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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, February 8th, 2013

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
February 8, 2013

Guests: Howard Dean, Hugo Lindgren, Karen Finney, Sam Stein, Ryan Grim

ALEX WAGNER, GUEST HOST: Hello. I`m Alex Wagner, in tonight for
Lawrence O`Donnell.

Republicans don`t know how to quit Grover Norquist. They`ll do
anything to avoid breaking up with him. Coming up, Chris Hayes and
Governor Howard Dean join me to talk about doomsday sequester politics.

Bubba can`t quite the election game. Today, he told Democrats what
it`s going to bring back these two little words, "Speaker Pelosi". Karen
Finney and Hugo Lindgren will here.

And from Chris Christie`s weight, to Hillary Clinton`s face, to Karl
Rove`s pathological fear of Ashley Judd, it could not have been a weirder
week for politics.

All this is coming up.

But, first, an update on the storm hitting the Northeast.

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right. Alex, thanks to you. I`m
Craig Melvin.

Here is the very latest on that winter storm. New York Transit
Authority has just suspended the Metro North Rail System that goes into
northern suburbs and Connecticut. There are states of emergency now in
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode island and New York, with limited state
of emergency in Maine as well.

Both Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Connecticut Governor Dan
Malloy have both issued travel bans this afternoon for all nonessential
vehicles. Nearly 5,000 flights have been canceled so far. Amtrak
suspended northbound service out of New York`s Penn Station earlier
tonight.

And this was Governor Chris Christie earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The overall safety issue here is
always an obvious one, stay home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELVIN: Let`s go straight to MSNBC meteorologist to Bill Karins with
the latest on this thing.

Bill, what can you tell us?

BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: We`re halfway through with our
blizzard. That we know for sure. Some areas are fairing a little better.
Some are doing as bad as we thought they would, with historic proportions
possible. Rhode Island, up towards the Boston area.

Let me show you the wind gusts. Now, we`re cutting it to the peak
winds of this storm. New Haven, north wind at 47. That`s not even off the
water. That`s impressive. We`ve had gusts from 50 to 60 miles per hour,
all of eastern Mass and Rhode Island as we`ve gone throughout the last two
to three hours. We have about 50,000 to 100,000 people without power
estimated right now, especially in eastern New England.

The white on the map shows you where the snow is. The heaviest snow
band right up through the center of Connecticut. Already reports of 12 to
14 inches widespread throughout the state of Connecticut. Even Rhode
Island now reporting over a foot. So, we`re well on our way to getting our
two foot totals.

If you look down to the bottom of the screen there, you notice New
York City and Jersey didn`t have a lot of snow over the next couple of
hours. Now, it`s starting to fill in a little bit. It`s a little too
late.

This storm is actually moving very quickly. Look at it on satellite
imagery. You can see it just to the south. It`s even past Cape Cod now.

So, for New York City, you have two to four inches on the ground.
I`ve lowered your snow totals. You`re only going to get another two to
three by the time it`s all said and done.

So, New York City it`s a tough forecast from the start. But I guess
if there`s one spot that would be considered a bust. Maybe that would be
it.

As far as forecast overnight tonight, the heaviest snow shifts, up
over Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, coastal Maine. We`ll be
ending the snow in the overnight hours, much of the upstate of New York,
Adirondacks, the Catskills, down to the Poconos and also New Jersey.

The winds will still howl. So, we still have blowing snow out there.
But the heavy accumulating snows will be ending during the overnight hours.
If anything, the storm is moving a little faster than expected. So, a lot
of us will actually wake up with no snow falling from the sky Saturday
morning.

So, the storm total forecast, New York City at six to 10, down to
about four to eight. I still think we have a shot of getting 18 or so
around Hartford. Boston, so far in the ground, somewhere between six to 10
inches. You still have a shot of getting up to 24 or 30, or may have to
lower that a little bit. But you still have a good chance at a two foot
snow storm.

Portland, you got six inches this morning, on top of what you`re
getting now. So, I think you`re going to end up getting your 18 to 20
foot. So, the bottom line is we have a crippling blizzard that`s shut down
all transportation throughout southern New England, Craig. And, you know,
the coastal areas are still seeing the brunt of it until morning.

MELVIN: All right. Bill Karins there with the very latest on what
we`re seeing now and what we will see throughout the night.

I want to bring in Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel now who
is live on the ground in Revere, Massachusetts.

Mike, what`s the scene there?

MIKE SEIDEL, WEATHER CHANNEL: Hey, Craig. This evening, we`re still
checking the brunt of this blizzard. We`ve had wind gusts nearby Logan
Airport, 60 miles an hour. To the south and east of here toward the Cape,
we`ve had gusts to hurricane forces, 74. Nantucket, 69.

It`s these east and north facing beaches that we`re concerned with
tonight and tomorrow with extreme beach erosion, high tide right now.
That`s going to go out, come back in. The worst of the high tides will be
the next one, Saturday morning around 9:30 or 10:00, we`re going to have
surge issues. Also, big breakers as high as 20 footers hitting these
beaches south of here. They`re unprotected like Sedgwick where police have
asked those in beach front homes to get to higher ground and evacuate that
town, no stranger to flooding.

And power companies saying that if power goes out, it could be out for
at least three days. Speaking of that, the two major power companies in
Massachusetts, End Star and National Grid now reporting 143,000 customers
without power. That number has tripled in the past 90 minutes. That will
likely go up with these wind gusts over 60 miles an hour. That`s taking
trees and limbs down over power lines.

The wind is beginning to shift a little bit, more of an east, now an
east-northeasterly wind, blowing the snow sideways. The seawall is keeping
the water out of the street here on Revere Beach Boulevard. Again, we`ve
got a long way to go, already measuring two-foot drifts as the snow
continues to come down. We get these winds up over 60 miles an hour.
We`ll likely have five, six-foot drifts before this wraps up later on
Saturday morning.

So, a big storm. Already tomorrow they`ve canceled at least 240
flights at Logan Airport, another tough day to fly out of the Northeast.
Although things will ramp back up, I think, in short to full service
certainly by Sunday midday.

Craig, that`s the latest from Revere Beach. We`ll be hunkered here
all night and updating you from the Weather Channel. Back to you.

CALVIN: All right. Mike Seidel there braving the elements for us.
Mike, I do appreciate that. Stay safe, good sir.

All right. I`m Craig Melvin.

When we come back, Alex Wagner is in for Lawrence O`Donnell on this
Friday night. She`s going to show you why Democrats believe they might be
able to take back the House from Republicans.

Plus, Howard Dean and Chris Hayes will be on THE LAST WORD, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: I`m Alex Wagner in for Lawrence O`Donnell. We`ve got much
more of OLAT WORD on the way.

Coming up, guess who is scarier to Republicans in Congress, al Qaeda
or Grover Norquist? Here`s a hint: they`ll only cross one of them. The
politics of what Republicans are now calling Obama-quester is next.

Bill Clinton gets frank with the Democratic Party about 2014
expectations.

And Karl Rove is going on FOX News to reveal just how scared Ashley
Judd really makes him. Rove versus Judd continues. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: Put away your fiscal cliff buttons and debt ceiling foam
fingers -- it`s time for your doomsday sequester. Or as John Boehner likes
to tweet it, "#Obamaquester.":

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Democrats are again plotting strategy
today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Goodbye fiscal cliff and debt ceiling.

JANSING: Both sides are digging in for the next Washington crisis.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: It is still the economy.

JANSING: The sequester.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The doomsday machine.

JANSING: Eighty-five billion dollars in cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s getting cut? The Pentagon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re only a few weeks away from this.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It doesn`t make any political sense.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Spending cuts will be so awful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be brutal for everybody.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Devastating effects on the economy.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Pushes us into a second recession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something so terrible.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: All right. Settle down.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They recognize that the
sequester is a bad idea.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don`t like the
sequester.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (R), CALIFORNIA: We see the Republicans playing
games.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is the wrong time for
sequestration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody really wants it to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re going to probably hold up for something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But both sides are sort of OK with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doing nothing is easier than doing something.

JANSING: Republicans say cuts but no taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These cuts cost job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don`t even want to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy will go down.

HAYES: Who are the monsters who came up with the sequestration idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess what? They all support it.

STEWART: Congress put it into place to force themselves to agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dumbest blame game in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WAGNER: It`s time for another round of Republican would-you-rather.
We`ll call this the sequester edition.

Today`s question, would you rather go up against al Qaeda or Grover
Norquist? Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says al Qaeda would love the
defense cuts in the sequester to take effect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Our enemies would love this
to happen. I`m sure Iran is very supportive of sequestration. I`m sure al
Qaeda training camps all over the world would be pleased with the fact that
sequestration would gut the CIA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Republican Armed Services ranking member Jim Inhofe agrees
the defense cuts would be dire, but not as dire as breaking the pledge to
Grover Norquist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK), ARMED SERVICES CMTE. RANKING MEMBER: It`s in
the desperate enough that you can start raising taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: And so, the obstacle to the Republicans reaching an agreement
to avoid the sequestered cuts schedule to take effect in less than three
weeks. It`s same as it ever was, their absolute refusal to agreeing to
even a dollar of new tax revenue. But Republicans that this time, they can
shift the blame for the sequester to President Obama.

Today, Speaker Boehner`s office was sending around conservative
Charles Krauthammer`s column entitled "Call Obama Sequester Bluff."
Krauthammer says Republicans should continue to refuse to make any
concessions or compromise with the White House. He even wrote a script for
them. "We are quite prepared to cut elsewhere but we already raised taxes
last month. If the president wants to avoid the sequester, as we do, he
must offer a substitute set of cuts. Otherwise, Mr. President, there is
nothing to discuss. Your sequester, Republicans need to reiterate the
sequester was the president`s idea in the first place, will go ahead."

The sequester was the president`s idea? That`s what the Republicans
want you to believe.

The speaker`s office has even created the #Obamaquester.

But let`s travel back in time to the great ceiling debt debacle of
2011. Here is what President Obama was demanding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: At minimum, we`ve got to raise the debt ceiling. So, that`s
the bare minimum that has to be achieved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Here is what John Boehner and the Republicans in the House
were demanding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: The House cannot pass a bill that raises taxes on job
creators. The House could only pass a debt limit bill that includes
spending cuts larger than the hike in the debt limit as well as real
restraints on future spending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: And here is what John Boehner said when the final bill was
signed into law with the dreaded sequester.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: When you look at this final agreement that we came to with
the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I`m pretty happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: To his credit, that`s how Republicans Lindsey Graham
remembers it as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: As John will say it with straight talk, we have our
fingerprints as Republicans on this proposal, on this sequestration idea.
It was the president`s idea, according to bob Woodward`s book, but we as
the Republican Party agreed to it. We got in this mess together and we`re
going to have to get out together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Joining me now are: Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and
former DNC chairman, and Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH CHRIS
HAYES."

Gentlemen, thank you both for joining me.

Governor, YouTube is an amazing thing, is it not? Lest we forget
Republicans have their fingerprints all over the sequester.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, here`s the problem. This is
so bad for the Republican Party because they look like such pathetic
whiners and wimps. Lindsey Graham is complaining about al Qaeda. He voted
for the damn thing, right? Now he`s trying to give somebody else
responsibility. That is not leadership. What leadership is saying, "I
take the responsibility because I did this". So, at the end he doesn`t
look too bad. OK, we`ve got to get out of this together.

But they are whining and moaning and weeping, oh, this is someone
else`s idea.

It`s not going to fly with the American people.

WAGNER: Yes, it`s a real underestimation of the American public in
our collective memory.

DEAN: It is.

WAGNER: I will say Lindsey -- it passed the Senate, 74-26. Graham
and Inhofe actually voted no. However, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and John
Boehner and who many would say the Republican leadership voted for the
sequester -- Chris.

HAYES: I mean, the fundamental problem here is that the approach has
been to figure out a way to bind future versions of the themselves, right?
It`s past Lindsey Graham is trying to say the future Lindsey Graham -- I
want to make sure you do the right thing, future Lindsey Graham, and to do
that I`m going to put this bind around you in the future.

But you can always just vote how you`re going to vote in the future,
right? I mean, I`ve seen this with people who tried to quit smoking or
quit drinking, right? Coming up with --

WAGNER: Like padlocking their refrigerator door.

HAYES: It`s exactly like that, padlocking the refrigerator door. And
then you go out to the corner bar. Or it`s like buying a pack of
cigarettes and throwing out the pack and smoke one cigarette. But then you
just go and buy another pack, right?

They keep trying to bind their future behavior. But the problem is
that they had the exact same political incentives in every single moment.
So, no amount of the previous binding ever seems to function.

DEAN: What that is, is terrible leadership in the Congress. I mean,
they didn`t use to do this. The reason they do it now is because there`s
no leadership.

Boehner`s problem is not the fact that he`s a terrible speaker. I
actually don`t think he is. His problem is he will not stand up to the
radical right wing of his party.

WAGNER: Well, and he has to create these hostage-like situations to
get people in line.

DEAN: Exactly. And lately it`s gotten worse for him, because now,
you can`t pass anything without majority of Democratic votes. If that
keeps on, he will not be speaker this time next year.

HAYES: And that`s the big question, right, which is that whether he
just does what he just did in the lame duck, which is basically throw out
the so-called Hastert Rule because he can get something tomorrow to the
floor that will pass the House. It will just pass with a majority of
Democratic votes and a minority of Republicans.

WAGNER: And basically hand the power to Nancy Pelosi.

HAYES: Again. That has been the precedent, right.

WAGNER: Governor, a lot of talk -- there`s been a lot of talk about
defense cuts, which certainly are half of the sequester. But there are
other programs that are being cut. We`re talking about a 9.4 percent cut
to emergency unemployment benefits, as many as 600,000 women and children
lose food aid, 10,000 teachers fired.

Now, here, the Republicans are trying to emerge from the rock of being
unsympathetic to the working poor, the middle class. And then, you have
these sequester cuts take place that undermines any argument.

DEAN: I depart from Democratic orthodoxy in this one. I so badly
want to cut all the fat out of the Pentagon that I`m willing to do this.
It`s terrible. I hope we can restore some of the things.

A lot of the cuts, for example, the 2 percent Medicaid cuts don`t have
any effect on patient care whatsoever. So, it is true that there are some
bad cuts in there from a Democratic point of view. We are never again
going to get a chance to cut the Pentagon back from where it`s been.

Pentagon hasn`t had any significant cuts for 30 years. And a lot of
money that`s going to be cut is money that was not asked for but the
Pentagon was put in by bloated Congress people who wanted to do stuff for
people in their district. We have got to cut defense spending in this
country.

I`m a fairly hawkish on defense, but this is an enterprise that hasn`t
been touched for 30 years and this may be our only chance.

WAGNER: Well, that`s interesting sort of where the two sides come
together, which is to say members of the progressive left think this is the
only time we`re going to get these defense cuts and deficit hawks,
conservatives, Tea Partiers are putting moderate Republicans in a bind
saying, hey, look, this is cutting our debt, this is cutting our deficit.
Let`s go for it.

HAYES: But let me say, the grand irony, of course, is the fact that
the number -- if you poll people their number one issue is jobs, right? It
continues to be jobs. And $120 billion austerity crunch, the numbers being
bantered around, in exchange for the sequester. Sequester itself looks
like $85 billion.

Whatever it is, right, that`s a big chunk. That`s going to have an
effect. That will have a negative jobs effect, no question.

DEAN: It`s going to -- Chris, I agree with you. It is going to have
an effect. And Paul Krugman has been writing about this extensively.

The problem -- here is what I think. I think it is a risk. There
will probably be a small recession. We had a 0.1 decrease in GDP last
time.

This deficit is a real problem. This is where I depart from Paul.
Who am I to depart from Paul Krugman? He`s a Nobel laureate.

HAYES: Right. We`ll ask him about it.

DEAN: It is a problem. We had to deal with it. This is about the
best deal we`ll get out of the right-winged crazy people in the House.

HAYES: Because it`s so balanced. Because it doesn`t touch --

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: It doesn`t really touch -- there`s no better deal that
progressives are going to get out of this other than going over the cliff.

HAYES: I am -- I think I`m so worried about austerity and so invested
right now --

DEAN: Europeans did it wrong. But we had throw years of recovery
relative to Europe. I think if we`re ever going to take the hit, this is a
better time to take it. If this were three years ago, I would be arguing
right with you. I think we can take a chance.

When are we going to get the chance to take these cuts in the
Pentagon? When are we going to get a chance to get a chance to take a bite
out of the deficit? I think it`s worth it.

HAYES: John Boehner is now tweeting Dean-quester.

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: Well, if he`d stop blaming someone else other than himself and
man up and take some responsibility, we might actually --

WAGNER: Me-quester doesn`t have the same ring to it.

Chris Hayes, you have Paul Krugman on your show this weekend. I`m
sure he will have much explaining to do about the kicking the can down the
proverbial road.

Howard Dean and Chris Hayes, thank you both for joining us.

DEAN: Thanks, Alex.

WAGNER: Coming up, Dick Morris refuses to bow out gracefully. The
ousted FOX News contributor now says he`s on a mission for the Republican
Party.

Bill Clinton dishes advice to Democrats, looking to take back the
House. What is his winning plan?

And Karl Rove is still really scared about his Senate seat in
Kentucky. What Bush`s brain is planning to do to stop an Obama-following,
radical Hollywood liberal who hasn`t even said she`s running. Karl Rove
versus Ashley Judd, round two is coming up.

And why can`t we be friends? Please. Please, America, like THE LAST
WORD on Facebook. Please?


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: Malala Yousafzai, who survived an attack by the Taliban last
October, is now out of the hospital and in her home in Birmingham, England.
She will remain in the U.K. for rehabilitation and likely for sometime
beyond that. Her father now works for Pakistan`s consulate in Birmingham.

Earlier this week, members of the Norwegian parliament announced
they`ve nominated the 15-year-od for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Coming up, Bill Clinton gives a pep talk and a reality check to
Democrats

Also this week in politics, the possible Senate run of Ashley Judd,
who does her own stunts in movies. Karl Rove has revealed that he is very,
very afraid of a Judd candidacy, despite the fact that Ashley Judd has not
even entered the race. It`s just one of the really odd political stories
this week, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: So how bad does President Obama want to govern with the
Democratic majority in the House of Representatives? The president has
already agreed to headline at least eight fund-raisers for House Democrats
ahead of the 2014 election. And today, we learned that he has agreed to
personally help with candidate recruitment.

"Roll Call" reports that Obama`s agreement to help DCCC chairman Steve
Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates is targeted
districts is significant. "It`s transformational," Israel said in an
interview, adding that "House Democrats are firing on all cylinders like
I`ve never seen before." The president`s efforts to assist House Democrats
politically are more than Israel initially even asked for.

Here is the current balance of power in the House of Representatives.
Democrats must win at least 17 seats to retake the majority.

Today, House Democrats gathered at their annual retreat in Virginia
where they received this advice from Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republicans
are going to try very hard not to make it as easy for you to win by a
negative reference. That is, there were some places where we won because
people saw what they wanted to do and they didn`t like it, and all of you
sounded better. We now are going to have to have an affirmative agenda for
jobs and innovation. I was glad to see that was in the headlines of this.
You`ve got to do it.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Clinton also advised Democrats on how to campaign on guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I think we ought to stay with this issue, but you can do it
in a way that recognizes that there are people out there that aren`t
supposed to be part of our demographic. They`re thinking about this, too.
They`re not making a living as part of a Washington lobby group.

They were sick when those children were killed. I guarantee you what
a lot of people where I grew up were asking themselves the following
practical question: if that young man had had to load three times as often
as he did, would all those children have been killed?

So turn into this. Treat these people as our friends, our neighbors,
people we share our country with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: While Democrats are receiving advice from the most popular
politician in America, Republicans will receive advice from the most
misguided political pundit in America. Before his dismissal from Fox News,
Dick Morris predicted that Republicans would take the White House and
Senate. And today he tells the "National Review," "I`m trying to explore
ways in which the Republican party can make itself viable nationally. Now
I`m kind of a man with a mission. I showed Democrats how to move to the
center. Now I want to help do the same thing with the Republican party.
I`ve got a pretty good track record of getting presidents and senators and
governors elected. And I think that gives me credibility to talk to my
fellow Republicans."

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Karen Finney and Hugo Lindgren, editor of the
"New York Times Magazine."

Karen, let me go to you first on this. I think there are many
Democrats that would say, Dick Norris, please, go ahead, give all the
advice you want. At the end of the day, it`s a really interesting dynamic
in the House, which is Democrats actually have some power here to pass
legislation.

KAREN FINNEY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. That`s exactly right. I
mean, even in the last session, we know that a majority of the things that
actually got done got done because Nancy Pelosi helped make sure it
happened. I mean, those -- the reality is John Boehner is very ham strung
here. He does not have a lot of power in terms of his own caucus. He does
rely on Pelosi and the Democrats to get some things done.

So part of what that means, though, is that gives Democrats leverage
going into this legislative session. And we`re already in a position where
somehow the Republicans missed the whole huge, glaring, neon sign of a
message coming out of the last election, and thank they can -- Boehner, you
heard him. It`s the same talking points that they`ve already lost on.

So I think Democrats are in a much better, stronger position than we
have been in a very long time.

WAGNER: Hugo, it`s important to always heed the words of Bill Clinton
if you`re a Democratic strategist. And I thought it was interesting that
he did caution the House Democrats not to get too comfortable playing the
crazy card vis-a-vis Republicans, and saying that we need to have an
affirmative vision out there. It can`t just be we`re the better
alternative.

HUGO LINDGREN, "NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE": Yes, the affirmative
vision, and also you saw the real Clinton gift, which is sort of channeling
people`s emotions into like sort of political -- political action. I think
that`s something that he was obviously very effective at and is a model.

But it`s not just a model for the Democrats. I was seeing that
Clinton was speaking at the Democratic retreat, and I was like, maybe he
should have been at the Republican retreat.

WAGNER: If they knew what was good for them, he would be.

LINDGREN: Wouldn`t that have made some news? I don`t know, maybe he
would have probably charged a lot for that one.

WAGNER: Deficit hawks they are. Karen, I want to play a little bit
more sound bite from Bill Clinton`s advice to Democrats. This specifically
is his advice over immigration and demographics and sort of leave no stone
unturned.

FINNEY: Right.

WAGNER: Let`s take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: If you`re going to stir up a storm over health care, over
immigration, you have to turn into them not away from them. You cannot
assume that people -- that you look at and say that`s not my demographic.
We have nothing to say to them. They have nothing to say to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: That`s sort of part and parcel with his advice on how to talk
about guns, which is to say there may be cultural difference, but you can`t
dismiss parts of the country. You can`t dismiss people that you think
aren`t in your demographic.

FINNEY: That was part of the president`s gift when he ran for
president, coming from a very red state. But also it`s something that
Democrats have been working on, frankly, since I was at the DNC in 2005.
And that is we know -- polls show that a majority of Americans agree with
us on the issues. We actually sincerely have a challenge in how we talk
about issues.

The Republicans think that was their message, but it`s actually not.
And I think it`s not going to work. So I think what President Clinton was
talking about is exactly right. Don`t assume that we have nothing to say
because we haven`t necessarily talked to a particular group before.
Because actually, again, we`re at a unique moment where we know people
actually agree with us. So now is the perfect time to engage in the
conversation.

And let`s engage in the conversation in a way that doesn`t create more
barriers. And I think that`s really the message that Democrats are trying
to work on, and I think took away from the president -- President Clinton`s
message.

WAGNER: And to some degree, that`s quite heartening, right, Hugo? I
mean, they are in a position of strength and unity, to some degree, and to
say look, let`s not squander this opportunity. Let`s think wholesale about
where we are as a party. Conversely, the Republicans are operating from a
weakened position.

And I can`t get over these quotes. Whenever a Republican leader comes
out and says, we`ve got to change the direction in which we are heading,
there is never any real concession to substantive policy changes. I will
quote Bobby Jindal, who said "I don`t think it`s just a marketing change.
I don`t think it`s just cosmetic changes. It`s going to require some
serious changes, not in principles, but in the way we talk and act."

So basically, it`s not cosmetic, but actually, at the end of the day,
it is cosmetic.

LINDGREN: Well, it is for now. But I think you`re going to see an
evolution of some kind in the Republican party, not maybe through all
aspects of it. But there is going to be opportunities for new leadership
in among the Republicans. It will be interesting to see how that develops
over the next many months.

FINNEY: But --

(CROSS TALK)

WAGNER: Karen?

FINNEY: I was going to say, part of the challenge that the Republican
party has right now, particularly in these gerrymandered districts, there
is an element of sort of chickens coming home to roost, right, because they
have so focused on this narrow -- increasingly narrow part of their base,
right, that that`s who they rely on, that as they try to expand their
message and expand their tent, it`s going to be a challenge to hold on to
that far right.

LINDGREN: But there`s a challenge for the Democrats, too, which is
they are feeling pretty cocky right now. And they really think -- they
have to have some legislative success. They literally have to put points
on the board. I think it`s great to talk about this. It`s nice to have
Clinton show up at your retreat and give you that sage-like advice of the
ages. But you got to --

WAGNER: Follow it.

LINDGREN: But they`ve got to pass genuine gun control.

WAGNER: Right.

LINDGREN: Gun control is going to be a long-term issue for the
Democrats. They can`t think it`s not going to get done in one bill. It`s
a long-term thing. They`ve got to get ready for that. They`ve got to set
it and really go to work.

WAGNER: In other words, heed the advice of Bill Clinton or else.
Karen Finney and Hugo Lindgren, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Coming up, from Fallon to Letterman, politics was just what the
comedians ordered. The best of the week is ahead.

Up next, it`s week one of retirement for now and she`s still voted
most popular.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: It was hard to turn on a TV this week and not find someone
talking about New Jersey Republican Governor and possible 2016 candidate
Chris Christie. The bad news for Governor Christie, people weren`t talking
about his politics. They were talking about his weight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": I`ve made jokes about you, not just
one or two, not just ongoing, here or there, intermittent, but --

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I do have a couple that you did
that I actually are -- are some of my personal favorites. Celebrity
birthday today, Chris Christie turned 50. He blew out the candles on his
cake and he wished for another cake.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": I have done many fat Christie jokes. So
governor, come on our show.

CHRISTIE: I`m making the best effort I can. And sometimes I`m
successful and other times I`m not.

BEHAR: I`ve got hundreds more that you can read.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": And we have a better chair for you.

CHRISTIE: My doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run
out relatively soon. Believe me, it`s something that I`m very conscious
of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, it`s happened for politicians going back
decades and decades and decades. Bill Clinton used to get made fun of on
"Saturday Night Live" about his weight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, are you going to finish these fries?

CHRISTIE: In terms of people in the state being concerned about
whether or not it prevents me from being able to do my job effectively, I
think they`ve seen the results of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s that word again, heavy. Why are things so
heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth`s gravitational
pull?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: But the size issue doesn`t seem to be weighing Christie down.
The latest poll from New Jersey shows his approval rating at a whopping 70
percent. Among Democrats, it`s a robust 59 percent; 88 percent among
Republicans; and 71 percent with independents. The economy could become a
liability, with unemployment in the state still at 9.6 percent. Voters are
split 45/46 when it comes to approving how Governor Christie is handling
the economy.

In the meantime, Christie is getting bipartisan support. Responding
to Bill Clinton`s White House doctor Connie Mariano, who said she is
worried Christie could die in office, David Axelrod Tweeted, "when I weigh
all the facts, I have to side with Christie over the former White House
doctor. Leave the poor guy alone."

As for the doctor, she says Christie called her this week after saying
she should shut up at a press conference, and things got even worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was essentially the tone of the press
conference, but louder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he yelled at you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It was hard to get anything across, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He pretty much yelled the whole time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Joining me now to talk about this and the other weirdest
political headlines of the week, the Laverne & Shirley of the "Huffington
Post," Ryan Grim and Sam Stein.

It is always a good evening when we can close it out, almost, with the
two of you. Gentlemen, thanks for joining me.

SAM STEIN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Thanks. This is a pleasure to be
here on Friday night.

RYAN GRIM, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Thank God it`s Friday.

WAGNER: After four days of talking about his weight, your thinking on
Governor Christie is, has he come out ahead of this issue? Has he
neutralized it in advance of any possible 2016 run?

GRIM: I think Sam wants to weigh in on this one.

STEIN: Yes, I desperately want to weigh in on this one. I think he`s
neutral. He sort of got this image of like the every man, you know,
governor who has to struggle with his weight problems, much like the rest
of the country. That being said, it`s totally legit to me that we`re --
we`re focusing on his weight issues, because, you know, if we`re going to
elect these people, we should check the most rudimentary thing, which is
are they in good physical health.

GRIM: My favorite part was that he told the doctor that he was upset
with her because she was trying to seize the spotlight by saying something
outrageous. This is Chris Christie, upset with somebody --

(CROSS TALK)

GRIM: Just to get himself on national TV. Cannot believe she would
do that. Outrageous!

WAGNER: Can we talk about the political calculus of calling a former
White House doctor and yelling at her on the telephone? Someone who is a
Republican at that.

STEIN: Yeah. It`s weird, right? She`s trying to probably make more
of a public policy point than he is by this, by pointing out that obesity
is a major problem and that we should be concerned about it. And that, you
know, you should take steps to deal with it prior to it becoming a major
problem.

So I do think, you know, it was worthwhile for her to say something.
Maybe she said it in the wrong way. And maybe being public about it, she
probably could have sent a private communique there. I don`t think calling
her up and berating her is probably the best way to go.

GRIM: He should watch out for catching the Sarah Palin political
disease, which is Palin kept doing crazy things and it kept working for
her. She kept breaking all the political rules.

STEIN: Oh, yeah.

GRIM: It worked and it worked and it worked. So she said, well,
there must be no political rules. I`m going to keep following my
instincts. Where did her instincts lead her?

STEIN: Yes. You do something so much, so often that you begin to
think that it`s infallible and suddenly blows up in your face.

GRIM: Keep thinking, is all we`re saying.

WAGNER: Taking cues from Sarah Palin, not advisable. >

Sticking with political controversies of the cosmetic variety, here is
how things played out for Hillary Clinton this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Fox News suddenly became fascinated
with Hillary Clinton`s latest look.

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Is the face of presidential ambition?
Days after retiring as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, somebody has
launched a new website for her, showing off this glamorous new face. Face
lift perhaps?

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Face lift?

DOOCY: Well, that`s fueling rumors about a run.

SHARPTON: Really?

DOOCY: For president in 2016, but her aides say it`s simply a way for
fans and the media to reach her.

O`DONNELL: Two hours after that comment, Fox`s Steve Doocy Tweeted
"saw some lefty blogs thought I said Hillary had a facelift. Nope. I was
saying the Hillary had a new pic, a facelift for sight.

SHARPTON: Face lift for the sight, really?

O`DONNELL: What you saw there was just kind of a little
Photoshopping. I believe my head shot has been touched up, at my
instruction.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: I want to say a website is just a website.
But if you click on the contact button, look at all the information they
want from you, your e-mail, your -- a way to get back to you, contact
information. Something tells me that data is not just going to go away and
they`re going to throw it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Hillary`s political future is looking quite good. She is
America`s favorite politician of those polled, with a 61 percent
favorability rating. That is 91 percent with Democrats and 59 percent with
independents. Clinton out ranked the president and the vice president, as
well as her replacement, Secretary of State John Kerry.

Paul Ryan is the first Republican in the rankings, then Marco Rubio,
Jeb Bush and Speaker Boehner. Is the face lift remark a taste of things to
come if Hillary runs in 2016, Ryan Grim?

GRIM: Lefty blogs might be a little bit upset at Steve Doocy. But
I`ve seen some other things on lefty blogs. And I have heard that Steve
Doocy actually has calf implants. Now, I don`t have any evidence to back
that up whatsoever.

STEIN: No.

GRIM: But, you know, just put a question mark at that. Can we put a
question mark at the end of that?

STEIN: By calf implants, you`re referring to, of course, his own
personal blog being implanted --

GRIM: Sam actually thought about getting calf implants because we`re
on a basketball team together.

WAGNER: That`s why he only does television from the waist up.

STEIN: Exactly.

(CROSS TALK)

WAGNER: There is a nugget of probably something actually worth
discussing here, which is our national obsession with Hillary Clinton and
also the way women are scrutinized in the public lens.

STEIN: Oh, totally. Totally.

WAGNER: And Hillary, in particular, is an incredible sort of sign
post for what we`ll call the male gaze, given the scrutiny of the way she
looks in a ponytail or Blackberrying or whatever it is.

STEIN: Yes, and it`s remarkable how often it always comes back to
Hillary. I mean, we`ve been having these same type of slip-ups from
usually male commentators for like two decades now. It`s always revolving
around her. I think part of what makes her such an appealing politician is
her ability to sort of withstand and brush this off.

And you know, I think if she were to consider 2016, stuff like what
Steve Doocy says only makes her a stronger, more appealing politician,
because people sympathize. Just like people sympathize with criticisms of
Chris Christie`s weight, people sympathize with how Hillary is put under a
microscope because of her looks.

You don`t want to see people go through that.

GRIM: And the Steve Doocy camp is probably sympathizing with him
right now. There are rumors out there about the calf implants.

The sad thing is that Joe Biden could probably go out and get a face
lift, an actual one, and Fox would not put --

STEIN: They wouldn`t care.

WAGNER: One thing is for sure, this is not the last time we
scrutinize Hillary Clinton`s looks. OK. Moving on to the most absurd
political battle this week, Tea Party versus Karl Rove versus -- wait for
it -- Ashley Judd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone who will never forget where she came from.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: And it just clicked. Tennessee is home.

And it just clicked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kentucky.

JUDD: -- is home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ashley Judd, an Obama-following radical Hollywood
liberal who is right at home here in Tennessee. I mean Kentucky.

WAGNER: Who could possibly be afraid of Ashley Judd? It turns out
Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell are really, really afraid of Ashley Judd.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is Karl Rove right that you have to be
gate keepers? Not you because you`re not in the position, but people who
are like party chairs, fund-raisers?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Of course they are. But I don`t know
that Karl Rove, after his performance in 2012, should be the gate keeper.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: If people -- some people think the
best we can do is Todd Mourdock -- excuse me, Todd Akin and Richard
Mourdock, they`re wrong.

WAGNER: Karl Rove is busy trying to stop crazy Republicans from
running for Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you made some mistakes but everybody makes
mistakes.

WAGNER: But he`s already actually spending money, trying to stop one
Democrat from running for Senate.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Poor Ashley Judd. Come on now.
You`re calling her -- making fun of her.

ROVE: This is the opening act. She has said a bunch of stuff that
the people of Kentucky, when they hear about it, are not going to like it.

We want her to explain these radical views that she`s got. And in the
weeks and months ahead, we`re going to continue to introduce those radical
views to the people of Kentucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Sam and Ryan, we have but a moment left, but is this actually
happening? Is Bush`s brain actually shaken by the woman who played Reed
Halsey (ph) in the television show "Sisters"? Is this actually happening?

STEIN: Where did you play that from?

WAGNER: From my mind cave.

STEIN: It seems like weird and unseemly a little bit. You kind of
sensed in O`Reilly`s voice that he was like, dude, tone it down a little
bit. You`re coming off a little dorky. I guess they`re very fearful.
Mitch McConnell isn`t in a like really good political position right now.
His poll numbers are terrible. And it does I guess suggests that people
view her as a viable alternative.

WAGNER: Ryan, she hasn`t even announced yet.

GRIM: Either they`re afraid of her or there`s this other weird thing
that goes on in politics, which is you have one random rich donor who is
willing to fund only one particular project that he or she is into. And
maybe there`s somebody out there that just despises Ashley Judd.

STEIN: Just hated her forever.

GRIM: For decades, yes.

WAGNER: Could it be Swoozy Kurtz (ph), former "Sisters" star? I`m
kidding. No disrespect to --

(CROSS TALK)

STEIN: Could be another Hollywood star that doesn`t like her.

WAGNER: Sam Stein and Ryan Grimm, the Crocket and Tubbs of the
"Huffington Post," thank you so much for joining me this evening.

Coming up, the late-night comedians get THE LAST WORD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: The ultimate mudslide on the face of a Fox News contributor,
more Mitt Romney jokes, warnings about wardrobe malfunctions, and Bill
Clinton`s Grammy nomination. It was a good week for the late-night comedy
writers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Three presidents have won Grammies. Did you know that?

JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Pro, President Bill Clinton
is nominated for best spoken word. Con, it`s for his reading of "Fifty
Shades of Gray." I love nipple clamps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please avoid exposing bear fleshy under curves of
the buttocks and buttock crack. And please avoid sheer, see-through
clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples.

I guess we know now not to watch the Grammies. It sounds like no fun
at all.

LETTERMAN: You know who enjoys fashion week? Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?

LETTERMAN: Yep. Likes to get in there and get a look at the new pant
suits.

FALLON: Spank me.

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOW: Today, the Postal Service
announced that it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays. Postal workers
were shocked. They were like, we were supposed to deliver mail on
Saturdays?

JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": The Justice Department has concluded
that the president can order drone strikes on American citizens. Today,
Rush Limbaugh came out in favor of Obamacare. Said it`s the greatest thing
since sliced bread.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": These are not the drones you`re
looking for.

LETTERMAN: Actual footage, President Obama skeet shooting at the
White House. Look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull.

FALLON: The White House released President Obama skeet shooting, but
nobody bothered to find out what he`s actually shooting at. We have it.
Take a look.

Mitt Romney`s son, Tag -- Tag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re it.

FALLON: He is denying reports that he will run for Senate this year.
He is saying the timing isn`t right, just like when his dad tries to clap
along to a song.

LENO: Shirts that said 49Ers Super Bowl champions, those are donated
to countries in Africa and South America. No, no, they are, which is good
news because those people are really getting tired of wearing those
President Romney t-shirts. You know, those are --

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": What is your name?

KIMMEL: Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is in talks to
become a contributor on Fox News. First they have to check his background
and test his knowledge of current events. And if he fails, he`ll start
Monday.

LETTERMAN: In the last two months, they have fired Sarah Palin,
former part-time governor of Alaska, and Dick Morris, well-known political
pundit. Fired both of them, Fox News. Well, great. Two more jobs lost
under Obama. Thanks a lot.

DICK MORRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I`ve been in a bit of a mudslide
on my face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: The late night comedy writers get THE LAST WORD. "THE ED
SHOW" is up next.

END

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