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

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

August 26, 2014

Guest: Lopa Blumenthal, Paul Ginsberg, Jim Cavanaugh, Lizz Brown, Denise
Lieberman, Cliff Schecter, Caryl Stern

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you
again tomorrow. Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, anyone who tells you indictments
are not serious business has never been indicted.


MADDOW: That`s exactly right. Thanks, man.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

Well, federal agents are investigating audio of what might be the gunshot
that killed Michael Brown. You will hear that audio and you will hear from
the lawyer who represents the person who recorded it.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC`S "ALL IN": Tonight we`ve got new audio recording --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this tape is accurate, it really is a game

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What appears to be the sound of gunfire.

HAYES: Purporting to capture the exact moment when Michael Brown was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like six gunshots, and a pause, then four
more gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A pause is enough time for someone to form intent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We met with the attorney for the witness. No doubt in
your mind that this is real?

LOPA BLUMENTHAL, ATTORNEY: Absolutely not. He`s a very solid citizen.

HAYES: If it`s validated, the tape could be a key piece of evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of many that the grand jury could hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think now we`re at the critical pivot point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the investigation itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no healing without justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: City officials in Ferguson --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delayed a city council meeting scheduled for tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Citing safety concerns, that meeting has now been
postponed indefinitely.

HAYES: They`ve been planning to have metal detectors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Requested residents to send their feedback via
postage paid comment cards.

HAYES: A legislative body that is literally afraid of violence if it faces
its public.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people in the city who, I`m sure, want their
voices heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help us fight this instead of fighting us.


O`DONNELL: St. Louis County prosecutors have confirmed to NBC News that
federal agents are investigating an 11-second audio clip that might be a
recording of the shots fired by officer Darren Wilson when he shot and
killed Michael Brown. The audio was apparently recorded during some sort
of online video communication.

When we play this audio, you will hear a man`s voice, and then what
appeared to be gunshots in the background. NBC News and MSNBC have not
been able to verify exactly when this audio was recorded and we have agreed
to protect the identity of the person whose voice you are about to hear.
His lawyer, though, will join us to discuss this audio in a moment. But
first, let`s listen that audio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are pretty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are so fine. Just going over some of your videos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could I forget.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is attorney Lopa Blumenthal who represents the
man who recorded that audio.

Attorney Blumenthal, can you tell us how -- what has happened to this audio
from the time it was recorded to today?

BLUMENTHAL: First, I want to thank you for having me on the show,
Lawrence. I`m a big fan. I became aware of this audio on Wednesday of
last week completely by accident. One of my previous clients came in for a
social visit to our firm and I knew that he was a Ferguson resident, so I
inquired as to how he was doing to keep himself safe in the middle of all
that was happening.

And he said, I live in that apartment complex. And, you know, I made sure
that he was safe and then I talked to him about if he knew anything that
was going on. And he said he was at work when the shooting happened, but
he said I want to play something really crazy that my roommate recorded.
And he played the tape for me and my jaw dropped.

I heard it a couple of other times. I asked my husband, who is my law
partner, to come in and listen to it also. And then my client had to go
and he left. And I had a trial the next day, but I literally couldn`t get
it out of my mind. I, you know, lost sleep and I sent him an e-mail that
night and early the next morning saying that we felt it was really
important that we were able to get consent to turn this tape over to the

And we talked to our now client who did this video on Saturday night. We
obtained his consent and then we communicated it to the FBI on Monday and
they interviewed him. They talked to him. They saw the videotape. And
it`s my understanding that they`re investigating it right now.

O`DONNELL: And is it your impression that the FBI are now has confirmed
that that audio was recorded during the shooting of Michael Brown?

BLUMENTHAL: They have not contacted me about it, but I have nothing to
indicate, you know, either way.

O`DONNELL: And in the discussion that you were present for about this --
did they raise any skeptical points about this audio?

BLUMENTHAL: Not skeptical points. They -- it was a very considerate
interview. They were very thoughtful. They asked many questions. As an
attorney, I`m used to depositions. It was similar to how a deposition
would go. My client was very nervous. He had never had encounters with
the FBI, the police before and they were -- you know, they helped to put
him at ease and talk to him. And I thought that it went very well. I was
very positive about the entire experience.

