updated 4/10/2013 10:57:01 AM ET 2013-04-10T14:57:01

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
April 9, 2013

Guests: Dianne Feinstein, Elizabeth Esty, Karen Finney, Ana Marie Cox, Tim
McLaughlin


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Senate has done it before. Passed an
assault weapons ban and a limit on high capacity ammunition magazines.
That was back when the United States Senate was not afraid to stand with
Dianne. Senator Dianne Feinstein joins me tonight for a LAST WORD
exclusive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s time for them
to say what they think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can emotion trump deep division?

BIDEN: Yea or nay. I`m for or I`m against.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gun debate getting personal.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: The Senate`s top Republican says he is joining
the filibuster. The filibuster threat getting a powerful ally.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senator Mitch McConnell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitch McConnell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Threatening to filibuster the gun safety bill.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Clearly, it had no bipartisan
support in committee.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: At least pretend that you`re
interested in it.

MCCONNELL: We`ll see what he decides to turn to and take a look at
that bill (ph).

STEELE: Please pretend you give a damn about what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For God`s sake, we got to have debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not just have a vote?

MCCONNELL: It clearly had no bipartisan support in committee.

TODD: He`s trying to avoid a primary in 2014.

MCCONNELL: That was my view on that.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Then, of course, there`s the "Mother
Jones" report.

HALL: Leaked recordings published today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exposing raw politics of a lot of campaigns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He and his staff game out strategies.

MCCONNELL: This is what you get from the political left in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Against actress Ashley Judd.

HALL: Including a plan to bring up past battles with depression.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s going to have to deal with what was said on
the tapes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who made the tape, who disclosed the tape?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know what was said on those tapes.

MCCONNELL: This is what you get from the political left in America.

TODD: This is how he rolls.

MCCONNELL: We are going to move to another subject.

TODD: Mitch McConnell, Republican candidate for re-election in 2014.

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is so weak in his home state.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Lawrence O`Donnell was pointing out
last night.

O`DONNELL: Leaders on either side never join filibusters.

MITCHELL: Leaders do not join filibusters.

HALL: The GOP cannot sustain a filibuster.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The American people deserve
a vote.

HALL: Changing the climate on Capitol Hill.

BIDEN: This is not going away.

REID: We`re going to vote on these things anyway.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: It really comes down to a
question of blood or guts.

REID: We`re going to vote on these things anyway.

FEINSTEIN: The blood of innocent people or the Senate of the United
States having the guts to protect the welfare of our citizens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Newtown came to Washington today, 11 family members of
some of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre walked the
halls of Congress. They were not there for the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Can I ask you about your messages for the senators?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No comment right now. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: They were there to ask members of Congress to vote for the
gun safety legislation that Senator Harry Reid will bring to the Senate
floor later this week. The bill already faces unprecedented filibuster
threat, unprecedented in that Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he
will join that filibuster, something leaders on either side usually do not
do.

Vice President Joe Biden said he spoke to one of the mothers who lost
her child at Sandy Hook who could not understand the opposition to gun
safety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: One remarkable woman who has a background in psychology and
psychiatry said, you know, how do they explain not doing anything? My
little girl, my baby, was hiding in a bathroom and she got shot through the
heart.

She was hiding in the bathroom and she got shot through the heart.
And I, having lost a child, also a spouse, and I mean -- it was such a
profound way of asserting -- don`t they understand? We`re talking about
filibustering. I mean, what are they doing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator Reid said today that he is determined to push this
bill through any procedural road blocks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: We`re going to vote on these things anyway. It will take a
little bit of time, but as I`ve said for months now, the American people
deserve a vote on background checks, on federal trafficking, on safety in
schools, on the size of clips, and yes, assault weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And they will get that vote on the size of clips and
assault weapons, thanks to the untiring commitment of Senator Dianne
Feinstein who got those provisions enacted into law 20 years ago by pushing
them as amendments on the Senate floor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, senior senator from California, Dianne
Feinstein.

Thanks for joining us tonight, Senator.

FEINSTEIN: You`re welcome, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Senator, on this program, I explained to people if they
want to see gun legislation and ammunition control legislation passed,
they`re going to have to stand with Dianne, they`re going to have to tell
their members of Congress how they feel about it.

Let`s listen to what President Obama says about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to tell
Congress it`s time to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and
a 10-round limit for magazines to make it harder for a gunman to fire 154
bullets into his victims in less than five minutes. Let`s put that to a
vote!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator, a lot of people don`t want to see that come to a
vote, but you`re going to bring it to a vote in the Senate, aren`t you?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I have a commitment from the majority leader I will
have a vote, and I take him at his word. This is an important piece of
legislation. Every single poll as you pointed out, Lawrence, has shown
that the American people support this legislation. As they do the things
in the general package. But what`s important to me is to dry up supply of
those weapons so over time they`re less apt to fall in the hands of
grievance killers, juveniles, people who are mentally disabled and
criminals.

And what I have found over the years is that these weapons are
especially attractive to these particular kinds of people, and it`s the
kind of offensive weapon that`s relatively easy to use. You don`t really
have to aim it. It`s got enormous fire power and it can spew out bullets
as quickly as you can depress what is a relatively light trigger.

O`DONNELL: Senator, you were fighting against the odds 20 years ago
when you did get this passed in the Senate. And now, you are against
unprecedented opposition. As we all know, it was very unusual for a
leader, majority or minority leader to join any kind of filibuster.

Let`s listen to what Senator Mitch McConnell, minority leader, is
saying about why he is going to join a filibuster on this bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Senator McConnell, could you explain to us why you decided
to support the filibuster efforts of the gun bill?

MCCONNELL: Yes, the particular bill that the majority leader has
indicated he may call up is one that came out of the judiciary committee on
a partisan vote. Clearly had no bipartisan support in committee, and that
was my view on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator, if that`s a reason to filibuster, that`s a reason
to filibuster an awful lot of bills that come to the Senate floor.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that`s right. Now, what`s interesting and I think
you were working in the senate at the time, when the bill came up in 1994
and it was a bill, a similar type of bill, this is an improved bill, but
when it came up, it was on an amendment. It passed on a motion to table.
There was no cloture vote.

And statements made by Republicans and Democrats alike were we should
stand up, we should debate this, and we should vote on it. It`s important
to the nation to know where people stand on a matter as important to this.

And it passed the Senate, it went to the House, and the bill itself
was never amended in either the House or the Senate, and then it went to
the president, and, of course, the president signed it. So it was the law
of the land for 10 years, and it did dry up the supply of these weapons.

O`DONNELL: Senator, what I think is so crucial about your amendments,
especially the magazine limitation is the massacres we are talking about in
the last couple years involved legally obtained weaponry. And so, for
example, in Connecticut that shooter wouldn`t have had a 30-round magazine
because everything there was legally obtained. That family was limiting
itself to what was legally available. And so, if your bill was to pass, as
it has passed in Connecticut in the state legislature, there would have
been a 10-bullet limit that that shooter was working with that day.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that`s right. And that obviously reduces the number
of people that he can kill, particularly it provides an opportunity for
somebody to get to him and disable him.

This has been, you know, such a hard go this time because I think the
partisanship has really put people in a position where they are not able to
do what`s best for the country, and there is no way that I can see that
what`s best for the country is let these kinds of weapons multiply in our
society so that they`re more easily available to people who would misuse
them.

I like to point out one thing. A background check or some mental law
wouldn`t change the fact that this mother, Nancy Lanza, gave this weapon to
her son, that he gave a seriously disturbed young man weapons, that he
taught the young man -- that she taught the young man how to use these
weapons, and, of course, the first person this young man killed was his own
mother. And then he went to Sandy Hook.

To me, this is such a devastating incident which likely can be
replicated, was replicated to some extent in the Gabby Giffords event. I
have a very hard time understanding why Americans are really going to be
safer with these kinds of offensive weapons that are constructed all for
military use to kill large numbers of people in close combat. Why is our
nation better because juveniles and grievance killers and gangs can get
hold of these weapons to go against police, to go into a law firm, into a
theater, into a mall and just mow down people?

O`DONNELL: Senator, there are some Republicans who are not afraid of
having this vote, and about eight of them said publicly that they will vote
to allow the bill to proceed and get to a vote and you`ll be able to get to
the vote that you want on your amendment. So it looks like we`re going to
get there. The delays that Mitch McConnell and others might engage in
might take a few days. One of the Republicans has said we just want to
drag this out for three more days of debate.

I would think three more days of debate is something that you would
welcome on the Senate floor as an opportunity to continue to make your
case.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I do welcome it, particularly, on this bill. Now,
the package has a number of other bills on it, and if cloture mode is on
the package, that`s a different thing. But when my bill is able to come
up, and it`s not just my bill, we have 22 co-sponsors, talked to a large
number of people about it.

As I said, every poll shows America supports it. That`s what`s so
amazing to me. I mean, this isn`t something that 10 percent, 20 percent,
30 percent of Americans support. It`s something that has the majority of
Americans supporting it. It is something that helps guarantee the safety.
I very much liked what the president said last night because many people
say when an infant is caught up, just in D.C. alone, we had three young
children shot in the crossfire, and the answer is well, they`re in the
wrong place at the wrong time.

These children were in the right place at the right time. They were
where they were supposed to be and that place where they were supposed to
be has always been known as a safe place, an elementary school.

O`DONNELL: Senator Dianne Feinstein, thank you very much for joining
us tonight.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a stunning tape of a Republican senator
insulting the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Joy Reid and Ari Melber will join me for that.

And another stunning tape of how Republicans plan to attack Ashley
Judd if she ran for Senate.

And, later, for 10 years, a Marine has been hiding the American flag
wrapped around the statue of Saddam Hussein before it fell. That Marine
will join me tonight and tell us what that flag has come to mean to him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A candidate who supported a ban on assault weapons won
special election in Illinois to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson,
Jr. The Democratic candidate, former State Representative Robin Kelly got
81 percent of the vote. Kelly received more than $2 million in help from
ads paid for by the anti-gun PAC created by New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg. Kelly has vowed to be a leader in the federal fight for gun and
ammunition controls.

Up next, that shocking tape of a Republican senator insulting the
families of the massacre victims at Sandy Hook elementary school.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: What provisions would you like to see passed
in Washington? What do you think will be most effective?

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Personally, I would think limiting magazine size
and universal background check, if I had to pick two.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything that helps reduce gun trafficking and
straw purchases.

PELLEY: Straw purchases are those when a person has a clean record
buys a gun for a person who would not have been able to pass a background
check. It happens all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct. That is common sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Common sense laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As of tonight, not a single Republican senator thinks that
that is common sense.

For one of those senators, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, apparently enough
time has passed since 12/14 that he now feels free to actually insult the
parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook. This is what he said to
"Huffington Post" reporter Jen Bendery today.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), INHOFE: I think it is so unfair the
administration to hurt these families to make them think this has something
to do with them, when it doesn`t.

REPORTER: They seem to feel it does.

INHOFE: Well, that`s because they have been told that by the
president.

REPORTER: Thank you.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me for her reaction to what Senator Inhofe just
said, Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty whose district includes
Newtown.

Congresswoman Esty, apparently, for Senator Inhofe, the parents are
fair game to go after politically?

REP. ELIZABETH ESTY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, I think it shows how some
people are very out of touch. We have seen it with some leadership in the
NRA. But I will tell you it is clear across the country, Americans want a
vote on these very important provisions because they want their communities
to be safer. And it`s not just the Newtown families, it`s everyone who has
lost a loved one from gun violence, and that is all over this great
country.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, he is not the first one to be condescending and
insulting. It may be the single, most vile such thing I`ve heard a senator
say.

JOY REID, THE GRIO: It is incredible that there isn`t more
sensitivity to the fact that the Newtown families are why we have gotten
this far on gun control, because even when a member -- one of their own
colleagues was shot, when Gabby Giffords was shot, that wasn`t enough to
move Congress to do something real and substantive. But the tragedy that
these families faced was so unimaginable. Any parent, any grandparent as I
imagine he might be, I don`t understand how you could say anything at all
that was less than charitable to them. But to say this has nothing to do
with them, this has everything to do with them. This is why those families
are on Capitol Hill.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, you saw them Sunday with Scott Pelley on "60
Minutes." These are no one`s puppets. These are very smart people that
lived through a hell that they`re still living through.

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Right. And they`re living through the policy
ramifications of a stranglehold on any measures to deal with gun safety in
this country. That`s not to blame any individual member of Congress.

It`s a complex equation of how things get done or not done, but it is
incredibly frustrating, and outrageous, to hear members say that somehow
they should be legislating in the dark and not thinking about the families
-- not only these families but all of the families that have to live with
the repercussions of a system where, as you`ve reported, 90 percent of the
country can support something that`s common sense. But the NRA says no
vote, so we don`t even get a vote.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Joe Biden said today about the
limitation on magazine clips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The cops came in two and a half minutes in Sandy Hook, only
had 10 rounds in the clip, he`d have to change that round, that magazine
another three times. Somebody would be alive. They don`t get how really
smart people don`t get that. I mean, they really don`t get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Represent Esty, the vice president was saying things we
heard the parents and other family members of other victims of Sandy Hook
say about that issue of reloading, that the longer these massacres can go
on without the shooter having to reload, the more people are going to be
dead.

ESTY: Well, and we know that for a fact in what happened at Sandy
Hook. Eleven children escaped from a classroom while he was changing
magazines. And he chose to take the 30-round magazines with him. He left
at home the 10 and the 15-round magazines. What he took with him were the
30s. He knew very well what he was doing and intended to kill the maximum
number of people.

And so, that shows right there, it was very intentional on his part
and that shows the difference that every single second makes a difference.

O`DONNELL: And, Joy Reid, this is why I love seeing Dianne Feinstein
standing and fighting with all of the Beltway pundits saying it is
hopeless, forget about it -- she`s going to get these magazines to a vote
in the Senate and get assault weapons to a vote in the Senate, and the idea
that you want to make sure on the Republican side, you want to make sure
our mass murderers are the best equipped mass murderers in the world. You
want to be sure that they can fire as many bullets as they want without
having to reload, that position to be defended on the Senate floor is
something Dianne Feinstein is going to force, she`s going to force them to
make that position.

REID: She`s going to make them (INAUDIBLE). Her assault weapons ban
is an amendment, she`s not even getting it into the main bill.

And I think a lot -- you`re starting to seeing cracks on the
Republican side, among senators who are really asking themselves whether
they want to stand with these Tea Party freshmen, with Ted Cruz, and with
Rand Paul, and with Mike Lee, and whether they want to go over the cliff
with them, because public opinion is so firmly against them.

Those Newtown families have been very firm, very determined. They are
on the Hill, they are calling these guys. And it`s got to be much more
difficult to say no to them one on one, which is why a lot of them are
trying to avoid talking to Newtown families.

And I think the fact we`re going to get a cloture vote, debate the
bill, is in large part because of that pressure.

MELBER: Well, and, Lawrence, to Joy`s point, this is how the Senate
works. The Republicans had a higher filibuster rate for this president
than at any other point in history. Their problem is they have a Tea Party
Caucus now that actually preaches what the Republicans practice. That is
the shift.

And "The New York Times" was reporting that tonight, saying
Republicans voted to block debate on bills scores of times in the last few
years, but they usually do so without bragging. And I think that is the
potential here, that you have these guys -- mostly young men -- who have
come in, the new freshmen Republicans and they`re very excited to point out
the fact that they like to use the power of obstruction and distortion to
block democracy.

And on certain issues, they obviously get away with it. I think on
this issue, if voices rise around the country, they may not get away with
it this time.

O`DONNELL: Representative Esty, you were on Air Force One flying from
Connecticut with the president and some of the families. What was it like
to be on that flight?

ESTY: Well, it was very emotional. These families have extraordinary
courage and commitment, unimaginable reserves of strength and they are
fueled by this conviction that this country can and must do better, and I
fully agree with them. And I think it would be hard pressed for a member
of the Senate to sit in a quiet office with these families and explain to
them why it`s OK to leave these large capacity magazines, hundreds of
millions of them, out there, why it`s OK that we have half of Vietnam War
gun death every year. The entire 300 -- you know, 30,000 Americans die
every year and that`s OK, that that`s the best we can do.

That`s what these families are saying, we can do better and they`re
absolutely right, we can and we must do better for them and for everyone in
this country.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Joy Reid and Ari Melber,
thank you all for joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you.

ESTY: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a secretly recorded tape that tells us just how
Republicans plan to attack Ashley Judd if she ran for Senate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: This just in: seriously, just handed to me. An official
response from the U.S. government about Beyonce and Jay-Z`s trip to Cuba.

A statement from the Treasury Department says, "It is our
understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to
an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized to sponsor and
organize programs to promote people to people contact in Cuba." And the
agencies they say they do not restrict the subject matter of the
educational activities, just must result in meaningful contact with the
Cuban people. And I think we saw meaningful contact with the Cuban people
right there on that video.

The statement also says that the Treasury applies criteria uniformly
for these trips. No special treatment here whatsoever, no special
treatment.

Up next, the audio tape of Senator Mitch McConnell plotting against
Ashley Judd.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight, the personal attacks on Ashley Judd that
Republicans were planning if she chose to run for Senate. On February 2nd,
Senator Mitch McConnell`s Kentucky re-election team held a private meeting
at campaign headquarters in Louisville. An anonymous source recorded Mitch
McConnell saying this about anyone who might run against him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: This is the whack a mole period
of the campaign, when anybody sticks their head up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The McConnell aid who led the meeting said this about
Ashley Judd, who was at that time publicly considering a run for
McConnell`s seat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First person we`ll focus on, Ashley Judd.
Basically I refer to her as sort of the oppo research situation where
there`s a haystack of needles. Just because truly there`s such a wealth of
material.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly she`s obviously emotionally unbalanced.
It`s been documented.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After "Mother Jones" revealed this tape today, Ashley Judd
released a statement saying "we expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell
and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression, which
many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing
matter."

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee said today, quote, "Senator
McConnell should apologize to the millions of Americans who suffer from
depression and don`t believe it`s a laughing matter."

Today, Mitch McConnell defended his planned attack on Ashley Judd this
way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONNELL: As you know, last month my wife`s ethnicity was attacked
by a left wing group in Kentucky and then apparently they also bugged my
headquarters. Quite a Nixonian move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Richard Nixon was, of course, a Republican. NBC News
Chuck Todd reports that late yesterday, the McConnell campaign hired a
security firm to search their headquarters for a bug, so they say. They
found nothing. "Mother Jones" editor David Corn, who released the tape
today, told MSNBC this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES": We did not make the tape. We were
provided the tape. And that it is our understanding that the tape was not
part of any Watergate style bugging operation, as Mitch McConnell has
claimed it to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular senator in America,
according to new public policy polling. Only 36 of Kentucky voters approve
of Mitch McConnell`s job performance, 54 percent disapprove.

Joining me now, Karen Finney who will soon host a new weekend program
here on MSNBC and Ana Marie Cox, political columnist for "the Guardian."

Karen Finney, surely we expected they would be doing some kind of
opposition research on Ashley Judd, as Ashley Judd moved toward a decision
on running. But these guys were obviously going to play it as ugly as
could be imagined.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Oh, absolutely. And look, on the one
hand, whereas I do not condone what they were doing and I would not, if I
were part of a campaign, feel comfortable using that line of attack, we
know that that`s the way this game is played. You and I have both worked
in politics long enough to know that that is part of the unfortunate
reality.

What I find priceless, though, is the classic deflection, right? He
did not -- if you`re going to sit in a room and say this is how we`re going
to attack somebody, then be a man and have the guts to defend that, right,
when you go out. Don`t try to deflect by saying oh, these Nixonian
tactics, which they apparently, as far as I understand by this afternoon,
they have not been able to prove that any of that is true.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox, the flaw in this attack strategy is that
you cannot really successfully attack someone in politics for something
they have written about themselves, something they have talked about
publicly. In fact, it is something that would have humanized Ashley Judd
as a candidate along with several other things that would humanize her.
And that`s what makes this stuff so crazy, is that you can`t take her own
revelations and throw them at her.

ANA MARIE COX, "THE GUARDIAN": Watch what you were saying about
crazy. But people are still coming through in "Dreams From my Father,"
thinking they`re going to find some golden nugget. So I am not surprised
that they`re trying to do this. I, for one, am a little disappointed that
Ashley Judd won`t be running and they won`t try to use this in line of
attack, because I think things have changed, are changing a lot in this
country when it comes to depression.

About one in ten Americans will at some point be hospitalized for
depression -- will be treated for depression. I would like to kind of see
someone in the modern era try to use that attack against somebody and see
it work. I think, you know, there`s a strong likelihood that someone in
our immediate vicinity has suffered depression if you`re just standing next
to another person, you know.

So I kind of almost hope this fight gets picked at some point, and I`m
sorry that it is not Mitch McConnell that is going to pick it, because he
is so unpopular. He could really do a lot of good for people who are
advocating for mental health.

O`DONNELL: No, I completely agree with you, Ana Marie. Karen, I
think Mitch McConnell showed today how flat footed he is about this stuff,
thinking he can use a Tweet that some group put out a couple months ago
about his wife as the defense of why I would want to try to throw dirt on
Ashley Judd and ridicule her in some way.

FINNEY: But also trying to use that Tweet as proof, right, that
there`s a vast left wing conspiracy against him, right? I mean, it is
ridiculous. The other thing that -- to your point about the mental health
issues, we say in this country we want politicians who will be candid and
honest and forthright. I respect the fact that Ashley Judd was very honest
about her depression, how she handled it.

I think that that is actually healthy. A lot of people would say
that`s what you should be able to do and you should not then be stigmatized
for it. So I agree with Ana Marie that I think actually that would have
likely backfired. But again, I think the flatfooted nature, as you point
out, of the response just shows how embarrassed McConnell must be for
having participating in such a shameful meeting.

O`DONNELL: Ana Marie, here is a guy who is in serious polling trouble
in his own state now. How do you think he is doing with the women`s vote
as of -- I don`t know -- around right now tonight in Kentucky?

COX: Yeah, doesn`t look so good. I just agree with Karen. The whole
set up here shows -- she said flat footed, I think tin eared. He is
basically some kind of cartoon character in search of a cartoon from the
`30s in which he will fit in. He really doesn`t have an ear for what
people want. And he kind of represents the entire Republican party in that
sense. I don`t think he is going to find a lot of women scrambling to that
headquarters, whether it`s bugged or not.

O`DONNELL: And if he wants to find depression around him, all he
needs to do is look at his colleagues on the Senate floor, 100 of the most
depressed men in America. Karen Finney and Ana Marie -- and Women. Karen
Finney and Ana Marie Cox, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Coming up, Rewriting Grover Norquist about taxes in America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: As the most dreaded day of the year looms large, it is
time to Rewrite America`s understanding of just how dreaded April 15th
should be. At midnight six days from now, you had better have your income
tax return postmarked or electronically filed, or else -- or else nothing
really. You can also file for an extension of time if you need one. But
April is that time of year where it is easy for taxpayers to feel heavily
taxed.

May is that time of year when most taxpayers don`t feel so heavily
taxed because 75 percent of you will be getting refunds from the IRS. The
commander in chief of the anti-tax party, Grover Norquist, leads every
Republican in the constant chant that the United States is just drowning in
taxation, that we can`t possibly be competitive in the world with such a
harsh tax burden weighing down on this country.

These are the very same people who you`ve just seen in the last two
days worshipping at the feet of Margaret Thatcher. Many of them say she
was even stronger and tougher than their much mythologized Ronald Reagan.
As I reported here last night in a segment that was misunderstood by some
as praise for Margaret Thatcher, Thatcher was a fiscal conservative by
British standards. But there are two areas in which she stood far to the
left of any American president and any American politician of her time or
our time.

She preserved a top income tax rate of 60 percent for 10 of her 11
years in office. That`s 20 points higher than the top income tax rate
under President Clinton and now under President Obama. That is a very
liberal top income tax rate by American standards. She raised taxes on
lower incomes and then she doubled the national sales tax, known as value
added tax, which hits low income people the hardest.

She pushed her country`s tax regime in a regressive direction, but she
maintained an extremely high overall tax burden on the United Kingdom, a
tax burden unimaginable in the United States. She actually increased taxes
as a percentage of GDP. She pushed it up to 35 percent when she left
office, and that`s where it remains today. So much for Margaret Thatcher`s
slaying of the beast of British taxation.

Taxation went up under her. The reason Margaret Thatcher had to
maintain such a high tax burden in the United Kingdom is that she had a lot
of expensive socialism to pay for in Britain, which she had absolutely no
intention of eliminating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The principles of
adequate health care should be provided for all, regardless of ability to
pay, must be the foundation of any arrangement for financing the health
service. We stand by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That is the most expensive socialism you can stand by,
universal health care coverage. She got rid of a few other small
socialistic things, some socialized industries, sure, but she kept the most
expensive socialism that the United Kingdom had. And there is not one
elected Republican in Washington who agrees with one word that Margaret
Thatcher just said.

The United Kingdom really does have universal health care coverage.
The United States does not. And the United States still will not come
close to universal coverage after all of Obamacare is completely
implemented. That law was never designed to be a universal coverage bill,
despite the rhetoric surrounding it.

Our politics have simply surrendered the possibility of achieving
universal health care coverage, what Margaret Thatcher called the principle
that adequate health care should be provided for all. This country`s
refusal to provide adequate health care for all, even under the new law, is
what allows the United States to be one of the least taxed modern economies
in the world.

As this chart shows, 31 countries have a higher tax burden than the
United States. Another way to look at that chart is as a measurement of
what the government provides for its people, and another way to say that is
you are looking at a chart that measures how socialist these countries are.
Denmark, of course, is at the top, taking 47.6 percent cut out of the
economy for taxation. Sweden is almost as much, almost as high.

You move almost halfway down that chart and you find the United
Kingdom right where Margaret Thatcher left the United Kingdom, with an
economy that is about one-third socialism. Then you keep sliding down past
Israel and Canada and Ireland and Australia and there -- there is the
United States, at about 25 percent. we`re just about half as socialistic
as Denmark and a third less socialistic than the United Kingdom.

And as a result, our government provides less for its citizens than
those other countries, less of a social safety net. We are as a government
less generous and as a people less taxed. Those numbers include all forms
of taxation, state, local, federal, corporate, all of it.

The reason Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist stay in this country and
fight for lower taxation is there is not one lower taxed country in the
world that they would rather live in. They are living in the world`s
biggest tax haven, the United States of America. Why hasn`t Mitt Romney
moved to the Cayman Islands where he could live an intensely boring life
with his money? Because he`s living in the tax haven of the United States.
He doesn`t have to move to the Cayman Islands. He is living in the country
where he only has to pay 14 percent on his giant income.

And so as you sweat through the complexities of your tax returns or
you cross your fingers while you watch your accountant do that for you,
know that the good news is you are living in a country with a very low tax
burden, and the bad news is because of that low tax burden, you are living
in a country where good, deserving people who need government`s help
continue to suffer. They suffer deprivations that none of the other
countries on that chart would allow them to suffer in health care and other
needs.

They suffer deprivations that are unthinkable in the United Kingdom in
Margaret Thatcher`s time or our time. Their suffering is the price that we
pay to be at the bottom of that list.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: The scenes of free Iraqis
celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues
of Saddam Hussein in center of Baghdad are breathtaking. Watching them,
one can`t help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the
Iron Curtain. We are seeing history unfold, events that will shape the
course of a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was 10 years ago on this very day, April 9th, the day
U.S. Marines helped topple the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. As you
will recall just before the statue fell, a Marine climbed the ladder and
placed an American flag over the face of Saddam Hussein. Less than two
minutes later, that American fag was replaced with an Iraqi flag, but
photographic images of that American flag over Saddam Hussein`s face were
already being sent all over the world.

Today on Salon.com, Jordan Heller said this about that briefly famous
American flag, "the flag has become more burden than trophy for Tim
McLaughlin, the Marine who trucker the now infamous flag in his duffle
across ocean and desert and back again. It has become a symbol of the
sanitized idea of war, of the lies and myths that nations spin to burnish
their aggression. And that`s why he has hidden the conflicted banner away
in a safety deposit box in a small town bank in New Hampshire.`

Joining me now, former Marine Lieutenant Tim McLaughlin. Thanks for
joining us tonight, Tim.

FMR. LT. TIM MCLAUGHLIN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: My pleasure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Tim, tell us the story of this flag, where it came from,
why you brought it with you to Iraq?

MCLAUGHLIN: Sure. The first part is it is neither a burden nor a
trophy for me. It is just a personal flag that I think you`d find most
Marines would have with them, and if not a Marine Corps flag or an American
flag, then some sort of sticker, because the Marine Corps is a patriotic
service. That`s just what it is. So this flag was given to me a few days
after the 9/11 attacks. It didn`t come from the Pentagon, although I
worked there at the time.

And I just carried it with me because I had it. So when we packed our
duffel bags and went to Iraq, it came with me. I tried to take a picture a
few times of my personal flag. We got shot at once. We got a flagpole run
over another time. And when we arrived in the square, my company commander
said, hey, Mack, we`re not getting shot at. Let`s get a picture of your
flag.

And what I think I didn`t perceive at the time is that the world`s
media were filming that for the rest of the world to see it. so from my
point of view, it is just my flag that I took a picture of. It is not a
burden or a trophy. But at the same time, I understand the world saw it.
And it is laden with symbolism and that`s OK, too.

O`DONNELL: Why have you kept it hidden for the last 10 years?

MCLAUGHLIN: Again, I wouldn`t say I kept it hidden. I just keep it
because it`s mine. I don`t share it with the rest of the world because I
never intended to, in the first place. And it has a lot of personal
meaning to me, which would be different than the symbolic meaning it would
have for you or anybody else who saw it. For me, it reminds me of what
came beforehand, which was a lot of death and destruction for both Marines
and Iraqis, and what came afterwards. Corporal Gonzales was killed a few
days later, and then a war kept going for 10 years.

So I keep it to myself because it has personal meaning to me, which
wasn`t intended for the world`s consumption. But there it is.

O`DONNELL: Tim, tell us about when that flag went on it, did you all
realize at a certain point, this is a mistake, that`s not the flag that
should be there?

MCLAUGHLIN: No. Keep in mind, it is the Marine Corps. I would never
think of the American flag as a mistake. In years since, I`ve understood
that the world has lots of opinions about that. And that`s fine, and
that`s part of why I keep it to myself because it was never intended to
foster a conversation about is it an occupation, should or shouldn`t it
have been done. It is the Marine Corps. the Marine Corp loves its flag.
We love our country. and when you ask young men and women to go invade a
country, we don`t think of it from a political point of view. We think
about it as doing what our country has asked us to do, and the country is
reflected in my American flag.

That`s the story.

O`DONNELL: And Tim, you worked -- I just want to close. You worked
in the Pentagon and you were working there on 9/11, but you weren`t
actually in the building when the plane hit.

MCLAUGHLIN: No, I had just stepped out for my morning run. I was
across the river near the Jefferson Memorial. Then I ran back, forced my
way into the building and spent the day working in the inner courtyard
helping firefighters rescue personnel with ladders and stuff.

O`DONNELL: Did you know then, Tim, that day you were going to be
going to war?

MCLAUGHLIN: I knew that I was in the Marine Corps. And I knew that
the world just got a lot more complex. And I know that the Marine Corps
goes to war.

O`DONNELL: Tim McLaughlin gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you, Tim.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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