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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 23, 2013

Guests: Steve Clemons, Ezra Klein, George Takei

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Today was the day Republicans have been
waiting for, the day they could finally prove their conspiracy theory about
how President Obama and Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton conspired to hide
the truth from the American people. All they had to do was get Hillary
Clinton to crack under the awesome pressure of testifying to Congress --
something she actually mastered 20 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Capitol Hill, locust of dysfunction, hall of
smoke and mirrors.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Secretary Clinton will face questions --

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: To answer questions the best I
can.

MATTHEWS: -- that Republicans have wanted to ask for months.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Is the U.S. involved with transferring
weapons to Turkey?

CLINTON: To Turkey?

HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: They were just throwing
everything against the wall.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We were misled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were not given a clear picture.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: No one has been held accountable.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The American people deserved to know
answers.

PAUL: Had I been president at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Rand Paul.

PAUL: I would have relieved you of your post.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s delusional.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Freshmen senators.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It was a puke-fest.

MITCHELL: They`re not shy.

CLINTON: I have said many times I take responsibility.

JOHNSON: We were misled that there were supposedly protest.

CLINTON: What difference at this point does it make?

MITCHELL: We have seen these kinds of dramas before.

CLINTON: I am particularly pleased to appear before you, Mr.
Chairman, making sure we are all moving forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to express our thanks to you for the
presentation day.

MITCHELL: This one was pretty tough.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Our conference will look to
vote on a measure tomorrow --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yes are two.

CANTOR: -- that will temporarily extend the debt ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes are 245, the nays are 144.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Up until now, Republicans have
been all about politics.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Your policy won`t fly.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The American people
won`t accept an increase in the debt limit --

RYAN: It won`t happen.

BOEHNER: -- without significant spending cuts.

RYAN: If we don`t cut spending.

MURRAY: This sets a nice precedent.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It hands the president his second
major win.

CANTOR: Republicans have come to our new majority to fix what`s
wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is an amazing amount of soul-searching
going on.

LIMBAUGH: My friends, it was a puke fest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a troubled time for the party.

SCHUMER: They blinked. We welcomed the outcome of their retreat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Nothing exposes congressional ignorance and incompetent
actions better than a congressional hearing. You actually have to know
something to sound impressive in a congressional hearing. It`s not just
reading speeches, it is interactive.

Asking a question of the chairman of the Federal Reserve or making any
kind of statement to him when he is actually there to respond is a grand
opportunity to look and sound like an idiot, an opportunity that many
senators and House members have taken over the years.

Witnesses at congressional hearings in the House and the Senate tend
to know a little more, in fact much more about the subject at hand than the
members of the committee listening to them. Today, the most experienced
testifier under pressure in modern Washington history took the Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I have greatly appreciated all of this effort that has
gone into making sure that we are all moving forward and trying to realize
the hope of providing health security for every American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The pressure is on potential presidential candidates in
high profile hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THEN-SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: We have now set the bar so
low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation, to
the point where now we just have the levels of intolerable violence that
existed in June of 2006 is considered success. And it is not. This
continues to be a disastrous foreign policy mistake. And now we are
confronted with the question, how do we clean up the mess?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator Obama knew he needed to have a presidential level
of credibility in such hearings.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has been talking tough about Benghazi
for months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: One of the narratives that the Obama
campaign has laid out is that Osama bin Laden is dead, they bragged about
that forever, and that al Qaeda is in retreat. And you start to wonder
that they basically say, do not allow any story to emerge that counters
that narrative.

Is that why they told us that the Libyan incident in Benghazi was a
popular uprising and not a terrorist attack because it ran counter to their
campaign narrative?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And so the pressure was on Senator Rubio today to deliver
to his fans all the fire and brimstone they had a right to expect. He
wasn`t just facing the secretary of state, who has taken responsibility for
what happened in Benghazi. He was facing possibly the next Democratic
nominee for president.

Tonight, the Marco Rubio fans could not be more disappointed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: One of the things that I`m more interested in exploring to
you, how information flows within the State Department.

Were you ever asked to participate in any sort of internal or inter-
agency meeting before this attack with regards to the deteriorating
security situation in Libya?

Did this issue come up with regard to the inability of the Libyan
government to protect our institutions? Did that come up at all in that
conversation?

CLINTON: Of course.

RUBIO: There was a conversation?

CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this was a constant conversation,
Senator.

RUBIO: Before the attack in Benghazi, what had we done specifically
to help them build their security capacities?

CLINTON: Well, there is a long list and I`ll be happy to provide that
to you, because it is filled with, you know, training, with equipment.
With the kind of planning that they had not done before. And I`d be happy
to send you the detail on that, Senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The most experienced senators, when facing a strong,
experienced witness, do not make the mistake of actually asking questions.
They use their five minutes to make speeches instead, and leave as little
time as possible for answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Why is it that the administration still refuses to provide
the full text of e-mails regarding the deletion of references to al Qaeda
and terrorism talking points? Why do we care? Because if the classified
information had been included, it gives an entirely different version of
events to the American. And, by the way, as I said at the time, I just
happened to be at the talk show, people don`t bring RPGs and mortars to
spontaneous demonstrations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And then there are the surprises. It`s rare, but it
happens. The senator, the congressman whose name you didn`t know, who
makes you turn and say, who is that? That happened to me today when I
heard this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Let me just say, I`m actually an
Air Force pilot, one of a handful of Republicans to vote to support the
president`s position in Libya. I think we did the right thing there.

Aviano Air Base is 1,044 miles from Benghazi. Aviano Air Base is an
F-16 base, airplanes could have been in the air, after being fueled, even
if they didn`t have missiles on them, and there can be nonviolent things
that F-16s can do to disperse crowds that I know of well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Wow! That was Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He
just won his first reelection in Illinois 16th congressional district, a
swing district, where he has to appeal to Democrats and independents. He
served in Iraq, and is currently a pilot in the Air National Guard. He is
the Republican Cory Booker of sorts -- part politician, part super hero.

He once tackled and disarmed a man who slashed a woman`s throat. The
attacker was arrested and the woman survived. He was named one of "Time
Magazine`s" 40 under 40 rising stars of American politics.

Marco Rubio should be very, very worried about Adam Kinzinger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KINZINGER: The other question I have, too, I`m laying a few out for
you. The FAST team, the foreign response team, was that your decision not
to deploy that right away? Was that an issue of logistics?

I`m worried about the strategy of leading from behind. If the United
States ambassador in Libya, and I say this respectfully can`t get a message
forward to the secretary of state about his concern about security, in one
of the most hot zones in the world, I worry about a lead from behind
strategy. And if we have no assets on alert that can respond in a seven-
hour lull in two different attacks in the most hot -- one of the most hot
spots in the country -- in the world, on 9/11, on the anniversary, is the
lead from behind strategy failing, because I really want American
leadership to be strong. I believe in freedom, and I believe we`re the
people that are going to be able to take freedom around the globe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He was asking perfectly reasonable questions in which he
inserted the irrelevant but partisan phrase "leading from behind", in order
to appeal to his base, which is a smart move for him.

But here was Secretary Clinton`s answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Thank you for your service, Congressman, both in the Air
Force and here. There is a lot packed into that. Let me see what I can
cover quickly and then we`ll get the rest to you in writing.

DOD took every action it could take, starting from the time that the
president directed Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey to do so.

Again, I turn to the ARB because that to me a much more factually
based finding, the board found no evidence of undue delays and decision-
making or denial of support from Washington or from military combatant
commanders, quite the contrary, the safe evacuation of all U.S. government
personnel from Benghazi 12 hours after the initial attack, and
subsequently, to Ramstein, was the result of exceptional U.S. government
coordination and military response and helped save the lives of two
severely wounded Americans.

Now, having said that, I think it`s very important we do more to
coordinate with DOD, along the lines of what you`re talking about, because
who knows what`s going to be facing us in the next months and years?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Krystal Ball, host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE."

And Steve Clemons, editor at large of "The Atlantic" in Washington.

Krystal, not a single dot was connected to any other dot in the
Republican conspiracy theory dream of what happened here.

KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: And they have been waiting for this moment,
for so long. And they got absolutely nothing because Hillary Clinton is so
good in these situations. Here is the thing that is so amazing about her
and about her career in politics. You know, out of her husband`s scandal
and out of the Republican absolute hatred of her, she becomes a senator and
great senator.

Out of her own presidential loss, she becomes secretary of state and
is never more popular or more esteemed.

And out of this hearing which was supposed to be the start of her
political undoing coming into 2016, I think she emerges looking better than
she ever has before. And we`re all reminded of just how capable, how
skilled, and how serious this woman really is.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, she is also very difficult to lay a glove
on as a witness in congressional hearings, which everybody learned in 1994,
when she went around with the health care bill. The bill, it turned out,
was doomed. But her presentation and her testimony was unshakable,
authoritative, clear, and left no question unanswered. And we saw that
today.

STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Well, Lawrence, when she was running for
president, I went back and studied her record to try and see whether or not
she was a passive legislator of the Senate or whether she had executive
skill sets, and she really drilled down. So, I actually went to find the
most boring and least visible moments of Hillary Clinton`s Senate career
when she was the member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

And what you saw her do on the witness stand today, she did as a
senator in the committee. She had drilled down into such detail, into
issues that you and I and most of the viewers tonight would not be
interested in. And so, she exhibited something today that is just part of
her DNA, and her ability to really know thoroughly something so that people
like Ron Johnson and Rand Paul and hers who tried to throw her off her
game. They looked embarrassing.

This is not only somebody who is one of the most popular politicians
in the country, but someone who for obvious reasons had drilled down so
deeply into this issue, that they were the ones that began to look
immature, versus a very profound, professional, capable maturity that
Hillary Clinton displayed.

O`DONNELL: Steve, I am so glad you mentioned the Environment and
Public Works, because that is a kind of committee that has a lot of what
people consider very boring stuff. I used to be the chief of staff of that
committee, and I can attest to a certain amount of boredom of most of the
hearings.

But over the years, there have been senators, including Barbara
Boxers, who`s now chairman of it, who take that committee and other
committees like that, and turn them into real forums for real learning,
Krystal, especially in the hearing process.

This, today, was one of those hearing situations in both bodies, in
the Senate and the House, where the adversarial side, the Republicans came
in with some case they were hoping to prove and could only have proved in
some sort of crazy Perry Mason moment, where Hillary Clinton just cracks
and confesses.

BALL: You`re right, you discovered it. It was in the kitchen with
the butter knife or whatever.

I mean, that`s exactly right. And, look, she came in fully prepared,
be and they were relying on basically unreality. They`ve been relying on
FOX News and Drudge Reports sort of talking point to make their case
against Hillary Clinton, and initially against Susan Rice and now against
Hillary Clinton.

When you are actually faced with the facts, when you`re faced with the
woman herself, their argument doesn`t stand up to scrutiny. I think that
was abundantly clear today.

O`DONNELL: And, Steve, what you`re going to have to find in this
mystery is a motive for Susan Rice or Hillary Clinton or President Obama,
or any one in the administration, to mislead, to prevent -- to actively try
to present false facts about what happened in Benghazi and no one has ever
come close to suggesting any kind of motive.

CLEMONS: No, I think that is absolutely right. I mean, Hillary
Clinton demonstrated what a professional she is by saying she absolutely
takes responsibility. And with the review board`s work, she has gone to
sort of look through this question of what ought to be a direct reporting
of crises up to the secretary level.

But also what hasn`t received as much attention, she is warning there
are other facilities out there that we have today. It was very true on the
day the tragedy occurred. People died, Ambassador Stevens and three other
great Americans died in this conflict. And that we today have under-
resourced defenses for other facilities. And she said we need to fix this.

And those members of the GOP who were launching the attacks on her,
some of them have been part of the process of trying to delegitimate and
undermine diplomacy of the State Department for years. And this is time
for them to stand up and actually resource this department as it should be.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons and Krystal Ball, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

CLEMONS: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Hillary Clinton`s future and how it might
collide with Joe Biden`s future.

And in the rewrite tonight, Wayne LaPierre attacked President Obama`s
statement about absolutism in his inaugural address. The blood-drenched
lobbyist for the NRA actually quoted a liberal Supreme Court justice in
making his s case last night. I will show you tonight why Wayne LaPierre
was absolutely wrong about that Supreme Court justice and why he is
absolutely wrong about the Second Amendment.

And dear friend of the show George Takei is here tonight to talk about
what the president`s inaugural address meant to him. And anything else
George wants to talk about it whenever he wants to talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: Coming up, Joe Biden seems to be positioning
himself for a presidential run in 2016. But will he run if Hillary Clinton
runs?

And later, in the rewrite, Wayne LaPierre picked the wrong Supreme
Court justice to make his case last night for the absolute right to carry
any kind of gun or ammunition. That`s coming up in the rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA (D), AMERICAN SAMOA: You have done all you could do
to deliver freedom safely to future generations, I salute you and I look
ahead to 2016, wishing you much success and extending to you my highest
regards.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Secretary, first, let me thank you for
your service. And I wish you the best in your future endeavors, mostly.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Where would Hillary Clinton be today were it not for
President Obama?

Well, OK, she could be president of the United States. But given that
she was actually a losing presidential candidate in 2008, where would she
be today had President Obama not appointed her secretary of state? And
where would Joe Biden be today without President Obama?

Joe Biden was an even bigger presidential campaign loser than Hillary
Clinton when Barack Obama chose him as running mate.

And now, the essential question about Hillary Clinton is: will she run
for president? A campaign in which she is to presumed frontrunner.

And the essential question about Joe Biden is: will he run for
president, even if Hillary Clinton runs for president? And is that why Joe
Biden was literally running down Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday? Is he
trying to show what a young and vital 70-year-old he is?

The night before the running man worked the parade crowd, Joe Biden
hosted a party at his residence with more than 200 Democratic insiders,
some of the most influential figures in national and early state Democratic
politics.

"Politico" reports today that Biden has expressed a clear sense of
urgency, convinced the Democratic field will be defined quickly and that it
may very we will come down to a private chat with Hillary Clinton, about
who should finish what Barack Obama started. He is intoxicated by the
idea, said a Democrat close to the White House.

According to an ABC News/"Washington Post" poll released today, 47
percent view him favorably, 37 percent view him unfavorably; 67 percent of
Americans view Hillary Clinton favorably, 26 percent view her unfavorably.

A Democrat close to both Joe Biden and Clinton said it is extremely
unlikely that they would challenge each other. They`re going to both to
build up teams and see how it goes. The Democrat said one of them will
fade away as it becomes more obvious which one of them should be the
standard-bearer for the Obama legacy. I can`t see them announcing the run,
but both will have teams trying to get them to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN: So, you`re ready to run against Hillary Clinton
in 2016?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I haven`t made
that judgment, and Hillary Clinton hasn`t made that judgment. But I can
tell you what -- everything that should be done over the next two years
that I should be a part of would have to be done whether I run or I don`t
run. If this administration is successful, whoever is running as a
Democrat is better positioned to win. If it were not successful, whoever
runs as a nominee is going to be less likely to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, I can absolutely imagine both of them
running. I don`t think there will be a cooperative conversation.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Ooh.

O`DONNELL: I mean, Joe Biden, Joe Biden -- look, each one of them
watched the other lose a presidential primary. OK?

They -- I don`t know why either one of them would stand down in the
face of -- Hillary Clinton obviously wouldn`t.

FINNEY: Well, you`ve got to ask yourself -- I mean, running for
president is like being hung by your fingernails. I mean it is really,
really, a miserable task. So, you know, there`s -- I think both of them
will.

O`DONNELL: Which both of them have freely chosen in the past.

FINNEY: They have, so the question is do you want to subject yourself
to that again?

I would make the prediction that whatever we predict is not what`s
going to happen.

O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton approval numbers, stunning, Ari, that was
her problem going into the last presidential campaign. She had a negative
rating higher than her approval rating. She`s completely rectified that,
thanks to being President Obama`s secretary of state.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Right, and we know that first lady and
secretary of state are typically the two individuals affiliated with the
White House that have the highest approval ratings, in administrations of
both parties. You`re seeing, although, today, the wrong day for me to make
this point, by you`re usually seen as a bit outside of politics and the
fights in politics, although the secretary of state today was pulled into
that.

You know, it is early and so, we`re going to have as good odds dealing
with this, this far out, as we are predicting as how Sasha and Malia would
do as candidates. It`s very early. But we do know these are two people
who, bottom line, have both really wanted to be president for a long time.

O`DONNELL: But Biden wasn`t even in this conversation recently,
people were not listing him as a possibility, just on the basis of age
alone.

FINNEY: Sure.

O`DONNELL: And that seems to me to be why he is being so overt, he
needs to be on this list, which he now obviously is.

FINNEY: And the chatter in Washington was like, wait a second, what
if the vice president wanted to run? Oh, yes?

And people were like, oh, yes, OK, Joe, and I think his people have
also really put the idea out there if he wanted to run, he could run. I
mean, he is very beloved. And here`s what I think is most important in
what you said. And that is how it would be framed. If either one of them
ran, this idea of a third Obama term or this idea of sort of continuing the
work that was started, I think is going to be the winning message for
either of the two of them. Unlike if it is Cuomo or O`Malley, who would
have to have a different theme.

O`DONNELL: Would Hillary Clinton really adopt an Obama continuation
message? I mean, she is her own political entity. This is a continuation
of Clintonism.

MELBER: Yes. I agree. And I thought all the sort of blind quotes
and the political articles sounded to me like Biden people trying to sound
like they could be anyone`s people. I don`t think if you`re Hillary
Clinton, there is any issue about a private conversation.

O`DONNELL: Right.

MELBER: If you`re Hillary Clinton and you`re feeling healthy and you
want to do this, you`re going to go out there and you`re going to crush
whoever is in the primary. You`re going to crush Andrew Cuomo or Joe Biden
or anyone you need to. You had a 49 percent floor last time. So, it seems
to me much more of a Biden-esque argument to say, yes, well, obviously,
we`re going to coordinate and something will work out.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, Joe Biden is such a great vice president.
And I mean that.

FINNEY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: I mean, it`s a job that is hard to be great at. He`s
found a way to be great at.

Is there any way he could be talked into it doing it for 16 years?

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: The longest serving vice president in history.

FINNEY: Are you suggesting a Clinton-Biden ticket? Because I had
that thought earlier today. I thought that would be fantastic. You`re
right. I mean, he has actually remade the role of vice president in the
way I think she has re-made the role of secretary of state.

I think the country would do well to have Clinton-Biden. I think we
should start floating that over here.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Ari Melber, thank you very much for
joining in the wild speculation tonight.

Coming up, the mystery of the disappearing debt ceiling. Ezra Klein
is here to solve it. And yes, George Takei is here tonight saying whatever
he wants to say whenever he wants to say it.

And in the rewrite tonight, why crazy Wayne LaPierre quoted a Supreme
Court justice supporting his argument last night without ever mentioning
that same Supreme Court justice disagreed with Wayne LaPierre on the Second
Amendment. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: Coming up, John Boehner`s miracle. He actually
made the debt ceiling disappear today. Ezra Klein will explain it all
next.

And in the Rewrite tonight, why Wayne LaPierre`s attack on President
Obama last night was a crime against history. That is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: With the passage of this bill
today, it is pretty clear that we`re sending a message to the Democrat-
controlled Senate, it is time to do your job. And the principle I think is
pretty simple. No budget, no pay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, debt ceiling magic. That was
House Speaker John Boehner after the House passed a bill making the debt
ceiling disappear until May 18th, without cutting any federal spending.
The stupidly named and conceived No Budget, No Pay Act passed with a vote
of 285 to 144; 33 Republicans voted against the bill and 199 voted for it.
And 86 Democrats voted for the bill, 111 Democrats voted against it.

Not only will the No Budget, No Pay Act suspend the debt ceiling for
about three months, it also requires the House and Senate to pass budget
resolutions by April 15th. And if they don`t, representatives and senators
will not get paid, which is, of course, wildly unconstitutional.

The 27th Amendment prohibits Congress from modifying their own
paychecks in any way. They can vote to change the pay for future Congress
only. But Republicans passing an unconstitutional bill, while at the same
time relieving the pressure on the debt ceiling, was welcomed by some
Democrats as Republicans moving from out-right crazy to half-crazy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I`m not sure what happened at the
House Republican retreat last week, but it sure had a mellowing effect on
their members. Maybe there were deep breathing exercises, soft jazz music.
But something good happened.

Either way, we welcome the outcome of their retreat. The bill
represents a huge deescalation on the debt ceiling issue. It hands the
president his second major win in a month. And it shows that the
Republicans are in full-on retreat on fiscal policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Ezra Klein. Ezra, I didn`t see
this one coming, did you?

EZRA KLEIN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I`m going to say I actually did.
The day after the fiscal cliff, I said the Republicans are going to fold on
the debt ceiling.

O`DONNELL: Well, I don`t mean fold. I mean this make it disappear
thing.

KLEIN: Make it go away?

O`DONNELL: This particular way of doing it.

KLEIN: Well, I love the idea, I think the only problem with the
suspend the debt ceiling idea, make it go away, is the three-month part.
You should do it forever. But I do want to make one point about no budget,
no pay, because this is getting a little bit misreported out there. If you
actually read the bill -- and I imagine this is part of the 27th Amendment
problem you point out, it is not no budget, no pay.

If they don`t pass a budget, they don`t get paid until the final day
of the session. It is no budget, you get paid later. But you get all of
your money. It`s kept in an escrow account. And it is all handed to you
on one day at the end of the 113 Congress. That is obviously not
convenient if you are a member of the Senate or a member of the House, but
it is not the same as no budget, no pay.

So just one more thing about this bill that is not quite on the level.

O`DONNELL: And it is not actually a budget that they`re talking
about. All they`re talking about is each body passing a budget resolution,
which is not a law, which doesn`t change anything. It is just a
resolution. It`s a promise to do something in the future.

And the way they have written it, apparently, Ezra, is if the Senate
passes one, then OK, senators can get paid. If the House passes one, then
House members can get paid. But the 27th Amendment very simply says, "no
law varying the compensation for the services of senators and
representatives shall take effect until an election of representatives
shall have intervened."

This varies their compensation. And I just want to play this video --
we have to do this -- of what John Boehner said about their respect for the
Constitution, the new respect for the Constitution that they were bringing
to the House of Representatives when they took over in 2011. Let`s listen
to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Gone are the days when the Constitution will be ignored. In
this Congress, there will be clear Constitutional authority required when
members file bills.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Remember that, Ezra, they were supposed to file their bill
and their Constitutional memo, saying why the thing was Constitutional.

KLEIN: I do remember that. In fact, it`s funny. I meant to go back
and look today to see if there was a Constitutional memo, and I didn`t.
Now I wish I had.

I do want to make one point. You mentioned the budget resolutions
that both have to pass. There are two interesting things that happened
along the way here. One, as you say, of course Senate Democrats or House
Republicans could pass a basically one-page bill. But it is true that
Senate Democrats haven`t passed a full budget for about four years, since
2009. They argue that the 2011 budget -- I`m sorry, Budget Control Act --
acted as a budget for `11 and `12.

But I think it is good, actually, if they`re going to pass a budget.
I think our elected representatives should tell us where their priorities
lie. But the really weird thing that happened to the House Republicans
along the way to no budget, no pay was that they agreed, in order to get
their more conservative members on board, to write a budget -- Paul Ryan
will write a budget that will balance inside of 10 years.

And to give you an idea of how hard that is to do, Paul Ryan`s
previous budget balanced around 2038. So in order to get a 2038 balancing
act over to 10 years from now, you are going to have to have incredibly
draconian cuts that are going to be incredibly unpopular.

I don`t have any idea, and I don`t think they have any idea how they
are going to do it.

O`DONNELL: But, Ezra, those cuts are not specified in the budget
resolutions, which is all they are talking about in this bill. Budget
resolutions are really just memos to other committees of jurisdiction,
saying this is what we think you should do roughly, in terms of cutting --

KLEIN: But the caps are.

O`DONNELL: There`s nothing real. It`s all done in the reconciliation
bill later. It`s just a promise of we think we might do something like
this in the future. We will have a lot more on this as we follow it. Ezra
Klein, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in the Rewrite, the Washington lobbyist who
makes sure our mass murderers are the best equipped mass murders in the
world actually quoted a Supreme Court justice to make his argument about
guns. What he did not mention was that that Supreme Court justice
disagreed with the NRA on the Second Amendment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Last night at this hour, we went like to Nevada to cover
Washington lobbyist for mass murderers Wayne LaPierre delivering a semi-
coherent rant against President Obama`s Second Inaugural Address.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXEC. VICE PRESIDENT: I would like to talk to you
about one line near the end of President Obama`s speech, where he said,
quote, "we cannot mistake absolutism for principle."

Let me quote the president again, "we cannot mistake absolutism for
principle."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, OK. But when I heard the president say that, gun
control did not come to mind. I thought he was talking about modern-day
Republicans, which is to say Neanderthal Republicans, who absolutely will
not raise taxes under any circumstances and absolutely oppose increasing
spending on anything, except of course when they increase spending on
things that they like.

Crazy Wayne quoted only one person to support his defense of
absolutism, a Supreme Court justice. No, not Antonin Scalia, the most
conservative member of the court, because Justice Scalia disagrees with
LaPierre on the Second Amendment. He does not believe that the right to
bear arms is absolute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: What limitations upon the
right to keep and bear arms are permissible? Some undoubtedly are, because
there were some that were acknowledged at the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No, there is nothing any current member of the Supreme
Court has said that could help crazy Wayne make his case last night. And
so he reached all the way back to a Supreme Court justice who died 41 years
ago, and was a liberal member of the Supreme Court, who if he were alive
today would be a solid vote for gun control on the Supreme Court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: Don`t take it from me. Take it from former Democratic U.S.
Senator and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Fifty years ago, after
he had been appointed to the United States Supreme Court by Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, liberal Justice Hugo Black said, and I`m going to quote him
right here for you -- he said "there are absolutes in our Bill of Rights
and they were put there on purpose by men who knew what words meant and
meant their prohibitions to be absolutes," end quote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Justice Black said that in a very long lecture about the
Bill of Rights at NYU Law School in 1960. But in that lecture where
Justice Black said there are absolutes, he very specifically said the
Second Amendment is not one of them. He pointed out that the Supreme
Court, in a unanimous decision that included his vote, had already
restricted the Second Amendment to not include the right to have a machine
gun, or a sawed off shot gun, the favorite tools of bank robbers and
gangsters at the time.

And so crazy Wayne was not standing on the legal scholarship and
wisdom of the liberal Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black last night. Hugo
Black would have been horrified to see his words manipulated by
Washington`s blood drenched lobbyist, who makes sure that when mass
murderers enter schools in the United States and movie theaters and
shopping malls, they will be able to fire as many bullets as possible
without reloading.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: We believe that if neither the criminal nor the political
class and their body guards and security people are limited by magazine
capacity, we shouldn`t be limited in our capacity either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Crazy Wayne is constantly comparing NRA members and gun
owners to criminals. He wants them to have whatever criminals have, which
must mean he wants them to have loads of cocaine right beside their loaded
guns.

When the Supreme Court ruled that it was Constitutional to outlaw
machine guns and sawed off shotguns, criminals didn`t turn in their machine
guns and sawed off shotguns. Criminals didn`t stop using their machine
guns and shotguns because they`re criminals.

Criminals don`t pay income taxes either. Does that mean NRA members
should not have to pay income taxes because criminals don`t? Crazy Wayne
doesn`t realize that the more he compares NRA members to criminals, the
more clear it becomes that he actually is Washington`s chief lobbyist for
criminals.

And his manipulation of Justice Hugo Black`s quote last night, in his
speech, to try to make it appear that Justice Black agreed with Wayne
LaPierre, in any way, that was a crime against history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: President Obama received applause 25 times during his
inaugural address. Two of those times happening during what George Takei
declared on Facebook to be the best moment of the entire speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters
are treated like anyone else under the law.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we
commit to one another must be equal, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: George Takei, what was it like to hear that passage?

TAKEI: It was extraordinary. It was deeply moving. And for my
husband, Brad, and me, it was very, very personal.

O`DONNELL: You were home watching it with Brad?

TAKEI: We were, on TV. And those words had never been uttered by a
president of the United States at an -- in an inaugural speech. And after
he said that, they cut to a shot of the mass of people gathered there on
the mall, from the Capitol to the Washington monument. And it looked like
it was shimmering, all waving the flag.

This was my America today. But the president said our journey is not
finished until. And I thought of just four years ago, when President Obama
was first elected. It was a bitter sweet election for us. For the first
time, we had an African-American president four years ago. But in that
same election in California, Proposition 8 was passed.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

TAKEI: It was a very, very bitter defeat there. Marriage equality
was wiped out from California. But this May, that is going to be up before
the United States Supreme Court, together with the challenge to DOMA, the
Defense Of Marriage Act. We have come an incredible distance in just four
years.

We are so near to getting marriage equality. And that is what this
Inaugural Speech stated.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to another passage that I know moved you
also, President Obama talking -- phrasing this in another way and putting
it in another context. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths,
that all of us are created equal, is the star that guides us still, just as
it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, just
as it guided all of those men and women, sung and unsung, who left
footprints along this great mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk
alone, to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is bound to the
freedom of every soul on Earth.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall" -- Stonewall being an
event that happened just south of us here in Manhattan. An historic moment
in the gay rights movement.

TAKEI: A seminal moment for us, seminal moment for women`s equality,
and a seminal moment for civil rights for African-Americans. And for the
LGBT community to be put in that context was a thrilling experience.

And ours is not finished yet. We still have some ways to go. But
with President Obama, it is going to happen. And the next -- I think not
four years, just this year, it is going to happen. I am very optimistic.
And we`re going to be reaching another benchmark in American history.

O`DONNELL: Abraham Lincoln said that the Constitution is organic law,
that it -- which is actual what President Obama believes, that this is an
evolving -- we have to have evolving interpretations of the document. For
him to use that phrase, that we`re all created equal, as the preamble to
then joining all three of those causes which at some point involved people
who were not considered equal I thought was a beautiful way of using this
thing that we`re all supposed to agree on, that we`re all created equal.

TAKEI: And he used the words "we together will make this happen," I
think a couple of times, that we are going to be doing it together. And as
it happened -- and I was involved in the civil rights movement when I was
in my teens and 20s. I met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was doing a play
called "Fly Black Bird" about the civil rights movement. I was a young
student activist in that musical.

And we sang at a civil rights rally where Dr. King spoke. And after
that rally, we had a private meeting with Dr. King, and I`ll never forget
that moment when I shook his hand. We are working on this all together,
whether it`s civil rights for African Americans or equality for women or
equality for the LGBT community. We as Americans.

O`DONNELL: We`re out of time. I learn something amazing about George
Takei every time. George Takei met Martin Luther King Jr.

END

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