Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: May 20, 2015
Guest: Jeremy Peters, David Frum, Neema Singh Guliani, Curren Price, Paul
Krekorian, Jared Bernstein Peters, Steve O`Donnell, Jeff Martin


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, that clip just put it in
perspective for me about how long has Dave been doing this.

When he started doing it, Barack Obama was in high school.

(LAUGHTER)

That`s -- and so when the President said we grew up with you, he means it -
-

MADDOW: He means it, literally --

O`DONNELL: Yes --

MADDOW: Yes, he means it --

O`DONNELL: Yes --

MADDOW: Literally, absolutely, thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. Well, Rand Paul is still on the Senate floor
tonight arguing against a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and what
Chris Christie said on "Fox News" forced one of his local newspapers in New
Jersey to say that he has lost touch with reality.

And David Letterman took his final bow at the Ed Sullivan Theater tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I will not let the Patriot Act, the most
unpatriotic of Acts go unchallenged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He plans to speak until he can speak no more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Railing against the NSA and key components of that
agency`s power.

PAUL: A monster with tentacles that reaches into every home in our
country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the squid who is the real villain.

JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: When I was Darth Vader, so I walked in
like this with, you know, horns out coming out of my head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush is back in New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They called me Veto Corleone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets closer to an expected announcement of a
presidential run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a candidate yet --

CALVIN BROADUS JUNIOR, ACTOR & RECORDING ARTIST: I would love to see a
woman in office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton is in Chicago --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The State Department would expedite their release of
her e-mails.

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: It`s actually one long e-mail
chain with the subject header, where is he?

(LAUGHTER)

BROADUS: I`ll be voting for Miss Clinton --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A moment that will go down in TV history.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Our final show, but -- no,
wait a minute --

AUDIENCE: Oh --

LETTERMAN: Unless it rains, then there`ll be a rain delay.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re leaving.

LETTERMAN: Yes, that`s right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So where does that leave Regis(ph)?

LETTERMAN: I don`t care.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a show that Dave started and I get to work here
every day --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Letterman was an acquired taste, you either got him or
you didn`t.

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Dave is the best and you should
see him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think I`ll ever watch TV again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jimmy, don`t ever say that --

(LAUGHTER)

Not even joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Almost nine hours ago, Rand Paul rose on the Senate floor to
address the Senate and he hoped the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: There comes a time in the history of nations when fear and
complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer.

That time is now. And I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic
of Acts go unchallenged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Nearly nine hours later, Rand Paul is still on his feet, on the
Senate floor, challenging the Patriot Act which will expire on June 1st
unless Congress extends it.

The Justice Department today released a memo saying that the National
Security Agency has to know by Friday of this week, whether the Patriot Act
is going to be extended.

A statement said, "after May 22nd, 2015, the National Security Agency will
need to begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata program
in anticipation of a possible sunset in order to ensure that it does not
engage in any unauthorized collection or use of the metadata."

Senator Paul`s speech may be a very important speech. It is definitely a
very long speech, but what it is not and never will be is a filibuster,
even though that`s what he`s been telling his followers it is.

A filibuster has no time limit on it and delays Senate business. This
speech is delaying nothing and Rand Paul will be forced to surrender to
previously scheduled Senate business no later than 1:00 p.m. tomorrow if he
manages to last that long.

Joining us now, Jeremy Peters, "New York Times" congressional reporter and
Msnbc contributor. Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel with the
American Civil Liberties Union, and David Frum, senior editor for "The
Atlantic".

Jeremy Peters, what struck me about this so far is a few things, this is a
serious speech. Let no one doubt that this is a very serious speech that`s
going on out there.

And the Senators who have come to the floor that I`ve seen are all
supportive of what Rand Paul is talking about, including a bunch of
Democrats who have been out there.

Maybe I missed it because I haven`t watched all nine hours, but I haven`t
seen Lindsey Graham ran out there. I haven`t seen anyone run out there to
attack what Rand Paul is doing.

JEREMY PETERS, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, that`s right,
and you know why? Because they`ll have plenty of time to attack him, the
Republicans will on the campaign trail.

I mean, Rand Paul is basically fighting this fight by himself in the
Republican field for 2016. And it -- on the one hand makes him stand out,
and it allows him to appeal to a group of people who ordinarily wouldn`t
vote in a Republican primary.

But, of course, when you`re running a Republican primary, you need
Republican voters. So politically speaking, you know, I wonder if this
ends up hurting him more than it does help him.

There`s also the issue of whether or not this looks cynical because, you
know, as you pointed out, he`s not really stopping anything.

He conceded to me last week when I spoke with him that he knows he doesn`t
have the votes to stop the Patriot Act. It`s going to be renewed in some
form.

So, his campaign is using this as a bit of, you know, a fund-raising and
media opportunity and I think he`s going to take some hits for that.

O`DONNELL: Well, we`ve seen an awful lot of stamping on the Senate floor
over the years, but David Frum, I find it hard to find a cynical
perspective on what Rand Paul is doing here, because --

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes --

O`DONNELL: It does seem to carry a lot of risk in a Republican
presidential primary.

FRUM: Look, I am for the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. But unlike
Rand Paul`s last filibuster when he campaigned against the completely
imaginary threat of drone strikes against American citizens on American
soil.

This is a -- this is a serious debate, that those of us who advocate for
the Patriot Act understand -- well, it`s a heavy instrument. And it is one
that has changed a lot of the ways that government does business.

It was sunsetted when it was originally introduced, and that was a good
thing. It was to expire after a certain time, it needs to be reconsidered
at intervals.

And the arguments -- although, I think the arguments in favor are stronger
than the arguments against. This is a serious credible debate.

And I think instead of the American system working the way it should,
unlike the foolish discussion of the fears that Americans are going to be
hit by drones while they have a coffee in a Starbucks cafe.

O`DONNELL: Neema, I`m wondering whether Rand Paul would actually get more
attention to the policy that he is talking about if he were not a
presidential candidate.

Because, you know, immediately, we put it into this presidential campaign
frame when you`re a presidential candidate.

NEEMA SINGH GULIANI, LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION:
You know, what`s remarkable about Rand Paul`s stance against the NSA is not
just that he`s been on the Senate floor for hours, but that he`s been
joined by Republicans and Democrats.

O`DONNELL: Yes --

GULIANI: And frankly, this is a sign that perhaps Congress is catching up
with the American people because Democrats, Republicans and Independents
have overwhelmingly agreed that they are concerned about government
surveillance and they want to see a change to the laws that have been
abused for so long.

O`DONNELL: And Jeremy, the -- when you hear the Democrats -- oh, sure,
what I`ve been noticing the most come out, they aren`t distancing
themselves from some of what Rand Paul is saying.

They are -- they are coming out to, you know, link arms as strongly as they
can with him. Now, they may have some particular disagreements, but that`s
not what they`re highlighting when they go out there.

PETERS: Well, I mean, certainly, this is -- it`s kind of a funny issue.
It`s one of the many on Capitol Hill lately. I mean, you can point to
trade as well, that`s kind of scrambled the usual Republican-Democrats
allegiances.

You know, Mike Lee, the Republican senator from Utah is out there
supporting Rand Paul as well. You know, Ted Cruz is sympathetic to Rand
Paul`s point of view, although he wouldn`t go quite as far.

You know, it really is a tough vote for a lot of these lawmakers to take
because essentially, you know, when they`re called out by the opposition on
this, so people who want to renew the Patriot Act, they run the risk of
being called you know, soft on national security.

And I think a lot of lawmakers are afraid of that branding.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the FBI director said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I think the
biggest threat, the most urgent threat, the one that takes my time every
day is the one that ISIL presents, especially coming at us through social
media.

Trying to motivate troubled people in the United States to engage in acts
of violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Neema, it seems it`s the rise of the Islamic State now that is
giving, you know, some cohesion to those who want to continue with the
Patriot Act.

GULIANI: We hear this argument time and time again that somehow by
reforming laws that have been primarily used to spy on Americans that we`re
somehow putting our nation in peril.

And that`s just not supported by the evidence. Two independent oversight
board have looked at the nationwide call record program, and that`s the
program that the government has used to collect information about every
single call made in America.

That`s whether you made a call to a suicide hot line, your priest or your
ex girlfriend. And they`ve concluded that those programs has never stopped
an act of terrorism and have never made a substantial impact on any
terrorist investigation.

And what that tells us is that, we`ve had a law on the books for years
that`s been abused to infringe on the privacy of every single American.

And we spent billions of dollars and we don`t even have a national security
results to show for it.

O`DONNELL: The -- Marco Rubio has said, now is not the time to end this
program which remains essential to our security, but he hasn`t gotten
himself out there on the Senate floor as far as I know to have any fight
with Rand Paul about it today.

Let`s listen though to some of those Democrats have been referring to;
Maria Cantwell and Joe Manchin, let`s listen to what they have said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: In this debate, I think you are
raising an important question, if I understand it correctly, is just how
much is the U.S. government going to spy on U.S. citizens?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Again, my good friend, I don`t always
agree with you on every issue, but when it comes to this nation`s
intelligence gathering and security, we agree more than we don`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: David Frum, what is your vote-counting sense about how this is
going to end up?

FRUM: I think it will prevail. I mean, I don`t like this term of spying
on the American people, but these programs do not spy. They do not elicit
information about identifiable individuals, they don`t look inside your
phone call.

What they do is they put -- they put together patterns and they put --

GULIANI: You know, David, I -- you know, I just have to jump in. I have
to disagree. The notion that these --

FRUM: Well --

GULIANI: Programs are not gathering --

FRUM: Are you in support of my honorable friend for a moment?

GULIANI: Thanks --

O`DONNELL: OK --

GULIANI: The notion that these programs don`t gather intimate details
about every single American is just incorrect. You know, records of every
single person someone has called, how long they spoke to them.

You know, if the government knows that you`ve spoken to your priest every
Sunday, it tells them something about your life. And the argument that
this information isn`t intimate is been rejected by a federal court --

FRUM: But they`re not --

GULIANI: Just recently.

FRUM: But you know, what is --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead --

FRUM: Happening here --

O`DONNELL: David, quickly --

FRUM: Is a series of algorithms. I mean, it`s not the government, it`s
not some person who is spying on your relationship with your priest.

What it is is the compilation of patterns. And what the FBI director said
about the rise of ISIS and its use of social media is extremely important.

The United States has been -- the United States has been fortunate not to
have had massive recruitment on American soil, but our European friends
have seen thousands of their citizens of Muslim descent be recruited into
terrorism in the Middle East.

O`DONNELL: Neema, this has been kind of a theoretical debate up until
we`ve seen this federal appeals court ruling saying no, this program
constitutionally goes too far.

GULIANI: You know, what the federal court said is a game changer. And
it`s very key, it`s a reminder. What the courts said is what the
government was doing is illegal, and they were doing it under a cloak of
secrecy.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to wrap it there, we`re going to
take a break. Neema, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, one of Chris Christie`s hometown newspapers says that he`s lost
touch with reality. And Michelle Obama will take you on a tour of the
White House gym and show you exercises that I certainly can`t do and I
think a lot of you are going to have trouble with, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: It was a handshake that was unthinkable until it happened. For
12 seconds yesterday, Prince Charles shook hands with Irish political
leader Gerry Adams.

Adams is the leader of the Sinn Fein Party. Sinn Fein means ourselves
alone and advocates the elimination of British rule in Northern Ireland and
reunification with the Republic of Ireland.

Sinn Fein has been the political wing of the Irish Republican army, a
terrorist group no longer active. But one of the most famous IRA acts of
terror in modern times was the murder of Prince Charles` great-uncle and
godfather Lord Mountbatten in 1979.

Gerry Adams first shook hands with the President of the United States 20
years ago, which helped advance peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.

Gerry Adams has shaken hands with two more U.S. presidents since then. But
yesterday was the first time Jerry Adams met a member of the British royal
family.

Prince Charles and Gerry Adams had a 15-minute private meeting and then Mr.
Adams said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERRY ADAMS, PRESIDENT, SINN FEIN POLITICAL PARTY: We did discuss the need
for the entire process to move forward, particularly in terms of people who
have suffered, families who have been bereaved and the need to heal, to
have relationships between the people of these islands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: All right, here is how weird the world is. Gerry Adams was
once banned from entering this country, couldn`t get a visa. The last time
I saw Gerry Adams was at a Starbucks in the Hamptons on a Summer weekend.

Coming up, a New Jersey newspaper editorial says that Chris Christie has
really lost it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Been years since I asked
this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to
raise theirs.

Many businesses have done it on their own. To every mayor, governor, state
legislator in America, I say, you don`t have to wait for Congress to act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right --

OBAMA: Americans will support you if you take this on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Twenty nine states in the District of Columbia now have minimum
wages higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

This week, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 1 to raise the minimum
wage to $15 an hour, which will be phased in over five years.

One study estimated that nearly 50 percent of the city`s workforce earns
less than $15 an hour. Los Angeles is the third U.S. city to approve a $15
an hour minimum wage.

Seattle and San Francisco`s increases are already in effect and will reach
$15 an hour in 2018. Joining us now, economist Jared Bernstein, a senior
fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and an Msnbc analyst.

And two members of the Los Angeles City Council here in Los Angeles, Paul
Krekorian and Curren Price, who is chairman of the Economic Development
Committee for the L.A. City Council.

Gentlemen, how hard a fight was this when I see a vote of 14 to 1, it feels
like all you were arguing over was how big an increase should it be.

CURREN PRICE, CHAIRMAN, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE, LOS ANGELES CITY
COUNCIL: Well, actually, though, we had months and months and months of
debate and discussion.

We had four studies, we had several community meetings heard from hundreds
of constituents and business owners and our colleagues of course on the
council.

So, it was a very well discussed vented issue, certainly one that`s
critically important not only to Los Angeles, but we think nationally.

Income disparity, poverty is a gigantic issue in Los Angeles, and having an
opportunity to raise the minimum wage of hardworking men and women was very
significant.

(INAUDIBLE) you know, the vast majority of those persons or individuals of
color and women, and so it`s really lifting up those who are at the bottom.

O`DONNELL: And so what did the studies tell you about what would happen to
jobs?

PAUL KREKORIAN, MEMBER, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: Well, you know, one of
the important things about the process that the council went through is to
do it methodically, to do it thoughtfully.

And the chairman said we have these economic reports that show that around
the edges, there may be some adverse impacts on some jobs. That`s why
we`re taking a go-slow approach.

But the important thing --

O`DONNELL: Raising it about a $1.25 a year --

PRICE: Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Over that period of time --

PRICE: Well, yes --

KREKORIAN: Look back -- but we get to $15 in five years for large
employers, a year after that for smaller employers. That gives businesses
enough time to be able to adjust so that you won`t have significant job
loss.

They can change their business models, they can change pricing structures
and so on. So, we`ll maximize the benefit for the working poor while we`re
minimizing the adverse impacts to businesses.

O`DONNELL: No, the first --

PRICE: First --

O`DONNELL: Job loss here is a little peculiar because what you probably
have is job migration. It`s more -- isn`t it more likely that someone --

KREKORIAN: So, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Might just --

KREKORIAN: Let`s --

O`DONNELL: Move the --

KREKORIAN: Let me --

O`DONNELL: Business over to Glendale and so the person doesn`t actually
lose their job?

JARED BERNSTEIN, ECONOMIST, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: So,
let me speak --

(CROSSTALK)

To that if I might --

O`DONNELL: Well, go -- OK, Jared --

BERNSTEIN: All right --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

BERNSTEIN: You know, let me speak to that if I may. So, you said
something very important earlier in the discussion that 30 states -- 29
states in the District of Columbia and something like 15 cities have
adopted higher minimum wages.

And in some cases equally high as the one we`re talking about today as you
mentioned in Seattle and San Francisco.

So, we don`t really have to speculate all that much about some of these
impacts, at least based on what we`ve seen so far.

And what we`ve seen is precisely what the council members are telling you,
that this is a policy that has its intended effects of raising the pay of
some of our workers who really need those raises.

And it used to be the case, and you could say, well, these are kids from
moderate income families. Clearly, that`s not the case anymore.

These are often times adults, full time workers, people with families and
we really haven`t seen the kind of displacement where businesses move out
of a particular district in order to avoid the minimum wage.

In many cases because they need to be near their customers.

KREKORIAN: Right.

PRICE: And we think that history has shown that, in fact, higher wages
means more productivity, means less turnover, and so there is some benefits
--

BERNSTEIN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: To some of the --

PRICE: Employers as well --

BERNSTEIN: Playing it --

O`DONNELL: Ultimately, as you cycle through it all, more tax revenue to
Los Angeles?

KREKORIAN: Lawrence, there`s going to be $6 billion a year coming in to
the pockets of Los Angeles workers and being spent in the regional economy.

Low wage workers don`t take vacations to Bermuda, they don`t invest in the
stock market, they don`t squirrel their money away, and so they spend it --

O`DONNELL: They spend it --

KREKORIAN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: And they spend it --

KREKORIAN: They spend it in local businesses, you know, especially in
small businesses in the area. So there will be a positive mitigating
effect on the economy that will, I think, be at least as great as any --

O`DONNELL: Right --

KREKORIAN: Potential job migration --

O`DONNELL: Well, didn`t -- didn`t you also vote to actually peg this to
inflation in the future so --

PRICE: Well, we did --

O`DONNELL: We`ll have automatic increases --

PRICE: It kicks in 2020, the CPI will kick in to regulate it on a -- on a
predictable basis and, you know, the council still has the liberty of
taking action to speed up, reduce --

BERNSTEIN: So --

PRICE: Or continue.

O`DONNELL: Jared, go ahead --

BERNSTEIN: If I may, Lawrence, if I may. You know, what I really like
about this example and this movement is that we`re taking a national public
policy problem.

One that you and I have discussed on this show before which is not just
this broad issue of income inequality, but the fact that so little of the
economy`s growth have reached people at the bottom.

And through community activism and a Democratic process with members of the
council that you have sitting with you tonight, you`re actually seeing
people do something about it.

Something real, something tangible, something that has a support across
much of the nation. So, I think this is endemic of a very positive trend.

O`DONNELL: Well --

KREKORIAN: And we hope that it`ll be a trend, Lawrence, and that`s the
important part. We`re taking a risk here in Los Angeles, but we think it`s
a bold and -- bold move that we hope that the rest of the country will soon
follow.

