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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guest: Tom Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, Jane Mayer, Richard Wolffe, Deepak
Chopra

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Obama re-election campaign gears up as
Republicans cling to the dream of anybody but Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I need you to do my a
favor. It will only take a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His first campaign ad.

OBAMA: The 2012 campaign is under way.

O`DONNELL (voice-over): The Obama campaign is just getting started.

OBAMA: It all starts with you making a decision to get involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama campaign seems to understand what it`s
going to take to defeat Mitt Romney.

KARL ROVE: Subject him or her to the worst beating of their life
every day for roughly 11 months.

OBAMA: Don`t sit this one out.

O`DONNELL: Republicans are afraid to attack Mitt Romney, so Democrats
show them how.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unable to land a punch on Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democratic National Committee is taking a
different approach.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Ad pinning him as a flip-flopper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaving the Democrats to he take the swing.

TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The DNC did not play
fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you attack Romney in Iowa?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m a lot more
conservative that are Mitt Romney.

PAWLENTY: Mitt Romney`s record isn`t perfect, but it`s the best
record of any candidate in the race.

O`DONNELL: And in the spirit of Christmas, Herman Cain gives his
voters two Newt Gingrich.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: This holiday season and those 12 days of
Christmas, Mr. 999 is getting perilously close to nine ladies a dancing all
over his presidential dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich`s line is trending up.

GINGRICH: No person except Christ has ever been perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain`s line was already trending down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain, do we bother anymore?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: There was no sex?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No.

BLITZER: None?

CAIN: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit nutty, a little bit slutty playbook.
I mean, attack the victim, attack the accuser.

ANN COULTER: I made part of a prediction that I have since retracted.

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

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I was angry this weekend.

COULTER: But I do think it`s going to be Romney.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: In just 35 days, the first votes will be cast in Iowa, and
Republicans will begin choosing their 2012 presidential nominee.

Today, the Obama re-election campaign released the first television
ads with the president asking not what you can do for your country but what
you can do for his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I need you to do me a favor. It will only take a minute. The
2012 campaign is under way, and the outcome will depend not on what I do
but on what you do. Starting right now, it`s up to you to fight for the
values we all share. Don`t sit this one out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: On Wednesday President Obama will head to Scranton,
Pennsylvania, the hometown of Vice President Joe Biden to push for the
renewal of the payroll tax cut, which would temporarily reduce payroll tax
from its already lowered 4.2 percent rate to 3.1 percent next year.

It would also cut employers` payroll taxes in half on the first $5
million on payroll. And it would all be paid for by people earning over $1
million a year, paying 3.25 percent in income tax only on the income they
earn above $1 million. The first $1 million they earn would be exempt from
this additional tax.

The Senate is expected to vote on it later this week, and that bill
is, of course, expected to fail in the face of unanimous opposition from
Republicans who refuse to vote for any form of tax increase of any amount,
even on incomes over $1 million.

With polls showing that voters see the president as more reasonable
and more willing to compromise than Republicans and with Republicans locked
into anti-tax intransigence after taking an oath to an anti-tax lobbyist
before they took their oaths of office, Republicans, of course, blame the
president for their failure to govern.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: They look at Washington, D.C., and they look at a president
who is a by stander in the Oval Office. You know, I was angry this weekend
listening to the spin coming out of the administration about the failure of
the super committee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure
so he didn`t get involved. Well, then, what the hell are we paying you
for?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now the A-team from "The New York Times": "New
York Times" columnist Tom Friedman, co-author of the new book "That Used To
Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World We Invented and How We Can Come
Back." And "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof here in the studio here
with me.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

Nick, you wrote a recent column in which you talked about the stakes
in this election. I want to quote from it. You said, :For a couple of
years, the left has joined the right in making Obama a pinata. Think back
in 2000, many Democrats and journalists alike, feeling grouchy, were
dismissive of Al Gore and magnified his shortcomings. We forgot the
context and won eight years of George W. Bush. This time, let`s doing a
better job of retaining perspective."

Is it time for the left and for Democrats to mute their criticism of
the president on different policy choices going forward? How do they
manage that criticism while supporting his candidacy.

