.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Two women accused Herman Cain

CHRIS MATTHEWS, "HARDBALL" HOST: "The Post" is reporting as of this
moment that one of the women who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment
in the late 1990s wants to tell her side of the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe they`re getting locked and they can`t
respond.

MILBANK: Herman Cain`s wife is out there giving an interview of her
own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s going to be more stuff coming out.

MATTHEWS: This story is going to have some legs now.

SCARBOROUGH: We do know that he was caught lying on a scandal,
alleged scandal.

CAIN: I am not -- I wasn`t aware of it.

I am unaware.

I was aware that an agreement was reached.

Yes, that was some sort of settlement.

I don`t even know what the contents of that was. We ended up settling
for what would have been a termination settlement three months salary.

SCARBOROUGH: Herman Cain made a fool of himself.

CILLIZZA: A political death by a thousand cuts.

MATTHEWS: This is a three-wing circus from hell.

SCARBOROUGH: There is nothing but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This ain`t over.

SCARBOROUGH: Made it up as he went along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are overwhelmed.

MATTHEWS: My God, what`s happening to our list of candidates?

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

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, the lawyer for one of the women accused -- who
accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment told "The Washington Post" that
his client wants to tell her side of the story but is barred by a
confidentiality agreement with the National Restaurant Association, a
lobbying group where Cain served as CEO when the alleged incidents took
place. Tomorrow, the woman`s lawyer will formally request that the
association remove the confidentiality provision from that agreement.

The lawyer told "Politico" tonight, "She`s a highly intelligent,
educated woman who has a sense of integrity and doesn`t make false claims.
When we`re ready to go public on this, if we ever are, we`ll do it in a way
that we consider appropriate like a press conference."

Tonight, FOX News asked Cain whether he will call for the National
Restaurant Association to waive that confidentiality agreement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I can`t answer that now, Bret, because there are legal
implications. If the restaurant association waives that, we -- I just
found out about this today. There are legal implications associated with
that that I`m not totally familiar with yet. So, I can`t give you a
definitive answer on that until we consult with our legal attorneys and
also talk to, you know, some others. We can`t answer that right now. It`s
too soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, way too soon. Of course, Cain has had almost two
weeks to think about that since "Politico" started to ask him questions
about this story. And he`s had about 13 years to think about it since the
sexual harassment charge against him was made and the confidentiality
agreement was made.

Today, Cain tried to explain why yesterday morning he denied knowledge
of a financial settlement paid to one of his accusers before saying in the
afternoon that he was, indeed, aware of such a settlement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: As I recalled what happened 12 years ago, I recalled an
agreement. I wasn`t thinking legal settlement. And so, the words have
been words have been flash backed, and I do recall an agreement. And I
recalled as I thought, went through the day, that there was an agreement.
Remember, this was 12 years ago, and I was trying to recollect this in the
middle of an already busy planned day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Cain began the day yesterday saying he did not recall
any specifics of the charges leveled against him. By the end of yesterday,
Cain said he could recall only one of the charges. Today, he suggested
that he might recall a couple more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever ask what`s she accusing me of or
how did this turn out?

CAIN: I did, but when he said the gesture with the height thing and a
couple of other things in there that I found absolutely ridiculous that I -
-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were those?

CAIN: I don`t even remember. They were so ridiculous I don`t
remember what they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You remember they were ridiculous but you don`t
remember what those other things were?

CAIN: The reason I forgot them, Robin, is because they were
ridiculous. I dismissed them out of my mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Cain sexual harassment controversy has again today
successfully diverted attention from a possibly more important scandal
facing the Cain campaign. Cain told Laura Ingraham today that he has
authorized a full investigation into whether his campaign illegally
received nearly $40,000 from Prosperity USA, a Wisconsin nonprofit co-
founded by Cain`s chief of staff, Mark Block, who you may remember from
Cain`s recent viral campaign ad.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CAIN: I just heard about it yesterday. We are doing a full
investigation of it. And if there were any improprieties, we will go back
and amend the FEC report. As soon as we know what`s what, Laura, we will
not only issue a press release, but I will make sure that we let you know
exactly what we found out and if there are any improprieties, we will
correct them.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mark Block said tonight that the two scandals have been
great for business. That joyride known as the Cain presidential campaign
just released a statement. It boasts that in the last 24 hours the Cain
campaign has had the single best day of fund-raising since the start of the
campaign.

