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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, July 31st, 2014

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July 31, 2014

Guest: Robert Costa, Janine Zacharia, Ryan Broderick

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Steve, I don`t think they can call them
the do-nothing Congress anymore after what they did.

STEVE KORNACKI, UP HOST: Landmark legislation passed today, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: They got something done. Thank you very much, Steve.


O`DONNELL: Well, John Boehner got fooled again by Ted Cruz.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Republicans have pulled their border bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nada, nothing, no way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes I feel like the Republicans in Congress
have no heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They won`t help those kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the start of tomorrow`s five-week summer

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now on track to become the least productive in modern

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The narrative right now sucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the first vote the new House GOP leadership

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They seem to have failed miserably.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not up to the task.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s ever doing the counting can`t count.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And basking in the after glow is the circus ring leader
of them all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, some conservative members met with Ted

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We will not solve this humanitarian crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who was not elected to serve in the House of

CRUZ: Until we end President Obama`s amnesty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cruz managed to convince the rowdiest of the raucous

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Cruz calling the shots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To vote against the leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Killed John Boehner`s fragile hold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really shows the box that John Boehner has put
himself in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says the president can take actions on his own
without Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are now encouraging him on a statement to act by

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what they`re suing him for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You truly can`t make that up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re talking about trying to stay overnight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delaying their planned recess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like in the movie "Dumb and Dumber".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re telling me there`s a chance? Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a sad state of affair when you`re quoting "Dumb
and Dumber".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What leverage does Boehner have at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Confident all week they`d have support for this plane.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you.

REPORTER: Can you pass something?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Listen, I`d like to act.

BUSH: Fool me, you can`t get fooled again.


O`DONNELL: What was to be a routine final day`s work in the House of
Representatives before their long summer recess began with Eric Cantor`s
farewell as majority leader of the House.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: Mr. Speaker, I close by once again
thanking my colleagues for their service. I thank them for their
friendship and warmth. And with that, I yield back.



O`DONNELL: So much friendship and warmth in that room.

What went unannounced this morning was that the new leader of the House of
Representatives for the day at least, was Senator Ted Cruz, who effectively
blocked any action in the House today on the bill Speaker John Boehner
planned to bring up to deal with the crisis on our southern border.

On Tuesday, Speaker Boehner said he thought there was sufficient support
for the bill, which would provide emergency aid for that crisis, of only
$659 million. That`s of the $3.7 billion requested by President Obama.
But that was before the junior senator from Texas decided to whip some
House votes.

Last night, Ted Cruz gathered some of the most conservative House members
in his office and urged them not to vote for John Boehner`s bill, because
it didn`t include a provision to prohibit President Obama from delaying the
deportation of young undocumented immigrants.


CRUZ: The cause of the humanitarian crisis we`re facing right now is
President Obama`s lawlessness. This all began in the summer of 2012 when
the president unilaterally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people who came
here as children. And we will not solve this humanitarian crisis unless
and until we end President Obama`s amnesty.


O`DONNELL: After that meeting, Congressman Marsha Blackburn introduced a
bill that would prohibit President Obama from building on the deferred
action for child arrivals program he created in 2012.

And this morning, Speaker Boehner, trying to appease what is now the Cruz
caucus confirmed that the Blackburn bill would be brought to a vote after
the bill on emergency spending. But, of course, that vote never happened
because support for the entire border package fell apart in the House of
Representatives this afternoon. House members were supposed to leave
tonight for their summer recess but are expected to return tomorrow morning
and discuss and possibly vote on that bill.

Some House Republicans seemed optimistic after conferencing this evening.


REP. BUCK MCKEON (R), CALIFORNIA: We didn`t have 218 votes. So it was
important that we have a discussion. And it was one of the most productive
I think conferences that I`ve seen.

REP. MATT SALMON (R), ARIZONA: I`m willing to stay here until the cows
come home. I`m willing to stay -- use your metaphor, hell freezes over,
cows come home. I`m willing to stay until we do the job done. I think
both members are ready to do that, and I think that`s a good thing.


