Guests: Howard Fineman, Jeff Rossen, Scott Fitzgerald, Joe Hagan, Charlie Sheen
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST: The Republican governor of Wisconsin refuses to compromise with Democrats over collective bargaining with state workers. A couple of Republican senators, however, are at least thinking about it.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Directly to Wisconsin now. Behind the scenes, there could be a compromise taking shape.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Protesters defy the governor‘s demands to leave the capitol. Fourteen Democratic senators defy the calls to return to work. But could moderate Republicans break the stalemate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republican state senators are prepared to side with their Democratic colleagues.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Madison, Wisconsin, what could be an interesting piece of news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had heard that he is going to vote against the bill. That would give the Democrats a 17 to 16 simple majority win and defeat for the governor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who‘s going to blink first in Wisconsin?
GUTHRIE: Governor Scott Walker said he will not back down.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: Obama has called the Walker proposal, quote, “an assault on unions,” but has said little else personally on this situation.
O‘DONNELL: As word of a Republican defection was spreading, the president breaks his silence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today at the White House, President Obama weighed in on the show down that caught fire.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: President Obama is signaling support for public employees.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified.
ED SCHULTZ, THE ED SHOW: The president has to realize in my opinion that Wisconsin is about 2012.
O‘DONNELL: And the Republicans who might challenge the president are watching.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Is that aimed at, say, Sarah Palin?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY: Certainly, when I first made that comment, it was in response to a question about Governor Palin. We don‘t have a field yet first of all.
GOV. MITCH DANIELS ®, INDIANA: If it means that deadlines pass, it does.
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI: Whether or not anybody else runs is irrelevant to my decision.
O‘DONNELL: And Karl Rove imitates Sarah Palin in an interview, but another interview today is getting much more attention.
MITCHELL: Actor Charlie Sheen is speaking out for the first time.
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: People don‘t think I‘m insane or they don‘t think that what I‘m saying is true, then I have no interest in there retarded opinions. I really don‘t.
O‘DONNELL: Good evening.
Wisconsin‘s Republican Governor Scott Walker is prepared to give his state budget address tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. whether his so-called “budget repair bill” is approved by the Senate or not. Today, reports emerged that some moderate Republican state senators may be ready to vote against Walker‘s plan. The missing 14 Democratic state senators would need three Republicans to join their side to defeat the bill.
Walker remains determined.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: The measure has to be acted on by tomorrow. Republican and Democrat alike, whether you‘re for or against the bill, I don‘t think there‘s anybody out there that wants to see the state lose out on the $165 million worth of savings. I want to avoid those. I want to do everything in my power to keep this from getting to a point where we have massive layoffs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Today‘s protests inside the capitol building were not as big as in previous days despite long lines outside. The State Department of Administration kept the building closed to the public as they tried to evacuate protesters who had spent the night there.
President Obama addressed the National Governors Association at the White House today. His audience included the most prominent Republican governors, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Haley Barbour. Not attending, the leader of the union-busting pack, Wisconsin‘s Scott Walker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts. But let me also say this—I don‘t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified, or their rights are infringed upon.
We need to attract the best and brightest to public service. These times demand it. We‘re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. So, yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises that we‘ve made as a nation. And those will be tough conversations, but necessary conversations.
As we make these decisions about our budget going forward, though, I believe that everyone should be at the table and that the concept of shared sacrifice should prevail. If all the pain is born by only one group, whether it‘s workers or seniors or the poor, while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we‘re not doing the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Governor Walker later responded to President Obama saying, “I‘m sure the president knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits, while our plan allows it for base pay.”
Joining me now, Howard Fineman of “The Huffington Post” and MSNBC analyst.
Thanks for joining me tonight, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Howard, how did the president‘s speech change the dynamic of the situation today, if at all?
FINEMAN: I don‘t think it did very much. I spoke to some labor officials late in the afternoon. Once again, they wished he said more. They would have liked to hear him utter the word “Wisconsin” or the phrase “collective bargaining.”
But look, this is no drama Obama. They know what‘s up. And the labor officials that I talked to are still focused on their chances of actually defeating the governor based on public support and what the polls are showing in Wisconsin.
O‘DONNELL: In addition to the polls in Wisconsin, we now have a “The New York Times”/CBS Poll out tonight, nationwide poll—which is something the president must be paying attention to—showing support for the workers‘ bargaining rights, saying that 60 percent support preserving the bargaining rights of public employee unions.
