updated 10/16/2013 12:45:54 PM ET 2013-10-16T16:45:54

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 15, 2013
Guest: Chris Van Hollen, Steve LaTourette, Mark Patterson; Josh Singer

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: House Republicans discover they don`t
have the votes for any of their crazy ideas. And now, once again, it falls
to the United States Senate to find a way out of this mess.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High drama over the government shutdown and debt
ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like senators are getting it together.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We made tremendous progress.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY: We had a good day.

REID: I`m very optimistic.

MCCONNELL: I share his optimism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We may be on the verge of a deal that could end
this government shutdown.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: We just talked to our
members. It`s been very clear.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There are a lot of
opinions about what directions to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Republicans offering a new plan.

BOEHNER: We`re working with our members on a way forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That add demand to a bipartisan deal.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Sabotaging a good faith
bipartisan effort.

UINIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate is working on.

PELOSI: This is very, very damaging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They learned nothing.

PELOSI: Reckless, irresponsible. Radical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Playing to the lowest possible common denominator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s just another waste of time.

PELOSI: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House deal collapsed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Boehner does not have the votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he in control?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cannot simply move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One member said to me, it was a caca sandwich.

BOEHNER: A lot of opinions about what direction to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boehner is still held captive.

REID: This isn`t the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw this with the fiscal cliff. We saw this
with the farm bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Boehner does not have the votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same problem here.

PELOSI: So, why are they doing this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just get closer and closer to the edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are about to default.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody gets hurt.

PELOSI: In this case, time is money.

BOEHNER: We`re working with our members on a way forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a battle for the soul of the Republican
Party.

REID: I`m very disappointed with John Boehner.

PELOSI: What a speaker has to do is get the job done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: John Boehner spent the day proving to the crazies in his
party that it is impossible for anything that the crazies want to pass the
House of Representatives.

First, Boehner and the leadership offered Republicans in the House the
option of voting on something similar to the Senate agreement with the
difference being some changes to the Affordable Care Act. It quickly
became clear in their meeting that Republicans did not have enough votes to
pass that.

Then, John Boehner offered Republicans the option of maybe voting for
something like the Senate deal, but with simply a provision that would
strip congressional members and their staff and the president and his
cabinet and the vice president of their employer subsidized health
insurance. It became clear very quickly that Republicans did not have
enough votes to pass that version of the bill, either.

At this hour, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell continued to work on a
Senate agreement. President Obama is scheduled to meet with Treasury
Secretary Jack Lew tomorrow afternoon. Today, the ratings agency, Fitch,
put the United States AAA credit rating on a negative watch.

"Although Fitch continues to believe that the debt ceiling will be
raised soon, the political brinksmanship and reduced financing flexibility
could increase the risk of a U.S. default. The U.S. risks being forced to
incur widespread delays of payments to suppliers and employees as well as
Social Security payments to citizens, all of which would damage the
perception of U.S. sovereign credit worthiness and the economy."

In an interview with WABC in New York City, President Obama described
how he sees the problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The problem that we`ve
got is that for Speaker Boehner, for example, him negotiating with me isn`t
necessarily good for the extreme faction in his caucus. It weakens him.
So there have been repeated situations where we have agreements. And then
he goes back and it turns out that he can`t control his caucus.

So, the challenge here is, can you deliver on agreements that are
made? Are you able to come up with sensible bipartisan compromises and
deliver on them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Democrat
from Maryland and a ranking member of the Budget Committee. He was one of
the Democratic leaders who met with President Obama in the Oval Office
today.

Congressman Van Hollen, first of all, the state of play at this very
minute as you understand it.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, the state of play is that
after this failed attempt by some of the Tea Party Caucus in the House to
sabotage the bipartisan Senate talks which as you say collapsed now the
Senate talks are back on track. In a -- by all accounts, Harry Reid, Mitch
McConnell are very close.

And so, if they can close that deal, then, the question of course is
how long it takes it to go out of the Senate? Whether Senator Cruz will
try to drag this thing out. And then, of course, next is whether Speaker
Boehner will finally stand up to the Tea Party Caucus in the House and
allow us to have a vote to prevent the default and open the government.

