updated 7/1/2014 11:27:56 AM ET 2014-07-01T15:27:56

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
June 30, 2014

Guest: Judah Friedlander, Cecile Richards, Emily Bazelon, Jonathan Cohn

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And as usual I was
taking notes for your show for segments I`m going to do on this show. It`s
easy way to do the homework here.

And on the big Supreme Court decision, Rachel, we`re going to dig into
tonight what might be the good news inside it all which is exactly how many
women might actually be affected by this and we think it could be a very
small number. But we`re doing the homework on that right now.

RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: Very good. Excellent. Thanks, man.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

So, in tonight`s "Be Careful What You Wish For" lesson, a law that liberals
pushed through Congress 20 years ago came back to haunt liberals today when
the Supreme Court used that law to poke another hole in the Affordable Care
Act.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sex, religion, birth control, gender equity, and
corporate rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court rules in a 5-4 opinion in Burwell
versus Hobby Lobby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hobby Lobby, America`s one-stop source for glitter and
googly eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Employers with religious objections can refuse to pay
for contraceptive coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say that requirement violates its religious
freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does requiring these companies to pay violate religious
beliefs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does a for-profit corporation have a right to religious
freedom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can they even have religious beliefs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does a corporation have a soul?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Corporations are people,
my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, they don`t. Are we done? Are we done here?
Are we done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court says yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because according to the court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not all corporations are people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Superior people to ordinary people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s about more rights for people who run companies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve chosen the boss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bosses` rights rule.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s an excellent day to be a boss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a new precedent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it really mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happens next here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will be built on top of it? We don`t yet know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Twenty-one years ago, a Democratic House and a Democratic
Senate passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Now, many of you may not have noticed that your religious freedom needed to
be restored in 1993. But then most of you don`t claim to smoke peyote for
religious reasons. That is what drove the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act of 1993. Native Americans who faced harmful legal and employment
consequences for using peyote in their religious practices. The Religious
Freedom Restoration Act got 97 votes in the Senate, including every liberal
in the Senate. Ted Kennedy drove that bill through the Senate and
President Bill Clinton had the happy honor of signing it into law.

That liberal Kennedy Clinton law came back to haunt President Obama`s
Affordable Care Act today when the Supreme Court said that the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act applies not just to individuals but to some
corporations, like Hobby Lobby. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito
said, "Protecting the free exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby
protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those
companies."

Hobby Lobby succeeded today in obtaining the freedom from the Supreme Court
to not provide health insurance coverage for certain forms of
contraception. Justice Alito specified that employers could not use
religious freedom to avoid providing other forms of health care -- health
coverage, like vaccinations or blood transfusions.

The court said that only employers with, quote, "sincere religious beliefs"
could claim this new exemption from the Affordable Care Act. But Justice
Alito did not attempt in any way to define what would qualify as a sincere
religious belief.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, approving some religious
claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be perceived as
favoring one religion over another. The very risk the Constitution`s
establishment clause was designed to preclude.

As always, reaction from Washington`s political class was predictable.
John Boehner issued this press release, "Today`s decision is a victory for
religious freedom and another defeat for an administration that has
repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its big government
objectives."

Ted Cruz issued this statement, "This ruling is a repudiation of the Obama
administration`s untenable position that people with sincerely held
religious beliefs should be forced to comply with an unconstitutional
mandate."

And Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National
Committee, said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: It sure is a rallying
cry. It`s very clear to American women, yet again, that Republicans want
to do everything they can to have the long hand of government, and now the
longhand of business, reach into a woman`s body and make decisions -- make
health care decisions for her. That`s totally unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Cecile Richards, president of Planned
Parenthood Action Fund.

Cecile, what is your reaction to the Supreme Court`s decision today?

CECILE RICHARDS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTION FUND: Well, it was a very tough
decision for women and their families and women`s health. It was -- it`s a
day where it`s better to be a corporation than to be a woman, according to
the Supreme Court. And, unfortunately, it means that women that work for
these two companies are going to lose a benefit that other women around the
country have to contraception.

It was -- we heard from medical associations all across, the AMA, American
Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This is really government
intrusion at its worst between the doctor/patient relationship.

