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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, December 3rd, 2012

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL

December 3, 2012

Guests: Ryan Grim, Philip Rucker, Jonathan Capehart

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Today, Republicans came up with a
plagiarize counteroffer to the president`s budget proposal and it includes
some of the same ideas that sent Mitt Romney into a forced political
retirement that, according to "The Washington Post", he is not enjoying.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Both sides seem to be digging in on a
fiscal cliff deal.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: A new week brings new opportunities
for gridlock.

JANSING: Right now it`s a stalemate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans used words like stalemate.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is this a true stalemate?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I would say we`re
nowhere.

MITCHELL: Going nowhere.

BOEHNER: Period. We`re nowhere.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The path to nowhere.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: You`re doing it wrong.

MITCHELL: Just 28 days left.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think we`re going over the
cliff.

HALL: It`s not a good sign.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Republicans were flabbergasted.

BOEHNER: Flabbergasted.

DIONNE: This is a perfectly normal negotiation.

BOEHNER: You can`t be serious.

MITCHELL: Going nowhere just 28 days left.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I feel almost sorry for John
Boehner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does John Boehner have control of his caucus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will John Boehner lead his caucus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he leading his caucus --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or will his caucus lead him?

GROVER NORQUIST, ANTI-TAX LOBBYIST: Tea Party two is going to dwarf
Tea Party one.

MCCASKILL: This base of the Republican Party.

NORQUIST: Tea Party two.

MCCASKILL: Who Grover Norquist represents --

NORQUIST: Is going to dwarf Tea Party one.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: This is embarrassing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s the problem.

MATTHEWS: He`s willing to act like the election never happened.

JANSING: We`re not getting anywhere.

GRAHAM: I think we`re going over the cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s the GOP who has been short on specifics.

BOEHNER: I would say we`re nowhere, period. We`re nowhere.

MATTHEWS: The Republicans have their plan and it`s great news for the
rich.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The same exact policies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This shows that Republicans are really chicken
hawks.

BOEHNER: You can`t be serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicken hawks when it comes to reducing the debt.

MATTHEWS: Get serious.
JANSING: We`re not getting anywhere.

WAGNER: The path to nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be prepared for the plunge.

BOEHNER: I would say we`re know where nowhere.

GRAHAM: I think we`re going over the cliff.

BOEHNER: There`s clearly a chance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Today, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan finally
kind of, sort of, responded to the president`s budget proposal, with a
proposal of their own that they were so unmarried to, they didn`t put their
names on it. They said the whole thing was Erskine Bowles idea. They
simply summarized some testimony that Bill Clinton`s former White House
chief of staff gave last year about what he thought might kind of be a
workable budget deal way back then.

Because Bowles is a Democrat, the Republicans thought they he could
try to pretend that agreeing with a single Democrat means that they are
actually willing to compromise big time even though Erskine Bowles is a
very easy Democrat to negotiate with, unlike the actual elected Democrats
in Washington. In other words, Erskine Bowles is willing to compromise on
things or was willing to compromise on things that the Democrats are not
willing to compromise on, which means that agreeing with Erskine Bowles is
utterly meaningless on your way to try to get a deal with the president of
the United States.

Erskine Bowles` proposal included a $600 billion cut in Medicare
spending which he achieved by raising the Medicare eligibility age. So
Republicans just proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare, a
proposal that polls show is supported by a full 30 percent of the American
people and rejected by only 67 percent of them.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer rejected the House
Republicans counteroffer and repeated that any agreement must include some
higher income tax rates on top earners.

The Republican plan would raise tax revenue by not extending the
current Obama cut in payroll taxes. But the Republican plan still refuses
to raise the top income tax rates.

Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made it clear that there
can be no deal without higher top tax rates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Last question, can you promise that we will
not go over the cliff?

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: No, I can`t promise that.
That`s a decision that lies in the hands of the Republicans that are now
opposing increases in tax rates. If they recognize the reality that we
can`t afford to extend those tax rates, then we have a basis for the
agreement and that`s going to be the responsible thing to do. And my
judgment is they are going to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Ezra Klein, columnist for "The Washington
Post" and MSNBC analyst, and "The Huffington Post", Ryan Grim.

Ezra, what do you make of the Boehner proposal that was kind of
cribbed from Erskine Bowles?

EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST: Two things. One, Republicans are
terrified about by the polls showing that they are going to immediately get
blamed if we go over the fiscal cliff for not being willing to compromise.
I mean, the reason you initiate the kind of Erskine Bowles` plan is you`re
hoping that people will say, well, look, they are compromising. They are
going along with what the former Clinton chief of staff said.

It`s important to know that when Erskine Bowles brought up this idea,
it wasn`t his plan. He was in testimony and he said to the supercommittee,
given what the two sides, you Republicans and you Democrats have put forth,
here`s what a deal exactly in the middle would look like. If you actually
took the Simpson/Bowles plan, you wouldn`t have $600 billion in tax
increases. You`d have $2.6 trillion.

And even if you just moved the budget window up a year, the same plan
Erskine Bowles offered to the super committee, the one that Republicans are
using now, because we`ve gone for the year in the budget window for
complicated reasons, it would now be worth $950 million in tax increases.

So even in the kind of world of the Bowles` plan and much less
Simpson/Bowles plan, this isn`t quite right there.

O`DONNELL: Ryan Grim, do they think that one Democrat in a world who
is not in office anywhere and theoretically compromising with him even
though he today says, hey, that`s not a really workable deal, do they
actually think that`s a presentable step towards the president?

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: I mean, clearly they do. You know,
Democrats have been kind of guilty of the same thing in the past but this
is -- this is a little extra ridiculous because Erskine Bowles is not
somebody that`s just been out of operative-ness for a long time. You know,
he wasn`t in office. He was inoperative. But he also works for Morgan
Stanley right now.

So, it`s not like this is some type of a New Deal that says, look,
here`s the deal that we`ve cobbled together with Erskine Bowles. And the
fact that he came out and rejected it today is that much more embarrassing
to them. They are calling it the Bowles` plan and Bowles came out and
said, "I don`t support this."

O`DONNELL: There`s a potentially very important development in the
House, under Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying that she might move to
what they call a discharge position. She said, "Instead of wasting the
public`s time, House Republicans should allow a vote on the Senate-passed
middle income tax cuts. Democrats are filing a position to force a vote on
extending the middle income tax cut on Tuesday at noon."

Ezra, the way the House works, of course, it`s hard for the minority
to get anything to a vote. This is the only way they can, this rarely used
discharge petition.

How does that look as it develops?

KLEIN: It`s a little hard to say right now. I mean, usually, you
don`t get to the discharge position because it scares -- if it`s going to
work, it scares the majority leader enough that he moves it, the speaker
enough that he moves it. But if it could work, there`s some chance, and
I`ve heard some people suggest maybe that Boehner would be happy to have
that happen because then it gets a vote and he doesn`t get the blame for
it. It happens despite his objections.

And, remember, this has already passed in the Senate. McConnell
didn`t filibuster the middle class tax cut extension. So, you can easily
have some -- you can easily imagine the scenario where this part of it, the
middle income tax cuts get taken off the table early.

There`s also been reporting from Jon Karl at ABC News saying that the
Republicans have developed what they call a doomsday scenario plan in which
if we really hit the fiscal cliff and they really haven`t figured anything
out, they just let the Democrats have the middle income tax cuts and then
we go over the cliff or over the curb, as you would have it, and then we
begin in a month or two to hit the debt ceiling and yet now, Democrats
don`t have the leverage of the tax cuts.

I`ll be honest with you, Lawrence, I have tried and tried and tried to
figure out what the political advantage of doing that would be for the
Republicans, I`ve had no success figuring out the strategy behind that
plan. But certainly there are smarter minds than mine over there, so maybe
they have some idea of where getting the tax cuts done will help them and
not the Democrats.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to read what ABC is actually reporting about
this. They say, "House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the
Bush middle class tax cuts and offer the president nothing more. No
extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing
loopholes. Under one variation of this doomsday plan, Republicans would
vote present on the bill allowing it to pass entirely on Democratic votes."

And, Ryan, not only would it pass entirely on Democratic votes in that
scenario, but the Republicans would still be holding the debt ceiling as
something that the president would have to come back to them for after all
of that was done.

GRIM: That`s right. But they`d be rapidly losing credibility. You
know, they could, you know, theoretically, you know, force the country into
a default by simply refusing to lift the debt ceiling, but if they go
through the scenario that you lay out and I think that that`s an extreme
long shot, you know, by that point they would have been so beaten up they
wouldn`t have the political capital to have the kind of an Alamo last stand
in front of the debt ceiling. They will have been getting rolled for
several months in a row.

So, why all of a -- they don`t have the spine right now to stand up
for the debt ceiling. You know, they make some gestures towards it but not
much of them. So why is it that after getting beaten for a couple of
months, they would -- they would then finally have the ability to thwart it
on the debt ceiling?

I don`t see it happening but, you know, as long as this debt ceiling
is part of the statute, then it is always going to be something that the
country has to worry about and actually the globe has to worry about.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Ryan Grim, thanks for joining me on the
latest twists and turns.

KLEIN: Thank you.

GRIM: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama isn`t going to let the
Republicans forget that they lost the election because they campaigned to
keep taxes low for the top income earners in America. Krystal Ball and Ari
Melber will join me on that.

And Mitt Romney is looking for a new job and Republicans are looking
for a new leader, and Democrats might already have their next leader for
the next presidential election.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, in praise of Bob Costas for saying what
had to be said about the biggest thing that happened in the world of
football this week. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Grover Norquist thinks that the Tea Party will revolt
unless Republicans keep tax rates low on the rich. We`ll see if he`s right
about that. That`s next.

And later in the show, you`re going to meet THE LAST WORD viewer who
impressed me so much with his online comment about the show that he works
here now.

That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under my plan, first of
all, 98 percent of folks who make less than $250,000, you won`t see your
income taxes go up a single dime. All right? Because you`re the ones who
need relief. But we`re not going to be able to get it done unless we also
ask the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on their income over
$250,000. The same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president and our
economy created nearly 23 million new jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s from a new video by the Obama administration
designed to get the public on the president`s side of this tax fight. The
president took to Twitter today to answer questions about the fiscal cliff.

One person asked whether deductions for homeowners are at risk to
which the president responded, "Breaks for middle class important for
families and economy. If top rates don`t go up, danger that middle class
deductions get hit." Signed "bo."

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner said this on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Listen, nobody wants to go over the cliff. That`s why the
day after the election I tried to speed this process up by making a
concession to put revenues on the table. It`s unfortunate that the White
House has spent three weeks doing basically nothing. You know, the
president`s idea of a negotiation is, roll over and do what I ask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And on "Meet the Press" yesterday, Grover tried to change
America`s mind about who`s to blame if we do go off the cliff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORQUIST: Tea Party two is going to dwarf Tea Party one if Obama
pushes us off the cliff. Let`s not pretend who`s pushing us offer the
cliff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But, Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine
"The Weekly Standard", continues to insist that the president does have the
better argument.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: At the end of the day, President Obama
is selling a very simple message. I want to keep taxes low for middle
class Americans and Republicans look -- I`m worried in the position of
looking as if they don`t care about the middle class and just want to keep
tax rates low for wealthy Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal, it`s Grover Norquist versus the polls, actually,
the polls actually tell us -- a new CNN poll shows that 45 percent of
Americans would blame congressional Republicans if no deal is reached and
34 percent would blame President Obama. I don`t think Grover is going to
turn that around.

KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: No, I don`t think Grover is going
to turn that around and I don`t think that he`s right that Tea Party two
will dwarf Tea Party one.

O`DONNELL: He is so wrong.

BALL: But I do think that there is true to the fact that there is
already a backlash from the ultra right, the sort of grassroots Tea
Partiers that are still out there are already upset with Boehner over his
initial starting position, which is still quite far to the right, which as
you know -- as you and Ezra and Ryan talked about in the last segment,
doesn`t even include any increase in the top tax rates at all.

O`DONNELL: Right.

BALL: It still focuses on these magic, you know, reductions of
loopholes and deductions that we`ve never heard anyone from Mitt Romney or
anyone else be able to actually describe.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something that Tim Geithner said, his
description of the Republican`s problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: They are in kind of in a tough
position now and it`s going to be -- it`s obviously a little hard for them
now and they are trying to figure out where they go next. And we might
need to give them a little time to figure out where they go next.

WALLACE: When you say that they are in a hard spot, what do you mean?

GEITHNER: Because they`re trying to figure out how to find a way to
support things that they know they are going to have to do. It`s going to
be very hard for them. If they`re going to tell us what they are willing
to do on rates and revenues, that`s going to be really hard for
Republicans. We understand that.

You know, again, if they need more time to figure out what they are
going to do, what they want to do, that`s OK. We don`t have that much time
though.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ari, he`s saying, we`re not going to give in. If you want
more time to decide what you are going to do, we`re not giving you
anything.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Yes. I mean, Tim Geithner is compassionate.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MELBER: There was. There was an empathy there. I mean, Tim Geithner
looks like a therapist saying, you`ve got some work and some of it you`re
going to have to do on your own. You`ve got to figure it out.

The other thing he said, of course, also on "Meet the Press" is, look,
this is how it`s going to down, and if you drive us off the cliff, the ax
rates are going to go up for everyone and we`re going to have to deal. And
that goes back to a point you raise in the earlier segment, which is desire
to take Erskine Bowles is not exactly a household name and trying to claim
that his testimony at a given moment in time reflects some great Republican
compromise is dead on arrival.

Mr. Bowles came out today and he said that the attempt to invoke his
testimony was off base and that this Republican offer, to the extent it
offers anything, is not the Simpson/Bowles plan. It`s not the Bowles plan.

So, it reminds me a little bit of the rap group, Three 6 Mafia. That
they always say --

BALL: I think we all went there.

MELBER: You know, that`s where your mind went, Krystal.

They say, keep my name out of your mouth. And it`s tough thing to say
to someone. But it`s basically what Mr. Bowles said to Speaker Boehner,
was -- don`t talk about me, don`t talk about my plan, go work on your own
plan.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to another thing Grover said yesterday about
President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORQUIST: It`s the president who is threatening to raise taxes on the
middle class if he doesn`t stamp his feet and get his way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It`s so funny to see somebody talk about someone else in
full projection mode.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: That is Grover. You know, stamping his feet and getting
his way, and he`s pretending that this president behaves the way he does.

BALL: Yes. I mean, that`s his whole -- that`s been his entire path
to power.

O`DONNELL: And he`s gotten his way.

BALL: And he has gotten his way because not only has he stamped his
feet to get his way but he`s also threatened people. He`s done that here
by saying that the Tea Party two is going to dwarf Tea Party one. That`s
sending out a message saying, if you support any revenue increases, if you
go along with compromise, we`re going to -- we`re going to get you next
time around in your primary. I mean, that`s what this is all about.

It`s threat and intimidation to Republicans who are thinking about
actually trying to come to some sort of deal and move forward.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a prediction that Lindsey graham made
which I think I agree with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I think we`re going over the cliff. It`s pretty clear to me
they`ve made a political calculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I`d say right about now, he`s right about that. But the
White House has made the choice, if we don`t get exactly what we want
before New Year`s Eve, we`re going to let this happen.

MELBER: Yes, we`re going to let it happen. And, look, it`s not the
end of the world. But the question is, do we do a deal in the ninth inning
or the tenth inning.

O`DONNELL: Exactly.

MELBER: If you look at the markets, if you look at the ratings
agencies, nobody who is serious about these issues expect there would never
be a deal. If there was never a deal and we had arbitrary defense cuts and
the complete, you know, restructuring of our taxes and payroll taxes, and
yes, that would definitely hurt the economy.

O`DONNELL: For a while.

MELBER: For a while.

O`DONNELL: Even that we would curb out of.

MELBER: Exactly. But if it`s two or three weeks and it`s two or
three weeks that the Republicans want to do for the sake of their own drama
and their own inability to make of their minds, I think we can handle it.

O`DONNELL: I think it will be less than three weeks. I think it will
be in the order of seven days, 10 days maximum. Krystal Ball and Ari
Melber, thank you both for taking --

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Hillary Clinton is running for president, so
says an article posted online today at "The New Yorker".

And Mitt Romney is not enjoying private life according to a
"Washington Post" report that says Mr. and Mrs. Romney are having a hard
time adjusting to losing the election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain are very upset that Bob
Costas told the truth about gun violence during a football game. That`s
during the "Rewrite".

And I`m going to do something at the end of the show that I don`t
quite know how to describe. Stick with us. We`ll figure out how to
describe it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight: the aftermath of election 2012.
Today when the president of the United States was getting briefed by the
CIA on every known threat in the world, then meeting with a prime minister,
then delivering a speech on arms control at the National Defense
University, Mitt Romney was rejoining the board of Marriott International,
a hotel chain that is much better managed than Mitt Romney`s presidential
campaign.

In an article that should have been titled "Mitt Romney is Human After
All," "the Washington Post" reports today that, quote, "Romney`s rapid
retreat into seclusion has been marked by repressed emotions, second
guessing and perhaps for the first time in the over achiever`s adult life,
sustained boredom, according to interviews with more than a dozen of
Romney`s closest friends and advisers."

The Romney model of don`t stop running after your first attempts to
get the Republican nomination may now be being followed by Texas Governor
Rick Perry, who according to "Politico" has been meeting with big donors
and is leaving the impression that he is ready to run again.

"Politico" has also learned, quote, "that Governors Jindal of
Louisiana, Kasich of Ohio and McDonnell of Virginia ventured over to the
Venetian for separate private meetings with Sheldon Adelson while they were
in Las Vegas for the Republican Governors Association winter meeting."

"Politico" also reports that Maryland Democratic Governor Martin
O`Malley is meeting with donors in Los Angeles this week and has a fund-
raiser scheduled in the Washington suburbs, and that Vice President Joe
Biden has been meeting with his donors.

But the 2016 headline of the day is at TheNewYorker.com, where editor
David Remnick wrote, "Hillary Clinton is running for president."

Remnick came to that conclusion after attending the Saban Forum in
Washington, where Hillary Clinton was a featured speaker and was introduced
by what Remnick calls a short, adoring film. "The film was like an
international endorsement four years in advance of the Iowa caucus and the
New Hampshire primary."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: If you bet on the side of human
rights, human dignity, more countries may have the same extraordinary good
fortune that we`ve had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As someone who knows a thing or two about
political comebacks, I can tell you I don`t think we`ve heard the last of
Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just have an instinct that the best is yet to
come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, "the Washington Post`s" Phillip Rucker and
Jonathan Capehart. Jonathan, that`s -- there`s nothing campaign like about
that video at all. Is there?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, come on. She`s leaving
her term as secretary of state. She`s arguably been one of the best that
we`ve had in a while. She`s loved by clearly lots of people around the
world, particularly foreign leaders. And so there she is at this forum
filled with friends of hers. And so there`s a tribute video for her
saying, you know, job well done, you`re terrific. Just a couple people
saying, who knows what is next for her.

Of course who knows what is next for her, because she`s a young woman
who is going to hopefully take some time off, put her feet up and relax for
a little bit before entertaining ideas about 2016 when we`re still in 2012.

O`DONNELL: Well, the Hillary money people that I talk to tell me the
decision has been made. It`s under way. David Remnick is right. But
Phillip Rucker, your piece today about Romney life after the election does
not read like there`s much fun in Romney world these days.

PHILIP RUCKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, he`s trying to have a
little bit of fun. He`s been seeing a lot of his family. Remember, he has
18 children and five sons and all of their wives. They have been cycling
in and out of that beach house in La Jolla, which by the way is not yet
under renovation. Those plans haven`t begun yet.

But he`s at home. He`s trying to figure out what to do with his life.
It`s the first time since he was in college that he hasn`t had a plan, he
hasn`t had a company to run or a campaign to run or a job to fill. So he`s
trying to figure that out. We saw the first step today with that Marriott
job. But he`s also looking at doing some sort of a charitable endeavor or
a public service component of some kind, although certainly not elected
office anymore.

O`DONNELL: Philip, your piece says today, "by all accounts, the past
month has been most difficult on Romney`s wife Ann, whose friend said
believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their
destiny. They said she has been crying in private and trying to get back
to riding her horses."

Jonathan, given the way you saw the character of Ann Romney unfold
during the course of the campaign, what`s your reaction to that?

CAPEHART: I wrote about this today. That paragraph was all -- of the
juicy tid bits in Philip`s story -- and great story, Philip, on your story.
But that was the one that leapt out at me, because it struck up a familiar
tone. We`ve heard this same tone, this one of -- one of presumptiveness,
one of -- I can`t think of the word right now.

But where -- there are three instances where people will point to
where that paragraph, we saw it come before. One was when she had the
interview with the Iowa radio station where she said to Republicans
complaining about her husband -- remember she said, stop it, this is hard.
You get in the ring if you think it`s so easy, and America should be so
lucky to have someone like her husband Mitt to run the country.

There was the interview with Diane Sawyer where -- when she was asked,
what would you say to President Obama and Michelle Obama, and she concluded
her remarks by saying -- well, first she said, it`s Mitt`s time and then
ends her remarks by saying, it`s our turn.

You know, these are -- that belies a mind set of someone who thinks
that they are sort of owed sitting in the White House, as opposed to
earning their way into the White House.

O`DONNELL: Philip Rucker, please explain to me and the nation how the
Romneys could have been convinced to a certainty that Mitt Romney was going
to win this election. I mean, even if all of the polls showed him in that
position, which they didn`t, but even if they did, the votes still have to
be cast. There is still some suspense in election night.

RUCKER: Well, you know, there was a feeling with the candidate and
with his wife Ann throughout the campaign that this was Mitt`s moment.
This was -- you know, he was the guy that could fix the economy and that
the country needed him and that there was no way America would reelect
President Obama, that this was the year for Mitt Romney to win.

So they believed that all the way to the end. And in the last week of
the campaign -- and I was out on the road with him -- he had these huge
crowds at different events. And in fact on election day, he did a stop in
Pittsburgh to go visit his election headquarters there. And he saw a bunch
of people up on a parking ramp right at the airport. They hadn`t announced
the arrival at the airport. And people just showed up.

And Romney`s friends said that he and people around him took it as an
omen. They thought that was a sign that he was going to win. And indeed,
they thought all the way until the networks called the race on election
night that he would be the winner.

O`DONNELL: So Jonathan, what, then, does that kind of mind do in this
situation? I mean, I kind of -- I guess I kind of get the crying. The
world makes no sense.

CAPEHART: Right. Well, the world makes no sense when you live in
this bubble where -- just imagine, remember what was happening over at Fox
News on election night, how they couldn`t believe what the rest of the
country saw happening and saw it happening for weeks, if not months. This
echo chamber that they live in that they are going to win, that their ideas
are right, that they are the ones who should be leading the country, and
the country said otherwise.

And the world I was looking for, Lawrence, is entitled. And that`s --
I think that`s the mindset coming from, you know, the Romneys and
particularly going back to that paragraph in Philip`s story about Ann
Romney, the sense of entitlement that the White House is supposed to be
theirs, that it`s their turn, it`s Mitt`s time, as opposed to what the
country has to say about the matter.

O`DONNELL: Philip, I think we have every right to expect that Mitt
Romney will fade into the kind of oblivion you fade into after one of these
losses. I don`t think he even has a chance of being even as prominent as
Bob Dole was after he lost the presidency in 1996. He had given up his
Senate seat, so had no more jobs in Republican politics. But at least he
had a very substantial Republican career behind him which a lot of people
remembered.

RUCKER: Yeah. I mean, the problem for Mitt Romney right now is that
his party is sort of moving beyond him very quickly. It`s only been about
four weeks and his ideas are not really being discussed in Washington.
There`s not really much of any reference to him. The Republican leaders
who are young and up and coming are talking about how to rebrand and
rebuild the party.

And some people close to Mitt Romney said that he doesn`t really have
much of an interest in being involved in that kind of conversation.

O`DONNELL: Philip Rucker, whose piece is mandatory reading today, and
Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for joining me tonight.

(CROSS TALK)

O`DONNELL: Coming up in the Rewrite, Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain and
the guns don`t kill people crowd are very angry at Bob Costas, who said
what had to be said during his football coverage last night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Herman Cain is mad as hell and he`s not going to take it
anymore. But instead of throwing something at the TV last night, he, of
course, Tweeted, "you tune in for a football game and end up listening to
Bob Costas spewing sanctimonious dreck." And today, Mike Huckabee was full
of rage against Bob Costas on his radio show all because Bob Costas, who is
the host of "Football Night in America" on NBC, actually mentioned the
biggest thing that happened in football this weekend.

It happened Saturday morning when Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher
shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend in front of their three-month-
old daughter and Belcher`s own mother. He then drove to work, where he met
with his head coach and general manager and thanked them for all they had
done for him. Then he went out in their parking lot, saw police
approaching, and shot himself in the head.

Football being football -- and by that, of course, I mean football
being big business, the game -- and by that I mean the big business -- must
go on. And so, of course, the Kansas City Chiefs played their money making
game the next day. And the football business was hoping that TV football
commentators would ignore the biggest thing that happened in football this
weekend. But Bob Costas could not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS: In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable
events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports cliches was heard yet
again. Something like this really puts it all in perspective. Well, if
so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life, since we will
inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the
next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games.

Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their
sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever
truly achieving perspective. You want some actual perspective on this?
Well, a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock,
with whom I do not always agree, but who today said it so well that we may
as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

"Our current gun culture," Whitlock wrote, "ensures that more and more
domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy and that more
convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will
leave more teenage boys dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They
exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into
embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it."

In the coming days, Jovan Belcher`s action and their possible
connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows. But here, wrote Jason
Whitlock, "is what I believe: if Jovan Belcher didn`t possess a gun, he and
Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Today on his radio show, Mike Huckabee rewrote what Bob Costas said,
but still attributed it to Bob Costas. Huckabee said "Costas went on for
several minutes basically trying to make the case for gun control, saying
that if we had only had handgun control, then this crime would have never
happened."

Of course, Bob Costas never mentioned the phrase gun control -- you
heard him -- or indicated any change in law on his NBC football show. That
is not what you just heard. And every word that Mike Huckabee and Herman
Cain didn`t like was actually written by, as Bob Costas notes, Fox Sports
columnist Jason Whitlock.

When you read the entirety of Jason Whitlock`s piece, which is the
first article I`ve read about football this year, you can be see that Bob
Costas chose to quote it carefully, specifically leaving out the part on
his show -- the part where Jason Whitlock does get political and eloquently
so. Here`s part of what Bob Costas didn`t read from that article.

"We`ve come to accept our insanity. We`d prefer to avoid seriously
reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the Second
Amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it. How many
young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined
before we realize that the right to bear arms doesn`t protect us from a
government equipped with Stealth Bombers, Predator Drones, tanks, and
nuclear weapons?"

I, for one, played enough football in high school and watched enough
football for years after that to be done with football a long time ago.
But I`m glad that Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock aren`t done with football.
I`m glad they were there this weekend to speak to the football world about
the biggest thing that happened in football this weekend.

And for Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain and the don`t blame the gun crowd,
Mike Lupica had this question today in his column. "How many home runs
would Babe Ruth hit without a bat?"

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Have you watched "The Very Last Word?" It`s a segment we
do at 11:01 pm, right after THE LAST WORD. And we post it on our website.
Here`s a sample.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILM MAKER: The real divide in the country
is between those who believe that Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000
years ago and all the rest of us. That`s the divide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will say, we`re going to keep talking about it
as long as these crazies in Congress and also in the state houses continue
to push this stuff.

CAPEHART: I think I`m probably resting at about -- I don`t know --
55, if you include the Botox.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You gave away 35 and you still had
another 55?

CAPEHART: Something like that.

O`DONNELL: I had the feeling -- I just had this feeling that this is
the longest you`ve ever discussed porn in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times do you go to the bathroom at night
and --

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think, you know what, wait for it -- that`s
"The Very Last Word."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "The Very Last Word" was created by the brilliant Sarah
Muller, who is the mastermind of our web presence. Take a bow, Sarah. You
want to say hi to your mom or anyone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, mom.

O`DONNELL: Maybe you better say hi to your husband, too. Because you
know how they get on Twitter if they think you are not seeing anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, husband.

O`DONNELL: No, no, no. You better say his name or they won`t think
you have a husband.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got it. Hi, Mark.

O`DONNELL: You know, good idea. It`s probably better not to use his
real name. Let`s hear it for Sarah Muller, ladies and gentlemen, the woman
who taught me how to Tweet.

Sarah shot, edited, and posted all "The Very Last Words," as well as
managing everything else we do online, which meant she never got to see her
husband, Mark, until we hired this guy to take over "The Very Last Word."
America, meet Evan Puschak (ph). You better say hi to your mom, too, Evan.
She`s watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, mom. Love you.

O`DONNELL: And I think you better say hi to your significant other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not married.

O`DONNELL: You know, I`m just trying to help you out with this
Twitter thing later on tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Lawrence. I think I`ll be OK.

O`DONNELL: You can handle it? All right. All right, here is how I
met Evan. And by the way, it`s exactly how some of you met Evan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Africa. This is a country in Africa
called Malawi. This is a school. This is a classroom. There are no
desks. Here are some children in pain from sitting on the dirt floor for
eight hours a day. And here is one being told that the Earth goes around
the sun.

Here is where I tell you that learning is like a mountain. It`s hard
at first to climb, harder for some. But once you reach the peak, it
becomes self-perpetuating, fun and transformative, on and on for the rest
of your life.

Here are what the desks look like. Here are how many children the
desks can seat. Here are how many children usually sit at one. Here are
how many children will sit at your desk in its lifetime. Here is the limit
of what someone can do when they love to learn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s what Evan did last year when I told you about our
progress with the KIND Fund, Kids In Need Of Desks. He told other people
about it. and he did it in such a strikingly creative way that as soon as
I saw it, I said, why isn`t that guy working here? And now is he.

That`s how much we pay attention to you and your online comments and
your Tweets, because we know that plenty of you have better ideas than we
do and better ways of saying things than I do. So keep watching MSNBC and
get a job offer.

Well, it`s not like it`s never happened. Now, I`m going to ask you a
favor. I`m going to ask you to do what Evan did. No, you don`t have to
make a video about KIND. I just want you to tell someone about it. Now,
please feel free to tell as many people as you can, in as many ways as you
can. But the favor I`m asking is that you just tell one person. Just one,
your daughter, your grandmother, your roommate, anyone of any age anywhere.

If you tell a seven-year-old boy, he probably won`t figure out a way
to contribute to KIND, but plenty of them have. We showed you the
elementary school students in New Jersey last year who raised 6,273.53
dollars for KIND. But most importantly, if you tell a little boy about
KIND, he will know that there are little boys just like him in Africa who
sit on dirt floors or broken cement floors in their classrooms. And he
will know that there are workers in Malawi who are able to feed their
families because they are building desks for those kids who are sitting on
those floors.

If you see a little girl making her Christmas wish list tomorrow, you
can help her perspective a bit by telling her that when our trucks arrived
delivering desks, it`s as if Santa`s sleigh landed in the school yard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you that the desk delivered at this
school, that`s Christmas for these kids. Christmas comes on December 25th
and pretty much nothing happens in their lives. When a desk is delivered
to them at the school, that is Christmas. You have made their day. You
have made their year. You have made their lives.

(CROSS TALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, I know there are many deserving charitable causes for
us all to consider. There are needs closer to home. Just one example,
Staten Islanders who have contributed to KIND have enough to contend with
in rebuilding the island this year. And I`ll be going back to Staten
Island again this week, in fact.

But if we all just tell someone about the KIND Fund this year, I`m
sure we`ll be able to keep building and delivering desks for 65 dollars
each. Costs have gone up a lot in the last year thanks to skyrocketing
fuel prices and other shocks to the fragile Malawi economy.

No contribution is too small. If one person contributes a few
dollars, then a few other people will contribute a few more dollars. And
then soon two or three kids will be sitting at this desk in a Malawi
classroom. And the workers who make these desks will still have jobs and
their families will still have food.

Our website, LastWordDesks.MSNBC.com, links to UNICEF for
contributions online or you can call 800-4UNICEF. Now I`m one of those
people who doesn`t want or need things for Christmas, which is why some
friends of mine have purchased these desks in my name as a Christmas gift
to me, and the UNICEF online form allows you to do that. They send the
gift recipient the little email notifying them.

It`s the perfect gift for that someone on your list who is just
impossible to shop for. So that`s it. That`s my favor. Please just tell
someone about the KIND Fund and the workers who make these desks and the
kids who experience the indescribable joy of sitting at one of these desks
for the first time.

Just tell one person. Just one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

END

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