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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, December 28th, 2012

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 28, 2012

Guest:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Welcome to THE LAST WORD holiday party
where we will choose our person of the year, and a whole lot more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s step back for a little bit.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Can we drop a little bit of
the pious baloney?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It seems right here.
Trees are the right height.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Pick any of the
Republican in the country.

M. ROMNEY: I think it`s about envy.

SANTORUM: He is the worst Republican in the country.

M. ROMNEY: I think it`s about class warfare.

GINGRICH: You chose to start the debate with it, don`t try to blame
somebody else.

I`m the tortoise. I just take one step at a time.

ANN COULTER: Well, if you don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be
the nominee and we`ll lose.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: If men are from Mars and women are from
Venus?

M. ROMNEY: Republicans are waging a war on women.

WAGNER: Is Mitt Romney from Jupiter?

M. ROMNEY: Do I believe Supreme Court should overturn Roe w. Wade?
Yes.

Planned Parenthood, we`re going to get rid of that.

ANN ROMNEY: I love you women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for
contraceptives.

REP. TODD AIKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it`s legitimate rape, the female
body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gals put it between their knees and it wasn`t
that costly.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: History will be made at the Supreme
Court.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The individual mandate is
constitutional.

JANSING: This is the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A fascinating read.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the debate over
this law has been divisive.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Democrats thought they were going to lose,
and the Republicans thought they were going to win.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I think Roberts found the answer.

OBAMA: When we look back, we`ll be better off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Romney`s caught on tape moment.

MATTHEWS: The shocking tape from Romney.

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I`m
speaking off the cuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In his words, nearly half the country --

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- will never take personal responsibility for
their lives.

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I`m
speaking off the cuff.

MATTHEWS: If I were a rich man, yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby
dibby dum. Dumb.

ROMNEY: People want to know who is going to win, who is going to
score the punches.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Most presidential candidates, battening
down the hatches.

ROMNEY: I`m sorry, Jim. I`m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney might have a theatrical aggression.

ROMNEY: I like PBS, I love Big Bird.

They brought us whole binders full of women.

OBAMA: Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets.

ROMNEY: Big Bird. Binders.

OBAMA: Horses and bayonets.

ROMNEY: I just called President Obama to congratulate him.

OBAMA: I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign.

ROMNEY: I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our
nation.

OBAMA: We are an American family, and we rise or fall together. The
task of perfecting our union moves forward. >

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, we are celebrating the year in the news, the
winners, the losers, the person of the year. And we will hand out the
Donald Trump Award to the person who has embarrassed him or herself the
most this year.

All right, let`s start with the most valuable player of 2012
presidential campaign.

Alex Wagner, the most valuable player of the 2012 campaign. Who?

WAGNER: In my book, it`s David Plouffe. I think that this is the
line in the sand for American campaign politics. I think, you know, you
saw the beginnings, with Dean, and certainly Obama 1.0. But this will
forever change the way people organize and campaign.

O`DONNELL: Krystal? Most valuable player of the 2012 campaign?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: I have to say we don`t know exactly his
identity or her identity. But probably to waiter who placed the camera
surreptitiously at the Mitt Romney fundraiser and captured the 47 percent
comments, which I think encapsulated for a lot of people their concerns
about Mitt Romney and the fact that he really wasn`t there for all of
America. That he didn`t understand the problems that average Americans
were facing.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to that little moment of video history -- the
47 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the female who will vote for the
president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with
him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims,
who believe the government has the responsibility to care for them, who
believe they are entitled to health, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

So, my job is not worry about those people. I`ll never convince them
they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A very valuable contribution to the campaign, indeed.

Steve Kornacki, MVP?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: I`m going to go with Bill Clinton,
because it was --

O`DONNELL: One speech of the convention?

KORNACKI: It was more than speech. It was 20 years in the making,
the story of the speech, for the first 15 years, Republicans treated Bill
Clinton that he was the worst thing that ever happened to American
politics. He was the villain in chief, and then after he left the White
House, they were afraid of the Clinton restoration.

There was the moment in 2008, when Obama supplanted the Clintons as
the face of the Democratic Party, when Republicans decided, wait a minute,
no, Bill Clinton is this bygone symbol of an era of cooperation and good
government and moderation, they sang his praises for four years, they set
him up as the good Democrat, against Obama`s bad Democrat. And then what
happens, the good Democrat steals the show at the Democratic convention,
vouches for the bad Democrat and I think disarmed an awful lot of
Republicans were saying about Barack Obama.

O`DONNELL: You have made a reasonable argument.

Chris Hayes, the MVP of the campaign?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I think the MVP for the Obama campaign was
Rick Perry. And it was Rick Perry`s entrance in the race that pushed Mitt
Romney to take the tactical wise but strategically stupid step of going
full anti-out immigrant zealotry.

O`DONNELL: Tactically wise for that moment of Republican campaign,
anyway.

HAYES: And it totally destroyed Rick Perry. I mean, he dispatched
Rick Perry with that rhetoric of the attack on the hundred thousand subsidy
to illegals, that was represented in the Texas version of the DREAM Act,
which allowed the undocumented students to go to the university and pay in-
state tuition. Romney destroyed Rick Perry on that issue.

But it was in the rhetoric he deploy there that I think he sealed his
fate in the general election with the Latinos, who he got blown out and
provided a huge margin in a lot of the swing states.

O`DONNELL: That is a good point.

My point is, of course, the anonymous video operator, who captured the
47 percent tape, which is why we happen to have the tape. Why it happened
to be ready.

Now, the best move of 2012. What was the best move of 2012?

WAGNER: This is really hard, because some part of me as a political
junky thinks the best move is like the most incendiary crazy thing. And
for that, I would give it to Mitt Romney actually moving across the stage
and grabbing Rick Perry on the shoulder, this kind of physical debate style
that he has that also had that revealed him to be kind of crazy and not
driven by the same things that most humans are driven by. But sort of the
competitive work force bought.

But I think at the end of the day, it has to be -- we keep going back
to the 47 percent video. I was waiting to hold it for another --

(CROSSTALK)

WAGNER: It is everything. The release of that and the timing of that
changed the contours of the race, forever.

O`DONNELL: And we don`t really know who is responsible for that
timing.

Krystal, the best move.

BALL: The best move, mine actually sort of goes sort of to Chris`
point about immigration. I think it was the president, when he gave a
press conference saying he would halt deportations on young undocumented
immigrants. It really sort of closed off a path for Mitt Romney and
trapped him over there on the right, in self-deportation Rick Perry land.
And he was not able to make any pivot back to the center to try to appeal
to Latino voters, to try to strike a more reasonable position on
immigration, because the president basically cut him off at the pass.

So I think that was a very smart, strategic move.

O`DONNELL: It was a big moment.

Steve?

KORNACKI: I`ll look at the -- I`d step down to the Senate level here.
I think the smartest and the best move of the years was Claire McCaskill`s
decision in Missouri, and say, you know what, I think I want to run against
Todd Akin.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

KORNACKI: I think he was one Republican in the state I could actually
beat this year, and she kind of quietly helped him get that nomination.
The rest is history.

Not only did it affect her race and help her win a race she had no
business winning, there was obviously a ripple effect from that that helped
Democrats nationally.

O`DONNELL: Chris, the best move of the year?

HAYES: I think the best move of the year was Joe Biden doing
something that politicians of his prominence essentially never do, which
was answering a question honestly without premeditation and frankly in his
"Meet the Press" interview with David Gregory when he was asked about
marriage equality.

O`DONNELL: Oh, yes.

HAYES: And I think all the reporting afterward, was this a trial
balloon? Was this preplanned? Were they trying to game us out?

No, no, no, Joe Biden was asked a question. He answered with a kind
of moral legitimacy and a truthfulness that actually had these remarkable
effects that it pushed the president to come clean about his own personal
evolution, I think that also made a huge difference in the campaign.

BALL: I love Joe Biden.

O`DONNELL: My best move of the campaign, we actually have a little
visual assist on this. "The Washington Post" says that Obama and his
allies spent far less than Mitt Romney, but got far more in a number of ads
broadcast in visibility and key markets, targeting critical demographic
groups such as the working class and young working voters in swing states.

I think what they did with TV advertising, that specificity of it,
knowing exactly where they were going, was something we`ve never saw
before.

The worst move of the 2012 campaign?

WAGNER: I got two things on this. One is, I think my answer is
choosing Paul Ryan to be the vice presidential nominee. Just because: (a),
it never gave him the list that anything thought it would be. He
effectively neutered Ryan as a political force in the campaign, and for
Paul Ryan, it brought to the fore all of the horrible draconian legislation
he`d been pushing in Congress.

Whether that was the stuff with Todd Akin, or the Ryan budget, there
was no way to run away from it.

O`DONNELL: Krystal?

BALL: Alex and I were on the same wavelength. I also think that
picking Paul Ryan was the worst move, not only for those reasons, and
obviously Mitt Romney went on to lose Wisconsin badly. But also, there
were questions after Paul Ryan`s debate performance against Joe Biden, of
whether he was really ready to step on the stage and be the number two.
And I think for a lot of people who were thinking about maybe going with
Mitt Romney, not only were they uncomfortable with how far to the right he
was, how extreme his positions on Social Security and Medicare, but they
also just felt like he wasn`t quite ready for prime time.

So I think it was a very bad strategic move for them.

O`DONNELL: Steve, the worst move?

KORNACKI: Let me come at it from a slightly different angle.

O`DONNELL: We always do that.

KORNACKI: It`s the booze talking, I don`t know. From the standpoint
of voters who -- you know, I think to make an informed choice, what do you
have? You have the debates.

What do we had to debates this year? We had Jim Lehrer as the
moderator for the 196th time. And he moderated the first debate, which was
the designated domestic policy debate. And the entire discussion of
domestic policy, this broad, huge topic, where you could have climate
change, you could have gay marriage, you could have abortion, you could
have birth control ,all the stuff, all of that was ignored. We talked
about Simpson-Bowles, we talked about deficit reduction, and we talked
about Affordable Care Act.

BALL: With no explanation of what those things were for the average
person.

KORNACKI: It was the ultimate sort of the inside the beltway debate.
And you get one domestic policy debate now for the entire fall campaign.
Open this thing up to some new voices, to some fresh perspectives, to some
broader perspectives. I don`t mean to pick on Jim Lehrer too much, but
really, enough of it.

O`DONNELL: Chris, the worst move?

HAYES: For me, the worst move was the decision by both the Obama
campaign and then, of course, the not so surprising decision, Mitt Romney,
and also debate moderates, to never raise climate change for the first
time.

O`DONNELL: Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Since 1988, if you go back to the tape in 1988, when Lloyd
Benson and Dan Quayle were asked that question in 1988, about the fact
carbon was warming the earth, they both said, yes, that`s going to be a
problem, we should do something about it.

And here we are, 24 years later and it doesn`t even get a mention in
any of the debates.

O`DONNELL: I have another video assist for my answer here. The worst
move, the worst decision of the campaign was to do what you`re about to see
at the Republican convention.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I just wondered -- all of these promises, and
then I wondered about -- you know, when -- the -- what? What do you want
me to tell Romney? I can`t tell him to do that. Can`t do that to himself.
You`re absolutely crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Up next, the rising star of 2013, and the best and worst
political theater of the presidential campaign. And, of course, biggest
winner, biggest loser, person of the year, and the Donald Trump Award.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The rising political star of 2013, Chris Hayes, who will
that be?

HAYES: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, I think. She -- it`s
not an easy thing to do what she did. I think people -- you know, she was
a star on this network and among progressives, but to go on statewide
office, particularly as a woman in Massachusetts, that takes some real
doing, and I think she is going to be absolutely a force in the U.S.
Senate.

O`DONNELL: Steve, the rising star?

KORNACKI: It pains me to say it because I`m not that much of a fan,
but this is going to be the year when Cory Booker makes his move.

O`DONNELL: All right.

KORNACKI: He is either going to run for governor --

O`DONNELL: Not just in New Jersey.

Krystal, the rising star?

BALL: New congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard. She is the
youngest woman in the House now. And she also is the first Hindu-American
in Congress, combat veteran, really an amazing woman.

O`DONNELL: All right.

Alex, the rising star?

BALL: I asked you to go with Chris first because I thought it would
provide me some cover. I was going to say Elizabeth Warren, and it is
true, I`ll tell you why --

O`DONNELL: Do you want to give up going first next time -- OK, you
will go first next time.

All right. I am going to will agree with Alex Wagner, not Chris Hayes
-- Alex Wagner.

We`re going to be back with more of THE LAST WORD holiday party. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN LITHGOW, ACTOR: The Literati send out their minions to do their
bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threat from outsiders who may disrupt
their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sense
weakness, a lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of
the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust, tweets and trivia,
emerged Gingrich.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That, of course, was the best actual political theater of
2012, Tony Award winner John Lithgow`s reading of the Newt Gingrich press
release, I think it was.

But let`s do the best political theater of 2012, and we are now going
to start with Alex Wagner again, because she has demanded that we start
with her.

WAGNER: The contractual obligation.

It was the best, because I couldn`t believe it was happening in mid-
August. Mitt Romney took to the white board to explain what he was doing
with Medicare. Which, in and of itself was a hoax, but the notion that
this man would have this horribly stage-managed moment in an effort to show
he was all about business, just completely the look in his face and
cemented every narrative that was out there about who Mitt Romney is.

O`DONNELL: You know, the party -- I don`t know if the mice can pick
it up, but the drinks are being spilled there over at that table.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, the best political theater.

BALL: Well, I also have a Newt Gingrich moment when he turned
questions about him asking his former wife for an open marriage, parlayed
into a debate moment, a huge applause moment at a debate in the primary,
and then parlayed that into an actual victory in the South Carolina
primary. That was an incredible moment.

O`DONNELL: Do we happen to have that video?

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at Newt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN: She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open
marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

GINGRICH: No, but I will.

(CHEERS)

GINGRICH: I think -- I think the destructive, vicious, negative
nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country,
harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am
appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was obviously my choice, too, for best political theater.
That is why we had that ready.

Steve, best political theater.

KORNACKI: And I remember the favorite thing about that episode, it
turned out in the reporting afterwards when they went to commercial break,
Newt Gingrich went up to John King was like, no hard feelings. It really
was --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: It was very helpful to him.

KORNACKI: It really was -- my favorite moment in political theater I
guess was the final presidential debate, when Mitt Romney thought he landed
the killer blow against Barack Obama on Libya, failure to call the attack -
-

O`DONNELL: Started physically closing in --

KORNACKI: It was the line that Obama knew exactly what he was
happening, exactly t trap that Romney -- he said, Governor, proceed.

BALL: Please proceed, Governor.

O`DONNELL: We all have that cued up.

Chris, what do you think was the best political theater?

HAYES: I thought the entire Democratic Convention was pretty
marvelously (ph) done, from the pure perspective of theatrics, particularly
when compared to the Republican convention, the theatrical disaster, I
thought the whole whiny them of we built that, yes, we did, we did, and I
thought it back fired.

I specifically thought that Bill Clinton`s speech, was political
theater at its best in so far as it was genuinely edified, that he was not
afraid. He didn`t do the cheap and easy thing which was to do something
surfacey, he actually went into the weeds of the detail of the policy and
explained them and it actually made for great theater.

O`DONNELL: Worst political theater.

WAGNER: I can`t believe we haven`t mentioned it. Herman Cain`s
entire campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

WAGNER: It was a hoax. He was never actually really running. It was
theatrics. He was an actor in a national stage, a command of his audience.
But at the end of the day, it was theater.

O`DONNELL: There is that. Worst.

BALL: First, I want to point that this water.

O`DONNELL: We are the water drinkers.

BALL: Water team.

So, worst political theater, I would say after the 47 percent comments
came out and Mitt Romney decided to do this hurried press conference where
he looked frazzled, the hair was a little askew, where he really had
nothing to say and essentially dug the hole for himself deeper, that was
the worst political theater of the campaign, other than Clint Eastwood.

O`DONNELL: Quick, Steve, worst political theater?

KORNACKI: Right before the critical Michigan primary, the Mitt Romney
campaign was a little bit on the ropes. Rick Santorum has pulled even in
the polls. The Romney campaign says we`re going to turn this around out
with a major economic speech.

They went out to the Detroit Lions football stadium, 55,000 seats, and
it was 0.0002 percent full. And the wide shot was really the most
hilarious thing I`ve ever seen.

BALL: Terrible.

O`DONNELL: Chris, the worst political theater?

HAYES: The worst political theater was the members of the president`s
campaign in the spin room after the first debate in Denver. Very, very,
very gamely attempting -- attempting to put a happy face.

O`DONNELL: For me, it was a particular moment in the Herman Cain
campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Was kind of when -- it was when he had stuff twirling
around in his head and we`re going to look at that right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you agreed with President Obama on Libya, or
not?

HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK, Libya. President
Obama supported the uprising, correct? I do not agree with the way he
handled it for the following reason. No, that is a different one.

I got to go back to see -- I got all of this stuff twirling around in
my head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, we miss him so badly. We`re going to go back with
more of the biggest surprise of 2012, person of the year, Donald Trump
Award, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And the sorry to see you go category -- Chris Hayes.

HAYES: Legendary Major League Baseball Union president Marvin Miller,
who died this year at 95. I got the pleasure of interviewing him last year
when I was working on my book. Totally and completely transformed and
revolutionized both Major League Baseball and professional sports, and
converted a system that was essentially indentured servitude in which
owners could basically pay players nothing, into the modern free agent
system in which players can actually recoup a fair market value for the
value they add to the owners.

O`DONNELL: Steve, sorry to see you go?

KORNACKI: You probably haven`t heard of him, but Joe Early was a
congressman from Worcester, Massachusetts for 18 years.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

KORNACKI: And he was my kind of politician and my kind of
congressman. He cared about that city. It`s a tough city that most people
just ignored. He brought lots of money back, lots of projects back, and he
lost his career in a trumped up fake scandal that Rick Santorum and John
Boehner created in the early `90s, a House banking scandal.

He lost his career, he lost his reputation, he was put on trial, he
was exonerated. But he spent the last 20 years of his life totally
unappreciated. And he died this year and I think he deserves at least a
little recognition, Joe Early.

O`DONNELL: Krystal?

BALL: Phyllis Diller.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BALL: Amazing, trailblazing comedienne.

O`DONNELL: She really was.

Alex, sorry to see you go?

WAGNER: I have two, George McGovern and Ravi Shankar. Very different
men.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they were.

WAGNER: Their losses were being felt from different worlds, but they
were key makers.

O`DONNELL: They rose to fame in the same era, I am very sorry to see
go -- Whitney Houston.

HAYES: Yes.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to be back with more of our LAST WORD holiday
show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Welcome back to the LAST WORD holiday party. Our new
category is the biggest surprise of 2012. Karen Finney, what was the
biggest surprise of 2012?

FINNEY: That we were able to call the elections right around 11:00.

O`DONNELL: You know, I wasn`t surprised, by the way.

FINNEY: You weren`t surprised?

O`DONNELL: I actually thought that`s was going to happen, we - by the
time we get to California closing time, we`ll know.

FINNEY: I literally have thought that it was going to be a much
longer night ...

O`DONNELL: Yes.

FINNEY: And I really thought it was going to be a much bigger mess,
and I did not think the president was going to be able to win without us
having some debacle in Florida, and thankfully we didn`t.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, the biggest surprise?

REID: The biggest surprise was that Mitt Romney actually chose Paul
Ryan as his running mate. I have to say, I say it on the very LAST WORD,
on this very show, on the after show to this show, and I think I was with
Ari. You know, who should Romney pick: Pick Paul Ryan. Ideologically he
is the right guy.

MELBER: Yes.

REID: But as a Democrat, secretly, I was like oh please, pick Paul
Ryan ...

MELBER: Yes.

REID: I didn`t think he would do it.

(laughter)

REID: I didn`t think he`d do it, you know.

O`DONNELL: There were so many reasons not to pick him.

REID: There were so many reasons not to pick him, but he was like
ideologically, and as a Democrat, it was the perfect thing, because it
crystallized all the things that Democrats didn`t like about Mitt Romney,
and the case thing wanted to make about him this sort of distaste for the
ordinary person ...

FINNEY: Right.

REID: ... for the 47 percent, the idea of voucherizing Medicare, all
of that was crystallizing in one person, and he picked him to be his
running mate, I was very surprised.

O`DONNELL: Ari, biggest surprise of 2012?

MELBER: The biggest surprise to me was something that was way behind
the scenes, the debate commission makes these rules, and they are usually
secret. And this year they leaked. First, on Time and Gawker.com. And
you can read these rules.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MELBER: And it turns out the debate rules restrict the moderator from
doing any fact-checking or any commenting or response to the answers the
candidates give. And we never knew that before, because it is the secret
cabal between basically the candidates and the commission. It is crooked,
and I think it`s sort of very untransparent in a lot of ways, and we
learned that. I think next year, next cycle, is going to be a lot of
pressure to change those rules.

O`DONNELL: I hate the rules, and then did a couple of re-writes ...

MELBER: Yes.

O`DONNELL: About the rules. My biggest surprise of 2012 was
President Obama`s performance in the first debate. I kind of went - what?

FINNEY: That was everybody`s big surprise.

O`DONNELL: And it didn`t completely start to settle on me until we
were about 50 minutes in.

That, you know, because I was kind of - you`re kind of waiting for the
engine to start.

FINNEY: It didn`t? It didn`t.

O`DONNELL: It didn`t quite - yeah.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: It was amazing.

REID: I think that they were so confident in their math in the Obama
campaign that he didn`t go into that debate taking it all that seriously.
And I don`t think he thought, you know, why am I here with this guy?

O`DONNELL: It`s that incumbent president thing ...

MELBER: Yes.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: .. that first debate is always - oh boy ...

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: You know I`m so out of shape at this. You know ...

MELBER: He didn`t take the debate seriously, he didn`t take eye
contact seriously, either.

REID: No.

MELBER: And he was just sort of - yeah. Yeah.

O`DONNELL: Now, here is - here is - this comes to our annual Donald
Trump Award. Donald Trump has been winning this award for the last 20
years (ph) on the show.

(laughter)

MELBER: Himself.

O`DONNELL: And so it has been named after him. It is the most
embarrassing person, the person who has embarrassed himself or herself ...

FINNEY: Oh, well.

O`DONNELL: ... the most in the year of 2012. So for you, Karen,
this year, the Donald Trump award goes to?

FINNEY: Oh, I`ve got to say Herman Cain.

O`DONNELL: ... Yeah.

FINNEY: In that interview ...

O`DONNELL: ... Yeah.

FINNEY: When he couldn`t remember ...

O`DONNELL: And that video we just saw.

FINNEY: Yeah, maybe a close second with Governor Perry, with trying
to remember the three agencies ...

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: Ouch, ouch, ouch, it just hurt, it hurt.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and the difference is Perry actually was running for
president, Herman Cain was running for fame.

FINNEY: Right.

O`DONNELL: Joy? The Donald Trump award.

REID: Well, since Karen has taken the two that I probably would pick
as the top two, I`m going to go with John Sununu, John Sununu was the worst
surrogate.

O`DONNELL: Oh yes.

REID: I`ve seen in my life.

O`DONNELL: Oh yes.

REID: He was ...

O`DONNELL: It is so good to get rid of him.

REID: It`s so good, and he was everything that`s wrong with the
Republican Party`s brand, just surly, and condescending, and racially
insensitive, and ugly, and he was just awful. And he kept talking.

O`DONNELL: Ari, the Donald Trump award goes to who this year?

MELBER: My Trump award goes to Karl Rove ...

O`DONNELL: Oh yes. On election night?

MELBER: Yeah. On politics ...

FINNEY: Oh, yes.

MELBER: With the vote, on politics, election night he had no idea
what was going on. And on policy, this was the year when we really saw the
public turn against his enduring legacy of trying to write discrimination
into state constitutions against people who happen to be gay. The public
- and the Republican Party is turning against that. And that`s going to be
his legacy, sadly for him, for a long time, on this civil rights issue.

O`DONNELL: Well, as I said, you know, for 20 years here on the show,
the Donald Trump award has gone to Donald Trump.

(laughter)

O`DONNELL: And once again I feel - I will be giving it to Donald
Trump because I do find it impossible to outdo Donald Trump on embarrassing
yourself. There are a couple of people who tried, they tried really hard
to outdo Donald Trump. Let`s take a look at, for example, Todd Akin.

REID: Oh, yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD AKIN: First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that is
really rare, if it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to
shut that whole thing down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And just when you thought he had that whole jurisdiction
wrapped up ...

(laughter)

FINNEY: Yes. Yes.

O`DONNELL: There came Richard Mourdock, who we should also take a
look at.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK: I think even when life begins in that horrible
situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: They are legitimate runners up ...

REID: Yes, they are.

O`DONNELL: .. for the Donald Trump award.

REID: And why did Mourdock sound ill? And every time I hear that,
that sounds like he is not feeling well on top of it.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: There were a number of male, mostly male Republican
legislators in state legislatures across the country who made similar
comments, who ...

O`DONNELL: Yes.

FINNEY: If we can remain nameless, but we just - let`s give them a
little hat tip for also being just that stupid about women.

REID: Well, how about all the people who wrote the Republican Party`s
platform this year, they completely agreed with Todd Akin and Mr. Mourdock.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: So, none of them could escape it.

O`DONNELL: All right, coming up, the person who we are not sorry to
see go. Also, we will be picking the person of the year, the biggest
winner, the biggest loser, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And now for the "Not Sorry to See You Go" category. Ari
Melber, who are you not sorry to see go?

MELBER: Allen West.

FINNEY: You just took my ...

O`DONNELL: You took my answer right off ...

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: OK.

MELBER: Now people know this is real.

O`DONNELL: All right, Allen West here, you get - and Joy ...

REID: That was my answer ...

O`DONNELL: ... who was your runner-up?

REID: OK, well, I guess my runner-up is going now have to be Dick
Morris.

O`DONNELL: Oh, yes.

REID: I think we`re rid of him.

O`DONNELL: Are we? I don`t know.

REID: He is sort of like a bad penny.

O`DONNELL: Maybe he is just hibernating.

REID: Really?

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: OK.

O`DONNELL: I think there is more ...

REID: Well, he can oblige us and go away so that I can be not sorry
to see him.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

FINNEY: That`s a little bit optimistic, but OK.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney?

FINNEY: Well, I think I`m going to have to go with Jim DeMint.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: And he is going to disappear ...

FINNEY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: This what nonsense that all of this is a better job than
being ...

FINNEY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: It`s going to go run a stupid (inaudible) in D.C., Yes,
it is actually kind of great ...

FINNEY: Right.

O`DONNELL: ... to get rid of him. And the people who are really not
sorry to see him go are Republicans in Senate who he was driving crazy.

MELBER: Yes.

O`DONNELL: A kind of Democrats in the Senate actually liked having a
nut like that to kind of paint the whole party .

REID: Well, can I give a runner-up now?

O`DONNELL: Yes, please, sure, please.

REID: The Tea Party the funny hats, the teabags hanging from their
hats, and one of the loud, obnoxious rallies. I think that they ....

O`DONNELL: And they have functionally disappeared.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: They had nothing to say during the so-called fiscal cliff
crisis.

REID: Not much.

O`DONNELL: All right, we are going to be back with the picks for
person of they year, biggest winner, biggest loser, a lot more. Stay with
us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Welcome back to the LAST WORD holiday party. It is now
time for the Person of the Year award. Ari Melber, who was the person of
the year?

MELBER: I was thinking about this - it is a night for celebration,
but I think it`s also a night to honor people. And for me, when you look
at 2012, it would be Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, she resigned this year
after a heroic battle dealing with the gunshot wounds that she experienced.
We obviously keep her in our thoughts and our prayers. But she was also a
leader, and believed in public policy. And we`re going to have to look as
we go forward into the next year over how we deal with this enduring
problem of gun violence in our country.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, your person of the year?

REID: Well, this make sound a little bit corny, but I picked for my
Person of the Year, the American voter. And I say that because ...

O`DONNELL: It does sound corny.

REID: It does sound corny. I know.

O`DONNELL: I mean ...

REID: It is corny.

O`DONNELL: No, I can`t ...

REID: It`s corny, but I mean, you know, the reason I said it,

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: You said a group, you didn`t say the country.

REID: But I mean it`s a--

O`DONNELL: It is very "Time" magazine.

REID: I know, it is, but I`ve never in my lifetime - have I seen
people have to endure so many hoops, so many hurdles ...

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: So many obstructions.

O`DONNELL: Seven hours in line.

REID: Seven hours in line. And just the overt. I`ve never seen it
so overt. Whether it was in Ohio where you have ...

O`DONNELL: All right, (inaudible), but this is not corny.

REID: You know what I mean -- people literally fought against the
right to vote this term, this cycle, more than I have ever seen in my life.
I felt like I was being transported back to the 1960s, or the `50s, then in
Florida, where they passed legislation to prevent black voters,
specifically from getting to vote. In Ohio, where the secretary of state
did everything including going to the supreme court to prevent people from
being able to vote early. I saw people`s resilience, people`s resolve,
people`s determination. I met 60-year old people, older women, people who
had disabilities and said I`m staying in line if it has to be all day. And
I was very proud of them. So that was my - It`s corny, but ...

O`DONNELL: No, it is not, you beat me on that.

FINNEY: And the images were the most powerful - I think (inaudible)
people waiting in line.

O`DONNELL: All right. Karen Finney, your person of the year?

FINNEY: My was Malala, because I saw that means she is so courageous.
And I think she reminded us in the middle of what was a ridiculous election
season, about things that are far more important in terms of what the big
struggles in this world are about, and particularly at a time when
Republicans were trying to tell women that this war on women, it is all in
our heads. I think it was a good reminder for women what we have fought
for, and we continue to fight for.

O`DONNELL: She was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban, because
she wants education for girls and women. We have some video of Malala
Yousafzai. Let`s talk a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALALA YOUSAFZAI: I have a new dream, so I thought that I must be a
politician to serve this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you change this dream?

YOUSAFZAI: Because there is so many crises in our country, so I want
to remove these crises and to save my country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And you notice there is a little Person of the Year bug on
the video there, because she is my choice.

(cheering)

O`DONNELL: For a person of the year, which is why we have that video
ready to go. Krystal Ball, your person of the year, you can just say I
agree.

(laughter)

O`DONNELL: No, you can`t.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: I have to go with, I know, mine is corny,
too, but I have to go with President Obama. I mean he really survived a
lot of adversity, he really, I think was vindicated in a lot of ways. So
I`m going to go with President Obama.

O`DONNELL: I don`t think you have to make the case for the president
being the person of the year.

BALL: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, your person of the year.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC: I`m really boring, but I would echo Krystal,
because I think he`s comported himself with so much integrity and honesty
and kindness, and that is not something we come to expect from our--

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: OK, Steve, you`re the tie-breaker, because there is two
for Malala over here and you`ve got a ...

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: I`m not breaking any tie here, I`m going out
on my own, "Family Feud" style.

(laughter)

KORNACKI: And I`m going to say. I`m saying, John Roberts, the
Supreme Court chief justice, because at the height of an election season,
with immense pressure from the conservative movement, and peer pressure
from within the court, this guy said, you know what? The Affordable Care
Act, it stands.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, all right, good point. All right, coming up, we are
going to have the get ready for this - we have the biggest winner and the
biggest loser. That`s a different concept than person of the year. You
get that? Think about this. That`s coming up, and we`re going to be right
back with more of the LAST WORD "Holiday Party."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Welcome back to the LAST WORD "Holiday Party." We are now
going to pick our biggest winner and biggest loser of 2012. And I`m going
to break the routine, I`m going to go first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

O`DONNELL: One reason why I`m going to go first on biggest loser is
because my choice is wicked obvious.

(laughter)

O`DONNELL: OK, and there is no sense waiting around for the big
suspense of my decision. I am choosing Willard Mitt Romney, and I`m doing
that because the man lived his entire life for this year to be the
Republican nominee. His father told him, go out and get rich, Mitt. And
then run for office. You know, when you can afford to, so he followed his
father`s plan. He ignored a lot of what his father actually thought about
governing and politics and things like that ...

MELBER: Sure.

O`DONNELL: Like, you know, things like letting people see your tax
returns, 12 years of them, which his father did, all that stuff. And so
Mitt Romney having lived his life, built his life, to be able to do this,
and run his campaign is now at home tonight with his tax returns.

(laughter)

O`DONNELL: He is the biggest - he is the biggest loser in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he won that battle, didn`t he?

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, the biggest loser?

FINNEY: Biggest loser, anybody who was taking their cues from the
Romney campaign`s polls in that last couple of weeks and was out there
talking about 300 electoral votes, that was really fun.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. Joy? Your biggest loser?

REID: It was a close tie, because I thought about Paul Ryan, because
being associated with the biggest loser is almost as bad as being the
biggest loser.

O`DONNELL: Nothing worse than losing on the vice presidential slot,
there is no future for him.

REID: There is no future for him.

O`DONNELL: And history, you could go nowhere.

REID: Exactly. But this time, it was a (inaudible) tie. It was a
tie between him and Rupert Murdoch.

O`DONNELL: Oh!

REID: Because for Rupert Murdoch this year, his entire supposed news
empire was exposed for the fraud that ...

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: Fox News was literally humiliated. Not figuratively, it was
literally humiliated on election night.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

REID: Their entire narrative of the campaign proved to be completely
false, and now their credibility is in tatters and you had the phone-
hacking scandal.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

REID: ... so he is just a mess right now, so I`m giving him the tie,
slight edge, actually, over Ryan.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, the biggest loser.

MELBER: For me the biggest loser was a long-time coming. I remember
when I first started working for Senator Maria Cantwell on the Hill, this
was over a decade ago. And we would have proposals, or we`d be discussing
things, and people say, well, you can`t do that because of the pledge.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

MELBER: And I said ...

O`DONNELL: Oh yeah.

MELBER: I didn`t know it was the pledge. And what is the pledge, I
guess, I need to learn about this. And the pledge is slowly, not
completely ...

O`DONNELL: The Grover Norquist.

MELBER: The Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge, which is no way to run a
business, no way to run a government. Revenues are important if you
understand a balance sheet. And that thing has haunted us for a long time
and it is slowly losing.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, the biggest loser.

BALL: Mine has helped, in part, make Joy Reid`s Rupert Murdoch, which
is Karl Rove. I think previously people thought even if they didn`t like
him, that he was very smart. He exposed himself to not to be very smart on
election night over at that other network.

O`DONNELL: We only have two people left who might please me by
choosing Donald Trump. Let`s see what Alex - Alex Wagner, Alex Wagner,
your biggest loser of the - of 2012?

WAGNER: Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: All right. That`s correct.

WAGNER: It`s not, it`s not! It`s not!

O`DONNELL: Correct.

WAGNER: It`s - I`m sorry ...

O`DONNELL: You`ll get the iPad.

WAGNER: But as I hate to disappoint you, it is Sheldon Adelson.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Break.

WAGNER: And the house

O`DONNELL: Great. That was great.

Steve Kornacki, the biggest loser.

KORNACKI: I want an iPad, but I`ll say my biggest loser is the name
that was for generations, the gold standard in public opinion polling.
Gallup. And Gallup, all of October, and right up to election day said
Romney has an advantage, that he is going to win this race, taking about
six - you know, like two weeks before the election, now I think people are
going to look a lot more skeptically at Gallup polls going forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly

O`DONNELL: Let`s see if Nate Silver comes up in the Biggest Winner
category over there. OK, so biggest winner, again, I`m going to go first,
I`m going to go first because once again, I couldn`t be more obvious.

MELBER: Oh-oh.

O`DONNELL: I just think the guy who wins the presidential election is
really, you know, by every measure the biggest winner. And he did it with
this crushing unemployment rate on his administration, which he did
everything he could possibly do to fix. But he didn`t have it politically
fixed by the time he went into re-election, he got reelected with an
unemployment number there everybody says is impossible. And so that credit
goes to President Obama, biggest winner of 2012, for me.

Karen Finney.

FINNEY: I am going to go with the home team, and say MSNBC, because
we kicked that other network`s butt.

O`DONNELL: There you go.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Don`t even try to get the iPad. Exactly. You get the
iPad.

REID: Well you previewed mine, I was going to say Nate Silver,

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: ... because I think math was a huge winner this year. And he
looked at the numbers, he looked at the polls properly, right? He
understood the relative weight of Gallup and better polls. And the
demographics just didn`t lie this year. And the people who understood that
if 28 percent of the electorate was going to be
minority, and if the president could pull 80 percent of that electorate, he
could win, and Nate Silver understood that prop. Very long time, you were
quoting his data every night on this show. So Nate Silver is a big winner.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

REID: His detractors look pretty silly right now.

O`DONNELL: Ari, the biggest winner of 2012.

MELBER: I want to pick up on Joy Reid`s flavor, because you put her
on blast earlier tonight for being corny. He had to just - calling you out
and I`m going to be corny with you now.

REID: Oh-oh.

MELBER: And say, government intervention in our economy was the
biggest winner. Barack Obama came into office after tremendous elite
failure, fundamental distrust of what our government can do. And he
basically, if you boil it down, he outlined a series of proposals that
intervened in our markets, the health care market, the insurance market,
the car market, and Wall Street, with regulation and stimulus. And each
one of those things has worked. And he`s won over a public, that we know
is angry and skeptical. So you said he`s the guy because he won, I am
saying part of what he did was renew a faith in something we know we need
to get out of this recession.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, the biggest winner?

BALL: Well, I was tempted to also go with Barack Obama, but since you
two get my choice here from person of the year, I`m instead going to do
Claire McCaskill.

O`DONNELL: OK.

BALL: She has been written off, nobody thought she could win that
seat again in Missouri. And she won the crazy candidate jackpot. And was
very smart and strategic about how she parlayed that into a victory. But I
think she is a big winner fighting back in the Senate?

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, the biggest winner of 2012?

WAGNER: Hillary Rodham Clinton ...

O`DONNELL: OK.

(cheers)

WAGNER: Well positioned for 2016, the term Teflon Don, usually goes
to a man, she is a Teflon Donna.

O`DONNELL: Yeah.

WAGNER: You can`t - you can`t touch her.

O`DONNELL: No, that`s good. Steve Kornacki, the biggest winner of
2012.

KORNACKI: I want to piggyback on what you said earlier, I think the
biggest winner of 2012 was the biggest loser of 1968, George Romney.
George Romney exited the political stage with his reputation sort of in
tatters, a couple of generations ago, and his son by failing to live up to
the father`s example in so many glaring ways, revived and resuscitated the
reputation of George Romney, and I think George - the public`s estimation
of George Romney, history`s estimation of George Romney emerges in a much
better place this year than it was before this election.

O`DONNELL: That is a good one, I like that.

FINNEY: That was pretty good.

O`DONNELL: So gang, thank you all for a great year here on the LAST
WORD. And you have all been doing this for like what? The last 15 years
of this - of this particular ...

(laughter)

O`DONNELL: ... this particular holiday show. The first generation of
guests have all kind of moved on to other things. But there will be many
more of these LAST WORD holiday shows to come. Thank you all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here!

O`DONNELL: There is the LAST WORD staff over there.

(cheering)

O`DONNELL: Just to make it official, you all agreed with every pick
that I made, right? All - OK, good. Right. All right, thank you for
joining us for the LAST WORD holiday party. A lot more in 2013.

END

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