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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Date: January 29, 2015
Guest: Garett Reppenhagen, William Leogrande, Steven Brill

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: "American Sniper" has been seen by
more people than any other this year and is now turning into a political


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this a celebration of an American hero?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bradley Cooper`s portrayal of the late Chris

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or the glorification of a sniper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get it that you want to protect your buddies in
the military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This movie for some reason has set off the far

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, you know, you are in a country where you
don`t belong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve lost momentum about where the villains on
the war on terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s easier to digest for a public to see a black
and white world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a movie that if you watch it and pay close
attention, the dialogue is very clearly obsessed with the morality of the

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A critical issue in contemporary American life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s much more going to war than just going out
and shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somehow shed a light on everybody else who is a
service member.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don`t believe in what we`re doing here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s evil here, we`ve seen it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re sacrificing so much, the why you`re
sacrificing becomes very important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To challenge the film is not to challenge the
heroism of those soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I question every day, you know, will I be going to
heaven or hell?


O`DONNELL: Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay "American Sniper",
which Clint Eastwood has directed to an Oscar nomination for best picture
said this about what is now the most controversial movie in America. "To
me, the point of art is to promote discussion and this film is doing that.
It`s time that we have this discussion, that we understand the sacrifice of
these warriors."

Joining me now, one of the warriors who sacrifices the makers of
"American Sniper" hoped to eliminate, former Army sniper Garett
Reppenhagen, who is the Rocky Mountain director of Vet Voice Foundation.

Garett, thank you for rejoining us tonight. We talked longer than I
expected to last night, and judging by the audience comment online, your
comments were really gripping for them to listen to about the experience of
a sniper. And I know you had more to say and I hate to rush those
segments. So, this is basically the extension of that.

And let`s talk about what Jason Hall was hoping we would be talking
about as a result of this movie, and that is the sacrifices that warriors
make, the sacrifices that you had to make that you saw your buddies making,
the sacrifices we see made in this movie. Talk about what kind of
sacrifices warriors, American warriors have been undergoing for 13 years

GARETT REPPENHAGEN, FORMER ARMY SNIPER: Well, thanks again for having
me on. It`s tremendous the amount of sacrifices that our service members
make, obviously. It`s -- you know, in the movie, you see Chris Kyle
character away from his family time and time again, compounded missions,
the stress of just being in Iraq. Even if you`re not on, you know, combat
missions, are really grueling.

And then, yes, you`re out there risking everything. It`s mostly --
you`re battling the environment, the heat, and, you know, just being away
from your family and friends and being in uncomfortable situations. So,
you know, that`s real stuff. And then obviously being injured mentally and
physically and seeing your buddies hurt is very, very hard.

You know, I think every service member prepares themselves for the
actuality that they might die in service, and that`s something that I think
we start to accept early on. Either while we`re making the commitment and
the decision to join during basic training or shortly after that, there
comes a point in time where you realize that you might sacrifice your own

And we go through a lot of paperwork and a lot of attorney stuff
before we leave on a deployment to make sure our things are taken care of
if that happens. What you`re rarely prepared for is seeing a friend lost
in combat. Being injured and disabled to the extent that our service
members are being hurt and coming home with. Really, the impact that
you`re having on this other country, which is -- we talk about the
sacrifices that our service members are making. It`s hard to even imagine
what the Iraqi people are going through and the amount of destruction and
fear and oppression and hurt that we`ve caused upon this other country.
So, it`s pretty incredible experience.

O`DONNELL: And that`s one of the dimensions not explored in this
movie is what we`ve done to the other side. But war movies have their own
definition of the scope. You put it. It`s a little bit like looking
through a sniper scope. They define what the scope of the movie is, and
this one simply doesn`t include that, which I think is a fair writer and
director choice to make.

I want to go to something that Clint Eastwood said about a scene in
the movie. But, first, I want to show that scene.

And one of the things Clint Eastwood has said is he thinks there`s a
lot about this movie that is an anti-war movie, including he keeps
stressing the sacrifices that families make. And one of the sacrifices
they make is, in some sense, they lose that soldier who went off to war,
even when he comes back. He or she comes back, because they can come back
in a traumatized condition or in a damaged condition that makes them not
quite available.

