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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

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Guests: Krystal Ball, Richard Wolffe, Bob Draper, Bob Kerrey; Rodney King

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Well, now we know. Now, I know some of
you think you already knew this, but you didn`t know it, you just suspected
it. And there`s a big difference between knowing and suspecting, but now
we know, we know the day, we know the very day the Republicans secretly
vowed to oppose every single thing that President Obama would try to do.
That`s right, you were right. It was the day he was inaugurated president
of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The general election has begun. The primary
process is over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s going to be a lot of volatility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This thing is going to get nasty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four years ago, we were always worried such a bad
climate for the Republican Party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know about this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the worst president in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would I want him to succeed?

for four more years with Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to be able to say the Obama
administration has failed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are the underdog.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: So many people are turned off by

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attacks from the Republican side are too
over-the-top and they`re going to fire-back badly.

MITCHELL: The president is going on a college tour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you saw yesterday was a cool --

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: If Mitt Romney was in the room right now,
what would you say to him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- versus what Mitt Romney would like to describe
as competent.

fundamentally fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The talk of fairness.

OBAMA: Michelle and I, we`ve been in your shoes, we didn`t come from
wealthy families.

BOEHNER: For the president to come out --

OBAMA: The interest rates --

BOEHNER: -- to campaign on this --

OBAMA: -- will double --

BOEHNER: -- with taxpayer funds --

OBAMA: -- unless Congress acts --

BOEHNER: -- is inventing an issue that just does not exist.

MITCHELL: So many people are turned off by Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s going to be a lot of volatility.


ROMNEY: He has failed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This thing is going to get nasty.

OBAMA: I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a
fair shot and everybody`s doing their fair share and everybody`s playing by
the same set of rules.


O`DONNELL: Today, the president continued to push congressional
Republicans to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on
July 1st.


OBAMA: Stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer. It
makes me sick just thinking about it.

The Republicans who run the House of Representatives have not yet
said whether or not they`ll stop your rates from doubling.


O`DONNELL: The Republican House Speaker John Boehner who has
publicly expressed concerns about holding his majority in the House decided
to take his first compromised step toward the president today on student


BOEHNER: Today, I`m pleased to announce that on Friday, the House
will vote on a bill to extend the current interest rate on federal student
loans for one year.


O`DONNELL: But Boehner is going to try to turn this Republican
surrender to the president into at least some kind of partial victory.


BOEHNER: We will pay for this by taking money from one of the slush
funds in the president`s health care law. You know, this week, the
president`s traveling the country on the taxpayer`s dime, campaigning and
trying to invent a fight where there isn`t one, and there never has been
one, on this issue of student loans. We can and will fix the problem
without a bunch of campaign style theatrics.


O`DONNELL: Harry Reid`s Democratic Senate plan for the student loan
fix is to pay for it by closing a corporate tax loophole.

Now that the president has forced the Republicans to agree in
principle on the student loan fix, we will no doubt have a few weeks of
interparty wrangling over exactly how to pay for it. We now know when
congressional Republicans decided to oppose and obstruct every single thing
that President Obama has tried to do. It was in a secret meeting that
occurred the day President Obama was nominated.

Robert Draper`s new book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the
U.S. House of Representatives," details a meeting that took place on
inauguration day among leaders of the Republican Party, including Eric
Cantor and Paul Ryan and the disgraced former Republican speaker of the
House, Newt Gingrich, along with Republican communications advisor Frank
Luntz, who organized the event.

According to Robert Draper`s book, after four hours, everyone agreed
on the path forward for the Republican Party. "Show united an unyielding
opposition to the president`s economic policies, when the spear point of
the House in 2010, jab Obama relentlessly in 2011, win the White House and
the Senate in 2012. You will remember this day, Newt Gingrich proclaimed
to the others as they said goodbye, you`ll remember this as the day the
seeds of 2012 were sewn."

In an interview with "Rolling Stone" magazine released today,
President Obama sounds like a man who has not yet read that passage of
Robert Draper`s book. In the interview, the president says, "Frankly, I
know that there are good, decent Republicans on Capitol Hill who in a
different environment would welcome the capacity to work with me, but right
now, in an atmosphere in which folks like Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist
are defining what it means to be a true conservative American, they are
lying low. My hope is, that after this next election, they`ll feel a
little more liberated to go out and say, let`s redirect the Republican
Party back to those traditions in which a Dwight Eisenhower can build an
intrastate highway system."

Rush Limbaugh interpreted that statement for his followers today.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What that means is, Obama has
identified some Republicans who are more than willing to cave. But they
won`t because of me and Grover Norquist. Why would Obama want to work with
any Republicans if they`re not going to cave? Obama doesn`t -- is not
interested in compromising what he`s all about. It`s Russia`s fault. And
I just -- of course, I`m just omnipresent, not just on taxes, but on


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Democratic strategist and MSNBC
contributor Krystal Ball, and Robert Draper, "The New York Times" best
selling author of "Do Not Ask What Good We Do."

Thank you both for joining me.

This book is -- it`s one of those things where it confirms a lot of
suspicions that you have a right to, just from the external viewing of
these things. I mean, it doesn`t shock you to discover that there was a
meeting on inauguration day.


O`DONNELL: Where they decided let`s oppose everything, right?

BALL: No, I mean, it just points out that they are at least as
cynical and Machiavellian as we thought they were. And in hindsight, it
makes you realize to that the first thing the president should have done
with his political capital is to try to change the Senate filibuster rules.
I mean, the hindsight is 20/20, but if he had done that with his incredible
popularity coming in, that could have really made a difference for the
entire administration.

But the other thing with this, though, is the Republicans benefit
from obstructionism beyond just damaging the president, beyond just
stopping the legislative agenda. It also damages the credibility of
government as a whole, and that helps push their message that the
government is incapable of doing anything well.

O`DONNELL: When you get inside like this and get to study how they
have operated, this is all -- this is history now, this is not what
happened last week. But when you watch what happened this week, you watch
Speaker Boehner saying publicly, you know, there`s a one-third chance we
could lose the House, when you watch him now moving into an agreement in
principle on the student loan fix, now we`ll find out how to pay for it --
what in what you know about how they operate explains what the speaker`s
been doing in the last two weeks?

ROBERT DRAPER, AUTHOR: Well, a couple of things, Lawrence. I mean,
for one thing, the one out of three chance of losing the House was a
fundraising gambit, both sides are doing it. They want to gin up their

The crucial thing --

O`DONNELL: So you scare Republican contributors into the notion
that, hey, we might not be controlling the House of Representatives and
then what do you have?

DRAPER: And Obama`s campaign is doing the same thing -- I mean,
they`re warning donors, that, look, you know, after what you Democratic
donors may perceive as a clown show during the Republican primaries, in
fact, you know, it`s time to focus on the general election and Romney looks
very good in these battleground polls, which I think we`ll talk about
later. And we could lose.

The other thing I`d say is that you mentioned that Speaker Boehner
has, you know, come to a sort of reconciliation regarding student loans,
but the devil is in the details and that`s how to pay for it and taking
sort of a bite out of the administration`s hide paying out of the so called
Obama slush funds.


O`DONNELL: The slush funds are on page 892, slush funds.

BALL: Right. Well -- and I love the way -- I mean, their branding
is always amazing. The slush fund is money to provide incentives to take
care of ourselves better, preventative care, I mean, that`s like why the
core of why our health care costs are going up to Democratically, but to
him it`s just a slush fund.

And he can`t do anything. It`s so emblematic of John Boehner`s
problem. He wants to be able to put this student loan thing to bed because
it`s terrible politics for the Republicans. But he has to do something to
appease his crazy caucus.

And the only way he can do is by giving with this hanged and taking
away with the other, which is exactly what he is proposing.

DRAPER: Now, that`s exactly right. I mean, that is the story of
John Boehner`s life as speaker, that he`s had ever since the `87 Republican
freshmen came to town. They have been the tail that has wagged the dog on
the Republican legislative agenda, and even on bills contending resolutions
and such that they thought would be routine to pass, enormous energy has
been exerted to try to get those things passed and lots of concessions made
to these freshman, who largely occupy, you know, the far right, not all of
them, but most of them of the Republican Party. It`s been an ongoing
headache for the speaker.

BALL: And going back to the one in three chance that we`ll lose the
House, I don`t think that was just for fundraising. I don`t think that was
just external. I think that was also to try and remind these freshmen and
other far right people they better play ball.

Newt Gingrich said in the quote in your book, "The seeds of 2012 were
sewn on that day." And I think he was right in a way that was completely
backwards. That was a very good short-term strategy, that at this point,
the Democrats have caught on to and that the American people have caught on

So Democrats are pushing things that are broadly popular, like
keeping student loan interest rates low, like extending unemployment, like
extending payroll tax cuts. And when the Republicans end up on the wrong
side of those issues, it`s damaging politically.

DRAPER: But let me suggest something about this. I mean, in 2009, I
mean, when the Republicans had that meeting, it was basically, you know, a
bunch of guys getting together to feel sorry for themselves. I mean, they
didn`t come with position papers and all.

They -- at the end of the meeting, they decided, you know, we will
remain unified. We will attack the Democrats. They would not attack Obama
personally. Many of them had just come from that inauguration and had seen
1.8 million people on the lawn.

But what happens was the Democrats walked right into the narrative
that the Republicans hope that they would do. I mean, they first passed a
stimulus bill which did not immediately fix the problem. Then-Speaker
Pelosi went for a cap and trade bill. And it caused a lot of blue dog
Democrats consternation, that their folks back home were saying there`s
this huge joblessness problem and we all need to go to work and why is it
that we are talking about cap and trade, what does it have to do with this?

And then comes so called Obamacare. And now, there is a Republican
narrative, which is that the Democrats don`t really care about helping
people find jobs, they care about their big government agenda.

And that was a narrative that could have been avoided. But again,
it`s something that --

O`DONNELL: And as to their three-point strategy that they outlined
in that meeting. First, win the House of Representatives in 2012. They do

Second, win the United States Senate in this round of the election
and win the White House in this round of the election.

Is the United States Senate as important to them in effect as the
White House? Because then they control all nominations, they control all
legislation if they have the United States Senate.

DRAPER: Well, I think that their view is that if you win one, you
win the other. And for that matter, I think, realistically in 2012,
there`s no scenario where in the Democrats say lose the White House, but
pick up the House. I think that, at this point, all realistic scenarios
are that the Democrats will hang on in a squeaker to the presidency,
probably hang on to the Senate, but not the House.

O`DONNELL: But they could win the White House and lose the Senate,
and that`s a disaster for the president, Krystal.

BALL: Yes, absolutely. And I think you`re absolutely right about
how important the Senate is, and we don`t always focus on it because
partially we are so frustrated with the Senate.


BALL: You focused on it. Good. We need that.

O`DONNELL: And Bob Kerry`s going to be here in and we`re going to
focus on that because he`s back in --


BALL: Very important.

O`DONNELL: Robert Draper and Krystal Ball -- thank you both very

BALL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, now you knew this one was coming: FOX News is
completely outraged that President Obama appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy
Fallon." That Republican outrage is in the "Rewrite" tonight.

And in THE LAST WORD exclusive interview, the fight for control of
the Senate. This show cares about the Senate. If the Republicans win back
control of the Senate, they will have complete control of the government,
all legislation, all nominations, they can control those things even if
President Obama is re-elected.

Former Nebraska Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey has decided to join the
fight for control of the Senate and run for his old seat in Nebraska.
He`ll return for his first national interview since declaring his

And it was almost exactly 20 years ago that Los Angeles was consumed
by the most destructive riot in American history, it went on for days, over
50 people were killed and it was all about what happened to Rodney King.
Rodney King survived a near deadly beating by Los Angeles police and he has
survived other things.

Tonight, Rodney King joins me on what happened to him, what happened
to Los Angeles and what happened to America, and most recently, what
happened to Trayvon Martin.


O`DONNELL: The Republican Party and FOX News are outraged, just
outraged, that President Obama found a clever way to get the attention of
young voters last night on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." They seem to
have forgotten how many Republican presidential candidates have won the
hearts and minds of voters on TV comedy shows. In fact, Republican
presidential candidates have been doing it since 1960s. We`ll show you
what FOX News doesn`t want you to know.

And we`ll have an exclusive interview with Bob Kerrey, the Democratic
candidate for Senate in Nebraska, a state that the Democrats are going to
have to hold if they are going to continue their control of the United
States Senate.

Also joining us tonight on the 20th anniversary of the most
destructive riot in American history, Rodney King, the man whose savage
beating by the Los Angeles police sparked that riot.



OBAMA: We should be doing everything we can to pay down the national
debt. So long as it doesn`t include taxing billionaires. But their
position is that students just have to make this rate increase work.
Frankly, I don`t buy it.

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Mmm, mmm, mmm. The Barackness monster ain`t
buying it. We all know our legislative bodies in the House tossing and
turning late into the night, but still, Republicans disagree and can even
filibuster, but if they do, the president said they`re going to feel it,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The GOP is steady saying no, no, no, they should
find something new to do like Tim Tebow.


O`DONNELL: They`re going to feel it, buster.

President Obama is doing everything he can this week to get the
attention of the youth vote. He didn`t just do Jimmy Fallon`s show last
night, did Jimmy Fallon`s show on a college campus last night.


OBAMA: Let`s move forward and not backward. I believe in young
people and I`m going to fight for you. That`s what this election I think -


OBAMA: Ultimately, that`s what this election is going to come down


O`DONNELL: Today, the president continued his college tour at the
University of Iowa, pressing the issue of the week student loans.


OBAMA: This is personal for me, I know something about this because
Michelle and I, we went through it. And it wasn`t that long ago. We have
been in your shoes. We didn`t come from wealthy families. We needed loans
and we needed grants to get our way through.



O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC political

Richard, we`ve been saying for long before this campaign started that
the polls indicated that the enthusiasm that the president had in young
voters in 2008 wasn`t present. It looks like this is the very first thing
as soon as he`s been engaged in the general election, that the president is
going to after -- he`s trying to get that youth vote activated once again.

with the women vote, yes. I guess it`s the second thing.

O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s right.

WOLFFE: But if you look at the numbers, they`re already on the move.
They`re on the move as they have been across the board through the
Republican primaries. If you go back to the end of last year, you see the
differential between Romney and Obama, at about 10 points now, it`s up to
about 17 points among younger voters. So, it`s already moving in the right

And, you know, what`s unusual for this White House, which has frankly
struggled with its message for the last three years is what we`re seeing
over the last several days, a repeated effort to hit this market, this
group on the same issue again and again in different formats. That`s a
sustained effort that was lacking again for the first few years of this

O`DONNELL: We`re seeing a college tour, we`re seeing Jimmy Fallon
and now, we`re seeing the cover of "Rolling Stone" all in the same week.
This obviously was something that they have been planning for a while.

WOLFFE: Right. It is. And you`re seeing it control social media as

So, look, you`ve got to start with a premise, not just a way of
trying to get these voters, but a candidate who appeals to younger voters
better than his opponent, an opponent who screws up his own messaging.
Remember, he forgot what he had to say about student loans the other day.

And Romney -- look, Romney`s idea of a quit against an opponent is to
quote a "Lucille Ball" episode. So, he`s got a limited stylistic
repertoire for reaching anyone under the age of 50. And so, you know,
there are some strengths that they have, both in terms of personality and
of course on policy.

The student loan rate, no matter what John Boehner says, is not
fabricated. It`s real. It`s concrete, and if you cannot immediately
create jobs for young graduates, then, you`ve got to talk about what
matters to them right now and that`s the cost of their college tuition and
how they pay for it moving forward.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president had to say at the
University of Iowa today.


OBAMA: The spokesman for the speaker of the House, say we`re --
meaning me, we`re just talking about student loans to distract people from
the economy. Now, think about that for a second, because these guys don`t
get it.

This is the economy. This is the economy. This is about your job
security. This is about your future.

If you do well, the economy does well. This is about economy.


O`DONNELL: Richard, that was a fully engaged candidate. He`s going
out there on the message. As soon as he hears what the counter message is,
he folds it into his message.

WOLFFE: Right. And it`s not just the attacks that come to him.
There are other parts of his approach there. You know, he`s running
against Romney, he`s running against obscure members of the Republican
Party, members of the House, that you have never heard of before. So it`s
a broad frame.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, thank you for joining us tonight.

WOLFFE: You bet.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: Trayvon Martin`s name is now at the long list
of names that tell the story of the perils of being a black man in America.
Rodney King is one of the most famous names on that list. He will join me
later to share his feelings about Trayvon Martin and what happened to him
when he was nearly beaten to death by Los Angeles police officers.

And I have said here recently is the most important reason to vote
for president is the Supreme Court. That is also the most important reason
to vote for United States senators because they confirm Supreme Court
justices. If the Democrats lose the Senate in November, then the Supreme
Court could be lost for a generation. Former Senator Bob Kerrey has
decided to run for his old Senate seat in Nebraska to help the Democrats
keep control of the Senate. He joins me for his first national interview
since declaring his candidacy.


O`DONNELL: FOX News is in the "Rewrite" tonight on something they
knew was coming. They are outraged with President Obama`s appearance on
"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last night. We`ll have to show you all the
Republicans who have appeared on TV comedy shows in the last 50 years.

And in a last word exclusive, former senator Bob Kerrey joins me in his
first national interview since declaring his candidacy to get his old
Senate seat back. And later, Rodney King joins me on his reflections of
Trayvon Martin and what has happened in the 20 years since Rodney King was
nearly beaten to death by Los Angeles police officers.


O`DONNELL: Karl Rove`s Republican money machine is not just trying to take
the White House away from the Democrats, the Republicans super PACs are
going for a clean sweep, holding on the House of Representatives, taking
the White House and even more importantly than the House of Representatives
taking back the United States Senate. Controlling the White House and the
United States Senate is the only way the Republicans can control completely
control who goes on to the Supreme Court.

The next presidential term could see two or three nominations in the
Supreme Court but will be decided by the Senate. Republicans need to win
only four seats currently held by Democrats to control the Senate and
therefore control all presidential nominations and all legislation.

When democratic senator Ben Nelson announced his decision to not run for
re-election in Nebraska, Republicans marked that down as a definite pick up
of one Republican seat in the Senate until this happened.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back where you belong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once a has girl, always has a girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never cheated Nebraska.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Kerrey was born here, raised here and he`s got
family here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a grunt soldier, he was a seal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He started his first business here, and he still has
businesses here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a very good governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A good independent senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Served on the 9/11 commission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know bob Kerry will put his country first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s good to be home. I`m Bob Kerrey and I authorize
this ad to do what I can to change Washington.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now on his first national interview since deciding
to throw himself in to the fight for control of the senate, former Nebraska
senator, Bob Kerrey.

Senator, thanks for joining me tonight.

welcome, Lawrence. Nice to be with you.

O`DONNELL: I can see that you are joining us live from Grandmother`s
Restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska small business that you have owned for what,
about 40 years now?

KERREY: Yes, about that. We started at 1973, then kept blowing away by
tornado in 1975. So yes, quite a while.

O`DONNELL: I want to start with a reference to another Nebraska
businessman who started small and got a little bit bigger than you, Warren
Buffett, your friend Warren Buffett there in Omaha. He`s got this proposed
legislation named after him, the Buffet Rule about taxpayers where he is
insisting that the Nebraska way of doing things is to have the big boss who
makes all the money pay a higher tax rate than his assistants and the
people working for him around your office.

Is that something when that you just have to be from Nebraska to
understand? Why isn`t that the law in this country already?

KERREY: No. I don`t think it had to be. It certainly has to be
consistent with the values of the state, particularly if you pair it up
with a permanent reduction in the payroll tax, as senator Moynihan had
proposed thought number of years ago. I mean, I did for at least for the
majority of Nebraskans, the payroll tax as the largest tax that they pay.

So, if you can permanently repair that, I mean, you get some rebalancing
and better fairness and higher disposable income for the median family
which ought to be one of our primary goals.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about what has become the issue in the week in the
presidential campaign, the student loans. Student loans have now become an
enormous debt center in this country, the possibility of the interest rate
on student loans doubling on July 1st. Republicans now seemingly in a
political retreat from the house, willing to agree with the president on
the principal of taking care of this, but now the argument is going to be
over how to pay for it.

How should we pay for something like this?

KERREY: Well, I think we ought to -- either pay for it by redistricting
the taxes to a higher income bracket, and/or closing some of the loopholes,
particularly on all the gas that`s no longer needed. So, these waste that
seems to be pay for it.

But the - you know, the big Kahuna right sitting right behind it is the
sequester and the Bush tax cuts and the other tax extenders and the all
things that have to be done sometime after the election. So these things
are going to keep coming up, these items that have to be paid for. And the
concern I`ve got, I think Nebraskans have is that the Republicans and
Democrats seem to be incapable of agreeing on some tax increase and some
change entitlement in order to be solve a long term problem of our deficit.
And they don`t like that part nature of this debate at all.

I mean the president was right to say that we had to make certain that this
tuition of the student loan cost did go up by $1,000, he was right to say
that, but there`s going to be more where that came from and much larger
than that.

O`DONNELL: Before John Boehner came out and said look we`re going have to
do this we`re going to have to do the student loan fix. He had members of
the republican caucus in the house talking about the student loans, as
government handouts, talking about what recipient of student loans as a
lazy people taking government handouts.

Talk to us what you see as the role of government in supporting people`s
road into this economy and their lives along the way in this economy?

KERREY: Well, you look, it`s an extremely important thing that the
government attempts to do it. You know, we have transformed the middle
class after the second world war, the G.I. bill, thanks to Jim Web and
others, we extended it to Iraq and Afghan war veterans and it wasn`t
equity. It wasn`t loan. It was cash equity and the stipends so they could
come back and go to school.

And there a lot of people apposes it at a time but it was one of the great
accomplishments post World War II. And everybody looks at it, every
economist that looks at higher education will tell you that higher
education is going to lift the standard of living and the earning capacity
of every individual that goes to college. Even if - no matter what college
you go to, the odds favor that college education improving your capacity to
generate income.

So, president if right. It is central to try to build our economy. So, I
think it`s a legitimate role of the government - I actually like to see is
do more equity and left loans because, you know, the modern student debt
now sees consumer debts over trillion dollars. It`s a serious problem
actually that accumulating debt that students having to graduate.

O`DONNELL: President Obama has talked about his experience, the first
lady`s experience on student loans and how they just wouldn`t be here today
where they are in life without that kind of help. When you came back from
Vietnam having lost your leg there having to spend a year in a Navy
hospital, there`s a lot that the government did to get you back and moving
and productive.

KERREY: Yes, you know, it`s a combination of community effort, my family,
my friends, my church. There were an awful lot of things going on that
weren`t in government. But I went to AVA hospital, in and out of AVA
hospital for the next eight or nine years. These are all government
doctors, government technicians, government nurses, government (INAUDIBLE)
people, the save my life.

I mean, if you don`t have healthcare, freedom is a theory. It`s not a
reality. And it didn`t make me lazy. It made me grateful.

So, there`s a genuine role it seems to me for government. And it wasn`t a
serious in hospital, the market would have done it. And it had to be done
as a consequence of the nation say, we are going take care of our veterans
that are coming home.

And I think those veterans right now are at risk. It`s a consequence of us
trying to merely shrink the size of government without a - without thinking
about the consequence is going to be.

O`DONNELL: Nebraska, as the country I think knows as a Republican leaning
state. John McCain won 57 percent of the vote there. Barack Obama won 42
percent of the vote there. you know these numbers. You have ran in
Nebraska before. You won the governorship there. you won your senate seat
there. but you never had to run against Karl Rove masterminded and finance
world of super PACS trying to destroy you every day. You knew what you
were getting in to in going in some Nebraska race.

How can you stand up to that fight against that all that money that Karl
rove is going to dump on you?

KERREY: Well, first and for most, by saying that Nebraska values are
terrific, Nebraskans are very patriotic. Nebraskans are family people,
people of faith and they welcomed me home. It`s the second best homecoming
I have gotten in my life. They have been generous. Even Republicans who
are saying I`m not going to vote for you, are saying it`s nice to have you

So, it`s completely different than what Karl Rove sitting inside the
beltway thinks people in Nebraskans are going to do. They are quite - they
are quite generous and quite welcoming. And we welcome people to the state
all the time, either coming back or coming to it for the first time.

So we don`t behave the way the Coke brothers and Karl Rove think we do.
It`s very nice and I have no idea whether I`m going to win the election, I
think there`s a good chance that I will. If I do, it`s because I love the
people of the state, I love the place and I love the values.

O`DONNELL: Bob Kerry, the happy warrior in the Nebraska Senate race this
year. Thank you very much for joining me tonight.

KERREY: You`re welcome, Lawrence.

Coming up, FOX News is in the rewrite again, they think it is just
absolutely outrageous that President Obama appeared on a comedy show last
night and you would never know that a Republican presidential candidate
started that tradition of appearing on comedy shows 44 years ago.

And later, Rodney King will join me.


O`DONNELL: It was a Republican presidential candidate who 44 years ago
started what has now become the campaign tradition of appearing on
television comedy shows, but you would never know that if you saw all the
outrage on FOX News about President Obama`s appearance on the Jimmy Fallon
show. That`s next on the rewrite.

And later, Rodney King joins me on with his thoughts and feelings on
Trayvon Martin and much more.


O`DONNELL: Tonight`s rewrite, it`s time for the outrage. You knew, you
knew there would be outrage as soon as the president did this.


JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: The president knows his stuff all, that`s why they
call him poets which means the person of - what is it?

president of the United States States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the college loans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s get it together and make our lives better. A
college degree is more than a few dollars.

FALLON: That is how we slow jam the news.

OBAMA: Oh, yes.


O`DONNELL: Oh, yes. Of course Rush Limbaugh is outraged.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: It`s supposed to be wildly funny if you
have a low threshold for humor. It is also funny if you smoke certain
controlled substances too. That can also make it funny as well.


O`DONNELL: Drug addicts, Rush Limbaugh always finds his own angle on Obama
hatred. And on the FOX News comedy shows, there was relentless outrage
that the president would appear on a talk show that includes comedy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, former presidents are like, huh? That`s
what we do now when we`re president of the United States? We slow - I
don`t care. I think it`s not so. I just personally do not agree with the
highest office of the land t most important figure in the world going on
these comedy shows. It lowers the status of the office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think last night was awful. You can`t swing a cat
without finding President Obama on a comedy show.


O`DONNELL: And now, this is really weird, for the first time in history,
the cooler head at FOX News was actually on the shoulders of Sean Hannity.


SEAN HANNITY, FAX NEWS HOST: The president kind of looked silly going on
this show, I don`t care that he goes on a late-night show, that`s fine.


O`DONNELL: Sean doesn`t care, but for everyone else at FOX News, it was
outrageously undignified for the president to appear on a TV show that does
comedy. It is just disqualifying for the presidency. And they didn`t
exactly say this, but they clearly want their audience to believe that
there is absolutely no president in our history for what Barack Obama did
last night.


here on the Dean martin show. Dean and I have a lot in common. About the
same size, we both like horses, we like golf and of course we both made a
lot of movies, the only difference is, I knew when to quit.

Speaking at a Dean martin roast is a lot like being a budget rep for Jimmy
Carter, it`s kinds of a temporary change.

GEORGE BUSH: The top ten changes I`ll make in the White House. Number
seven, make sure the White House library has lots of books with big print
and pictures.


BUSH: Number two, give oval office one heck of a scrubbing.



O`DONNELL: The FOX News comedians are not about to tell their audience
that Barack Obama`s appearance on Jimmy Fallon show last night is the
latest entry in a 44-year-old presidential candidate tradition that was
begun big time. in 1968, when the Republican winner of that presidential
campaign went on the hottest and silliest comedy shoe of the year and tried
to humanize himself this way.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. I don`t think we could get Mrs. Nixon to
stand to for sucking (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Socket me? Socket me? Socket me?




speeding driving while intoxicated clearly wrong, was stopped by several
police officers. He was kicked. He was hit by batons 56 times in 81
seconds. When one of the officers arrived at the hospital, he bragged that
he really hit a homerun, called King a bear, a bull, a gorilla, worst the
worst of the dehumanizing descriptions of black Americans in the few
patriot discrimination and fear throughout our history.


O`DONNELL: That was former New Jersey senator, Bill Bradley, addressing
the senate on April 30th, 1992, the day after the four police officers on
trial for the beating of Rodney King were acquitted.

This Sunday will mark 20 years since rioting broke out in Los Angeles after
that acquittal. The jury acquitted the police officers despite the
infamous video take proof of the almost deadly beating that by then have
been seeing around the world.

At the end of sixth days of the most destructive rioting in American
history, 53 people have been killed, more than 2,300 injured and the city
had suffered nearly $1 billion in damage.

As the riots were raging in Los Angeles, Rodney King, himself, step forward
to try to bring order and calm to the place where he would spent his entire
life. What he said that day remain painful this year in to the memories of
everyone around the world who heard him speak.


RODNEY KING, VICTIM: People like them, I just want to say, you know, can
we all get along? We can get along?


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Rodney King, author of the new memoire, "The
Riot Within, my journey from rebellion to redemption."

Rodney, thank you very much.

KING: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: You know, I started with that tape of senator Bill Bradley
because we all remember, we all remember where we were when that acquittal
verdict came down and when rioting broke up in Los Angeles. And I was
working in the United State senate.

And the speech that Bill Bradley gave was the single most dramatic long I
ever witness there. he actually took his pencil in the middle of that
speech and hit his podium 56 times in 81 seconds to demonstrate graphically
to the senate what had happen to you.

It was impossible for you to know, there was so much happening in the world
in reaction to what happened to you. It was impossible for you to even
know what was going on out there, wasn`t it?

KING: Yes. I saw quite a bit - I just know that I was blessed with
prayers and, you know, everybody praying for me out there. it was so much
going on, I didn`t - I do kind of remember a little bit of that gun in the
table, but it was a lot. It was quite a bit of going on.
O`DONNELL: What`s fascinating about the book is that we get to step
inside, some of what it s like for you. And that striking moment where you
came out and said, can`t we all just get along? I was amazed to read how
that came about. The riot at that point was about in its third day and it
was one of your lawyers who called you and said maybe you should say

KING: Yes. Well, the Lord has a long seated paper they wanted me to
rewrite but I just want to be come from my heart, you know, it was wasn`t
too pleasant of things that they wrote for me and that`s wasn`t me. So, I
want to, you know, speak from the heart.

O`DONNELL: Well, we all knew that the minute we saw that, that was really
- your mother didn`t want you to do. Your mother was afraid of you going
out there and saying anything.

KING: Yes. She was - she told me to just stay out if because you are
going to get - you can get yourself killed. So, just stay home and it`s
best just not to say anything. But I just - I just have to say something
when I started see death poll rise, you know, 56 people dead. I think, it
was like 47 dead. You know, by the time I got up to say anything, you

O`DONNELL: You came very close to being the first and possibly only person
dead in this story. And if here had not been a video camera there, we
never would have know your story.

KING: Yes, that`s true. I was so happy that, you know, a good civilian
was just curious and had a camera. It was just a priest - I don`t believe
in luck. But it was (INAUDIBLE), it was a high power than me that this
whole situation, you know, for him to have a camera there and make come to
it that time and that particular moment.

O`DONNELL: Your name is on a long list of names on the story of injustice
is done to African-American men in this country. Trayvon Martin is the
latest name to make an entry on to that list. What are your feeling as you
watch this Trayvon Martin story unfold, and your feelings about what his
family is going through?

KING: Well, the fact is I can`t imagine Trayvon is no long here. But the
parents, they deserve justice. The screaming - with him screaming, I can
relate to that. It sounded like me screaming 20 years ago. The death
scream when you know, you are just seconds away from death. And it brought
back memories for me, I must say, and not a pretty pleasant one, either.

DOBBS: Rodney King, this book has been - I`ve been reading it - and I`ve
not finished it yet. I am going to. I`m hanging on every word of it
It`s your voice, it`s the real story. "The Riot Within," by Rodney King.
Rodney King gets tonight`s last word.

Thank you very much for joining us.

KING: Thanks for having me.

DOBBS: The ED SHOW is up next.


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