updated 8/22/2012 11:08:18 AM ET 2012-08-22T15:08:18

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
August 21, 2012

Guests: Sam Stein, Ana Marie Cox, Irin Carmon, Jonathan Capehart, Karen Finney, Ari Melber

MADDOW: In this country, was that we should make it easier to vote. As a
nation, we liked voting, or at least we were embarrassed to admit
otherwise. That was the consensus. But that was then, now in 2012, that
consensus is falling apart. Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE
O`DONNELL." Have a great night.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Big surprise. Bat-crap crazy Republican
Senate candidate Todd Akin refuses to abort his candidacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Nicole Wallace, when he was talking to
Nicole, like, six months ago, and he was like, it`s about -- you know, do I
want to be in the conservative party, do I want to be a moderate, but I`m
just tired of it being the stupid party.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: And the clock is ticking for Congressman Todd
Akin.

TAMARA HALL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Todd Akin is not leaving his race for
the U.S. Senate.

JANSING: He`s digging in.

SCARBOROUGH: Just stop digging.

JANSING: And now running a new ad.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Asking for forgiveness.

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: I ask for your forgiveness.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Forgiveness? Unlikely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Todd Akin is really inconvenient.

HALL: He is thumbing his nose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The timing couldn`t be worse for this.

HALLS: He thinks he want to bring the whole ship down.

WAGNER: Republican Party leaders are calling for his ouster.

SCARBOROUGH: I`m tired of us being stupid.

WAGNER: There`s just one issue for the GOP.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Mainstream is really extreme.

WAGNER: This problem goes all the way to the heart of their party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That platform has been a pro-life platform.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: This is the platform of the Republican
Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With no exceptions for rape or incest.

PRIEBUS: This is the platform of the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a war on women?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

MARTIN BASHER, MSNBC HOST: Why do Republicans have such a problem with
women?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s something that Paul Ryan believes in.

WAGNER: The Akin-Ryan proposal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They co-sponsor legislation that try to redefine rape.

AKIN: The mistake I made was in the words I said.

BASHIR: This is the cost, isn`t it, of Paul Ryan?

WAGNER: The vice presidential nominee is tied directly to this.

AKIN: I ask for your forgiveness.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Republican brand has been a mess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This really insane thing.

BOXER: Just insane.

AKIN: The mistake I made was in the words I said.

JANSING: And the clock is ticking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clock is ticking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tick tock.

AKIN: I ask for your forgiveness.

WAGNER: Forgiveness? Unlikely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A Republican strategist who knows bat-crap crazy Republican
Congressman Todd Akin tells "The Washington Post" today, "He marches to a
completely different beat. He believes that his race is providential, that
god has willed his win."

With 77 days until election, Todd Akin defied Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh,
Karl Rove, Erick Erickson, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Paul
Ryan, and Mitt Romney, and refused to drop out of the Missouri Senate race.

Here`s Congressman Akin on Sean Hannity`s radio show today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: If this becomes a big enough distraction that you
lose this race and it hurts Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Missouri, how are
you going to feel the day after election day?

AKIN: Well, obviously, terrible. And if I thought that were going to
happen, then I would get out of the race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Congressman Akin then touted a new robo poll conducted after
his, quote, "legitimate rape" remark, showing that among likely voters in
Missouri, Todd Akin polls now one point ahead of Democratic Senator Claire
McCaskill, 44-43, within that poll`s margin of error.

The poll asked if Todd Akin`s remarks on, quote, "legitimate rape" were
appropriate, 75 percent said inappropriate, 9 percent said appropriate.
Today, Todd Akin suggested to Sean Hannity that Mitt Romney was using
Akin`s remarks to close his deficit among female voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: If you were in Romney`s position, don`t you think that he may have
bid this thing up and made a bigger deal about it than he needed to? Why
couldn`t he run his race and I run mine?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The interview came moments before a 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard
Time deadline for Todd Akin to easily exit the Senate race, leaving that
race now will require the complexity of a court order. As the deadline
approached, Mitt Romney released a statement reading in part, "I think Akin
should exit the Senate race."

