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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Read the transcript to the Monday show

June 23, 2014

Guest: Julian Epstein, EJ Dionne

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you very
much. And thank you for reintroducing me to the audience.

And if there`s any way, Rachel, is there any way I can convince you to
hang around and maybe be my copilot for the next hour? Because I`m just --
I`m not sure I can fly this baby alone now, I don`t know.

RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: If you need help, you probably need bigger
help than me. But I`m here for you, I`ll be your safety net, baby.

O`DONNELL: All right, stay close.

MADDOW: All right, will do. Welcome back.

O`DONNELL: Stay close, we`ll see how this goes.

Well, you know, as you know, this is the part of the show where we
usually run some video. It`s often funny video about the hot story of the
day. Then I hide behind that video fixing my tie.

But tonight, as you can already see, it`s a little different. We will
get to the hot story of the day. And Rachel is actually going to come back
and help me with that. She really is.

But first, I want to talk about crying, because I`m also going to talk
about some things that have made me cry. And I might have to pause once or
twice when I do that. So, I just want you to be forewarned, because what
could be more shocking than an anchorman crying?

The first commandment of television is, anchormen don`t cry, which is
why I will never be and will never feel like a real anchorman.

If an anchorman was ever going to cry, it would have been November
22nd, 1963.


WALTER CRONKITE, TV ANCHOR: From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently
official. President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:00
Eastern Standard Time. Some 38 minutes ago.

Vice President Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas. But we do not
know to where he has proceeded. Presumably, he will be taking the oath of
office shortly and become the 36th president of the United States.


O`DONNELL: There is no moment in anchorman history that anchormen
admire more than that, the composure, the strength, the authority. When
the rational emotional response was to throw his hands down on the desk and
cry. Cry for JFK, cry for his young children, cry for the country.

I was a kid at St. Brendan`s Elementary School in Boston that day,
President Kennedy`s hometown. When we were let out of school early, every
one of us was crying, every teacher was crying, adult men walking the
streets of Boston carrying briefcases, men who looked like Walter Cronkite,
were crying. Cops were crying, subway cars were filled with people crying.

But anchormen didn`t cry. I marveled at the anchormen who didn`t cry
that day. I wondered how they got all that ice in their veins.

But now, I understand it. If an anchorman cries he will make the
story about himself. There will be a giant headline saying, anchorman

It was a Friday when those first graders and teachers were murdered in
Newtown, Connecticut. I normally don`t do this show on Fridays. But the
network asked me to do a special edition of THE LAST WORD that night and I
said I couldn`t do it, because I would just sit at my anchorman desk and
cry. And that would make the story about me.

No words came to me that day about what happened to those children,
just feelings, because I`m not a real anchorman. I just play one on TV.
And I`m not sure anchormen helping teach America how to suppress emotion in
the face of tragedy has been such a good thing for this country.

Anchormen aren`t the only people who suppress emotion in the face of
tragedy now. Did you cry when you heard about those college kids getting
stabbed and shot by the mass murderer in Santa Barbara last month?

The constant recurrence of public tragic events has coarsened us all.
But I`ve been shut off from all of that for the last several weeks. I`ve
been consuming almost no news. It has been 75 days since I put on a neck
tie and did my anchorman thing, and a lot has happened to me, beginning
with the longest few seconds of my life.

It was just after dark fell on Saturday night in "Pirates of the
Caribbean" territory, the Virgin Islands. I was in a taxi, a big van with
three rows of seats. I was in the first row behind the driver, my big
brother Michael was in the row behind me. He`s not bigger than I am
anymore, but when I was 4 and he was 12, he was a lot bigger and a lot
smarter and a lot braver.

You know, of all the advantages a boy can have growing up there`s
nothing quite like a heroic big brother. And Michael O`Donnell`s three
little brothers have always had that advantage every day of our lives.

