'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Howard Fineman, John Heilemann, Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe, Luke Cunningham
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Finally, the Santorum surge is on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, so big it up. My man, Newt Gingrich.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here I am in the chocolate
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Boy, is this guy ticked.
GINGRICH: Lucy and the chocolate factory.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s more like Lucille Ball
at the chocolate factory.
GINGRICH: I`d love him to say that to my face.
MATTHEWS: Boy, is this guy angry?
GINGRICH: I hope if he comes by, he`ll at least buy some chocolates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s trying to get all the negative in at once.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rediscovered some of that offensive firepower.
MATTHEWS: Gingrich has dropped substantially.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He may have peaked too early.
MATTHEWS: That`s why Newt`s pouting and Mitt Romney strutting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neck and neck race now between Ron Paul and Mitt
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could Mitt Romney seal this thing up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve spent all of 2011 saying he`s the weakest
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Mitt Romney the sleeper candidate here?
ROMNEY: I really can`t set expectations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you have to take these polls a little
bit with a grain of salt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunch of clowns inside of a car at the moment.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel very good that
we`re going to surprise a lot of people how we finish.
MATTHEWS: And look at Rick Santorum.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the one person that people have talked
MATTHEWS: He`s tripled his support.
SANTORUM: Our campaign is the one that`s got the momentum right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you take a look at Santorum on the surface,
he`s a pretty good guy.
SANTORUM: That`s a very positive time for us.
ED RENDELL (D), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: His followers are the
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the one
with an unassailable, proven track record.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I predict Mitt Romney will be the Republican
ANN COULTER: If you don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the
nominee and we`ll lose.
O`DONNELL: The Gingrich surge in Iowa is now officially the Gingrich
collapse. According to the latest "Time"/CNN poll, Newt Gingrich has
dropped 19 points in Iowa from his high of 33 the last time that poll was
Those 19 Gingrich points have gone mostly to one of the darkest of the
dark horses, Rick Santorum -- who has picked up 11 points in this poll and
surged to third place. Behind Mitt Romney who picked up only five of the
Gingrich points to go from 20 to 25 in the poll, and Ron Paul whose moved
up five points in the poll to 22.
Ron Paul`s team thinks the poll understates his support in Iowa. In
an e-mail to "Politico," Ron Paul`s campaign chairman wrote, "It is too
small a sample to be very accurate. Our internals which reflect a size
needed for accuracy show what this race is, a two-man contest between Dr.
Paul and Mitt Romney."
Today in Iowa, Mitt Romney enjoyed overflow crowds at small venues
designed by his campaign staff to create the image of overflow crowds in
Two hundred miles away in Algona, Iowa, Newt Gingrich was speaking at
a chocolate factory where he responded to Romney`s comparing Newt`s failure
to get on the Virginia ballot to the incompetence performed by Lucille Ball
in her old sitcom scene at a chocolate factory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Now that I have the courage to come to the chocolate
factory, I hope Governor Romney will have the courage to debate me one-on-
one and defend his negative ads. I don`t expect him to do it, but I hope
if he comes by, he`ll at least buy some chocolates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich offered this reassuring commander in chief-
like explanation for his failure to qualify for the Virginia presidential
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I had somebody who turned in false signatures. We turned
in 11,100. We needed 10,000; 1,500 of them by one guy who frankly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, all right then. Hope you have better luck choosing
a treasury secretary.
Today, Rick Santorum made a reenergized pitch to the "anyone but
Romney" Republican voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: Mitt Romney`s never proven to win in an election where he
had to get Democrats and independents as a conservative. When he ran in
Massachusetts, he didn`t run as a conservative. I`ve run as a conservative
in a blue state of Pennsylvania and won two elections. Yes, I lost one in
an election year where everybody lost.
