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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Norm Ornstein, Matt Bai

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: And now, some Republicans are actually
saying it out loud. As long as the crazy Republican House of
Representatives delays the payroll tax cut, Democrats are winning.


TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: We are looking at 11 days before people
will see a raise in tax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Republicans rejected the Senate compromise

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have a lump of coal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president should attend and brought
Mr. Boehner and Mr. Reid down to the White House, pulled out "It`s a
Wonderful Life" DVD and said, let`s work this out --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you kidding with this?

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We cannot go into this holiday season
without helping our unemployed brothers and sisters.

Republicans are on the other side.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: A classic Washington stalemate.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Here we are again.

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: He`s not being met halfway by
congressional Republicans.

Republicans referred to what they are doing as, quote, "high stakes poker."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same kind of partisan mumbo jumbo.

OBAMA: The clock is ticking. Time is running out.

LEWIS: What is happening here today is shameful. It is a disgrace.
It is unreal. It is unbelievable.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We don`t believe Speaker Boehner
has any good faith left.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: The person in the hot seat seems to be
Speaker Boehner.

to help out. All right?

should not be as a marriage counselor between Senate Republicans and House

WAGNER: Overall, voters are trusting Obama and the White House more
to handle taxes, to handle the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the walk away caucus with a walk away

BOEHNER: On a system that our Founders gave us.

LEWIS: Where is the compassion? Where is your heart? Where is your


O`DONNELL: The Republican war on Republicans continues today. The
out of control Republican House of Representatives continues to hurt the
Republican Party every day in every way that it can.

Here`s how far the crazies in the Republican Party have pushed
Republican Senator Scott Brown. "It angers me that House Republicans would
rather continue playing politics than find solutions. Their actions will
hurt American families and be detrimental to our fragile economy."

And here`s how FOX News wise man Charles Krauthammer assesses the
state of play in the House of Representatives.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS: What the Democrats have succeeded in
doing is to of the upper hand in the initiative. If the Republicans leave
now, things as they are, the Democrats are not going to save the
Republicans and save the House. They are going to do nothing. We are
going to go to January 1, there will be a tax hike, the end of a tax
holiday imposed every day. They`ll be hammering on the Republicans in the
House and ultimately the Republicans will cave.


O`DONNELL: The Republican House stubbornly refused again to vote on
the tax cut that passed the United States Senate with 89 votes, including
39 Republican Senate votes.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says she knows why.


PELOSI: That`s why they didn`t give us a chance to vote on the Senate
bill. They are afraid they would lose.


O`DONNELL: This afternoon, President Obama interrupted the White
House briefing to ask House Republican leaders for a vote on the Senate


OBAMA: Right now, the bipartisan compromise that was reached on
Saturday is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st. It`s
the only one. The House Republicans say they don`t dispute the need for a
payroll tax cut.

What they are really trying to do, what they are holding out for, is
to bring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with
the payroll tax cut -- issues where the parties fundamentally disagree.
Put aside issues where there are fundamental disagreements and come
together on something we agree on.

And let`s not play brinksmanship. I`m calling on the speaker and the
House Republican leadership to bring up the Senate bill for a vote and give
the American people the assurance they need in this holiday season.


O`DONNELL: And here was John Boehner`s reply to the president.


BOEHNER: Now it`s up to the president to show real leadership. He
says that he won`t leave town for the holidays until this bill is done.
And the next step is clear. I think President Obama needs to call on
Senate Democrats to go back into session, move to go to conference, and to
sit down and resolve this bill as quickly as possible.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Howard Fineman, the editorial director
for "The AOL/Huffington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Howard, when you see Scott Brown, an endangered Republican in
Massachusetts, a senator, condemning the Republican House of
Representatives, it doesn`t get worse for Republicans.

coal mine but he`s only the first of many. I think we`re going to hear
other Republican senators saying publicly what they have been saying
privately, which is that this is madness. Now, the House Republicans and
the caucus and the Tea Party caucus, the freshman, the new wave, the people
that John Boehner has trouble with all year, have actually often back the
president into a corner. This time however, these same Republicans are
about to run over a cliff because they`ve got the politics all wrong on
this one.

They`ve made the president look weak in the past. The president has
given concession after concession. This one, the politics is all wrong for
them because it involves something that they allegedly want, which is a tax

As you know, Lawrence, often in Washington, the thing you hear the
most arguing about is not what the argument`s really about. The argument
here is about what the Tea Party caucus wants by way of spending cuts and
policy changes to pay for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut.

They want tough means testing of Medicare. They want to change a
bunch of environmental rules. They want the Keystone pipeline. They want
a pay freeze for federal employees. They want all of this other stuff that
supposedly was put aside -- that was put aside by the president and Harry
Reid and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner for two months worth of kicking
the can down the road.

The Tea Party`s saying, no, no, we want the whole thing. This is our
last chance to get the whole thing. We want the spending cuts, we want the
policy changes.

But in the process of pushing for that, they are going to take the
Republican Party over the edge of a cliff because what the president wants
to do and what David Plouffe, his political adviser, told me they want to
do is to show that not all of Washington is broken. That the part of
Washington that is broken is the Congress and, more particularly, the
Republicans, and more particularly, the House Republicans.

And the Republicans are in the process of proving David Plouffe right
on this one.

O`DONNELL: And here`s how President Obama put it in his recent "60
Minutes" interview, talking about how he hopes voters perceive the
Republican House of Representatives.


OBAMA: If I can`t get Republicans to move, partly because they`ve
made a political strategic position that says anything Obama`s for, we`re
against, because that`s our best chance of winning an election, I don`t
think the American people would see that as a failure on my part.


O`DONNELL: Howard, the other dynamic at work here is that the
Republicans in the House are in the process of losing their tax cutting
brand to the president in this "Washington Post" poll.


O`DONNELL: We have now. It shows that the president leads
congressional Republicans, 46 to 41 percent on the question of, who do you
trust on taxes? And just in October that was the congressional Republicans
ahead of the president, 46 to 39.

The genius of all of this politically in the way that the Democrats
have positioned it in the Congress is that what -- if the Senate bill came
to a vote in the House and if John Boehner wanted to stop it, he would be
asking his people to violate their pledge to Grover Norquist because they
would be voting in effect against a tax cut.

FINEMAN: Yes, exactly. And what`s happened since the fall is I think
the president finally broke through on the question of isn`t it fair, isn`t
it just, and isn`t it practical to ask the richest 300,000 families and
individuals, the millionaires and billionaires, to pay a surtax so that
middle class people, working people can get an extension of a payroll tax

And, now, the president yielded on the surtax, but the Republicans
don`t know when to declare victory in this one. And, as I say in the past,
in the last year they prospered from making the president look weak and not
in command.

Here they are taking it politically a step too far because they are
undercutting their own brand. That`s what happened in the last couple of
months. That`s why the numbers have changed. That`s why the president
looks more reasonable and they look absolutely like zealots on this one.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, thank you very much for joining me

FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the crazy House Republicans on their way to
handing the speaker`s gavel back to Nancy Pelosi? Congressional expert
Norm Ornstein joins me on the most unpopular Congress ever and how the Tea
Party may just hand the House back to the Democrats.

And later, Rick Santorum has his first good day in the presidential
campaign, and Newt Gingrich continues to suffer a bombardment that he has
no idea how to respond to the gang up on Gingrich, coming up.

And my fight with Jon Stewart is in the "Rewrite" tonight. The guy
has gone too far, way, way too far. He has to be stopped. That`s coming



JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: You know, during the debate yesterday, Rick Perry
compared himself to Tim Tebow. You know what Rick and Tebow have in
common? Both of their seasons will end before February, OK? That`s we
know. We know both their season.

I`m going to miss Rick Perry because he makes so many mistakes that
his campaign -- what they`ve told him to do is get back to basics and in
his campaign ads, just talk about what you know. That`s what they`ve told
Perry. Just talk about what you know. Well, here`s his latest ad.

I`m Rick Perry. And I approve this message.




LEWIS: What is happening here today is shameful. It is a disgrace.

REP. WILLIAM PASCRELL (D), NEW JERSEY: Compromise is what was the
basis the forefathers. That`s how we got a Constitution. Nobody was happy
with that Constitution. They didn`t get everything they want, and you`re
not going to get everything you want. So, you better get it out of your
head right now.

REP. LYNN JENKINS (R-KS): Folks are mad out there. They are mad
because what Congress is doing or not doing in many cases makes absolutely
no sense.


O`DONNELL: A new Gallup poll supports that idea, showing Congresses`
approval rating has hit an all-time low. Only 11 percent of the American
people now approved of the job Congress is doing, 86 percent disapprove.
That is the lowest approval rating of Congress in the history of the Gallup

Gallup`s editor in chief Frank Newport concludes, "This suggests that
2011 will be remembered as the year in which the American public lost much
of any remaining faith in the men and women they elect and send off to
Washington to represent them."

Joining me now is Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute and author of "Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing
America and How to Get It Back on Track."

Norm, what interests me about this low approval rating of Congress is
how does it affect the upcoming congressional election for the body -- and
does -- is it your sense that it applies to both bodies equally, Senate and
the House? Or do you have a sense that the public is distinguishing here?

distinguish here now with this latest bonehead move on the part of the
House Republicans, Lawrence. Tom Mann and I just finished a manuscript for
a new book which we are calling, "It`s Even Worse than It Looks: The Sorry
State of American Politics," and it`s true.

This has been bad. It`s no wonder that people are angry. But I think
this latest action by the House Republicans is going to crystallize things
and with Senate Republicans, prominent one ones criticizing them, it leaves
them on the run and it gives the American people I think a different focal
point, more than the diffuse that they`ve had of just anger at everybody in

O`DONNELL: Norm, it looks to me to be very dangerous for Republican
control of the House of Representatives. This looks like a really good
posture for the Democrats to have them, especially when you look at inside
this Gallup poll.

There`s always that thing about, yes, we hate Congress, but we love
our member of Congress. Not now. In the Gallup poll, it now says only 39
percent said that they would re-elect their current representative. That`s
usually way over 50 percent.

That was, you know, back in December they said 53 percent that -- of
them said that their member deserves re-election. But now, it`s down to

So, I think we got the wrong graphic in terms of what we`re putting


O`DONNELL: But this is an unprecedented situation for the incumbents.

ORNSTEIN: It is. And, you know, it will be interesting to see how
many of them really get nervous about it. You know, for Republicans in the
House, what they have been banking on was redistricting, shoring up many of
their more vulnerable freshman members and leaving them with a firewall.
So, they`ve got a 25-seat cushion. Maybe they lose 15 or 20 seats.

I think that number now is very possibly certainly the ones that are
in jeopardy, going to go up significantly. And keep in mind as well that
for a lot of these Republicans, the real challenge remains in the primary
and some of the Tea Party freshman, they find that their challenge from the
right, pulling them even further to the right, which is likely to leave
that party isolated even more as we get further into next year unless
somehow John Boehner can figure out a way to work with his other members of
the leadership or maybe abandon some of his own members and go for
bipartisan compromises, which doesn`t look likely at the moment.

O`DONNELL: Norm, does anyone in Washington think that the payroll tax
cut is not going to be extended? And, in other words, does anyone in
Washington think that the exercise that the House Republicans are going
through now is futile and only hurting them?

ORNSTEIN: I don`t think anybody believes that ultimately we`re not
going to extend this. I think there`s a very real possibility that we`ll
go beyond January 1 and have to do a little patching along the way and that
is a danger here.

You know, if the Republicans let this go on and don`t find a face
saving way out and there`s an obvious one, which is to say, all right,
we`ll go along with this, but we want to guarantee that we`ll come right
back and negotiate for the full year, which was going to happen anyhow.
But if they don`t do that and they decide to proceed with this game of
chicken, it`s deja vu all over again and it`s shutting down the government
in 1995 and into 1996, and having it backfire on them and then they are
going to have to scramble and it will be very interesting to see whether
having whipped up their own fringe, the Republicans in the House are able
to abandon them or tell them, oops, we made a mistake. That`s not going to
be easy.

O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein with the American Enterprise Institute --
thank you very much for joining us tonight.

ORNSTEIN: My pleasure, Lawrence. Count me in for five desks.

O`DONNELL: OK. Great. Thank you very much, norm. I appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney, the only candidate who was ducking interviews
is now doing them everywhere he can, from Letterman to O`Reilly to "MORNING
JOE." Is that what stop the Gingrich surge? Or it maybe the millions in
attack advertising that Mitt Romney is running?

And later, why Jon Stewart is wrong. Why he needs to be stopped.
That`s tonight`s "Rewrite."


O`DONNELL: Well, exactly two weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses.
Newt Gingrich is begging the rest of the Republican field to stop attacking
him. Good luck with that, Newt.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, we have got to do something about Jon
Stewart. He is now completely out of control. We`ve got to stop him. It
might be time for an intervention on Jon Stewart. That`s in the "Rewrite".


O`DONNELL: Today on the campaign trail, the formerly calm, cool, and
collected Newt Gingrich was mad. He was mad because he asked the other
candidates not to talk about all the reasons why Newt shouldn`t be the
nominee and the candidates` campaigns and their super PACs continue for
some strange reason to run attack ads against Newt, ads like this one from
a pro Romney super PAC.


NARRATOR: He has more baggage than the airlines. Freddie Mac helps
caused the economic collapse, but Gingrich cashed in. Freddie Mac paid
Newt $30,000 an hour, $1.6 million. And Newt is the only speaker in
history to be reprimanded. He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations by
a Republican Congress.

Newt Gingrich, too much baggage.


O`DONNELL: Today, poor Newt, tried to find a Christmas tree to hide
behind. He asked with a straight face on a radio station in Iowa, "How can
you run negative ads three or four days before Christmas?"

Later, Gingrich said that Romney should tell pro-Romney super PACs to
stop doing exactly what they are designed to do.


simple, this afternoon when one of you gets to him, he can say I condemn
any further negative ads and I ask that PAC to only run positive ads.
Pretty simple. Anything short of that is baloney. And we ought to
understand it`s baloney, we ought to understand these are his people
running his ads, doing his dirty work while he pretends to be above it.


O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney told our own Joe Scarborough this morning that
he can`t stop the super PAC ads, unless he wants to campaign for president
from a jail cell.


entirely separate from a campaign and a candidate. I`m not allowed to
communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape, or form.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you`re not coordinating in any way whatsoever?

ROMNEY: My goodness. If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we he
go to the big house.


O`DONNELL: Today, Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats endorsed
Rick Santorum.

Citing a source familiar with the conversation, "Politico" reports
that Vander Plaats called Michele Bachmann to urge her to drop out of the
race and endorse Santorum. Santorum still fails to crack the top three.

In the news "Washington Post"/ABC News poll of Republicans and
Republican leaning independents, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are tied for
the lead nationally. Ron Paul is third with 15 percent. In a national CBS
poll out today, Ron Paul is fifth behind undecided and someone else.

Gingrich and Romney split the lead in that one with 20 percent each.

Joining me now from Iowa, chief political correspondent for the "New
York Times" magazine, Matt Bai.

Matt, in Iowa, is the television campaign primarily anti-Gingrich?
And for Iowans sitting at home, what do they get the most on TV?

MATT BAI, NY TIMES MAGAZINE: Well, unfortunately, I`m not sitting at
home watching television with Iowans but they are being barraged with this
message that emphasizes all of the past stuff on Gingrich that frankly
didn`t come up, Lawrence, when he was a candidate that anybody thought had
to be reckon with and it`s taking some toll.

I mean, if you look at the most recent poll numbers, it seems like
those negatives are beginning to register with some voters. He`s lost some
support here in Iowa. And as you noted in your intro, he`s quite livid
about it.

O`DONNELL: Matt, let`s look at Newt`s strategy for fighting back.
Let`s look at his television ad in Iowa.


inspiring than American towns and neighborhoods brightly lit for the

great optimism. It reminds us of the fight for a freedom that burns bright
in the America we love, and the prayer that a goodness of our nation will
be rewarded with peace and brotherhood.

C. GINGRICH: From our family to yours, merry Christmas and happy New
York. I`m Callista Gingrich.

N. GINGRICH: And I`m Newt Gingrich. And I approved this message.


O`DONNELL: Matt, what do Iowans see when they see Callista Gingrich
in that ad and who looks at her and says, oh, yes, you`re the one who stole
him from his second wife?

BAI: I cannot answer that question. That ad is what is commonly
known as doubling down on --


BAI: -- in this case, on a positive sentiment. There`s obviously no
substance to it.

I mean, look, Newt Gingrich is -- I think he really likes this. I
think he warms to this narrative, Lawrence, because he does see himself as
a statesman-like figure in the mold of a De Gaulle, or Churchill or Reagan
who he emulates. He`s always fighting this notion that he`s sort of a low-
ball tactician. I think he likes the idea of taking the high road, of
being the statesman of the race.

But also, let`s face it -- he`s making a virtue of necessity. He
doesn`t have the resources to fight back against this kind of blistering ad
barrage. He really doesn`t have a choice.

So, instead, he`s trying to make the negative ads themselves the issue
and frame a really close choice between sort of establishment, negative
politics as usual and he`s anti-establishment campaign. I think it`s the
only avenue open to him, quite frankly.

O`DONNELL: Matt, do the other candidates, besides Romney, who are
hitting Gingrich, are those campaigns worried that in effect the damage
they are doing to Gingrich is handing this to Mitt Romney?

BAI: Well, I don`t think so because I think that what everybody who
is not Mitt Romney sees as the dynamic here is that somebody -- if
tradition holds true -- has to emerge as the anti-Romney, the anti-
establishment candidate. There`s got to be another gate there to run
against Romney.

And the question is, who comes out of this first contest with a chance
to then consolidate all of that support and all of that money going into
the rest of the primaries and caucuses. So they`ll hurt each other now
even if it hurts Romney in the short run because what everybody wants to do
is eliminate all the non-Romney competitors and come out against him. That
has become the dynamic of this campaign.

O`DONNELL: Matt Bai, chief political correspondent for "The New York
Times Magazine," joining us from the battlefield in Des Moines, Iowa --
thanks very much for joining us, Matt.

BAI: Any time. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Up next, in the "Rewrite," why Jon Stewart is in danger of
hurting himself and everyone around him. The man really has to be stopped.
That`s going to be next.

And, later, help with your last minute Christmas shopping. I`ve got a
great idea for you. Stand by. It`s really easy. You can get this gift
for anyone. That`s coming up.



DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Newt Gingrich, how about that guy? I
mean, this guy, he is demanding that the judges be arrested. He`s
threatening that we could arrest judges. And I thought, whoa, that`s what
two divorces will do for you.



O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "Rewrite," we have a problem. In direct
opposition to the official position of this show, Jon Stewart is urging
Republican primary voters to rewrite their notion of anyone but Romney into
anyone but Gingrich. Jon thinks that Gingrich has emerged as frontrunner
means the Republican Party has hit rock bottom and needs an intervention.

It`s not the Republicans who need an intervention. It`s Jon Stewart.
The man has got to be stopped and nothing proves that better than his
attempt to stop Republican voters for voting for Gingrich.


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: This is an intervention. It`s why we are all
right now at the caucus Hampton Inn. Everyone is here today because they
love you. Tom, why don`t you start us off, Tom?

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: I`m not inclined to be a supporter of
Newt Gingrich having served under four years and experienced personally his


COBURN: Because I find it lacking.

STEWART: Tom Coburn, Republican senator from perhaps the most
Republican state in the country, Oklahoma, you can`t even find people with
blue eyes in Oklahoma.

Coburn is so conservative, he wants a protest against showing
"Schindler`s List" on TV because of the nudity. That`s true. Yes, the
nudity. That`s what strikes you as obscene in "Schindler`s List". We
listen to this guy?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You know, he`s been out of
government for a long time. He`s matured as a person. He`s very attached
himself to his faith.

STEWART: What? Now, listen to yourself. First of all, he`s
reattached himself to his faith? Like, oh, you know, happened is faith,
he`s lost, stick it, you got to lick it and then stick it right back up

And second of all, the only faith that Gingrich has reattached himself
to is Gingrich-ism, a belief in the infallibility of the Gingrich.

This is him from last month.

GINGRICH: I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I`m such an
unconventional political figure that you really need to design a you a very
unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I`m trying to do.

STEWART: Newt, Donald Trump called and he wants his irrational ego
back. What are = going to do?

All right. Well, look, would anyone else like to speak directly to
the Republican electorate and convince them?

FMR. GOV. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I don`t think Newt Gingrich
cares about conservative principles. Newt Gingrich cares about Newt

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I don`t know how he can be considered a

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: He`s too erratic. I think he does not
have the discipline, does not have the capacity to control himself and he
can`t stay focused.

STEWART: That`s who you`re going to nominate for president? Can`t
control himself. Can`t stay focused. Too erratic. Those last
descriptions are usually followed by the phrase, and he`s disruptive, but
not a bit of biter.

Do you get it? Are you seeing what is going on here?

OK. I see someone else wants to speak. You`ve had your hand up for a

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not a nice human being. He is a bad person.
He is a terrible person. He dehumanizes people.

STEWART: Yes, yes, he`s terrible. Look, we get it. You (EXPLETIVE

All right. Look, GOP, I can`t make you not choose Newt Gingrich as
the standard bearer of your political party.

But before you make any decision, there is one more person who wants
to say something. Someone who is literally coming out of hiding just to be
here today, because it`s so important and if you don`t think you`ve hit
rock bottom yet, maybe you will now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any way that Beck can be behind Gingrich
in 2012?

GLENN BECK: He`s the only candidate that I cannot vote for.

STEWART: Glenn Beck cannot support Newt Gingrich.


O`DONNELL: OK, Jon. Look at the polls. If Gingrich goes down, we`re
getting Romney.

You think we`ve got a year of Romney votes in you? You don`t. Mormon
jokes, forget about it. Matt and Trey already used up all of the good

You have got to face the truth, Jon. New Mitt Romney is the worst
thing that could happen to comedy in America. I`m telling you, you want

You think Romney`s ever going to say anything like this?


GINGRICH: There is a gay and secular fascism in that country that
wants to impose its will on the rest of us.


O`DONNELL: No way Romney is going to say stuff like that. You need
Newt. You need anyone but Romney.


Commerce and, let`s see, I can`t -- oops.


of gasoline for a dime.


O`DONNELL: Jon, you need a nut to get the Republican nomination. You
should be begging Republican voters to give us Newt.

Jon, stop lashing out at Republican voters. They are only trying to
help you. They really are.

They love you. They really do. You are the most beloved fake news
man in America. We all want what`s best for you.

Think about your wife, your children, think about what it will be like
for them when you come home from another day of working on Romney jokes.

Think about your writers. They know they can`t win more Emmy`s with
Romney jokes. Think about comedy in America.

Use your well-deserved holiday vacation to think about all of this.
Think about what`s best for you. And, yes, think about what`s best for

And when you come back in January, root for Newt.


O`DONNELL: OK. You`ve got four more shopping days until Christmas
and you`re stuck. You don`t want to give another iTunes card. You want
your loved ones to be surprised by your gifts. You want to be creative.
You want to give something special.

I`ve got your back on this one. Yes, here we go again. KIND, Kinds
in Need of Desks, special partnership I set up with UNICEF allows you to
give a gift of a desk for $48 to an African school in the name anyone on
your Christmas or Hanukkah list.

Got to our Web site, for the link to donate or
call 1-800-FOR-KIDS. UNICEF will send a gift notice to whoever you want,
showing that you have donated a desk in his or her name.

You don`t even have to know the person you give this gift to. I told
you last night about a Glenn Beck fan whom I`ve never met named Jim Ray,
who had UNICEF send me this gift notice. His message said, "Dear Lawrence,
happy holidays from the other side. Faith without works is dead. So thank
you for the opportunity to help, Jim."

Forty-eight dollars buys one of these desks, which is designed to
UNICEF`s specifications to fit two children. But in most of the crowded
Malawi classrooms, three or four children squeeze on to that bench.

Seven hundred twenty dollars buys an entire classroom of desks and all
of those desks are made in Malawi by workers who, thanks to the jobs that
these desks provide, are able, often for the first time in their lives, to
bring home a steady paycheck and reliably feed their families.

The KIND Fund is, in effect, first, a jobs program in a country where
jobs have always been scarce and life has always been hard. And then when
the delivery truck rolls into a school yard, the KIND Fund is the most
basic and important education program.

How important is a desk? Just imagine not having one. Not having one
every day you are in elementary school and high school.

Some kids in this country have done that. Last year, after seeing my
first report on the KIND Fund, high school students in Pennsylvania tried
sitting on the floor and the strongest and most athletic among them had
trouble with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I absolutely hated it. I couldn`t stand it at
all. I was complaining the whole time. I stood up and wanted to leave the
room, to be honest with you.

After my update on the KIND Fund last night, you contributed another
$79,280 last night and today. And so, tonight, now, we are closing in on
another huge milestone for the fund. We are now with four shopping days
left before Christmas, close to raising a total of $3 million. As of this
hour, we have raised $2,954,042.

It`s been impossible for me to thank each of you individually on
Twitter but I`d like to acknowledge some of you now.

This morning, Sue Kellogg sent us an email saying, "I just donated a
desk in honor of my two amazing sons for Hanukkah."

On Facebook, Heather Hafford told us, "My husband and I have three
children ourselves and don`t have much to give but we have donated $24
tonight because I couldn`t imagine my own children living in those
conditions, or receiving an education in those conditions."

A desk costs $48 but you can contribute any amount you want. Heather
contributed $24 and that will be matched by someone else who contributes
$24 and a desk will be built and delivered, thanks to Heather.

If you contribute $10 and four other people contribute $10, and they
will, they definitely will, a desk will be built and delivered.

Theresa Conte told us this on Facebook, "This is the second Christmas
I have given desks in memory of my parents in lieu of wreaths at their

Theresa, this is the first year that I`ll be doing that for both of my

Catherine Hadley (ph) tweeted this, "Bought a desk for my daughter`s
birthday on Christmas Eve. She wants to be a doctor in Africa some day.
Thank you."

Catherine, my niece Norah (ph) is a premed student who has already
done volunteer work in Africa and wants to go back there as a doctor.

We have some wonderful cheerleaders out there on Twitter.

Susan Eisenberg says, "I love the KIND program founded by Lawrence.
It`s the best gift I`ve bought."

Alley Van Zee (ph) says, "I wasn`t in the Christmas spirit at all.
Then I watched THE LAST WORD. How can you not be infused by the spirit of
giving when you see those kids?"

And in case you were wondering how cool the KIND Fund is, our next
tweet is from one of the coolest guys in town, the big town, New York City.

Mazdackrassi says, "I just gave 30 kids in Malawi school desks. You
can, too."

He is the creative director of Milk Studios, the place where "Vogue"
shoots its covers. You cannot get cooler than that.

Now, I have not asked minute to redirect their charitable giving from
something that they consider more worthy or to give more than they can
afford. But some people do seem to be straining to give, and I can never
thank them enough.

Patrick Lamonica (ph) tweets, "Lawrence, disabled military vet
donating $75 to KIND when I get my disability check. You moved me to
tears, no small feat. Thank you, sir."

And we got this email from Kevin and Shirley Lindquist. "Dear
Lawrence, I`m an aircraft sheet metal mechanic, civilian working for the
U.S. Navy. I couldn`t sit here another night without helping those poor
kids. So, we donated $100 to your KIND fund. I`m not sure how long I will
be working for the Navy, so I figured I better do it now while I`m still
employed. This is a wonderful thing you`re doing for the kids, lending
your voice makes all the difference. Hopefully, I can do more in the

Nancy Ross is typical of the grandparents we`ve been hearing from.
"Dear Lawrence, I was so blown away about your recent video about the kids
in need of desks that I immediately decided to donate money in honor of my
grandchildren. Each year, I choose a charity to donate in their names."

Teachers who obviously understand the importance of desks have been
strong contributors to the KIND FUND.

Joanne Scaglione writes, "As a retired educator, I have been totally
inspired to send donations for desks in the names of all of my nieces and
nephews for holiday gifts. What a beautiful way to teach them all about
the greatest gift of all, the gift of giving."

Bev Fitzgerald sent us this e-mail this afternoon. "I just sent a
donation in honor of two friends. One who is currently teaching in a
school in rural Georgia and another who has retired from a lifetime of
teaching in Rhode Island. She and I graduated from Teachers Prep College
together in 1959. I was blessed to be taught by the nuns and have been
grateful ever since that they instilled in me a love of learning that I
have carried with me throughout my life."

Bev, the nuns taught me how to read and write. The sisters of St.
Joseph expected much more of me than I was willing to give, but they pulled
it out of me anyway. I wouldn`t be sitting here today if the nuns didn`t
know how to educate little wise guys like me, and I can still remember
vividly and very fondly sitting at those magical wooden desks in those nun

And, finally, there was this, this afternoon, from Janet Hawk.
"Thanks for the opportunity to provide a desk for two children again this
year. As a retired elementary teacher, I know all too well the importance
of desks. Having your own private space in a crowded classroom is so
important to children. In addition to the obvious learning benefits,
students have a place to put their things, learn to respect the privacy of
the space and in my classroom, our weekly Friday afternoon desk cleaning
helps teach organization skills as well as revealing some unexpected
treasures in those desks."

I can make no promise other than your desks lift children off the
floor for many, many years to come. And that`s enough for me.

We live in culture that says we should give up our seats on a bus or a
subway when someone gets on who needs that seat more than we do. You see
tough New Yorkers every day do that without hesitation. And they don`t
give up their seat to the elderly man or the pregnant woman forever, they
just give it to her for 10 minutes, for 15 minutes, for the ride to

And we all think that that`s worth it, that that`s the right thing to
do. That it`s not just a gesture. That it`s a good and right thing. It`s
what we should do. It`s what we need to do.

And if that`s all we do with the KIND Fund, if that`s it, we just get
children off the floor, we should all be proud of what we`ve done. But
miracles can happen in classrooms and they do happen in classrooms every
day around the world.

Maybe in the classroom that your desk is going to next year, there is
a student sitting on the floor there right now who can`t see his teacher,
can`t hold his head up in the fifth or sixth or seventh hour to clearly see
what`s on the blackboard, to follow what the teacher`s saying, can`t learn
how to write without a hard surface under the paper.

When he sits down at your desk, it will feel like you`ve given him a
throne. He and everyone around him will suddenly have their own little
stage from which to perform. Maybe if you gave one of those students clear
eye contact with the teacher for the first time, that classroom miracle can
happen that changes the unreachable student into the great student. Maybe
Africa`s next Nelson Mandela or another doctor that Africa needs so

Over time, hundreds of thousands of kids, possibly even a million,
will use the desks that you deliver. Somewhere in that million, there must
be a lot of miracles waiting to happen.


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