O`DONNELL: Meanwhile, the Senate tonight also failed to advance their bill
for the border, which provided $2.7 billion for emergency money. The
Senate Republicans blocked the bill because they objected to the cost of
the measure. Senator John McCain slammed Democrats for not allowing
Republicans to offer amendments to the bill.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Everybody wants to get out of town, so
sometime tonight or maybe tomorrow, we`re going to close up shop and we`re
going to go home. And the humanitarian crisis goes on! It goes on!

What about these children? Are they going to be enticed by coyotes and
their families to give a year`s salary to transport them from one of these
countries to the United States of America? Are untold number of women
going to be raped along the way? Are there going to be kids that fall off
these trains?

Is that what`s going to happen? And we`re going to go for five weeks
without debate on a single amendment. Not a single one! What kind of an
institution is this?


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is national political reporter for "The
Washington Post", Robert Costa, and Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" and MSNBC political analyst, David Corn.

Robert, what is Ted Cruz saying about what went on in his office last

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I spoke with Senator Cruz for
about 30 minutes a few hours ago. And we went over Wednesday night`s
meeting. And he said his role is to guide House conservatives.

But he certainly is building his political capital, Lawrence. He`s
exerting influence in an almost unprecedented way over House affairs.

O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, in the Senate there, you saw John McCain
complaining that had the Republicans being allowed to offer at least some
amendments, maybe this would have actually moved.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, maybe, but if he`s also so concerned about
those children that he talked about, he and the Republicans could have
voted quickly as well on the bill as is. So, you know, it cuts both ways.
They`re always having these procedural fights overrules and amendments.
You know that, Lawrence, having served there.

And now, you have Ted Cruz fleeing the scene of that crime, so to speak, to
intervene in the House. If this was "Game of Thrones", he would be playing
the little finger character. I mean, the guy behind the scenes is causing
all this trouble.

O`DONNELL: And, Robert, with the Senate unable to act as it so appears
now, what -- how does that change the dynamic in the House? I mean, what
exactly is the point of the House passing a bill if the Senate`s not going
to take it up?

COSTA: It`s not so much about finding some kind of bipartisan, bicameral
deal right now. It`s about trying to find a way to make the House
Republican conference work. You`re going to have a House Republican
conference tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. They`re going to try to whip up support
for Boehner`s border bill.

But they`re in a difficult position. They`re about to head into a recess
and they really can`t find the votes or any kind of consensus.

O`DONNELL: And, again, David, back to the Senate -- you know, there is an
unprecedented situation going on there on this amendment. This situation
where there are no amendments -- by the way, they`re not allowed on the
majority side either. They generally aren`t allowed by Democrats either.
This is a 21st century phenomena.

What McCain is complaining about is a relatively new thing, and it is the
thing that seems to have gridlocked the Senate, because this is the kind of
legislation with some standard kind of amending procedure probably would
have moved in the Senate, even with the players who are in there now.

CORN: Well, I don`t know if we know whether it would move, whether
Republicans would city try to delay it. As you know, there are a lot of
different ways to delay, there`s filibuster, there`s extending debate on
every amendment.

So, Harry Reid tried to get it through quickly, because there is indeed
this humanitarian crisis that everyone talks about. And, you know, I don`t
quite know what the calculation was on his side, but it certainly seems
that the House is completely stalled, that it really doesn`t matter what`s
going to happen in the House. It looks like everyone is going to go home
for the recess without having done anything.

You know, I think in some ways, while the Republicans will be blamed for
this, unfortunately, Obama gets blamed as well because people hook to him
to try to make things work in Washington, but it seems in some ways,
because of people like Ted Cruz and John Boehner`s lack of leadership,
Washington is unworkable at this moment.

O`DONNELL: Well, yes, Robert, what do we expect to see in the House
tomorrow? What is the sequence we can expect to see?

COSTA: I`m not really so sure, Lawrence. I was checking with speaker --
aides to the speaker, aides to the majority leader, aides to the House
conservatives, I said, what really is the plan of action for Friday? You
have to get something done before the recess. And what I heard in response
was a lot of exasperation, unease, shrugged shoulders. They`re not really
sure if they can get the 218 votes on any kind of border legislation.

