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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

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Guests: Christina Bellantoni, James Hormel

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Mitt Romney`s got a serious problem with
the Ninth Commandment, and Christian conservatives know it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t wait to pardon
these turkeys. Literally.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Let`s talk turkey when it comes to
Republican.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What`s sauce for the goose
is now sauce for the gander.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big endorsement coming from Mitt Romney.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: An important endorsement.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: It`s great to be in Iowa today and
to be able to endorse Mitt Romney`s candidacy.

ROBINSON: Senator John Thune.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator John Thune.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC ANALYST: Romney has yet to stumble in a debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s that flower you get from the flower store and
you think you`re going to take it home and it`s going to blossom and it
stays half --

SHARPTON: We`ve seen him flip-flopped on everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) tough personality.

ROMNEY: I`m still a business guy!

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What Governor Romney said
today --

ROMNEY: I don`t have a political career.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s been running for president for the last
couple of years.

ROMNEY: I don`t have a political career. I don`t have a political
career.

SMERCONISH: He`s been running for this job now for so many years.

SHARPTON: Romney has a hard time finding his way to the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did have some issues with names last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some fun with names.

ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney, and yes, Wolf, that`s also my first name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time to fact check.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Willard Mitt Romney said that his name has
always been Mitt.

ROBINSON: Mitt Romney`s full name is Willard Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt is his middle name.

SHARPTON: I`d like to se your long form birth certificate.

ROBINSON: Willard suffers an identity crisis.

ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney, and yes, Wolf, that`s also my first name.

OBAMA: He has the distinction of being the luckiest bird on the face
of the earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Iowa Christian conservatives are uniting to stop Mitt
Romney from winning the Republican nomination, according to a CNN report.
Representatives from Leading Iowa social conservative groups held a secret
meeting on Monday in Des Moines, which I guess isn`t secret anymore. And
they discussed which candidate they might endorse, endorse, in order to
prevent Romney from winning the Iowa caucuses.

Bob Vander Plaats, the president of the Family Leader, who had a
representative at the meeting and invited some of the attendees said, "Our
concern is that if the conservatives stay as fragmented as they are, that
Romney could win the Iowa caucuses, and if he wins the Iowa caucuses, he`ll
be the nominee. So I think there`s an urgency to say, well, who is the
person that could best challenge Romney, then move on after Iowa?"

When Vander Plaats took over then-candidate Mike Huckabee`s campaign
in Iowa in 2007, Huckabee polled at 2 percent and Mitt Romney polled at 11
percent in Iowa. Huckabee then won Iowa, with 34 percent support and
Romney came in second with 25 percent support.

A new poll out today has Newt Gingrich leading Iowa with 27 percent,
Romney is second with 20 percent, and Ron Paul is now third with 16
percent. The other candidates all now polling in single digits.

As for which 2012 candidate Iowa Christian conservative groups
discussed getting behind at their secret meeting, "Participants were said
to have narrowed their focus town to four candidates: Minnesota
Representative Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum."

Today, Romney made his third appearance in just over a month in Iowa,
where he announced an endorsement from South Dakota Republican Senator John
Thune.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: You`re wondering who this tall, good-looking guy is over
here. It`s actually Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. I thought I`d
bring him with me.

THUNE: I want to do everything I can to encourage, to persuade people
not only here in this room, but across your great state and across this
great country that the person that can lead America back to greatness is
the former governor of Massachusetts, and hopefully our next president,
Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Real Clear Politics reports today that Romney is among
those who have most vigorously sought the endorsement of Sarah Palin,
according to her aides, but Palin is just not that into Romney. Advisers
suggest that Newt Gingrich appears to be best-positioned to secure her
support. They speak very favorably of Newt and what they see as his
credentials, as compared to Perry and Romney, one member of Palin`s inner
circle said of the former Alaska governor and her husband, Todd, who has
long served as her unofficial chief adviser.