But in the election years that were contested, that are going to be
more like 2012 than 2006, those are the elections I won in Pennsylvania and
we can win them again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The official position of this program that the ridiculous
presidential primary season has been nothing but helpful to the re-election
prospects of President Obama has now been confirmed by Charles Krauthammer,
FOX News resident wise man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS: Imagine if you had had a race with
Mitch Daniels, with a Ron -- with a Paul Ryan, Christie, Jindal and others,
Senator Thune, we would have had a completely different complexion. And I
think with some of the sort of embarrassing candidates like Cain and others
along the way, it has made the president, who is by -- by who he is
presidential look better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Iowa, AOL/"Huffington Post" editorial
director and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman. Also from Iowa,
national affairs editor for New York magazine and MSNBC political analyst,
Thank you both for joining me tonight.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Howard, you tweeted on this issue of the Santorum surge.
You tweeted, "In Des Moines, Romney circle says it`s OK if Santorum surges
a little. They`d rather have him as the cultural right foe than Newt or
FINEMAN: Yes. Well, I suppose maybe they should be careful what
they wish for.
FINEMAN: But their reasoning was this -- OK, their reasoning was
this, that South Carolina`s the place where Mitt Romney`s almost certainly
going to lose. That`s the third leg of the triad of Iowa, New Hampshire
and South Carolina. And they would be more worried about a Rick Perry I
think primarily, but a Southern or semi-Southerner, somebody with the
ability to the raise a lot of money still, finishing strong little in this
race rather than Rick Santorum who they see as somebody who really can`t
raise a lot of money, who remains rather obscure if he finishes third, so
He won`t be able to raise the millions of dollars he`d need right away
because he doesn`t have the connections, he doesn`t have the ground game.
He didn`t even bother to try to submit signatures to get on the ballot in
Virginia, for example. They cite that as an example of the fact that they
don`t think he can go national. At least that`s what they were saying to
O`DONNELL: John, you wrote on "New York" magazine, "Romney has had
his share of unearned good fortune and though the lack of affection for him
in his party`s base might yet come back to bite him, at the moment, he
appears to be on the verge of proving an eternal verity of politics, better
to be lucky than loved."
How has Mitt Romney been lucky?
HEILEMANN: Well, Lawrence, you just pointed out what the show`s
official position is relative to this Republican race and Charles
Krauthammer as you said confirmed that.
Look, Mitt Romney has in his view and in the view of his advisers run
against a clown show. And they have looked -- he has had the most
unimpressive and at times borderline ludicrous set of rivals that you can
possibly imagine. He`s had the luck of being the guy who has been the only
one able to raise a significant amount of money. That`s not all luck.
That`s partly skill but he`s not faced anyone else who`s a remote
competitor on that front.
He right now in Iowa, even as he is now in first place in Iowa
according to the polling and internal polling that the campaign has, he has
all of his fellow rivals attacking Ron Paul rather than attacking him. He
has not faced a significant negative campaign from any of his rivals over
the course of the last year during which he has been the de facto front-
runner all along.
I can`t think of a better definition of good luck than all of that.
O`DONNELL: All right. I think you just won that point.
Howard, on the Santorum surge, what is -- what kind of surge is
something that the Romney camps can survive? His current position of third
place, if he were to finish second, if Santorum were to surge to second,
say, in Iowa -- I mean, what does Santorum have to do in Iowa to change the
FINEMAN: He probably has to win. And who knows. It`s not
This has been the most amazing campaign I`ve ever covered in the sense
that there have been six different front-runners. I`ve never seen a
campaign like that. It may be the sort of gong show nature of the crowd.
But it started out -- don`t forget -- six months ago with Mitt Romney
as the narrow front-runner. Then all of the purists from the libertarian
wing and the cultural right wing and the hawk wing, with the exception of
Ron Paul, all took their turns in the spotlight. And none of them it seems
necessarily has the clout to beat Romney.
I think Ron Paul`s got a shot at it. I wouldn`t dismiss it. I think
it`s possible that his numbers are being underrepresented in some of these
And if Santorum can consolidate all of the cultural conservatives,
he`s got a shot at winning the thing. Michele Bachmann seems to be
collapsing. Her party, her state co-chair just announced a few hours ago
that he was switching from Bachmann to Ron Paul. It`s good news for Paul,
but it`s also good news for Rick Santorum.
Rick Perry had a moment of resurgence the last week or so but it
doesn`t seem to have gained a lot of traction. So, it`s possible if Perry
collapses and Bachmann collapses, that Santorum will be the winner of the
non-Mitt Romney, non-Ron Paul vote, and that is enough to win the thing.
