Guests: Howard Fineman, David Frum, Jon Ralston, Amy Myers
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST: It‘s day two of the Sarah Palin is running for president mirage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn‘t invite her. We don‘t endorse nobody.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANALYST: Sarah Palin is starting off her bus tour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she wasn‘t invited.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Sarah Palin‘s “hey remember me” bus tour hits a bump before she gets her engine started.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wheels on her bus are about to start turning.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Her tour kicks of at Rolling Thunder, the annual motorcycle rally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She‘s not invited to speak. We‘re not endorsing her. We can‘t stopping her from coming to ride if she wants to ride.
O‘DONNELL: Even bikers don‘t want Palin using their rally for her fake campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s a demonstration for a prison of war issues, veterans issues.
MITCHELL: She certainly knows how to get attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a big distraction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to be on the back of somebody‘s Harley, Andrea?
MITCHELL: You never know.
O‘DONNELL: The first person stand manager the way of Palin‘s bus to glory—is Michele Bachmann.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: My decision will be independent. If she gets in, she gets in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michele Bachmann plans an announcement in Iowa in June.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Palin-Bachmann battle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn‘t get better than this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One whose grasp of geography is weak, the other who seems to have problems with history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Steel cage death match.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s like my dream coming true in front of me.
O‘DONNELL: It turns out pretending to run for president is contagious with Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to think about it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About running for president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to think about it. I think about a lot of things.
O‘DONNELL: And the real candidates are having a tough time in spring training.
TIM PAWLENTY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Half the Republicans still don‘t even know my name or who I am.
RICK SANTORUM ®, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: Forty-seven percent is exactly people who know about me, and just because they recognize the name, doesn‘t mean they know too much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘re going to have the seven dwarfs syndrome.
MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I don‘t want to bore you with too much detail here. Uh-oh! I wasn‘t trying to get out of tough questions, I promise.
ANNOUNCER: Let‘s make Sarah Palin the Republican candidate for president. Paid for by Barack Obama.
O‘DONNELL: Good evening from New York.
Sarah Palin continues to not run for president. But she does need attention and what better way to get that than a bus tour conveniently located within easy reach of the national news media‘s offices and summer homes.
She also needs money. And what better way to get it than a bus tour that is conveniently located for the news media. The bus tour is a promotional exercise being mistaken by some as the possible prelude to a presidential campaign. Its purpose is to keep Sarah Palin‘s fame flame burning brightly and to raise money for the kind of fun she and her family can have by not running for president.
The money she will solicit and raise on the tour is for Sarah PAC, a political fund that spent $277,000 last year on Sarah Palin‘s travel alone. That fund can pay for not just private jets anywhere Sarah Palin wants to go, but it can also pay for every meal that the Palin family eats, with the possible exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, because at every meal that Sarah Palin eats, she can pretend to discuss politics and her political future with her political advisor, her husband, Todd Palin, that justify the whole thing, the whole meal, everything around it, as a political expense.
Sarah PAC is a giant slush fund for the Palins and it needs replenishing before real Republican presidential candidates start attracting the real flood of campaign contributions they will need to mount a challenge to President Barack Obama who, after all the money has been raised and spent by both Republicans and Democrats and after all the votes are counted on November 6th, 2012, will remain president of the United States for another four years. And Sarah Palin is smart enough to know that.
Joining me now to discuss what the Palin distraction means to the Republican candidates: Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst and editorial editor from “The Huffington Post”; and a David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and the editor of FrumForum.com.
Howard, the other candidates who are trying to get attention as we go into the Memorial Day weekend obviously cannot. But Sarah Palin is making a move on their money flow. She‘s got to get in there and raise money for Sarah PAC before the candidates start drying up fundraising sources that are out there for Palin.
Is there anything in this that is good news for the Republican field of candidates?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I don‘t think so. I think all the attention that she gets temporarily diminishes them. But, again, it‘s only temporary. I think your analysis is spot on, Lawrence.
And I think that Sarah Palin, in addition to not being kicked off FOX News, which is a sure indication she isn‘t running that her moment is going to end, I think right around August 13th when the straw poll happens in Ames, Iowa. It will be clear by then that she‘s in fact—as you pointed out—not running.