O`DONNELL: Do you expect at this stage for this to become evidence that
goes to the grand jury and possibly goes into a trial?

BLUMENTHAL: I don`t know. I have not talked to St. Louis County
prosecutors, so I don`t know what`s happening at the state level. I do
know that the FBI has the information and they`re apparently investigating
the matter further.

O`DONNELL: OK. We`re also joined now by Paul Ginsberg. He`s a forensic
audio expert. He`s worked for the CIA, FBI, the DEA, the ATF, Homeland
Security. I`m also joined again by Jim Cavanaugh, an MSNBC law enforcement
analyst and former ATF special agent in charge.

Let`s all listen to this audio once again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are pretty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are so fine. Just going over some of your videos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could I forget.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ginsberg, you`ve had some time today to analyze what we
all just heard there. What did you find in terms of -- or could you
establish the number of shots fired?

PAUL GINSBERG, FORENSIC AUDIO EXPERT: Yes. After my analysis, I find that
there were six shots initially, then there was a three-second pause,
another shot, another second pause, and then three final shots. So there
were 10 shots in all, and there was a pretty large separation of three
seconds after the first six shots.

O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, what`s your reaction to that information?

know, it starts with, is this tape authentic and can it be authenticated by
the FBI? Paul`s analysis, it would be good, it was accurate, and he`s an
expert and all the agencies have used him. But first it has to be
authenticated by the witness, by the machine that it was made on, looked
at. I`m sure the FBI is doing all those things. So if it is --


CAVANAUGH: Then it`s a significant piece of evidence for the -- for the

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Tiffany Mitchell`s account, an eyewitness
account of what she says she saw on the street during the shooting.


fired through the window, and I just, like, tried to get out the way. I
pulled to the parking lot right beside where the cop car was, and that`s
when Michael kind of broke away and started running down the street. The
officer gets out of his vehicle and he pursues him. As he`s following him,
he`s shooting at him.

And Michael`s body jerks as if he was hit. Then he turns around, he put
his hands up and the officer continued to walk up on him and shoot him
until he goes all the way down to the ground.


O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, the three-second pause that Paul Ginsberg says
is there between these two sets of shots that are fired. It seems as
though that could be in a couple of spots in what Tiffany just said.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly, Lawrence. If authenticated, it could be very
significant because the pause could be the moment that Michael Brown stops,
when she describes him jerking. He stops, maybe the officer stops, and
then he turns and then there`s four more shots fired. That can also help
the investigators actually decide when the shots were fired because there
was one wounding at the car that Dorian Johnson said that blows his right
arm. And when he ran, it can only be two of the graze shots that hit him
and no other.

And then when he turned, it would have to be, you know, the three to five
shots that he took then. So it`s very significant for investigators to
piece it together if it`s authentic.

O`DONNELL: And Paul Ginsberg, the pause could also be between the shot
that is -- was reportedly by some eyewitness accounts fired inside the car,
then the officer gets out of the car. It would seem that there would have
to be some kind of pause in that move.

GINSBERG: Sure. That could be the case, and of course, you could hear
shots much further than you could hear a car door opening or voices or
screaming or altercation. But I think what needs to be done is an acoustic
re-creation of these events by placing an iPad or an iPhone, making a call
so you have the same kind of communications channel in the apartment where
the listener was and then having the shots fired at the shooting scene and
then take measurements to see whether we have the same level, the same type
of signature of these events.

O`DONNELL: Lopa Blumenthal, what kind of device was this recorded on?

BLUMENTHAL: A smartphone. I`m not exactly sure what the manufacturer was,
and my client was using an app, it`s a video texting app called Glide, and
I am -- I am a technological novice in these areas, you have to forgive me,
but it`s my understanding that it is an app where you can send texts to
your friends and then you can record the short snippets of videos, like,
you know, if you wanted to sing happy birthday, and send it along with a
text, something like that.

And it happened to have been recording during one of -- you know, a time
when my client decided to record something for his friend.

O`DONNELL: It sounded like he wasn`t aware of the shots because of the way
he keeps talking. But he also somehow knew that he wanted to save this.
Can you tell us what he was aware of when the shots were being fired, when
that sound was happening?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, that`s one of the first things I asked him when I
finally met him. You know, I -- why didn`t I see any kind of reaction to
the shots, and he said, I remembered them being loud. I wanted to finish
making the video and you have to keep in mind that the entirety of this
video is only 12 seconds, which in the course of these events is a long
period of time, but, you know, in reality, when do we really know 12

And he said sometimes there`s gunfire in that neighborhood so it didn`t
strike him as being something out of the ordinary except that he was really
loud. So he thought wow, this is close. But he didn`t really think about
it. And he didn`t even realize that he had recorded these shots, or that
they related to, you know, the shooting until he left his apartment some
time later and was astonished that, you know, the crowd that had gathered
in the apartment complex.

And he thought to himself, well, maybe those were the shots that were
fired, and he just -- it occurred to him that maybe he had recorded it. So
he went back and checked and sure enough, there were 12 seconds of those

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to it again. If this is authenticated, I think
we`re going to be hearing this video -- this audio an awful lot more.
Let`s listen to it again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are pretty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are so fine. Just going over some of your videos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could I forget.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ginsberg, how would you expect this to be introduced at
trial, assuming there is a trial here? What kind of basis would you have
to establish to introduce it?

GINSBERG: Well, of course, first as we`ve all said, it has to be
authenticated. It`s legal in Missouri to record a conversation without the
consent of any other party, so it`s a legal recording. And the fact that
we`re picking this up is incidental. But I think it`s going to go toward
the credibility of the witnesses, of the police incident report, and this
is like a time machine that takes us back to this event, and it`s one of
the pieces of the puzzle and it`s got to fit. Otherwise, some of the
witnesses will have to rethink their memories.

O`DONNELL: Well, it`s going to have a problem fitting the incident report
because there is no incident report of this shooting.

Jim Cavanaugh, we have -- we also had a witness here on this program,
Michael Brady, tell us that the final shots were fired when the officer was
about 25 feet away from Michael Brown.

When you combine this as audio evidence, if it is audio evidence in the
case, what would those two things tell us, if true?

CAVANAUGH: Well, again, that would add up to excessive force. You have an
unarmed and wounded man who is 25 feet away from a police officer who is
armed and not wounded. It`s hard to find a justification to use deadly
force if the distance remains at 25, 20 feet, and he has no weapon and he`s
already wounded. And he would have already been wounded, this tape can add
that in.

One to three times when he turned around. He was shot at the car, he could
have been shot two grazing wounds. So he was shot one to three times by
the time he turns around. If it`s four shots at the end, the he had to be
wounded three to five times there because they were (INAUDIBLE) shots. So
the graze shots can go either way.

So it helps piece it back together and it`s really, really good evidence
for investigators to look at, deciding what to move forward with.

O`DONNELL: Lopa Blumenthal, Paul Ginsberg and Jim Cavanaugh, thank you all
very much for joining me tonight.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Lawrence.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Pleasure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, more on the aftermath of the killing of Michael
Brown. And the National Rifle Association is finally in a political fight
with someone who can outspend them, big time. Bill Gates.

And in the "Rewrite," the answer to the question, what is the most useless
kind of political polling? Tweet me your guesses on this one. You`ve got
about a half hour. What is the most useless kind of political polling?


O`DONNELL: Yesterday at the Bullets and Burgers Shooting Range in Mohave
County, Arizona, a firearms instructor and safety expert put a loaded,
fully automatic submachine gun in the hands of a 9-year-old girl. When the
girl pulled the trigger, the recoil caused her to lose control of the
machine gun, and the instructor was shot in the head and killed. The
girl`s parents have brought her to that shooting range.



vehicle on West Florissant is a symbol of an armor that has grown between
two communities. It grows over time, and it may exist in the hearts of
some between the law enforcement community and this community. And we have
to do things to break down that wall of armor that exists.


O`DONNELL: Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is trying to break down
that wall of armor. On Sunday, the attorney general announced that he will
hold public workshops in St. Louis and Kansas City to discuss solutions to
the lack of diversity in Missouri`s Urban Law Enforcement agencies. He
said this today in a radio interview.


KOSTER: Law enforcement has been aware for some time that we were having
trouble finding minority recruits in areas of the state where there is a
heavy minority population. But for a long time it was largely viewed as a
question of fairness and representation. Now we recognize that it is a
matter of public safety that the tensions that can grow between a police
force and a community can result in the kind of situation we saw in
Ferguson last week. And so the need to address it fully and immediately is
more imperative than ever.


O`DONNELL: Koster`s announcement came after a "St. Louis Post Dispatch"
article which highlighted the racial disparity in many of the St. Louis
County Police Departments. The "Post Dispatch" reached out to 36 St. Louis
County Police Departments where at least 10 percent of the population is
African-American. In 30 out of 31 communities that responded, the
percentage of black residents is higher that the proportion of black

In Ferguson, 67 percent of the residents are African-American, while only 7
percent of the city`s police officers are black.

Joining me now is Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney with the Advancement
Project and a former ACLU legal director in St. Louis, and Lizz Brown, a
criminal defense attorney and a columnist for the "St. Louis American."

Lizz, before we get into this subject, I just wanted to reach back into the
last one to that audio of the shots fired. You and I have discussed the
investigation many times here on this program. I just wanted to get your
reaction to that audio and if that -- if that is validated as audio of the
shots fired in this incident, what do you think that will mean in this

LIZZ BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think it confirms a lot of
people`s worst thoughts about this, that this police officer nearly emptied
his clip into Michael Brown, and I think it also is kind of remarkable that
we have this piece of information. We`re gathering out information, you`re
gathering information, you`re reporting information. But on the other
side, the people that are supposed to be gathering the information,
gathering the evidence are silent.

They haven`t reached out to the attorney. They have -- I mean, the U.S.
attorney`s office has reached out. They`re interested in this information,
but Bob McCullough`s office, not so much.

O`DONNELL: Denise Lieberman, the issue of community policing became quite
vivid, it seems, when Ron Johnson took over command of the situation there
in Ferguson.

Let`s listen to some of the things he said.


talking to Mike Brown`s family. I wear this uniform. And I stand up here
and say that I`m sorry.


JOHNSON: When this is over, I`m going to go in my son`s room, my black
son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to the side, got
tattoos on his arm. But that`s my baby.


O`DONNELL: Denise Lieberman, how much of a difference did that make when
Ron Johnson came into that community and started speaking that way?

been transformative and it`s powerful for a reason. And we always hear
that the police are supposed to protect and to serve, but that is not the
reality in communities of color, where structural racism has created a
system where communities of color are overpoliced, overcriminalized,
overbrutalized by a police force that doesn`t reflect their community.

Advancement Project believes that it`s important to have community based
conversations and solutions. And that`s hard to do when the structures of
power don`t reflect the communities that they serve. And that certainly
has been the case in Ferguson and Ron Johnson`s presence has helped a
little bit bridge that divide so that we can start having some important
conversations that need to be had about accountability and transparency and
citizen policing.

O`DONNELL: And Lizz Brown, there was a striking element of community
policing at the federal level when the attorney general of the United
States came to Ferguson, and there people saw an attorney general who
looked like their grandfathers and their fathers in that neighborhood where
Michael Brown had lived.

BROWN: And not only that, he confirmed our shared life experience. He
said, I too have been stopped by the police for doing nothing. I too have
had this life experience that we all share and I acknowledged that. That
was an extraordinary moment for this nation, that the highest law
enforcement officer in this nation said to a group of citizens that have
been marginalized, that have been ignored, whose pain has never been
honestly acknowledged, he said, I get it, because I`ve been there. I am
like you. There`s nothing more powerful than what he said. Nothing.

O`DONNELL: Denise Lieberman, what are the possibilities for increased
reflection of the actual policed communities in that area in the police

LIEBERMAN: All right. Well, the communities themselves have been stepping
up and demanding not only accountability for the death of Michael Brown,
but also demanding greater accountability of the police force and demanding
conversations about effective community policing, effective civilian
oversight of policing, effective documentation of policing activities. And
these are important first steps that need to take place in this

O`DONNELL: Denise Lieberman and Lizz Brown, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you very much for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Bill Gates versus the NRA. And later, Matt Damon
did the ice bucket challenge, but he did it in a way that no one before him
has even considered doing. He used toilet water. You`ve got to see this.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: In the spotlight tonight, Bill Gates
versus the NRA. On Friday, Bill and Melinda Gates donated $1 million to
support a ballot initiative in Washington State that could require
universal background checks for gun purchases. Initiative 594 that passed
by voters since November, will expand checks for private firearms sales
including purchases made at gun shows. It has the support of 70 percent of
registered voters in Washington.

And in a statement yesterday, Bill Gate said quote "we believe it will be
an effective and balanced approach to improving gun safety in our state by
closing existing loopholes for background checks."

Opposition groups have put their own competing initiative on the ballot,
and the NRA has created a special committee to raise money against this
initiative 594. So far the NRA has raised $25,000. With campaign
supported universal background checks, with backing from Bill Gates and
others, they have raised almost $6 million.

Join me now is executive editor of Richard Wolffe. Also joining
me is columnist for "the Daily Beast" Cliff Schecter.

Richard Wolffe, Bill Gates is not the only billionaire in this fight. We
have Nick Hanauer has actually given a little bit more than Bill Gates,
given over $1 million to this. It may be that the NRA is in a fight they
might in the state that they actually might not be able to win.

And Bill Gates has a phenomenal track record of giving money to causes
where he is proud of measuring how successful they are. This is not a man
who just throws his money around and says, well, I don`t care. It is going
to make me feel good. I don`t really care about the results. He cares
passionately about the results, about how people are spending his money.
Even if for someone like him, a million dollars may be relatively small

O`DONNELL: And Cliff Schecter, you know, Mike Bloomberg has put his money
into this cause around the country. He`s been accused of being an
outsider, a billionaire meddling in things. You can`t accuse Bill Gates of
being an outsider in Washington state.

CLIFF SCHECTER, THE DAILY BEAST: No, you certainly can`t. Although, I do
find the charge funny from Wayne Lapierre in the wealthy northern Virginia
suburbs calling somebody else for coast to elite the way he attacks
Bloomberg. But yes, you know, the NRA in the past is used to having this
territory to themselves. They outspent the opposition. And it seems, you
know, they`re a little upset now because, as you said Nick Hanauer and Paul
Allen, also founder of Microsoft and now Bill Gates and they`re actually
seeing what it`s like, you know, when the majority of us, 70 percent of us
support back ground checks and there will now be financial muscle behind
that. And I think that will make it successful in Washington.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the way NRA lobbyist Brian Judy attacked Nick
Hanauer for contributing to this.


BRIAN JUDY, NRA LOBBYIST: Nick Hanauer, billionaire, contributor to i-594
wrote an article in It`s staggering to me because at the end
of the article, Hanauer talks about his family and they`re from Germany.
They had a pillow manufacturing in Germany and in one of the last
paragraphs, he talks about his family being run out of Germany Nazis. It`s
like, how stupid can they, you know? Now, he is funding. He`s put half-
million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family
getting run out of German by the Nazis. It`s like any Jewish people I meet
who are anti-gun, I think, are you serious? Do you not remember what
happened? And why do that happened? Because they registered guns and then
they took them.

And now, you are supporting gun control. You come to this country and you
support gun control? Why did you have flee to this country in the first
place? Hello, is there anybody home here?


O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, so Bill Gates and Nick Hanauer are trying to
turn Washington state into Nazi Germany.

WOLFFE: Yes. Let`s all agree that Nazi Germany comparisons are always
misplaced. And I realize this is an oft repeated cliche in terms of
popular history for the NRA. But, you know, the French in the second world
war had guns, the British had guns, the Poles had guns and the Nazis were
still able to overrun them.

The history doesn`t stack up. It doesn`t apply to modern date Washington
state. And it doesn`t apply to the vast majority of people who could and
should vote in a ballot referendum in November.

O`DONNELL: I think the rule is, when you reach for Nazi Germany, you know
you`re losing. And that`s why you`re trying to use it as an example.

Richard Wolffe and Cliff Schecter, thank you both very much for joining me

WOLFFE: Thank you.

SCHECTER: Thanks so much.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the ice bucket challenge as you`ve never seen it.
Done with toilet water by Matt Damon, who explained why he did it.

And in tonight`s rewrite, we will tell you about the most useless kind of
political polling, and while we`re at it, we will rewrite.

O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. The good police news. Kalamazoo,
Michigan police officer Jason Gates stopped a car for running a red light
and he ended up saving the driver`s life when he discovered that the driver
was choking on some food. Officer Gates performed the Heimlich maneuver
for the first time in his life, and it worked. Here is officer Gates` dash
cam video of how it all happened.


JASON GATES, MICHIGAN POLICE: Hi, how are you doing? Are you choking?
Are you all right? Get out of the car. Come here. You got it? Holy
(bleep)! Are you all right? Have a seat here, make sure you`re breathing,
all right. You want an ambulance? Are you sure?


O`DONNELL: People in Kalamazoo are calling Officer Gates a hero, but he
doesn`t see it that way. He said quote "I just feel like I did what I`m
paid to do. I`m glad for her that I happened to be there." And he didn`t
give the driver a ticket for running that red light.

Next in the rewrite, the most useless kind of political polling, and a
little rewrite of Shakespeare.


O`DONNELL: In the rewrite tonight, political polling. Specifically, the
most useless poll in American politics.

The invention of polling did nothing less than ruin politics. Polling
makes politics too easy for politicians, and for the media. Polling kills
leadership in American politics. Politicians don`t try to lead voters
anywhere. They try to follow them. And polling tells politicians exactly
where voters want politicians to go.

Polling tells politicians exactly what voters want, and exactly how many of
them want it. And so getting elected now simply means assembling 51
percent of the vote by saying something that 51 percent of the voters
needed to hear to vote for you. And your pollster is there, every day, to
tell you exactly what those things are.

Political polling has harmed public policy in America too, because polls
show that there are enough people to swing a presidential election in
Florida who support our completely unjustifiable and counterproductive
embargo on Cuba. No winning presidential candidate has ever dared to
campaign against our most ridiculous foreign policy, the Cuba embargo.

Polling has made life incredibly easy for the political news media, who no
longer have to wait for an election to tell you who won. We can sometimes
tell you who is going to win months in advance of the election, and we do.
Polling has taken the suspension out of election night, leaving courtroom
jury verdicts as just about the only truly suspenseful thing left in
American public life.

Surely, if Shakespeare were writing today, he would rewrite this line, to
make it about pollsters. Unfortunately, there`s nothing that we can do to
get rid of pollsters. Our only power is to ignore them, especially,
especially when they offer us the results of their most meaningless
political polls, which of course, are their job approval polls.

How many people approve of the job the president is doing? How many people
approve of the job the governor is doing? How many people approve of the
job the mayor is doing? These polls tell us nothing.

Consider the case of New York city Mayor Bill De Blasio who got a 50
percent job approval rating in a Quinnipiac poll today. Nine months ago,
Bill De Blasio won 73 percent of the vote in the general election against a
Republican. If we reran that election today, no one actually thinks Bill
De Blasio would get only 50 percent against a Republican in New York city.

The job approval poll tells us nothing about Bill D Blasio`s political
strength. Politicians frequently have a job approval number that are
higher than the percentage of votes they are able to win, and more
frequently they have job approval numbers that are lower than the
percentage of votes they end up winning. Much is being made of President
Obama`s job approval numbers now in the low 40s. Gallop has it at 43
percent. But it`s not even close to Ronald Reagan`s job approval rating of
35 percent in his first term in 1983. The next year, Ronald Reagan was
reelected to the presidency with 59 percent of the vote, and he won 49

In February of 1991, the first President Bush had an approval rating of 89
percent, which was the highest ever recorded by Gallop. The first
President Bush`s huge job approval numbers seemed to be based on his
running a quick little war called desert storm, which pushed Saddam
Hussein`s invading army out of Kuwait and back into Iraq.

But setting a record high in job approval in his first term meant nothing
for the first President Bush`s reelection. He was beaten in 1992.
President Bush lost his reelection in 1992 to a recently unknown governor
from Arkansas, who, in a three-way race, managed to win with only 43
percent of the vote, while the incumbent president got only 37 percent of
the vote after his 89 percent job approval rating.

So much for job approval ratings. If you completely ignore them, you won`t
be missing anything that really matters in politics.


O`DONNELL: As we reported earlier in the show, federal agents are
investigating an 11-second audio clip that might be a recording of the
shots fired by Officer Darren Wilson when he shot and killed Michael Brown.
NBC News has not been able to verify exactly when this audio was recorded.
Let`s listen to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are pretty. You`re so fine. Just going over some
of your videos. How could I forget?


O`DONNELL: As you heard our forensic audio expert analyze this at the
beginning of the show. He said that there are ten shots there in what he
heard and what his machinery heard on that tape. We also have a report
from a local television station in Ferguson, in St. Louis, that 12 casings,
bullet casings, were found there on the scene. So it is possible when you
listen to that tape that some shots are one shot was fired before that tape
started. That will be part of the investigation of what`s on that

We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: That was what Seth Meyers did immediately after hosting last
night`s Emmy Awards. We`ll see if Vladimir Putin is as responsive as
President Obama was when he was challenged by (INAUDIBLE) Kennedy.

President Obama released a statement saying the president appreciates Mrs.
Kennedy, thanking him for the challenge, though his contribution to this
effort will be monetary. The president will be making a donation to an ALS
charity this week.

And since this challenge caught on in mid-July. The ALS association
reports it has received $88.5 million in donations, $66 million in the last
seven days alone.

When Academy Award winner Matt Damon was challenged by two-time Academy
award winner Ben Affleck and host of the live after Academy special Jimmy
Kimmel, Matt Damon had an extra challenge to consider.


MATT DAMON, ACTOR: It poses kind of a problem for me, not only because
there`s a drought here in California, but because I co-founded
and we envision a day when everybody has access to clean drinking water.
And there are about 800 million people in org who don`t. And so, dumping a
clean bucket of water on my head seems a little crazy.

So, we also wanted to bring adequate sanitation to the 2.4 billion people
on earth who don`t have it. So I thought a good to do to kind of tie those
things together would be to take some toilet water. This is truly toilet
water. I`ve been collecting it, and now for those of you like my wife who
think this is really disgusting, keep in mind that the water in our toilets
in the west is actually cleaner than the water that most people in the
developing world have access to.

So as disgusting as this may seem, hopefully it will highlight the fact
that this is a big problem and together we can do something about it. So
I`m happy to take the challenge to help knock out ALS, I`m all for that.
For more information about the clean water crisis and sanitation crisis,
please visit us at Ben Affleck and Jimmy Kimmel, this is for
you. Yes, that was a good one.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Caryl Stern, the president and CEO of the
U.S. fund for UNICEF.

Caryl, the point that Matt Damon makes is crucial. In the couple of
centuries of history of public health, there has been no more important
advance than clean water supplies, but the whole world isn`t there yet.

close to 800 million people still do not have access to good, healthy,
clean drinking water.

O`DONNELL: And the burden here is more than just on public health. It
also changes the way people live. You and I have been to countries where
women and girls spend most of their days and possibly most of their lives,
simply in search of water for their families.

STERN: The average walk that a young girl is forced to take to get water
where there isn`t running water is about three miles. That keeps her out
of school and away from learning. That means that whole cycle of poverty
never gets interrupted.

O`DONNELL: And the -- what are the programs out there now that are
addressing this? Matt Damon mentions that he helped found. How
many other entities are out there dealing with this?

STERN: There are hosts of entities. You know, UNICEF for us, water is a
really big cause. And I applaud what Matt did because you have 2.5 billion
who don`t have access to sanitation, just basic sanitation. And you know,
the second largest killer of children under the age of five is diarrheal
diseases, most of which is caused by not having access to good, clean

O`DONNELL: Matt Damon mentions the water that we disdain in this country,
the toilet water, there are people in this country who refuse to drink the
water that comes from their taps, in their homes, in their faucets. And
all of that is a much better water supply than what some of these people
will ever be near in their lives.

STERN: Absolutely. And it shows you how we take it for grant it. Because
here, we are using water for raise money for a very worthy cause. And I
really think what (INAUDIBLE) has said was brilliant. But at the same
time, there are many of us out there trying to raise money for the water
that we hope someday somebody can take for grant it.

O`DONNELL: And Caryl, the need that is one that is -- you know, there
aren`t necessarily permanent fixes to this. I mean, sometimes a water
supply locally can improve and then various infrastructure, difficulties in
maintaining it means there can be a fallback. It`s a constant campaign,
isn`t it?

STERN: It is. It is not just putting in the water. It is about educating
the community to repair the well and maintain it. It`s about teaching
people sanitation. It is all the aforementioned that we want everyone to
have access to good, clean healthy drinking water.

O`DONNELL: Caryl Stern, thank you for the work you are doing. Thanks for
joining us tonight.

STERN: Thank you, Lawrence. Nice to see you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Chris Hayes is up next.


Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>