So they`re going to meet tomorrow but they`re making no promises.

CORN: But, you know, Lawrence, the interesting thing is that Boehner could
get to 218, he could a lot -- above 218, if he put a bipartisan bill on.
If he took the immigration reform bill that passed in the Senate, it
doesn`t address the border crisis at the moment, but put that on the floor,
it would pass.

So, there`s a lot that he could do if he was the leader of the House as a
public servant, rather than the leader of a Republican caucus that can`t
get it`s you-know-what together.

O`DONNELL: Robert, what does Boehner -- does Boehner feel he has to prove
something tomorrow about who actually does run the House of

COSTA: I think so. I think we`re meeting that breaking point where we`re
going to see Speaker Boehner, at least his allies, start to combat Senator
Cruz, because it is something we`ve never really seen before in
congressional history for a senator, a freshman to exert such influence.
And there is going to be a breaking point.

CORN: Yes. But he did that already, you know better than anyone else,
with the government shutdown, right? So this has happened once already to

O`DONNELL: Yes. This is our second trip through this.

Robert Costa and David Corn, thank you both very much for joining me

CORN: Sure thing, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the latest on this cease-fire announced between
Israel and Hamas. Tonight, that`s going to start in about three hours,
that cease-fire.

And what does Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg think of some of the other
justices on the supreme court and what does she have to say about how the
men decided the Hobby Lobby case on the court? That`s coming up.

And what does Susan Sontag have to tell us about "Sharknado"? Susan Sontag
wrote about this 50 years ago. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Swedish Radio correspondent Johan Sommarstrom tweeted a picture
from Gaza of a Palestinian boy who came up to him and said, "I am a
journalist, I am reporting on what is happening here. This is my flak
jacket." The boy was wearing a flak jacket made of a garbage bag and the
tweet said, "Young boy in Gaza pretending to be a journalist with his
homemade flak jacket, had to lend him my helmet."

Within two hours of being posted on Twitter, the picture had over 1,400
shares and became one of the most shared pictures from Gaza. The picture
has been shared about 5,500 times, I think.

Sommarstrom later wrote -- wrote later, "Working in war means that you see
things you do not want to see, dead children torn beyond recognition.
Desperate parents, endless sorrow, destroyed homes. For a moment, he`s
shown with pride. His friends were laughing happily and dancing around
him. He got a little embarrassed.

And I took the picture. For me, the picture is a powerful example of
children`s strong will to survive. He`s seen us journalists go in and out
of the hotel. He`s seen that we survive. I think that in his pretending
play, he wants to be like us, someone who survives."

Up next, after chastising Secretary of State John Kerry for encouraging a
cease-fire, Israel agrees to a cease-fire.



JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Israel and the Palestinian factions have
agreed that they are now prepared to implement a 72-hour unconditional
humanitarian cease-fire. I want to re-emphasize, this is not a time for
congratulations and joy or anything except a serious determination, a focus
by everybody to try to figure out the road ahead.

This is a respite. This is a moment of opportunity, not an end. It`s not
a solution. It`s the opportunity to find a solution. And President Obama
hopes that all the parties will work diligently to do so.


O`DONNELL: Three hours from now, a 72-hour unconditional humanitarian
cease-fire between Israel and Hamas will begin. Israeli and Palestinian
delegations are headed to Egypt for further talks about a longer lasting
cease-fire. The U.S. acting special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations, Frank Lowenstein, will also be in attendance.

Joining me now, E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC analyst,
and Janine Zacharia, former Jerusalem bureau chief for "The Washington
Post" and current visiting lecturer at Stanford University.

E.J. Dionne, two nights ago, we were here. John Kerry was accused of
launching a, quote, "strategic terrorist attack", by some unnamed senior
officials in the Israeli government by proposing cease-fires and suggesting
cease-fires. How did we get to this?

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I hope whoever said that gives John
Kerry a call and apologizes for that language. But why is this cease-fire
different from the others? When I was -- I was in Lebanon, I was a very
green war correspondent. And an experienced Middle East (INAUDIBLE) said
when you hear the words cease-fire, don`t always believe it and they don`t
always last.

