THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
May 30, 2013
Guests: Howard Dean, Matthew Parker, Peter Waldron
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Well, it turns out that when the NRA says that
President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg are enemies of the Constitution, some
very crazy people actually believe that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg targeted.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: He was sent two threatening letters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A letter containing ricin.
JANSING: Laced with the poison ricin.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Bloomberg letters threatened physical harm
if the sender`s guns were taken away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One letter was sent to Bloomberg at city hall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was mailed from Shreveport, Louisiana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other sent to the director of his organization,
Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That just shows there is a lot of fear around this
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: Our freedom is at risk in this election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gun lobby in this country has done a great job of
making people afraid.
LAPIERRE: When freedom is at risk, gun owners step up and make a
JANSING: Let me read to you what this letter to Bloomberg said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given
LAPIERRE: Without that freedom, we really aren`t free at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to kill me and my family before you get my
LAPIERRE: We will never surrender our guns, never.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A third ricin-laced letter was discovered.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: A third ricin-laced letter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one was mailed to President Obama.
MITCHELL: Intended for President Obama.
LAPIERRE: There is nothing the president will not do to destroy our Second
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gun lobby in this country has done a great job of
making people afraid.
LAPIERRE: We will never surrender our guns, never!
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we`re going to be
able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Threats and intimidation and bullying will not stop
that from happening.
O`DONNELL: Twenty-six days ago, at the National Rifle Association
convention in Houston, Wayne LaPierre said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: When it comes to defending the Second Amendment, we will never
sacrifice our freedom on the altar of elitist acceptance. We will never
surrender our guns, never!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And in that speech, Wayne LaPierre paid particular attention to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: Michael Bloomberg, he`s gone from mayor in New York to the title
of national nanny. Now, he`s joined the president, created his own
billionaire super PAC, ready to spend hundreds of millions to attack the
NRA, demonize gun owners, destroy elected officials who won`t bow down to
his will, and obliterate the Second Amendment.
President Obama said this was only round one. Round two is on the way.
They`re coming after us with a vengeance to destroy us -- to destroy us and
every ounce of our freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the United States Secret Service confirmed that a
threatening letter possibly containing the deadly poison ricin was sent to
"U.S. Secret Service can confirm that the White House mail screening
facility intercepted a letter addressed to the White House that was similar
to the letters previously addressed to Mayor Bloomberg in New York."
The letters addressed to Mayor Bloomberg and his gun control group, Mayors
Against Illegal Guns, also contain the deadly ricin poison. The threat in
that letter to Mayor Bloomberg echoed Wayne LaPierre`s never surrender
The letter said, "You will have to kill me and my family before you get my
guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The
right to bear arms is my constitutional, God-given right, and I will
exercise that right till the day I die. What`s in this letter is nothing
compared to what I`ve got planned for you."
Joining me now are E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington Post" and --
and -- a member of the NRA`s enemies list. And Joy Reid, who is managing
editor of "The Grio."
E.J., I have to start with you, as you do in these segments, because you
are the only one among us who`s on the NRA`s enemy list. And so you have
to be, I guess, these days more careful with your mail than the rest of us
But when you listen to that language of Wayne LaPierre saying that, you
know, President Obama just what an enemy he is to the way of life of
members of the NRA and then you hear it echoed in this letter, this is
getting as ugly as we could possibly expect at this stage.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s for sure. I mean, I want to say
at the outset, I believe passionately in freedom of speech. And anybody,
including Wayne LaPierre, who wants to attack, go after President Obama
with words or Mike Bloomberg, or for that matter, you and me, that is their
But our free speech gives us the right to judge their speech. And it gives
us the right to ask what kind of effect is this speech happening. Is it
And to say that people like Mayor Bloomberg or President Obama, who want
background checks are enemies of freedom, who want to destroy us and
destroy our freedom, this is just unacceptably untrue. They can say it if
they want. And when you look at the effect it has on some folks, I think
you have to take responsibility for that.
And I think also our colleague, David Corn, made a good point, which is,
who is likely to be killed out of this kind of action with the ricin. The
person most likely to be killed is the middle class working guy who is
sorting that mail.
And so, we ought to think very hard about how we have debates in this
country. I said some pretty tough things about President Bush. But I
never called him a tyrant or went in this kind of direction. It`s just
O`DONNELL: So, Joy, the nut who wrote the letter says that the right to
bear arms is my constitutional, God-given right. So, this author believes
that God wrote the Constitution.