O`DONNELL: And what --

KREKORIAN: If Congress is listening in every state house --

O`DONNELL: Economists love you for is you`re using a really big
laboratory. Los Angeles is the biggest laboratory to --

PRICE: It is --

O`DONNELL: Try this yet, and so it`s going to generate an awful lot of new
scholarship and understanding about how this works --

PRICE: You know, and Lawrence, it`s just the right thing to do. It`s the
-- this is the moral imperative of our -- of our time.

And you know, for people to have to work two or three or four jobs to make
ends meet, or have to decide whether they`re going to buy groceries or get
the car fixed or get shoes or get a prescription, they shouldn`t have to
make --

BERNSTEIN: It`s --

PRICE: Those kinds of --

BERNSTEIN: You know --

PRICE: Choices --

BERNSTEIN: It`s --

PRICE: So --

BERNSTEIN: It`s democracy at work or for the benefit of low income people.
It`s not something we see enough of these days.

O`DONNELL: All right, that`s going to have to be THE LAST WORD on it
tonight, Jared Bernstein, council man Curren Price and council man Paul
Krekorian, thank you all for joining me tonight.

KREKORIAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

PRICE: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: Up next --

BERNSTEIN: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: Chris Christie is in very big trouble with one of his New
Jersey newspapers and on Dave`s final night in the Ed Sullivan theater, a
couple of people who helped get him there will join us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A New Jersey "Star-Ledger" run an editorial today, headline,
"Governor Christie loses his marbles on national TV." Here is that
marbles-losing moment that the "Star-Ledger" was referring to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: The polls in New Jersey right now say by a 65
percent to 29 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not make
a good president.

Now, they know you the best, why shouldn`t we trust them?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: They want me to stay. A lot of those
people in that 65 percent want me to stay.

And I`ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings, don`t leave
to run for president because we want you to stay.

KELLY: But they say you would not make a good president.

CHRISTIE: I don`t know, I`m guessing people hear the question they want to
hear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The "New Jersey Star Ledger`s" editorial board`s carefully
considered reaction to what you just heard Chris Christie say is, "The man
has lost touch with reality." The editorial board goes on to say,
"Governor Christie needs to pour himself a drink and ask himself the tough
question, why don`t people love me?

"It could be the rotten job market, or the high property taxes, or the
crumbling transit system, or the broken promise on pensions, or the private
jets, or the bridgegate indictments and so on. It`s no wonder that New
Jersey is screaming a warning to the rest of the country. God forbid he
gets a chance to make an even bigger mess on a larger stage."

Back with us is David Frumm and Jeremy Peters.

David Frumm, I don`t think this stiff drink is going to help him at all in
this analysis. I would recommend he do it sober. But I just can`t think
of a worse editorial, you know, one of your home state newspapers could be
giving you as you try to launch your presidential campaign.

DAVID FRUMM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, one of the things
Republicans are worrying about as they review the 2016 map is, can you
carry your own state?

O`DONNELL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

FRUMM: And a lot of the northern Republicans, we need northern people. We
need that kind of -- we need to break out of the southern captivity of the
GOP.

Wisconsin is winnable for the Republican Party. New Jersey probably isn`t.
And this just makes it worse.

O`DONNELL: Jeremy Peters, the national polls show Christie actually making
that cut, that all-important top 10 cut to be in the debate. We have one
with Bush 13, Carson 13, you know, Walker 11, Huckabee 10, Rubio 9, Paul 7,
Christie 6. He would get in there along with Cruz and non-candidate Donald
Trump and John Kasich. And so when he looks at that poll, does he think,
well, I made the top 10 cut and, you know, New Jersey doesn`t like me but
I`ve got a chance on the national stage still?

JEREMY PETERS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that`s one of the
considerations, yes. But if I were him, I would also look deeper into that
Quinnipiac poll that says 53 percent of New Jersey would vote for Hillary
Clinton over him beating him by something like 15 percent. I mean, this is
his own state. And just as many people say they think he`s distracted by
the presidential campaign.

So, you know, I think that he`s waiting for a couple of things here. He
wants to see if the bridgegate scandal dies down and he wants to see the
end of the state`s legislative session through. And then, I`m told, he
will make a decision.

O`DONNELL: The "Star Ledger" editorial also says politicians like him live
in a bubble surrounded by sick offense, hard truths, have a tough time
penetrating. I think we all know that that is absolutely true pretty much
of all politicians, especially when they get to this level.

But, David Frumm, does he have -- I don`t see where he has some case that
he really wants to bring to the American people. The way, for example,
Rand Paul does. I mean, if you tell Rand Paul, if you could prove to Rand
Paul tonight that he absolutely cannot win the presidency, he would still
run because he wants to be out there making these arguments about the NSA
and other serious policy arguments that he`s trying to make.

I don`t see that with Chris Christie.