Sixty percent is a sweet spot in American politics, Howard. It seems like the president was trying to speak to that 60 percent today.
FINEMAN: Yes. And I think it was probably the labor officials notwithstanding trying to do it in a careful way, because if you‘re winning that battle, you don‘t want to overly politicize it. You don‘t want to turn it into a Republican versus Democratic thing. And I think the president knew full well or thinks and his advisers think that they are on the right side of this in terms of public sentiment. So, why turn it into a campaign issue per se. I think that‘s probably part of their thinking as well.
O‘DONNELL: The Republican Governors Association is going up with a new TV ad in Wisconsin defending their colleague, Governor Walker. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: It‘s a sea of red ink in Madison. And while Senate Democrats are fleeing their responsibility, Governor Walker is leading, balancing the budget without raising taxes, so Wisconsin will be open for business again, and asking state employees to contribute to their own benefits, just like everyone else.
In Wisconsin, leaders don‘t run away from tough problems like the Senate Democrats. Instead, they stand and lead like Governor Scott Walker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Howard, as much talk as there has been from Governor Walker and others inside Wisconsin, saying they want to keep this inside Wisconsin, here his help is coming from Republican Governors outside of his state.
FINEMAN: That‘s an extraordinary ad, Lawrence, not so much for what‘s in it, because it‘s your classic defense and attack ad at the same time. It‘s the fact that the national Republican Governors Association, the Republican leadership nationally, felt it necessary to put an ad up, however big a buy it is, I don‘t think it‘s that‘s big of buy, it‘s more to be part of the conversation, that they would feel that they would need to do such a thing on a state issue in a state place.
That means that this is a—this is a national conversation going on, and I think it shows that that the Republicans think, at least for now, that they‘re on the wrong side of it.
O‘DONNELL: Howard, is there any indication that the governor may be looking for a way out with these deadlines that he‘s setting? Some of these deadlines have seemed flexible. They seem to have moved. We thought we had one last Friday. Now, we‘re being told we have one tomorrow.
Might he be looking for a deadline as the spot to say, OK, now, we didn‘t get it as of this deadline, let‘s start over with something else?
FINEMAN: I don‘t think so. From everybody I know who knows him, he‘s pretty well dug in here. And perhaps some of his advisers and friends are wishing and hoping that there are a couple of Republican defections that can get him out of the spot that he‘s in.
But my sense is that the governor himself is going to stick to his guns here and is going to try to pursue this any way he can. And I really think, from talking to lots of Republicans in a lot of places, they want to be ahead on the spending issue. They want to be known as the budget balancing and spending-cutting party.
But this issue over collective bargaining is getting in the way of it because even though union membership is now relatively small, certainly, the industrial union is minuscule, people in American still have a residual feeling of—if not affection, at least respect for the idea of collective bargaining, and for unions.
And don‘t forget that the previous generation of Reagan Democrats, Lawrence, remember the phrase about “Reagan Democrats,” the people who came from the Democratic Party to vote for Ronald Reagan, those were union members. They were from union families. That‘s what the whole idea of a Reagan Democrat was.
And if you look at the polling in Wisconsin, a lot of shift in sentiment away from the governor has been among Republican union members in Wisconsin. That‘s got to scare Republican strategists nationally.
O‘DONNELL: Howard Fineman of “The Huffington Post,” thanks for joining us tonight, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
Joining me now on the telephone from Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald—State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Thanks for joining us tonight, Senator.
STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD ®, WISCONSIN (via telephone): You bet, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Senator, you just Howard referring to polls within Wisconsin that show a switch in support. Now there‘s a poll out today saying that if the election, the governor‘s election was held today, the Governor Walker would lose, people would change their votes. And as Howard indicated, that switch was a huge switch among union family voters.
Do you think that has anything to do with the reports we‘re getting today that some of your Republican colleagues in the Senate are talking to Democratic members of the Senate about a possible compromise?
FITZGERALD: No, that‘s not true, Lawrence. I mean, what‘s really going on is many of these Democrat senators have been reaching out to my members trying to figure out a way to get out of the box they‘re in. They are unable—and there are as many as eight or nine of them that are trying to come back to Wisconsin. They just can‘t figure out how to get out of the box at this point. Labor won‘t let them come back, and quite honestly, even if they did come back, we‘re not sure exactly what the Republicans would ever compromise on.
I know we can‘t do it in the Senate on the budget repair bill. So, they‘re concerned about a couple of my members, but at this point, it seems as many as eight or nine of the 14 are ready to come home.
O‘DONNELL: Well, let‘s talk about Senator Dale Schultz on your side, the Republican. He represents the 17th district, which President Obama won 61 to 38. John Kerry won his district. He is the senator who everyone is indicating is the one who is at the center of the compromise talk with Democrats.
Have you talked to Senator Schultz today? Has he assured you that he is sticking with the Republicans on this today?
FITZGERALD: Yes. Senator Schultz and I speak all the time. And I did speak to Senator Schultz this morning about it. Dale is in a tough spot because he‘s got one of those districts in which an assemblyman the other night voted against a bill which changed the dynamics back home. He‘s got a—his wife Rachel is a district administrator at one of the school districts in his Senate seat. So, he‘s got a lot of things on his plate.
But, you know, I‘m still hopeful that when Dale sees the governor‘s budget tomorrow at 4:00, he‘s going to see the deep, deep cuts to education and to shared revenues of money that makes its way to the local level and be able to figure his way through this to an aye vote. Everyone else in the caucus is still rock solid.
O‘DONNELL: So, what we are—what we can report tonight is that Senator Schultz is not rock solid. That‘s what NBC has been reporting today, that because of all the factors you just indicated, Senator, that he is thinking about trying to work out a compromise with Democrats. And you‘re telling us to your knowledge, even though you‘re having conversations with him, you are only now hopeful about his vote. His vote is not rock solid with the Republicans.
FITZGERALD: No, Dale‘s position has been that from the beginning. I mean, the idea, though, that he‘s working on other Republican senators, that‘s just outrageous. That‘s not happening at all.
O‘DONNELL: Let me ask you about something that appears in the governor‘s bill. This clause that says the government may sell any state-owned heating, cooling and power plant or make contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant with or without solicitation of bids for any amount that the department determines.
How can you have a no bid clause in here for businesses to buy these government assets? What is that doing in this bill that‘s supposed to be about clean budget practices?
FITZGERALD: It‘s pretty easy. The governor thinks that there may be a market out there for some of these old and antiquated power plants that need a lot of work to bring them up to EPA standards, and the idea was that they would try to put these on the market, see if there‘s any buyers, they‘re not sure there is. And actually, the legislature, I think, is very comfortable with this provision because we did put our stamp on it in the budget writing committee, the joint finance committee, by saying that it has to come before the legislature before any of these purchases could be granted.
So, we‘re—you know, it is not as controversial as it sounds.
O‘DONNELL: But, Senator, when did you become comfortable with the idea that the government can sell these things at no bids, with absolutely no bids at whatever amount it chooses?
FITZGERALD: The idea that these power plants are in very poor condition and almost in disrepair in some instances, we‘d be very fortunate to find anybody I think that would want to bid on these and make the huge investment. That‘s the way it‘s been characterized, and that‘s the truth. I mean, that is the issue that really exists.
O‘DONNELL: Senator, I wish we had more time on this tonight. Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald—thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Coming up: when “New York Magazine” asked Sarah Palin—let‘s see, what does this say. When “New York Magazine”—no, this prompter stuff is wrong. So, here‘s the story. “New York Magazine” has an interview with Karl Rove about Sarah Palin. He didn‘t just poke fun at her. He actually did an imitation of her. Should Tina Fey be worried?
And, an exclusive look inside Bush‘s brain later.
Television‘s most valuable actor sits down with NBC‘s Jeff Rossen for as strange an interview as you have ever seen.
O‘DONNELL: He may have lost his day job for now and his publicist. He has not lost the urge to speak freely. Charlie Sheen‘s strange and sad interview, coming up.
And why does Sarah Palin worry Karl Rove? That‘s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA FEY, ACTRESS: You know, we‘re going to take every aspect of the crisis and look at it, then we‘re going to ask ourselves what would a maverick do in this situation. And then, you know, we‘ll do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Move over, Tina Fey. There‘s a new Sarah Palin imitator in town. FOX News comedian Karl Rove offered his version of a Sarah Palin imitation during a lengthy interview with Joe Hagan of “New York Magazine.” Rove mocked a fishing scene from Palin‘s reality show, adopting a, quote, “high, sniffling Palin accent.”
“‘Holy crap, that fish hit my thigh. It hurts.‘” I am not going to even attempt anything close to a Palin here.
“‘It hurts. How does that make us comfortable, seeing‘”—this is
Rove talking now, “‘Of course, how does that make us comfortable seeing her
in the Oval Office,‘ Rove asks, disgusted. ‘You know, holy crap, Putin
said something ugly.‘”
There‘s too many imitations to do in that quote. Rove and Palin, impossible.
Rove‘s political contempt for Palin stems in part from her support of 2010 candidates like Christine O‘Donnell who appealed to the Tea Party but had zero chance in their general elections, elections that Rove actually wanted to win.
In response to his criticism of Palin, Rove reveals, “Some of her people have talked to me and said, ‘Look, the old rules don‘t apply. In essence, the candidate is the message. We‘ll see. That‘s an interesting view. And we‘ll see how accurate it is.”
Joining me now, the man who interviewed Karl Rove, “New York Magazine‘s” Joe Hagan.
Thanks for joining me tonight, Joe.
JOE HAGAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Happy to be here, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Joe, Rove says in your piece things that don‘t change quickly in politics, meaning the models don‘t change, the rules don‘t change, the way things progress don‘t change. That‘s what makes him so skeptical of the Palin phenomenon, of the Tea Party phenomenon, isn‘t it?
HAGAN: Yes, that‘s right. I mean, he sees her as attempting to circumvent the institutional framework of the Republican Party that he obviously represents and has had, you know, his hands on the levers of for her the last however many years. So, he‘s obviously—it‘s not in his interest to see her succeed in many ways.
O‘DONNELL: Now, you are the lucky one among us who has heard the Rove impression of Sarah Palin.
O‘DONNELL: What‘s it like? You‘re sitting there, he bursts into Palin. Is he good? Does he do a good Palin?
HAGAN: He does a great Palin. It‘s—but the disgust in his voice is naked. I mean, he really does—you can tell he doesn‘t like her. And he did take on the accent. “The holy crap,” that‘s basically how it sounds, you know?
And he‘s—actually, among his friends, he‘s known for doing impersonation occasionally. And some of them weren‘t surprised to hear that he had done this one. But I was surprised in the course of the interview because he really let down his guard in some sort of real, transparent dislike emerged.
And, you know, at the bottom of that is, you know, the whole story of the establishment of the party, that he is trying to and continues to represent in the people that he represents, people like Mary Matalin and all the Bush donors, people from the establishment versus the Tea Party, who used to be their base, but now, they don‘t have as much control of them as they used to.
O‘DONNELL: You talk about his five trips to the grand jury over the Valerie Plame incident, and he speaks clearly to you about how close it came to him being indicted. He says if it were not for the great skills of his lawyer—
O‘DONNELL: -- amazing passage in there, he talks about watching Scooter Libby go to court and thinking without the great skills of my lawyer, that would be me.
HAGAN: Right. Well, that was in his memoir, and I was quoting from that there. He gets very tense when you bring up this subject. I was trying to ask what his relationship with Scooter Libby was like nowadays which did not elicit a lot of enthusiasm.
But—you know, the fact is he came very close to going to prison for what a lot of people see as doing business as usual in the Rovian sense, you know, doing the kind of attacks on enemies. But, you know, in the end, he didn‘t legally I guess perjure himself. So, he got out of it.
O‘DONNELL: Now, he‘s made it very clear who he doesn‘t want to see run for president, Sarah Palin and the more fringe elements of the party. Who is his dream candidate to go up against Barack Obama?
HAGAN: Well, I bet, you know, he wishes that he could see one clearly, but I bet if Jeb Bush were running, he would be extremely happy, I believe. When I asked him about Jeb Bush, he said he would make an incredible president of the United States. And I guess it shouldn‘t surprise us at all that he would like to see, you know, another Bush in office.
But alternately, I hear that he‘s—you know, he likes Mitch Daniels, who they were close in the Bush White House. So, you know, how much hope there is there for him, I don‘t know.
O‘DONNELL: Joe Hagan, contributing editor at “New York Magazine” and author of the Karl Rove story. It‘s an amazing piece, must read. Thanks very much for joining us tonight.
HAGAN: Thanks for having me, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Moammar Gadhafi tells the world he cannot stop down. His people love him too much.
And the U.S. Treasury announces unprecedented acts on Libya‘s assets, coming up.
And he was the highest paid actor in prime time until a series of rants on radio led to the shut down of his show. Charlie Sheen‘s interview in which he tells NBC he has tiger blood in his veins, and he doesn‘t think anything anyone with a normal brain can understand it.
O‘DONNELL: Ahead in this hour: two Republicans, two ways of pushing back on those who targeted the first lady‘s obesity campaign. How to tell which one is really running for president. That‘s in the “Rewrite” tonight.
And $30 billion in Libyan government assets are frozen in the largest sanction of its kind, this as the Libyan dictator denies yet again that he is firing on his own people. The latest on the crackdown and rebellion.
But, first, only a matter of time before Gadhafi‘s strange rants ended up edited for YouTube consumption. An Israeli journalist took Moammar Gadhafi‘s speech from last Tuesday, mix it with Pitbull‘s “Hey Baby,” and ended up with more than 1.2 million hits online. I give you auto tunes Gadhafi.
O‘DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Libyans dig in for a violent revolution. While rebel forces control the eastern part of the country, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi tries to strengthen his grip on the capitol city of Tripoli and tells ABC‘s Christiane Amanpour that he has no plans to leave.
He also said that President Barack Obama is, quote, “a good man,” but appears to be misinformed about the situation in Libya. Gadhafi has launched the bloodiest crackdown in a wave of anti-government uprisings across the Arab world.
Here is NBC‘s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Geneva, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a U.N. meeting all options are on the table, including a no fly zone operated by NATO.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: A no fly zone is an option we are actively considering. I discussed it today with allies and partners. And we will proceed with this active consideration.
MITCHELL: President Obama met today with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. But Moammar Gadhafi shows no sign of stepping down, even denying today that the rebellion is real, in comments to the BBC and ABC.
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LEADER OF LIBYA (through translator): They love me. All my people with me. They love me all. They would die to protect me and my people.
MITCHELL: That prompted a sharp response from the U.S.
SUSAN RICE, U.N. AMBASSADOR: It sounds just frankly delusional. It only underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality.
MITCHELL: The U.S. is repositions Naval and Air Forces in case the president orders military action. A destroyer is making it way northward through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean today. Both the U.S. Carrier Enterprise and Helicopter Carrier Kiersage (ph) are standing by in the Red Sea.
If a no fly zone were ordered, NATO could fly out of air bases in Italy or from ships. But military experts warn a no fly zone wouldn‘t stop Gadhafi from killing civilians.
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET): It would not significantly change the situation in Tripoli, with Gadhafi‘s Revolutionary Brigade crushing dissent. And it would then entail enormous resources and military energy for little outcome.
MITCHELL: The world is also uniting to squeeze Gadhafi financially. The U.S. Treasury announced today it has now frozen 30 billion dollars in Libyan assets, the largest sanction in U.S. history. Europe is also freezing Gadhafi‘s assets, including the 16 million dollar London home of Gadhafi‘s son, Saif, who says his is just a very modest family.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We‘re taking every possible step to isolate the Gadhafi regime, to deprive it of money, to shrink its power.
MITCHELL (on camera): Tomorrow, the U.N. is expected to officially kick Libya out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. That is an embarrassment that critics say only underscores just how the international community has been willing to overlook Gadhafi‘s abuses until now. Lawrence?
O‘DONNELL: Andrea Mitchell, NBC‘s chief foreign affairs
correspondent, thank you. >
Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were both asked over the weekend about Michelle Obama‘s fight against childhood obesity. One of them answered like a Republican presidential candidate and the other did not. That‘s in the Rewrite.
And in an interview with NBC‘s Jeff Rossen, Charlie Sheen referred to himself as a warlock and attributed his fast recovery from alcoholism to his, quote, tiger blood, and Adonis (ph) DNA. We will show you the strangest and saddest interview with a TV star that you‘ve ever seen, coming up.
O‘DONNELL: Time for tonight‘s Rewrite. After the Palin/Bachmann/Limbaugh attacks on Michelle Obama‘s anti-obesity campaign, two prominent Republicans are now defending the First Lady: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Former Governor Mike Huckabee. Governor Christie gave one of his trademark, straightforward answers yesterday to Bob Schieffer on CBS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS ANCHOR: What do you think about this criticism coming from the right on Michelle Obama because she‘s trying to get people to eat better?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY: I think it is unnecessary. I think it is a really good goal to encourage kids to eat better. I don‘t want the government deciding what you can eat and can‘t eat. I still think that‘s your choice.
But I think Mrs. Obama being out there encouraging people in a positive way to eat well and to exercise and to be healthy, I don‘t have a problem with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Over on Fox, Chris Wallace asked the question, trying to put Mike Huckabee at odds with the Palin, Bachmann, Limbaugh line of attack on the First Lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh have all criticized Michelle Obama‘s anti-obesity campaign as nanny state run amuck. You say they‘re all wrong and, in fact, that we should be all thanking the First Lady.
MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I didn‘t say they‘re all wrong. Let‘s be real clear, because then it sounds like I‘m in a war with Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh. And I‘m not.
I am just simply saying that what Michelle Obama is proposing is not that the government tells you that you can‘t eat dessert. What Michelle Obama has proposed is that we recognize that we have a serious obesity crisis, which we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: What‘s obvious here, one of these two men wants to run for president right now, and the other doesn‘t. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has emphatically said, time and time again, that he‘s not running. The time has come to believe him.
Any Republican—any Republican willing to openly disagree with the Palin, Bachmann, Limbaugh machine obviously has no intention to go national in this election cycle.
And Mike Huckabee‘s answer? We hear him desperately rewriting himself, because he fears the wrath of Palin, Bachmann, Limbaugh, which makes sense if he‘s running for president any time soon. Huckabee correctly says Michelle Obama isn‘t telling people not to have dessert. But his claim that he didn‘t say Sarah Palin is wrong is just wrong.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Where‘s the S‘mores ingredients? This is in honor of Michelle Obama who said the other day we should not have dessert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: It is impossible to agree with Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama as long as Palin lies about what the First Lady actually says. Watching Mike Huckabee struggle to sound reasonable, while never disagreeing with Sarah Palin, is a preview of the impossible position any Republican candidate for president will be stuck in, which is one of the many reasons, why the next president to take the oath of office will be Barack Obama.
O‘DONNELL: As his troubles deepen, Charlie Sheen is becoming even more talkative, giving more interviews every day. Sheen is the highest paid actor in television for good reason. No actor in a current series has made more money for his studio and his network. As his interviews have gotten more and more out of control and harmful to his cause, his publicist, Stan Rosenfield, parted ways with the actor, saying, quote, “I have worked with Charlie Sheen for a long time and I care about him very much. However, at this time, I am unable to work effectively as his publicist.”
What Rosenfield and others close to Charlie Sheen know they are watching is the tragic unraveling of a victim of drug and alcohol addiction. There is nothing funny about Charlie Sheen‘s condition to anyone who has seen a loved one in similar circumstances. The grandiosity, the anger, the sense of superiority that you are about to see are all classic symptoms of an addict hitting rock bottom.
This should be taken as a dark and cautionary tale. What you are about to see can happen to anyone, to your children, to your parents, can happen to your brothers, can happen to your sisters, can happen to anyone. This is Jeff Rossen‘s interview with Charlie Sheen that ran on this morning‘s edition of “Today.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ROSSEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The first question America wants to know, are you clean right now?
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: Look at me, duh, drug tests don‘t lie.
ROSSEN: When was the last time you did drugs?
SHEEN: Don‘t remember, don‘t care. Drug tests don‘t lie. Scoreboard doesn‘t lie.
ROSSEN: You say you cured yourself of addiction. You don‘t need Alcoholics Anonymous. How have you done that?
SHEEN: I closed my eyes and made it so with the power of my mind. I had to unload 22 years of fiction. And I just decided that I don‘t believe that anymore. I know my own truth. And that‘s what I stand on right now.
ROSSEN: What kind of fiction?
SHEEN: The fiction of AA. It‘s a silly book written by a broken down fool who was a plagiarist. They think it is a one size fits all, but it didn‘t fit me. I got tired of subscribing to something with a five percent success rate. As a retired gambler, I need better odds than that, you know.
ROSSEN: Did you turn to alcohol and other substances because you were bored?
SHEEN: No, I did that because they worked.
ROSSEN: Worked to do what?
SHEEN: Just change the way you see things, change the way you feel. And yeah, when you‘re a little bored with the redundancy of certain aspects of your life—yeah, I think that‘s why people do them.
ROSSEN: Did you feel out of control a month or two ago? Do you feel more in control now?
SHEEN: Of course. I don‘t know if I call it out of control. Just the choices I was making were not leading to the results I wanted. I woke up and said dude, you‘re 45 with five kids. Let‘s do something different because this thing is boring. I got bored, that‘s what happened. Yeah.
ROSSEN: You‘ve been to rehab before. This time you did in home rehab. First of all, what is that and why did it work this time for you?
SHEEN: Well, we couldn‘t really call it rehab because we didn‘t have a license to operate one. So it was a crisis management center that we labeled the Sober Valley Lodge.
ROSSEN: You labeled your house the Sober Valley Lodge?
SHEEN: Yeah, that‘s what it became.
ROSSEN: What happened?
SHEEN: We wouldn‘t allow AA to be part of it. We wouldn‘t allow AA to contaminate Sober Valley Lodge. As a result, its primary client achieved radical success.
ROSSEN (voice-over): But even if Charlie Sheen is clean, damage has been done, damage at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, when in October he allegedly went on a drunken rampage against a porn star inside his room. His kids were right down the hall.
And the conviction for assault in Colorado in 2009. Police say he held a knife to the throat of his now estranged wife, Brooke Mueller. The judge ordered Sheen to rehab.
(on camera): People have said you‘re a violent person towards women.
What do you say to that?
SHEEN: They don‘t know me. The same people talking about those incidents weren‘t there. So how much can they really discuss the situation they were not involved with? At that point, it is all just judgment and opinion and just the gibberish of fools.
ROSSEN: You told me you want to rededicate yourself now, to your kids, to being a dad.
ROSSEN: Are you embarrassed that your children will read about this one day?
SHEEN: God no. Talk about an education. This, and that‘s the guy, and he‘s our dad, and we can get all the answers and the truth? Wow, winning, that‘s how you perceive it.
ROSSEN (voice-over): Until last month, sheen was winning as the highest paid actor in TV.
SHEEN: Are you insane?
ROSSEN: Making nearly two million dollars an episode on the hit sitcom “Two and A Half Men.” CBS halted production, demanding Charlie clean up his act. That‘s when Sheen went on a rampage on the radio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sound like Thomas Jefferson.
SHEEN: Well, I‘m not Thomas Jefferson. He was a (EXPLETIVE DELTED).
No, but I dare anyone to debate me on things. Debate me on AA right now.
I have a disease, boom, I cured it with my brain, with my mind. I‘m cured.
ROSSEN (on camera): You‘ve called into a radio shows in the past couple of weeks. We‘ve all heard the tapes by now.
SHEEN: Pretty passionate stuff.
ROSSEN: Some would say angry. Some would say spiraling.
SHEEN: Passionate. I think my passion is misinterpreted as anger sometimes. And I don‘t think people are ready for the message I‘m delivering and delivering with, you know, a sense of violent love.
ROSSEN (voice-over): But it soon turned to hatred, aimed directly at the show‘s co creator, Chuck Lorre.
SHEEN: There‘s nothing inside of deplorable that a certain Haim Levine—yeah, that‘s Chuck‘s real name—mistook this rock star for his own selfish exit strategy, bro. Last I checked, Haim, I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into gold. Well, you‘ve been warned, dude. Bring it.
ROSSEN (on camera): You have been called an anti-Semite.
SHEEN: I know, it‘s ridiculous. Clark Bird, my manager, Jeff Rossen, my interviewer. No, I never had that in my past. You can look as deep and as far as you want. It is just not there because I‘m not that guy. No, that‘s silliness.
ROSSEN (voice-over): CBS didn‘t see the humor and canceled the entire rest of the season.
(on camera): You‘ve told me you‘re at war with them now.
SHEEN: We‘re definitely a war, yes.
ROSSEN: What the war?
SHEEN: The war is that they are trying to destroy my family. So I take great umbrage with that. And defeat is not an option. They picked a fight with a warlock.
ROSSEN: How are they trying to destroy your family?
SHEEN: Trying to take all my money and leave me with no means to support my family. It is not rocket science.
ROSSEN: How do you plan on winning that war?
SHEEN: With zeal and focus and violent hatred. You either love or you hate. You live in the middle, you get nothing.
ROSSEN: Didn‘t CBS have a right to shut your show down? They‘re reading about you partying at all hours of the night, taking drugs, abusing alcohol? It‘s their show.
SHEEN: Epic, epic behavior. No, because after reading about that, then they observe a guy hitting every mark, nailing every line, every joke, with a full house screaming.
ROSSEN: Ever miss a day of work?
SHEEN: Not a day that cost anybody any money. I missed practice.
I‘m talking about practice. To quote the great Allen Iverson, practice?
Come on, guys, we‘re talking about practice.
ROSSEN (voice-over): Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre haven‘t spoken since the shut down. But in our interview, Sheen wanted to direct Chuck directly.
(on camera): If Chuck Lorre is watching right now—I imagine he probably is.
SHEEN: He should be.
ROSSEN: What do you want to say to him?
SHEEN: It‘s funny you ask. I actually have my questions right here, because Chuck is the only man in the known universe who can answer these. People are begging for an answer to these questions.
Chuck, number one, why is it when I was ready to return to work, you told me there are no scripts ready to shoot?
Second part of the question, what would we have shot had you not ordered the suits into my home to shut down my party?
ROSSEN (voice-over): Then Sheen pulled out the Alcoholics Anonymous handbook, and took another swipe at Lorre and AA.
SHEEN: Right out here, Chuck. If this is, in fact, your handbook for living, I direct your attention to page 417. You know what‘s coming. “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation, some fact of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”
Accept me, Chuck.
ROSSEN: Charlie Sheen seems confident he‘ll stay sober without the written guidelines of AA. But it‘s never come easy, not for him.
(on camera): A lot of your fans have been worried about you.
SHEEN: They can worry all they want. That‘s for amateurs. Come on. I am fine. I have always had a plan, and I‘ve always executed it perfectly. Sometimes I overshoot the mark, whatever.
ROSSEN: How do you avoid slipping back into that again?
SHEEN: I don‘t know, I just won‘t do it. I will not believe that if I do something—that I have to follow a certain path because it was written—and it was written for normal people, people that aren‘t special, people don‘t have tiger blood and Adonis (ph) DNA.
ROSSEN: Strong people have relapsed. Strong people have started using again.
SHEEN: Fools, fools, trolls, weak, defeated. They allowed defeat to be an option. I will not. I am not saying, you know, I‘ll never have a glass of champagne again or glass of wine, because those are things you celebrate with. I have no interest in cocaine ever.
ROSSEN: What‘s next for you? How do you convince a producer of a movie or a TV show in this town to take you back on their set after basically being let go from the sitcom on CBS?
SHEEN: I mean, first of all, come Wednesday morning, they‘re going to rename it Charlie Brothers, not Warner Brothers. Duh, winning. And it is not convincing anybody. It is like, guys, IMDB, right there, 62 movies, a ton of success.
Come on, bro. I won best picture at 20. I wasn‘t even trying. I wasn‘t even warm. I have got Roman Copula with a brilliant script. I‘ve got David Ward (ph) with “Major League III.” I‘ve got Nick Cassavettes with—it‘s like the list goes on and on.
ROSSEN: You have offers?
SHEEN: Yeah, they are so excited that I might be available, because I haven‘t been for eight years.
ROSSEN: Do you want to keep doing TV or do you want to switch over to movies almost exclusively?
SHEEN: I will do both. I‘ll do both. Like I said, I am a man of my word. So I will finish the TV show. I‘ll even do season ten. But at this point, because of psychological distress, oh, my God, it is three mill an episode. Take it or leave it. It‘s like everybody thinks I should be begging for my job back, and I‘m going to forewarn them that it‘s everybody else who is going to be begging me for my job back. That‘s how I roll. Period, the end. Defeat is not an option.
ROSSEN: Do you owe CBS an apology?
SHEEN: No, they owe me a big one, publicly, while licking my feet. If people think I‘m insane or they don‘t think that what I am saying is true, I have no interest in their retarded opinions. I really don‘t. I am going to live my life the way I want. I‘m going to win inside every moment. And they can find the most comfortable chair in their small house and sit back and enjoy the show.
O‘DONNELL: Part two of that interview with Charlie Sheen airs tomorrow on “The Today Show.” His father, Martin Sheen, told a British interviewer last week what his son‘s crisis means to the family. Quote, “we have to love that much more.”
You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com.
You can also follow us on Facebook and follow me, @Lawrence, on Twitter.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next with why an economist who advised Republicans during the last election now says the GOP‘s budget plan would cause huge job losses. Good evening, Rachel.
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