Michael saw the crash coming and yelled something, a billionth of a
second before the noise started. I was looking down at a map on my iPhone.
And so, it was the deafening noise that told me we were in a collision.
The noise seemed to go on forever. I couldn`t see anything in the darkness
except the light of the radio in the center of the dashboard in front of

And as the front end of that taxi was being crushed that radio just
kept moving closer and closer and closer to me. And I had what felt like a
very long time to think about dying and what a stupid way to die this was,
and to think about my daughter.

And then the radio suddenly stopped moving. And the noise stopped.
And I wasn`t dead. I could see. And I could hear. And I could move my
hands and my arms worked.

I wasn`t dead. I was lucky to be alive. That cliche, lucky to be
alive, was suddenly so true to me, so profound. It was such a warm

We should all feel it all the time but a lot of us don`t, until we get
this close to the end. I had a couple of near-death experiences in my
teens and 20s, a motorcycle, that kind of thing. But I was too young to
learn the lesson. But at 7:45 p.m. on April 12th, 2014, I finally got it.
Lucky to be alive.

I felt so lucky to be alive that if you told me then that I just lost
a leg, I would have said, that`s OK. I`m lucky to be alive. When the
noise of the crash finally stopped, there was a new noise in the van. It
was a sound I had never heard before. My big brother in agony.

Michael instantly and correctly self-diagnosed a broken femur. His
thigh bone was broken. It`s the biggest bone in the body. It takes
tremendous force to break it. It`s one of the most painful bone fractures
you can get.

I thought I was OK. I couldn`t see my legs below the knee. They were
trapped under the driver`s seat. Michael asked if I could move my toes. I
said I could. And then and only then he told me that meant I wasn`t

When someone leaned into the taxi and asked how many injured, I said
just one. I was wrong. Luckily both of the drivers were uninjured. The
drunk driver who hit us was saved by an air bag. Our taxi driver, a
wonderful man, had his livelihood ruined that night but his seat belt
allowed him to go home to his wife that night and visit us in the hospital
the next day.

The little island we were on as a little hospital that can do X-rays
but cannot do surgery. The X-rays showed that Michael needed surgery for
the broken femur, and I needed surgery for a broken hip that didn`t really
begin to hurt until I was pulled out of the taxi.

And then my family went to work. Not the O`Donnells this time. My
work family.

You know those people who tell you that the company they work for is
like family to them? And you don`t believe them? How`s this for family?

A team led by the president of this network, Phil Griffin, and Pat
Fili-Krushel, head of the NBC News group, worked through the night to get
me back to New York for surgery and they did exactly the same thing for my
brother Michael. They didn`t have to do that. They sure didn`t have to
get my brother but they did. That`s what family does.

At some point in the rest of the years that I work here, I hope to
find the words to adequately thank Phil and Pat and Izzy Povich (ph) and
Greg Cordic (ph) and everyone who worked those 18 hours to get two air
ambulances to bring me to New York and Michael to Boston so he could be
with his family when he came out of surgery.

Our planes landed around midnight Sunday night. An ambulance took me
to a place I had never heard of, the Hospital for Special Surgery. It`s
rated number one in the country and therefore the world for orthopedic
surgery. The first words I saw when I was rolled into the hospital was the
name "David H. Koch." Yes, that David Koch.

Now brace yourselves, please, for the first positive words said about
David Koch on this program. I agree with Harry Reid`s critique of the Koch
brothers` contributions to American politics, but that is not the only
thing they contribute to. They have given $100 million to Lincoln Center.
They have given huge amounts of money to medical research and treatment.
David Koch has given over $25 million to the hospital that put me and many
other men, women, and children back together, people with much worse
injuries than I had.

David Koch`s money helped make their hospital experience a better one
and that is a very, very good thing.

F. Scott Fitzgerald spoke to what some of you are feeling right now
when he said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold
two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to

You can pass that test. I know you can. You can be outraged by what
the Koch brothers do with their money in politics, and you can appreciate
what they contribute to hospitals and medical research. And you can do
that at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

Look, I`m doing it right now. And I`m still sort of functioning.

