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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
February 20, 2013

Guests: Maria Hinojosa, Elizabeth Colbert Busch


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: John Boehner now claims he had nothing to
do with the dreaded sequester, even though he voted for it. Even some
Republicans are not letting him get away with that little fib.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repetition, is it the mother of all yearning as
spending cuts loom.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans in Congress
face a simple choice: are they willing to compromise?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Finger pointing, furloughs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Insults, accusations.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: We`re still knee-deep in the blame game.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The sequester was the
president`s idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who devise this idea?

BOEHNER: I made it perfectly clear that the sequester, I don`t like
it.

TODD: Boehner boasted in the past.

BOEHNER: I got 98 percent of what I wanted.

TODD: That the sequester was leverage to extract entitlement cuts.

BOEHNER: I got 98 percent of what I wanted, I`m pretty happy.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: The clock is ticking.

OBAMA: Congress has to act.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Congress is out this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re taking this week off.

CARNEY: Which says something, I suppose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This all began in 2011.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Boehner pushed it through the House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both sides did agree to the sequester.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very dumb thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just stupid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way it`s structured is moronic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to hear the most annoying sound in the
world?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like a situation of dumb and dumber.

(SCREAMING)

TODD: Moving on.

JANSING: Things are still moving forward on immigration.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Such a heavy lift for lawmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John McCain really took some heat.

MITCHELL: Just ask John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re a senator with the federal government.

TODD: Question after angry question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said build a dang fence, where is the fence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn`t the Army go down this and stop them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn`t this John McCain`s first rodeo.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Again, sir, you`re not telling these
people the truth.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: John McCain was on "Meet the Press,"
questioning President Obama`s judgment.

MCCAIN: He`s had no communications with Republicans on the issue.

LETTERMAN: Let me see if you have this straight, when you select
Sarah Palin, are you allowed to question anyone`s judgment?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With just nine days until the federal government faces yet
another one of those dramatic deadlines that has never faced before
Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and lost control
of the lunatics within their party, President Obama took part of today
doing local television interviewers for markets in Oklahoma and South
Carolina and Texas and five other states about the consequences of the
sequester spending cuts and how they can be stopped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: We had the good folks of Oklahoma write in the questions
that they wanted me to ask you. Oklahoma has a large number of federal
employees. Why will federal employees have to suffer furloughs because
Congress and the president cannot reach an agreement on the budget?

OBAMA: Well, they shouldn`t. And we should be able to reach an
agreement. You know, for those who have not been paying as close attention
as Kevin, we`ve got some automatic spending cuts coming up in nine days
that will lay off hundreds of thousands of folks across the country, or
furlough hundreds of thousands of folks all across the country.

They`re not necessary. They`ll hurt our economy, raise the
unemployment rate. And the reason is because Congress has not been able to
compromise on a deficit reduction that`s more sensible. So, I put forward
a balanced package. The majority of people want that kind of balanced
package, the deficit reduction, rather than these automatic spending cuts.
But now, I need Congress to act, they`ve got nine days to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: John Boehner spent today on recess, but his writing staff
published a piece in "The Wall Street Journal" under his name, accusing the
president of raging against the budget crisis he created. In the op-ed
piece, Boehner claims no responsibility for the sequester, even though he
led the Republican House in voting for it, which some conservatives have
not forgotten.

Byron York, chief political correspondent for the conservative
"Washington Examiner", wrote, "In a `Wall Street Journal` Wednesday, House
Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy that
threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs, and more, which leads
to the question, why would Republicans support the measure that threatens
national security and thousands of jobs?"

Byron York continues, "The effect of Boehner`s argument is to make
Obama seem reasonable in comparison. After all, the president certainly
agrees with Boehner that the sequester cuts threaten national security and
jobs. The difference is that Obama wants to avoid them. Could the GOP
message on the sequester be anymore self-defeating?

Boehner`s op-ed piece made Rush Limbaugh uncharacteristically humble
today. He had to admit there is something even he doesn`t understand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Boehner, echoing Obama, in the op-ed in
"The Wall Street Journal." And Byron York said, wait a minute, it leads to
a question here, why would Republicans support, I mean, the Republicans
support the sequester? They`re on record as supporting it. Even though
it`s Obama`s idea, they support it. It`s the only way we`re going to get
budget cuts and they`re infinitesimal anyway.

But the question is, why would Republicans support something that does
what Boehner says it is going to do? Threatens U.S. national security?
Thousands of jobs could be lost? Boehner is calling the cuts deep, when
they`re not.

No, I do not have an explanation. I don`t think that there is a
reasonable explanation. I don`t understand it. Don`t have an answer for
you.

It`s too simple to chalk this up to incompetent. It may be that, but
that`s just simple. I don`t have an answer. I can`t explain it to you.
All I know is that it doesn`t make any sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And since we are once again in a political and governing
territory where we have never been before, those of us who use political
models of the past to predict what will happen in our political future are,
of course, totally lost. There is now only one person who seems to know
how this is going to end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Obama knows that all he has got to do is go out there and
make a couple of really tough speeches like he did yesterday, and the
Republicans will cave. I mean, that`s the history of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, I wish I could share Rush Limbaugh`s
confidence of how this --

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: He is always right, so --

O`DONNELL: Yes, how this works, I don`t really have a counter-theory
of how this works out. I don`t -- I -- we`ve never been here before, so
we`re just guessing.

BALL: Well, and the problem is here for Republicans, they don`t want
to agree to any tax increases in this deal. So they feel like the cuts
that are on the table are better than having to agree to tax increases.
And the Democrats feel like the cuts that are on the table are better than
agreeing to different cuts in an equal amount that would just fall more
heavily on social programs. So, it`s hard to see how they get out of this
impasse by the particular sequester deadline.

O`DONNELL: But Ari, do all Republicans think that? I mean, if
Boehner is out there saying, look, this is bad for national defense, these
cuts. Bad for the economy, he is even willing to say. That seems to me to
demand that you do something to avoid them. And if that means closing some
loopholes, that would be a reasonable outcome.

So, I just don`t see how Boehner can continue to say how bad these
cuts are and then not be willing to do some sort of compromise to avoid
them.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Yes, the sequester was supposed to be the
solution. And the premise of Boehner`s article today is that the sequester
is the problem. So if the solution is the problem, right, then he`s not
managing the argument very well. And you pointed out, Byron York, Rush
Limbaugh and many others were actually really confounded by that article in
"The Wall Street Journal."

I looked at it and it reminded me of the rhetoric of fiction, which is
a famous 1961 work that looks at literature and talks about the concept of
the unreliable narrator. I think John Boehner is a very unreliable
narrator, so he`s not only upset conservatives, but like I said, he`s
really confused them. For those of us who spent a lot of time on it, he
confused us too, because as you said, you can`t square 98 percent of what
you want with -- this is bad for national security and jobs -- two things
that every politician is for, jobs and security.

So, I don`t think he has a message anymore. I think what he has a
panic button, because he is realizing that just like before, the one thing
that has repeated is his inability to get his caucus united. So, now, he
is saying look, I`ll even echo the president`s concern here that this thing
is going to be bad, because as bad as it is, I don`t want to be blamed for
it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Jay Carney said today in response to
Boehner on the origins of all this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY: If they had nothing to do with it and never liked it in the
first place, why, as a Republican congressman has said, did they vote for
it, overwhelmingly? Every Republican in the House voted for it, including
Speaker Boehner. And on the day it passed, the speaker of the House said I
got 98 percent of what I wanted and I`m pretty pleased.

So, this is a ridiculous argument. We should be focusing on
solutions. We should be resolving this so that people don`t lose their
jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The 98 percent of what I wanted, it`s coming back to haunt
him.

BALL: It`s pretty damaging. And, you know, I don`t think the
American people are all that interested in this who started it, where did
it come from debate? That Boehner clearly wants to have, and they`re
acting very guilty about it.

You know, in my house, if there is a cookie missing, and I say, oh,
there is a cookie missing, and my daughter immediately goes, it wasn`t me,
mama, I didn`t eat the cookie. I immediately know that she is the one that
took the cookie.

O`DONNELL: Oh, come on. She didn`t lie. Come on.

BALL: It`s true. But she is only 4, it`s OK. I give her a pass.

But they`re acting like they took the cookie and it`s obvious.

The other thing is they`re spending so much time saying that the
president isn`t serious about cutting the budget, he doesn`t want to make
cuts. And then, on the other hand, he is responsible for the draconian
cuts, that are going to destroy the economy. It just doesn`t square. The
American people know that the Republicans are the ones who have been
talking so much about budget cutting that this definitely falls on their
shoulders.

MELBER: Can I get on the cookie analogy?

O`DONNELL: That is why you`re here, yes? Jump on every analogy that
comes along. Go ahead.

MELBER: I am not a parent like Krystal, but I think it`s a bit more
like you have a kid who is not getting the grades, right? So, you threaten
them, you say if you don`t get your grades up, I`m going to home school
you. And that`s supposed to be worse.

And your child probably doesn`t want to be home schooled. And you
obviously don`t or can`t home school tem. But there`s this dance, right?
But if the grades actually stay down, what happens? You undermine your
authority as a parental figure, I believe, I think, right?

BALL: Yes, that`s my understanding.

MELBER: And you are basically in a situation saying where you`re
facing, well, neither of us really wanted that. And, you know, all along,
we know it was a threat. And the number that supports that beyond the
cookies and beyond the analogies are, the Spending Reduction Act that the
House Republicans passed raises spending by $43 billion in fiscal year
2013.

That is something John Boehner pointed to saying we have looked to
cutting. And then you actually look at the numbers, in "Reason" magazine,
among other conservative publications, called them out on it today. It
doesn`t cut.

So the plan and threat doesn`t involve something they want to do. And
the so-called cutting doesn`t cut, because they can`t really shrink the
government this way.

O`DONNELL: So are we headed for another time-buying maneuver at the
last minute that creates another 30-day window in which to decide this I
this?

BALL: Well, what it`s looking like is the sequester cuts will
probably take effect for some amount of time. And then maybe in the C.R.,
in the continuing resolution debate, maybe there`s some solution there.
But it`s to see, no one is negotiating, no one is really working with each
other. Everybody is trying to figure out the best political position.

O`DONNELL: But there`s no point negotiating until 11:00 p.m. --

MELBER: Right.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- on the night the sequester is supposed to hit, right?

BALL: That`s exactly right. But it doesn`t seem like there`s even
those like movements towards negotiations. And it`s hard for me to see, as
I was saying before, I think both sides feel like they prefer the sequester
than to any deal that the other side is offering at this point.

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

MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we saw flashes of the old John McCain
yesterday, saying things that his audience did not want to hear. We`ll
show you the video of John McCain`s Arizona constituents attacking him for
supporting immigration reform. You`ve got to see this.

And in the rewrite tonight, the two ways to get invited to speak at
the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. One, be a right
wing member of Congress and, two, be a wicked big loser like Sarah Palin,
and the biggest loser of all, Mitt Romney, who got himself invited to speak
today.

And later, Stephen Colbert`s sister is running for Congress. And
she`s made the mistake of choosing this program for her first national
television interview as a candidate. The cross examination of Elizabeth
Colbert-Busch is coming up. There is still time to help me out by tweeting
your questions for her. Or post them on Facebook.

Priority, of course, will be given to those questions that come from
the first congressional district of South Carolina. And please don`t lie
about being in the district.

We know how easy that is to do on Twitter, online, but it would be
wrong. We`re going to use the honor system here tonight on THE LAST WORD,
because we trust you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: How do you pronounce this word? She pronounces it
Colbert. But her little brother pronounces it Colbert. The pronunciation
mystery that has haunted this country for eight years, since the premiere
of "The Colbert Report" will be solved tonight, right here on THE LAST
WORD. Stephen Colbert`s sister will join me and explain it all. That`s
coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn`t the Army go down there and stop them?
Because the only thing that stops them, I`m afraid to say, and it`s too
damn bad, but is a gun. That`s all that will stop them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s what John McCain found himself up against yesterday
with his constituents in Arizona, a place that used to be Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: If you look up the Constitution of the United States, we`re
not allowed to have an armed militia on our borders because -- that`s
because that`s what our Founding Fathers wanted. Your problem is with
them, not with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: John McCain and the Arizona`s other senator, Jeff Flake,
are part of a bipartisan group of eight senators working to produce
immigration legislation by the end of March.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the people that come across the border are
illiterate, they don`t speak English, and they`re a dependent class.

So, anyway, here`s what we have. We have a large group of dependent
people that are going to -- you want to make citizens, that are going to be
on Medicare, they`re going to be on welfare, get food stamps.

MCCAIN: You know, again -- again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going to happen is --

MCCAIN: Again, sir, you`re not telling these people the truth. They
-- they work -- they mow our lawns, they care for our babies. They clean -
- they -- the work that those people do, so, you`re wrong again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re nothing about it. You said, build the dang
fence, where is the fence?

MCCAIN: In case you missed it, I showed you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not a fence.

MCCAIN: That`s not a fence? It`s a banana. We put up a banana with
about $600 million worth of appropriations we have.

Sir, you`re entitled to your opinion, you`re not entitled to your
facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You say banana, I say fence. The old John McCain was on
display yesterday, the one who wasn`t afraid to say what people didn`t want
to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, they`re not here to assimilate.
They`re not here to assimilate into our society. They`re here doing the
things they need to do to make their life better at home. Now, the
question --

MCCAIN: Sir, some have been here as long as 40 years. They are
serving in our military.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As Senator John McCain was leaving the event, he tried to
downplay his audience`s negative reaction to immigration reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Somewhere around 70-something percent of the American people
believe that there should be a path to citizenship, as long as they pay a
fine, pay back taxes, get in line behind everybody else. Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you say 77 percent of the people in this
forum (ph) today agree?

MCCAIN: I would say the majority, sure. Absolutely.

What`s your problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t have a problem.

MCCAIN: Yes, you do, because you keep somehow thinking that this was
not a typical town hall meeting, it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post"
opinion writer and MSNBC analyst, and Maria Hinojosa, anchor of NPR`s
"Latino USA".

Maria, John McCain doesn`t get elected by the American people, he gets
elected in Arizona where this is obviously a pretty tough subject to
handle.

MARIA HINOJOSA, NPR ANCHOR: Yes, but, you know, but he did say let`s
talk about facts. And he did continue to bring that up. That`s what we
really want to talk about. That`s I think what was for me to watch this
scenario, it`s like -- I feel this people`s pain in a sense, because I see
that they are very fearful, they are scared about what is happening in
their state and frankly in the country.

So, in this face of fear, I think facts are really important. So this
notion of, you know, they`re all on welfare, and they`re you know,
overrunning our country and they`re not speaking English. No, the fact is,
that actually if we were -- if there was a process to legalize people, it
would actually be a boon to the American economy.

States, Texas has shown that. Arkansas has shown that. Economists
are talking about that.

So, you know, one of your producers -- I said I feel like I want to
hug one of these people and say come on, guys, like all this anger, Sheriff
Arpaio`s anger -- no, it`s going to be OK, but the country is changing.
And, frankly, we know that the numbers crossing the border are flat right
now.

So, it`s an argument that in terms of the numbers are not playing out
really.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at more of the people that need a hug
from Maria, let`s take a look at another one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: There are people who have been here illegally for 50 years,
or 40 years. Am I then telling them to become guest workers? No, you
can`t do that. Why can`t you do that? Because we`re a Judeo-Christian
principled nation, that is why you can`t do that. Now, again, we just have
a difference of opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, so much for that Judeo-Christian-principle
nation stuff. They actually said no, no, no, when he said that.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, the beautiful --

O`DONNELL: The Judeo-Christians.

CAPEHART: Right, the beautiful thing about what Senator McCain did,
and this gets to what Maria was saying in terms of the hug, this fear of
immigrants, the undocumented workers has been allowed to fester, because
all the things that have been said, nobody of any stature has been willing
to push back on this and say no, this is the case, listen to me. These are
the facts, I`m your elected official, you sent me to Washington to focus on
this.

And, you know, John McCain when he ran for re-election a couple of
years ago, you know, he said build the dang fence. He played to the crowd.
What we saw just now was a John McCain who was basically giving this guy a
hug and saying, no, I understand your fear, but your fear is misplaced.
You are -- here are the facts, this is the way it is.

We need to see more of that John McCain. And we need to see more of
that kind of John McCain in all the other states and all these other
elected officials who face town halls like that, where people are pushing,
throwing falsehoods at them. And then to be able to say, no, no, no, here
is what the facts are, and why you don`t need to be afraid. And why we
actually need to do something about this to settle your fears.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to more of that John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: And --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the problem.

MCCAIN: See what I mean? You`re just making my point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t listen to us, that is the reason I`m
like this.

MCCAIN: You know something, again? Again, I have gone to town hall
meetings for 30 years, people are happy I have town hall meetings and I
listen to them and get back to them.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: And that is what this is all about. But occasionally I get a
jerk like you here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, that is -- a jerk like you.

HINOJOSA: Look, the reality is that what we know, the numbers show
that more than half, more than 70 percent, depending on the polls, of
American people believe that it is time to do something about this issue.
They realize that it is not just one person who is cleaning your garden,
let`s say. It`s the kids who are friends with your kids.

It`s -- so suddenly, Johnny`s best friend, he had to leave the
country. Why? Because his mother was deported, and he is going wait a
second, but they were good people, or they worked at the local deli. What
do you mean?

So, that -- the reality is that the majority of American people
understand this. They understand it from an economic place. They
understand it from a constitutional place. They understand from a heart
place.

So when you -- in Arizona, you are going to have this group of people
who I applaud for being engaged in democracy, good for them.

O`DONNELL: And when you have been there, what is the heat of this
subject of this subject like down there?

HINOJOSA: Oh, I think that`s really -- it`s hard to kind of pinpoint.
I can tell you most recently when I was down there in June, and there was a
protest in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio`s tent city, that happens to be
about 3,000 or 4,000, and there was a group of about 50 people who are
protesting against them. I`m a journalist, I went to be with them, because
I want to understand their perspective.

And the anger was just so intense. I tried to speak to them like hi,
can I ask a question. Well, who are you? You`re a journalist.

Even I asked this to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I said why are you always
yelling? Why are you so angry? Just tell me. I have to yell, it is just
like we need to be able to talk about this because this is, in fact, the
future, because if you look at the demographics of our country, this is in
fact, the futuro.

O`DONNELL: It was also the past of that region. They were here
first. These people who you`re saying don`t belong here anymore.

CAPEHART: Well, yes, but these folks, the folks in the tape that you
showed, in John McCain`s town hall forum, they don`t care about that. They
care about the here and now. They care about their present, and they
certainly care about their future.

And their future does not recognize that the undocumented workers, the
Latinos who are there in Arizona, who they are fuming against, that that is
the future of their state and that is the future of this country. And if
they want to get over the fears that they have they need to come to terms
with it.

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

CAPEHART: Thanks.

HINOJOSA: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why Joe Biden suddenly decided to become a
salesman for shot guns?

And in the rewrite, why did CPAC, the big conservative conference,
decide to invite Mitt Romney this year? And what will the fake
conservative Mitt Romney say to those people.

And later, Stephen Colbert`s sister will join me to discuss her
campaign for Congress and the correct pronunciation of her family name.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to
protect yourself, get a double barrel shot gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Vice President Joe Biden yesterday making the
case for banning assault weapons like the ones used in the mass murder of
children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, by making the case -
- in making the case against assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,
though, the vice president got a bit carried away, in making the case in
favor of shot guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shot gun.
Have the shells, a 12-gauge shot gun -- and I promise you, as I told my
wife -- we live in an area that is wooded and is somewhat secluded. I said
Jill, if there`s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk
out, put the double-barrel shot gun, and fire two blasts outside the house.

I promise you who is ever coming in is not going to -- you don`t need
an AR-15. It is harder to aim. It`s harder to use. And in fact, you
don`t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shot gun. Buy a shot gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the
president agrees with the vice president that there is no need for
homeowners to protect themselves with military-style guns. But he stopped
short of advising people to fire shotguns blindly into the darkness outside
their homes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president does agree
with the vice president that homeowners who are interested in utilizing
their Second Amendment rights to own a firearm to protect themselves in
their home and their families, in their home, do not need a military-style
assault weapon, and that a shotgun would be a logical choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Richard Wolffe and "The New
Republic`s" Timothy Noah. Richard, there`s a very good chance that if Jill
Biden were to fire that shotgun outside the home, if she hits anything,
it`s going to be a Secret Service agent, who is there to protect her from
ever having to have a shotgun in the home or anything like it.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Joe Biden does live at
two wooded properties, one being Naval Observatory. And I believe he still
has a home with some wooded land in Delaware. You know, God love you, Joe
Biden, as he would say, you know. If he is not sponsored by the gun
manufacturers, the Shotgun Manufacturers Association of America, he should
be.

Interestingly, I think the politics is what he is getting at. Yes, he
overdoes it. And Jay Carney, who used to work for him, knows that very
well. But he`s engaged in the kind of ridiculous extremist rhetoric that
the NRA is. The NRA is says they`re going to take away all your weapons.
All your guns are going away. So Joe Biden says, no, go out and buy some
guns.

They`re both actually making a caricature argument about themselves,
about the other side. If the other side can do it, why can`t he do it the
other way?

O`DONNELL: Tim Noah, as soon as I heard the vice president say this,
I realized that you had, in effect, predicted it a couple of days ago in
this piece you`ve written for "the New Republic," where you say "it remains
common when making a liberal argument to shroud it in non-liberal
language." That is exactly what Joe Biden was trying to do.

TIM NOAH, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": He was trying to establish, shore up
his bona fides. I -- I can call for gun control because, by golly, I have
a gun, I love my gun, I tell my wife to shoot the gun. I would hate to be
a UPS guy trying to deliver a package to the Biden home.

And that`s what liberals do. They feel they`re inauthentic so they
have to establish their authenticity. The irony is that most people don`t
own guns in this country. The percentages are way down. I think it is
down to about 21 percent now. Those of us who don`t own guns are the
authentic ones.

O`DONNELL: And Richard, that is -- that`s Biden`s mistake here, is
that he thinks the authenticity is in the shotgun owning crowd, and the
people who think, when you hear a noise, it is perfectly reasonable to fire
a shotgun into the darkness.

WOLFFE: Right. Yes, he has also probably been watching too many
animated movies. I mean, look, in either location, this isn`t a realistic
option. He is in a more populated area even in Delaware than he is
suggesting.

Is this a realistic policy? No. He is engaging in a classic piece of
Biden-esque exaggeration. But it can still work in terms of the politics,
right? He is talking about protecting home and family. It is just
ludicrous to imagine that the vice president`s wife is going to do this
some?

O`DONNELL: But Tim, in your piece in "The New Republic," which I, by
the way, intend to steal from liberally, it is entitled "How Liberals
Became Real Americans." You made the point now that we`re long past that
spot in the curve where liberals need to couch their arguments this way,
that, in fact, the kind of thinking that Joe Biden is trying to advance in
policy terms is majority thinking.

NOAH: That is right. I mean, most of us don`t own guns. Most of us
don`t live in rural areas. You know, most of us don`t even go to religious
services on a weekly basis. This cartoon picture of the liberal is
actually the mainstream. And this cartoon picture of the gun owner is now
in the minority.

O`DONNELL: And Richard, that is -- the challenge for Biden is he is
trying to find the language that unlocks votes on the other side of this
issue. He is trying to find language that unlocks the votes of West
Virginia senators -- Democratic senators, for example. And so I know
example what he was reaching for there.

WOLFFE: Yeah, I just think he would be better off talking, for
instance, about the Australian example, where you could say, you know, gun-
loving culture, a real sort of frontier mentality, where this kind of
attitude, the politics were deeply engrained. They took out assault
weapons. They managed a big buy-back operation. And mass shootings -- gun
crime still continues, of course. But mass shootings have not happened in
the 15 years since they introduced the kind of policies they do.

You know, he would be better off reaching not for a shotgun, or at
least a shotgun metaphor, but some real life policy examples that have
actually worked in other cultures that aren`t that different.

O`DONNELL: Tim, you write in your piece, by fetishizing these fading
traditions like hunting, which is down -- the participation in hunting is
down -- liberals have only made their arguments for increased gun control
less likely to have much of an impact. That is your worry, is that using
the old style of argument is less likely to be successful now.

NOAH: Yes, they look like phonies. They look like they`re trying to
be something that they`re not. And they don`t have to, because this ideal
American that they`re trying to imitate, to impersonate, is a thing of the
past.

O`DONNELL: And Richard, with Biden, it seems to me that there is just
this rhetorical -- there`s this thing that happens to him, that he can
start down a sentence and not know at the beginning where he is going. And
enthusiasm takes over. And suddenly, Jill is firing a shotgun from the
balcony.

WOLFFE: Not just that, but he is urging us, repeatedly, go buy one.
He even actually lines it up on camera. There is no stopping him. It is
not just that the volume is set to 11. It is that there is no pause or
stop on this tape deck that he is running.

O`DONNELL: Well, he may have sold a few shotguns yesterday. But I --
I am not buying one. Richard Wolffe and Timothy Noah, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

NOAH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in the Rewrite, Mitt Romney`s first big public
speaking event since his concession speech is going to be to an audience
that used to boo the sound of his name because he wasn`t conservative
enough. The Republicans biggest losers like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney
will be welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year.

And we are now just minutes away from Elizabeth Colbert Busch`s first
national television interview as a Democratic Congressional candidate.
We`ll find out how much her brother, Stephen Colbert, will hurt her
candidacy in South Carolina, or if it is possible he could actually help
her win.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Well, I`ll put it in a nut
shell. If we don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and
we`ll lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Ann Coulter in the most repeatedly run piece of
video in the history of this program. That was her in 2011, offering a
rare dose of reality to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference
in Washington. But reality is a hard thing for right wing conservatives to
hold on to.

And Ann found herself unable to follow her own advice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Here is what I want to ask you, very
simple: now who do you support?

COULTER: Romney-Cain, 2012.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Conservative Political Action Conference will
reconvene next month. And the list of speakers announced so far indicates
that, as usual, reality based speaking will be discouraged. It is a lineup
of the usual suspects, Eric Cantor, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, along with the
most desperate man in Washington these days, the Republican Senate leader,
the man who has been the leader of the Senate Republicans for six years,
and whose reign is now seriously threatened by an actress who does not
currently live in his state, a threat that the party who elected an actor
president is taking very seriously.

After members of Congress, the second biggest category of speaker at
CPAC this year will be the losers. In fact, it would be better named the
Losers Political Action Conference. Losing vice presidential candidate
Sarah Palin will be there, as will losing presidential candidate Newt
Gingrich. And CPAC got the not so hard to get losing presidential
candidate Rick Santorum.

They will, no doubt, all get cheers and applause from the audience for
recycling versions of exactly the same lines that made them such losers.
Today, CPAC announced that they have landed the biggest loser of them all,
Mitt Romney. So CPAC has rewritten its position on Romney from cheering
wildly when Ann Coulter said it would be a mistake to nominate him in 2011,
to cheering for him as the Republican nominee last year, to this year
inviting him to give the keynote address at their loser`s conference.

This offers some suspense for the event actually. Will Romney be
cheered for saying the extreme conservative stuff that everyone knows he
doesn`t mean? Or will he be booed for being such a loser? And most
importantly, what will he add to the Romney greatest hits reel?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bonjour. Je m`appelle
Mitt Romney.

I`m Mitt Romney. And yes, Wolf, that is also my first name.

Any old girlfriends here?

This feels good. You know, the trees are the right height.

No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate.

I met a guy yesterday, seven feet tall. Yes, handsome, great big guy,
seven feet tall. Name is Rick Miller, Portland, Oregon. And he started a
business. Of course I thought it was in basketball, but it wasn`t in
basketball. I mean, I figured he had to be in sport, but he wasn`t in
sport.

I love this country. I love the hymns of America. "America the
Beautiful," "oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain."

Corn counts, doesn`t it, as an amber wave of grain? Yes.

I am convinced that what makes America such a great nation is not just
our beautiful land and our mountains and -- and our waving -- let`s see
waving fields -- how is it, oh beautiful for spacious skies -- amber waves
of grain. Amber waves of grain. And green waves of grain, with the beans
and the corn too.

Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your
parents, start a business.

Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?

I live for laughter, I mean --

I want to make sure that we all understand we have to clean up the
water that our kids are swimming in. And by that, I mean the pornography,
the drug culture, the violence, the sex, the perversion that bombards them
day in and day out.

(CROSS TALK)

ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people that provide services to me.

Corporations are people, my friend.

Ten thousand dollar bet.

I`m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by
what I said, whatever it was.

A bien tot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Holy cow, my sister is running for
Congress.

As a broadcast journalist I am obligated to maintain pure objectivity.
It doesn`t matter that my sister is intelligent, hard working,
compassionate and dedicated to the people of South Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the intelligent, hard-working,
compassionate, dedicated sister of Stephen Colbert, Democratic candidate to
represent South Carolina`s First Congressional District Elizabeth Colbert
Busch joins me by phone.

Elizabeth, thank you for joining us tonight.

ELIZABETH COLBERT BUSCH, CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Lawrence, thank you
for having me. I`m just delighted to join you.

O`DONNELL: And may I call you Elizabeth?

COLBERT BUSCH: Of course you may.

O`DONNELL: May I call you Lulu, which is what Stephen apparently
calls you in a fundraising letter he has written for you?

COLBERT BUSCH: Yes, you may.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to stick with Elizabeth. I`m more comfortable
with Elizabeth. Now listen, we have the first case of campaign sabotage
right here on our screen. We -- our satellite with Charleston went down
for this interview. We have not had a satellite failure in the 35-year
history of this program.

This is the first time it has ever happened. I don`t think -- I don`t
believe in this kind of coincidence, do you?

COLBERT BUSCH: I think it probably is just a coincidence.

O`DONNELL: All right. You`re very trusting, but you`re new at this
politics thing. I noticed on your website a picture of your father with
President Kennedy. He was part of the group Physicians for JFK during the
president`s campaign in 1960. So your ties to Democratic politics and to
politics go way back?

COLBERT BUSCH: They do. They go very far back. And when that
picture was taken, I was actually six years old.

O`DONNELL: Oh. And there is another picture on the website of the
whole family, with that little Stephen, the youngest of the whole group
there, 1968 family picture, which we`re showing right now. At that time --
let`s start there, OK, with this mystery. At that time, did everyone in
that group pronounce your family name the same way?

COLBERT BUSCH: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And how did they pronounce it then?

COLBERT BUSCH: Colbert.

O`DONNELL: And how do you pronounce it now?

COLBERT BUSCH: Colbert.

O`DONNELL: And what is that guy in New York up to?

COLBERT BUSCH: His name is Stephen Colbert. But there is a story
behind that.

O`DONNELL: OK, what is the story?

COLBERT BUSCH: When we were growing up, my father told us a story
about our heritage, and that we actually came from a French family out of a
place in France called Le Maison de Sol (ph). And his name was Jean-
Baptiste Colbert. And so that is where that name Colbert came up. And
they were our descendents.

And so my father said your name is Colbert in French. We pronounce it
Colbert here. He said, so you choose which would you prefer. So some of
my brothers chose Colbert, and some of my -- and some of us chose Colbert.

O`DONNELL: And obviously anyone with political aspirations went with
the Americanized sound of it. I have questions sent in by the audience
tonight. They`re very excited to get questions to you. And this one is
from D-Mac on Twitter, "ask her how tired she is of people asking her what
is Stephen really like? Was he always funny?"

COLBERT BUSCH: No, I`m not tired. He -- Stephen was actually the
youngest of 11. And he was an observer. Stephen always watched what was
going on. There were 10 of us running around, and Stephen is the youngest.
And he was always the observer. He always watching everything that we`ve
done.

But he has always had a very intellectual sense of humor.

O`DONNELL: OK, here`s a good one, serious question from Twitter, "is
the Stephen Colbert super PAC going to help finance your campaign?"

COLBERT BUSCH: Well, the answer to that is no, because before I
announced my campaign, Stephen had decided to distribute those funds for
the super PAC. So he divided those funds among three charities. One was
for the Yellow Ribbon --

O`DONNELL: So he blew it. He blew the money before you needed it, is
what you`re saying?

COLBERT BUSCH: Yes. He gave it to some very worthy causes.

O`DONNELL: So Elizabeth, South Carolina, run for Congress, this is
not an easy thing. There is a good chance you will be running against Mark
Sanford, who is very low right now in the polls. Is that your route to
victory, beating a scandal-victimized former governor?

COLBERT BUSCH: Well, Lawrence, if you don`t mind me saying so, we
still have a Democratic primary to get through on March the 19th.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you do. No, but we have declared you the winner of
that already here.

COLBERT BUSCH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, you have won that.

COLBERT BUSCH: All right, thank you. Well, what we`ll have to do is
because there are 16 Republican candidates, all having a primary on March
the 19th, as well, with a likely run-off, what we will do is we will sit
back and we will wait until the Republicans decide who their candidate is.
And once that happens, then we will address it then.

O`DONNELL: I noticed also on your website that it says you have a
quote that you live by, "don`t be afraid. Take every legitimate
adventure." Now that is an obvious shot at Mark Sanford.

COLBERT BUSCH: Actually, that is a quote --

O`DONNELL: Come on, it`s the word legitimate.

COLBERT BUSCH: It is a quote from my mother and father.

O`DONNELL: Come on, they were --

COLBERT BUSCH: It is.

O`DONNELL: -- anticipating Sanford, the legitimate thing.

COLBERT BUSCH: That is really a quote from my mother and father, yes.
When we were growing up, they always said, make sure that if you want to
take an adventure, you take a legitimate one. And don`t be afraid, just
move forward.

O`DONNELL: I agree completely on the legitimate part of that whole
adventure thing. Now, this Busch thing, how convenient of you to work the
name Busch into your political candidacy, to have that nice word Busch
appearing on the ballot in South Carolina.

COLBERT BUSCH: That is Busch with a C.

O`DONNELL: Oh, it is B-U-S-C-H.

COLBERT BUSCH: B-U-S-C-H, right.

O`DONNELL: That is your married name.

COLBERT BUSCH: Right.

O`DONNELL: OK, we will accept that excuse. But Elizabeth, when you
come back, the questions are going to get tougher. Elizabeth Colbert
Busch, candidate for Congress in South Carolina, obvious victim of campaign
sabotage tonight in South Carolina with the satellite going down -- as I
say, for the first time in the history of this program, thank you very,
very much for giving us your first national television interview, sort of.

You can actually to the next show promise them that they`ll see your
face and you will talk live. And then they can have that as their big
selling point.

COLBERT BUSCH: OK. We`ll do that.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much, Elizabeth. You get tonight`s LAST
WORD.

COLBERT BUSCH: Great. Thank you.

END

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