updated 8/15/2012 1:30:42 PM ET 2012-08-15T17:30:42

Guests: Alex Wagner, Ari Melber, Robert Reich, Jonathan Cohn, Michael Grunwald, Jonathan Capehart, Andy Borowitz


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, Mitt Romney is running away from
Paul Ryan`s record, but not as fast as Paul Ryan is running away from his
record. And in his desperate pursuit of the vice presidency, Paul Ryan is
running away from a woman he`s been devoted to for most of his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every now and then, I`m
known to make a mistake. I did not make a mistake with this guy.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: After four days of pomp and circumstance --

ROMNEY: I did not make a mistake with this guy.

WAGNER: -- his selection is already creating problems for the
campaign.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSBNC HOST: This may be the worst merger since AOL
bought Time Warner.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There were safer
choices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They may lose big.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: This conversation has now
shifted.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This has now shifted.

STEELE: It shifts the debate from a referendum to a choice election.

ROMNEY: I did not make a mistake with this guy.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: In college, Paul Ryan, one of his jobs was
he drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s going to be held accountable for all the
other things that he`s done.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: But it`s Medicare that dominated the day.

MATTHEWS: Paul Ryan`s budget.

WAGNER: Ryan`s budget.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s about 100
pages` worth here of details.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Romney has made clear, if the Ryan had
come to his desk as president, he would have signed it.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: The only place that Paul Ryan finds
savings is by increasing costs on seniors.

ROMNEY: I have my budget plan, as you know, that I`ve put out.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: How is your budget deferent
from Ryan`s?

ROMNEY: I`m sure there are places that my budget is different from
his.

FINNEY: Do you agree with him on Medicare?

ROMNEY: We haven`t gone through piece by piece and said, here`s a
place where there`s a difference.

WAGNER: Romney`s strategy of avoidance and denial.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: This is his reputation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan to represent
something, big ideas, change, reform.

ROMNEY: The items that we agree on, I think outweigh any differences
there may be.

STEELE: Romney already kind of backing away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They may lose big.

SHRUM: Short of economic Armageddon, it`s going to be very hard for
Obama to lose.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Oh! Whoo! What a relief!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With 84 days to the presidential election, a new report
reveals that Republicans fear that Mitt Romney lost the election when he
picked Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Tonight, on FOX News, Paul Ryan didn`t want to talk about the Ryan
plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Doesn`t your budget also contemplate very major
savings for Medicare on something like the same amount?

RYAN: Only President Obama raids $716 billion from the Medicare
program. He cuts $716 billion from the Medicare program, to pay for
Obamacare.

HUME: Right.

RYAN: We don`t do that.

HUME: But what -- you make savings. How much?

RYAN: The point -- we -- I joined the Romney ticket. And what Mitt
Romney is proposing to do is repeal all of Obamacare. I have voted
repeatedly in Congress to repeal all of Obama care, including this cut of
$716 billion to pay for Obamacare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here`s Charles Krauthammer on FOX News, reviewing Paul
Ryan`s performance in his first solo interview as a vice presidential
candidate on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: He`s got one problem. And I
think they knew this was a problem going in. The details of the Ryan plan
have some things which don`t mesh with what Romney is running on, and which
are a little harder to defend.

He`s got to simply say, I can explain it, but it`s not relevant. It`s
history. I`m running under the Romney plan, and that`s it. Otherwise,
you`re going to end up in the weeds and distracted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A new Gallup poll shows Congressman Ryan is a member of
the worst-rated U.S. Congress in modern history, 10 percent of Americans
approve of Congress, tying the lowest reading in Gallup`s 38-year history
of that poll, 83 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress. A new
"Politico" report reveals what Republicans, some Republicans, really think
of Mitt Romney`s V.P. pick.

"In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and
campaign operatives, the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing
apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the
election. It means Romney/Ryan can run on principles and provide some real
direction and vision for the Republican Party and probably lose, maybe big,
said former President George W. Bush`s senior adviser, Mark McKinnon.

"Rush Limbaugh read that politico article and concluded that those
Republicans are trying to sabotage the Romney campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What they`re worried is that the
conservative wing of the party is going to be able to lay claim to victory
here. And that they, these unnamed, establishment Republican consultants
and what-have-you, they are the ones who are going to lose their positions
of power and influence, because they aren`t onboard with this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Alex Wagner and Ari Melber.

Alex, let`s stick with rush`s thinking here, and take it just one step
further. If the Republicans lose, then doesn`t that discredit the Rush
Limbaugh wing of the Republican Party?

WAGNER: Yes!

O`DONNELL: Yes, see? I thought it might.

WAGNER: You know, Lawrence, the takeaway from these sort of very
adventurous last 72 hours, I think, is, what`s the plan? This is what I
got from that "Politico" story.

Senior Republicans, unnamed and otherwise, must be thinking, what is
the deal, Mitt Romney? You didn`t have a plan on Bain. You didn`t have a
plan on the Swiss bank accounts. You have now made a bed with the
standard-bearer for the Republican house caucus and some of the most
draconian policy that has ever come across the floor of Congress, and you
don`t have a plan on how you`re going to address that.

They trot Paul Ryan out there. It`s a lamb to the slaughterhouse,
almost. He can`t even answer the questions.

Mitt Romney doesn`t know what hi differences are. This, they could
have seen coming from a mile away, and yet there is no messaging, there is
no talking point, there seems to be no strategy as to how Mitt Romney`s
going to negotiate this.

O`DONNELL: And here`s the truth of Paul Ryan, that the Romney
campaign, I don`t think, quite noticed. And that is, he`s never been able
to answer television questions about the Ryan plan. He`s always gone soft
and he`s always had himself in a position where he`s basically playing
softball on TV. Not under the pressure of being a vice presidential
candidate.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: That`s right. And even by his own numbers,
the plan keeps a large deficit, well passed, 2030. So it is not a deficit-
cutting plan.

You know, there`s some people in Washington who are calling him a
budget hawk.

O`DONNELL: A deficit hawk.

MELBER: A deficit hawk.

O`DONNELL: He leaves the deficit going for the rest of Mitt Romney`s
lifetime on this one.

MELBER: Exactly, Lawrence. He keeps the deficit going and what he
does is attack the programs he doesn`t like, health care for the middle
class and especially health care for the poor in Medicaid. He`s not a
deficit hawk, he`s a poverty hawk, he`s a charity hawk, he`s a social
services hawk.

But we were talking about this earlier, you know, Dennis Kucinich is
not called a deficit hawk just because he wants to cut defense spending,
because he has a critique of how much we spend on defense.

As for the plan, look, I`m reminded of the opening scene in "The Dark
Knight Rises," where a different Bane, an evil Bane says, it doesn`t matter
who we are, what matters is we have a plan. In that case, an evil plan to
take out Gotham.

The problem for these guys is what meshes, to go on the Krauthammer
quote. They both have similar plans to decimate Medicare. It`s not going
to work in Florida and I don`t think it`s going to work many other places.

O`DONNELL: Alex, here`s the trick question for George Will and for
other establishment, so-called neutral major media players who have always
regarded Paul Ryan as the thinking man in the Republican House of
Representatives. Who is the number two thinking man in the Republican
House of Representatives?

And none of them have an answer. Which is to say, Ryan is the only
person in a group of hundreds of Republican congressmen who don`t know
anything about government or policy, and so he stands out, because he knows
a couple of things. Just a couple of things, but not enough.

WAGNER: And keep in mind, Lawrence, I mean, he`s gotten two billed
passed in his tenure as a congressman. One is renaming a post office.
These are sort of ideological proposals that he`s put on the table, but in
their earlier iteration iterations, found no support among the Republican
caucus. They`re the ones who said, oh, this plan for Social Security is
too extreme.

I mean, it`s only in the last two years since the Tea Party caucus has
come in, flags waving with pitchforks and so on, that these proposals of
Paul Ryan`s have seen the light of day.

O`DONNELL: And, Ari, this, I think, is something the Romney campaign
was uniquely susceptible to. The sensation of, let`s grab a guy who really
stands for something, because we don`t.

I mean, because of the utter emptiness of the Romney campaign, that`s
part of what made Ryan so attractive to them.

MELBER: Exactly, the idea that we don`t have a course that will get a
political core transplant. But then, wait! This is hard to sell. What
does Mitt Romney do with things that are hard to sell? What did he do with
the assault weapons ban, as you`ve covered on this show in Massachusetts.
What did he do with his Medicare plan?

He does what he has done before. He walks away from it. And then you
have what was in that interview, which is Paul Ryan, who was selected for
one thing, backing away from that.

When you back away from that, what else do you have from Paul Ryan?
You don`t have private sector experience, because he spent his life in
Congress. You don`t have other foreign policy experience. You don`t have
other things there. This is what`s mind boggling about this and we`re only
72 hours in.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at this new Obama re-election campaign
ad, which is going to be airing in five swing states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

NARRATOR: Mitt Romney on how to pay for college and start a business.