Joining me now are: Christina Bellantoni, the associate editor for
"Roll Call," and Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC contributor and professor of
political science at Tulane University.

Melissa, this secret meeting, which is no longer secret, and was
really kind of obvious, that Christian conservatives really want to find an
anybody but Romney candidate, aren`t they just kind of getting in a room
and doing together in a relatively small group what all the rest of the
larger Republican electorate has been trying to do?

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes. I mean, that`s
certainly what it feels like, watching this GOP primary season thus far, is
that there has been a pretty solid Romney vote, those supporters. And then
there is the very powerful, and in fact, vast majority of GOP voters at
this point, who in expressing their preferences in polls, they haven`t
actually voted or caucused yet, but they`re basically saying, not Romney.

And they`ve been moving around, trying to figure out, who is the right
not-Romney candidate. Is it Bachmann, is it Perry. Now, is it Gingrich?

And so, I think we really have to ask, sort of how powerful is that?
Is that powerful enough to sustain a kind of not-Romney-ism all the way
through, so if he became the nominee, would they simply stay home in the
general election? And that, I think, is obviously the fear of those who
really would like to defeat President Obama in the fall.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen again to the highlight of last night`s
debate, when Newt Gingrich took a position on immigration that might make
it difficult for some of those conservatives to pick him out of that group.
Let`s listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t see how -- the
party who says it`s the party of the family is going to adopt an
immigration policy, which destroys families that have been here a quarter
century, and I`m prepared to take the heat for saying, let`s be humane in
enforcing the law, without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to
create legality so that they are not separated from their families.

I do not believe that the people to have the United States are going
to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and
grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done
something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Christina, does that move Gingrich away from that group
that was meeting secretly on Monday, trying to pick an alternative to
Romney? Or did he couch his position in the right language for them,
family? And another version of that, he talked about, if they belonged to
their local church, tied them into the community that way.

Where does that leave him with this kind of conservative group that`s
looking for the alternative to Romney?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: I don`t think that necessarily helps
warm him up. But what this group is really going to the need to decide,
ultimately, is do they want the true social conservative? That`s going to
be Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann. Or do they want someone that looks
to be able to withstand the entire primary process and then go on to fight
against Barack Obama?

And so, that`s really the core decision they`re going to have to make.
The values aren`t really all that different. I mean, this was a pretty
remarkable moment last night with Gingrich, you know, being honest about
this issue that, you know, by the way, Rick Perry was booed for, a very
similar position a few debates back.

So, I think they need to really see, who`s the most electable. And
Santorum and Bachmann line up on all of their ideals, and they`ve both been
courting faith leaders in Iowa for many months. That was one of Bachmann`s
first moves when she launched her campaign. But Gingrich is probably a
little more likable to win.

O`DONNELL: Now, this is, of course, difficult for Mitt Romney to jump
on, since he`s been everywhere on every issue himself over the years.

Gingrich, I think, played it well with Romney today. Romney tried to
make something of this, and Gingrich said, here`s a -- he tweeted, "Here`s
a trip down memory lane: so what`s your position on citizenship for
illegals again?" Because Newt says, I oppose it. And then Newt linked to
this video of Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My own view is, consistent with what you saw in "The Lowell
Sun," that those people who come here illegally and are in this country,
the 12 million or so who are here illegally, should be able to sign up for
permanent residency or citizenship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Melissa, this is an impossible campaign for Romney, I
think. Wherever he wants to take a shot at any Republican for anything,
there`s bound to be a clip of him having adopted that position at some
point in the past.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s true. Like, Romney 2011 is so mad at Romney 2009,
Romney 2005 -- you know, his current is self is mad at all of his former
selves. But one of the things that Gingrich did last night in that
position that he took, in addition to framing his family, and he did make
the church position -- the other thing he did is the one thing that
Republican voters have responded to extremely well, even from the first
administration of George W. Bush, and that is, he framed his dissent as
courage.