But this one has real potential. I think the first thing that happened is,
Hamas is really on board. Why are they on board or seems to be? Unless
some splinter group shoots a rocket off.

They`re on board I think because Gaza is an absolute mess. It`s a
catastrophe there.

And I think they think they`ve made some political gains. And those could
be jeopardized if this awful situation continues.

I think it`s also possible that the Qataris and Turkey put some pressure on
them. Kerry was criticized for bringing them into the game, they may have

I think on the Israelis side, the Israelis got something here that they
wanted, which is a cease-fire in place. They can continue to go after
those tunnels that concerned them, and I think they felt under some
pressure, especially after they hit that U.N. school where they got a lot
of criticism, including criticism from the United States.

And then the third thing is, these talks are happening in Egypt and Prime
Minister Abbas is going to be there, and there`s at least the opening --
and this is certainly premature on my part. But there`s at least an
opening to have the Palestinian Authority exercise more power in Gaza,
which I think is something that Egypt and Israel would very much like, and
I think would be good to be good for Gaza at this point.

O`DONNELL: Janine, the Israelis had recently been saying that there could
not be a cease-fire until they had eliminated all of these tunnels or made
them inoperable. And what I was wondering about is why can`t you do that
from your end of the tunnels? Which apparently is what they`ve now decided
to do.

JANINE ZACHARIA, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, that`s interesting, Lawrence,
something I`ve been trying to research whether there may have been an
alternative in terms of underground mapping or another way to get at this
complex spider web of tunnels that they discovered as part of this military

But what`s the most important thing about it and maybe the greatest success
here if it works and we have to be cautious, as E.J. mentioned, is that in
order for it to work, both Israelis and Hamas have to be able to declare
victory, right? So, again, let`s distinguish. This is just a humanitarian
cease-fire. It doesn`t resolve any of the final issues.

The key thing, the key win for Bibi Netanyahu, I say there are two. One,
as E.J. mentioned, that it`s going to be -- the final political talks are
going to be in Egypt and not involving necessarily Qatar and Turkey, which
made the Israelis uneasy.

And secondly, that the language that John Kerry used said that the Israelis
will continue to be able to operate from the line that they`re at now. In
other words, they will be able to continue working to destroy these

The army is engaged in a massive demolition operation right now. They`re
going through these tunnels, some of them are booby-trapped. They`re
getting fired upon. Five Israeli soldiers were just killed. A gag order
in Israel reporting -- was just lifted to report that.

So, Netanyahu can say we made progress and we get to continue to work on
this while we negotiate a final political settlement.

O`DONNELL: What`s the win on the other side going into these negotiations,

ZACHARIA: Right. On Hamas` side, they can say we killed well over 60
Israeli soldiers. We have brought the Zionist entity or whatever they want
to refer to it, to its knees with our rocket fire. And as part of this
final political settlement, the way John Kerry framed it, is that Israel
will get its security needs met, i.e., somehow maybe getting rid of most if
not all of these tunnels and Hamas` rocket arsenal. I`m not sure how
they`re going to actually do that.

And in exchange, there will be a loosening of the blockade and that would
be a huge win for Hamas to be able even if that`s not necessarily their
ultimate goal, if they can show the people that they can move freely, and
goods can go freely and there are some win here, that would be a huge
success for them as well.

O`DONNELL: E.J., obviously, very important for John Kerry to be able to
announce this, co-announcing it in effect with the U.N. What do you expect
to be his treatment in the next news cycle in the Israeli media?

DIONNE: Well, it`s got to be better than it was a couple of news cycles
ago. I think what you`re going to have is continuing debate.

I think -- on the Israeli side, they`re going to say, look, his cease-fire
didn`t work, his original proposal, because everything in there was
beneficial to Hamas and no guarantees to us. This is a different kind of
proposal. We have some security interests here.

I think defenders of Kerry are going to say, you couldn`t have gotten Hamas
to the table if you hadn`t brought in Turkey and Qatar and his work was

I was talking to people in the White House today who were sort of
emphasizing how many calls Kerry had made.

