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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, June 26th, 2014

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June 26, 2014

Guest: Judah Friedlander

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The question of the day is how much
executive power does the chief executive of the United States government
really have?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bitter battle between Republicans and the


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Boehner saying he`s going to file a lawsuit
against President Obama.

BOEHNER: This is about his faithfully executing the laws of our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Republicans are so against working with the
president that they`d rather sue him than do anything again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What Speaker Boehner is trying to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What they`re really fighting over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president`s power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His very real executive power.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The president`s brazen power

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Supreme Court severely limits the president`s

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But as a practical matter, recess appointments are

MCCONNELL: Today`s decision was clear, and it was a unanimous, unanimous
rebuke of the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless the White House and Senate are in the same
party, it`s going to be hard to get these recess appointments done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just draws attention to the fact this has been
historically the least productive Congress in history.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They`re doing nothing here.
So, they have to give some aura of activity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There haven`t been many laws that have been past by the
113th Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The least productive Congress in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gridlocked Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House isn`t doing something. Someone needs to do

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is now just in as sort of state of statis
(ph), and the president is using his very real executive powers.

to run for president, let me just put it like that.


O`DONNELL: Today, the Supreme Court, in effect, ruled that three days of
Congress doing nothing doesn`t really qualify for the label "recess." and
therefore, it is not legal for the president of the United States to make a
recess appointment the way President Obama did when he named thee people to
the National Labor Relations Board in 2012.

Like every president since Jimmy Carter, President Obama has appointed
members to the NLRB through recess appointment. Past presidents made the
appointments during recesses of at least 10 days.

But in the constant effort to block presidential appointments and block the
president from getting things through, Congress now adjourns for a maximum
of three days in the normal course of business, and so, the Supreme Court
was asked to decide how many days, in effect, of Congress being in what
they referred to as recess, actually is recess. How many days before the
president can circumvent the congressional blockade of his nominations?

That explains the relationship between President Obama and congressional
Republicans as such that it had to be the Supreme Court who would decide

Recess appointments are not the only powers that President Obama has used
to take action when Republicans will not.


a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take
executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.


O`DONNELL: President Obama said that in January, and Republicans don`t
like it one bit. They are now pushing Speaker John Boehner back to court.


REPORTER: Are you planning to initiate a lawsuit against the Obama
administration and President Obama over specific executive actions?

BOEHNER: I am. The Constitution makes it clear that a president`s job is
to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not
faithfully executed the laws.


O`DONNELL: Don`t expect any Republicans to be mentioning that president
Obama has issued fewer executive orders than every president since World
War II except one. The executive actions Republicans object to are changes
the president made to the Affordable Care Act and executive orders on
immigration and deportations. But Republicans aren`t ready to say exactly
which executive actions they will challenge in court.


REPORTER: Speaker Boehner, what specific executive action are you planning
to challenge in court?

BOEHNER: When I make that decision, I`ll let you know.


O`DONNELL: What you just heard is John Boehner publicly asking President
Obama not to make executive actions he`s now considering, specifically on
immigration. John Boehner is worried because the House Republican Caucus
keeps talking impeachment, and John Boehner knows that didn`t go very well
the last time Republicans got interested in impeachment.


REPORTER: Could this lead to impeachment proceedings against the

BOEHNER: This is not about impeachment. This is about his faithfully
executing of the laws of our country.


O`DONNELL: As usual, some members of the Republican caucus see it a little


REPORTER: Would you allow us to default on our debt?

REP. LOUIS GOHMERT: No, that would be an impeachable offense by the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For those that say impeach him for breaking the laws,
or bypassing the laws, you know, could that pass in the House? It probably

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Suggested that perhaps President Obama`s handling of
the Benghazi terror attack could be, could be an impeachable offense.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I would simply ask is that within the realm
of possibilities and I would say yes.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: What we can do further is impeach
the elected officials.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC all-stars Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes.

Thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

ALEX WAGNER, NOW: It`s good to see you, Lawrence.

CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: Nice to see you back, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Oh, well, it`s -- I`m doing my best. I`m doing my best.

HAYES: You`re doing fantastic, my friend.

O`DONNELL: So, I`m really engaged in this finally. The news has really
grabbed me.