He said, look, I know that y`all are going to be unhappy with this
position, but I am going to be courageous enough to take it. And the fact
is that that notion of staying the course, having the strong backbone,
being willing to say things, even when they are difficult, that`s what got
Sarah Palin an awful lot of applause lines during her vice presidential
run. It was a big part of George W. Bush`s re-election campaign.

And I think even more than the family piece or the church piece, it
was this idea that by taking an unpopular stance, I`m doing something
courageous. And that is something that Romney hasn`t been able to figure
out how to do yet.

O`DONNELL: Christina, there`s a new Pew poll out that`s polling the
question of how does Romney`s Mormon religion affect his candidacy with
Republicans and then the general election shows not much real effect in a
general election, if he can get to that election. But it shows there`s
considerable resistance among evangelical Christians to voting for a Mormon
in the Republican primary.

Does the Romney campaign have any actual strategy to deal with that,
or just simply stay away from questions of religion?

BELLANTONI: Yes, well, welcome to December 2007. This is really what
happened when it came to Iowa and Romney putting so much of his campaign
eggs in that basket. And Mike Huckabee really courting that evangelical
vote, by not really going after Romney`s faith, but that`s sort of the
underlying question there. And that`s one reason why he didn`t win in
Iowa.

And I think that the campaign, they going about the strategy of, you
know, he`ll answer any question, he recently was asked about it and made
sure to point out, the full name of my church is the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints. And they`re trying to educate people a little bit
more about Mormonism, but I think that it is a big issue.

And the numbers are -- I believe -- are a little misleading when it
comes to the general election because it`s such a hypothetical. And some
of the poll numbers I`ve looked at show that some of the people don`t
necessarily understand the underlying history and base of Mormonism.

And so, whoever gets to that education campaign best for the American
people is going to be able to really define what Romney is and what he
believes in.

O`DONNELL: And, Melissa, in the primary, one of the big, glaring
numbers that`s a problem for him is that 53 percent of white evangelicals
say that Mormons are not Christian, no matter what the formal title of
their religion actually is. Is there a way for Romney to somehow get
passed that?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look, this is the fun I just had -- you know, I
just sat in for Rachel on her show in the last segment, and I sort of came
out in terms of my maternal lines being Mormons -- although I myself am not
Mormon, I come have a very, very long line of Mormons.

And what`s been interesting for me watching Romney try to address this
question, is unlike Kennedy, who addressed the can Catholicism question, by
going to core American values of freedom of religion and freedom of
expression, and the extent to which we are all the same, even though we
believe different things, instead, they can`t do that, because they, of
course, don`t want to allow, for example, Islam to have that sort of free
religious possibility within the states. So, instead what they do, they
try to make a theological argument about Mormonism. And that is a much
more difficult place to be.

I actually think that what Romney ought to do is go to core American
values about the freedom of religion, the freedom of expression, rather
than trying to make a claim about his religion`s specific theological
claims.

O`DONNELL: Christina Bellantoni and Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you
both very much for joining me tonight.

BELLANTONI: Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up: Grover Norquist and I actually agree on something. The
super committee failure was a very good thing.

And in the "Rewrite," why liars like Rick Perry and Mitt Romney will
keep getting away with it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: One of my favorite things to do before
Thanksgiving is to watch "Charlie Brown: Thanksgiving Special." They
started airing this in 1973. That`s 28 years ago. So to freshen things up
a little bit, we removed the original audio and replaced it with audio from
a Republican debate and I think it really freshened things up.

PERRY (voice-over): Mitt, you hired illegals in your home and you
knew about it for a year, and the idea that you stand here before us and
talk about that you`re strong on immigration is on its face the height of
hypocrisy.