O`DONNELL: And, Cecile, it seemed that the court, the majority, held some
distinction. What I`m not exactly clear, about things like blood
transfusions and vaccinations -- that I guess the notion being there, they
are more important and they are objectively more important than birth
control.

RICHARDS: Exactly. I mean, Justice Alito clearly called out birth control
as somehow different. And I suppose more controversial. And this is
despite the fact that, you know, almost every woman in America uses birth
control at some point in their lifetime. And so, for women, the only
controversial thing about birth control, the only controversy surrounding
birth control, is why we can`t get it covered by our insurance plans.

I think this is on the wrong side of history, this decision. And women are
paying attention. We heard from women all over the country today who are
outraged at this decision by the court.

O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton was at the Aspen Institute today. Let`s listen
to what she said about this decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: One of the concurring opinions
basically said, well, if the government wants to provide contraceptive
insurance or free contraceptives to women, the government can do it. That
-- you know, that`s a kind of odd conclusion. So, does this mean whoever
wrote that concurrence is in favor of a single-payer system for
contraception? I think there are a lot of interesting questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Cecile, the court -- what was your sense of the way the
majority on the court regarded the necessity of birth control, and did you
sense that there was some kind of gap between their view of this and the
reality of it for American women?

RICHARDS: Oh, absolutely, Lawrence. That was my feeling when I sat there
and listened to the court argument that day. These were justices and you
might have noticed they`re five men in the majority. And it was very clear
that they neither knew much about birth control or really cared much about
the women who were seeking this benefit.

I think the important thing though to remember, even though this is a
terrible decision, and again, devastating for the women that are affected,
the important thing to remember is that 30 million women now under the
Affordable Care Act are eligible for no-cost birth control. And this -- so
this has largely been a big win under the Affordable Care Act, $483 million
was saved by women last year from this new benefit on birth control.

O`DONNELL: Well, Cecile, I think there may still be a lot of wind left
here. In our next segment, we`re going to try to get into the numbers of
the number of women who might actually be affected by this.

There could actually be in the end an outcome that practically allows
women, even at Hobby Lobby, to get this average if, if what happens is they
end up under the same umbrella that the churches and the deal that they
worked out on the Affordable Care Act, which means that, yes, that coverage
can pass to those employees just as long as the company is not directly
paying for it.

RICHARDS: That may happen. I think it`s -- but that is yet to see for
sure.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s an unchartered spot for them right now. Thanks for
joining us tonight, Cecile. Thank you.

RICHARDS: Yes, good to see you.

O`DONNELL: OK.

And joining me, Emily Bazelon. She`s senior editor for "Slate" magazine
and covers the Supreme Court.

Emily, this is one of those decisions that you really get to examine a
bunch of things in it that need -- seem to need more definition. The big
one for me is this "sincerely held religious beliefs."

If you understand religion, as I know a lot of those Supreme Court justices
do, you don`t get to judge the sincerity of religious belief by the length
of time it`s been held. I can be converted tonight to a new religious
belief that is deeply held tomorrow morning.

So, how -- what measuring stick did they think they`re going to use for
this sincerely held religious belief?

EMILY BAZELON, SLATE MAGAZINE: I would say none. Courts are not going to
get into the business of probing what a sincerely held religious belief is.

And that`s one of the reasons that this decision could create such a big
window for companies to walk through, because it`s going to be easy for
companies to make these claims that they have a religious objection to some
government law or practice, and very difficult for courts to really push
back against those claims.

O`DONNELL: Well, they would have to put some people on the witness stand,
I guess, to testify to their religious beliefs. But the other thing is the
companies involved that can do this are relatively small in terms of their
ownership. They used also this phrase, which I don`t believe the court
opinion defined, "closely held."

What do you think the future of defining "closely held" is going to be?

BAZELON: Well, it seems that the court had in mind companies that are not
publicly traded on the stock market. And the numbers I would see floating
around today suggested that most American companies fit the definition of
"closely held." However, only about 51 percent or 52 percent of employees
work for closely held companies because it`s the big ones that are publicly
traded.