The notion of the Supreme Court deciding, reaching into Senate procedure is
really stunning. It`s something they`re very, very reluctant to do, and,
Chris, to see them do it today and not only that, get in there and in
effect, write a Senate rule say the recess has to be at least 10 days.
Write it in the constitutional law, just a stunning moment.

HAYES: Yes. It is stunning, and it`s also fascinating, because it was a
narrower ruling than it could have been. But this court usually, when the
court can avoid drawing a line that clear, they do. And here they just
said, we`ll tell you what it is, it`s 10 days. We the Supreme Court,
across the street to you Congress, here`s what it is, 10 days. I mean, it
doesn`t necessarily -- I don`t have any big ideological stake in it
frankly. That sounds like it might be an appropriate way to do it. It`s
just the balance of power question between each side of Constitution Avenue
is pretty fascinating there.

O`DONNELL: And, Alex, it could have gone worse for the president, pause
the minority on the court wanted to hold to a stricter standard. Their
reading of the Constitution provision, the Constitution says the
presidential shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen
during the recess of the Senate.

And the lower court agreed with the Scalia view that what that means is
they can only do recess appointments in effect in December, a little bit of
January, at the end of the year between the two Senate sessions. Not
during these little breaks throughout the year, which is the way they`ve
been doing it at least since Eisenhower and maybe earlier.

WAGNER: Yes. I mean, what I feel we`re seeing is our incredibly shrinking
democratic process and representative government here, right? I mean, the
reason the Supreme Court is writing rules for the Senate is because
Congress is completely broken. The reason the Supreme Court is weighing in
on Aereo, and broadcasting policy and public policy in general, as Matt
Yglesias pointed out today on "Vox", is because the third branch of
government no longer works.

The reason the Supreme Court -- the reason John Boehner and the Supreme
Court are weighing in on executive power is because the president has been
put in a situation where the only way anything is going to get done is by
using that pen and that phone.

I mean, the National Labor Relations Board, we don`t talk much about the
importance that played. The reason the president made this run to get
three seats filled, is because only there are majority of seats filled,
then the NLRB cannot function. This is the group in the United States that
decides major labor cases in the country.

HAYES: It is the Supreme Court of labor law.


HAYES: It`s a Supreme Court of labor law and major labor adjudication has
to go up through the NLRB and it was not a non-operative body for months
and months and months because of the obstruction of Senate Republicans.

O`DONNELL: All of that is true, but I have to say, when I read that
provision of the Constitution, I become very sympathetic to the notion that
it really does mean only in those long recesses between sessions, because
in the Founder`s Day, and by the way, until the invention of air-
conditioning, there was no possibility of being in Washington for that many
months a year as they are now. And they used to have recesses that were
several months long, and it was that period it seems the Founders were
worried about.

WAGNER: Lawrence, make no mistake, Democrats have paid attention to this
window very carefully, in case there`s Republican presidents. I mean, with
everything in terms of Senate and parliamentary procedure, it cuts both
ways. If the Democrats are in the minority, guess what`s going to happen?

O`DONNELL: They tried to do the same thing to George W. Bush. It`s the
same window.

HAYES: I ran into Bernie Sanders getting a coffee and a bagel once when I
was a Washington reporter.

WAGNER: Humble brag.

HAYES: And we were having our coffee and bagel next to each other. I said
what are you doing in town? He says, I drew the short straw and I have to
stick around to make sure there`s not a recess, because I was a freshman at
that point, like that was the duty you had to have, was coming to D.C. So,
this gamesmanship`s gone on both directions.

I will say this, there is a solution for this, which the Democrats pulled
off, thank God, which is to get rid of filibusters for nominations. So,
you can actually fill these nominations through the normal order now,
because they got rid of the filibuster, which is the thing that created the
need to game the recess appointments to --

WAGNER: And that works as long as you have a Democratic president and a
Democratic Senate. But if you have either of those divided, then it --

HAYES: We might be (INAUDIBLE).

O`DONNELL: Alex, the case that ripened in the Supreme Court was not
actually brought by Republicans in Congress. It was brought by a private
litigant who didn`t like a ruling of the National Labor Relations Board.

But now, we`re seeing this other strange scenario where the House of
Representatives is thinking about suing the president over executive
orders. We know that this president has been lighter on executive orders
than most other presidents.

