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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, December 27th, 2012

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 27, 2012

Guests: Ryan Grim, Jonathan Capehart, Ari Melber


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The House of Representatives has known for
over a year that it has a Monday night deadline for avoiding the fiscal
cliff. So when are they going to start working on that? Sunday night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNDIENTIFIED MALE: Stalemate, brinksmanship, gridlock. This is
pretty much what the holidays look like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is so much manure around here. There`s got
to be a pony someplace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn`t Schoolhouse Rock. That`s for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We appear poised to dive off the fiscal cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fiscal cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fiscal cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fiscal whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is barely 100 hours until this deadline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These deals usual come together at the last
moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last minute was really before Christmas.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: What`s going on here?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: How come there is no sense of urgency?

REID: The House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire House.

REID: I can`t imagine their conscience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming back Sunday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is John Boehner going to get the votes?

REID: Plan B, the debacle of all debacles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he couldn`t get the votes for his Plan B.

REID: It`s the mother of all debacles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a week ago, we were closer than we have been
before.

REID: What`s going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, we`re farther away.

MATTHEWS: Do they presume the voters are that dumb?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It didn`t just happen to them.

MATTHEWS: The Congress has failed to meet its own targets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They passed the sequester.

MATTHEWS: Which has said itself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They did it knowing that they are unable to make
deals on anything.

MATTHEWS: Dumb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was almost inevitable that we were going to
go over the fiscal cliff.

MATTHEWS: How about complete chaos?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There ought to be a new rule in Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It probably going to end up going over the cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot create anymore artificial crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote a letter to
Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, by the way, we have a fight in two months. We
are going to hit the debt ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the next battleground. I mean, it just
never ends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy New Year, America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Twenty-nine and a half hours, that`s how long Congress
will have to pass legislation to avoid going over the fiscal curve when the
House of Representatives reconvenes for votes on Sunday night, after John
Boehner finally call them back from Christmas break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: If we go over the cliff, and it looks like that`s where we`re
headed, Mr. President, the House of Representatives as we speak with four
days left after today with the first of the year, aren`t here. I can`t
imagine their consciences. They are out wherever they are around the
country, and we are here trying to get something done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: President Obama called leaders last night, and tomorrow
afternoon, he will meet with Speaker Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Harry
Reid at the White House to see if they can reach some kind of agreement to
avoid going off the fiscal curb on January 1st.

But on the Senate floor this afternoon, Harry Reid emphasized that
there is only one reason why the Republicans have been unable to reach
agreement so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: This has been going on for years. They cannot cross over the
threshold that`s been built by Grover Norquist. People who are rich, who
make a lot of money, they are not proposing making the taxes on them. The
only people in America who don`t think taxes should be raised on the rich
are the Republicans who work in this building.

John Boehner could not even pass the tax proposal that he suggested
over there to keep the taxes same for everybody except people making over a
million dollars a year. No, Grover and the boys said, no, can`t do that.
So, he voted -- he didn`t bring it up for a vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, Speaker Boehner`s office put out this statement.

"Tomorrow, Speaker Boehner will attend a meeting with congressional
leaders at the White House, where he will continue to stress that the House
has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the
Senate must act."

Joining me now are: Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice
President Biden and MSNBC contributor, and Ryan Grim, Washington bureau
chief for "The Huffington Post."

Jared, clearly, the positioning game continues. It will probably
continue tomorrow where Boehner is trying to say, oh, no, we`ve done our
job. It`s up to Harry Reid now. Harry Reid very clearly saying, we did
our job months ago. It`s completely up to the House of the
Representatives. The president is trying somehow to referee this.

Do you think we still will be at posturing stage at the end of that
White House meeting tomorrow?

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I suspect we will.

Unfortunately, I mean, in your introduction you made the fundamental
point here which is that this agreement before the end of the year, simply
cannot go forward unless John Boehner is willing to let it do so with
majority Democrats in the House. And that, I believe he sees this as a
significant risk to his job as leader if we go over the curve as you put
it, they can essentially vote for a large tax decrease based off of the new
rates that would reset on midnight of New Year`s Eve. And they can all pat
themselves on the back and say we just voted to cut taxes for 98 percent of
households.

It`s silly, it`s gamesmanship, but it`s the only scenario that I can
see out there at least in the near term.

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell figured out something new to say today
about the Senate bill. The bill that Reid has passed that the House of
Representatives has ignored.

Let`s listen to what Mitch McConnell said about that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The Senate bill that
the majority leader keeps referring to passed with only Democratic votes,
and despite this repeated calls for the House to pass it, he knows as well
as I do that he himself is the reason it can`t happen. The paperwork never
left the Senate. So, there`s nothing for the House to vote on.

The only reason we ever allow that vote on that proposal, as I said at
that time, was that we knew it didn`t pass constitutional muster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ryan Grim, as everyone in the House and the Senate knows,
and maybe nowhere else, the Constitution has exactly one procedural rule
for Congress and that is that all revenue bills, all the tax bills must
originate in the House of Representatives. So, there`s McConnell saying,
it`s impossible to pass the Senate bill because, as a tax bill, because it
did not originate in the House of Representatives.

Of course, the truth is, they can do what they whatever they want by
unanimous consent. They can -- there is a variety of ways in which they
have gotten around this kind of thing in the past. But raising it, as the
last leg he`s standing on, as why they`re not passing the Senate bill, it
actually sounds to me like a pretty good sign to the Democrats if they`re
listening, that if this is what he is clinging to now, he`s not clinging to
much.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: Right. It`s almost like he threw his
hands up.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

GRIM: I mean, this is a chamber that has not seen is some of the
greatest orators in American history come through it. You know, from
Daniel Webster up through the day, and here is Mitch McConnell on the floor
of the Senate in this critical moment saying the paperwork has yet to leave
the Senate.

I mean, those are not the kind of words that are going to immortalize
a senator. And he also knows that it`s just silly. OK, yes, that
particular big cannot be taken up in the House. But on the House side,
Sandy Levin has a bill that`s almost identical to the one that the Senate
passed, all Boehner has to do is call it up and there are any differences
between the Senate bill and the House bill that he wants to change, they
can quickly, you know, put a rule together and make those changes on the
floor.

The idea that they would love to pass this Senate bill, but it`s that
darn Constitution is standing in their way, you know -- come on, nobody
really believes that. And you`re right. Like once they start making that
as their final argument, you`re like OK, this is over. You are going to
fold, when are you going to fold?

O`DONNELL: Yes, the senate has originated tax bills many times and
you use the so-called blue slip process in the House simply as an
obstructionist tool, you can make that disappear very easily. We can go --
we can spend the rest of the show talking about the variety of ways to get
around that in the House of Representatives.

But I want to listen to something that Charles Krauthammer said just
within the hour on FOX News about how the president has handled this
situation. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He`s been using, and I
must say, with great skill and ruthless skill and success. To fracture and
basically shatter the Republican opposition, the only redoubt of the
opposition is the House. His objective from the very beginning was to
break the will of the Republicans in the House and to create an internal
civil war, and he`s done that.

How do you do it? By always insisting from day one after the election
that Republicans have to raise rates. Why did he insist on the rates? He
said that is what he will insist upon and that was the ultimatum. He did
that because he knew it will great a crisis among Republicans, and it did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jared, that is a moment of clarity for Charles
Krauthammer.

BERNSTEIN: Yes. Between Mitch McConnell`s words salad and those
Republican talking points you just played, we are deeply in Alice in
Wonderland with, you know, literally hours before we hit this deadline.

So, I think there`s -- the idea of the tax bill, you know, when I was
listening to Harry Reid. He actually said something that was interestingly
incorrect. He kept saying, you know, Grover Norquist is blocking this Plan
B.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: Actually, Grover Norquist gave them a pass in Plan B.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: Grover Norquist has created a monster that even he can`t
control. And so, the Republicans in the House refuse to raise taxes on the
top 0.2 percent, not 2 percent, that`s the president`s proposal -- 0.2
percent.

Now, the basic economics of this is known to everyone except a small
group of renegade Republicans and that is that we simply cannot achieve a
sustainable budget path without some new revenues in the deal.

Now, once we go over the fiscal cliff, we automatically get that
because the rates automatically reset and nobody up in this cowardly
Congress has their fingerprint on the new rates.

So we actually have a mechanism by which we can to something that
looks like a compromise and a completely Rube-Goldberg fashion. But the
antipathy to any new revenues in the deal has gone beyond Grover Norquist.

O`DONNELL: And, Ryan, because of what Jared just said about the
different dynamics technically and what the vote is once you`ve gone over
the cliff and once you`re into January, everything you vote on is a tax
cut. It can`t be describe any other way.

That`s why I have thought for over six months that we are going to
take over that cub for a few days, for whatever amount of time it takes for
Republicans to get a bill through the House of Representatives after we`ve
gone over it.

The reason I felt that is the very first conversation I had this year
about the cliff was a confidential conversation with a senator who said to
me, right off the bat, and the first line was, well, we are going to have
to go off the cliff. And he meant it strategically, we have to go off the
cliff, and he meant it only for a two or two. And it increasingly feels
like we are at that spot, where we are going to step off and we can hope it
is only for a day or two.

GRIM: Yes, he`s exactly right. The incentives are lined up for
everybody in Congress. Senate Democrats want them to go over the cliff.
Boehner wants them to go over the cliff. The Tea Party wants to go over
the cliff so they can look like they`re cutting taxes. Boehner wants them
over so he can be re-elected speaker and then do what he needs to do.

The only person that doesn`t have an obvious incentive to go over the
cliff is the president and the president has been acting that way. He`s
been trying very hard to get a deal before New Year`s Eve. It looks like
all of the incentives line up against him are going to work against him
unless he can work some magic in his meeting with them tomorrow afternoon
and persuade McConnell and Boehner and everybody to come together.

But you are right, all of the incentives for everybody in the House
are to just take this into January 3rd and 4th, and probably the week after
that and then get it done, maybe that Monday or Tuesday.

O`DONNELL: We`ll leave it right in the edge of the cliff right there
for tonight.

"Huffington Post" Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim and MSNBC
contributor Jared Bernstein -- thank you both for joining me tonight.

GRIM: Thank you.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the gun buyback program here in L.A. is setting
records. The LAPD is collecting more guns than ever. Joy Reid and Karen
Finney will join me on that.

And we have a candidate., the first announced candidate to replace
John Kerry in the Senate went public today. And so, I`m going to place my
bet in this race. Tweet your guesses now about who I will predict will win
John Kerry`s Massachusetts Senate seat and I will make that prevision
tonight.

And in the rewrite tonight, the Vatican is getting very worried about
growing support for same sex marriage. And so, the Pope has opened up a
new line of attack against marriage equality. It`s part of a socialist
plot, which means the Pope is now wrong about marriage and socialism.
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And so tonight I have decided that I will not seek and I
will not accept my party`s nomination for the United States Senate seat to
be vacated by John Kerry.

Hey, I have the same Massachusetts connection that Ben Affleck does.
I grew up there and now, I live in Los Angeles. So, I could have gone home
and run, but now, that I know who is running, I know who`s going to win.
And I will tell you who is going to win, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today, the leading conservative Web site`s headline was
this: "Civil War: Senate to Go for Handguns." That linked to the
Democratic Senator Feinstein`s Web site which featured a just released
summary of legislation she will propose to stop the sale, transport,
importation and manufacturing of military style assault weapons and high
capacity ammunition feeding devices. Feinstein`s legislation would ban
semiautomatic rifles and hand guns with a fixed magazine that accept more
than 10 rounds and require that grandfathered weapons be registered under
the National Firearms Act, with background checked of owner and any
transferee.

And today, Los Angeles woke up to this frontage of "The Los Angeles
Times," "Guns pour in at L.A. buyback events."

The article reads, "Thousands of people came to exchange their guns
for Ralph`s supermarket gift cards worth up to $100 for handguns, shotguns
and rifles, and up to $200 for assault weapons. By the afternoon, the
event had already surpassed the 1,673 guns collected last year and
officials were scrambling to get more gift cards."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA ATKINS: What really motivated me this year was the Connecticut
shooting. It was emotional, heartfelt and heartbreaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Connecticut shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The incident that happened in Connecticut that
motivated me. Plus, I have six grand kids that live with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: On Friday, the president of the NRA said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: Next week, we will available to any of
you who are interested in talking about these or other issues of interest
to you. So, contact us please at that point. We will be willing to talk
to anybody beginning on Monday and I look forward to talking to you and
answering any of your questions next week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And, of course, he was lying about the "anybody" part. He
has refused our request to come on this program, which we issued
immediately after he said that. He has been busy, though, running around
and spent some time today with CNN.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Karen Finney and Joy Reid who are not afraid
to discuss this subject with anybody and that is why they are here tonight.

Joy, the buyback here in Los Angeles has been something to behold.
And the mayor moved up the dates, he normally has it around Mother`s Day,
moved it up in the wake of what happened in Connecticut. And it has been
really saturation coverage in L.A. media as these guns have been pouring
in. And there`s a feeling that is different about it this time.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Yes, Lawrence, I mean, I was really
particularly struck by the older man -- I mean, the package that you just
showed, that said, look, I have six grand kids at home. And this
recognition that people feel uncomfortable knowing that, you know, minor
children could have accessed to these deadly weapons.

But it is interesting that these things are happening. Both the gun
buyback program, the cancellation of some of these gun shows, they`re still
happening in blue states. I still feel like, culturally, this is happening
in places, big cities like L.A. that already have an existing problem with
assault weapons that are experienced with crimes with assault weapons that
are already sensitive to it even before Newtown, and not in some of the
more rural parts of the country where people are buying more guns.

O`DONNELL: Well, you know, what I think is important is the sensation
that is occurring throughout the country. It doesn`t mean that it`s
preventing the next mass murderer from getting one of those guns. But it`s
saying that the country is having a real reaction to this, that it`s very
clearly happening out there.

And, Karen, the Drudge Report going crazy about the handguns thing.
Jared Loughner used a handgun with a 33-clip magazine attached to it.
That`s how he was able kill as many people as he did.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

O`DONNELL: And so, of course, you couldn`t reasonably write any kind
of legislation in reaction to this that did not try to take that gun out of
Jared Loughner`s hand.

FINNEY: Well, sure. And we also know that in Aurora, Colorado, we
had, you know, a weapon that was used that with the high capacity magazine.
I think he modified his AR-15 to be able to shoot more people faster
essentially.

But, yes, I mean, I think part of what is happening, we talked about
this last night -- people don`t realize how broken our system really is.
There are polls that showed that majority of Americans actually think there
are already is a registration system. They mistakenly believe that.

So, I think part of what these kinds of programs and I think these
awareness is doing is reminding people is, you know what? These guns are
available to people should not have them and that when we talk about these
high capacity, you know, magazines, I mean, what that ultimately means --
that`s about, you know, mass killing. That is not about hunting. That is
not about being a sportsman.

And I think that`s part of what`s being driven home right now.

O`DONNELL: When the NRA people go on to television shows where they
feel comfortable enough to go on, they are throwing around all sorts of
fake notions that are really in the dialogue, like the issue of -- well,
you know, you can`t stop every one of these things. No one is saying that
you can stop every one of these things. The question is how hard do you
want to make it? Do you want to create any hurdles for these shooters to
get over, the mass murder types.

And then, of course, they constantly throw up, well, study show.

FINNEY: Right.

O`DONNELL: We have a definitive Harvard School of Public Health Study
that shows the following things. One, the health risk of a gun in the home
is greater than the benefit. As the owner of those gun in Newtown,
Connecticut, found out when her son got his hands on them.

And then, two, the gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes
with guns.

Joy, how hard is that to figure that out? That the home with home
with a gun is more likely to have a gun accident than my home.

REID: Exactly. Go figure, those crazy statistics. And the other
issue today is that looking around the web, OK, it is actually easier to go
online and purchase a 100-round clip high capacity magazine than it is to
renew my driver`s license in Florida, which was nearly impossible to do.
It is actually -- if you transfer $10,000 of your own money, from one of
your banking accounts to another, if you withdraw or deposit that kind of
money, it triggers your bank to fill up a report that goes to the federal
government that can get you investigated, just @EliotSpitzer, but you can
go online and with free holiday shipping purchase a high capacity magazine
without triggering any sort of suspicion.

Imagine what might have been a deterrent if buying one of those
magazines with one of those troubled people had triggered someone to at
least take a look at that.

FINNEY: Sure, well, at least to recognize. I mean, to recognize
them, I mean, this is the other problem, Lawrence, right, is that even the
law enforcement in the communities have no way of knowing that they may
have someone in their community who is amassing a large number of weapons,
perhaps ammunition, perhaps a bullet proof vest. That might send off a few
alarms.

And, you know, the thing is that, you know, to your point, the
hypocrisy of conservatives. I mean, think about the conversation that we
have had when it comes to voting rights and all of the hoops and the
comfort level that we have with imposing all of these restrictions and
making it harder to exercise our basic fundamental right to vote.

And then when we talk about gun rights, it`s a completely different
conversation as if we should think that people are more responsible owning
a gun than casting a ballot. I mean, that`s part of what is being revealed
here in some of this NRA rhetoric this time around.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to one other finding in this Harvard School
of Public Health study about this. And it`s about this notion of people
need guns for protection. There is no statistical evidence that that
works. What they found is there is no credible evidence that a gun in the
home reduces the likelihood or the severity of injury during an altercation
or a break in.

So, Joy, there`s just no evidence that if you have that gun in the
nightstand, that any kind of consistent basis, it is actually going to be
usable in a way that will protect you.

REID: Yes, absolutely. To the contrary, those same studies have
shown that what`s more likely is that if you have a person who tends to be
suicidal in your home, they are more likely to go through if there is a gun
in the house. There`s more likely to be an accidental death of yourself or
a family member in that home.

And that even if there is an intruder, what`s more likely to happen is
you are going to get shot. You even look at law enforcement officials
who`s been on the scenes on these mass shootings and what happened is, they
didn`t kill the shooter. The shooter ultimately killed themselves. They
themselves were either shot or was just unable to prevent a crime.

FINNEY: And "Mother Jones" actually took a look some of these mass
events last week and actually found that it`s more likely that if somebody
at one of these mass events had a weapon other than the shooter themselves,
innocent people got hurt. Not -- there was not the case that the shooter
themselves, and to these other point about guns in the home, remember we
were talking about this just a few weeks ago with that tragedy with the
football player who killed himself and the mother of his child, domestic
violence.

We know that women are in terms of being victims of domestic violence,
with a presence of a gun that goes up. We also know that children -- gun
violence with regard to children in a home where they are guns, more likely
to have a horrible, horrible accident.

So, this correlation that they are talking about is just absolutely
not true.

O`DONNELL: And I have to make an announcement about my new shopping
habits. I am now officially going to be a customer of Ralph`s Supermarket
here in Los Angeles, because they are actually donating all of those gift
cards. It`s a donation by Ralph`s Supermarket that`s what`s being used to
buy back the guns.

So, I`m going to have to go a little bit out of way, past the whole
foods and a couple of others in order to get to Ralph`s because that`s
where I`m going now for all the rest of my shopping. I really want to
support them, because there is a very clear sense of corporate
responsibility, good corporate citizenship there. You compare that with
the gun manufacturers silent response of what`s going on here and this is
the kind of action that I think as consumers, we want to support.

REID: Dick`s Sporting Goods took these weapons off their shelves.
And meanwhile, the gun, to your point, Lawrence, the gun industry has sat
back and watched video games be blamed, when they market right at video
games, they use that product placement to sell more guns.

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

FINNEY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Hey, and, Karen, you are still doing Martin this week
right?

You are filling in for Martin? Karen, is she still miked?

Yes, Karen, you`re filling in for Martin this week, right?

FINNEY: Yes, I am. Got one more day.

O`DONNELL: You think you are going to have big news to report
tomorrow?

FINNEY: Somehow I don`t think so. Maybe Bo will get taken out for a
walk. That big news.

O`DONNELL: Karen, let me explain something to you. You want to say
yes. There will be huge news.

FINNEY: Yes, huge news, at 4:00.

O`DONNELL: All right. I`m going to be watching you for huge news
about what happens in the White House tomorrow.

Thanks, Karen. Thanks, Joy.

FINNEY: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, there will be my prediction of who will win
John Kerry Senate seat in Massachusetts.

Only one candidate has announced and that means I am now ready to pick
a winner in that race. Tweet me your guesses about who I will predict the
winner will be. You can also tweet your guess about who you think will
actually win the race.

And in the rewrite tonight, big, big surprise. The guys in the
Vatican who have never been married and promised to never be married don`t
want other guys to be married, if they are gay. The Vatican`s latest
musings about marriage equality and socialism are in tonight`s rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Just reading some of your tweets here, some of your
guesses about who I will predict will win the Massachusetts Senate race
after John Kerry becomes secretary of state. At Frank (INAUDIBLE) tweeted,
Affleck, another Affleck here. Dave is not there 33 tweeted Rachel Maddow,
then changed his mind to Matt Damon. At Ellen Henry thinks Ashley Judd.

No, I am not going to predict that Ashley Judd is going to win in
Massachusetts but I hope she wins in Kentucky if she runs there. And
@piratewhench is guessing Deval Patrick. Interesting. V3CEO is guessing
Barney. Of course Barney Frank.

Well, you will know. You will know soon enough who I will predict
will be the next Massachusetts senator. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m very proud to
announce my choice for America`s next secretary of state, John Kerry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, another Massachusetts Senate
race. Today Massachusetts Democratic congressman and dean of the
Massachusetts delegation Ed Markey because the first person to officially
announce that he will run for John Kerry`s Senate seat. In a statement to
"Boston Globe" the 36-year House veteran said, "In the last election the
country and our commonwealth voted for a better, more prosperous future for
the middle class. But as we enter the new year, it seems we are fighting
the same old Republican Party. I have decided to run for the U.S. Senate
because this fight is too important. There is so much at stake."

His decision came just days, after Ted Kennedy, Jr. and
actor/writer/director and Oscar winner Ben Affleck announced they will not
run for the seat. The Massachusetts special election will most likely take
place some time in June. In the meantime, Massachusetts Governor Deval
Patrick will appoint a placeholder to fill the Senate seat when John Kerry
is sworn in as secretary of state.

In recent polling 58 percent of Massachusetts voters have a favorable
opinion of recently defeated Republican Senator Scott Brown. Just 24
percent have a favorable view of Congressman Ed Markey. A third of those
polled said they had never heard of Ed Markey.

In a hypothetical special election between Brown and Markey, 48
percent say they would vote for Brown, 30 percent said they would vote for
Markey.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Jonathan Capehart and Ari Melber.

And, gentlemen, I`m going to kill the suspension right now. With that
poll, showing -- what was it, 48 percent would say today that they would
vote for Scott Brown and 30 percent saying they would vote for Ed Markey, I
am hereby declaring Ed Markey the winner-to-be in the Senate race. And
those numbers, Jonathan, are very similar to the numbers that you saw in
primary -- presidential primary polling early, Hillary Clinton way out
ahead of Barack Obama and that gap was closed.

And I think it`s going to be closeable by Ed Markey because he starts
tonight, $3 million ahead of any other candidate in the race. He`s got $3
million already raised and ready to spend.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, yes, that gets -- gives
him the opportunity to get his message out, have people learn more about
him, even though he`s been in Congress for 46 years, I think you said?
Thirty-six years?

O`DONNELL: Thirty-six, yes.

CAPEHART: For 36 years. He`s only run from one little district in
the entire state. This will be his first -- probably his first statewide
race. I might have that wrong. But that might explain why a third of the
people polled had never even heard of him. And yet here in Washington he
is very well known. He`s big on climate change. I think it`s one of the
things he`d want to work on if he makes it to the Senate.

And so, you know, let`s see if your prediction comes true. And see
who else jump into this race, Lawrence.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Come on -- come on, jump in with me here on this one. Go
ahead. Just --

CAPEHART: You know, I wanted to jump in with you there on the Tim
Pawlenty thing. And, you know --

O`DONNELL: Right.

CAPEHART: So I`m just holding back.

O`DONNELL: I knew I`d be hearing about that tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: I just want to know who else is going to jump in.

O`DONNELL: Right. OK.

CAPEHART: Before I commit.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, my point about that polling is, you know,
Scott Brown is the current incumbent Republican senator. He is polling
below 50 and he was -- when he was running against Elizabeth Warren, who
also started off not so well-known throughout the sate. And so what I`m
looking in the Ed Markey polling is nothing -- there`s nothing prohibitive,
there`s nothing he can`t make up. It`s more of a challenge for Scott Brown
to push up his 48 than it is for Ed Markey to push up his 30.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Right. And the problem for Scott Brown is he
had his rise and fall.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MELBER: He`d lost there by over five points. There was a lot of
buzz. Much of it deserved because Republicans don`t usually do well
statewide and federal races in Massachusetts, but I think the bloom is off
that rose.

And look, Congressman Markey is very interesting, not only for
Massachusetts but for progressives around the country who are really
looking again and it`s a tradition, obviously, for Massachusetts to provide
some of the strongest, most strident and unapologetic liberal leadership in
the country.

The 7th District, which you know well, Lawrence, the Boston suburbs
there, is the most liberal district in all of Massachusetts, which is
saying something. It`s closer to Cuba than Texas. And then the Coop
Partisanship Index which looks at ideology and not a perfect school, but a
ball park, it`s a 29 point gap in favor of Democrats when you look at the
make-up of that district.

So why is that good, well, you have a lot of people in the house and
you look at other fights in the Republican Party who are only thinking
about challenges from the right who are pulling the center to the right
even after they lose presidential races. I think it would be good for the
entire Senate to have a liberal like Markey in there.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, the guy who I don`t think anyone could beat if
he got into it but he said he will not, is Governor Deval Patrick. I
actually think he would be the guy who could run away with it. But he`s
already said he absolutely will not run for this. He said that back in
November. I assume he is going to stick to that which is why he`s out of
my calculations in any of this. But, you know, Ed Markey removes from
Scott Brown the only thing, the only thing, that he used to campaign
against Elizabeth Warren, which is, hey, you`re not from here. You`re not
one of us. You don`t have our accent. You`re not on of us.

Ed Markey went to Malden Catholic, his father was a milk man. Ed
Markey is the local boy made good. And Scott Brown has no idea how to
campaign against someone who wasn`t born in another state.

CAPEHART: That`s a good point. But let`s keep something -- let`s
keep something in mind here. Scott Brown has run statewide. The people in
the state, they know who he is, even though he lost to Elizabeth Warren,
this -- would give him a second chance to earn their votes again. I think
again, I go back to the fact that even though Ed Markey has been in the
House for 36 years and has run elected races, those -- for all those terms,
he`s done it in that -- in that one district that Ari was talking about in
the suburbs of Boston.

This is a statewide race. And as we`ve seen many times, candidates
who run locally and then have to run statewide or even have to run
nationwide, it`s a completely different way of campaigning. And we have to
-- I think we just have to wait and see how well he does on the stump
statewide.

I have no doubt that Congressman Markey will do very well. He`s very
capable, very smart. You don`t get elected and stay elected in Congress,
and especially someone of Congressman Markey`s caliber, without being
someone who is smart, gifted and savvy.

But to put them against the statewide race against Scott Brown who`s
run once before, I think will make for a very interesting race. Again,
that`s just saying who knows who else could jump into the race.

MELBER: Lawrence, can I jump in on that for a second?

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Ari.

MELBER: I think the key politically, though, to Jonathan`s point is,
you have to go with Scott Brown`s middle name and that`s Mitch McConnell.
And at the end of the day the whole idea that you`re going to have these
moderate Republicans who get behind Mitch McConnell on the debt ceiling
threats, on the cutting social services during this recession, on doing the
deficits school thing, and then on the guns issue, at the end of the day I
don`t think you can be a moderate Republican unless you commit not to vote
for Mitch McConnell as a leader.

CAPEHART: It`s a very good point.

O`DONNELL: And before we go, Ari, do you think there`s any chance
that Scott Brown won`t run? Bill Well, the former Republican governor, is
waiting in the wings if Scott Brown doesn`t run.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Wow, that`s an inside joke in New York, because Bill Well,
after running in Massachusetts ran in for governor in New York.

O`DONNELL: Right.

MELBER: And wants to go back. That`s sort of a reverse carpetbagger
move. More power to him if he can pull it off. But no, I think there`s a
very strong chance that Scott Brown runs and national Republicans and the
money thinks he`s got the best shot.

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

MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, our final update of the year on the KIND fund.
I`ll read some of the messages that you`ve tweeted and the comments that
you`ve left on Facebook about it.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight I can understand why the guys in the
Vatican are so wrong about marriage. None of them are married and they`ve
all taken a vow to never be married. So is it fair to even expect them to
understand the first thing about marriage? But they have no excuse for not
understanding socialism since they all grew up in socialist countries and
they live in one now.

Marriage equality, socialism, and the Pope, are all together in
tonight`s "Rewrite," that`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The Vatican was getting desperate about trying to stop
same-sex marriage. So now they are saying crazy stuff about marriage and
socialism. That`s next in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Who, who could possibly understand marriage less than a
group of men who have promised never to marry? But those men whose world
headquarters is in Vatican City can`t stop talking about marriage even
though they have taken a vow that prevents them from actually knowing
anything about marriage.

On Christmas Eve the Vatican newspaper published an editorial about
same sex marriage, which, like everything in the Vatican newspaper, was
virtually dictated by the Pope. It says same sex couple are in, quote, "a
different reality" than heterosexual couples because same sex couples
cannot biologically reproduce.

In fact, of course, this puts them in exactly the same reality as the
millions and millions and millions of heterosexual couples who cannot
biologically reproduce, many of whom marry many years after the age at
which the woman could have a baby. The Vatican sees nothing wrong with
heterosexual couples who cannot biologically reproduce getting married.

As support for marriage equality increases around the world the
Vatican is getting panicky. The Vatican is now claiming that same sex
marriage is a socialist plot. That is, quote, "deceiving humanity as
socialism did in the past."

Never mind that Jesus Christ was the original socialist, feeding the
poor, railing against the money changers in the temple, and never mind that
the most hardcore socialist practitioner of all-time was also viciously
anti-gay.

Fidel Castro, who began life as a Roman Catholic, became the world`s
most extreme practitioner of socialism when he led a rebellion in Cuba to
overthrow a cruel dictator, and then eventually become a cruel dictator
himself. In Fidel Castro`s socialist utopia gay sex was a criminal act.
Castro rounded up gays and lesbians and sent them to reeducation camps.
Castro believed he could actually rid his country of all homosexuality and
he did everything in this power to achieve that.

So no, socialism has not been a special friend to gay people around
the world. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church, which this week seems to want
to pretend it is suddenly threatened by socialism has thrived in socialist
countries around the world. Maybe not Cuba but socialist countries where,
say, the Vatican is located, for example.

Yes, Italy is a socialist country, as is every country in the Europe,
as is every country in the world to varying degrees. The United States of
America, where the movement toward marriage equality is gaining support
every day, is actually far less socialistic than many, many countries where
marriage equality is making little or no .

So big surprise. The Vatican is wrong once again and the guys who
have taken a lifetime vow to remain tragically ignorant about marriage have
proven once again that they know nothing about marriage. And just for the
heck of it, they prove that they don`t know much about socialism either.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: This is the time of the year when I get to read my
favorite tweets and my favorite Facebook posts. The things that you write
to me about your contributions to the KIND fund. The Kids in Need of
Desks. Our program for delivering desks to African schools where they
don`t have any desks.

Theresa Busherati Isaacs wrote a beautiful thing on Facebook. "Last
year I took money I would have spent on my mother`s birthday -- she had
passed away -- to buy a desk in her honor. This year I bought a desk in
honor of my father Frank who died this June. I`m hoping that in buying a
desk in honor of Frank Jay Busherati. One little boy or girl will grow up
to be an engineer who could help his/her country. Thank you, again,
Lawrence, for this wonderful opportunity."

Also from Facebook, Catherine Goodrich writes, "I lifted one child off
the floor today. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this."

And that`s what it`s about for me. It`s -- I really -- in doing this
I just wanted to let you know about it so that you could experience the joy
of this kind of giving. It`s not something I try to really push on you as
much as I just wanted to be there as an option for you.

Some tweets. Black Men Talk tweeted, "Congratulations for raising
close to $700,000 in the month of December for the KIND fund."

Actually now it`s about $750,000 as of tonight. Just for this month.

ARKStories tweeted, "We are donating $65 to the KIND fund." That will
pay for a desk. "And $1 for each book we sold before Christmas and then a
little extra." That`s a Web site that sells books.

Eric Ludwig tweeted, "Next year maybe kids for whom we donate can
penpal."

I love that idea, Eric. We will work on that. It`s complicated.
It`s very hard for them to communicate in any way in the villages they live
in. A lot of them don`t have any electricity whatsoever. The schools
don`t have electricity. So -- and postage, by the way, will be a real
challenge. But it`s a great idea. I`d love there to be some kind of
communication between those kids and the wonderful people who were donating
to this program.

Again, thank you very much for all the help that you`ve given the KIND
fund this year. We are now up to $5 million, and the grand total is about
$5.2 million. Almost $5.3. And we`re still hoping for more.

Thank you very much again for all the help you`ve given this year.

The "ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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