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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: David Cay Johnston, Ana Marie Cox, David Corn, Mark Thompson


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, the tweets are in and we are
close, very close, to announcing the winner in our "name the Romney
campaign bus" contest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot afford the
next four years going backwards.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: This election is about a fight who can make
it morning in America again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election is about the future.

OBAMA: We want to see Colorado`s economy continue to grow. The
economy in Virginia has improved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama will stand by the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney is not the champion in the middle
class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says if you want to cut firefighters and
teachers --

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s a very strange
accusation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we even fair, or was that walkback?

ROMNEY: The federal government doesn`t pay for teachers,
firefighters, or policemen.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Does that mean that there
will be fewer teachers? Yes.

ROMNEY: Obviously, that`s completely absurd. The president is really
out of touch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Mitt Romney have a transparency problem?

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The least transparent president in a generation.

TODD: The least transparent president in a generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re also going to be holding Mitt Romney
accountable for his record.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Number 47 in job growth.

ROMNEY: A little history.

SCARBOROUGH: Ranks first in tin debt.

ROMNEY: I was a severely conservative Republican governor.

OBAMA: The same bad ideas that brought our economy to the brink of
disaster.

ROMNEY: All right, let`s do it again.

SCARBOROUGH: Forty-seventh place in my neighborhood is still 47th
place.

ROMNEY: The president is really out of touch with what`s happening
across America.

SCARBOROUGH: You play to win, as governor, and governor, you failed.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: He would dress up like a state trooper and
go out pulling over cars. Are you old enough to be a state trooper, son?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney has a great new campaign idea for the Obama
campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The president is really out of touch with what`s happening
across America. People are having hard times in this country and the
president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fund-raisers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And, of course, a couple of hours after criticizing
President Obama for attending fund-raisers, Mitt Romney attended a fund-
raiser at Isleworth Country Club in suburban Orlando, those in the crowd
who donated at least $50,000 joined Romney for a private lunch at an
undisclosed home in Isleworth, a community of lakeside mansions, almost,
almost as big as Mitt Romney`s lakeside mention.

Today, the Obama campaign released a new television ad that will air
in nine swing states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts was number
one, number one in state debt -- $18 billion in debt, more debt per person
than any other state in the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: President Obama echoed the deficit message today in
Baltimore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I love listening to these guys give us lectures about debt and
deficits. We had a surplus, they turned it into a deficit, built in a
structural deficit that extends for decades, and --

AUIDENCE MEMBER: Then they blamed you!

OBAMA: Isn`t that something?

It`s like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner,
martini, all that stuff, and then just as you`re sitting down, they leave,
and accuse you of running up the tab!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now are MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Joy Reid.

Krystal, it seems in that example right there, the president found the
way to talk about what he inherited when he took over the White House.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think that`s a great
example, because people understand it. And you know what, implicitly,
people actually do understand that fact about the economy, as much as the
Republicans have been putting out there that the deficit is all the
president`s fault, the economy is all the president`s fault.

People have a more sophisticated understanding than I think that we
give them credit for. But one thing we should be reminding voters more of
is that Republicans were actually the one who is got rid of the PAYGO rules
when they were in charge of Congress back in 2002. So not only did they
cut taxes, which of course lowered revenue and rack up huge bills and
unfunded wars, et cetera, but they also got rid of the PAYGO rules, which
were a basic restraint on spending.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, what I like about that message that the
president came up with there is that it`s so clearly understandable, that
when the audience sees where he`s going, they can finish the idea for them.
They can the -- like a church audience in a certain kind of way, chime in
with comment as he`s moving in the direction that they understand.

It seems to me to be, you know, that, you know, ordering all that
stuff for the table and the restaurant and then getting up and leaving just
seems to me to have finally broken through as a very clear expression of
what the president was up against.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean, it`s interesting. In 2010,
the metaphor was they drove a car into a ditch and then asked for the keys
back.

O`DONNELL: That ditch thing -- that ditch thing never worked for me!

REID: It never worked, because people don`t drive your car into a
ditch and then ask for the keys. It was a little bit more clumsy.