And this is an entirely different and completely political lawsuit.

WAGNER: Yes, Lawrence, I am really confused by this, because here is John
Boehner, who could theoretically be newly emboldened by the Thad Cochran
and Mitch McConnell, the Lindsey Graham triumphs, the narrative that the
establishment is striking back and has, you know, its guns blazing, and
what he`s doing right now is just catering to the restive, fractious base
of the House Republican caucus.

I don`t understand how you march down impeachment avenue and don`t end up
knocking on a door. I don`t understand how this does not totally end in
heartbreak for John Boehner.

O`DONNELL: Now, before I let you go, I`m watching your shows, and those of
us, which is to say me, who`s on the partial disabled list and stuck to the
anchor desks, you guys are getting out there. You`re all over the country
now doing great stuff.

Alex, what have you been working on?

WAGNER: I was on the South Texas border checking on what`s going on with
unaccompanied minors who have been crossing in droves, tens of thousands of
them crossing the Rio Grande, and terming what they are coming here for and
what they`re leaving behind.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s really compelling stuff. Chris, I saw you in Chicago
and some other places. What are you working on now?

HAYES: I was in Chicago and we spent some time in North Carolina. We got
a story at 11:00 tonight about the cross racial coalition against that is
being built in North Carolina. And tomorrow night, North Carolina,
Republican North Carolina, Republican-dominated is going to pay
reparations. It`s the only state that`s paying reparations and we`ll tell
you what it`s about tomorrow night if you tune in.

O`DONNELL: You got me right there, OK? I didn`t do any of that.

Chris Hayes and Alex Wagner, thank you both very much for joining me
tonight. I really appreciate it.

WAGNER: Welcome back, Lawrence.

HAYES: Good to see you back.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, thank you.

Coming up, Steve Clemons and Eugene Robinson will join me to discuss the
latest in Iraq. And I do not -- not only do I not understand the World Cup
and the World Cup frenzy, I have paid absolutely no attention to it. We
are going to talk about the world cup later with apparently one of the
world`s greatest experts on soccer. Judah Friedlander will be here. And
everything I know about soccer will be what I will read in the teleprompter
at that time.

And in the rewrite tonight, what happened on this day in history that has
polarized our politics it seems permanently?


O`DONNELL: In the rewrite tonight, how Republicans got locked in their
anti-tax position. A fun history lesson. That`s coming up.



JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: It`s been widened obviously in the last
days with the reports of IRGC personnel, some people from Iran being
engaged in Iraq, with perhaps even some Syrian activities therein. And
that`s one of the reasons why government formation is so urgent, so that
the leaders in Iraq can begin to make decisions necessary to protect Iraq
without outside forces to fill a vacuum.


O`DONNELL: That was Secretary of State John Kerry in Brussels yesterday
for NATO meetings about the situation in Iraq, which is getting more
difficult every day.

Syria has bombed a border position in Iraq in an effort to help the U.S.-
backed Iraqi government and the "Associated Press" reports Iran is also
trying to help the Iraqi government by flying drones over the country and
controlling them from a Baghdad airfield.

Meanwhile today, President Obama asked Congress for $500 million to train
and arm vetted members of the Syrian opposition.

Joining me now is Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The Washington Post" and
an MSNBC political analyst, and Steve Clemons, an MSNBC contributor and
Washington editor at large for "The Atlantic" magazine, joins us from
beautiful downtown Aspen.

STEVE CLEMONS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Great to be with you again, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Gene, some people get all the nice assignments here. And we
are not those people.

Now, Gene, as you know, I`ve kind of been on the disabled list and out of
the news cycle for the last couple of months. And trying to follow the
complexities of what now are the developing alliances involving Iraq is the
most difficult reentry I`ve had to the news.

Where do you think this stands now? Go ahead.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Lawrence, first of all, great to
have you back. Welcome back. It great to see you -- I might be in New York
next week. I might see you up there.

Second, you know, coming in now versus following it all along wouldn`t have
really made any difference.

O`DONNELL: Oh, thank you.

ROBINSON: We seem to be on all sides now. We seem to be on the side of
Assad`s government and the Maliki government, which means we`re on the side
of Iran, and we`re also on the side of the people trying to topple Assad in
Syria. We`re all over the map.

O`DONNELL: And, Steve Clemons, we`ve seen these kinds of things not quite
as intense and quickly developing in our foreign policy past, in decades
past, where our kind of perceived opponent is somehow helping us out in
another sphere, but this is one of the most hot moving versions of this
I`ve ever seen.

CLEMONS: Well, it`s something we have to be careful about. In this case,
you know, with ISIS, they were fighting Bashar al Assad. This is the case
where the enemy of our enemy became a monster. And that monster is scaring
all the stakeholders of the region.

And, you know, one of the things Gene just said, in the way in which we`re
sort of temporarily allying with folks that we haven`t been connected to,
it`s vital that we not just align with those groups that we bring in the
Saudis, we bring in the UAE, who also say, at least officially they too are
opposed to what ISIS is doing, because that these can get us out of being
perceived on one side of the Sunni-Shia line.

O`DONNELL: Gene, the easy talk that we used to hear about why aren`t we
supporting the insurgents in Syria, why aren`t we giving them everything
they need? Well, now, we`re seeing some of the possible answers to that.
That`s one point I like you talk about.

And also, when the president talks about supporting vetted people on that
side, who is doing the vetting of who`s going to get this stuff in Syria?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, that`s a very good question. What the president
said he worried about all along was that, you know, number one, who --
which rebels are we talking about and will weapons -- or heavy weapons that
went to what we thought of as the good rebels find their ways into the
hands of the bad rebels, the ISIS rebels? As Steve Clemons has
demonstrated in his reporting, in fact, ISIS, you know, the crazy jihadist
group that`s essentially taking over big chunks of Syria and Iraq in an
attempt to make a little jihad state, it had a lot of support, sort of
covert support from the Saudis, whom we now need to get involved in a more
positive way and maybe they`re ready to do that now.

But you kind of have to wonder how many wheels within wheel are also there
here? And who can you trust in this region? The answer is usually nobody.

O`DONNELL: And, Steve, the Saudis, it`s one of the most impenetrable
operations in the region, and comprehending how we deal with them
diplomatically I think is a pretty -- it`s a pretty sophisticated art, that
I can`t begin to claim to understand.

CLEMONS: Well, the president met King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the end
of March. I think they both really stared into the abyss here. Much has
happened since that time. Also in February, portfolios changed. Prince
Bandar who had been leading the cause in Saudi Arabia to create a response
among the rebels was relieved of his duties in that realm and was given to
somebody who has talked to many people, David Ignatius and others, about
the shift the Saudis have been making towards the moderate rebels in Syria.

The problem is, even vetting moderate rebels, the questions you have to
ask, how did ISIS get so much? Part of how they got it is the rebels that
the Turks and the French and Saudis and Qataris were funneling materiel and
weapons to were sold by various brigades to ISIS. So, there`s a lot of
leeching out, every time we`ve tried to shore up one part of the rebel
force in Syria, the more effective fighting crowd has always been al Nusra,
which is al Qaeda affiliated and ISIS. That`s a hard thing to do if you`re
vetting rebels, providing money or not, they haven`t been leading and
defining the edge against Assad.

O`DONNELL: And, Gene, for the president, it seems to me, domestically,
that American voters can hook at this and say -- and be challenged
themselves trying to come up with what would be the good choice here? And
I don`t see the easy opportunity for American voters to criticize the
complexity -- the choices the president does and doesn`t make given the
complexity of this.

ROBINSON: It seems to me American voters don`t like what`s going on. The
president`s approval rating on foreign policy has been going down, because
this is such a depressing situation.

But if you ask American voters, what would you like the president to be
doing that he`s not doing, would you like him to be intervening, the answer
is always no. So, this is not an attractive spectacle for voters to watch.
But I think you`re absolutely right, that nobody has come up with a charge-
ahead plan for deeper U.S. involvement.

O`DONNELL: The thing about those job approval polls on foreign policy,
they`re not terribly useful in terms of the reality of our politics, in the
sense that I suspect, if you put the president and John Kerry on a debate
stage for an hour, interrupted on this subject, the president would win
that debate in the flash polls in overwhelming numbers.

And, Steve Clemons and Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, comedian Judah Friedlander and Krystal Ball, both are going to
double team me here to see if they can get me for even a minute to care
about the World Cup.

And in the Rewrite, on this very important day in tax history. That`s
coming up.





O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, World Cup fever. Even with a loss to
Germany today, the U.S. soccer team is advancing to the next round of the
World Cup, and it seems like almost everyone was taking a break from work
to watch today`s game.

Here is President Obama sitting with Valerie Jarrett watching the U.S. play
Germany on Air Force One. Then there`s this from Capitol Hill, as Senator
Bob Menendez the issue of immigration reform in a press briefing, just
after hunch today. You can see that the television inside the room is
also, of course, playing the game.

And one House Democrat made this confession to an NBC News camera crew this


REP. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D), ARIZONA: I got app on my phone. I just feel like
call (ph) during the game was, you know, that was questionable. Are there
other members watching the game on their phone or just me? I`m a die hard
soccer fan.


O`DONNELL: But that`s one place in America where the World Cup is still
un-American. That other news channel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s start off with this simple statement, OK? A
man`s sport --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am suspect, because here`s the thing. Why at a time
when there`s so many national issues and international issues of such
prominence, I`m a little suspicious of yet another bread and circus

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see why Obama would love --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you talking about? This is encouraging for
kids to get out and play sports.


O`DONNELL: The U.S. soccer team sent out this tweet after today`s game
celebrating as hashtag #one nation, one team today. Thanks for the
support, USA. Here we come, knockout round.

Next, the U.S. team will play Belgium in their first knockout round match
on Tuesday.

Joining me now MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and comedian Judah Friedlander, the
self-described world champion. Judith narrated films documentary "Inside
US Soccer marched to Brazil." Let`s take a look.


JUDAH FRIEDLANDER, COMEDIAN: In 1950, when the world cup came to Brazil
for the first time, a likely regarded team from the United States scored
one of the greatest offsets in tournament history, defeating the mighty
English side 1-0.

American coach Bill Jeffrey declared, this is all we needed to make the
game go in the states. The U.S. team then failed to qualify for another
world cup for 40 years.


O`DONNELL: Wow, you guys are soccer crazy.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: We have give it up for you,

O`DONNELL: All right, Krystal, let`s do this. You go first -- by the way,
everything I know about soccer I just read about in the teleprompter, OK,
everything. I don`t know another word. You go first, Krystal. See if you
can make me care about the world cup.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: OK. Well, I think to start with, the
fact that that other news network doesn`t like it is a point in favor of --


O`DONNELL: OK, I need to clarify something. I also don`t care about
American football, so I`m not like the other news network. You know,
they`re going into this kind of jingoistic patriotic thing. I just don`t
care about any of it.

BALL: OK. But it`s also cool, Lawrence, that for once the U.S. is
actually underdog. We have this like scrappy underdog team and it`s kind
of fun to be on that side of having the potential Cinderella team in a
world event. It`s also a great reflection of the melting pot of America.
You watch the game, you have, you know, ancestry from all over the world
represented. It`s a cool thing of national unity in a time of deep
division. That it is all good stuff. It`s fun, too.

O`DONNELL: Judah, the documentary that you narrated sure looks important,
because it`s in black and white. But I`m sorry, Krystal didn`t get me

FRIEDLANDER: So, what you`re telling me is that you don`t like American
football, you don`t like world football soccer. These are team sports that
--so, it sounds like you`re against team work. It sounds like you are an
anti-team work kind of guy. Enough with the sport.

I mean, soccer is one of the most intelligent sports in the world. It`s
like the chess of sports. Are you more of a checkers guy?

O`DONNELL: No -- well actually yes. If you put out a chess board and a
checkers board, I could only go the checkers board actually.

FRIEDLANDER: OK. I can tell that.


O`DONNELL: Luckily that is not part of the admissions process.

So Judah, this is the chess of sport. This is like somehow more thoughtful
than hockey which looks like a similar kind of mess.

FRIEDLANDER: Hockey is a great game. It`s basically the same sport as
soccer except it`s on --

O`DONNELL: But it`s wicked hot because it is on ice, isn`t it?

FRIEDLANDER: Not necessarily more difficult, you know. It all depends on
your athletic ability.

O`DONNELL: And Krystal, there`s got to be in the political side of this, a
certain amount of, you know, I think the people are really interested in
this. So I have to release a picture of me, you know, like watching the

BALL: The people want to see you enjoying the sport.

O`DONNELL: Isn`t that part of what`s going on here?

BALL: That`s part of it. And actually, to Judah`s point, you know, Ann
Coulter is out there saying that soccer is super socialist, and that it is
reflective of our immigrant heritage in a bad way from her perspective.
She makes soccer fans, she ties it together with racism in a way that only
Ann Coulter can. She says, I promise you, no American whose great
grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that in
addition to learning English, these new Americans will dropped their soccer
pettish with time.

I`m here to tell you that my great grandparents were both born here and I
am, in fact, enjoying soccer. So I have proven Ann Coulter wrong myself.
And that`s one good reason to like soccer.

O`DONNELL: And that`s amazing, because proving Ann Coulter wrong is
usually very difficult.

BALL: Very hard.

O`DONNELL: Judah, the -- talk about socialism. The NFL is completely a
socialist operation supported by government, so is major league baseball,
the construction of their stadiums, they get all these breaks from local
government, state government, all that stuff. And I`m wondering because of
all that, does soccer and you people in the soccer world, do you still
suffer from kind of an inferiority complex in the world of American sports?

FRIEDLANDER: Not at all. I think the team -- that`s something the U.S.
team has dealt with for years, just because soccer has been kind of a
secondary lesser sport for years. But over the years, it`s been getting
bigger and bigger. For 30 years, it`s been, you know, the number one game
that kids have played in this country. It just don`t contain to play it
seriously as adults.

But, you know, what you were saying with the socialism and, you know, using
the people`s taxes to pay for stadiums, that stuff goes on in Brazil, too.
I mean, that`s big news over this with the people in Brazil are getting
screwed and they`re voting this giant stadium that the rich people get to

BALL: Yes, $14 billion.

O`DONNELL: So Judah, who did we say the U.S. was playing next?

FRIEDLANDER: We play Belgium.

O`DONNELL: This is another thing that bothers me.

The U.S. is such an incredibly powerful sports factory of a country. I
mean, you know, we do have these unbelievably -- we have the greatest
basketball players in the world, the NFL players, obviously, the best in
the world of what they do, because the rest of the world doesn`t really do
it. But in baseball, all that stuff, right? And I mean, Belgium, what
does Belgium have? Can`t we let them have soccer? I mean, how big and
proud is America going to feel if the 300 million person country beats
little Belgium at soccer?

FRIEDLANDER: Soccer is the last empire that the U.S. has not conquered
yet, OK? We`re on the verge of doing it. Look at our team now. That are
five players on our team who were basically raised in Germany, and that`s -
- and they`re some of the best players. That`s one of the upsides of the
cold war and American imperialism.

BALL: It`s like one of the things that is left on our national bucket
list. We have to get it done.

O`DONNELL: I`m just saying, Belgium is a lovely little place. They make
really great chocolate. And you know, what`s wrong with them winning a
soccer game?

Judah Friedlander and Krystal Ball, I`m not yet convinced. We might have
to do this again. Thank you both very much. I really appreciate it.

And Judah, I am going to watch that documentary you did for ESPN. I
actually do think that will be the one way I will try to get oriented to
this sport. And after that, if it doesn`t work. I`m absolutely giving up.

BALL: There you go.


O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.


O`DONNELL: As you know, I`m still watching up with all the news I missed
for being on the disabled list for a couple of months and it`s summer
vacation time, so I`m sure some of you have been unplugged for a little
bit. So we have another 60-second updates tonight. This one, what`s going
on in the V.A. hospitals and sticking around to do this one for us is
Krystal Ball.

Krystal, go ahead, bring me up to date.

BALL: All right. You`re really making me work this evening, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yes. What happened on that crazy USA outfit?

BALL: Well, I figured it was sort of situational appropriate. I went back
to a more traditional look for you.

O`DONNELL: That`s very good judgment.

BALL: The first thing, I think Lawrence that you need to know about the
V.A. scandal is unlike the other fake scandals that you`re well acquainted
with, this is an actual scandal. And as you know, we`ve long had really
long, egregious wait times at the V.A. So, the thing that was different
here is it was uncovered that at first, uncovered specifically at the
Phoenix V.A. that they were in essence cooking the books. They had a
separate, secret waiting list to hide the fact that veterans were waiting
on average 115 days to get in to see primary care physicians. There may
have been as many veterans as many as 40 who actually died waiting to get
in to see the doctors there at the V.A. An inspector general report
uncovered the root causes there were the fact that we had this massive
influx of veterans because of all our foreign adventurism. We have a lack
of physicians there in the system. And there is also perverse incentives
that are encouraging systemically V.A. facility to be able to hide these
veterans and how long they`re waiting.

Eric Shinseki, the head of the V.A. had to resign over this scandal. And
right now, where we are is Congress is considering what to do, the house
has passed a few piecemeal things. The Senate passed a more comprehensive
reform to refurbish the V.A., providing more funding for doctors and in
certain circumstances letting veterans go outside the system.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, it sounds like the accumulation of decades of inertia
that is going to be very difficult to break.

BALL: Unfortunately, yes.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, thank you very much. Thanks for joining us both times
tonight, Krystal. We really appreciate it.

BALL: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: The rewrite is next.



will not raise taxes.


And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I`ll say no, and they`ll
push and I`ll say no. And they`ll push again and I`ll say to them, read my
lips, no new taxes.


O`DONNELL: That was George H. W. Bush`s most memorable line of his career,
read my hip lips, no new taxes. In one hand, the presidency in 1988. And
two years later, just as he predicted, the Democratic house and Senate,
pushed him to raise taxes and he said no. And they pushed him to raise tax
again and he said no. And they pushed him again and he said yes.


BUSH: Read my lips, no new taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Translation, your taxes are about to go up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NBC "Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw, reporting
tonight NBC News headquarters in New York.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR, NIGHTLY NEWS: Good evening. Read his lips,
campaign promises are made to be broken.

However you want to describe it, President Bush conceded that new taxes
will be necessary to get the federal budget deficit under control.


O`DONNELL: On this day in tax history, June 26th, 24 years ago, President
Bush issued this statement that rocked the political world. And as you`ve
just seen, led the Nightly News. It is clear to me that both the size of
the deficit problem and the need for a package that can be enacted require
all of the following, entitlement and mandatory program reform, tax revenue
increases, growth incentives, discretionary spending reduction, orderly
reductions in defense expenditures, and budget process reform.

It was, of course, a perfectly reasonable assessment of the situation. But
it also required breaking a campaign promise. And not just any campaign
promise, the most clear, definitive, absolute and memorable campaign
promise of the decade, read my lips, no new taxes.

The new tax package that President Bush signed into law just five months
later included an increase in the top tax bracket from 28 to 31 percent.
It increased the alternative minimum tax from 21 to 24 percent. It
increased the gas tax by a nickel. The cigarette tax by eight cents and
the tax on a six-pack of beer by 16 cents. The beer tax was the most
controversial of all of those.

And the president accepted a whole new set of luxury sales taxes invented
by Congress. Luxury taxes on expensive automobiles, boats, personal
aircraft, fur coats, jewelry. And what did George H. W. Bush get for
rewriting a silly campaign promise into a reasonable set of modest tax
increases? Of course he got attacked by Republicans. Most effectively by
the original tea partier of the Republican party, although he never called
himself that, Pat Buchanan, who ran against the incumbent Republican
president and Republican presidential primaries.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1988, we believed George Bush when he took the tax
pledge. We believed him again when he promised --

BUSH: Read my lips, no new taxes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then Bush hit us with the largest tax increase in
history. Bush betrayed our trust. He raised our taxes. Can we afford
four more years of broken promises? Send Bush a message, note Pat Buchanan
for president.


O`DONNELL: Most political analysts credit Pat Buchanan with crushing
Republican enthusiasm for President Bush`s re-election, even though the
president secured the nomination, and having been softened up by Pat
Buchanan in the Republican primaries, the president who did the reasonable
thing and compromised with Democrats on taxes, faced this in the general


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The George Bush promise --

BUSH: Read my lips, no new taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then he gave us the second biggest tax increase in
American history. Bush increased the gas tax by 56 percent. Can we afford
four more years?

Bill Clinton, a different kind of Democrat. As governor, Arkansas has the
second lowest tax burden in the country, balanced 12 budgets. You don`t
have to read his lips, read his record. Clinton-Gore, for people, for


O`DONNELL: The Democrats had lost the last presidential campaign to tax
pandering by George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton wasn`t going to let that
happen again this time. So he tax pandered. He echoed Pat Buchanan`s
attack on President Bush for reaching a perfectly reasonable agreement with
Democrats on Tax increases. And while he was at it, Bill Clinton made
himself a tax cutter. He offered a middle class tax cut as a center piece
of his campaign. And so Bill Clinton won the presidency by attacking the
last Republican president who is willing to compromise with Democrats on
taxes and by inference attacking those Republican members of Congress who
joined that compromise with Democrats. And in effect, the Democratic
nominee for president was actually attacking the Democrats who put that tax
bill together.

In his ad, you saw him slamming the nickel increase in the gasoline tax
saying we couldn`t afford that, and denouncing the second biggest tax
increase in history. And just a few months into his presidency, Bill
Clinton renounced all that, including the middle class tax cut. He
abandoned the middle class tax cut and in fact, increased some minor taxes
on the middle class that he seemed to oppose in the campaign.

After attacking George Bush for signing a nickel increase in the gas tax,
Bill Clinton signed a 4.3 percent increase in the gas tax and he would have
signed a much higher one if Congress could have passed a higher one. He
signed a substantial increase in the top income tax bracket, which will
something and he did actually support in the campaign and he signed an
increase in taxation on Social Security benefits and a bunch of other
sensible tax provisions that ended up being the biggest tax increase in

And this time, none of the Republicans who had the courage to vote for the
George H. W. Bush tax increases were willing to vote for the Clinton tax

Clinton tax increases were done without a single Republican vote, and the
partisan standoff on taxes in Congress has been locked in place since then.
Republicans have not supported a tax increase since then and sensible
fiscal policy has been impossible since then. There were some reasonable
Republicans in the Senate in 1993 who told me privately that they supported
many provisions of the Clinton tax package, but they could not bring
themselves to vote for it after Bill Clinton won presidency, away from the
Republicans by campaigning against the reasonable tax package that
President Bush signed into law and that those Republican senators voted

And in the 20 years since then, Republicans have never considered again
supporting any kind of tax package. And our adventure and fiscal
irresponsibility continues. And trying to raise the gas tax a nickel now
is absolutely impossible.


O`DONNELL: And now for the funny news. The weekend in comedy beginning
with former "Last Word" producer RJ Freed`s new habit of wandering onto the
stage with David Letterman.


RJ FREED, FORMER LAST WORD PRODUCER: Do you do this every night?


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: What are we talking about?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political analysts are saying Hillary Clinton should
stop telling people she`s poor.

not only dead broke but in debt.

STEWART: I still get emotional just thinking about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she also said bill Clinton should stop telling
people he`s single.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broadway is getting ready for a new Bill Clinton
musical. Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you call the bill Clinton musical? Here`s
my suggestion. The sound of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michelle Obama said she wants Americans to elect a
woman president "as soon as possible."

STEWART: Your move, madam secretary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, even she`s had enough of President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s begin with some important primaries.

COLBERT: Yesterday`s heated Republican Senate primary in Mississippi.

STEWART: Establishment Republican Thad Cochran, or tea party challenger
Chris McDaniel.

COLBERT: Which pitted tea party challenger and short (INAUDIBLE) Chris
McDaniel against incumbent senator and man in reverse mortgage at Thad

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The eyes of the world will be on this

STEWART: Yes, if that`s any event happening right now that the entire
world is watching, it`s the Mississippi Republican Senate primary runoff.
You know, it`s interesting, around the globe, people have gathered to watch
with bated breath. Here come the results. There`s nothing --

LETTERMAN: Well, I guess we are all excited about the world cup?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. It is soccer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The excitement of minimal compact, the thrill of low
scoring. If you like watching porn in reverse, this sport is for you.

LETTERMAN: It`s just that exciting, ladies and gentlemen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rest of the world calls it football. In America,
we call it a (expletive deleted) waste of time.

STEWART: What are we talking about?

COLBERT: It`s cable - make it up!


O`DONNELL: Late night comedians put it all into perspective for us, as

Chris Hayes is up next.


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