O`DONNELL: John, what do you think Santorum has to achieve in Iowa to
put the future of this race in serious doubt?
HEILEMANN: Well, I think Howard`s right. Certainly if -- I think
those scenarios are all long shot scenarios that Howard laid out. I don`t
think they`re totally implausible.
I think Michele Bachmann`s campaign is going to collapse pretty quick
now given where she is.
We`ve been wondering what was going to happen with the cultural
conservative Christian right vote for a long time, whether it would
coalesce. Santorum now seems to be the most likely person around whom it
will coalesce. You can just imagine him either winning the caucuses or
coming in second.
If Rick Santorum, if he comes in first, that`s an interesting outcome,
especially if it means that Mitt Romney finishes third.
I would actually say that if Ron Paul wins the caucuses and Rick
Santorum finishes second, the problem for Romney is that he has artfully
managed expectations throughout this entire year, but just now, because of
his apparent strength, because of his team`s confidence and because of
these polls that show him in first, expectations are now starting to rise
that Mitt Romney`s going to win the Iowa caucuses.
If he were to fall to third behind either Santorum and Paul or Paul
and Santorum in that order, that would become a problem for Mitt Romney I
think at this point, especially if it was a distant third. That would kind
of hurt him going into New Hampshire and might throw the door open to a
more unexpected outcome than what I think most people are looking at right
now which is Romney wins Iowa, Romney wins New Hampshire and pretty much
puts the nomination away.
O`DONNELL: Howard, someone always gets left behind in Iowa, they just
can`t make it up and continue to campaign. Who will we not be talking
about this time next week?
FINEMAN: Probably Michele Bachmann for sure. And don`t forget, she`s
another person who didn`t even bother to submit signatures to try to get on
the ballot in Virginia. So, I think her for sure.
I think they`ll be some lingering discussion of Jon Huntsman. He
didn`t really play here. He`s not playing here. And he`s got to make a
big showing in New Hampshire.
But I think people will come out of here will look ahead to New
Hampshire and see that his numbers aren`t anywhere in New Hampshire. So
he`ll be commented upon mostly I`m guessing now from the vantage point of
what was the point.
And Rick Perry I think also stands to lose big-time. If he doesn`t
finish strong here, I think he`s pretty much out of the ball game. I don`t
see how he can recover because he`s made a real, real strong effort here in
the last few weeks. And it doesn`t really seem to be playing out.
O`DONNELL: John, can Rick Perry -- he has a lot of money -- if he
comes in single digits in Iowa and you know way back there fifth or sixth,
can he go on to New Hampshire with his money at least?
HEILEMANN: Well, I don`t think he`ll go on to New Hampshire,
Lawrence. I think if anything, he`ll go straight to South Carolina. He`s
polling even worse in New Hampshire. He`s down around the 1 percent or 2
percent in New Hampshire.
If he`s going to go on and I think it will be hard for him to justify
going on if he`s in fifth or sixth place here. I mean right now, the poll
-- the CNN/"Time" poll has him in fifth. It will be hard to make a
credible case for him to go on to South Carolina even if he has the money.
If he finishes fourth or third somehow, I could see him deciding that
South Carolina is where he puts in every last dime that he has. His super
PACs decide independently, of course, to put in every last dime they have
and try to make a stand as the southern regional candidate in South
Carolina whereas Howard said earlier, Romney is like notoriously weak.
That might work.
But, man, a fifth place finish for Rick Perry in Iowa given the amount
of money he`s spending here and the amount of money his super PAC is
spending here, and the fact that this should have been hospitable territory
for him given the cultural conservative vote here, a fifth place finish
would be pretty devastating to Perry.
O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman and John Heilemann, thank you both very
much for joining us tonight.
FINEMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the actions of police at the Occupy Wall Street
protests that led New York City`s police commissioner to reissue the
department`s order against interfering with reporters doing their job.
That`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."