O`DONNELL: In your meeting with the president today, was there some
kind of general agreement, policy, and strategic about how to handle this
as we go forward?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, yes, the president again had hopes that the
bipartisan Senate agreement would get back on track, number one. Number
two, he emphasized again, what he has all along, which is that he is
absolutely negotiate on budget issues with Republicans. The Republicans
have their House budget. We have our Democratic budgets.

But what he is not willing to do is to allow Republicans to hold the
full faith and credit of the United States hostage, and hold the government
hostage to extract these outrageous demands. I think the most important
thing coming out of these discussions is that we`ll have established that
principle and precedent.

Now, not that Tea Party guys will have learned that lesson, but will
have demonstrated in the period of time that the president was absolutely
firm and committed to those principles.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something that Nancy Pelosi said after
the meeting at the White House today. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: It sounds like in the end, you are trusting John Boehner
will, in your mind, do the right thing and put a clean bill or something
clean enough on the floor. And you trust John Boehner will not let the
country default?

PELOSI: I don`t know what the see sequencing of it is, but yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Congressman, has that always been your assumption that, in
the end, John Boehner would not let the country default?

VAN HOLLEN: It has, after he exhausted all of the other crazy
alternatives as you said.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

VAN HOLLEN: Here is a guy who said to his caucus a few months ago
that it would be a mistake to go down this road. They totally override
him, right? Senator Cruz got everybody whipped up. They overrode their
speaker.

So, he has thrown them a bone at every juncture. And now, I think
he`s sort of say, look, we are out of rope here. And, that`s what we are
hoping that he will conclude for the good of the country not to allow us to
go over the precipice.

O`DONNELL: But he seems to have the problem, that were he to conclude
these things a day sooner than he does -- his party just would not
understand it.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s been the continuing problem. How do you
negotiate with somebody who has no negotiating authority? How do you
negotiate with somebody, Lawrence, when you get a deal it lasts a
nanosecond until Senator Cruz calls or whips up the Tea Party caucus in the
House?

And this does not bode well going forward, because -- assuming we get
over this hurdle. We have just got these -- new timetables set, right?
You got January 15th, February 7th, and unless Speaker Boehner is able to
finally get negotiating authority. And there is no sign that he will, it`s
going to be very hard to conduct the budget negotiations and avoid a repeat
of what we are seeing now.

So -- again. We are hoping that the Tea Party caucus has learned its
lesson. But by all evidence suggests that they still haven`t. Witness
what happened today in the House.

O`DONNELL: Quickly before go, Congressman, what is your assessment of
the timetable in getting this done with the clock now ticking down to the
point where -- the treasury, by the end of the week, will no longer be able
to meet all its obligations?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it really depends on whether Senator Cruz and, some
of the folks who have been, you know, working for government shutdown,
whether they use all the time on the clock that they have got.

As you know, there`s this revised cloture rule. I don`t know if Harry
Reid and Mitch McConnell would invoke that. But no matter what Senator
Cruz if he chose, could run 30 hours on the clock. Again, I hope he won`t
do it. But you got to believe that some of the House Republicans are going
to be looking at him saying, you know after you egged us on, what are you
doing?

So, again, hope, cooler heads will prevail. But if Senator Cruz takes
up all of the time, he, he could. Then, obviously, we could go past that
midnight hour. If he doesn`t, there is a question of getting it over off
to the House, and Speaker Boehner then has to bring it up for a vote.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, we just got word that the United States
Senate adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow. That means the deal-making is
going on furiously.

KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: Yes, absolutely right. I think as we are
watching this end game. We can sort of start to see how this is going to
play out.

It becomes increasingly clear that all of this, the two weeks of
government shut down, the back and forth, the threatening staffers health
care, all of this stuff has been about one thing and one thing alone, and
that is providing cover for John Boehner so that he can go to his caucus
and say, I did everything I possibly could, and now we are done to the
wire. And I have to save the country.

I mean , the sad fact of the matter is, though, even after exhausting
all of those options. They are never going to be satisfied with him and
what he did. It will never be far enough.

So, when we think about who is going to learn a lesson from this
crisis, I think we need to give of on the Tea Party caucus. They`re never
going to learn the lesson.

O`DONNELL: I`ve given up.

BALL: They are never going to learn the lesson. But of maybe we will
see more courage next time from the, quote-unquote, "reasonable Republicans
in the caucus."

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, here is a great demonstration. I`ve got video
demonstration for you. Just how crazy the Tea Party members of the House
of Representatives are, I want you to listen to now, to the voice of
reason, Pat Robertson. Yes, Pat Robertson. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: The Republicans have got to wave the
white flag and say we fought a good fight. Now, it`s over. They cannot
shut the government down and then, bring about a default. We can`t do it.
I mean, it would, it would be devastating, economically, to every human
being, and the Republicans just can`t get tired with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Ted Cruz new bumper sticker, crazier than Pat
Robertson.

BALL: That`s a winning message in Texas, I think.

ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: You have to be careful. If Pat Robertson is
your voice of reason and your voice of, you know, science.

O`DONNELL: Whoever put that in his teleprompter. You are exactly
right.

MELBER: I think if Americans take one thing from this. There wasn`t
just a government shutdown. There was a democracy shutdown. And the way
this thing ends is tomorrow or the next day, whenever we got to this end
game as we are apparently getting closer, from, sources in both parties.

It will end the way it could have been prevented to begin with, with
finally a Democratic vote on the House floor. That John Boehner, as
Krystal was mentioning, has been preventing the entire time. That I think
is what is so important here.

And as you know from election night when you were predicting some of
the debt ceiling shenanigans, when we looked in the Senate, there are
always people who vote against it. There were 66 Republicans who voted
against the last debt ceiling hike, after they got the super committee
sequester cut compromise, the concessions the president realized he would
never issue again.

So, the 49 members of the Tea Party, plus a couple other whackos, a
nice term for what, what they`re doing may always be against this. But the
majority including Republicans will hike it soon as John Boehner gets out
of the way of the majority rule.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen, to another thing, Nancy Pelosi said
today about what this has already cost us. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: People are now going to pay more for their interest on loans
for student loans their mortgage, their car payments, their credit card
bills. If they`re small business owners, they`re going to pay more
interest on their business loans.

So, your interest will go up, and your 401(k) will go down. Anyone
here have a 401(k)? Do you check it from time to time? This is what is at
stake here and how it directly affects people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Some short term interest rates off already gone up, Chris.

BALL: That`s right. We saw large negative economic impact from the
last debt ceiling impasse. I mean, we can`t continuing to do this to
ourselves, even if we don`t go over the edge, we are hurting ourselves
economically, we`re already hurting the world`s confidence in our country
to be able to resolve this crisis.

And if we keep tiptoeing up to edge, one day we are going to go over
and that`s why I think it`s been so important for Democrats to say, no, you
get nothing. Even if it is something about, you can`t have anything
because it will encourage them to do this again and again and again.

O`DONNELL: Senator Lindsey Graham trying to counter the Ted Cruz
impact in the House of Representatives, by publicly saying encouraging
things to John Boehner, about, you know, go ahead, we are with you. You
are a good man. You know? He wants him to be able to have the strength to
defy this Tea Party.

MELBER: Yes. And he also wants to send a message. A big part of
what the Republican grassroots has done is actually set themselves back,
because they have raised the bar for what it means to be a conservative.

BALL: That`s not possible, you know?

MELBER: Right? And when you do that in the primary, you do that
(INAUDIBLE), that can make sense.

What they have done here is make it so no one is a conservative.
That`s why, Hastert said, this isn`t a Hastert Rule, Trent Lott, our old
Republican Mississippi friend, said, I couldn`t work with these guys. So,
long term, they have hurt themselves. Short term, I fear they`re still
hurting the country.

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

MELBER: Thanks.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up -- threatening default has already cost the
government millions. We`ll explain how.

In the rewrite tonight, one of our greatest and most experience
actors, Sir Anthony Hopkins, rewrites the history of acting and crowns a
new king of acting. And he did it immediately after marathon viewing every
episode of "Breaking Bad".

And later, the screen writer of the new movie about WikiLeaks, "The
Fifth Estate", will join me.

And if we have time I will show you a clip of some of his writing for
"The West Wing". That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The campaign for Senate in the state of Connecticut,
Democrat Allison Grimes outraised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in
the first quarter of the year. Grimes raised more than $2.5 million.
Five-term Republican, Mitch McConnell, minority leader of the Senate,
raised $2.2 million. McConnell need more money fast because he faces a
primary challenge from a Tea Party businessman Matt Bevin, who is pouring
his own money into the campaign.

Coming up next, how Ted Cruz got caught having a secret meeting with
House Republicans last night -- that turned out to be not so secret.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: If John Boehner can`t control his caucus, is anyone in
charge? Well, maybe the Tortilla Caucus.

According to "Roll Call", last night, in the basement of Tortilla
Coast, the popular Tex-Mex joint, a small group of House Republicans had a
not-so-secret, secret meeting with Senator Ted Cruz. Also, at Tortilla
Coast at the time, House majority whip, Republican Kevin McCarthy. Who was
apparently not on the invite list to the secret meeting, but just happened
to go to dinner there. A source told role call McCarthy seemed
particularly interested in what the group was up to. I`ll bet he was.

Ted Cruz had no trouble finding the time to dine with House
Republicans last night. But today, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee failed to show up
at the all-important Senate Republican lunch meeting where all Republican
senators have a chance to heard on the latest strategy.

Ted Cruz`s office and why he missed the single most important thing on
his schedule today. The statement said that Cruz, quote, "had a previous
commitment that went long."

Joining me now, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, Luke Russert, and
a former Republican congressman from Ohio, Steve LaTourette, president of
the Main Street Partnership.

Steve LaTourette, I have to ask you, about Ted Cruz going across to
the House like this. Have you seen anything quite like it? I mean,
certainly, senators work with co-sponsors of bills in the House all the
time. They try to find them. But it tends to be done in the open.

STEVE LATOURETTE (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes, one of two things
is, I don`t know if you have been to Tortilla Coast, it`s a great
restaurant. But it`s like a block from the Capitol. So, either they`re
really, really stupid trying to have a secret meeting there or meant to be
seen all along. I mean, Hill staffers make up 90 percent of the -- of the
customers at Tortilla Coast.

So again, either pretty stupid or they wanted everybody to see them.

O`DONNELL: Well, Luke, it seems like, Cruz is just trying to flash
this in effect in John Boehner`s face. I mean, I agree with Steve.
Tortilla Coast is not a hiding place exactly.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: No, it is not. Interestingly enough,
Lawrence. It`s actually where Paul Ryan once waited tables when he worked
on Capitol Hill. There is a rich history of Republican, big time
Republican events at Tortilla Coast.

What`s interesting though about the meeting, all this talk about the
Cruz caucus within the House GOP conference. I think you saw their might
today along with Heritage Action. Now, leadership aides say they were
going to pull the bill before Heritage Action. They were going to score
against it.

From conversations I had, they`re pretty despondent now because they
don`t know what the future of the majority means for them considering they
can`t seem to pass anything when you have Cruz caucus and Heritage Action
boxing them in. It`s going to be a fascinating development, Lawrence, and
seeing how the current debate we`re having but anything moving forward. It
is wild.

O`DONNELL: We have a new Pew Poll that shows 38 percent of Americans
would not like to see their own member of Congress re-elected. That`s the
highest percentage in more than two decades of Pew polling.

Steve LaTourette, how does a poll like that land in the House of
Representatives?

LATOURETTE: Well, I think it lands on everybody. I mean, the
Republicans are taking a pounding in the public opinion surveys, but I
offer up that nobody is smelling look a rose in this thing.

And the old expression was you hate the Congress, but love your
congressman. That`s turning this upside down on its head.

But, you know, the backdrop is two, though, that this Tea Party caucus
that you`re talking about, they`re getting a lot of attaboys from their
bright red districts. And so, they`re not playing to a national audience.
They`re playing to a red meat audience and certain number of districts
across the country. And from where they sit, they`re doing good.

O`DONNELL: Luke Russert of where we`re going tomorrow in this story?

RUSSERT: From conversations I`ve had with House GOP leadership aides,
they pretty much acknowledge they`re going to have to take whatever the
Senate passes over you. You might see some last hooray, but I sincerely
doubt it after what they went through tonight.

If you want to, any of the places, Tortilla Coast, or any of the bars
along Pennsylvania Avenue, right near the Capitol, chances are 100 percent
you will run into a House GOP staffer, very upset what happened today
because they lost their ability to lead.

So, what will happen tomorrow is whenever the Senate, had, has their
vote. And presumably that means Ted Cruz will not interrupt it. It could
be on a fast track, way, in through out the House.

