updated 11/27/2012 9:46:19 AM ET 2012-11-27T14:46:19

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 26, 2012

Guests: Karen Finney, David Corn, Jonathan Capehart

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Have you ever been dumped? It`s rough.
Have you ever been dumped by someone who made a lifetime promise to you?
And did that person dump you on TV?

And then, when you were still reeling from that, completely wiped out
by that public pain and humiliation -- did someone else then dump you on
TV? And then someone else?

Then you know -- you know what it feels like tonight to be Grover
Norquist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Right now, we are watching both sides
start to make their move.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Just 36 days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holiday cheer and fiscal cliff fears.

JANSING: Of course, we`re talking about the --

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Fiscal cliff.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Fiscal cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fiscal cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does cause uncertainty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a great uncertainty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uncertain, I`m nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s just hanging over the entire economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s always uncertainty. I mean, life is
uncertain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think that the fiscal cliff is a fiscal
cliff. I think it`s more of a slope.

TODD: Senate Republicans, they want a deal.

BASHIR: Republicans possibly maybe --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Growing number of Republicans.

BASHIR: -- looking to make a deal.

TODD: And they would like one pretty quick.

BASHIR: Some top Republicans suggest they could shock horror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mythical Grover Norquist.

BASHIR: Break with their sacred pledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grover Norquist famous anti-tax pledge.

BASHIR: To Grover Norquist.

GROVER NORQUIST, ANTI-TAX LOBBYIST: Nobody is turning on me.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I`m not obligated on the pledge.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I will violate the pledge.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: The world has changed.

NORQUIST: Nobody`s turning on me.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: It is not about that
pledge.

NORQUIST: Nobody`s turning on me.

CANTOR: It really is about trying to solve problems.

NORQUIST: I`m sorry, that`s just silly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grover Norquist is not Jesus.

MATTHEWS: His influence on the wane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can`t murder you. He can`t burn down your
house.

NORQUIST: We would certainly highlight who has kept their commitment
and who hasn`t.

MATTHEWS: This guy`s a political lone shark.

NORQUIST: Nobody`s turning on me.

CORKER: I`m not obligated on the pledge.

GRAHAM: I will violate the pledge.

KING: The world has changed.

NORQUIST: Nobody`s turning on me. Nobody`s turning on me. Nobody`s
turning on me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With 36 days until the curve, Republicans on FOX News say
their party is in chaos and disarray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are in a shocking amount of disarray
right now. Part of it is that they don`t have -- the Republican Party has
not developed an alternative idea set other than what Mitt Romney and Paul
Ryan were campaigning on. And so it sort of by default has become their
opening negotiation position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the point when we`re trying to figure out what
the future of the country is with the budget, they`re attacking Grover
Norquist who`s elected to nothing? That`s their plan? I mean, there`s
total chaos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here is what congressional Republicans are saying about
their signed pledge to Grover Norquist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GRAHAM: I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of
the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.

CORKER: I`m not obligated on the pledge. I made Tennesseans aware, I
was just elected, that the only thing I`m honoring is the oath that I take
when I`m sworn in this January.

CANTOR: When I go to the constituents that have re-elected me, it is
not about that pledge. It really is about trying to solve problems.

KING: A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, it`s for that
Congress. For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed
-- supported a declaration of war against Japan. I`m not going to attack
Japan. The world has changed.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: But Grover Norquist does not think this world has changed
for Republicans who signed his pledge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Are you going to want to exact punishment on
them in two year, what?

NORQUIST: Two things. I think it`s -- there have been some, the
folks whose pictures you put up there, some of them have engaged in impure
thoughts. They haven`t actually voted for a tax increase. We could ask
President Bush, George H.W. Bush how his second term went after he broke
his pledge. Did he damage the pledge or did by breaking his pledge, he
lost a second term for the presidency?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And this morning, even "Fox and Friends" were getting all
philosophical about until death do us part pledges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: I think you get into really difficult
situations in relationships in general when you make people sign on the
dotted line and then you crucify them if they ever decide to change their
mind. I mean, I`ll bring it back to the analogy of marriage. I mean,
marriages don`t work when one or both parties stand on both sides of the
fence and say I`m not budging. Then you get divorced. That`s what
happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal, let me explain this being dumped thing to you
because I know you`ve never --

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: It`s happened once or twice.

O`DONNELL: Oh, stop. You lost an election.

BALL: Yes.

O`DONNELL: So you have some sensation of what Grover is going through
tonight.

BALL: Poor guy. Poor guy. I really feel for him.

I mean, it is remarkable because he`s had this pledge in place since
1986. And, you know, as he referenced himself, George H.W. Bush violated
the pledge, it essentially led to Newt Gingrich and the Contract for
America and we have been living in this Gingrich Contract for America,
Grover Norquist Tea Party state of the Republican Party since then.

And so far, they have only been engaging in what Grover called impure
thoughts, which I love that`s how he thinks of it. But just the very fact
they would openly question the pledge is so remarkable because essentially
lowers tax rates and never, never, never increasing tax rate is the only
thing that Republicans have consistently stood for in recent elections.

O`DONNELL: And, Ari, Peter King was using this very cute trick that
Republicans first starting using actually months ago.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Yes.

O`DONNELL: They started floating this thing about oh, that pledge was
made for another Congress. I didn`t sign it again for this election that I
just won a year ago or two weeks ago, whatever the case may be. And so
Peter King didn`t invent that. That`s a talking point that Republicans
came up with months ago in anticipation of having to get out of this
pledge.

MELBER: Right. And that`s something that Grover was very strenuously
rebuffed because he says this thing does re-up every cycle, that`s how it
works and you can opt out of it --

BALL: Once you`re in, that`s it.

MELBER: Right, sort of Omerta.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MELBER: But look, the big good news for progressives here, there are
two fundamental values that have driven the economic conversation for
Republicans in this era. One is deficit is the biggest problem that we
face. And the other is, you can never raise taxes for any reason.

Here we are with the cliff, the curve, the austerity bomb, whatever
you want to call it and what do we find out? Even Republicans now are
warning they don`t want to go over the cliff because guess what? Just
cutting the deficit without any regard to the rest of our priorities is a
bad idea. It`s a bad policy. It happens to be the heart of Republican
economic policy.

And oops, the other thing about never raising taxes -- well, guess
what? We don`t have the GDP-to-seniors ratio than we did 20 years ago. So
if we`re going to be serious about an aging population and other real world
things, if you want to be a hard-headed realist, it means you can`t stick
to these fantasies from a long time ago.

O`DONNELL: Grover has come a long way in the last two -- I remember
two years ago on the show, introducing him to the audience and explaining
he`s actually the most powerful Republican in government and I had to do
this long explanation of who this guy is.

And now, here he is just in the center of this debate.

Let`s listen to what the Republicans are actually up against in the
negotiations with the White House. Jay Carney indicated today what the
president`s stance is on income tax rates.

Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would say also that the
president has made clear that he will not sign a bill that extends the Bush
era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. He`s made that clear.
I`ve made that clear. Others have made it clear. And that is a firm
position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Krystal, the top tax rates go up. That is what this
pledge -- that`s what the violation of the pledge will consist of among
other things for Democrats who vote -- for Republicans who vote for
something the president can sign.

BALL: Right, unless of course they go over the cliff and they don`t
actually have to vote to increase taxes and then maybe technically they
didn`t violate the pledge, although certainly in spirit. In Grover`s eyes,
they would be violating the pledge.

But I think what Carney`s comments underscore is how strong of a hand
the president has here. Not only do the American people agree with him
that tax rates should be raised on the rich, not only do they agree with
the reality that it will be Republicans fault and that Republicans set up
this whole situation of the fiscal cliff, but he also has that negotiation
position of being able to go over the cliff and the rates go up for
everyone if you do that. He`s been very smart about positioning this, too,
saying -- you guys, we all agree on extending existing tax rates for middle
class Americans. Let`s just go ahead and do that and then we can deal with
this other piece.

MELBER: Lawrence, there`s an important here on tax law, I will play
lawyer for one second. And this is something you know from your time in
the Senate. The whole way that marginal rates work is that everyone
benefits on the first $250,000. So, this is a good deal for rich people no
matter what.

In other words, it is actually misleading to say it`s 98 percent only.
It`s 100 percent, because the first $250,000 that you make, whether you
make that much or a lot more, benefits.

BALL: Right.

MELBER: In fact, if you look at the data, it`s about a $12,000 cut
under the plan for the so-called middle class for people making the quarter
million.

So it`s this crazy thing where I don`t know if it`s that rich people
have a really good day of massaging the rhetoric or we just don`t take the
time to debunk it. But the entire marginal rate system means that if the
Obama middle class cuts go through, rich people will get the largest cuts,
still.

O`DONNELL: You know, we saw the Obama victory numbers in this
presidential election. But I actually think he`s had a bigger victory than
what those electoral numbers indicate and that`s in this CNN poll that
comes up. And it shows today how effective the president`s leadership has
been on this tax issue because the country agrees with him and as he`s
pointed actually -- more people agree with him than voted for him on this
particular issue.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: I mean, we could go through this poll. It`s
overwhelmingly in favor of the president`s position on this and, Krystal,
the Republicans are reading that poll and their future is in that poll.

BALL: That`s absolutely right. And the Republican Party for too long
has been driven by their primary electorate.

MELBER: Right.

BALL: The people who have been voting into office. They`ve been
afraid of Grover Norquist and the Tea Party coming after them in primaries.

But the more we see Republicans coming out against the pledge in
support of revenues, reaching across the aisle, there are safety in
numbers. They can`t primary all of them. So, it looks like there is going
to be a genuine move to the center, maybe.

O`DONNELL: Ari, here`s what Grover is hoping for tonight, that we go
off the cliff.

MELBER: Right.

O`DONNELL: Because then technically you can vote for whatever the tax
bill as Krystal points out, without violating Grover`s pledge. What he
desperately needs is the claim that his pledge still exists. That`s the
only way it can exist.

MELBER: I think that you hit it on the head. I mean, these people
are ideologues, but they`re also power hungry. Grover is a Washington guy.
He`s a lobbyist and he wants to find a way out of this that preserves his
perception of power.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Ari Melber, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

BALL: Thank you, Lawrence.

MELBER: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Warren Buffett exposes the dirty little money
secret of fellow rich guys, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O`Reilly.

And big news: Chris Christie is running.

And later, think about this. Who is more Christ-like -- the brave
defender of Christmas or the actor/writer/director/atheist Ricky Gervais?
It`s Bill O`Reilly or Rick Gervais more Christ-like? Tweet us your answer
and the answer will be in tonight`s "Rewrite".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight is the first episode of our new game show, who is
more Christ-like? Tonight`s contestants, Reverend Pat Robertson, Christmas
defender Bill O`Reilly and atheist Ricky Gervais. That`s coming up in the
"Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Bill O`Reilly and Rush Limbaugh`s dirty little secret has
been exposed by me and now it`s Warren Buffett`s turn. In an op-ed in
today`s "New York Times", billionaire Warren Buffett insisted that slightly
higher tax rates will in fact not deter the rich from becoming much richer.

"Forget about the rich and ultra rich going on strike and stuffing
their ample funds under their mattresses, if -- gasp -- capital gains rates
and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultra rich, including me,
will forever pursue investment opportunities. None of them will say, well,
it all depends on what my tax rate will be. Only in Grover Norquist`s
imagination does such a response exist."

It`s true. For ultra rich Warren Buffett and as pointed out
previously on this program, it is true for ultra rich Bill O`Reilly and
ultra rich Rush Limbaugh. Buffett supports a minimum 30 percent federal
tax on incomes over 1 million and a minimum 35 percent tax rates on incomes
over 10 million.

At the White House today, Press Secretary Jay Carney issued this
challenge to congressional Republicans on tax reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY: The reality is closing loopholes and ending deductions as an
alternative to raising rates on the top earners, those making over
$250,000, sounds good, but you have to look at the actual contents of those
proposals. Math tells us that you can`t get the kind of balance approach
that you need without having rates be part of the equation. It`s simply --
we haven`t seen a realistic proposal that achieves that, a realistic
proposal that achieves that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now with the tax math, Ezra Klein, columnist
for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC analyst.

Ezra, so now, Warren Buffett is to the left of the Democratic Party on
the very top taxation rates because to say it`s a minimum income tax over
$1 million and a minimum income tax over $10 million of 35 percent is to
remove the opportunity for certain kinds of tax deductions that those tax
filers that reduce their effective rates. He`s arguing for -- to put in
technical terms -- a kind of super alternative minimum tax.

EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, exactly. I mean, I guess it should
be no surprise that Warren Buffett actually does believe in the Buffett
tax, but that is precisely what he is supporting here.

O`DONNELL: Right.

KLEIN: If you had that, you had a 35 percent tax rate for people who
are making, if I remember correctly, more than $1 million, that is very,
very, very high tax rate, compare to what many of them pay right now. If
you`re somebody like Mitt Romney or you`re a hedge fund investor who uses a
carried interest loophole, you`re paying about a 15 percent tax rate.
Under Buffett`s plan, you`d be paying 35 percent -- your taxes overnight
would more than double. That is huge. That is a huge difference of what
you`d be making.

And one that I think that Buffett makes a very, very good case, and I
think history makes a good case, and I think that the tax math or tax
research is fairly here, would not really change your incentives to invest
very much. I mean, the difference between you paying 15 percent and 30
percent or 35 percent on an investment opportunity, is not the difference
between you making a profit and not making a profit. It is the deference
between you making a 70 percent profit and you making an 85 percent profit.
A lot of people still want to make a 75 percent profit.

O`DONNELL: Or, Ezra, in the Norquist world, it`s the opportunity to
make a zero profit because if you can`t make the 85 percent profit, you
will refuse the 70 percent profit and result a zero profit instead. That`s
the Grover theory.

KLEIN: Yes, the go golf and people will leave.

Look, there`s something else Buffett brings up in his op-ed. We have
had a very lengthy test of this kind of -- actually a much more extreme tax
system in this country. It`s called the 1940s to roughly the 1980s, when
we had a top marginal tax rate that was at time as high as 97 percent in
the Eisenhower years and as, again, to go back to Buffett`s op-ed, Buffett
was offering people investment opportunities when the top marginal rate was
not 39 percent, it was 70 percent and they were taking it and they were
getting rich.

And during that period, and this is for a lot of reasons, you don`t
want to fall to a Washington trap of suggesting the entire economy just
responds to the tax code and nothing else. But this was a period when we
were growing very, very quickly and when growth -- and this is really
important -- growth was equitably shared when we made a lot of money and we
used -- and we had a very, very progressive tax system. We grew quickly.

That money was redistributed to the middle class. They spent,
invested and the country kept growing. We had much stronger growth in that
period than we`ve had actually in the period of low tax rates certainly in
the 2000s.

O`DONNELL: Ezra, Grover Norquist is on the ropes as we have never
seen him before and you`re going to have to pardon me. I am going to
indulge my desire to see every bit of video from him on the ropes.

Let`s listen to him on FOX News today talking about tax reform and
deductions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORQUIST: I`m not talking about a few deductions and credits.
They`re talking about a trillion dollars worth of deductions and credits.
That`s what the other team wants.

If you do that, you`ve just killed tax reform for a generation. Why?
How do you ever get the rates down if you don`t have the deductions and
credits?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Ezra, now, he`s arguing against any kind of cleaning
up of deductions, credits, loopholes, any of that stuff.

KLEIN: Yes, and his probably -- I mean, from his perspective, he is
exactly right to do so.

One thing I`ve always partly respected about Norquist, he sees the
whole board. He sees -- you know, if you create a carbon tax, that could
be an avenue which you get higher taxes on a more efficient system and
people would be OK to do that, and he sees here that if you use tax reform
to raise revenues, you can`t use it to lower rates and he is right. And
that is exactly why the White House is saying in the clip you played from
Carney earlier, they are not very open to letting tax reform to be the only
way we get new revenue. You need to raise the rates because it`s hard to
do it all for tax reform.

O`DONNELL: I completely agree. Grover wants much smaller government
and he adopted the "starve the beast" strategy of shrink the taxation so
that you can shrink government.

Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republican Party looks for ways to avoid
having Michele Bachmann or anyone like her ever be a front-runner again for
that party`s presidential nomination. Karen Finney and David Corn will
join me on that.

And later, Pat Robertson thinks atheists are miserable and want
Christians to be unhappy. A very happy atheist will prove Pat Robertson
wrong. That`s in the "Rewrite".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: As "Time" magazine approaches its annual and often
gimmicky choice for person of the year, you can cast your vote at Time.com
where the ballot includes President Obama and some ridiculous long shots
including a man named Mitt Romney.

Also on the ballot, Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by
the Taliban because she became a public advocate for the education of girls
and women. At one point today, Malala was leading in the online balloting.
Let`s all stuff the ballot box for Malala. Vote early and often as they
used to say in Boston for Malala.

You can also vote for Malala as THE LAST WORD person of the year at
our Web site, thelastword.MSNBC.com, where the ballot as constructed by me
has exactly two people on it. Malala is in the first position on the
ballot. The second position on the ballot goes to the person who made that
anonymous video of Mitt Romney`s 47 percent chat with his rich donors.

You can also write whoever you want on THE LAST WORD ballot for person
of the year. No votes have yet been cast, but Malala has a big lead since
I personal intend to vote early and often for Malala Yousufzai as THE LAST
WORD person of the year.

Coming up, in the "Rewrite", Bill O`Reilly, crazy Pat Robertson and
Ricky Gervais in tonight`s contest, who is more Christ-like? Next on the
"Rewrite."

And next, Republicans still can`t face the fact that they lost because
President Obama is simply much better at campaigning and much better at
governing than they are. Karen Finney and David Corn will join me, coming
up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think we have to be a bigger tent.
That`s -- no doubt about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the Republican clown car needs a
bigger circus tent. Yesterday on FOX, the first man to lose the presidency
to Barack Obama tried to explain why a second Republican has now lost the
presidency to Barack Obama and like all Republican explanations for losing
the presidency to Barack Obama, it does not include the possibility that
the best man won.

It does not include the possibility that Barack Obama was simply an
extraordinary presidential candidate. Twice. It does not include the
possibility that Barack Obama could not be beaten by anyone. Twice.

John McCain could not admit that Barack Obama beat him, and then beat
Mitt Romney because President Obama is a better candidate than they were
and President Obama is a better and wiser man of government than they could
ever be.

McCain and other Republicans are now saying they simply need to sound
a little bit more reasonable on immigration and a lot less crazy on women`s
issues, and then they could win the electoral college in a landslide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Obviously, we have to do immigration reform. There is no
doubt whatsoever that the demographics are not on our side and we are going
to have to give a much more positive agenda. And as far as young women are
concerned, absolutely. I don`t think anybody like me, I can state my
position on abortion, but to -- other than that, leave the issue alone.

CHRIS WALLACE. FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You say leave the issue alone. You
would allow -- you`d say freedom of choice?

MCCAIN: I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those
opinions. I`m proud of my pro-life opinion and record, but if someone
disagrees with me, I respect your views.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As Republicans continue to access their second loss of the
presidency in a row, they continue to grasp at all sorts of straws instead
of admitting they were up against a truly extraordinary and superior
presidential candidate in Barack Obama.

The latest straw they`re grasping at is the Ames straw poll. The
"National Review" writes Ames does more damage to -- to the nominating
process and endures -- ensures that the country`s first view of the Grand
Old Party`s latest presidential crop is through a distorted lens."

How distorted a lens? Here`s the winner of last year`s Ames straw
poll. That editorial followed the lead of Iowa Republican Governor Terry
Branstad, who told "The Wall Street Journal" last week that the Ames poll,
quote, "outlived its usefulness."

Branstad repeated those thoughts during a press conference today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD (R), IOWA: I`m trying to look to the future and
saying let`s come up with a better system that welcomes all the candidates.
That gives all people from all parts of the state of Iowa a chance to
participate. A lot of people have had some real questions about the way
the straw poll thing has evolved and the straw poll aspect of it. It`s not
representative. And clearly, the results have shown that in recent times
because the people who won the straw polls have not won the caucuses. And
the causes are what`s most important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In its 33-year history, only two winners of the Ames straw
poll have gone on to win both the Iowa caucus and the Republican
nomination. Bob Dole, who then lost the presidency, and George W. Bush.
Bush was the only Ames winner to actually win the presidency.

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney and David Corn.

Karen, what I`m hearing in the Republican explanations for why they
lost is a refusal to acknowledge who beat them, how he beat them and what
President Obama himself did as a candidate the first time and then as a
candidate and president, man of government, the second time.

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Right. Well, and
this goes, you know, with their refusal to accept that, you know, this very
secret document called the census, could have told them that running around
the country talking about traditional America and taking America back from,
you know, a majority of those very people, these urban voters that Paul
Ryan seems to be so afraid of, was probably not the way to a significant
electoral victory.

So they`re going to continue, though, I think to think that it`s just
a matter of sort of changing the sheet music without understanding that if
you don`t actually connect with people on values and you don`t share their
values, we`re not likely to fall for it just because you`re going to tell
us what you think we want to hear.

O`DONNELL: President Obama joins FDR, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald
Reagan as the only presidents in the past century to win more than 50
percent of the popular vote twice.

And, David Corn, it seems to me that some credit for how this turned
out should go to the winner as opposed to here`s what the losers got wrong
on their way to lose in losing against this truly extraordinary candidate.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, yes. First, I have to say, Lawrence,
that I know you`re supporting Malala for your "LAST WORD" person of the
year, but I have to vote for the 47 percent video source.

O`DONNELL: Well, that`s number two on the ballot.

CORN: OK. OK. So I`m just putting --

O`DONNELL: That is number two on the ballot.

CORN: Putting in a plug in for that.

O`DONNELL: OK.

CORN: But I think you`re right. I mean, Barack Obama was -- you
know, had a great plan, a great strategic plan about how to win this
election after the 2010 shellacking that the Democrats you see in the
congressional midterm elections. And he really pulled it off with a
tremendous amount of skill and expertise and a pretty fine touch.

Having said that, he was blessed to have Mitt Romney who was indeed
awfully bad not just in demographics but just in terms of personal
communications and coming across as a human being. So it was sort of
worked on both sides and John McCain strikes me not surprisingly as a real
dang hypocrite these days.

FINNEY: Yes.

CORN: He was the guy in 2000 who said we shouldn`t be controlled --
we in the Republican Party by the religious right, then in 2008, he threw
that out the window when he ran in the primary for a Senate seat two years
ago. He, you know, didn`t talk about immigration reform, so when he was
put to the test, he catered and kowtowed to the right and now he says oh,
we have to do something about that.


He has shown very little courage and spine in trying to move his party in
any -- of a more constructive direction.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a Republican explanation for why they`re
not able to appeal to some voters. Let`s listen to American Family
Association president, Tim Wildmon, explaining why the Republican Party
doesn`t seem to get more African-American voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM WILDMON, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: I don`t believe
the Republicans can reach out to African-Americans because they`re never
going to vote for Republicans. They always vote Democrat. Ninety plus
percent and they always will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, Karen, there you have it.

(LAUGHTER)

FINNEY: You know, I love when white men tell us black folks what we
will or won`t do, or can and can`t do. You know, but I think that speaks
to the fundamental problem. If you start off the bat writing off 47
percent or -- on an 18-state strategy, then you`re essentially it`s a lack
of respect. You`re saying to those voters, we don`t care about you. We
don`t care about your issues and you`re not even showing up there to make
your argument, and part of the problem that I think the Republicans had,
and you know, yes, Mitt Romney was a bad candidate, but I think you`re
fundamental promise is very important here.

Barack Obama was an outstanding candidate and he`s been a good
president. Partially because he understands where the country is and who
this country is. And that`s something that the Republicans are continuing
to try to kid themselves about who we are, what the issues are that people
care about, simply because they`re catering to their right-wing ideology.

Black folks would -- there are black folks who do vote Republican and
who would consider voting Republican. But if you never show up and you
never even make an argument, of course we`re not going to vote for you.

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

CORN: Sure thing.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, what Ricky Gervais, an atheist, has to teach
Bill O`Reilly and Pat Robertson about the spirit of Christmas. That`s in
the "Rewrite."

And it`s official. Chris Christie is running. The question is, can
he run all the way to the White House?

We`ll turn to Jonathan Capehart for the answer to that one, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: What is the first important year in the 2016 presidential
campaign? No, it is not 2015 when everyone will start formally
campaigning. It`s 2013. Find out why with Jonathan Capehart, coming up.

And in the "Rewrite" the first episode -- the very first episode of
our new game show, "Who is more Christ-like." Tonight`s contestants, the
Christmas defender, Bill O`Reilly, the Reverend Pat Robertson and the
atheist Ricky Gervais. Who`s more Christ-like is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What do you think here? Are these
atheist ruining Christmas for the kids?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: With only 28 shopping days until Christmas, that means
unfortunately for Bill O`Reilly, there are only 28 days left in the war on
Christmas. Instead of talking about the Romney transition team, as he had
so hopes to do for the next month, Bill O`Reilly, like the swallows to
Capistrano, is returning this year as he does every year to the only war
he`s ever been brave enough to fight, the war on Christmas.

Like all fake tough guy conservatives, Bill sat out the war of his
era, the Vietnam war, but every year, he bravely fights on the side of
Christmas. In the war on Christmas. A war in which the body count remains
zero. The injury count remains zero and the risk of injury remains zero,
which is precisely the kind of war Bill O`Reilly and other combat coward
conservatives are willing to fight.

Bravery is not a requirement for the troops in the war on Christmas,
but crazy sure is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, "700 CLUB: HOST: Well, Christmas all over again. The
Grinch is trying to steal our holiday. It`s been so beautiful. The nation
comes together, we sing Christmas carols, we give gifts to each other. We
have lighted trees and it`s just a beautiful thing. The atheists don`t
like our happiness. They don`t want you to be happy. They want you to be
miserable. They`re miserable so they want you to be miserable. So they
want to steal your holiday away from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Does this guy look miserable? He used to be a Christian
when he was a kid, but he`s been an atheist since he was 8 years old and
miserable is not the first word that comes to mind whenever I see this
face. In fact, if you`re feeling miserable and you`re lucky enough to
stumble on Ricky Gervais on television, you have just hit upon the perfect
mood adjuster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: The atheist don`t like our happiness. They don`t want you
to be happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ricky Gervais has been making people happy around the
world since the first episode of the "Office," the original "Office," 11
years ago. Two years ago Ricky Gervais wrote a piece for the "Wall Street
Journal" entitled, "Why I`m an Atheist." It was published during Christmas
week in 2010 and in the online comment section, Ricky was asked, how do you
plan on celebrating Christmas?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: They want to steal your holiday away from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Atheist Ricky Gervais answer to how he plan to celebrate
Christmas was, "eating and drinking too much with friends and family,
celebrating life and remembering those that did, but can no longer. They
are not looking down on me, but they live in my mind and heart more than
they ever did probably. Some, I was lucky enough to bump into on this
planet of six billion people. Others shared much of my genetic material.
One selflessly did her best for me all my life. That`s what mums do,
though. They do it for no other reason than love, not for reward, not for
recognition. They create you from nothing. Miracle, they do those every
day. No big deal. They are not worshipped. They would give their life
without the promise of heaven. They teach you everything they know, yet
they are not declared profits and you only have one."

Ricky Gervais` next line says, "I am crying as I write this." That is
not a miserable atheist crying, that is a loving son crying with gratitude
at the memory of his mother and the size of his perpetual debt to her. He
goes on to write of some specific funny and deeply moving memories of his
mother, which I hope you will read. We will link to his piece and the
comments at our Web site.

If Ricky has been making you laugh for years, you owe him this one
chance to make you cry reading his profound appreciation of understanding
of motherly love.

Ricky ends his answer about how an atheist like him will celebrate
Christmas by saying, "That`s what special about Christmas. It`s when you
visit or reminisce about the ones you love and reflect on how lucky you
are. I hope you are with your loved ones at this wonderful time of year.
That`s what will make it wonderful. Peace to all mankind, Christian, Jew,
Muslim and atheist."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Atheists don`t like our happiness. They don`t want you to
be happy. They want you to be miserable. They`re miserable, so they want
you to be miserable, so they want to steal your holiday away from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And what was Ricky Gervais` last line about Christmas?
"Peace to all mankind, Christian, Jew, Muslim and Atheist."

That is something Bill O`Reilly and Pat Robertson and all their angry
recruits in the war on Christmas could never say. They could never say
peace to all mankind and mean it. Because that would of course include
atheists and gay people and absolutely worst of all, gay atheists, married
to gay atheists.

Bill O`Reilly and Pat Robertson could never say Ricky`s simple
Christmas wish word for word. "Peace to all mankind, Christian, Jew,
Muslim and Atheist."

And that is why the happy atheist, Ricky Gervais, is actually more
Christ-like than the Reverend Pat Robertson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEGGY NOONAN, AUTHOR: This is not just the re-election of a
president. This is the rebuffing, if that`s the right word, of the
Republicans. Look, I think there are many lessons to be learned over this
election. There was a not ideal candidate. It was a not ideal campaign,
et cetera, et cetera. Romney`s economic programs reflected the concerns of
Wall Street as opposed to the concerns of regular folk coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Republican Peggy Noonan yesterday, still beating
up on Mitt Romney and his campaign for losing the election.

The person Republicans are not willing to attack publicly anyway for
Mitt Romney`s loss is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who filed the
paperwork today to run for re-election in New Jersey in 2013, and is now
the Republican frontrunner for the presidential nomination in 2016.

The chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Governor Bobby
Jindal, was quick to issue this statement about Christie`s decision to seek
a second term. "Chris Christie exemplifies the type of result-oriented
leadership New Jersey residents expect from their governor."

Jindal goes on to heap praise on Christie. Jindal was one of the
prominent Republican attackers of Mitt Romney after Mitt Romney`s big loss.

And a PPP poll done this month in New Hampshire finds that Chris
Christie leads the pack for his party`s nomination in 2016. Christie has
21 percent, followed a distant second by Marco Rubio at 14 percent,
Condoleezza Rice at 13 percent, Jeb Bush, 11. Wisconsin representative,
Paul Ryan, the most recent losing vice presidential candidate, at 10
percent.

Joining me now is MSNBC`s Jonathan Capehart.

Hey, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, welcome to what I believe may be our very first
2016 Republican presidential sweepstakes segment.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: God, why.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: We`ve seen some grumbling and we saw some at the time,
unnamed sources in Republican world grumbling about Chris Christie and his
partnership with President Obama in dealing with the disaster in New Jersey
as a result of Hurricane Sandy. People saying hey, that`s being too
helpful to Obama`s re-election. But you don`t hear it now and the
interesting thing is I didn`t hear anyone of prominence quoted by name in
criticizing Christie that way. Plenty of people including Bobby Jindal,
happy to criticize Mitt Romney by name.

CAPEHART: Well, sure, after the election.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes,

CAPEHART: And remember what Bobby Jindal -- when Bobby Jindal
criticized Mitt Romney, it was after Mitt Romney had said something like
really, really dumb to those folks on that -- on that call and another
instance that escapes me at the moment but also, the other thing about
Chris Christie and particularly Bobby Jindal in that statement that he put
out about today about Governor Christie, these are now two governors who
have had to deal with natural disasters.

And so I think Bobby Jindal, not only because they`re Republicans, not
only because they`re governors, but they`re also two men who have had to
deal with, you know, Mother Nature wreaking havoc on their populations.
And so Bobby Jindal looks at Chris Christie, I`m sure, as sort of a kindred
spirit in this way.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Jindal was attacking Romney for what he got caught
saying to his fundraisers about how he lost. It was basically that re-run
of the 47 percent.

CAPEHART: Of 47 percent, right.

O`DONNELL: But Jonathan, let`s listen to Jindal talking about this
whole issue of should Chris Christie be blamed for being in some way
helpful to President Obama`s re-election. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I`ve got in interest in trying to
look at these events through partisan politics. I`ll leave it to others to
figure out if it had an impact at the poll. You know, Haley -- Governor
Barbour at the last -- and Glen Boulder (ph), did note that -- not talking
about New Jersey in particular, but the overall response to the storm, I
think, Glen cited some numbers that it may have caused 3 percent of the
voters to switch their votes to the president, but the point is, I just
don`t think there`s a -- this is an appropriate place for partisan
politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, when they look at that New Hampshire poll with
Christie way out in front, I think we`re going to hear a lot of respectful
things about Chris Christie from other Republicans.

CAPEHART: Sure, lots of respectful things because as that poll
reflects, the governor is rather popular. Not just in his home state, but
among Republicans across the country. Remember there was a clamor for
Governor Christie to run for president himself. And you know it was a
governor who said I`m not ready to be president in a shocking moment of
candor for someone who is considered presidential timber. And so when he
runs for re-election in 2013 and if he wins re-election, then the clamor
for him to get in the races in 2016 is only going to get louder.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks,
Jonathan.

END

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