And I think this argument will be settled by history or by the long
takeouts in the Sunday papers.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you can -- whatever agreement you end up with, you can
rarely get there without going through a bunch of disagreements in order to
get there, which I think is what seeing some of this week.

E.J. Dionne and Janine Zacharia, thank you both very much for joining us

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, what does Ruth Bader Ginsburg think about her fellow justices,
especially the men on the court and how they decided the Hobby Lobby
decision? Pete Williams will join us next.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, a girl wrote to President Obama and wanted to
know why there aren`t women featured on America`s currency? Brilliant
idea. We have a suggestion for who should be on that currency.

A later coming up, Susan Sontag and "Sharknado".


O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, the Notorious RBG.


KATIE COURIC, YAHOO NEWS: A young woman made a Tumblr page called
"Notorious RBG". There are images like this that started showing up. This
is you as a super hero. There`s another one that says, "Fear the frill,"
which I think is referring to your robe, right.

What do you think of your newfound or relatively newfound Internet

funny. There`s a rap song.


GINSBURG: And then there is one using the words from the Hobby Lobby

I haven`t seen anything that isn`t either funny or pleasing on that Web


O`DONNELL: That, of course, was Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an interview with
Katie Couric for Yahoo News.

Joining me now is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.

Pete, one of the primary messages it seems she wanted to get across is
she`s not going anywhere. She`s very happy with the court and has no
intentions of leaving any time soon.

door to door, Lawrence, to send that message.

She did an interview today with Joan Biskupic of "Reuters". It`s very
interesting. Here`s what she says, "Tell me who the president could have
nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me."

This is this whole discussion liberal thing that she could retire now so
that president Obama can get somebody through a senate controlled by

She said even if she had retired, the president would have been more likely
to choose a compromise candidate than a liberal and she told Katie Couric,
as you noted, "I`m here and likely to remain for a while."

O`DONNELL: And let`s go to her very open, clear comments about the Hobby
Lobby case and how that was decided. Let`s listen to this.


COURIC: All three women justices were in the minority in the Hobby Lobby
decision. Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the
ramifications of their decision?

GINSBURG: I would have to say no. But justices continue to think and can
change. So I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its
eyes will be open tomorrow.

COURIC: But you do in fact feel these five justices had a bit of a blind

GINSBURG: In Hobby Lobby? Yes.


O`DONNELL: Pete, very unusual kinds of comments for a sitting justice to

WILLIAMS: Yes, and she said something similar a couple of years ago after
the Supreme Court decided the Lilly Ledbetter case, the woman who worked at
Goodyear and said she didn`t realize she was being paid so much less than
men. And it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg`s dissent that ultimately persuaded
Congress to change the law so that you didn`t have to complain about a pay
and equity right as soon as you got that check if you found out about it

She said something similar at the time about how men don`t understand the
difficulties women face in the workforce. She was perhaps pulling her
punches. You can sense that maybe she wanted to be a little more forth
coming in her answer here. But her message was quite clear.

O`DONNELL: Yes. There`s also a really striking exchange about Roe Versus
Wade. Let`s listen to that.


COURIC: You`ve been such a champion of women`s reproductive rights. But
people might be interested to learn that you have been critical of Roe V.

GINSBURG: Not the judgment but the opinion. So the problem with Roe V.
Wade it not only declared the Texas law, the most extreme law
unconstitutional, but it made every law in the country, even the most
liberal, unconstitutional. And that gave the right to life people a single
target to move at, and for them it was a very effective target.


O`DONNELL: Pete, it sounds like she would have preferred to leave this to
the states, or at least take abortion cases back then one by one as they
came up from the states.