NICHOLAS KRISTOFF, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, look, it`s important to
hold the president` feet to the fire and the left has every bit a right to
do that as the right. But I do think as one approaches an election year,
one faces the need to remember that, you know, we`re facing not a
referendum but a choice. And it`s not only in 2000 that I think people
watch perspective. The same thing happened in 1968 when antagonism toward
Humphrey helped to elect Richard Nixon. And in 1980, something similar
happened in terms of the malaise toward Jimmy Carter, if you will, that
helped put Ronald Reagan in office.

So, I think we need to be -- I think it`s fine to hold Obama
accountable, but I think one has to be careful to remember the stakes of
what is coming up as well.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Tom Friedman, I remember back to the 2000 election.
You could hear this sense among voters out there, especially in the middle,
that there wasn`t a big difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush and
they had very little to say at that time about foreign policy, as you well
know, following that election. That turned out to be what the next
presidency was really all about.

How would you advise voters to sort through the information that`s
going to be coming their way in the next year?

TOM FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Lawrence, I really see the
context of this election not so much in the American spectrum right now
alone. You got to look at it in the world context.

We`re in a moment where you think of the world as a table with four
legs, basically, the E.U. leg is potentially cracking up. The Arab world
leg is really cracked up. The American leg is really shaky, and the
India/China leg is having its own problems.

I think we`re at a serious moment in the world where America needs to
not only be more stable than ever but on its game more than ever and have
its economy, OK, tilted forward in a way that can not only stabilize itself
but the world. And that`s really been my focus right now because,
Lawrence, I`m not sure, you know, we`re going to be able to make it until
January 2013 without some major disruptions in the world while we kind of
sit around and sort all this out.

O`DONNELL: Nick, as Democrats approach an election like this in the
Congress, already elected Democrats and the president, think about whether
they should be seriously attempting to govern or as they put it privately
and sometimes publicly, should they just take the issue to the public,
meaning, they`ll have their vote on the payroll tax cut and they will lose
and they won`t really mind losing because they then think they will take
the issue to the public in the election. They will -- they will try to win
it through the election if they can`t win if in the legislative process.

KRISTOFF: I think they have to actually govern, and I think we and
the news media will hold them accountable if they don`t and I think the
public will. And, frankly, one of the Democrats` best arguments is the
Republicans these day aren`t trying to actually govern or administer
things. They`re trying to block President Obama.

I think that is a powerful argument but it completely vanishes if the
Democrats don`t actually try to forge ahead and achieve something.

O`DONNELL: Tom, you talked about this in your recent column. I want
to read from that. You gave the president advice to go big in what`s left
of this first term and campaign. You said, "If the president spends his
energy defining his Republican opponent, there is a chance the president
will win with 50.00001 percent of the vote and no mandate to do what needs
doing. If he spends his time defining future in a credible way and
offering a hard, tough, realistic path way to get there, he will not only
win, but he will have a mandate to take the country where we need to go."

Tom, my question about that is -- I don`t see mandates coming out of
these presidential elections. If you look at what President Obama ran on
last time, eliminating the Bush bracket at the top, you know, pushing that
back up, getting different things through that he couldn`t get through,
even by winning a solid majority, there was no legislative mandate that
arrived with him into office.

FRIEDMAN: Lawrence, that may be true, but I think we`re in a really
critical moment here.

And here`s how I see the situation: I actually think the American
public understands very well, you know, the kind of crisis we`re in. I
believe that they`re looking for a plan. As I said in the article, there
are three basic characteristics.

One, in terms of economic and dealing with the deficit and all these
problems, it`s at the plan that at the scale of the problem, and I believe
the Simpson-Bowles plan is.

Second, I think they`re looking for a plan that is fair. The wealthy
have to pay not only their fair share and more because they`ve had two
great decades. But everybody has to pay something. There`s got to be a
national effort.

And lastly, I think they`re looking for a plan that is aspirational.
It isn`t just about balancing the budget. It`s about making this country
great again.

Now, I think that President Obama could be the vehicle for that plan.
There`s no question -- what Nick said is obvious. The Republicans have
been trying from day one to undermine his presidency. The fact is, he has
the bully pulpit, and the fact is, there is I believe a way to trump that.
And that is to leverage, OK, the center and his own constituency, and the
business community with a plan that is truly at the scale of the problem.

I think the public is there. You know, who can predict? I don`t
know. But if you can run on that ticket, something people think is really
a solid way out of this, as I say, I think he has a mandate if he wins and
I think he would win.

I think if he came out for Simpson-Bowles tomorrow, he`d blow up the
Republican Party. Let`s several Republicans have endorsed that commission.

O`DONNELL: Nick, the problems Democrats have with that privately,
they may say, look, in a couple of years, or after the election, we may
have to do something very similar to Simpson-Bowles and it is a plan that
Dick Durbin signed onto when he was on that commission. So, it has real
Democratic support.

But what they would say to you privately is, in this re-election
atmosphere, we need to be able to exploit how far and radically the
Republicans have gone in their attack on Medicare, and we can`t do that if
we take a couple of cuts out of Medicare in our proposal, which Simpson-
Bowles does.

KRISTOF: And I think both parties are extreme risk averse. They`re
very -- I mean, one of the problems is anything you say that seems remotely
on target is going to be misused by the other party and is going to become
a target.

But I think Tom is right when he talks about the need to speak to the
nation, to kind of -- to lay out the issues. And one thing that really
does just mystify me is that President Obama is one of the most gifted
politicians -- one of the most gifted orators I`ve ever seen. And yet he -
- and his administration have been remarkably inept at communicating to the
public.

Now, he tends -- when it comes to crunch, he tends to do better. And
I hope in an election year, he`s going to exercise that extraordinary gift
that he possesses.

O`DONNELL: Well, that comes down to this great distinction that we
can talk about all night. And that is the difference between the politics
of campaigning and politics of governing -- governing being way for
complex.

Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof -- thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

FRIEDMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

KRISTOF: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, even Herman Cain now realizes how much trouble
Herman Cain is in. Herman Cain says he`s going to be reassessing his
candidacy, which means he will soon decide whether he should drop out of
the race during or after the Christmas-book selling season. That`s coming
up next.

And Newt Gingrich has his Romney moment, his "I`m running for office
for Pete`s sake" moment. He told O`Reilly last night about what he called
the dumbest thing he`s done in recent years. We actually found some dumber
things. That`s in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Cain campaign, his lawyer put out an
unintentionally hilarious statement today, denying everything, but also
saying sex between two consenting adults is their own private business.
Well, he has been successful in business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As long as my wife is behind
me and as long as my wife believes that I should stay in this race, I`m
staying in this race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Unfortunately for Herman Cain, there is as of now not yet
any indication that his wife is still behind him and supportive of his
glorious campaign for the presidency.

Indeed, all external signs today point in the opposite direction after
yesterday`s allegation by Ginger White supported by her cell phone records
that she had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain. Cain told his staff on a
conference call today that he is reassessing -- his word -- reassessing
whether to remain in the race and will make his final decision over the
next several days, according to the "National Review".

"We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to
create too much of a cloud in some people`s minds as to whether or not they
would be able to support us going forth. It`s also taken a toll on my wife
and family, as you would imagine."

Yes, we would imagine. Republicans are now worried about the damage
Cain is doing to the party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MIKE HUCKABEE, HOST OF "HUCKABEE": I think this is the most damaging
allegation that has been made to date, no question about it. The voters
will probably be shopping for someone with less trouble, with less
controversy, and that`s why you`ve seen Newt Gingrich rise to compete with
Mitt Romney at the top of the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the Herman Cain allegations?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You can`t dismiss it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, it`s an old time vanilla scandal.
There`s no sex harassment, so he had an affair. Secondly --

HANNITY: Whoa, wait a minute. On top of the two weeks that have hurt
Herman Cain in the polls, I think it chipped away at his likability. I
think it created doubt in people`s minds whether or not, quote, "another
shoe will drop."

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: Ed Rollins who served as the director for Reagan`s
reelection campaign told the "Huffington Post": "My fear is he marches to
the beat of his own drum and he may drag it on and deny and deny and deny.
The quicker he gets out, the better for him and for us."