I would also note, though, while the court didn`t say that publicly traded
companies also have this religious freedom right, they suggested it in
their reasoning. I don`t actually think there`s a reason, based on what
the court said today, to think that all companies are not persons under the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

O`DONNELL: There is a phrase, the term "closely held company" is used by
the IRS. And if they reach over for that definition, they will find that
it has five stockholders or less, which is what Hobby Lobby is. It`s about
five stockholders. And so they may reach over and use that.

But it also, for practical purposes, Emily, it strikes me that
contraception coverage is a low-dollar item within -- if you`re trying to
figure out how much it costs, within the totality of a health insurance
package. I can`t imagine a bunch of companies trying to go to court and
claim a religiosity they haven`t had before just to save a small amount of
money, if anything, on their health insurance policies.

BAZELON: Right. And if women are outraged at this decision and are
clearly up in arms about it that will discourage companies from making
those moves. However, we don`t really know yet. And I will also note
there are 70 other companies that have already sued because they don`t want
to pay for birth control under the contraception mandate in Obamacare. So,
we`re not just talking about Hobby Lobby.

O`DONNELL: Emily Bazelon, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BAZELON: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up what might just be the good news inside today`s
Supreme Court ruling. Even if you don`t like the way it went, as a lot of
people don`t, it might not affect as many people as we might think. It
might even affect, this is possible, no one.

And the LAST WORD senior soccer analyst Judah Friedlander is back tonight
to take your questions about the World Cup before the U.S. plays again
tomorrow. You can tweet your questions to me @Lawrence and I`ll ask Judah
to answer some of them tonight.

And in "The Rewrite" tonight, extraordinary video. Rob Ford`s first day
back as mayor of Toronto after getting out of rehab. This is Rob Ford as
you have never seen him before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: I am ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Crystal Moore is once again the police chief of Latta, South
Carolina. In April, the mayor of Latta fired Moore. Moore and the town
council believe that was done exclusively because she is a lesbian. She
appeared on this program last week after residents of Latta voted in
support of a referendum that would restructure the town government so that
the mayor no longer had the right to fire her. On Friday night, she was
reinstated and sworn back into office.

Coming up, how today`s Supreme Court decision actually might not mean that
any woman goes without or loses the coverage for contraception in health
insurance packages, even those packages delivered by companies like Hobby
Lobby. This gets a little complicated. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: What if the Supreme Court made a momentous precedent-setting
decision and in real life, it affected no one?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Obama believes that
women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather
than their bosses deciding for them. We`re also assessing what practical
implications there are from this decision, including what companies are
actually covered by this Supreme Court decision. As you saw, the ruling
referred pretty narrowly to a closely held private sector companies.

We`re also taking a look at what kinds of health care plans these companies
have and how many employees are actually affected by this decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Ezra Klein, editor in chief of Vox.com and
MSNBC contributor. And Jonathan Cohn, senior editor for "The New
Republic."

So, Ezra, what`s your take on in the end the practical outcome of this
decision, how many people do you think will be affected by it?

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: Well, a couple of things on that matter.
First, what we don`t know. So, there`s this line in there about closely
held companies. That means a company that 50 percent of the stock is held
by five or fewer people.

We think a lot of companies in the U.S. are like this. Roughly I think, if
I`m remembering the numbers here correctly, a large majority, up to 90
percent.

But they don`t employ that many people because very large publicly held
companies employ more people. So, already you`re down to half-ish of
workers. Then you have the question how many of these companies, one,
offer insurance or will offer insurance in the future. Two, how many would
actually want to take advantage of the rule to argue they have religious
beliefs that don`t permit them to offer contraception.

And then, there`s another question that there are arguments there are
somewhat complex work-arounds that the Obama administration could employ to
put the responsibility for putting forward contraceptive coverage on the
insurer, not on the employer. It`s something the Supreme Court actually
hints at in the decision. It`s something the Obama administration has done
with nonprofits, religious nonprofits, in another circumstance.

It remains to be seen if they will. But if they did go that route, then it
would affect far, far fewer people, because white employers would no longer
be offering it, that coverage would still be available.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Ezra, on that last point, if they go that route, as far as
I can see, it would literally affect no one. I want to read what the court
said about it. And it seemed to be that Anthony Kennedy was betting on
this in his decision, that in practical terms, no woman will actually lose
her coverage for contraception because of this point.