But when people welsh on bills in restaurants, everybody can relate to
that. So it goes to show that the president can speak human, which is a
problem, technically, unfortunately, for Mitt Romney, whereas when he tries
to relate to people in that way, he can`t quite do it, because these are
not situations that ever happened to Mitt Romney, it`s not something that
would be normal for him.

BALL: Yes. When he tries to relate, he says things like, I enjoy
sport, which opportunity quite work.

O`DONNELL: Also while talking on "FOX & Friends" this morning, he
tried to make some sense about teachers and cops and trying to portray
himself as a not the anti-cop candidate. Let`s listen to this exchange on
"FOX & Friends" this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says that you want to cut firefighters and
teachers, that you don`t understand what`s going on in these communities.
What do you say to that, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, that`s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers
and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states.
The federal government doesn`t pay for teachers, firefighters, or
policemen. So, obviously, that`s completely absurd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal, I know that the Romney campaign watches this show
to take notes, to clarify, you know, to correct the candidate when he gets
things wrong.

BALL: Of course, they`re very responsible in that way.

O`DONNELL: We all remember President Clinton and the Democrats
passing a bill to hire 100,000 cops over time, which they did, effectively.
Federal government has been paying for teachers, paying for firefighters,
paying for cops directly and indirectly for decades now.

Do you think Romney`s going to be able to get away with that ignorance
that the federal government has been funding these things?

BALL: Well, you know, there`s two possibilities here. The one
possibility is, as you put it, that he`s ignorant or stupid, which I don`t
actually think that he is. I think that he is trying to willfully not
answer the question and deceive people, because he can`t be this stupid. I
don`t think that the people on "FOX & Friends" are this stupid --

O`DONNELL: Oh, just a minute. Hold it, hold it, hold it.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: No, no, we`re with you on Romney, Romney`s smarter than
that. Brian Kilmeade, no, no, no, that`s the best Brian`s got. He was
playing at the top of his game.

BALL: Apologies.

But, no, I mean, in the stimulus act alone, it provided -- it saved or
created 325,000 jobs in education. So, you know, obviously, the federal
government uses money to help states and municipalities hire teachers, hire
firefighters, hire cops. I`m quite sure that Mitt Romney is aware of this
fact.

REID: Well, in addition to the fact that he was a governor, right?

BALL: Right!

REID: So the people who are recipients of these type of block grants
that the stimulus was. And the whole issue in the stimulus passed when a
lot of Republican governors say, no, no, we don`t want that money, they
know exactly what the federal government was earmarking and wanting that
money for, it was to hire -- wait for it -- teachers, cops, and
firefighters.

BALL: Right.

REID: That`s always been what the block grant was for. Romney was a
governor, he should know that.

BALL: You know, if I was the Obama campaign, I would be organizing
some local firefighters on Mitt Romney`s bus tour that he`s going on, they
should be at every event asking with, why don`t you think we should have
firefighters in our town? Why don`t you think that`s as worthwhile use of
funds? Why don`t you want to put our colleagues back to work?

O`DONNELL: The president said something today about Mitt Romney`s
success and his understanding about how other people make it in this
economy. Let`s listen to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: He should be proud of the personal success he achieved as the
head of a large financial firm. But I think he has drawn the wrong lessons
from these experiences. He seems to believe that if CEOs and wealthy
investors like him are doing well, that the rest of us automatically do
well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy, I think that`s another great line for the president,
that he should be using over and over again. That Romney thinks that if
investors and CEOs are doing well, then the rest of us are doing well. And
everyone knows that`s not true.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And I think every time that the president
can, again, class Romney`s business experience as really being Wall Street
experience. I mean, the closest that Romney ever got to a worker was sort
of numbering them as widgets that either help or take away from
productivity and can deciding how many of them to fire, right?

I mean, in the business that Romney was in, which is a perfectly
legal, legitimate business in the United States, what you`re doing is
looking at the productivity of companies. You`re not looking at hiring and
firing, that`s not your purpose. Your purpose is profit. And that is if
you look at the focus groups that have been done by different Democratic
and other polling firms, that`s the problem for Romney. People don`t think
he cares about people and jobs.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Krystal Ball -- thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, how little we know about Mitt Romney and his
money. We know less about his income taxes than any presidential candidate
in a very long time. David Kay Johnson, tax expert, and Karen Finney will
join me on the mysteries of Romney`s tax returns.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, the Vatican`s crusade against this nun
and against the book that she wrote and the Vatican`s official position on
masturbation.

And later, we will reveal the winner of our name the Romney campaign
bus contest and I`ll read some of your tweets that came close to winning.
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We`re still doing a last-minute review of the names that
you`ve tweeted to me right here on my iPhone for the Romney`s campaign bus.
We want to name Romney`s campaign bus, and we are minutes away from
selecting a winner. A lot of good ones have come in, including, "50 shades
of greyhound," which is cute, but I just don`t get the connection to the
Romney campaign bus.

And there`s a bus in tonight`s "Rewrite" -- nuns on a bus are in the
"Rewrite" tonight. Stephen Colbert thinks nuns on a bus will make a great
movie. I`ll leave it up to you to decide. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The American public has, through legislation, determined that
we need an extraordinary set of disclosure of financial records, of people
running for president. And I`ve complied with all that. And then, in
addition, put out two more years of tax returns. But I understand that the
Democrats are going to try and do everything in their power to keep this
election from being about the failure of President Obama to turn around our
economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney in April, explaining that he has no
plans to release multiple years of tax returns, like President Obama did,
or even like Mitt Romney`s own father did in 1967, when he ran for
president. So far, Romney has only released his 2010 tax return.

In April, he filed for an extension for his 2011 tax return, but his
spokeswoman promised that, quote, "Some time in the next six months and
prior to the election, Governor Romney will file and release the 2011
return when there is sufficient information to provide an accurate return."

"The A.P." reports the Republican presidential candidate refuses to
identify his biggest donors who bundle money for his campaign. He often
declines to say who`s meeting with him or what he`s doing for hours at a
time. He puts limits on media access to his fund-raisers.

Joining me now, Karen Finney, former DNC communications director and
MSNBC political analyst, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, David Cay
Johnson, a tax columnist for "Reuters" and professor at Syracuse law
school.

David, you`ve been dying to get your hands on those Romney tax
returns. I know you have. I know it`s frustrating.

Talk to us about what we would want to find, what you`d be looking for
in older tax returns, especially tax returns filed without the anticipation
of a presidential campaign, if Romney ever filed one of those.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, REUTERS: Well, if is a very important issue here,
because I think there`s good reason to think that he`s been thinking about
this since before Bain. But since the founding of Bain, I think what the
American people deserve to learn about is, did you buy any illegal, gray-
market tax shelters? Were you audited in a way that the government found
serious problems? Did you make use of offshore vehicles in order to defer
or not pay taxes? Did you take advantage of things that were not caught in
audits by the IRS?

I mean, either the IRS didn`t audit, for example, George Bush`s tax
return the year he made almost all of his money from selling the Rangers.
So I don`t understand why he is reluctant to release this. If his returns
are clean, if there`s nothing there to worry about, then why not just
provide them and say, see, I`ve done everything?

Why this, well, I`ve complied with the law. By the way, as a Mormon,
one of the things the church teaches is that he who must be commanded in
all things is an unwise, slothful servant, and that you`re not to do the
minimum, you`re to do the right, the teaching of the church is that you
must choose the right in all cases. Well, choosing the right in this case
is being candid and forthright with the American people.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, when you listen to David talk about the
potential of what`s in these tax returns, obviously, it`s not the total
size of the Romney wealth that he`s concerned about, because that won`t
even be shown in personal tax returns. There`s all sorts of ways of
holding that outside of the personal returns, so it won`t reveal that he`s
rich guy. We know this.

The only thing, politically, worth hiding in those tax returns are the
kinds of embarrassments that David`s talking about.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that`s exactly right.
Although, remember, Mitt Romney has already told us that he knows that
there are things in there that the Democrats, those evil Democrats, will
use against him, right? Which nobody`s actually pressed the question to
say, well, then, what is that, right? If you`re that concerned about it.

But there are a couple of things here, Lawrence. As you know, it`s
complicated to try to communicate what is relevant, like the things that
David is talking about, to a voter who is more worried about job creation.

What the danger for Romney is, is it plays into the narrative -- and
this is why I think it`s so important that as the Obama campaign goes on --
they have to continue to put it to the narrative that this is a guy who
plays by a different set of rules. He`s able to play by the set of rules,
that is how people accumulate wealth and keep wealth while the rest of us,
you know, if we lose on an investment, we lose on an investment. We don`t
have tax shelters. We don`t have other ways to, you know, shell games in
ways to funnel our money around.

So, again, I think the important thing is to connect back to the
bigger narrative, because, you know, we`ll all be fascinated with the
details, but I think most voters, it goes to, is this guy honest and
trustworthy?

O`DONNELL: David, you began by just rattling off, off the top of your
head, a series of about five questions, which I`m going to go back to the
tape and write down, because these are very important questions. And I
think there is now a challenge to the media in the questions that you just
outlined.

It seems to me that there is no excuse for campaign reporters not to
ask one or more of the questions that you just outlined, and going forward
into presidential debates, there will be no excuse for presidential debate
moderators to not ask at least one of the questions that you just
identified.

JOHNSTON: No, and I think the American people should hold journalists
accountable for this.

O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.
JOHNSTON: We have had a long time now of journalists not asking
questions. The problem in this country isn`t a lack of investigative
reporting. A thousand of us are going to meet in Boston this week.

The problem is the beat reporting, the everyday day-to-day reporting.
The failure to ask the tough question and keep pressing it, and then, why
won`t you answer the question? What are the reasons that you`re not
willing to deal with this?

And we -- and journalists should be just as tough on President Obama
or any other candidate, because this is a job where the only test is your
judgment. And I would say here, and Governor Romney, we are not seeing
good judgment in dealing with this issue.

FINNEY: Which, you know, Lawrence, if I could just add to that, I
think part of the issue here is clearly the Romney campaign has made the
political calculation that what`s in there is more dangerous than a
political risk of not releasing them. And that is really the crux of where
journalists should be asking those questions.

JOHNSTON: Or they`ve certainly created the impression that that`s the
case --

FINNEY: True.

JOHNSTON: And why would you do that? Which tends to argue for what
Karen said.

O`DONNELL: But, Karen, the Romney campaign has also clearly made the
calculation, and I`ve seen campaigns make this calculation before, that the
campaign press is so lazy, relatively, lazy and uninformed on particulars
that they will not ask these questions and that they don`t know how to ask
these questions.

FINNEY: Well, and that they don`t really have time and the space in
whatever their platform they`re either writing for or reporting for to get
into some of these issues, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes, but they don`t have time, because they waste their
time on the idiotic games of what word did Romney use yesterday or what
word did Obama use yesterday. This is all to the campaign press`s own
discredit.

FINNEY: And I don`t make an excuse for them -- I mean, I`m just
saying, these are the kinds of excuses that I think people, you know, use.

But, you`re right. I mean, there`s no reason you could not press
these questions. Particularly, and this is clearly part of why the Romney
campaign keeps its distance from the reporters, is it`s the kind of thing
where somebody should be asking the question every single day.

O`DONNELL: All right, reporters, rewind the tape, write down David`s
questions and get on this.

Karen Finney and David Cay Johnston, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the decision to block anything and everything
the president tried to do in order to beat him in 2012 now has one good
result. The voting public has figured out Republicans are doing that.

And next, we will reveal the winner of our name the Romney campaign
bus contest. And the winner is not the ironed jeans express.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Last night, I asked you to tweet me names for Mitt
Romney`s campaign bus. We got a lot of good ones, including rolling
blunder, the 1 percent express, the pander express.

You know, some of you suggested phrases that weren`t really names of
the bus, but more like warning signs that would appear on the bus, like,
"caution, this bus makes wide right turns again and again and again." and
"this bus only drives in reverse."

And now, the winner of the name the Romney campaign bus contest, as
judged not by a Democratic vote of THE LAST WORD staff, because I`m in Los
Angeles and most of them are in New York and why consult with them anyway,
judged by me alone, the winner is, the etch-a-sketch express, tweeted to me
by Doran B.

Coming up, what did John Boehner and Mitt Romney talk about when they
met? Maybe, I don`t know, blocking anything and everything President Obama
tried to do?

And in the "rewrite," why the Vatican is attacking nuns on a bus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I sent Congress a
detailed jobs plan, full of the kind of bipartisan ideas that would have
put more Americans back to work. It had broad support from the American
people. It was fully paid for.

If Congress had passed it in full, we`d be on track to have a million
more Americans working this year. The unemployment rate would be lower.
Our economy would be stronger.

People in this town should be focused on doing everything we can to
keep our recovery going and keeping our country strong. And that requires
some action on the part of Congress. So I would urge them to take another
look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A new Public Policy poll asked voters if they think
Congressional Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump-start
the economy to ensure President Obama doesn`t win re-election; 49 percent
said yes, 40 percent said no. Two important general election voting
groups, moderates and independents, are even more convinced. Sixty one
percent of moderates think the Republicans are intentionally stalling
efforts to jump-start the economy, while 50 percent independents agree with
that.

Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner will hold their first
public event together in Boehner`s Ohio district this Sunday. Yesterday,
the two held their first face-to-face meeting since Romney locked up the
Republican nomination for president. A Boehner campaign aide told NBC News
that Romney and Boehner discussed, quote, "the best way forward for
Republicans in the 2012 election."

Joining me now are Ana Marie Cox, a political correspondent for
"Guardian U.S.," and David Corn, the Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" magazine, and an MSNBC political analyst.

Ana Marie, I am very surprised that the speaker and the Republican
nominee for president did not discuss, apparently, the governing of the
United States of America. They simply discussed the Republican campaign
going forward.

ANA MARIE COX, "GUARDIAN U.S.": Right. The best way forward for
Republicans, not the best way forward for, you know, America in general.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, for Republicans, which is less than 40 percent of
Americans. Yeah.

COX: Exactly. And a lot of republicans don`t trust Republicans,
apparently.

O`DONNELL: Right, yeah.

COX: I do wonder how that poll would have changed, in fact, if people
were asked, do you think Republicans were standing in the way of recovery,
not intentionally trying to block it, even. That goes to motive. And
sometimes I wonder, do we think that Republicans are actually malicious in
the way they`re trying to block the recovery, or are they just ignorant
about how a recovery should proceed forward?

I`m not sure what the American people think. And in the end, it
doesn`t matter, right? The problem is, we are not moving forward. The
Republican party may be on a bus for that matter. But it`s the Americans
that matter. It`s the voters that matter. And it will be interesting to
see if this dynamic continues.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, that poll is good news for President Obama`s
re-election campaign, because those voters, those moderates, those
independents are precisely who the campaign is trying to convince that
progress has been blocked by Congressional Republicans.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES": Yes. But first off, I have to say, I`m
surprised you didn`t pick my name for the Romney bus, Lawrence, which was
the "Flip Me Jitny," but nevertheless --

O`DONNELL: Well, David, see, there you go, Jitny is a fancy Long
Island bus that goes out there --

CORN: what are we talking about here?

O`DONNELL: It goes out there to -- but the trouble is, it`s not an
understood term in the 50 states. It`s just for the rich people going out
to East Hampton on Long Island. But I guess we could educate people about
it.

CORN: That was part of the charm.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

CORN: But to the more serious point here, I do think there may be a
problem for the president if he tries to run against Congress, the
Republican Congress. You note in his press conference on Friday, he didn`t
attack Republicans. He attacked Congress, because Congress actually polls
lower even than Congress does -- I mean, than the Republicans do. And so
Romney, I gather in the fall, is probably not going to spend a lot of time
with his arms around John Boehner and Eric Cantor, or Jon Kyl or Mitch
McConnell.

He`s going to want to be the outsider who says, I can make things
work. So the president has been setting up for the last year and a half
this dichotomy between him and the Republicans. They`re obstructionists.
They don`t believe in investments in the future. They have this crazy idea
that the way to advance is by destroying government, which had nothing to
do with the recession that we`re just sort of crawling our way out of.

And yet he`s going to have to try to tag Romney with that, who
endorses all this stuff. But Romney will be saying, hey, you know, look at
the choice between me and him, not Eric Cantor and Obama. It`s a little
bit of a complicated, I think, issue for the White House, although
certainly they are justified in their argument.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said about the two
parties being divided now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s true that the parties are divided right now, but it`s not
because my administration hasn`t constantly reached out to them. Even my
health care bill, which is something that has generated a lot of negative
attention on the Republican side, was modeled on the health care bill that
was passed by their current Republican nominee. So, obviously, it wasn`t
too far out.

It was something that in the past would have been considered a fairly
mainstream centrist bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, it seems that the president has a better
scorecard on reaching in the Republicans` direction than they do in
reaching in his direction.

COX: That`s true. And I`m sure there are some Democrats who are
disappointed in that. And there are some people that believe he might have
done better had he not reached out so far across the aisle to Republicans.
But it`s true that he can point to that if he wants to.

I think David`s totally right. It`s a complicated kind of argument to
make to the American people to run against Congress. And the best thing
that they can do is sort of saddle Mitt Romney with Congress. It would be
great if he ran with Paul Ryan, right? It would be great for the Democrats
if he did, if he pulled himself closer to Congress.

People are going to be looking for change. And if you can make it the
argument that Mitt Romney is not actually change, then I think Obama`s
chances improve even more.

O`DONNELL: So David, that raises real dangers for Mitt Romney in
selection of vice president, following Ana Marie`s logic, if he were to go
with a Paul Ryan or someone like that. You then are really running with
Congress.

CORN: Well, you know, I`d be quite surprised if he picks Paul Ryan,
because then he`s not just endorsing, he`s tattooing on his forehead the
Ryan Plan to end Medicare as we know it. So I`d be surprised if he does
that.

Picking somebody like Rob Portman would be a safer choice. I hate all
the speculation. But remember back in 2008, Obama picked Biden when he was
running for change. And Biden -- God bless him, but Biden was part of the
Senate for about 4,700 years. So I don`t think, you know -- you have to be
pretty excessive in your choice of a vice president, I think, for the
message component to trip you up.

But Ryan would be one of those choices that would trip Mitt Romney up.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox of "the Guardian" and David Corn, author of
the book "Showdown," thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

CORN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Vatican issues its official position on
masturbation, and its official position on what it calls homosexual acts.
And it attacks some nuns, just for fun, I guess. That`s coming up in the
Rewrite.

And later, I`ve been away from New York for a couple of weeks now and
the town has gone absolutely insane. This time over what songs you can
sing in kindergarten. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, nuns on a bus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": You got a bus tour coming up -
-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we do.

COLBERT: Starting this Thursday. OK, you guys -- you and some other
nuns, I`m guessing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct.

COLBERT: A bunch of nuns are getting on a bus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

COLBERT: That`s a movie right there, OK, nuns on a bus. And you guys
are going to go to nine different states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine states.

COLBERT: To different places where nuns are doing --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doing great work. And we`re going to lift up
their work, but we`re also stopping at Congress offices -- Congressional
offices, especially of congresspeople who voted for the House budget
proposed by Congressman Ryan. And that budget undermines the whole fabric
of our society.

And people don`t know it. We want to educate people about what`s
going on in Congress and make sure that they push back against hijacking
our nation.

COLBERT: Well, now, you do realize --

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Vatican is very worried about that woman, and most of
her sister nuns in the United States, who the Vatican regards as too
liberal and too concerned with fulfilling Jesus Christ`s stated mission to
help the poor, and not concerned enough with the Republican party`s and the
Catholic Church`s crusade against abortion, something Jesus Christ did not
crusade against.

There is no American nun that the Vatican is more disappointed in than
Sister Margaret A. Farley, who the Vatican recently turned into a best-
selling author by condemning her book, "Just Love: A Framework for
Christian Sexual Ethics."

The book was published with little notice in 2006. But since it got
condemned last week by the Vatican, it`s now a huge best seller. I got my
copy last week, thanks to the Vatican bringing it to my attention. The
Vatican got the book as soon as it was published, but it took them six
years to figure out just how much they hated it.

The office in the Vatican that spends its time deciding which books to
hate is called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That office
has had a lot of name changes over the years, kind of like when our
Department of War became the Department of Defense, or when the Department
of Health, Education and Welfare became the Department of Health and Human
Services.

Until 1965, that Vatican office was called the Supreme Sacred
Congregation of the Holy Office. And it still had its original title right
up until 1908, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal
Inquisition. You heard right, inquisition.

Who knew that the inquisition didn`t stop until 1908, when they
changed the name on the door of the office? The inquisition guys have
decided that Sister Farley`s book, quote, "risks grave harm to the
faithful," end quote.

And it believes that most of that harm will come through masturbation.
Sister Farley, you see, like every sane Catholic and every sane member of
the Catholic clergy, and every sane human being, has no problem with
masturbation. In her book, she writes that masturbation, quote, "does not
raise any moral questions at all," end quote.

Now, when you realize that the Vatican had an office with the word
"inquisition" in its title right up until 1908, it should not surprise you
that the guys working in that office today are as backward in the 21st
century as the guy working in that office in the 16th century. And so the
inquisition guys last week took the following position on masturbation:
quote, "masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."

And the inquisition guys are also very upset that Sister Farley is
cool with same-sex relationships. In her book, she says, quote, "my own
view is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified
according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and
activities."

In response, the inquisition guys said, homosexual acts are, quote,
"acts of grave depravity. Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.
They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the
gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual
complementarily."

No if by now you think I enjoy reading the sexual thoughts of the
inquisition guys, you are absolutely right. There is nothing quite like it
in the 21st century. Sister Farley also has no problem with divorce. She
writes, "my own position is that a marriage commitment is subject to
release."

The inquisition guy`s response was, quote, "the Lord Jesus insisted on
the original intention of the creator, who willed that marriage be
indissoluble."

If that was the original intention of the creator, why does the
original interpretation of the Old Testament, the Jewish interpretation,
agree with Sister Farley`s view of the moral legitimacy of divorce? Well,
what Sister Farley knows and what every highly educated Catholic knows, and
by highly educated, I only mean educated in Catholicism -- what they all
know is that the most behaviorally constrictive rules of Catholicism on
masturbation, on homosexuality, on sex and marriage and procreation in
general are all man-made rules.

And the men who made those rules are the men who gave you the
inquisition. And those men didn`t have the basic human decency to get the
word "inquisition" out of the Vatican until 1908. Stephen Colbert
understands the weakness of man-made rules in a church that went on a
centuries-long rampage of torture and murder to enforce its rules. That`s
why Colbert, who described himself as, quote, "a good Catholic," end quote,
delights in making fun of the men in the world headquarters of his
religion.

Colbert still loves his church, the way you can still love your
country even though you don`t like your country`s immigration policy or
your country`s health care system. The guys in the inquisition office can
continue their war on American nuns like Sister Farley. But she and the
nuns on a bus have already won, because the guys in the inquisition office
lost the hearts and minds of good Catholics a very, very long time ago.

The inquisition guys aren`t going to stop the nuns on a bus. And no,
they`re not going to have much luck stopping masturbation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": The fun starts if tomorrow all the
things were gone, I`d worked for all my life and I had to start again with
just my children and my wife. I`d thank my lucky stars to be living here
today. And the Department of Education spokeswoman agreed and said the
lyrics are not age appropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby, baby, girl quit playing.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": Whatever happened to "Pop Goes the Weasel."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re five.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The principal there thinks that this is
culturally insensitive. I say it`s offensive to not sing it anymore.
Isn`t this America? I mean, come on!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: From "the View" to the cover of the "New York Post," the
banning of a song at a kindergarten graduation has become a national hot
topic. PS-90`s principal Greta Hawkins decided to ban Lee Greenwood`s song
"God Bless the USA" from the graduation finale, because according to
staffers, she thought the song was offensive to some cultures and
religions.

The Department of Education spokeswoman said the principal felt the
lyrics were not age-appropriate. Instead, Principal Hawkins approved
Justin Bieber`s "Baby" be sung in its place. That choice set off a chain
of negative reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that this principal at the school may have
trouble with the second line of that song.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
because the flag still stands for freedom and they can`t take that away."
I understand that her religion prevents her from saluting the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s a Jehovah`s Witness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deal is if you don`t salute the flag --
there`s a difference between allegiance and worship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s confusing, because Justin Bieber`s song is
for teenage love, and that`s worse than singing "God Bless the USA."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Congressman Michael Grimm released this statement, "I have
just one question for this principal: who exactly are we offending? The
only thing offensive about any of this is the anti-American message being
ingrained in our youth"

The "New York Post" is now reporting Principal Hawkins has had a
change of heart and will not have the students sing the Bieber song either.
It is not known now what song will be sung for the finale at the June 20th
graduation.

Joining me now is Mark Thompson, host of Sirius XM`s "Make it Plain,"
and more importantly, a proud New York City public school parent. Mark, I
leave town for a couple of weeks, I`m out here in L.A. The city is now out
of control.

MARK THOMPSON, SIRIUS XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That`s why you can`t
leave.

O`DONNELL: What is this? I mean, this thing is something you`d
expect to happen, I don`t know, somewhere in the Bible Belt or something.
The most cosmopolitan city in America and there`s some problem over what
the kids are going to sing in a kindergarten graduation?

THOMPSON: Well, yeah, obviously, there is. And thank you for having
me, as always, Lawrence. It`s unfortunate that there`s such a controversy.
And it`s unfortunate that people would seize upon this to question
patriotism and even to hurl racial epithets at the principal. I think
that`s very, very unfortunate.

I spoke at my son`s school`s career day a couple of weeks ago. He`s a
New York public school student. And I think I can somewhat empathize with
the principal, because when the kids learned I was on radio, worked in
media and interviewed a lot of celebrities, all of them wanted to know, had
I ever interviewed Justin Bieber. When I asked them if they had my job,
who would they most like to interview and what would they ask? Of course,
they all said -- the girls said, we all would want to interview Justin
Bieber and ask if we can be his girlfriend.

So there is Justin Bieber fever definitely in the New York public
schools and probably outside of here. So I can probably empathize somewhat
with the principal.

O`DONNELL: Mark, I always wanted to talk to you about this, because
you used to be a public school teacher yourself. And you`re aware of the
cross-currents that hit. But these are the kinds of things where it`s
very, very hard for a principal or a teacher to see this coming, when
you`re making these day-to-day decisions about, well, let`s sing this song,
or maybe we shouldn`t sing this song because of this reference in it.

THOMPSON: Yes, it is a very difficult decision. I would like to hear
more about her reasoning, whether it`s her faith, whether there are lines
in there that might have been somewhat disrespectful to other cultures or,
shall we say, other cultures wouldn`t appreciate as much. But it`s
definitely caused a firestorm.

And again, look, the irony is that the epithet`s being hurled at her,
Lawrence, really almost negate the song. "I`m proud to know I`m free," yet
she`s been called some of the ugliest things we`ve ever heard of. So are
people really free at this point, if you`re going to be saying those kinds
of things about people.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, to see an outpouring of hatred as your defense for
why your song should be sung --

THOMPSON: It negates the song.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

THOMPSON: How can you be proud -- how is there pride in calling a
person of color the names that she`s been called? And the song is about
pride in America. So I think that does beg the question. And we also need
to ask ourselves, this was a song that was popularized again in a reprise
after 9/11. And you`ve got a Republican nominee running around talking
about, we don`t need anymore first responders like police and firefighters.

So there are a lot of ironies in this. But it is unfortunate that
it`s become such a big deal, you know, in a school system. And it affects
the students.

O`DONNELL: OK, Mark, check with your fourth grader. I`m sure he`s
mature enough to choose a song for a kindergarten graduation ceremony. And
Tweet us what your son thinks they should sing.

THOMPSON: I will.

O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, host of "Make it Plain" on Sirius XM
Satellite Radio, thank you very much for joining me tonight, Mark.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having me, man.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com.

END

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