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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Date: December 23, 2014
Guest: Brett Williams, Stephen Galloway, Adrian Karatnycky, Steven Sosna,
E.J. Dionne, Thomas Roberts, Joy Reid, Rick Wolffe

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Wow, Rachel, talk about unsung
heroes, librarians.

RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: I know. I love them. I love them.
Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Beautiful. Thank you very much, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Well, the people have spoken. Says who? Seth Rogen,
that`s who.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news tonight on this ongoing electronic
attack on Sony Pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The individuals behind it were acting on orders
from the North Koreans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, they know they got exactly what they

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sony has decided to pull the release of the
film. All of this is entirely unprecedented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news that "The Interview" might be
released by some movie chains.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sony announcing a limited theatrical release of
"The Interview" on Christmas Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sony has authorized screenings of the interview
on Christmas Day. That was its original release day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Texas chain Alamo Drafthouse is excited to
release the film.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A coalition of these independent theaters had
sent out a petition emphasizing they want to screen this film.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Korea is partly back online after a major
Internet outage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just days after the FBI said North Korea is to
blame for a massive cyber breach at Sony Pictures.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don`t want to get into a verbal back and
forth with North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two U.S. officials have denied any U.S. role in
this outage in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From hackers to human rights violations, how
should the U.S. handle the growing North Korea problem?


O`DONNELL: Seth Rogen triumphantly tweeted today, "The people have
spoken, freedom has prevailed. Sony didn`t give up. `The interview` will
be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas Day."

In a dramatic turnaround for Sony Pictures, the company has decided to
release the movie that provoked a cyberattack from North Korea, according
to the FBI.

Sony chairman and CEO Michael Lynton released a statement today
saying, "We have never given up on releasing `The Interview` and were
excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day. At the
same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more
theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience."

As of now, "The Interview" will be shown in about 300 theatres on
Christmas Day. Sony`s original release plan was for the movie to hit 3,000
theatres on Christmas Day.

None of the major movie theater chains who announced that they would
not show the film have reversed their policy and decided to show the film.
The Alamo Drafthouse based in Austin, Texas, was one of the first chains to
agree to show "The Interview" and released this statement, "This is the
best Christmas gift anyone could give us, we, both distributors and
exhibitors, have collectively stood firm to our principles and for the
right to freedom of expression. Two days until Christmas and I am proud to
be an American."

The co-star of "The Interview", James Franco, tweeted, "Victory. The
people and the president have spoken. Sony to release `The Interview` in
theaters." James Franco was, of course, referring to the moment in his
press conference on Friday when President Obama said this --


OBAMA: I`m sympathetic that Sony as a private company was worried
about liabilities and this and that and the other. I wish they had spoken
to me first.


O`DONNELL: Since then, the senior administration official tells NBC
News that Sony has kept the White House aware of its efforts to release the

White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said today, "The president
applauds Sony`s decision to authorize screenings of the film. As the
president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech and the
right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating
theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film and we
welcome that outcome."

Joining me now, Retired Major General Brett Williams, the former
director of operations for U.S. Cyber Command and the former director of
communications for U.S. Pacific Command. And Stephen Galloway, executive
features editor for "The Hollywood Reporter."

Now, Stephen, normally, the protocol on the program is generals go
first. But, General, tonight, I think you recognize the big news is coming
out of Hollywood.

And so, Steven, what happened here? Put me down as shocked. It
seemed very clear Sony was not going to dare last week to possibly ever
release this movie.

more shocked.


GALLOWAY: Because just a few days ago, I was saying this movie will
never see the light of day, except maybe through another leak. Clearly,
there were a lot of conversations. Clearly, what President Obama said was
embarrassing to Sony.

I don`t know what level the conversation took place, but you have to
assume, together with Michael Lynton here, Amy Pascal, the head of Sony
Pictures, and the Sony team in Japan, which made a serious mistake early on
in seeing what was in the works and not putting a halt to it much, much

O`DONNELL: What happened to the liability lawyers? My guess was last
week that the liability lawyers closed this down at the movie theater
chains, they said to the owners, their lawyers said, look, this is a
foreseeable liability. You can`t take this risk.

Same legal conversation was had with Sony executives saying, look, the
way tort law is in this country, people are going to be able to have a
civil claim against you if a firecracker goes on in one of those theaters
and someone trips on the way out, they`ll be able to sue you. And so, it
just seemed to me that was closing in on them.

And have those lawyers changed their minds?

GALLOWAY: I don`t think so. They weighed the risks and they said
there is security in these theaters. They`re all working with local law

Sony is not involved with security. And they probably said, OK, we
can`t take this level of embarrassment, we have to go ahead and just pray
for the best.

O`DONNELL: General, the -- what guarantees do you think Sony has at
this point from their own security people, their own cyber security people?
That they will be able to withstand whatever North Korea might have in mind
by way of reaction to this?

there`s no doubt that over the intervening week since this attack was first
discovered by Sony, that they`ve taken a number of steps to make themselves
significantly more secure and significantly more resilient. And frankly,
the damage that was done to their networks by this unprecedented type of a
cyber attack has undoubtedly forced them to really take down much of their

And so, just from an accessibility standpoint, they`re going to be
much less vulnerable to an attack and obviously their defenses are
heightened significantly, and they brought in a number of outside experts.

So, I think Sony is in very good shape right now from a cyber
perspective to deal with anything that the North Koreans could possibly
think about doing in reaction to showing the movie in a couple of days.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to an exchange at the State Department
today on the press briefing today about this. Let`s listen to this.


REPORTER: Your answer yesterday to this question, which I think
Nicole raised was interpreted by a lot of people to be a kind of nudge,
nudge, wink, wink --

I don`t think I actually wink or nudge during that answer. I was broadly
speaking about what the president said, but in no way was trying to link it
to yesterday`s activity. And I understand it was sort of interpreted that
way. And it`s not meant to be.

We`re just not going to entertain questions one way or the other
about, you know, any of these questions about, you know, possibly U.S.
responses of any kind. And I would caution you from assuming that because
I`m not going to comment on them that the answer means one thing or the


O`DONNELL: General, we`re talking about the outages that North Korea
has experienced both yesterday and today of their Internet service and the
question of U.S. involvement in that. You suggested last night on this
program that you doubted that the United States was involved in what
happened in the North Korean Internet service yesterday. Is that still
your feeling about this?

WILLIAMS: Yes, Lawrence. I would say my personal assessment would be
it`s unlikely that was an action the United States would take. Again, it
doesn`t reflect a level of what I would call precision targeting.

And we`re always with employing, particularly our military action,
we`re going to look to be very precise. We`re going to look to generate a
very specific effect. And in the case of a country like North Korea, we`re
only going to take an action that will shift the thinking of the leadership
or create a deterrent effect on the people that order those types of things
in the future.

O`DONNELL: Excuse me, General, could you give us an example in this
case what that might be?

WILLIAMS: Well, I would look across all of the elements of national
power. But I know what you`re trying to get at is to get me to talk about
what kind of things you could do if you chose to do something just in

And so, for example, if I were just going to do something with cyber
and I tried to think of something, I would be extremely effective, I would
want to impact something that the regime holds very dear, something that
they think is critical to their power base. And so, two things come
immediately to mind -- if I could somehow create a cash flow problem to the
senior leadership, the people that do actually have a pretty good
lifestyle, that would be something I would like to do.

Or if I could create a impact within their military command and
control systems, something that gave them pause to think whether they could
actually, for example, launch a ballistic missile or take some type of an
aggressive action against the South like we`ve seen constantly and frankly
routinely over the last 60 years.

So, those are the two areas that you would like to target. And if I
did that, as the State Department said, the last thing I would do would be
to talk about that in public.

O`DONNELL: Stephen Galloway, this is still -- they`ve got 10 percent
of the release of this movie that they were going for. And it`s in the
smaller states. I think 19, 20 states, something like that. No theater in
New York City is going to be showing this movie. I believe there`s one in
L.A., which is not exactly one of the big multiplexes.

It`s still going to be for most population in the country, a hard
movie to get to. You`re going to have to do -- there`s a map up there.
You know, if you live in Idaho, good luck. You got a couple of states
you`re going to have to cross to go find this movie.

And so, I guess, are the rest of the theater chains just waiting to
see what happens over the course of a couple of days? And if this thing
not only has no problems at the theaters, but actually sells a lot of
tickets, then they`re going to pick it up?

GALLOWAY: This isn`t all about money anymore. The very most, it`s
going to make a few million dollars theatrically. This is about standing
up and saying we`re not going to be intimidated and feeling --

O`DONNELL: Why can`t it be huge at the box office?

GALLOWAY: Because even with most of those screenings sold out, which
they`re very close to being within hours of the announcement, they`re not
big enough theaters and there are not enough theatres for a blockbuster

O`DONNELL: But if it does well --

GALLOWAY: The movie can come back.

O`DONNELL: What about AMC, what about the big theater chains to come

GALLOWAY: Also, they haven`t said they`ll show it, but where this
movie can make money is when it goes to DVD, when it goes to VOD, or those
ancillary chains. And there it could make quite a lot. If there`s a way
to release the film on VOD, if Sony finds that mean which so far, it

O`DONNELL: Is it already sold out in most theatres? I can`t see it
on Sunday, but --

GALLOWAY: If you go there.


Major General Brett Williams and Stephen Galloway, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, New York City paused today and tonight in
memory of the two fallen police officers shot to death in Brooklyn on

And the new Senate majority leader has some new rules in mind for the
Senate. And most of them are actually the old rules of the Senate. That`s
coming up.


O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight from Houston: former President
George Herbert Walker Bush is in the hospital tonight. President Bush was
suffering from shortness of breath earlier this evening. He was taken by
ambulance to Houston Methodist Hospital. The former president`s office
says he is being held overnight for observation.

Again, President George H.W. Bush, who is 90 years old, is
hospitalized tonight after complaining of shortness of breath.

We`ll bring you updates on the former president`s condition as we get

This afternoon at 2:47 p.m., New York City held a moment of silence at
precisely the moment on Saturday when officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos
were shot to death in Brooklyn. At 9:00 p.m. tonight, landmarks all across
New York City, including the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree dimmed their
lights in honor of the slain NYPD officers.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the slain officers`
memorial today. Vice President Joe Biden will be in attendance at Officer
Ramos` funeral on Saturday.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton spoke about the officers today.


BILL BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: The emotions run the gamut, that
very angry about this loss of life, and particularly as I`ve come to know
these two men and their families. Two extraordinary men, two extraordinary
cops. It`s what you want police to be.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, a stunning security breach involving loaded
guns on planes at two of America`s busiest airports.



OBAMA: Pick any metric you want and America`s resurgence is for real.


O`DONNELL: That was President Obama in his year`s end news conference
and today, he can add two more metrics -- the best quarter of economic
growth since 2013, and a record-breaking afternoon on Wall Street as the
Dow closed above 18,000 for the first time ever. That comes as
unemployment is at its lowest since the recession at 5.8 percent. And as
fallen gas prices are putting more money in consumer`s pockets during the
holiday shopping season.

Russia is also making economic headlines. "Russia entering a full
fledged economic crisis", ex-minister says. "Russia starts bailing out
banks as economy faces full blown crisis." "Russia may be cut to junk
status as S&P says it`s considering downgrade."

And from "The Moscow Times", the upsides to Russia`s ruble collapse in
which the paper notes, "The weak ruble helped boost demand for domestic-
sourced goods. That is, of course, only limited positive as Russia makes
relatively few consumer products. And even where it does a big portion of
the parts are imported."

Russia`s heavily energy-dependent economy has been hurt by the drop in
oil prices.

At his year end news conference, Vladimir Putin said this when asked
if Russia`s current economic problems were the result of actions in Crimea.


VLADIMIR PUTI, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Probably our
bear should just relax and -- relax and sits quiet and just eat honey
instead hunting animals, maybe they will leave the bear in peace. But no,
they will not.

If you believe the problems we are facing in the economy at the
moment, the problems are the result of the sanctions, it is very partially
true, because about 25 percent of the problems we are facing at the moment,
25 percent or 30 percent, are due to the sanctions.

But what you have to realize is that if we want to maintain our
sovereignty to fight and to improve the situation in the country, to
benefit from the current events in order to restructure our economy, to go
through all the difficulties and to improve. If you want to do that, you
have to further work. Do we want to achieve that or do we want our bear to
become just a stuffed animal?


O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and an MSNBC analyst. And Adrian
Karatnycky, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council.

Adrian, just the most fascinating thing I think I`ve ever heard
Vladimir say actually talking about probably our bear should just relax and
stop hunting animals and then saying he fears what would happen if Russia
were just to become a stuffed bear. How is that playing in Russia, do you

that`s a big question for Mr. Putin. So far, his ratings have shown a
moderate downturn. He`s still overwhelmingly popular. But people have not
really felt the full bite of the difficulties that the Russian economy will
be facing, which will be around a 5 percent decline and now borrowing has
become super-expensive because the rates have been raised for about 10 1/2
percent to 17 percent.

But I think the really interesting thing that he was saying was that
the way Russia will get strong is by having a weak economy. So, I think
that`s sort of counter-indicative and I think metaphoric, you know,
allusions are not going to satisfy the Russian consumer.

O`DONNELL: And, Jared, it`s fascinating to hear him saying to the
Russian public about 30 percent of this problem we`re having is because of
the sanctions which is to say it`s because of what I did in Crimea.

also to say what other people are doing to us because of what I did in
Crimea as was just heard. Putin`s ratings are way higher than you would
expect a leader`s to be, given where the economy is heading.

And part of that has to do with the kind of nationalism that has
protected him and to some extent he`s playing the sanctions that way. But
actually, I thought his numbers sounded kind of accurate to me. I think
initially, the sanctions may not have been too much of a bite.

But once they start interacting with this really sharp decline in the
price of oil and the fact that as you mentioned, it`s such an independent
economy both for domestic production and for exports, you really see some -
- you really see the source of the problems they`re facing.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said about the
situation Vladimir Putin faces now.


OBAMA: There was a spate of stories about how he was the chess master
and outmaneuvering the West and outmaneuvering Mr. Obama, and this, that
and the other. And right now, he`s presiding over the collapse of his
currency, a major financial crisis, and a huge economic contraction. That
doesn`t sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of


O`DONNELL: Another example, it seems of how the day to day coverage
of unfolding events can often have the wrong perspective.

KARATNYCKY: I fully agree. I mean, I do think that there are some
ways that I would criticize the president`s performance on Ukraine. But
fundamentally, getting Europe together on the sanctions, playing the long
time, trying to create a deterrent to even more dangerous and more quick
Russian invasion and direct military involvement, all those kinds of things
show that the president was not at all passive as Russia was behaving

I do think that there`s been a lot of co-here resistance in bringing
NATO together, and trying to create a stronger posture for NATO. And I
think that the sanctions did have an initial effect. They had an effect
that obviously has been dramatically augmented by the decline in energy

Still, I would say, overall, that`s absolutely right. We really have
to -- whenever these kinds of large world events are can occurring, we have
to see how they play out over the long period.

And if you look at what`s going on in Ukraine now, right now, Russia -
- Putin is in a little bit of a bind because he`s hiding from the Russian
people that he`s actually sending Russian troops in. So, there`s something
yes, there`s a lot of Russian nationalism out there, but that Russian
nationalism is kind of at a low cost, because his media are not trumpeting
the fact that he`s doing what he is doing. He`s waging actually a
clandestine war.

There`s several thousand Russian fighter, meaning Russian military in
eastern Ukraine, and there`s several, ten thousands or so Russian
mercenaries. But in the end, he`s hiding most of this from the Russian
people. So, between the economic difficulties and the fact that he`s
pursuing a secret war, I think Putin is not in a very comfortable place.

O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein and Adrian Karatnycky, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, severe weather affects holiday travel. It
might impact your travel. A complete forecast is next.


O`DONNELL: A massive weather system is threatening holiday travel.
Four lives were claimed in a rare December tornado in southern Mississippi.

Tonight, the tornadoes knocked out power, flipped over vehicles, and
damaged homes and buildings. Record torrential rains hit Tallahassee,
Florida, today. And that weather system is already impacting air travel.

Joining me now is WNBC meteorologist Steve Sosna -- Steven.


Yes, a big storm, a scary night across lots of parts of the South
here. Here are thunderstorms that are moving through eastern areas of
Alabama, western Georgia, luckily the line has weakened a lot, but earlier
on this evening as it tore though areas of Mississippi and Louisiana, we
saw lots of damage. You see this tornado reports, all in all, 14 reports
of tornadoes today, 11 of those were in Mississippi.

There`s the line right now, good news for those folks. They can relax
now. The threat for severe weather is over. But that threat is moving to
the east. We have stronger storms now moving through western areas of

Good news for those folks. They can relax now. The threat for severe
weather is over.

But that threat is moving to the east. We have stronger storms now
moving through western areas of Georgia. The line is weakening, though.

Good news there, but we will still see the elements of some heavy rain
with this storm system. Look how big it is here on satellite radar.

It encompasses states from Texas, all the way up through Northern New
England. Now, the storm has many phases to it. We saw the severe weather
threat here for today.

It will evolve more into a heavy rain threat for areas like Atlanta up
to Charlotte tonight into tomorrow. So, that will cause travel delays.
And traveling will be a headache across many parts of the country.

So, Christmas Eve will be a rough day for travel all along the East
Coast. And even into Christmas Day itself.

We`re looking at some heavy rain and some wind for the northeastern
cities early in the morning but you can get outside in the afternoon and
evening hours.

Late effects snow across the north and to the west of the Great Lakes
there. And then we will see some snow continuing across the Rockies.

The biggest problem, I would say, with Christmas Day will be the wind
in many states as that storm system continues to exit. Now, we will start
to see conditions improve.

So, if you`re heading home on Sunday, the good news there is a good
part of the country is quiet and cold. So, many cities from Chicago up to
northern New England will be seeing sunshine, down across the south where
they don`t need the rain.

They saw exceptional rainfall totals in Tallahassee, more rain to come
here on by Sunday. So, that will be a problem along many of the

And look at the West Coast, looking pretty good with temperatures in
the 60s. By the way, a blizzard warning in effect for the big island of
Hawaii tonight with eight inches of snow possible there.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Wow, a blizzard warning in Hawaii.

SOSNA: Yes, it can happen.

O`DONNELL: That is the first -- first of those I`ve ever heard.
Steven Sosna, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

SOSNA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL; Up next, he created a mindset of "Just say no." Now,
Mitch McConnell actually wants Republicans to vote yes.

And it might read like a Hollywood script, but it`s a real story. A
former Delta Airlines employee is charged in a -- with trafficking more
than 150 guns through two U.S. airports.



is not a conservative position to change the direction of the country. You
have to get an action. Whether it`s liberal, moderate or democratic,
you`ve got to get something done.

So, it is harder now to do it. And you do run the risk of getting
defeated, I guess, or losing your leadership position.

But, now, it`s easy for me to look back and say, or say now, so what.
At least, you go down standing up.



O`DONNELL: That was Former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott,
earlier this month giving some advice to the next Republican Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell. In just a few weeks, Senator McConnell will become
the 20th Majority Leader of the United States Senate, a job he has wanted
for a very long time.

Mitch McConnell said this in today`s "New York Times," --


"I have studied this job and reached my own conclusions about how it
ought to be done. It has been a long wait."


One of Mitch McConnell`s strategies in pushing his agenda will be
through passing each of 12 appropriations bills and then leaving it up to
the President to decide whether or not to sign those spending bills,
something the Senate hasn`t done in quite a while. McConnell told the
"Times," --


-- "Many of my members are not used to voting for appropriation bills.
But if we are going to pursue our agenda to push back against the
bureaucratic overreach, seemingly on steroids for the last five or six
years, we need to put appropriation bills on the President`s desk and make
him make a choice."


Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, MSNBC Political Analyst and columnist
for "The Washington Post." E.J., it sounds like a lot of the new rules
Mitch McConnell has in mind are actually the old rules that were in place
in the
Senate before the Senate became just about entirely dysfunctional.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s what he`s saying he`s
going to do now. I think it`s really striking that people are playing this
story as if there`s a new Mitch McConnell.


And I think it`s the same old Mitch McConnell who`s trying to teach
his conference new tricks. The line that`s come back to me over and over
again during this Republican period of obstruction is that great John
Kennedy line, "Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the
tiger, ended up inside."

He has told the Republicans, since Obama took office, that voting no
and obstructing is the way to take power. And he was right about that.

Now, he`s got to turn around and say that if we continue to obstruct,
if we are seen as the bad guys now that we control both houses of Congress,
we`re going to get in the way of the Republicans winning the White House
and really --


-- getting stuff done. So, he`s got to have them unlearn the lessons
he`s taught them.

O`DONNELL: Yes. But he was there when he saw real governing done in
the Senate on a regular basis. When he says he studied the job of majority
leader, he`s saying, you know, "I studied Bob Dole doing that job of
majority leader."

He also studied Democrats doing it, like George Mitchell, who was
quite a wizard at it. And he worked in the Senate himself, where they used
to really get things done, work in a bipartisan way.

He must have some muscle memory left with that, doesn`t he, E.J.?

DIONNE: Well, you know, he started out as something of a moderate
Republican way back when. He was elected back in 1984.


So, he has a whole other self back there that he could draw on. And I
think there is a war between Mitch McConnell, the institutionalist, and
that`s a piece of him, and Mitch McConnell, the canny political operator.

And that`s become a whole lot more of him as the years have gone by.
And, you know, I think he was candid about --


-- one thing in that interview, which is, what he`s hoping to do is
load these appropriations bills with lots of new policy, basically rolling
back Obama policy.

And he wants to make the President pick and choose. I think the
theory is going to be that he -- the President can`t fight us on every
single thing.


If we load these things up, he`s going to insist that we take some of
the stuff out, which means some of the other policies might survive. And
so, I think it`s going to be a -- you know, --


-- a flood-the-zone approach to rolling back Obama`s legislation.
They know he`ll kills Robax (ph) on healthcare and probably on financial
reform. But there`s a lot of other stuff they could do.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And he knows he won`t be able to override the
President`s veto, but he`ll be able to take that veto on certain things,
show it to Republicans in the Senate and say, "Look, if we put that thing
on this bill again, it`s going to be vetoed again."

Sometimes, you need that lesson from the other side to teach your side
what`s possible.

DIONNE: I think that`s right. And I think it also creates an
interesting set of choices for President Obama.

He really wants to figure out what he wants to fight them on. And I
think some of the fights he picks are going to be looking forward to the
2016 election because he does want a Democrat to win in 2016, the President
does, ratify his own agenda.

So, both sides are going to be trying to pick the fights that they
think their side can win. And they`re going to try to corner the other

O`DONNELL: E.J., quickly before you go, we had breaking news earlier
in the program, where I announced that George H.W. Bush, --


-- Former President, has been hospitalized tonight in Texas. He`s 90
years old. He reported shortness of breath. That`s all we know about it
at this moment.

But he is one of our healthier 90-year-olds and, certainly, someone
who, I think, we all are hoping, can be home for Christmas.

DIONNE: Absolutely. He is as close to indestructible as any
politician in our history. And, by the way, he was one of the last truly
bipartisan presidents.

He did a lot of business with Democrats in Congress. But, yes,
everybody in the country wishes him well.


O`DONNELL: And he is the example of the price you can pay by being
perceived as --

DIONNE: Precisely right.

O`DONNELL: -- as being too cooperative with the other side. That was
what the -- the primary challenge was to him when he was running for
reelection as president.

DIONNE: And why Republicans will never -- it`s so hard for them to
vote for tax increases. Because he signed one and he lost.

But the one thing you know is he`s wearing really cool socks in that

O`DONNELL: That`s right. Our best --


-- to the Former President and his family tonight. E.J. Dionne, --


-- thank you very much for joining me.

DIONNE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, police say a former Delta Airlines employee
allegedly used carry-on baggage to transport more than 150 guns through two
U.S. airports.


Well, I know what I`m doing New Year`s Eve. In fact, I`ve already
done it.


O`DONNELL: The next category, "15 Minutes of Fame." Thomas Roberts,
who gets 2014`s "15 Minutes of Fame."


O`DONNELL: At 7:00 p.m. Eastern on New Year`s Eve, MSNBC will have
the honor of presenting the "Last Word`s Annual Award Show."

As usual, we tape our end-of-the-year show some time in September.
No, it was actually done fairly recently. Here is a sample of what you
will see as you`re dressing for your New Year`s Eve parties.


O`DONNELL: The next category, "15 Minutes of Fame." Thomas Roberts,
who gets 2014`s "15 Minutes of Fame."

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: The fan, Charlie Crist`s fan --


O`DONNELL: Oh, the fan, the debate fan.

ROBERTS: -- that started fangate. Now, look, I love a good fan.



ROBERTS: And Florida is hot. And I wish I had one right now.

O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.

ROBERTS: But I thought that the fangate and the whole thing that
happened with Rick Scott, it was hilarious. And it almost shut down the
whole debate.



And, you know, they did the cutaways and you see the little fan, cool
breeze coming up. Who doesn`t like a cool breeze?


I mean, I am pro-fan.


O`DONNELL: It was so weird.

ROBERTS: It was so weird.

O`DONNELL: So weird.

ROBERTS: Yes. Rick Scott wouldn`t come in.

O`DONNELL: It probably won`t happen again.


O`DONNELL: Rick Wolffe, "15 Minutes of Fame."

RICK WOLFFE, MSNBC COMMENTATOR: I had a tough one. The story was
easy, but the individual was hot for me.

I went with Phil Gingrey, who is a Republican from Georgia. Two
letters after his name are M.D.

Man is medically-trained and he was, for me, the most egregious of the
people who earned "15 Minutes of Fame" by saying that there were all of
these illegal immigrants crossing the southern border of the United States,
bringing Ebola into the country.

But, that story, he wins out, because of his medical training, over
Rand Paul, Tom Tillis. But, really, Phil Gingrey.

O`DONNELL: All right.


O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, the "15 Minutes of Fame" award for 2014.

REID: I, too, picked a doctor.


I would say that comparing your own country to Nazi Germany puts you
on "Minute 14 1/2," in any case. But when you do it because your own
country had healthcare and you`re also a doctor, I think you go right to


REID: Express lane.


REID: And he wants to be president, so that`s plentiful.


O`DONNELL: Very unlikely that he will be president.


All right, "15 Minutes of Fame," it doesn`t have to, necessarily, be a
human being.

ROBERTS: No, give me a fan.

O`DONNELL: The "15 Minutes of Fame" Award this year goes to -- the
official final decision on the "15 Minutes of Fame" Award goes to the
Beard. Here it is.


ROBERTS: Oh, yes.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Joining us now is my friend, Lawrence
O`Donnell, and his beard.

O`DONNELL: This is a medically-induced beard.


MADDOW: Literally medically-induced.

O`DONNELL: You know, I`m not more bearded than ever.


I went through, you know, a real easy-rider beard during my motorcycle
years, with the long hair and the long beard. It was one of those "Duck
Dynasty" beards.


It was completely out of control.

MADDOW: Is this the new you?


O`DONNELL: Now, that`s when I was -- that`s when I was still
recuperating. And I was sneaking on to shows almost unannounced.

See how relaxed I was? I hadn`t worked in like two months. It was so
-- I miss that period.

ROBERTS: You looked so soothing.

REID: You did.

O`DONNELL: We actually did one month of TV beard --

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- right here on this show.

WOLFFE: How did it feel?

O`DONNELL: I was a -- I was a different person, as the audience


But it will come back. We don`t know when. It will come back,
absolutely will come back.

REID: I think you vowed on Twitter to keep the beard. I think I
might still have that tweet somewhere. You said, "The beard stays."

O`DONNELL: It stayed for that day.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: The question of when it should be shaved was -- it was
like, everyday, we were asking that question.

REID: Yes.

WOLFFE: And he kept the whiskers.


O`DONNELL: Yes. But, no, --

REID: When he has the beard, it`s weird.

O`DONNELL: -- it`s going to come back. Thomas and I will do it
together some night.


O`DONNELL: I actually didn`t shave today. Can you tell?

In order to find out the "Last Word`s" Biggest Winners, Biggest
Losers, the Best and Worst Political Theater of the Year, and much, much
more, watch "The Last Word`s" Annual Award Show at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00
p.m. Pacific, on New Year`s Eve.


Four men, including one former and one current Delta Airlines employee
have been indicted by Brooklyn`s district attorney as part of a ring
smuggling guns and ammunition on planes. Former Delta --


-- ramp agent, Mark Henry, seen here in this surveillance video,
allegedly carried backpacks and other carry-on baggage full of guns and
ammunition on commercial flights from Atlanta to New York on 17 occasions.

Some of the guns were loaded. According to the indictment, Mark Henry
would give the guns he had purchased to Delta ramp agent, Eugene Harvey,
before he went through security at Atlanta`s Hartsfield-Jackson
International Airport.

After Mark Henry cleared security, he would get the guns back in
exchange for cash. In New York City, a total of 153 guns ended up being
sold to an undercover detective.



You know, I get a lot of tweets from people who disagree with me. And
my Favorite Tweet of the Year, in that particular category, is this --
"Lawrence, you closed me on the desk program. Great cause. The show?

Three minutes after Tumby`s tweet on December 1st, Jocelyn Scoggan
tweeted this -- "Lawrence, while watching your beloved program while
cybershopping, I decided to get some children some desks. Thank you."

You hear that, Tumby? Beloved.

Kids in Need of Desks is, as some of you have heard me say many times,
partnership that I created with UNICEF to build desks in Africa --


-- for schools that have never had desks, schools in Africa where the
students have never seen desks, the K.I.N.D. Fund has created jobs at
factories in Malawi where these desks are made.

Those workers are now able to feed their families and pay tuition for
their children to go to high school. Secondary school is not --


-- is not free in Malawi. And so, we added a girls` scholarship
program to the K.I.N.D. Fund to help girls attend high school.

In Malawi now, only seven percent of girls finish high school. The
few families who can afford to pay for high school are more likely to pay
tuition for a son than a daughter. Thanks to Malala Yousafzai, --


-- the worldwide importance of girls` education is now clearly
understood by millions of people who might not have been previously aware
of the challenge that girls face in some countries getting an education.

Ruth Zablatski tweeted, "Lawrence, thanks for promoting K.I.N.D.,
especially for girls` scholarships. Donated today in honor of my five
grandnieces and nephews for the girls` fund."


You can make a donation in honor of anyone you choose. Many people
give desks and girls scholarship as Christmas presents. And we send them
e-mail notification to your gift recipient, saying that a donation has been
made in his or her name.

Daniel Shenieze (ph) writes, "Lawrence, bought my yearly desk. My 10-
year-old son said, `Let`s skip the IMAX version of `The Hobbit,` so a
couple of kids can have a desk.`"

Perry Nelson writes, "Gifts to the K.I.N.D. Fund are the easiest for
me to give. I shall do so again this year. Best of success."

Maria Leah Calvo tweeted, "I gave a desk last year to my nephews for
Christmas and I did it again today."

On Facebook, Sue Zahnd said, "Sent mine yesterday. Couldn`t do the
whole amount, but know it makes a difference. I sent it in a friend`s
name, a better gift than what I could have afforded otherwise."


Thank you very much for that, Sue. You can contribute any amount you
choose at --


-- LASTWORDDESKS.MSNBC.COM or by calling 1-800 and the number four and
the word UNICEF. You will find specific amounts listed --


-- there for purchasing a desk, or a classroom of desks, or a full
scholarship for a girl. But any amount you give -- five dollars, $10, will
be very helpful.

We supply girls with everything they need to go to high school,
including room and board, if they live too far away from a high school.

And when I ask girls in high school in Malawi what they need, the
answer is almost always the same, and it`s just one word -- soap.

They just want a bar of soap. Five dollars buys a lot of soap in
Malawi. The girls use bars --


-- of soap to bathe and to wash their clothes. But soap is a luxury
for those girls. The little bar of soap that you might find at a cheap
motel in America is invaluable to them.

There is no amount of money that you can donate to the K.I.N.D. Fund
that is too small to instantly improve the lives of kids in these schools.

Jenny72 writes, "Lawrence, ready to make my annual donation to UNICEF
for K.I.N.D. I was in child development for 16 years and I support all
your work."


It`s so gratifying to me when people like Jenny, who understand these
issues so well, have worked with these issues, support the K.I.N.D. Fund.

And I need to personally thank Laurie Spoon because she tweeted,
"Lawrence, happy to have donated a desk to the K.I.N.D. Fund in your honor.
Thanks for the great work you do."

Thank you, Laurie. On Facebook, Duree Lee said, "My mother worked in
Malawi in the 1990s with International Refugee Committee and with Doctors
Without Borders. She loved the sweet, kind people. I applaud this
wonderful, wonderful charity. Thank you, Lawrence, just a great cause."

And Margo Good wrote, "We supported 10 girls with scholarships and 10
desks. My heart feels expanded. This is a wonderful way to share."

Margo is right about how it feels.


My heart feels expanded when I deliver desks to these schools and I
get to spend time with the students. And my heart feels expanded when I
see how strongly you continue to support the K.I.N.D. Fund. This is the
last --


-- chance I`ll have to talk to you about the K.I.N.D. Fund before
Christmas. And just today, just today alone, --


-- you have contributed $33,645, bringing us to a total of $8,219,771.
Over a million dollars of that is dedicated to girls` scholarships.


I`m going to finish my Christmas shopping tomorrow by staying home,
and buying desks, and giving scholarships as gifts to friends and family.
The total we will end up raising this year is completely up to you.

The K.I.N.D. Fund doesn`t raise money any other way, just through our
discussions about it on this program. Keeping the money --


-- to provide those jobs in Malawi to build desks is all up to you.
Changing the classroom life and the academic potential of kids in Malawi
with the delivery of desks is all up to you.

Guaranteeing steady funding of scholarships that girls can rely on to
get them all the way through high school is all up to you. And you have
always been more than kind.

As this season of giving comes to a close, I find myself with nothing
left to say except, "Thank you on behalf of every person at every factory
in Malawi.


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