Yesterday alone, Mr. Cain received more than $400,000 in financial
gifts from the supporters via online donations and other sources, said
Block.

A Cain super PAC e-mailed supporters today, "Patriots, they`re at it
again. The left is trying to destroy Herman Cain just like they did to
Clarence Thomas" -- who by the way actually still is a Supreme Court
justice. I don`t think they can call it destroying him.

"They are engaging in a high tech lynching by smearing his reputation
and attacking his character. The idea of black conservative like Herman
Cain as the GOP is Barack Obama and the left`s worst nightmare. Will you
help us by helping fund part of the 1 million phone calls we are starting
ASAP in Iowa?"

Joining me now, AOL/"Huffington Post" editorial director and MSNBC
political analyst, Howard Fineman. Also, Washington correspondent for "The
Nation," John Nichols.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Gentlemen, we do have -- we breaking news at this hour
from "The New York Times." They have just broken a story indicating that -
- to quote "The Times," the National Restaurant Association gave $35,000 a
year -- a year`s salary in severance pay to a female staff member in the
late 1990s after an encounter with Herman Cain -- the chief of staff of
that lobbying organization.

Howard, Herman Cain said he assumed that the settlement was something
like a month or so`s pay. It turns out it`s a year`s pay. This is the
kind of thing that you can expect to come out in an unfolding controversy
like this. More and more facts will be coming out.

What does this add to the story?

FINEMAN: Well, what this adds to the story is first of all, it
flushes out detail about one of the accusers, and there`s a -- the question
remains how many we`re talking about here. "Politico" initially said two.
Herman Cain has been confused and conflicting about his memory.

My understanding from listening to what the attorney for one of the
complainants said tonight is that that`s not the person whose height Herman
Cain supposedly joked about, so that would also indicate there`s at least
two. So far, I haven`t heard more than two, but there are at least two.
And, of course, we haven`t heard from either of those accusers.

And this is a classic case of an onion being peeled in exactly the
kind of agonizing way that can ruin a campaign, and they may be raising a
lot of money out of it at least temporarily. The bottom line is it`s a
disaster for Herman Cain.

O`DONNELL: Now, tonight, Charles Krauthammer asked Cain if he
believes race has played a role in the way this story has emerged. Let`s
listen to the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Relative to the left, I believe that race is a bigger driving
factor. I don`t think it`s a driving factor on the right. This is just
based upon our speculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: John Nichols, what did he just say?

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: Well, he`s spinning the now quite popular
lie on the right that somehow conservatives are dramatically more racially
sensitive than liberals. The fact of the matter is that polling and vote
totals would suggest African-Americans seem to think differently.

But the key thing here is this attempt by Cain even now to suggest
that Barack Obama or progressives would have some reasons to bring this
story out now.

In fact, I think Barack Obama and most progressives have been very
much enjoying the rise of Herman Cain as a political figure and the effect
that`s had on the Republican primary fight. So, really, he`s trying to
spin it away from an examination of who the likely source of this story is.

And, of course, when you think about the fact that you`ve got a
lobbying organization, which many Republican players move in and out of,
the real likelihood here is the story did not come from some racially
insensitive Democrat but from a Republican who might like to see someone
other than Herman Cain be their party`s nominee.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Cain`s answer last night to the question
of whether he has a roaming eye.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: Got a roaming eye at all?

CAIN: A roaming eye?

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes.

CAIN: I enjoy flowers like everyone else.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what I mean.

(LAUGHTER)

CAIN: No. No, not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Not at all?

CAIN: Well, I wouldn`t say not at all. It depends what you mean and
the extent to what you mean.

VAN SUSTEREN: Women see sexual harassment sometimes very differently
than men.

CAIN: Correct. Here`s what I can tell you -- I know I never made any
innuendoes with the lady that filed the complaint that we were talking
about at first. None.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Howard, he could have done a little better with that
answer. At first, it`s not at all. What do you mean by not at all?

FINEMAN: Well, first of all, it`s remarkable that FOX News anchor
would ask a candidate that. Just think about that for starters.

And second, the thing about Herman Cain is beginning to come into
focus here, Lawrence, is on one hand he sounds kinds of confused and almost
ditzy, but on the other hand, he very carefully parses his words as he
tries to give these answers. You know, he said he never had any innuendo
with the person he was talking about, the 5 foot tall person. That`s not
the person whose lawyer is coming forward now.