And next, is the Santorum surge real or will it turn into the Santorum
collapse just like every other surge we`ve seen in the Republican
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM (via telephone): I finished dead last way behind the pack,
you know, I`m going to pack up and go home. But I don`t think that`s going
to happen. I think we`re going to be very much in the mix and I feel very
good that we`re going to surprise a lot of people on how we finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
STEPHEN HILL, SERVING IN IRAQ: In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I
had to lie about who I was because I`m a gay soldier. I didn`t want to
lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend
to circumvent the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in
SANTORUM: Yes, I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely
no place in the military.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
O`DONNELL: Ignoring boos directed at a gay soldier serving in Iraq
was Rick Santorum`s only notable moment in the Republican presidential
campaign -- until now. The Santorum surge is now upon us. The Santorum
surge in the polls follows the Trump surge in the polls, the Bachmann
surge, the Perry surge, the Herman Cain surge and Gingrich surge.
Is the Santorum surge the real one, the final one? Is Rick Santorum
where the "anybody but Mitt Romney" is going to end up or will the Santorum
surge turn into a collapse?
Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, an NBC News
Governor Rendell, tell me what`s crazy about Rick Santorum from a
Republican perspective because that`s what happened to every other one of
these people who was surging in the Republican polls -- Republicans
discovered something they really didn`t like about them. Is there
something they don`t yet know about Rick Santorum?
ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Rick Santorum is
benefiting, Lawrence, you hit it right on the head, he`s benefiting from a
fact that he`s surging so late that he isn`t going to have a chance to be
vetted by the media or by negative commercials to the Iowa voters. We`ve
got the New Year`s Eve weekend coming up. There isn`t going to be any
So he`s going to really go to the polls unsullied. There are things
out there that yes, would disturb even Republican evangelical voters but
certainly the broader based Republican voter. But there`s not going to be
And Rick Santorum is a great campaigner. Everyone forgets he beat an
incumbent Democratic congressman in suburban Pittsburgh, which was then a
Democratic area. He beat Harris Wofford, a popular incumbent Democratic
senator, to get the Senate seat.
And when he points out he lost in 2006, it was obviously a terrible
Republican year. I was on the top of the ballot. He was running against
Bob Casey, which is a magical name in Pennsylvania.
He`s a very good campaigner. They`re not going to have time to
negatively vet him. So, I think this surge is real.
And I`d say something cautionary about the polls -- polls as you know,
are tough to gauge turnout even in real elections. In caucuses, it`s
almost impossible to gauge turnout. So I believe there`s a good chance
Rick Santorum will run ahead of what he`s polling because the evangelicals
will turn out with a lot more passion than the Romney voters.
So, I think the surge is real and I think it could happen.
O`DONNELL: And it seems to me that he has been very consistent
throughout his career in the way that the evangelical voters want a
Republican to be consistent, and then also with the Tea Party world. I
mean, this is a guy who was never in favor of an individual mandate in
health care or any of those things that Gingrich and Romney dabbled with.
He doesn`t have any of those issues that I can find where he reached
across party lines and got interested in some liberal notion for any brief
period, does he?
RENDELL: Right, he`s been very consistent. The only place he loses
Republican voters is he loses Republican moderate voters in the
Philadelphia suburbs and the Cleveland suburbs and places like that because
of what he did on Terri Schiavo, because of the way he describes gay sex,
because as some of the sort of extreme positions that he`s taken.
But he`s been very consistent. He`s a smart guy. You said that he
only had one memorable moment in the debates. I thought his answer on
Pakistan was a very good answer and a very mature answer. And I thought it
showed a little bit of a fact that he`s been around for a while and he
knows the issues.
So I think he can be a real candidate in Iowa. I think he can
coalesce whatever real right conservative vote there is in New Hampshire.
He doesn`t have the capacity to raise money. I don`t think anybody
can stay with Mitt Romney when it comes to raising money. I think even if
Mitt Romney were to come in third, he`s still going to be the eventual
nominee. There`s no question in my mind about that.
But Rick Santorum may well be a real factor. He`s a very likable guy
in many ways when he stays away from the bizarre things.
O`DONNELL: Yes, but the bizarre things, the things that we look at as
bizarre are all in this ultraconservative kind of weird anti-sex, anti-gay
zone that seems to play well with the evangelical voter.