ROMNEY (voice-over): Rick, I don`t think I`ve ever hired an illegal
in my life. So I`m afraid -- I`m looking forward to finding your facts on
that --

PERRY: I`ll tell you what the facts are --

ROMNEY: Rick, I`m speaking, I`m speaking --

PERRY: The newspaper --

ROMNEY: I`m speaking. You get 30 seconds, this is the way the rules
work here, I get 60 seconds --

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: No --

ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds to respond, right? Would you please --
you please wait? Are you going to just keep talking? Would you let me
finish with what I have to say?

CAIN: Nine-nine-nine!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: He sharpens his fangs and
sinks those teeth into your leg -- and what is it that Grover can do to
you? He is the most powerful person in America today. I`m going to give
him that full credit. I think he should run for president. And he has
those powers. Ninety-five percent of the Republicans are enthralled with
this gentleman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chair
of President Obama`s fiscal commission on MSNBC today, referring to anti-
tax lobbyist Grover Norquist and his role in the super committee`s failure
to reach an agreement on deficit reduction.

Norquist, like me, but for different reasons, is just fine with the
super committee`s failure. Grover tweeted, "Super committee could not
agree how to cut $1.2 trillion, so now we sequester -- French for cut --
$1.2 trillion. This is failing how?"

But as long as congress remains unable to negotiate a deficit
reduction package, Grover`s worse nightmare looms on January 1st, 2013,
when the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire, thereby delivering, without
even a congressional vote, the biggest tax increase in history. The Obama
administration indicates that the president will veto an extension of Bush
tax cuts for the top income tax brackets.

A senior White House official told the associated press, "He won`t
sign a full extension. We`re going to be in the position at the end of
next year where the president is saying, I`m not going to sign a full
extension, but send me the middle class tax cuts."

Friend of the show, Ezra Klein, catching this, asked Grover Norquist
about his worst nightmare on "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER" today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC ANALYST: The pledge has got Republicans into
position when they have now said no to multiple different compromises that
would have extended or made permanent the bulk of the Bush tax cuts. So,
if they get to December of 2012, and they`re saying, this is an unpopular
position, that they would rather let all of them expire, let those for the
upper income taxpayers expire, the outcome could be a tax increase of $3.8
trillion, not $1 trillion, not $1.2 trillion, not $800 billion, and it
would be in a sense because of the pledge, because in being so pennywise on
taxes, they became pound foolish.

Do you look at that with any kind of threat of concern?

GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Well, two thoughts on
that. One, that`s exactly the situation we were in one year ago, and
Democratic House and Democratic Senate and Democratic president voted to
extend all of the 2001/2003 tax cuts for a two-year period. So we have
been through that before.

The next time we answer this question, in addition to Republican House
of Representatives, we`ll probably have a Republican Senate, and there`s a
good chance we`ll have Republican presidents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC analyst
joins me now.

Ezra, so the Grover strategy is to simply cross his fingers and he
believes that we are in the same political dynamic that we were the last
time, which was, the president agreed to an increase -- I`m sorry, to hold
the top tax bracket down, because it allowed him to hold down all the rest
of the brackets.

So, now, the question becomes, is the White House willing to go
through with what is, in effect, its threat, which is to say, they will end
up allowing all of the tax rates to go up, just in order to get the top tax
rate to go up?

KLEIN: Right. And you`ll notice that Grover Norquist did not say,
no, I am not concerned, no, it is not a problem. He simply said, when this
happened two years ago, or a year ago, actually, in a different political
context, we came out OK. But the reason was, the White House was very
interested back then in stimulus and they felt they could get quite a lot
of it by bargaining out the Bush tax cuts. They did get quite a lot of it
and extended them for two years.

Now Barack Obama will have either won re-election or have lost it, and
there will be less of a need for stimulus. We are not in the same position
we were at the very end of 2010. This isn`t to say we don`t need any of
it, but it is to say that the situation has eased somewhat. And there`s
good reason I think to believe that the White House is now serious when
they say, we will veto any attempt to extend all the Bush tax cuts rather
than decouple the tax cuts for the rich from those from everybody else.

O`DONNELL: Ezra, you think people in the White House are now
seriously imaging a scenario in which through the president`s veto, he ends
up then being politically responsible, in effect, for having all tax
brackets increased?

KLEIN: I think to say they seriously imagine it and say they will
stick to it are two different things. But I do think you have to look at
it from this perspective too. Let`s say you were Barack Obama, and let`s
you say to yourself, there`s no way with the baby boomers retiring, with
health care costs being what they are, with the need to have a strong
domestic research and education system, that we could have the kind of
revenue base that we`re talking about in the discussion.

That to be fair, is true. They`re talking about both the Democrats
and the Republicans, tax levels that are much, much too low for what
America will need in the coming decades, you wouldn`t want to say, well, I
want to increase by $3.8 trillion. What you would want to do is get into a
position where Republican abstinence simply did it for you.

So, whether or not President Obama actually wants to let them expire,
or whether he is simply playing chicken with Republicans is a little bit
hard to tell right now, because if he did want them all to expire, this
would be exactly what any negotiator or what any political professional
would tell him to do, which is Put Republicans in a position where they let
them expire in order to protect the rich.

O`DONNELL: Yes, that would be actually perfect way to do it. And I`m
all for him doing this. I am wondering, though, at some point, does the
administration need to start, at least some kind of sidewise education
campaign that lets America know the rates we`re talking about here were the
Bill Clinton rates of the 1990s, when everybody did very well. I mean,
don`t let the country get too terrified at the idea of all of these rates
actually going up.

KLEIN: You know, the problem is that the Obama administration, going
all the way back to the `08 campaign, have been fairly tax alarmists. They
have not been courageous on this issue.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

KLEIN: Remember, they had this pledge never to raise taxes on anyone
over $250,000. The health care bill has some tax increases that will
affect people making under $250,000, but they have really boxed themselves
into a corner. And I agree with you, they are completely incoherent on
this.

Barack Obama -- President Obama will go out and talk about the great
Clinton economy and attribute some of the deficit reduction that led to low
interest rates, that led to part of the boom to the Clinton tax rates. And
then he will say, I would like to extend 80 percent of the Bush tax cuts.

It doesn`t actually add up all that way. But it speaks to their
political strategy, which has opinion to say that the great weakness for
Democrats is taxes. The question`s going to be, once they have won re-
election or lost it, whether or not they`re willing to simply say, that
political strategy is over.

Now, it`s time to get the right fiscal situation in place.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it would come at a time where the president would be
in a unique political circumstance that we`ve never seen him in before.
So, we`ll see what the calculus is then. Ezra Klein, thank you very much
for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, David
Hormel (ph), joins me.

And the late-night comedians have a lot to be thankful for. We`ll
bring you the best political jokes of the season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR (voice-over): Who is James Hormel and
why are so many people fighting over him? To his family and friends, he`s
a 65-year-old philanthropist, businessman, heir to the Hormel meat packing
fortune, a former U.N. delegate, big Democratic contributor, and a devoted
family man, five kids, 13 grandchildren.

If anything, too qualified to become U.S. ambassador to one of the
world`s least important diplomatic posts: Luxembourg. But Hormel has now
waited a full year for Senate action, longer than any other nominee. Why?
Because he is openly gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was NBC`s Andrea Mitchell reporting in 1998. It
would take eight more months and relentless attacks from the right before
my next guest would finally achieve his goal. And in so doing, he became
the highest ranking openly gay official in the U.S. government. Joining me
now, former Ambassador James Hormel, co-author of "Fit to Serve:
Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become
the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador."

Ambassador, do you think that your situation would be any different
today if your nomination was pending in the United States Senate?

JAMES HORMEL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Well, I do think it would be
different, Lawrence. And thank you for having me, by the way. The time
has changed. The administration has changed. And the -- I think the
voting public has indicated that they are much more willing to accept these
kinds of appointments.

As a matter of fact, one was made by President Bush and another by
President Obama. So there have been three now openly gay ambassadors from
the United States.

O`DONNELL: You finally were able to get the post through a recess
appointment, pushed through by President Clinton. Let`s listen to what
Senator Kennedy had to say at your swearing in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: There was never any honorable
question about his qualifications to be ambassador. His confirmation was
resisted by the Senate for one reason only, because he is gay. That
opposition was irresponsible and unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Hormel, I`ve seen many nominees simply remove
their name from consideration when they`ve ran into different kinds of
trouble, different sorts of resistance along the way. What made you stay
with that process?

HORMEL: Well, actually, at the end of 1998, my nomination effectively
died because of the termination of that Congress. And in January of `99,
the White House asked if I would allow myself to be re-nominated. I
thought about it at length and I thought, well, I would do it if either
there was a way to get the Senate to vote, in which case we knew we would
win, or whether the president would do a recess appointment. I was assured
that one or the other would occur. So I went ahead with it.

O`DONNELL: In your book, "Fit To Serve," what would you say to gay
people out there who believe themselves fit to serve and are fit to serve
in our government, in different positions that might require Senate
confirmation or other positions, where they will come under this kind of
harsh scrutiny that you suffered?

HORMEL: Well, of course, I think that it`s very important to be
prepared for that kind of scrutiny. But it`s also very important for one
to be true to one`s self. And if one is not willing to be open about his
or her sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity, then there will
be an enormous burden, a personal burden to carry around.

And the coming out process, which includes this sort of thing, is a
great relief, a great personal relief and it allows the individual to move
forward in his or her own life, in his or her own way, following his or her
own heart. I believe that`s the essence of it.

O`DONNELL: The book is called "Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret
Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay
U.S. Ambassador."

Ambassador James Hormel, thank you for joining me tonight and thank
you very much for persevering in that mission to get yourself to that
ambassadorial post. I think we became a better country. And it was an
important historical achievement for us to have witnessed.

HORMEL: Well, thank you very much, Lawrence. It`s a pleasure to be
with you tonight and a privilege to be able to hear my story told. Thank
you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

The campaign press is still afraid to call a lie a lie. So Mitt
Romney is not one bit afraid to lie about everything, from his first name
to what the president has actually said. That`s in the Rewrite.

And the late-night comedians give thanks to the Republican
presidential field.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHT": Can you believe this? Tonight was the
14th Republican presidential debate, or as Barack Obama has started calling
them, campaign ads.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
Those are the words of the Ninth Commandment. We can no longer be
surprised that the ultra-religious Rick Perry, or should we just say the
publicly religious Rick Perry, does not know the Ninth Commandment. He has
shown himself incapable of remembering even three consecutive bullet
points. So no one should expect the poor man to remember all ten
commandments, despite his flamboyant public religiosity.

Nor might we expect him to actually understand the Ninth Commandment.
"Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor" is a bit too fancy
a way of trying to tell Rick Perry not to lie.

So probably not understanding the Ninth Commandment, Rick Perry put
out a television ad last week that was based on a lie about President
Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We`ve been a little bit lazy I think over the last couple of
decades.

PERRY: Can you believe that? That`s what our president thinks is
wrong with America, that Americans are lazy? That`s pathetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As I showed you last week, the president was actually
showing the American government had been lazy, not the American people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the
U.S. as a great opportunity: our stability, our openness, our innovative
free market culture. But, you know, we`ve been a little bit lazy, I think,
over the last couple of decades. We`ve kind of taken for granted, well,
people will want to come here.

And we aren`t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract
new businesses into America.

And we think that we can do much better than we`re doing right now.
You know, because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign investor
comes in and they`ve got to navigate not only federal rules, but they`ve
also got to navigate state and local governments that may have their own
sets of interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Ninth Commandment has also either escaped the
attention of Mitt Romney or is a bit too complicated for him to understand.
Or perhaps Republicans have simply re-written the Ninth Commandment,
dropping the word "not" and adjusting the word "neighbor." The Republican
Ninth Commandment now says, in effect, "thou shall bear false witness
against thy president."

We showed you the Romney lie last night, and it`s worth looking at
again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you, New Hampshire!

I am confident that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis.

Who`s going to be in charge of the economy if we need a rescue plan
for the middle class.

We need to provide relief for homeowners.

It`s going to take a new direction.

If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And once again, here`s the full version of what then-
Senator Obama said before it was edited by the liars at the Romney
campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, "if we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When you spend every day of your life lying about your
first name --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney. And yes, Wolf, that`s also my first name.
And I`m a husband, a father, a grandfather of 16. I love this country very
much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The man`s first name is Willard, as regular viewers of
this program have known for over a year. If Willard will lie about that,
then nothing Willard says probably feels like lying. If there is a
pathological liar in the presidential campaign, it is Willard Romney. He
was asked about his lying today, but the question was phrased, of course,
in the limp-brained language of the campaign press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, is it fair to take your rivals and the
president out of context in ads that go out, specifically with regards to
New Hampshire?

ROMNEY: Well, actually, the ad, before it went out, was sent out with
press releases describing that what the president had said about John
McCain was now going to be used to be said about him. So there was no
hidden effort on the part of our campaign. It was, instead, to point out
that what`s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.

And he spoke about the economy being a huge burden for John McCain.
This ad points out, guess what, it`s now your turn. The same lines you
used on John McCain are now going to be used on you, which is that this
economy is going to be your albatross.

There`s no question. The president`s campaign and the DNC, we
obviously got under their skin, because the last thing they want to be
doing is talking about the economy and the president`s failure to get this
economy turned around. And we`re just going to take it to them, day in and
day out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The smiling liar used a lot of words, but didn`t actually
answer the question. And of course, the question to ask Mitt Romney and
his despicably sleazy campaign staff is, why did you lie? But lie is the
word campaign reporters are afraid of using face to face with lying
candidates. Lie is the word "the New York Times," "the Washington Post,"
and the mainstream media will never use with a political candidate, which
is why the mainstream media is speeding toward irrelevance in covering a
process that involves constant lying by liars, who are betting they can get
away with it, because the word "lie" is just not in the vocabulary of the
establishment media that referees the presidential campaigns.

The one sound judgment Republican voters have registered this year is
that they do not trust Mitt Romney. They recognize that he is an
inveterate liar. They don`t care that the establishment news media`s
definition of fairness includes never using the word "lie" to describe a
lie. They know a liar when they see one and hear one.

Mitt Romney and everyone working for him should -- should be ashamed
of themselves. But, of course, they know no shame. They have now become
professional campaign liars. But the mainstream media, and of course, Fox
News will continue to accord the lying Romney team all of the dignities
that they would offer the most honorable among us.

Liars like Romney debase our politics. Liars like Romney depress
voter turnout. Liars like Romney turn people away from politics. Liars
like Romney are profoundly bad for this country. But the mainstream media
will never call what Romney does lying.

And then they will run endless articles, filled with the surprise and
angst, that American voter turnout is as low as it is. That the American
voter is dispirited a and uninterested in voting. The mainstream media
helps deliver candidates to the ballot by never calling them liars and then
is surprised that Americans don`t want to stand in line to vote for the
likes of Mitt Romney.

If you want stronger voter interest in this country, if you want
stronger voter participation, stop the lying in the campaigns. The
candidates aren`t going to stop the lying on their own. The news media has
to make the candidates stop lying.

But as long as the campaign press remains so afraid of calling a lie a
lie, the candidates will never, ever be afraid to lie.

And now, to all the sleazy liars at the Romney campaign, a
Thanksgiving gift. Here is what the Obama campaign will never do to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We should lower taxes for the very highest income people. We
need to help Italy and help Europe. We don`t have to decide between the
two, because they go together.