So, he moves very carefully except every time he parses in that way,
he opens the way for a revelation that will come up six, 12, or 24 hours
later about what really caused him to be so careful. There`s clearly --
he`s acting like a guy and he`s creating a situation where people doubt
what he says and look for the next thing to come forward and it sounds like
they`re going to be a number of them even though ironically I think in the
end, I don`t know what we`ll find about the real nature of what was said by
him or done by him vis-a-vis these women. We don`t know that.

And the fact we don`t know and the we`re a few days into this means
it`s going to be days until we get the full story here and Herman Cain will
look like a guy who is splitting hairs all the way along.

O`DONNELL: John, quickly before we go. Take us inside this Wisconsin
story about Prosperity USA which is the scandal that actually could drag
Herman Cain into court.

NICHOLS: Yes, let`s be clear here. Unless one of these women steps
forward and actually tells a very powerful story, the likelihood is the
biggest scandal facing Herman Cain at this point is not the sexual
harassment one, but the scandal involving how he got into his presidential
campaign. His campaign coordinator or chief of staff, really campaign
manager, is a guy named Mark Block. Mark Block got thrown out of politics
in Wisconsin, fined $15,000, banned from running campaigns about a decade
ago, after coordinating or being accused of coordinating between a campaign
and a group of wealthy donors who set up an independent group to help
perpetuate that campaign.

Now, we see accusations of something very similar. Mark Block accused
of setting up a committee that actually then laid the groundwork, perhaps
illegally, for Herman Cain`s presidential cam presidential campaign.

O`DONNELL: And the $100,000 that they moved to the Congress of Racial
Equality in order to get Herman Cain a speaking role there, this is a very
big story that continues to mushroom. And we`re going to have to pick it
up again tomorrow night.

MSNBC`s Howard Fineman and "The Nation`s" John Nichols, thank you both
for joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.

NICHOLS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Rush Limbaugh attacked Toure today on his radio
show for what Toure said here last night. That lands Limbaugh in the
"Rewrite" tonight.

But, first, Meghan McCain on Herman Cain and her feud with Newt
Gingrich, and what`s wrong with the Republicans in 2012.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: You met one of the great things about the
great job that you had and still have, you met everybody. In fact, Moammar
Gadhafi. You spent time with this guy, right?

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: I did. I once asked him how he actually
spelled his name. We can never spell it (ph). And it took him about eight
minutes, and we still didn`t understand how he spelled his name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Chris Christie is, of course, not running. And Herman
Cain, the latest Republican candidate to lead Mitt Romney in the polls is
now embroiled in a sexual harassment controversy.

But one Republican columnist noted last month, "We Republicans keep
having one-night stands with politicians we think we only want to marry and
then get cold feet. The short list includes the likes of Donald Trump,
Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry. All of this excitement is followed by a
quick fizzle of disappointment when these candidates look flawed under the
spotlight of the media, incapable of pleasing the temperamental Republican
base. It`s as if we are more concerned with the drama of electing a new
prom king than concentrating on who the best person positive to beat Obama
is."

Joining me now is Meghan McCain, a writer for "The Daily Beast" and
the author of that column.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Meghan.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, THE DAILY BEAST: Thank you. Thank you so much for
having me.

O`DONELL: What is going on with your Republican friends in this
weird, fickleness where they have these big bubbles in the polls for
Michele Bachmann or for Trump early on and now we`re in the Cain bubble?
How do they change their minds like that?

MCCAIN: You know, I think what`s going on is that Mitt Romney is the
clear front-runner and he has been for about two years. But he`s not
exactly the most exciting character on television and he doesn`t have a lot
of gravitas to him. It`s not something that has ever bothered me and
probably doesn`t many voters. But it doesn`t make excitement for the
media.

So, we`re having these one-night stands, if you will. Or I have a
friend that has coined it to speed dating and going from one speed date,
from one candidate to another. And, you know, I think it`s unfortunate for
the election process. I think it`s bad for politics and I think it`s bad
for the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: How much longer is Herman Cain`s speed date going to last?

MCCAIN: We have entered the end of the date with Herman Cain. I
think this is when the date is looking at the door ready to leave.

O`DONNELL: This shows you what vetting is about. This is one of
Romney`s strengths is that the guy has been vetted. He ran for president
before. He`s been studied as a candidate by the media, by other
politicians, by opposition candidacies both in Massachusetts and
nationally, and he`s still standing. And there`s no big Romney scandal out
there, and that gives voters the feeling that nothing like that is likely
to come up.

MCCAIN: Yes. I definitely think that the vetting process is also
important to politics. And, you know, I do have a problem with these sort
of candidates that haven`t really -- one of the problems that I have wit
Herman Cain is that he hasn`t held office before, which I don`t think it
good for politics, which is actually been part of his popularity.

So, I think Mitt Romney will probably more than likely be the nominee
for president. And, you know, everybody has just going to have to start
dealing with it as harsh as that sounds.

O`DONNELL: Now, you`ve been on team Romney for a while.

MCCAIN: Yes. And I have a little bit of a bone to pick with you.
The last time I was on your show, you said Tim Pawlenty was going to be
nominee and I said no. You were forthright telling me that you thought he
was the person going to take it home.

O`DONNELL: Because I really know the Republican mind, Meghan. I
really can get inside it. No, listen, I was presuming that the Republican
Party would be rational and they`ve showed themselves to be wildly
irrational this year going with, you know, Trump and Bachmann and now,
Cain, and all this stuff.

My problem with Romney getting the nomination is what George Will`s
problem, where George Will says, you know, why would this party go to the
author of individual health care mandate in Massachusetts when there was a
big uprising against it?

And so, I was ending up in the Pawlenty zone through the process of
elimination of what was wrong with every other candidate, including what
has been considered wrong with Mitt Romney by not just me but the
Republican electorate and George Will.

MCCAIN: I think that`s very short-sighted. I mean, I wouldn`t really
take George Will`s word on that. I mean, Mitt Romney has the experience in
government and especially economics that I think most voters can trust.
And when the time comes around when all this drama is done, I really do
think once the American public starts really concentrating on him, he
really is going to lead in the polls and has a very good chance of beating
Obama.

And I literally have been saying this for two years and I probably
will displease you, but I still believe that Obama will be a one-term
president, and that it`s highly likely Mitt Romney will be our next
president.

O`DONNELL: Well, I still think President Obama is going to win re-
election. But what I agree on at least is that Romney is now his biggest
threat -- with the fizzle collapse of the Perry candidacy, Romney is
definitely the one to worry about on the Republican side. So, we have that
agreement, Meghan.

MCCAIN: Great, great.

O`DONNELL: Meghan McCain, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Rush Limbaugh tries to rewrite the meaning of
the word racist and then throws that word at Toure for what Toure had to
say on this show last night. Toure versus Rush Limbaugh is in the
"Rewrite" tonight.

And the man Rush Limbaugh once called a self-hating liberal, NBC`s Tom
Brokaw joins me on why talk like that is stopping this country from doing
what we need to do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Still to come on this hour, Tom Brokaw will do his best to
try to translate Rush Limbaugh for us.

And on the "Rewrite," Rush Limbaugh`s attack on Toure for what he said
here last night.

And the "Hollywood Reporter" tells that Hollywood has a new it girl.
And she`s not a movie star.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A presidential campaign is America`s quadrennial
opportunity to take stock to consider what we`ve been doing rights, what
we`re doing wrong, what we`ve been neglecting, what we`ve been meaning to
get to, where we should set our sights, not just for the next four years,
but for the next generation and generations to come. But you would never
know that if you listened to the speeches and the debates of this
presidential campaign which, as of tonight, seems to turn on whether a
former restaurant lobbyist, turned presidential candidate, sexually
harassed another restaurant lobbyist.

Joining me now, Tom Brokaw, NBC NEWS special correspondent, and author
of the new book out today, "The Times of Our Lives: A Conversation about
America; Who We are, Where We`ve been and Where we Need to Go Now to
Recapture American Dream."

Thanks for joining me tonight, Tom.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Lawrence.
It`s good to be here.

O`DONNELL: Tom, are you surprised at the way the Herman Cain story
has taken on a racial framework, that there are those who are saying that
the very coverage of these accusations against Herman Cain is somehow
racist?

BROKAW: I don`t think I would use the word "racist." I do think that
it`s symptomatic, if you will, of the time times. A little something
bubbles up, and then because the screen is so wide, these days, and has so
many parts to it, it does become a tsunami of coverage, if you`re a viewer
out there looking at it.

You know, sexual harassment charges are always tricky and difficult.
We don`t know the details of this one. He has given several versions of,
not exactly what happened, I suppose, but the arrangement that was made
between the accusers and the Restaurant Association. Was it simply a
matter of he said/she said and they made a settlement to try to clean it up
or was it something much more egregious than that? I would think that he
would be eager to get the details out as quickly as possible, if he`s as
innocent as he has described himself in all of this.

