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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, April 12, 2012

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner, David Plouffe, Charles Blow, Natalie Jackson, Sharon Waxman, Rabbi
Marvin Hier

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: President Obama is leading Mitt Romney by
20 points with women voters. So, the Republicans tried to turn today into
Mother`s Day.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: If men are from mars, and women are from









M. ROMNEY: Women, women, women --

WAGNER: Is Mitt Romney from Jupiter.

M. ROMNEY: The real war on women, the real war on women has been
waged by the Obama administration`s failed economic polices, failure on the

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it, give me a break.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: This is a good strategy for Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Among women, Obama and Biden gets 55 percent and
Mitt Romney, 35 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can`t have a 19-point deficit among women and
win this election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney was surrounding himself with women all
throughout the day.

M. ROMNEY: The real war on women, the real war on women, women are

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The theatrics almost scream, I have a very big
problem with women.

M. ROMNEY: I wish Ann were here. My wife were here. For a lot of
reasons, I wish you were here.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: He had a lot of women in his life
that were advisers.

M. ROMNEY: She is going across the country and talking with women and
what they are talking about is the debt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ann Romney is the asset that everyone knows her
to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can`t even pretend to listen to the majority
of the electorate themselves.

A. ROMNEY: He listens to a lot of different women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the best thing that Romney has going for

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly her husband`s best surrogate.

A. ROMNEY: He listens to a lot of different women.

M. ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v.
Wade? Yes.

My presidency will be a pro-life presidency.

Planned Parenthood, going to get rid of that.

Any old girlfriends here? I have to be careful.


O`DONNELLK: Demonstrating once again how unpredictable presidential
campaigns can be, a CNN commentator seized control of the presidential
campaign today by saying this last night.


HILARY ROSEN, CNN COMMENTATOR: What you have is Mitt Romney running
around the country saying, you know, well, my wife tells me what women
really care about are economic issues and when I listen to my wife that`s
what I`m hearing.

Guess what? His wife has never really worked a day in her life.
She`s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that majority of
the women in this country are facing.


O`DONNELL: That was CNN contributor Hillary Rosen who is now being
falsely labeled by Republicans as an Obama adviser. According to a CNN
spokesperson, "Hilary Rosen, like all CNN contributors, is not a paid
adviser to any political party or presidential campaign."

That did not stop the author of the Etch a Sketch quote about Mitt
Romney, Romney`s campaign so-called strategist Eric Fehrnstrom from
tweeting, "Obama adviser, Hilary Rosen, goes on CNN to debut their new
`kill Ann` strategy and in the process insults hard working moms."

The Romney campaign sent their best public speaker to FOX News to
defend motherhood.


A. ROMNEY: She should have come to my house when those five boys were
causing so much trouble. It was not so easy.

My career choice was to be a mother and I think that all of us need to
know that we need to respect choices that women make. I will tell you that
Mitt said to me more times than you would imagine, "Ann, your job is more
important than mine."


O`DONNELL: Last night, as soon as the words were out of Hilary
Rosen`s mouth, the Obama re-election campaign rushed to Twitter to assure
swing voters that they support motherhood just as much as Ann Romney does.

Senior strategist David Axelrod tweeted that Rosen`s comments were
inappropriate and offensive. And campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted,
"She should apologize."

The first lady tweeted, "Every mother works hard and every women
deserves to be respected."

Tweeting wasn`t good enough for President Obama.


no tougher job than being a mom. And more over, my general rule is you
don`t talk about the spouses of elected officials, because they`ve got a
really tough job. And I think they are off limits. So on both counts, it
was the wrong thing to say.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Alex Wagner, the host of MSNBC`s "NOW WITH
ALEX WAGNER," and Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES".

Alex, it`s an early Mother`s Day this year, both political parties now
must assert their support of American motherhood. How did it come to this?

WAGNER: I -- you know, Lawrence? It`s a mystery. It`s a mystery,
and then again, it`s totally obvious, right? The Republicans know they are
in trouble with women, independent women, married and unmarried women,
women in swing states.

The idea -- I got an e-mail from the Romney campaign an hour ago,
subject line, war on moms. The idea that a comment from Hilary Rosen
amounts to a war on moms, there is not a trundle or a scuff that I could
muster loud enough for that.

