Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Howard Fineman, John Heilemann, Jonathan Capehart

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, Republicans have three big
problems, Newton, Willard, and Donald.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: Lawrence O`Donnell`s show is a complete
and total disaster.

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The head of the Republican wack
pack.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: The party has image problems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The clown show.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would like to restore
your right to drink raw milk any time you wanted to.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Electability problems.

HARWOOD: Image problems.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m someone who is moderate
and my views are progressive.

CHRISTINE O`DONNELL (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: He has been
consistent since he changed his mind.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Is Romney so desperate to prove he is a
conservative, Chris Cillizza, that he is bringing out Christine O`Donnell?

O`DONNELL: That`s one of the things that I like about him.

MITCHELL: What was that endorsement?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mitt Romney has to start pulling over
conservative voters or he is not going to win the nomination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney is not considered a true conservative.

TODD: They don`t view Mitt Romney as one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one is getting a Mitt Romney tattoo for next
summer.

TRUMP: It`s really amazing.

NARRATOR: Newt has a ton of baggage.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you cheat on your
wife, you`ll cheat on your business partner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every whack out thing you said for the last 20
years.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: EMP.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you give someone you acknowledge is a
bomb thrower a nuclear weapon?

GINGRICH: Electromagnetic pulse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t want a president who`s like throwing
grenades left and right.

GINGRICH: Its impacts would be so horrifying.

MATTHEWS: It`s a frightening concept.

ROMNEY: I`m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.

TODD: It shows 21 percent of Republican voters say they believe their
current field of candidates is a strong one.

TRUMP: It`s a disaster. A complete disaster. A complete and total
disaster. A complete and total disaster.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: President Obama played to his political strength, giving a
speech at Fort Bragg to mark the end of the war in Iraq and highlight his
administration`s military accomplishments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Around the globe, as we
draw down in Iraq, we have gone after al Qaeda so that terrorists that
threaten America will have no safe haven, and Osama bin Laden will never
again walk the face of this earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: According to the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll,
voters consider killing Osama bin Laden and bringing the troops from Iraq
to be the president`s two most positive accomplishments. Preventing
economic depression ranks third.

That same poll shows Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate with the
best chance of defeating President Obama, but that poll was taken before
the game changer of the week, an endorsement that none of us saw coming and
that the Romney campaign was apparently powerless to stop. Christine
O`Donnell, the only Republican candidate for Senate that had to deny she
was a witch last night on FOX News announced her endorsement of former
liberal Mitt Romney.

Today, she called Romney consistent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN: Some people say Mitt Romney isn`t the most
consistent candidate because he`s changed his mind about big, important
issues over the years.

C. O`DONNELL: You know, that`s one of the things I like about him
because he`s been consistent since he changed his mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Christine O`Donnell then told Tea Partiers to back anyone
but Newt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

C. O`DONNELL: The Tea Party I don`t think should be behind Newt at
all. Newt Gingrich has supported a federal mandate. Newt Gingrich has
been inconsistent, unreliable. If you want to get behind Michele Bachmann,
you want to get behind Rick Santorum instead of Romney, OK, I can
understand that. But not Newt Gingrich.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney took a break from fund raising in Manhattan
today to appear in an interview with "The New York Times." Romney warned
Republicans against voting for a zany candidate like Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Zany is great in a campaign. It`s great on talk radio. It`s
great in the print. It makes for fun reading.

But in terms of a president, we need a leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A day after a 2002 video surfaced we showed you last night
in which Romney called himself a moderate with progressive views, the
Romney campaign posted an online ad, accusing Gingrich of being the
liberal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Hi. I`m Nancy Pelosi.

GINGRICH: We do agree our country must take action to address climate
change.

If enough of us demand action from our leaders --

PELOSI: Together, we can do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: While the Romney campaign spent today raising money and
talking about Gingrich`s zaniness and liberal excursions, it was just
another day on the campaign trail for Newt Gingrich in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: What I want to come today and talk about, I think this may
be the first time any presidential candidate ever talked about brain
science.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Des Moines, Iowa, "New York" magazine
columnist and national affairs editor, and MSNBC political analyst, John
Heilemann, and from Washington, AOL/Huffington Post editorial director and
MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.

Thank you both for joining me.

Guys, first of all, O`Donnell business to deal with here.