It says, "Under the Affordable Care Act religious employer accommodation,
the insurance issuer must exclude contraceptive coverage from the
employer`s plan and provide plan participants with separate payments for
contraceptive services without imposing any cost-sharing requirements on
the employer, its insurance plan, or its employee beneficiaries."

And so, Jonathan Cohn, when you stare at that, that`s the deal in effect
the Obama administration worked out with churches and employers in a very
clear religious-based employers who are opposed to providing contraception.
But the deal means that the employees of churches are able to get
contraception in their coverage.

JONATHAN COHN, THE NEW REPUBLIC: They are. I -- and it`s quite possible
that at the end of the day, two or three months from now, we will be
talking about such an arrangement.

A few cautionary notes though. First of all, when the Obama administration
implemented this, they basically had to make a deal with the insurers to do
it. The insurers are not happy about this. It`s not clear to me how happy
they`re going to be taking on more customers into this arrangement.

And there`s also the question of scale. Ezra alluded to the numbers. We
don`t know how many people this will apply to. The number of people
covered by the existing work-around, the existing exemption, is relatively
small. If we get into a situation where the Obama administration has to
use this work-around for a much larger group of people, it may not work so
well.

I think that is why you heard the administration today say publicly and
privately, they wanted Congress to take a lead on this. Congress,
obviously, could pass a bill, pass a law, creating some kind of coverage
for contraception separate from employer coverage for companies like Hobby
Lobby.

O`DONNELL: And, Ezra, we heard the first lady today make the reference to
single payer and does this mean the Supreme Court`s in favor of single
payer. And, of course, Medicare is single-payer and it`s been ruled
constitutional. It`s been found constitutional by the Supreme Court.

And so it`s very clear that this is one of the many little things, and
other big things, that the single payer advocates would talking about back
at the beginning of this crusade when they were saying, we should be going
for single-payer, because you take these decisions out of the hands of
employers.

KLEIN: Right. I think that -- not only do you take them out of the hands
of employers, but you`re dealing with better trod constitutional territory.
One of the things about this bill that is a lot of the parts that have come
before the Supreme Court and been complex or been challenged in front of
the Supreme Court in a real way, made the actual whole bill vulnerable,
were parts of the law that were meant to be more conciliatory towards the
right, so, the individual mandate obviously being the most fearsome example
of that, where that came from the right initially.

It was a Heritage Foundation idea. It eventually migrated into the Obama
bill. It was meant to keep private insurers in the game so you didn`t go
to single-payer and it almost got the whole thing ruled unconstitutional.

Now, I do want to say single-payer has something of the opposite problem,
where if you get a great benefit package under single-payer, then it gets.
And if you get a bad benefit package under single-payer, then nobody gets
some of the benefits that they actually need.

So, it really depends in single-payer I think whether or not you have a
good legislature and a good president backing it up. But definitely in
sort of idealized world, if you could just do a simple program like
Medicare, it would be constitutionally much safer and much, much, much
simpler to administer.

As John just mentioned, the -- not just the politics but the operational
complexity of trying to carve out all these little work-arounds and worry
about all these individual cases is just tremendous. And it`s a lot of
cost and it`s a lot of pain.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, you wrote today that, "The obvious solution to this
dilemma is to take health insurance away from employers altogether." It`s
obvious but it`s hard to get to.

COHN: It`s very hard to get to and that`s why we have this system we do
today. I mean, this is a compromise. As Ezra says, this was an
accommodation.

The reason we have private insurance, we left it in the hands of employers,
is it was much easier to get something like that through congress. It was
less disruptive to the health care system to change everybody over to a
single-payer system. And now, we are seeing the consequences of that.