ROMNEY: Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to,
from your parents.

NARRATOR: Hope they can afford it. Romney`s plans could cut college
aid for nearly 10 million students and eliminate the tax deductions for
college tuition.

President Obama eliminated bank middlemen from college loans and used
the savings to double college grants.

ROMNEY: Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to,
from your parents.

NARRATOR: Get real, Mitt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: For those of us who could not borrow money from our
parents to start a business or pay rent or any other such thing, Romney`s
really out of touch, obviously, in that ad, and it would have been nice to
pick a running mate who could actually address that side of Romney`s
problem.

WAGNER: Surely, surely. That line, "borrow money from your parents
if you have to" -- that same dude, two days ago said, I love policy.
That`s your education policy?

I mean, say nothing of the fact that the Paul Ryan budget, aside from
the Medicare sort of revisionism, is about changing the American social
compact on every level, whether that`s housing assistance, food stamps,
education, technology, science, infrastructure, transportation. I mean,
you`re trying to appeal.

Mitt Romney needs to appeal to the middle class? He has the most
class warfare message of them all.

O`DONNELL: And Paul Ryan is a guy who has lived on and continues to
live on money from his partners, his grandparents, and his great
grandfather who started that business in -- out there in Wisconsin, where
they actually are in the road building business, virtually, totally
dependent on government income and government projects.

MELBER: Yes. And he`s used Social Security for its survivor
benefits, which is a great part of Social Security.

O`DONNELL: And I`m glad he could and I`m glad he did.

MELBER: Yes, and he mentioned his mom is on Medicare. That`s a fact
without a point. Right? She`s on something that he wants to destroy.

O`DONNELL: Right.

Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, thank you both very much for joining me.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Paul Ryan says he`s had a change of heart and
will now fight to save Medicare. The Romney campaign is still really
confused about what it wants to do with Medicare. The new Romney versus
Ryan plan is next.

And like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan has his share of flip-flops. Paul
Ryan was willing to abandon the woman he says most influenced him to enter
politics. And he did it for political gain. That`s in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: So far, Paul Ryan`s campaign for the vice presidency has
been about Medicare and defending his plan to end Medicare as we know it.
Pretending it is actually a defense of Medicare. And it`s also been about
a woman he loved almost as long as he has loved his mother -- Ayn Rand, who
he now disowns in pursuit of higher office.

Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand, that romance is in tonight`s "Rewrite".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: We`re the ones who are offering a plan to save Medicare, to
protect Medicare, to strengthen Medicare. We`re the ones who are not
raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

President Obama is actually damaging Medicare for current seniors.
It`s irrefutable, and that`s why I think this is the debate we want to have
and that`s the debate we`re going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The first presidential campaign that could be decided
entirely on future of Medicare is now underway. Mitt Romney released this
ad today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: You paid into Medicare for years, every paycheck. Now when
you need it, Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare. Why? To pay for
Obamacare.

So now the money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to
a massive new government program that`s not for you.

The Romney/Ryan plan protects Medicare benefits for today`s seniors
and strengthens the plan for the next generation.

ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And so now, the Romney campaign is claiming to be the
protector of Medicare. But the Romney campaign seems to realize that they
have to protect Medicare from Medicare`s worst enemy, Romney`s running
mate, Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: When Obama gutted Medicare by taking
$717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan
mimicked part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not.
That`s a big difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under
President Clinton, professor of public policy at the University of
California at Berkeley, and the author of a new e-book, "Beyond Outrage,"
and Jonathan Cohn, the senior editor for "The New Republic."

Robert Reich, take us through the adjustments made my President Obama
in the Affordable Care Act, and the changes in Medicare proposed by Ryan
and the Ryan plan and whatever we can make out to be the current Romney
plan.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Yes, well, Lawrence, it`s very,
very straightforward. I mean, both President Obama, in the Affordable Care
Act, and Ryan, and let`s call it the Ryan/Romney plan, because it is Ryan
and Romney, both of them are going to slow the growth of Medicare expenses
by about $715 billion or $716 billion over the next ten years, but they do
it in entirely different ways.

Under, the Affordable Care Act, you slow the growth by cutting the
payments to the providers of medical care. That is the drug companies and
the hospitals and all the other providers, holding down the costs.

But under the Ryan/Romney plan, you hold down the costs of Medicare by
shifting the costs on to seniors. That is giving seniors what are
essentially vouchers that are not in any way going to keep up with the
expected costs of increases in health care costs. So seniors are left
bearing the cost of the savings.

I mean, it`s night and day. They`re entirely different methods of
actually holding down the costs. Romney wants to put it on seniors,
Romney/Ryan, and Obama wants to put it on the health care providers, the
companies, the corporations, the insurers, the drug companies. You
couldn`t have it any different -- you know, if you wanted a contrast, you
could not have a bolder contrast than that.

But Romney wants to obfuscate it. Now he`s scared of the backlash
against Ryan. And all we`re hearing is a dust-off. All they want to do is
create enough confusion so that people don`t really see that contrast.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Cohn, do you think they can create that
confusion? And particularly among current Medicare recipients?

JONATHAN COHN, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Absolutely. I mean, I`m sure they
can, because they`ve got, you know, Ryan has two different plans, and
Romney will do anything to avoid a specific. You know, he`ll say one thing
in the morning and one thing in the evening.

But I think there`s a chance -- I do think there`s actually one very
concrete thing we can point out to today`s seniors. And it speaks right to
that advertisement that you played before. You know, the point of that ad,
is look what Obama`s doing. He`s taking money from your Medicare and
giving it to someone else.

Well, actually, that`s not true, entirely. You know, the money that
both Ryan and Obama, they both take money out of Medicare. But Obama, a
lot of that money goes right back to seniors.

You know, today, if you`re a senior on Medicare, you get free annual
wellness visits. You get free cancer screenings. The doughnut hole is
shrinking. That`s the money that Obama took out of Medicare. He took it
from the health care industry and he`s given it to seniors.

Now, Ryan, in the first 18 years, he takes that money also. He
doesn`t give it to seniors. I`m sort of surprised no one`s picked up on
this, but the impact of the Ryan plan in the first ten year is the doughnut
hole opens back up and those preventative care, the free cancer screenings,
the annual visit, that all goes away.

So, you tell me. So Obama`s giving seniors more prescription drug
coverage, he`s giving seniors the free visits. Ryan`s taking that away.
You tell me, who`s stealing from seniors?

O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, Paul Ryan built a career and a cheerleading
group for himself from the Republican Party by saying, we have to contain
the costs of Social Security. We have to contain the costs of Medicare.

So President Obama introduces some cost containment in Medicare, which
as you will recall, the last Democratic president did too, in his first
year in office, a couple hundred billion dollars in Medicare cost
containment, in that very first Clinton budget bill. This is not a new
thing for Democratic presidents to try to do.

So President Obama does that, and then the guy who`s the champion --
the Republican champion of containing Medicare costs, then attacks the
president for trying to contain some Medicare costs.

REICH: Lawrence, are you suggesting that the Republicans are little
bit hypocritical about Medicare?

O`DONNELL: I`m getting that feeling!

REICH: Well, look it, the problem is, everybody knows, out there, 15
years from now, we do have to control Medicare costs. We`ve got to control
Medicare costs, largely because health care costs, overall, have to be
controlled.

I mean, they`re now 18 percent of the national budget. In fact,
they`re 18 percent of the national economy. And they`re going to be about
25 percent of the national economy.

At least the Affordable Care Act, the Obama`s health care act, does
provide the beginnings of health care cost control. And that`s a good
thing.

What Ryan and Romney keep saying is, we are going to be saving
Medicare from itself. Well, they`re not saving Medicare. They`re actually
reducing the coverage for seniors, and they`re doing absolutely nothing
about controlling the overall growth of health care costs, which are
drawing Medicare costs upwards.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Cohn, the CBO is now saying with some of the
Ryan ideas for changing Medicare as we know it, they don`t even know how to
score it, because it`s such a radical change to Medicare, that it would
affect the entire health care system in ways that are unpredictable, even
to the experts at CBO.

COHN: That`s right. This is really unknown territory.

But, remember, this is what I think Bob was just referring to. The
key difference, the one thing we do know, is that under President Obama,
under the Affordable Care Act, the one thing we know for sure is that the
benefits of Medicare stay. That`s the guarantee. Those won`t go away.

Under Romney and Ryan, what they`re basically saying is, we`re going
to cut the funding, and if the voucher isn`t big enough to get you health
care, you might lose those benefits. That`s the key difference.

O`DONNELL: Robert Reich and Jonathan Cohn, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

REICH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan has always hit all the right Republican talking
points, attacking President Obama`s stimulus plan. But what if, what if we
actually have Paul Ryan on paper saying, in writing, that the president`s
stimulus plan creates jobs? That`s coming up.