Howard Fineman, Christine O`Donnell`s endorsement of Mitt Romney.
There is a real mystery at the core of this thing. Number one, why
couldn`t the Romney campaign stop it? And what`s going on here? She`s
saying Gingrich is more liberal than Romney -- how did this happen?
Howard?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, being one of the
people that had the honor of covering the Christine O`Donnell campaign in
Delaware, I can only imagine that there may be, I`m just saying, this
hypothesis here, maybe some unretired campaign debts involved who knows,
you know, as Mitt Romney has said, money is no object. I can`t imagine,
you know, that that would be a problem if she needed to have the rest of
her debt retired.

But if they didn`t actively try to prevent it, didn`t distance
themselves from it, they made a big mistake because she is -- to the extent
anybody pays any attention whatsoever, she just proves the point that Mitt
Romney doesn`t have any real conservative support.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, she doesn`t know what she`s talking about.
She clearly has talking points that Mitt was for the mandate, and she`s
endorsing a guy who made the mandate law, the individual mandate of
healthcare, made it law in Massachusetts, so it has the feel of somebody
putting her up to it. Howard`s idea of campaign debt retirement sounds
right to me in any normal circumstance.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

O`DONNELL: But why, why would the Romney campaign or any campaign
want an O`Donnell endorsement from this particular O`Donnell?

HEILEMANN: Politics is full of mysteries, Lawrence. This is one of
them.

I think you`re right about -- look, Mitt Romney helped Tim Pawlenty
retire his campaign debt, I believe. And so, there is precedent for that
happening. I think that analysis by Howard is probably correct.

I think it`s obviously true she`s reading talking points, although I`m
pretty sure those didn`t include her saying that Tea Party voters should
vote for anybody, they could vote for Rick Santorum or vote for anybody
else in the field, or Rick Perry, but just -- as long as they didn`t vote
for Newt Gingrich. Also feels like there`s bad blood between Christine
O`Donnell and Newt Gingrich that I am not totally aware of.

But look, this is the classic definition of a one day story if the
Romney campaign is lucky.

O`DONNELL: Not if I have anything to do about it.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: We may be done now with this one.

Let`s go to the $10,000 bet rehabilitation campaign that Romney has
been on. Today, the "Boston Herald" editorial posted an interview with
Romney. It was conducted yesterday. He was asked about his personal
wealth, and this is how he dealt with it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I haven`t made any money in politics. I made my money -- by
the way, didn`t inherit it. When my parents passed away, they gave to each
of the four of us a certain amount of money, and I gave what they gave to
me away -- half to my kids, half to charity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. Let`s get a little something straight. He was 48
years old when his parents passed away. By that time he was so much richer
than his father ever was that sure, he could give half of it away, give the
other half to his kids, which, oh by the way, is a clear benefit to him.

I love when a born rich guy tries to explain how he`s not really rich.

Howard, is there any -- should he just shut up about this and accept
being a rich guy in the campaign? Is there any other way to play this?

FINEMAN: No, a couple points. First, that`s called a generation
skipping trust, trust in estates. So, yes. So, he -- they engineered that
nicely.

What struck me, though, Lawrence, is that Mitt Romney who until a few
days ago was so aloof from the media that he wouldn`t even give "Time"
magazine an interview for a cover story they were doing is showing up
everywhere except on the step of the penny saver in Concorde, New
Hampshire. I mean, he was at the "Boston Herald," who hate him. You know,
he was at "The New York Times" which he disdained for months. He gave an
interview to "The Washington Post."

So, the new "I`m behind everywhere but New Hampshire" Mitt Romney, and
"I made the $10,000 bet" Mitt Romney, is suddenly making himself available
on the theory that his quote, "sober, reasonable, non-zany" behavior when
contrasted with Newt will somehow lead to the rehabilitation of Mitt
Romney. I don`t see any evidence of it yet, but that`s clearly their
strategy now.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, there`s some information a few weeks ago
that emerged that the Romney campaign had a bunch of endorsements already
in its pocket, ready to pull out whenever they needed them to drive the
story. I`ll be shocked if Christine O`Donnell is one of those planned
endorsements, but OK. Does he have any other big ones coming before people
go to the caucus places in Iowa or do any endorsements matter at this
point?

HEILEMANN: Well, I think that`s the last question is the really
relevant one, Lawrence. I`m not sure how much endorsements matter at this
point, especially for Mitt Romney whose biggest problem is that he is
perceived as being too much of an establishment candidate for a lot of the
Republican base. Pulling out establishment endorsements at least in these
first few states doesn`t help him much.

