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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, Nov. 23rd, 2010

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guest Host: Willie Geist

Guests: Douglas Brinkley, Cheri Jacobus, Carie Lemack, Chad Condit,

Christian Lander, Greg Walden

WILLIE GEIST, GUEST HOST:  I am Willie Geist, in again tonight for Lawrence O‘Donnell.

The big important news right now?  No, not the potential breakout of war on the Korean Peninsula that draw the United States and China into a standoff on the world‘s stage, we‘ve got another life and death issue to tackle.

Sarah Palin‘s book is out today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Conservative readers rejoice.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Sarah Palin‘s new book is out today.

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS:  Just got my hands on it.  Sarah Palin‘s book.  She calls it “America by Heart.”

GEIST (voice-over):  Grizzly business—the former half-term governor of Alaska has her name on a second book.  It‘s titled “America by Heart,” but she‘s going for the jugular.

O‘DONNELL:  This Thanksgiving, she‘s not serving up turkey.  She‘s serving up a lot of read meat.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST:  She does settle some scores here.

GEIST:  Palin‘s new book dusts of some old arguments from 2008.

O‘DONNELL:  Hillary Clinton for what she calls her bra-burning militancy.  She attacks not only President Obama and the first lady on their patriotism.

GEIST:  Her book tour sounding a lot like a presidential campaign.

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  Well, now, I‘m thinking about 2012.

JANSING:  What do you think—is this a campaign tour or book tour?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She said she can be the mama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think she could.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She‘s got cable TV and the publishers paying for her to run for president.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Got to go back and study her books.

GEIST:  Or is it all just a clever campaign for total Palin domination?

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST:  Can somebody do a cash register sound while I read another excerpt of “America by Heart”?

JANSING:  In her own reality show, her daughter sashaying her way into the final on “Dancing with the Stars,” and it‘s all made for endless fodder for this question, Pat, do you think she has a chance of winning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bristol once again at the bottom of the leader board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Morning, noon and night, Sarah Palin is going to get some attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I promise not to shoot my TV.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GEIST:  Two days until Thanksgiving and Sarah Palin has been busy gathering ingredients for the family feast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  You know, thankfully we‘re in a good position.  All that comes into play now at $50 a barrel oil.

That hurts like crap.

Then you throw them up on top of the deck and you gut them right there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  All right.  That was totally gratuitous.  But you have not lived until you tried Palin‘s recipe for bludgeoned halibut.  Delicious.

The former Alaska governor actually in Phoenix tonight to kick off the 16-stop tour to promote her new book “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag” out today.  Hundreds showed up to get Sister Sarah‘s autograph in Phoenix.  She didn‘t arrive until about 6:00, but the first in line was there at 1:00 this morning.  The hysteria is utterly Bieber-esque.

Palin‘s book tour includes two stops in Iowa, and one in South Carolina, both key primary states, of course.  That itinerary has let the Palin obsessed media speculate that she‘s planting seeds for a presidential run.

Palin sounded last night on FOX News an awful lot like a candidate running against the incumbent president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  And when it comes to the economy, very basic free market enterprise principles that can be applied.  And I know that they work, Sean, because for 20 years, as a city manager, as a mayor, as a council member, a lawmaker, as a commissioner and then as a governor, I applied those free market, pro-private sector, pro-states rights, had to sue the feds on different issues, pro-individual right principles, putting them into play.  I know what works.

Also, because I‘ve worked in the private sector, I understand how to make a payroll, how to balance a budget—those thing that someone like Barack Obama and many in his administration have no clue about because they just don‘t have that world experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  She knows what works.

Joining me now: Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and author of “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska‘s Wilderness Kingdom,” that‘s due in January.

Also with us: Republican strategist and columnist for “The Hill,” Cheri Jacobus.

Thank you both for joining us.  We appreciate it.

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Thank you.

GEIST:  Doug, let me begin with you.

Ronald Reagan is mentioned by one count 33 times in Sarah Palin‘s new book.  The only character who‘s not a member of her family that‘s mentioned more than Reagan is God if you count it up.  You edited President Reagan‘s diaries.  Few people understand the man better.

What do you think Reagan would think of Sarah Palin?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, RICE UNIVERSITY:  Well, I think he‘d probably like her spirit of, you know, a kind of patriotism that she has, the pluck to get into the fight.  She‘s fearless.  There‘s a lot to be admired there.

What we have to be careful, though, is that all these Republican politicians that want to run for president are going to try to ride on Ronald Reagan‘s coattails.  Governor Palin was a two-year governor of Alaska and quit.

Ronald Reagan wasn‘t a quitter.  I mean, he ran for governor of California, which was a huge economy and ran the state from 1967 to 1975.  And so, he had a real public service record to run on.

We have a governor who ran one in a small state like Alaska, then just dropped out.

Reagan wasn‘t a quitter.  And I think that‘s going to be the hard part for Sarah Palin to get over if she‘s going to try to really connect with more than her Republican, you know, people that are following her right now.

GEIST:  Cheri, do you think it‘s an insult to have Governor Palin comparing herself this way to Ronald Reagan, to a conservative icon?

JACOBUS:  You know, I don‘t think it‘s an insult.  We have many, many Republicans who are comparing themselves or trying to compare themselves, or at least aspiring to be Reagan-esque.

And so, if that‘s what she‘s trying to do, to aspire to be Reagan-esque, that‘s not a bad thing.  There‘s no down side to that.  If she goes too far and compares her completely like him, people might be a little bit harder on her.