RENDELL: No question. Even his performance on Terri Schiavo, which I
thought was a low moment in his career, trying to capitalize on that and
having the federal government try to intrude in the choice that a family
was making, even that I think had the support of the vast majority of
people who believe in the sanctity of life.
So, no, I think your point is well-taken. There`s nothing in his
background that will disturb what is now his growing base of voters.
O`DONNELL: And if he ever made it, if this candidacy did catch fire
and overwhelmed the Romney money and we`ve seen money not do the trick for
So, we don`t know the how far money can go for Mitt Romney but if he
ever did get to the nomination, how would President Obama go after Rick
Santorum in a general election?
RENDELL: As someone who`s way out of step with the mainstream of
American life who by his views, not by his temperament. By his
temperament, he`s a nice guy.
But by his views, he would be incredibly divisive at a time when this
country needs to be together more than ever.
So, I think President Obama would win every swing state in the country
in the country in a general election against Santorum.
President Obama is a lucky man. Your analysis at the beginning of the
show is right on. This only benefited him.
He wants, by the way -- he doesn`t want a knockout victory from Mitt
Romney early after two or three states. He wants this to go on and on,
whether it`s Gingrich or whoever it is, he would like to see the fight
O`DONNELL: Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, thank you very
much for joining us tonight.
RENDELL: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was a
Democrat. Then he became a Republican. Then he became a Democrat again
late in his career. But last night, the former senator was a comedian.
And later, Newt Gingrich thinks you`ve seen the most embarrassing
thing he`s done in recent years. But he knows he`s done worse. And we`ll
show it to you.
O`DONNELL: Time for a quick update on the KIND fund, Kids in Need of
Desks, our partnership between MSNBC and UNICEF to build decks in Africa
and deliver them to African schools where the students and teachers have
never seen desks.
As of today, you have contributed $3,532,012 and we`re still going
strong. Now, I know $3.5 million sounds like a lot of money. It may sound
like so much that we don`t need your money, but if we stop there, if that`s
all we raise, then that`s all the desks that we`ll be able to Malawi,
enough desks for hundreds of thousands of students. That`s true. But why
not one more? Why not two more?
Why would we stop? It will take years for us, at this rate, to get
enough desks to fill every classroom in Malawi. For 48 dollars, you can
lift two children off the floor and give them seats at this little table of
learning that we have built in Malawi, by Malawi workers and delivered to
You can outfit a full classroom for 720 dollars, if you`re looking for
maybe a last-minute charitable tax deduction for your 2011 tax return.
Just go to our website, LastWordDesks MSNBC.com, or call 1-800-FOR KIDS to
make a donation. UNICEF will send an e-card to whoever you choose,
indicating you`ve donated a desk in their name.
Sam and Joan Spooner (ph) donated two desks in my name, thanking me
for using the power of this show for the greater good. Thanks, Sam and
Most people have been donating desks in the names of their children,
of their parents, sometimes in honor of their late parents or other loved
ones. Stewart Coacher (ph) posted this on our Facebook page: "I watched
your segment with Melissa Harris-Perry last week and was so inspired ten
desks were donated in honor of those who have taught me so much over the
course of my years. The sight of those children so eager to learn they
would sit in the dirt brought the spirit of the season back to one who had
all but given up on the commercialization of a holy season."
Coming up, Newt Gingrich says the video he`s done with Nancy Pelosi is
the most embarrassing thing he`s ever done. And that is not true. We`ll
show you an even crazier video moment in Newt`s life.
And in the Rewrite tonight, what the NYPD needs to do to police the
law breakers in its ranks. It`s time to fire the out of control cops who
have attacked Occupy Wall Street protesters and the reporters covering
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: We don`t always see eye to
eye. Do we, Newt.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. But we do agree our
country must take action to address climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich calls that climate change ad with former
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quote, "the single -- the dumbest single thing
I`ve done in recent years." Oh, yeah?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SACHA BARON COHEN, ACTOR: Do you think that people should get more
welfare the longer they is on welfare?
GINGRICH: No. We don`t think that you earn seniority on welfare.