But, as we get, to midnight deadline, Lawrence, I mean there is all
sorts of things that could happen if there is a delay. From conversations
I`ve had. The mindset here is they want to get it done and they want to
move on. And if they`re shutting down the government for weeks and going
to the brink of economic disaster. They will half nothing to show for it
with the exception of validating incomes of folks involved in the
president`s health care law.

O`DONNELL: All right. Luke Russert, get back over to Tortilla Coast
right now. Luke, thank you very much for joining us.

And Steve LaTourette, thank you for joining us.

LATOURETTE: Thank you so much.

RUSSERT: Take care.

O`DONNELL: Coming up -- the damage done by threatening default.
Later, a mini-West Wing reunion. I`ll be joined by a former West Wing
writer who has written in a new movie about WikiLeaks, the Fifth Estate,
which opens this weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: I have made clear for months and months, the idea of default
is wrong. We shouldn`t get anywhere close to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But we are very close to it. In fact, we are just days
away from the United States Treasury being unable to meet unable to meet
all of its financial obligations.

In the spotlight tonight, default and downgrade.

As we moved one day closer to default today, Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reider issued this warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The debt is here. The deadline is looming. Rating agencies
are talking about downgrading us as early as tonight.

As they have said, and they have cheered over there, the government`s
closed. We don`t mind defaulting on debt. It`s good for the country.
That`s what they have said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Hours later, Fitch, a global ratings agency, issued a
watch warning on U.S. treasury bond despite John Boehner`s continuing to
pretend we are not close to default.

The Chinese state news agency reported this today. "As U.S.
politicians of both political parties are shuffling back and forth between
the White House and Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring
normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time
for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized
world."

Republican Congressman Ted Yoho, his real name tried and failed today
to convince world markets that there is absolutely nothing to worry about
if Congress doesn`t raise the debt ceiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: Not raising the debt ceiling is not an
automatic trigger for default. That`s one thing. Raising the debt ceiling
and default are two different issues. We`ve got enough money coming in to
service our debt, the principal and interest. We`ve got more than enough
to service that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor, former economic advise
adviser of Vice President Joe Biden, Jared Bernstein, and Mark Patterson,
who is the former Treasury Department chief of staff, now a senior fellow
at Center for American Progress.

Jared, we saw last week in one day the cost of short term borrowing to
the Treasury double. That cost doubling in one day -- a cost that I think
most Republican members of the House of Representatives don`t even know
about.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly. That cost continues to
go up. This is exactly what you would expect if we start fooling around
with the debt ceiling. It`s called a risk premium. And it means that
anyone who considers lending to U.S. government historically the safest
creditor in the, in the world would want to see some extra points, if you
will, on their interest rate in order to be covered for the kind of risks
that folks look Mr. Yoho were just talking about. And you, know, let`s be
very clear about how wrong he is on that point. What he is talking about
is something called prioritization where the argument is the treasury can
pay some bills, but not others. It is absolutely false that the treasury
can do that even with the creditors. Even with the folks it owes interest
payments because there could easily be a day. Mark will back me up on
this. There could easily be a day where cash flow is less than the
interest payments that have to go out that day. And at that point, you
are, technically in default.

O`DONNELL: Mark, go ahead.

PATTERSON: Well -- Jared is absolutely right. But, I want to say
something else. There is something scarier, Lawrence. And that is if we
pass this date and the treasury department has left with no borrowing
authority. You could have a situation where -- people whose data is
maturing each week decide to take their money elsewhere because they`re
spooked, because they`re afraid of what is happening in the U.S. because
they are losing confidence in the U.S. And that would be a situation kind
of like if you were a homeowner and all your credit was cut off. And
suddenly the bank says you have to pay off your card today in full you.
You have no cash to do it. That would be the situation that the U.S. would
be in if investors did not, what they call, roll over their debt which is
reinvest in treasuries when their treasuries mature. So there is a lot of
scary scenarios out there, Lawrence and that`s just one of them.

O`DONNELL: Mark, I want to go to your expertise in one of your other
old jobs, back when you were working in the majority leader`s office in the
Senate. And that is the timetable from where we sit tonight to getting
this deal done on time which is Thursday night, if it is going to be within
the time frame that we understand to be relevant here. How can all these
trains move through the House of Representatives and the Senate and get
this thing done?