And later, which Republican is in the front-runner status now, right
now, for the presidential primary of 2016? We know that the Republicans
are going to lose this time around. We know they`re going to need a new
Republican nominee in 2016. And it is not too early to start figuring out
who that`s going to be.

Andy Borowitz is going to join me for that. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And now, poor Paul Ryan`s trying to say he didn`t really
know about Ayn Rand`s philosophy when he professed his devotion to Ayn
Rand`s philosophy. Paul Ryan`s been caught in a bad romance with Ayn Rand
-- and that`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."

And speaking of love stories, remember when President Obama signed the
stimulus bill and Paul Ryan just said he loved it? Oh, that`s right. He
never said he loved it, at least not publicly. But he did write love
letters about the stimulus bill and we`ve got them. Paul Ryan`s stimulus
love letters are coming up, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our party`s at the top of its game. And that`s
why now is the perfect time for impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re united! We`ll get every Republican vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know, Dave. Remember, Obama`s only been
president for three weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, the hypocrisy of Paul Ryan.
That was "Saturday Night Live`s" version of what happened when
Congressional Republicans met days after President Obama was sworn in. And
this is what really happened when Congressional Republicans met days after
President Obama was sworn in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are advancing constantly. And we`re not
interested in holding on to anything, except the enemy. We`re going to
hold on to him by the nose and we`re going to kick him in the (EXPLETIVE
DELETED). We`re going to kick the hell out of him all the time. And we`re
going to go through him like crap through a goose!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the clip that House Republicans actually showed
at a Republican retreat in Virginia just 10 days after President Obama was
inaugurated. And President Obama was the enemy in that clip a clip of
George C. Scott as General Patton, talking about what he would do to
Hitler`s army.

It was shown, along with C-Span footage of the House vote on the
Recovery Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, which no Republican in
the House voted for. One of the Republicans who was at that retreat and
voted against the Recovery Act, was Paul Ryan, of course, who, as "the
Boston Globe" reports today, "sought stimulus funds while decrying
stimulus."

"The Globe" reports, in 2009, as Representative Paul Ryan was railing
against President Obama`s 787 billion dollar stimulus package as a wasteful
spending spree, he wrote at least four letters to President Obama`s
secretary of energy, asking that millions of dollars from the program be
granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservatives groups.

Here is a portion of the letter Paul Ryan wrote in December of 2009 to
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, or as he`s known to Rush Limbaugh, Obama Czar
Steven Chu. "I was pleased that the primary objectives of their project
will allow residents and businesses in the partner cities to reduce their
energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local
economy by creating new jobs."

There`s Paul Ryan in writing saying government, through the stimulus
spending, will -- his words -- stimulate the local economy by creating new
jobs. Talk about smoking guns.

Joining me now are Michael Grunwald, senior national correspondent for
"Time" and author of "The New New Deal: the Inside Story of President
Obama`s Recovery Act," and Jonathan Capehart, an editorial writer for "the
Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Michael, how surprised are you that congressman who, you know, danced
all over the floor saying the stimulus was the end of America, like Paul
Ryan, then got stimulus money, saying that it would create new jobs?

MICHAEL GRUNWALD, "TIME MAGAZINE": You know, it`s funny. The
stimulus has become my number one obsession.

O`DONNELL: For a lot of us. It`s our number one -- you`re perfectly
normal. Totally healthy. Don`t worry about that at all.

GRUNWALD: That`s right. Paul Ryan`s sort of been my number two. And
so I would have to say I wasn`t very surprised. This sort of fits the MO
of a deficit hawk who supported the Bush tax cuts and the Bush security
spending and the Bush stimulus and the Bush bank bailout and the Bush
highway bill that included the Bridge to Nowhere.

You know, it`s funny. When they were putting this stimulus bill
together, Republicans were very concerned. They were having a big fight,
because their goal -- you had the kind of political leaders, whose goal was
we have to be unanimous against the stimulus, no matter what. And we`ve
got some moderates. We`ve got some guys who love concrete. So if we`ve
got to throw in a lot of spending, we`ll throw in some spending.

They came up with a 715 billion dollar stimulus alternative to Obama`s
787 billion, almost exactly the same. Then you have the kind of ideologues
who said, you know what, we`re not here to do another New Deal. We want to
just do tax cuts. We don`t want to spend 800 billion dollars; we`ll do 400
billion dollars.