COHEN: But surely the longer you is on welfare, it shows that you has
got commitment. You wouldn`t like it if you was in a job and didn`t get a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Before Pelosi, there was Ali G, created and performed by
Sacha Baron Cohen. That interview was from HBO`s "Ali G Show" in 2003.
Newt never figured out that the whole thing was a joke, even when Ali G
imagined a woman president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Ain`t there a problem that if there is a woman president,
there`s going to spend all their time on facials, shopping and getting new
GINGRICH: I think if you said that to most of the women who could be
president, you`d be surprised how tough they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Sacha Baron Cohen wasn`t finished with Republicans after
the Gingrich interview. In the movie "Bruno," he managed to get Ron Paul
up to his hotel room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Has anyone ever told you look like Enrique Iglesius?
Of course not. You`re much cuter.
REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoops.
Get out of here.
PAUL: All right. This has ended. That guy`s queerer than the
blazes. He took his clothes off. Let`s get going.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened.
PAUL: He`s queer. He`s crazy. He put a hit on me. He took his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Oh. Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Richard
Wolffe. Richard --
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. Ali G and "Bruno" I think have shown us another
side of both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
WOLFFE: You could say that.
O`DONNELL: It`s interesting on the Ron Paul piece because Eric
Dundero (ph), he was a long-time aide of Ron Paul. He posted this piece
recently where he talked about Ron Paul`s crazy foreign policy ideas and
different things. And he did say that -- and these are his words, that Ron
Paul is "personally uncomfortable around homosexuals."
O`DONNELL: Which I think we just saw a little video evidence of.
WOLFFE: You could say that. You know, I`ve seen these videos eight
times now. They`re still hilariously funny. Let`s just be clear, all due
respect to Sacha Baron Cohen for his genius here.
But what`s more stupid, the fact that Ron Paul gets suckered into this
kind of interview or that he`s offended not by the guy taking off his
pants, but by the fact that he is, quote unquote, queer.
I mean, you know, there is -- there`s a -- there`s something that you
cannot hide when people are in shock or they`re drunk or they`re angry.
And that was his response, the idea of the homosexuality being so
offensive, as opposed to an interviewer dropping his pants.
You know, there`s a reality problem and there`s also a prejudice
problem. But both of them shine through show so wonderfully well with the
O`DONNELL: In Eric Dundero`s post about his time with Ron Paul, he
said that they ended up at a certain point in San Francisco. And they had
some gay supporters there. And they actually ended up in the home of one
of these gay supporters. And Ron Paul would not use the bathroom in that
home because two gay men lived in that home.
So I think, you know, the Ron Paul discomfort is rather high in this
WOLFFE: It is sad. It`s pathetic. Also, look, we`re going to see --
if the predictions are true, we`re going to see a number of young people
showing up to vote for him in Iowa. And maybe they think he`s a kind of
wacky great uncle type of figure. And they think he`s a real libertarian.
But what kind of social libertarian is it that when you are so against
abortion and homosexuality and -- and -- and -- a real libertarian really
wouldn`t have those problems.
And I wonder if those younger voters in Iowa really understand how far
away they are as a group from what Ron Paul thinks.
O`DONNELL: What I love about the Gingrich version with Ali G is in --
those were the years where he was doing the Pelosi videos. He was
pandering in every direction he could, where he thought he could either
make a buck or appeal to a new possible constituency. And I love that
someone spun him on the idea that you should talk to this British guy, you
know, because he`s really big in England and it will help you with I don`t
WOLFFE: Ask the young people.
O`DONNELL: Get lecture fees in England or something. And Newt never
figures it out. I love that part.
WOLFFE: Well, to be fair to Newt Gingrich, and that`s a strange way
to start a sentence -- but to be fair to him, he does try and argue the
right position. But the brilliance of the humor is that these people --
it`s not just Newt Gingrich. It`s a whole truckload of politicians are so
desperate to be on TV that they will put up with this nonsense, and never
once rip off the microphone and say this is preposterous.
I say that from the august position of being a cable news pundit.
