IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

January 17, 2013

Guests: Joe Klein, Frank Smyth, E.J. Dionne

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: When is the last time "Fox and Friends"
challenged a Republican senator spouting the team`s talking points? That
actually happened this morning.


is if the American people demand it.

right side of history here.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: He loves (ph) an emotional campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another giant campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama`s ambitious proposal to curb gun

OBAMA: This is common sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This conversation is long overdue.

OBAMA: There is no reason we can`t do this.

TODD: Reaction has been fairly predictable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All out panic from the right wing.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: President Obama may have this king complex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gun ownership is a civil right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing he is proposing would have prevented


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is so crazy.

OBAMA: We don`t benefit from ignorance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re fighting against universal background

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NRA vows the fight of the century.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know you`ve got a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NRA headquarters is populated by crazy people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are crazy people.

DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: It wasn`t about the president`s daughters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NRA defends its web ads.

KEENE: It wasn`t about the president`s daughters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course it was about the president`s kids -- he
mentioned the president`s kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NRA headquarters is populated by crazy people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are crazy people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saying these crazy things.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I actually think the president -- and he
just doesn`t have the guts to admit it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gun ownership is a civil right.

PAUL: President Obama may have this king complex.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is so crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crazy, crazy, crazy.

STEWART: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are never going to get middle America, they are
always going to be fringe, and they are going to lose this debate.


O`DONNELL: Today the Obama administration took its campaign for massacre
control legislation outside the White House.


that there should be -- and I agree with him -- new and stronger assault
weapons ban. And I know as well as anyone, having written the first
assault weapons ban, that the industry will do whatever it can to get
around it, and they will figure out a way. We can define the stock, the
scope, we can do a lot of things, but it`s -- it can get around it. But I
also know we have to try. Or believe we have to try.


O`DONNELL: At the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Vice President Biden also
made the case for limits on ammunition clips.


BIDEN: High-capacity magazines leave victims with no chance, and all too
often leave police outgunned as well. In Aurora, the assailant had a 100-
clip magazine. Now had it not -- had his weapon not jammed, God knows how
many more people would have been killed. In Newtown, some of those
children were riddled with as many as -- it`s hard to even say it -- 11
bullet holes in a first grader. High-capacity magazines in our view are
not worth the risk.

And the notion--



O`DONNELL: Vice President Biden then explained why this time is different.


BIDEN: There are some who say the most powerful voice in this debate
belongs to the gun lobbies and those who demand a stop to these common-
sense approaches to save lives. I think they are wrong. This time, this
time will not be like times that have come before. Newtown has shocked the
nation. We are going to take this fight to the halls of Congress. We are
going to take it beyond that. We are going to take it to the American
people. We are going to go around the country making our case, and we`re
going to let the voices, the voice of the American people be heard.


O`DONNELL: According to a new NBC News Wall Street Journal, poll, 56
percent of Americans say the laws covering the sale of firearms should be
made more strict. Only 7 percent say less strict, 35 percent say the laws
should be kept as they are now.

According to a new Reuters poll, 74 percent of Americans favor a ban on
assault weapons, 26 percent oppose that. 74 percent of Americans favor a
ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines; 26 percent oppose.

This morning, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, in positioning himself to run
for president in 2016, told a lie so preposterous on "Fox and Friends" that
one of the friends, who has never challenged a Republican talking point
before, actually had a follow-up question.


RUBIO: The things that they are putting forward would have done nothing to
prevent what happened, for example, in Connecticut.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Didn`t he have a military style assault

RUBIO: Did who, I`m sorry?

KILMEADE: Didn`t Adam Lanza have a military style assault weapon? And
doesn`t the president want to ban them?

RUBIO: Well, the problem is this. First of all, it depends on how you
define assault weapon. Some of the stuff they define as assault weapon is
not necessarily a military style weapon. And that`s the problem with these
sorts of things, that the gun he actually used is one that`s one of the
most common guns in America, and it wasn`t his, it wasn`t his, it was his


O`DONNELL: Today Republican Joe Scarborough offered this warning to


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: They better be careful. They have wandered
in and followed the NRA, who has made some horrible PR mistakes over the
past month. Republicans better be careful and think twice before they make
their next move.