But, look, they are, have been a long time, even before this current
moment of panic which is what it seems like, given how defensive they`re
being and how reactive they`re being to the criticism they`re getting,
whether it`s on the media or on the money or other issues seen as
vulnerabilities -- they have always thought this could be a very long
fight. And so, the notion that they are playing the long game, they need
to survive these first four states, but think if they can get through the
first four states, his combination of financial wherewithal and the
delegate counting operation they have in place, and the fact they can run a
50-state organization, they think that gives him a big advantage.

So, I think they`re going to keep those endorsements to their pockets
as long as possible and try to make it through these first four states and
then play as I say for a long campaign against a weaker rival.

O`DONNELL: Howard, there was interesting overnight polling that
indicated that Ron Paul could be the guy who actually pulls out the win in
Iowa based on where he is in the polls, based on his organizational
strength over Gingrich in Iowa.

Do you see that as possible and what would it do to the race if Ron
Paul knocks off Gingrich in Iowa?

FINEMAN: Well, first of all, it`s definitely possible. I have been
out in Iowa couple times. I haven`t been there recently, but I know from
one of the reporters there, and we have a whole bunch of them with
patch.com, we`ve got more than 10 out there on the ground.

And they`re saying that Ron Paul is superbly organized, he`s very
strong on college campuses. There`s a problem there and that some --
having moved up the primary, the caucuses, rather, not all the college kids
are going to be there. But if anybody can overcome that problem, it will
be Ron Paul`s organization.

The more Mitt Romney attacks Newt Gingrich, and that`s what Romney is
doing now, the more it could possibly redound to Ron Paul`s benefit, which
the Romney people don`t necessarily mind. They`d rather put it to use
Newt`s term, electromagnetic pulse over Iowa, discredit Iowa, have somebody
else win it as long as it`s not Newt Gingrich and save themselves, they
hope, for New Hampshire.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, Newt Gingrich has been asking for a non-
accusatory debate, campaign between Romney and himself, trying to just, you
know, put away the hatchets, this was the bury the hatchet week. It hasn`t
worked so far.

Of course, the frontrunner wants that. Is Romney finding
vulnerability in Gingrich in the attacks he used so far?

HEILEMANN: Well, I think, Lawrence, with Newt Gingrich, when he
buries the hatchet, he buries it, then takes out a rake and shovel and hits
him with it the next day. That`s the way that Newt Gingrich has been
behaving.

I think that both of them, right now, I`m here in Iowa -- I`ve been
here the last week. And it`s pretty clear that both Gingrich and Romney
are suffering from this war that they`re waging against each other.

There`s a concept in Iowa, Howard is familiar with it. It`s Iowa
nice. Going negative here has real consequences.

Both of them seem to be dropping a little bit. And that could be to
the benefit of Ron Paul, as Howard said. It could also redound to the
benefit of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann. And you could end up in Iowa
with a mess, where you have five people all kind of bunched up close to
each other.

And again, that is good news for Mitt Romney because anything that is
not a decisive Gingrich victory, expectations now are so high because he`s
been polling so strongly here, anything that`s not a big win for Newt
Gingrich is a loss for Newt Gingrich. And a loss for Newt Gingrich is a
win for Mitt Romney. That`s an OK outcome for him.

O`DONNELL: John, is local television drowning in campaign ads out
there in Iowa now?

HEILEMANN: My God. It`s just endless, man. You cannot turn on the
TV without seeing some of these ads. Ron Paul is running a lot of ads,
he`s actually not only well organized, as Howard said, but also, pretty
well-financed here.

So, you`re seeing a lot of the Ron Paul ads. A lot of Mitt Romney
super PAC ads are on TV. It is getting very heavy here and it`s only going
to get heavier between now and January 3rd.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Howard Fineman -- thank you both for
joining me.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: With his career as debate moderator in shambles, Donald
Trump is back to doing what he does best, attacking anybody named
O`Donnell. Donald Trump spent the better part of the day attacking me.
And since unlike Donald, I actually have a day job, I haven`t had time to
read all of his tweets. I haven`t had time to respond until now. That`s
coming up next.

And later, Republicans like Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney say presidents
should never, ever apologize. It`s too bad Dick Cheney couldn`t convince
George W. Bush of that back when he had the chance. We`ll flashback to
Bush`s desperate apology to the Chinese to try to get them to give back an
American spy plane.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Yesterday, Newt Gingrich released a
statement promising he wouldn`t cheat on his wife. Even better, he said he
wouldn`t cheat on his next wife either. So it works out, or the one after
that. He promised for four wives, the next four.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Less than 24 hours after suffering the complete
humiliation of the collapse of the Republican debate he was supposed to
moderate, Donald Trump returned to his real job saying mean things about
people named O`Donnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It`s really amazing. When I don`t like somebody, the shows do
really badly. Maybe it is subconscious, maybe it`s will over matter, who
knows? But their shows do really badly.

Lawrence O`Donnell, his show is failing, it`s a disaster. They moved
him out of the 8:00 slot because Bill O`Reilly was absolutely killing him.
They gave him the less coveted 10:00 spot and he`s dying at that.

Then you have Rosie O`Donnell. It`s really interesting, their names
are the same. Maybe they should get married. But Rosie just found a new
mate, and I don`t think she would find him attractive even if that were the
way she goes. So, Rosie O`Donnell`s show is a disaster. It`s a complete
disaster.

Lawrence O`Donnell`s show is a complete and total disaster, moved from
a coveted spot. Now, even at 10:00, it`s a mess.

So I have an idea. Maybe Rosie O`Donnell and Lawrence O`Donnell, and
they must be related somewhere along the line, they should get together,
form a show, and they`ll have the lowest rated show of all time. What a
good idea. I`m a natural at television.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Shortly thereafter, Rosie O`Donnell responded to Trump on
Twitter.

"@realDonaldTrump -- how many billionaires sell ties and have crappy
non reality shows, none. Go back to selling snake oil. Bankrupt much?"

Then Trump tweeted, "Thousands of e-mails from folks urging me to seek
the Americans Elect presidential nomination," to which Rosie replied, "Only
in your dreams, Donny."

The Twitter argument went downhill from there. The vulgarian who lies
about being a billionaire said really ugly, hateful things about Rosie`s
new partner. I`m not going to read that. Get that off the screen, we`re
not doing that.

And Rosie signed off with this tweet. "Lawrence said it all and best.
Thank you and goodnight." Her treat linked to this video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has never suffered sharper or more accurate
criticism than what was said about him on this program this year. He has
smartly up to now done everything he can to avoid the mention of my name or
the existence of this program, realizing that that would draw more
attention to my criticism of him.

Then, yesterday, suddenly, Donald Trump started tweeting me.

"I heard because his show is unwatchable that Lawrence has made many
false statements last night about me. Maybe I should sue him."

Donald Trump will never sue me because I know his big secret, his
biggest secret. And he knows that I know it. Donald Trump cannot afford
to sue me. And he knows it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Trump has not yet explained how he will keep his YouTube
page filled with hateful video if he decides to run for president as an
independent, which of course he will never do. So fans of his YouTube page
can be assured the hatred will just keep flowing.

Joining me now, MSNBC contributor and this show`s senior Trump
correspondent, Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington Post."

Jonathan, you have talked to Trump during this political season.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Is this where it is now, he`s kind of fallen off the edge
of politics and it`s back to just saying hateful things about O`Donnells?

CAPEHART: Apparently so. Apparently, that`s what he loves talking
about O`Donnells. He has gotten into a tiff with Rosie O`Donnell in the
past.

And when I met with him in early fall, in September, the first few
minutes of that meeting, about five minutes of that meeting were spent
talking about you. Everything he said in that video he said to me over and
over and over again. So he doesn`t really like you -- which is already
established.

But look, what we have here is a man who is out of his debate on
December 27th, who didn`t follow through on the threat, if you will, of
running for president this go around, but he`s still dangling out there the
carrot for whomever cares that he could possibly run as an independent if
the GOP doesn`t pick a candidate he feels is the right candidate to go up
against President Obama and who could, you know, give as good as we get
from the Chinese, and lead America down a forward path, as he would say.

O`DONNELL: You know, pretending to run for president is what gets him
on talk shows these days. So, he`s going to continue to do that.

You know, I just want to explain that tweet went on the screen about
Rosie`s partner.

CAPEHART: If you could read fast.

O`DONNELL: I don`t want that. He got really ugly. Rosie was really
clever. He got really ugly and vicious, and I didn`t want to include that
in what we`re talking about tonight, especially because I think it is my
fault.

I have the feeling that this morning`s outburst was provoked by
something I said last night, which I think we`ll look at that now, see if
this is enough to provoke Donald into today`s outburst.

Let`s look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Trump will continue to lie about running for president in
order to promote his television show, and the most gullible performers at
FOX News will continue to nod worshipfully as Trump continues lying.
Donald`s dark secret is that although he was born rich, he has managed to
maintain a rich lifestyle, he will never, ever be even close to rich enough
to finance a presidential campaign.

Little spoiled Donald Trump was born rich, but he was definitely not
born to run, and he never will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Could it have been the cute little family picture? What
was the trigger in there? Because everything I said I`ve said before and
he didn`t do a big outburst, but this morning.

CAPEHART: You know, I`m not sure. I`m not sure. Maybe it`s just
you. Maybe you`re focusing on him and it sparked him to react this way.
Think of it this way. Maybe he views you as the vehicle to keep himself in
the news and relevant.

O`DONNELL: Oh. See, I thought I was the puppeteer, and he was the
puppet. Is he controlling me? What`s going on here?

CAPEHART: I don`t know, maybe he is riding your coattails.

O`DONNELL: How thrilled are the Republicans? Seriously, in the
Republican presidential campaign, Jon Huntsman who he was whacking every
day.

CAPEHART: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney, who he was whacking half of the day. Michele
Bachmann who`s been hitting pretty hard lately. How thrilled are the
candidates that he`s now shifted back to just going after O`Donnells, at
least for today, leaving them alone?

CAPEHART: Leaving them alone, but also he`s not really a distraction
any more. I think December 27th was a huge speed bump, roadblock for the
candidates. They`re looking to win Iowa on January 3rd, just a week away.

The idea that they would sit with someone who would steal all the
oxygen out of the room, steal the attention from them. They don`t have to
worry about that now. They can worry about things they would normally
worry about -- getting to as many doors as possible, shaking as many hands,
pulling as many people out of their homes hopefully a week later at the
caucuses to hopefully blunt whatever momentum Newt Gingrich has, to maybe
stop Ron Paul from stealing the whole thing.

I think basically with Donald Trump out of the way, they can focus on
the task at hand.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC contributor and opinion writer
for "The Washington Post" -- thank you very much for joining us tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Stephen Colbert bids farewell to Donald Trump`s
campaign relevance. That`s in "The Rewrite."

And later, Mitt Romney called President Obama weak and timid for not
going into Iran to recover a fallen U.S. drone. It seems Mitt forgot what
George W. Bush did when one of America`s spy toys fell in a mean neighbor`s
backyard. I`ll show you that later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the "Rewrite," there is still hope for those of us that
want to see an out of control egomaniac moderate a Republican presidential
debate. That`s ahead in the "Rewrite."

Also ahead, an update on our kind fund, kids in need of desks. What
your generosity has done in Africa and how you can still help us this
holiday season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: It was a year ago this week I told you about my trip to
Malawi. You can see the video of that report on our website. I went there
with the hope of providing desks for Malawi classrooms where most students
had never seen a desk. By the time I arrived at Malawi I had learned
enough about the scarcity of resources in the country that I actually
didn`t think I was going to be able to provide any desks.

But then with invaluable guidance of UNICEF, I found a small
woodworking shop that quickly hired extra workers to make 30 desks that I
was able to pay for with cash in my pocket and deliver to one classroom in
Malawi.

When I told you this story last year, I knew you would be moved to
help, but I had no idea how generous you would be to the Kind Fund, Kids in
Need of Desks, a special partnership we established with MSNBC and UNICEF,
specifically to deliver desks to African schools. You left me awe struck
by, as of today, contributing over $2,413,999. That has allowed us to
deliver 39,949 desks with over 5,000 more in the manufacturing pipeline
that will be delivered soon.

Kids in Need of Desks is the permanent cause of this program. The
need will surely outlive this program, as I explained to a group of public
school students in New Jersey who contributed over $3,500 themselves, and
their parents contributed an additional $3,700.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: If we continue at the pace we are at now on raising money
to get desks for schools in Malawi, how long do you think it will take to
get desks for every student in Malawi? Three weeks? Anybody else want to
guess? How many people think it will take a year? How many people think
it will take longer than that?

It will take 10 years to do it. You can still be raising money to do
this for Malawi when you`re in college.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I returned to Malawi this year to see what your kindness
has wrought and to deliver more desks. The school where I delivered 30
desks for one classroom on my first trip now has desks in every classroom.
They literally sang their gratitude to you for how you changed their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You can see a more complete version of their performance
on our blog, and I hope you do look at it, because it is really you who the
kids are thanking. These desks are a brilliant and economical design, made
to UNICEF`s specifications. They`re designed to seat two students with two
compartments under the desks for the students` materials.

But in most of the Malawi schools that I`ve seen, there`s so much
overcrowding that usually three students slide onto this little bench. At
$48 a desk, you can provide a new and vastly improved learning environment
for two or three students. For as little as $16, the price of a couple of
movie tickets, you can lift an African student off the ground, off the
floor for the first time in her life and instantly give her a dignity in
the classroom that no one else in her family has ever experienced in a
school.

Life is hard in Malawi, but you don`t see that on the face of the
people. They are the most optimistic and hardest working people I`ve seen
anywhere in the world. And given their circumstances, hopelessness is an
option. Malawi is one of the very poorest countries in the world. The
entire country is a high risk malaria zone. HIV-AIDS has spread to 12
percent of Malawi`s 15 million people. Life expectancy is 53 years.

Malawi doesn`t have enough of anything and it certainly doesn`t have
enough jobs, but these desks are now providing jobs in Malawi. Before
these desks get delivered to a classroom where they change the lives of the
students, they have already changed the lives of the families of the people
that make the desks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: My favorite little factory in the world, you`re
outgrowing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Those workers have jobs that didn`t exist a year ago
thanks to you. Their families, their children are eating better than they
were a year ago thanks to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They work with heart. They like working. They
want to come to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s Moshin Musa, the man who made the first 30 desks
that we delivered last year and has had to hire more workers to continue to
deliver desks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Without a company like this, he could have the welding
skill and there would be no jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They really go through a tough time getting to
school. Their families really try hard to help them get educated, and they
go through a lot. And when they don`t get a job, it is really
disappointing for them and the families. They deserve a job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You know, Moshin always sends a group of workers with the
delivery truck to carry the desks into the classrooms, but they`re never
needed. The kids always rush the truck and do it themselves, with some of
the boys thrilled to show they can carry a desk alone. And in a flash the
classrooms are transformed by the children themselves. It is their
classroom after all, and in an instant they change it from a place of pain
to a place of pride.

If you try sitting on a cement or dirt floor seven hours a day, you`ll
know the kind of pain I`m talking about that the kids suffer.

After the desks arrive, all the children go home to their villages and
tell their families that night about something extraordinary that happened
at school today, a place where most likely nothing extraordinary has ever
happened before.

If you have any room left in your charitable giving this year, if
there`s someone on your gift list who already has everything, consider
giving that person the gift of one of these desks. You can go to
LastWordDesks.MSNBC.com or call 1-800-for-kids. Online you can click on
the link "Kids in need of desks," K-I-N-D. That will connect you to the
KIND fund. You can have an e-mail gift notice sent to anyone on your gift
list for whom you would like to give the gift of a desk. Your gift will
keep the workers in their jobs making the desks. You will allow them to
continue to provide for their families, provide enough to eat. And you
will lift some poor children off the floor.

If you buy just one desk, you won`t lift just two or three children
off the floor, because that desk will be used year in and year out by at
least two or three children at a time. We`re already on track to deliver
desks that could end up being used by several hundred thousand children,
maybe even a million, during the life of these desks.

You don`t have to be a teacher to know there are a lot of ways to
improve a kid`s attitude and performance in class. What if among the
million kids who might end up sitting at one of these desks there`s one,
just one, slumped in the back of a classroom today leaning on a friend`s
shoulder, unable to keep his head up in the fifth hour of the strain and
pain of sitting on the floor? And what if after he carries his new desk
into his classroom he sits up and connects with his teacher for the first
time? And what if he begins to excel, gets the momentum to complete his
education, and becomes a doctor, maybe an engineer? Who knows? What if he
goes on to do good things, maybe even great things for Malawi, saves lives,
improves lives, makes our world a better place? And what if that was your
desk that he carried into his classroom that day? You`ll never know if it
was your desk, but what if it was? What if?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "Rewrite," hope for all of us who just
couldn`t wait to see the Trump debate. Another egomaniac who makes his
living on TV like Trump but manages to do so with shockingly boring hair
compared to Trump has stepped forward with an offer to moderate a
Republican debate which he is more than delighted to do even if only one
candidate shows up. And you know, the guy even sounds a little like Trump
in a boring hair kind of way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Folks, I would be lying
if I didn`t say I saw this coming. Donald Trump is a friend. He`s my best
friend, number one best, greatest friend of all time. We race yachts. We
trade mistresses. I call him "Trump card," he calls me "Cold beer."

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: That said, the guy is a boob. He looks like a tangelo had
sex with an old dish rag.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: And I can say it because I love this man. And to honor the
memory of Trump mattering, it is more important than ever that tonight I
re-announce my Stephen Colbert`s South Carolina Serious Classy Republican
debate. Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: A lot of excitement. A lot of excitement. I didn`t have to
say that. We set the date late to mid-January. Mark your calendar.
There`s been tremendous interest so far, huge, massive, interest.
Everybody is talking about the debate. Salon, "Daily Beast," NPR, "The
Philadelphia Inquirer," Path Mark Circular.

And now it`s going to be even bigger than ever with Rick Santorum and
Newt Gingrich free from their commitment to Trump. You still have a home
in my debate, boys. I am delighted about Newt. I am less delighted about
Santorum, but still solid delight across the board.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s episode of "It`s only OK if a
Republican does it." Last Sunday an unmanned U.S. spy plane was picked up
in eastern Iran near the Afghanistan border. Iranian state television
showed the drone on TV and claimed it was brought down by Iran`s army. On
Monday, President Obama said the United States has asked for the drone
back. This morning FOX News anchor Martha MacCallum asked Mitt Romney
about the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I want to know what you think of
this Iran drone situation. What would you have done if they came to you
and said, Mr. President, a drone has gone down. It is one of ours, one of
our top technology. We have an opportunity to take this out. The
president said he didn`t want to do that. He thought it would be seen as
an act of war. What would you have done?

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely take it out. He
was extraordinarily weak and timid in a time of a critical moment. This
will have severe implications for us long term and it was a terrible
mistake on his part. I find it incomprehensible that he didn`t destroy it
or go get it. I think destroying it would have been a good deal easier,
destroy it immediately or go get it. But the idea of letting it fall into
hands of people that will use it against us, use the intelligence capacity
against us, is an extremely enormous mistake on the part of this president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here was the toughest VP in history`s reaction on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, (R) FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: The right response to that
would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it.
You could do it from the air. You can do that with a quick air strike.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. So I guess apologizing and politely asking to get it
back is absolutely out of the question. At least Obama hasn`t apologized
yet. He did ask for the thing back, which certainly leaves all good
Republicans wishing there was someone in that White House like Dick Cheney
that really knows how to handle this kind of thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE BUSH, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Late Saturday night in
Washington, Sunday morning in China, a United States naval maritime patrol
aircraft on a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over
the South China Sea collided with one of two Chinese fighters that were
shadowing our plane. Both our aircraft and a Chinese aircraft were damaged
in the collision. Our aircraft made an emergency landing at an airfield on
China`s Hainan Island. Our embassy in Beijing has been told by the Chinese
government that all 24 crew members are safe. Our priorities are the
prompt and safe return of the crew and the return of the aircraft without
further damaging or tampering.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But China demanded an apology from America in order to
return the crew, just the crew. And the ever tough Bush/Cheney
administration completely surrendered to the Chinese communist dictatorship
and apologized. "Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have
expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft. We
are very sorry the entering of China`s airspace and landing did not have
verbal clearance."

That policy of apology from the U.S. ambassador to China resulted in
the safe return of the 24 members of the crew. As for the plane, the
Chinese did not allow the U.S. to go in and get the plane back, and the
U.S. didn`t dare. The Chinese kept it for three months. They dismantled
it. They studied it. They learned everything they wanted to know about
it, and only then allowed a Russian liaison to fly it back in pieces,
except of course for the pieces that the Chinese military just kind of
misplaced, like, oh, maybe the invaluable black boxes.

Dick Cheney, another day, another lie. Mitt Romney, well, at least
he`s never going to have to make a decision about what to do when America
loses an aircraft in unfriendly territory.

You can have the last word online at our blog, TheLastWord.msnbc.com.
And while you`re at our website, a reminder, you find the information on
how to donate to the KIND fund, or you can call 1-800-for-kids.

END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2011 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>




Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide