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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: E.J. Dionne, Krystal Ball, Lois Romano, Charles M. Blow, Ana Marie Cox, Zach Wahls

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Mitt Romney actually said, quote, "If I`m
fortunate enough to become president, I`ll care very deeply about the
economy getting better in a big hurry" -- which, of course means he really
doesn`t want the economy to get better now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Round one of the general election air war
has begun.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Priorities USA --

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: The probe on the super PAC.

MITCHELL: -- spending nearly $800,000 in five key battleground
states.

WAGNER: Can team Obama define Mitt Romney as sort of the vulture
capitalist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`ll give you the same thing he gave us.
Nothing.

TODD: Romney campaign responded almost immediately.

AD NARRATOR: Mitt Romney`s sector leadership team stepped in.

TODD: Releasing an online video they called "The American Dream".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty-eight percent of the people out there --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-eight percent of Americans --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- believe the economy --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is going to be in a better place in a year
from now.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will lead us out of this
debt and spending inferno.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Romney is expected to deliver a speech in Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving a major address on the country`s deficit.

ROMNEY: A prairie fire of debt --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A prairie fire of debt.

ROMNEY: -- is sweeping across Iowa and across the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A year ago, all we talked about was debt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking about the doom and gloom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s doom and gloom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Debt, debt, debt.

ROMNEY: I will lead us out of this debt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just don`t know which Mitt Romney is going
to show up today. Pro gay adoption one day.

ROMNEY: Two people, the same gender, they want to adopt a child. In
my view, that`s something which people have the right to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then starkly against it the following day.

ROMNEY: I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just doesn`t come across as genuine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president looks very relatable.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Barack
Obama. It`s always tight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point, Mitt Romney is going to have to
sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s got to go on "The View." He`s got to go
on those morning shows.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s where the likability gap is.

OBAMA: I`m so in love with you --

ROMNEY: Oh beautiful for spacious skies --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just doesn`t come across as genuine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So who`s going to win?

OBAMA: Oh, I`m going to win.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Yesterday, the Obama election released a two-minute aimed
at Mitt Romney`s record at Bain Capital.

And today, the Obama supporting PAC, Priorities USA Action released
its own TV ad about Romney and Bain Capital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT WELLS: For Romney and Bain Capital, the objective was to make
money. Whether the companies they came in and worked with make money or
not was irrelevant. Bain capital always made money. If we lost, they made
money. If we survived, they made money. It`s as simple as that.

He promised us the same things he promised the United States. He`ll
give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He`ll take it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, the Romney campaign fought back with an ad
featuring unemployed workers in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been looking for a job for two years,
haven`t found any. My unemployment benefits did run out. And we`re just
trying to get by.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: An endorsement news today, after giving a speech for the
George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush said --
as elevator doors closed on him, quote, "I`m for Mitt Romney," according to
ABC News.

Today on "The View," President Obama tried to link Mitt Romney to the
policies of George W. Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think he`s been very successful and we should applaud
success in this country. But he has a different vision about how to move
the country forward. His theory is that if you slash taxes even further,
if you leave business, banks, whoever, to do whatever it is that they want,
then everything will be OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that didn`t work last time. Why do they
think it`s going to work this time?

OBAMA: That`s my argument.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just before we leave. So, who`s going to win?

OBAMA: Oh, I`m going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Democratic strategist and MSNBC
contributor Krystal Ball and "Washington Post" opinion writer and MSNBC
political analyst E.J. Dionne. Thank you both very much for joining me.

Krystal, it`s turning into the week of Bain. Some thought this might
be more of the week of same-sex marriage but the Obama campaign is pushing
Bain and it seems like the Romney campaign knows that they have to fight
back.

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think both campaigns are
anxious to know that they are the ones talking about the economy and
talking about the issues that people really care about. And we have to
thank the Republicans, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich in particular for
warming these attacks up for us, because frankly, I think the attacks on
Bain would be a bit riskier if Republicans hadn`t already gone there.

So that takes some of the risk on it, and of course, before they even
warm to that, Ted Kennedy back in the Senate race against Mitt Romney, he
was the first one to use attacks on Mitt`s time at Bain to a great effect,
I might add.

O`DONNELL: And now, newspapers are picking it up. And I know, of
course, you read "The Tampa Bay Times" every day and "The Las Vegas Sun,"
but not everyone in the audience does.

So, I`m going to do a long read here of what`s actually in "The Tampa
Bay Times" story in Florida today. It says, "Dade Behring, saddled with
debt, would up shuttering medical technology facilities in Miami, some 850
jobs were lost, while Bain walk away with $242 million and 800 percent
return on its investment. The company under Bain`s leadership sought and
received millions of dollars in tax breaks for creating jobs in Puerto Rico
shortly before closing its facilities, costing nearly 300 jobs."

So, E.J., I`ll read the Nevada story later. But there you are, Bain
making money, the company closing facilities and Bain getting subsidies
from the government.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I think actually,
the subsidies from the government are going to be particularly harmful
since the Republicans are supposed to be against those kinds of subsidies.
But what you`re seeing here is the Obama campaign knows that the most
effective argument Romney can make is just these guys are in power. The
economy isn`t improving fast enough. Vote for us. Romney has experience.

And the best -- one of the best political slogans ever was in 1946
campaign that you and I covered together where the Republicans were running
against dissatisfaction with Harry Truman and the slogan was simply: had
enough, vote Republican. And they won a landslide. Richard Nixon came
into Congress that year.

The Obama people have a more complicated argument to make and they`re
starting to make it. That want to argue that, A, as Obama was saying on
"The View," look, you don`t want to go back to the old policies that wreck
us, but B., how can you call this guy an empathetic job creator when a
place like Bain actually destroyed a lot of jobs?

And this is really an old debate over what kind of capitalism do we
want, because it`s not just Democrats. I mean, I think Krystal is right
that the Republicans opened this up for Obama in the primaries. A lot of
people in business say that this whole style of piling debt on companies to
buy them out had a lot of cause.

So I think we actually could have a good, actual real economics
argument here in all of the cross fire of the advertisements.

BALL: Yes. And I actually think, I think E.J. is exactly right.
And in fact, this is even more core than that. This is about the argument
that`s been made about, you know, guys, we`re going to lower taxes on the
rich, everybody -- the pie is going to be bigger and then everybody is
going to share in that pie.

While they made the low taxes, they did make the pie bigger but then
the people who were in power said, you know what, I don`t want to pay for
your education anymore. I don`t want to pay for your unemployment. I
don`t want to keep up the social safety network that we`ve had for years.

And so, that`s the dynamic that`s played out. And Mitt Romney`s time
at Bain Capital and the economic model that he started there has really
been at the center of what`s going on economically in the country.

So, I agree with E.J. I don`t think it`s some side issue or I don`t
think it has to be some side issue. I actually think it`s central to the
economic argument that we should be having about what kind of capitalism we
want to have.

O`DONNELL: And "The Las Vegas Sun" story is kind of echo of that
Florida story, taking over some store, stories closed down, Bain makes $100
million in profit and they live town.

Let`s listen to how Mitt Romney has tried to turn to Bill Clinton, to
try to use Bill Clinton against President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Bill Clinton that the air of Obama was over.

President Obama tucked away the Clinton doctrine in his large drawer
of discarded ideas, along with transparency and bipartisan.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: It`s enough to make you wonder maybe it was a personal beef
with the Clintons but probably that -- it runs much deeper than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: E.J., that`s just weird. He is trying to get in there on
a personal beef with the Clintons, like no Republican would ever have a
personal beef with the Clintons.

DIONNE: Right. They only tried to impeach him and, you know, it
doesn`t count that he made Hillary a secretary of state. But I think you
may have made news there because we all recall that taxes were a whole lot
higher under Bill Clinton or quite a bit higher. So maybe Mitt Romney has
a secret plan to restore the Clinton tax rates. I think any time Romney
says that he wants -- Bill Clinton had government right size, he`s going to
be asked you must support a 39.5 percent tax rate on upper income people.

BALL: Well, the thing that I particularly love about this is
remember back when we were in primary mode, Mitt Romney, and he was having
to defend the fact that he voted in the Democratic primary in 1992 and his
justification was that he voted against Bill Clinton because he was, quote,
"the worst leader in my view".

So, now, suddenly, that we`re in general election mode, Mitt Romney
loves and, of course, admires him, et cetera. So, just an interesting
flip-flop there from Mitt Romney.

DIONNE: He was against Bill Clinton before he was for him.

O`DONNELL: President Obama who has become a regular guest on "The
View," he was on "The View," and Elisabeth asked him to give himself a
grade. Let`s see how that went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I won`t give us a letter grade. I think it`s still
incomplete. We`ve still got work to do. What I can tell you is that
because of the steps we took, the economy is much stronger than it was when
I came into office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal?

BALL: I think that`s right. I mean, you can`t oversell, because
people are still feeling like things are tough, still in a recovery, still
in a recession. But you have to say we`ve made progress and we`ve still
got work to do. I mean, that has to be the argument and it has the
advantage of being number one, true, and number two, the way that most
Americans feel about where the country is and where it`s headed.

O`DONNELL: E.J., is that going to work, the incomplete?

DIONNE: There was no way he should ever answer that question --

O`DONNELL: Right.

DIONNE: Because if he had said an A, he would have sounded arrogant
and people would have said what about the unemployment rate? If he said B,
Romney would have said, why do you want a B president? And you don`t want
to go any lower than that.

So, incomplete is a very safe answer for him.

O`DONNELL: Krystal and E.J. Dionne, you will not be asked to grade
this show today. Thank you both for joining.

DIONNE: I give you an easy A.

BALL: It`s incomplete. There`s still more to come.

O`DONNELL: E.J., I`ll take a gentleman`s C at this point. I`d be
happy with that. Thank you both for joining me.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Bill Clinton attacks a Tea Party candidate for
Senate who thinks compromise is a dirty world. Charles M. Blow will join
me on that one.

And Mitt Romney couldn`t stay in one position for too long. He`s
already changed his position on gay adoptions.

And when Mitt Romney smiles, the whole world does not smile with him.
Mitt Romney desperately needs acting lessons. And Mr. James Lipton -- yes,
that James Lipton, the James Lipton will join me with his acting advice on
how Mitt Romney can appear, just appear at least, to be human. James
Lipton is going to take presidential candidates inside the actor`s studio
in THE LAST WORD exclusive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAMES LIPTON, ACTOR: He seems to need advice on how to act like a
presidential candidate who cares. Or as some would say, how to act human.
We will take Mitt Romney inside the actor`s studio tonight. That`s coming
up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I also know many gay couples are able to adopt children.
That`s fine. If two people the same gender want to leave together, want to
have a loving relationship, and even want to adopt a child -- in my state,
individuals of the same-sex are allowed to adopt children. In my view,
that`s something which people have the right to do.

(END VIDEO CLPI)

O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney on FOX News last Thursday saying gay
adoption is just fine. Here`s Mitt Romney getting pushed back and taking a
step back the next day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Well, actually, I think all states but one allow gay
adoption. So, that`s a position which has been decided by most of the
state legislatures, including the one in my state some time ago. So I
simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal and in all states
but one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Romney now just acknowledges that gay adoption is legal
in some places but saying that it`s legal in all but one state is
completely false. Five states ban same sex couples from adopting. Most
states allow only single gay and lesbian to adopt.

Massachusetts, Romney`s home stat state, is one of 18 states that
permits both single and joint adoptions by gays and lesbians.

Joining me now are Ana Marie Cox, a political correspondent for "The
Guardian U.S."; and Zach Wahls, marriage equality supporter and the author
of "My Two Moms," about his family and necessity for marriage equality.

Zach, what we`ve brilliantly edited out of the Romney tape was the
question in which he was actually pushed back by the questionnaire saying
that`s a pretty liberal position that you took on gay adoption. It seemed
-- when he was saying it, it felt like, you know, this was coming, that
some question like that was going to call that liberal and, of course, he
was going to step back.

ZACH WAHLS, AUTHOR: For sure. I mean, it`s a question that you have
to ask. You know, he`s stated repeatedly that he was opposed to same-sex
marriage and civil unions but he`s has left open this possibility of being
for other rights. That was the phrase that he used in the immediate
aftermath of President Obama`s announcement.

But the question comes down to what does other rights mean? That`s
the question that he hasn`t answered at this point. And to be quite
frankly, it`s probably a good question to which we`ll never hear the answer
because there isn`t a good answer to give without getting to some Orwellian
notion of, you know, people being more equal than other people and people
having more rights than others. It`s a hard line to draw because there`s
not a good place to draw it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to President Obama on "The View," talking
about gay marriage and proving once again that not every panelist on "The
View" does the same amount of homework.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": You and Mitt Romney agreed
personally on the definition of gay marriage. Now that you have a
definition of it practically speaking, how will you move things forward any
more than Mitt Romney in terms of leaving it to the states? Because at
this point you both said we`ll leave it to the states to decide. Will that
be your plan?