I think it was the right decision to make. I`m glad we have the Affordable
Care Act. I`m glad we have all these people covered. But it gets messy.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

COHN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in "The Rewrite.", Toronto Mayor Rob Ford returns to
his job today. He faced the press today, and it was a press conference
like no other in Rob Ford`s time as mayor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: I was wrong. And I have no one, but no one, to blame but myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In "The Spotlight" tonight, Republican opposition and
immigration reform. In a speech in the Rose Garden today, President Obama
vowed that after being informed by Speaker John Boehner last week that the
House would not vote on immigration reform this year, the president will be
taking matters into his own hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I take executive action only
when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do
nothing. And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a
darn bill is bad for our security, it`s bad for our economy, and it`s bad
for our future. I`ve also directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General
Holder to identify additional actions my administration can take on our
own. Within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to
do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can. If Congress will
not do their job, at least we can do ours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Those comments came only a few hours after the president sent
the letter updating Congress on the administration`s efforts to help
control the over 50,000 unaccompanied minors who have arrived at the
country`s southwest border from Central America, just since October. The
president also wrote of his intention to request emergency funds which the
White House said will likely total more than $2 billion to support quote
"an aggressive deterrence strategy focused on the removal and repatriation
of recent border crossers, a sustained border security surge through
enhanced domestic enforcement including interdiction and prosecution of
criminal networks, a significant increase in immigration judges and the
resources necessary to appropriately detain, process, and care for children
and adults."

Joining me now is Washington bureau chief from "Mother Jones" and MSNBC
political analyst David Corn, and Telemundo anchor and upcoming MSNBC host
Jose Diaz-Balart.

Jose, I just want to hand this to you. And I don`t want to ask a question
that will attempt to focus your response in the way I want it to go. Your
experience is vast on this, you`ve been to that border recently. Tell us
what we should be thinking about right now on these issues.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO ANCHOR: Good evening, Lawrence. So good to
see you, my friend. It`s great to see you.

There`s so many issues that we should be talking about. And let me just
paint a picture for you today. In my nightly news on Telemundo tonight, I
have the first lady of Honduras visited a detention facility in the Rio
Grande area that is holding Honduran kids. And she says that as many as 70
percent of the little girls from Honduras that are in that detention center
were raped along the way, getting to the United States.

Henry Cuellar, the congressman of the Rio Grande Valley told me also today
that one in three of the children that he has spoken to have been raped
along the way. Put yourself in the shoes of those parents. A 17-year-old
girl from Honduras that we had on "Nightly News Tonight," told us, and she
was reunited with her family here in south Florida, that when she crossed
the border -- when she left Honduras, she did so because the gangs in her
neighborhood killed her little brother because he did not want to be a part
of the violent gang mentality and lifestyle that is occurring in many
Honduran towns and cities. So she decided that she was going to leave
after her little brother, her only brother, was killed. And she was raped
along the way. Four men in Mexico grabbed her and said, if you want to
live, you want to keep going on to your American dream, don`t say a thing
or you will die.

That little girl is now reunited with parent in the United States. And
those parents know what that little girl went through. They also know they
lost a son. I ask you, isn`t this a crisis? Isn`t this a humanitarian
crisis that we should be looking at and seeing what the United States could
and should be doing about it?

And politics aside 52,000, Lawrence as you said, kids have crossed the
border that have been detained since October. Why are they leaving? Why
are they willing to do what they have to, to get to this country? Because
many of them, and I would dare say the majority of them, have parents that
are here contributing to this economy and to this country, many for some
years.

And if immigration reform had been successful, take the Senate bill or take
some of the possibilities that the house bass discussing in the last couple
of months. Any and all of those potential bills would have included some
form of legalization for the people that are here. And so those people
would not have had to have asked their children, their 16-year-old
daughters, to cross the border and that hell on earth that is the journey
from Central America to the United States of America, that`s what we`re
dealing with, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, you know, I live in a southern border state here in
California. And when you get to see the personal strength of the kinds of
people that Jose is talking about who, against all odds and in the face of
those dangers, make this run into this country, and then you see the
imagery we`ve been showing on the screen, it is the imagery of a
humanitarian crisis. But that phrase, humanitarian crisis, seems to have
lost any power in today`s Washington.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you`re right. And Lawrence,
we see the same stories here in Washington, D.C. where there`s a big
immigrant community as well.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they don`t stop close to the border.

CORN: It`s all across the country now. And the sad thing is, you know,
this really struck me and what seem to Jose`s, you know, passionate
description, is that it is a humanitarian crisis. It`s been sort of a
slow-motion humanitarian crisis for years now. Sort of reaching, you know,
the greater proportions with the influx of children. And yet here in
Washington, it can`t be discussed, you know and there is a reason.

