Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Date: August 12, 2015
Guest: Jeff Weaver, Lauren Fox, James Traub, Tig Notaro, Stephanie Allynne


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Slaying dragons, making friends with aliens,
taking down the robots with laser beams, 2016 hopefuls, the bar has
officially been raised.

All right, that does it for us tonight, I am Ari Melber, sitting in for
Rachel, you can always find me on Facebook at

You can find Rachel back here tomorrow night, and now it is time for THE
LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Ari, thank you very much.
Bernie Sanders is the new frontrunner in New Hampshire according to a new
poll and Bernie Sanders was welcomed into that frontrunner status last
night with an insult from Donald Trump.

Bernie Sanders` campaign manager will join us.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is getting the biggest crowds
and I`m getting the biggest crowds. We`re the two getting the crowds.

overflow crowd, we have more than 27,000 people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would the political class in this country do with
Bernie Sanders as the nominee for the Democrats and Donald Trump as the
nominee for the Republicans?

TRUMP: Did you hear what he said? You could win it. You`re way out in
front, I agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going for the Bernie Sanders-Donald Trump
general election.

baby! Look, this is the new America --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does it go? --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swing states in that one? I don`t --



CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Liberal Democrat Bernie Sanders
had a rally in Los Angeles last night --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie Sanders is not only drawing huge crowds, he is
now beating Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

O`BRIEN: Today, a very confident Hillary Clinton said, oh, please, like
I`m going to lose the Democratic nomination to a left-wing senator nobody`s
ever heard of?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have yet to see ways that the campaign is going to
turn all of these crowds into votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Bernie Sanders was confronted over the
weekend by protesters claiming to be from the Black Lives Matter Movement.

TRUMP: I would never give up my microphone. I thought that was
disgusting. We`re the two getting the crowds, but believe me that`s not
going to happen to Trump.


O`DONNELL: Today, Bernie Sanders` presidential campaign woke up to this
headline. "Bernie Overtakes Hillary in New Hampshire".

A new poll of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire shows Bernie
Sanders now at 44 percent and Hillary Clinton at 37 percent.

The same poll taken in March showed Hillary Clinton at 44 percent, but
Bernie Sanders then only at 8 percent.

A new poll of likely Democratic voters in Iowa shows Hillary Clinton now at
50 percent and Bernie Sanders at 31 percent.

Bernie Sanders worked his way into the Republican presidential primary
campaign last night when the Republican frontrunner was asked this


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give up the microphone to a protester like Bernie

TRUMP: I would never give up my microphone. I thought that was
disgusting. That showed such weakness, the way he was taken away by two
young women -- the microphone, they just took the whole place over.

And the audience, which liked him -- I mean, they were him. They`re
saying, what`s going on? How can this happen? That will never happen with

I don`t know if I`ll do the fighting myself or if other people will, but
that was a disgrace. The way they -- I felt badly for him. But it showed
that he`s weak.

You know what? He`s getting the biggest crowds and I`m getting the biggest
crowds, we`re the two getting the crowds. But believe me, that`s not going
to happen to Trump.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign
manager Jeff Weaver. Jeff Weaver, your reaction to what Donald Trump just

on the West Coast.

He spoke to a crowd collectively at three events of 70,000 people who came
out to hear his message of income inequality, of making college affordable
and the crowd -- well, his message is resonating with people because he`s
speaking to the hurt that people are feeling in their daily lives.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Alicia Garza said about the effect -- this
is one of the women who got up on the stage and took the microphone in that

And let`s listen to how she explained on this network the effect of what
she was doing.


MOVEMENT: That interruption really forced Bernie Sanders to have a strong
platform on race and racial justice and criminal justice.

And it can get much stronger. And so, we should really be thinking,
activists who have taken the risk to make sure that our lives are
represented in every candidate`s platform.

And that is our plan from now, leading up to 2016. So, I think the other
thing that`s important just to acknowledge is that bird-dogging and
disruption is about as American as apple pie.


O`DONNELL: Jeff Weaver, how do you respond to what she just said?

WEAVER: Well, I mean, what I would say to you is that, Bernie Sanders has
fought for civil rights his entire political life. And there is no one as
president who will fight for civil rights harder than he will.

We do have a strong civil rights platform on our website. It is now in
bullet form, it was previously there, it`s the same content that was in his
speech that he gave to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference back in
July and another speech he gave at the Urban League.

So, he is committed to creating racial justice in this country, even
without people protesting.

O`DONNELL: Now, let`s listen to how Bernie Sanders opened his -- this is
his first line in Portland on Sunday. Let`s listen to this.


SANDERS: Let me make it very clear, simple and straightforward. There is
no president who will fight harder to end institutional racism in this



And to reform our broken criminal justice system.



O`DONNELL: Now, doesn`t that prove Alicia Garza`s point that here it is
now, the very first line in a Bernie Sanders speech?

WEAVER: Look, I have to tell you, honestly, when I was talking with Bernie
about working on the campaign back in April, one of the issues we spoke
about early on was the need for criminal justice reform.

And so, this is an issue I know he`s been committed to, it`s his record in
the Congress is impeccable on this particular point. So, no, this is not a
result of the protests.

The issues that the protesters raise are real issues, obviously police
brutality and a broken criminal justice system are real issues, but is not
the protests.

This is Bernie and his record, that`s what he`s -- that`s what he`s been
talking about for years. In addition to that, he`s also going to deal
with the real problem of income inequality in this country which
disproportionately affects minority communities.

So, there is -- this is part of his long-standing agenda and we`re happy
that people are getting to hear about it now.

O`DONNELL: Does what Donald Trump said about Bernie Sanders last night
help or hurt you with Democratic voters?

WEAVER: No, what he says is meaningless with any voters, frankly. Look,
Bernie Sanders was -- that was not a Bernie Sanders rally. Bernie Sanders
was invited to speak at a rally about social security in Seattle and he
went there.

And the organizers of that -- if you watch the tape -- the organizers of
that rally actually turned over the mic to the protesters. So, I mean,
it`s really meaningless what he has to say.

It doesn`t have any relationship to what really happened.

O`DONNELL: What are the top three differences between Bernie Sanders and
Hillary Clinton as candidates, and I mean policy differences?

WEAVER: Look, Bernie Sanders has spent his career standing up for working
class and middle class people in this country. He`s prepared to take on
the billionaire class in this country.

He`s prepared to make college tuition at public colleges and universities
free. He`s willing to put in a fair tax system -- should I go on,

O`DONNELL: Well --

WEAVER: I mean --

O`DONNELL: What`s the difference between Bernie Sanders college
affordability plan and Hillary Clinton`s?

WEAVER: Look, what Senator Sanders has proposed is we`re going to put a
tax on Wall Street, we bailed them out, now it`s time for them to help out
bailout middle class, working class families.

We`re going to put a tax on Wall Street speculation and we`re going to have
free tuition at public colleges and universities throughout this country.

That`s going to allow millions and millions of young people from working
class and middle class and poor and minority families to be able to access
a college education that they could not otherwise without incurring tons
and tons of college student debt.

O`DONNELL: OK, so, you have a different -- similar, but I guess, different
enough student loan relief plan. What --

WEAVER: Well --

O`DONNELL: What would you say is the next biggest difference between them
on policy?

WEAVER: I think if you look at Bernie Sanders record, he has been an
unabashed advocate for working class, middle class and the poor in this
country --


WEAVER: For his entire career. I`ve worked with him --

O`DONNELL: Can you specify -- can you specify a policy about that? What
would be the policy you`re talking about now?

WEAVER: Yes, he is prepared to make sure that the people on the top pay
their fair share of taxes, he`s prepared to have a trade policy which
doesn`t send U.S. jobs overseas.

He`s prepared to stand up against the Keystone, a pipeline which is going
to take filthy oil from Canada and send it down to the Gulf at a time when
we`re facing a crisis in global warming. So, there`s a lot of policy

O`DONNELL: OK, great, Jeff Weaver, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it. Coming up, Donald Trump`s position on
Planned Parenthood is evolving day by day.

He was against it before he was for it, and now looks like he`s against it
again, that`s all within three days.

And Chris Christie has no chance of winning the Republican nomination for
president or getting the nomination for vice president.

But he just did something that could drag Jeb Bush down to defeat with him.
And after watching standup comedian Tig Notaro get laughs by talking about

Louis C.K. tweeted, "in 27 years of doing this, I`ve seen a handful of
truly great masterful standup sets, one was Tig Notaro last night at

Tig Notaro will get tonight`s last word. Now, warning, Tig Notaro will
make you laugh and cry and maybe at the same time.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s episode of questions for Donald Trump. Now,
we`re going to use one of the questions that you tweeted me and you were
all really great about following the rule to use something that Donald
Trump has actually said in your questions.

For example, Heather Sharon(ph) tweeted, "do you realize that get tough and
something terrific are not actual policies?"

And using Donald Trump`s condemnation of political correctness, Mike
Barkley(ph) tweeted, "dear Mr. Trump, what`s the difference between being
polite and being politically correct?"

Such a great question and I love the "dear" part, that`s a really polite
touch. But the one little added I would add to that -- to Mr. Donald is,
"please give examples of each."

Would you just love to see Donald Trump`s examples of being polite if he
could come up with any one?


O`DONNELL: A new poll of likely Iowa caucus goers shows Donald Trump at 22
percent, Ben Carson at 14 percent, Scott Walker at 9, Ted Cruz, 8, Carly
Fiorina and Mike Huckabee at 7, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, Marco Rubio at 5,
Chris Christie at three and John Kasich down there at 2.

The Iowa caucus which will be held on February 1st is only 172 days away,
and now we have our first attack ad against Donald Trump, thanks to Senator
Rand Paul.


TRUMP: The economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans,
but if you go back, I mean, it just seems that the economy does better
under the Democrats.

Healthcare, liberal on healthcare, we have to take care of people that are


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has of course responded to the ad, saying,
"Senator Paul has no chance of winning the nomination and the people of
Kentucky should not allow him the privilege of remaining their senator.

Rand should save his lobbyists and special interest money and just go
quietly home." Well, that`s not exactly responding.

And just 42 minutes after releasing that statement, Senator Rand Paul
responded saying, "Donald Trump couldn`t set the intellectual conservative
agenda of anything, not even the tiniest rooms, never mind, a country.

He is devoid of ideas, other than he likes the idea of power and getting
attention for foolish statements and bluster."

Joining us now with no foolish statements and bluster, MSNBC political
analyst and "Daily Beast" columnist Jonathan Alter.

Also with us, James Traub, columnist for "Foreign Policy" and Lauren Fox,
correspondent for the "National Journal". Boy, I`ll tell you, that is fun
reading the --


Reading the Trump response to --



O`DONNELL: A junior high school --

ALTER: Especially --

O`DONNELL: No, but listen, of all the things I have in that teleprompter,
a Trump response to someone who attacked him and then the response --

ALTER: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Back to that, that`s about as good as it gets --

ALTER: Yes --

O`DONNELL: But that -- but I love the Trump response, no substance
whatsoever. He`s actually -- the attack ad hits him on his previous
policies and the response just says, oh, this guy is a loser.

ALTER: Yes, well, Trump has often said, if you hit me, I`ll hit you back a
100 times harder. And actually, if you look at his record, he doesn`t
usually initiate hostilities.

What he does is, he goes personal at a 100 miles an hour immediately.


ALTER: And to talk about substance would just be to get in the way of the
personal insults. And this is insult, humor with high entertainment value.

He`s very skilled at it. This is something that I think we`re only
learning in the last few weeks. He`s been doing this for 35 years in the
New York media world, which is the big leagues.

So he knows how to play these games in public. And if you tangle with him,
you`re probably going to lose.

O`DONNELL: But James Traub, his act is failing with overwhelming majority
of the country. Even among Republicans, 75 percent of them are essentially
saying to the polls, no, never, not voting for him ever.

And so just holding on in this big crowded field to his 22, 23, those kinds
of polling numbers gives him this big frontrunner status which has no real
statistical meaning --

JAMES TRAUB, COLUMNIST, FOREIGN POLICY: No, but you know what? I think
what`s amazing is, I was watching the GOP debate. After he gave the answer
on abortion, I thought he`s dead.

He`s just revealed that he was in favor of abortion and then he realized it
was politically a bad idea, so he was against it.

As he had said before, he was in favor of a single-payer healthcare system,
he`s to the left of the Democrats until they realized it was a bad idea.

The fact that he still remains as successful as he is in the polls, tells
you that he has managed to so completely separate the emotions that people
feel, the embitterment, the anger, whatever you want to call it from any
substantive policy at all.

He`s to the left of the entire Republican field and yet he is the
frontrunner in an extremely right-wing stacked Republican group.

ALTER: See, this is --

TRAUB: That`s extraordinary --

ALTER: This is a good thing, yes, we might be moving into post litmus test
campaigning, which would be very good for the country.

If he survives this and wins in primaries and the fact that it was for a
single pair doesn`t hurt him, it kind of emboldens other people to be a
little less politically correct --

TRAUB: Is that --

ALTER: In the --

TRAUB: Is that --

ALTER: Right-wing way --

TRAUB: Let`s test it, it was -- whole substance --

O`DONNELL: Well, but Lauren Fox --

TRAUB: Well --

O`DONNELL: We did see a version of this four years ago with Mitt Romney
who had changed his position on an awful lot of subjects, including
healthcare and abortion.

And it seemed that in the end, the Republican voters attitude was, tell me
what your position is today and that`s what I`ll vote on.

of the things that Donald Trump is running into, that is very different
than what we saw from Mitt Romney is that people are getting a sense that
he`s authentic, even as he sort of changing these fundamental policy

That he`s kind of changing them in a moment, you can sort of see his mind
moving and working through these things as he`s standing on a debate stage.

And I think that`s a little bit different than what we saw from Mitt Romney
and what voters were picking up from him. Which was that he needed to win
a primary and then he needed to win the general election.

I mean, he`s asked for some of the position shifts were coming from. I
think with Donald Trump, they see a guy who`s having kind of a good time
and is trying to endear the American public to him.

And I think it`s sort of working, at least that`s what we see from the
"Cnn" poll coming out today.

O`DONNELL: So, last week on a conservative radio show, Donald Trump says
that he`s opposed to funding Planned Parenthood and is actually willing
like Ted Cruz to shut down the government over funding Planned Parenthood.

Then yesterday, on a TV show in the morning, he actually said -- he said,
"I`d look at the individual things that they do and maybe not all of the
things they do are good, but he would finance the things they do that are
not abortion.

And speaking of litmus tests, he finally gets it explained to him today
that, no, you got to be against all of this and then we get this written
statement released to, I guess basically, his press tool, "Breitbart" news.

And he says, "while Planned Parenthood is engaging in the despicable
practice of abortion, in addition to them selling aborted baby body parts
to the highest bidder, the organization should receive no taxpayer

So, Jonathan Alter, that`s how long, it took him three -- more than three
days to end up in the right place which was actually the place he started
after wandering off a little bit --

ALTER: He doesn`t --


ALTER: Pay any penalty for it, because it is a connection at an emotional
level, and much of the rest of the time he`s talking in winning sound

So, when he says, you know, I`m going to put H&R block out of business,
people get that, even on Planned Parenthood.

When he says, I`m going to separate, you know, abortion from some of the
birth control that they distribute, people get that.

So in his own, you know, unprofessional way, by our standards of the way a
professional politician talks, he actually has a pretty good sense of how
to communicate politically and --

FOX: And this is an --

ALTER: Frame issues in a way that connect.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Lauren.

FOX: This is an important issue, too, you know, for the Republican Party.
I think Trump was trying to maintain that line of saying I`m still for
women`s healthcare.

He wanted to avoid this Jeb Bush moment where Jeb Bush had said, you know,
I don`t know if we need to donate that much money to women`s healthcare.

Trump is trying to avoid that. He`s trying to seem sympathetic, he`s
trying to still appeal to women voters who he knows are going to be
important in the polls and in caucuses.

And so, I think that he`s trying to kind of walk this fine line between
being pro life, but also, you know, not saying that we need to get rid of
Planned Parenthood funding which does mammograms and other testing for

TRAUB: But all this matches that Trump has this thing called views.


He doesn`t have views. A view is a useful thing for Trump. If he can use
it to --


TRAUB: Buy something he wants, political support he will. He doesn`t have
a view about abortion when he says he thinks abortion is despicable.

O`DONNELL: And you`ve been --

ALTER: A lot of those guys don`t have views --

TRAUB: I believe --

ALTER: I mean George H.W. Bush was pro choice until he was --

O`DONNELL: James, you --


TRAUB: Maybe probe is the kind of living parody --


O`DONNELL: Even in real conversations with Trump --


About a lot of things, that -- and so you`ve experienced this up close --

ALTER: Yes --

O`DONNELL; The way -- the way everything can change within --

ALTER: Yes --

O`DONNELL: A conversation.

TRAUB: Well, so, when I -- so, I wrote a profile of him for the "Times"
magazine in 2004. We spent weeks together, and I had a great time with him
because I treated him as a cartoon character.

And he didn`t mind.

O`DONNELL: He is --

TRAUB: I could make fun of him and it was OK, as long as he felt he could
use me to get his message across.

He only got upset when he realized I wasn`t buying the idea that he was
worth $10 billion or whatever the number was --


TRAUB: In 2004 and he had his lawyer write me a letter to prove that he
was a substantial owner --

ALTER: Same thing he said to me in 1991 --

O`DONNELL: Of this or that --

ALTER: Exactly the same story --


TRAUB: So, it`s all about producing an effect, that`s the goal --

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at that "Boston Herald" poll that had Bernie
Sanders on top in New Hampshire, let`s look at the Republican side of it.

Has Donald Trump on top at 18, Jeb Bush at 13, Kasich jumping all the way
up to 12, he`s been doing some real TV ads there, Ted Cruz at 10, Carly
Fiorina, 9, Rand Paul, 6, Ben Carson, 4, Rubio 4, Scott Walker all the way
down at 4.

Lauren Fox, how do you read that latest New Hampshire poll for the

FOX: Well, I think that, you know, when we talk about New Hampshire and we
talk about Iowa, we`re really talking about two different playing fields
and who is investing where.

And when we`re talking about New Hampshire, it doesn`t surprise me that
someone like Kasich after that debate performance and what he had to say
about gay marriage.

He had a very sort of tempered middle-ground response for the Republican
Party that he is going to be doing well in a state like New Hampshire which
is a little bit more libertarian-leaning than a place like Iowa.

Where evangelicals like Huckabee and others will seem to be doing a little
bit better there.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take a quick break, we`re going to be
back with more political discussion, and also, how Chris Christie can be a
factor in this race even if he has no chance of winning it.



rule out raising taxes, but I will.

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



O`DONNELL: Chris Christie tried to tie Jeb Bush to his father`s famous
pledge to never raise taxes, a pledge that the first President Bush broke.

Chris Christie may never take another oath of office but he made a big deal
today of taking Grover Norquist`s oath and signing the Grover Norquist
pledge to never raise taxes.

Something that Jeb Bush has so far refused to do.


Bush won`t sign the pledge. It doesn`t make any sense if your record is
consistent with that and your philosophy is consistent with that, which
mine is.

I saw no problem with taking the pledge, and so when I become president of
the United States, I will not raise taxes. That`s why I signed the pledge.

It`s what I`ve done in New Jersey under much more difficult circumstances
politically than certainly Governor Bush faced in Florida with the
Republican legislature.


O`DONNELL: Here is what Jeb Bush said about the pledge two week ago.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I actually have the benefit of
having a record where I cut taxes every year, every year, $19 billion
worth of taxes.

I don`t have to sign pledges.


It`s in my core, it`s who I am. You know, I just -- I just think why don`t
we just be who we are, say what we believe, do what we said we`re going to


O`DONNELL: Lauren Fox, how long can Jeb Bush hold out and not just give up
and sign the pledge like his brother George did?

FOX: I think that this is sort of one of those fundamental conservative
policy points. And I think it`s going to be really hard for Jeb Bush as he
moves forward and as he gets more and more pressure from the right.

Remember, he`s more of a moderate in this phrase than many others. It`s
going to be harder and harder for him not to just sign this pledge. He`s,
you know, use this line over and over again. I`ve cut $19 billion in taxes
over my time as governor of Florida. And I can plan to continue to do that
if I`m the President. But I think he is going to continue to hear from a
lot of the other governors and other senators who are running against him
that that is just not a sustainable position.

O`DONNELL: James Traub, we`ve seen a version of this movie before, George
W. Bush in 1999 refused to sign pledge, absolutely refused. And then ended
up writing a letter to Grover Norquist using exactly the words of the
pledge, signing the letter, Grover Norquist accepted that as a signed

TRAUB: But, you know, I love the actors. I mean, Jonathan said earlier
that maybe that Donald Trump has kind of shattered this pledge.

O`DONNELL: Wait, Trump is the only other one who has not signed...


TRAUB: Right, not signed. So I love that idea but -- the fact that Chris
Christie says, you know, how can you not sign the pledge. Obviously, Jeb
Bush is trying to take an intellectually principle stand. She may know for
example that someone like Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas, a super
anti-tax guy has been forced to raise taxes because things happen. And you
have to take this anti-reality pledge that says, "No thing can happen that
will cause me to change my mind". That`s a foolish thing to say but if you
don`t say it, you`re cooked.

O`DONNELL: But Jonathan...


FOX: I think that`s one of the important things that we`re hearing here is
that, you can not predict the future when you`re the future of the United
States. Sometimes the country goes through recessions, sometimes things
happened, sometimes the make up of Congress changes, and to get pieces of
legislation through, you end up signing bills that sometimes pieces that
you do not like.

And I think that that sort of where he`s coming from here. He doesn`t know
what the future holds and he`s trying to keep a principle position on that.

O`DONNELL: And so, here`s what Governor Chris twitted today about Jeb
Bush`s refusal to sign the pledge. Now you might want to take notes on the
tweet. "If my neighbor had never eaten my cat and promised not to eat my
cat, but refused to put that in writing, I would keep my cat indoors."

Which, Jonathan, raises the question, where this Governor Chris lives who
is eating the cats in his neighborhood?

ALTER: So Grover, who I went to college with.

O`DONNELL: You did?

ALTER: I went -- I bought him in our T.V. show "Alpha House", two
different seasons. I get along with him just by personally. But the
pledge has helped to wreck United States. It is about the worse kind of
public policy that you can imagine for the reasons that we`ve just heard...

So I actually respect, Jeb Bush for take the position against, especially
since Bob Dole`s refusal to sign the pledge in New Hampshire in 1988, is
how Jeb`s father was elected president in the United States, and one that
primary after having lost in Iowa and went on to be the next president.

So this is, in the core of the Republican Party, it is terribly distractive
and I pray that Donald Trump is not such a wimp that he changes his mind
and signs the pledge. And if he holds out against it and does find anyway
and Chris Christie he goes by the way side which he will, then maybe the
Republican Party can start to move in the repost pledge environment.

FOX: Wouldn`t it be interesting if Donald Trump is the one that moves them
into that. But Donald Trump is the only one who sort of can really move
the Republican Party to stand up for the pledge and not take it.

O`DONNELL: But, James, though -- the Bush -- this is again one of the Bush
family history burden that Christie was clearly trying to link him to his
father on a broken pledge to never raise taxes.

TRAUB: It was very interesting by the way for those people who read the
find print of George Bush`s foreign policy speech and I know that includes
all of us.

O`DONNELL: We covered it here.

TRAUB: He made a point of saying that it isn`t just as dangerous to rush a
way from danger as it is to rush into danger. Now, of course, he didn`t
say my brother rush into danger.


TRAUB: But there were three or four points in speech where he very
(suddenly) said, I recognized that mistakes were made so as to provide
himself some caution, some protection from the claims that are going to
come that you are responsible for your brother`s mistakes.

ALTER: That`s not going to work for him. He just not going to get elected
president. I mean Trump, or Hillary, or whoever, we`ll just put this guys
-- and we`re in uniform, you know, in add saying, "Give me a break, this
work cost $3 trillion". He, you know, if he`s going to embrace it then
we`re going to get another one of this kind of wars. He is in a pickle on
a rock and this was a feeble effort...

O`DONNELL: Why is Trump chosen that Jeb Bush to be his target number one
in the Republican field?

TRAUB: That`s an interesting question -- go ahead, I don`t have a good
theory on that.

FOX: I think it`s clear that he views Jeb Bush as a serious contender to
the nomination. And while Jeb Bush might be sort of working out some of
the kings (ph) from the campaign trail, you know, on New Hampshire, I think
that`s going to be where he sort of shines. And I think Trump recognizes
that he is a key competitor and, you know, Trump is smart enough to go
after the guy who he views as his toughest challenge.

O`DONNELL: Lauren Fox thanks for joining us from Washington, Jonathan

FOX: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: James Traub, thank you for joining us tonight.

Up next, a breaking news report on a massive explosion in China tonight
that was caught on video.


O`DONNELL: In the China port city of Tianjin, a massive explosion was
caught on video today. China`s government says, 17 have died and more than
400 are hurt. The explosions were inside shipping containers of hazardous
materials. The blasts were so large that windows were shattered at 6 miles

NBC`s Kelly Cobiella has more.


KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS: A first blast had shaken the port city of
Tianjin just before midnight then, this. A massive explosion many times
bigger than the first blast and a blinding white light, they see it and
then they feel it.

The shock wave shattering windows and turning charge glass into
projectiles. Images of the blast flooded Chinese social media. A store
front disappearing. A living room covered in broken glass.

Tonight local hospitals are overwhelmed with hundreds of injure. Some
burns, many cut by flying glass and debris.

Tianjin is one of China`s biggest industrial centers home to 11 million
people and a major hub for petrochemical industries. Tonight, people are
being warned to stay inside in case of toxic fumes and 70 miles away in
Beijing this message, "Please shut the doors and windows, not sure if
harmful gas."

Canadian Glenn Alexander in Beijing got calls from friends in Tianjin.

GLENN ALEXANDER, CANADIAN IN BEIJING: They first conversation that we had
was that the fighters and the first responders that have been knocked over
and there were -- there dead bodies all over the street.

COBIELLA: China state broadcaster said the double explosion was caused by
a fire in a warehouse storing some kind of explosive material. As Thursday
morning, broken Tianjin, smoke was still rising at the scene of the blast.
Two firefighters remain missing and at least 13 people are dead.

Given the force of the explosions, that number is likely to rise.

Kelly Cobiella, NBC News.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Tig Notaro will join us.


O`DONNELL: What do you if you`re standup comedian and you got cancer?
Don`t answer because I know you know the answer. OK. If you`re Tig Notaro
and you are to.


O`DONNELL: Because it will be -- this will be disaster if you`re not, OK.
If -- there`s more in the popular (ph), let me finish this thing. If
you`re Tig Notaro, you do jokes about it and you make a documentary.


NOTARO: As soon as I was diagnosed, everything came over me as funny. I
loved standup so much, I wanted to do it one more time.

Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was setting there watching and I text it, Tig is
doing something historic.

NOTARO: The idea that the show happened went viral.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the latest diagnosis?

NOTARO: I have surgery. I did it. Yeah, double mastectomy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s your doctor, DuPont?

NOTARO: I have one shot. This is what being alive is all about. It`s so
cueshe (ph) but it`s like you`re alive, you might as well take chances.

I made so many jokes over the years about flat chested I was. Like boobs
over (inaudible), and it was just like we are sick of this, let`s kill her.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Tig Notaro her upcoming HBO comedy special
"Tig Notaro, Boyish Girl Interrupted", premieres August 22nd. And then, I
guess, we`ll just run for the rest of our lives, right, because that`s what
they do in HBO just keeps going and going.

NOTARO: I hope so.

O`DONNELL: So, thank you for ruining my day.

NOTARO: How is that?

O`DONNELL: Because my homework today was watch the documentary about Tig,


O`DONNELL: Now, normally the way I do that is I don`t watch the
documentary, has the normal version. So this time I go -- but I`ve heard
so many great things I`ve got -- and so, they turn on the documentary and I
planned to watch the documentary within on the T.V over there and me doing
a notes...

NOTARO: Yeah, yeah.

O`DONNELL: ... but here, I`m like, I`m going to watch it with one year at


O`DONNELLL: And I watch it with two eyes and both ears. And I laugh and I
cried, I did everything that you force us to do when we can`t take our eyes
up that documentary, it just so amazing.

NOTARO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: There`s no question there just talk. How long did it take to
make -- because there`s footage there going back years, how long did it
take to make this?

NOTARO: Well, I mean, I didn`t make the film I -- they brought me in as
executive producer.

O`DONNELL: You`re the victim of those...


O`DONNELL: Yes, you in every frame of those...

NOTARO: Yeah. And my friend, Christina (ph), who I have been friends with
for almost 20 years, she`d always planning to make a documentary. And so,
after my life fell apart, she came to me in we decided to do this. And I
honestly didn`t -- I thought it was just going to be a project between
friends and, I also thought it was going to maybe the highlight real of me
bouncing back after losing everything in life and then as -- I think a
really good documentary does it swings in directions, you don`t expect.

And so, yeah, I`m just -- I`m thrilled that people are responding to it and
I don`t remember your question.

O`DONNELL: So, let`s just do the bullet points of your suffering...


O`DONNELL: ... that`s funny. You said, you get some consumption disease
that I don`t never even heard of it.

NOTARO: Well, it`s started out with pneumonia.

O`DONNELL: OK, heard of that.

NOTARO: And then, I took antibiotics and I contracted C. diff which is the
antibiotics can clear out all bacteria in your gut, and C. diff see if is a
bacteria that is in your gut but it works fine as long as its all in there,
all the bacteria is in there.

When it`s left alone to thrive on its own, it just takes over and grows
throughout your -- in digestive tract and that`s what it does and just eats
you alive.

O`DONNELL: And, and chapter 2, which for me, in many ways, is the worst
most difficult thing you go through. When you`re having all this trouble,
your mother is going to come to California and visit you, and she dies.

NOTARO: Before the trip.

O`DONNELL: Before the trip.

NOTARO: She trip.

O`DONNELLL: Shockingly and a young woman this is they just...


O`DONNELL: ... a freak things, what`s that?

NOTARO: Yeah, yeah. She tripped and hit her head, and she was fine, and
was talking. And my stepfather checked her head and she was fine. And
then, yeah, she was not -- my stepfather went to bed in a morning, he --
she was still, you know, she was going to stay up and watch T.V and when it
get up in the morning, she was not ever conscious again. And we took her
off life support.

And I went through a break up right after her funeral and then I was

O`DONNELL: Which you joke about and...


O`DONNELL: ... beautifully in the documentary is about...

NOTARO: Well, and I have to say, you know, people misconstrue, they think
that I was going through this or laugh in a middle of having cancer but
which we have...

O`DONNELL: That`s the way I construed it.

NOTARO: Which isn`t the case, we broke up and then I was diagnosed. So my
joke is...


NOTARO: ... better get out...

O`DONNELL: Before.

NOTARO: ... before the cancer come.

O`DONNELL: Yes, yeah. And so, then the cancer comes...


O`DONNELL: ... and now, you really have every good reason to think you`re
going to die, it`s your time.

NOTARO: Yeah, yeah. I was diagnosed with bilateral invasive cancer,
breast cancer, and I had no real reason to think positively because
everything kept getting yank (ph).

O`DONNELL: Which leaves you as the only double mastectomy survivor who has
an HBO comedy special...

NOTARO: That`s far as I know.

O`DONNELL: In which, of course, you take your shirt off.

NOTARO: Of course.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, of course, perfectly logical. Oh, we got to take...

NOTARO: You got (ph) hands on?

O`DONNELL: That`s one of the big secrets of this show and I`m just going
to stay like this...


O`DONNELL: ... and you`re not going to know.


O`DONNELL: I`m want to be more -- come back with more and we`re going to
see who`s wearing what when we get back.



O`DONNELL: So story in the documentary actually very much in my surprise,
frankly, had a happy ending. And the happy ending is name Stephanie and I
believed there someone over there in the darkness who kind of looks like
Stephanie. And, oh good, that is Stephanie and if we can get a wire on her
maybe she can join us, after we...

NOTARO: I would love it.

O`DONNELL: ... sell some stuff during the commercial.


O`DONNELL: OK. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Yeah. I think we do care about spoiler works...


O`DONNELL: ... with the movie. All right so, you`re the first comedian
with the double mastectomy do get an HBO special. So let`s take a look at
what naturally happened.