OBAMA: Elisabeth, that`s actually not true. I mean, Mitt Romney has
said he wants a constitutional amendment. That`s not a state issue. That
federalizes the whole issue. And that`s a major difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, are we going to hear Mitt Romney push that
constitutional amendment?

ANA MARIE COX, THE GUARDIAN US: I don`t know. The Republican
positioning on this has been really interesting to watch. In some ways
it`s been heartening to someone as a supporter of marriage equality to see
that the Republicans have had so much trouble figuring out what their right
position is. I think we`ve seen a decline in the kind of really sort of
vehement and vindictive language that people used even four years ago and
instead, we are seeing someone like Mitt Romney who clearly doesn`t have a
personal conviction and I`m trying to figure out what the right thing to
say is and they have not yet figured it out.

O`DONNELL: Zach, are you surprised by that development, that slight
moderation of Republican reaction?

WALHS: No, not at all. I think it`s totally in line with what we
saw. A polling memo, excuse me, by Republican strategists, encouraging the
party to embrace a more moderate position on the issue, because at the end
of the day, this is a very straightforward issue in terms of what the
future looks like in this country. Seventy percent of all American college
students support the freedom to marry. That number is only going to
increase with time.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, Charlie Cook, who knows an awful lot about our
electorate said in a memo that was leaked today, "to be sure, political
parties are not supposed to be weather vanes, changing whenever the wind
changes blows in a new direction. When they choose to fly in a face of
evolving public attitudes, though, they need to think about it long and
hard. They need to decide if it`s really worth it and consider the times
might have changed."

COX: That`s a really interesting way to put it. It`s almost a
little disappointing to think of it in terms of what the political party
might want because this is a personal conviction. It`s something that
people come to on their own, and that`s what makes it ring so false, when
people like Mitt Romney seem to not have a position on it at all.

I do think this is an evolution, as it were, that`s really
unavoidable. I think the country is moving at this direction, the
Republicans risk being on the wrong side of history. They will look more
and more like bigots, quite frankly, the longer that they hue to this
opinion or set of opinions. I agree with Zach. Like, you know, kids these
days actually have no problem with it.

And we`re just seeing an evolution that`s inevitable as we grow as a
country.

O`DONNELL: And there has been some really ugly comment, Paul Cameron
of the Family Research Institute was on a Christian radio show and I am not
going to play what he said. It`s just disgusting stuff.

And what is interesting about it, Zach, is he doesn`t seem to be
getting a lot of air time outside of that narrow little band of Christian
radio.

WALHS: No, definitely. You know, I think there is certainly a
minority in this country that is supposed to same sex marriage, and they
are very shrill. They feel like they are being pushed into the corner.

I think it`s important to be respectful of their beliefs and make
sure we`re not alienating them for what, you know, which is a very personal
conviction. However, this is certainly a time in which we are seeing a lot
of evolution and we are going to see, you know, continue to move -- you
know, like the drumbeat of history in this country towards more freedom,
more liberty, and less discrimination on the basis of immutable
characteristics like sexual orientation and gender identity.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox and Zach Wahls, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

WAHLS: Thank you, Lawrence.

COX: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Bill Clinton tries to teach a Tea Party
candidate about hard governing. Good luck with that.

And Mitt Romney tries. He really does. He tries to be human but
he`s just not enough of an actor to pull it off.

And a LAST WORD exclusive, James Lipton will take Mitt Romney inside
the actor`s studio and teach him a thing or two about how to act human.
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Bill Clinton tries to teach the Tea Party what the
Founding Fathers would have thought of their no compromise politics.
Charles M. Blow joins me on Bill Clinton versus the Tea Party, and the Tea
Party versus the world.

And television`s highest authority on acting, James Lipton is here,
as you may have noticed. He`s going to take us inside where they will try
to teach Mitt Romney how to act human.

A LAST WORD exclusive, James Lipton takes us to acting class. He may
take you to acting class with him. I have a few things to learn. That`s
coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN INDIANA: You never
compromise on principles. If people on the far left have a principle they
want to stand by, they should not compromise. Those of us on the right we
should not either.

The ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite
ends of the spectrum.

I hope to build a conservative majority in the United States Senate so
that bipartisanship becomes Democrats joining Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the campaign message from Richard Mourdock, a Tea
Party and Grover Norquist backed Republican, the morning after his victory
over 36 year incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary last
week in Indiana.

Today, Bill Clinton challenged Mourdock`s message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The
gentleman that just defeated Senator Luger said something that I found
disturbing. He said, I am totally against any compromise; our world views
are irreconcilable; and we just have to keep fighting until somebody wins
it all.

And if that were the view, there never would have been a Constitution.
There never would have been a Bill of Rights. The capital would never have
been moved to Washington, D.C. The federal government would not have
assumed the debts of the colonies from the Revolutionary War and nothing
else would have happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Charles M. Blow, an op-ed columnist for
the "New York Times," and Lois Romano, a senior political reporter for
"Politico."

Charles, President Clinton was certainly speaking the Washington
conventional wisdom on compromise.

CHARLES M. BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Absolutely. I think what --
he makes a very interesting point, which is that compromise is the
foundation of the country. It kind of boils my blood to hear Tea Partiers
say we want people to go to Washington, protect the Constitution, shrink
government and never compromise.

You wouldn`t have had a Constitution were it not for compromise. This
idea that you can go and wait and wait and wait and wait it out, and wait
until Congress` approval rating literally scrapes the bottom and we start
going to negative numbers or something, and that is when we will actually
start to do something about it. Or we`ll wait until we have all Republican
government, in the White House, in the control of the Senate and the House,
before we can actually move forward on something, is outrageous.

And I don`t think the American people fully comprehend and appreciate
how dangerous a situation that we are in as a country, because we can no
longer operate as a functioning government.

O`DONNELL: We have a chart, which I think we might be able to get up
on the big board, of what happened has happened in the Senate on
filibusters. It`s actually behind you guys at the moment. You see that we
started off, it was a very rare thing in the Senate. And now it`s just the
every day activity.

It`s become basically what they call the 60-vote rule. And you just
have to get 60 votes to do everything. And Harry Reid, who used to
tactically use it when they were in the minority and actually helped
increase it to where we are now, says big mistake, Lois. He says we really
-- we have to reform this. We can`t keep going like this.

LOIS ROMANO, "POLITICO": Well, there`s just a total inability to
govern right now. And so you have to -- and what Bill Clinton I think is
expressing is this frustration, is -- are people sending people to
Washington just to pontificate or to actually get something done. So what
you see is this great paradox. They`re electing these people, but then the
approval level of Congress is, what, six, seven percent?

So they are not really happy that it`s gridlock. But yet these people
-- by the way, Mr. Mourdock`s the not the first person to say I didn`t come
here to compromise.

O`DONNELL: But Charles, what did you say to the liberal history of
taking no compromise positions in certain areas, segregation and others?
We can all think of something, even today, that you would not compromise
on. I would not compromise on. Lois has things she would not compromise
on. How does that fit into this discussion of gridlock?

BLOW: First of all, I think we have to back up and say that this is
not an even thing. This is not equal on both sides. I think we get that
kind of mixed up.

O`DONNELL: What we see in the filibuster chart is under a Republican
led -- it`s the minority that does the filibustering. So under the
Republicans in this Senate, they have sent it through the roof, like we`ve
never seen.

BLOW: Exactly. And that said, in poll after poll when you ask
Democrats if they want their Congress people to compromise, they say yes.
Poll after poll, when you ask Republicans if they want their people to
compromise or stand by their people, they always say, stand on principle,
do not compromise.

This is not -- this is not like everybody is meeting at the 50-yard
line and flipping a coin and we`re trying to figure out how to do
something. No, we`re moving further and further to the right, because
that`s the only way that things can get done. Because Democrats say we
want our people to compromise, and Republicans say we don`t want you to
move one inch, and if you do, we will primary you out.

That is a problem because there is no -- this idea that the moderates
used to be the center, that`s changed. The center is so far to the right.
Now the only way you can actually get a compromise is to go meet them on
their half of the field. That is a problem.

O`DONNELL: Lois, the stuff that is thought of as compromise for
Democrats, for President Obama with the Republicans in the Congress include
things that Ronald Reagan, that Bob Dole that -- would never have done.
They would have thought, that`s wild right wing stuff. What would be the
Democrat compromise position would be considered wild right wing stuff a
short time ago.