O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, you just heard me while Joe was talking ask for a
freeze frame of Marco Rubio`s face.


O`DONNELL: When he got a challenge from a friend. And on "Fox and

WAGNER: And a challenge on a totally legitimate issue.


WAGNER: I think it is ridiculous, and that`s being euphemistic, that
members who are -- members of our elect, members of our Congress are hiding
behind this theory that we haven`t defined what an assault weapon is. A
Bushmaster rifle is an assault weapon. People in the military say those
are the kinds of guns we use when we are fighting wars. That has no place
in American recreation. I thought it was really interesting that David
Keene from the NRA this morning defended the AR-15, which is an assault
weapon, by saying, well, the thing is, that gun is used a lot in target
practice and in shooting competitions, and it has the ability to fire off a
lot of rounds very quickly. So it would be inconvenient to ban it, because
can you imagine how long it would take to have to change magazine clips? I
mean, that is a ridiculous line of argument when you have, as Joe Biden
says, second graders with 11 bullets in them.

O`DONNELL: And Ari, my mission for these segments that we are doing about
this is to just get at least one truth straight in each segment. Let`s
just get it straight that what Rubio said is completely wrong. That what
the president is proposing would have changed the outcome in Newtown,
Connecticut. Absolutely, yes, the crazy kid would have stolen his mother`s
gun, but his mother would have not been able to legally obtain the
Bushmaster, and she was the legal type. She was only going to buy what was
legal. She would not have had a high-capacity magazine because she would
not have been able to buy it, and we would not have had 26 tragedies inside
that school. He would not have been able to kill as many kids and
teachers. At a minimum, that`s what would have changed.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly. And that is the architecture of
these policies. They are holistic, so they go after the weapons, the
ammunition and the screening, which, like so many other fields, like
driving a car, which you can also use to kill someone, basically provide
some protection for the rest of us to figure out who is going to be
operating dangerous machinery. That is what works in other regulated
fields. That`s always been a problem in this field.

And to echo something that Alex is saying, this isn`t how it is supposed to
work and this isn`t how it works when we look at other crimes, when we look
at murder or rape outside of the gun context. No one says that laws
against murders will stop every last murder. Right? Laws are to both deal
with punitive measures, to say this is wrong and we stand up and say it`s
wrong, and also to prevent. They do both. And that`s what our gun laws
need to be.

O`DONNELL: By NRA reasoning, you would have no speed limits. Not
everybody observes the speed limits.

WAGNER: Accidents happen at 35 miles per hour line.

O`DONNELL: You know the crack "Last Word" graphics team has the graphic.
They have the freeze frame. Let`s take a look at it. Of Marco Rubio`s
face when he`s hit with wait a minute, what`s this, a follow-up from a Fox
Friend. And this is a guy who wants Ronald Reagan`s old job. This is a
guy who wants to be president of the United States. Ronald Reagan opposed
these assault weapons in very clear language. This party has gone a long
distance from Reagan on this.

WAGNER: Well, the raucous House caucus, Republicans are having their
retreat right now. We got word earlier today that there was no talk of
guns. They are not tackling the issue. They are not talking about it at
all. All they are concerned with are fiscal matters.

I think a lot of Republicans want this to go away. Speaker Boehner`s
office has said, oh, if there is legislation pushed down from the Senate,
we will deal with it then. Because they know they are in an untenable
position, where once again, there is a fringe minority that is dictating
the party line. That fringe minority may be crazy, ultrahard-core
conservative gun owners that have been elected to office and have made this
sort of an absolutist test, or it is the NRA, but either way, it has put
Republican with an active number of brain cells, moderate Republicans who
wish to see a future of their party in a corner, they have almost been
painted into a legislative corner on this, and I can bet you that they wish
it would go away.

O`DONNELL: Ari, they are on the wrong side of these polls showing where 74
percent of the American public is.

MELBER: Yes, and look, I think that is where the politics meet the public
opinion. We know, you know, you have reported on the fact that Congress is
not a broadly representative institution. And all the political science
data shows that Republicans are polarized more than Democrats representing
these certain districts. So the response from these folks is, hey, our
districts say something different, but over the long haul, I think they are
on the wrong side of history.

O`DONNELL: And Alex, the thing about this retreat today, they are kind of
proudly getting it out there that we haven`t talked about -- and we know
they have to have done so privately. But they -- they actually want the
public image of no, we haven`t said a word about it.

MELBER: And actually, in that way, the moderate or the sort of centrist
Republicans in the Senate -- sorry, Democrats -- are going to play a huge
role on this. I mean, can Harry Reid get this onto the floor? Can he move
this forward? Will he move this forward? Will he be unafraid to say no to
the NRA?

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner of "NOW" and Ari Melber, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

MELBER: Thank you.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, another edition of unmasking the NRA, the gun money
that runs the organization. And later, in "The Rewrite," Jon Stewart,
Rosie O`Donnell and the most famous member of the board of the NRA, Tom
Selleck. My personal plea to Tom Selleck is in "The Rewrite" tonight.


O`DONNELL: Another episode of unmasking the NRA is coming up, and then in
the "Rewrite" tonight, classic video, 14-year-old video of Jon Stewart and
Rosie O`Donnell talking about National Rifle Association spokesman and
member of the board, Tom Selleck. Tom Selleck, Rosie O`Donnell and Jon
Stewart are in "The Rewrite" tonight.



REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: We are asking the president to go through
the process. If he thinks his bills are good, his laws are good, then he
should go through Congress, not just issue a -- he`s not a king. And he`s
using children. Reminds me of Saddam Hussein when he used kids.


O`DONNELL: That is the kind of imbecilic lie being told by the House of
Representatives new Allen West. This version of Allen West is Texas
Republican named Steve Stockman. Here is what a more prominent Texas
Republican had to say about these issues just seven years ago.


to extend the assault weapons ban, and was told the fact that the bill was
never going to move, because Republicans and Democrats were against the
assault weapons ban. People in both parties.

I believe law-abiding citizens ought to be able to own a gun. I believe in
background checks at gun shows, anywhere, to make sure that guns don`t get
into the hands of people who shouldn`t have them.


O`DONNELL: And 10 years before that, the first President Bush wrote this
to the NRA just two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing. "I was outraged
when even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne Lapierre,
executive vice president of NRA, defended his attack on federal agents as
jack-booted thugs." Former President Bush went on to write, "Therefore, I
resign as a life member of NRA. Said resignation to be effective upon your
receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership lists.
Sincerely, George Bush."

And then there was Ronald Reagan. Alternet`s Steven Rosenfeld writes, "In
May 1967, two dozen Black Panther Party members walked into the California
Statehouse carrying rifles to protest a gun control bill, prompting then
Governor Ronald Reagan to comment, "There`s no reason why on the street
today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." And former Nixon
speechwriter turned New York Times columnist William Safire wrote in 1999,
"Twenty years ago, I asked Richard Nixon what he thought of gun control.
His on-the-record reply, guns are an abomination. Free from fear of gun
owners` retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and
requiring licenses for hunting rifles."

Joining me now, Joe Klein, columnist for Time magazine. Its cover story
this week focuses on the war over guns.

Joe, how did the Republicans come to this extremist point? From what we
have heard from Nixon`s thinking to President Reagan`s thinking, to
President George H.W. Bush resigning from the NRA?

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, there are a couple of things going on
here. And they are all coming to an end, actually, at this point, which is
kind of good news for the rest of us.

There has been a 30-year drift since Reagan to the right in the Republican
Party. Reagan, when he made those statements, didn`t have to deal with
Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh was spinning oldies in St. Louis or something
like that at that point. And you also have a natural evolution of special
interest groups, and it is not just the NRA. It is both sides of the
abortion debate. It is the Israel lobby. It`s some of the
environmentalists. They take the most extreme position possible in order
to raise money from their most devoted fanatics.

I know members of the NRA who resigned in the past year because a lot of
the stuff that was coming out from that organization before this election
was really vile stuff about the president. And they have just gone off the
deep end.

O`DONNELL: Here is Ronald Reagan in a 1991 ceremony. Former President
Reagan at George Washington University.


you here today something that I`m not sure you know. You do know that I`m
a member of the NRA, and my position on the right to bear arms is well-
known. But I want you to know something else, and I`m going to say it in
clear, unmistakable language.

I support the Brady bill, and I urge the Congress to enact it.


