updated 3/12/2013 10:47:45 AM ET 2013-03-12T14:47:45

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 11, 2013

Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, Sam Stein, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Karen Tumulty, Sen. Chris Murphy

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The chairman of the Republican Party went
to Brooklyn today looking for votes, while Republicans in Washington were
continuing to scare voters away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: One year ago, we offered our path to
prosperity. This year, we are offering again our path to prosperity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The battle is over the budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul
Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ryan budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will role out his 2014 budget.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Ryan`s budget calls for elimination of
Obama`s health care law.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Are you saying as part of your budget, you
assume the repeal of Obama care?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck with that one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It isn`t going to happen.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Wishful thinking.

RYAN: Yes.

WALLACE: Well, that`s not going to happen.

MATTHEWS: I have to tell you, I`m flabbergasted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re tried this now 34 times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has no chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not going to happen and he knows it.

RYAN: Well, we believe it should. That`s the point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A record stuck on repeat.

RYAN: We believe that Obamacare will not work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are we going to have to live through this
again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has to do with Republican priorities.

PAUL: We believe that Obamacare will not work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of House Republicans who want this
repealed.

RYAN: This plan of action is about putting an end to empty promises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s cut through a little bit of the B.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he wants to repeal Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But somehow magically maintain savings of
Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is putting it in there because his numbers
don`t add up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is happy to include $716 billion.

RYAN: Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The health care law ended up having.

MITCHELL: Talking about getting rid of Obamacare and scoring it as
savings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sort of the dumb person`s view of what a smart
person sounds like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a serious effort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a reason why Paul Ryan is doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had Paul Ryan essentially said we`re not going to
pursue it anymore --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not about policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Republicans would have a problem with their own
caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about politics.

RYAN: If we simply operate based on political fear, nothing will ever
get done. Nothing is ever going to get done. Nothing is ever going to get
done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In Republican world, everything old is new again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Are you saying that as part of your budget, you would
repeal, you assume the repeal of Obamacare?

RYAN: Yes.

WALLACE: Well, that`s not going to happen.

RYAN: Well, we believe it should. That`s the point. That`s -- but
this is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It`s about making tough
choices to fix our country`s problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tough, unrealistic choices.

Paul Ryan made his reputation in Washington, especially his reputation
with the political media by being the guy who was willing to make those
tough choices, but now, Washington is beginning to catch on, that
advocating a budget that is impossible to pass into law as Ryan has done
year in and year out, does not make him a serious player in our budget
politics.

Ryan just advocated the repeal of Obamacare. Would the Washington
media call President Obama serious if he advocated increasing all our
income tax rates? No, the Washington media would laugh at that proposal
and just say it would never happen, which would be true.

The Washington media is now just beginning, just beginning to chuckle
at Paul Ryan. They`re not laughing out loud yet, but his stuff just
doesn`t work like it used to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Starting with people who are now 54, that you would start to
give them when they become of age a government subsidy, a voucher, whatever
you want to call it, premium support, to help them pay for health care
costs. Now, you know, I don`t have to tell you -- this is a big issue in
the campaign between Romney-Ryan versus Obama-Biden. They think they won,
and they think that`s one of the reasons they won.

RYAN: It`s not a voucher. It`s premium support. Those are very
different.

A voucher is you go to your mailbox and get a check and you go buy
something. That`s not what we were seeing.

And I would argue against the premise that we lost this issue in the
campaign. We won the senior vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, Republican National Committee Chair Reince
Priebus ventured into Brooklyn, where he wasn`t probably the only one named
Reince, because they`ve got everything in Brooklyn. And he went to meet
with voters as part of the RNC`s post-election listening tour.

Just a short time ago, Reince Priebus was on Sean Hannity. Here`s
what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I think this is our moment to layout
our vision for America in a budget. I think it`s about time that we as
Republicans all get on the same page, all leverage everyone we have in the
House and Senate, and get on board and repeat and repeat and repeat.

The other thing we need to do is quit bashing each other. We need to
focus in on the things that we can agree on and repeat them over and over
again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, how could Brooklyn resist Reince Priebus?
Come on, that`s a perfectly sellable message in Brooklyn.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": Let`s just continue doing the same
thing that we have been doing the past four years, which has been working
so well for us -- only we`re going to do it better. We`re going to do the
same thing, but we`re going to do it a little bit better and we`re going to
be nicer to each other. That`s going to work out.

I mean, that is the remarkable thing about the Paul Ryan budget. I
get the sense that a lot of people in the Republican Party really did want
to do something different after the election. They really wanted to take
some lessons from that and try to move forward.

But the problem is that they boxed themselves into a corner. They
basically put so many policy options totally off-limits, like anything that
would involve raising revenues, that they have nowhere to go other than
Paul Ryan releasing another budget that looks exactly like the last budget.

O`DONNELL: And so, Ari, is time running out for Paul Ryan on this
whole serious man of budgeting act? I mean, you get Chris Wallace going,
that`s not going to happen.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Yes, I think when FOX News has to be the
voice of reason over what happened in November, that`s always a bad sign
for Paul Ryan.

As for the chairman, I live in Brooklyn, I welcome the chairman to
Brooklyn. I think the problem is --

O`DONNELL: Do you know anybody named Reince in Brooklyn?

MELBER: I don`t.

O`DONNELL: But you know --

BALL: Somebody there.

MELBER: Somebody there.

O`DONNELL: Get a Brooklyn phone book. They still have phone books?

MELBER: Well, the thing about Brooklyn is people don`t just listen to
what you say, we are from Brooklyn, we`re New Yorkers, we actually will
take a look at what you do. That`s a basic concept that also goes to the
heartland and goes across to the country to what people saw.

I think the lesson he took on Medicare is very funny because viewers
of this program remember, as you pointed out, that they were actually
running, trying to accuse the Democrats of cutting Medicare. In other
words, to the extent that they have any politically viable Medicare
argument, it was a deceitful one, but one that went to the liberal
foundation of the fact that seniors and many other people do believe in
Medicare and want it to be there.

And that`s the last point you were discussing last week on the show
with Chris Hayes, the demographic problem is huge. They can`t have their
bluff called here when you look at the Republican base from the voting last
cycle, people over 65, and white voters over 65 went for Republicans by 22
points.

If they want to dip into that by reversing the Medicare argument they
made and going after it, and people think it is going to happen, they`re
going to be in more trouble.

O`DONNELL: And, Krystal, on this point, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney
against President Obama, saying, hey, you cut Medicare. You cut it for
Obamacare.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: And then the wonderful joke of -- the latest joke called
the Ryan budget, is he leaves in the Medicare cuts that were done within
the Obamacare legislation and then wants to repeal everything else in
Obamacare.

BALL: Yes, he assumes not only the Medicare savings, he also assumes
the tax increases that came with Obamacare so that he can make his numbers
add up, not to mention the tax increases that were part of the fiscal cliff
deal because apparently, according to what he said in his interview, he
doesn`t want to look backwards, he doesn`t refight that, although he
obviously wants to refight Obamacare.

The fact of the matter is, this is not a governing document. Paul
Ryan is not about governing or trying to actually come up with realistic
plans. This is like a John Gault, fanciful, what I would do if I could do
anything and also was a wizard kind of a budget. The numbers don`t add up.
They never do. And he has to assume these savings or else it just doesn`t
work.

O`DONNELL: Well, listen to what he said when Chris Wallace asked him
where the compromise point might be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: The president would like to raise $600 billion at least in
added revenue by clearing out so many of the deductions and loopholes for
upper income people. You want not nips and cuts but structural reform to
entitlements. Did you get a sense -- first of all, are you willing to give
up one to get the other? And did you get the sense he was?

RYAN: Well, look, we already had a tax increase. We have a spending
problem, and I like to think we can find common ground how and where to cut
spending and get entitlement reforms. Will the president take our premium
support program and block-granting Medicaid? My guess is he won`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Ari, he`s saying, this I`ve proposed, I believe the
president will not accept in any way. So, there he`s just saying, look, if
this is anything, it`s just a negotiating gambit.

MELBER: Right. And you could say he is inadvertently candid about
how political his whole approach is here.

There`s another problem, just from the footage you played tonight,
Lawrence, which is when it comes to Obamacare, we need to keep re-re-
repealing it 34 times, right? But when it comes to the tax increase, we
did that. We did that. That`s settled, that can`t be touched and will
never happen again, right?

So, you start to see the game here. Anything that has Obama`s name on
it must be fought on every field, every place in the courts -- you know, in
the court of public opinion, in Congress, even when they keep losing and
losing to the conservative justices.

But the other stuff, of course, they`re willing to wipe away any time.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, progress today, bipartisan progress, compromise
progress on immigration. Senators saying we think we found a path to
citizenship we can all agree on. That`s the kind of thing that not only
Israel progress (ph) but I think makes Paul Ryan look even more dated. He
looks like a game we`ve already played.

BALL: I totally agree with that. He has not been leading the charge
in actually moving the Republican Party forward. So, he looks like he is
out of it. He`s not part of that conversation.

And I also agree with you. I mean, it is remarkable progress and the
fact that Jeb Bush in his book got sort of behind the ball is a recognition
of how far the party has moved and how quickly. I mean, they`re
recognizing demographic realities, they realize they have to do something
about it, and be able to move forward.

Now, I still think that immigration reform is a tough sell for some
Republicans in conservative red districts because they`ve spent so long
demagoguing on this issue, it will be hard to turn that around overnight.
But it`s an incredibly encouraging, one of the few really, really
encouraging signs you can point to with this Republican group.

O`DONNELL: But, Ari, it looks like they`re on the way to having 60
votes in the Senate for something that is substantial, will be considered
substantial. And will probably include some form of victory lap for Marco
Rubio.

It`s the kind of thing that will continue to make the Paul Ryans the
old -- as young as he is -- the old Republican Party, and Rubio the new
guard.

MELBER: Exactly. And for people who actually pay attention to the
content of the policy, it will probably have some conservative ingredients
as well. So, it is not like they have to walk away from the table saying
they only co-signed what Obama strictly wanted. I do think that`s the real
question as we go into this period, is which of the leaders see dividends
in doing things and working across the aisle and while they don`t do it
very often, people like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio have shown there`s a
third way there.

O`DONNELL: And, Krystal, is it conceivable, one of the big stars on
the bench of the Republican Party, Jeb Bush, many people say he is the
savior, as soon as he makes the move, you know, we have somewhere to go,
that he could spend a week with a new book about immigration that would
have absolutely no effect on the Republican dialogue about the subject?

BALL: Yes, no effect and no positive impact for him in terms of
looking at 2016.

O`DONNELL: Yes, a setback for him.

BALL: Absolutely. And I would make not only the comparison with
Marco Rubio that doesn`t look good, but also with Chris Christie, who`s the
guy, a straight shooter, he says what he thinks.

The worst part of this is that Jeb Bush seemed mealy mouthed, like he
was trying to be in the right place politically. That`s never a good look,
just ask Mitt Romney.

O`DONNELL: A different position on immigration each day, even though
he had written a book about it.

BALL: Exactly, yes.

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

MELBER: Thanks.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ashley Judd is getting closer to running for
Senate in Kentucky, which is very bad news for Kentucky Republican Mitch
McConnell.

And why did no one notice that a big Republican star quit politics
today? Just up and quit. Was it just because he didn`t explicitly say he
was quitting? The end of a bright, shining Republican political career is
in tonight`s rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Ashley Judd is getting closer and closer to running for
Senate. And we in the political media could not be more grateful for that.
That`s coming up.

And today, a big star Republican, like giant star Republican, dropped
out of politics forever. And no one noticed. And that`s in tonight`s
rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: The Senate is not nearly as
dysfunctional as it is made out to be, because there`s great relationships
in the Senate. Our problem in the Senate is leadership of the Senate, not
members of the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Unpopular Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell up for
re-election in 2014. According to a "Kentucky Courier Journal" poll
conducted in January, only 17 percent of Kentucky voters will vote for
Mitch McConnell, no matter who runs against him. Thirty-four percent will
vote against McConnell, no matter who runs against him, and 44 percent will
wait to see who his opponent is.

If McConnell survives a Republican primary challenge, his general
election opponent will likely be, we hope, actress and activist Ashley
Judd. We, of course, being the political media who would love to see a
movie star run for anything.

According to former Kentucky political reporter Howard Fineman, Ashley
Judd has told advisers she will announce her candidacy in early May.

A Public Policy poll of Kentucky voters conducted in December shows
Judd polling within four points of Senator McConnell.

Joining me now, "The Washington Post`s" Nia-Malika Henderson and "The
Huffington Post`s" Sam Stein.

Nia, four-point gap against incumbent is basically, you know, you`re
winning. When it comes to normal political arithmetic, is when the
incumbent is polling below 50, then the undecideds go to the challenger.

She hasn`t run an ad, she hasn`t done a thing, and she`s within easy
challenging distance of the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate. What is
going on here?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, I think those
low poll numbers that you cited -- 17 percent of folks in Kentucky, you
know, those are the only ones want to vote for him.

If you look at 2008, he only won about 53 percent of the vote there.
He is in danger. I think the problem for Democrats is whether or not
Ashley Judd is kind of candidate that Mitch McConnell would actually want.
His strategy has been to raise a bunch of money and play a bunch of
negative ads against his opponent and do a sort of carpet bombing. You can
see some of it starting already with some of the outside groups already
running ads against Ashley Judd.

So that`s the question. They have some Democrats in that state who
are a little bit more conservative. I think Democrats would like to see
some of those folks get in the race, not sure that Ashley Judd could stand
the sort of limelight and scrutiny that she would get if she runs against
Mitch McConnell.

O`DONNELL: OK. Well, let`s look at one of the ads already run
against her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: You know what this country really needs? An independent
voice for Obama.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: I am committed to President Obama and Vice
President Biden. I think he`s a brilliant man.

NARRATOR: Someone who will never forget where she came from.

JUDD: It just clicked, Tennessee is home. And it just clicked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kentucky.

JUDD: -- is home.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, is that the best they`ve got?

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: No. I`m sure they have more than
that. That`s the opening salvo.

O`DONNELL: But, Sam, here`s what they don`t have. They don`t have a
voting record to run against of some kind.

STEIN: Sure.

O`DONNELL: There`s all sorts of negatives she could have picked up as
a politician that she doesn`t have.

STEIN: Yes, that`s a fair argument. She doesn`t have a voting
record. On the plus side for her, she will have an incredible fund-raising
base, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes.

STEIN: She will drive immense coverage which can be good and bad.

On the minus side, you have some of the old statements. You`ll some
of these clips. You have them dragging up stuff about Tennessee, about
some of the more liberal causes she`s championed in her time.

I think it`s a plus and minus. But the real story -- I mean, in the
end, comes down to what Mitch McConnell brings to the table. Mitch
McConnell is a very complex politician in a sense, obviously has a real
deficit of trust in Kentucky, otherwise his poll numbers wouldn`t be that
bad.

However, he is sort of a known quantity there. He has done a lot for
the state that you and I know and no one else in the national media really
comprehend because it`s local. He`s brought so much money back to that
state, people know and trust him for that.

And he`s a pretty good politician when it comes to state politics.
So, you know, it`s not a walk in the park just because his numbers are in
this poor state that they are currently.

O`DONNELL: Nia, Sam is right, I don`t know everything he has done for
Kentucky. I know he slapped his name on some federal buildings --

STEIN: That`s true.

O`DONNELL: -- in Kentucky which is kind of a sleazy thing to do. But
apparently Kentuckians don`t know what he has done for Kentucky, because
these numbers are terrible.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: I mean, here is a poll, it`s a robo poll from a firm
called Harper Polling, which is actually run by someone who used to work
for McConnell. So if there`s ever going to be a favorable McConnell poll,
it`s going to come out of here., And it`s McConnell 49, Ashley Judd 40,
which is still incredibly positive for Ashley Judd.

That is the way Elizabeth Warren was polling against Scott Brown in
Massachusetts when things started up there.

HENDERSON: That`s right. But I do think Elizabeth Warren was more of
a match for Massachusetts than Ashley Judd is for Kentucky. Sure, she went
to University of Kentucky, she`s at the basketball games all the time.

But in terms of her prior statements, I think she at some point
referred to removal of mountain stop coal, removal of mountain tops for
coal production. I think she compared it to rape.

So, I think there are some statements, you`ve got to imagine that
they`ve got tons of ample research on Ashley Judd and that she might not
wear well over time for folks in Kentucky. It`s a very conservative state.

I think the question for Democrats in general is would she hurt the
entire ticket. If you`re, for instance, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, do
you want to answer questions about Ashley Judd? Does she allow Republicans
to really attack the entire class of 2014 as so progressive and so liberal
and out of step with mainstream?

STEIN: I don`t think that happens because she`s obviously -- she
brings one asset to the table, she`s trained to be in the public spotlight.
Not like she is new to this. She`s in front of cameras all the time.
She`s very obviously talented.

HENDERSON: Politics and acting are two different things. She`s
trained to be an actor, she is not a professional politician.

STEIN: This isn`t -- it would be weird for her to have a moment where
she, you know, melts because of the scrutiny. She obviously can stand the
scrutiny of the media.

But the other thing works in her favor, you know, attacking her could
come off as insensitive, it could come off potentially as sexist in some
respects.

She has that ability. She can relate probably to female voters in
Kentucky obviously better than Mitch McConnell.

And I think one other thing is that Obama won`t be on the ticket which
is important for her, because in Kentucky, Obama is not very popular
obviously. So it won`t be like people are driven to the polls to vote
against the president.

HENDERSON: I think Obama is going to be on the ticket. I mean,
they`re going to run --

STEIN: Not in 2014.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: -- as a sort of a referendum on Obama saying, do we want
to send more people to Washington who can sign onto Obama or block his, you
know, last two years.

So, I think he is going to be on the ballot in many ways.

O`DONNELL: You know who we need on this subject on this show?

STEIN: Ashley Judd?

O`DONNELL: In addition to Ashley Judd who has an open invitation
obviously, we need THE LAST WORD`s unofficial senior Kentucky political
analyst, George Clooney, who is from Kentucky and knows a little about what
Ashley Judd has been doing for a living lately. So, George, any time you
want to enlighten us.

STEIN: We`re not good enough, Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: No, no --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: No, Sam, all I would do is add George to this panel, he
would be one of three. He would have to fight his way in with you.

STEIN: George and I usually don`t do panels together. I could make
an exception.

HENDERSON: Well, if he`s in New York, I will fly up especially to sit
with George.

O`DONNELL: All right. Bookers are at work, as we speak.

Nia-Malika Henderson and Sam Stein and whenever George Clooney shows
up, we`ll thank him, too -- thanks very much for joining us tonight.

HENDERSON: Thanks, guys.

STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the unholy alliance between NASCAR, National
Rifle Association and FOX Sports Network.

And the president did some standup comedy this weekend. It`s that
time of year again. We will bring you his best jokes and reviews from
people who were there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s trick question. Who is the funniest
United States senator from Minnesota? Before you cast your vote, you might
want to see the video of one of Minnesota`s senators doing standup comedy
this past weekend. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In an episode of
"Celebrity Apprentice," at the steakhouse, the men`s cooking team did not
impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go
around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was lack of
leadership. And so ultimately you didn`t blame Little John or Meat Loaf.
You fired Gary Busey.

And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, one of the greatest moments in the history of standup
comedy. It is silly season again in Washington. This is the time of year
when the president is invited by reporters for evenings of free food and
jokes. Saturday night was the Annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, which
is closed to cameras, but with a roomful of reporters, most of what was
said has leaked out.

And this time, perhaps inspired by the Romney 47 percent secretly
recorded video, a secretly recorded video appeared yesterday on the
"Minnesota Star Tribune`s" website, starring, of all people, Minnesota`s
senior senator, Amy Klobuchar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I know I was picked to speak
tonight from a binder full of women.

(LAUGHTER)

KLOBUCHAR: You first went to Michelle Obama, but she was doing the
Oscar`s. Then you went to Hillary, and you know she doesn`t like to
travel.

(LAUGHTER)

KLOBUCHAR: And then to Susan Rice, but John McCain blocked her. And
then you ended up with me. And you should know that what I don`t have in
fame, I make up for in hard work and preparation. And I can tell you one
thing, I prepared more for this speech than the president did for his first
debate.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now from THE LAST WORD`s binder full of women,
Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Karen Tumulty, national
political reporter for "the Washington Post," who was at Saturday`s
Gridiron Dinner.

Senator Klobuchar, Minnesota already has a standup comedian in the
United States Senate. What are you trying to do here? This is Franken
territory you`re venturing into.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, Lawrence, thanks for having me on. And this is a
great time to get together with the reporters, poke some fun at them. They
poke some fun at us. And Al is still very funny. He just kind of keeps it
under wraps. But I get to hear some of his jokes.

O`DONNELL: He sure does. Now you really went at some points that
would be considered politically sensitive, but there`s something about
those rooms that allow jokes that, in any other situation, you wouldn`t
come close to being willing to tell.

What is it like to get up there with this material? The president is
there and everyone who your jokes are aimed at, almost all of them are
there. Do you feel kind of nervous about this? It is not like a
politician to be cracking wise in front of people like that.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, it is not for the risk averse. I will say that.
But I -- I will say, Bobby Jindal did a great job, the governor of
Louisiana. To sit and hear him, I thought to myself, this is kind of like
the Olympics where you have to do the extra back flip just to survive. So
I actually added a few jokes from the podium.

And -- but I will say the president had a good sense of humor and
probably I did want to know how he was going to react when I said that his
Secret Service code name -- because he had aged a bit in the White House --
had changed from Renegade to 50 Shades of Gray. Is that something I
normally say to the president of the United States? No, only in that room.

O`DONNELL: Now, did you sneak over a look at him every time you made
a joke every time, to make sure it was OK?

KLOBUCHAR: I did, because I would like to remain on his Export
Counsel, so I was hoping he was taking it in good humor.

O`DONNELL: Karen, you have been to a lot of these. And this is the
first one -- I have been to exactly one of these, a very long time ago. It
is different from all of the rest, because it really, in the past, always
was a really sealed room and next to nothing leaked out about what was said
there. Now more and more leaks out.

And finally, finally, we have secretly recorded video from the
Gridiron, which by the way, when you look at that camera angle, it wasn`t
so secretly recorded. Obviously he was just holding up a camera phone
getting the whole shot. That`s a big break for the protocol there, isn`t
it?

KAREN TUMULTY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The Gridiron club -- the
traditions of Gridiron go all the way back to the Grover Cleveland
administration. And if you look around the room, it looks as though some
of the members actually go back to the Grover Cleveland administration as
well.

But I think it got a rude introduction to the video age a few years
ago when President Bush got on stage and started singing. And boy, those
camera videos were on the Internet within seconds. I do commend Senator
Klobuchar, though, because she really got the two secrets of this. One is
self deprecating humor goes a long way. The other is topical stuff really
goes a long way.

And she was working a little blue, making jokes about the size of
General Allen`s hard drive. So she did a great job.

O`DONNELL: I am going to do for our audience -- I`m going to have to
read these, which is tragic. I have to read one of the president`s jokes.
He said, "now I`m sure that you have noticed that there`s is somebody very
special in my life who is missing tonight, someone who has always got my
back, stands with me no matter what, and gives me hope no matter how dark
things seem. So tonight I want to publicly thank my rock, my foundation,
thank you, Nate Silver."

And Karen, as you know on this program, we ran Nate Silver`s numbers
pretty much every night and we found out at election night just how
accurate they were and how reassuring they must have been, as the president
just indicated, all year for him.

TUMULTY: And he was making a joke about a number of journalists,
including Bob Woodward. He was talking about the little flap that`s been
going on with the White House and Bob Woodward. He said, but, hey, you
know, what`s the worst that could happen when a president gets into a fight
with Bob Woodward?

O`DONNELL: Senator, what is it -- what is the good of these kinds of
evenings, of the media getting together with politicians, with office
holders, and joking around like this?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, at this point in Washington, I think any function
where Republicans and Democrats are coming together is a good thing. And
there were a number of elected officials there, people talking to the
press. And it is just one more venue where people can at least try to be
civil to each other. None of the three speeches I would consider snarky.
They were all pretty positive.

By the way, my favorite joke from the president was when he talked
about how John Kerry was doing well in stepping into Hillary`s shoes, but
he was taking it too far when he was showing up every day at work in pant
suits. I thought that was actually the president`s best joke. He said he
is just too tall for pant suits. It is an ugly sight.

But in any case, I think that`s positive. For me, having my dad
there, who is 84 years old and wrote for the Minneapolis paper for nearly
40 years, sitting next to my 17-year-old daughter, who is now the editor of
her high school newspaper, that was a cool thing.

So it was a positive evening. But now we`re back at work. That was
my point at the end of the dinner, is that people need to come together and
get some things done.

O`DONNELL: Karen, it is the only place where I have seen Al Gore be
really, really funny, was at this dinner. He kind of changed his image at
that time with the Washington media in his performance that night. And was
that something that Bobby Jindal pulled off successfully?

TUMULTY: Oh, absolutely. And again, beginning with self deprecation,
he made a lot of fun of his own performance at the response to the State of
the Union Address and also then had elaborate jokes about Marco Rubio`s as
well. Again, he has actually got great comedic timing, which is, again,
something I think a lot of us had not had a chance to see before. I`m sure
there`s probably a video of that somewhere, too, that`s going to make it
out.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is now very much in the running
for Minnesota`s funniest senator, thank you very much for joining us. And
Karen Tumulty, thank you, too, for you joining us tonight.

TUMULTY: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Come up, a senator tries to stop the National Rifle
Association from sponsoring a Nascar race. That senator will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT BROWN, FORMER SENATOR: I don`t need Professor Warren talking or
speaking or commenting on my votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, Scott Brown doesn`t have to worry about that any
more. In fact, he doesn`t have to worry about anyone else ever talking or
speaking or commenting on his votes during his brief run as United States
senator. In the Rewrite tonight, the final Rewrite of Scott Brown`s
political future. Remember the day after Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy`s
Senate seat in a special election? And suddenly the Republicans had a new
big star and people started talking about Scott Brown as a possible
presidential candidate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama, JFK, they started eyeing the White
House the day they were elected to the Senate. Do you think you`re
presidential timber?

SCOTT: Listen, I don`t want to be disrespectful. But I have had no
sleep right now. I haven`t even been down to Washington yet. I don`t want
to say that`s a silly question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Turns out it was a very silly question. Not just because
Scott Brown supports a woman`s right to choose and therefore could never
win a Republican presidential primary, but also because, as we now know,
Scott Brown was just a guy who got lucky in a special election, as he
proved in his campaign to hold onto his Senate seat against Elizabeth
Warren`s challenge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Professor Warren.

Can you imagine 100 Professor Warrens down there?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Massachusetts voters only had to imagine one Professor
Warren down there. And they made that dream a reality. Now getting
reelected in Massachusetts shouldn`t have been so hard for Scott Brown.
All he had to do was distance himself from Mitch McConnell and crazy
Republicans on things Massachusetts voters obviously wouldn`t like. But
Scott Brown wasn`t smart enough to do that.

And so Elizabeth Warren beat him and beat him badly. Then when it was
clear John Kerry was on his way to becoming secretary of state and opening
another Massachusetts Senate seat for another special election, Democratic
Congressman Ed Markey was the first to announce he would run for the Kerry
seat. And everyone, but I mean everyone assumed Scott Brown would not only
run for that seat but be the front runner for that seat.

Everyone except one lonely television voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And you heard it here first, which is to say you`re
hearing it right now. Scott Brown probably won`t even run against Ed
Markey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But I didn`t know the half of it. I was pretty sure Scott
Brown was afraid to run against Ed Markey, and would instead wait and run
for governor next year, an office he would have a much better shot at
winning, because it would be an open seat. But instead, a month ago, Scott
Brown signed on as a Fox News contributor. And today, he completed a full
paylet by quitting politics entirely and simply chasing the money that his
political celebrity has earned him.

Of course, that`s not the way the political media has reported Scott
Brown`s move today. They are simply reporting that Scott Brown has decided
to take a job in the law firm Nixon Peabody, where the firm says, quote,
"he will focus his practice on business and governmental affairs."

That is the lobbying world`s euphemism for lobbying, governmental
affairs. So today, Scott Brown became a lobbyist. That`s death for a
politician ever hoping to run for office again. Even Scott Brown is smart
enough to know that. This is as clear a career moment as this was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: With this announcement that I
am not seeking re-election, I have determined it is best to transfer the
authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell. But I have given my
reasons. It`s no more politics as usual. And I`m taking my fight for
what`s right for Alaska in a new direction.

Take the words of General MacArthur. He said we are not retreating,
we are advancing in another direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The moment Sarah Palin advanced in another direction, it
was very clear she was quitting politics forever. But, of course, the
political media didn`t understand that and continued to fall for the idea
that someone who had quit a governorship half way through could actually
ask voters to vote for her again for president. Scott Brown is smart
enough to know that he cannot go off and become a lobbyist, and then take
that dreaded occupation on to a debate stage as a candidate for anything
ever again.

This is Scott Brown`s full Palin. Take Fox News` money and then go
for the money anywhere else he can. Like Sarah Palin, Scott Brown is all
about the money now.

So if you`ve got an idea for a Scott Brown reality show, you can leave
your pitch on his voicemail in the Boston office of the lobbying law firm
Nixon Peabody. But remember, Scott`s a distinguished former senator now.
So he`s going to want to keep his clothes on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: As reported on this program last month, through the
research of "The New Republic`s" Timothy Noah, the percentage of gun owners
in this country has been dropping dramatically. Now comes "the New York
Times" with a report this weekend showing the household gun ownership rate
has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the
1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s, and 35 percent in the 2000s.

The findings contrast with the impression left by a flurry of news
reports about people rushing to buy guns and clearing gun shop shelves of
assault rifles after the massacre last year in an elementary school in
Newtown, Connecticut. Regardless, the National Rifle Association continues
to inflate its clout. Last week, the NRA announced that it is partnering
with the Texas Motor Speedway and sponsoring a Nascar race in April.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said "the NRA members and Nascar fans love
their country and everything that is good and right about America. We
salute our flag, volunteer in our churches and communities, cherish our
families, and we love racing. On April 13th, we`ll all come together at
Texas Motor Speedway."

But Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy sent a letter to Nascar Chairman
and CEO Brian France asking him to say no to the NRA. Senator Murphy wrote
"by giving the NRA sponsorship of a major Nascar race, Nascar has crossed a
line. You have decided to put yourself in the middle of a political
debate. And you have taken a side that stands in opposition to the wishes
of so many Newtown families who support common sense gun reform."

The NRA sponsored race will be broadcast on Fox Sports Network.

Joining me now, Senator Chris Murphy. Senator, why should the NRA not
be sponsoring a Nascar race.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, first, let me say that
Nascar has been incredibly generous since the tragedy in my state in
Newtown. The CEO who I wrote the letter to has donated 50,000 dollars to
Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nascar`s foundation has matched it. And so
I have no complaints about what Nascar has done for Newtown. They just
made a mistake here.

The fact is that Nascar and most major American sports have stayed out
of politics. And to make a decision in the middle of a major legislative
debate over guns to essentially take a side, to announce that the NRA is
going to be sponsoring a major Nascar race at the height of a legislative
debate in which the NRA has taken a pretty extreme position, not just
against the assault weapons ban but even against background checks, I just
think is out of bounds.

I have asked the -- Nascar to take a look at it. I`m not going to
introduce legislation to stop them from doing it. But I think in the
interest of a lot of their fans who support the kind of common sense gun
measures that we`re debating here, they should stay out of this debate.

O`DONNELL: Senator, I want to go to this "New York Times" report
which follows Timothy Noah`s reporting last month, that -- this little
noticed thing that gun ownership rates are declining. It is now a minority
activity in the United States. And there`s this impression whenever these
events happen and people rush out to buy guns through the paranoia that
they`re somehow going to be prevented from buying guns -- people think that
gun ownership is going up, when, in fact, it just seems to be that people
are hoarding or amassing more and more guns in that same home that already
has guns.

MURPHY: Yeah. And listen, I think that you can tie that statistic
back to why the NRA has taken such an extreme position here. Ten years
ago, the NRA came to Washington after Columbine and actually argued for
universal background checks. Today they`re arguing against them and
frankly stirring up this paranoia that if you get a background check and a
gun store has a record of that, then that`s going to allow the government
to track you down and take your gun.

Why is the NRA doing that? I think it`s because they have become a
captive of the industry. And the industry is now reliant on feeding this
paranoia about government out to get you, because 50 percent of Americans
don`t own guns any longer. In fact, it is a very small percentage of
Americans who are hoarding and stockpiling guns because they have been fed
this paranoia of government by the NRA.

So the NRA has taken an extreme position in this debate in part
because the business model of the gun industry, which funds the NRA, is now
dependent on this small number of people buying more and more and more
dangerous weapons.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, your marketing trick as a gun manufacturer
now is how do I get someone who already has a gun to buy another gun?

MURPHY: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: And that`s why -- that`s where this paranoia sensation has
to come into the marketing, is you better buy it now or they might deprive
you of the right to buy this thing.

MURPHY: And also these assault weapons have some of the highest
profit margins of any guns that are sold. These are multi-thousand dollar
weapons, as opposed to a much cheaper pistol that used to be the common
weapon of 50 percent of American households. Or maybe a shotgun. But
those pale in comparison to the profits that are made off of the AR-15s,
the Bushmasters.

So this is a different business model than existed in the gun
industry. And the NRA, as we have shown in reports released from our
office, is making millions of dollars from the gun manufacturers in a way
that they didn`t decades ago. They`re tied together here.

O`DONNELL: And we saw progress recently in Colorado, where it is at
least as difficult to legislate in this area as it is in Washington.
They`re on their way to limiting magazine capacities to 15. Is that the
kind of thing that gives you hope for what`s possible in Washington?

MURPHY: Absolutely. I mean, the American public has decided where
they are on this. You`re talking about 90 percent of Americans who want
universal background checks; 80 percent of gun owners. The majority of
Americans want to see these assault weapons off the streets.

I mean, shame on Congress if we can`t find a way to get to where 80 to
90 percent of the American public is. I still think we are going to get
this done. And Colorado`s actions certainly hopefully give a little bit of
courage to legislators who are on the fence here in Washington.

O`DONNELL: Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
Thanks, senator.

MURPHY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END

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