I think if you are talking truly about the war on moms, I would point
Mitt Romney and the Republican Party to a cover story in "The New York
Times" this weekend that talked about moms, specifically single moms in
this country, who are scrounging in the garbage for bottles and cans to
recycle so they can have money to put food on the table for their children.
That`s the real war on moms and that is something that the Republicans have
no interest in solving or tackling in a meaningful way.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes I have David Plouffe coming up in the next
segment I will ask him where the war room is on moms, the war on moms` war
room, I want to know where that is, in the layout on the West Wing.

This is one of those absolutely ridiculous things. Everybody knows
what Hilary Rosen meant, who is a mother herself. And everyone knows that
yes, having a bunch of sons is difficult. My mother could tell you that.

And so, I don`t think that, do you think there are any women voters
out there who are fooled into thinking something that they should base
their vote on is happening today in this dialog?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: No, I think you get to a certain point --
yes, this is, I mean, we should just be clear, this is substance-less
idiocy, absolutely substance-less idiocy. And totally --

O`DONNELL: And, Chris, we`re going to give it another five minutes.

HAYES: Yes, exactly. We got two hours on it this weekend. So --


WAGNER: We talked about it earlier today, so.

HAYES: It`s completely feint outrage. It reminds me of the lip stick
on a pig comment, which is idiotic, a fake outrage over a comment by Barack
Obama. But at least in that case, Barack Obama actually said it.

Hilary Rosen is just a person who is on television. It`s like, do you
have to go on my show this weekend and distance myself to Hilary Rosen
because she too said something on television? Is that actually the logical
connection, or is it because she is a Democrat? Should every Democrat
including the president of the United States, have to endorse, vouch for
or repudiate every statement and opinion made by every other Democrat in
the entire nation? Because that seems to be the logic that`s being applied

So, just to clear it out of the way. Like no, there`s no way in which
this actually effects the election in any demonstrable way. I also think
there`s something fundamentally fascinating at the core of this, which is
that yes, there`s a huge amount of uncompensated labor that happens in this
country by men and women, mostly women who stay home and take care of their
kids. And there are countries where that labor is compensated by the

So, I would love to have that conversation, if they think if it is
work, if they do think that being a mother is work, then why isn`t there
any wage for that kind of work? Why is that uncompensated?

WAGNER: Can I say something, Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: And they certainly aren`t earning any Social Security
benefits for it, Chris.

HAYES: Exactly. Exactly right.

WAGNER: Lawrence, I think what is sort of even more insidious and
perhaps reprehensible is that the Republican Party is trying to exploit an
issue for women, which is, go you choose that career or do you choose a
family, and can you choose both? And they are really trying to pit women
on opposite sides of the fence.

And I think that that is, as I said before, I think it`s
reprehensible. It`s really a difficult choice that a lot of women face,
and to sort of make political hay out of it is a really testament to an

HAYES: And let me -- can I say this very quickly? There`s also this
I think really important asymmetry here, which is that, you know,
Republicans got all upset and in a hissy fit about the Democrat war on
women messaging, because it was effective. But let`s also remember, it was
grounded in a series of substantive policy positions that were taken by the
Republican Party, by Republican candidates, by Republican members of
Congress. They actually did vote for the Blunt Amendment.

You know what I mean? They actually did oppose the Affordable Care
Act provision that would have provided free contraceptive care even if you
have a religious employer.

So, that was grounded in a set of actual substantive policy
pronouncements by the Republican Party. It wasn`t just some confection
that was made up out of some cable news comment.

O`DONNELL: Well, you just wait until they find that draft of Nancy
Pelosi`s bill to cancel Mother`s Day.

HAYES: Right. Exactly right.

O`DONNELL: Let me just -- let me, on Hilary Rosen, let me do a full
disclosure, which applies to a lot of people in the media. Hilary Rosen is
a friend of mine. I am proud to make that full disclosure. She is also a
great mom.

And she issued this apology, "As a mom, I know that raising children
is the hardest job there is. As a pundit, I know my words on CNN last
night were poorly chosen. I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who
was offended. Let`s declare peace on this phony war and go back to focus
on substance."

Alex, that ought to do it. That ought to close it up. The Romneys
have an apology and so why would they want to continue this?

WAGNER: because they are trying to get anything that they can get.

And as Chris said, it`s not just Republicans in Congress, these are
Republican-held statehouses across the country that are passing draconian
laws or trying to, restricting abortions, restricting Medicare care,
cutting funding for basic health services, whether that`s through Planned
Parenthood or even associated organizations.

The problem is, Republicans want to both get through this and -- they
want to stop having to stop -- they want to stop having to talk about, r
discussing women`s health issues yet they cannot let go of it. It`s like
dogs with bones across the country.

In states, in Alabama, in Mississippi, in Arizona, until they let go
of this war that they, in fact, are waging, this is going to be talking
points. And their man, Mitt Romney, presumably, is going to have to answer
for it.

O`DONNELL: And Alex Wagner appropriately on this premature Mother`s
Day gets the last word here in defense of American motherhood.

Alex Wagner of "NOW" and Chris Hayes of "UP"-- thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

WAGNER: Thanks.

HAYES: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, David Plouffe, senior adviser to President
Obama, he joins me for an exclusive interview.

And later, we have new details tonight in the prosecution case in the
murder of Trayvon martin. The prosecutor released a document today
indicating that she fully believes the version of events that night as
outlined by Trayvon Martin`s family and attorneys. One of those attorneys
will join me, along with Charles M. Blow.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, a man in California is trying to repeal
the death penalty there -- the death penalty law that he wrote himself 34
years ago.

And later, a truly shocking set of new allegations of anti-Semitism
against Mel Gibson have erupted here in Los Angeles today where he is
accused of planning to kill his former girlfriend and mother of his child.
If you thought Mel Gibson was crazy, it is time to think again. He may be
even crazier than you thought.


O`DONNELL: David Plouffe, a White House senior adviser to President
Obama, joins me next.

And we now we know a little bit more about why the prosecutor in the
Trayvon Martin killing is seeking second degree murder charges. The new
information in this statement of probable cause is coming up.

And later some Jewish groups objected when Mel Gibson said he wanted
to direct a movie about a Jewish hero. The screenwriter on that project
now agrees with him. He says, Mel Gibson is a much worse anti-Semite than
he could possibly have imagined, and that Mel Gibson has talked to him
about plotting to kill his former girlfriend. That`s coming up.



what he calls for, the Romney rule calls for, that is another trillion
dollars in tax cuts over the next 10 years going to the 1 percent of
American taxpayers. I don`t blame her for crying -- she`s going -- she is
going to inherit it.


BIDEN: She`s going to pay for it. That`s one smart baby.


O`DONNELL: That`s what Joe Biden went to New Hampshire today to talk
about, but the presidential campaign on both sides, Democrat and
Republican, tried to turn today into Mother`s Day after a CNN contributor
falsely labeled by the Romney campaign as an Obama adviser said that Ann
Romney quote, "never worked a day in her life."


OBAMA: First of all, there`s no tougher job than being a mom. I have
watched Michelle, you know, who for most of her career had juggled work and
family. But there were times where she goes on maternity leave and I
promise you that`s work. So, you know, I think this was an ill advised
statement by somebody on television.

BIDEN: My response is that`s an outrageous assertion. My entire
career as a senator and vice president is to get to one point, where my
daughter is able to make whatever choice she wants and no one question it.
The case that we can make, Barack`s policies, our past, our expectations,
our dreams for women, contrast it with the Republican agenda as it has been
and continues to be relative to women -- I don`t think it`s a close call.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is David Plouffe, senior adviser to
President Obama.

David, I assume you also want to support American motherhood?

DAVID PLOUFFE, OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Well, thanks for having me,

Yes. I think obviously you played comments from the president and
vice president. I think this is one of the rare cases in modern politics
these days where we have universal bipartisan agreement that those comments
were inappropriate. So, hopefully, given that established, we can move on
and focus on the important economic issues that are facing women and the
entire American economy.

O`DONNELL: David, the Republicans and Romney campaign jumped on this.
They tried to associate Hilary Rosen, who said it, with your campaign.
Just to clarify -- does she have any relationship to the Obama campaign?

PLOUFFE: She does not. You know, the truth has never been an
important attribute apparently in the Romney campaign. So, I`m not sure
why we should expect it today to be any different. But those comments
aren`t false. She has no relationship with our campaign.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they are kind of loose with the truth.

I want to play you something that Mitt Romney said in Milwaukee where
he accuses, I think, you, possibly not by name, of trying to create a new
religion. Let`s listen to that.


ROMNEY: Well, I think -- I think there`s in this country a war on
religion. I think that there`s a desire to establish a religion in America
known as secularism. And I know that based upon reports, the Obama
administration gave this a lot of thought, a lot of discussion.


O`DONNELL: David, how much thought and discussion have you and the
Obama administration given to the war on religion? And do you have war
room set? And how is it that your attempt to convert America to secularism

PLOUFFE: Well, obviously, that`s a ridiculous and outrageous comment.
I assume he was referring the debate over contraception we had recently.

I would make a comment. Obviously, you heard the president, the vice
president, members of our administration, strongly condemning the remarks
you mentioned that were made last night.

When Rush Limbaugh was attacking a Georgetown college student in vile
and reprehensible terms, what Governor Romney said was it was not the
language he would have used. You know, I don`t work for Merriam Webster
Dictionary, but there`s not too many terms actually you could think of.
None of them are appropriate.

So, when people say things that are outrageous, you need to stand up.
But listen, the focus -- you played a speech that the vice president gave
today about the fundamental choices the country is facing in terms of our
tax policy and our economic policy, and are we going to be able to invest
in things like education, like rebuilding our roads and bridges, medical
research, that are going to allow us to have an economy that`s built to
last, to really help the middle class get ahead, that`s going to be the
fundamental debate, not just to this campaign, but it faces that country.

It`s how are we going to have an economy that just doesn`t just
recovery from this recession, but that really provides more middle class
security. And that`s why we are focused to Buffett Rule, which is to make
sure that, you know, millionaires and billionaires don`t pay less in taxes
than middle class families so that there`s a principle fairness there, but
importantly, Lawrence, is if we are going to have an economy where we are
making things here in America, where we`re investing in education, we`re
going to have to pay for it. And those are the tough choices that are in
front of the country.

O`DONNELL: David, have you considered changing your label of the
Buffett rule to the Romney rule, and simply have its dynamic reversed,
which is that you`re going to force Mitt Romney to actually pay a
reasonable share of his income in taxation?

PLOUFFE: Well, you know, Warren Buffett famously really has added so
much to this debate by saying someone like him shouldn`t play less in tax
rate than his secretary. So I think we`re going to keep the focus there.

But the real question is: who do you trust to fix a tax system that`s
unfair that -- you know, whether, it`s Romney or Paul Ryan? Their plan
would give huge tax cuts, shower millionaires and billionaires with huge
additional tax cuts paid for by the middle class, paid for by the seniors,
paid for by working poor. That`s clearly the wrong direction for the

So, these are big debates in terms of how are we going to reduce the
deficit, how are we going to make sure we`re investing in our economy and
our people, and how are we going to have an economy that works for
everybody, not just those at the top. And so, that`s why the Buffett rule
is so important, there`s going to be a vote in the Senate next week, and
senators can let it be known to their constituents and American people
whether they think that it`s OK for people who are making, you know, $10
million, $50 million, $100 millions a year to be paying less taxes at a
rate than their secretaries, firefighters or nurses.

O`DONNELL: David, today is the sixth anniversary of Romneycare, the
day when Romney signed the health care reform bill in Massachusetts into
law. The health care bill that you people gotten enacted into law is now
some danger in the Supreme Court. If it is repealed, if it`s overturned in
its entirely by the Supreme Court, will you simply go back to what the
basically a rerun of the 2008 campaign and campaign to enact all the same
things again, minus whatever provision would be found unconstitutional?

PLOUFFE: Well, Lawrence, I`m not going speculate about the court
decision. We believe strongly that it`s constitutional.

There are important parts of the law in place right now. Seniors are
getting a relief in terms of prescription drugs cost. People from 18 to 26
are able to stay on their parent`s plan, which is so important in this
economy. You`ve got women being able to take advantage of preventive
health care services. That is in place right now.

It`s true, the Massachusetts law that Governor Romney signed into law
six years ago, was in many ways the model for the health care law that we
signed into law. Mitt Romney really is the godfather of Obamacare. And I
think it`s going to be interesting to watch how he handles this in the

But the important thing, our focus is, let`s implement the law
smartly, because there`s important things happening already right now for
the American people, saving senior`s costs. You are seeing women and
everybody able to take advantage of preventive care, a lifetime limits, no
longer in place. These are huge advantages for the American people, huge

So, our focus is going to be to continue to implement this law and we
have confidence that the law will be found constitutional.

O`DONNELL: David Plouffe, senior adviser to the president -- thank
you very much for joining me tonight.

PLOUFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, George Zimmerman made his first appearance in
court and we have learned much more about the facts in the prosecutor`s
second degree murder charge.

And in the "Rewrite" in California, the death penalty is being
rewritten by the man who wrote it 34 years ago. Now, he wants to repeal it
completely. He said the death penalty is a failure and mistake.

And later, Hollywood is quaking again at anti-Semitism charges against
Mel Gibson. A famous screenwriter accuses Gibson of being wildly more
anti-Semitic than you could ever imagine, he says that Mel Gibson has been
plotting to murder his former girlfriend. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Today`s prosecution document reveals the facts in the case
of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Simply put, the prosecution does not
believe a word George Zimmerman has said about the shooting. Natalie
Jackson and Charles M. Blow join me next.

And later, the death penalty is being rewritten from coast to coast.
And in California, the man who wrote the death penalty here wants to repeal
it now. That`s in the "Rewrite".




ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are appearing here for your first appearances
-- first appearance at this time for charge of murder in the second degree.
And you are represented by Mr. O`Mara. Is that true?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.


O`DONNELL: "Zimmerman confronted Martin." With those three words
taken from the affidavit submitted today by the special prosecutor`s
office, Angela Corey`s team of prosecutors will build their case against
George Zimmerman, the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

But that affidavit could be the last document in the case to be made
public after both the prosecution and defense obtained an order from the
judge sealing future filings in the case. A bail hearing has not yet been
scheduled. Zimmerman`s next scheduled court appearance is May 29th.

Here is George Zimmerman`s lawyer, Mark O`Mara, explaining why he did
not request bail today.


with where the case is now, with my client`s status, and quite honestly,
with the attempt to truly calm this case down, rather than demand a
presentation of evidence, which might only have increased the fervor around
the case.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Natalie Jackson, co-counsel for the
Martin family, and Charles M. Blow, a "New York Times" columnist.

I want to play for you something that Trayvon`s mother said today on
"The Today Show" that got a little bit of an exchange going about this case
today. Let`s listen to what she said.


accident. I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn`t turn
the clock back.


O`DONNELL: And then after the hearing this morning, Mark O`Mara,
Zimmerman`s lawyer, was asked by one of the reporters if he would use that
statement somehow against the parents of Trayvon Martin, the notion that it
was an accident instead of a murder.

Let`s listen to how the attorney responded to that.


O`MARA: They went through a horrible tragedy. They lost their son.
We`re not going to be talking about using words against a mother of a
deceased child. We`re not doing that.


O`DONNELL: Natalie Jackson, there certainly is a new lawyer in this
case, as we said yesterday, as demonstrated by that response. Could you
expand for us what Trayvon`s mother meant by what she was saying this

discussion this morning after that. And she really meant that had not
George Zimmerman and Trayvon ever had an encounter -- the encounter was
accidental. That`s what started this whole thing, this whole series of

So when was talking about the fact that they encountered one another
at all on February 26th. So, you know, I think that people kind of took it
and ran with it, the statement.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I want to now dig into this affidavit today, because
it`s short, but it is I think very revealing of the prosecutors case. It
begins by saying Zimmerman observed Martin and assumed Martin was a

So she has gone into his state of mind about what he was thinking
there. She said, during the recorded call, Zimmerman made reference to
people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins.

She determines -- the prosecutor has determined that one of the things
he said on that 911 audio tape, after saying these people -- you know the
word I can`t say on TV, they always get away with this stuff. And then he
also said, these F`ing punks.

Charles Blow, the prosecutor seems to have determined that it`s the
word punks as opposed to the specific racial slur word many of us have
thought we have heard on that tape.

CHARLES M. BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. So that is one of the
only kind of points of clarification that you get in this very short
affidavit. In fact, you know, I`m not a lawyer. I do not know. I am just
a reader of this.

It seems really, really, really thin. Doesn`t move the ball very
much. In fact, you know, there are pieces in there where you want to just
know how things were determined. For instance, they say that Trayvon`s
mother identified his voice. You know, one would want them to have the
kind of forensic voice analysis information to say we have determined,
using scientific methods -- of course, my heart goes out to Mrs. Fulton and
the loss of her son.

She hears something. George Zimmerman`s father says he hears his own
son as well. You want to have that cleared up. We hope that the
prosecutor`s office has that scientific information and can advance the
ball, and that we are not stuck with this kind of very thin feeling
information. Because it seems like that would kind of weaken a case,
particularly if you are going for second degree murder case.

O`DONNELL: Natalie, what I`m struck by in the affidavit is that it
completely and totally accepts your version of the interpretation of the
evidence all the way through. This affidavit asserts that Martin was on
the phone with a friend, the girlfriend. This affidavit accepts her
testimony completely.

"The witness said that Martin was scared because he was being
followed." It goes on. To every piece of this evidence that we have
analyzed on this show, the prosecutor has accepted the interpretation that
is most harmful and dismissive of Zimmerman`s claims.

The police dispatcher realized Zimmerman was pursuing Martin. He
instructed him not to do that. Zimmerman disregarded the police. And
then, of course, finally Zimmerman confronted Martin.

I think you can assume and I can assume that the prosecutor has more
evidence than we are aware of to support each of those sentences. And as
Charles has pointed out, surely he got the mother`s testimony, but -- the
prosecutors did, but obviously they will not rely exclusively on that,
backed it up with more.

JACKSON: No, they won`t.

O`DONNELL: I just want to make one other point, which is everything
we are hearing in here about witnesses, they are all ear witnesses. There
isn`t a single eyewitness who is quoted in this affidavit.

JACKSON: Right. There`s something called prosecutorial ethics. This
prosecutor, when she wrote that affidavit, trusts that she had enough
evidence to back up every sentence that she had in that affidavit. There`s
been a question of whether or not she over-charged.

With the ethics that the prosecutor has, she has to believe that she
can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. So when we talk about, you know,
the statements there are made, as far as Trayvon`s mother identifying a
voice, you better believe she has got some evidence that can back that up.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, I mean --

JACKSON: That is stuff that we don`t know yet.

O`DONNELL: As we will see in the trial, virtually every one of these
sentence is going to represent a half a day or a day of trial. There`s a
lot more behind every one of them. I`m just struck that every single
assertion in this affidavit is exactly, Natalie, as you and the supporters
of Trayvon Martin have presented and interpreted the evidence, here on this
show and elsewhere.

We have run out of time for tonight. I`m very sorry. Charles M. Blow
and Natalie Jackson, thank you both very much for joining me tonight.

JACKSON: Thank you.

BLOW: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, the man who wrote the California
death penalty now wants to repeal it.

And later the latest anti-Semitic ravings of Mel Gibson, according to
a screen writer who says he has heard Mel Gibson say beyond the worst
things you can possibly imagine someone saying about Jewish people. And
this screen writer also says he has heard Mel Gibson talking about a plot
to murder Gibson`s former girlfriend, the mother of his child.

Mel Gibson, that is coming up.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, the death penalty is being Rewritten
from coast-to-coast. And in one case, in one state, it is being Rewritten
by the man who wrote it 34 years ago.

Today in Connecticut, the Democratic controlled House of
Representatives passed a repeal of the death penalty there by a vote of 86
to 62. That followed a successful repeal vote of 20 to 16 in the Democrat
controlled Senate.

Connecticut`s Democratic governor has promised to sign the repeal into
law. Here in California, a campaign is building for a ballot initiative
that would repeal the death penalty and would replace it with mandatory
life without parole. And it`s being pushed by the man who, 34 years ago,
wrote the California ballot initiative creating the death penalty that he
is now trying to repeal.

It`s been a colossal failure, Donald Heller told the "New York Times"
of California`s 34 year experience under the death penalty that he wrote.
He said, "the cost of our system of capitol punishment is so enormous that
any benefit that is gotten from it, and now I think there`s very little or
zero benefit, is so dollar wasteful that it serves no effective purpose."

Mr. Heller is joined in this campaign to repeal the death penalty by
Ron Briggs, who ran the successful campaign 34 years ago in favor of the
death penalty. Mr. Briggs said, quote, "at the time, we were of the
impression that it would do swift justice, that it would get the criminals
and murderers through the system quickly, and apply the death penalty. But
it`s not working. We started with 300 on Death Row when we did Prop Seven.
And we now have over 720. And it`s cost us four billion dollars.

"I tell my Republican friends, close your eyes for a moment. If there
was a state program that was costing 185 million dollars a year, and only
gave the money to lawyers and criminals, what would you do with it?"

A former L.A. district attorney who wants the death penalty repealed
told the "New York Times," "we are laying off teachers. We`re laying off
firefighters. This is crazy."

And so, if you are untroubled by the morality of the death penalty,
unmoved by the Pope`s opposition to it, unconcerned with how fairly the
death penalty is applied, and unimpressed by any morale argument you have
ever heard against the death penalty, how do you feel about the cost?

Do you really think it`s worth laying off school teachers so that the
state can still afford to kill people? In your cost/benefit analysis of
the death penalty, what is the benefit? We know the cost in California is
185 million dollars a year.

But now you supporters of the death penalty are going to have to tell
us the benefit. Donald Heller, who wrote the California death penalty,
says that when he wrote it, he gave absolutely no thought to how much it
would cost. And now, he says, quote, "I am convinced now that it has never
deterred anyone from committing a murder."

And that was supposed to be your benefit. Your benefit from the death
penalty was supposed to be a lower murder rate, murders deterred. There`s
no evidence, statistical or otherwise, that the death penalty has ever
delivered that benefit. And we now have a report showing that giving
California Death Row prisoners life without parole would be much cheaper
than continuing to try to work through all the legal hurdles to get to that
very rare day where the state is allowed to kill one of those people.

Donald Heller wrote a flawless law when he wrote the California death
penalty. It has been challenged constitutionally many times. Donald
Heller now says, "the fact that it was upheld every time it went to the
Supreme Court shows that it was well drafted. I don`t take any pleasure in
that anymore. In my mind, I realized what I did was a big mistake."


O`DONNELL: The broke the story last night of new and truly
horrific charges of anti-semitic against Mel Gibson contained in a nine
page letter to Gibson from a well know screen writer with Gibson. The
screen writer, Joe Eszterhas, is best known for writing "Flash Dance,"
"Basic Instinct," "Showgirls," among many other movies, as well as two
serious movies attacking anti-semitism, "Betrayed" and "Music Box."

The script Eszterhas wrote for Mel Gibson is entitled "The
MacCabees`," a project Gibson initiated after facing an earlier round of
anti-semitism charges. Gibson has said the movie, based on a family of
Jewish freedom fighters, would be, quote, a Jewish "Braveheart."

In his letter, Joe Eszterhas says he now believes Gibson never had any
intention of making the film. Joe Eszterhas quotes Gibson in writing,
using truly unspeakable epithets about Jewish people. Eszterhas also
describes conversations in which Gibson threatened to kill his ex-
girlfriend and mother of his out of wedlock child.

Eszterhas quotes Gibson saying, I`m going to kill her, I`m going to
have her killed. And he says that Gibson told him that he has two friends
who are FBI agents or former FBI agents, who are going to help Gibson kill

Mel Gibson put out a public letter to Eszterhas today in reaction to
the nine-page letter, saying "the great majority of the facts, as well as
the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter, are utter

Gibson also said, I will acknowledge, like most creative people, I`m
passionate and intense. Gibson said that he was disappointed with the
delivery delay on Joe Eszterhas`s script, and admitted, quote, "I did react
more strongly than I should have. I promptly sent you a written apology,
the colorful words of which you apparently now find offensive."

Joining me now, Sharon Waxman, the founder and managing editor of, who broke this story last night, and Rabbi Marvin Hier, the
founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Sharon, I have to tell you, as soon as I read this, I forwarded it to
a screenwriter friend of mine who has worked with Mel Gibson. And he read
everything in the nine page letter and said, yes, this makes sense to me;
this is the kind of thing I have heard.

I`m just going to rattle off some of the things he told me to add to
your file. He said to me that the theme in here that you constantly hear
from Mel Gibson is how hard it is to be Mel Gibson. He talks about -- he
quotes him. This is a quote he gave me that Gibson said to him in the
first 20 minutes of knowing him and meeting with him: "whatever I say about
the Jews, a thousand rabbis around the world would come after me."

He says that he -- because of this pressure he is under, he has
actually had a face mask made by the Hollywood experts that can make face
masks. He has had a face mask made so he can go out in public in
restaurants. And he says that it works perfectly.

He goes out in public in restaurants with a face mask that disguises
him completely, made by the people who can do that work here in Hollywood.
Also, he went on to say -- this writer who met with him went on to say, he
is a constant conspiracy theorist. He believes that 9/11, the World Trade
Center, was brought down by drones, had nothing to do with those airplanes.

It is madness just run wild. I`m just giving you an additional source
not for the specifics of Eszterhas, but the spirit of it is exactly what
this other writer experienced.

SHARON WAXMAN, THEWRAP.COM: Yes, so there`s two pieces. The first
moment you read the letter, you are in shock.

O`DONNELL: You cannot believe it. There`s words in there that I have
never heard. There are epithets about Jews that I have never heard before.
You can`t believe what he is saying.

WAXMAN: Oven dodgers --

O`DONNELL: We`re not going to say. It`s on your website. They can
read them. We didn`t actually pull -- the entire letter is on our website.
And we have written several stories about it, because it`s hard to know
where to begin, where to pull out kind of the horror show that`s laid out
in this letter.

Now, the other -- the second reaction you have is well, it`s Mel
Gibson, so who can really be surprised that he would continue to act like
Mel Gibson has been acting.

O`DONNELL: But I`m surprised. Look, plotting to kill his girlfriend,
nobody was saying that.

WAXMAN: In the tapes that we all heard a year and a half ago, you
know, he was --

O`DONNELL: Yeah, he uses --

WAXMAN: He`s threatening to kill her.

O`DONNELL: Yes, but it`s that thing about I`m going to kill you and
you think that`s figurative language. But no, no, he has an idea. He has
a way.

WAXMAN: He is in the grip of something in these rages. Who knows if
he means it or he doesn`t mean it. But it certainly was very frightening
to Joe Eszterhas, frightening to his family, frightening to the people who
were there.

So, at some point, you have to think that someone who is not in
control of their words may not be in control of their actions.

O`DONNELL: I want to read what Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-
Defamation League, told you today at today. He said "Mel
Gibson never really came to grips with his bigotry. Most people who are
revealed or exposed as anti-semites under stress or alcohol try to engage
in some epiphany once they are revealed. Mel Gibson never rally confronted
his problem, to the point where his lawyers removed from the record what he
said to the police, so he could move on without confronting him."

That is a reference to the drunk driving arrest where he was revealed
to say anti-semitic things. Rabbi Marvin Hier, you, based on some of the
things I`ve ready you have said in the past, are not surprised tonight?

think that he should have been forgiven and given a role in Hollywood to do
the MacCabees. Thank God he is not doing that. Jewish history is going to
be much better for it.

Associating Mel Gibson with Judah MacCabees would be like associating
Bernie Madoff and appointing him as the head of the Securities Exchange

Let me say one thing that is missed here sometimes: before he had the
incident where he was drunk, his portrayal of Jews, those Jews who did not
believe in Jesus, in "The Passion of Christ" is unforgivable. Every Jew in
that film that was not a Christian is portrayed as a sadist, as a buffoon
and as an ignorant person.

I believe that was deliberate. And I think the only lesson from this
is I hope that Mel Gibson chooses another career. I hope that he will find
it very difficult to find another project in Hollywood.

O`DONNELL: Rabbi, I have to tell you, I brought 12 years of Catholic
education into that movie theater the day "The Passion of the Christ" came
out, to watch that movie. And I sat there absolutely horrified, feeling
every word of what you just said about it. I couldn`t believe what I was
witnesses on the screen.

Sharon Waxman, is there another shoe to drop in this breaking story?

WAXMAN: Well, so we have an exclusive interview that we just posted
of Joe Eszterhas giving us an interview and responding to Mel Gibson saying
that this is utter fabrications. He says I have a tape, so you might want
to be careful about calling me a liar.

O`DONNELL: Gibson doesn`t make any specific refutations in there. He
doesn`t say oh, no, I`m not plotting to kill my girlfriend. That`s an easy
thing to say.

WAXMAN: Right, right. The great majority -- he won`t be specific.
So it will be interesting to see if he goes. And by the way, I should say
-- and Rabbi Hier, you might be curious to know that Warner Brothers has
not dropped the project. They are not going to make Joe Eszterhas` script.
But they have not said that they are not moving forward with the

O`DONNELL: Well, I don`t think it`s going to be a Mel Gibson --
Rabbi, I`m sorry. We have to go. We`re out of time. I`m very sorry.

That`s going to have to be THE LAST WORD. Sharon Waxman, the founder
and editor of, and Rabbi Marvin Hier, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

"THE ED SHOW" is next.


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