This is not a historian talking. This is just a plain human being saying,
why on Earth would you put up with that crap, except that you`re desperate
to be on TV, as Newt Gingrich was. And someone told him somewhere that
that`s what young people do or sound like or maybe that`s the people who
live in the cities that he never talks to because he`s stuck at Tiffany`s
O`DONNELL: Yes, and there is -- but there is -- I think there is
something in the Ali G video that Republicans are fearing about Gingrich,
which is that he does open himself up to too many possible ways of thinking
about things and talking about things. And that`s why he ends up here and
there coming out with this liberal idea of being in favor of individual
mandates and health care and that sort of thing.
WOLFFE: Well, you know, individual mandate was a Republican policy.
So he could be forgiven for doing that. What`s perplexing is that Ali G --
the Ali G character tries to convince him that a woman president would be
too in love with Saddam Hussein to go to war, and he tries to argue him out
Really? At some point -- you know, just the other day he apologized.
Newt Gingrich, in real life, apologized to Iowa voters, saying that Wolf
Blitzer had kept him in the studio too long. Maybe he needs to get away
from the cameras and talk to real people a bit more. And maybe Ali G was a
sign that he couldn`t distinguish reality from TV.
O`DONNELL: You`ll be able to find the complete Ali G interview with
Newt Gingrich on our website. MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe,
thank you very much for joining us tonight.
WOLFFE: Anytime, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, what the NYPD needs to do to prove that it
respects the constitutional rights of New Yorkers. That`s in the Rewrite.
And what is Arlen Specter doing in his retirement years? The former
senator is doing standup comedy. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, the New York City Police
Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn`t Rewrite the department`s policy concerning
the treatment of reporters, but he does feel the need to reissue it to a
department that has been caught on tape violating it relentlessly during
the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Thanks to the reporting of Joe Pompeo (ph) at CapitalNewYork.com, we
now know that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly decided it was necessary to
reissue the NYPD`s noninterference order. Kelly ordered it read to all
34,500 New York City police officers.
It says, "members of the service who unreasonably interfere with media
access to incidents or who intentionally prevent or obstruct the
photographing or videotaping of news in public places will be subject to
disciplinary action. Members of the service will not interfere with the
videotaping or photographing of incidents in public places.
"Intentional interference constitutes censorship. The media will be
given access as close to the activity as possible, with a clear line of
sight, and within hearing range of the incident."
Ray Kelly reissued the order only after being deluged with protests
from New York media outlets specifying violations of this policy that
reporters have suffered.
There are three kinds of cops in New York, and in every big city
police department concerning this kind of rule. The first and largest
group are the cops who know the rule about not interfering with the press,
understand the Constitutional basis for it, and whether they like it or
not, live by it, even in stressful circumstances. That accounts for maybe
90 percent or more of the 34,500 New York City police officers.
The second group is much smaller. They know the rule and understand
the Constitutional basis for it. And they don`t care about the
Constitution or the rule. And they violate it at will.
And the third group is the smallest of all. They are the cops who
don`t know the rule exists, wouldn`t understand the Constitutional basis if
it was explained to them, and have no idea they`re violating a rule and the
Constitution when they violate that rule.
There is only one way for the NYPD to seriously deal with the outlaw
cops who willfully or ignorantly violate this rule. They must be fired,
not disciplined, not lose some vacation days.
They must be fired. Firing them is the only way to demonstrate that
the NYPD respects the Constitution of the United States of America. The
NYPD could fire every one of the thugs with badges who have attacked
reporters this year and not miss them for a minute.
The quality of policing in New York would, in fact, instantly improve.
The actual real crime rate would drop instantly, because these police
criminals would no longer be assaulting and battering the people of New
York and New York reporters.
All police departments want to be respected. All police officers want
to be respected. Most deserve respect. But as long as the NYPD continues
to harbor subversive attackers of the Constitution of the United States of
America, as long as the NYPD continues to harbor the violent haters of the
founding document of the system of government that pays their salaries, as
long as the largest law enforcement agency in the country continues to
protect the law breakers who wear its uniform, the NYPD cannot expect
Good cops deserve respect. You good cops know who the bad cops are.
