updated 10/9/2012 11:23:30 AM ET 2012-10-09T15:23:30

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 8, 2012

Guests: Richard Schiff, Bob Kerrey

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: With just 29 days until the election, Mitt
Romney is running as fast as he can away from Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Mitt Romney is trying to turn the momentum
from his debate performance --

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Polls show Mitt Romney got a bounce.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: New polls in the presidential race --

MITCHELL: -- into a political tidal wave on the campaign trail.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Do lies even matter in America these days?

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Mitt Romney will say absolutely
anything to get elected.

JANSING: At the debate, he said he`s not going to cut taxes for the
wealthy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`m not in favor of a $5
trillion tax cut.

JANSING: In the primary, he said he`s going to cut taxes for
everyone.

ROMNEY: I`m going to lower rates across the board for all Americans.

JANSING: Isn`t that a change?

ROMNEY: Let me repeat -- let me repeat what I said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lying, denying and alibiing.

BASHIR: Is that leadership?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: The mantle of leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can`t debate the debate.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The war continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s move on.

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We are awaiting a major foreign policy
address.

WAGNER: Romney boiled down the president`s foreign policy --

ROMNEY: Hope is not a strategy.

WAGNER: -- to one of hope.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC ANALYST: Hope is not a strategy.

WAGNER: But on actual foreign policy, Romney`s specifics were rather
thin.

BASHIR: How about Libya?

ROMNEY: I`ll support the Libyan`s people efforts to forge a lasting
government.

WAGNER: Mitt Romney is suggesting he`ll do exactly what the president
is doing.

BASHIR: How about Iran?

ROMNEY: Prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Obama said exactly the same thing.

BASHIR: That`s the same, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the same guy who couldn`t even go to the
Olympics.

ROMNEY: There are a few things that were disconcerting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will say anything, he will do anything.

MITCHELL: His mention of Russia they critique.

ROMNEY: Well, this is to Russia, without question of number one
geopolitical foe.

MITCHELL: Russia is not the greatest foreign policy challenge.

MATTHEWS: There are two kinds of success, Winston Churchill once
said, initial and ultimate.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I still believe you in
and I hope you still believe in me. If you vote for me in November, we`ll
finish what we started.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With four weeks until Election Day, the Romney etch-a-
sketch machine is furiously working overtime tonight trying to erase every
outright crazy thing Mitt Romney has said. In a foreign policy speech
delivered today, Mitt Romney contradicted what he said on a secretly
recorded tape.

Here`s what he said on the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace
anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and
elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there`s just no
way. So what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you
can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is
going to remain an unsolved problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And today, the guy who said there`s just no way -- the no
way guy, that guy, the guy who said it is going to remain an unsolved
problem -- said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Finally, I`ll recommit America to the goal of a democratic
prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with
the Jewish state of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Don`t say you weren`t warned this would happen.

Oh, we don`t have it. We were just going to show you, I guess you
could figure out, the etch-a-sketch tape of the Romney guy saying we`re
going to etch a sketch the whole thing. But the control room every once in
a while doesn`t have it.

Participating -- well, let`s see, what do we got here? We`ve got some
stuff that makes no sense since we didn`t run the other thing. We`re just
going to junk it all. We`re going to go -- I want to show -- we have
Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki -- and I want to show this thing that
"Gawker" just put together, which is better than what we had anyway, which
is Mitt Romney debating Mitt Romney.

Let`s watch it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

ROMNEY: I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.

There were so many misrepresentations there it`s going to take me a
little while. Number one, I said today that we`re going to cut taxes
across every one across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1
percent.

And the key to great schools, great teachers. So I reject the idea
that I don`t believe in great teachers or more teachers.

He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers, did he
not get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did. It`s time for
us to cut back on government.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: Brilliant.

O`DONNELL: And, Krystal, it goes on from there. There`s actually
more of it, but this is what we`re watching. I think the surprise here is
that it`s come so late. We all had the sense that the etch-a-sketch move
would be sooner. So, it could be more gradual. This has been pretty
quick.

BALL: Yes, absolutely. Well, and I was waiting actually for the
Obama campaign to put out a video something like this after the debate.
I`m glad someone took the initiative to do it.

But you`re absolutely right. And I think the reason he`s waited so
long is frankly he`s been terrified of his own base. It`s been shocking to
see how long and how far he`s played to the base and I think finally they
saw that they were going to lose. That their ideas and their strategies
and things that Mitt Romney was saying were not going over well, and
because of that he sort of got permission to move to the center.

It will be interesting to see how long they`re able to stay quiet and
comfortable with the Mitt Romney who`s not cutting taxes for the top 1
percent, with the Mitt Romney who now loves teachers. It`s going to be
interesting to see how long they can tolerate that.

O`DONNELL: Steve, the right wing crazies can take a breath until
November 6th, can`t they? And let Romney just do whatever he has to do?

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes. That`s the thing. I think the key
to understanding from my stand point why there`s been sort of silence and
why they sort of let him do this, it is not backed up by any policy
proposals.

I mean, you think of all the Republicans who have run to the middle in
general elections before. The famous example to me is George W. Bush in
2000, compassionate conservatism. Well, he actually made an effort in the
policies he proposed to have some sort of moderate centrist policy
outcomes. Education, you know, what became No Child Left Behind.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: His choice on how to compete with Al Gore on Al Gore`s
proposal for prescription drug benefit for Medicare was to have a
prescription drug benefit for Medicare.

BALL: Right.

KORNACKI: Right. There is no --

O`DONNELL: Mine versus yours.

KORNACKI: This whole idea of -- I roll my eyes when I see Romney
shifted to the middle. He has not shift in the middle in any substantive
way. He is simply articulating moderate sounding policy outcomes that he
knows sound pleasing to swing voters.

Whether it`s about -- of course, swing voters want, you know, no
preexisting, you know, the debate on preexisting coverage. They want more
teachers. He`s articulating those kinds of goals but he has yet to provide
any way of getting there.

The policy remains the same on taxes, 20 percent across the board. No
real way of paying for it except this vague promise of dealing with
deductions and loopholes. Nothing has really changed. He`s just sort of
taking this shortcut where, yes, I`m going to say these things, it sounds
pleasing, and hopefully, my opponent is not going to call me on it -- and
his opponent didn`t call him on it on his first debate.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to this moment with Newt Gingrich and Robert
Gibbs yesterday on "Meet the Press", which is about the tax issue and
what`s changed on it with Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: You`ve got to look
carefully at how Romney`s structure, what he said is something that frankly
true supply siders don`t necessarily love. But it`s good politics. He
said, I will close enough deductions that wealthy Americans will not get a
net tax cut.

GIBBS: Standing on the stage with you in Arizona. This is what Mitt
Romney said. "Number one, I said today we`re going to cut taxes on
everyone across the country -- across the country by 20 percent including
the top 1 percent." Mr. Speaker, you mentioned that your opponent Mitt
Romney had a problem with being dishonest in the primary.

Was he dishonest when he said that?

GINGRICH: I think it`s clearly changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Dishonest? Oh, he`s clearly changed.

BALL: I love that moment with Newt during the Republican primary when
he says yes, flat out that Mitt Romney is a liar.

But I think this could be the start of a trickle -- if Mitt Romney
starts losing again and looking like a loser again, you`re going to hear
more than Newt Gingrich coming out and saying he hasn`t been true to
conservative values, he`s not running as a conservative. There are going
to be a lot more complaints about even the rhetorical shift to the center,
because, frankly, none of the conservatives really believe that Mitt Romney
is one of them.

So, when they hear him say I`m not really going to cut taxes for the
top 1 percent, they start going -- wait a second. That was the deal that
we had. That`s what you`ve been running on. You know, that`s what we`re
looking for. Are you really one of us and how would you really be as a
President Mitt Romney?

O`DONNELL: And, Steve, conservatives who seem in many cases to be
Obama haters first and conservatives second, they`re having a good day
looking at the polls, most of them tightening. We saw them, a couple, what
used to have four-point leads, now have two-point leads, one point-lead for
the president. Pew actually has Romney up at four points, so it has to be
a big cheering point for the conservatives.

KORNACKI: Yes. You know, it is. And like Krystal said --

O`DONNELL: And enough to keep them quiet.

KORNACKI: Well, that`s the thing. There`s sort of a win-win
situation for the conservatives if you think about it. If the polls are
moving closer and they have a chance to win this election, obviously that`s
going to make them happy, because if Mitt Romney becomes president, they`re
not going to get a centrist President Mitt Romney. They`re going to get a
Mitt Romney who`s subservient to a Republican Congress. And the Republican
Congress is controlled by the Tea Party. So, they win if that happens.

If they lose they`ve already been setting this up for months, and they
will continue to do this. They`ll say it`s because Mitt Romney wasn`t
conservative enough, because he wasn`t a true believer. It`s because he
ran in the middle in the general election and they`ll be in a position to
make the party even more conservative going forward.

So, they almost can`t lose here.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, what is the Obama team reaction to these polls?

BALL: I think that they are going to keep it cool and calm because as
we`ve seen in this race, there have been a lot of bumps, a lot of ups and
downs. But it seems to always revert back to basically, or two or three-
point national lead for Obama, and a stronger performance in the swing
states.

So, I think in particularly, they`re going to be watching Ohio very
closely to make sure they`re maintaining their edge there.

And I think, I mean, frankly if you`re the Obama campaign you have to
feel good about the fact that despite what was truly a lopsided
performance, both in terms of reality and certainly in terms of the media
portrayal of the performance, that Romney has closed the gap, but still if
the election were held today, if you`re looking at the swing state polls,
the president would still probably win.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Nate Silver tweeted today saying people getting way
too excited about these little moves in polls. I don`t -- I`m looking for
his report as of tonight. I think he has the Obama chance of victory at
somewhere around 75 percent, which is down from 84 percent just a few days
ago. But still, a 75 percent chance of winning in the Electoral College.

Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, thank you both very much for joining
me.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mitt Romney is now bi-curious. What does that
mean for Paul Ryan in his debate? Just how bi can Paul Ryan go?

And Big Bird`s most passionate defender will join us later, which will
give me a chance to have a mini "West Wing" reunion right here on THE LAST
WORD set.

And in the rewrite, a member of the House Science Committee who thinks
science is alive from the pit of hell. Those are his exact words. Oh, and
he thinks he`s a scientist.

Also tonight, Steve Martin decided to do his very first political
endorsement and political commercial for former Nebraska governor and
senator, Bob Kerrey. One of those guys, Steve Martin or Bob Kerrey will
join me to explain why Steve did that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RICHARD SCHIFF, ACTOR: Coming up, Mitt Romney tried to play a
moderate at the debate last week. This week, Paul Ryan`s going to give it
a shot. He`s never played that part before. Ryan versus Biden is next
with Joy Reid and Karen Finney.

And later, former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey will talk about his race
to get back into the Senate and how he talked Steve Martin in to helping
him.

And in tonight`s rewrite, government according to the Bible. A
Republican congressman says the bible teaches us how to run all our public
policy and everything in society. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Jim, I had the great experience, it didn`t seem like it at
the time, of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87 percent
Democrat. And that meant I figured out from day one I had to get along and
I had to work across the aisle to get anything done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Mitt Romney we saw last week at the debate has come a
long way from this Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And I fought against long odds and a deep blue state but I
was a severely conservative Republican governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney just eight months ago when he was
claiming to have been a severely conservative governor. Paul Ryan really
has been a severely conservative member of Congress. Team Obama is
wondering how Paul Ryan will follow Mitt Romney`s swerve towards the
center.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIBBS: I mean, again, I think the big question is which Paul Ryan do
we get? Do we get this same sort of chameleon that we saw in Mitt Romney
who literally walks away from virtually everything that he`s campaigned on
for two years in a space of less than two hours?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK, Joy Reid, tell us how does the severely conservative
Paul Ryan play it Thursday night?

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: That is a good question, Lawrence, because,
you know, the thing is that Mitt Romney has absolutely nothing invested in
his authenticity. Nothing. He`ll do whatever it takes, he`ll take
whatever it takes, he`ll swerve to either side of the political because he
just wants the 51 percent he needs, as he said.

Paul Ryan on the other hand has a lot invested in his authenticity.
He has a lot invested in this mythic brand, that he builds up in part by
the press.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: He doesn`t have as much invested in his authenticity,
since he`s been getting examined more closely.

REID: Right. And also since he`s been dragged into the Mitt Romney
world, making it up as you go along, skewing all your former positions,
they`ve closed him down on all the things he wanted to talk about. He
doesn`t get to have his white board out. He doesn`t get to talk about the
makers and takers except on tapes that are brought back that he spoke last
year.

And so, now, it`s going to be interesting to see if he`s willing to go
that far. Is he willing to go the full Romney in that debate?

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, you`ve seen a lot of Republicans swerving
over your time in politics.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

O`DONNELL: This is going to have to be a pretty big swerve by Paul
Ryan to get over where Mitt Romney is at least rhetorically pretending to
be now.

FINNEY: Well, Lawrence, aren`t you the one that said that he`s the
vice presidential nominee who shall never be president, right?

O`DONNELL: I did say that.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: He is on his way to becoming the next losing vice
presidential nominee who will never be president.

FINNEY: There you go. And I think we have seen over the last several
weeks why that is. He has so had to, as Joy was saying, sort of pretend
that he`s not the guy that he was, even just six months ago. He can`t talk
about what he wants to talk about in terms of his budget and Medicare.
Although we certainly hope that Joe Biden holds his feet to the fire on
those issues.

It was interesting, you may have seen, just tonight in fact, just
today, when Paul Ryan was asked, I think, a pretty fair question, how do
you bring opportunity into the inner cities if crime is a problem if you`re
going to make all those budget cuts, and he decided he didn`t want to
answer those questions and stormed off the interview.

So, he`s not one for details. And I think that`s probably his new
strategy. It`s the only way he can essentially try to hold on to some
credibility, is to just not say much of anything.

O`DONNELL: I want to look at my new favorite thing which is this
"Gawker" posting of Mitt Romney debating Mitt Romney.

We`re going to see more of it now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It`s a lengthy description, but number one, preexisting
conditions are covered under my plan.

JAY LENO, TV HOST: Well, suppose they were never insured before?

ROMNEY: Well, if they`re 45 years old and they say I want insurance
because I`ve got heart disease. It`s like, hey, guys, we can`t play the
game like that. You`ve got to get insurance when you`re will and so -- and
then if you get ill, then you`re going to be covered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy, you have trouble keeping a straight face on this.
You got to watch the whole thing that Gawker has it up.

REID: It was great.

O`DONNELL: There`s more of it.

So, we don`t play the game that way on preexisting conditions.

REID: No --

O`DONNELL: We did, by the way, for an hour and a half last week.

REID: Correct. Just don`t sit in your apartment and die, according
to Mitt Romney, on the upside.

Yes, nobody -- it`s interesting, because with Paul Ryan, the more he
has to actually answer questions and the more he`s confronted, the more he
risks being exposed as something of a fraud, right? Because when he gets
pressed on these very conservative positions that he`s built this mythic
media brand on, then he`s going to have to explain the numbers and he`s not
going to be able to say I don`t have time because then if the moderator is
smart, they`ll just say, we`ll give you all the time you need.

And he`s already disowned his auntie, Ayn Rand. But he`s not going to
be able to run from her in that debate because Uncle Joe is going to remind
of auntie every chance he gets.

O`DONNELL: Karen, and let`s not pretend that Paul Ryan doesn`t know
how to lie about this stuff. He was the originator of the -- here`s my
huge tax cut that will be paid for somewhat by closing loopholes, but I
can`t tell you what the loopholes are. Ryan has been playing that game for
years on the Pau Ryan plan.

FINNEY: Oh, yes. And, you know, the magic thinking and dynamic
scoring and, you know, whatever phrase of Washington you want to use. You
know, I just can`t explain it to you people.

It`s interesting because Ryan on the one hand can`t explain it to us
because it`s clearly to complicated for our pea brains, where Romney
doesn`t feel like he has to explain himself just because, right? Like he`s
the CEO, he doesn`t have to explain himself. Ryan doesn`t want to explain
himself because we`re too stupid to understand it.

But to the point that you and Joy are making, it`s really because
there`s no there there. Because the math doesn`t add up. Because magical
thinking doesn`t actually solve problems.

O`DONNELL: The -- Nate Silver has done some analysis of Paul Ryan`s
voting record in the Congress and he says that Paul Ryan is roughly as
conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. He is the
most conservative to be picked for the vice presidential slot since 1900.

Joy Reid, look, if Romney can do it, surely they`ve taught Paul Ryan
how to do it on Thursday night, to do this swerve away from his arch
conservatism.

REID: Yes, this huge swerve that he`s got to make. But here`s the
problem: if the vice president is properly prepped for this debate, he`s
going to remind people of the points in Paul Ryan`s belief system that
actually discuss the idea of cruelty. The problem Paul Ryan is going to
have is being up there and being a slick, sort of good looking kid, isn`t
going to look too good when he`s reminded of what he wants to do to
Medicare. When he`s reminded of what he wants to do to the poor, to the
program that served poor children.

How does he explain that in a way? Forget about trying to please your
base. It just doesn`t sound cruel. I think that`s going to be the
problem. He`s boxed in on a policy front and he doesn`t have the
experience as a candidate to really sort of make the pivot that Romney did.

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

REID: Thank you.

FINNEY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, you`ve heard Richard Schiff defend PBS and Big
Bird on "The West Wing" using Aaron Sorkin`s words. Tonight, Big Bird`s
best friend, Richard Schiff, in his own words. He will join me later.

And in the rewrite tonight, another episode of the politics of
religion. A crazy Republican congressman says the bible tells us
everything we need to know about public policy. So I guess he`s in favor
of the death penalty for adultery. We`ll find out, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIFF: Hi. Coming up, former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey wants to
go back to the Senate. And now, Steve Martin is helping him do just that.
How did Bob Kerrey talk Steve Martin into doing it? One of them will tell
us.

And in the rewrite tonight, a Republican congressman says the bible
should be our only law book. And he is, yes, a member of the House Science
Committee. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Steve Martin and the man who got
him to do this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE MARTIN, ACTOR: A stick of gum, some scissors, and a hammer.

So let`s get started. Take your blank piece of paper and make a fold.
Take one of your paper clips, and just clip it like so. Just like this.
Make another fold and take a brad, make a puncture. Bend the brads back
like this. Now, take another fold. Take your stapler. Give it a punch or
two like this, and maybe one more fold. Use your stapler well.

A good stapler is always very handy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Omaha, Nebraska, Democratic candidate
for Senate Bob Kerrey. Bob Kerrey, I learned a lot in that ad, that spot.
I learned how to make a wad of paper. But what I can`t figure out, Steve
Martin has stayed away from politics. I`ve never heard him do an
endorsement of a candidate, certainly never appeared in a commercial. I`m
not sure he`s ever made a political contribution to anyone.

How did you get him to do this for you?

BOB KERREY (D), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: Well, my wife did it actually.
I had become friends with Steve through her. She wrote for "Saturday Night
Live" and that`s how they got to know each other. We became very good
friends.

O`DONNELL: What`s the impact of it so far in Nebraska?

KERREY: Well, it`s gotten people to laugh. And I think that`s -- as
grim as things are in politics today, I think that`s a very good thing.
Look, my primary message out here, Lawrence, is to say that if elected, I`m
going to work with Republicans to balance the budget. I`m promising to be
extremely bipartisan when it comes to tackling the big problems and a very
aggressive agenda to change Congress, which in my view needs to be fixed.
The rules in particular need to change.

O`DONNELL: Make the honest case for bipartisanship. We`re hearing a
lot about it now from Mitt Romney, saying that he was a -- worked as a
governor that way. And he did absolutely work that way in many instances
in Massachusetts. But Republicans it seems in Congress today have
absolutely no interest in that kind of compromise. And it`s very hard to
strike that compromise.

If you were to get back into the Senate next year, it`s a different
place than where you left. How would you try to start to figure out how to
assemble majorities in the Senate of 60 votes or more which would have to
include members of both parties?

KERREY: Well, what I`ve done in this campaign is identify Republican
proposals and I`ve endorsed them. Tom Coburn, a conservative Republican of
Oklahoma, and Dick Durbin have a plan to fix Social Security. Likewise
they`ve got a plan to reduce the cost of Medicare. So I have endorsed both
of them.

You have to start with bipartisan proposals. And you have to be
willing -- and Senator Coburn has been willing to take grief from his
party, because he said, at some point, I`ll support a revenue increase.
And Durbin has done the same thing. He`s gotten grief from the left of the
Democratic party. But that`s what you have to do, because this budget
deficit has got to get behind us. And these two biggest problems that we
have, and the most controversial to fix, are Social Security and Medicare.

O`DONNELL: And let`s go to the question that is vexing the Romney
campaign, which is they`re proposing dropping rates, but they don`t make a
single proposal about what tax loopholes or tax deductions they would limit
or eliminate. And that -- it seems to me the tax code is filled with those
things. Even if the rates were not touched, something has to be done about
some of the crazy loopholes in there.

Where would you suggest Congress go to tighten up loopholes and
deductions?

KERREY: Well, the problem is if you close somebody`s loopholes, their
taxes are going to go up. I guess I`m sympathetic as to why he wouldn`t
identify what he wants to do. Again, it`s an area that I think needs to be
done. So again, I`ve identified some Republican proposals that I would
support. We basically have to narrow all of the loopholes, particularly
the big ones.

The four big ones are mortgage interest deduction, charitable
deduction, state and local taxes and health care deductions. Those are the
four big ones. If you take those off the table, there`s nothing left.

I happen to believe there`s a powerful outcome if you can simplify the
tax code, particularly if it can result in some reduction in rates. I
think it can be a very powerful outcome. And it`s a good thing. But it`s
not easy to do because you`ve got to identify the changes that will have to
occur. That means somebody is going to have to give up something.

But I`ve also, Lawrence, proposed that Congress cut back its pension.
I`ve proposed that Congress cut back its staff. They`ve got about a
trillion dollars in savings there. Congress has to lead. It`s not going
to work if Congress says we`re going to fix somebody else`s program, but
we`re not going to change our own behavior.

O`DONNELL: What about on the spending side? That`s the part everyone
thinks there`s the easy cuts to make. And I think in Republican world,
they think the spending side is the easiest place to go to try and close
the deficit.

KERREY: Well, it isn`t the easiest place. What`s occurring, at least
in my campaign, is there`s a slogan we`re going to have a balanced budget
of the Constitution that takes spending down to 18 percent of GDP and would
savage almost everything that people care about, break commitments to
seniors and break commitments to our veterans and so forth.

So you`ve got to come in with the most controversial ones. That`s
again why I`ve identified a Republican proposal for Social Security and
Medicare, our two most important, but also our two largest programs. And
it`s controversial to get after it. And when you`re dealing with things
that are controversial that can be demagogued from either side, it`s
terribly important to start off with both a Republican and a Democrat on
board who are willing to stay the course against oftentimes opposition in
their own party.

O`DONNELL: You`re running against one of those spending cuts
Republicans who really wants to slash the budget, but is a beneficiary
herself of the agriculture programs, which is one of the biggest programs
in Nebraska.

KERREY: Well, that`s true. But the -- what I`m saying in this one is
that the simple slogan balancing budget through a Constitutional amendment
isn`t going to get the job done. It`s going to take significant changes in
our two biggest and most important programs, Social Security and Medicare.
Congress is going to have to lead. We`re going to have to do more besides.
It is going to take revenue.

My biggest problem with her is she signed Grover Norquist`s pledge.
It limits our capacity to actually solve the problem. In order to get the
American people to support what`s being done, it`s got to be shared
sacrifice. Congress has to share in the sacrifice. Upper income people I
think do as well. Not in impunity fashion, but in order to avoid deeper
cuts -- deep cuts, actually, in middle class programs.

But it`s got to be something that starts off with both parties on
board. Otherwise, it`s just, as I said, Lawrence, so easy to demagogue
anything that`s done.

O`DONNELL: Bob Kerrey, thank you for joining me tonight. And thank
you for getting Steve Martin into your campaign and entertaining us.

KERREY: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thanks again.

Coming up in the Rewrite tonight, the mad scientist on the House
Committee on Science.

And Emmy-winning actor and big bird defender Richard Schiff will join
us. He already has joined us actually, as you may have noticed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RICHARD SCHIFF, ACTOR: Coming up, the politics of religion. A
Republican member of Congress says the only law book we need in this
country is the Bible. And he might have a point in that it is certainly
easier to read than any bill presented to Congress. That`s next in the
Rewrite.

And later, we`ll hear from one of Big Bird`s most passionate
defenders. You mess with Big Bird and you mess with me. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, government according to the Bible.
The Republican party tries to pretend that Congressman Todd "legitimate
rape" Akin is an isolated phenomenon, a singular lunatic who doesn`t
represent the thinking of the Republican party.

Now comes his colleague, Congressman Paul Broun, Republican of
Georgia, who shows there is nothing isolated nor phenomenal about Todd
Akin, and that anti-scientific, bat crap crazy thinking is really the
current Republican brand. Like Congressman Akin, crazy Congressman Broun
sits on the House Committee on Science.

We can only hope that he and Akin do nothing but sit there, but we
know better. They actually have a real hand in the governing outcomes of
the House Committee on Science. And by his resume, you would think that
Congressman Broun would be more valuable to that committee than most other
congressmen, Democrat or Republican.

Congressman Broun likes to refer to himself as a scientist, which is
sort of true. He has far more science training than most members of
Congress and far more science training than I do. He got his bachelor of
science degree, majoring in chemistry, at the University of Georgia,
Athens. And he is a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, and was a
practicing physician before becoming a practicing politician.

But if Congressman Broun is a scientist, he is a mad scientist, a
very, very mad scientist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I`ve come to understand all that stuff
I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang Theory, all that
is lies straight from the pit of hell. It`s lies to try to keep me and the
all the folks who were taught that from understanding they need a savior.

You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I found out as a
scientist that actually showed this is really the a young earth. I don`t
believe that the Earth is but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was
created in six days, as we know them. That`s what the Bible says.

And what I`ve come to learned is that it`s the manufacturer`s
handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives
individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it
teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society.

That`s the reason as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being
the major directions to me of how I live in Washington, D.C. And I`ll
continue to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: All right, then. I happen to have the manufacturer`s
handbook right here, the Holy Bible, as the mad scientist tells us. It
teaches us how to run our lives, run our families. It teaches us how to
run all of public policy and everything in society.

Those are his words, his exact words. That`s what he said. So,
Deuteronomy 22:22: "if a man be found lying with a woman married to a
husband, then they shall both of them die."

So the penalty for adulatory is death. Congressman Broun, what are
you waiting for? When are you going to introduce that bill that will get
Newt Gingrich put to death. You said the Bible is our manufacturer`s
handbook. You said the Bible, quote, "teaches us how to run all of public
policy and everything in society."

So when are you going to start killing the adulterers. And why hasn`t
your party, the Republican Bible thumping party, defended Todd Akin on
legitimate rape? The Bible says there is such a thing as legitimate rape.
Yes, it does.

In Deuteronomy, 23:23 through 26: "if there be a damsel that is a
virgin betrothed unto a husband, and a man find her in the city and lie
with her, then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and
you shall stone them to death with stones, the damsel because she cried
not, being in the city, and the man because he hath humbled his neighbor`s
wife. So thou shalt put away the evil from the midst of thee."

But -- but -- but -- "if the man find the damsel that is betrothed in
the field, and the man force her and lie with her, then the man only that
lay with her shall die. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing."

So, you get what the Bible is saying here. The Bible is saying that
the first rape victim in the story has to be put to death because she did
not cry out for help during her rape and she was in the city where the
cries for help would be heard. Therefore it was not a legitimate rape,
according to the Bible.

So the woman deserves the same penalty she would get for adultery.
Death.

But the damsel who gets raped out in the field, where no one can hear,
she is under no obligation to cry for help. The Bible doesn`t want to put
her through that futile exercise. So according to the Bible, getting raped
and not calling out for help, if you`re out in a field where no one can
hear you, is legitimate rape.

Todd Akin would understand that completely. But the Bible thumping
party isn`t using that passage to help defend the comments about legitimate
rape. Because the Bible thumping party doesn`t actually read the Bible.
They just thump it. They don`t quote the Bible. They just thump it.

They just swear that they live by it. But like every sane person in
the world today, they do not live by the Bible. They take some guidance
from the Bible, some of it, and reject vast, vast tracts of it, the
homicidal parts of the Bible, the death penalty parts of the Bible.

We can be sure that even the mad scientist congressman does not
believe that Newt Gingrich should be put to death for committing adultery,
even multiple counts of adultery. And we can be sure that the mad
scientist congressman will continue to claim that the Bible, quote,
"teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society."

Because for the Bible thumping party, the Bible is not something to be
read, not something to be quoted. It is to them nothing more -- nothing
more than a political salesman`s tool.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m sorry, Jim. I`m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I`m
going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like
you too. But I`m not going to keep spending money on things to borrow
money from China to pay for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney picked a fight with the wrong bird.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any political statement you would like
to make?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don`t want to ruffle any feathers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But big bird has defenders who are ready to ruffle
feathers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: At a time when the public is rightly concerned about the
impact of sex and violence on TV, this administration is going to protect
the Muppets. We`re going to protect "Wall Street Week." We`re going to
protect "Live From Lincoln Center." and by God, we are going to protect
Julia Child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Those were the days, huh? I want to let you in on my
performance tricks here. See, they leave this for every guest up here.
They have the name. But it also has a little note here that that guess is
on set. Like I might not know it. But you know what? It`s Richard
Schiff, who needs it.

SCHIFF: I want to keep that as a souvenir.

O`DONNELL: You can keep that as souvenir before you go. So "The West
Wing" lives for ever. It turns out there you are defending PBS and Big
Bird years before the Romney attack. When that moment came in the debate,
did you flash back to "The West Wing" the way I did when that happened?

SCHIFF: If I didn`t my Twitter button certainly did, because it went
viral immediately. And that clip along with a couple of other clips from
"The West Wing" immediately went viral. So yes, of course I thought about
it quite quickly. And I was kind of hoping that Big Bird was nearby and
Obama, when he got into trouble, could just tag team and Big Bird could
just come out there and feather slap the man, just get in there and do some
real man`s work.

O`DONNELL: Well, Big Bird did, as you and I know, make a visit to the
White House.

SCHIFF: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And we actually have film of that. Let`s take a look at
that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to get beyond the Washington echo
chamber and speak right to the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what did you have in mind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I checked out the reject list from your
invitation file and there are a few things in here I think you should
reconsider. The first of which is Muppets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pardon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never do this. I`m a little nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t be silly. Wow, you have beautiful hair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s so sweet. I actually need to get it cut,
but thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: She does have beautiful hair.

SCHIFF: You know, I never saw that. I remember walking through the
set and seeing all the Muppets and Big Bird, but I never actually saw the
scene.

O`DONNELL: I guess you didn`t have Muppet scenes. But almost
everybody else did. And the Muppets were on the set I think for two days -
- it took us two days to shoot all of that. Alexa Young wrote that. It
was season five, somewhere in the middle of season five. But it was great.

And once again, it was a reach over into the Muppets for a political
embrace. This is a White House that was thinking hey, you want them on
your side. You know, the First Lady should go and do an appearance with
the Muppets because America loves them.

SCHIFF: It`s interesting that that was C.J.`s idea to reach out to
the people. And yet Mitt Romney choose that very symbol to do what
exactly? I don`t know exactly what he was thinking.

O`DONNELL: The only thing that makes sense about it is it`s one of
those wild, crazy ideas of the right wing Republican base. And it was the
one thing he actually gave them that night, was hey, here`s one of the
crazy things you`ve always screamed about. I`ll do that for you.

SCHIFF: One one millionth of the budget or something like that.

O`DONNELL: Right. And when he`s busy talking about how big his tax
cut won`t be, he`s using Big Bird as a remember I`m still your guy over
there on the right wing.

SCHIFF: It`s very bizarre. I don`t understand why go after public
broadcasting. I guess it`s the only thing he said the entire debate that
actually spoke to his kind of more extremist ride sided base.

O`DONNELL: And budget cuts. He will cut the one hundredth of a
percent of the budget.

SCHIFF: I think it`s even less than that.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s tiny. It`s really tiny.

SCHIFF: An American soldier being kept in Afghanistan I think for
five days is the equivalent of the entire budget for PBS. When you think
about that for a second.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. How great is it to see Janelle Maloney (ph), Alison
Janney, the gang back there? You worked with everybody recently on that
commercial.

SCHIFF: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- for Mayor McCormack`s sister.

SCHIFF: For Bridget McCormack, who is someone that I would have
supported anyway, because I met her before.

O`DONNELL: Running in Michigan as a judge.

SCHIFF: I think State Supreme Court, right?

SCHIFF: She`s done quite a lot of work for people --

O`DONNELL: That was a one-day shoot, right? I was invited. I
couldn`t get there.

SCHIFF: It was a five-hour shoot.

O`DONNELL: That was all done in five hours?

SCHIFF: Yes, five or six or seven hours, yeah.

O`DONNELL: That was quick work.

SCHIFF: It was a lot of fun to see everybody.

O`DONNELL: Was everybody getting one take there?

SCHIFF: Sure. Look at us. Look at the difference between now and
then.

O`DONNELL: There`s no difference. What are you looking at?

SCHIFF: I look the same, except with glasses and a lollypop.

O`DONNELL: You`re the same guy.

SCHIFF: Bridget -- I mean, Mary looks the same. It was kind of like
old school week. It was kind of like a nice little --

O`DONNELL: All the rhythm was there.

SCHIFF: We all kind of fell into the rhythm.

O`DONNELL: Didn`t it feel like it was the real --

SCHIFF: We laughed as much as we used to laugh. I messed up as many
takes as I used to mess up. Martin made me laugh every time I looked at
him, which was very, very close to the way it was in real life. But it was
surprisingly -- I don`t know why I`m surprised by it, but I just thoroughly
enjoyed seeing everybody again.

O`DONNELL: Oh, yeah. I really wanted to -- you`re doing a new web
series "Chasing the Hill".

SCHIFF: "Chasing the Hill." And so are you.

O`DONNELL: I just did a little acting turn this weekend.

SCHIFF: It`s a play that --

O`DONNELL: That will take like a year to come out?

SCHIFF: No, it`s coming out like I think in an hour.

O`DONNELL: No.

SCHIFF: It`s coming out within the week. You play a governor from
Kansas. From what I hear -- I got a Tweet -- Text from Brent, who was our
co-executive producer and director, who said you were, in capital letters,
in bold, great.

O`DONNELL: You know what we should do? We should stay after the show
here and we`ll do an extra piece of this for our web, so you can continue
to talk. I think you used the word great with me.

SCHIFF: I did.

O`DONNELL: We`ll have more of that.

SCHIFF: We`re going to tell people that they have to go online.

O`DONNELL: We`ll do on our website, on theverylastword. Richard
Schiff, currently starring in the web series, "Chasing the Hill." And
you`re doing "Glengarry Glen Ross" on Broadway soon.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: You get the last word tonight. "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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