Earlier today, Todd Akin released a new television ad that will air in
Missouri.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and
for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice
for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual
assault and I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The
truth is rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I
said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A just-released NBC News poll shows that Paul Ryan provided no
bump to the Romney-Ryan ticket. Among registered voters nationally, the
Obama-Biden ticket leads the Romney-Ryan ticket by four points, 48 to 44
percent. Before the addition of Paul Ryan to that ticket, President Obama
led Mitt Romney by six points, 49 to 43 percent.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and "The Huffington Post`s" Sam Stein.

Krystal, as this day has unfolded and Akin has dug in, it seems now that he
is ready to go the distance in this campaign. How worried do you think
Republicans should be about that?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC "THE CYCLE": Well, I think they should be very
concerned about it. I mean, frankly, this seat, holding on to this seat
for Claire McCaskill was really going to be a long shot, if she got any
sort of normal, reasonable candidate in the race, she didn`t get a normal,
reasonable candidate in the race, though. She got Todd Akin.

And I think this really harkens back to what happened in 2010. Republicans
were perfectly happy to ride the Tea Party wave, as long as it was
providing them with momentum and energy to make gains in the 2010 midterm
elections. But even then, it wasn`t without a cost, as we recall, Sharron
Angle, Christine O`Donnell, Ken Buck, et cetera. But when you let your
party be taken over by nut jobs, essentially, occasionally those nut jobs
are going to run for office and they`re going to say nut jobby things and
it`s going to screw up your chances of taking the Senate, for example. And
that`s exactly what happened here.

O`DONNELL: Akin discussed his conversation with Paul Ryan on the Hannity
radio show. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: He just said he recognized I had to make a tough decision here, and
we talked about it some, and he said he thought I maybe should give some
thought to stepping down, but he didn`t tell me what to do, and that`s
because he`s a very respectful and a very decent guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, "He didn`t tell me what to do." Ryan seems to be
saying he did tell him what to do.

SAM STEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, this is complex for Paul Ryan,
much more so than Mitt Romney or other Republicans, because obviously Paul
Ryan co-sponsored the bill that codified what Akin was talking about. And
you know we keep talking about, you know, where he can stand in this, and
his whole premise is that he didn`t say anything inappropriate, he just
said it in the wrong way.

And for Paul Ryan, you know, this is complex. This is complex stuff. He
actually believes in sort of defining what type of abortion is, you know,
appropriate and which one isn`t, in order to have an abortion. And so for
him to call Akin to resign would just be to draw more attention to his own
policy platform, which is in itself problematic for the Romney campaign.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Rush Limbaugh`s reaction to what Akin said.
Even Rush, even Rush has a problem with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO HOST: That belief that a woman`s
body shuts down and the whole notion of the legitimate -- illegitimate
rape, it`s just -- that`s the thing that bothers me about it. That`s just
absurd. It`s not intelligent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Krystal, when you can`t get any kind of defense out of Rush
Limbaugh, it`s --

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: It doesn`t get crazier than this.

BALL: It`s a bad sign for Akin. But I mean Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity
and Mitch McConnell, all of these guys want to say, oh, this guy, he`s out
there. We don`t agree with him on anything. He`s not representative of
our party. And I`m sure the vast majority of Republicans don`t actually
buy into the junk science that Todd Akin was peddling.

His positions, on the other hand, his policy positions, where he actually
stands on abortion and a woman`s right to make her own decisions are right
in line with everything about the Republican Party. And that`s the
problem.

When the Republicans are couching their position in these lofty terms about
life and a culture of life, it`s one thing. When you have very graphic
images of women who have been raped being forced to carry that baby to --
you know, to actually have that baby, against their will, that`s a totally
different image for the American public.

So, yes, they want to distance themselves from his words, but they`re not
doing anything to distance themselves from his actual policies.

O`DONNELL: And Sam Stein, what Akin has served to do is to highlight a
component of the Republican anti-abortion stance that they do not like to
highlight, especially in presidential elections. And that is the refusal
to allow any exception in the case of rape or incest. And this week, the
highlight is about rape. That is a serious problem for the Republican
Party.

STEIN: Yes, and it couldn`t come at a worse time. I mean, we are
literally days before the Republican convention, and a moment when Mitt
Romney is suffering a gender gap. This is terrible timing for the
Republican ticket. And obviously they don`t want to be talking about it.
They would like to be talking about anything but this. But it`s more than
just highlighting a bad policy platform vis-a-vis women`s health issues.
It paints the party as somehow sort of unscientific or defying logic.

My colleague, Laura Bassett, who reports on this stuff, it took her two
minutes to find a woman who had a pregnancy as a result of rape. That is -
- anyone who considers the issue understands that it happens. It`s a
logical consequence. It`s a terrible, but logical consequence of rape.

For them to deny that this happens, for them to throw out junk science, I
guess Todd Akin is the far end of that, but for them to put into policy the
definition between forcible and non-forcible rape sort of highlights the
head in the sand approach to logic and science that I think paints the
Republican Party in a very bad, antiquated image.

BALL: Well, and this is kind of an obvious statement to make, but it`s
particularly problematic, given the fact that the image of the Republican
Party is almost -- is very male dominated. So you have all these men
professing to understand the ways of a women`s body, and getting it just
totally unbelievably wrong.

O`DONNELL: And the Republican Party platform has always said that they are
opposed to abortion in cases of rape. They`ve said it in the 2008, 2004
platform language reads, "We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm
that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which
cannot be infringed."

Now that kind of statement does not include even the possibility of any
possible compromise, depending on how the pregnancy was arrived at. And
that is, that`s something that they are never, never, never emphasizing,
especially at a time like this.

STEIN: But isn`t this sort of the more important point that this happened
-- very similar language was put into the platform in 2004 and 2008. And
it basically went sort of unremarked upon. We didn`t think about it as a
massive political issue, simply because we weren`t really talking about
abortion at the time.

Todd Akin saying these things, again going back to the timing. Two days
before they started considering platform language that was going to center
on abortion, this thing has blown up into a deal that is far beyond the
confines of a Missouri Senate race. This is now about the national
platform, and it`s engulfing the vice presidential candidate as well. So
the timing could not be worse for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It`s hard to
emphasize that.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Sam Stein, thank both for joining me tonight.

STEIN: Thanks.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, where did Todd Akin get his crazy ideas about rape?
And Bill Kristol, one of the intellectual leaders of the stupid party,
thinks Mitt Romney should pay more taxes. But can the stupid party
actually have an intellectual leader? That`s in the "Rewrite."

And later, Sean Hannity has a crush on Paul Ryan because he believes all
the lies Paul Ryan tells Sean. About Paul Ryan. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: With just an hour to go before today`s deadline, Sean Hannity
pleaded with Todd Akin on his radio show to quit the Senate race over
Akin`s comments on abortion. An exasperated Sean Hannity then tossed to a
commercial break, which included an ad for a male enhancement product,
quote, "explosive results."

The Republican problem with women is way bigger than just Todd Akin.
That`s coming up next.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, a Republican who thinks Mitt Romney should
pay more taxes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: What I tried to do, first off, Dana, was I knew people had been
hurt, because they had assumed or wanted to assume or by people who
portrayed it this way, that the legitimate referred to rapists. There
isn`t any legitimate rapist. None, whatsoever. They`re horrible
criminals. And I have no tolerance for them whatsoever. I have a wife and
daughters. I have nothing --

DANA LOESCH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Right.

AKIN: No respect, nothing. There`s nothing legitimate about a rapist.
But to rather, I was putting that in in the wrong place, making the point
that there were people who used false claims, like those that basically
created "Roe versus Wade."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Irin Carmon, a reporter for salon.com, and Ana
Marie Cox, political correspondent for "The Guardian U.S."

Ana Marie, did Todd Akin just clarify anything for you?

(LAUGHTER)

ANA MARIE COX, GUARDIAN U.S.: I guess he clarified his own ignorance. You
know, just when you thought he couldn`t say anything worse, I mean, he
really just sort of dig into it. This idea that there`s, like, some
massive, you know, misreporting of rape, that women are claiming rape, just
in order to get abortions, I think is, you know, a misunderstanding of
women entirely.

And also, actually, of the Medicaid process that he apparently, you know,
sort of wants to insert the government into. In the last year that there`s
information available, something like 80 women got abortions paid for under
Medicaid. Only a portion of them claimed it was rape. It`s actually very,
very hard to get the government to pay for an abortion, even if you need
one. Even if it was whatever it is that Todd Akin considers a legitimate
rape.

O`DONNELL: Irin, I -- we know exactly what he meant by legitimate rape.
In legislative language, he called it forcible rape. That`s what he called
it with Paul Ryan. And that means that Paul Ryan and Akin believe there is
some kind of rape that is not forcible.