JOY REID, THE GRIO: Well, and they also believe that they are aligned with
their god in sending poison that could potentially kill or seriously injure
another human being. So, it`s a strange conception of God from the outset.
O`DONNELL: Well, it`s also a god that apparently is very cool with the
idea of him shooting in the face --
O`DONNELL: -- anyone who comes to his front door.
REID: Yes. And he`s not the first person to employ that kind of rhetoric.
There is a certain commentator on the right who was employed by a certain
network that isn`t this one who said that he would shoot any person that
came to his door from the Census at one point.
We`ve gotten the rhetoric on the right, has become so paranoid that a true
paranoid person could be made crazy by it. I mean, look, we`ve gotten
asymmetrical warfare out of the National Rifle Association in response to a
nonexistent threat, because nobody has proposed any sort of confiscatory
law regarding firearms nobody has proposed to take away the Second
Amendment, to end it, to take away anybody`s right to bear arms.
What people are proposing is the mildest, most meager laws for gun control.
I mean, the Toomey/Manchin bill that didn`t pass was the bare minimum of
gun control. But people are sending people like this crazy person over the
edge, because in part, you have to look at the rhetoric, war rhetoric.
The new president of the NRA bringing out the war, quote-unquote, "|of
northern aggression", Civil War imagery, saying essentially that Barack
Obama, the president, is an enemy of freedom, enemy of the Constitution.
This kind of rhetoric can only make crazy people crazier.
O`DONNELL: Well, E.J., one thing that the author of the letters is saying,
in effect, is, based on the lies that I have heard from people like Wayne
LaPierre, this is what I will do in reaction to the lies that I have heard.
DIONNE: Right. I mean, I think joy made an important point, first, that
the rhetoric they`re using is totally disproportionate. It`s basically a
straight-out lie to say that a background check bill is going to confiscate
anybody`s gun, except it will keep it out of the hands of criminals.
And secondly, she mentioned the Civil War, and how some of that rhetoric is
getting in there. I happen to be reading a great old book about the months
before the Civil War called "And The War Came" by a Civil War historian,
Kenneth Stamp (ph).
And this kind of rhetoric is insurrectionary rhetoric. It sounds exactly
like the sort of rhetoric secessionists were using on the eve of the Civil
War. And so, we`re a democracy, and the whole point in a Democratic
republic is to settle our differences peacefully, to have arguments about
real things, to have votes, and then to come back and try to win again if
you lose in the first round.
That has nothing to do with the kind of violent rhetoric that people are
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said about gun control
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We know that if we have some common sense laws that check to see if
we`re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, or folks who have
significant mental illnesses, we know that that can reduce some deaths.
Save some kids. Doesn`t solve the whole problem, but we know that. So --
and we know that 90 percent of the American people and 80 percent of gun
owners agree with us. Why aren`t we getting that done?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so, Joy, that`s the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that gets
this guy writing a letter to the president, talking about shooting someone
in the face.
REID: Yes. And how ironic is it that this crazy person has just told us
that not only does this crazy person have a gun, but that they intend to
shoot people in the face with it. Well, I wonder why anybody would want
gun control. Why would anybody want to keep guns out of the hands of crazy
people, who send ricin to the mayor of New York City? You know, fancy
O`DONNELL: Yes, we want to send this letter-writer his background check
right now, to find out.
And, E.J., Republican politicians like Ted Cruz continue to push this kind
of paranoia. He did so recently, saying that if Manchin a Toomey were
passed, the next day, the argument for the Justice Department from the
Obama administration would be this legislation is utterly ineffective. The
next day that`s what they would say. And so, we now need a registry.
It`s like we`ve changed the terms of legislative at any time in Washington
now, E.J., with the Ted Cruz world where you say, oh, no, no, it`s not the
law that we`re talking about here that really bothers me much. It`s what
they will do, the day after the law that bothers me. That they can`t do,
because the law doesn`t allow it.
DIONNE: We`ve always had elements of paranoia in our politics, paranoid
style of American politics. But we go through stages.
And we are at, I think, a particularly bad stage where you can accuse
President Obama or liberals of absolutely anything. A lot of this rhetoric
is familiar, not only from the pre-Civil War period, but also some of the
old John Birch Society rhetoric that saw conspiracies around every corner.
And a paranoid style is not very good in a democracy, because in a
democracy, we actually have to have some trust in each other, including the
people we actually disagree with to know that we have something in common
in trying to preserve this democracy of ours.