I do want to take issue to one thing you said, Willie, when you‘re—a little bit earlier, you said that the attention she‘s getting, her book tour is Bieber-esque.  I think it‘s more Obama-esque and you look at where he was in 2008 and his book tour and the adoring crowds, only he had adoring media.  So, I think there are some similarities in the terms of the celebrity of these two political individuals.

GEIST:  Well, let‘s talk, Doug, about whether or not Sarah Palin can pull off what Barack Obama did pull off.  Some analysts reading into Palin‘s book tours stops, particularly the ones in Iowa and South Carolina, and seeing, frankly, the path to the Republican nomination there.  Do you see any reason why she couldn‘t be the party‘s nominee, Doug?

BRINKLEY:  No, she definitely can be.  And this is an incredible rollout you have going on right now with the TLC‘s “Sarah Palin‘s Alaska” program, essentially an infomercial—endless infomercial for her, a book that‘s destined to be number one through the holiday season and momentum, which is always so important in politics.

She‘s going to have, whether it‘s, you know, Huckabee or Pawlenty or Haley Barbour and, you pick people on the list, Newt Gingrich in Iowa, it‘s going to be five guys and Sarah Palin.  She has a great chance, I think, particularly even if she comes in second in Iowa, Mitt Romney might win New Hampshire. But if she goes to South Carolina, that‘s her turf.

So, there is a road map for her to get the nomination.  Where she goes after that, it‘s hard to tell.  And that‘s the danger right now she has.  She‘s launching a great kinetic kind of a November/December strategy that should carry her through the spring.  But will people get Palin fatigue or how many of her kind of off-the-cuff remarks are people going to be able to take when it gets down to real nitty-gritty debate with somebody like Barack Obama?

I think she‘s very much unlike Obama.  Obama is an intellectual. 

Obama was a—you know, at Harvard Law School Review.

She‘s somebody coming out of a kind of populist tradition.  They‘re different candidates.

GEIST:  But she‘s very proud of that, Cheri.  She takes pride that she is not Barack Obama, that she didn‘t come out of Harvard, Columbia and Chicago School of Law.

JACOBUS:  Right.

GEIST:  She‘s using that to her advantage, isn‘t she?

JACOBUS:  Well, yes.  And you heard her listing her experience—you know, her experience is more than Barack Obama had before he ran for president.  And that‘s just a fact, whether you like the fact that she quit her job halfway through as governor, there were some other concerns with the family and in terms of what she wanted to do.

The one thing that‘s unique about her obviously is the fact that she‘s a woman.  And women historically are subjected to the accusation that perhaps they aren‘t tough enough or mean enough and they can‘t handle battle.

I think what we‘re hearing so far about this book and what we heard from Sarah Palin, I think she‘s tough enough and that‘s what she‘s proving to everybody.  So, it would be a fascinating race.  I think that she‘s kind of done a lot for women in that regard.  I don‘t think that anybody can say that this woman is not tough enough to take on Barack Obama or anybody else.

GEIST:  I agree with you, Cheri.  I don‘t think many people are questioning her toughness.

But how about you?  Do you think she‘s fit to be commander-in-chief?

JACOBUS:  You know, at this point, I think she would make a good candidate, but because she hasn‘t come out with a lot of policy initiatives, just like Barack Obama didn‘t early on, I think it would be hard to say.

But here‘s the thing—you know, everybody tonight, they‘re thinking about Sarah Palin‘s daughter, Bristol Palin, on “Dancing with the Stars” and will she win?  Or maybe it‘s over by now, I don‘t even know.

But the kid that I‘m worried about is over there in North Korea, the 20-something-year-old who is going to have, you know, access to enriched uranium.  And that‘s what I think can really turn things overnight.  Right now, we‘re looking at all these governors that are running and you‘re looking at what happened in this last election with domestic issues.  This can turn over—this can turn around and we can very quickly find ourselves—the American people might want somebody who is very solid on foreign affair.

So, we can have an entirely different list of Republican candidates a few months from now who are strong on foreign affairs that we‘re not even thinking about right now.

GEIST:  Doug, it‘s been fascinating to watch the kind of back-and-forth between some of the Republican establishment and Sarah Palin.  We heard Barbara Bush a couple of nights ago saying she hopes that Governor Palin will remain in Alaska and stay away from Washington.  Karl Rove even has been a little bit critical of Palin‘s media blitz, suggesting several weeks back that a reality show doesn‘t show presidential gravitas.

Palin actually responded to Rove.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  With Karl Rove, you know, I‘m all for that if he understands where it is I‘m coming from.  And where it is I‘m coming from when I talk about some interjection of my life into pop culture, he needs to understand that pop culture is the influencer in this country, in our society.  So, we having—we are to be salt and light, we‘re not to just be sitting there in our own little circle of influence.  And though the FOX News viewership is huge, larger than any other news organization, of course, just preaching to the choir with FOX viewers?  No, we need to get out there and reach people who are so independent that perhaps they would never think to tune in to FOX News and introduce some good ideas to these people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  I guess that‘s the question, though, Doug—can she speak to independents?  I mean, conventional wisdom seems to be that she could win the Republican nomination.  But if you look at it right now, wouldn‘t be able to get the independent vote that she‘d need to beat Barack Obama in a couple of years.

BRINKLEY:  No, she has such incredible negatives.  The people that are really cheering Sarah Palin on besides her fan base, her Twitter base, are Democrats.  The Obama administration, you know, just hoping she‘s the Republican nominee.  There‘s nobody Barack Obama would rather run against than Sarah Palin.

So, you have this weird specter right here of the Republicans, people like Karl Rove, Barbara Bush, the establishment, really trying to see how a path for somebody like Mitt Romney, perhaps even Huckabee for some of the evangelicals and, you know, Born Again Christians in the Republican Party.

So, Palin‘s kind of an odd person out right now.  And you‘re getting this specter—I think Karl Rove very cleverly is saying, we‘ve got to have anybody but Sarah Palin.  The problem Palin has is her quitting as governor, because now with doing all of this hinting to Robert Draper in the “New York Times Magazine,” hinting to Barbara Walters she‘s running, all this momentum she‘s creating, if she drops out now, she really looks like a quitter.

If you want to see a brand get tarnish and go falling, if she gets out of the race now, she‘s going to look like quite a loser and someone who just manipulated the American people.

JACOBUS:  You know, I think—I think you‘re completely wrong.  I think that she can take this as far as she wants to and make her decisions late.  It‘s her endorsement that‘s really going to matter.

But, again, the whole reality show thing, it‘s risky.  It‘s risky for somebody who wants to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.  It‘s good that she wants to reach out to other people.

I don‘t think she can go on too long saying she‘s not part of the establishment, after this election and the influence she had in terms of getting candidates elected.  She‘s now a major shareholder in the Republican Party.  She‘s part of the establishment.  She has changed the party and she can claim ownership—

(CROSSTALK)

BRINKLEY:  Then why did Barbara Bush tell her to stay—why did Barbara Bush—why did Barbara Bush tell her to stay home in Alaska?  This is Barbara Bush.

JACOBUS:  Well, I don‘t know why Barbara Bush.  Yes, why Barbara Bush tell her to stay home in Alaska.

BRINKLEY:  Well, there‘s a reason.  It wasn‘t accidental.

JACOBUS:  Well, my point was that Sarah Palin is extremely influential in the party and she can remain influential without running for president, without being president.  So, I—

BRINKLEY:  She would have to endorse somebody like Rick Perry or somebody who‘s palatable—

JACOBUS:  Her endorsement—

BRINKLEY:  -- to the Tea Party and the conservatives because she can‘t just get out and not do anything.  I think at this point, she would have to say, as she said before, I‘ll run if there‘s not a right candidate in the mix.

JACOBUS:  Right.

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBUS:  Her endorsement is going to be huge if she doesn‘t run.

BRINKLEY: Yes, we agree.

JACOBUS:  And I think that her impact is just undeniable.

GEIST:  We‘ve got a fascinating couple years ahead of us, guys.

Doug Brinkley, Cheri Jacobus of “The Hill”—thank you so much for being with us, both, tonight.  Appreciate it.

BRINKLEY:  Happy Thanksgiving.

GEIST:  Does the public outcry over the TSA pat downs reveal us to be a nation of whiners?  Up next: a woman who can never forget why we have these security measures in the first place.

And later, the guilty verdict in the murder of Chandra Levy.  Is it vindication for Congressman Gary Condit or does a cloud of suspicion hang over him still?  We will have an exclusive interview with Condit‘s son—ahead on THE LAST WORD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  With everything else they‘ll be dealing with on tomorrow‘s busy travel day, TSA screeners will have to look out for flying Scotsman.  Some protesters against new TSA rules say they‘ll wear kilts.  Like true Scotsmen, that‘s without underwear.  A pretty wild day out there.

And which part of President George W. Bush‘s memoir has his own mother calling revisionist history?  We‘ll tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  Tomorrow is the busiest travel day of the year and it could be made worse by a grassroots group that‘s calling the day before Thanksgiving national opt-out day.  The group is encouraging travelers to refuse to walk through airport body scanners that the ACLU has called a virtual strip search.

In addition to privacy and radiation concerns, advocacy groups have accused the government of awarding multimillion dollar contracts with the machines in response to lobbyist pressure, saying Americans are being forced to sacrifice their civil liberties for the sake of profit.

The lobbying groups for the two largest body scanner companies have employed former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Linda Hall Daschle, wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

But even if travelers decide to opt out of the body scanners, they still will be subjected to the more aggressive pat down techniques performed manually by TSA officers.

A union representing U.S. Airways pilots has sent a letter urging them to protest the new security measures, describing the experience of one pilot this way: “The words this pilot used to describe the incident included “sexual molestation,” and in the aftermath of trying to recover, this pilot reported that he had literally vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work and facing the possibility of a similar encounter with the TSA.”  That‘s a little dramatic.

But more than nine years now in the fight against terrorism, have Americans become too complacent in the face of ongoing threats?

On September 11th, 2001, Carie Lemack‘s mother was a passenger on American Airlines flight 11.  Terrorists hijacked that plane and steered into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

Carie is the co-founder of Families of September 11th and the Global Survivors Network, and I spoke to her a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEIST:  Carie, thanks so much for being here.

CARIE LEMACK, CO-FOUNDER, FAMILIES OF SEPTEMBER 11:  Thanks so much for having me.

GEIST:  All right.  You‘ve been listening to this national conversation over the last week or so.  You heard the arguments against these advanced screening methods at airports.  What is your reaction?

LEMACK:  Well, it makes me sad that more than nine years after my mom and 3,000 others were murdered, we still have to remind people about the threat that we face.  Never mind the fact that a plane was almost blown up last Christmas, that two planes have cargo with bombs in them a few weeks ago.

And I just wish that those who are complaining would stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.  We all need to come together to keep our country safe and secure.

GEIST:  Carie, is it unrealistic, though, to ask Americans nine years later now to still be in that September 12th, 2001 mentality all the time, to have that level of alertness nine years after?

LEMACK:  Well, people used to say to me, have people forgotten 9/11? 

And I would always answer, absolutely not.  Americans haven‘t forgotten.  But they‘re not living with the fear in the forefront of their minds—and that‘s a good thing.  My mom wouldn‘t want Americans to live in fear.

However, we have to respect those whose jobs it is to keep us safe and secure, like people at the airport.  These are Americans who have taken on the responsibility.  Really, they‘re the last line of defense against the terrorists who still want to do us harm.

And so, I wish that Americans will be respectful to them, will go through the procedures like we have to—because even though none of us want to go through it, it‘s the terrorists‘ fault that we have go through the procedures—not the people at the airport whose job it is to keep us safe and secure.

GEIST:  And, by the way, the majority of people seem to agree with you.  There‘s a new CBS Poll out about these full-body airport scanner.  This isn‘t about a patting down, it‘s about the scanners.  Eighty-one percent of Americans say, yes, full body airport scanners should be used.

Now, the counterargument to what you‘re saying, Carie, is that it‘s also an insult to those like your mother who died on September 11th to create a security state where, you know, civil rights, civil liberties are being violated in airports.  What do you say to that?

LEMACK:  Well, the first right—human right of all is the right to live.  And that right was violated for my mom on September 11th, 2001.  And the last thing I want to see happen is that right get taken away from me, her daughter, her two grandsons that she never got to meet.

All of the rights need to be taken in order.  So, absolutely, if people have problems with airport security measures, come up with different ones, come up with alternatives.  But don‘t just complain.  Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

GEIST:  All right, Carie.  So, let‘s talk then about alternatives.  What else can we do?  The gentleman who was working the ticket counter in Portland, Maine, on the morning of September 11th, 2001 famously thought Mohamed Atta, the man who would eventually take the controls of your mother‘s flight looked with the agent later said was like the devil.  But he didn‘t say anything for fear of being pointed as a racist.

Do you believe profiling actually would help here in the United States?

LEMACK:  I think profiling based on behavior is absolutely key.  We need to be focusing on the dangerous people, not necessarily the dangerous weapons—just like they do in Israel.  And I think that there needs to be more training for airport security officers and airport personnel, and Congress has to fund this training.  Right now, about 10 percent of airport security officers are trained to look at behavior.  And we need it to be 100 percent.

GEIST:  It sounds like, Carie, as you‘re listening to this conversation, you‘re thinking to Americans—get over it, shut up, deal with it.  Is that kind of what you‘re thinking?

LEMACK:  I wouldn‘t quite put it that way.  But I will say it‘s not in the Constitution that we have a right to fly.  It is in the Constitution we have a right to live and have safety and security and liberty.  And I think part of that means, unfortunately, when there is a danger, we have to acknowledge it.

We wear seat belts in cars because it‘s a dangerous time to go on roads and things might happen, so you take precautions—the same thing with aviation security.  Unfortunately, there‘s a threat, it‘s real.  But we have people who are trying to come up with ways to counter that threat and make us as safe and secure as it can be.

GEIST:  But how far does it go, Carie?  If the next bomb happens and somebody who puts something in a cavity, do we now subject people to be pulled out of lines for cavity searches?  I guess, that‘s the question, is you can follow down this path endlessly.

LEMACK:  That is absolutely true, which is back to your previous question, which it has to be about behavior and finding the dangerous people, because finding the dangerous items is going to be very difficult.  And you can‘t keep—technology is not going to always be able to keep up.

But there‘s been really amazing work done with behavior detection just like they‘ve done in Israel.  And, thankfully, fingers crossed, they haven‘t had any kinds of bombs or hijacking from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.  So, if we can use some of that technology and expertise in our own airports, I think that we‘d be going a long way to keeping Americans safe and secure.

GEIST:  I‘m curious.  Finally, Carie, what do you think when you go through airport security?  It has to be a different experience for you than it is for me or other people.  Do you think about your mother?

LEMACK:  I think about my mother all the time.  I‘ll be flying home to Boston to be with my sister and my nephews Cole and Mason, who never got to meet Grandma Judy.  And I will go through security and I‘ll do what the agents ask me to do.  And I will make sure to thank them and let them know how much I appreciate what they‘re doing in honor of my mother and so many others and other families who know what it‘s like when people don‘t take aviation security threats seriously.  So, I‘m glad that they‘re there, and I‘ll be sure to let them know that.

GEIST:  Well, Carie Lemack, we appreciate you being with us tonight. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

LEMACK:  Thanks.  Same to you.

GEIST:  Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GEIST:  Eric Cantor is my second favorite young gun behind Lou Diamond Phillips.  And he‘s out with a survival guide for freshmen Republicans coming to Washington.  Know your Constitution, avoid the media, and don‘t be afraid to say “no.”  Will the GOP say anything but “no” to President Obama over the next two years?  We‘ll ask the head of the Republican transition team.

And former First Lady Barbara Bush clears up that bizarre story about her miscarriage, the one W. put in his memoir.  He‘s not a big details guy.  The real story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  If you‘re watching the first book interview George W. Bush gave, you know, the one to Matt Lauer, you probably sat up in bed when the former president broke into an odd story about a fetus in a jar.  Well, we‘re finally getting a little clarity now from W.‘s mother Barbara.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN HOST:  You also disclosed, Barbara—George discloses something very personal about you.  He wrote that when you once had a miscarriage, you showed him the fetus in the jar.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY:  No, really, the truth is—

KING:  We touched on it before.  But we didn‘t elaborate.

BUSH:  Paula put it in a jar.

KING:  What?

BUSH:  It‘s not in the library.  No.

KING:  I know.

BUSH:  George—Paula put it in a jar.  And I was shocked when she gave it to him too.  But, you know, memories dim a little bit.  But, anyway, but he was very—

KING:  Are you shocked that he put it in the book?

BUSH:  No.  He asked permission, and I gave him permission.  That‘s—it‘s his book.  And I think he was trying to say that he and I have a very special relationship.  He teases me unmercifully.  But we‘re very close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  I‘m glad we cleared that up.

With a conviction in the Chandra Levy trial, Gary Condit‘s family says the former congressman finally has been vindicated.  Now that the trial is over, what can be told about Condit‘s relationship with Levy?  His sons join me next for a LAST WORD exclusive.

And the man who created the blog, stuff white people like.  Takes us on a journey to the Volvo driving farmers‘ market shopping world of white people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  Yesterday in a Washington courtroom, a jury of nine women and three men delivered a guilty verdict in the murder case against Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique.  You might not know that name but you like to know the name of his victim.  Federal Intern Chandra Levy disappeared in May of 2001 after leaving her apartment in Washington.  Her remains were found more than a year later.  Guandique who was serving time in prison for attacks another woman in the same park where Levy‘s body was found, was indicted last year in her murder.  At the time at her disappearance, Levy had been linked romantically to then Congressman Gary Condit, a democrat of California.  Condit was the prime suspect in the case and the saga eventually ended his political career.  With this week‘s guilty verdict, the cloud of suspicion that is hung over the former congressman for years has been lifted.  After the verdict was read, Levy‘s mother spoke to reporters in front of the courthouse. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY‘S MOTHER:  The results of the verdict may be guilty, but I have a lifetime sentence of a lost limb, missing from our family tree.  It‘s painful.  I live with it every day.  I‘m not sure if this sends a peace, but I could certainly tell you, it ain‘t closure.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Levy‘s mother went on to say that more than nine years after her daughter‘s death, the guilty verdict is, quote, “miracle.”  In our spotlight tonight, a last word exclusive, Chad Condit, the son of former Congressman Gary Condit.  Chad, thanks so much for being with here.

CHAD CONDIT, SON OF FORMER REPRESENTATIVE GARY CONDIT:  Thanks, Willie.

GEIST:  Tell us, first of all, what your father‘s reaction was to the verdict yesterday. 

CONDIT:  You know, I really didn‘t talk to him about the verdict.  I know as a family we were watching the trial and so forth.  He had to testify and so forth.  But you know, we just kind of took it in stride.  I mean, if the jury said guilty, said not guilty, we were just watching it like everybody else.  So much better to be—that‘s how we should convict people is by jury, not by press.  So, it is what it is.  

GEIST:  Certainly, there were some emotions though from your father, someone who worked for him, murdered and now seeing some closure for that story, I have to imagine he was emotional yesterday.  

CONDIT:  I mean, he was paying attention to it, I‘m sure he was.  I mean, anxiously waiting to see what the jury would do.  

GEIST:  Your father has said that investigators in this case were out to get him, that they were incompetent.  Why would the FBI and the other people looking into this case be out to get your dad?

CONDIT:  I don‘t know.  That‘s a good question.  I watched your interview with Cheri earlier about 9/11.  You know, before 9/11, this country press corps, FBI, D.C. Police Department fixated on Gary Condit from the middle of May through September 11th.  So, it sure felt like they were out to get him.  And then a lot of things they did were either total incompetence by the chief of the D.C. Police Department and Chief Gaynor or corruption.  So, it certainly looked suspicious from the start.  And Gary said the same thing.  As a matter of fact, got law enforcement involved in this case from the get-go.  So, it felt like they were out to get him for sure.  

GEIST:  Your dad side stepped questions during the trial about his relationship with Chandra Levy saying, we‘re all entitled to a little privacy.  Now, that the trial is over, what can you tell us about the relationship you dad had with her?

CONDIT:  I don‘t know.  I mean, friends, constituent.  She was from the Desto (ph).  So, like thousands of other constituents, he represented her in Congress and certainly trying to help her as a matter of fact get a job with the FBI is my understanding, as a young, talented person that she was.  

GEIST:  An FBI biologist during the trial testified that there was DNA from your father found on clothing worn by Chandra Levy.  Doesn‘t that suggest the relationship was more than a friendship?  

CONDIT:  Well, they were friends, but let me tell you, Willie, they did take Gary‘s DNA during this, he  offered it voluntarily, searched his house, lie detector test, put him through the wringer.  So, they did have his DNA.  And this is a law enforcement office that didn‘t check the tape at Chandra‘s apartment which could have told us her comings and goings, didn‘t take dogs out to Rock Creek Park to search for her remains, took cadets instead.  And then they contaminated her software and her computer to let us know where she was going.  But we‘re supposed to believe they had DNA on panties.

GEIST:  So, you don‘t think the FBI biologist was telling the truth on questioning?

CONDIT:  I think that from the get-go, they‘ve misrepresented Gary Condit in this case, from the get-go.  So, am I surprised they have his DNA?  No, he voluntarily gave it.  So, how it got on the panties, I don‘t know.  But they certainly had his DNA and certainly things add up that this wasn‘t right from the start.  

GEIST:  Well, your father was asked when he was first brought in for questioning about a relationship with Chandra Levy.  He said, if you can tell me why this is relevant, I‘ll be happy to answer otherwise I won‘t.  If it was just a friendship, why not just say no, we don‘t have a sexual relationship.

CONDIT:  Well, I think he said they were friends.  And the relevancy to their relationship that the police could never tell that, tell Gary.  And I know that for all these months and years, we‘ve been chasing the sex question which led to the murder suspicion and that‘s how the press works. 

GEIST:  How is your father doing now?

CONDIT:  Mom and dad are great.  I shouldn‘t say great.  They‘ve been through a lot.  This has been a tough go for the whole Condit family.  Having this cloud of suspicion.  And being dogged by—I mean, Willie, our hometown newspaper, the “Modesto Bee,” on the front page put a story in the paper that Gary fathered the child of the Levy‘s gardener‘s daughter.  OK?  They just made it up out of thin air.  And this was a campaign against Gary from the get-go from people that manipulated the Levys, people at the Police Department, people in the press.  So, it‘s been a tough go for the Condit family.  We‘re not—trying not to complain and whine around.  We‘re a proud family.  My grandma and grandpa still out in Series, California.  And, but we‘re certainly glad to put this part behind us.  

GEIST:  And I know your dad‘s working on a book right now.  So, hopefully we‘ll get some more details, some more of his side of the story when that come us out.  Chad, thanks so much for coming in tonight.  We really appreciate it.  

CONDIT:  Willie, thanks for having me.  You do good work on “MORNING

JOE.”

GEIST:  Thank you, Chad.  I appreciate it very much. 

All right.  John Boehner and his team were getting ready to take over the House, is there any reason to believe that new leadership means anything but more frustrating gridlock in Washington?  The head of the Republican Transition Team joins me with the plan.  And from vasco scooters (ph) to heirloom tomatoes, it‘s stuff white people like.  The man behind the internet sensation is out with a new batch of the annoying obsessions of white people.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  What a mad man, the young and humus have in common?  No, it‘s not a new Al Qaeda cooking show, they‘re all stuff white people like.  The expert in the irritating habits of white people joins me.  And lady of the republican power switch on Capitol Hill, the man with the plan for the transition, it‘s tonight‘s last word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  Blogger Christian Lander caught white lightning in a bottle with his hilarious Satar site, “stuff white people like.”  The blog spawned a “New York Times” best-selling book by the same name.  And now the follow-up.  “Whiter Shades of Pale.”  The stuff white people like coast to coast from Seattle Sweaters to Maine‘s microbrews.  Because the list of things white people like just keeps getting longer and more annoying.  The book is available today just in time for the holidays because white people really like getting books as a gift is what we learned.  Christian, great to see you.  

CHRISTIAN LANDER, AUTHOR, “WHITER SHADES OF PALE”:  Thanks for having me on.  

GEIST:  I‘m a big fan of this list.  This book you‘ve put out, although I do take some offense because as you may have noticed, I am a white person.  

LANDER:  Yes, I could tell.  

GEIST:  Yes.  Let‘s get into somebody‘s hybrids.  What‘s the deal with the hybrids?

LANDER:  Yes.  Well, I mean, the hybrid, obviously, the Toyota Prius.

GEIST:  Sure.

LANDER:  The number one white car of all time.  I mean, there‘s a lot, don‘t get me wrong, the Volkswagen Jetta, that was a white car for a while, the Subaru station wagon is still the white car of Portland, Oregon.  But the Prius has just taken over.  And I think starting in await, they now ship the Prius with an Obama bumper sticker already cache from the back.  

GEIST:  Just smack around that back.

(CROSSTALK)

LANDER:  You know what I mean? 

GEIST:  Speaking of that car, how about NPR?  There‘s an obsession among white people.  

LANDER:  Yes.  NPR was just literally made for white people.  I mean, this is where, I mean, pretty much, you can talk about anything with the white person, if you mention that you heard about it on NPR, or you can ask them about their STD history, you can ask anything.  I heard on NPR that herpes is going around.  Do you have it?  You know, it‘s on NPR.

GEIST:  It‘s a primary source for white people. 

LANDER:  Get away with anything.

GEIST:  No question, yoga.  Very annoying.  

LANDER:  Yes.  This is great.  White people love nothing more than paying money than to be told how to stretch, you know, providing you do it in a place with hardwood floors and exposed beams.  You can charge a lot of money.  

GEIST:  Oh, yes, and turn up the heat too.  Simple like that.  Some reason.  

LANDER:  Oh, yes.  That helps.  Fixes everything.  

GEIST:  That cost more.  Apple computers, I mean, you‘ve got to have the newest device, right?  

LANDER:  Well, the frustration is, you buy a computer, you know, you‘re in an independent coffee shop.  You know, and you want people to know you‘re creative, right?  So, what‘s the best way to do it?  Put the Apple computer out there.  They‘ll know, you‘re not just checking celebrity news sites, no, no, you‘re in there writing a novel or you‘re working on your portfolio for your art degree.  You know, like, you‘re doing the good work, whereas that person on the PC is probably just looking for, you know, celebrity nudity or something like that.  

GEIST:  It‘s kind of like what you‘ve written before, Starbucks, you have to work on your screenplay. 

LANDER:  Oh, yes.

GEIST:  You‘re book of poetry, you know?

LANDER:  Oh, yes.  Of course.  Always got to be working on the project.  

GEIST:  Always in development.  Now, food, this is an interesting collection here.  Things that kind of maybe didn‘t exist a few years ago.  Heirloom tomatoes, sea salt, overpriced sandwiches.  

LANDER:  Yes.  Also on that list, white people have now started—they really like waiting in line for food, you know.  And I was under the impression that that was a problem with communist countries, you know, you‘d wait in a bread line for hours but now you waiting in line for a hamburger. 

GEIST:  Right.

LANDER:  You know?  Three-and-a-half hours, of course, the end of the three-and-a-half hours, this is the best hamburger I‘ve had in my entire life. 

GEIST:  Right.

LANDER:  Because you spent three hours starving on it.  So, yes, we are the only people in a communist country which there are literally food around the corners.  Three hours waiting in front of the food truck or shack or very..  

GEIST:  You just described perfectly shake shack in New York. 

LANDER:  Yes.

GEIST:  I had a feeling that‘s what you were talking about. 

LANDER:  Waiting for hours for a cheeseburger.

GEIST:  What about mail, the mail we consume.  Facebook, Google, “The Huffington Post,” these are all things that white people enjoy. 

LANDER:  Yes.  The Google one‘s especially important because, in the book I have a chapter on acceptable reasons for a white breakup.  Like why it is acceptable to break up with someone. 

GEIST:  Sure.

LANDER:  And if their e-mail address doesn‘t end in Gmail or mac.com, end that relationship right now, clearly something is wrong with them, they have a problem or they don‘t understand technology.  I mean, you can‘t be sending heartfelt, you know, love e-mails to someone who wasn‘t on Gmail.  

GEIST:  You know, I still have my hotmail from 1998.  And I feel like I‘ve been sort of blackballed by my friends. 

LANDER:  Yes.  That‘s, I mean, basically people might as well send e-mail straight to your starlet letter.  

(CROSSTALK)

GEIST:  Now, the new book kind of focuses on regional stuff.  The Seattle sweaters, Maine‘s microbrew.  Can you zero it on a particular region that annoys you the most?  

LANDER:  Well, the whole, I actually get asked a lot of that—the region of how did I choose a city to be added to the book?  And I said, any city where property values didn‘t match income levels is a white city.  So, New York, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Boulder, Colorado, Austin, Texas, Los Angeles.  You know, and so forth.  And so, but the one—some of the areas that I really zero in on are Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon, are specially white areas to me because I live in Los Angeles.  And everyone who‘s fed up with Los Angeles threatens to move to Portland or Austin.

GEIST:  Right.

LANDER: .because they want to earn property.  Then eventually known there they can afford property.  And so, yes.  Those are the two.

GEIST:  I like the sketch of the New Yorker you have in here.  They have the $1200 a month job, paying $3500 in rent.  

LANDER:  Yes. 

GEIST:  That says it all.  

LANDER:  The books make a lot of reference to how many people in New York and San Francisco are kept around by patrons, specifically their parents.  

GEIST:  Sure.  Yes.  I know that story well.  Christian, thanks so much.  The book is hilarious, it‘s called, “Whiter Shades of Pale,” telling some hard truths to white people.  Good luck Christian, thanks so much.  

LANDER:  Thanks so much for having me on the show.  

GEIST:  Great to meet you.  All right.  As the Republicans prepare to take power in the House, SNL poking little fun at future Speaker Boehner.  Whether he‘s actually understood the message from the America‘s voters. 

The head of the republican transition team gets tonight‘s last word. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEIST:  Three weeks after Election Day, Democrats conceded two more House seats to Republicans today.  Bringing the total number of GOP pickups in the midterms to 63.  Now, as the deadline looms for the biggest shift in power since 1948, many of them wondering how the new house leadership will deal with Democrats across the aisle.  And the democrat down the streets at the White House.  One republican skipped his own election night victory party to get started with John Boehner back in D.C. 

That man, Congressman Greg Walden, is the Republican Transition chairman.  And he joins me now from Portland, Oregon.  Congressman, great to see you.  

REP. GREG WALDEN ®, OREGON:  Willie, great to be with you.  I was just chuckling after your last segment.  I‘m sitting in Portland, Oregon, I drive a Toyota Prius, use a Apple laptop and the producer here moved up from L.A. 

GEIST:  Wow!

WALDEN:  So, I think we‘ve got the whole thing covered.  

GEIST:  You are checking all the boxes, congressman.  Very impressive.  The question tonight on every mind, will the Oregon Ducks win out and play for the national championship, very quickly, sir?

WALDEN:  Why is that even a question?  I‘m a Duck, you know.  And the thing I really take offense to in the political world is when they refer to this after election session as a lame duck session.  I just don‘t like it when they refer to Ducks that way.  

GEIST:  I think you guys are going all the way.  All right.  Let‘s get down to some business.  Last night, we had Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen on the show.  He expressed some genuine concern about Republicans willingness to work with Democrats going forward.  So, if you can kind of zero in on what‘s the one issue you‘re going to be willing and able to get together with House Democrats to prove Mr. Van Hollen wrong.

WALDEN:  Well, I think there are actually two issues.  One, I think there are a lot of members who want to reform how government operates and cut the costs and the waste.  I think that can be a bipartisan issue too.  Let‘s face it.  We‘re all Americans.  We want to get this economy going again.  The thing I think too that‘s really important to say, really is that, we are leading a transition that‘s much different than was done in ‘06 when just one democrat led it for Speaker Pelosi.  I reached out to Democrats on both—or members on both sides of the aisle.  We had the biggest transition team in recent modern history going back to even before ‘94. 

We‘ve tried to reach out and reform the process, so we can open it up, so that Americans can be involved, the press can watch what‘s happening.  Get rid of these gargantuan bills, nobody even knew what was in written by a few people at the top, crammed through in record time.  I think, we fix the process, and that‘s our full intent, we‘ll get people from both sides of the aisle bringing their intelligence to the committee table and trying to work out on solutions.  

GEIST:  Well, if we agree, Congressman, the big reason for the swing to your party in the midterm elections was the economy, was unemployment, you now have an obligation to do something about it.  You can‘t complain that the president hasn‘t done enough about jobs.  So, what‘s your party‘s best idea right now for creating more jobs?

WALDEN:  Well, you know, I was in the private sector for 22 years, owned and operated radio stations.  First of all, you have to have certainty in the marketplace.  You stop these regulations that are causing money, the sit on the sidelines.  Second, you get control of the runaway deficit spending.  Third, I think you let small business owners keep more of what they‘re trying to earn to reinvest in their own business.  Just sending more money to Washington, D.C. hasn‘t solved the problem.  Reckless deficit spending hasn‘t solved the problem.  Third, let‘s get some certainty in the tax code so that people know what next month, and next year and the next couple of years looks like.  I really think certainly is the underlying problem we face right now.  It‘s one of several of the news.  The big one that I hear most when I‘m around my district, the state or our country. 

GEIST:  So, what would change the uncertainty?  We hear that again and again?  The money sitting on the sidelines.  How do you change the level of uncertainty?  What can be done by the government?

WALDEN:  Willie, I would just tell you that nobody knows what their tax code‘s going to look like a month and a half from now.  I would stretch out the existing tax code for the next couple of years and let people invest.  Let them know what to expect.  I mean, you have people trying to figure out their estates potentially.  They don‘t know what to plan for come January.  You look at some of these other regulations that are pending that would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs around the country.  I just put a freeze on those unless there‘s some extraordinary overriding need for them.  Let‘s just get a period of calm, let‘s get some certainly out there. 

And then, I think you‘d see people take some risk and get back into the markets and start creating and expanding their businesses.  Right now, they‘re afraid.  I‘ve talked to small business owners in my district who aren‘t sure what this new health law is going to cost them.  They‘re afraid to hire anybody until they figure it out.  They‘re not sure what the tax code is going to become the beginning of next year, so they‘re real hesitant about what their costs are.  And having been a small business owner for 22 years, when you can‘t predict more than a month out, you‘re in trouble, so, you freeze up, you pucker up, you stop expanding and you try and hoard whatever cash you have because you don‘t know what to expect going forward.  

GEIST:  So, Congressman, you‘re going to suggest an extension of the Bush tax cuts, those have been in place now for several year.  So, why is there the uncertainty, if they‘ve known, they‘ve had that certainty of the last few years, under this Bush tax cuts, what‘s been the problem then, why haven‘t we created more jobs?

WALDEN:  Well, now we‘re in a phase where the whole tax code is going to revert back ten years.  Or is it?  Or a parts of it.  Or which parts?  Nobody knows for sure.  So as we‘ve approach this deadline which is the end of the year, people begin to go, I better hold off now, I don‘t know whether I can invest, I don‘t know what my rate of return might be.  I don‘t know how to predict, the risk.  And so, as a result, I think you‘ve got a real problem out there.  Now, is it the only problem in the economy?  Of course not.  We went into a recession.  We‘re very slow getting out of it.  It was very deep.  And so, I mean, there were lots of other issues attendant to the problem, but certainly this uncertainty is not helping.  

GEIST:  All right.  Well, I‘ve got to get, bring one more thing to your attention.  I think you‘re going to be the first public official to weigh in on this breaking news, sir.  These are the moments that shape history. 

WALDEN:  Yes, I know.

GEIST:  “Dancing with the Stars,” Bristol Palin finishes in third place.  Jennifer Grey is truly from the dancing movie, she won.  Your comments, sir.  

WALDEN:  Well, you know, I spent my freshman year at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.  And this is clearly a devastating moment for all Alaskans and those of us who have wintered through the arctic.  And it‘s just horrible.  

GEIST:  Thank you for allowing me my Cronkite moment on this breaking news.  Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, the Republican Transition Chairman on Capitol Hill, good luck and thank you for joining us. 

All right.  That is tonight‘s last word.  You can follow the show on msnbc.com, Facebook and twitter.  I‘ll bring you the first word tomorrow morning on “WAY TOO EARLY,” assuming I don‘t sleep through the alarm, which is always a possibility.  And then right after that, it‘s “MORNING JOE” at 6:00 a.m.  The fixture will all get underway at 5:30.  Thanks for watching.

END   

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