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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11, 2013
Guest: Jonathan Chait, Simone Campbell

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Poor Paul Ryan. He is now in deep
trouble in the Republican Party because he made the mistake of actually
trying to get something done in Congress.


deficit reduction, you are for this agreement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not great. Not second best.

something quite different.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not satire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a budget deal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bipartisan budget compromise.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: It is a small step --

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We`re not going to get everything we

VAN HOLLEN: -- in a right direction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is already a lot of criticism in both

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s also been opposition from conservatives.

BOEHNER: You mean the group that came out and opposed it before they
ever saw it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Boehner responded to criticism.

BOEHNER: They`re using our members and they`re using the American
people. This is ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is like a revenge of the establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time, it`s personal.

BOEHNER: If you are for more deficit reduction, you are for this

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There appears to be greater division on the

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn`t a grand bargain. But is it a

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unemployment benefits will now expire.

PELOSI: It`s absolutely unconscionable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans did not get any entitlement cuts.

RYAN: We`re not going to get everything we want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the alternative here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you believe in numbers, Washington is
falling off the cliff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we call progress in Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One percent think Congress is doing an excellent

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: The worst Congress of all time.

RYAN: Nothing has changed.

STEWART: That includes the famed absent Congress of 1872.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not satire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a budget deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we call progress in Washington these days.


O`DONNELL: The strange new normal. That`s what the former
conservative hero Paul Ryan called the conservative attack on the budget
deal that he negotiated with the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee,
Patty Murray.

Today, Paul Ryan dismissed the right-wing groups that used to
cheerlead for him.


RYAN: Groups are going to do what they want to do. What matters to
me is that am I doing what I think is right? Am I sticking to my
principles? And am I listening to my colleagues who actually have a voting


O`DONNELL: And House Speaker John Boehner is suddenly angry at right-
wing groups that he has been pandering to for years.


REPORTER: Most major conservative groups have president of out
statements blasting this deal. Are you --

BOEHNER: You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they
ever saw it?

REPORTER: Yes, those groups. Are you worried --

BOEHNER: They`re using our members and they`re using the American
people for their own goals. This is ridiculous.

Listen, if you are for deficit reduction, you are for this agreement.


O`DONNELL: And some Senate Republicans are not happy with this deal.


SEN. TOM COBURN (R), .OKLAHOMA: He has led to make a compromise that
sells out what need to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You called Paul Ryan a sellout, I mean, I feel
like, if you and Paul can agree?

COBURN: No, I didn`t say that. I didn`t say that. He was told to
lead a compromise. A compromise is going to give up your principle.


O`DONNELL: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is facing a Tea
Party primary challenger in his bid for re-election has been, mostly silent
on this budget deal, simply telling NBC News he will, quote, "have to take
a closer look at the proposal", end quote.

But his junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has no doubt that it
is a bad deal and he did nothing to elevate the rhetoric of the debate by
quoting Popeye in his statement. "There is a recurring theme in Washington
budget negotiations. It`s I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger

The Democratic leadership is not thrilled with this deal. But they
are getting on board.


PERINO: We would have preferred something quite different, but we do
recognize the value of coming to a decision so that we can go forward with
some clarity on other legislation that we want to see.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This agreement is really a
breath of fresh air. This new agreement, neither side got everything it
wanted. That`s how we used to work around here.

I believe as many Democrats do, that an extension of emergency
unemployment insurance should be included in the package. That`s why we`re
going to push hereafter the first of the year for an extension of
unemployment insurance.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Richard Wolffe, executive editor
and MSNBC political analyst, and Jonathan Chait, columnist for "New York"

Richard Wolffe, where is it going to be harder to pass this thing? In
the House or in the Senate? And which side delivers the support?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: I don`t know, but I can answer that one
right now. I mean, you know, you`re looking at a Senate, where John Cornyn
is being attacked, in spite of being the second most conservative member of
the Senate as some of kind of liberal sellout.

So, you know, when the president won re-election he hoped, he asserted
that some how the fever would break in Republicans. I think we are seeing
some of the challenges of breaking that fever right now. Maybe this is the
sign of a backbone among the Republican leadership or maybe they`ll all

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what radio host Mark Levin, conservative
radio host said about Paul Ryan, to Paul Ryan.


MARK LEVIN: This is really Mickey Mouse. I don`t mean to be

RYAN: Oh, no.

LEVIN: I just want -- you are claiming --

RYAN: I`m not trying to oversell this.

LEVIN: We are facing a fiscal disaster in this country. I know you
know this. You have told me this.

Hold on. I want to get my question in. A fiscal disaster in this
country, and we`re talking about $23 billion over 10 years. The debt goes
up to $17.3 trillion in the next few months. It`s almost $100 trillion on
unfunded liabilities. Where the hell are all these cuts?

RYAN: Hey, Mark, elections have consequences.


O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait, that is not the kind of treatment, Paul
Ryan is used to in right-wing talk radio?

JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right. It`s not. I think they
will be OK with him. One Republican leadership aide told "BuzzFeed", Paul
Ryan is the Jesus of the Republican Party. They may be angry temporarily
with their Jesus, but they will come back to him because he`s their
spiritual leader. But --


O`DONNELL: Let me pause there. A little note about Jesus.
Christians are never angry with Jesus. That doesn`t ham pen.

So, he`s going to have to get some other title.

CHAIT: They feel they have been forsaken in some way by Paul Ryan.
The point is that he bond will remain. I`m not trying to make any
spiritual claims here.

But the divide you are seeing there isn`t really about policy. They
both, Levin, and Ryan have the same completely apocalyptic view, fiscal
policy, completely wrong apocalyptic view of fiscal policy when the deficit
is shrinking very rapidly.

The divide is what Paul Ryan said. Elections have consequences do.
You have to live in a world where you don`t have complete power? You see
all the Democrats are saying, yes, that`s the way it should be. No one
gets everything they want. We share power.

They`re very, even, excited about this idea of compromise. And a lot
of Republicans just don`t even seem to buy this idea whatsoever. They
think they should, get 100 percent of what they want. This is an
increasingly popular idea on the far right that has bedeviled the
Republican and made it hard for them to use what limited power they have.

O`DONNELL: Richard, the politics for Paul Ryan I declared hem to be,
immediately upon losing on the presidential election, our most recent
losing vice presidential candidate who will never be president, because
when you lose on the vice presidential ticket that is the end. You might
someday get a presidential nomination, like Bob Dole did, but you will
never be president. History has instructed us on that.

He seems to have internalized this. He seems to notice. Rand Paul,
presidential candidate, immediately comes out against this. Obviously the
smart place for the presidential candidates, Republicans is just be against
this, be with Mark Levin on this.

Paul Ryan, I think is telling us, look, I`m not even going to try to
run next time.

WOLFFE: You have more optimism in politics being aware --

O`DONNELL: I see the future clearly.

WOLFFE: Look, history may say this is a clear precedent. I agree
with you. There is a delusional sense that swaps these people. Even a
smart person like Paul Ryan, when you have the crowd cheering. People
saying you are anointed one, maybe you`re even Jesus.

And actually, they think they can do it. And otherwise, why would he
-- this is a problem of their own making, they have gone out talking
apocalyptically about the dealt and deficits. It`s not surprising that
people like Mark Levin in the whole spectrum is actually fairly moderated,
not moderate, moderated among conservative talk radio hosts. But they have
come to believe there is an apocalypse coming because of the national debt.
And now, they`re trying to remake themselves.

It`s very hard to dial back the rhetoric. It`s a bit like saying the
president is a Muslim revolutionary, and suddenly, you`re working with him.
People say what have you`ve done?

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait, there`s a lot of disappointment on the
Republican side. A lot of reluctance about this, because they do not want
to leave the unemployed behind.

CHAIT: Right. One of the things the Democrats had to give up in this
deal was inserting an extension of the emergency unemployment benefits that
have been in place since the recession started. Now, I think the Democrats
are going to fight for this. I know they`re going to fight for this after
this deal gets signed.

I think they have of a decent chance of winning. They didn`t get it
in this deal. So, it leaves a very important measure to the side line so

O`DONNELL: And, Richard, you saw Harry Reid there, promise to come
back to it, after this deal, which means, January, which means, several
weeks. Which, I mean, even in your most optimistic scenario here that
means -- those people who lose their -- unemployment benefits being without
them for several week, probably months. Even if you`ve think they will
some how get it in the end.

WOLFFE: They`ve won`t get it back. They`re going to do the doc fix.
But poor people will not get anything out of this deal. Everyone is
supposed to say isn`t it great they compromised. Who are the Democrats
there trying to help? The problem with this one extending that both sides
of interest groups are going to come at this deal and pick it apart.

If you believe in compromise, you`ve got to have a pretty strong nerve
right now.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, what`s your sense of how this vote is going to
shape of in the House in terms of how much Democratic support, how much
Republican support, and then also in the Senate?

CHAIT: I think they`ll get as many Democrats as they need. I don`t
think there`s any serious Democratic opposition. You know you will get,
you certainly get the 20, 30 Republicans who vote against anything that
ever passes. They`ll be against it for sure.

The question is whether more Republicans feel the heat. But I think
this is going to pass. When you`ve got this kind of commitment from the
leadership, and I you`ve got the outside conservative groups whipping
against it. But I think they`re going through the motions a little bit.
It`s such a small thing. It`s so pathetically tiny. It doesn`t violate
important conservative principles. It`s almost as if they`re trying to
signal, OK, we`ll let you get away with this. We`ll pretend to be opposed,
but we`re really saying, don`t make any more deals, because then we`ll
really be upset.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, John Boehner there, publicly snapping
against these groups that he has been pandering to for years.

WOLFFE: Right. That`s what I mean by the problems of their own
making. They created this beast. They fed it with all of this, dark
rhetoric about how all of the situation is. It is totally manageable.
They`re pushing back the sequester. They`ve don`t need the sequester to
get the budget and deficits under control.

So, you know, they have set up this political framework. And now
they`re having off to live with it.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe and Jonathan Chait, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

CHAIT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the mystery behind the latest enrollment
numbers under the Affordable Care Act.

And, what Republicans don`t like about "TIME" magazine`s Person of the
Year? Hint -- it has something to do with poor people.

And later, I`ll tell you about my weekend in Birmingham, Alabama,
which included a visit to the trip bombed in 1963, killing four little
girls. Birmingham now is a very, very different place today.


O`DONNELL: This is my first time in the city of Birmingham. City of
Birmingham is a miracle. What has happened in this city during my lifetime
is a miracle.




REID: If we have to work through Christmas, ware going to do that.
If we work through Christmas, we`ll work through Christmas.


O`DONNELL: Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to keep the Senate in
session around the clock in order to get 10 of President Obama`s
nominations, including the secretary of homeland security confirmed before
the Senate adjourns for Christmas. Senate rules actually require certain
intervals of time between steps in the confirmation process. And Senate
Republicans are refusing to follow the custom of agreeing to yield to that
time to speed up the process. And so, the first vote is expected tonight
in about 1:00 a.m.

Up next -- what are the real enrollment numbers under the Affordable
Care Act.


O`DONNELL: We have a winner, today`s clear winner in the
congressional game of stupidest things said about the Affordable Care Act
today is Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky.


REP. ED WHITFIELD (R), KENTUCKY: Do you think that`s fair the people
have to go under the exchange, but you and the executive branch of the
government do not have to go on the exchange?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Well, sir, I would tell you the
vast majority of Americans with insurance also will not be on the exchange,
177 million people.

WHITFIELD: But I am asking you about you.

SEBELIUS: I`m an old lady. I`m Medicare eligible. It is illegal for
a company to sell me the policy because --

WHITFIELD: You don`t have to go on Medicare, though. You don`t have
to go --

SEBELIUS: I am not allowed to be sold a policy.


O`DONNELL: In a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing today,
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivered the latest
numbers on the Affordable Care Act, which we announced by the chairman of
the House Democratic caucus, Xavier Becerra.


REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Today, we`ve learned that some
1.2 million people in America have gained health insurance coverage as a
result of the Affordable Care Act. Over 360,000 under the marketplace,
have applied directly through the marketplace. Some 800,000 through
Medicaid. And we know that another 1.9 million Americans have already
started the application process and would have to choose which they would
look to have.

So, some 3 million Americans today we can say will have health
security, something they did not have before.


O`DONNELL: Joining me, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an MSNBC contributor, and
chair of medical ethics and health policy at University of Pennsylvania.
He served as special adviser in the Obama administration.

Zeke, these numbers sound good if you don`t listen too closely.
Becerra starts off with 1.2 million people. The words he uses, which I
don`t understand why they use this language -- 1.2 million people in
America have gained health insurance coverage.

Now, we don`t know that, because we don`t know how far they have gone
in the process. All the states and the exchanges are using different
definitions of enrolled. And also 800,000 of the people got Medicaid.
That is not health insurance coverage.

So, why, why do they not try to use -- you know, as the proponents of
this program, why aren`t they trying to use more accurate language and
discussing it?

ZEKE EMANUEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, Medicaid is
coverage. It does pay health bills.

O`DONNELL: But it`s not insurance. It`s not insurance, Zeke. And
they`re trying -- they`re trying to blur those numbers together to make the
insurance number look better than it is.


So, we have shy of 400,000 people who have gotten private insurance
through the exchanges. By the end of March, there need to be 7 million
people. That`s the number the Congressional Budget Office said would
enroll. And, they`re short of that number. And short of the pace of
enrollment that was anticipated.

A lot of that obviously has to do with two months of a Web site wasn`t
working well and turning people off. They have seen a pretty big uptick in
the number of people going to the exchange and using the exchange and
signing up. But it`s clearly short of the pace.

And the other hand, there has been hard been hardly any advertising or
promotion of the site. So I think, you know we have to, wait and see.

I have compared this to, like, watching water boil. You know,
everyone wants to know, minute to minute what the number is. And, you
know, we know there`s going to be a big rush at the end, we don`t know how
big, and that`s going to be the key issue I think going forward.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And, look, they obviously do have more traffic and
they are having more excess in the operation of the Web site. But it does
seem to me that they are using language that claims too much.

And one Republican congressman today at the hearing, Congressman
Pitts. I think got at this, with accuracy, and using a series of questions
that made perfect sense to me. And if I were a member of the committee, I
would have asked the questions. Let`s listen to this.


REP. JOE PITTS (R), PENNSYLVANIA: HHS released data this morning,
stating that approximately, 364,000 Americans have selected a plan through
a state or federal exchange.

Is that correct?]

SEBELIUS: Yes, sir.

PITTS: Would you define enrollment? Define what you mean by

SEBELIUS: We are giving you the numbers of individual whose have
chosen a plan.

PITTS: Not actually paid their first --

SEBELIUS: That`s correct. Through the end of November. Yes.


O`DONNELL: Zeke, here is how I define enrollment. You can hold up
your insurance card and show it to me. Or show me whatever you are going
to show a doctor when you go into a doctor`s office. An ID number,
whatever that is.

I am not sure who has that at this point.

EMANUEL: Well, a lot of people still don`t have an insurance card,
that`s for sure. The connection between the back end and insurance
companies is not perfectly worked out yet. And there still is some paper

I know that they`re working very carefully and closely with the
insurance companies to make sure the people who think they`ve signed up are
on the insurance company rolls.

But you`re right, the actual, you know what you need to do is pay that
first month premium. And people who signed up, and still haven`t paid that
first month premium are not guaranteed coverage on January 1st.

And again I know they`re going back to them and trying to make sure it
is not a mistake and to get them to actually to complete the transaction.
But I think it`s -- you know, this is an ongoing process. And every moment
taking the temperature, not sure you are going to get the exact right

I think the important thing is we need a big push. I think we are
anticipating a big push now that the exchange, the federal exchange is,
working well. And we should see uptick in state exchanges as well once
there is a lot more publicity.

And, you know, as I have said right from the start, the real number is
the number that we are going to see on April 1st, 2014.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Zeke, that`s a very important point. The
reason you use that number. You will be in a statistical reality zone by
April. What I am concerned about is, there is way too much cheering about
numbers, right now that don`t have any -- that don`t have the kind of
reality to them, that we need.

I want to give you a report from the "Boston Globe" on Saturday, which
I find shocking because we all think Massachusetts is where this -- where
it really works. And it`s going to be easy.

"Boston Globe" reported this on Saturday. With three weeks left in
the year, not one of the thousand of Massachusetts residents who need to
enroll in new health insurance plans by January 1st has been able to do so,
through the state insurance marketplace that was revamped to comply with
the national Affordable Care Act. And the article goes on to report a lot
of difficulties that the Massachusetts site has interacting and completing
getting to the point, what they consider, an actual enrolled health
insurance customer. And they haven`t achieved it for one.

EMANUEL: Well -- again. We`ve seen -- there are other states that
have had complications as well. It`s not just the federal site. Maryland
has had its problems too. And hopefully these things will be resolved.

And the connections will -- and the computer systems will work again.
We know that certain states have solved it. So, it`s not an impossible

And, again, I think it`s a matter of -- the end of open enrollment
period, which is March 31st, is the key question. We have four months to
go, in that period of time. And I think that`s -- going to be
fundamentally important.

In Massachusetts, at least you have lists of people who have been in
the exchange before. They`re what they call the connector. So they all
should be able to be contacted and the insurance come pans have a big
interest in getting them to reenroll and re-up. I think that is another
process that is taking place that we haven`t seen a big coverage of them.

We don`t know how effective it is going to be. Having the insurance
companies directly -- enroll people.

O`DONNELL: Zeke Emanuel, thanks very much for joining us on this

EMANUEL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, E.J. Dionne and Sister Simone Campbell will
join me to try to figure out why some Republicans don`t seem to like "Time"
magazine`s Person of the Year.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, "Time" magazine`s Person of the
Year, Pope Francis.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Folks, if I gave a speech on anti-
capitalism, do you think I could be named person of the year by "Time"

GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: It makes me nervous about the pope quite
honestly, when the press runs to make him "Time" magazine Man of the Year.

LIMBAUGH: You think Obama is upset he didn`t win the man of the year
award from "Time"? I mean, nobody outdoes him in anti-capitalism.

about this at eloquent length. "How can it be," he wrote, "that it is not
a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is
news when the stock market loses two points?"

LIMBAUGH: Mr. President citing the pope, his new best friend. The
pope is ripping America, the pope ripping capitalism, the pope ripping
Ronaldus Magnus, the pope ripping trickle down economics. And Obama is
having an orgasm.

BECK: I`m a little concerned about who this pope is.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: He`s had some statements
that to me sound kind of liberal. It has taken me aback.

BILL MAHER, TV HOST: Well, if Pope Francis is liberal, wait until she
find out what Jesus has been saying.

LIMBAUGH: This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the

BECK: Are you a good Jesuit or bad Jesuit?


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Sister Simone Campbell, leader of nuns on
the bus which is part of a network of national catholic social justice
lobby, and MSNBC contributor and "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne.

Sister Simone, Rush Limbaugh says that the Pope is a pure Marxist that
he is ripping America that he is ripping capitalism. Is that the Pope`s
new mission to attack America and American capitalism?

if, Rush had actually read the document that was issued last week, he would
see that the Pope is really talking about returning to the roots of who we

America is about community of people who work for the common good.
And that`s what the Pope is challenging us to do. And pointing out that
the incredible income and wealth disparity in our nation and in our world
is undermining the security for all of us and undermining everyone`s human
dignity and calling us to move away from that. It is really to return to
our roots and be faithful.

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, are you surprised that Limbaugh and Beck and
these people are instantly politicizing the Pope`s language. It seems to
me it is not helpful to their cause to bring additional attention to what
the Pope is saying.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, one of my
favorite things the Pope has said in hid document, the joy of the gospel,
he explicitly criticized sourpusses. The was the word he used. So, maybe
the guys just took it very personally.

I mean, I think he is a threat to a certain kind of conservative, not
every kind of conservative. But he specifically talks about, in criticism
of those who deify the market. These, a lot of his words, particularly his
direct critique of trickledown economics are a direct challenge to what a
lot of the folks believe.

Now, he is not a Marxist. He is anti-materialist. He is a Christian.
And he behaves like one. Which is, you know, not, which is not always
common among people who call themselves Christian. But, the language that
he is putting out there is dangerous to those who say there is no role for
government in helping the poor. And we should always rely on the market.
He is saying that`s not enough. Some conservatives are willing to accept
that. But the guys clearly aren`t.

O`DONNELL: One of my favorite things he has said, E.J., you quoted
recently is -- the Pope said if, one has the answers to all of the
questions. That is the proof that God is not with him.

And, Sister Simone, I can tell you, Rush`s official position that they
he has the answers to all of the questions. That`s the official position
of his show.

DIONNE: That was an attack on everyone who appears on cable

O`DONNELL: Exactly. I think we all have to be careful of that one.

CAMPBELL: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: But sister, the trickledown economics to hear a Pope,
speaking specifically about that is surprising. And it is surprising to
me. Did you see this coming, with Pope Francis?

CAMPBELL: Well, I think I didn`t know who Pope Francis was before he
was elected. But hearing him speak about the poor and the concerned for
the poor, I had hope that the economic analysis would be with that, with
concern for the poor. But to see it laid out so forcefully in the new
document is really uplifting because, what he does is, he calls us all to
conversion in some fashion. That we all need to be stretched and
challenged. And then he has got this lovely paragraph where he says if, if
I make people upset with this analysis, you know, I just invite you to a
deeper understanding to what it means to be in relationship and to free you
from your chains of servitude and isolation. And that his whole message,
to call to community where it is about the 100 percent. It is all of us

O`DONNELL: E.J., we all remember, Sister Simone and Nuns on the Bus
trying to bring this message to catholic legislatures like Paul Ryan
without success, I would say. Do you think that there is any possibility
that the Pope stepping into this arena this way, would in any way, have any
effect on the Paul Ryan`s of the Republican party?

DIONNE: Well, maybe Sister Simone had more impact on the cardinals
who elected Pope Francis than we thought.


DIONNE: But I think you are seeing some conservatives, my colleague,
my (INAUDIBLE) at "the Washington Post" is really tried to come to terms
with what this means. And he wrote a column recently saying that, you
know, conservative can`t and should ignore this.

And I think you are seeing it among conservatives in the church. Some
are actually critical of the Pope. Others know that he is really drawing
on, as you said earlier what Jesus said. And so, I think that I doubt they
are going to give up their economic ideology. But I think they are going
to have to pay a lot more attention to the poor than they used to. I sure
wish Pope Francis would get them to withdraw all the cuts to food stamps
they want to make. And I suspect that his words are going to be used as
the debate goes forward.

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne and sister Simone Campbell, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

CAMPBELL: Thank you, Lawrence.

DIONNE: Great being with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, my report, very personal report from
Birmingham, Alabama, where I met a group of kids who have been working very
hard to help other kids on the other side of the world.


O`DONNELL: They don`t need to become doctors and nurses. They don`t
need to become great students. It is good enough for me to make their day
better. That`s good enough for me



O`DONNELL: We know a little more tonight about what happened on board
air force one. During the trip to South Africa, thanks to White House
photographer, Pete Sousa. President George W. Bush and Laura Bush joined
the president and the first lady and Hillary Clinton for the trip to Nelson
Mandela`s memorial. On the way there, President Obama worked on his speech
with deputy national security advisor Ben Rhode. And former President Bush
showed off photos of his new paintings to the first lady and Hillary
Clinton. The Bushs joined the Obamas for dinner in the air force one
conference room on the way home.

Up next, my incredible weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. I actually
went to church twice on Sunday. Two services at the same church. And I
have never had a greater day in church.

That`s next.


O`DONNELL: I was a little boy when I first heard about Birmingham,
Alabama. And nothing I heard was good. Police were using fire hoses to
attack civil rights protesters. And later that same year, the 16th street
Baptist church was bombed killing four little girls -- Addie Mae Collins,
age 14, Cynthia Wesley, age 14, Carole Robertson, age 14, and Denise
McNair, age 11.

So when I was invited to Birmingham last weekend, the first place I
went was the Birmingham civil rights institute which has extraordinary
exhibitions telling the story of that terrible time. I saw the shoes,
Denise McNair was wearing when she was killed in that bombing. I walked
across the street from the institute and saw where the bomb was placed at
the 16th street Baptist church.

Three of the girls` funerals were held at the 6th avenue Baptist
church, the church that invited me to attend their services on Sunday
morning. Dr. Martin Luther King, spoke many times, from the 6th avenue
Baptist church pulpit during the bad times in Birmingham.

But Sunday morning, I was invited to speak there because the cub
scouts at the 6th avenue Baptist church wanted to present me with a check
for the K.I.N.D. fund. Kids in need of desks is a partnership I created
with UNICEF to provide jobs to workers in Malawi, building desks that we
then delivered to African schools that have no desks. The cub scout at the
6th avenue Baptist church wanted to do something big for the K.I.N.D. fund
so they worked all year at it and fund new ways of raising every month.

When the congregation and I arrived at church Sunday morning, we had
no idea what these 14 boys, ages six to 11 had been able to achieve. But
when we saw what the cub scouts at the 6th avenue Baptist church had
accomplished in their year of work, on behalf of kids, their age, halfway
around the world. Sure, felt like a miracle to us.


O`DONNELL: Good morning. You know, I flew down here from my hometown
of Boston yesterday. And I thought just to feel at home I will bring the
weather with me. So you are welcome for that. And I do so feel at home
here this morning because we share so many beliefs and we share so many
values and we share so many ambitions and hopes. One thing we also share
is that we all here believe in miracles.

JULIAN BARRETT, CUB SCOUT: Nobody likes when they sit on the floor,
so -- the kids in Africa, wouldn`t like to sit on the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you will be like crumble at work, messy.
And they were running sitting down on, crisscross at the floor. Your
paperwork is going to b e messy.

O`DONNELL: And I said we believe in miracles. Some people have to
believe in miracles because they don`t think they have ever seen miracles.
This is my first time in the city of Birmingham. Is The city of Birmingham
is a miracle. What has happened in this city during my lifetime is a
miracle. That some people in this room made that happen.

The life of Nelson Mandela is a miracle. We saw that happened. I
will tell you a personal miracle in my life. To be standing here, to be
invited into a congregation as a guest to speak here, that puts my name
somewhere on the long list of distinguished guests who have spoken to the
congregation and that is the only list that I will ever share with the
reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And that is as great and honor as I
could ever dream of. And I never did dream of it.

Let me tell you about a miracle that I am hoping for. And it`s that
miracle that, that occurs in the educational context. And I know that in a
classroom, if you could put a desk there. If you could maybe just improve
that student`s line of sight to the blackboard, if you could just finally
have that student making eye contact with the teacher, all day. We don`t
know what miracle could happen. We don`t know if that student who was
drifting away suddenly becomes a good student. We don`t know if that
student doesn`t become a great student. If that student doesn`t become a
nurse, a doctor, or the next Nelson Mandela because there has to be a next
Nelson Mandela coming from somewhere, in someplace, in some one of those

MOZILLA PACK, ASSISTANT COB MASTER: We had bake sales, spaghetti
sales and we have car washes. And every month, we did a different project
and the boys were there every step of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Pack, she talked to us and asked us if we
wanted to do this. And we took a vote and everybody say yes, we wanted to
because it really touched us that they needed desks in Africa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me feel like a hero in a way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On behalf of the sixth avenue Baptist church,
Pack 3415. We would like to present the check to the K.I.N.D. fund for


O`DONNELL: That act of kindness, that act of goodness to take these
children off the floor for that seven hours that they`re in those
classrooms, to give them that feeling of a real educational setting, to
give them that little stage on which to perform, that`s good enough for me.
That`s good enough.

They don`t need to become doctors and nurses. They don`t need to
become great students. It`s good enough for me to make their day better.
That`s good enough for me. But right here, in this room, in this city of
miracles, we can talk about miracles. And we can think about the miracle
of $18,000 which is the single largest contribution the K.I.N.D. fund has
ever received from any group anywhere in the three years we have been doing
this. That`s the biggest one. That check is a miracle.

When they see your desks that you paid for, when they see those arrive
at their school, it will be the first desks they have ever seen in their
lives. That is the miracle that you will deliver into their lives, the day
that truck arrives. And they will greet it as a miracle. I can tell you
right now what they`re going to do, they do it every time. The truck pulls
into the school. They come streaming out of the classrooms and they are
singing. They are filled with song. Just the way we are filled with song
here this morning because they are joyful and they are thankful. And you
have delivered a miracle into their lives. Thank you very, very, very


PACK: Every time I tune into Lawrence O`Donnell`s show and see those
kids in the desks. I will be able to say to my boys a job well done. And
I am proud of them. And I am extremely proud of my church congregation.



O`DONNELL: You can see the full version of what I had to say at
Birmingham 6th avenue Baptist church at our Web site,,
and we are going to be putting up more video of the cub scouts and the
other people there who we visited with at, 6th avenue. And you saw there
that we raised from the cub scouts, their amazing work, $18,067.75 for the
K.I.N.D. fund.

Since last night`s show, we raised another $31,090 for girls high
school scholarships in Malawi. And an additional $36,471 overnight for
desk that will be made in Malawi and delivered to the schools there. That
means that with your generosity and work of the Alabama cub scouts at 6th
avenue Baptist church, we have now raised, look at this number, $5,999,470.
I think you can guess where the number is going to be tomorrow night. You
can contribute at and you can have a holiday gift
notice sent to any one on your gift list saying you have donated a gift off
to the K.I.N.D. fund in his or her name.


O`DONNELL: It turns out the only real controversy emerged from
yesterday`s memorial service for Nelson Mandela involves the man who was
doing the sign language.


understood the ties that bind the human spirit.

RON ALLEN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: He was there even when President
Obama spoke. Today, outrage from deaf and hearing impaired South Africans
who say the so-called interpreter was a complete fraud.

DELPHIN HLUNGWANE, DEAFSA: I couldn`t bear to watch what he would
create out of it. And so it`s, zero percent accuracy, really.

ALLEN: She says the only legitimate sign she saw ironically was for
the word help.

On South African television, which uses its own interpreter for the
deaf, the difference was apparent. Angry viewers pounced on twitter.
Please get rid of this clown interpreter. He is making up the signs. Have
no idea how he got the job.

The man at the center of it all, (INAUDIBLE) is not talking tonight.
But he has been used as an interpreter before, including last year, the
South African president, Jacob Zuma. Professional whose have reviewed his
work insist he is not communicating any known sign language.

The government which presumably hired the interpreter for Mandela`s
service says it is looking into the matter. But as we busy dealing with
arrangements from Mandela`s funeral.

Today, even the White House weighed in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was ashamed if the destruction about an
individual who was on stage in any way distracted from the importance of
that event, an importance of President Mandela`s legacy.

ALLEN: We asked David Buxton of the British Deaf Association for his

is no sense to what he is doing. I can`t see any meaning to what he is

ALLEN: A moment in history lost a translation with the whole world

Ron Allen, NBC News, Pretoria.


O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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