So, here is the scene of Bradley Cooper talking to a military
psychiatrist. Let`s watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be surprised if I hold you the navy has
credited you with over 160 kills. Do you ever think that you might have
seen things or done some things over there that you wish you hadn`t?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that`s not me, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s not you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just protecting my guys. They were trying
to kill our soldiers, and I`m willing to meet my creator and answer for
every shot that I took. The thing that haunts me are all the guys that I
couldn`t save.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what Clint Eastwood said about that scene. He
said, "There`s that little moment where the psychiatrist asks, did you ever
d anything you regret? There`s a little spot where Bradley Cooper takes a
little moment, and you can see in his eyes, he`s looking back into history,
and he gets slightly defensive and he says, no, I can go to my maker
knowing I did the right thing. But you know somewhere in there, he had
some doubts along the way, like a person under that circumstance would."

And, Garett, there`s another extraordinary thing about that scene that
Clint Eastwood said. That was done in one take. I can just tell you in
filmmaking, that never happens. I don`t think there`s been an important
movie anywhere outside of a Clint Eastwood, important scene anywhere
outside of a Clint Eastwood movie done in one take.

But this may be an instance of Clint Eastwood, it might be a first
instance for him. For some people, for some viewers of being -- Clint
Eastwood being too subtle a director, but I do see the moment he`s talking
about there, and I think he did capture that moment. I think Bradley
Cooper`s performance captured that moment.

But there are others who want that moment highlighted. They want to
hear something directly from the character`s mouth about doubt, about pain,
about I`m not so sure about these 160 kills.

REPPENHAGEN: You know, post-traumatic stress comes in a lot of
different forms. There`s a lot symptoms and only one diagnosis. So, you
know, you come back with survivor guilt, with -- you know, the feeling that
you let some people down, that you didn`t do the job that you wanted to do.
You know, there`s a lot of other issues upon just seeing individual
traumatic instances and being the perpetrator and the victim of those
instances can all compound into that stress.

And no doubt after four tours in a combat zone, Chris Kyle got to see
a fair amount of those. We try to block those out and I`m sure, you know,
the character in that scene, he did it very well, portraying that there`s
obviously a bit more at work.

But, you know, service members are coming home with a plethora of
issues that aren`t being fully addressed by the V.A. and by our society.
It`s one of the reasons we have a huge population of homeless veterans out
there. Our mental health situation, you know, beyond depression and other
things are extreme.

We`re losing almost 22 veterans a day to suicide. That`s an
incredible number. We`ve lost more military veterans from Iraq and
Afghanistan than we lost actually in combat.

So, you know, these folks, many of them are friends of mine, and I
lost three close personal veteran friends just last year. You know, so,
it`s -- it is the reality and unfortunately, being a veteran, I`m part of a
huge community of folks that our life spans are not that great. So, we`re
suffering, and there`s a veteran crisis out there.

O`DONNELL: Chris Kyle, as the movie shows, was killed by post
traumatic stress syndrome. He was not one of the suicide victims of it.
He was a homicide victim of it by another soldier obviously suffering from

REPPENHAGEN: Yes. I don`t really fully understand what exactly
happened out there on that range, you know, who all those folks are. It`s
difficult to wrap your head around, you know, the real -- I really -- you
know, my heart goes out to Chris Kyle`s family and his loved ones that are
trying to deal with this, especially in this time where this film is being
criticized and the story is being criticized. I just hope they`re able to
find some peace in all of this.

O`DONNELL: You know, Bradley Cooper has said it`s not a political
movie. It`s the study of a particular character.

But the problem with that notion is that war is a political choice. A
political choice has to be made to go to war. And you strongly make the
point that the war becomes more difficult and what you`re doing in the war
becomes more difficult the more you question the rational, the
justification for that war.

REPPENHAGEN: Yes. You know, you`re able to disobey an unlawful
order, but it`s not totally defined what that unlawful order is. If
service members deemed the conflict to be unlawful, do they have the right
to participate?

Usually the answer is no. We`ve seen that obviously, service members
going AWOL are being punished pretty severely. So, you know, we have to
make those decisions one on one when you`re on the battlefield, and they`re
difficult decisions to make.