IRIN CARMON, SALON.COM: Yesterday they were saying that this is about
forcible rape versus -- I swear to god, this is a word that you find on
anti-choice literature -- consensual rape. Today he says it`s about women
lying. Both of these -- I mean they both come down to the exact same thing
which is that they don`t believe women, and they don`t believe women to
tell the truth about their lives.

They see us as, you know, we love the criminal justice system, it`s so much
fun to have -- to go before a judge, to go before the police and have your
sex life and what you were wearing interrogated, and abortions are even
more fun. That apparently is the understanding here. And the underlying
logic is this real contempt for women and a complete lack of regard for our
ability to have self-determination.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s listen to Akin -- more of Akin on Sean
Hannity`s radio show today, where Dr. Sean tries to take him through the
actual science here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: So you accept now that woman is -- that the medical claim that
you made, that a woman`s not likely to get pregnant if she`s raped is
simply wrong, and you don`t believe what you said yesterday was correct?

AKIN: Well, yes, I -- and I don`t know. I`m no medical expert, so I don`t
pretend to know, you know, percentages and things like that. It was just
an article that I`d read or a couple of articles that I`d read, and I think
that they were probably in error. And um, so --

HANNITY: You say "probably in error," are they? I mean --

AKIN: I don`t know the details of, you know, what the percentage, somebody
who`s a medical doctor would have to tell you that, Sean.

HANNITY: Well, you know that a woman, if she is raped, you know, you`re
suggesting that it`s -- that her body has ways to prevent pregnancy is
simply wrong and medically discredited. You do understand that?

AKIN: Yes. That`s what I`m saying.

HANNITY: Oh, OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, if he actually did read any article in this area, it
would probably have been quoting Dr. John Wilke, who is the father of the
pro-life movement in many ways. He has gone around making wild assertions
about exactly what happens in rape and how many he thinks he guesses, just
wild guesses, end up in pregnancy. He also has some wild, unsupported
assertions about -- not to get too graphic here, but a firm belief that the
sperm usually does not end up in an area where it can cause rape, it ends
up external, in the body.

It`s crazy, crazy stuff that I don`t even quite know how to describe, but
that would be the only conceivable medical authority that Akin has ever
heard say anything that could have sounded supportive of what he was
thinking.

COX: That`s correct. And he is -- he`s very much an outlier. But I have
to say that this particular controversy does highlight something that
should be of concern to us, not just when we`re talking about Todd Akin on
Twitter, which is all the massive amount of information that`s out there.
When a young person or a not-so-young person suffers a trauma of rape or
abuse or incest, and are too ashamed to sort of get the right information,
what they wind up getting are these old wives` tales and things that they
heard from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone.

If I can just put in a plug for the National Sexual Assault hotline right
here, because I think that all kinds of women suffer this, all kinds of
women need correct medical information about it. Because if you just rely
on what you heard somewhere, you`re going to wind up with a theory like
Akin`s and you`re going to wind up in a situation where not only your
rights are taken away from you, but sort of the choices that you have at
all are taken away from you.

O`DONNELL: Sandra Fluke wrote today, "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan tried to
distance themselves from the Akin remark, but the fact is they`re in
lockstep with Akin on the major women`s health issues of our time."

And Irin Carmon, they are in lockstep with Ryan on abortion policy.

CARMON: That is absolutely true. I mean they co-sponsored so many bills
together. Akin and Ryan did. And you know Mitt Romney has had a lot of
different positions on abortion, but either way, they have very absolutist
positions, and they come down to one thing, which is to say, I mean, we all
-- as Ana Marie mentioned, rape exceptions, in practice, involve rape
victims having to go before a system and prove that what happened to them
was bad enough that they should be allowed to not be pregnant anymore.

We`re talking about -- I think it`s actually great that they are so
absolutist, because we can honestly confront their views and see that
basically what they think is that women should be forced to stay pregnant
and if we`re going to start parsing and say, well, did you enjoy it? And
were you raped? And did you asked for it? Well, we`re going down the same
road as them.

And it`s time for everybody to realize how much of this is really misogyny,
how much of this is not actually about saving babies, it`s really about a
contempt for women.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, quickly, before we go, the Romney-Ryan ticket did
its first and incredibly fast flip-flop yesterday, saying, oh, well, no, we
actually if we get elected, we will not try to in any way interfere with
women getting abortions in cases of rape.

I`ve never seen such a fast flip-flop.

COX: Well, I mean, I guess you haven`t been watching Mitt Romney very --
for very long. Or, you know, he does usually go in slower motion, I guess.
But, of course, that is a flip-flop, and I`m not even sure if I believe
them. This is something that Paul Ryan has been very vocal about, as we`ve
been talking about. And I see it as just simply a craven move. Something
they were pushed into by the outrage that Todd Akin`s comments have
generated.

And I just hope that we are all paying attention to this. Because this is
something that has gone into policy. This is not just some slip of the
tongue that he made on some talk radio station. This is a -- a point of
view that was attempted to be put into, you know, legislation at the
national level. And that kind of -- that kind of stuff is not going to go
away, as long as we have people like Todd Akin and Paul Ryan in office.

O`DONNELL: Irin Carmon and Ana Marie Cox, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

CARMON: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republican leader who thinks Mitt Romney should
reveal his secret tax returns and that he should pay more taxes. His taxes
should be increased. That`s in the "Rewrite."

And later, Sean Hannity doesn`t know that his crush on Paul Ryan is based
on Paul`s lies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Todd Akin is not the only potential problem facing Republicans
at their convention.

And facing me trying to travel to that convention, Tropical Storm Isaac.
The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will grow into a hurricane
over the next few days, and some computer models predict it could move
through Tampa, Florida, where the Republican convention will be.

Long-range predictions can be off by hundreds of miles. Planners of the
Republican convention say they have backup plans in case the storm hits
Tampa. And I`d better start working on a backup plan of getting myself to
Tampa.

Coming up, Mitt Romney and Sean Hannity have fallen for Paul Ryan in a very
big way. The three-way crush of Romney, Ryan, and Hannity, but Mitt and
Sean don`t know the real truth about Paul. That`s coming up.

And the bump that wasn`t. What Paul Ryan did not do to Mitt Romney`s poll
numbers. Karen Finney and Jonathan Capehart will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: You know, it was one of the most moving conversations I`ve ever
had with anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s how Paul Ryan described the experience of Mitt
Romney offering him the vice presidential nomination, a moving experience.
Too bad for Romney, Ryan has not moved the polls in his favor. There has
been absolutely no Ryan bump in the polls for Mitt Romney.

In the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, only 22 percent say
Ryan`s selection makes them more likely to vote for Romney; 23 percent say
Ryan makes them less likely to vote for Romney. And 54 percent say Ryan
does not affect their vote in any way.

Paul Ryan`s opponent, Joe Biden, thinks he knows why Paul Ryan hasn`t
helped the ticket.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congressman Ryan, a
good man, like Romney is a good man, has given definition -- given
definition to Governor Romney`s vague commitments up to this point.
Congressman Ryan and the Congressional Republicans, as one person said,
have already passed in the Republican House what Governor Romney is
proposing for the whole nation.

So in a sense, this is sort of like two incumbents running. You know
what you`re going to get. They call their new plan for the economy new,
bold and gutsy. Well, I asked a rhetorical question, what`s gutsy about
giving millionaires another tax break?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Karen Finney and Jonathan
Capehart, opinion writer for "the Washington Post." Karen, no bump. No
bump whatsoever. Sarah Palin gave John McCain a big bump. I mean, it
didn`t last, but you`re supposed to deliver something with the excitement
of the naming of a VP.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. And instead, look what
he`s gotten for all of that trouble. He`s gotten a lot of headache. Not a
good week last week and not a good week this week heading into the
convention. You know, it`s -- here`s why it`s not surprising, though,
because one of the things I think the polls showed is that the fundamental
underlying problems that Mitt Romney has cannot be masked by, you know,
sort of the shiny new object like a VP candidate.

So, you know, if you look at those -- dig into those numbers, one of
the things we saw that we`ve seen, frankly, in some of the other polls,
recently, is that Romney`s negatives are going up. The more people learn
about him, the less they like about him. The less they like his business
experience, the less they trust him.

And again, just because you put Paul Ryan out there or frankly any VP
candidate at this point was not necessarily going to change that. And on
top of that, Ryan actually made it worse, because he actually tied Romney
to some specifics, which he`d been trying to avoid desperately.

O`DONNELL: And Paul Ryan`s numbers have gone up too. His negatives
have gone up, mostly because he was much less known before he was picked.
If you look back in June, he had a negative of 18 percent, which is very,
very low, actually, for a political negative. He had a positive of 17
percent, which is also very, very low.

Now he`s got a negative of 32 and Jonathan Capehart, he`s got a
positive of 33, which just adds up to nothing.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right, a bunch of nothing.
The only vice presidential nominee who`s done better than Paul Ryan was
Dick Cheney, who I think his -- his positive/negative was plus two. And I
think Paul Ryan`s is minus one.

But, look, even Paul Ryan, as you showed in the Chiron there, his
numbers -- positive numbers have gone up, but they`re not going up enough
to provide the bounce, provide the lift that Mitt Romney was hoping he
would get from a Paul Ryan.

And you know, I agree with Karen 100 percent. Paul Ryan`s nomination,
while it might have seemed good for Mitt Romney at the beginning, at least
tying down the base and allowing the base to view Mitt Romney as, OK, he`s
one of us, he`s a true conservative, if he`s going to pick someone like
Paul Ryan, the problem was and continues to be while Mitt Romney is still a
bit of a blank slate, Paul Ryan is not a blank slate at all.

We knew what we were getting when he chose Paul Ryan, because of his
Medicare stance and his -- and the Paul Ryan budgets of the last two years.
What we`re now talking about is forcible rape, the whole issue of
legitimate rape, personhood, all of these bills that Paul Ryan co-sponsored
with Todd Akin.

So, again, Mitt Romney did himself some favors probably with his base,
but not exactly doing himself a whole lot of favors with the rest of the
country, it would seem.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Karen Finney, Jonathan just raised something that is
what makes it so dangerous to take a member of Congress or a senator, put
them on these tickets, because they have voting records. And in the case
of a member of this Republican Congress, they have the most extreme, crazy
voting records on the right, in right-wing votes, that we`ve ever seen and
ever recorded in Washington.

And Mitt Romney has taken all of those votes, including the forcible
rape concept, and put it on the ticket with him.

FINNEY: Well, and here`s the question that I keep asking myself.
Either they did do a good job of vetting it and didn`t think it would be a
problem, or they didn`t do a good job vetting it. Either way, that`s not
somebody I want sitting in the White House making decisions, because
clearly, as we saw last week, they were not prepared for the most obvious
questions.

It is -- regardless of Akin, this issue, this question about forcible
rape and the fact that Ryan played such a prominent role, despite the
efforts of the GOP, I think to try to de-emphasize social issues with the
Ryan pick like, you know, abortion and those issues, it was going to come
out.

We were going to be talking about -- there was no way that they were
going to be able to run away from it. So, again, either they thought they
could, which was particularly disturbing, or they knew they couldn`t and
they were OK -- they thought somehow that that would be a conversation that
America would just -- you know, we`d say, oh, OK.

Either way, it`s a terrible calculation. The other very important
point is, this is the last conversation they wanted to be having. And
these are not the numbers they wanted to have heading into their
convention, because they`re trying to use their convention next week to
kind of reintroduce Romney for about the tenth time and introduce Paul Ryan
and have their own narrative about what the Romney/Ryan ticket means.

And the numbers are telling us something very different. As Jonathan
points out, the conversation we`re having is very different, which means
it`s going to be a rocky couple of weeks for them.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, some more very bad numbers in this poll
for Mitt Romney about how the campaign is actually going. This is a very
good measure of that. When asked if these voters have seen or read or
heard anything that gives them a favorable -- less favorable or more
favorable impression of Mitt Romney -- that could include campaign ads. It
could include anything in the paper, what we do here -- 44 percent said
that what they`ve seen, read, or heard has made them less favorable to Mitt
Romney; 32 percent said more favorable; 10 percent no difference.

CAPEHART: And you -- that sound you hear, Lawrence, is the campaign
headquarters in Chicago, the Obama re-election effort, cheering. The whole
plan has been, before the convention, to -- either convention -- to define
Mitt Romney before he has a chance to define himself, and then to do it
again before the Romney/Ryan ticket has a chance to define itself. And so
it looks like their tactic is working, that the more people find out about
Mitt Romney, the more people find out about Paul Ryan, the more people find
out about the two of them, the less favorable the American people -- the
less favorable view they have of them.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, one of the intellectual leaders of the
Republican party is trying to Rewrite the stupid party`s stupid position on
taxes, specifically Mitt Romney`s taxes. That`s coming up.

And later, the secret ways Paul Ryan tries to spend taxpayer dollars,
even though he pretends he`s against that sort of thing. Oh, if Sean
Hannity finds out what his hero, Paul Ryan, has been up to, that`s coming
up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m just tired of it, of being the
stupid party.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: I`m tired of us being stupid and having stupid people
saying stupid things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In breaking stupid news tonight, one of the intellectual
leaders of the stupid party is finally trying to Rewrite the stupid party`s
provably stupid position on taxes. Now, being an intellectual leader of
the stupid party, as Paul Ryan has shown, doesn`t actually require all that
much, you know, intellect.

But William Kristol`s intellectual credentials, unlike Paul Ryan`s,
would be acceptable in elite faculty clubs anywhere. Bill Kristol`s very
first flashes of intellectual cred actually appear on his birth
certificate, in his father and mother`s names.

His father and mother, Irving and Bea Kristol, were both college
professors and renowned intellectuals. Bill Kristol glided through Harvard
College in the 1970s and worked briefly in politics as a Democrat, before
returning to Harvard to collect a PHD.

He first achieved fame, or at least Washington fame, as Dan Quayle`s
brain. He took on the seemingly impossible task of being Vice President
Dan Quayle`s chief of staff, and won praise from Republicans for helping
Dan Quayle seem not quite so, you know, stupid, except at spelling bees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Add one
little bit on the end.

Think of potato. How`s that spelled?

You`re right phonetically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After being rudely knocked out of his White House job by
the Clinton/Gore victory over the Bush/Quayle re-election ticket, Bill
Kristol took his revenge quickly. When Bill and Hillary Clinton rolled out
their health care reform plan, Republican Congressional reaction was the
standard Capitol Hill move of offering counter-proposals that Republicans
hoped would, in some way, water down the Clinton health care reform bill,
which most Republicans and all Democrats firmly believed could not be
stopped from becoming law.

Bill Kristol was the first, and for a while the only Republican in
Washington saying, simply, kill the bill. He circulated a memo to all
Republican members of Congress explaining to them how they could, and why
they must kill the Clinton health care reform bill. And then the
Republicans followed Bill Kristol`s leadership and did exactly that.

Bill Kristol successfully led the Republican charge against the
Clinton health care bill, while he wasn`t even holding a position in
government. He was surprisingly effective as an intellectual leader of the
Republican party back then, when the Republican party wasn`t so, you know,
stupid.

Tonight, we can only hope that Bill Kristol hasn`t lost his touch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I, personally, if I were, you
know, designing a tax code, would have a tax code in which Mitt Romney paid
more than 13 percent, I would say, given what I know about the kind of
investments he made money from. I`m just not a believer that he -- that he
needed -- you know, that there would have been any economic detriment to
him paying more. And I think it just seems kind of weird that he pays a
lower rate than an awful lot of middle class people, especially, I would
say, did away with the advantage that carried interest has.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And that was after he said that Romney should release his
tax returns. That`s Republican intellectual leader Bill Kristol saying
that he would raise taxes. In fact, he would especially raise taxes on
investment bankers who used the carried interest provisions to pay absurdly
low tax rates.

That`s Bill Kristol saying it`s weird that investment bankers like
Mitt Romney pay a lower rate than an awful lot of middle class people.
That`s Bill Kristol saying that for the Mitt Romneys of this country, the
tax code is not progressive enough. He personally would design a more
progressive tax code.

Every word that Bill Kristol just said is now Republican heresy. But
it used to be Republican orthodoxy. Ronald Reagan believed in a
progressive income tax code. Ronald Reagan believed that the Mitt Romneys
should pay more than 13 percent.

Ronald Reagan believed that the Mitt Romneys should pay a higher
income tax rate than the people who made less money, way less money than
the Mitt Romneys. And there is another stunning bit of current Republican
heresy wrapped in the middle of what Bill Kristol just said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTOL: I`m just not a believer that he -- that he needed -- you
know, that there would have been any economic detriment to him paying more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s one of the intellectual leaders of the Republican
party saying there is no economic detriment to increasing Mitt Romney`s
taxes. Here is the actual leader of the stupid party in the House of
Representatives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: It`s a very simple equation.
Tax increases destroy jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Not according to Bill Kristol, they don`t. Bill Kristol
says there would be no economic detriment to raising Mitt Romney`s taxes.
But John Boehner says tax increases destroy jobs. And Boehner says that,
even though he`s been proven wrong about it. John Boehner, like every
Republican, voted against Bill Clinton`s tax increase in 1993, saying it
would destroy jobs, and destroy the economy.

But as all Republicans know, job growth and the economy soared after -
- after Bill Clinton raised taxes. So tonight, the stupid party has a
choice: who to believe? The congressional leader of the stupid party or an
intellectual leader of the stupid party? And that is a wicked tough choice
for a stupid party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: He basically said, you share my values. And you have the kind
of experience I`m going to need to help fix this country`s problems. Our
experiences complement each other quite well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s it? That`s how he asked you?

RYAN: Pretty much, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sort of like a proposal.

RYAN: Yeah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, a proposal. That is just so, so romantic. There is
nothing quite as cute is a Republican guy talking about his crush on a
Republican guy, especially when it turns into a three-way crush that
includes Sean Hannity. But love is blind, which is why Sean will never be
able to see why Paul is really so wrong for him.

Paul Ryan voted for the war in Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, the Bridge to
Nowhere, the bank bailout, and nearly two billion dollars worth of
additional defense spending, all of which ripped the deficit wide open,
wiped out the surplus left there by Bill Clinton. And Paul Ryan, who
lobbied the Obama administration for stimulus money for his district while
attacking the stimulus, tonight just told Sean what he wanted to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: What I call crony capitalism, where you take money from
successful small businesses, spend it in Washington on favored industries,
on favored individuals, picking winners and losers in the economy, that`s
cronyism. That`s corporate welfare.

It doesn`t work. It`s never worked. The president is still wedded to
it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Of course, phony political hack Paul Ryan has no problem
with spending taxpayer money. And of course Paul Ryan has no problem with
cronyism, as today`s "Huffington Post" reports, "veep pick Paul Ryan
lobbied on behalf of companies who gave him campaign cash."

"The Post" reports that in one instance, Ryan lobbied President Bush`s
transportation secretary unsuccessfully to stop more regulation on the
transportation of hazardous waste on behalf of a chemical company that was
and has continued to be through this year a reliable Ryan campaign donor.

But poor Sean Hannity doesn`t know any of that about Paul. And you
know how love is. If Sean finds out about it, he`s not going to want to
believe it. Nothing -- nothing now could make Sean quit Paul.

Joining me now is Ari Melber, correspondent for "The Nation" and an
MSNBC contributor. Ari, what poor Sean doesn`t know about Paul. Turns out
he`s just a classic congressional political hack doing what they`ve all
done for so long.

ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": Well, Lawrence, a man crush is a powerful
thing. And a Fox News man crush can, as you say, blind you. Paul Ryan was
for earmarks before he was against them. He was for deficits before he was
against them. And he`s part of a political party that inherited a surplus
from a Democratic administration in 2001, and as you said in the
introduction, spent their way into this big deficit.

They are the party that goes out with you for dinner, orders not just
appetizers and dessert, but two big bottles of fancy wine, and when the
check comes, they start yelling at you and the restaurant and the waiter.
This is not acceptable behavior among your friends and surely not by your
opponents.

And that`s the big problem here. There was an analysis of the
Congressional Budget Office numbers, which are nonpartisan, looking at the
four trillion dollars that was added to the deficit under Bush. Paul Ryan
voted not a quarter of the time, not half the time, about 91 percent of the
time for all of those deficit increases.

O`DONNELL: And "the Boston Globe" recently reported, in 2005, Ryan
boasted in a letter to constituents that he had voted for a five-year
federal transportation bill that would provide Wisconsin with 711.9
million, a 30 percent increase in annual funding for highway projects, and
included the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.

Ryan also received authorization for preliminary engineering funds for
a commuter rail system, linking Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee. Ari, this
is all standard Congressional practice. It -- they are supposed to boast
of this. It just takes a special quality to be able to then condemn it.

MELBER: To condemn it and say it`s your signature issue, that after
juicing the deficit, you are the one to fix it. I mean there`s the old
saying about wanting to be the change you want in the world. He is the
problem. He is the source of the problem he wants to fix.

O`DONNELL: And he`s talked about as a leader. And he told "the New
Yorker" he was miserable about being forced to cast all those votes.

Ari Melber gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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