NOTARO: Do not tempt me. I will do it. I will -- guys, guys no. Of
course, I`m not going to take my shirt off on like this (ph).


O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Tig Notaro`s fiancee Stephanie Allynne. So
were you in that audience--


O`DONNELL: --shirt comes off? Did you know the shirt was going to come

ALYNNE: I didn`t know it`s going to come off and I`ve never been more


ALYNNE: And I`ve never nervous.

O`DONNELL: Who was more nervous? Did you measure what`s--

TIG NOTARO, COMEDIAN: She`d never nervous.

O`DONNELL: OK, never.

NOTARO: She`d never nervous.


NOTARO: I wasn`t even slightly nervous. She came into the dressing room
and he was like, "Hey, how you`re doing?" And I said, "No. I`m not

O`DONNELL: You guys met on a movie which you`re working on together.

NOTARO: "In a World".

O`DONNELL: And, yeah, and we saw -- a great movie. And we saw in the
documentary how it took very long time for you to come together
romantically and it finally clicks. It`s just an amazing story. When you
see it unfold in the documentary does it seem somehow simpler that it was
to live or---


O`DONNELL: Yeah. I would think, yeah.

ALYNNE: It took -- for sure or you could go, "Why is she so stupid?" Like
now, everything so easy -- so easy to love Tig, and like looking then, it`s
like even be conflicted seem so ridiculous.

O`DONNELL: All right. You know what? I got to say, I was betting on this
couple to get together and then, when you didn`t, I know OK turn out
together and then they finally -- that it seem should have -- we`re
screwing at the whole spoiler, I think, right.

You asked me during the break when I cried?

NOTARO: Because you told me.

O`DONNELL: I did cry. I did cry. I cried when you got a phone call from
a doctor that was the only phone call that you got from the doctor that was
not about your health.


O`DONNELL: And it was all about your future.

NOTARO: Yeah, yeah.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to cry now. You guys talk about it. I can`t -- and
so, you had this belief before that phone call...


O`DONNELL: ... that the right answer in that phone call could give you,
literally, a happy life...


O`DONNELL: ... everyday for the rest of time. Which I privately knew is
not (inaudible). No matter how that phone call can (inaudible), OK, but I
was (inaudible) got that answer. You are now trying to go forward in life
without the outcome you wanted...


O`DONNELL: ... in that phone call.

NOTARO: Well, you know, I think Stephanie and I are very similar and it so
naive and it`s funny to look back and see this now and realize that we
didn`t think there is any other outcome.


NOTARO: And so, we...

O`DONNELL: I could see that.

NOTARO: When the camera came to the house, it was just like, "Well, this
is going to be such a wonderful moment".

ALYNNE: It didn`t seem we are at the cameras where there it was just like,
"Yep, let`s get ready for the phone call".

O`DONNELL: I want the world to study your reaction to that phone call
because it is the perfect reaction, supportive reaction to someone in that
kind of lost moment.


O`DONNELL: And it`s without a word.



O`DONNELL: Your first line that make you a comedy legend at this
appearance of Louis C.K. rave about an everybody we have above. Your very
first line that night was, open line was, "I have cancer."

Now, I have the feeling that you kind of maybe knew at your first line was
but you didn`t know what the next line.

NOTARO: It was hit-or-miss. So is touch-and-go throughout the whole set
and I, you know, that set change my life in obvious ways but it also --
before I went on stage I had so much to say and it really was get to the
point. What`s the point? I`ve been through all this but I was just
diagnosed with cancer. So hello, good evening, I have cancer.

And it`s something I think about a lot going forward, is get to the point,
cut to the chase. What is going on but still with that right now. And so,
the line is heavy but there`s also a silliness in delivering it like,
"Hello, good evening, anyone have an anniversaries tonight? Who`s
drinking? You know, I have cancer.

O`DONNELL: How you doing, I have cancer. Yeah.

NOTARO: Yeah. And so, there was written material but there is also in

O`DONNELL: But you`re getting last within the first minute with, I have


O`DONNELL: It`s just one of this comedy miracles that we see. Now, in the
documentary there`s a driving scene and I notice you`re doing the driving
and you`re holding hands.

I was in a car accident last year. I would love to see two hands in the
wheel from now on, OK? Come on, I mean let`s...

NOTARO: He`s in best than our future now.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. That`s right. I`m very concern about your future. Two
hands on the wheel please. Can you hang on a little bit we will add
something for the web that we captured then to the T.V. show.


O`DONNELL: Because they are demanding more commercial at the end of the
show right now.

NOTARO: It`s ridiculous.

O`DONNELL: Tig Notaro`s, HBO special debuts, August 22nd. The documentary
is available on Netflix now.

Stephanie, Tig, thank you very much for doing this on T.V. We`ll do a
little more on the web.

Chris Hayes is up next.


<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