The bad cops are hurting you. You have the power to get rid of them. Do
it for the honor of the badge you wear. Do it for the good of your
And yes, do it for the Constitution of the United States of America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUKE CUNNINGHAM, INTRODUCED ARLEN SPECTER: The next guy, see if I can
pronounce his name correctly. Uh, Arlen Specter. Arlen Specter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was comedian Luke Cunningham introducing former
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter last night at open mike night at the
Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia. Specter was one of just five
Republican senators to vote against both charges in the impeachment trial
of Bill Clinton and so that`s where his comedy routine began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPECTER: Bill Clinton`s a friend of mine, because I was a friend of
his. I voted not to impeach him. And that`s a hell of I thing to do
considering the evidence.
I called Clinton up on his 65th birthday and I said, Bill,
congratulations on being 65. How do you feel? He said, Arlen, I feel like
a teenager. The problem is I can`t find one.
He said, Arlen, you might not understand this, but Hillary is really
mad at me because I complained to her about the cost of Viagra. Do you
know, Arlen, that Viagra costs 10 dollars a pill? I said, Bill, how in the
hell would I know how much Viagra costs?
Well, Hillary was mad at me because she said, Bill, you can afford 40
dollars a year.
Herman Cain has had really quite a checkered career, 9, 9 and 9. More
women came out of the woodwork than there was wood. And what people don`t
know is Cain had a long-standing problem since he was an adolescent. No
matter how hard his teachers tried, they couldn`t persuade Herman Cain
harass was one word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the man who got Arlen Specter up on stage
last night at the comedy club, comedian Luke Cunningham. Luke, have you
heard the one about the senator who walked into a comedy club? How did
this happen? Did you get him drunk? What`s going on there?
CUNNINGHAM: He showed up on his own volition. He said he wanted to
go up and perform. And we didn`t have any other former senators ready to
go up that night, so we let him close. We let him headline.
O`DONNELL: How long did he work the room?
CUNNINGHAM: He put in 15 minutes, which is -- that`s an epic set for
an open mike. Usually you get like five and you`re pushing it. But he did
15 and he did great.
O`DONNELL: I do know he has one minor bit of experience before this.
There was some funniest person in Washington contest some few years ago
that he participated in. And he actually did the Viagra joke about Bob
Dole, the one that he did about Clinton. He did it about Bob Dole at that
time. But so his material was I thought surprisingly blue for a senator.
CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, I mean, I was surprised. I didn`t know he did it
about Dole previously. So I guess he`s settling scores on the two guys
that finished in front of him in `96 when he ran. But yeah, he was -- he
took on all comers. He went against the Republicans and the Democrats.
So, yeah, he killed.
O`DONNELL: He really did kill? I mean, we heard pretty good audience
CUNNINGHAM: That is -- it`s completely genuine. The guy had the set
of the night. And you know, I mean, you could tell he`s had extensive
experience in public speaking. He held the crowd`s attention. And he
genuinely killed. Anybody else would have been happy to have that set.
O`DONNELL: But Luke, is it because a comedy club has very -- a very
low bar for senators?
CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, there`s also a very low bar for 80-year-old men in
yellow blazers. So I mean, the combination of the two, he killed.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, I mean, I would think the audience is sitting there
thinking like oh, boy, is this going to be painful and embarrassing? And
they`re kind of a little bit nervous and waiting for him to say anything
CUNNINGHAM: I mean, I`m sure there are plenty of people who didn`t
know who he was and just thought he was somebody`s pappy who got up to do a
set that night, and then were just pleasantly surprised when I he was
killing with these jokes.
O`DONNELL: So you just introduced him by name, by Arlen Specter. You
didn`t say former senator from Pennsylvania, Republican senator. You
didn`t say any of that?
CUNNINGHAM: No, I mean, we had made some jokes earlier that night
saying that we had some amateurs, some semi-professional comedians, and one
junior prosecutor with the Warren Commission. But we didn`t introduce him
by anything else.
O`DONNELL: I like that. Philadelphia.
CUNNINGHAM: He didn`t ask for any special treatment.
O`DONNELL: Great. Philadelphia comedian Luke Cunningham, thank you
very much for getting him up on stage. And thanks for joining us tonight.
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. From there, you can read more about the KIND Fund
to help Kids in Need of Desks in Africa.
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