PATTERSON: ok. Well, the good news is it is still doable. But it
will really take some doing. As you know, Lawrence, very well, the Senate
does not move that fast normally. But, when everybody is pulling the same
direction they can move fast. The trouble is, as Congressman Van Hollen
pointed out, everybody may not be pulling in the same direction. You have,
you may have people filibuster. I don`t know who the people are. But if
they decide to filibuster, they could slow this down from something that
could happen tomorrow to something that could happen, maybe not until next
week.

So, the Senate process is variable. When everybody is working in good
faith and ready to go you can get it done quickly. And I hope that is what
will happen tomorrow?

O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein, what kind of pressure could you imagine
being brought to Ted Cruz and Mike Lee who are the likely possibilities for
some kind of filibuster? Because, as Mark says, as you know, I mean, the
Senate scan do anything really fast if they can just get that phrase
unanimous consent in there.

PATTERSON: True.

BERNSTEIN: Right. We don`t typically think of Senate and fast in the
same sentence but that`s exactly what has to happen tomorrow. I`m not sure
what pressure what kind of pressure can beep brought to bear. They
certainly have seemed impervious to pressure even from traditional
Republican pressure points like the business community or financial
markets.

Now, I will say in recent days, at least in the Senate, they haven`t
been mucking up the process as much as they were early. Now, they will go
outside and cause trouble and we -- you`ve spoke earlier about Cruz going
to the House. That`s where, I think, things are particularly worrisome.

Once things get out of the Senate, we are not done. At that point,
the only way this happens quickly is if John Boehner decides to let the
people`s House express the, the will of the people and put that vote on the
floor. If he fails to do that, if he gets pressure from Cruz or others to
start adding ideas, and pinging the thing back to the Senate, then we are
headed for the deadline.

O`DONNELL: I want to get back to the costs already incurred just by
the game as it has been played so far. We had testimony of the House
financial services committee today where they said this. Uncertainty
sparked by the debate is triggering a drop in demand of loans from small
businesses which will likely lead to the failure of some small businesses.
A rise in short term interest rates and a drop in stock prices is also
hilting consumer demand. That was from Scott Talbert. He is a senior VP,
the financial services roundtable.

And Mark Patterson, one of the kinds of political dangers of this is
that once this is solved, it will be forgotten that actual real money costs
were incurred, were imposed on the government and the private sector as a
result of all of the stunts.

PATTERSON: Yes. And what that means of course is that the deficit
actually goes up the result of all this, not goes down. We were just
opposite of what the proponents of the strategy say they want.

Look, Lawrence. Our old friends Senator Moynihan said when you have
contempt for government, you get contemptible government. And that`s what
we have got right now. I have to say, taken a step back. All of this term
in drawn is about an extension only until February. The plan is to do the
whole thing all over again in February.

O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein and Mark Patterson, thank you very much
for joining me tonight.

PATTERSON: Thank you, Lawrence.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: You know the fan letter you have been meaning to write to
Brian Cranston? Well, one of the greatest actors of our time, Anthony
Hopkins wrote it for you. And it is tonight`s "rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Senator Barbara Boxer explains to the Senate what
Republicans are trying to take away when they try to take away the
Affordable Care Act. Senator Boxer told the story of Jeannine Reid and her
son, Mason`s battle with brain cancer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: There was a magnificent piece
written in "the Washington Post" by one of my constituents, a mom, a
freelance writer who talks about her son who was born with a brain tumor
and over the years they have had to have operation after operation after
operation. And they came an inch away from reaching the lifetime limit on
the policy, $500,000. And they learned that the Affordable Care Act passed
and this child got his health care. And now as she says, he is talking and
he is walking and he is shooting baskets. I saw that mom and the son on
the Lawrence O`Donnell show the other night. And if you haven`t seen it on
MSNBC you, I think ought to take a look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You can see that segment with Jeannine and her son, Mason,
on our facebook page facebook.com/thelastword.

The "rewrite" is next. Anthony Hopkins will rewrite the history of
acting and crown a new acting king. Long live King Cranston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

O`DONNELL: Remember how you felt when breaking bad ended. Remember
how you wanted to jump up and hug Vince Gilligan for creating the show and
surprising and thrilling you for years? Remember how you wanted to write
Brian Cranston, the very first fan letter you have ever written in your
life?

Well something even better than that happened. Oscar winning acting
genius Anthony Hopkins wrote that letter for you. And in the process he
did nothing less than rewrite the history of acting. He crowned a new
acting king, King Cranston. A crown bestowed by an actor who has worked
with and seen the work of the greatest actors in history. He worked with
Peter O`Toole.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR: The one charismatic, O`Toole, unique,
special, he was extraordinary. He still is. I think a real acting genius.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Anthony Hopkins worked with Lawrence Olivier and says he
was in awe. He never worked with Marlon Brando, but he certainly knows
Brando`s work. And now, Anthony Hopkins believes he has seen something
better.

Dear Mr. Cranston, he wrote, I wanted to write you this e-mail so I am
contacting you through Jeremy Barber. I take it we are both represented by
UTA, great agency. So that`s how the stars e-mail each other when they
have never met, through their agents. It makes perfect sense.

I`ve just finished a marathon of watching Breaking Bad from episode
one of the first season to the last eight episodes of the sixth season. I
downloaded the last season on Amazon a total of two weeks addictive
viewing. I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant! Your
performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen ever. I know
there is so much smoke owing and sickening bull crap in this business, and
I`ve sort of lost belief in anything really.

Anthony Hopkins has been a working actor for 53 years. I would
imagine the sickening bull of show business as he puts it drove him to sort
of lose belief in anything quite a while ago. Imagine how hard it is to
grab Anthony Hopkins as an audience member, to pull Anthony Hopkins into
your imagined world that you are displaying on screen.

Vince Gilligan and Brian Cranston and everyone involved with Breaking
Bad managed to do that. They managed to hook Anthony Hopkins. They
managed to addict him to Breaking Bad.

And after saying he has sort of lost belief in anything, the 75-year-
old actor`s letter then says, but this work of yours is spectacular,
absolutely stunning. What is extra ordinary is the sheer power of everyone
in the entire production. What was it, five or six years in the making?
How the producers, yourself being one of them, the writers, directors,
every department casting managed to keep the discipline and control from
beginning to the end s that overused word, awesome.

From what started as a black comedy descended into a labyrinth of
destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek
tragedy. If you ever get a chance to would you pass on my admiration to
everyone, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsey Brandt, R.J. Mittey,
Bob Odencurk (ph), Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada, everyone.
Everyone gave master classes of performance. The list is endless.

And the list of acting master class performances includes of course,
Gene Carlo Esposito, you know Anthony Hopkins meant to include by names in
that list. Anthony Hopkins continued. Thank you that kind of work
artistry is rare and when once it occurs in this epic work, it restores
confidence. You and all the cast are the best actors I have ever seen.
That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing, but it is not. It`s
almost midnight out here in Malibu. And I felt compelled to write this e-
mail. Congratulations. And my deepest respect. You are truly a great,
great actor. Best regards, Tony Hopkins.

Actors are dreamers. They dream of many things. They dream of
getting the great parts. They dream of working with great actors and yes,
they dream of winning awards. But I have never known an actor to dream of
getting a letter like this, from Anthony Hopkins.

It really is the ultimate reward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Election Day in New Jersey is tomorrow. Yes, Wednesday.
Voters will pick between Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan
in the special elect forcing U.S. Senate, Cory Booker leads Lonegan by 10
points in the latest poll.

The Republican national committee sent out a tweet yesterday to
encourage people to vote. But the tweet told people to vote on the wrong
day. The RNC took the tweet down within minutes and replaced it with a
tweet encouraging people to vote on the actual day of the election,
Wednesday.

The writer of the new film about Julian Assange and Wikileaks joins me
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fourteen pages in "the Guardian, 12 in "The New
York Times." this is more coverage than all of the leaks we have had
combined. We are winning in the information war. It goes beyond any short
term alliance we have with the mainstream media. You want to throw it all
away because you fear the U.S. government informer may come to harm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a human being, Julian. Their lives are at
stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the lives of the soldiers and civilians
involved in these conflicts. This squad unreported civilian casualties,
countless incidents of friendly fire. This is information the world need
to know. So the next time you find yourself look lecturing me about this
organization, please try to remember why I created it and why I hired you
to help me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And of course, the organization he created is Wikileaks.
That is Julian Assange as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in new film
directed by Bill Condon, "the fifth estate," which opens this weekend.

Joining me now the screenwriter of "the Fifth Estate," Josh Singer.
We have gotten a little mini-west wing reunion here. Josh Singer, former
west wing writer.

So, the, the scene that he is playing there, the great performances in
this movie, by the way. That`s Julian Assange with whom?

JOSH SINGER, SCREENWRITER, THE FIFTH ESTATE: Daniel (INAUDIBLE).

O`DONNELL: And he is the author of one of the books that this film is
based on?

SINGER: That`s correct. He is. And it is actually a bit of a
controversial book. It is a book that Julian himself was, somewhat
critical of. Which, is something that we -- you know, when, when dream
works took those books and decided to work off that book and the guardian
book it made us really want to do a lot of research in terms of what other
information could be gather to see, you know, was that an actual account
that we could all believe in.

And so, I want out and I spoke, I spent some time with Daniel. I
spent some time with the guys at "the Guardian," David Lee. I did all of
the reading I possibly could. I spoke to everyone. I read his work. I,
you know, I tried to get as much information as I possibly could. And you
know, thing that was remarkable was that Daniel is come his interaction
with Julian was quite similar to the account that "the Guardian" guys gave,
quite similar to the (INAUDIBLE).

O`DONNELL: And Daniel was his partner in getting Wikileaks really
going. But then, there was a split between them as the scene indicates.

SINGER: Correct. Julian founded Wikileaks in about year and Daniel
came on board and it was really the two of them and a couple of others who
really getting off the ground.

O`DONNELL: Here`s what Julian says. He has written about this movie
already. Here he says about the book, about Daniel`s book. He says the
movie is based the deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me
and my organization, someone who also used to his best friend.

SINGER: Yes. And you know, I think that sort of sets it all. I
mean, Daniel in the book praises Wikileaks and he praises the ideas of
Wikileaks, but critical of Julian. And so, you know, that`s why we spent
so much time, really, researching, talking to Daniel, talking to other
people who were around the story. Making sure it was an account we can
believe in.

You know, if you meet Daniel, he is a charming guy. He is very smart.
He is a true believer. He is young. He is someone who, after spending
time with him, I absolutely thought this is a real account and "the
Guardian" guys verified it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at the scene of the movie, how the
Wikileaks info dump landed in the state department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just talked to Libya. They have real concerns
about the ambassador.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m pulling the ambassador.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All everybody, listen up. I need, at least, ten
names of high priority sources who could be harmed if and when these cables
are put out. If we can claim that Assange has blood on his hand, we can
turn this thing around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Do you think the president of Turkmenistan
will be more upset that I called him a practice liar or that I called to be
vain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sure those words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President (INAUDIBLE) does not like people
smarter than him. Since he is not very bright, he is suspicious of a whole
lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he has been around a long time. I don`t
think he is wed about a mid level foreign attache.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is why I signed Hillary`s name to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Laura Lynny (ph) and Stanley Tuchi (ph). And Laura Lynny
(ph) in the film at the certain points says she is not sure who has done
more valuable work, who history will judge better, her work in the state
department or Julian Assange.

SINGER: Well, I mean, I think that is the question. I mean, what
drew me to this film was really trying to think about the issue. What
should be public? What should be private? Who should be making the
decision?

As you know, the last ten years have not been kind to journalism.
News papers going out of kind business, reporters losing their jobs. We
need people like Julian and Daniel to start, you know, being a check on
government. But who exactly are those people? I think is a good question.

O`DONNELL: All right. It is west wing flashback time. I`m going to
show a scene that I did not tell you about, a west wing scene, ladies and
gentlemen, written by Mr. Josh Singer, one that you might remember. Let`s
look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are pleased to welcome the president of the
United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Fade to black. You know what I love about the scene? It was
your best dialogue writing.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Our beloved John Spencer and Martin Sheen, directed
beautifully by Chris Missiano (ph). That was quite a production getting
that thing. We didn`t thing we could pull that off.

SINGER: You know how I love to write dialogue like that.

O`DONNELL: Exactly.

Josh Singer gets tonight`s "Last Word." The movie opens this weekend.

SINGER: This weekend Friday night, everybody go see it. I think it
provocative and blunt.

O`DONNELL: All right, good luck.

Chris Hayes is up next.

END

Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>


Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET