Guests: Bill Maher, Robert De Posada, Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Jimmy
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST: Rachel, you know what you need? More Republican novelists on your show.
MADDOW: You know, I am working on it every day in every way.
O‘DONNELL: I know you are.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Republicans say Tea Party candidates are fueling their return to power, but Tea Party candidates are also fueling Democrats‘ hopes of clinging to power. The Tea Party candidate who travels with the goon squad now says America should be more like communist East Berlin.
And why did Christine O‘Donnell think she could possibly survive a debate about the Constitution at a law school?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: I have seen few things in politics that match what we‘re watching.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Fourteen days until the midterm election, and the silly season turns into the nutty season.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on out there?
O‘DONNELL: The Delaware Tea Partier Christine O‘Donnell campaigns as a defender of the Constitution, but then asks this question in today‘s debate—
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?
CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: It‘s in—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought she had to be kidding.
COONS: It‘s in the First Amendment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion—amendment number one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She‘s a “Saturday Night Live” satire of herself.
O‘DONNELL: The Kentucky Senate race now has nothing to do with policy. It‘s all about Aqua Buddha.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aqua Buddha.
NARRATOR: It‘s shameful. Disgraceful. Gutter politics at its worst.
JACK CONWAY (D), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: I‘m not questioning his faith. I‘m questioning his actions.
O‘DONNELL: The one and only debate in the governor‘s race, an R-rated three-ring circus.
KRISTIN DAVIS, NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in the state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not your typical New York politician. I‘ve never been caught with a prostitute.
DAVIS: Businesses would leave this state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Spare me, please.
O‘DONNELL: And who‘s the New York candidate everyone is talking about?
JIMMY MCMILLAN, NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The Rent is Too Damn High movement. The people I‘m here to represent can‘t afford to pay their rent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing that makes sense to me is the rent‘s too damn high.
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Just so full of common sense.
MCMILLAN: You want to marry a shoe, I‘ll marry you.
(rapping): Rent too damn high is my thing. Jimmy McMillan is my name. Vote for the Rent Too Damn High Party. Jimmy McMillan, November 2nd.
Rent, it‘s too damn high!
O‘DONNELL: Good evening from New York. I‘m Lawrence O‘Donnell.
In this season of outrageous political theater, who better to make sense of the nonsensical than our great American political comedians? Earlier tonight, I talked to Bill Maher, host of HBO‘s “Real Time” to get his take on the latest midterm madness.
O‘DONNELL: Bill, you get out there among the people a lot more than I do. In fact, on October 23rd, you‘re going to be in Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center. And on October 24th, you‘re going to be in Omaha at the Omaha Music Hall. That‘s how out there among the people Bill Maher is.
So, can you explain to me what is going on in this country right now that has given us the craziest political season we‘ve ever seen?
BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO‘S “REAL TIME”: I guess you‘re talking about all the nuts that fell out of that nut bag.
I don‘t know, Lawrence, but all I can think of every week when we go and have this plethora of comedy material to work from is how silly the media was when Bush was leaving office, when the only question myself and every other comedian in the country was asked week after week was, how do you think you will be able to survive without George Bush?
Are you kidding? This cast of Paladino and Sharron Angle and Rand Paul—they make Bush look like Bertrand Russell. Are you kidding? This is the greatest political season I‘ve ever covered.
O‘DONNELL: Now, serious question. Is it just a coincidence that our politics have gotten crazier since the election of a black president? Or is it the very existence of a black president that‘s driving some of these people crazy?
MAHER: Oh, I think it‘s absolutely that that‘s driving these people crazy. When they say they want their country back, that‘s what they mean, really, is they want their country back to the appropriate time when a white person was in the White House.
It‘s called the White House, Lawrence. It‘s not hard to figure out.
But I think it‘s also just impatience. I mean, I don‘t want to cast most Americans as being racist, but I think a lot of them are just dumb. I‘m sorry, but they are. They are clueless about the issues. They don‘t think further than things are not great, let‘s have a change—even though we just had a change two years ago.
I mean, they voted for this massive change two years ago. But because it didn‘t immediately start raining $20 bills, they want to go back to the way it was. They remind me of a battered girlfriend, you know, who goes back to the guy who was battering them because, I don‘t know, the new boyfriend forgot their birthday or something?
I mean, you can‘t blame them for turning on the Democrats because the Democrats are so bad at selling what they are selling. I don‘t know if you saw that debate with Harry Reid. But it was exactly everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party, and not knowing how to sell a message.
He said five times—I counted it—he told the audience five times about Sharron Angle, he said, “She just doesn‘t get the way things work in Washington.”
Well, you know what, Harry—that‘s the one thing the voters like about her. They understand that she‘s a nut. They understand that she is the old lady at the end of the block with 20 dead cats in the basement. They don‘t want to vote for her, but you just keep reminding them of the one thing they do like about her, that she isn‘t of Washington.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, and Harry Reid kept citing CBO and CBO estimates and all that kind of stuff, just like you‘d expect a majority leader in the Senate to do. And, you know, there‘s an incredible simplicity to the Tea Party side of the campaigning season.
And it‘s interesting. It seems that it in a way mirrors the incredible simplicity of the Obama campaign, which was this one word “change.” I mean, shouldn‘t the Obama people, when they won a presidential contest on basically this one word message of change, shouldn‘t they have been warned themselves that, wow, you can tip over American politics with real simple messages, which is what‘s happening to them now?
MAHER: And also, wasn‘t it brilliant the way the Republican Party rebranded itself as the Tea Party? Because the Republicans were thumped, as Bush himself said, in 2006 and in 2008, and they were a completely discredited political party.
The American public understood that these were the people who put us into two wars we didn‘t really need to be in. And brought the economy to a state it hadn‘t been since the Great Depression.
So, what to do? Well, let‘s recall ourselves a different name, just like KFC did. We‘re now the Tea Party. We‘re not the Republican Party. Those are those people who drove the country off the cliff. We‘re a whole new group of people—except we think and vote and talk exactly like the old crowd did.
It was pretty clever, though.
O‘DONNELL: Now, I know Bill Maher the citizen wants good government from Washington. But come on, the comedian in you has got to be rooting for one of these crazy candidates—there‘s got to be one of these that you want for the next four, the next six years, to keep doing jokes about every week. Who‘s your favorite in here?
MAHER: Well, it would have to be Christine O‘Donnell because I still have tapes on her, you know? I feel very responsible for a lot of the coverage that she has gotten.
I mean, CNN covered her debate live. They could have covered a lot of debates that night. She‘s 20 points behind in the polls. It wasn‘t for real political reasons they did it. It‘s because she‘s a witch and a witch is funny, and you know?
So, yes, I definitely want Christine O‘Donnell to go all the way—
MAHER: -- because when she says “I‘m you,” I understand that. She is like the—when she says “I‘m you” to the voter, that should resonate because like her, the voter should not be in the Senate.
O‘DONNELL: How do you think the crazier candidates, Christine O‘Donnell, Paladino, how do you think they‘ve been handling their liabilities? Christine O‘Donnell has a commercial saying, “I‘m not a witch.” Carl Paladino sort of kind of apologizes for sending e-mails with bestiality in them, if you were one of the recipients who was offended by them. They have real challenges dealing with the liabilities like we‘ve never seen before.
MAHER: I love it. Did you see Christine O‘Donnell today? It was all over the Internet, her latest debate with Mr. Coons, and she thinks because she has been living in this FOX News, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh bubble for so long that he‘s the one who doesn‘t understand what the Constitution is.
MAHER: But it was at a law school, so they were all laughing at her, because he actually quoted the First Amendment. You know, they were debating separation of church and state.
Now, she probably heard Ann Coulter or some other conservative who actually does read and knows the Constitution, she probably heard one of those people say, the exact phrase “separation of church and state” doesn‘t appear in the Constitution, which is true. But she‘s never read the Constitution and she doesn‘t know nuance. So, she thinks separation of church and state, the concept is not in the Constitution.
So, when Chris Coons actually quotes the Constitution, she says, yes, that‘s in the First Amendment? Yes, Christine, it is.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, I think for Christine O‘Donnell, I think she thinks quoting the Constitution is cheating in the debate, like, come on, you can‘t bring your notes in here.
O‘DONNELL: You know, this amazing. I think comedy development in
Sarah Palin world where now in her stump speech, she actually does this
line of saying, I can see 2012 from my house, which is obviously a
reference to Tina Fey‘s joking Sarah Palin saying, I can see Russia from my
Palin is now making a joke of the joke of her being empty-headed and unaware. I mean, this is—this is Nixon making a joke about not being a crook, isn‘t it?
MAHER: Well, but politicians have been doing that for a long time. Al Gore, you know—and I thought this was a terrible decision, but Al Gore, when he was running, used to make a joke about the fact that he invented the Internet because people had thrown that at him, when what he should have said was, yes, actually, I was instrumental in enabling the Internet.
So, it‘s not a joke. But when he took that upon himself as a self-deprecating line, it just made Americans think, oh, Al Gore‘s a big liar and he admits it.
But I don‘t think that‘s what‘s going to be what‘s happening with Sarah Palin. I think Sarah Palin, people already understand that she‘s not a viable candidate. So, it doesn‘t hurt her to make a joke like that. What I‘m more concerned about is if she‘s really going to be president in 2012.
There‘s been some interesting developments in Republican gay thinking. In Colorado, you got Ken Buck, Senate candidate, who‘s comparing being gay to alcoholism. Last night in Kentucky, it was Republican House candidate compared being gay to obesity.
And OK, stupid comparisons, but—but—don‘t you hear in that conservative Republicans are actually getting a little warmer here? They‘re going from being gay is a choice to being gay is an uncontrollable desire.
MAHER: I see what you‘re saying. What‘s interesting to me is the way conservatives—and I would put the military in this lately in the way they‘ve been talking about it and the Catholic Church talk about gay as if it‘s something that we really can‘t resist if it‘s around us. You know, that‘s how the Catholic Church talks about it. You know, our priests are not sinning, they‘re just giving into temptation when they‘re molesting children and going gay and stuff like that.
And the military lately has been saying, well, we have to be careful on this “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” stuff. We‘re a very fragile organization, which I don‘t think they are.
But that‘s how conservatives see it. You know, it‘s like when gays around you—ooh, it‘s like dessert, Lawrence, you just can‘t resist it. I‘ve never had this problem in my life, when there‘s gay around—
O‘DONNELL: Well, you‘re very strong, though. Bill, you are very strong about resisting temptation.
MAHER: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: You‘re known for that.
MAHER: Exactly. I appreciate it.
O‘DONNELL: Hey, and the crazier candidates aren‘t the only ones who are misspeaking on the trail. Going back to our favorite Democrat for misspeaking, Harry Reid, this week, he actually compared President Obama when Obama replaced George Bush in the White House, he said that Obama found himself—I‘m quoting here now—in a hole so deep that he couldn‘t see the outside world. Harry Reid said it was like Obama was one of the Chilean miners and that, you know, when he rolled up his sleeves and did the job and said, I‘m going to get us out of this hole.
Dangerous comparison, once you start comparing President Obama to being down one of those hole—doesn‘t that mean if Barack Obama does get us out of this hole that he‘ll have at least one mistress waiting for him at the surface?
MAHER: Oh, I see where you‘re going with this.
Well, first, you have to consider the source. Harry Reid also said in the debate when he was asked about his favorite Supreme Court justice said Scalia. Who‘s side are you on here, Harry? That‘s number one.
Of course, Christine O‘Donnell was also asked about Supreme Court cases and she couldn‘t name any, which I think it interesting considering that we‘re even asking her about Supreme Court cases. Six months ago, the biggest question she was asked is where‘s the rent?
But, you know, there is something to be said about Obama coming out of a hole, and some of it is his own making. There was an article in “The New York Times” today talking about the tax cut that Obama gave to the middle class, one of the biggest tax cuts ever that nobody knows about.
When Bush gave a tax cut, remember, he sent a check and people understood it. Actually, he sent a letter before he sent the check. Remember? There was a letter that said, this tax cut is being brought to you by George Bush and in a week, you‘re going to get money.
Now, Obama was being a little more patriotic because, actually, it helps the economy more when the money doesn‘t come in one lump sum, but that‘s Obama—always thinking of the country first.
O‘DONNELL: Trying to do it the right way instead of trying to get the credit.
O‘DONNELL: Bill Maher, you can see his show “Real Time” on Friday nights on HBO and repeated endlessly on HBO. And he will be appearing on October 23rd in Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center, and on October 24th in Omaha, at the Omaha Music Hall.
Bill Maher, thank you very much.
MAHER: Thank you. I‘ll see you on my show, very soon.
O‘DONNELL: I can‘t wait, can‘t wait.
MAHER: You‘re booked. OK.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Bill.
O‘DONNELL: Two weeks to the midterms and one Hispanic group is urging Latino voters to stay home on Election Day. How crazy is that?
And later, the New York candidate for governor who has gone viral. His campaign rallying cry is: the rent is too damn high. He‘ll join us exclusively to explain his sudden Web popularity.
O‘DONNELL: With record amounts of cash being thrown at the midterm elections, you can find a campaign ad about anything. Now, there‘s a Hispanic group urging its own people to not vote. We‘ll find out who‘s pushing that idea.
And Valerie Plame‘s life was turned upside down when she was outed as a CIA agent by the Bush administration. Now, Naomi Watts is playing Plame in a movie. Our exclusive interview with Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson—ahead on THE LAST WORD.
O‘DONNELL: In 2008, 2 million more Hispanics showed up to vote at polling booths across the nation than had done so in the previous election. Today, Latinos make up roughly one-fourth of Nevada‘s population, enough to determine the outcome on November 2nd.
So, why is a group of Latinos sending this message?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Don‘t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted. Don‘t vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Joining me now live from Charlottesville, Virginia, is the president of Latinos for Reform, Robert De Posada.
Robert, why are you telling Latinos not to vote?
ROBERT DE POSADA, PRESIDENT, LATINOS FOR FREEDOM: Well, I think you‘re focusing right now on the headlines and not looking at the substance of that ad and the substance of the campaign. Because the substance of the campaign is basically saying, look, two years ago, they promised us in one year we‘re going to have immigration reform and nothing has happened—not even a vote in a single subcommittee in Congress.
And I think Democrats need to be paying for that betrayal that they did to Hispanics. And what we‘re telling Latino is those elected officials who did not come through with their promises, you should not be voting for them on Election Day. We‘re not telling them not to vote at all, we‘re just telling them: don‘t vote for those people who did betray you.
O‘DONNELL: Do you think that John McCain did betray Latinos by flip-flopping, completely changing his position on comprehensive immigration reform?
DE POSADA: I think he started to act irresponsibly like most of the Republican Party and most of the Republican officials have been doing. But at the same time, we cannot just focus on the irresponsibility of the Republicans when the Democrats have had full control of Congress, full authority to bring this issue up for a vote, and they have done absolutely nothing. They‘re playing with 10 million to 12 million people.
The president today called our campaign—that we were being a little crazy. But the fact is that, you know, he went to 10 million to 12 million undocumented workers and told them, I will take care of you. And in two years, he has done absolutely nothing, and the Democratic leadership in Congress has done nothing.
And they need to go back to those voters now and they‘re offering more empty promises. And what we‘re asking them is, let‘s make them pay for their mistakes, let‘s make them—make them respect us and not demand that we‘re going to be voting for them every time they come to us.
O‘DONNELL: Now, the League of United Latin American Citizens is a much bigger organization than yours, LULAC. We reached out to their national executive director today, Brent Wilkes.
He issued this statement to us today in reaction to your ad. “We‘ve been working for years to increase the Latino vote. I am shocked and outraged that Robert De Posada would release these ads. It‘s a cynical effort that is designed to get Sharron Angle elected in Nevada.”
Now, Robert, you used to work at the Republican National Committee.
So, this is really—
DE POSADA: Yes.
O‘DONNELL: -- it‘s really all about suppressing the Latino vote to help elect Republicans, isn‘t it? This is just a Republican charade.
DE POSADA: It‘s about making people accountable. No. It‘s about making people accountable for their promises. And that‘s what we‘re now doing right there. You‘re focusing on something 20 years ago in my career.
Right now, we‘re trying to make sure that people start respecting the Latino voters, that people stop taking us for granted and telling us that we have no option but to vote for the people who are promising everything every two years, and then ignore us when they go to Washington.
O‘DONNELL: How long ago are you saying that you worked for the Republican National Committee? When was the last time you worked for them? Huh?
DE POSADA: 1989 to 1992.
O‘DONNELL: Your treasurer, Juan Carlos Benitez, is a Republican lobbyist.
DE POSADA: Right.
O‘DONNELL: OK. You‘re a Republican organization. You did an anti-Obama ad in 2008. Have you ever done an ad in favor of a Democrat?
DE POSADA: Oh, I mean, we have actively campaigned for Democrats many times when I was the head of the Latino coalition. So, yes, we have done a lot of works for Republicans in the past, and as well as Republicans. I don‘t hide the fact that I‘m conservative, on the same time, I‘m registered independent because I‘m ashamed of what a lot of the Republicans are doing right now.
O‘DONNELL: So, you didn‘t vote for Barack Obama, right? You‘re a conservative—
DE POSADA: No, I did not. I did not.
O‘DONNELL: So, how can you be betrayed by a candidate that you did not vote for, did not support?
DE POSADA: Because after the election, as a conservative analyst, I did not attack Barack Obama. I gave him the time to really come through and help our people. And I was very, very supportive of his initial steps.
But the fact is, when he stopped doing anything, when he basically ignored the issue, when they decided not to address the issue at all at any level of Congress, that‘s when we became—and it was not only me. Many officials and many grassroots organizations across the country that are supporting us in this effort are outraged at the fact that they completely ignore our people.
O‘DONNELL: Robert, there‘s—Robert, Robert, there‘s no one else supporting you in this effort. There are no other Latino organizations on board with this.
DE POSADA: Lawrence, the fact that you are just listening to a bunch of people here.
O‘DONNELL: They are opposing you. They are trying to get the Latino vote out. This is a completely phony Republican thing you‘re doing here.
DE POSADA: No, no. The fact is, you‘re listening—you‘re listening to a group of leaders in Washington, D.C., who depend on access to the White House. The fact is, in many organizations across the country, down to grassroots and—
O‘DONNELL: Just to get this straight, were you employed by the Republican National Committee in 2007 as their Latino outreach coordinator, in 2007?
DE POSADA: Oh, no. No.
O‘DONNELL: There‘s no record of you working for the Republican National Committee in 2007?
DE POSADA: Not at all. I haven‘t worked for them since 1992.
O‘DONNELL: All right. Well, 1992. All right. We got to get your resume straightened out on that.
Harry Reid had something to say about your ad today and Sharron Angle‘s reaction at a rally in Nevada today.
I guess we don‘t have that ready. We had a clip of Harry Reid talking about your ad. He finds it outrageous, needless to say.
In a democracy, Robert, for you to say to people they should not vote, how can that—
DE POSADA: No, they should not vote for congressional candidate—
O‘DONNELL: -- anything other than an attempt to suppress a particular vote?
DE POSADA: No. No. You have to look at the substance and you have to listen to the ad instead of just looking at the headlines.
O‘DONNELL: The ad says, don‘t vote, what else do you want them to think?
DE POSADA: The fact is—
O‘DONNELL: You‘re saying don‘t vote.
DE POSADA: The fact is that we say if those people who did not do anything for immigrants in the past two years should not count on our vote. That‘s what the ad specifically say—
O‘DONNELL: Your ad—your ad, your ad attacks only Democrats.
DE POSADA: No, no.
O‘DONNELL: That‘s what your ad does.
DE POSADA: No!
O‘DONNELL: It‘s targeted toward voters—
DE POSADA: That‘s where you‘re wrong. Look at the Spanish version of the ad.
O‘DONNELL: No, no. But Robert, Robert, the English version of ad counts because that‘s the one that‘s saying to voters. The English version of the ad, you know that all Latino voters can speak English, that‘s the one you targeted it down.
DE POSADA: The Spanish version of the ad was the one that was going to the media.
No, you need to start listening to your staff, because we‘ve addressed this through your staff.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, I know your Spanish language one, the phony one that no one sees includes that. You know that in order to become a voter in this country, you have to be able to speak English.
DE POSADA: You don‘t know what you‘re talking about. The ad that was on the air was a Spanish ad. So, you obviously have no idea what you‘re talking about.
O‘DONNELL: Robert De Posada, we‘re going to have to leave it there. This is obviously a fraudulent Republican attempt to suppress the Latino vote in Nevada. It is completely partisan attempt that you‘re doing here.
DE POSADA: Start listening to Latino voters on the ground and you‘ll realize that they are outraged.
O‘DONNELL: All right. We‘re not hearing the outrage from anybody but you and it is a phony Republican outrage.
Robert, thanks for joining us tonight. Let people go to the Web site and look at the ads.
DE POSADA: And the Spanish version, too.
O‘DONNELL: The Spanish version, too. We‘ll get them both up there.
All right. We‘re going to move on. What does it feel like to go from being an undercover spy to having your life laid bare on the big screen with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn playing you and your husband? Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson join us in the spotlight to talk about the new movie “Fair Game.”
And later, an exclusive interview with Jimmy McMillan. He stole the show at last night‘s New York governors‘ debate. Now, he‘s taking to the Internet by storm. The rent is too damn high guy gets THE LAST WORD.
O‘DONNELL: We will have a link on our website to Robert de Posada‘s ads that are an attempt to suppress the Latino vote. We‘ll have them in English and in Spanish. And we‘ll continue to work on clarifying his resume and his last formal affiliation with the Republican National Committee.
And ahead on THE LAST WORD, my exclusive interview with Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. She used to be a secret spy for the U.S. Now she‘s being played on the big screen by Naomi Watts. We‘ll preview the film.
O‘DONNELL: The identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame appeared for first time in a “Washington Post” column on July 14th, 2003. What followed—the fallout investigation, the speculation around the Bush White House and the guilty verdict for Dick Cheney‘s former chief of staff Scooter Libby—that story is told in the new film called “Fair Game,” with brilliant performances by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOMI WATTS, ACTRESS: I got to be at the airport in 45 minutes.
SEAN PENN, ATOR: Have a good trip.
WATTS: I love you.
PENN: I promise I‘ll behave.
Everyone‘s on their best behavior.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to head up operations. This is top priority.
WATTS: You‘re in business with a terror organization. Get out of this car, I can‘t protect you. You have no idea what we can and cannot do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Valerie, your name is in the paper. It says you‘re a CIA agent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never worked for the CIA but his wife—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is an agency operative.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You killed people?
WATTS: I can‘t tell you anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: In our spotlight tonight, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. I talked to them both in an interview taped earlier.
O‘DONNELL: Joining me now, Valerie Plame and Ambassador Joe Wilson. You know, this is a great movie. I had the chance to se it. And first of all, Valerie, I just have to say, it does not seem easy being married to Joe Wilson when you watch this movie.
VALERIE PLAME, FMR. CIA OPERATIVE: We like to joke that we feel we‘ve been married for about 48 years now. And we‘ve condensed a lot of living into a short period of time. But the truth is that when we met, it really was love at first sight, which was a good thing, because we‘ve been through a lot.
O‘DONNELL: It‘s a great couples story. It is a real marriage put through stress story. And beginning with the notion of “Fair Game.” Explain the title.
PLAME: The title comes from a comment made by Chris Matthews, who had just gotten off the phone with Karl Rove. And Karl Rove said, Wilson‘s wife, she‘s fair game. And so—and then I believe it was Chris who spoke to Joe after that, and conveyed that information.
JOE WILSON, FORMER AMBASSADOR: Chris called me right afterwards and said, in his own breathless way, Joe, it‘s Chris Matthew. I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says your wife is fair game. I got to go. Then he hung up.
O‘DONNELL: Yeah, it‘s a great moment in the movie. And how involved were you with this movie? It‘s based on your books, but were you on set? Were you helping Sean Penn with that performance, which is just extraordinary.
PLAME: We took turns being consultants on the set. And both of us have gotten to know Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. And they—Sean and Joe have spent quite a bit of time together at our home. And Naomi and I have become really good friends.
WILSON: I actually like to think, Lawrence, that I‘m a little bit more adept at cutting um people at dinners and in bars than the way Sean portrayed it. But both my son and my wife say he did a pretty good job of portraying me.
O‘DONNELL: Where is closure for you in this story? Scooter Libby was convicted. He was then pardoned by the president. You‘ve gotten your say out there in these books and now in this movie. Do you feel as though you have closure? And then secondly, how do—do you consider the country to have closure in this story?
PLAME: I think film is able to tell a story in a way that other media cannot. And it is—I think it is a very powerful film. It tells a period of time. It tells a story of speaking truth to power and the consequences, personally and outside of that.
I really am—it‘s a piece of film that I‘m very proud of. I think Joe feels the same way. And how would you say for the country at large.
WILSON: Yeah, I think that this tells the history of our time. Hopefully, it clarifies for people and removes some of the chaff that was thrown up by those who decided that rather than address the real issues, which is why we went to war, they tried to change the subject to Wilson and his wife. It clears all that up.
The problem I think we have is that people like Karl Rove, who essentially betrayed the national security of this country, have now institutionalized their smear and fear campaign tactics. And hopefully, people will begin to see, as they see this movie, what the lessons are from that time and learn those lessons as we go forward.
O‘DONNELL: I mentioned that Scooter Libby was pardoned. He was actually commuted.
O‘DONNELL: Which means that President Bush did feel there was a validity in that conviction. He is played brilliantly I think in the movie by David Andrews. I don‘t think people will expect this, but I found it to be a sympathetic portrayal. In that stunning scene where Scooter Libby is talking to an analyst and talking about the margins of error that you can tolerate in intelligence, he was peppering back and forth the issue of well, are you 97 percent certain, are you 99 percent certain? That seems to me, Valerie, like the central difference in how the Cheney world was thinking about this and how professionals think about it.
It seems that after 9/11, Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby were not willing to tolerate intelligence that was—that allowed for a one percent or two percent possibility of disagreement. Whereas in the past, you needed, you know, 90 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent certainty in getting something. These guys were willing to go into Iraq on a very slight chance that there were weapons of mass destruction at that point.
PLAME: Indeed. It follows Ron Suskind‘s book titled “The One Doctrine,” sets this up beautifully. It explains it, that their tolerance for—and their view of the world—if there was only a one percent chance, what they would do in order to, in their minds, defend national security. And what was lost in all that, of course—and we‘re a nation ten years into this that is still roiled and suffering from the issues that came from that undermining constitutional rights and civil liberties. And, you know, this is a legacy we‘re going to be living with for a long time.
O‘DONNELL: Joe, I think any of us who have had government jobs in any capacity recognize the burden of dealing with decisions like the White House was facing. I‘m sure you do, too. And in that scene in particular, what Scooter Libby, the weight Scooter Libby and the vice president were feeling in a post 9/11 world about what the threat capacity was against them, and what is the tolerance level they should live with, if any—but what else—what else should Scooter Libby have been including in his view of this that he did not include at that time?
WILSON: Well, I think one of the lessons, Lawrence, of the last ten years is that if you‘re wrong on your one percent doctrine, the consequences are enormous. I was just in Baghdad three weeks ago. And I can tell you, I left slack jawed. I was there for the first time after 20 years. Seven years into the occupation, you still have to be fully armored to go from the airport to the embassy six miles.
At the hotel, we still took incoming mortar every night I was there. And so I think the lesson in this is you need to have professionals helping you do the analysis without pressure, so that you can come to rational decisions, based on both the threats and the consequences of being wrong. And I‘ll go back to just in the run-up to the war, when we did not have a serious discussion as to whether or not the threat that Saddam posed was truly existential or meritorious of the mobilization of our entire national security apparatus.
PLAME: And as a former intelligence officer, I have to say the dismay that I and all my former colleagues see of how the entire apparatus has been politicized. Perhaps it‘s not as severe now, but clearly the entire infrastructure that is set up to deliver senior policymaker‘s intelligence is sclerotic and bureaucratic and does not deliver the bang for the buck.
O‘DONNELL: Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, the movie is “Fair Game.”
It opens in select cities November 5th. Thank you both.
WILSON: Thank you, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: A New York debate produced a standout candidate thanks to his ability to repeat his message over and over and over again.
And Alaska‘s Tea Party Senate candidate Joe Miller gets tonight‘s Rewrite.
O‘DONNELL: Time for tonight‘s Rewrite. The headline from Alaskan Senate candidate Tea Party Republican Joe Miller‘s town hall yesterday was the illegal arrest of a blogger by private security. The headline from that same town hall today an actual policy issue that Miller discussed. Miller was asked a question about America‘s illegal immigration problem and how to stop it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MILLER ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN ALASKA: Number one—and I‘ll just give it to you from the start. The number one thing that has to be done, though, is to secure the border, because any other—any other solution fails if you don‘t cut off the flow.
And right now I served my country. I was a West Point cadet. During my time at West Point, I actually spent time at the Fulda Cap. That was—when the wall was still up between East and West Germany. East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved.
But we have the capacity as a great nation to obviously secure our border. If East Germany can do it, we can do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: There‘s a campaign slogan for you. “If East Germany could do it, we could do it.” Who was it that had that great line about Joe Miller‘s favorite border fence?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Yeah, Reagan was wrong about a lot of things, but he was right about the Berlin Wall. Ronald Reagan knew, unlike Joe Miller, that the Berlin Wall was an offense against humanity. If East Germany could do it, we could do it?
How did East Germany do it? You didn‘t have to have President Reagan access to intelligence information to know the way East Germany did it, the way they sealed their border. First, by being a totalitarian state. And second, by shooting to kill anyone who attempted to go over that wall.
The East German border did have something in common with our southern border. People only tried to sneak across in one direction. The East German border guards who Joe Miller admires so much were never trying to prevent West Germans from climbing over the wall into East Germany. The East German border guards were only trying to prevent their own citizens from escaping their own oppressive country.
So East Berlin border security has only one thing to teach us about American border security. What Joe Miller should have said is, it is virtually impossible to achieve perfect border security on our 1,969-mile southern border. The only serious modern attempt at perfect border security was made by East Germany on its 858-mile border. It violated every humanitarian principle that we hold dear and ultimately provoked a people‘s rebellion against the regime that tried to impose it.
So yes, we should always be trying to improve our border security, but let‘s not have unrealistic expectations of what is possible. And let us never forget the lessons of the Berlin Wall.
O‘DONNELL: Last night, the seven candidates running for New York governor, six of whom have no chance of winning, met at Hofstra University to participate in the first and last debate before the election. Going into the debate, Democrat Andrew Cuomo led his closest competitor by 35 points.
The “New York Daily News” headline was “Andy and Six Dwarfs.” The “New York Post” compared the debate to “The Gong Show” and called the six trailing candidates “bizarre bozos.”
Andrew Cuomo left the debate with his lead intact. But he did not get the Youtube traction of his opponent Jimmy McMilllan of the Rent is Too Damn High Party.
Since the debate, clips of McMillan have garnered over 300,000 hits on Youtube. “TV Week” named it the number three viral video of the day. Here is Jimmy‘s solution to wipe away the 8.2 billion dollar deficit the state of New York faces next year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY MCMILLAN, RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH PARTY: Let me show you—lead by example that we can generate a three and a six trillion dollar surplus in the state of New York by reducing the rent, so that tenants can have money to spend. It would bring business back to the state.
It‘s a simple message, which I say all the time. Some say I‘m a one issue candidate. But it all boils down to one thing. Rent, it‘s too damn high.
The rent is too damn high. The rent is too damn high. The rent is too damn high.
Nowhere. There‘s nowhere to go. Once again, why? You said it. The rent is too damn high.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. McMillan. Mr. Cuomo?
ANDERW CUOMO (D), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN NEW YORK: I‘m with Jimmy.
The rent is too damn high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Joining me now, candidate for New York governor Jimmy McMillan. Thanks for joining us, Jimmy. You‘ve got Andrew Cuomo to agree with you on this rent thing. You wore him down.
MCMILLAN: Well, I knew I had him when he looked at me and I said, you better do it. Yes, exactly. It‘s a real crisis that they don‘t know how to handle it. They don‘t know what to do. But I do. They don‘t understand. These are Democrats. This is a top Democrat who don‘t understand the president‘s agenda.
One reason why the president‘s having trouble now is because they simply don‘t know what to do. They‘ve been there since George Bush has been—you know, was elected. And they‘re still operating under the Bush mode. It‘s time for them to go.
Hold on. Get down, get down. The rent keeps popping up. I don‘t know why.
O‘DONNELL: New Yorkers are obsessed with rent. That‘s absolutely true.
O‘DONNELL: So you are tapping into something that New York City voters care about probably more than anything else. But it is—isn‘t it more of a New York City issue? Did you consider running for mayor instead of governor?
MCMILLAN: I did. Listen, they thought it was some kind of joke. Look like Hulk Hogan with the mustache. They thought I was playing some kind of game. I‘m not playing games. The rent is too damn high.
O‘DONNELL: How did you get on the ballot? Getting on the ballot statewide in New York is very difficult. They‘ve made it deliberately difficult. You need 15,000 signatures. They have to be collected in half of the congressional districts of New York state. How did you do that? Plenty of professionals have tried to do it and not gotten on the ballot.
MCMILLAN: They‘re not with the Rent is Too Damn High Party, baby. What I did is I snuck the back door. I created my own political party. I needed 15,000 signatures. And I used my charm to ask people, listen, I‘m running for the Rent is Too Damn High Party. Rent is too damn high. Will you sign my petition? They said, no. They signed my petition all across the state.
And I took advantage of the events they had during the summer, block parties, people coming from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse. I didn‘t have to go there. I knew they were coming here. So I took advantage of that. I brought my petition there and they signed it. Are you from—are you from this district? Sign the petition. And they did.
O‘DONNELL: Just you? No one else getting signatures for you?
MCMILLAN: Me. My name is on every petition that was turned in.
O‘DONNELL: OK, that right there is an amazing achievement. People don‘t understand how hard this is in New York politics.
MCMILLAN: It‘s hard.
O‘DONNELL: You have to do it within a limited period of time.
O‘DONNELL: Now, you going to be able to keep your party on the ballot, do you think?
MCMILLAN: Well, we‘re hoping to get—the way things look, we‘re going to get more than 200,000 signatures together. And we‘re going to get elected, the way it looks.
O‘DONNELL: Jimmy, Jimmy, let‘s not get carried away here. You can make vacation plans for that day of the inauguration.
MCMILLAN: This is for real. People—
O‘DONNELL: We‘ve got to wrap. We‘ll have you back, I hope.
MCMILLAN: Rent is too damn high. People can‘t afford to live here.
O‘DONNELL: Rent is too damn high in this town. Jimmy McMillan, thanks for joining us. You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my occasional Tweets @Lawrence. That‘s tonight‘s LAST WORD. “COUNTDOWN” is up next.
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