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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

January 8, 2013

Guests: Ryan Grim, Patricia Maisch, Joy Reid, Ari Melber

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: How bad is it out there for Republicans?
It`s so bad, one of their rich socialites has abandoned them.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Red storm rise, the crisis in the
Republican Party.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Republicans would eventually understand
that obstructionism did not serve the party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The delusional loop within which this party

MATTHEWS: Why do you keep getting involved with this nutty stuff?

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Dealing with the different set of


WAGNER: Republicans seem to have developed an acute case of
Goldilocks syndrome.

MATTHEWS: What`s going on with your party?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds like deja vu all over again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The disarray and the disrepute which the
Republican Party has fallen into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So many members that are determined to just show
up with concrete for feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans have been the obstructionists, far
more than the Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re definitely not going to be backwards in
this country.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Thankfully, the United States Congress, the
113th, got off to a big start by taking the week off.


CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: I think a lot of people make glaze over
when they hear about the debt ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not just the debt ceiling, but there`s also
the sequester.

WAGNER: Republicans aren`t going to play ball in the sequester.

This is jam-packed enchilada of responsibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans have been saying they have leverage.

leverage we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens to the leverage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, misunderstanding the situation.

PANETTA: A different set of nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll go back to my original question.

MCCONNELL: I know what your question is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How far are you willing to take this strategy --

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Would you rule out a government shutdown?

GINGRICH: I helped close the government twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that`s a good idea?


GINGRICH: I think that`s frankly a dead loser.

MCCONNELL: Hopefully, we don`t get to that point.

PANETTA: A different set of nuts.


MATTHEWS: A place for politics, not kinkiness.

percent of what I wanted. I`m pretty happy.


O`DONNELL: The Republican Party losing streak continued today as a
new poll shows that Republicans also lost in the public perception of the
fiscal cliff negotiations.

"The Washington Post"/ABC News poll of registered voters shows that 30
percent approve the way House Speaker John Boehner handled fiscal cliff
negotiations, 56 percent don`t approve, 53 percent approve the way
President Obama handled negotiations, 40 percent disapprove.

Today, Chris Christie continued his campaign against House


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We look forward to what we hope
will be quick congressional action on a full, clean, Sandy-aid bill now,
next week.

One thing I hope everyone in America now clearly understands, New
Jersey, both Republicans and Democrats, will never stand silent when our
citizens are being shortchanged.



O`DONNELL: And let`s not forget what Governor Chris Christie said
last week.


CHRISTIE: There is only one group to blame for the continued
suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority, and their speaker,
John Boehner.


O`DONNELL: And today, "The Daily Beast" published the interview with
Republican Party Finance Committee co-chair, Georgette Mosbacher, who says
she is mad as hell, about the myriad ways the Republican brand has been
tarnished, the sorry state of presidential and primary process, the ongoing
alienation of Latino voters, the outrageous Senate candidates that the
party run this cycle, the epic failure of the fiscal cliff negotiations,
and most recently, the House`s dithering over disaster aid for the victims
of superstorm Sandy.

"I`m angry," fumes Mosbacher, "I`m angry about the mistakes that were
self-inflicted. I`m not writing any checks and I`m not asking anyone else
to write any checks until I hear something that makes sense to me. Since
the election, there have been a lot of gatherings, a lot of meetings among
those who are active in raising money. The question is, are we united in
drying that up? From the people I have talked to? The answer is yes."

Krystal Ball, when you have lost the socialites, I believe the
Republicans have nothing left to lose.


O`DONNELL: What else is there? This is rock bottom?

BALL: It`s pretty bad. It looks pretty bleak.

O`DONNELL: Georgette, a hack, fundraiser, for decades in the
Republican world.

BALL: And she doesn`t seem like a lady I like to cross. She had some
strong words there.

Well, I was looking back at the analysis "The Washington Post" did
last summer over the different components of the Republican Party, and the
sort of old school Republicans which I presume Georgette to be, fiscally
conservative, more socially liberally, typically Northeastern, typically
well-off, still make up about 22 percent of the party. So, a decent chunk
of the party.

And what`s important, and what Georgette is hinting at there is that
they make up a disproportionate amount of the funding base, which is why
traditionally they have had a lock on the Republican Party. And the
innovation of the Tea Party and the Club for Growth and these other groups
is their ability to have larger scale donor movements, smaller dollar to
add up to a larger amount.

And for a while, the Georgeettes of the world in 2010, they`re willing
to ride the wave, because sure we were electing crazy people but they were
in other districts. Now, they see how the chickens come home to roost and
are ruining the national brand of the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: Steve, Georgette was prepared to put up with anything, as
long as you could keep her tax rates down on every single form of income
that she has. And so, now, they can`t quite completely guarantee it for
her. So what is she in this for, because she ain`t with them --

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: It is an interesting cut-off date,
January 13th, as opposed to any time in the last 20 years. I guess the way
I view the Republican Party is not so much the only divide between, you
know, the old Rockefeller Republican, the old culturally liberal,
Northeasterners and the conservatives. I think the moderate wing is
basically known nonexistent now, especially when you look at who the
Republicans are, who represent the party in Congress, in the House.

And basically, what the divide there is it`s conservatives, it`s
ideological conservatives who somewhere inside have pragmatic instincts.

Now, I actually think they account for the majority of the Republicans
in the House. But what they have done is they have subordinated those
instincts out of fear of a primary challenge, a primary challenge that will
be funded as Krystal says by groups like Club for Growth, who can gabble up
all these small dollar donations and steer it into these various House
races across the country.

So, they have let the term conservative be defined by just whack jobs,
by Louie Gohmerts, by the Michelle Bachmanns, and they are the ones now and
they basically define conservativism as sort of an insurgency. And
insurgency agents the Republican establishment and the Republicans will
sell them out and deals with Democrats. What basically means
conservativism now is basically defined as "I oppose Obama and I oppose any
and all compromise with Democrats". It`s not an ideology, it`s just
basically resistance to the establishment in resistance compromise.

And the power is there because they`re intimidating these pragmatic

BALL: Well, and even resistance to their own party and the
establishment within their party, people like Tim Huelskamp, are actually
fundraising over their -- you know, their undermining of their open
speaker, and raising money off that.

So, it`s not just going against the Democrats. It is going against
their own party, moving as far to the right as they possibly can, because
that is where politically it makes sense for them to be.

O`DONNELL: And your boy, Chris Christie, you are the senior New
Jersey political analyst, as our senior New Jersey political analyst
explains how long Chris Christie keeps this up? This attack on the
Washington Republicans?

KORNACKI: Let me see, Election Day in New Jersey 2013 is November 6 -

O`DONNELL: Can he just get his hurricane Sandy money and then stop
talking about them?

KORNACKI: Yes, and I think Krystal has made this point, too, I think
it is right. A big part of Christie`s thinking right now, obviously, is he
has to win re-election in the blue state and with Obama voters. But there
is this element, this is a New Jersey guy, in a certain level he cares more
about his state than just the day to day politics, and the 2016 politics
and all of that.

So, I do think a certain amount of it really is, you know, applying
pressure on the Republicans to get the money that he thinks his state
absolutely deserve and his state does absolutely deserve and absolutely

So, I do think it will die down after that. But at the same time, the
pressure to continue being Chris Christie who defines himself a little bit
against Washington Republicans will continue through at least a little bit
of this year. And that`s going to be really interesting to watch, if he
does have designs on 2016, how can he sort of navigate back to being a hero
to conservatives, after spending a year doing this? I`m not sure he can.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, if he has designs on the vice president
nomination, he could get that because he doesn`t have to get over any
Republican primary hurdles. But it does seem as if he is raising hurdles
for himself in what would be a presidential primary.

BALL: I think so because there are Republicans out there who blame
the combination of Sandy and Chris Christie for Obama`s victory, which is
not true at all as we know. Romney`s momentum already stopped, he never
led in the polls. The president was going to win, regardless of what
happened that week.

And so, there was animus there already, and now with this. To Steve`s
point, he didn`t have to go as far as he went in that conference, to get
sort of the benefit of New Jersey, of going against Washington Republicans.
He didn`t have to specifically call them out in such an aggressive way. It
didn`t feel just blatantly, politically calculated to me.

Now, you`re right. If he really wants to be vice president, then this
wouldn`t have such a big impact, but I think it would be hard between this
leaving a bad taste in people`s mouths, and some more moderate positions
that he actually holds. It will be hard to come in the Republican primary.
We saw what it was like this past year.

O`DONNELL: OK. But one thing we saw, Steve, this past year, was the
power of those Republican debates. There was Newt Gingrich, who in a
question could swing the whole thing in his favor.

BALL: And a question about open marriage, nonetheless.

O`DONNELL: Right, exactly. And so -- and, Chris Christie, you would
have to bet on, out of all the potential field we know about right now is
the guy who is more likely to come out with that punch, with that swing, in
a debate that really does excite an audience.

KORNACKI: And I`ve always said that is the key to Christie in the
off-the-cuff, he is better than reading from text. It`s that he can take -
- people say he has a problem with immigration for instance. I never
really thought with the Republican base that he has a problem with
immigration, because I think if it comes up in a debate, if he is running
for national office and it comes up, he has a way of reframing it and
resetting it in a way that makes people say, they like him already, now,
they`re going to work backwards.

I like him, I want to be with him, he has given me something to work
with. Now, I`m going to rationalize why his position on immigration is OK.
He won`t be in their face with it, whether it`s immigration or anything
else, he has that personality that makes people, that makes a lot of
Republicans want to be with him and rationalize backwards to get with him,
to get into his camp. That is a skill that I don`t see any other national
Republican right now --

O`DONNELL: And most importantly, he is the Republican that the
socialites can back. Georgette has no problem with Chris Christie.

BALL: That`s right. She`d be very comfortable there.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, and Steve Kornacki, thank you both for
joining me tonight.


BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: start thinking about what you`re going to be
doing at midnight on Valentine`s Day. It looks like that`s when we will
actually hit the debt ceiling, which means no one with any kind of romantic
life will notice.

And later, the NRA will meet with Joe Biden at the White House.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, why has no one mentioned me to take John
Kerry`s Senate seat when he gets confirmed as secretary of state. Do I
have to do everything myself around here. Krystal, do I?

BALL: No, I have been talking about you from day one.

O`DONNELL: All right. Well, that`s going to be in the rewrite.


O`DONNELL: The greatest governor of all time. I mean, the greatest
governor of all governors, I don`t mean just state governors -- I mean,
colonial governors, I mean, the greatest governor in the history of
governors. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will get to appoint a
United States senator for the second time. No Massachusetts governor has
ever gotten to do that twice. It is an awesome responsibility.

And I`m going to give the governor a little help with it tonight and
suggest somebody who probably is not on his short list right now, or any
list. Except my list. And that`s in the rewrite.



Congress over the fulfillment of Congress` responsibility to raise the debt
ceiling. We can and should negotiate over how we continue to reduce our
deficits in a responsible and balanced way. But we should not play chicken
with the full faith and credit of the United States.


O`DONNELL: The Treasury Department estimates that if the debt ceiling
is not raised, the United States might just hit that ceiling by midnight on
Valentine`s Day, five weeks from today. But congressional Republicans
might -- they just might be ready to blink.

Here is Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on FOX News this


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: What about the debt ceiling deadline, Senator?
Would you go through that, would you risk bumping against that, shutting
the government down?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We don`t have to do that. We don`t -
- we should not be playing this brinksmanship --

CAVUTO: I know you don`t have to. But if it comes to that, what
would you do?

JOHNSON: Again, that`s a hypothetical situation.


O`DONNELL: Senator Mitch McConnell evaded question after question
about raising the debt ceiling on "Meet on Press" on Sunday.


DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: It`s a hostage worth ransoming, the debt
ceiling of the United States government. Is that the strategy that you
would ransom that again here, to force the kind of spending cuts that you
think are necessary?

MCCONNELL: It`s a shame we have to use whatever leverage we have in
Congress to get the president to deal with the biggest problem confronting
our future, and that is our excessive spending.

GREGORY: All right. But you`re conceding that that may be the
strategy this time?

MCCONNELL: Well, what the strategy ought to be is we ought to be
doing something about the problem.

GREGORY: You heard the president, he said he will not negotiate over
increasing the debt ceiling. You`re saying despite whatever the business
community thinks, you may have to push it to the brink once again?

MCCONNELL: Well, what we`re saying here is the problem -- the biggest
problem confronting the country is our excessive spending.


O`DONNELL: And even House Speaker John Boehner conceded in a recent
interview with "The Wall Street Journal," that the debt is one point of
leverage, but not the ultimate leverage.

Joining me now are: Ryan Grim, "Huffington Post" Washington bureau
chief, and only Ryan Grim.

Ryan, the -- it sounds to me, like the Republicans are listening to
the president who has very simply been saying, I will not negotiate with
you over this. And they realize he means it.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: They do realize it -- that he means it.
And they`re also listening to the business class, which is saying -- look,
enough of this. You know, look what happened last time we went through

And Newt Gingrich, you know, the rare voice of reason in the
wilderness here said it eloquently just the other day. He said, look,
you`re going to go through this whole fight, you`re going to embarrass
yourself over the period of couple of weeks, then the entire global finance
community is going to come to Washington, everybody is going to lay the
blame at the Republicans for threatening to blow up the economy, and then
you`re going to cave. So, go through that?

And so, you know, McConnell and Johnson and those folks -- you know,
it`s just kind of acknowledgment of the reality, that it`s almost -- it is
maniacal, to say, yes, we lost the election, but we still have the leverage
that we can blow up the global economy, and so, that`s how we get our
agenda accomplished.

This is a democracy. If you think that spending is the problem, you
take that to the voters. The voters vote. If you get elected, then you
enact spending cuts.

The first part of that, though, is you have to propose spending cuts,
and that`s actually the major hiccup here.

O`DONNELL: Ryan, I think the way you just described, the Gingrich
vision of how this works, is what the president foresaw when he started
saying I absolutely will not negotiate over this. The Republicans lost the
perception, the first time they went through this thing, the public
perception of responsibility, and they would again.

And I want to go to Jay Carney, something else he said today about the
economic effects of this kind of thing.


CARNEY: Throughout the recovery, the weakest month of job creation
was in August of 2011. And the primary reason for that, was because of the
insistence by House Republicans in July and June -- the insistence by them
to flirt with the prospect of default.

And consumer confidence plummeted. The Dow plummeted. The investment
dried up and the American people paid the price.


O`DONNELL: Ryan, the White House certainly knows its case to make.
But it seems to me the Republicans are in this sense lucky that they don`t
actually need the debt ceiling as some of them have been saying. They have
the sequester looming, and they could use that as the negotiating spot.

GRIM: That is their way out. But I think the question that people
are not asking here, particularly in the White House is: how do -- how do
they get out of this? How do Republicans get out of this?

OK, let`s say they decide they were going to cave. But do they cave,
though, with just a 30-day extension, which just extends the uncertainty of
another 30 days? Do they really think they`re going to kick it $2
trillion, or $3 trillion, or even a trillion so you can get a year or so
out of this?

So, you know, I don`t know exactly where this is headed. But we only
have five weeks to find out.

But you`re right, that they can say, OK, we`re going to fight over the
sequester and fight over shutting down the government. Because ironically
now, shutting down the government looks like a moderate policy -- a
moderate tactic in this fight, because you`re just closing down the federal
government, the parks, the Smithsonian, the -- you know, the different
bureaucracies around Washington.

So, you know, that certainly could be where we`re headed. But we`re
in uncharted territory here.

O`DONNELL: Ryan, my guess is the Republicans will try to move this
thing as far off the door step in the future as possible, using primarily,
obviously, all Democratic votes in the Senate, and then mostly Democratic
votes in the House.

GRIM: I think that would probably be John Boehner`s favorite way of
doing -- I think you`re right.

So, you know, instead of doing 30 days with a decent number of
Republicans, you say, look, and he does this same thing, says I hate this,
and we`ll have two days where we think the Republicans will spike it. And
eventually enough come and join Democrats and kick this thing up.

And maybe they can eve get some mechanism in place so that they don`t
have to do this again. They could maybe implement Mitch McConnell`s thing
again, which is the president can raise and Congress can reject it with a
two third`s vote, which, of course, they`ll never do, and then they can
stop worrying about this. And Wall Street, and the global economy, and
everybody for that matter would breathe easier.

O`DONNELL: Ryan Grim, thanks for joining me tonight.

GRIM: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELLL: Coming up, Joe Biden versus the NRA with Gabby Giffords
on his side.

And, Chris Christie attacked Republicans again for slacking off on
help for the victims of hurricane Sandy.

And, big surprise, a Mississippi congressman who begged -- begged --
for Katrina money had the nerve to vote against Sandy money, which got him
little bit of attention from Jon Stewart. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Two years ago, an assassin tried to kill Gabrielle
Giffords and 18 other people in a parking lot in Tucson. Coming up: how
survivors of gun massacres are pushing the White House and Congress to take
action now to stop these mass shootings in America.

And later, in the rewrite: who should be the appointed senator from
Massachusetts when John Kerry goes to the State Department? And why, why
has no one mentioned me for that job?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty heartbroken families lost a child in the
Sandy Hook school shooting. I know how much it hurts. My nine-year-old
daughter was murdered in the Tucson shooting.

I have one question for our political leaders: when will you find
courage to stand up to the gun lobby? Whose child has to die next? To
every mother, we can`t wait. We have to demand a plan. Go to and add your name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund is
responsible for the content of this advertising.


O`DONNELL: That television ad aired for the first time today in
Tucson, Arizona, at 10:10 a.m. to mark, to the minute, the second
anniversary of the gun massacre that left six people dead and 12 people
wounded, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Gabby Giffords,
along with her husband, Mark Kelly, launched the Americans For Responsible
Solutions Political Action Committee today to counter the influence of
murder weapon lobbyists like the National Rifle Association.

In a "USA Today" op-ed, they wrote "in response to a horrific series
of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of
thousands of Americans and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a
Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something extraordinary, nothing at


MARK KELLY, ASTRONAUT: How do we get to the point where 85 percent of
the children in the world that are killed with guns are killed in the
United States? That is a sobering statistic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that is what changed for you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You told me before, when I said are you angry?
You said no, it is life. Do you still feel that way?


KELLY: Do you get angry?

GIFFORDS: Yes, yes.


O`DONNELL: Vice President Joe Biden will be sending his
recommendations for gun safety reform to the president within the next
three weeks. The vice president will meet with victim`s groups and gun
safety organizations tomorrow at the White House. Then on Thursday, he
will meet with gun advocates, including a representative from the NRA.

Joining me now is MSNBC`s Joy Reid and Patricia Maisch, who helped to
stop the Tucson shooter by wrestling away a magazine of bullets before he
could reload.

Patricia, I want to start with you tonight. One thing that the NRA
talks about is you can`t stop all of these killings. We know that we can`t
stop all of them. For me, the question is how easy do we want to make it
for them? And one of those questions is, how big are those magazines that
we want the mass shooters to have access to?

And as you know from your own personal experience, the only reason
that shooting stopped was because he had to reload.

is absolutely no reason for the general population to have that kind of
fire capacity, or that type of gun, the high -- the assault weapons. There
is no reason for that.

Now our shooter had a glock. So that doesn`t fall into that category,
I don`t believe. But the high capacity magazines -- if he had only had 10
bullets in that first magazine, there probably would not be as many people
injured or dead.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, Patricia, I have said that I blame the shooter for
those first 10, but I blame the laws for what happened after that. Joy
Reid, the momentum is building in the public discussion about this. And I
want to play I think something that is kind of extraordinary. General
McChrystal this morning on "MORNING JOE" talking about this.


GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL (RET), U.S. ARMY: I spent a career carrying
typically an M-16, and later an M-4 Carbine. And an M-4 Carbine fires a
223 caliber round, which is 5.56 millimeter, at about 3,000 feet per
second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It is
designed to do that.

I personally don`t think there is any need for that kind of weaponry
on the streets and particularly around the schools in America. I think
serious action is necessary. Sometimes we talk about very limited actions
on the edges. And I just don`t think that is enough.

I think we`ll find out.


O`DONNELL: There`s a former general. He knows those weapons were
designed for his use, not for street use.

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, and I think that is really
important. We heard a lot of people say that it is important for gun
owners to get involved in the debate. But I think it is even more
important to hear from people like Stanley McChrystal. On the way over
here, I called my brother who trained at Fort Dix for the Army National
Guard and we talked about this. When the Army went to the AR 15 type of
firepower from the M-16, the upgrade was the sort of Bushmaster AR 15,
because it is lighter weight and it gives you the capacity to essentially
lay down what you consider cover fire.

The idea that you can fire so many bullets that the enemy, right,
cannot get the opportunity to advance. These are weapons of war. They`re
military weapons. And we`ve heard people who have military service say
this. These are the kind of weapons our troops need to survive a war zone.
There is really no credible explanation I have ever heard as to why
ordinary people need them. These guns were designed to kill people. That
is what they`re for.

O`DONNELL: Patricia, have you had any conversations with gun
enthusiasts who have told you this is why I need a high-capacity magazine
for my ammunition?

MAISCH: The only thing they have told me -- and I have had
conversations -- is that I deserve to have them. I can have them. It is
legal, I want them. I can afford them.

O`DONNELL: Do they tell you of any suffering they endured during the
years when they were illegal?

MAISCH: Not one word. I did challenge a couple of people that have
said they could have taken down our shooter. And I challenged them with
saying I`ll buy you a reality or a fantasy adventure at one of the villages
where the good guys pop out and the bad guys pop out. And if you can take
every one of the bad guys down and not hit any of the good guys, I`ll pay
for your adventure.

If you don`t perform perfectly, then you have to give me three times
what I paid for my cause. And I have not had anyone take me up on that
offer yet.

O`DONNELL: And Joy, well-trained police officers cannot get those
tests exactly right. And they are given to police officers to humble them
on the use of their firearms, to be more careful with them.

REID: Yeah, absolutely, there was an armed guard at Columbine, right.
When somebody is firing 100 rounds at you, when do you have the opportunity
to take them out? At what point with those 100-round volleys flying at
you? We have a human example right here on the show tonight of somebody
who was able to intervene only because the guy had to stop shooting.

O`DONNELL: Pat Maisch, thank you for your heroism, and thanks for
joining us tonight with Joy Reid. Thank you both.

MAISCH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Jersey boys, Chris Christie and Jon
Stewart, are teaming up to attack House Republicans. In the Rewrite,
Massachusetts is going to get another appointed senator when John Kerry
becomes secretary of state. Wouldn`t it be nice -- wouldn`t it make a lot
of sense if that appointed senator who held office temporarily until an
election is held actually has some Washington legislative experience, like
Barney Frank? Or maybe, even better, some Senate legislative experience
like maybe, I don`t know, you know, me?


O`DONNELL: The very clever and from time to time corrupt Democrats in
the Massachusetts legislature saw a United States Senate seat slipping away
from them in 2004, so they rewrote the law to hold on to it. Mitt Romney
was governor, and John Kerry was on his way to being president and
resigning his Senate seat, which would have meant a Republican governor
would get to appoint a new senator. So to prevent the Republican governor
from appointing a Republican senator, the Democrats in the Massachusetts
legislature rewrote the law so that, for the first time in history, the
governor could no longer appoint somebody to a suddenly open Senate seat.

There would have to be a special election instead. But then John
Kerry didn`t resign his Senate seat, because 60,000 thousand people in Ohio
-- or maybe we should just call them 60,000 recorded votes went the wrong
way in 2004. And then the Democrats were stuck with this law when Ted
Kennedy got sick, very sick.

When Senator Kennedy slipped into his final days in the Senate, the
Massachusetts legislature rewrote the law again, because now they had a
Democratic governor. They thought it would look wicked bad if they just
switched back to the way it was, so they kept the special election. But
they allowed the governor to appoint a temporary successor to Senator
Kennedy`s seat to fill the time it would take to have a special election.

They actually figured that the governor would appoint someone who
would then run for election and have the advantage of being an incumbent.
But in fact that gave us the brief and honorable service of Senator Paul
Kirk, a former chairman of the National Democratic Party and a Kennedy
friend, who was supposed to cast the key vote in the Senate for health care
in 2009. But the debate slipped over into 2010, and then this guy won the
special election. And Senate Democrats had to rip out a portion of the
health care bill and pass it using the reconciliation procedure in an
unprecedented way.

It was so unprecedented that they never considered using
reconciliation until a Republican won the Kennedy seat. It was the kind of
move Tommy Fennerin (ph) must have loved if he understood it. Tommy
Fennerin was the clever speaker of the Massachusetts House who first
rewrote the law designed to keep Massachusetts seats in the United States
Senate for Democrats only.

Tommy has since faced federal charges of perjury and obstruction of
justice, pled guilty to some of them to avoid prison time, and emerged as,
what else, a very clever radio talk show host in Boston. Tommy and I grew
up in the same neighborhood, but I didn`t know him very well. Tommy was
way too cool to talk to me very much. He was years ahead of me, not just
in age but in cleverness.

So clever that he is the only guy I know from my neighborhood who was
convicted of a white collar crime, which the other criminals I grew up with
don`t regard as actual crime, of course. A jury of Tommy and my peers
would have let Tommy walk out of the courtroom a free and very clever man.

So now John Kerry is on the edge of resigning his Senate seat for real
this time. And Massachusetts has a Democratic governor. But the Democrats
in the Massachusetts legislature don`t have Tommy Fennerin when they need
him to Rewrite the law one more time, to allow Deval Patrick to simply
appoint John Kerry`s successor and be done with it.

The governor has to appoint a place-holder. That is actually how Ted
Kennedy got his seat. No, Teddy wasn`t appointed to the Senate when his
brother John Kennedy resigned to become president of the United States,
because Teddy was too young to be appointed then. So the Kennedys got the
compliant governor to appoint John Kennedy`s Harvard roommate to serve out
the last two years of the Kennedy term.

The appointed senator, Ben Smith, promised not to run for the seat so
Teddy would have a shot at an open Senate seat in 1962, as soon as he
turned 30. And so once again, the hot political action in Boston surrounds
the question who will the governor appoint to the Senate? There is no
suspense about who will win the special election, not since I said this.


O`DONNELL: I am hereby declaring Ed Markey the winner to be in the
Senate race.


O`DONNELL: And of course, the very next day, the next day, as if on
cue, as if they were watching this program and taking notes, John Kerry,
Vicki Kennedy and the head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee all
came out in support of Ed Markey for John Kerry`s Senate seat, an
unprecedented closing of the ranks around Ed Markey before any other
Democrat could even announce his or her intention of running in a
Democratic primary against Ed Markey.

And you heard it here first, which is to say you`re hearing it right
now -- Scott Brown probably won`t even run against Ed Markey. Scott Brown
would be much happier running for governor when Deval Patrick leaves office
next year, a race Scott Brown would have a much better chance of winning,
and a job he would love. I mean, love, compared to the Senate, which
according to my sources he doesn`t really like.

So it is settled. Ed Markey is going to be the next elected senator
from Massachusetts. But who -- who is the governor going to appoint in the
meantime? The appointed senator will have crucial work to do on the next
debt ceiling crisis, on the next round of budget negotiations with
Republicans. All of that action will be focused in the Senate Finance
Committee, which has jurisdiction not over just the debt ceiling but over
Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, which the Republicans want to put into

Ideally the appointed senator would take John Kerry`s seat on the
Senate Finance Committee. And ideally the appointed senator would know
exactly how that committee works and how the Senate works on day one.
Because ideally the appointed senator would be a former member of the
Senate Finance Committee, who has real experience negotiating and
legislating huge budget bills.

But there are none of those living in Massachusetts now or from
Massachusetts. But there is -- there is one former chief of staff of the
Senate Finance Committee who is from Massachusetts, and who, like Ben
Affleck, now lives in Los Angeles.


BOB SCHIEFFER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Have you ever thought about running
for public office yourself?

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: I do have a great fondness and admiration for the
political process in this country. It is a big deal for me to come down
here and be on your show that I watched so much. But I won`t get into
speculation about my political future.


O`DONNELL: Come on. If Ben Affleck can be taken that seriously for
the Massachusetts Senate seat, why can`t I? OK, Ben Affleck is a lot
better actor, screen writer, director and producer than I am. But I know
like so much more than he does about governing. Well, domestic governing

Look, you know, I mean he knows a lot more than I do about a lot of
foreign policy stuff, the Middle East, Africa. But that stuff is not going
to be involved in the debt ceiling negotiations.

I cannot believe it has come to this, that I have to float my own name
to get in this mix for this Senate appointment. You know how embarrassing
this is? I know Barney Frank. He had no problem floating his name for the
Senate appointment. He told the governor he would like to be appointed. I
guess that is what I have to do if I am serious about this I`m going to
call the governor, the greatest governor of all time, Deval Patrick. I`m
going to have to call him like maybe tomorrow.

So I am going to do what I always do when I am faced with a difficult
decision. I`m going to avoid it, at least for tonight. I am going to
sleep on it. But I think I owe the people of Massachusetts and the
governor and those lucky senators who might get to be my colleagues
temporarily -- I think I owe them all a decision on this. So tomorrow
night on this program, I will announce either my intention to beg the
governor for the appointment, or my choice of who the governor should
appoint to hold the Senate seat until Ed Markey can be sworn in.

I`m going to need your help with this decision. Let me know on
Twitter or Facebook whether I should be appointed senator, whether I should
ask the governor to appoint me senator, or if say Barney Frank should be
the appointed senator or someone else should be the appointed senator.

You know, maybe I could work something out with Barney Frank. If I
become a temporary senator, maybe he can become a temporary host of a 10:00
p.m. program on MSNBC.



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We`re thankful to the people of
the United States because I know they will honor the tradition of providing
relief. You see, we have stood -- we have stood with the citizens of
Florida and Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Iowa and Vermont,
California and Missouri in their times of need. Now, I trust they will
stand with us.


O`DONNELL: Of the 60 billion dollar Hurricane Sandy rebuilding
package that passed in the Senate at the end of the last Congress, House
Speaker John Boehner has only brought to the floor and passed one bill for
nine billion dollars to fund the National Flood Insurance Program. There
will be no more votes in the House on Hurricane Sandy until January 15th at
the earliest.

Last night, Jon Stewart, from New Jersey, railed against the
hypocritical House Republicans.


REP. STEVEN PALAZZO (R), MISSISSIPPI: Many of my constituents in
Mississippi are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Katrina. They
depend on the National Flood Insurance Program.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Oh, the flood insurance program you
vetoed spending money to reimburse? Here is a thought experiment. Let`s
pretend that instead of your constituents in Mississippi, it`s someone
else`s constituents in New York. And instead of seven years later, it`s
two months later, and instead of a baseline temperature of 60 degrees, it
is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) freezing. And instead of being an (EXPLETIVE
DELETED), you weren`t.


STEWART: Look, Republicans, I get that you`re the party of limited
government. But we`re not talking about Obamacare here. This was two
paragraphs to giving aid to people in need. And you guys still couldn`t
bring yourself to vote for it, because of some stupid principle that you
yourselves only occasionally live by.

And here`s the thing, if you guys can`t vote for this, then we`re
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) for the next two years. And I`m not saying you`re
responsible for all the problems of the country. But you sure are making
them a lot harder to fix.


O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, there is nothing quite like Jon Stewart when
he is actually mad about something. That is kind of great.

ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": Yeah, he is coming in there, and nailing
it, which is you can`t be half way pregnant. There is no such thing as
half way crooks. And you can`t be half way conservative. If you`re
conservative when it comes to everybody else, and then you`re big into
liberal spending when it comes to you and your own people, you look like a

O`DONNELL: And Jon Stewart also addressed something else, which is
this notion that -- Republican notion that -- what about private charity
and what about the private sector jumping in there, before asking for
government help? Let`s listen to Jon Stewart.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: There has to be a balance between the
two. Government must act for the common good while leaving private groups
free to do the work that only they can do.

STEWART: Guess what. Private groups, they kept up their half of the
deal. They raised like 400 million dollars. Remember this? Bon Jovi,
half the surviving Beatles. It was so big, Springsteen was the opening act
This concert was so big -- you know what they called Kanye at this concert?



O`DONNELL: Ari, 400 million dollars is a lot of money, except when
you need 60 billion. It is less than one percent when you need 60 billion.

MELBER: Exactly. And everybody loved that concert. There was more
senior citizens on stage getting crazy than you usually see. But that
doesn`t do what government does. The scale of it, as you put it -- I mean,
Katrina was 69 billion dollars in 2005, another 60 billion just the
following year. As you point out here in the lead-in, we got nine billion
so far. We need a lot more.

It is not of the scale that even tremendous charities will ever come
near addressing. So it is more than misleading. I think it is a lie for
anyone to get up there in the Republican party and claim that we`re going
to do this through churches. I think it`s actually insulting to churches.

O`DONNELL: We can`t emphasize this enough. New Jersey is asking for
its money back. New York is asking for its money back. These states send
in way more money to the federal government for all purposes than they ever
get back in federal spending.

MELBER: That is the biggest point here. There is a welfarization of
a lot of these issues. The same question we have around Social Security
hit here, which is we`re not talking about hand-outs, right? That is
always the right wing rhetoric. We`re talking about people who paid in,
whether it`s a state that`s paid in over the years. Christie said in the
State of the Union Address that they are what he calls a donor state. All
he really means is New Jersey does put a lot towards the federal
government. They deserve some of it back.

That is what long-term people do in paying in to Social Security and
Medicare. This is going to be the debate over the next several years. And
I think liberals have to be very clear, while there is nothing wrong with
welfare, this doesn`t even fit in the welfare category. We`re talking
about people making good on what they have already put in to the system.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber gets tonight`s LAST WORD. And Ari, thanks a
lot for forcing me to raise my own name for this Massachusetts Senate seat.
Come on. I gave you plenty of time.

MELBER: I had time. But I have a conflict of interest, because I
don`t want to see Barney Frank take your chair.

O`DONNELL: He`s so good at this. He`d be so great at this.

I`m not sure "The Ed Show" would ever get on after this show, because
Barney talks a lot, but the "Ed Show" really is up next.


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