If she were going to be running, she‘d be in action on the ground in Iowa in a serious way this summer. She‘s not going to be. So, you know, it‘s about to end.
I think you‘re absolutely right. She wants to collect as much money and attention as she can. In the meantime, and mess with Michele Bachmann‘s mind just for the fun of it.
O‘DONNELL: David Frum, would you advise a Republican—a possible Republican candidate for president running as a Washington outsider presumably, as you must if you‘re going to run for president, to start a campaign by starting a bus tour that begins in Washington, D.C. and then heads north?
DAVID FRUM, FRUMFORUM.COM: Well, I think Sarah Palin is exempt from that usual rule. But what she will do is clarify—I think she will help to weed out a lot of the people who are not serious candidates because they will—the Newt Gingriches and the Michele Bachmanns will find that they are competing with the person who invented what they‘re doing. And we will get down to the real race, which is Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty -- people who have been governors and who do have policy ideas and where there‘s going to be a real debate over things, like, well, the issue is join on ethanol for Romney and Pawlenty. The issue is going to be joined very soon on what to do about the debt ceiling.
And I think that the real Republican Party is going to step forward. There‘s a lot of discomfort among the Republican parties‘ big donors with Sarah Palin. She had her time. But notice how many of the people who once promoted her are now moving away from her.
O‘DONNELL: David, you‘re closer connected to Republican world than I am. Howard made the point about something I said last night which is that Roger Ailes has insisted apparently to his stable over there at FOX News that if you‘re thinking about running for president, you have to get off my payroll. I have been investing a great deal of faith in this particular instance in Roger Ailes integrity about this point. And that he would not allow Sarah Palin to get on her bus this weekend and remain on his payroll if she was running for president.
Am I wrong to invest in Roger Ailes‘ integrity on this matter?
FRUM: Well, there, he also would have some legal concerns that he would have to deal with, that would way heavily on his mind. But there‘s Tuesday and there‘s Wednesday. There are a lot of dramatic events that can happen.
But Sarah Palin is also stuck—you described very well the incentive she faces. But she‘s also stuck with a trap, because the moment she doesn‘t run, the niche she‘s filling will become vacant and somebody will step forward.
And here‘s the niche, this is the thing that Republicans need to think very hard about—if you look at what the Republican Party is offering, that group of people who are affluent but not rich, who have been hard pressed in this recession. Who see in the Ryan plan who are worried about the debt, who want government to shrink, but who see many the Ryan plan a threat to their own personal Medicare if they‘re under 55 and who worry we‘re not going to benefit from the particular kinds of tax cuts in the Ryan plan, but may be hit by the increases in tax caused by elimination of deductions and credit in the Ryan plan, that kind of person is not on the same page as Paul Ryan himself and some of the more affluent members of the party—who speaks for their anxiety and their discontent?
Sarah Palin if she is removed, she‘s going to leave behind a niche. There are a lot of middle income Republicans who feel the same thing that middle income non-Republicans feel.
O‘DONNELL: Howard, there has been a discussion prior to this Palin bubble about that conservative voter that evangelical voter that would have gone to Huckabee was going to Huckabee in the polls. And where does that voter go now?
The question has been: can Tim Pawlenty attract them or will Michele Bachmann come in and attract them? So, the Palin bubble seems to have not amused Michele Bachmann. It seems that it‘s going to be more difficult for her to be taken seriously as long as Palin looms over her.
But what does it do to the movement of that evangelical vote? Does it in effect freeze it as they wait to see what she‘s going to do?
FINEMAN: Well, it may slow it down a little bit. But as David pointed out in a slightly different context, there are sort of holes in the Republican field.
With all due respect to Pawlenty, Romney and Huntsman, and leaving the issues out of it, stylistically, they all look like three guys from Agent Smith‘s team in “The Matrix”—three guys in suits. You need somebody with some fire.