WILLIAMS: Yes. She said this many times before about how Roe was decided.
And it raises the question for many now is, is she trying to send a message
here that the Supreme Court should not approve same-sex marriage, that the
states should be allowed to move through it on their own. And you see a
lot of discussion in the legal blogs and elsewhere about the differing
conditions here about how many state court or federal court decisions in
the state have changed in the past year since the Supreme Court decided the
Windsor case striking down the federal ban on recognizing same-sex
marriages. And how many states are changing their views, how public
opinion is changing and is it a different situation now, is she trying to
make a comparison with gay marriage and Roe V. Wade. She implied she`s not
trying to make that comparison and it didn`t seem like that was the premise
of Katie Couric`s question. She was merely asking about her criticism of

O`DONNELL: Yes. And just to get that criticism clear, it seems what she
is saying is that she wishes the court in Roe had just decided the Texas --
had a decision that just applied to Texas and --

WILLIAMS: Given how extreme the Texas law was.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And then patiently wait to see how the rest of the
country sorted this out. Was that you saying?

WILLIAMS: Exactly. Precisely. And she`s made that point before, that she
thought the court basically left this as a permanent thorn in the sandal of
the country about abortion, because it went so far so fast.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And the other thing in here is she talks about citizens
united and seems to have the opinion that at some point the court will
reverse itself on that.

WILLIAMS: Once again, expressing optimism. She did say that she thinks
the premise of the Citizen United and Hobby Lobby cases was wrong. But she
recognizes. She makes an interesting point here. She says I`m not one of
those who has said that you should be critical of the court`s decision
because it gives corporations some of the rights of people. That was not
the basis of her dissent, she says. And she points out that the courts for
years have recognized that legal fiction, giving corporations the same
rights of people, allowing things like owning property, entering contracts
and that kind of thing.

O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, thank you very much form working late with us

WILLIAMS: You bet.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, who should be on America`s currency? There are no
women on our currency right now. Tweet me your suggestions what women
should be on our currency, coming up.



that there`s no significant risk in the United States from the current
Ebola outbreak. And while it is unlikely that the disease would spread if
the virus were detected in the United States, the CDC is taking action to
alert health care workers in the U.S. and remind them how to isolate and
test suspected patients while following procedures.


O`DONNELL: More than 700 people have died making this the worst Ebola
outbreak in history. One of the U.S. aid workers infected is coming back
to be treated at Emery University hospital in Atlanta, a special unit at
the hospital was set up in collaboration with the Center for Disease

The rewrite is next.


O`DONNELL: Yesterday, President Obama said the time has come to rewrite
our currency.


letters that we receive. We get 40,000 correspondence, and they choose ten
as a sample for me to look at. It gives me a chance to hear directly the
people I serve. Last week, a young girl wrote to ask me why aren`t there
any women on our currency. Then she gave me like a long list of possible
women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff. Which I thought
was a pretty good idea.


O`DONNELL: The treasury department, which overseas our currency for the
U.S. and the bureau of engraving and contain does not currently produce any
coins or bills with women on them, but they have in the past.

In the 19th century, Pocahontas appeared in the back on the $20 note.
Susan B. Anthony and (INAUDIBLE) have appeared on the dollar coin and the
very first and only woman to ever have a starring role on a U.S. currency
note is the first, first lady Marsha Washington who appeared on the $1
silver certificate in 1886. It is entirely possible; indeed likely that
Francis Perkins saw one of those Martha Washington $1 bills, probably held
one in her little hands then. Francis Perkins was 6-years-old in 1886 when
the Martha Washington $1 bill was issued. Francis` father, Fredrick,
taught her to read Greek when she was eight in preparation for college in
an era that three percent of women entered college in this country.
Frederick was well-educated man with a fascination for history and he was a
shopkeeper who must have had those Martha Washington`s passing through his
hands every day in his stationary store in Massachusetts.

So it`s not hard to imagine Frederick taking his first Martha Washington
home with him that night to show his daughter, Fannie, as he called her,
Martha Washington`s historic place on our currency. Neither of them could
have known that Francis Perkins was going to do more than Martha Washington
ever did to earn a place on our currency.