O`DONNELL: Tom, one of the first to drag race into this coverage,
loudly, was Rush Limbaugh, yesterday, on his radio show. And I found Rush
Limbaugh in your book in a surprising entry where you write, "The Rush
Limbaugh took to the air waves to declare me a self-hating Liberal." Now,
with much of what Rush says, I can never figure out what he means. Did you
have any idea what he actually meant by that?

BROKAW: No. I think he maybe has used that on a couple of occasions
when I talked about race. I`ve often said that race has helped define my
journalistic career in my own life because I was so conscious of the fact
growing up in mostly white bread South Dakota, although we had a big race
issue with the Indian population there that we were not nearly conscious of
enough about it when I was living there, at the time.

But, I said that I wouldn`t have got my first job in Omaha or my
second job in Atlanta or I wouldn`t have been hired by the network if my
skin pigmentation had been one shade darker. And when I said that, Rush
described me on the air as a "self-hating Liberal." And I say in the book -
- I go on to say that Rush, of all people, should know that people like us,
who make a very good living talking about ourselves, cannot be self-hating.
We think we`re grand, in fact, and I count him chief among those. He at
least is an original. There are many wanna-be Rushes out there that are
looking for any opening and any opportunity.

O`DONNELL: And your book is about how do we move forward as a
country, and you talk about how polarized we`ve become, more so than you`ve
seen in the past. And I just want to follow up with one more quote from
the book about Rush, because he represents one side of the polarization in
the country. You say about Rush, "He has earned his fortune creating an
enormous audience of the faithful or `Ditto Heads,` as they like to be
called. A Ditto Head is someone who likes to be worship at the altar of
Limbaugh`s preaching, never questioning his conclusions or reasoning."

Tom, is your feeling that there is more of that partisan-absolutely-
never-questioning-one`s-assumptions in today`s politics, that there is a
less possibility of hearing something that might change your mind from the
other side?

BROKAW: Yeah. I think it`s true across the board, Lawrence. I think
Rush, as I say, was at least an original. He was there first, and he made
it clear about who he was. I remember four years ago, or maybe it was
eight years ago, he was questioning the conservative credentials of Dick
Cheney. I was driving down the Florida turnpike, wide-eyed, listening to
Rush Limbaugh talk about whether or not Dick Cheney was a true
conservative. He obviously is a very powerful voice in the American
political culture, and we have no question about where he stands.

But then, as I say, there are a lot of Rush wanna-bes and then across
the political spectrum on the left, you find a lot of people who don`t want
to hear any ideas if they possible come from right of center in some
fashion.

O`DONNELL: Tom, I -- Ray LaHood created a bit of a stir, today. He
is the Republican working in the Obama administration, the transportation
secretary, and he said today, "I`ve been in Washington for 35 years and
I`ve never seen a time when people have put their own personal political
feelings over how we can get the economy moving."

From your book, I sense that you share Ray LaHood`s view of just how
polarized the political process has become in Washington.

BROKAW: It has. I suppose it`s summarized from me and I relate this
antidote in the book. I was there a couple years ago, in Washington, I`m
there on a regular basis, and I was in Capitol Hill at tone of the caucus
rooms, and two bright young men -- you would know the type, Lawrence, you
were one of them, yourself, at one point. They came in with their blue
suits and red ties and bushy tailed and were thrilled to be working on the
Hill. And one of them said to me, "You know, Mr. Brokaw, I`d like to talk
to you about the old days." I think he meant 1996, by the way.

(LAUGHTER)

I said, "Well, what do you want to know?" And he said, "Well look, I`m
a Republican, my buddy here is a Democrat, he`s my best friend, and we go
to Georgetown every night and argue politics. He works for a Democratic
congressman, I work for a Republican. Our bosses won`t talk to each other.
Was it always like that?"

So, I called over Winston Lord, who was a member of the Nixon
administration, during Watergate, and I said, "Win, these young men have go
a really relevant question." And we described for them how there were very
strong feelings on both sides of the equation in those days about the war,
about Watergate, about domestic policy, but at the end of the day,
political figures, as you well know, would find a way to have a drink or to
talk to each other or wander across the aisle and say, "How can we work our
way through all of this."

So much of that has been lost. And as I go across the country, I`m on
Main Street America a lot, as I think you know, that`s what I hear most of
all, why can`t these two political parties get together. If you go to Main
Street America you find the Republican banker working with a Democratic
contractor or the guy who`s got the backhoe, the farmer who comes in to get
a loan from the bank, he may have different political views from the person
that he`s dealing with, or the woman who owns the grocery store or the
convenience store down the street. But they`ve got to work together in
these communities to keep moving their families and their communities along
a path towards a greater prosperity and certain stability and they find a
way to do it. They just don`t understand why that doesn`t happen in
Washington.

O`DONNELL: Tom, before you go I have to ask you about the
presidential debates. You`ve moderated presidential debates and primaries
in general election. Is there something that the moderator can do, in a
presidential debate, to try to keep the focus on the future on where the
country has to go, or are you kind of just trapped with the talent you have
up there as candidates, if they`re going to stay on their talking points or
if they`re going to stay on their bumper sticker stuff, there`s really
nothing much the moderator can do?

BROKAW: It`s very tough. The presidential commission on debates is
out today with their schedule for next year. You`ll remember the last time
I did the so-called "town hall," I made it clear that if I felt that there
was a follow-up needed that I would ask the question. It didn`t make some
members of the commission very happy at the end of the evening, but at the
same time, I just thought that there were a lot of issues that were kind of
hanging in the air that need to be cleaned up.

I also discovered, during the course of that experience, that if you
go to the Internet and ask for questions, you get a lot of the special
interest groups that just bundle their special interest questions, in a
way. So, I know that the commission, right now, is working on new forms of
getting greater participation and cleaning up some of that.

Unfortunately, the two campaigns make the rules and go to the
commission with them. In my case, when I was doing the debate, they had
very strict rules about timing and then immediately blew through all those
rules while the rest of the room was expected follow whatever agreements
had been made.

O`DONNELL: The book is "The Time of Our Lives: A conversation about
America." Tom Brokaw, thank you very much for joining me, tonight.

BROKAW: Thank you, Lawrence, always a pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Tonight in, the "Rewrite," Rush Limbaugh tries to rewrite
the meaning of the word "racist." And Hollywood has a new star who is
taking over the town, tonight. The editor of the "Hollywood Reporters"
joins me to tell us how Elizabeth Warren has won Hollywood`s heart.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s "Rewrite." Some conservatives are
desperately trying to rewrite the meaning of the word "racist" to mean
anyone who puts a difficult question to a black conservative Republican
presidential candidate who used to be a Washington lobbyist. Ann Coulter
staked out a position to the Herman Cain sexual harassment controversy that
she couldn`t even find support for on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you`re saying "Politico" would not have
written this story if Herman Cain were white?

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: I think they were -- yes, I
think they were after his ass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that is just the most ludicrous thing I`ve
ever heard in my life, Ann. Seriously?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. Try telling this guy that the Washington Press Corps
would not go after a white man in a sex scandal.

Rush Limbaugh`s spirited nonfactual defense of Herman Cain, today,
included this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW HOST: This is a full sound bite
from the "Time" magazine contributor, and I guess he works at MSNBC, Toure,
about the Republican primary and Herman Cain. And Lawrence O`Donnell, the
host of the show said, "Toure, there`s this blender of Republican racial
politics that`s gotten mixed up together. I can`t make any sense of it,
guide us through this."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TOURE, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST: Well, one thing I see -- saw Rush Limbaugh
talking about we see who the real racists are and Clarence Thomas is using
that same sort of bazooka to fire back, is that when we point out moments
of racism or moments of minstrelsy in Herman Cain`s example, they just fire
back and they just use the word "racism," "that`s racist, you`re racist,"
so it`s becomes this sort of negating tool that we`ll just say "racism"
wherever we see any racial politics taking place, we`ll say the race card
is being played anytime somebody points out a moment of racism, and that
just sort of muddles the conversation to a where a lot of people are like,
I don`t want to be part of this at all...

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Rush cut what Toure had to say right there, but Toure he
had a lot more to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOURE: But, I think that Cain, interestingly, does not exist without
Obama preceding him. He sort of rights the ship, in a lot of people`s
minds or rights the scales, because Obama is alpha, he is brilliant; he`s a
man that you had to take seriously. You know, he`s a constitutional law
professor that you had to take seriously when he spoke.

Cain sort of reasserts the scales that the way people want it to be,
in a lot of ways. He`s charismatic, but he`s a lightweight, his ideas are
not serious, they`re not well thought out.

There`s this constant minstrelsy aspect that he keeps bringing up.
This is not something that we`re just making up out of whole cloth, he`s
the one who says he wants the Secret Service to call him "Cornbread." He`s
the one who says things like, "Oh, shucky ducky" when he starts. And yet
Cain allows the GOP to have this sort of force where it`s like, well, we`re
not racist, we`re supporting this black man. Even at the same time that he
sort of reasserts this myth of black facility and just sort of self-
abnegation and like, you don`t have to take us seriously sort of thing that
Obama threw completely out of whack because you had to take him dead
seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And now here`s Rush`s interpretation of what Toure said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: What he was trying to say is they are stealing our
technique. They`re stealing our technique, and they`re muddying the waters
by using our technique. We`re the ones who have exclusive right to the
race card. We are the ones who get to decide who`s racist and who isn`t.
And when guys like Limbaugh come along and call us racists, why, that just
muddies the water and makes everybody want to forget all this and leave.
We own it. We own who`s a racist and who isn`t. Limbaugh can`t do that.
Limbaugh and these others come along and say we`re being racist? We own
that ploy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "We own that ploy." Rush is telling you that his calling
people racists simply because they question Herman Cain is a ploy, that`s
his word "ploy." Rush is admitting that he`s using the word racist as a
ploy, which is exactly what Toure said Rush was doing.

Rush explained the reason he likes to call non-racists "racist." He
has a very clear reason for using that ploy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: For 23 years, I`m a racist. And I`m not, never have been.
You guys are. We say it, you don`t like it. You know, that`s exactly it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There you have it. Rush`s defense of being called a
racist for 23 years is not to use some of his three hours of radio every
day to clarify some of the things he has said over those 23 years that some
have interpreted as racist. No, no, no, instead of taking the time to do
that, Rush`s reaction to being called a racist is nothing but the
infantile, "I know you are, but what am I?"

In a country with a long, painful and ugly history of slavery and a
history of racial discrimination, including legally enforced segregation
that existed during Rush Limbaugh`s lifetime, you would think that Rush
Limbaugh could comprehend why some of the things he has said over the years
might offend the racial sensibilities of some reasonable people.

Rush Limbaugh can remember black children being killed in their
churches by the Ku Klux Klan, during his lifetime. Rush Limbaugh was in
high school when James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were
murdered by the Ku Klux Klan because they were trying to help black people
register to vote in Mississippi.

These things are not ancient history to Rush Limbaugh. They are part
of his life experience from which, as far as we can tell, he has learned
absolutely nothing. Nothing.

In Martin Luther King, Jr.`s "I have a dream" speech and nothing Rush
Limbaugh felt as a result of hearing the horrifying news of the
assassination of Martin Luther King has inhibited Rush`s impulses to say
things like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Minorities never do anything for which they have to
apologize.

We`ve elected somebody who`s more African in his roots than he is
American -- loves his father, who was a Marxist, and is behaving like an
African colonial despot.

And we`re being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to
bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because
his father was black, because this is the first black president.

In Obama`s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids
cheering, "Yeah, right on, right on, right on!"

Every plan he`s got is reparations. He`s going to take from the rich.
He`s going to take it, he`s going to give it to you. you just can`t happen
overnight, be patient. That`s what`s --redistribution of wealth,
repatriations, returning the nation`s wealth to its "rightful" owners,
whatever you want to call it, it`s repatriations...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "Repatriations."

President Obama has not been able to raise a single tax rate. Bill
Clinton did raise taxes, in fact, he pushed through Congress and signed
into law, in his first year as president, the single biggest tax increase
in history, and you, Rush Limbaugh, never called that "repatriations." Why
not, Rush? Why do you use the word "repatriations" with President Obama?
Why?

We didn`t have time, today, to go over Rush`s 23 years of radio
transcripts. We only have a sampling of the Obama years, including this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: ...it is these whackos from Bill Ayers to Jeremiah Wright
to other anti-American, afro-centric black liberation theologists working
with ACORN, and Barack Obama is smack-dab in the middle of it. They have
been training young black kids to hate, hate, hate this country. And they
trained their parents before that to hate, hate, hate this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh knows that`s a lie. He knows Barack Obama
has never trained anyone to hate in this country. Rush Limbaugh knows that
young black kids have never had a better national role model than Barack
Obama the student, Barack Obama the law professor, Barack Obama the
senator, Barack Obama the president and Barack Obama the husband and
father.

Rush knows the truth about Barack Obama, but he can`t make money on
that truth. And Rush is all about the money. Rush knows he didn`t become
the richest man in the history of political media by being reasonable and
honest. Rush knows what fuels his private jet, his $60 million Gulfstream
5 is pure hatred.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Hate. Hate. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Hate. Hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Hollywood has a new "it" girl. Actresses are not yet
copying the Elizabeth Warren hairstyle, but Hollywood has fallen for her
big-time. Tonight, legendary TV writer/producer, Norman Lear is hosting a
fund-raising dinner for Elizabeth Warren at his estate in Los Angeles which
will be co-hosted by Barbra Streisand.

Joining me now is Janice Min, editorial director for the "Hollywood
Reporter."

Janice, thank you very much for joining us.

JANICE MIN, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: So, they`re pouring into Norman`s pad tonight for
Elizabeth Warren. Hollywood always needs excitement, they want a candidate
to be excited about. They are out of their Obama honeymoon. I mean,
they`re supporting him and they`re going to be strong for him, but it`s not
as exciting as Elizabeth Warren, is it?

MIN: Well, I feel like they`ve transferred their love unto a new
hero. And Elizabeth Warren who is someone who speaks what they want a
candidate to say. She`s very anti-Wall Street, very have populist, and
Hollywood, they`re desperate for someone who`s a good communicator.

And it`s funny, you know, Obama got hired, everyone thinks -- thought
he was such a great speaker and communicator, but he can`t sell the
Democratic message to the public the way that Hollywood wants them to. And
so they found, in Elizabeth Warren, they found someone who they think can
actually communicate a clear message to the public in the way that they`ve
always been jealous of Carl Rove and the Republicans.

This is someone who can break through all the walk-talk (PH) and
actually speak like a human being.

O`DONNELL: And is this, to your knowledge, her first invasion of
Hollywood, tonight fund-raiser?

MIN: She`s been to Hollywood before, but this is the big coming-out
party.

O`DONNELL: This is the debut, this -- yeah.

MIN: Yeah, this is her debutante ball in Hollywood, so to speak. So,
tickets are $1,000 to $5,000. You know, she`s going to need this money...

O`DONNELL: And Norman`s got a big house, he can sell a lot of
tickets.

MIN: Absolutely. And let`s remember, she`s not like a national
candidate. It doesn`t matter if Hollywood is giving her money, people in
Massachusetts aren`t going to care about that in the way that people in the
rest of the country would care. So, she has raised $3.5 million, Scott
Brown has $12 million, so she has a long ways to go. And you know, I think
of Hollywood as Wall Street west, it`s people who make crazy money doing
silly things, and they want power, they want access to power, and they`re
looking for candidates to spend money on.

O`DONNELL: And it`s -- but it`s not -- the interesting thing, for me,
about Hollywood money has always been that they`re not asking for anything.
They don`t then go to the government and say, hey, we need these new
regulations, banking regulations and so forth, they just are pouring their
money...

MIN: And they get abused. You know, Obama treated them like the
embarrassing girlfriend he doesn`t want to admit he`s dating. And you
know, he hides, he won`t let is photos -- photos of people of -- with
Hollywood people be shown. And you know, he`s very secretive about it.

O`DONNELL: Well, there`s the feeling that the candidates have of I
will -- I might look frivolous if I am seen too many with my arm around
Hollywood.

MIN: Well, let`s remember Harold Ford, when he ran in Tennessee, got
destroyed for being a Hollywood party boy, as they labeled him. That was
Tennessee. Again, Massachusetts, a different thing.

Yeah, Massachusetts is too cool for that.

It`s way too cool

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: That`s the home of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and
Massachusetts gets it.

MIN: Absolutely

O`DONNELL: It`s very compatible.

MIN: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: But this is -- it`s also that Hollywood need for new
starts

MIN: Absolutely. I mean, you know, Hollywood is a star-making
machine and, you know, they`ve been let down, they`re let down repeatedly
by the candidates they back. And so there always is a pipeline in the star
system, they`re looking for someone new and this is their person. I think
that they will raise an incredible amount of money for Elizabeth Warren.
They feel like she will have influence in the end next year and that`s what
they want. They want the access to influence, right now.

O`DONNELL: It`s Elizabeth Warren`s night in this town, tonight.
Janice Min, editorial director of the "Hollywood Reporter." Thank you very
much for joining me, tonight.

MIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: The ED SHOW is up next.

END

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