The only Republican candidates to comment about the troubles of Herman
Cain are the ones who are trailing him in the polls.

Michele Bachmann said today in Iowa, "I think that they recognize that
the support has really dropped out of their campaign because of those
questions."

John Huntsman told "The Boston Globe," "Given the bandwidth that has
been taken out of the discussion of any other issues pertinent to this
campaign, a reconsideration might be in order."

Joining me now from the "New Yorker," Jane Mayer, who is the co-author
of "Strange Justice: The Selling the Clarence Thomas."

Thanks for joining me tonight, Jane.

JANE MAYER, NEW YORKER: Great to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Jane, we got an NBC News embed who tweeted tonight after
catching up with Herman Cain on his way to give a foreign policy speech
tonight. He said, "Just asked Cain if he had planned to leave race.
Responded "999, 999, we`re doing fine."

Well, the man can still rhyme, so the campaign lives.

MAYER: Well, you know, I`ve been debating this with colleagues since
the first two women came out and "Politico" broke the first story. I
thought it was the beginning of the end right then, but sometimes the
candidate is the last to know -- they`re in a little bubble.

Basically I think that iron rule of sex scandals and politics is that
while there`s safety in numbers in most things, as the numbers rise,
they`ll kill you in sex scandals. You get to a point where there`s a
pattern of activity that seems -- it just -- it gets to be so improbable
that every single one of these women just wanted to come out and make this
kind of thing up.

O`DONNELL: And you saw Mike Huckabee saying, I think, a very
important thing something about this last case that`s the most damaging.
The difference that I can see in this particular case is that she has these
cell phone records. You have that dramatic local television moment in
Atlanta where the reporter actually is on the phone with Cain having texted
him and Cain calls back that number, something a presidential candidate
doesn`t do if it`s not a number they`re familiar with and not accustomed to
calling very easily.

This seems to have some of the qualities of the Gennifer Flowers
episode during Bill Clinton`s campaign which, we should point out, Bill
Clinton survived.

MAYER: Well -- or even, you know, it reminds me of the earlier -- the
Gary Hart campaign. I think it was Donna Rice, and Gary Hart said -- first
denied it and said if you don`t believe me, follow me. And it`s a
dangerous thing to say to the press because they did. And it led to him
with a woman.

These things are -- it`s been survivable for, as you say, for Bill
Clinton. He was already president at the time, though. He wasn`t just
running.

I think that even -- it`s interesting that Huckabee would say that the
most damaging is the most recent in terms behavior because consenting
behavior between adults, I think, is kind of in a different category for
many voters than charges of harassment and unwanted sexual advances made in
the workplace, which after all are treated as crimes.

So, it is -- it`s a different category. But as you say, there seems
to be proof and the kind of thing investigative reporters can nail down.
And imagine there`s more proof that one can find, because the woman says
that she traveled with Herman Cain and there ought to be travel records and
plane tickets people could find.

O`DONNELL: Well, yes. We`re still trying to find out from the
National Restaurant Association whether the restaurant association actually
paid for her travel, which raises this situation to an even more serious
problem for Cain in terms of misuse of funds and that sort of thing.

But there`s no hysterical defense of Cain pouring out now that we
heard during the first round of this from Rush Limbaugh and others who
instantaneously attacked the women who were at the center of these
allegations of sexual harassment. We`re not hearing that this time.

Are they worn out, or is it -- have they given up on Cain?

MAYER: I think again, there`s a pattern with this many numbers that
people begin to realize they may look like suckers if they come out and
defend him at this point. You know, those attacks on the earlier women`s
credibility, though, were also a dangerous gambit, I think, in that it
seems to have spurred other women to come forward and say don`t do that to
these women.

I didn`t like how he treated them. So, it`s -- you know, in some
ways, you could see the Hermanator has become his own terminator here, you
know, just by the way he`s handled all of this.

O`DONNELL: Well, that is exactly what Ginger White said last night.
She said she was very buried when he called them all liars, it bothered her
greatly and that inspired her to come out, along with the fact that a
friend of hers had kind of leaked it to the news media and they were
starting to surround her.

So, it definitely was part of the provocation that got her to go
public.

MAYER: I imagine it may anger a number of female voters. And I
think, also, if you take a look at, you know, the way Cain has packaged
himself. He`s supposed to be the straight shooter and the outsider. And
he`s beginning to look like anything but.

O`DONNELL: Jane Mayer of "The New Yorker" -- thank you very much for
joining us tonight.

MAYER: Glad to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney says President Obama and the
Democrats are afraid of facing him in the general election. But it`s
really his Republican rivals for that Republican nomination who were afraid
of taking him on. Richard Wolffe joins me to discuss that.

And Newt Gingrich went on Bill O`Reilly last night to beg -- beg
forgiveness for his liberal record on climate change. That`s in the
"Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The candidates in the Republican primaries have a lot to
learn from the Democrats on how to attack Mitt Romney. That`s next.

And Conrad Murray was given the maximum sentence today after being
convicted in the death of Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson`s friend,
Deepak Chopra, joins me to react to that news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the creator "I`m running for office, for
Pete`s sake" comes the story of two men trapped in one body. Mitt versus
Mitt.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will preserve and protect
a woman`s right to choose.

The right next step is to see if Roe v. Wade overturns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two Mitts willing to say anything.

ROMNEY: We put together an exchange. And the president is copying
that idea. I`m glad to hear that.

Obamacare is bad news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See it all at MittVMitt.com.

The Democratic National Committee is responsible for the content of
this ad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That television ad by the Democratic National Committee
does something that most of the Republican presidential candidates have not
dared to do: attack Mitt Romney. Romney responded to the ad at an event in
Miami this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: They don`t want to see me as the nominee. That`s for sure.

It shows you they`re awfully afraid of facing me in the general
election. They want to the primary process to anybody but me. So bring it
on. We`re ready for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Obama campaign has thus far ignored Newt Gingrich,
even though Gingrich has suddenly surged ahead of Romney in the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you want to focus on Barack Obama. The
DNC just released its first ad. It`s focused on Mitt Romney. Why do you
think that you are you not on the Democrats` radar yet? Why are they still
assuming --

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We appreciate their
efforts. It`s very helpful. Thank you everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Richard Wolffe, MSNBC political analyst
and author of "Revival." Thanks for joining me tonight, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFFE, AUTHOR, "REVIVAL": No problem, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Romney has a point, doesn`t he, that he is the candidate
that -- as of this stage that the Obama team would be least excited about
facing. They would much prefer a Gingrich or a more damaged candidate,
wouldn`t they?

WOLFFE: Well, it`s a twofer here. They get to damage Romney and they
-- or if not, they get Newt Gingrich. Your phrasing of the question is
much better than Romney`s interpretation. They would be less excited about
these candidates.

They don`t fear Mitt Romney. Fear is way too strong and way too
dramatic for how they approach Romney right now. There`s been a lot of
frustration among senior Democrats in the Chicago headquarters of the Obama
campaign that the Republicans have not picked the low-ringing fruit that is
Romney`s record. So they`re going to do it for them.

O`DONNELL: John Huntsman is the one Republican in this race who is
not afraid of going after Romney. I think it`s because he knows there is
absolutely no chance of him to be chosen on the ticket with Romney, because
Romney is going to practice religious discrimination in his choice, and he
will not under any circumstances choose another Mormon to be on that
ticket. So let`s listen to Huntsman on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You should be wary of any
candidate who carries all the endorsement of the members of Congress
because it means they`re going to be a status quo president. Anyone who is
in the hip pocket of Wall Street because all of the donations that they`re
picking up, like Mr. Romney is these days, is not going to be a change
agent when it comes to fixing the too big to fail banking system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Which seems to go to Huntsman`s problem in the primaries.
That just doesn`t like a Republican candidate.

WOLFFE: Well, you know, it sounds like someone who is channeling what
the Tea Party was talking about.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

WOLFFE: There is just as much anti-Wall Street sentiment among the
grassroots of Republicans as there are among Democrats. What there isn`t
anti-Wall Street sentiment is among the elite, the leaders, the fund-
raisers, the donors of the Republican party.

Huntsman is -- his political instincts are spot-on. By the way,
that`s the preview of the next round of ads that the DNC is going to cut
against Mitt Romney. He`s the candidate of wall street and he has no
values. You put the two together, and honestly, Gingrich will seem like
the stronger candidate.

O`DONNELL: And Gingrich I think will be willing to throw punches when
the time comes. It`s very much in his nature to do so. Let`s listen to
him today. He`s in South Carolina and he`s complaining about Romney
talking about Gingrich`s record on immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: At least one or two of my friends have grossly misstated my
position by running around the country saying I`m for amnesty for 11
million people. So let me start with that, just so we can have the right
sound bite for our friends here. OK?

It is an absolute falsehood to suggest that I favor amnesty for 11
million people, period. And anybody who says it from this point on has
been served notice that they`re saying something which is not true, which
in itself should disqualify them as a candidate to be president of the
United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There are few funnier than watching a liar like Newt
Gingrich threaten any other candidate if they lie in any way about him.
But he`s serious. I think he`ll go after Romney hard if he has to.

WOLFFE: He is serious. He`s got the experience on the national
stage. And he understands that before you can assume that you`ve got the
nomination and set your sights on the White House, you have to show you
have the stomach for the fight to get in the face of the other candidates
and win the primaries.

He`s doing that right now. So yes, he understands what this is about.
He`s comfortable doing it. And as you heard from that bite, he enjoys it.
When have you seen Mitt Romney actually enjoy any of this whole
electioneering thing.

O`DONNELL: Take the gloves off, Newt. We can`t wait. Richard
Wolffe, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich tries to put his embrace of Nancy Pelosi
behind him. Yes, did he that once. And he gets help trying to do that
from his Fox News pal, Bill O`Reilly. That`s going to be next in the
Rewrite.

And Dr. Conrad Murray got the maximum prison sentence today for the
death of Michael Jackson. Deepak Chopra, a long-time friend of Michael
Jackson, will join me later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Bill O`Reilly tried to help Newt Gingrich Rewrite his
liberal record on climate change last night. That is right. Newt used to
be a liberal on climate change, an Al Gore acolyte. And Bill O`Reilly took
on the job last night of helping him deal with that in a forthright Fox
News kind of way, so that Newt could put it behind him and become the first
person to go from the Fox News payroll to the Republican presidential
nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: First of all, Nancy Pelosi, you
sitting there talking about global warming on TV. What was that all about?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "What was that all about" is the standard Fox News
question to Republican presidential candidates who have a problem they need
to deal with publicly. It`s not a pointed question. It`s just a way of
saying, there`s this issue I have to pretend to confront you with, so I`m
just going to throw it out there and let you deal with it any way you want
to.

When you watch Newt`s answer, notice that he`s developed the fakest
candidate smile of the entire Republican field now that he`s the front-
runner. His handlers have obviously explained to him that the Newt scowl
can only get him so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`REILLY: What was that all about?

GINGRICH: Well, I`ve said it`s one of the dumbest things I`ve done in
recent years. It was an effort on my part to say that conservatives are
concerned about the environment. We have better solutions.

I actively opposed cap and trade. I testified against it the same day
Al Gore testified for it. But the commercial was just a mistake.

O`REILLY: OK. Now do you believe in man made global warming, that
because the planet is polluted and we spew a lot of stuff in the air, that
has influenced the way climate comes about? Do you believe that?

GINGRICH: I don`t think we know. I think that the evidence is not
complete. And I think that we`re a long way from being able to translate a
computer program into actual science.

O`REILLY: All right, so you`re an agnostic on the subject. Would
that be accurate?

GINGRICH: It`s fair to say I`m open-minded and certainly not prepared
to spend trillions of dollars on a theory.

O`REILLY: Nancy Pelosi is obviously the poster woman for the far
left. And what was the benefit -- put the issue aside of global warming,
the environment. because I think that`s an important issue. And I know
you`re interested in it and have been for many years.

Put that aside. Did you think that being associated with her in any
forum would be damaging to you?

GINGRICH: No, I thought at the time -- look, I was a private citizen.
I wasn`t contemplating public life. And I thought -- I had just read in a
book called "Contract With the Earth" with Terri Maple (ph), on a
conservative approach to the environment and how to use incentives in
business and common sense to have a better environment without the EPA.

So I wanted to be in the middle of an argument about the environment
to make a case that conservatives can actually have better ideas about the
environment than liberals do.

O`REILLY: OK. That was a pretty eerie occurrence, though. I`m just
-- looking back on it, very frightening. Let`s go to immigration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yeah, frightening. So Newt says it`s one of the dumbest
things he`s done in recent years. He has to limit himself to recent years,
of course, because in Gail Sheehy`s exhaustive piece in "Vanity Fair" in
1995 after he had become speaker, she quotes Gingrich`s neighbor and
campaign treasurer -- former campaign treasurer Kip Carter, who tells this
story about Gingrich.

"I had Newt`s daughters, Jackie, sue, and Kathy, with me. I was
cutting across the yard to go up the driveway. There was a car there. As
I got to the car, I saw Newt in the passenger seat, and one of the guys`
wives with her head in his lap, going up and down. Newt kind of turned and
gave me his little-boy smile.

Fortunately Jackie, Sue and Kathy were a long younger and shorter
then."

There are some voters who would score what Gingrich was doing in the
driveway as an awful lot dumber than agreeing with Nancy Pelosi about
climate change. And of course, limiting himself to recent years allows
Gingrich to ignore the 300,000 dollar fine that the House Ethics Committee
hit him with in 1997.

As is Newt`s habit, when confronted with something politically
embarrassing, he lies about it. When he was confronted with the million
and a half dollars that Freddie Mac paid him for his help dealing with
Congress, he, of course, had to lie and claim that he was being paid as a
historian, not a lobbyist.

With O`Reilly last night, he had no trouble getting away with this
lie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: It was an effort to my part to say that conservatives are
concerned about the environment. We have better solutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I leave it to you to guess whether O`Reilly and his team
were too lazy to do what the ad told them to do, or whether they were just
trying to help Gingrich in his cover-up of his environmental record.
Gingrich`s ad with Nancy Pelosi asks viewers to do nothing more than go to
WeCanSolveIt.org. What O`Reilly`s viewers never know if you go to
WeCanSolveIt.org, this is what you see.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at what`s
happening. Look at the fires in Russia, the floods in Pakistan, the
drought in Texas. The dots that I want to connect are between recognizing
that and speaking up in conversations, winning the conversations, changing
the general way of thinking about this, and then getting involved actively.

Let those in the political system know that if they think that all
they have to do is take money from these special interests and not have to
worry that the people themselves are going to notice about it, they`ve got
another thing coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich actually did a TV commercial to get you to
listen to Al Gore about climate change, on a website that solicits money to
continue delivering the Al Gore message on climate change. In his defense,
Newt slipped into a Romney-like explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO GLIP)

GINGRICH: I thought at the time, look, I was a private citizen. I
wasn`t contemplating public life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s Newt`s "I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake"
moment. It`s the other side of that same Republican coin, the I`m not
running for office, for Pete`s sake, so I can do whatever I want. If it
leaves you wondering what other shenanigans Newt Gingrich was up to when he
wasn`t running for office, you don`t have to limit your imagination in any
way.

Remember, this is the guy who when he was running for office thought
it was cool to have oral sex with another man`s wife in a suburban driveway
while his kids were walking past the car. Doing a TV ad about climate
change with Nancy Pelosi is nowhere close to the dumbest things Newt
Gingrich has done in recent years or any years.

At the Obama re-election headquarters tonight, everyone there is
surely hoping that the Republican party is dumb enough to nominate Newt
Gingrich as their candidate for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: That`s one of the dumbest things I`ve done in recent years.
That`s one of the dumbest things I`ve done in recent years. That`s one of
the dumbest things I`ve done in recent years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE MICHAEL PASTOR, LOS ANGELES CO. SUPERIOR COURT: Dr.Murray
created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible
medicine, the practice of Propofol for medicine madness.

Dr. Murray engaged in a recurring, continuous pattern of deceit, of
lies, and regrettably that pattern was to assist Dr. Murray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Michael Jackson`s doctor, Conrad Murray, was given the
maximum sentence of four years today after his conviction for involuntary
manslaughter. His booking photo -- this booking photo of Murray was taken
minutes after he was sentenced. Because California`s prisons are so
overcrowded, the Los Angeles Sheriff`s Department has announced Dr. Murray
will serve less than half that sentence, just under two years, doing all of
it in a county jail cell isolated from other inmates.

The judge in this case lashed out at Murray, calling his action a
disgrace to the medical professional and said Murray`s heavy use of the
anesthetic Propofol to treat Jackson`s insomnia violated Murray`s sworn
obligation as a physician. The Jackson family spoke as they left the
courthouse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHERINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S MOTHER: I think the judge was
fair. I want to thank the fans for being so loyal and supporting us. I
think we got a fair trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time is (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It should have
been --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Michael Jackson`s friend of 20 years,
Deepak Chopra, radio host and best-selling author of more than 60 books,
including his newest, "War of the World Views, Science Versus
Spirituality." Thank you very much for joining me tonight.

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, WAR OF THE WORLD VIEWS": Thank you, Lawrence.
Thank you.

O`DONNELL: The -- does -- do we find closure now in the Michael
Jackson -- in the story of Michael Jackson`s life and death?

CHOPRA: To some extent, we find a closure. But from the point of
view of a physician who has been watching the enabling doctors, the cabal
of enabling doctors in Hollywood, the co-dependent relationship between
celebrities and their doctors, who become identified with the celebrity,
and the medical profession itself.

You know, the medical associations that refuse to support the
criminalization of medical malpractice, and all the agencies -- you know,
there are agencies that are supposed to report this, that are supposed to
censure this. Every prescription, by the way, is on the record. So when
you take out tons of Propofol, that`s on record.

How is that allowed to happen? So it brings closure to some extent.
But from the point of view, if you really look at it seriously, it`s a bit
of a slap on the wrist. And it`s really not addressing the bigger issues
at that face our profession and also face the celebrity, because
celebrities get to demand and get to get what they want. It`s a co-
dependent, dysfunctional relationship that is perpetuated and initiated by
our profession.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it certainly did reveal all these holes in the
system that would allow this happen. Now I understand why the doctor went
to trial. I just thought he was so obviously guilty that there should have
been some sort of plea bargain reached here. But there`s no incentive for
a plea bargain when the potential maximum sentence is so light. That`s
obviously why he went into trial here.

CHOPRA: Right. It`s a slap on the wrist, and nothing more. I don`t
think it really brings closure to the big issues. We`ve seen this with
other people, with Anna Nicole Smith. We`ve seen this with a bunch. It`s
happening right now as we speak.

O`DONNELL: Yes. The judge certainly found his outrage over every
single thing that you`re talking about, including the lying that the doctor
did in order to get the supplies of this drug, all the way through
administration of it and everything else.

Let`s listen to the tape of Michael Jackson that the judge talked
about today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: When people leave this show, when people
leave my show, I want them to say, I`ve never seen anything like this in my
life. Go, go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The judge said that Conrad Murray kept that tape in order
to protect himself from possible litigation, thinking if there`s ever going
to be a malpractice suit here, I will use this to show that this was the
patient that was out of control, not the doctor.

CHOPRA: How could you listen to that tape and not feel your heart
broken? To put somebody like that in that condition at risk, to put that
patient at risk by giving them an anesthetic that should be used in an
operating room, with intubation and all kinds of things available to you --
to give that kind of patient a drug that basically there`s no recourse if
you give it outside of an operating room. So that, in fact, is even more
damaging than anything else.

O`DONNELL: What has it been like for you as a friend of Michael
Jackson to listen to the evidence unfold in this case?

CHOPRA: It`s been a bit of a torture. It`s been a lot of agony.
It`s been a lot of sorrow. It`s reminded me of the good days that Michael
had, the days when he was totally, you know, sober and never even sipped a
glass of wine or even took a sip of anything that would intoxicate him
because it was taking away from his wakefulness and energy. It brought
back mixed memories.

O`DONNELL: Deepak Chopra, thank you for joining us tonight. I`m
sorry for your loss.

CHOPRA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my tweets @Lawrence. "THE ED SHOW"
is up next.

END

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