Francis was the first woman cabinet member and transformed America in many
ways that no president has ever done while letting the president who
appointed her, Franklin Roosevelt, take all the credit. In 1962, she told
the story of how Roosevelt`s most important domestic achievement, Social
Security, was born.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I was appointed, I made -- had a conversation
with Roosevelt which I said, perhaps you wouldn`t want me to be secretary
of labor, because if I were, I would do this, this and this. And among
those things is to find a way of getting unemployment insurance, old age
insurance and health insurance. And I remember he looked somewhat startled
and said, if you think it can be done? I said, I don`t know. He said,
well, constitutional problems. Yes, very severe constitutional problems I
said. But what have we been elected for except to solve the constitutional
problems. Well, he said, do you think you can do it? I don`t know, I
said. But I said I wanted to try and I want to know if I would have your
authorization. I want ask you to promise anything. He looked at me and
nodded wisely. All right he said. I will authorize you to try and if you
can succeed, that`s fine. Well, I said that`s all I wanted. I don`t want
you to put any blocks in my way, but we`ll see what we can do.


O`DONNELL: Francis Perkins got us unemployment insurance. She got us all
old aged insurance as she called it, Social Security. But she ran out of
time and momentum to get us health insurance. But when Medicare was
enacted guarantying health insurance to everyone over 65, it had to be
legislated as an amendment to the Social Security act, same with Medicaid.
Those two 1960s advances in our health care safety could not have existed,
could not have even been regarded as constitutional had Francis Perkins not
figured out what she and Roosevelt called the constitution problems of
Social Security while creating Social Security.

Unemployment insurance is a bigger thing than most presidents ever achieve.
Social Security is a much, much bigger thing than most presidents ever
achieve. But Francis Perkins also brought us the minimum wage, which is
also a bigger achievement than most presidents can claim. And while she
was at it, she ended child labor and established the 40-hour workweek. But
she`s unknown to American schoolchildren because our history for the most
part pretends that presidents do these things.

The presidents are often the first obstacle to their own achievements. The
president`s opposition to an idea sometimes has to be overcome within the
administration. So it was with Francis Perkins and Franklin Roosevelt.
Roosevelt does not want to be perceived as being in favor of the dole as
they called it then, government handouts to poor people, welfare. The dole
was a bad word and a bad political concept before Roosevelt became
president and Francis Perkins was proposing expanding the dole beyond
anyone`s wildest dreams.

The Social Security act would not just provide unemployment insurance,
which was considered the dole, but it would also provide a national welfare
program for poor months who may never have had jobs. Here is Francis
Perkins` memory of Franklin Roosevelt`s first reaction to the idea of
unemployment insurance.


FRANCIS PERKINS, FOUNDER, SOCIAL SECURITY: No, don`t mention unemployment
insurance to me that`s nothing but the dole. And I would mention old age
insurance and he would said no, that`s the dole, too. That`s the dole.
But I don`t believe in the dole. Franklin Roosevelt was very much opposed
to the dole. We don`t want the dole. Not the dole. I had a great time to
get him quieted down and stop talking about the dole to try to think about
the realities.


O`DONNELL: What if she hadn`t succeeded in quieting him down? What if?
There would be no Social Security act. Franklin Roosevelt would be
remembered today for nothing but winning World War II, a great achievement,
but no domestic achievements of any lasting value.

Quieting down a president is not easy. No one would have bet that the
first woman cabinet member was going to quiet down a president like
Franklin Roosevelt who had good reason to believe he was smarter than most
everyone else in government, but she did. She quieted down one of the
strongest presidents in our history, and got him to think about the
realities. The realities of poverty and old age, the realities of old age
in America without an income.

Franklin Roosevelt thanked Francis Perkins for quieting him down and
getting him to think about those realities, but the country never has
thanked her.


OBAMA: She gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar
bills and quarters and stuff which I thought was a pretty good idea.


O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s a pretty good idea.


O`DONNELL: Susan Sontag wrote about Sharknado 50 years before "Sharknado"
was invented. Figure that out. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: To explain why "Sharknado 2" went through the ratings last
night on the sci-fi channel, where the rating is not that high. We here at
"the Last Word," of course, turn to Susan Sontag who explained camp in
1964. Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes
rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of
character. Camp identifies with what it is enjoying, people are not
laughing at the thing they label as a camp. They`re enjoying it. Camp is
a tender feeling.