What a lot of Republicans at the grassroots are looking for, and I know this from going to Tea Party rallies and talking to people out there, they want somebody who‘s really got some fire and some verve and some drama in taking on President Obama who is regarded as something close to the evil incarnate of much of the grassroots of the Republican Party. Sarah Palin has the ability to do that. Michele Bachmann may have the ability to do that. There‘s that space out there.
By the way, the Bachmann people think that their potential candidate, you know, is a Rhodes Scholar compared with Sarah Palin. And Michelle Bachmann is an attorney. She went to law school.
She was a tax attorney. She was in the state legislature. She‘s in the Congress.
Her supporters view her as much more substantive and much more serious. And my sense of Michele Bachmann is that she is going to run in Iowa regardless of what—and she‘s going to call Sarah Palin‘s bluff here. And that‘s going to make it interesting for Tim Pawlenty, your man in Iowa, where he has to win that race and where Bachmann I think is going to be a fairly serious candidate.
O‘DONNELL: David Frum, does Tim Pawlenty have to win in Iowa to stay alive? Can he do a credible second or third to get himself to South Carolina?
FRUM: He has to win. He has to make people take notice. And he has a problem there, because the way for him to win is to speak to those Republicans for whom these have been a terrible three and a half past years, who are in economic distress, if they‘re at work, they‘re in anxiety. If he can speak to them, he will have something.
But the money in the Republican Party is not going in that direction. The money in the Republican Party is driven by other kinds of concerns that make it difficult to talk about joblessness. Make it difficult to talk about the economic anxieties that press on people in that group and people who feel also that the social cam pact of the American welfare state is about to change against them. That they‘re going to be asked to pay more and get less.
The candidate who can speak to that I think has a real opportunity. But the candidate who speaks to that is going to find it hard to raise money in a Republican contest.
O‘DONNELL: Howard, when I look at the field and picture them on the
debate stage, it‘s—for me, it‘s a process of elimination. On the debate
stage, they each have these very serious vulnerabilities. I just don‘t see
how Mitt Romney overcomes the health care liability he has with Republican
voters and the individual mandate. And to me, the one I see on that stage
with the fewest liabilities, the fewest things he has to explain or try to
re-explain to a Republican audience is Tim Pawlenty, and the most credible
left standing that you can view as a president when you‘re looking at them.
How much is money going to matter given the size of the flaws that some of these well-moneyed candidates are going to have?
FINEMAN: Well, I get your point. I still thing money‘s going to matter a lot. And that‘s why Tim Pawlenty has to win Iowa. He‘s not going to raise as much money as Mitt Romney who‘s raised a lot and will raise more because of the factors that David was talking about. A conservative firebrand candidate might be able to catch on at the grassroots and on the Internet and with money bombs of one kind or the other and be able to raise substantial funds.
Tim Pawlenty is kind of the tortoise plotting along in this race. But he has to win Iowa. If he wins Iowa, he will have instant credibility and a lot of money will rush to him as a result. So, that‘s—he‘s following the sort of one of the traditional routes toward a nomination which is to catapult yourself in Iowa.
It doesn‘t work all the time, by any means. Some candidates have skipped Iowa altogether and still won. He‘s not one of the people that can do that. And that‘s why he does have to worry about what Bachmann and/or Palin are going to do in that state.
FRUM: It‘s worth remembering that Reagan did not win Iowa in 1980 and George H.W. Bush did not win Iowa in 1988. It may not be quite—it can give you a boost, but it doesn‘t put you over the top by any means. In fact, quite the opposite.
FINEMAN: But Pawlenty has to win there.
O‘DONNELL: Iowa gave a boost to the last winner of the last presidential campaign.
David Frum founder of Frum Forum, and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman—tank you both for joining me tonight.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
FRUM: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up, does Michele Bachmann know more than a tenth grader when it comes to the Constitution? I‘ll talk to the tenth grader who wants to challenge the congresswoman to a debate.
And the Republican field struggles to get attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitch Daniels said he‘s not running because he loves his family more than he loves his country. The other candidates feel that way, too. In fact, Newt Gingrich says he loves all his families more than he loves his country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Still to come, Senator Tom Coburn criticizes the Senate Ethics Committee investigation of John Ensign.