I don`t want to say Washington is dysfunctional. I don`t want to see there
is a false equivalency and everybody`s at fault here. In the house side,
as Jose mentioned, a bunch of Republicans, a small number, got together
with most of the Democrats and they passed a bill a year ago. And they
started dealing with this issue. And it would have had something to do
with this current crisis. There`s a bunch of people in the House,
Republicans controlled by the tea party, who don`t care it`s a crisis.
They will not deal with this as a substantive matter.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, thanks for joining us tonight. And Jose Diaz-
Balart, thank you very much for allowing me the pride of introducing you
tonight as a future MSNBC colleague of ours starting mid-July. Can`t wait
to see your new show.

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, you can tweet me your world cup questions for Judah
Friedlander. He`s back tonight. And his obsession with soccer will get
tonight`s "Last Word."

And in "the rewrite" tonight, Toronto mayor Rob Ford tries to rewrite his
personal and professional future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I now realize that I was blind to the dangers of
some of the company I kept and those associations have ended.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The "rewrite" is next. Toronto mayor Rob Ford as you have
never seen him or heard him. Extraordinary video coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "rewrite" the remarkable return of Rob Ford. For
some time Toronto`s mayor Rob Ford has been the author of some of the most
shocking moments in north American politics, especially in political press
conferences including this one which the network wants me to warn you is
shockingly graphic talk from a politician. So consider yourself warned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: The last thing was Olivia (INAUDIBLE), it said that I wanted to eat
her (bleep). I`ve never said that in my life to her, I would never do
that. I`m happily married, I`ve got more than enough to eat at home.
Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Oh my God, are you kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: We might be live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I love that guy!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A very different Rob Ford faced the press today in Toronto. A
Rob Ford we`ve never seen before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: Good afternoon, everyone.

I stand before you today having completed two months of intensive rehab
therapy at Greenstone Residential addiction facility. For a long, long
time, I resisted the idea of getting help. Like a lot of people dealing
with substance abuse, I was in complete denial. I had convinced myself
that I did not have a problem. But it was soon became obvious that my
alcohol and drug use was having a serious, serious impact on my family and
on my health and on my job as mayor.

After experiencing some of the darkest moments in my life, I decided that
enough was enough. I had become my own worst enemy. I knew, I knew it was
time to take action. It was time to get help, professional help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here`s what Rob Ford was heard saying about Councilwoman Karen
Stintz just in April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about Karen Stintz?

FORD: (Bleep) her. But you know what? I can`t talk like this anymore.
I`m so sorry. I forgot there was a woman in the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here`s what Rob Ford said about Karen Stintz today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: To my fellow councilors, and especially to Karen Stintz. For my
hurtful and degrading remarks, I offer a deep felt apology for my behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: To those of you who have gone through rehab or had a loved one
go through rehab, much of what Rob Ford had to say today sounds familiar,
especially the gratitude to his family and the rehab facility staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: I now know that the staff at Greenstone saved my life. They forced
me to confront my personal demons. I learned about things like triggers
and what happens when you have uncontrollable cravings. To my family, and
to all those who stood by me during these extremely difficult times, I want
to thank you for giving me another chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Like others before him, Rob Ford talked about the people he met
in group therapy and how they helped him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: We all know someone who has suffered from this terrible disease. At
Greenstone, I met others. I met others, who like me, has struggled with
the impacts of their substance abuse for years. Listening to their stories
gave me the strength and helped me deal with my own mistakes.

Thanks to my treatment, thanks to my treatment, I can proudly say today
that I have begun the process of taking control of my life.

But folks, this is a long, long road to recovery. No matter what I do, no
matter what I do, I will never be able to change the mistakes that I have
made in the past. When I look back on some of the things I have said and
some of the things I did when I was using, I am ashamed, embarrassed, and
humiliated. I was wrong and I have no one, but no one, to blame but
myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The mayor apologized to the people of Toronto and to every
person who was hurt by his words and actions. There was a political
section of his remarks in which he talked about working hard for the city
and achieving a labor agreement with some unions. But even that was done
without a boastful tone, at least.

Every moment he was speaking, we were hearing a new Rob Ford. A man full
of apology and regret, fighting back tears, and for once blaming no one but
himself for his problems. He took no questions from the media when he
finished his statement. The assembled press was told ahead of time that
the mayor would not be taking any questions. But each of the reporters in
the room had a couple of months` worth of questions they`d been dying to
ask, and throwing questions at Rob Ford when he was walking away has gotten
them some pretty amazing answers in the past. And so they tried it again
today, hoping that the rob ford they knew so well could not resist taking
the bait.

Here`s how the new Rob Ford ended his remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: Again, I want to thank, I sincerely want to thank the amazing staff
at Greenstone for giving me the power to change my life. And I want to
thank the people of Toronto for their understanding and continued support
during this very, very difficult time. I look forward to serving you for
many, many more years. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, what was your relationship with --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why was that woman in your car --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you intend to cooperate with police --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Anything else you want to miss to us, Mr.
Mayor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Did you get the video back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you still friends with --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As we`ve all heard many times, recovery is one day at a time.
It`s one day at a time for the rest of your life. And today, Rob Ford had
a good day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: USA! USA! USA! USA!

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: That`s great, yes. Come on. It`s soccer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Conan O`Brien speaks for me on soccer and so many other things.
But with world cup fever sweeping the nation soccer has won the fight for
respect in the United States.

ESPN is not only televising the world cup competition, they also are
running a series of engaging documentaries about the world cup for people
who needed to catch up fast. Those documentaries are narrated by noted
soccer historian Judah Friedlander.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDAH FRIEDLANDER, NARRATOR: To qualify for the world cup, the U.S. men`s
national team must endure an odyssey that lasts a year and a half. Sixteen
games against other nations from north and Central America and the
Caribbean. Rabid crowds. Hostile climates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a crazy night.

FRIEDLANDER: And relentless pressure put on every player, both to win
games and survive what is also an ongoing audition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me, comedian, "30 Rock" star, and "the Last Word`s"
senior soccer analyst, Judah Friedlander.

Judah, I watched your documentary this weekend, chapter one of it, I gave a
full hour of my life to you and to soccer. And I learned a lot, like you
can play for like whatever team you want, apparently, these guys deciding
do I want to play for Germany, do I want to play for the U.S.? And who`s
paying them to make these decisions? What`s going on with all that?

FRIEDLANDER: Good question. And thank you for being a good American and
taking interest in your soccer team. It`s actually much more difficult and
restrictive than -- to play for a world cup team than for an Olympic team.

Let`s say you`re an Olympic skier and you don`t make the U.S. Olympic team
or used to be on the U.S. Olympic team then the next Olympics you don`t
make it. You can actually go to Russia, become a citizen, and play for
their Olympic team, which has happened.

For soccer, world cup, you have one choice, period. You`re not allowed to
change it. You can only pick one country. So there are five players on
our team that are born in Germany but have an American military father,
German mother and they had a choice. They could either play for Germany or
the U.S. they could only make that choice one time and they chose U.S.

O`DONNELL: And are they getting paid for this, do the players get paid?

FRIEDLANDER: You know, I don`t know much about money. I think they do get
some kind of bucks, yes.

O`DONNELL: And the coaches must get paid because the U.S. team as I
learned from your documentary have lured the great German star over here to
be the coach of the U.S. team and that had to take big bucks.

FRIEDLANDER: Yes, it does. I`m not sure where it comes from. But yes.
You know, we still have a lot of money in this country. Even though we`re
all about fast food and a slow economy, there still is money in this
nation.

O`DONNELL: So Judah, the next thing is U.S. versus Belgium, OK? Belgium
has 11 million people. Ohio has 11 million people. If we`re playing fair
it`s Ohio versus Belgium, isn`t it?

FRIEDLANDER: Yes, and I think Ohio wins, you know. Ohio`s one of the top
50 states in America. I think Ohio would take that in a second, you know?
I mean, that`s a great football state. Different kind of football but it`s
still football.

O`DONNELL: Judah Friedlander has earned and has gotten tonight`s "Last
Word."

Thank you, Judah.

FRIEDLANDER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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