Millions of people got that tender feeling last night watching this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen up. There`s a storm coming, a storm like you`ve
never seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have breaking news to report. There is random

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I recognize you. You`re that guy that got eaten by the
great white and lived to tell about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve got to get to the ballpark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What, baseball? You`ll be lucky if they come out of
the clubhouse today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s you, seven-time all-star second baseman, 285
career batting average.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to hear a story?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 25 years ago, a day just like this, my last time
at-bat. Do you remember?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You struck out pretty bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, look whose back from la-la bad. Just in time for
the end of the world.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Ryan Broderick who covers social media for
Buzz Feed.

And Ryan, this is an incredible social media story, because this thing, the
first Sharknado came from out of nowhere and was a big hit on Sci-Fi and
this one is even bigger.

RYAN BRODERICK, BUZZFEED: Yes, it was massive. They kind of knew it would
be big this time around, because the last one was so big. But I don`t
think anyone was quite prepared for how many --.

O`DONNELL: How does it happen? Because, you know, you see massive
advertising campaigns for movies and massive advertising campaigns for the
big network shows, ABC, CBS, NBC, and they come up and they just flat line.
And this thing, I didn`t -- where -- how did they promote it and make it
explode in the ratings?

BRODERICK: Well, what is incredible about this was it started trending the
day before it even aired and then kept trending after it aired on the west
coast. And as far as why it`s popular, it`s basically the rocky horror
picture show involving a tornado full of sharks. It is the same kind of
concept. You want to share along with your friends. It is stupid but it
is also kind of great.

O`DONNELL: Now, in the -- I notice in the second one, by the way,
everything we`re seeing is all of the Sharknado I`ve seen, not like I
haven`t seen any other (INAUDIBLE). But I saw, you know, Robert Klein in a
crowd scene there. We see Richard Kind there. There is a bunch of really
cool, fun actors. Jonah Friedlander in there. How do they get these
people? Did everyone know, this is a fun thing to do?

BRODERICK: The first time around I think it was a little harder to get
actual actors on it, but --

O`DONNELL: Did they have any actual actors?

BRODERICK: They have a few, Tara Reed was probably the big nest the first
one. I think this time around, a lot of BNC actors realized that they
could, you know, boost their profile. They are showing up and telling some
sharks. And you know, that seems to get pretty sweet gig.

O`DONNELL: Well, Thunder Levin is the author of both of these screenplays.
Anthony Furente, the director. This is -- I assume sci-fi now wants to run
with this, what are we going to get, one a year at this time?

BRODERICK: They`ve already approved the third one. But the thing was,
before the first Sharknado, they`ve been doing this forever. They had one
called mega shark --

O`DONNELL: And by the way, striking out with most of this stuff.

BRODERICK: Constantly. The last one before Sharknado that was big was
mega shark versus giant octopus.

O`DONNELL: Now why wouldn`t mega shark versus Octopus be a hit? You know
that did nothing and this does something?

BRODERICK: My personal theory is they did too much. You can`t have a mega
shark and a giant octopus. You can`t have a tornado full of sharks. There
is too many monsters I think. That was the trick.

O`DONNELL: So when they say Sharknado, everyone feels like, I know what
that is going to be, I want to see it.


O`DONNELL: When you say Sharknado to me, it means nothing. I don`t know
why I want to see that.

BRODERICK: Well, yes. You combine a tornado with a bunch of sharks. It`s
very close to shark week. People are in shark mood for August.

O`DONNELL: Shark mood. It`s a summer thing.

BRODERICK: Yes. I think it is a summer shark mood.

O`DONNELL: All right. Well, Ryan Broderick will get tonight`s "Last Word"
here at the Sharknado desk, what has become the Sharknado desk here at "the
Last Word." Thank you, Ryan.

If you want to see more Sharknado -- you`re kidding me. I`m doing a
Sharknado promo or sci-fi? You put that on my prompter? It`s going to
rear this Saturday night at 7:00 eastern. I guess this must be on

Chris Hayes is up next.


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