So, it`s not the soldier`s position to really judge the entire
conflict. As I said last night, we`re just the folks that go out and do
the job because we swore we were going to do it. It`s our public`s
responsibility to hold our decision makers accountable and make sure we are
being sent to war for good causes.

O`DONNELL: I want to play something Bill O`Reilly said last night.
He really doesn`t like any of the discussion about the accuracy, the
historical accuracy of the film, and how many things in the film are
completely invented. Let`s listen to what he said.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: This makes it hard to oppose aggressive acts
of terrorism. It makes it hard. That`s why I think the left is crazy.
They say, we`re losing our theoretical edge here, because if you see a
movie like this, you`re rooting for America.


O`REILLY: They don`t root for America, by and large.


O`DONNELL: That`s O`Reilly trying to turn a movie discussion into a
political discussion. He`s trying to suggest that there are liberals out
there who are not opposed to terrorism. I guess somehow supporters of
terrorism, and that this movie makes it difficult for them to remain
supporters of terrorism.

So, there`s O`Reilly kind of screenwriter on his own, completely
inventing a population of liberals out there who support terrorism.

I`ve been trying to keep this discussion away from politics, and I
think comment about what is true in the movie and what is not true comes
within a fair discussion of movie criticism and also, Garett, a fair
discussion of what the filmmakers actually intended.

REPPENHAGEN: As far as Chris Kyle`s story, I sure can`t say what
happened. He was a Navy SEAL sniper. I certainly simply was not that, and
I`m not sure what his experiences were over those four combat tours.

So, it`s hard to say, you know, what was really that accurate or not
about his life and what was portrayed in the film. All I can say is, I
know my personal story and it`s deeply wrapped around the question why I
fought in that conflict. You know, my own mental health is affected by
that reason. You know, I hoped every day that there was going to be some
sort of noble cause that came out of it to sort of save me from that line
of thinking.

But to this day, I haven`t got it, and I think the American public is
still having this discussion about whether it was the right thing to do or
not, to go into Iraq. And meanwhile, there`s thousands and thousands of
veterans that are waiting for that answer and we`re not getting it.

O`DONNELL: Garrett Reppenhagen, thank you very much for joining us
again tonight.

Coming up, finally a bipartisan group of senators is trying to end our
embargo against Cuba.

And Lindsey Graham is the latest Republican who says he`s thinking
about running for president. But don`t think he really wants to be
president. That`s not what he`s up to. I`ll tell you what I think he`s up
to later.

And in the "Rewrite", Justin Bieber. No, really. Justin Bieber.


O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush has hired the guy who ran Mitt Romney`s campaign
in Iowa. MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt got this statement from Bush`s spokeswoman
Kristy Campbell. "If Governor Bush were to move forward with a potential
campaign, Dave Kochel is in to play a senior role in a potential campaign."
If you think that`s not a real campaign.

Coming up, the Democrat and Republican senators who want to lift the
embargo against Cuba.



SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I would favor lifting the entire
embargo myself. But this is something that you just have -- there`s a
difference of opinion on the entire embargo. There`s overwhelming support
here in Florida, all across the country. Any subset of groups, political
parties, ethnic groups, whatever, there is support for lifting the travel


O`DONNELL: Time for my first episode of "I agree with Jeff Flake".

That was Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake earlier today. He,
along with seven other Republican and Democratic senators, introduced a
bill that would lift the travel ban to Cuba, allowing all Americans the
right to travel to Cuba. The bill would also lift banking restrictions
tied to traveling to Cuba. This legislation comes one week after high
level diplomats from the United States and Cuba began serious talks on
normalizing relations between the two countries.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says this could lead to changes within


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINIOS: They`re 90 miles away from the United
States. When you look at it, we`re clearly, by proximity, in better shape
to have an impact on the future of Cuba than any other nation. And I`m not
suggesting we`re going to see Cuba change overnight, but by having these
exchanges, by opening up for example Cuba to the Internet, the world of the
Internet, we are going to see an acceleration of debate, an acceleration of
exchange of ideas.

All these things I think are in the best interest of Cuba and the
United States.


O`DONNELL: Sixty-six percent of Americans favor ending the embargo
against Cuba.

Joining me now, American University professor William Leogrande, who
is the co-author of "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of
Negotiations between Washington and Havana", and Eugene Robinson, a
"Washington Post" columnist and author of "Last Dance in Havana."

Eugene Robinson, there`s Jeff Flake making sense. You know, only 66
percent of Americans favor lifting the embargo, Gene. So I guess that`s no
chance of lifting it.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: It couldn`t possibly happen,
Lawrence. How silly you would think it might.

You know, Jeff Flake, to his credit, has been right on this for a
while now. And as he said, the whole embargo ought to be lifted. But the
travel ban and the embargo, you know, I`ve long argued they`ve not only
useless and have been for the past half century, but they`ve been actively
counterproductive. What you want to see is more freedom, more openness,
change in Cuba, regime change, whatever -- anything in that direction, I
think we`ve pushed back that day rather than brought it forward with these
policies and, you know, they should be gotten ridden of.

O`DONNELL: William Leogrande, you`ve got this masterful book about
the back channel negotiations we have had with Cuba over the decades. It`s
now right out in the open for the first time. How much progress do you
expect to see this year?

will be a lot of progress this year. They made some strides in the first
negotiations they had just last week. They`re going to meet again in
February, which suggests the pace of the dialogue is going to be pretty

You know, President Obama is only in office for two more years. I
think he would like to see a lot of substantive progress on some of the
issues that still remain between Cuba and the United States.

O`DONNELL: Gene, something Dick Durbin said today, if we just open up
this contact and this flow, especially if we open up the embargo. When you
look back into the 1980s and 1970s with these dictatorships around the
world, the Soviet Union, China, you could start the clock from the day we
started selling Coca-Cola and Levi`s in Moscow and Beijing, you could start
the clock on strength -- how long that dictatorship would remain with that
kind of strength.

We saw the Soviet Union collapse. We have seen China liberalized
dramatically over the years, opening up to more and more capitalism all the

ROBINSON: And yet with all that experience, somehow we believe that
the exact opposite policy was going to work in Cuba. I didn`t understand
it then, I don`t understand it now.

You know, let -- flood the place with American tourists and American
business people, dangerous American ideas, which Americans are not shy to
express, and, you know, this is the result. We`ve seen it happen again and
again and again. But we haven`t tried it in Cuba. Maybe we`ll try it now.

O`DONNELL: Levi`s, Coca-Cola and American movies, that`s how you
bring down a dictatorship.

Let`s listen to one more thing Jeff Flake said today, very important


FLAKE: Some will say that we ought to receive something in exchange
for this, that if we`re giving up something, then we ought to get some
concession from the Cuban government. I think it`s -- we all need to
remember this is a sanction or prohibition on Americans, not Cubans.

And to expect the Cuban government to react with some concession when
we`re not offering a concession, we`re simply saying Americans should be
allowed to have the right to travel wherever they would like to, unless
there`s a compelling national security reason.


O`DONNELL: William Leogrande, I would think that the opponents of big
government in this country would be saying how can this government be
forbidding me from traveling where I want to go.

LEOGRANDE: Well, they should be, because the Supreme Court has said
that the American people have the right to travel, and that`s a right
that`s not absolute, but should only be abridged in the instance of a
serious foreign policy threat.

And the president himself has said that Cuba is a tiny country that
doesn`t pose any threat to us. So, the rational for preventing Americans
from traveling to Cuba for whatever reason they want is really gone now.

O`DONNELL: William Leogrande, I`m glad your job got so much easier
and they`re not doing the back channel anymore. It gets so much easier not
doing the backchannel. You can actually watch what they`re doing on TV.

Thanks for joining us tonight, Bill. And, Eugene Robinson, thank you
for joining us.

Coming up, Lindsey Graham says he`s thinking about running for
president. But I think he`s thinking about something else.

And this is not a joke. Justin Bieber is in the "Rewrite" tonight.
Now, I know you think Justin Bieber is a joke, but he just might be on the
verge of maybe teaching us a serious lesson.


O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, presidential ambitions.