O`DONNELL: And today, Joe, you can`t get a Republican, of the party that
worships that man, you can`t get a Republican to say those words.

KLEIN: Well, that is right. But in the interest of real balance here,
first of all, the most important fact about the guns that were used in
Newtown, is that the shooter had a choice of weapons, and he chose two
semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic assault weapon. He did not
choose the two deer-hunting rifles that were also in the house available to

So it is very clear what should and should not be legal.

But in the interests of balance, it is really important to note that unless
we get hold of the mental health situation in this country, which is also
gone to the extreme over the last 40 years, we are going to get -- continue
to have these massacres.

I mean, I know parents of grown children who are schizophrenics, who have
had violent tendencies, and they live in fear that their kid is going to be
the next shooter. And they have absolutely no legal recourse. None
whatsoever. We have to be able to protect ourselves from people who have
severe psychological problems and a history of violence. We`re not able to
do that now.

O`DONNELL: And Joe, what those parents can do is not have assault weapons
lying around the house.

I am going to be talking in future segments about the mental health
component of this. I believe that the mental health component of this
guarantees us that we`ll see versions of this continuing. For me the
question is, what is the weapon, how many -- how big is the magazine that
we want to make easily available to mass murderers? What are the tools
that we want to allow them to have? They are going to be out there, they
are going to be dangerous people. What are the tools we allow them to
have? Joe Klein, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: You`ve got to do both, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you`ve got to do both. That`s right. Thank you, Joe.

OK. Coming up. The gunmakers who run the NRA, and the most famous makers
of the board of the NRA, Tom Selleck, is in "The Rewrite" tonight, along
with some really great old video of Jon Stewart and Rosie O`Donnell. This
is Tom Selleck`s moment. Will he have the courage that former President
George H.W. Bush demonstrated when he resigned his membership in the NRA?
That is coming up.


O`DONNELL: You just saw how former President George H.W. Bush resigned
from the NRA. In "The Rewrite" tonight, I will make a personal plea to NRA
board member Tom Selleck to finally step up and do what common decency
demands. That is coming up.



BIDEN: High-capacity magazines don`t have practical sporting purpose or a
hunting purpose. As one hunter told me, if you have got 12 rounds, you got
12 rounds, it means you have already missed the deer 11 times. You should
pack the sucker in at that point. You don`t deserve to have a gun, period,
if you`re that bad.


O`DONNELL: Most gun owners agree with Joe Biden, but the group that claims
to be gun owner`s lobbyists, the National Rifle Association, does not agree
with Biden or with the gun owners who believe that.

In the spotlight tonight, the gun makers, who really control the NRA`s
agenda. The gun industry has its own official lobbying arm, which it calls
the National Shooting Sports Foundation. But it is headquartered far from
Washington. Tragic ironies don`t get much more powerful than this. The
gun industry`s official lobbying organization is actually in located in
Newtown, Connecticut.

We called them there today and asked if they have an office in Washington,
and their answer was quote, "we have someone in Washington." But of course
they don`t need anyone in Washington, because the gun industry has the NRA
in Washington.

In 1999, right-wing actor and NRA President Charlton Heston told the gun
industry, quote, "your fight is our fight." In 2005, then-Senator Larry
Craig, who is no longer a senator because he couldn`t control himself in
men`s rooms, helped pass an NRA bill protecting gun companies from
liability if their products were used in a crime.

According to the Huffington Post, since then the NRA has received as much
as $38 million from gun makers, including Beretta USA, Glock and Sturm
Ruger. And today, Larry Craig is now a member of the board of the National
RifleAssociation. No word on if he has his own restroom in their
headquarters in Virginia, just across the river from Washington, D.C.

Reporting for "Mother Jones," investigative journalist Frank Smyth has
unmasked some of the gun industry leaders inside the NRA. NRA board member
Ronnie Barrett is CEO of Murphysboro, Tennessee, based Barrett Fire Arms
Manufacturing, which makes a 50 caliber, military style sniper rifle that
has a range of a mile, and can pierce armor.

Rich Ronnie Barrett gets richer and richer from legal sales of his killing
machine in every state except California. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger
thought Ronnie Barrett`s his product does not belong in civilian hands.

Pete Brownell also sits on the NRA board. He heads Montezuma, Iowa, based
Brownell`s, which makes high capacity magazines. The Brownell family has
been trafficking in the instruments of gun death for generations. Pete
Brownell is the born rich grandson of Bob Brownell, who was the founder of
the company that is now one of the largest suppliers of firearm parts and

The Brownell company has been awarded the Ring of Freedom in the NRA
corporate donor program, a designation reserved for the largest corporate

Still, murder profiteer Pete Brownell has actually claimed that he has no
financial interest in the positions of the NRA. Since 2005, people
associated with Brownell`s company have donated as much as five million
dollars to the NRA.

Also on the board, as mentioned last night, is the CEO of the Madison,
North Carolina-based Freedom Group, George Kollitides, who runs the company
that owns Remington and Bushmaster, and that made the AR-15 rifle used to
kill 20 first graders in Newtown, Connecticut, and the six educators in
that school who tried to save them.

According to the "Huffington Post," the NRA`s most generous gun industry
backer is Colombia, Missouri-based Midway USA, founded by Larry Potterfield
and his wife Brenda, who served as a vice president of the NRA foundation`s
board of trustees.

Midway USA distributes high capacity magazine clips like the ones used in
Newtown, Connecticut. Midway`s gratitude to the NRA for doing it
everything it can to keep Midway`s completely unnecessary products legal
has been expressed in more than seven million dollars in donations to the

Joining me now is investigative journalist Frank Smyth, who went inside the
NRA for "Mother Jones."

Frank, this is an ongoing crusade of this show to show who these people are
behind the Wayne LaPierres, who is actually paying their salaries, who
delivers the funds to get the job done. And this explains the disconnect
that we see in polling of gun owners and in Frank Luntz`s polling, you`ve
talked about, where Frank Luntz actually polled NRA members, didn`t he?

FRANK SMYTH, "MOTHER JONES": Current and former NRA members and gun

O`DONNELL: What did his polling show?

SMYTH: It showed that the majority of gun owners, including current and
former NRA members, support a number of restrictions, including background
checks and waiting periods, as I understand, to purchase firearms, things
that the NRA for the past 25,30 years has adamantly opposed.

O`DONNELL: What is the membership -- what is your sense of -- you`ve been
following the bloggers who cover the NRA and stuff. What is your sense of
the memberships` experience of this disconnect between what the majority of
them think and what the NRA then goes out and fights for?

SMYTH: I think that the majority of members in the NRA are in the NRA not
necessarily because they share the interests of the leadership or they
necessarily share they ideology. The most active members, the ones that
vote in NRA board elections, as much of a sham as they are, those people
may share their ideology. But I think that most NRA members are -- belong
to the NRA because they are fearful that the government is going to somehow
come and take away their guns.

O`DONNELL: Do they get discounts and things with NRA cards at different

SMYTH: They get discounts, but it also -- I have a friend who had join the
NRA in order to own a particular weapon in New Jersey, where he was
required to be a part of sporting club in order to own that weapon. They
could also bring access. A lot of sporting clubs will pressure members or
require them to join the NRA in order to be a member.

So it is also part of a social milieu surrounding the gun culture. But I
think most people that are in the NRA are in the NRA because they believe
in their view of the Second Amendment. But what they`re really afraid of
is the government is going to come some day and take away their guns.

I think that is a real palpable fear. And I think that is something that
can be addressed by the Obama administration. If the president could
assure gun owners that, no, we are not going to come and take away your
guns, we`re going --

O`DONNELL: He says that. They don`t hear it.

SMYTH: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: People say it all the time. What is their experience? When
the president says that, they just think, well, we don`t believe him,
especially I guess since Wayne LaPierre has been so demonizing of President
Obama for so long.

SMYTH: And that`s right. And the gun lobby has done a very good job of
stoking those fears. But I still think -- I have a number of friends who
are gun owners in different parts of the country. I have seen them post on
Facebook, "the government will never come and take my guns."

So I think -- I think the administration could go further to reassure them.
Gun control will be an inconvenience for gun owners. It would be an
inconvenience if it comes to law, for some of them. It may slow down how
many weapons they could buy, how often they could buy them, what kind of
magazines they could buy.

But at the same time, they would still have access to firearms for hunting,
for sport shooting and for self defense. The ideological divide between
most gun owners and the NRA leadership and the more active members of the
NRA is that the NRA leaders -- it`s something that they believe but only
say in this selective environment, is they want to have enough fire power
to be able to fight police and military forces, as LaPierre himself wrote
in his book in 2003.

O`DONNELL: Frank Smyth, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

SMYTH: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Some more unmasking of the NRA is next. Tom Selleck has been
with the NRA for 14 years. And the time has come for Tom Selleck to show
us who he really is. Is he a man of decency and courage? Or does he just
play one on TV? Tom Selleck`s in the Rewrite.



STEWART: As we reported earlier, Tom Selleck has come out as the poster
boy for the National Rifle Association, and is thus the subject of
tonight`s hastily thrown together editorial.

Huzzah and kudos to Tom Selleck for having the courage to say what we have
all been thinking but haven`t had the brass double barrels to say.
Shooting teaches young people good things, and heroine help kids sleep.



O`DONNELL: That was 14 years ago and 14 wardrobes ago for Jon Stewart.
Wow, he was so cute then. In what you are about to see, you will notice
that the writing and performing on "The Daily She" has always been great,
but the graphics department was not yet up to speed in those days. No
images of Tom Selleck playing the lead in "Magnum PI," his hit TV show that
Jon Stewart mentions. And there is no graphic representation of the movie
Jon Stewart mentions without naming the title, "Planet of the Apes".


STEWART: If guns were bad, would Tom Selleck have named his private eye
character after one? I think not. Tom is just voicing the lessons weapons
maven Charleton Heston taught us in one of his greatest roles, that if man
were to give up guns and live in peace, pretty soon armed apes would be
running the show. Damned dirty armed apes.

You, don`t need thumbs to pull a trigger.


STEWART: Wait. Although you do need this finger to show Tom Selleck what
you think about it.


STEWART: And that was a hastily thrown together editorial.


O`DONNELL: A month after Tom Selleck became the poster boy for the NRA,
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into Columbine High School armed with
Tech Nines, and killed 12 students and one teacher. That made for a
sometimes uncomfortable publicity tour for Tom Selleck when he was pushing
his next movie a month later, especially when he found himself on the first
O`Donnell hosted national television show.

The interview began with Tom explaining that he joined the NRA three months
earlier just to do that add that Jon Stewart showed. And then things got
interesting fast.


ROSIE O`DONNELL, "ROSIE O`DONNELL SHOW": I think the reason that people
are so extreme against the NRA is because the NRA has such a militant
strain, especially power in Washington, to veto or to stronghold any
sensible gun law. They have been against every sensible gun law, until
yesterday, including trigger locks, so that children, which there are 500 a
year that die --

TOM SELLECK, ACTOR: I`m not a spokesman for the NRA. In fact, all I can
tell you is I was a member when I was a kid. I was a junior NRA member.
And I learned firearm safety. And from what I see in the last three
months, they don`t do a lot of stuff that you assume that they do.


O`DONNELL: Not a spokesman for the NRA. The common industry term for
actors appearing in ads is spokesman, but Tom wanted none of that.


R. O`DONNELL: But you can`t say that guns don`t bear a responsibility if -

SELLECK: No, you can`t say --

R. O`DONNELL: Why would the NRA be against assault rifles. This is a gun
that can shoot five bullets a second. This is the gun that those boys
brought into the school. Why the NRA wouldn`t say, as a matter of
compromise, we agree assault weapons are not good.

SELLECK: I can`t speak for the NRA.

R. O`DONNELL: But you are their spokesperson, Tom.

SELLECK: I`m not.

R. O`DONNELL: You have to be responsible for what they say. But if you
put your name out and say, I, Tom Selleck --

SELLECK: Don`t put words in my mouth. I`m not a spokesperson.


SELLECK: Now you are questioning my humanity.

R. O`DONNELL: Not your humanity. You`re a very humane man.

SELLECK: I came on your show to plug a movie. That is what I`m doing

R. O`DONNELL: And that is what we do.

SELLECK: Do you think it is proper to have a debate about the NRA. I`m
trying to be fair with you. You are calling me a spokesman for the NRA.

R. O`DONNELL: Tom, if you`re a celebrity and you`re doing an ad that says
that I am the NRA, then what should --.

SELLECK: Have you read the ad?

R. O`DONNELL: I have read the ad.


R. O`DONNELL: Did you read the ad?

SELLECK: I said -- I read what I say.



O`DONNELL: Well that is an honest actor`s response. He is making it clear
that the words that were written in the ad were written by the NRA, and he
just said them. Rosie then went on to prove that at least some O`Donnells
can be gracious under fire.


R. O`DONNELL: All right, well this has not gone the way that I had hoped
that it has gone. But I would like -- thank you for appearing anyway,
knowing that we do have differing views. I was happy that you decided to
come on the show. If you feel insulted by my questions, I apologize,
because it was not a personal attack.

I was meant to bring up the subject as it is in the consciousness of so
many today. That was my intent. And if it was wrong, I apologize to you,
on a personal note.

SELLECK: It is your show and you can talk about it after I leave too.

R. O`DONNELL: Well, I thought I would give you an opportunity to discuss
your side of it, which is what I hope that I did. And if it was wrong, I`m
sorry for that. All right, obviously it didn`t do much good. But "The
Love Letter" is a great movie with Kate Capshaw.


O`DONNELL: No, I don`t remember that movie either. And 14 years later,
the ad spokesman for the NRA who denied he was a spokesman for the NRA, Tom
Selleck, who told Rosie in that interview, quote, "I don`t hang out with
people of the NRA," that same person who tried to disown the NRA right
after Columbine, 14 years later, Tom Selleck is now a member of the board
of the NRA.

So tonight the time has come to do what Rosie O`Donnell refused to do 14
years ago, question Tom Selleck`s humanity. Since then, a madman with
unlimited access to guns, thanks to Tom Selleck`s work with the NRA, killed
32 people and wounded 17 on the campus of Virginia Tech. He set the murder
record for American gun massacres.

Since then, a madman with unlimited access to guns thanks to Tom Selleck`s
work with the NRA killed six, including a nine-year-old girl, and wounded
13 in a shopping mall parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. That madman gunned
down a member of Congress, Gabby Giffords. And NRA spokesman and board
member Tom Selleck didn`t have a word to say about it.

And since then, another madman with unlimited access to guns, thanks to Tom
Selleck`s work with the NRA, walked into a movie theater in Aurora,
Colorado, and using a 100 round ammunition drum, managed to kill 12 people
and wound another 58, thereby setting a new record for total number of
people shot in an American gun massacre.

And most recently, another madman with easy access to his mother`s assault
rifle and high capacity ammunition magazines, thanks to Tom Selleck`s work
with the NRA to make those magazines available, shot and killed 20 first
graders in Newtown, Connecticut, riddled their little bodies with bullets,
and while he was at it, killed six of the women in that school desperately
trying to save those women`s lives.

And tonight, Tom Selleck, who has played a principled man on TV and in
movies -- Tom Selleck, the man who for 14 years who has given his full
support first as a spokesman and then as a board member to the industry
lobbying group that has done everything it can every day to make sure that
American mass murderers are the best equipped mass murderers in the world,
that Tom Selleck has not had one word to say about what happened at Sandy
Hook Elementary.

And so yes, it is time to question Tom Selleck`s humanity. Is there
anything in Tom Selleck`s humanity that recoils at his blood drenched
organization using the president`s daughters in their latest round of ugly
propaganda? Is that OK with Tom Selleck?

I don`t believe it is. I really don`t. I`ve met Tom. I`ve chatted with
him. He seems like a good guy, a descent guy. But now we are going to
find out. We`re going to find out how brave Tom Selleck really is. We are
going to find out who Tom Selleck really is.

Does he have the courage to come forward and say, as a father himself, as a
decent human being, that what the NRA did, what his organization did with
the president`s daughters is unconscionable.

Like the president, Tom Selleck has two kids. They are both adults now.
We can all be absolutely certain that if I included their names in what I`m
saying here, if I linked Tom Selleck`s kids in anyway to Tom Selleck`s 14
years of work making sure that our mass murderers are so well equipped,
that Tom Selleck would be beyond outraged.

And he would have a right to that parental outrage, if and only if he
shares this country`s outrage with what the blood drenched leaders of the
NRA have done with the president`s daughters.

So yes, Tom, it has come to this. Now I`m doing what Rosie was careful not
to do 14 years ago. I am questioning your humanity. And you are going to
give us an answer one way or the other.

You see, Tom, your continued silence will tell us. It will tell us you`re
just a man in makeup who plays brave men on TV. Your silence will prove
who you really are. There is no way out of this now, Tom. This is your
moment. You can see this. I know you can.

This is actually the most important moment in your public life. You`ve
been handed the greatest scene of your life, a real scene where no one else
can write the words but you. You don`t have to disown your philosophy
about guns. You don`t have to change your position on assault weapons or
those huge magazine clips, or any of the president`s legislative proposals.

But fundamental human decency demands that you step forward and, at a
minimum, condemn what your organization has done this week in dragging the
president`s daughters into its propaganda campaign. If you do that,
America will have the answer that we are all hoping for about your
humanity. And if you don`t, then we`ll know who you really are. We will
know that the clowns who wrote the words in that first ad you did for the
NRA were absolutely right about you, and said everything anyone will ever
need to know about you.

They said it in the last line of that ad. We`ll know that you, Tom
Selleck, really are the NRA.


O`DONNELL: "It doesn`t look good." That was the assessment one Republican
congressman gave "Politico" about what lies ahead for the House
Republicans, who are currently on day two of a three day retreat. Day one
included an intensive session with pollsters. Our new NBC News/"Wall
Street Journal" poll shows 81 percent disapprove of the job Congress is
doing; 49 percent have a negative or very negative view of the Republican
party, while just 26 percent have a positive view of the Republican party.
And 47 percent have a negative or very negative view of the Tea Party,
while just 23 percent have a positive view of the Tea Party.

Today on day two of the Republican retreat, John Boehner and Eric Cantor
presented the House Republican conference with legislative strategies for
dealing with the debt ceiling, the sequester, and funding the government
after the continuing resolution expires on March 27th.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" opinion writer and senior
fellow at the Brookings Institution. E.J., I was struck by reports kind of
leaking out during the day of Republicans being very, very proud that they
haven`t said a word about any gun legislation. And then somebody in there
realized no, no, that won`t do. So now we have leaks from Republican aids
saying that Boehner told the conference that they would send
recommendations that have been introduced to the committees who have
jurisdiction over gun related matters -- to the committees. And also
anything that comes from the House they will, of course, send to the
committees, which is the basic minimum thing they should at least be saying
at this point.

E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yeah. I think that this retreat
suggests what a real problem they have. I wish we could be flies on the
wall, because those two numbers you just recited I think are very important
to talk about, the Catch 22 that the Republican Party is in. Only 26
percent have a positive view, only 23 percent have a positive view of the
Tea Party.

Guess what? Those are the people who vote in Republican primaries, who
won`t let them move an inch on guns, for example, or on anything else.
What the Republicans need to do is be more moderate. They ought to vote
for some of this gun legislation. That was not an extreme package the
president put out. They have to show they stand for more than tax cuts for
the rich.

They have to show that even though they understand -- and even though
Americans are skeptical of government, they want government to do things
like help the hurricane victims, which most of them voted against in the
case of Sandy aid.

But in order to be able to do that, they need more moderate people to vote
in those Republican primaries. But those 26 percent positives and 23
percent Tea Partiers won`t them become more moderates. So the moderates
won`t vote in a Republican primary.

And I think this is a really deep problem. And somebody has got to bust
out of this cycle. I think on the gun issue, if some of these suburban and
northeastern and Midwestern Republicans said, wait a minute, we`re going to
break with the party on this issue and we want Boehner to bring this to the
floor, they would send a real signal to those moderates they`ve got to
attract back in.

O`DONNELL: E.J., it`s stunning, the 26 percent supporting Republicans --
26 percent is how many support keeping assault weapons available to
everyone. It is an amazing cross checking of these polls.

DIONNE: Right. And again, I think you see that 26 percent overlapping
with the Tea Party 26 percent. I think the Republicans are also dealing
with public opinion that is in flux. They don`t know what to do about it.
You had a substantial shift in favor of stricter gun laws since the Newtown
shootings. You have had, and the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows it,
shift towards greater openness toward immigration. They have to move and
they don`t really want to.

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, E.J.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>