And so yes, I feel some gratitude to David Koch, and I feel much more
gratitude to many more people than I will ever be able to thank. The
emergency medical technician in Portola (ph) who got Michael out of that
taxicab and then got me out of that taxi scab, both of us on stretchers. I
wish I knew his name. Or the names of the strong men in that neighborhood
who rushed from their houses, they rushed in there to help lift our
stretchers out of that taxicab.

I`ve thanked my brilliant surgeon, Dr. David Helfet many times and
I`ll never stop thanking him. Dr. Helfet, like many friends in showbiz
business today sent me an e-mail joking about how he can`t bring himself to
say, break a leg tonight.

Living among the medical community as I did for weeks was a huge
revelation to me. I`d never been hospitalized before. I had never seen
the extraordinary daily kindness and heroism of nurses up close. I had
never depended on them.

For weeks, I was completely dependent on them. I had only one real
day and night of pain in the hospital after surgery, and it was a giant
order of magnitude. The worst pain I have ever experienced. It is
actually an ordeal that many post-surgical patients go through and I cannot
get into the details now, because it is just too gross, trust me. I`m not
kidding about that.

And if you`ve been through it, you know what I`m talking about. A
nurse named John Frank Ellis got me through that night. It was in its way
as hard a night for John as it was for me. I`ve never been more dependent
on anyone in my adulthood and never been more grateful.

The next time when John came back on duty, I gave him a thank you note
in a sealed envelope, with some cash in it. A lot of cash in it. A token
of my indescribable gratitude.

John took the envelope, the sealed envelope, he left the room, a few
minutes later he came back in and he said my thanks was all that mattered
to him, and he handed me back the money.

And he told me that it was against his personal ethics and against
hospital policy to accept gifts like that. I had no idea. I had no idea
I`d crossed a line. This was all new to me.

So, you can tip people who clean your room in hotels but you can`t tip
nurses, I didn`t know that. Great nurses don`t do it for the money. Yes,
they care about and they rely on their paychecks, but they couldn`t do the
work they do, the great nurses couldn`t do that, they couldn`t do it the
way they do it, if the motivation didn`t come from the goodness of their

You wouldn`t recognize John as a hero if you saw him going to or from
work on the subway with his backpack and John doesn`t ask to be treated
like a hero. None of the nurses I met want that. They want to make a
living that allows them to support their families and they want to help
people in the process. People they don`t even know, including people who
will forget them.

The doctors and nurses I have met have something that most of the rest
of us don`t have. The absolute certainty every time they go to work that
they`re going to do something important today, something invaluable, for
someone else.

All the physical therapists who have been helping me learn to walk
again have that same quiet kindness, that same dedication.

When you watch us on TV getting all caught up in the news of the day,
which often means the bad news of the day, it`s worth trying to remember
that an awful lot went right in this country today. Yes, we have a
dysfunctional Congress. But not far down the street from them, we have
people working in hospitals doing remarkable things to save lives, every

When`s the last time you saved a life? I`ve never done that either.
If you saved a life, a baby, a mother, a grandfather, don`t you think you
would feel that was more newsworthy than what some angry, ineffectual
politician said in Washington today?

I`m not sure there`s anything we in the news business can do about
that, but you can. You can listen to what we think the news of the day is
but never lose sight of the fact that more good things happened in America
and the world today than we can possibly report to you or that we know how
to report to you. Don`t ever lose that perspective.

The nurse who spent the most time with me in New York is Shannon
Lawrence. Our shared name was less interesting to me than her first name,
Shannon. As an Irish-American kid growing up in a place like Boston, I
developed an ear for the ethnicity in every name. On our first day
together I asked Shannon how she got an Irish first name.

She said her father was wounded in World War II and was sent to a
hospital in England for treatment. The nurses there literally did not want
to touch the black soldiers in that hospital. Then an Irish nurse came
along and took good care of Shannon`s father. The Irish nurse`s name was

It would be a beautiful story even if Shannon didn`t grow up to become
a nurse. But she did. And so, it`s a perfect story.

My nurse Shannon has spent her life sharing the same healing kindness
and grace that her father`s nurse did. And on my last day in New York -- I
told Shannon that if I had another daughter, I would name her Shannon.


O`DONNELL: We have a new service here this sum over THE LAST WORD.
I`m going to call them 60-second updates.

A lot of you are taking vacations, a lot of you are unplugging from
news for a while in the summer. You`re going to need to be updated on
what`s going on.

And the first person who really needs to be updated on what`s going on
is me.

And joining me now to help with that is Rachel Maddow who has hung

Rachel, as you know, I`m the Rip Van Winkle of news. I`ve slept
through the last 75 days. And when I went to sleep, the one thing I was
sure of was the Iraq war`s over. Can you give me the 60-second update on

RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: I can. I have to tell you, your opening
remarks were absolutely stunning. I will struggle through my emotional
reaction to them and tell you what`s going on in Iraq.

So, you know that Iraq is majority Shiite. Saddam was a Sunni. Had a
sunny despotic government. We overthrew Saddam and installed a Shiite

Remember a few months ago, you may have heard that Fallujah was
overrun by Sunni militants? Well, that same group of Sunni militants that
had overrun Fallujah has now overrun a whole huge swath of Iraq, including
the very large city of Mosul. They`ve basically erased the border between
Iraq and Syria and the Syrian civil war, including taking over two border

The United States has sent 300 Green Berets and we`ve beefed up our
embassy security presence as well. President Obama so far says no U.S.
combat in Iraq for a second round.

It`s really, really bad and I`m glad you missed most of it.

O`DONNELL: And so, Rachel, I assume Dick Cheney has apologized for
wreaking this havoc in that region of the world?

MADDOW: Not exactly. That`s not really how it`s worked out.

Nor has the media apologized for considering all the neo conservatives
to be expert in the region in 2003 and they keep booking them to talk about
it now. It`s terrible.

O`DONNELL: All right. Well, I`m going to actually start doing some
homework and filling in the blanks myself.

Thank you very much, Rachel. I really appreciate it.

MADDOW: Welcome back. We love you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

All right. Coming up we`re going to have more on this, Steve Schmidt
is going to join me, we`re going to hear some surprising remarks from Rand



for Mr. Maliki, but all of the leadership in Iraq is, are they able to set
aside their suspicions, their sectarian preferences, for the good of the
whole? And we don`t know. The one thing I do know is that if they fail to
do that, then no amount of military action by the United States can hold
that country together.


O`DONNELL: That was the president on "MORNING JOE" this morning
saying, of course, the obvious, that the U.S. alone cannot solve the
problems in Iraq.

And Republican Senator Rand Paul said essentially the same thing
yesterday on "Meet the Press."


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I look at it on a personal basis. I
ask, do I want to send one of my sons or your son to fight to regain Mosul?
And I think, yes, these are nasty terrorists, shouldn`t we want to kill

But I think, who should want to stop them more? Maybe the people who
live there. Should not the Shiites, the Maliki government, should they not
stand up? And if they`re ripping their uniforms off and fleeing, if they
don`t think Mosul`s worth saving, how am I going to convince my son or your
son to die for Mosul?


O`DONNELL: The Paul family has always been out of sync with
Republicans on the Iraq war. You will remember that Rand Paul`s father Ron
Paul was a vocal opponent of the war and when he was running for president,
he was one of seven lawmakers who voted against it -- but when he was
running for president, he actually introduced anti-war rhetoric into the
Republican presidential debate forums.


THEN-REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: There was no al Qaeda in Iraq. And
they had nuclear weapons and we had to go in and I`m sure you supported
that war as well.

It`s time we quit this, it`s time -- it`s trillions of dollars we`re
spending on these wars.

My point is, is if another country does to us what we do to others,
we`re not going to like it very much. So, I would say that maybe we ought
to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. Don`t do to other nations
what we don`t want to have them do to us.


O`DONNELL: Dick Cheney seems to believe now that there is a statute
of limitations on public quotations about going to war.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: If we spend our time debating
what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we`re going to miss the threat that is
growing and that we do face. Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically
an isolationist. He doesn`t believe we ought to be involved in that part
of the world. I think it`s absolutely essential.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Steve Schmidt, MSNBC political analyst
and a Republican strategist.

Steve, it`s kind of fascinating to see this. This Paul splinter in
the Republican Party over this kind of issue. We saw it a long time ago in
the Democratic Party when an anti-war faction, and it was only a faction,
developed during Vietnam.

Do you see parallels to then and now?

really great to see you back and thank you for sharing that extraordinary
opening with everybody watching tonight. It was really incredible.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Steve.

SCHMIDT: Look, I think we throw this term around, isolationist. That
has a very specific meaning. And the Republican Party, last time we had a
big debate on this between the internationalist wing and the isolationist
wing of the party, 1952 between Eisenhower and Taft.

But if you look at Eisenhower as the quintessential Republican
internationalist, it`s important to remember Eisenhower chose not to
intervene militarily in Hungary in `56, chose not to intervene militarily
in the Suez crisis. Had a great deal of restraint and a lot of
circumspection about the use of American boots on the ground.

So, what is it that we are defining as isolationism? Is it the
unwillingness to send in a large American land army to Baghdad, to Iraq,
for the third time in 20 years? And I don`t think that labeling someone an
isolationist because of their opposition to that is going to hold water
necessarily in a Republican primary, because I think Rand Paul is where the
country is. And I think where he is where an overwhelming majority of
Republicans on this issue.

I don`t think there`s any constituency that wants to see American
ground forces engaged in a huge way fighting ISIS in Iraq right now. And
the reality on the ground is, we have two sets of American enemies. We
have Shia extremists and Sunni extremists who are now in a death match, a
death struggle with each other, and the Iranians have enormous equities in
being able to keep their supply routes across Iraq open into Syria.

So, you know, we have a national security interest I think in seeing
both groups of enemies degrade themselves, and certainly, ISIS, the Sunni
extremists, they are awful, they are a threat to the security of the United
States. But the president is entirely right. There`s no amount of
American action that can recork the sectarian hatreds that have been
unleashed here.

Shia and Sunni have been fighting an intractable war against each
other for the better part of 700 years. There`s no amount of American
manpower that`s going to be able to stop that. So, we have a very
difficult situation on the ground.

We have a prejudice of news coverage in the country, Lawrence, where
we think that everything that happens in the world is derivative of
something United States does or does not do. And in fact, culture and
religion are powerful forces and we see it all playing out as these lines
drawn after world war I now are beginning to unravel in this country
effectively partitioned in the way Joe Biden suggested it should almost a
decade ago.

O`DONNELL: Steve, when Rand Paul yesterday was given that forum in
which he could have done like other Republicans, tried to blame the current
chaos in Iraq on President Obama, he very specifically said the words "I
don`t put blame on President Obama." It`s kind of extraordinary to hear
that, although when you understand the Paul family`s consistency on this
position, that`s all we`re seeing here is someone being consistent.

SCHMIDT: And I do think that there are some big differences between
the father and the son`s views on foreign policy. But for sure, you know,
the person to blame here overwhelmingly is Prime Minister Maliki. We were
hoping that Iraq would produce a George Washington. What we got was a Shia
sectarian politician who has uncorked all of this and it`s a great tragedy

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SCHMIDT: Great to see you again, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

Coming up, Darrell Issa tonight. More of Darrell Issa. The things I
missed while I was away.

We`ll be back.



a targeting of the president`s political enemies, effectively, and lies
about it during the election year.


tonight, Darrell Issa called a very unusual after-hour committee hearing
which is actually still going on right now. It`s about Lois Lerner`s lost
e-mails which Darrell Issa likened to this.


ISSA: This event in history, like Watergate, like teapot dome, like
many other historic events, will be studied by future generations.


O`DONNELL: Here was the IRS commissioner`s basic answer to the
question of the missing e-mails.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told us that all e-mails would be provided.

JOHN KOSKINEN, IRS COMMISSIONER: All the e-mails we have will be
provided. I did not say I would provide you e-mails that disappeared, if
you have a magical way for me to do that, I`d be happy to know about it.


O`DONNELL: According to my people monitoring the hearing tonight, it
was not Darrell Issa who had the must-see exchange of the night. Watch


KOSKINEN: The inspector general will issue a report. We will all get
the benefit of that report. And then we can determine what the appropriate
action is --

REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R), OHIO: I have always believed that what
happened in your agency with Lois Lerner is a crime. I believe that there
were others involved. I believe the e-mails that are missing are the ones
that would probably give us an ability to establish that. And I believe
that somebody undertook criminal act in its destruction. And I believe
that since you can`t tell me I`m wrong and it`s enough of a doubt in your
mind as the commissioner of that agency you should call the FBI.

KOSKINEN: That`s an interesting set of belief with no facts behind

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman`s time is expired.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Julian Epstein, former majority staff
director of the house government operations community.

Julian, first of all, what are they doing at this hour? I have never
seen a hearing take place at this hour.

COMMUNITY: Well, it is very odd. Originally when the hearing was
scheduled, the ways and means committee got in front of the government
reform and oversight committee, scheduled a hearing for Friday. What the
hearing was originally supposed to be scheduled for Tuesday so Darrell Issa
tried to jump in front of another committee and schedule it on Monday night
so he could jump in front of the ways and means committee. The ways and
means committee actually held a hearing on Friday.

And it looked like children just kind of scrambling to be the first to
try to get the headline. It underscores the fundamental point that these
hearings have from the very beginning been about nothing other than cheap
shots and headlines and still, after dozens of hearings, after hundreds of
thousands of pages of documents, after tens of thousands of e-mails that
have been produced, scores of witnesses, the Republicans have not produced
a scintilla of evidence to back up any of the charges they have made in
this matter.

O`DONNELL: And Julian, I`m prepared to be corrected on anything I say
here tonight because -- but as I understand it, they have an awful lot of
Lois Lerner`s e-mails. They have hundreds and hundreds of her e-mails.
They just don`t have them for a certain calendar period, right?

EPSTEIN: Right. They don`t have them for a certain period of time.
Most of the period of time -- there was a crash in Lois Lerner`s e-mails
where she lost e-mails from January of 2009 to about June of 2011. That
was before the investigation had started. That was before Lois Lerner knew
that the Cincinnati office had engaged in the improper enhanced screening
of conservative organizations.

The IRS has been able to find most of these e-mails by going to people
she sent e-mails to or received e-mails from. So most of the e-mails in
question have been -- will be produced to the committee. The e-mails after
2011, 2012 remember was the period that was being most heavily scrutinized,
have all been produced.

Again, this is just kind of more showcasing and I think demagoguery by
Republicans that are looking for an issue, because they have invested, they
have invested so much into trying to produce some evidence of wrongdoing by
the administration. They produced none.

E-mail crashes occur regularly as Koskinen pointed out tonight, three
to five percent of the IRS computers crash regularly. In the Bush
administration you`ll recall during some of the most important
investigations, the investigation into Valerie Flame, as many as five e-
mails may have disappeared. And the investigation into the firing of the
U.S. attorney, the special counsel in that case, Mr. Fitzgerald reported
that scores of e-mails were lost by the White House and improperly used
their private accounts during the torture memo investigation. Lots of e-
mails weren`t able to be accounted for. You never heard the Republicans
going to the microphones and going before the cameras to complain about it

Again, this is a story that hasn`t fundamentally changed. It was a
Republican staffer in a Cincinnati office that led a rogue operation to do
this enhanced screening. No evidence of any White House or treasury
department involvement in the enhanced screening. Democrat and Liberal
groups were also targeted.

As you have pointed out, this enhanced screening should have occurred
because many of the groups in question were gained in political activities.
The problem is more liberal groups weren`t also screened at the same time.
But none of the fundamental narrative has changed which is the Republicans
have made the most irresponsible accusations. They`ve behaved in the most
disrespectful manner to John Koskinen, who is a revered public official,
and they have produced no evidence whatsoever to back up any of the claims
of impropriety.

O`DONNELL: Julian Epstein, thanks for monitoring the hearing for us

EPSTEIN: And so happy to see you back, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks a lot, Julian.

Coming up next, now it`s time for the good news. A story that could
have ended in a bad way and didn`t.

And in the rewrite tonight, a very special rewrite. A lesson in
political disagreement and comedy.


O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. 27-year-old Marian Ibrahim is
free tonight after being sentenced to death in Sudan for marrying a
Christian man. A Sudanese court ordered her freed after she was imprisoned
for marrying outside the Muslim religion. Ibrahim has one son who lived
with her in jail and she gave bird to another child in jail last month.
And now she is free.

Coming up next, "the rewrite," and if you remember when David
Letterman was the hot new thing in late night, you are going to love
tonight`s "rewrite."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like looking in the mirror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. God! When did I get so ugly?


O`DONNELL: Jimmy Fallon is doing things in late-night TV that we`ve
never seen before. He is rewriting the comedic possibilities for late-
night talk shows. Where David Letterman does funny interviews with Brian
Williams, Jimmy makes Brian sing.


DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: How about a little Regis. Just before you
go, you`re leaving to go to Russia, how about a little Regis.

lunches at the Russian tea room here in New York city. But try to get up
for the game to get ready for the trip over there to see Vladimir Putin and
those Russian mountains and the Palm Trees down at ground level. This is
an unbelievable place over there!

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Obama`s got Republicans in a compromising
position and now he`s ready to push his package through Congress.


O`DONNELL: But long before Jimmy was the hot new thing in late night,
Dave was the hot new thing in late night. That`s right, people under 40.
The current oldest comedian in late night was once the hot new thing. Back
when he was doing stuff like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Theoretically I`ll -- I`ll hit the wall and stay there,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Theoretically.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High as I can go. OK. Could you --


O`DONNELL: Dave was a great Velcro man. But Dave didn`t invent
Velcro man, he just played the part. Beautifully, wouldn`t you say? Let`s
take another look.




O`DONNELL: I wanted to take another look because it`s a look inside
the mind of Sandy Frank. Velcro man was Sandy Frank`s idea. Sandy was a
math major of Harvard, then went to Harvard law school, signed up with a
big boring corporate law firm in the town in Manhattan, and was of course,
instantly bored.

He reached back to his Harvard lampoon, humor writing skills and wrote
a submission to the letterman show which Dave loved. And Sandy suddenly
was in show business. Here`s a picture of some of the Letterman writers in
those days. There`s Sandy right beside Chris Elliot.

Sandy sometimes played wildly crazy characters on the show. Sandy won
four writing Emmys working for Dave. Then he got another Emmy nomination
writing for "in living color." Sandy went on to write for other comedies.

I hired sandy for his first job in drama on a series I created for
NBC. I couldn`t have done that if Sandy hadn`t given me my first job as a
TV writer on a comedy pilot that he was co-writing with Matt Wickline.

I had been close to Sandy in college and we grew closer after college.
He helped me through some depressing years of struggle writing a book which
he also helped show me how to write.

Two years ago Sandy was diagnosed with a form of cancer that no one
survives. The day after my surgery in April, I got the news that I knew
was coming at any moment. Sandy was gone, 59 years old, a wonderful wife,
three strong, smart, loving daughters.

We all discovered knowing it`s coming doesn`t make it easier. In our
four decades together, Sandy and I never once agreed about politics. We
never once voted for the same person, not once. We talked about politics a
normal amount, which is to say, not a lot.

Certainly not as much as we talked about writing and movies and books
that we love and our families and friends and all sorts of other things.
We never avoided politics. We talked about it whenever it naturally came
up. That`s the way most people who aren`t professionally engaged in
politics talk about politics.

We never once had a tense moment when talking about politics. Sandy
was a real right-wing over some things and a solid conservative Republican
on others. And I`m, you know, a socialist. Have been since college.
Every day Sandy knew me.

So come on, America. We can do this. We can disagree about politics
without hating each other. We can disagree about politics the way we
disagree about movies and music and food. It`s OK. You don`t have to hate
me if you disagree with me. You don`t.

But one politician I worked for understood this. Senator Daniel
Patrick Moynihan was a liberal democrat who invited his conservative
friends and his liberal friends to the same dinner tables and there they
sat merrily dining and disagreeing about politics.

Yes. That used to happen in Washington. Because people like Pat
Moynihan understood the difference between disagreeing and fighting, he
difference between disagreeing and insulting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The energy tax a fight until death or are you
willing to compromise a little bit with senator borne, modify it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fight to the dead over taxes? Oh, you know.
Women, country, God, things like that. Taxes? No.


O`DONNELL: Of course, disagree is easier if you`re laughing. And
Sandy Frank always found the joke in everything, including politics.

Maybe the next time I have a conservative on the show we should begin
with a clip of "Velcro Man," just to get the conversation going the right
way, with a laugh.





O`DONNELL: In our next segment, everything I know about it will be
what I read in the teleprompter. But E.J. Dionne is here to help me
through it. Be right back.


O`DONNELL: Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi will get a
second chance tomorrow night. The GOP Senate runoff between Cochran and
tea party challenger Chris McDaniel has drawn national attention, mostly
because of how heated the campaign has been.

McDaniel narrowly beat the 7th term incumbent in the primary on June
3rd because McDaniel didn`t cross the 50 percent threshold. The runoff is
scheduled for tomorrow. The Senate race has been one of the strangest in
the country.

Joining me now is "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC contributor
E.J. Dionne who has been in Mississippi covering this very strange race.

E.J., give me something strange about it.

back. And you almost made me late tonight because I was just sitting there
watching that extraordinary introduction. People don`t say thank you
enough. And you said it beautifully. So thank you for that.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

DIONNE: You know what`s extraordinary about this is that Chris
McDaniel will probably win tomorrow unless African-American voters vote for
a Republican candidate. And you have a conservative Republican candidate,
senator Cochran, going all-out to get African-American voters down there to
do something that they would never dream of doing, which is voting in a
Republican primary, partly because McDaniel is a kind of neo confederate.
Partly because Cochran has been open to African-Americans and has done
things for particular constituencies down there.

But culturally, it is very hard in Mississippi for an African-American
to vote in a Republican primary. I was down there for the primary. I
visited a precinct. You have a table. Republicans here, Democrats here.
All the Republicans were white. All the Democrats were black. It`s really
racially polarized. So it`s going to be a fascinating day tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: And there`s been a little bit of a few awkward moments.
According to my notes that I was just cheating, looking at here while you
were speaking, E.J.

DIONNE: A few awkward moments. Well, there were moments when Cochran
had seemed out of it.


DIONNE: McDaniel has gone over the top on a bunch of issues,
including some of his past as a talk show host. It`s not easy to be a talk
show host and run for the Senate. And -- but it`s also just been vicious.
And you`ve got governor -- former Governor Haley Barbour and his relatives
who have really been all-in for Cochran. And the amazing thing would be
beating Haley Barbour`s machine which McDaniel seems on the vernal of

O`DONNELL: How much of this is Thad Cochran`s out of shape, he`s the
senior senator, he hasn`t had a challenge like this?

DIONNE: I think that`s a lot of it, he`s been there a long time. He
didn`t really want to run, a lot of people say, and was pushed into it
because he was going to be chair of the appropriations committee if the
Republicans took over and Mississippi wanted the money.

Here`s my fantasy. McDaniel wins and Travis Childers, the
conservative Democrat, is a pretty strong candidate. The Democrats hold
the Senate by one seat winning Mississippi in November.

O`DONNELL: We`re saving that video, E.J., for the night that that
becomes that video for the night that comes true.

E.J. Dionne, thank you very much for joining me tonight help me out.

DIONNE: Welcome back.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

Chris Hayes is up next.


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