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Thursday, Oct. 14th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Scott Ashjian, Sue Lowden, John Lutz

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  Thanks, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” HOST:  Indeed.

O‘DONNELL:  There is nothing Tea Party candidates love more than telling us what‘s wrong with politicians in Washington even as they all dream of becoming politicians in Washington.

What the Joe Millers and the Christine O‘Donnells and the Sarah Palins most want to avoid, answering questions.

Tonight, a Tea Party candidate who is now leading in her race for the Senate was finally forced to answer questions in a debate that ended moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

SHARRON ANGLE (R-NV), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE:  You don‘t know me. 

Let‘s get together, and let‘s talk.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  Getting to know Sharron Angle, easier said than done.

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST:  She has been ducking the media ever since she won her primary back in June.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You, the viewers, had a number of questions for Sharron Angle and we have made numerous attempts to schedule an interview with her.

ANGLE:  We needed to have the press be our friend.

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS:  To be your friend?

ANGLE:  To report the news the way we want it to be reported.

O‘DONNELL:  Even when her own campaign called a news conference, she bolted for the door before anyone could ask a question.

REPORTER:  Why won‘t you answer what Second Amendment remedies mean? 

It‘s a simple question?

O‘DONNELL:  Why is Sharron Angle running away?  She would have to explain this.

ANGLE:  We need to look at personalizing the Social Security and Medicare programs.

REPORTER:  Your plan calls for transitioning—

ANGLE:  That‘s a Harry Reid lie.

REPORTER:  Your own Web site says transition out—

ANGLE:  To a personalized account.  I‘m here to save Social Security.

REPORTER:  By transitioning out of it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And now she‘s trying to, in some cases, say, I didn‘t say that, in other cases saying, well, you know, not privatize it, but personalize.  Well, what‘s personalize it?

O‘DONNELL:  And on jobs—

ANGLE:  You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those job that is an honest job.

As your U.S. senator, I‘m not in the business of creating jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sharron Angle says it‘s not a senator‘s job to fight for jobs.

O‘DONNELL:  Sharron Angle also has a plan for schools and children and health care.

ANGLE:  Little boys probably shouldn‘t go to school where they have to really concentrate a lot on small motor movement until they‘re around 7 or 8 years old.

Take off the mandates that you are paying for things that you don‘t even need.  Everything—everything that they want to throw at us now is covered under autism.  And how about maternity leave, and I‘m not going to have anymore babies, but I sure get to pay for it on my insurance.  Those are the kinds of things that we want to get rid of.

MADDOW:  Angle said she simply does not like fluoride.

O‘DONNELL:  Why does Sharron Angle want to outlaw abortion, kill Social Security and take fluoride out of your water?

ANGLE:  The reason is a calling.  God has been in this from the beginning, and because of that, when he has a plan—

O‘DONNELL:  And what is the Sharron Angle plan?

ANGLE:  The American, liberty and nation under God, Reagan, Michele Bachmann, pay back, cutback and take back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Good evening from New York.  I‘m Lawrence O‘Donnell.

What just happened in Vegas tonight will not stay in Vegas, the most important of the debate of this campaign season just concluded at 7:00 p.m.  Las Vegas time.  Former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle faced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in their first and only debate in the fight for Harry Reid‘s Senate seat.

In the latest Mason-Dixon Poll, Angle now leads Reid 47 percent to 45 percent.  Nevada has the highest unemployment rate and the highest foreclosure rate in the country, so the focus was on the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA:  Yesterday, or day before, we had a company from China come here to create 1,000 jobs.  They have already leased the warehouse and they are going to make LED lighting.  They‘re going to build windmills.  That‘s a result of tax policy that I put in a bill.

We have now almost $2 billion worth of work going on in Nevada with renewable energy jobs.  That‘s a result of tax policy, incentives to have them do that.

McCarran Airport, as a result of the tax policy—we have a $3 billion project going on there today.

Harrah‘s, as result of language and bill there.  We saved 31,000 at Harrah‘s alone.

All of these things I‘ve talked about, and my opponent is against those.  She wouldn‘t do that.  My job is to create jobs.  What she‘s talking about is extreme.

We have to do this.  We‘ve been doing it since Boulder Dam was created 81 years ago, we started the construction.

MODERATOR:  OK.  And your response?

ANGLE:  Once again, Harry Reid—it‘s not your job to create jobs.  It‘s your job to create policies that create the confidence for the private sector to create those jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  And immigration was another big topic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID:  Immigration is a problem.  We have a system in America that‘s broken and needs to be fixed.

ANGLE:  Senator Reid talks about comprehensive immigration law.  But, really, what he‘s talking about is something that didn‘t work in 1986.  I‘m a great fan of Ronald Reagan‘s, but he had it wrong with amnesty in 1986.  We need to first secure the borders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  And Angle was on the defensive for comments she‘s made in the past about Social Security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGLE:  Man-up, Harry Reid.  You need to understand that we have a problem with Social Security.  That problem was created because of government taking that money out of the Social Security Trust Fund.

REID:  These ideas of my opponent are really extreme.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now, the co-host of the MSNBC‘s “THE DAILY RUNDOWN,” Chuck Todd.

The first question always after one of these debates: were there any knock-out punches in there?

CHUCK TODD, “THE DAILY RUNDOWN” CO-HOST:  You know, no, there weren‘t, and what was astonishing to me was how it would seem to be unprepared Harry Reid was to make Sharron Angle the story tonight.  You know, this is what a lot of us were wondering about and a lot of folks, you think, in Nevada were curious about is, who is this Sharron Angle, what is she about?

And what was amazing was how much Harry Reid allowed himself to be on the defensive, stayed on the defensive, spent time talking about, talking in Washington speak a lot.  I heard the word CBO quite a bit.  He kept talking and at one point said even something about, you know, you don‘t understand how this worked in Washington—which in a year like isn‘t the best thing to say.

So, that‘s what—you know, look, the draw or whatever you want to call it was not the result Harry Reid needed tonight.

O‘DONNELL:  And the questions for Sharron Angle were not easy and many of them were pointed and especially some of the questions about the things she said in the past.  Let‘s listen to her again talking about Social Security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR:  You claim Senator Reid, quote, “voted to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens and to give illegals Social Security benefits.”  Most reputable fact checkers have said that‘s patently false, especially the line about Social Security benefits.  The ad was even criticized by the chair of the Republican Hispanic Caucus.

Would you like to denounce the ad as deceptive or give voters documented evidence about its accuracy?

ANGLE:  Not at all.  I‘m glad to give voters the opportunity to see that Harry Reid has voted to give Social Security to illegal aliens, not only did he vote to give it to them after they have become citizens, but even before they were citizens.  He voted to give them the benefits of our Social Security.

Our Social Security system is one that needs to be addressed.  And we‘re not addressing it.  In fact, what we need to do is to make sure that we keep our promise to the senior citizens and make sure that our younger folks have the opportunity to have a personalized Social Security retirement account similar to the thrift plan that Senator Reid has.  If it‘s good enough for Harry Reid, it should be good enough for the rest of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Chuck, on the Social Security, she has said in the past that basically it needs to be phased out?

TODD:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  And here tonight, as you say, Harry Reid never managed to close in and use those statements that she has in the past, because what we‘ve seen with Sharron Angle and with Christine O‘Donnell and other Tea Party candidates, is when they step up to the debate stage, they are ready to make much softer statements with much rounder edges to them about things like Social Security.

TODD:  Well, what was amazing actually is she didn‘t deny—you know, there was another question, Lawrence, where the moderator quoted her saying, you know, in a primary debate, you said you were for privatizing Social Security.  Now, you say it‘s personalized—you know, basically saying, you know, you‘ve changed your stance on here from the primary and she didn‘t deny it.  You know, sure, and then she said, you know, personalize, that‘s for private and public.  Frankly, I didn‘t understand what she was trying to explain when she was trying to kind of, as you say, soften that stance.

But what I was amazed at was how Harry Reid never, as you just pointed out, never went for the kill on some of these things, on some of these issues.  He never button holed her on these things.  The moderator button-holed her more times than Harry Reid did.

It was—look, the theatrics to the entire debate were so awkward, was painful to watch probably for a voter in Nevada, because both of them seem to struggle to be articulate at the beginning of the debate.  By the end of the debate, they both got a little more comfortable, but the lack of exchanges by Harry Reid in particular with Sharron Angle is what surprised me.

O‘DONNELL:  And the Tea Party candidates and Sharron Angle and Christine O‘Donnell, they seem to now, I think, benefit from having such low expectations of their performance.  They spend so much—you know, their time on the campaign trail ducking reporters and so, they build up the belief that they can‘t really handle any of this, and so, it seems to me that the standard for them is, did they fall on their face?  And if they don‘t fall on their face on the campaign—on the debate stage, they have in effect succeeded.  Is that the new standard for these debaters?

TODD:  Well, it should not be the new standard for the debaters.  The problem that Harry Reid has is that he is so unpopular right now, is that that is the standard as far—it could be the standard that the undecided voter sitting in Nevada may have for Sharron Angle.

I‘ll say this with this debate—ideologically, you know exactly where both of these folks stand.  It was crystal clear.  You didn‘t come away going, boy, I‘m not sure what kind of senator, oh, I‘m not sure if she‘s going to be a conservative, not sure if Harry Reid is going to be pro-government—that was clear coming out of this debate.

O‘DONNELL:  Chuck Todd, thank you very much for your time tonight. 

This one we‘re going to be watching right down to the wire.

TODD:  Yes, we are.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Chuck.

TODD:  You got it, bud.

O‘DONNELL:  One of the candidates who was not on tonight‘s stage, but still is seen as a factor in the Nevada Senate race was Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian.  He joins me now live from Las Vegas.

Now, Scott, you are on the ballot in Nevada, along with Harry Reid and Sharron Angle.  But you were not allowed in this debate.  Did both sides want to exclude you from this debate?

SCOTT ASHJIAN (NV), SENATE TEA PARTY CANDIDATE:  I think that—I‘m not sure if both sides wanted to exclude me, but I surely was excluded.  I‘m not sure why.  I think everybody‘s opinion should have been heard.

O‘DONNELL:  What do you—what questions would have asked, if you had a chance to just ask one question up there during that debate as the moderator, since you weren‘t a participant—what question would you have asked?

ASHJIAN:  I would have probably asked both of them, since they are career politicians, why are they charging the American public when both of them clearly—Sharron Angle 15 years and Harry Reid 30 years—why are they still continuing to take money from the citizens of Nevada?

O‘DONNELL:  Now, you did make it into the debate.  There was a question about you in this debate.  Let‘s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR:  People want to know if you engaged in favor-buying when you promised political juice to Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian if he should drop out of the race?

ANGLE:  Not at all.  What I offered was the access to government that all people want when they have a representative in the U.S. Senate.  They want to know that when they come to Washington, D.C., they will be heard.  They want to know that when they request a town hall meeting, that they will be heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Scott, is that what it felt like to you when she made you that offer?

ASHJIAN:  No.  That‘s a boldface lie.  Listen, they‘ve—there‘s been groups that have sued me to get the off—get me off of the ballot.  They know that it‘s going to make a difference.

We‘ve been victorious in every lawsuit.  This is a case of career politicians trying to dupe the citizens of Nevada, and we are on the ballot.  We are offering Nevada a third choice, and they will have a choice between Angle or Reid, which are career politicians, doesn‘t mean if they‘re Democrats or Republicans, it‘s all the same.  They will lie to you and get you the believe it and then change after they get into office and do whatever they want to do.

So, the state of Nevada has a choice this year to send a message.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, you see no real difference between the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate in this race.  Wasn‘t there a difference just on the discussion of tax cuts?  Harry Reid is clearly open to allowing a higher tax rate for the top income brackets, and Sharron Angle is opposed to any increased in the rates at all, probably would like to cut them below where they are now in the Bush rates.  Isn‘t that difference worth voting over?

ASHJIAN:  I don‘t know that it is or isn‘t.  I know that Harry Reid is for more taxes, but Sharron Angle has changed her position since she started this race multiple times.  On almost every topic, she‘s changed her position.  So, I don‘t believe either one of them.  I think that once they are elected, they‘re going to do what they want to do anyways.

O‘DONNELL:  And from this point forward, how hard are you campaigning?  I mean, the polls clearly indicate that you don‘t have a chance in this thing.  The most you can do is to be a spoiler, maybe take away the 1 percent or 2 percent, somewhere that the—that ends up defining the winner.

Are you just riding this out with your name on the ballot or are you out there really seriously trying to affect this outcome?

ASHJIAN:  No, I think that we are giving Nevada a third choice.  The reality of it is, it was the Republicans that chopped up the vote between 11 or 12 or 13 candidates.

The candidate that probably should have won, that have walked into the Senate is in our studio today, Sue Lowden.  There wouldn‘t have been a race had she had been in.  It was not Scott Ashjian that chopped up that vote, it was the Republican Party itself.

We started this race, we‘re going to finish this race.  They‘ve bombarded us every step of the way, and it hasn‘t worked.  We‘re going to finish in November 2nd and there will be a Tea Party of Nevada on the ballot November 2nd and Nevada will have a choice.

O‘DONNELL:  Scott Ashjian, Tea Party for Senate in Nevada, thanks for joining us tonight.

ASHJIAN:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you for having me.

O‘DONNELL:  Our debate coverage continues.  Up next: we will talk to Sue Lowden, the Republican who was beating Harry Reid in the polls but lost to Sharron Angle in the primary.

And later, the most moving thing anyone has said about bullying and teenaged gay suicides, and it was said by a Texas politician.  It is tonight‘s spotlight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  The one and only debate between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle is now in the history books.  The race is neck and neck.  But would it have been neck and neck if Sue Lowden had won the Republican nomination? 

We‘ll talk to her about the election, that got away

And later, big drama on “The View” today, with Bill O‘Reilly on the sofa, the show saw two co-hosts storm off the set.  That‘s tonight‘s “Rewrite.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Sharron Angle did not have an easy path to the Republican nomination for Senate in Nevada.  First she had to get past this candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Most people walk into a doctor‘s office and the first thing they ask you for is your insurance card.

SUE LOWDEN (R-NV), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE:  Yes, they do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And when you make an appointment—

LOWDEN:  And they say, I don‘t have one, can I speak to the doctor—

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They want that insurance card.

LOWDEN:  Yes, they do.  Of course, they are used to doing that, but let‘s change the system and talk about what the possibilities are.  I‘m telling you that this works.

You know, before we all started having health care in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor.  They would say, I‘ll paint your house. They would do—I mean, that‘s the old days of what people would do to get health care with their doctors.  Doctors are very sympathetic people.  I‘m not backing down from that system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONELL:  Joining me now: former state senator and former leader of the PAC for the Republican nomination for Senate in Nevada, Sue Lowden.

Sue Lowden, was that comment about bartering chickens for health care the beginning of the end of your campaign?

LOWDEN:  I can‘t believe we are still talking about bartering for chickens.  You know, it was an off-handed comment that I made in a rural community here in Nevada.  And it took its own life—I mean, it took a life of its own is what I want to say.  I still can‘t believe we are still talking about it.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, that‘s the world of the new campaign where everything is on video and video lasts forever.  But in the Republican primary, was that a turning point?  Did Sharron Angle start to get traction against you around that time?

LOWDEN:  I don‘t know if she got traction at that time.  But I do know that Harry Reid and the 527 that was brought in here to Nevada to spend millions of dollars against me sure did make a big issue of that comment.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, Scott Ashjian just said that if you had won the Republican nomination, that this race now would not be close, you would be way ahead of Harry Reid, and you would have put this thing away basically by now.  Is that your feeling now when you sit there on the sidelines and you watch this?

LOWDEN:  Lawrence, in my heart, I don‘t think so.  I think that I would have been vilified like she is being vilified.  Millions of dollars in commercials are being spent against her, and I think that the same would have happened to me.

It‘s a brutal campaign season.  And I‘m flattered that people would say that about me, and I do hear that from folks here in Nevada.

But the truth is when you have millions of dollars of money being spent against you to vilify you, anybody can look bad.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, I know you‘ve endorsed Sharron Angle as a loyal Republican, endorsing the Republican ticket in Nevada.  But surely, there are some differences, some policy differences between you and Sharron Angle.  I mean, would you, for example, abolish the Department of Education?

LOWDEN:  Let me explain what I believe Sharron Angle is trying to say.  We hear in Nevada have a huge dropout rate.  We have one of the worst education systems in the country, although we do have exceptions to that rule, and when we see so much money being spent in Washington, D.C. on the Department of Education, and instead of that money being spent right here in our classrooms, right here in Nevada, that‘s what she‘s trying to say, that we would rather have the money spent here in our school districts to decide exactly where the money should go, we believe in the classroom, not necessarily to employees who take, who live in a cubby hole in Washington, D.C.  That‘s what I believe she means.

O‘DONNELL:  Now, I know you never wanted the job of explaining what Sharron Angle really means about these things, but having just heard that glide that you did past the question of does she want to abolish the Department of Education, I‘m going to join the group that thinks that if you were in this race against Harry Reid, you would be polling better than Sharron Angle is right now.  But in the past, in your long history of Nevada politics, you have supported Harry Reid in the past, haven‘t you?

LOWDEN:  Well, yes, and I think that that was part of the downfall and we sure did hear that over and over again.  You know, Harry Reid used to run as an independent, independent like Nevada was his battle cry.  And there was a time when he represented us.

We were a small state, we all know each other, and I think that he did a good job at one time.  I don‘t know if it‘s because he‘s just had too many years there in Washington, or it‘s because he‘s become leader in Washington, but he has changed.  And, you know, we are first in unemployment and first in foreclosure in the state.  And yet you are running as the most powerful man that Nevada has ever sent to Washington, and we don‘t have a lot to show for it.

O‘DONNELL:  Sue Lowden, former Senate candidate and former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party—Sue Lowden, and I don‘t think any network ran the bartering chicken video more than this one did and we thank you very much for joining us tonight.

LOWDEN:  Thank you for having me, Lawrence.

O‘DONNELL:  The debate this morning on “The View” got rough.  When Bill O‘Reilly crossed the line, Whoopi and Joy got up and left.  What happened after, that‘s what gets tonights‘ “Rewrite” tonight.

And the big night for the comedy “30 Rock.”  It‘s live broadcast tonight for the first show and the first time that the show has been done before a live studio audience.  It will be done again for the West Coast version a little over an hour away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Still ahead tonight: as the country confronts suicides among gay youths, celebrities have been providing support ion video series called “It Gets Better.”  But the most moving story of all comes from a city councilman in Fort Worth, Texas.  It is something every troubled teen, every bully, every parent needs to see, and you will see it here.

And later, television history inside of this building tonight.  NBC‘s Emmy Award-winning comedy “30 Rock” has already been broadcast live once tonight, and the cast is prepared to do it one more time for West Coast viewers.  We‘ll talk to one of the cast members before the next live performance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  City council meetings are usually about zoning laws, property taxes and school budgets.  But one city councilman used his speaking time this week to talk about something much, much more important.  You should gather the family for this one.  Everyone, especially our kids need to hear this. 

In the Spotlight tonight, Ft. Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOEL BURNS, FT. WORTH CITY COUNCILMAN:  Mr. Mayor, as you know, we are gathered here today in our pink shirts to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer here in Ft. Worth and across the globe.  But tonight, I ask my colleagues‘ indulgence in allowing me to use my announcement time talk briefly about another issue that pulls at my heart. 

Ron, would go ahead and run the—the parents of Asher Brown, who you can see above, complained to school officials in the Cyrpus-Fairbanks ISD, outside of Houston, that their son was being bully and harassed in school.  The bullies called him “faggot” and “queer.”  They shoved him.  They punched him.

And in spite of his parents‘ calls to counselors and principles, the harassment, intimidation and threats continued.  For years, it continued.  A couple of weeks ago, after being bullied at home, Asher went home, found his father‘s gun and shot himself in the head.  His father found Asher dead when he came home from work. 

Asher was 13 years old.  I‘d like for you to look at his face.  Unlike Asher, Indiana teen Billy Lucas never self-identified as gay, but was perceived to be by bullies who harassed him daily at the Greenberg Community High School.  Three weeks ago, he hung himself in his grandparents‘ barn.  He was 15 years old. 

Minnesota 15-year-old Justin Auberg came out to friends at age 13 after which the harassment and the bullying began.  It grew as he moved from middle school to high school.  When he found the harassment more than he could bear, he hung himself in his room and was found by his mother. 

Classmates started teasing and name calling Seth Walsh in the fourth grade.  It continued through his middle school years, where other students told him that the world didn‘t need another queer and that he should, quote, “go hang himself.” 

On September 18th, after being threatened by a group of older teens, he went home, threw a noose around a tree branch, and he did just that.  He hung himself in his backyard.  His mother‘s—his mother saw him, pulled him down.  Seth survived on life support for nine days before dying a couple of weeks ago.  He was 13 years old. 

In recent weeks, New Jersey teen Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge to his death after his roommate outed him on the Internet.  Rhode Island teen Raymond Chase hung himself in his dorm room.  And we learned just yesterday of Oklahoma teen Zach Harrington, who killed himself after attending a city council meeting in Norman, Oklahoma, where speakers made disparaging anti-gay remarks.

But tonight I would like to talk to the 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17-year-olds at Paskel (ph) in Arlington Heights, and at Trimble Tech High Schools, or at Dagget (ph) and Rosemont Middle Schools (ph), or any school in Ft. Worth, or anywhere across the country, for that matter. 

I know that life can seem unbearable.  I know that the people in your household or in your school may not understand you, and that they may even physically harm you.  But I want you to know that it gets better. 

When I was 13, I was a skinny, lanky awkward teen who had grown too tall, too fast, who would stumble over my own feet.  I was the son of a Methodist church pianist named Jeanette and a cowboy named, fittingly, Butch in Crowley (ph), Texas. 

As their son and as a kid in a small town, there was a certain image of who I thought I was supposed to be.  But as I entered adolescent, I started having feelings I didn‘t understand and couldn‘t explain.  But I knew they didn‘t mesh with the image of what I thought I was supposed to be. 

I was a sensitive kid, but friendly.  I was a band dork.  I played basketball but not very well.  I was teased like all kids, but I was fairly confident and I didn‘t let it bother me much.  One day when I was in the 9th grade, just starting Crowley High School, I was cornered after school by some older kids who roughed me up.  They said that I was a faggot and that I should die and go to hell where I belonged. 

That erupted the fear that I kept pushed down, that what was beginning to I feel on the inside must somehow be showing on the outside.  Ashamed, humiliated, and confused, I went home.  There must be something very wrong with me, I thought.  Something I could never let my family or anyone else know. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Catch your breath.

BURNS:  I think I am going to have too hard of this next couple of sentences that I wrote.  And also I don‘t—I don‘t want my mother and father to bear the pain of having to hear me say—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Take your time.  Take your time. 

BURNS:  So I will just say, and I will skip ahead—I have never told this story to anyone before tonight, not my family, not my husband, not anyone.  But the numerous suicides in recent days have upset me so much, and have just torn at my heart.  And even though there may be some political repercussions for telling my story, this story is not just for the adults who might choose or not choose to support me.  This story is for the young people who might be holding that gun tonight, or the rope, or the pill bottle. 

You need to know that the story doesn‘t end where I didn‘t tell it, on that unfortunate day.  There is so, so, so much more.  Yes, high school was difficult.  Coming out was painful.  But life got so much better for me.  And I want to tell any teen who might see this, give yourself a chance to see just how much life—how much better life will get. 

To those who are feeling very alone tonight, please know that I understand how you feel, that things will get easier.  Please stick around to make those happy memories for yourself.  It may not seem like it tonight, but they will.  And the attitudes of society will change. 

Please, live long enough to be there to see it. 

And to the adults, the bullying and the harassment has to stop.  We cannot look aside as life after life is tragically lost.  If you need resources, please check out the TrevorProject.org online, and you can call me and I will get you whatever resources you need.  My number is 817-392-8809. 

I want to thank those in this room for allowing me this time.  And to J.D. And the rest of my family, I am sorry for you learning of this painful personal story in this public way for this first time.  But know that I am able to tell it because of your love for me. 

And mom and dad, I‘m alive today because you loved me. 

Again, attitudes will change.  Life will get better.  You will have a lifetime of happy memories, if you just allow yourself and give yourself the time to make them. 

Thank you. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Time for tonight‘s Rewrite.  Sparks fly whenever Bill O‘Reilly appears on the greatest daytime talk show in the history of TV.  And today was no exception, as O‘Reilly tried to explain President Obama‘s slipping poll numbers on “The View.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  The mosque down here on 9/11, that is inappropriate.  It‘s—sure, they have a right to do it in the Constitution.  But it is inappropriate, because a lot of the 9/11 families, who I know say, look, we don‘t want that.  That shouldn‘t be there. 

(CROSS TALK)

O‘REILLY:  No, no.  But there is the president going, well, they have a right to do it.  And then the guy—

JOY BEHAR, “THE VIEW”:  Yes, this is America.  This is America. 

O‘REILLY:  Hold it.  Hold it.  Listen to me, because you will learn. 

Thank you.  So he says to the press, yes, they have a right the do it.  And that is true.  And then the question is, but what about the wisdom of it, Mr. President?  And he goes, I‘m not going to comment, whereupon everybody in the country goes, what?  Come on. 

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, “THE VIEW”:  Well, let me ask you this: so you are saying that—that Americans are not smart enough to recognize that while it is part of our Constitution to save freedom of religion and freedom to worship, and there are 70 families who are Muslim who also died in that building—so you are saying that we—that his saying that they have the right to do it and not saying anymore than that is why his approval rating is going down? 

O‘REILLY:  No, I am showing that there is a gulf between—Americans wanted to know what his opinion was on the issue and he would not give it. 

Seventy percent of Americans don‘t want that mosque down there, so don‘t give me the we business. 

(CROSS TALK)

O‘REILLY:  You want to bet?  I will show you that poll in a minute. 

JOY BEHAR, “THE VIEW”:  All I‘m saying is I‘m American, too. 

O‘REILLY:  Seventy percent don‘t want it down there. 

GOLDBERG:  Why is that?  

O‘REILLY:  Because it is inappropriate. 

GOLDBERG:  Why is it inappropriate when -- 

O‘REILLY:  Muslims killed us on 9/11. 

BEHAR:  Oh, my god!

O‘REILLY:  Muslims didn‘t kill us on 9/11? 

(CROSS TALK)  

O‘REILLY:  And I am telling you that 70% of the country—

BEHAR:  I don‘t want to sit here.  I don‘t want to sit here.  I don‘t. 

I am out. 

(CROSS TALK)

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  It was extremists.  You cannot take a whole religion, and demean them because of what—

O‘REILLY:  I am not demeaning anybody. 

WALTERS:  Yes, you are.  When you say that it was Muslims that killed

--

O‘REILLY:  If that is what we think -- 

WALTERS:  Extremists.  You didn‘t say that. 

(CROSS TALK)

O‘REILLY:  Here is the issue, and this is what has to be understood -- 

(CROSS TALK)

O‘REILLY:  If somebody felt that I was demeaning all Muslims, I apologize. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Hmm, OK.  Nothing to Rewrite there.  So then what happened? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, “THE VIEW”:  Do you think that the problem though, Bill, is that if we go back in time, early in this administration, the president himself said we weren‘t allowed to use the word terrorist early on.  So then he started using the word—hang on.  He starting saying the word radical Islamist, radical Muslims.  So then there was then a closer association with what happened and the religion.  I think if he would have just let us say terrorists, because there are terrorists across all religions and all faiths, then this wouldn‘t even be a problem. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Whoa, whoa, whoa, Elisabeth, Elisabeth, Elisabeth!  The president, himself, said we weren‘t allowed to use the word terrorists?  I think that if he would have just let us say terrorists—ugh. 

OK.  So Elisabeth, you have heard of the First Amendment.  It is the one that actually has the phrase freedom of speech.  And what that means, of course, is that this is the country where you can say anything you want.  It always has been. 

So, even if the president, himself, said we weren‘t allowed to use the word terrorists, which he didn‘t, you could still use the word terrorist.  How do I know?  Because I did.  I use the word terrorist all of the time. 

Yeah, on TV. 

Now, Elisabeth, you know you don‘t have the speak just because it is your turn, right?  You know that.  I have done a lot of panel shows, “The McLaughlin Group” and others.  And inevitably they get around to talking about something that you just don‘t know anything about.  Now most of the time, not all of the time, but most of the time when I have nothing to say, I just shut up.  I have even been known to say, I don‘t know, when I have nothing to add to something I know nothing about. 

Yes.  You can say I don‘t know on TV.  I have done it.  So, Elisabeth, your Rewrite for tonight is nothing.  You should have said nothing.  And the next time you find yourself in this situation, you should just say nothing.  Yes, I know how hard that sounds to you.  But if I can do it, you can do it.  I know you can do it. 

OK.  If you find that impossible, then there is one thing that you can always say, and you can never go wrong saying this on your show, and it is always what most of the audience is thinking anyway.  And it is simply this: “I agree with Barbara.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  For the first time in its history, the Emmy winning NBC show “30 Rock,” starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, was broadcast tonight at 8:30 pm Eastern.  “30 Rock” episodes are usually shot at a studio in Long Island City in about a week.  When anything goes wrong, like an actor forgetting a line or someone forgetting to turn on the camera, they can just do another take.  The scenes you get to see might be the third take or the 20th take.  But in a live show, the first take is all you get.  No second chances. 

And the editing room can‘t smooth any of the rough edges.  After shooting a normal “30 Rock” episode, it takes a few weeks of editing to deliver the final product you get to see.  Instead of all of that, tonight‘s show was performed at Studio 8-H, the home of “Saturday Night Live,” where mistakes could not be hidden.

The only thing protecting NBC from a Tracy Morgan induced FCC fine was a five-second tape delay. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRACY MORGAN, “30 ROCK”:  Now my mustache is eschew.   Oops.  That thing fell off!  Oh.  Now my shirt is accidentally falling off. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, I warned you, Liz, and now I am slipping a nip, the big one. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  The show guest stars Matt Damon and Jon Hamm.  For those on the West Coast who haven‘t watched it yet, the cast will perform it again live tonight at 8:30 Pacific Time.  Tina Fey has promised the script will be tweaked to include references specific to the West Coast audience.

Tomorrow, you can watch both the East and West Coast version on NBC.com and see those tweaks for yourself.  Joining me now outside Studio 8-H is “30 Rock” writer and star John Lutz, who plays Lutz on the show.  Thanks for joining us tonight, John. 

JOHN LUTZ, “30 ROCK”:  It‘s my pleasure. 

O‘DONNELL:  John, what made you do a live episode?  It is the hardest thing you could possibly take on? 

LUTZ:  Well, we, a while back, did a staged reading during the writers‘ strike of “30 Rock,” and we did it live at the UCB Theater.  And just the energy and the laughs that we got from the crowd were nothing like what you get when you tape a show.  So we all kind of got excited about that.

And then I think that Tina and those guys were just like, we should do this.  It took a couple of years to do, but now we are doing it tonight.  So—

O‘DONNELL:  You know, I am feeling very competitive about this, John, because I wrote the live episode for the “West Wing.”  We did one live episode.  And it was a huge challenge for that show.  And no one involved in the “West Wing” had any experience with live TV, including our director who did a masterful job.

But you guys have cheated.  You have all of these actors who have “Saturday Night Live” experience.  They have experience performing live.  Your director is a former “Saturday Night Live” director who knows how to go live.  Come on, this isn‘t fair to the rest of us who tried live episodes. 

LUTZ:  Listen to me.  You should have thought of all of that—

O‘DONNELL:  We should have. 

LUTZ:  -- when you were writing it.  You should have just all of us.  Just called us, exactly.  I can‘t imagine doing an hour-long drama live, because this was insane.  I cannot imagine that.  That just sounds—I couldn‘t even fathom it. 

O‘DONNELL:  Now, did you guys hit the time, which is the most difficult thing about this?  Or did you go over time?  Did you come in short?  How did it work out? 

LUTZ:  I think we pretty much close—I think we were real close to hitting it.  And what happened in the second act of it is I think like Lorne and some of the other writers, like Robert Carlick (ph), were going around saying, pick up the pace a little bit, because we are behind.  And then I think people just got it to almost right on time.  We will see what happens. 

O‘DONNELL:  So, now that you guys have the first one done, do you feel like, OK, this second one is going to be easy; we know how to do it? 

LUTZ:  No.  No.  Because they have changed some stuff.  And you know, we just had a meeting in Lorne‘s office where they were like, here is what is changing.  This is changing.  So we don‘t know.  It is going to be different and hopefully we say all of the lines right again. 

O‘DONNELL:  Lorne Michaels, executive producer of the show, the king

of live TV, “Saturday Night Live.”  I think that is cheating too, having

Lorne Michaels involved

LUTZ:  Listen to me, I said you should have gotten him. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right.  John Lutz, cast member and writer of “30 Rock,” thanks for your time tonight. 

LUTZ:  Thank you very much. 

O‘DONNELL:  This program is produced by Kate Albright Hanna (ph), Kianna Burns (ph), Casey Dolan (ph), R.J. Fried (ph), Craig Kaufman (ph), Claire Kim (ph), Sarah Muller (ph), John Nichols (ph), Ronny Paladoro (ph), Nick Ramsey (ph), Anthony Reyes (ph) and Danielle Weisberg (ph).

The producers responsible for our guest lists are Joanne Denu (ph), Steve Lewis (ph) and Pam Stevens (ph).  Our director is Gena Fellows (ph).  Our executive producer Greg Cordick (ph).  And the boss of me and everyone else here is senior executive producer Isabella Povich (ph), which leaves me as the weakest link in that chain of intelligence that delivers you THE LAST WORD.  “COUNTDOWN” is up next.

END   

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