And later, Wisconsin Republicans strike again. First they went union-busting. Now, they‘re endangering lives with the vote that ignores the lesson of the massacre in Tucson. That‘s in “The Rewrite.”
O‘DONNELL: Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn is speaking out finally about his role in the scandal that led to Nevada Republican John Ensign resigning from the United States Senate. In a C-SPAN interview that will air this weekend, Senator Coburn took issue with how his involvement was described in this Senate Ethics Committee inquiry into the Ensign scandal, in which Coburn‘s name appears 46 times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW TAYLOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS: A few weeks ago, Senator Ensign was forced to resign. The ethics committee report has your name in it, how you tried to convince Senator Ensign to stop the affair and then ultimately it discusses the question as to whether or not you were an intermediary between or working on the question of how to get Mr. Hampton out and whether there would be some compensation.
SEN. TOM Coburn ®, OKLAHOMA: No, that‘s totally inaccurate characterization of what happened. I got a phone call one day from Hampton says would you communicate a message to John. I said, I don‘t know. I‘ll call John and ask him if he wants me to. I called John Ensign, I said, do you want me to? He said, yes.
And so, what you—the story here is not an accurate reflection of what happened.
TAYLOR: This group known as CREW has filed an ethics complaint against you. Has the committee contacted you about it yet?
COBURN: No. I‘ve testified before the committee. I have no worries.
What I did, I would do exactly the same way again.
We put two families back together with multiple children. And both marriages are stable right now. And what I did I‘m proud of what I did and the way I did it. And there‘s nothing unethical in what we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: John Ensign‘s parents paid $96,000 to the Hampton family. The Senate Ethics Committee conclude that Ensign and his parents made false or misleading statements to the FEC about the money which amounted to severance payments to Cynthia and Doug Hampton. The committee also said the portion of the payment that was severance for Cynthia Hampton was an excessive and illegal campaign contribution because it exceeded federal limits.
Senator Coburn negotiated the payment to the Hamptons with the Hamptons lawyer.
Joining me now is Jon Ralston, a columnist for “The Las Vegas Sun” and host of “Face-to-Face.”
Jon, I can‘t believe what I just heard Senator Coburn say. He said it was absolutely inaccurate to describe him as an intermediary in this case.
JON RALSTON, LAS VEGAS SUN: Well, I mean he is trying to give the most benign characterization of this imaginable. But he‘s forgetting some history, willfully I think, Lawrence. He stonewalled the ethics committee at first, tried to claim doctor-patient confidentiality at first. And he‘s an OB/GYN. How he could claim confidentiality with John Ensign is quite miraculous.
But he is totally misleading that interviewer or about what his role was, which is how you described it. He was a go between to negotiate hush money. Now, Doug Hampton originally asked for an outrageous figure of $8 million. And once he got him down to $2 million, I think Senator Coburn thought he was in the ballpark.
And again, the other thing you mentioned that he said there about the stable marriages, Cynthia and Doug Hampton are divorced.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, well, that‘s some form of stability, I suppose, once they get divorced.
O‘DONNELL: You know, on page 37, Jon, of the Senates Ethics Committee report, you know, here‘s Senator Coburn thinks he can go out there and say, “You know, did not negotiate any money. I had nothing to do with it.” It describes all of his phone calls.
Three of them on May 22nd of 2009 -- just as you say, the number $8 million was thrown out there by Hampton‘s lawyers. Coburn says that‘s crazy. That‘s way too much. Gets it down to around—and then Coburn describes what he thinks is right, what kind of package is right, resettlement money.
It‘s very clearly a negotiation, isn‘t it?
RALSTON: The first time I interviewed Doug Hampton which was less than a month after this occurred, he described in detail what Tom Coburn had done. This was on my television program, Lawrence.
That ethics committee report mirrors what Doug Hampton told me.
Nothing Doug Hampton told me about that has been proven not to be true.
Tom Coburn was an intermediary negotiating that severance, that hush money.
He makes it seem like he was a benign actor doing a factor for his C Street housemate John Ensign in a little bit of a bind. Let‘s not forget the context. John Ensign was a rising star in the Republican Party. He was the number four guy in leadership. He was about to go to Iowa to test the waters for a presidential bid when his world collapsed on him. That‘s what Tom Coburn and others were trying to protect.
O‘DONNELL: Jon, I have been struck that in the Senate Ethics Committee account, which is detailed and full, that everything in it is something that you had already reported, you know, through Doug Hampton. In effect, there were no surprises in it except a couple of little dialogue surprises that are kind of amazing involving love and romance, and all of that that we didn‘t know until this report.
But everything you have laid out before the report plays exactly the same way in the report. What do you think Coburn‘s liability is now that this case has been referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution?
RALSTON: Well, I guess we have to wonder about what the Department of Justice is going to do since they apparently took a pass and told Ensign‘s lawyers in December how they could ignore the mountain of evidence. And you‘re right, the contours of all of this have been known for a long time, Lawrence. It‘s just the mountain of detail that the ethics committee to their credit, and that‘s independent counsel, gathered.
If the Justice Department finds that that severance money is illegal, Coburn‘s role in it has to play a role in whatever they do. Doug Hampton is on the record saying that Coburn did certain things. I think there are phone records that can prove that Tom Coburn was on the phone with Doug Hampton‘s attorney.
Why is he calling Doug Hampton‘s attorney if he‘s not negotiating something? He makes it sound as though he made one phone call. There is one phone call that‘s in dispute, Lawrence. And that Tim Coe, the spiritual adviser to John Ensign, says that Tom Coburn called Mike Ensign, his father.
Remember, it was the parents were involved in the hush money.
If that phone call be proven to have taken place, I think Tom Coburn might have a problem.
O‘DONNELL: And, you know, Jon, in the ethics committee, obviously, it doesn‘t have to rise to a criminal standard. It can just be conduct unbecoming a senator. It can be whatever the ethics committee decides in effect is a violation.
Is it your sense that they went easy on Coburn in the ethics committee because they knew he wasn‘t running for re-election, he‘d be leaving voluntarily on his own soon enough?
RALSTON: I guess I don‘t know the answer to that. I would say they sure didn‘t go easy on John Ensign and he was gone. So, I‘m not so sure that that‘s true.
There is plenty of smoke in that report that implicates Tom Coburn. Whether the Justice Department decides that there‘s fire there, too, is something else.
We still may not know some evidence that could be out there. The Justice Department did such a poor job it seems to me in the first place in letting him off the hook, I would think that they would be compelled now to really go out there and gather whatever evidence the Senate Ethics Committee might not have that could rise to the level of prosecution.
I don‘t see how they don‘t move forward not at least on Ensign, and Coburn, again, I think has some culpability if that severance money he was part of negotiating with Mike Ensign and others. I don‘t know what the crime would be, but, clearly, John Ensign misled the Federal Election Commission and others about what that payment was for.
O‘DONNELL: John Ralston, the reporter who led the way for all of us on this—thank you very much for joining me tonight.
RALSTON: Thanks, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up, a high school student thinks Michele Bachmann doesn‘t know anything about the Constitution. And she‘s prepared to debate the congresswoman to prove it. I‘ll talk to the 16-year-old Amy Myers.
And when Newt Gingrich chose not to answer the question about Tiffany‘s, it doesn‘t just give me something to talk about. The best of late night comedy is coming up.
O‘DONNELL: Still ahead in this hour: bothered by Michele Bachmann‘s incorrect statements about American history, 16-year-old Amy Myers has officially challenged the Minnesota congresswoman to a public debate and history quiz. Amy will join me next. But I too, refuse to debate her.
And on Wednesday, this man was arrested for allegedly plotting to shoot and kill staffers at a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinic. That same day, the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would allow people like him to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. That‘s in tonight‘s “Rewrite.”
O‘DONNELL: Tonight in “The Spotlight,” 16-year-old New Jersey high school sophomore Amy Myers is concerned that the nation‘s most famous female politicians are times an embarrassment to her and other women with possible political ambitions. And so, she‘s trying to set things right, by challenging Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to a public debate and history quiz.
On April 29th, Amy sent a letter to Bachmann‘s office.
“As a typical high school student, I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education, and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied, or grossly distorted.
Representative Bachmann, the frequent inability you have shown to accurately and factually present even the most basic information about the United States led me to submit the following challenge, pitting my public education against your advanced legal education.
I, Amy Myers, do hereby challenge Representative Michele Bachmann to a public forum debate and/or fact test on the Constitution of the United States, United States history and United States civics.”
So far, Amy hasn‘t received a response from Congresswoman Bachmann‘s office.
Joining me now is Amy Myers, a sophomore at Cherry Hill School East in New Jersey.
We asked Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to join us as well to debate Amy on our show tonight, but her office did not respond to our request. In fairness, I didn‘t think about that until about 4:00 this afternoon. So, you know, she didn‘t have any chance to really get in here.
Amy, thank you very much for joining me.
AMY MYERS, SOPHOMORE: Thank you for having me.
O‘DONNELL: I absolutely refuse to debate you on United States history because you just told me as a tenth grader, you are taking A.P. history. A.P. U.S. history.
MYERS: That‘s true.
O‘DONNELL: You kids, I never took A.P. U.S. history. You know more than I do. It‘s not fair for you to debate a congresswoman. Michele Bachmann hasn‘t studied U.S. history in three or four decades. How is it fair for you, who‘s just taken A.P. U.S. history in high school, to debate an adult who‘s forgotten all of that stuff?
MYERS: Basic politicians are supposed to know the standards of history, just basic civic matters and the Constitution most importantly. If you‘re going to run for office you‘d better know the foundation of the history.
O‘DONNELL: All right. You make a good case. She should know a few things.
Let‘s listen to what Michele Bachmann said about a couple of towns in New England. I think we have a tape of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: You‘re the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: She actually said that in New Hampshire. Now, what‘s wrong with that?
MYERS: Well, if I remember correctly --
O‘DONNELL: And you do because you just studied it this year.
MYERS: On April 19th in 1775 what happened was that it actually happened, there are two different regions and sections in Massachusetts.
O‘DONNELL: Which is another state.
MYERS: Which is entirely a different state.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, it was Lexington and Concord are about, I don‘t know
O‘DONNELL: Yes, they‘re probably about 40 miles, 50 miles south of the New Hampshire border. So, she was off by one state. What‘s so bad about that?
MYERS: That‘s the most influential and most important battle in the United States‘ Revolutionary War. That‘s what started everything.
O‘DONNELL: All right. OK. You‘ve got a point there.
Now, we have offered to have this Bachmann-Myers debate wherever she can do it. And, in fact, I will volunteer to moderate the debate. Michele Bachmann can choose any co-moderator she wants. She can get any Republican sympathetic co-moderator she wants. And we just put it on the screen to debate the U.S. Constitution here at MSNBC, Michele Bachmann versus Amy Myers.
Amy, do you have political ambitions yourself at this young age?
MYERS: I actually do. I would love to be involved in any form of politics.
O‘DONNELL: Any other career thoughts? Are you sure about that path?
MYERS: I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 3 years old. I wanted to go for equine veterinary. So, I just study horses and scalpel structure and everything. I couldn‘t put myself past euthanasia.
So, what I thought, what‘s my other interest. And it was either cars or history and the Constitution. So, I said, well, as much as I love cars, me in the body shop wouldn‘t work out very well.
O‘DONNELL: You know, you can be a veterinarian—if you can figure out the euthanasia part—you can be a veterinarian fist and then run for office later. Plenty of people have had real careers before they get into politics. In fact, I strongly recommend it.
Going straight into politics, you end up having tunnel vision about government and politics and all that stuff. Having some real experience in the world first I think is probably a better idea.
MYERS: All right.
O‘DONNELL: Free career advice here on LAST WORD. Amy Myers, thank you very much for sending that letter and putting some light on this issue, and for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
MYERS: Thank you for having me. It‘s been a pleasure.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up, a massacre was averted this week in Wisconsin, but no thanks to state Republicans who are actually making it easier for something like that to happen in Wisconsin. That‘s in “The Rewrite.”
And earlier this week, we found out there will soon be a movie released about Sarah Palin called “The Undefeated.” That joke and many more in the best of late night coming up.
O‘DONNELL: Sarah Palin‘s fake campaign, Newt Gingrich‘s real bill at Tiffany‘s, and the rap amateur that wasn‘t. The best of the week in late night comedy is coming up.
Plus, a vote in week in Wisconsin that could end up costing lives.
That‘s in “The Rewrite.”
O‘DONNELL: In tonight‘s “Rewrite,” the Wisconsin state is back. No, the Democrats aren‘t fleeing the state this time and the Republicans aren‘t ramming through another unconstitutional law. This time the state‘s Senate Judiciary Committee by a calm party line vote of three to two approved a Republican bill that allow state residents, 21 and older, to carry concealed weapons without a permit. They did this two days ago, on Wednesday—the same day that Jared Loughner was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial for the massacre that killed six people including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, and wounded 13, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
It was also the same day that Ralph Lang got arrested. In fact, only hours after the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary Committee voted to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, only 5.4 miles away at the Motel 6 in Madison, Ralph Lang was loading a magazine into his gun when it went off by mistake around 9:51 p.m. The bullet went through the door of Lang‘s room, room 125. And it went into the door across the hallway, room 124.
Ralph Lang did the right thing. He immediately told the Motel 6 clerk what happened. Lang was worried that the round may have hit someone in room 124. It didn‘t.
But this led to Madison Police Officer Angie Dyer arresting Lang for reckless endangerment. Angie Dyer read him his rights and then started talking to Ralph, and Ralph talked his way into a federal case.
Everything that I‘m about to read to you is from this document filed in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin, outlining Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 248.
Officer Dyer asked Lang why he had a gun. And Lang replied, “to lay out abortionists because they are killing babies.” Lang then told Officer Dyer that he was planning ongoing to the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on Highway 51 when it opened at 8:00 a.m. Lang said he was going to find out who the doctor was that was doing the abortions and shoot him in the head.
Lang told Officer Dyer that he was in Madison last week on either Thursday or Friday, that he had the gun with him last week, but was having spiritual struggles and was not 100 percent in sync with God. So, he did not shoot anyone last week.
Detective Corey Nelson (ph) interviewed a nurse today at Planned Parenthood. The nurse stated that she is personally familiar with Ralph Lang and reported that Ralph Lang was present outside the facility last week.
Lang told Officer Dyer that he bought the gun approximately two years ago after being arrested for protesting at an abortion clinic. He said he bought the gun, quote, “to help end abortion.”
Lang had about 35 bullets with him. In room 125, there was a map of the United States with dots in each state and the handwritten words, quote, “some abortion centers.” Also on this map were the words, “Blessed Virgin Mary says hell awaits any woman having an abortion. Nurse or doctor who helps.”
A large number of anti-abortion bumper sticks were on Lang‘s vehicle, as well as what appeared to be anti-abortion literature and stickers inside the vehicle which were easily observed by simply looking through the windows. During the arrest, Lang told Officer Frey that the quote—that, quote, “the bible states anyone involved in abortion should be executed.”
Lang stated that everyone in the building should be executed and that police officers were not fulfilling their jobs by not executing the individuals involved in the abortion clinic. Lang stated he intended to, quote, “do what I feel police officers fail to do. What was I going to do? Take a gun, drop the abortionist.”
When asked if he meant he was going to shoot the abortionist and kill them, he said, “Yes. Stop them from killing other people and other babies.”
One asked if he intended to go into the clinic and confront them, he said he was going to confront them with his gun. When asked where he planned on shooting them, he said, quote, “right in the head.” He stated he wished he, quote, “could line them up all in a row, get a machine gun and mow them all down.”
Ralph Lang is now facing federal charges that he, quote, “knowingly and intentionally attempted to injure, intimidate and interfere with another person because that person was providing reproductive health services.”
That charge is a misdemeanor, federal misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison. The U.S. attorney in Madison, Wisconsin, told us today, “We are exploring other options and those options might include felony charges.”
If Jared Loughner was not enough to make the Wisconsin state Senate Republicans do the right thing with guns, then Ralph Lang, who wanted to shoot doctors and nurses in the head and still wants to and was crazy enough to readily admit that to police officers, may not be enough.
Maybe no sane person or no outright homicidal maniac can steer Wisconsin Senate Republicans in the direction of elemental human decency and sanity when it comes to gun laws. Maybe this is just the latest reminder that you live in the country which has convinced itself at least that it is the greatest country in the world, but it is also the country where you can be so utterly and obviously insane that you are not allowed to stand trial but you are allowed to purchase a gun, to purchase an automatic weapon, to purchase as many bullets as you want and kill as many Americans as you can before we somehow figure out a way to stop you.
And the Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate are intent on doing everything they can to make it even easier for very, very crazy people to sneak up on you. And as Ralph Lang wants to, shoot you right in the head.
O‘DONNELL: The late night comedy writers and comedians started the week with the end of the world and ended it with high hopes of Sarah Palin running for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CONAN O‘BRIEN, TV HOST: Huge story. This is a bombshell Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has announced he will not run for president in 2012. Yes. Daniels reached the decision after early polling determined that even he didn‘t know who Mitch Daniels was.
JIMMY FALLON, TV HOST: Actually Mitch Daniels said he‘s not running because he loves his family more than he loves his country. The other candidates feel that way, too. In fact, Newt Gingrich says he loves all his families more than he loves his country.
DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” yesterday, Newt Gingrich was on it. Bob Schieffer says what‘s the deal, Newt had a half million dollar bill at Tiffany‘s, you know, the jewelry store? We have a clip of yesterday‘s “Face the Nation.” Watch.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Did you owe a half million dollars to a jewelry company at one point?
NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: We had a revolving fund?
SCHIEFFER: What does that mean?
NWET: It means we had a revolving fund.
LETERMAN: We had a revolving fund.
O‘BRIEN: New documentary coming out about Sarah Palin it‘s called “The Undefeated.” Now, actually the full title is undefeated until you count the 2008 presidential election, which is the only national race in which she‘s ever run.
FALLON: Really? “The Undefeated”? It‘s like a documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger called “The Faithful.”
FALLON: That‘s right. Someone made a two-hour documentary about Sarah Palin‘s political life. In case you‘re interested in watching a movie that‘s longer than Palin‘s actual political life.
O‘BRIEN: Republican Tim Pawlenty launched his presidential campaign today with a pledge to tell Americans the truth. Now, which explains his slogan, Tim Pawlenty for president, I‘m not going to win.
JAY LENO, TV HOST: I‘m going to say Tim Pawlenty is boring, but his Secret Service code name, Al Gore. OK? In fact, his campaign slogan --
JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: Some people are saying Tim Pawlenty is too boring to beat Obama. He appeared on the “Today” show this morning where Matt Lauer gave him the opportunity to show off the raw Pawlenty magnetism for which he is known.
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Just in the 10 seconds I have left, Governor, people look at you and they say, is there enough charisma for Tim Pawlenty to beat Barack Obama? What‘s your answer to that?
Great. Thank you very much.
KIMMEL: What he‘s going to say?
O‘BRIEN: The pastor who incorrectly predicted the rapture this Saturday was just quoted as saying it‘s been a really tough weekend. Yes, and to make things worse, his friends keep calling to say, come on, it‘s not the end of the world.
LENO: You heard his latest prediction. He‘s now changed his prediction. He now says the world will end on October 21st. What does Jesus work for the cable company now? Be there sometime between May and October, between 9:00 and 5:00. We don‘t know when it‘s going to happen.
LETTERMAN: This is the second stab he‘s taken at it. The first one he was wrong the first time. So now, he‘s wrong again. I‘m telling you, one more time and I‘m going to quick paying attention.
If this guy calls me one more time looking for money to support the end of the world announcement and party, it‘s the end of the world fundraiser. He‘s not getting a dime from me until I start to see some results. I thought we‘d be in the backyard watching chunks of the planet fly by. Kaboom! There goes Indiana. Whoo!
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
O‘DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. And you can follow my tweets @Lawrence.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next. Good evening, Rachel.
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