FRUMM: Well, Rand Paul has a mailing list to develop and a family business
to maintain. I mean, they have been mailing that list since the late `80s
and it`s a valuable family asset. So I`m not a big fan of the Rand Paul`s
idealist theory. But what is going -- when you look at Chris Christie`s
difficulty, it is easy because he`s such an outsized personality, to think
personally about what is happening to him.

He`s cut in a structural problem. He is the governor of the state of New
Jersey, which is a very troubled state, a very difficult state to develop,
to govern. A state with a very strong governor, and therefore the governor
takes the blame for everything that has been going wrong for a long time.
And it`s also a Democratic trending state. It has not been a state
Republicans have been competitive since the 1980s at the national level.

And so, yes, this flamboyant personality attracts a lot of attention. But
he is a symbol of the difficulty the Republicans have in urban America, in
suburban America, in the northeast. And in that sense, he may be a victim
of the story rather than the villain of the story.

O`DONNELL: Chris Christie talked about foreign policy with Megyn Kelly and
so far in his career, foreign policy has been what`s happening on the other
end of the George Washington Bridge. Let`s listen to what he said about
foreign policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Listen, foreign policy is something you can learn, just like
anything else. You can`t learn how to make decisions other than by making
them. Foreign policy you can learn. And I`ve been working real hard over
the last nine, 10 months to do it. And I think the speech that we gave
today is a good indication that you can learn those things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jeremy Peters, in a presidential candidate, how many people
want to hear, oh that thing, that`s like wicked important in being
president, I can learn that?

PETERS: Well, I think he`s made a number of problematic statements on
foreign policy that would leave voters to call into question, you know,
just how prepared he is. Let`s not forget, he once told a crowd that world
leaders would fear him. So, therefore, he would make a strong president.
You know, they would know where he stood and he wasn`t going to be like
Obama, you know, as if his bravado was going to make up for his lack of
knowledge on substantive foreign policy issues. So there is a big question
mark hanging over him in that regard.

O`DONNELL: David, does he have anything to lose in running for president?
I mean, why not? New Jersey doesn`t like him.

FRUMM: Right.

O`DONNELL: Why not just go on the road and see how long of a ride he gets?

FRUMM: Well, he has -- he has nothing to lose. His state has had
something to lose because in the early part of his governorship, in the
first term, he made a series of decisions that were obviously taken with an
eye to a national audience, in particular the cancellation of a tunnel
under the Hudson River. From a New Jersey point of view, something very
necessary, at that time the federal government would have provided a lot of
money for it.

From the point of view of the national Republican Party, just one more
example of wasteful spending. He went with his national ambitions and
that`s one of the problems you have as a state when you have a national
figure leading your state government.

O`DONNELL: David Frumm and Jeremy Peters, thanks for joining us tonight.

FRUMM: Thank you.

PETERS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Up next, Michelle Obama moves into a whole other spot, the
White House gym.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: So what do you think they call the White House gym? Now
remember, it`s a federal building. So the last thing they`re going to call
it is the gym. Its official title is the White House Athletic Unit and
First Lady Michelle Obama is now taking us behind that closed door as part
of her Let`s Move Campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Want to emphasize that you should only do
exercises like these with a coach or a parent around to make sure you`re
using the right form. That`s how you can both get active and stay safe.

CORNELL MCCLELLAN, MEMBER, PRESIDENT`S COUNCIL ON FITNESS, SPORTS AND
NUTRITION: And one of the things that we love to do when we`re working out
or we`re warming or we`re getting ready to box or do things like that is to
jump rope. When you`re jumping rope, you don`t want to come off the floor
too high. It`s not that much of an impact exercise if you only come up off
the floor just enough to see the light. You want to make sure you keep
your elbows tucked in.

You don`t want to use a whole arm swing. Just nice and easy turns of the
wrist. And it`s very good for hand and eye coordination, for timing and
things of that nature. One of the things we believe in is variety of the
spice. So we`re going to use to keep a lot of spice in what we do. So
we`re going to use the medicine ball and we`re going to do several
different ab movements to tell the abs different planks. So it`s really
important to add symmetrical strength by using different planks.

The in and out squat with the bench. That`s an explosive kind of five-beta
movement. We`re using that movement to add explosiveness to the quads or
to your legs. But what we`ll do is we`ll take the bench, we will go from a
standing position, explode up on top of the bench into a squat and then
come back down, squatting again.

We`re not afraid to lift weights. This is an incline bench exercise which
kind of really works the upper region of the pectorals. Certainly if
you`re going to use heavy weights, you should have someone assisting you to
make sure. But it`s really important when you`re thinking about benching
to make sure your wrist is right over your elbow and you`re keeping that in
line. And so you`re kind of coming down to 90 degrees. You don`t want to
overstretch when you`re doing the bench. And then you`re pressing it right
up above your chest.

We really love to use boxing for conditioning, for hand and eye
coordination, for transference of power, learning how to move from point A
to point B and bring your power with you. And because it`s fun. It`s also
great to then learn to incorporate kicks with it. So in this particular
thing, we`re going to do a jab cross and then we do a round house kick.

OBAMA: Don`t forget, always drink up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Don`t mess with Michelle. I mean, you knew that already, but
don`t mess with Michelle.

Up next, inside late night life with David Letterman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": A lot of people
think I`m retiring and I`ve been kind of telling a fib. I have been forced
to leave the job because they gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. I`m
sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was in Dave`s opening monologue last night. A few hours
ago, he taped his final show, which will be broadcast later tonight. The
show, apparently, went 17 minutes over, so fix your DVRs. Seen entering
the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway this evening for that final show were
Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld, Peyton Manning,
Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. CBS has released video of Dave`s final
entrance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Thank you. Thank you so much. Hey, hey. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, a couple of friends of Dave`s, Steve O`Donnell,
who was David Letterman`s head writer for 10 years is in New York and Jeff
Martin, former writer for "Late Night with David Letterman" here with me in
Los Angeles.

Steve, I`m going to do something I`ve never done before. I have to begin
by saying that Steve O`Donnell and I are not related. Now that`s something
I`ve never said before because we were in college today and the two great
talented O`Donnells were Steve and his brother Mark. And they instantly --
Jeff, isn`t this true? They would instantly say no, I`m not, we`re not
related to that other O`Donnell guy and I would always try to bask in the
glory of the talented O`Donnell group.

JEFF MARTIN, FORMER WRITER FOR "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Shame on
you, Lawrence. But it`s understandable.

O`DONNELL: So, Steve --

STEVE O`DONNELL, DAVID LETTERMAN`S HEAD WRITER: Larry, I remember you as
being one of the finest collegiate baseball players on the Eastern
Seaboard.

O`DONNELL: You know, we don`t have time for that tonight, I`m sorry to
say.

Steve, this has got to feel special. This is a big transition for an awful
lot of people.

S. O`DONNELL: Momentous too highfalutin a word for an entertainment show,
but it feels bittersweet and momentous.

O`DONNELL: Jeff, we`ve been looking at a bunch of old clips from the show
this week. I want to show something that you were in. And this is one of
those things where the writers end up as performers in the show. This is a
classic example of that. Let`s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL SHAFFER, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN" BAND LEADER: We have that
guy who was here earlier, the actor standing by back there? Hi. Come on
out. You`re an actor are you, sir?

MARTIN: Actually, I`m an actor/singer.

LETTERMAN: Actor/singer. Great. That will be fine. What we want you to
do is just take this letter, crumple it up and toss it away.

SHAFFER: OK.

LETTERMAN: All right. Good luck. We`ll see what happens. I have an
actor/singer here to take care of this for us. Go ahead, anytime. Go
ahead.

SHAFFER: Actor/singer. The actor/singer is dead.

LETTERMAN: Oh no.

SHAFFER: It happened again.

LETTERMAN: Oh, no.

SHAFFER: We`ve killed two actor/singers.

LETTERMAN: I don`t know but --

SHAFFER: That`s like killing four people.

LETTERMAN: Four people, yes.

SHAFFER: I can`t believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It is hard to have more fun than that at work.

MARTIN: It was truly fun. It was. And we -- we tried to get this real
circus going.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MARTIN: With Larry "Bud" Melman and Chris Elliott under the seats.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MARTIN: And the monkey cam.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MARTIN: Throwing stuff off buildings. And -- but I think the thing that
made it all work was that guy, the ring master of the circus.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MARTIN: Was kind of bemused and detached and not so zany, wasn`t he?

O`DONNELL: Yes. Steve, Al Franken wrote a loving op-ed piece in the
"Boston Globe" the other day about this and he reminded me in that of
something that I remember hearing at the time was Johnny Carson actually
kind of owned -- literally owns the show and there were certain rules when
the show began following Johnny.

S. O`DONNELL: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And those rules limited how much you could do in a monologue,
didn`t it?

S. O`DONNELL: They were the best rules we could have gotten and they
really helped the show form itself and identify itself. We couldn`t have a
big orchestra like Doc Severinsen had so we had a tight little Paul Shaffer
Band. We couldn`t do a long monologue, so we did what we called opening
remarks. And that turned out to be good for the show. It just -- it
seemed tighter, smaller, less cumbersome, odder, you know, newer. For the
time, it just seemed later on its feet.

Also, speaking of band leaders, you picked a great clip with Paul Shaffer
and the actor/singer just because it demonstrated how much Paul Shaffer
played in the comedy of the show because he could do that kind of feverish
melodrama that Dave would not try. He would do the spit takes. He would
do the panic that you could not get Dave to do, that Dave would provide
plenty of other things. But it was a great -- it was a great recipe for a
lot of different bits to have Paul there.

O`DONNELL: I just want to keep showing the genius that you guys came up
with. And, Steve, you wrote a great piece for the "New York Times" with
your top 10 bits from the show. And we`re going to show some of those,
including what we are about to show, which is, of course, the great Larry
"Bud" Melman and here he is welcoming people to New York City at the Port
Authority bus station.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY "BUD" MELMAN: Welcome to New York. Sometimes called fun city.

(LAUGHTER)

How was your trip? And where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Eastern Shore, Virginia.

MELMAN: Oh, do you have any questions about New York?

(LAUGHTER)

MELMAN: Well, it isn`t easy, that`s for sure. Did you have a snack on the
way?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve, Dave wasn`t an easy laugh, was he? I mean, for him to
be literally spun around in his chair by a bit, it really had to crack him
up.

S. O`DONNELL: It -- well, he was very particular. I mean, he has a very
sharp and he`s very skeptical, but I think he is kind of a good laugh. If
there`s a funny combination of words or a good joke, he`s a good laugher.
He certainly was amused by Melman who was one in a billion character. I
mean, a very -- quite a singular individual, someone who had -- who in his
60s becomes a TV star and -- but couldn`t use a Bic lighter or step up on a
step stool without getting dizzy.

O`DONNELL: And just for the record, actually real name, Calvert DeForest,
an actual actor.

S. O`DONNELL: Yes. Calvert.

O`DONNELL: Calvert. Yes. Yes.

S. O`DONNELL: And actually had some famous actors in his linage of the
name of DeForest and Calvert among them.

O`DONNELL: Who would have known?

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Hold the gold for the next segment. We`re going to take a
little break and be right back with more of backstage with David Letterman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": My first car, I went to the DMV
and I got a late night vanity plate. That`s my little brother wearing
jams. He still wears them, by the way. We had no VCR so I`d had "Late
Night with David Letterman" viewing parties at my house. My friends who
also loved the show, Cleto (PH) was one of them, would come over at
midnight, my parents would be asleep and we`d drink sodas and watch the
show.

Watching late night, not only did I learn how to do everything from Dave,
the reason I have this show is -- is because the executives at ABC saw me
when I was a guest on Dave`s show and hired me to host this show. So I
want to thank Dave and his writers and producers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Unusual weather for New York City today. It was 68 and foggy.
Oh, no, wait a minute, that`s me. I`m sorry. That`s me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Dave from a couple of days ago. We`re back with Steve
O`Donnell and Jeff Martin, former writers for the "David Letterman Show."

Steve, you isolated -- one of the things you isolated in your "New York
Times" piece was the moment where Johnny Carson appeared on Dave`s show.
And we`ve seen in the last week everybody in the late night business
singing Dave`s praises and Johnny was the one that Dave idolized. Let`s
watch that moment when Johnny appeared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: This is not the list. Johnny, could I have the top 10 list?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This is a truly amazing moment, Steve, because they never
stopped clapping. They just never stopped. It looks pretty obvious that
Johnny had something to say. He was ready to say something.

S. O`DONNELL: It`s somehow more wonderful that he doesn`t have to say a
word.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

S. O`DONNELL: That he comes in, he basks and he exits.

O`DONNELL: And he gave up. And he just -- he couldn`t get that crowd to
listen to him. And so he just thought this is enough of this.

Jeff Martin, are we ever going to see this moment with David Letterman
walking on anyone else`s show?

MARTIN: What -- no, I don`t. Maybe. He`s hinted at it. What hits me
watching these guys is how different they were where Carson was the epitome
of what you thought a talk show host had to be, smooth and upbeat and very,
very positive feelings about show business. And what was so new about
Letterman was he could be cranky, awkward, and maybe above all he seemed to
look at show business and hold it at arm`s length, like, isn`t this a
little ridiculous?

O`DONNELL: Yes. Steve, there was always this -- this kind of apparent
lack of polish with Dave, but it seemed, at the same time, intentional. He
wasn`t trying to hide it.

S. O`DONNELL: Yes. A lack of polish to let the stage hands be seen, let
the mistakes happen, let the prop fall apart. As -- and we also had not
very high quality guests. In the first year or two, there`d away lady with
a dressed up parrots and so on. But as the time went by and we started
booking people, I remember the dizzy night when Cher first came on or when
Bob Dylan and Liberace were on the same show. A few years in, you go,
well, all right, things are changing now.

And Dave used to joke, welcome to our extravaganza, but actually over the
years did become an extravaganza.

O`DONNELL: And finally THE LAST WORD has been delivered on this show by a
talented O`Donnell. Steve O`Donnell and Jeff Martin, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight. Really appreciate it.

Chris Hayes is up next.


END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>









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


Sponsored links

Resource guide