And our friends on the right, some of our friends on the right, have just
gone to a place where they should not be as conservatives. It is not
conservative to use this style of rhetoric.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining me
REID: Thank you.
DIONNE: It`s good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, just how easy is it to buy illegal guns? We will
answer that question in tonight`s episode of "Ask a Criminal." A convicted
felon will tell us what the illegal gun market is really like.
And in New York last night, a bunch of rich Republicans paid good money to
hear Ted Cruz insult their intelligence, and they loved it. Because
they`re as crazy as he is.
And in the rewrite tonight, how the astonishing success of the Tesla car
company is rewriting the future of electric cars in this country, thanks to
a government loan that Tesla has already paid back early.
O`DONNELL: In movie news tonight, according to "The Hollywood Reporter",
Johnny Depp has dropped out of the film to be based on the book "Black
Mass", yet another take on Whitey Bulger`s life of crime in Boston. And so
the world may never get to hear Johnny Depp`s version of a Boston accent.
Howard Dean and Ari Melber are next to talk about President Obama`s choice
for the director of the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, BUSH DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: This was a very memorable
period of my life, probably the most difficult time of my entire
professional life. And that night was probably the most difficult night of
my professional life. So it`s not something I forget.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: OK. Were you present when Alberto
Gonzales visited Attorney General Ashcroft`s bedside?
SCHUMER: And am I correct that the conduct of Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card on
that evening troubled you greatly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Remember James Comey? He`s the Republican who served as deputy
attorney general in the Bush administration. He is now a law professor at
Columbia University and he is also the person that sources close to the
White House tell NBC News President Obama will nominate as the new director
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In testimony to the Senate in 2007, Comey explained how in March of 2004,
he raced to George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. in
order to prevent then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House
chief of staff, Andrew Card, from trying to take advantage of a very sick
John Ashcroft and get him to sign off on a controversial domestic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in
walked Mr. Gonzalez carrying an envelope and Mr. Card. They came over and
stood by the bed, greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr.
Gonzales began to discuss why they were there, to seek his approval for a
matter. And explain what the matter was, which I will not do.
And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the
pillow, and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in
both substance and fact, which stunned me, drawn from the hour-long meeting
we had had a week earlier, and in very strong terms expressed himself. And
then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them,
"But that doesn`t matter, because I`m not the attorney general."
I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man,
who did not have the powers of the attorney general, because they had been
transferred to me. I thought he had conducted himself and said to the
attorney general in a way that demonstrated a strength I had never seen
before. But still, I thought it was improper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, that was the most riveting congressional testimony
of 2007. And here is the president choosing this Republican to be his FBI
director. He`s going to go have to go through Senate confirmation. When
he was confirmed as a deputy in the Justice Department, the vote was
In your wildest imaginations, which is what it will take, police tell me
what Ted Cruz will say about this nomination, and how it`s the worst thing
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: This is actually a great test for the
Republicans. I served with John Ashcroft for a long time and he`s very
conservative, and I didn`t agree with very much that John Ashcroft
But I will tell you that John Ashcroft is a principled guy who stood up for
what he believed in. There is some evidence of that. Evidently, James
Comey is similarly principled.
So, here appear to be two principled Republicans. And now, we`re going to
see how small the Republican Party is, because if they go after these guys,
because they stood up, with honor and principle, for what they believed was
right. Then this party doesn`t deserve to exist anymore.
O`DONNELL: And, Ari, there is a real professionalism to this choice as FBI
director. Here is the president, looking at the potential candidates for
it, and saying, "I want somebody, you know, who is kind of -- has some real
career professional experience in this area. And this one is a Republican,
and so it adds a kind of politically kind of perfect shape to this
ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Yes. Especially important now, the FBI reports
into DOJ. DOJ has faced criticism that is unfair, but some that I think is
And in Comey, you see a decision by the president to prioritize
independence and nonpartisanship. When you`re a president, there is a
temptation to pick lackeys for all kinds of positions, to not be a leader.
When you pick someone who you know will stand up as Comey did, as you just
showed -- I mean, that was a very dramatic and that was over warrantless
surveillance and a real debate over terrorism and the limits and the law.
Those debates continue in a range of areas.
What you see in this pic is a president who not only is not afraid, but who
welcomes someone who will be enforcing the law that will stand up to the
administration, if necessary.
DEAN: Another important point. This is a ten-year term. So the next
president doesn`t necessarily get to fill this slot. Depending how long
they serve. This is a very important appointment.
This is the kind of guy or gal, if there were a woman heading the FBI.
This is what you want. Somebody who is principled, who is not going to say
yes or no to any president based on politics. That`s what you have to have
now as a director of the FBI.
O`DONNELL: And, Ari, what happens to a nomination like this, which would
have sailed through the United States Senate at any other time, no matter
which better party was in control. But now, with the Ted Cruzes and the
Rand Pauls wandering the floors, what does it mean in this Senate?
MELBER: Well, I think in essence, it`s a toxic relationship. If you`ve
been in a bad relationship, you know that everything is an opportunity to
have a fight, OK? We don`t want our government run like a spiteful, toxic
relationship. And that`s what has happened with elements in the Senate.
There are, by the way, some senior Republicans in the Senate who are very
concerned about this tendency.
But, yes, when you look at judicial nominations, when you look at important
posts like ATF, Labor, EPA, what you see is a desire not to -- not to vet
the person, which is what the Constitution requires, but just to use it as
another leverage point for a fight. We`ll see whether they do that here.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at what this nomination and everything else
is up against in the United States Senate. We`re going to listen to what
Ted Cruz said last night here in New York about the IRS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And I`ll give you the simplest solution to this
IRS scandal -- which is abolish the IRS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK. So this is in New York City, it`s 10 blocks from here.
Thousand dollars to get in that room is the minimum, $5,000 if you want to
get your picture taken with Ted Cruz.
He says the single stupidest thing you can possibly say about the IRS.
And, oh, by the way, proposes what is actually the most complex idea
offered in government since the invention of the IRS, which is just abolish
it. He gets wild applause from apparently abject morons with money. And
there`s a reward for moronism now in that party, and here comes this
nomination that seems unopposable to us, but that guy is capable of
DEAN: I would actually say none of them are morons. Ted Cruz is a
demagogue and he --
O`DONNELL: Yes, he knows he`s lying.
DEAN: But the people -- those people are not morons. They`re the ones
that are going to benefit if you get rid of the IRS, because they are the
ones that pay taxes.
O`DONNELL: But to even to say let`s get rid of the IRS is like saying
we`re going get rid of rain.
DEAN: It`s silly. It`s like Rand Paul talking about getting rid of the
Fed. It`s a silly idea and if you actually did it, the economy would
You know, this is -- this is what you`re up against. This is -- you know,
Ted Cruz is holding up the budget of the United States of America. Senior
Republicans in the House, in the Senate, would like to have a conference
committee on the budget.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and some guy from Utah are holding up the budget,
because they`re right wing nut jobs who fundamentally don`t care about the
country. What they care about is their own political career, and that is
what is wrong with this country today.
O`DONNELL: You know, Ari, these -- the parties aren`t equal in this kind
of madness. You cannot go into a Democratic Party fund-raiser in New York
say something that is absolutely crazy and get anything other than a laugh,
because the audience would assume you were joking. You would get a laugh.
You would not get, hey, that`s a great idea. It doesn`t happen.
Idiocy is applauded as great ideas by Republican audiences.
MELBER: Exactly. And it goes to different ground rules for the party.
The far left example would be someone who says we should abolish the
military because of mistakes the military has made.
O`DONNELL: There is not a United States senator in history who has said
anything comparable to what Ted Cruz has said. No Democrat has ever said
abolish the military or anything like it. Abolish the FBI --
MELBER: It would be someone from, you know, a Code Pink or a certain
group, and what would happen is, all the serious Democrats would say, well,
no, I don`t go that far.
You know, Governor Dean and I were talking in the break about how he was
perceived to be this far left person despite being a moderate governor
because he opposed the Iraq war in the way the rest of the country came
around to. There are, just unfortunately, different standards here. So
the fact that people like Cruz can come up here and he also said while he
was up here he wants to represent the 47 percent, but he couldn`t even find
it in his heart to support the disaster relief funding, which has upset
some Republicans in New York.
So, you know, he`s really out there as extremist. Not wanting to do
anything to serve the public that he`s talking about. He`s just doing
optics and then just doing campaign slogans. And it`s very telling that
this is popular --
DEAN: It`s very interesting race, because there are a lot of Republicans
sort of who drank the Kool-Aid think he might be a great nominee. And in
some ways, he`s a very charismatic guy. The problem is, the majority of
independents are going to think he`s crazy and he`s going to scare the hell
out of them.
So, I say, be my guest.
O`DONNELL: Right. Let him step forward.
O`DONNELL: But the -- Governor, the way the media treats something like
that, a comment like that, and I just want to compare it to this moment you
had and the presidential campaign where the media came down on you and
tried to crush you, because of the volume you chose to speak at over a
noisy crowd. Not the words you were saying, simply the volume chosen in a
noisy crowd. The media decided this man can`t be president.
DEAN: I actually don`t think that`s true. I think the reason they went
after me is I was taking on the media, as well.
My campaign, when you look back on it, was really a fight against the
Democratic Party for not standing up for who they are. And it was a fight
against the media for the B.S. they sell every day as -- which passes for
And we`re having a big fight with the media now. And I believe in the
First Amendment. I think the media position on "The A.P." stuff is right.
But I love watching the media squeal and be sanctimonious because they`re
the most thinned skin people you could possibly imagine.
DEAN: And now, they`re a player, they`ve got to see what it`s like to be
on the other side. I hope they remember this after they get done.
But that`s -- you know, I got taken down because the volume was too high or
whatever it was. But I pissed off the establishment, and that`s what
happens when you piss off the establishment. I also made a lot of mistakes
in my campaign.
O`DONNELL: Well, you know. Long time ago.
Howard Dean and Ari Melber, thank you both for joining me tonight.
MELBER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the former campaign aide to Michele Bachmann who
filed the complaint that has Congresswoman Bachmann and her campaign staff
under FBI investigation tonight. He will join us.
O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, another episode of "Let`s Ask a
Criminal." The NRA wants you to believe that it`s really, really easy to
get illegal guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: His proposal for a so-called
universal background check. At first glance, it sounds like a reasonable,
good idea. But there`s nothing universal about it at all. Think about it.
Criminals won`t be part of that universe. That`s common sense. They`ll
steal their guns or they`ll get them at everything else they want on the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK. So how easy is it to get guns on the black market? Wayne
LaPierre actually has no idea. For the answer to that, we have to turn to
someone who knows.
Convicted felon, Matthew Parker, who wrote this in "The Daily Beast." "I
challenge any pro-gun lobbyist and/or pundit to pocket a few thousand
dollars and head out alone into the streets of any major city, find a shady
character, and purchase a firearm illegally in the same manner that a
psychotic and/or criminal would have to do if we had effective background
checks in place."
Joining me now, the author of "Larceny in My Blood," Matthew Parker.
The full title, Matthew, of your book is "Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of
Heroin, Handcuffs and Higher Education," which I guess has taught you a
little bit about how hard it is to get illegal guns.
MATTHEW PARKER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I mean, it would be hard for
someone like Adam Lanza, which was (INAUDIBLE) or Wayne LaPierre, or really
O`DONNELL: Or me. I have no idea.
PARKER: Or you, right.
O`DONNELL: I accept your challenge, OK?
O`DONNELL: The pundit to go out and buy a gun. I`m surrendering right
O`DONNELL: I`m sitting here telling you, if you give me all the money in
the world, I walk out of this building, I don`t even know which direction
PARKER: Right. And, you know, you really have to get through the drug
dealers first. Then if you get to the arms dealer --
O`DONNELL: You -- meaning, you would start with drug dealers on the
assumption that they know somebody who knows somebody.
PARKER: That they would know somebody, right.
O`DONNELL: And they have to trust you enough.
O`DONNELL: To get to this higher level of crime.
PARKER: Right. And supposing they don`t rob you and you get to the gun
dealer, he may rob you. Because there`s one thing they always leave out.
If I sell you a weapon, if I sell you a gun, and you use it to murder
somebody, I`m just as culpable as you if it`s traced back to me. So --
there`s really a big level of trust there, barring a few crackheads selling
a handgun here and there.
You know, on the streets, it`s not -- it`s not that simple. I mean, the
streets would eat these people alive.
O`DONNELL: And it`s a very -- it`s a high-risk criminal endeavor, just
trying to obtain a gun that way, and that`s why so much trust. And I know
you and you know me and that`s why we`re doing it.
O`DONNELL: That`s the -- trust is the currency of gun dealing.
PARKER: Right. Right. And see, the thing about background checks is it
should be hard to buy an illegal weapon. It should be really hard and, you
know, if you grow up on the streets and you live in those neighborhoods,
it`s not that hard to get a weapon. But if you`re somebody like Adam
Lanza, it`s going to be really hard.
O`DONNELL: And you write that the price of the illegal weapon is probably
10 times higher than getting it over the counter.
PARKER: It could be. I mean, for a gun like a Bushmaster that Lanza used,
yes, you`re going to pay at least twice. I mean, it`s -- a couple of grand
with the six-round -- with the 30-round magazine.
O`DONNELL: Well, Lanza, he -- basically he got his mother`s gun.
O`DONNELL: So we`re going leave him aside for a moment.
O`DONNELL: And when you look at the guy in Tucson, he went up there and he
got these things over the counter.
O`DONNELL: Now if he couldn`t get them over the counter, what are the
chances of a guy like him, who has never been a criminal before, he hasn`t
spent a lifetime trafficking with criminals and building trust. The NRA
calls him a criminal only because of what he did to Gabby Giffords and he
killed those people.
PARKER: Because of the -- right. Exactly.
O`DONNELL: But the day before that, he wasn`t a criminal.
PARKER: He wasn`t, no.
O`DONNELL: And he didn`t know how to be one.
PARKER: He wouldn`t know, no. And they would just take his money. And
he`d be lucky to get away with his life.
O`DONNELL: Yes. So he -- first of all, he`d have to try to find where in
Tucson, Arizona --
PARKER: Where in Tucson --
O`DONNELL: -- can I make this transaction.
O`DONNELL: They look at him, and they go, if we take his money, and we
don`t give him this gun --
O`DONNELL: -- for $5,000, what does he do? Nothing.
PARKER: Nothing. Nothing.
O`DONNELL: So we keep his money.
PARKER: Yes. They just take -- and he`ll be lucky, really, if they don`t
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, this is not like, you know, going to Hertz and
you know, getting a car.
PARKER: No. No. It`s not that easy.
O`DONNELL: And so when you hear the NRA and others overlooking this degree
of difficulty in the obtaining of illegal guns, what does that do to their
argument, if they actually -- allowed for the truth of the difficulty of
obtaining illegal guns?
PARKER: Well, I mean, it destroys -- I mean, we hear all about
PARKER: They want to demonize -- they`re coming to get your guns, they`re
coming to get your guns. And, you know, we don`t need background checks
because criminals can just get guns -- could get guns real easy. It
destroys their argument, really. And if we had better background checks
that would catch people who are, you know, mentally disturbed or criminals,
then it`s even going to be harder.
It`s going to make it even harder to get it. And if we got rid of the
straw purchasers, you know -- I mean, you could go to Arizona and buy 30
assault rifles. And just drive them here to New York.
O`DONNELL: Matthew Parker, the author of "Larceny in My Blood." This
title, I just can`t get enough of it. "A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs and
Higher Education." Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
PARKER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, how what one reviewer called the greatest car ever
made is proving that President Obama`s clean energy investments can be very
good business. That`s in "The Rewrite."
O`DONNELL: The must-read op-ed of the week is in yesterday`s "Daily
Oklahoman." Republican State Representative Doug Cox, who is also a
physician, wrote this. "All of the new Oklahoma laws aimed at limiting
abortion and contraception are great for the Republican family that lives
in a gingerbread house with a two-car garage, two planned kids and a dog.
In the real world, they are less than perfect.
"As a practicing physician who never has or will perform an abortion, I
deal with the real world. In the real world, 15- and 16-year-olds get
pregnant, sadly, 12, 13, 14-year-olds do also. In the real world, 62
percent of women, ages 20 to 24 who give birth are unmarried. And in the
real world, I work and live in and unplanned pregnancy can throw up a real
roadblock in a woman`s path to escaping the shackles of poverty. What
happened to the Republican Party that I joined?"
"The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt
women should have the right to control their own destiny. The party where
President Ronald Reagan said a poor person showing up in the emergency room
deserved needed treatment, regardless of ability to pay.
"Is my thinking too clouded by my experiences in the real world,
experiences like having a preacher in the privacy of an exam room say, Doc,
you`ve heard me preach against abortion but now my 15-year-old daughter is
pregnant, where can I send her? Or maybe it was that 17-year-old foreign
exchange student who said, I really made a mistake last night. Can you
prescribe a morning-after pill for me? I return to my home country
pregnant, life as I know it will be over.
"What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no
business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where
did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman`s life should be made
not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience,
her doctor and her god?"
The "Rewrite" is next.
O`DONNELL: The former Michele Bachmann campaign aide who filed the FEC
complaint against her and has the FBI investigating her and her campaign
staff will join me next.
O`DONNELL: Elan Musk, founder of electric car maker Tesla Motors, has
often been accused of being too far ahead of his time. Last week, Musk was
proven guilty, given a 12-year, $465 million loan from President Obama`s
Department of Energy. In 2010, Musk got a little bit ahead of himself last
week and repaid the loan, every last penny, nine years early. Rewriting
the future of electric cars in the process.
Now some Republicans are struggling to figure out how the big, bad
government could have possibly guessed right on a clean energy program.
Tesla`s loan wasn`t supposed to be repaid until Marco Rubio was halfway
through his second term as president. But it turns out that if you give a
bunch of intelligent innovators the seed money to conduct innovative
research, the innovators will sometimes successfully innovate.
For nearly a decade now, Elan Musk has been the golden boy of energy-
efficient engineering, driving change across the industry as conventional
automakers find themselves forced to keep up with that annoying pest called
Tesla`s new model-S car introduced this year has set new standards for mass
production electric vehicles. The model-S is capable of traveling 300
miles on a single charge. It was named Automobile of the Year by
"Automobile" magazine and was just rated 99 out of 100 by "Consumer
Reports," the highest rating "Consumer Reports" has ever given a car.
So how did Tesla manage to pay off its government loan nine years early?
Apparently, when you create one of the best cars ever made, drivers will
actually demand it. And with the first run of 23,000 model-S cars
immediately sold out, the company`s stock skyrocketed. Tesla quickly sold
some shares and immediately wired the money raised in the market straight
to the Department of Energy.
This was followed by Elan Musk announcing last night that Tesla will be
tripling its number of recharge stations by the end of June.
Some Republicans have been quick to declare Tesla`s success as little more
than a stroke of luck for the government, turning their attention back to
Solyndra, a failed solar panel company that was given a $535 million loan
under the Obama administration, just a slightly larger loan than what Tesla
No matter what Solyndra`s loan program followed in the footsteps of the
advanced technology vehicles manufacturing loan program, it followed in
that legislation passed by Republican-controlled Congress, which was signed
into law by none other than George W. Bush. That`s the program Solyndra
So essentially, then, the Republican argument against clean energy loan
programs is, if any, if any of the investments ever fail, then the entire
program is a failure.
Now to the investor out there who has never made a losing investment, I
salute you and implore you to let me, the government, and the whole rest of
the world in on your secrets. Yes, some investments succeed and some
investments failed. The most successful investor in history, Warren
Buffett, has made investments that failed. That`s kind of how investing
works. You just hope your winners outnumber your losers.
The government can certainly try its best to get it right every time. But
let`s remember that Babe Ruth had a .342 batting average and Muhammad Ali
lost five times in his career. And even if the federal government is not
exactly the Floyd Mayweather of investments, the federal government getting
it wrong on energy investments is not quite a new phenomenon.
Republican president, Richard Nixon, in 1971 gave out a little loan for the
building of an experimental nuclear reactor at Clinch River in Tennessee.
A decade later, the federal government had handed over $4 billion in
today`s dollars for a reactor that never even got built. Making Solyndra
look like spare change that fell out of the government`s pocket.
On the other hand, take the tale of motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson. With
the recession of 1982 pushing the company to the verge of bankruptcy, as
Japanese firms were dumping their motorcycles into the U.S. market, Harley-
Davidson turned to the government for help. Their wish was granted. By a
man named Ronald Reagan, who signed into law a five-year tariff on Japanese
motorcycles, the most precisely targeted tariff we have ever had.
The handout worked so well that in 1986, Harley-Davidson got back in the
saddle, rode into Washington and declared the government`s aid could be
ended a year early. Nearly 30 years later, fortunes have been made on
Harley Davidson`s stock, and Harley-Davidson is a world leader in
motorcycle production. And so thanks to the federal government, the
favorite company of both Ronald Reagan and the Hell`s Angels is thriving
It`s no coincidence that President Obama`s success with Tesla looks like a
page from Reagan`s playbook because they both took a practical approach to
targeting assistance to specific industries that they thought they could
Republican or Democrat, both could agree on one simple principle.
Innovators can innovate if we give them a chance. Of course, a bad egg
will find its way into the carton from time to time. And often the great
successes won`t exactly be fodder for the front page headlines like
magnesium alloys improving lightweight car batteries or electrical ballasts
that produce more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
Clean energy loan programs are a bet on the future. And if we won`t bet on
the future, then soon enough we`ll have nothing left to do but fold.
So how did I do?
ERIC BREWSTER, INTERN: You know, Lawrence, you`ve got the face of an angel
on the voice of that same angel.
O`DONNELL: There you go.
BREWSTER: Not a bad actor.
O`DONNELL: America, make Eric Brewster, LAST WORD intern on his very last
night here at THE LAST WORD, the author of every word, every word you just
heard in that "Rewrite" script that I was just reading off that
teleprompter over there.
Hey, senior year in college is going to be easy after this, right?
BREWSTER: If you say so.
O`DONNELL: Come on, you did it in like an hour and a half. Set a world
BREWSTER: All about procrastinating for the first nine hours and cramming
for the last.
O`DONNELL: There you go.
O`DONNELL: That is exactly the way we do it here. Great job, Eric
Brewster, the greatest intern we`ve had so far this summer. And actually
the only one we`ve had so far this summer.
BREWSTER: I`ll take what I can get.
O`DONNELL: You`ll take it. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I have decided next year I will not
seek a fifth congressional term. This decision was not impacted in any way
by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential
campaign or my former presidential staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michele Bachmann and her staff are currently under
investigation by the FBI, Federal Elections Commission, Office of
Congressional Ethics, Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, and even the Urbandale,
Iowa Police Department for multiple allegations. One allegation is that
Michele Bachmann took money from her super PAC to pay her presidential
campaign political director for campaign work. If true, that is a
violation of FEC rules.
A second allegation is that Michele Bachmann approved under-the-table
payments to an Iowa state senator for campaign work. If true, that is a
violation of Iowa Senate ethics rules.
Michele Bachmann denies any wrongdoing. Those accusations and more are the
subject of an FEC complaint filed by Peter Waldron, who served as national
field coordinator on Bachmann`s presidential campaign. Peter Waldron joins
Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Peter.
PETER WALDRON, EVANGELICAL PREACHER: Thank you, Lawrence. You did a good
job going through that litany of charges. You`re absolutely right.
O`DONNELL: Well, tell me what you think is the most serious charge in all
of these complaints that you know about.
WALDRON: I think the most serious charge within the context of the
complaints is that first one, and that is that the political action
committee, MichelePAC, did in fact fund an individual. There was a variety
of individuals but they did fund one individual, our political director,
Guy Short, was funded by MichelePAC. He happens to be Michelle`s chief
fundraiser and he happens to be the executive director of MichelePAC. So
if you will, he wrote himself checks, totaling $40,000 in 30 days while
serving as the campaign`s national political director.
So I think that`s the most serious. But I think the most serious issue on
the horizon that may have contributed to the candidate`s decision to retire
is that there was no settlement in the "Becky v. Bachmann" lawsuit. That`s
a real problem. Because all of the defendants who were senior advisers to
the candidate must now testify under oath, in deposition, and must provide
interrogatories and the discovery process.
And in that entire process, someone is going to ask each of the defendants,
did Michele know, what did she know, when did she find out and what did she
do about it --
O`DONNELL: Well, let me ask you -- Peter, let me ask you that. What did
Michele Bachmann know about that first thing you said, about the $40,000
being paid to Guy Short? What did she know about that?
WALDRON: I cannot speak to that specifically. What I do know is that the
FEC records clearly show a fact that, in fact, he paid himself $40,000.
What I do know is that he has been Michele`s fundraiser for several years.
And what I do know, he was one of her closest advisers. What he shared
with her privately, I am not privy to. But I have every reason to believe
that she trusted Mr. Short`s good judgment and it appears that he may have
disappointed her and failed her campaign for sure. That`s for sure.
O`DONNELL: And did you ever see Michele Bachmann looking at a campaign
finance report -- any campaign financial data at all or any spending?
WALDRON: No, sir.
O`DONNELL: At all?
WALDRON: No, sir.
O`DONNELL: And did -- go ahead.
WALDRON: No, I was simply saying that in my position, I would not have
access to her knowledge or her access to the financial reports. Certainly,
she had to remain current. I know under the -- under the tenure of our
first campaign manager, Ed Rollins, he insisted that she remain current on
what was happening financially. But he left in August. What happened
after August, I have no idea.
O`DONNELL: Peter Waldron gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks very much for
joining us, Peter.
WALDRON: Thank you so much. You have a great day.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
And thank you for joining us.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL