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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Judson Phillips, David Frum, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Rabbi David Seth Kirshner


LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  Founder of the FreedomWorks Tea Party organization Dick Armey said, “I always thought I‘d only get one Ronald Reagan in my lifetime.  Maybe Mike Pence could be that second one.”  Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana was one of the Tea Party‘s best hopes for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Pence announced tonight that he is not running for president in 2012.

So, who does the Tea Party have left?  Well, there‘s Michele Bachmann, who has already visited Iowa.  Sharron Angle says she‘s not ruling out running.

And Sarah Palin?  She gives new meaning to the term “WTF.”



ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST:  Tea Party taking another step toward flexing its muscles on Capitol Hill today.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS:  The first meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus.

O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  Seven Tea Party senators promise to band together to slash the budget, deconstruct the federal government, eliminate whole departments.  But now that they‘re in Washington?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Featuring some big names and a few surprising no-shows.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  RSVP-ing no were Ron Johnson out of Wisconsin, Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire, Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Some senators who certainly were helped by Tea Party voters.  Marco Rubio, freshman Republican senator from Florida.

O‘DONNELL:  The Tea Party helped Rubio beat moderate Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meeks.  But now, that he‘s a senator?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO ®, FLORIDA:  The Tea Party all of a sudden becomes some sort of movement run by politicians.

TODD:  Right now, the Tea Party Caucus basically is Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Mike Lee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They had a news conference yesterday.

SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  We‘re not trying to form just another caucus to make a Tea Party like all the other caucuses here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have to believe that Mitch McConnell and Republican leadership feel like they have the Tea Party Caucus in a good place.

O‘DONNELL:  And last night, the former half-term governor of Alaska delivered yet another Republican rebuttal to the president‘s speech.

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  His theme last night in the State of the Union was the WTF, you know, winning the future.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘ve got to play to win the future.

PALIN:  And I thought, OK, that acronym, spot on.  There were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech.



BRZEZINSKI:  I‘m just saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, win the future.  Win the future.

MITCHELL:  Is she trying to be presidential?

PALIN:  That was another one of those WTF moments, that as he so often repeated the Sputnik moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sputnik directly led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Let‘s talk about something that‘s even more troubling than that.

O‘DONNELL:  But even Sarah Palin has a Tea Party challenger now who is commanding everyone‘s attention.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, SEN. JOHN MCCAIN‘S DAUGHTER:  Michele Bachmann in my opinion is no better than a poor man‘s Sarah Palin.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  Dueling banjos.  Look who‘s challenging Sarah Palin as media darling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Either her cue cards are in the wrong place or she‘s keeping an eye out for immigrants.  I‘m not sure.  Why does everyone in the Tea Party talk like a kindergarten teacher?  It‘s crazy, right?



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

Today, the Tea Party‘s threats to take over Washington met reality, when only four Republican senators agreed to sign up for the official Senate Tea Party Caucus.  Even Republicans who campaigned on the Tea Party platform have been spinning their way out of joining the tiny club, including Tea Party star Marco Rubio of Florida.


RUBIO:  My concern is that politicians all of a sudden start co-opting the mantle of Tea Party.  If all of a sudden being in the Tea Party is not something that‘s happening in Main Street but rather something that‘s happening in Washington, D.C., the Tea Party all of a sudden becomes some sort of movement run by politicians.


O‘DONNELL:  Utah Tea Party Senator Mike Lee desperately issued a call for reinforcements when he saw how disappointing the turnout was at the first meeting of Senate Tea Partiers.


SEN. MIKE LEE ®, UTAH:  And I don‘t care whether this group consists of three senators or 100.  We‘ve invited them all.  I hope they‘ll all join us.


O‘DONNELL:  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul decided to ignore how ignorable the Tea Party has suddenly become in the Senate and pretended the mission was already accomplished.


SEN. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY:  The interesting thing is I think we‘re already co-opting Washington.


PAUL:  Now, are they going to co-opt us?  I went to my first State of the Union the other day, and guess who now is against earmarks.  The president of the United States has been co-opted by the Tea Party.  I don‘t think he‘s necessarily happy about it.


O‘DONNELL:  Paul has introduced legislation that calls for $500 billion of budget cuts just in fiscal year 2011, which would completely eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development, all foreign aid, and 83 percent of the Department of Education‘s budget.

Joining me now are: “Huffington Post” senior political editor and NBC News analyst Howard Fineman, and Tea Party nation founder Judson Phillips.

Howard, Mike Lee, we heard him say that it doesn‘t matter whether the Senate has three members of the Tea Party or 100 members.  I‘ve got to say, I think it does.  Numbers mean everything in the body of 100, doesn‘t it?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, they do.  And, Lawrence, you know, having worked in the Senate, that it‘s a different thing from the House, where people can make pronouncements.  The Senate is about making deals.

And Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is in charge of the Republican side of that body.  And I think he made it very clear that he wasn‘t about to let Jim DeMint and his band of Tea Partiers take control of the agenda of the Republican Party in the Senate.  So, partly this is the nature of the Senate.  It‘s Mitch McConnell putting the hammer down on everybody practically except his own colleague and rival in Kentucky, Rand Paul.

And the fact that even the new senators, even the Tea Party senators, want to be part of the action.  They‘re going to want to be in on the deal, and if they go off on their own, they won‘t be in the United States Senate.

O‘DONNELL:  Judson Phillips, do you accept Marco Rubio‘s spinning about why he couldn‘t go to the Hart Senate Office Building today and show up for a Tea Party meeting?

JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY NATION:  Oh, absolutely.  One of the big concerns since this movement began almost two years ago was that people in Washington would try to take this over.  And Rubio‘s absolutely right when he says he‘s got the concerns that this movement suddenly takes a life of its own from Washington instead of the people that started this down on Main Street.

O‘DONNELL:  So, Judson, according to that theory, you then would have preferred that absolutely no senators show up at the meeting today.  Zero would be better than four.

PHILLIPS:  No, I don‘t have a problem with them showing up.  I don‘t have a problem with them working together.  What I look for at the end of the day is accomplishments.  I love the idea that Rand Paul has introduced a massive cut to the federal budget.  I‘d like to see that get somewhere.

So, whether we have four show up, whether we have 40 show up, or whether we have zero show up and don‘t even have a Tea Party Caucus, that‘s not an important issue.  What‘s an important issue is what happens at the end of the day.

O‘DONNELL:  Howard, Rand Paul‘s budget proposal cuts homeland security by 43 percent.  It cuts the Housing and Urban Development by 100 percent.  It eliminates—eliminates the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which I think actually appears in some treaties, they‘re going to have some difficulty there.  Obviously eliminates Amtrak subsidies, an old darling of this crowd to get rid of.

The National Institute of Health, reduce it by 37 percent.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reduce it by 28 percent.  Apparently, Rand Paul thinks we control disease enough already.  We don‘t need to control it all the way.

Howard, do you want to give Judson an idea about what the likelihood is of this thing coming to a vote in a committee anywhere on Capitol Hill?

FINEMAN:  Well, that would be it.  But also, the Democrats would love to bring it up so the Republicans have to discuss it.  But it still won‘t be brought up.

And, by the way, Rand Paul isn‘t done.  I mean, he‘s going to come out, I understand, in the next week or two with a big proposal on Social Security.  And that‘s going to make this look like, shall I say, a Tea Party politically.

I mean, this is—in the case of the Republicans, be careful what you wish for here.  The Republican leadership, of course, has been utterly silent on what Rand Paul is going to say.  I talked to one staffer tonight who said there‘s no way that‘s going anywhere.

But, of course, it‘s going to be in the Democratic Party‘s interest to talk that up all over the place and basically say, if you want Rand Paul to be in the majority and if you want his philosophy to rule then, you know, vote Republican.  That‘s what the mantra‘s going to be out of the White House for the next two years.

O‘DONNELL:  Judson, I think Howard‘s right that Democrats will be giving Rand Paul any platform he wants.  If he announces a press conference, they‘re going to cancel theirs, to make sure all the cameras get to cover these kinds of proposals—which I think you know, Judson, that—you‘ve seen the polling on it, America does not want to cut Social Security.  Republicans out there in the country, 78 percent, 80 percent of them do not want to cut Social Security or Medicare in any way.  They don‘t want to do anything, not a single thing that is in Rand‘s proposal.

So, do you think you‘re going to have to play some long game where this will take a decade or more for any of this to become realistic?

PHILLIPS:  Well, every journey starts with the first step.  So, we‘ve got to start with something.

But you know, one thing, talking about Social Security, I‘ve never seen such an amazing amount of cowardice coming out of our leaders.  The simple fact is: we‘ve got to do something with it.  It‘s in the headlines today.  Social Security‘s going to be broke in 2037.

You know, when I‘m 88 years old, I personally hope I don‘t need Social Security, but if it‘s there after all these years of paying into it, I‘d like to get something out of it.

O‘DONNELL:  Howard, a quick word on Jay Carney, who‘s going to be the new White House press secretary.  He‘s never been at that podium before, but he has been in the room asking the questions as a “Time” magazine reporter.  He‘s got a long career with the press.

What do you make of this change?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it‘s a completion of the insider machinery of the new Obama White House.  He‘s completely—the president has completely retooled with all kinds of people who know how the game is played, from the Clinton administration, from the Daleys to Chicago and now Jay, who after he left “Time” magazine, I think he‘s done a very good job as Joe Biden‘s press secretary, basically kept the gaffes of Biden to a minimum and sold some really good stories about Biden to the press.

But this is an inside guy, the ultimate Washington insider, to speak for this new insider presidency that we‘re looking at.

O‘DONNELL:  Judson Phillips, you‘ve always been straight with me about what the Tea Party, or at least your section of it, is thinking.  The president said something extraordinary today, something much more striking than any line in the State of the Union address that we all covered line by line the other night.  And he did it in a YouTube town hall of all places, where he was asked about drug legalization and he said, quote, “This is an entirely legitimate topic for debate.”

Now, that‘s going farther than any president has ever gone since the war on drugs began.  Is the Tea Party in its anti-government fervor aiming also at the war on drugs as a government waste area that we could do something about?

PHILLIPS:  Well, there‘s a certain segment of the Tea Party movement, that would be the libertarian segment, that wants to see legalization of drugs.  A great majority of the folks in the Tea Party movement do not support legalization of controlled substances.

As with any part of the government, we want to see waste eliminated—be it the war on drugs, be it the Department of Education, which could basically be totally eliminated.  It just doesn‘t matter what it is.  If they‘re wasting the taxpayer dollars, then we need to eliminate it because we‘re just spending too much as it is.

O‘DONNELL:  Howard Fineman of “The Huffington Post” and Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation, thank you both for joining me tonight.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Lawrence.

PHILLIPS:  Gentlemen, thank you.

O‘DONNELL:  Sarah Palin‘s WTF moment.  Her assessment of the president‘s State of the Union has even more people saying the same thing about her.

And later, an exclusive interview with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He‘s leading the charge to protect us all from more crazed gunmen like the one in Tucson.  What he says President Obama must do—ahead on THE LAST WORD.


O‘DONNELL:  Coming up, the GOP‘s growing Palin problem.  She breaks her week-long public silence to use a wicked profane acronym about the president.  Nice.

And later, just weeks after the massacre in Tucson, Utah Republicans actually decide this is the time to name an official state gun.  That‘s in tonight‘s “Rewrite.”


O‘DONNELL:  After a week of public silence, Sarah Palin, the latest vice presidential candidate who will never be president, decided to deliver the third Republican rebuttal to president Obama‘s State of the Union address last night on FOX News.  She once again demonstrated her very loose grip on that whole sounding presidential thing.


PALIN:  That was a tough speech to have to sit through and kind of try to stomach because the president is so off-base in his ideas on how it is that he believes government is going to create jobs.  Obviously, government growth won‘t create any jobs.  It‘s the private sector that can create the jobs.  And his theme last night in the State of the Union was the WTF—you know, winning the future.  And I thought, OK, that acronym, spot on.  There were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech.


O‘DONNELL:  WTF was she thinking?

There‘s more.  Remember the Sputnik moment part of the Obama speech?  Well, it actually doesn‘t matter whether you remember it because this is Sarah Palin talking and nothing‘s going to help you make sense of this.


PALIN:  That was another one of those WTF moments, that when he as so often repeated the Sputnik moment that he would aspire Americans to celebrate.  He needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space, yes, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union.  So, I listen to that Sputnik moment talk over and over again, and I think, no, we don‘t need one of those.  You know what we need is a Spudnut moment.


O‘DONNELL:  To translate from Alaskan to American what we think we may have just heard, I‘m joined now by David Frum, former special assistant and speechwriter for President George W. Bush.  You can find him at

David, we need a Republican for this.  When she starts talking that way, we just think there‘s something we don‘t get about this.  Can you help us at all?  What is it that—what is a Spud nit—Spudnut—

DAVID FRUM, FRUMFORUM.COM:  What you‘re seeing there is the sight of a terrible lost opportunity.  And you‘re seeing people like me across the country taking our foreheads and banging them against the doorjamb.

Look, the president delivered quite a weak State of the Union.  He—at this time of desperate economic crisis, he did not have a consistent or convincing message about how things will be better a year from now.  It‘s all teed up there like a big golf ball ready to depart.

To be able to transform that into a debate about one person‘s uncertain knowledge of Cold War history, that‘s quite an achievement.  What we should be talking about instead, what Republicans want to talk about, is, hey, things are not getting better.  They‘re not getting better in any way fast enough.  We need a message about that that is culturally modern, environmentally responsible, economically inclusive, and instead we have this.

O‘DONNELL:  On your site today, David, you linked to a “Politico” report that Palin‘s political action committee has about $1.3 million and it hasn‘t made any recent hires.  Now, if you‘re studying those funds to see preparation for presidential campaign, what do you see?

FRUM:  It doesn‘t look like one is going to get off the—it may be this particular Sputnik is not going to launch.  It doesn‘t look like the preliminaries to a presidential campaign.  But it is depriving oxygen from others who could run the kind of campaign that Republicans in the country need.

O‘DONNELL:  David, who do you think is more disappointed that Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin now have issued these in effect rebuttal statements to the president‘s State of the Union address, the Republicans or the Democrats?

Republicans, you know, say they were disappointed because Michele Bachmann distracted attention from Paul Ryan.  Democrats, of course, you would think don‘t want any rebuttal.  But Paul Ryan‘s rebuttal actually, if you were to get into the specifics, is about dismantling Medicare as we know it, dismantling Social Security as we know it, which is wildly unpopular according to all polling, including pollings of Republicans.

And so, these diversions away from what the Republican response actually was may be—may be helpful to Republicans.

FRUM:  Look, Paul Ryan is the face the Republicans want to turn to the country.  It‘s considered.  It‘s knowledgeable.  There is a plan here.

And it may be a plan that has to be refined.  It may be a plan that, you know, when you see what you have to do to get to balance with no tax increases at all, maybe you draw back from that and say, well, let us look for less damaging tax increases.

But it‘s serious.  It‘s government.  It is—it is modern.

You have this instead.  And it is damaging.

And one of the things I thought that was the most interesting thing about State of the Union night was FOX decided not to air the Michele Bachmann address.  That means the Tea Party is over.

O‘DONNELL:  David, you‘re not the only Republican who‘s worried about the Palin-Bachmann factor in our politics.  Let‘s listen to what Meghan McCain said here last night.


MCCAIN:  I think it‘s important to note that Michele Bachmann is not a leader and she‘s not the leader of the Republican Party.  Michele Bachmann, in my opinion, is no better than a poor man‘s Sarah Palin.

And I think the fact that MSNBC and FOX elected not to run this is admirable to the kind of journalism FOX and MSNBC is airing.  I think CNN should be ashamed of themselves for airing this.

It is one rogue woman who couldn‘t even look into the camera directly, and I take none of it seriously, and I think if the Tea Party wants to put a candidate up to give a response, why don‘t they have someone like Rand Paul, who was elected on the Tea Party platform, give that?


O‘DONNELL:  David, poor man‘s Sarah Palin.  Meghan McCain, no hesitation in putting that label out there.

FRUM:  Look, I don‘t think CNN did wrong.  I mean, it‘s news.  It‘s something—she‘s an—Michele Bachmann is an important person.

Let us not forget that in 2010, she actually raised more money than John Boehner did.  She is a consequential figure.  And if she has something to say, it‘s understandable that it would be covered.

The challenge for Republicans is to come up with a better way of defeating this president.  What we heard on State of the Union night was the lack of a plan for mobilizing the economy, the lack of a plan for accelerating economic growth.

We—basically, the president is running a waiting game, hoping growth shows up, that the opposition party should oppose, should offer alternatives, should offer something that is convincing.  And Sarah Palin takes up the room that we need to develop that alternative.

O‘DONNELL:  I think the president did what he could, David, in terms of what he could offer realistically to a Congress that is divided with a Republican House and a Democratic Senate.  And I—listen, I thought the Michele Bachmann thing was sort of news until I watched Rachel Maddow‘s report last night here on the Tea Party Express that put that thing together, which is a utterly fraudulent organization as far as I can tell.  But we‘ll have more on that later.

David Frum, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

FRUM:  Thank you.

O‘DONNELL:  More than 400 rabbis want FOX News to apologize for Glenn Beck‘s constant use of the Holocaust as rhetoric.  We‘ll talk to two rabbis who couldn‘t disagree more about whether Beck is crossing the line.

And next, an update on the generosity of the viewers of this show—why thousands of children in Malawi will soon go through a dramatic change at their schools and why the work is far from over.


O‘DONNELL:  A week before Christmas, I announced our partnership with UNICEF on the KIND Fund, Kids in Need of Desks.  As of today, we have raised $1,909,233.  Over $800,000 has already been sent to Africa, where tomorrow, workers will start receiving the raw materials, steel and wood, to make 39,755 desks.  Just like this one.

With two students per desk, that means at least 80,000 children will no longer have to sit on a dirt floor for seven hours a day while trying to learn.  And in the overcrowded schools I visited in Malawi, three kids easily squeezed onto these little benches.  These desks will be used year in and year out by hundreds of thousands of students who otherwise were never, ever going to see a desk in all of their years in school.

The need for desks in Africa is so great that this has become the permanent cause of this show.

You will always be able to contribute by going to our Web site,

Just $24 will pick a child up off the floor and give her a much better learning opportunity and the dignity she deserves in the classroom.  Students will start receiving these new desks you paid for next Friday.

Later this year, I‘ll be returning to Malawi to show you exactly what your extraordinary generosity has done for these children.


O‘DONNELL:  Guns, ammunition; two words that did not show up in President Obama‘s State of the Union Address.  Senior adviser David Plouffe promises the president will address the issue of gun control at a later date.  But some think the president missed an important opportunity, including the mayor of New York. 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his fight for stricter gun control laws in the Spring of 2006.  After the tragic shooting in Tucson that left six people dead, Mayor Bloomberg has renewed his commitment to that mission. 


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK:  A child in America has 12 times the chance of getting killed by a gun than they do if they live in Western Europe.  Just think about that.  Congress has been unwilling to fix it.  Washington‘s got to do that.  And we call on the president to lead that charge the way President Johnson did.  Thank you. 


O‘DONNELL:  Joining me now, New York City Mayor and co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Michael Bloomberg.  You just told me that your other co-chair is the mayor of Boston. 

BLOOMBERG:  Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino, who deserves a lot of credit.  And he‘s really been one of the impetuses behind trying to get some sensible regulation in this country, so sportsmen can have their guns, the Constitution can be served, but the public is safe. 

O‘DONNELL:  And the use of illegal guns is primarily a big city mayor problem.  You have more to do with it than most other government officials. 

BLOOMBERG:  It‘s funny.  Per capita, it‘s not.  It‘s big city, small city.  It‘s urban.  It‘s rural.  It‘s north, south, east, and west.  It‘s Republican and Democratic. 

It is guns in the hands of a sportsman are fine, in the hands of somebody who has a criminal record or drug problem or psychiatric problems -- it is dangerous; 34 people killed yesterday; 34 people killed today; 34 people killed tomorrow.  Every day, bigger than Virginia Tech, and nobody cares. 

O‘DONNELL:  I ran tape of you talking about this extemporaneously at a press conference here in Manhattan this week before the State of the Union Address.  I had hoped that the president‘s speech writers were taking notes.  Apparently, if they were, this paragraph didn‘t make the cut. 

When you heard nothing in the president‘s speech about gun control, ammunition control, background checks, doing anything legislatively in the aftermath of Tucson, how did that feel? 

BLOOMBERG:  I think the president missed an opportunity.  But I am encouraged.  There‘s word out of the White House by some of his staff that he‘s planning to do a separate speech on guns.  And I hope he does, because his legacy is going to be education and stopping the carnage on our streets. 

Presidents don‘t have a problem in fighting wars overseas.  Congress doesn‘t have a problem in funding wars overseas.  But we have a war on the streets of our cities, big and small.  And we have to do something about that. 

There are 400,000 Americans that have been killed since Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were killed back in ‘68, I guess it was; 400,000 Americans killed with guns.  That is roughly the number of Americans killed in World War II. 

O‘DONNELL:  The political surrender on this that seems to have occurred in this past decade is basically the success of the NRA as the greatest lobbying operation in the history of lobbying, especially when you consider how tough their case is.  Their case is we want to keep all this stuff available so you can all be victims of this at some point in time. 

BLOOMBERG:  It‘s really quite mind-boggling.  It‘s not that big a group.  And when you survey the people who are gun owners and the people who are NRA members, 80 or 90 percent of them say they‘re in favor of a registry of people who have psychiatric problems, drug dealers, criminals.  And 80 or 90 percent say they‘re in favor of enforcing the laws that say you cannot buy a gun without a background check and ending the loopholes. 

So if their own members think that this is reasonable, why is Congress so afraid of them?  And why are elected leaders across the country? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, when you came out and said that, and said this is what we should do, and knowing that NRA membership thinks it‘s a perfectly reasonable position, the NRA leadership had something else to say.  The NRA political director, Chuck Cunningham, called you “Mayor Blame.”  He said “he likes to blame everyone else for violent crime in New York City.  He‘s also blamed Mother Nature for his recent problems with snow removal.  He‘s not after illegal guns.  He‘s after your guns.  And that‘s a real snow job.”

By the way, congratulations on the snow removal today in New York City. 

BLOOMBERG:  We did a good job today. 

O‘DONNELL:  Twenty inches, very impressive. 

BLOOMBERG:  The truth of the matter is they don‘t pay any attention.  The Constitution says you have a right to bear arms.  The Constitution talks about a well-regulated militia.  A well-regulated militia isn‘t a bunch of people that have clips that hold 38 bullets for their Glock handgun in their home. 

We talk about the Second Amendment.  I‘m in favor, like everybody else, of defending the Constitution and the amendments.  But there‘s something called the common purpose of the Constitution.  And it talks about domestic tranquility and establishing justice and a common defense and the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty. 

You don‘t have that when there are some people who federal law says shouldn‘t be able to buy guns, but have been able to buy guns.  Why?  Because Congress hasn‘t put up the money to enforce the laws.  And you have people like this guy at Ft. Hood who killed a lot of people.  The FBI knew he had a problem, didn‘t tell the Army. 

The Army knew that this guy in Tucson had a problem.  They banned him for life.  In fact, the law says that the Army should have told the FBI and put his name on a registry.  They didn‘t.  We need the president, number one, with—he doesn‘t need Congress to do this.  He has to just stand up and say to all his agencies, this is the law; you will certify to me every year that you have sent to the registry that is authorized by Congress, a law signed by the then president of the United States, that says you‘ve got to send the names if they fall into this category. 

And then that would go a long ways.  Then you‘d have the data. 

O‘DONNELL:  You‘ve been to police funerals killed in the line of duty with gunfire.  Have you ever seen an NRA delegation at that funeral, respectfully paying their respects? 

BLOOMBERG:  No.  Nor have I seen anybody that doesn‘t have the courage to stand up as an elected official and say that we‘ve got to do something about this carnage.  And I think if the elected officials in this country at all levels would look in the eye of the parents and say OK, I‘m sorry your son or daughter‘s never going to come home again.  But you know, I didn‘t want to vote that way because politically it might have been a little bit difficult for me. 

The truth of the matter is these are human beings.  And the toughest thing I have to do is go to a hospital, try to get there before the parents or the spouse or the children get there, and I take it on as my responsibility as mayor to look them in the eye and tell them that their loved one‘s never coming home. 

And you do that, you really start to understand this is not just numbers; it‘s not just slogans; it‘s not just business; this is human life.  These are people who are on this Earth along with you and me, and they have a right to live safely. 

And we talk about democracy.  Democracy is being able to walk the streets not looking over your shoulder.  And if everybody‘s armed, I don‘t think you‘re going to be able to have that.  But particularly if you let guns go to the hands of these people who just don‘t have the wherewithal or the credentials under existing federal law to own a gun. 

O‘DONNELL:  An eloquent LAST WORD on this subject tonight.  Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining me once again. 

BLOOMBERG:  Thank you.  I leave with you one other thought.  People who use the term “sportsman” don‘t need a 38 clip -- 38 bullet clips in their handgun. 

O‘DONNELL:  Thank you, Michael Bloomberg. 

Coming up, you‘ve heard of a state flower or a state bird.  But have you heard of a state gun?  The Utah House passes a bill to make the Browning M-1911 firearm a state symbol, and by doing so guess gets tonight‘s Rewrite. 

And over 400 rabbis call for an end to Nazi and Holocaust references by Glenn Beck and the rest of Fox News.  We‘ll talk with two rabbis who don‘t agree on the Beck issue.  


O‘DONNELL:  Time for tonight‘s Rewrite.  As the list of Republicans probably maybe most likely running for the White House next year grows, Stephen Colbert has added one more candidate to the list. 


STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  You know 2012 is just around the corner.  And pundits are falling over themselves to handicap the race.  Will the GOP choose Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, or just a gun with a flag pin? 


O‘DONNELL:  A gun with a flag pin might poll quite well in Mitt Romney‘s home state, Utah, where late yesterday the Utah State House voted 51 to 19 in favor of making this gun, the Browning M-1911, the official state gun. 

Don‘t remember learning your official state gun when you were in elementary school?  That‘s because your state has no state gun.  No state has an official state gun.  Utah would be the first state to equate a gun with flowers, birds, trees, vegetables, farm animals, and all the other things that states officially adopt as theirs. 

According to the sponsor of this legislation, Republican Representative Carl Wimmer, this bill honoring the gun and its Utah native inventor, John Moses Browning, is “an appropriate and fitting tribute to a Utah icon.  This firearm has defended liberty and freedom.”

The same firearm, of course, has also wantonly murdered an untold number of innocent people since it was introduced 100 years ago.  But there are voices of reason in the Utah State House.  One of them Democratic Representative Carol Moss, who was among the first to oppose this legislation, saying, “someone once gave me this advice: don‘t speak against guns.  Now I‘m going to break that advice.  It seems insensitive at this time when people are mourning the death of six people in Tucson and the serious wounding of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a friend of mine.”

“Salt Lake Tribune” reporter David Montero told us during the debate on the House floor, Carol Moss worried about kids doing puzzles and coloring in coloring books that included Utah‘s state flower and its state bird right along—right alongside its state gun.  Moss went on to say, “guns have their place, but their place is not among the things we designate.”

John Moses Browning took a small town gun shop and made it into a globally recognized merchant of death.  The Browning Company, which calls their namesake the father of automatic fire.  So the Utah State House has voted 51 to 19 to honor the father of automatic fire and his invention, an invention whose main purpose is to kill and kill quickly, while the country is still mourning six dead from the Tucson massacre, while Congresswoman Gabby Giffords struggles in a Houston rehabilitation clinic to regain basic functions like speech, after a mad man used automatic fire to put a 22-cent bullet through her head. 

The Utah State Senate should ignore the Utah House and vote—just ignore that Utah House Vote for the state gun.  Just drop that bill.  And get to work right now rewriting Utah‘s choice of state bird, which is, no kidding, the California Seagull.


O‘DONNELL:  Last week, Meghan Kelly of Fox News claimed that commentators on her network do not compare those they disagree with to Nazis.  That provoked this from “The Daily Show.”


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  If you look back at what happened in Germany, you cannot escape the similarities between what Hitler and his cutthroats did back then and the hate-filled blogs, what they‘re doing now. 

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  There is an Obama supporter.  He‘s got this book and this video out that are propaganda pieces.  And I‘m telling you, they would make Joseph Goebbels proud. 

O‘REILLY:  The far left in this country, the zealots—I mean, these are zealots—are Nazis. 

BECK:  America is repeating the mistakes of the Weimar Republic. 

O‘REILLY:  I don‘t see any difference between Huffington and the Nazis. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I still don‘t think she‘s a Nazi. 

O‘REILLY:  I didn‘t say she was a Nazi.  I said there‘s no difference between what the two do. 

BECK:  I know the progressives are using progressive tactics.  They‘re not using Nazi tactics.  They‘re—they‘re—the real answer is the Nazis were using early American progressive tactics.  And that‘s not my opinion.  That‘s historic fact. 

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  And you know.  I should know.  I‘ve been drawing the wrong conclusions from historic facts for years. 


O‘DONNELL:  Today, United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish Funds for Justice published a full-page letter signed by 400 rabbis in the Rupert Murdoch-owned “Wall Street Journal” requesting Murdoch-owned Fox News show more sensitivity when evoking the Holocaust and sanction Glenn Beck for his attacks on Holocaust survivor George Soros. 

They also requested an apology from Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who attributed criticism of Beck to “left-wing rabbis who basically don‘t think that anybody can ever use the word Holocaust on the air.”

Joining me now from the New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbi David Seth Kirshner.  Also, spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbi Yehuda Levin. 

Rabbi Kirshner, are you a left-wing rabbi who disapproves of the use of the word holocaust at any time, as Roger Ailes thinks this is—what this is all about? 

RABBI DAVID SETH KIRSHNER, NEW YORK BOARD OF RABBIS:  Lawrence, I‘m not a left-wing rabbi, and I do not disapprove of the use of the word holocaust” at any time.  But I do disapprove of the way Glenn Beck and others have demonized the word and—I should rather say used the word inappropriately. 

This is not a question of permissibility.  This is a question of sensitivity.  This has nothing to do with people who support or don‘t support George Soros‘ political views.  This has to do with people like Glenn Beck, who has the ear of many, comparing him and using imagery of a Nazi collaborator for George Soros.  And that‘s unacceptable.  That‘s intolerable for us. 

O‘DONNELL:  Roger Ailes lied about what the four rabbis are asking for.  They are asking for simply more care to be taken with any reference to the Holocaust on Fox News.  Roger Ailes lied and said that they don‘t think anybody can ever use the word Holocaust on the air.  Don‘t you think Roger Ailes should at least correctly characterize what these rabbis are saying? 

RABBI YEHUDA LEVIN, RABBINICAL ALLIANCE OF AMERICA:  Let me begin very quickly by saying I‘m no blind fan of Glenn Beck nor Sarah Palin.  Although I‘m generally sympathetic to their right-wing positions—

O‘DONNELL:  You are politically conservative. 

LEVIN:  Absolutely.  However, I feel that Glenn Beck revealed himself on—we‘re not going to spend a lot of time on this, but I do want to get this out so people should understand where I‘m coming from.  I‘m an equal opportunity abuser.  Glenn Beck on the issue of homosexual marriage is on the wrong side of the issue.  And Bill O‘Reilly debated it out with him. 

Sarah Palin has not mentioned a word about family values since she was McCain‘s partner.  And it seems that she has been McCained.  And I‘m calling on both of them to come back.  The Tea Party and everybody—

O‘DONNELL:  They‘re not conservative enough?

LEVIN:  Not by a long shot.  Having said that, however, I want to defend—I want to defend what is happening here.  And this is basically my statement, which I just scribbled here because you guys gave me a free piece of paper. 

O‘DONNELL:  Quickly. 

LEVIN:  The liberal left, homosexual, marriage-supporting, baby-aborting, abandoning, not kosher-eating, Sabbath-desecrating liberal rabbis have decided to use the Holocaust as a bludgeon, a baseball bat to beat and bash their right-wing political opponents.  This is scandalous. 

O‘DONNELL:  When Bill O‘Reilly says, as he did there, that the tactics, liberal tactics, are the same as Nazis—there are no liberals in this country who are putting Jews in gas chambers. 

LEVIN:  Of course not. 

O‘DONNELL:  So how do you let people say things like that?  Are you not offended by Bill O‘Reilly saying that, equating liberal tactics to Nazis? 

LEVIN:  Come on.  The liberal sanctimonious phonies who get on and scream to kill George Bush and assassinate Henry Hyde  -- all of a sudden, these poor people are so upset with Fox because—

O‘DONNELL:  No, no. 


O‘DONNELL:  The concern here is when the word Holocaust is about literally burning Jews to death. 

LEVIN:  I appreciate that. 

O‘DONNELL:  And when you start using the word holocaust within American politics, you are lying.  Rabbi, go ahead. 

KIRSHNER:  Listen, Lawrence, just last week, Glenn Beck, in explaining his new book “Seven,” said “political discourse needs to be in the context of history.”  So what gives him the license to make a sentence like this in promotion of his new book, while at the very same time using words flippantly like Holocaust and Nazi and collaborator, which denigrates the memory of 11 million people who were murdered by the Nazis, and trivializes the systematic annihilation of six million Jews.  That‘s unacceptable. 

O‘DONNELL:  Let‘s listen to what Glenn Beck had to say today on his radio show.  I can‘t guarantee you that it will make any sense, but let‘s just listen to this clip of his radio show. 


BECK:  Can you see the anti-Semitism just dripping out of “Rumors of War”?  It‘s really, really amazing how anti-Semitic I am on the day that we release “Rumors of War,” that was a year in production. 


O‘DONNELL:  What is he—is “rumors of war” his book? 

KIRSHNER:  No.  “Rumors of War” is a book that has to do with issues about Iran and its hatred for the west, in particular for Israel.  I want to be very clear.  I in no way think Glenn Beck is anti-Semitic.  Glenn Beck‘s a strong supporter of Israel.  This has nothing to do with anti-semitism. 

What bothers me is when Roger Ailes throws out, just dismisses the idea of this letter from 400-plus rabbis as making it a partisan issue.  So if we‘re sensitized, especially on U.N. Day of Holocaust Remembrance, to be thoughtful and reflective of those who have survived and those who have lost loved ones, that he submits it and dismisses it as simply the left—this is not a partisan issue. 

O‘DONNELL:  Was it anti-Semitic for Roger Ailes to—


O‘DONNELL:  Hold it.  To lie about what your fellow rabbis, 400 rabbis, said in print in the “Wall Street Journal”?  It‘s right there.  Roger Ailes lies about what they‘re saying. 

LEVIN:  Listen.  He hasn‘t yet given me my check to defend whether he‘s lying or not.  But what I want to say is that these 400, quote unquote, rabbis are doing a lot of—


LEVIN:  What they‘re doing is this is the Jesse Jacksonization of the left-wing rabbis.  The next thing is they‘re going to demand reparations for the insult to the Jews of the Holocaust.  If we do a poll now, we‘ll find that America goes ho-hum about what Sarah Palin said with blood libel.  We‘re not stupids.  We all understand the melodramatic excesses involved in this media.  And you understand this as well.  I‘m surprised—

O‘DONNELL:  There are melodramatic excesses.  But there is sacred ground.  There are places you do not go in your melodramatic excesses.  You don‘t say blood libel.  You don‘t use the Holocaust. 


O‘DONNELL:  Rabbi, go ahead. 

KIRSHNER:  Lawrence, you‘re absolutely right.  And I‘ll tell you, Rabbi Levin, respectfully, is incorrect and I‘ll tell you why.  This is not a leftist article.  This article was written and signed by rabbis who are reconstructionist, reform, conservative, and orthodox.  The same—

LEVIN:  We have some ortho-lefties. 


KIRSHNER:  This has nothing to do with partisanship.  This has to do with sensitivity.  And I think in the wake of Tucson—

LEVIN:  Where‘s the camera?  Are you getting this?  I want to sell you a bridge. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to have to—


O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to have to close the show.  And I think one of

the nice lessons about tonight, what a lot of non-Jews don‘t know, is that

it is very hard to get any two rabbis to agree on anything, no matter where

they are in the religious or political spectrum.  We‘re going to continue -

I want to talk about the next show that‘s coming up.  You can keep going.

Rabbi Yehuda Levin and Rabbi David Seth Kirshner, thank you both for joining me tonight.  That‘s tonight‘s LAST WORD.  You can have the last word by going to our blog at TheLastWord.MSNBC.  “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next.


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