Americans are lazy. We have lost our inventiveness.

When a corporation is profitable, that`s a bad thing. Take from some
people and give to the others.

Sometimes I just don`t understands America. Do exactly what Ron Paul
said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The late-night comedy writers have much to be thankful for
tomorrow, as they sit down with their families for what may be the first
time in months. They have been kept very busy this year by Donald Trump,
Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Herman Cain`s smoking guy, Rick
Perry`s ranch, Rick Perry`s brain, the serial polygamous Newt Gingrich, and
the descendents of polygamists, all running for the honor of losing to
President Obama in the presidential election of 2012.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Yesterday Obama unveiled his
deficit reduction plan with yet another fiery speech from the Rose Garden.
By taxing the rich, there is a name for what Obama is trying to do here.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPAKER: I don`t think I would describe
class warfare as leadership.

COLBERT: Yes, it is class warfare. And that is unfair to rich
people, who, generally speaking, would prefer not to fight our wars.

"The Washington Post" reports that the Rick Perry family hunting camp
once had a racially charged name. You see, the hunting camp was evidently
called -- whoo, OK. How do I put this. OK, OK. Um, um --

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Governor Chris Christie making a
stunning announcement.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What I`ve always felt was the
right decision remains the right decision today. Now is not my time. The
answer was never anything but no.

STEWART: Oh, my God, Chris Christie, 2012! Christie, 20 -- wait,
what? No? Oh. Well, having said that he wasn`t going to run in private,
having said it on the television, having said it to print reporters, having
tagged it on what can only be described as a condemned Trenton building,
having demonstrated his position while attending a Devil`s game -- who
paints for pre-season games -- it`s over.

You remember, we recently spent a little time analyzing how over the
last few months Sarah Palin had been traveling the country in a
Constitution-wrapped bus, frequenting early primary states and talking
about her plan to save America, which suggested two very distinct
possibilities --

You are either running for the president of the United States or you
are a crazy person.

Well, last night Sarah Palin went on Fox News, bravely supporting a
lapel pin that could have easily carried her away in its talons, to provide
the answer.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: No, I`m not running.

STEWART: So I`m ready to call it. With 100 percent of Sarah Palins
reporting tonight, the winner is crazy person.

FALLON: The Republican candidates held their eighth debate in New
Hampshire. Of course, after every debate, these guys get criticized. The
front-runners have been putting out commercials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, I`m Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather`s
Pizza. Recently, I unveiled a bold new tax plan called the 9-9-9 plan.

(SINGING)

CONAN O`BRIEN, "CONAN": The Republican candidate Herman Cain has a
new campaign ad out that a lot of people are talking about, because it`s
really quite odd at the end. And it`s all over the Internet. Take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can take this country back.

(SINGING)

DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Guy looks like he owns an adult
bookstore.

FALLON: It turns out that presidential candidate Herman Cain was
accused of sexually harassing two women in the `90s, which explains his new
campaign slogan, "Did Somebody Order a Pizza With Extra Sausage?"

COLBERT: These ladies are the real harassers, hiding behind their
anonymity just because they were paid a settlement to leave their jobs in
exchange for their silence. And if you don`t talk, clearly you`re lying.
But Cain is allowed to speak, therefore, he is telling the truth. It`s a
classic case of he said/she`s legally prohibited from saying.

Still not convinced? Then Herman Cain has a question for you.

CAIN: Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?

COLBERT: Open and shut. Who hasn`t been accused of sexual
harassment? OK, show of hands. Show of hands. Ladies, raise both hands.
Now shake it up!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We here at the LAST WORD salute and give our thanks to the
late night comedy writers and comedians. Tomorrow in your Thanksgiving,
please, give thanks to the Wompanoak (ph) tribe here in Massachusetts, who
welcomed the pilgrims to the first Thanksgiving, not far from where I sit
tonight. "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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