Paul Ryan voted for both of them. So, of course, 715 billion dollars
is freedom crushing tyranny, Euro socialist radicalism. But -- but a few
billion less than that is perfectly fine.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the then eternal optimist, President
Obama, said about the stimulus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So when I hear people just saying, we don`t need to do
anything, this is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill, without
acknowledging that by definition, part of any stimulus package would
include spending -- that`s the point -- then what I get a sense of is that
there`s some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up.

But I`m the eternal optimist. I think that over time, people respond
to civility and rational argument.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, it seems Paul Ryan did not publicly
respond to rational argument, but he comes from a family that understands
stimulus. It`s a family, the family business is road building. He`s seen
it work before.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right, right. And as you,
you know, let us know from the congressman`s writings, he understand it
completely. He knew exactly who to thank for it and he knew exactly what
it would do.

But you have to understand, though, what they -- what the Republicans
were saying publicly -- and Michael, I think you wrote about this, is that
publicly, they were saying they`re against -- they were against the
stimulus, but it was also because they basically had decided, after
President Obama had been elected, that they were going to -- they were
going to oppose him on everything, as often as possible, as often as they
could, to deny him any kind of success, to basically turn his presidency
into a failure before it even had a chance to get off the ground.

So publicly, sure, they decried the stimulus. But, of course, they`re
politicians. And they know that the people back home are looking for them
to bring home the bacon, to bring home government largess. And that`s
exactly what Paul Ryan did behind the scenes by thanking the Obama
administration for stimulus funds that went to his district, to show that
he was actually doing something.

O`DONNELL: Michael, any reasonable version of the vice presidential
debate will include reading the last lines of that letter to Paul Ryan
about the stimulus bill in his community creating jobs, and his belief that
it will create jobs. What would you expect Ryan`s answer to be if asked,
as he should and must be asked, about that letter in the vice presidential
debate?

GRUNWALD: You know, he`s a smooth politician, as you know. I think,
as Jonathan mentioned, in my book, I talk about how the Republicans really
did decide before day one that they were not going to give Obama any
victories, that they were going to stand for no.

Paul Ryan had -- he had voted for a stimulus just a year earlier.
Mitt Romney, in fact -- every Republican and Democratic candidate in 2008
supported a stimulus. And Mitt Romney`s was the largest. It was only
after January 20th, 2009, that this suddenly became, you know, big
government, ludicrous, you know, boondoggle spending.

So I assume that he would just pretty much say what he`s always said,
which is no, even while he`s voting yes.

O`DONNELL: You are embarrassing me with things that I have forgotten
about these candidates` history with stimulus. Michael Grunwald, author of
the new book, "The New New Deal," and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Paul Ryan`s first love has now turned into a
bad romance. That`s in the Rewrite.

And now that the suspense is out of this presidential election, Andy
Borowitz will join me to look into the future as only he can and tell me
who the presidential nominees will be in 2016. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, another bad political romance.
Episode two of Paul Ryan`s relationship and lies about his relationship
with a woman who is not his wife. Paul Ryan fell in love with this woman
long before he met his wife and continued his love affair with her until
April of this year.

He had to drop his beloved, then, for two reasons. One, he was being
considered for the Republican vice presidential nomination. And two,
Catholics became highly critical of Paul Ryan`s very public entanglement
with this woman.

Ayn Rand was dead by the time Paul Ryan discovered her and fell in
love with her through her books "Atlas Shrugged," "The Fountainhead" and
others. She became, by his account, the most influential person in his
life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I
had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As I reported in this space in April, Catholics United
issued a statement saying, "we question why Ryan as a self-professed
Catholic would put the teachings of ultra-capitalist Ayn Rand, of whom he
has spoken glowingly, before the teachings of Jesus and the church."

And of course, that was enough for Ryan to not only drop Ayn Rand, but
to start lying about her, lying about his relationship with her, lying
about what he loved about her.

He suddenly started saying, quote, "I reject her philosophy, it`s an
atheist philosophy."

Today in a breathtakingly lazy interview conducted by the homework-
averse Brit Hume, who very convincingly played dumb about Ryan and Rand,
Ryan confidently lied about his relationship with her once again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What is your view of Ayn Rand? Are you
an Ayn Rand disciple, as the charge?

RYAN: I really enjoyed her novels, "Atlas Shrugged" in particular.
It triggered my interest in economics. That`s where I got into studying
economics. That`s why I wanted to study the whole field of economics.

I later in life learned about what her philosophy was. It`s called
objectionism. It`s something I completely disagree with. It`s an
atheistic philosophy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, OK. So later in life, he learned about what her
philosophy was, even though earlier in life he had been reading about her
philosophy in her novels, and that`s what triggered his interest in
economics. That`s kind of weird, because Ayn Rand`s philosophy was very
well-known, even to people who never read her books.

She was on "the Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, as a guest, where
Johnny actually bumped Buster Crab one night just to let Ayn Rand keep
talking. Really, Buster Crab. She talked to Johnny about being an
atheist. And she said this to Mike Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE WALLACE, JOURNALIST: You are out to destroy almost every edifice
in the contemporary American way of life, our Judeo-Christian religion, our
modified government-related capitalism, our rule by the majority will.
Other reviews have said that you scorn churches and the concept of God.
Are these accurate criticisms?

AYN RAND, AUTHOR: Uh, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You would have to be pretty dense to be an Ayn Rand fan
and not know that Ayn Rand was an atheist, as Ryan is now pretending. Now,
like Ryan, I read Ayn Rand when I was in high school. In fact, she was
assigned reading in my Catholic high school, where none of the priests were
afraid of exposing us to atheist writers and philosophers, including some
they and we agreed with.

I enjoyed reading her novels then too. But unlike Ryan, I didn`t
believe she was a better moral or political philosopher than Jesus Christ.
And by the way, most atheists I know find Jesus Christ a better moral
philosopher than Ayn Rand.

Only for a politician is Ayn Rand`s atheism a strike against her. And
only a politician would dream of claiming to have been once an Ayn Rand fan
and not know anything about her philosophy or that she was an atheist.
Only a politician would try to pretend that he learned those things about
Ayn Rand, quote, later in life.

Well, let`s see. If he grew up reading Ayn Rand, as he has said,
later in life would be, what? In college? In his 20s? When he was
working in Congress as a Republican staffer?

Or would later in life be, oh, I don`t know, April of this year? Is
that when he`s claiming that he just discovered what her philosophy was and
that she was an atheist? Because later in Paul Ryan`s life, in fact, in
2005, he actually wrote a speech about Ayn Rand that he then delivered at a
meeting of the Atlas Society, a group of Rand worshippers, all of whom were
well versed in Rand`s philosophy and her atheism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I grew up on Ayn Rand. That`s what I tell people. You know,
everybody does their soul searching, and trying to find out who they are
and what they believe. You learn about yourself. I grew up reading Ayn
Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems
are and what my beliefs are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So there he is, in 2005, later in life, as a congressman,
sounding like an expert on Ayn Rand. But according to today`s testimony to
Brit Hume, he never really knew what her philosophy was until some time
later in life than that, I guess.

It must have been later than 2005, because he said this in 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: It doesn`t surprise me that sales of "The Fountainhead" and
"Atlas Shrugged" have surged lately with the Obama administration coming
in. Because it`s that kind of thinking, that kind of writing that is
sorely needed right now.

And I think a lot of people would observe that we are right now living
in an Ayn Rand novel, metaphorically speaking. But more to the point is
this, the issue that is under assault, the attack on democratic capitalism,
on individualism and freedom in America, is an attack on the moral
foundation of America.

And Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining
the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism. And this to me
is what matters most.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So there he is praising Ayn Rand`s morality. There`s Paul
Ryan in 2009 still citing Ayn Rand as the moral philosopher who guides his
thinking about capitalism and government.

But Fox News viewers didn`t see that video. And they never will see
that video of Paul Ryan for two reasons. One, it would involve Brit Hume
or someone working for Brit Hume today to have done some homework. And
two, Brit Hume`s job nowadays, after a distinguished career in real
journalism elsewhere, is to help Fox News help Paul Ryan become the next
Republican vice president of the United States, who gives orders to the
president.

Now, during our next commercial break, which is a moment away, I offer
this thought experiment. Imagine Brit Hume interviewing a Democratic
candidate for vice president of the United States, whose moral and
political guiding light was a Russian atheist. What would Hannity say?
What would O`Reilly say? What would Sarah Palin say? If Barack Obama
tried to dismiss and rewrite a lifelong infatuation with a Russian atheist
the way Paul Ryan just did on Fox News, what would they say?

Just imagine. Imagine what they would do to Barack Obama for that.
Imagine. Imagine what the Fox News crew would say about him. Imagine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Well, if we don`t run Chris
Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ann Coulter was right, of course, about losing, if the
Republicans nominate Mitt Romney, which means it`s time to consider who
will be the next Republican presidential nominee in 2016, when President
Obama completes his second term as president of the United States. And
seeing that far into the future is beyond the range of mere political
pundits, so joining me now, a man with a unique perspective on our
politics, Andy Borowitz, comedian, author, and creator of "The Borowitz
Report."

I could go on and on with your introduction, because I know a little
bit more than that.

ANDY BOROWITZ, COMEDIAN, AUTHOR: You do.

O`DONNELL: Creator of "Fresh Prince of Bel Aire" too.

BOROWITZ: Well, that`s true too, the most popular show in Guantanamo.
That`s actually true.

O`DONNELL: Among the troops stationed there or the --

BOROWITZ: Detainees. But let`s --

O`DONNELL: Detainees?

BOROWITZ: Let`s leave that aside.

O`DONNELL: You and Will Smith are winning hearts and minds, possibly,
of the detainees in Guantanamo.

BOROWITZ: That`s correct. You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: You didn`t have that in mind back --

BOROWITZ: I didn`t.

O`DONNELL: As I recall, you never mentioned, this could be used --

BOROWITZ: I didn`t know about the war on terror at that -- in 1991.

O`DONNELL: But now you`re better at seeing into the future I think,
which is why you`re here.

BOROWITZ: Excellent.

O`DONNELL: So we -- we know that Paul Ryan will considered by regular
pundits as the front-runner for the Republican nomination next time. But
we have -- I believe we have a big board display some -- we do? Maybe we
don`t. Yeah, we do of all -- there`s a bunch of pictures behind you, all
losing vice presidential candidates who could never be president, because
every one in the television age who has lost in the vice presidential slot
has, in that moment, lost their political future.

They`ve gone on to nothingness. So we have to assume. I`m assuming,
you tell me -- I mean, you`re -- you tell me. Am I wrong to assume that
Paul Ryan is now in the grip of history? His political career is over when
he loses in the vice presidential slot?

BOROWITZ: You`re right. He will never be president.

O`DONNELL: You know, you can come back. You know what --

BOROWITZ: Look, Lawrence, I want to go one step further here.
Because a lot of the sort of conventional wisdom is that Sarah Palin was
somehow a terrible vice presidential pick, no future. And Paul Ryan --

O`DONNELL: Some of us have thought that.

BOROWITZ: And Paul Ryan is awesome. I think it`s just the other way
around. I think Sarah Palin didn`t read, but as you point out, Paul Ryan
read Ayn Rand. So you give that round to Palin.

O`DONNELL: Right. He`s in more trouble for what he read than she is
for having --

BOROWITZ: Exactly. The lesson is, do not read.

O`DONNELL: Do not read. Now Chris Christie, he`s giving the keynote
speech in the convention. Marco Rubio is introducing candidate Romney at
the convention. Those are pretty good spots to be in, isn`t it, for
positioning for the next presidential election?

BOROWITZ: No -- it is if it`s at a Democratic convention. Bill
Clinton, Barack Obama. In the Republican conventions, they give the
keynote to people like Rudolph Giuliani and Guy Vanderjagt.

O`DONNELL: What convention was that?

BOROWITZ: 1980.

O`DONNELL: During my lifetime there was a guy name Guy Vanderjagt?

BOROWITZ: Guy Vanderjagt, never president of the United States. I
think this is cruel. These two guys were passed over for the VP slot.
It`s sort of like, you know, do you watch the show "America`s Next Top
Model"? It`s an excellent --

O`DONNELL: Not every episode.

BOROWITZ: It`s an excellent TV program. On that show, when the loser
gets told by Tyra Banks she`s not going to be the next top model, she cries
and packs her bags and she goes away. They don`t make her keep modeling at
that point. OK. Paul Ryan is America`s next top model. Not these two
guys. Don`t put them through this.

O`DONNELL: That`s right. Quickly to the Democratic side, it`s an
open seat so it`s tricky. And it will be Hillary Clinton running against
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, Martin O`Malley of Maryland, all three
strong candidates. Democrats don`t like candidates who have run before.
They`re not good at rewarding them the way Republicans are.

BOROWITZ: Right. But, guys, we have to give it to Hillary. She`s
earned it. In that year in 2016, she`s going to be 69. But I think she`s
really older in some sense, because most of those years she`s been married
to Bill, and that puts years on you. So I`m going to say in Bill years,
she`s going to be 89. You cannot deny an 89-year-old woman the nomination.

O`DONNELL: Eighty nine and still up for the

BOROWITZ: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Andy Borowitz gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE ED SHOW" is
up next.

END

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