ROMANO: Oh, absolutely. You look at Bill Clinton. I mean, here was
a guy who actually worked with Newt Gingrich to get the Welfare Reform Act
passed. And these are people who knew how to work together and to move the
ball forward. And now you have what, like 15 Tea Party members who refuse
to vote to lift the debt ceiling.

And voters, I`m not sure, really understood that it was the
Republicans that were going to stop their checks and their benefits. They
thought, well, they are standing firm, but they weren`t quite understanding
what was happening.

O`DONNELL: Charles, in that welfare reform example, at least both
sides were using the same rhetoric. Clinton ran for president saying I`m
going to end welfare as we know it, which had a very Republican sound to
it. And so then Republicans said, OK, let`s do that.

And then from a shared rhetoric, they found an actual legislative
proposal to end up on, which was highly controversial, in which Clinton was
opposed to several versions of it. And eventually there were Democrats who
stood up against what Clinton settled on. But that -- there`s no even
shared rhetoric beginning point anywhere.

BLOW: Not only is there no beginning point. I mean, I think that --
what we`ve gotten to the point of is we are so -- we have basically turned
our backs on each other. Instead of even sitting across the table and
looking at you in your face, I`m looking at the wall, you`re looking at the
wall, and we`re saying, I am not moving until that guy moves from that
seat.

That is the problem where we are as a country. We can no longer get
anything done. I think that if you are a leader and you`re sent to
Washington to govern -- government`s only role is to govern. And you have
to sometimes say, even though this is something that I would want, this may
not be its time in history. I can not have all of what I want at this
moment, but it may not be moving in that direction.

But in order to make something happen, I have to move a little bit
towards the other guy`s position.

ROMANO: Lawrence, you know that Kennedy was a master at that. He was
a raging liberal. But yet he knew that he had to give a little to get a
little. So he would go to the Strom Thurmans and he would go to the Orrin
Hatchs and he would cut his deals and he`d give a little. He wouldn`t
compromise major principles, but to get something through -- once there was
a bill that Nixon agreed to cosponsor if Kennedy`s name stayed off of it,
and he said fine.

O`DONNELL: Well, those goal posts have been moved.

Charles M. Blow of the "New York Times" and Lois Romano of "Politico,"
thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, yes, Mitt Romney`s laugh does sound fake, because
everything about Mitt Romney can seem fake. And James Lipton thinks he
knows why. He think Mitt Romney`s not making the right choices. Not
policy choices, acting choices. In a LAST WORD exclusive, James Lipton
teaches Mitt Romney how to act human.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Romney is not, has never been and never will be the common
man. And when he assumes the role in a crowd, his evident discomfort tells
us that this guy doesn`t fly coach, much less go Greyhound, and without the
demands of running for office wouldn`t be spending much time with these
people who do.

Every word I just said was just plagiarized from a "New York Magazine"
article written by James Lipton, the real star of "Inside The Actor`s
Studio," where he respectfully and thoughtfully interviews actors on their
craft, some of whom make the mistake of thinking we want to hear what
they have to say as much as we want to hear what James Lipton has to say.

On the "New York Magazine" website, television`s wisest analyst of the
art of acting offered Mitt Romney some advice on how to Rewrite his image
from robot to human.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES LIPTON, "INSIDE THE ACTOR`S STUDIO": Hello, Governor Romney.
My name is James Lipton. And if you`ve ever seen my show on Bravo, "Inside
the Actor`s Studio," you know that we deal with the craft of acting.

Since politics and performance have become pretty much fused, and
since you`ve been criticized by some for not coming across as authentic to
your public, maybe we can sort of work on that today.

Let`s start with your laugh.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I live for
laughter.

(LAUGHTER)

LIPTON: It isn`t working. It`s inert. It just doesn`t come across
as genuine.

Worst of all, it`s mirthless, which is to say that while you expect us
to be amused, you`re not the least bit amused yourself.

I have advised people who are watching you to freeze the frame and
then put their hands over the lower part of your face and look at your
eyes. There`s no pleasure there.

We like to depend on a great actor and director named Constantin
Stenaslovsky(ph). One of his central principles for actors was relaxation.

ROMNEY: This is an unusual interview. All right, let`s do it again.

I`m speaking. I`m speaking.

(CROSS TALK)

LIPTON: I remember once in rehearsal a director saying to an actor
who was trying much, much too hard on the stage, relax, you`ve got the job.

Well now it appears that you`re going to get the Republican
nomination, I would propose to you that you relax.

What you appear to be having the most trouble with is this portrait of
yourself as a common man. Sir, I don`t think you are a common man.

ROMNEY: Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?

LIPTON: Ronald Reagan was also not a common man. What he was an
authentic, card carrying -- that is to say SAG card carrying -- actor. He
was comfortable in his own skin and he was comfortable doing what he did.

Don`t try to go with what you haven`t got. Stick with the type
casting. Go with what you`ve got and who you are. It`s not your best
option. I think it`s your only option.

You may know at the end of each episode, I asked a questionnaire that
was asked for 26 years by a hero of mine named Bernard Pivo in France. The
questions are a kind of a Rorschach Test. And since we`re talking about
authenticity, maybe it might be useful to answer them, and really reveal
yourself, the real -- the real Mitt Romney.

Sir, what is your favorite word?

ROMNEY: Delighted.

I`m delighted.

I`m absolutely delighted.

LIPTON: What is your least favorite word?

ROMNEY Romneycare.

LIPTON: What turns you on?

ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

LIPTON: What turns you off?

ROMNEY: The plight of the poor.

LIPTON: What sounds or noise do you love?

(CHEERING)

LIPTON: What sound or noise do you hate?

CROWD: Obama. Obama. Obama.

LIPTON: What is your favorite curse word?

ROMNEY: Thank heavens.

LIPTON: What profession other than your own would you like to
attempt?

ROMNEY: A 1970s game show host.

LIPTON: What profession would you not like to attempt under any
circumstance?

ROMNEY: Press secretary.

O`DONNELL: Finally, sir, if heaven exists, and I`m sure that you`re
confident it does, what would you like your God say when you arrive at the
pearly gates?

ROMNEY: What`s up, gangsters? It`s the MI double Tizzle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The man himself is up next. James Lipton is here. He`s
going to analyze candidate Obama`s performance. He`s going to analyze my
performance. You got to stay with us. You want to see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: You are a modern master. Already a huge success
on Broadway, you easily cross over into film. In 1984, you portrayed Dawn
Dawn Canalone "Canon Ball Run 2." The performance so strumtrilescent (ph),
I can barely move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Will Ferrell playing the role of a lifetime, the
role that made his career, the role of James Lipton. And joining me now,
of course, the real James Lipton, creator, executive producer, writer and
host of Bravo`s "Inside the Actor`s Studio." Fourteen Emmy nominations for
the show, a record in television.

Will Ferrell, it`s an honor, right? It`s an honor.

LIPTON: Yes, it`s an honor. Want to know what I think of his
performance?

O`DONNELL: Yes. How did he do. Let`s start analyzing right there.

LIPTON: The son of a bitch is great. Just great.

O`DONNELL: He takes your advice. He relaxes.

(CROSS TALK)

LIPTON: So relaxed he`s virtually comatose, which is when he begins
most to resemble me.

O`DONNELL: Now, you`ve taught us -- and on the "New York Times" --
"New York Magazine" website, you`ve taught us a lot about what Mitt Romney
is doing wrong. I want to look at a clip of President Obama, because you
talk about, you know, trying to appear natural and appear like a regular
guy.

Where better to do that than on "The View." So let`s take a look at
him on "The View" today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": Which Kardashian was married for only 72 days?

OBAMA: That would be Kim.

BEHAR: Very good. OK.

OBAMA: Because it was a ball player. That`s how I know, from
watching basketball.

BEHAR: This one you may not know. I`m hoping that you don`t, as a
matter of fact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get ready.

BEHAR: What`s the controversial sex book that`s on millions of
women`s bedside tables? He doesn`t know.

OBAMA: I don`t know that.

BEHAR: OK. Next.

OBAMA: But I`ll ask Michelle when I get home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Seems very relaxed. Seems comfortable in his skin. Any
tips on how he should have handled that?

LIPTON: I think he handled it fine. But I recall another occasion.
One year ago, in the white heat of the White House correspondents dinner,
President Obama killed the crowd in a language both you and I understand,
while he was simultaneously killing Osama bin Laden. That is sangfroid
(ph), or as we say in English, cool.

I don`t -- I can`t think of anything cooler.

O`DONNELL: My audience gets all the French.

LIPTON: Romney speaks French, I`ll speak French.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, exactly. The -- there`s been this campaign by
presidents -- presidential candidates to find these venues like "The View"
and -- as a way to come across, sometimes to come across to the kids.
There was Bill Clinton on "Arsenio Hall" back when he was running for
president, playing the saxophone. He thought that was the way to do that.

He then went on to MTV and he took a question which we are going to
hear. he took a question about his underwear. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, the world is dying to know, is it
boxers or briefs?

CLINTON: Usually briefs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He hadn`t yet learned that you don`t actually have to
answer every question. He could have just found a way out, other than the
actually specifics of --

LIPTON: No, I think he answered it frankly, but I think it was
significant.

O`DONNELL: Oh really?

LIPTON: Well, it turned out to be a harbinger of what was to come, no
pun intended.

O`DONNELL: No, no, no. That was an intended punt. I can tell. So
there`s another thing I want -- you talk about relaxing. And I am going to
show you a clip of George W. Bush. And I`m wondering if there`s such a
thing as relaxing too much. He`s talking about Osama bin Laden and trying
to get Osama bin Laden. I think he may be a little too relaxed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know
where he is. Nor do -- you know, I just don`t spend that much time on him,
to be honest with you. Again, I don`t know where he is. I -- I -- I
repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was a very honest acting moment. I don`t know where
he is. He couldn`t have been more honest about it.

LIPTON: Exactly. Now, that is not acting. That is absolutely real.
It is a soul revealed. And it makes me want to weep.

O`DONNELL: Because the guy`s job was actually the opposite. The
guy`s job was actually to worry about this?

LIPTON: Well, I think he had given up on something that he shouldn`t
have given up on. And if you notice in the middle of it, what does he do?
He chuckles.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

LIPTON: It ain`t funny, not to me. And it makes me -- watching that
makes me very sad.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s then try to change the tone a little bit here.
We`re going to go to Vice President Joe Biden when he made the big news on
"Meet the Press," talking about same-sex marriage. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am absolutely
comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and
heterosexual men and women are entitled to the same exact rights, all the
civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don`t see much
of a distinction beyond that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, there the actor tries to remove all subtext in the
first line, by telling you his subtext of I am absolutely comfortable.
He`s actually declaring it. And then -- but does he go on to successfully
play being comfortable with that?

LIPTON: I think in this case, he was comfortable, which means he
wasn`t acting. He was speaking from the heart. But my favorite way of
expressing this came from a I think comedian at some point. I don`t
remember who. And what he said was -- I thought summed it up perfectly.
Look, if you`re opposed to same-sex marriage, don`t marry someone of the
same sex.

O`DONNELL: That would do it.

LIPTON: Doesn`t that sort of sum it up? And for me, it more or less
solves the problem.

O`DONNELL: Now, your basic message of relax, it`s a very hard thing
to learn. In my big network television acting debut --

LIPTON: Which all of us remember.

O`DONNELL: It was in the season finale of "The West Wing," second
year. Hollywood had run out of actors. And someone had to play in a
flashback --

LIPTON: Were you one of the producers of the show?

O`DONNELL: I was. I had to play Martin Sheen`s father back when
Martin was in high school. We had to get a kid to play Martin --

LIPTON: Did you work cheap?

O`DONNELL: I worked very cheap. And the great Emmy winning director
of the show, Tommy Shlammy (ph), after I did a couple of rehearsals and a
couple of takes, he walked up to me. And he was trying to pretend that he
wasn`t nervous at all, having this amateur carry this load in the show.
And he just kind of was looking around, pretending he was concerned with
lighting. And then he leaned into me and just said, do nothing. And then
he walked away. And that really is the key, is do nothing.

LIPTON: Plus, plus one thing: listen and respond.

O`DONNELL: Which it`s not an obvious thing to do.

LIPTON: It takes a skillful person with a lot of innate talent years
to how to do correctly.

O`DONNELL: James Lipton, we`ve learned a lot. We can only hope or
maybe we don`t hope that Mitt Romney has learned a lot. James Lipton gets
THE LAST WORD, as always he gets THE LAST WORD.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. This is a great honor.
You`ve got a lot of buzz going on the "New York Magazine" website. People
should go there to see the full video.

END

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