Mike Allen is reporting in "Politico" that Hillary Clinton may not
officially launch her presidential campaign for another six months. That
would be waiting three months longer than she originally planned. Also
today, third term Senator Lindsey Graham launched a new political action
committee telling reporters he wants to "test the waters for a potential
2016 run for president." Lindsey Graham is, of course, a professional
politician who knows he has no chance in his lifetime of being elected
president of the United States. His potential candidacy is clearly modeled
after the last senior senator to successfully run for president.

That was, of course, Joe Biden, who, by running for president and
turning in competent performances on the debate stage, succeeded in
positioning himself perfectly for the vice presidential nomination, and
what has become two terms as vice president.


now, you pay tax for Social Security on your first $97,500 of income. Why
not tax the entire income of every American.

And if you do that, you`ll guarantee the solvency of Social Security
farther than your eye can see.

I`m probably the only up here who`s going to say that.

But the truth of the matter is, you stated you`re either going to cut
benefits or you`re going to go ahead and raise taxes above the first
$97,000. And, by the way, I was in that room with Pat Moynihan.

It was Joe Biden, Pat Moynihan, Bob Dole. It was also George Mitchell
when we made that deal. I`ll never forgot Bob Dole turning to Pat Moynihan
and say, "We all got to jump in this boat at the same time."


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Beth Fouhy, Senior Editor for MSNBC and
Host of the show, "REPORTER`S NOTEBOOK." Beth covered the 2008
Clinton campaign for the "Associated Press."

Beth, that Joe Biden clip is what experience looks like on the
presidential debate stage in those primaries. And he really did make the
most of it.

I just believe Lindsey Graham is looking at that and saying, "Why
don`t make that run for vice president."

BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SENIOR EDITOR: Yes, that`s pretty interesting
three-dimensional chess. I don`t doubt it. There`s probably an element of
that but, you know what --

O`DONNELL: I mean, there`s such a thing as coming in second for
president. It`s called vice president.

FOUHY: Yes, but, you know, Biden also came in fourth or fifth in


FOUHY: He was utterly humiliated. Not too many politicians want to
go through that.


Here`s what I think is going on -- there`s another bit of psychodrama
here. Lindsey Graham is, you know, a great friend of John McCain --

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

FOUHY: -- in the Senate. They are real foreign policy hocks.
Lindsey Graham cannot stand Rand Paul.


FOUHY: And as Rand Paul is emerging as a really force to be reckoned
with in this field, I think he wants to get on the debate stage and hand it
to Rand Paul. He hates --

O`DONNELL: So, forget about --


-- vice presidential nomination. Just get his voice on that debate
stage to rip up Rand Paul on foreign policy.

FOUHY: Yes. I think that`s a big piece of this. He feels like
there`s nobody there representing that point of view -- that McCain,
Lindsey Graham point of view.

And Rand Paul is quickly emerging as somebody, is a real force to
reckon with. And he is a relative dove in this field.

O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton. Mike Allen writes this about this delay
situation. She says, "A huge advantage to waiting would be that Clinton
postpones the time when she goes before the public as a politician, rather
than --


-- as a former secretary of state. Polling by both Democrats and
Republicans show that one of her biggest vulnerabilities is looking


FOUHY: How could Hillary Clinton ever look political.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I don`t know. I don`t know where that comes from.


FOUHY: What a vulnerability. Anyway, look, she got in on January
20th, 2007 last time. Two full years before she would even have been
inaugurated. That was a very long campaign.


She had to get in early that year because Barack Obama had gotten in
even earlier. And he was a real threat to her obviously. He won that

She doesn`t face that this time. None of the Democrats who are
looking at even challenging her have any chance of defeating her.

They might, you know, push her to the left in some cases. They might
just kind of discombobulate her, as former Senator Jim Webb might.

You`ve got the potential Elizabeth Warren threat out there. But,
seriously, there`s no threat to Hillary Clinton getting the nomination
should she seek this nomination. So, why get in --


-- so soon and make herself a target.

O`DONNELL: But, it seems, one thing she has to do -- and I think
she`s kind of doing it now -- is avoid that coy stuff about -- "Oh, I
haven`t decided," like she -- it was a period where she was looking for
those moments to play to the camera in front of lecture audiences, and
things like that -- "Oh, I`m not really -- I don`t know. I have no idea."

FOUHY: Right.

O`DONNELL: She`s got to leave that behind. And it seems like the
Clinton world has left that behind.

FOUHY: Well, take a look -- just look at her schedule. She has not
been out almost at all. She went to Canada last week for two speeches, --


-- paid speeches, not political speeches. That`s basically it. That
was the first time we`ve Seen her since December.

She`s supposedly, you know, very happy being grandma. She`s singing
to Baby Charlotte, as we learned in Chelsea Clinton`s interview with
"People Magazine."

She`s biding her time. She doesn`t need to get in soon.


What she does need to do though is bring on staff and raise some
money. So, the thinking is, she might form an exploratory committee just
to check that box, start the process of raising money, and then campaign
full-fledged through the summer.

O`DONNELL: But she knows right now in her head who the top 20
staffers are she wants in that campaign. And exactly what --

FOUHY: Right. But she has to hire them.

O`DONNELL: Yes, but you can do all that -- you can line them up over
the phone without ever, you know --

FOUHY: Yes, but they want to get to it. You know, they want to lay
down this ground plan. They want to raise some money.


They want to get this thing going, even if she does not want to get on
on the campaign trail yet.

O`DONNELL: Beth Fouhy, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, in the middle of the night last night, --


-- Justin Bieber rewrote what you think you know about Justin Bieber.
It was just Justin talking with his iPhone. That`s coming up in the




who was tired of the status quo, tired of being treated like second-class
citizens, tired of being spat on, kicked, called the N-word, drinking out
of the colored water fountain. We got tired of that.


O`DONNELL: Yesterday, a judge threw out the convictions of this so-
called Friendship Nine, eight black students from --


-- Friendship College and a civil rights organizer, who were convicted
of trespassing and breach of peace for sitting at a whites-only lunch
counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

They were sentenced to a month of hard labor in 1961. The judge who
vacated their sentences is the nephew of the judge who sentenced them back
in 1961.

Of the eight who are still living, seven were at the hearing, one sent
his son. Today, the men shared their story with students in Rock Hill,
South Carolina.


WILLIE MCCLEOD, MEMBER, FRIENDSHIP NINE: And if we want to accomplish
anything and we want to have a successful outcome, then we must do it

The proof of that being is the Friendship Nine. We were a nonviolent,
and we proved that nonviolence is the method to use, not like today where
we need to use that today as we did back then.


O`DONNELL: The "Rewrite" is next.



KATE MCKINNON, ACTRESS: I`m a big boy now.



O`DONNELL: Kate McKinnon. She`s amazing. In the "Rewrite" tonight,
Justin Bieber rewrites himself.

Justin Bieber, who, for years now, has been nothing more than the
punchline of an endless joke, has become a cautionary tale. There is
actually a serious and sad lesson for parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts,
and kids of all ages in the Justin Bieber story, "Be Careful What You Wish

Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube and signed to a recording
contract just six years ago when he was 14 years old. He was in ninth
grade in a small town in Canada.

His mother was just three years older than that when she gave birth to
Justin. She was 17.

Justin Bieber never had the parental guidance that could have saved
him from what was coming when his mother posted that video of him singing
on YouTube.

They were, of course, wishing for YouTube stardom and beyond. They
got everything they were wishing for and, in the process, Justin Bieber was
robbed of his childhood.

He was robbed of the chance to just be a kid, a kid getting through
high school, and maybe going to college, while developing his singing
talent on the side, a talent that, if durable, could be the basis for a
singing career when he was ready to begin a career in his 20s.

Justin Bieber stopped going to high school and ended up technically
fulfilling the requirements for a high school diploma online. And he
became the lost boy of pop music.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC HOST: Fans and followers have watched lately as
the personal life of Justin Bieber has seemingly come off the rails.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER (voice-over): A crush of cameras,
screaming fans, and the cops met Justin Bieber as he arrived at the Toronto
Police Station late Wednesday. Inside, Bieber faced an assault charge --

CONAN O`BRIEN, TBS HOST: The polar vortex that put the entire country
into a deep freeze is now headed up north to Canada. Finally, some payback
for giving us Justin Bieber.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER (voice-over): He was arrested in Miami
for allegedly drag-racing, driving under the influence and resisting

Police in L.A. raided the singer`s house after he was accused of
egging a neighbor`s home. No charges yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice-over): It`s just the latest in a
series of high-profile incidents for the pop star -- from concert
cancellations, to run-into with the paparazzi, to speeding through his posh
gated community.

JIMMY FALLON, NBC HOST: Orlando Bloom apparently threw a punch at
Justin Bieber. Orlando`s hand was pretty sore today, you know, from all
the -- from all the high fives he got.


TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Pop star, Justin Bieber, has just appeared
before a judge following his arrest early this morning. The judge set
Bieber`s bond at $2,500.

He`s charged with DUI, driving with an expired license, and resisting

O`BRIEN: Legal experts say, if Justin Bieber is convicted of a
felony, he could be deported back to Canada. American officials are
hopeful they can get deported changed to catapulted.



O`DONNELL: And then, of a sudden, last night, in the middle of the
night, introspection finally fell on Justin Bieber. And then he did what
any 20-year-old with something important to say and no one to say it to
would do.

He grabbed his phone, pointed it at himself in the dark, and said this


JUSTIN BIEBER, SINGER: So, I just wanted to make a video because I
wanted to express how I feel right now. So, today, I was on "Ellen" and it
was a lot of fun.

She`s amazing. It was her birthday. Happy Birthday, Ellen. But I
was really nervous.

And I think I was nervous because I`m just -- I was afraid of what
people are thinking about me right now. It`s been a minute since I`ve been
on a public appearance.

And I didn`t want to come off arrogant or conceited or, basically, how
I`ve been acting the past year, year and a half. And I was -- I`m not who
I was pretending to be.

And what I say pretending is, often, we pretend to be something we`re
not as a cover-up of what we`re truly feeling inside. And there was a lot
feelings going on in there.

Just being young and growing up in this business is hard. Growing up,
in general, is hard. But, yes, I just felt -- I felt awkward up there.

I felt like people were judging me. And I really want people to know
how much I -- how much I care. How much I care about people, and how I`m
not that person that say, "I don`t -- I don`t give a (bleep)," you know,
I`m not that kid.

I`m a person who genuinely cares. And although what`s happened in the
past has happened, I just want to make the best impression on people, and
be kind and loving and gentle and soft.

And although people can call me a softie, that`s how my mom raised me.


O`DONNELL: That`s it. That`s the full, unedited video. That`s where
he cut it, and that`s where he posted it. That`s how he posted it on his
Facebook page, which, obviously, I follow faithfully.

Justin Bieber seems to finally be realizing -- maybe realizing what
every child star before him learned the hard way -- that there may be some
fun in being a child star but, eventually, child stardom is something you
have to overcome in order to be a functioning, well-balanced adult.

For parents, the Justin Bieber lesson is this -- no matter how
talented a performer your child seems to be, don`t let your kid go pro.

If they are truly talented, they will still be talented in their 20s
and probably throughout their lives.

I know actors who are stars today, whose parents refused to let them
go on professional auditions when they were kids, even though they surely
would have gotten parts in those commercials and TV shows and movies they
could have auditioned for.

In the cases that I know of, the actors actually finished college
before they went pro. And they are now very grateful that their parents
decided that the school play was a good enough training ground for them
when they were kids.

I think it`s because I`ve worked with child actors that I feel so
sorry for them. I`ve written parts for them and cast them in adult drama.

I`ve seen them in the audition waiting rooms with their mothers and,
very rarely, with their dads. Working with them is fun and it`s sad at the
same time.

You can`t help but see what their parents have decided to give up for
them. Justin Bieber might finally be realizing how much he gave up for

He can never have his childhood back. But I, for one, wish him luck
finding his way into adulthood. He`s going to need it.


Freelance Capitol Hill Reporter Matt Laslo found a note on the floor
of a hallway in the Capitol building, apparently from a staff member of the
Senate Appropriations Committee.

Now, Washington wants to know who wrote it.


The note is on U.S. Senate Appropriation Committee stationery and it
reads, "So, she`s just going to make a short statement about what B.S. this
hearing is."

Matt Laslo tweeted a picture of the note with the caption, "Wish I
knew which senator the aide who dropped this works for. Any guesses?"
Both "Slate" --


-- and the "Washington Post" have, of course, taken up that challenge.
And, so far, the have gotten denials from Senator Jeanne Shaheen`s office
and Senator Barbara McCloskey`s office.

There was no Senate Appropriations hearing today. Tweet me your
guesses on who this was.

Up next, Steven Brill, who has written a book about the Affordable
Care Act, can tell you exactly why the Affordable Care Act can tell you
exactly why the Affordable Care Act is being reviewed by the Supreme Court
once again.


9.5 million people have signed up so far in year two of enrollment on
the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. The deadline for signing up this
year is February 15th. Two weeks after that, --


-- Affordable Care Act is headed back to the Supreme Court, which will
rule on whether the drafters of the law intended for everyone to be
eligible for federal subsidies or only people in the 14 states that set up
their own exchanges.

My next guest can explain exactly why the Affordable Care Act is under
the gun again in the Supreme Court. Joining me now is Steven Brill, author
of "America`s Bitter Pill -- Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight
to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System."

So much to talk about here, Steven. First of all, it`s a drafting
error, as you --


O`DONNELL: A drafting error is, they`re writing this bill. And this
one, as we all know, we`re covering it like it was a sports event, written
in the middle of the night --

BRILL: It`s a cut-and-paste --

O`DONNELL: -- running back and forth --

BRILL: -- of one paragraph with someone --

O`DONNELL: So, what is the piece that the Supreme Court is studying
now, and how did it end up in the bill.

BRILL: They`re looking at one phrase that defines an exchange as an
exchange started by a state, operated by a state. Now, this is something I
know a lot about.

But there`s little about it in the book because, when the suit was
first filed, I asked all the Republican staffers about it, and they laughed
at it -- Republican staffers who were -- then I asked Senator Grassley, a
Republican, of Iowa, who worked on the bill to the very end, almost
assigned on draft off, and he didn`t even know what the suit was about.

And I tried to explain it to him and he said, "Oh, that`s ridiculous.
You know, we obviously meant --


BRILL: -- that the subsidies would go to the federal exchange as well
as the states exchange. And why are you even asking me about this."

This is a Republican who worked on the bill. You could go all over
Capitol Hill and you couldn`t find a single staffer on the Republican and
Democratic side.

You couldn`t find a single memo, a single e-mail. And I looked
through all of them. And anybody who says that that was the intent --

O`DONNELL: But the problem --

BRILL: -- is an absurd case.

O`DONNELL: -- the problem in front of the court is, the law, as
written, uses a passage where the wording seems can be read, certainly can
be read that the subsidies apply only to the state exchanges --

BRILL: Except that there are half a dozen other passages that say
exactly the opposite. And what the Supreme Court is supposed to do --
first of all, no one is supposed to take this case. No one thought they
would take this case.


BRILL: It`s absurd.


BRILL: But what they`re supposed to do, now that they`ve taken is, if
there`s ambiguity, they`re supposed to show deference to the Executive

So, this case should be a no-brainer, but the fact that the justices
took it makes the supporters of the Affordable Care Act very nervous.

O`DONNELL: And the book -- there`s real disputes -- I wonder if this
really would happen -- there`s real disputes in the legal community now
about legislative intent.

Judge Robert Katzmann, a federal judge here in New York, has written a
book about legislative intent. He really respects it and he says he always

I`m not sure this Supreme Court -- this Supreme Court cannot take
legislative intent very seriously if they took this particular case.

BRILL: Put the Republicans in the Senate and the Republican staffers
under oath and ask them what their intent was. This case is a no-brainer,
except for the fact that four justices decided to take the case.


And no serious lawyer can understand why. Now, as a reporter, I don`t
like to take sides but, this one, it`s really not an either-or kind of

O`DONNELL: So, this book stands as the first kind of full, book-
length evaluation of two things. One is the process that got us the
Affordable Care Act.

BRILL: Right.

O`DONNELL: And then, secondly, how does this Affordable Care Act work
-- 9.5 million is the news, just signed up for 2015. Good news for the
Affordable Care Act.

BRILL: And many millions more who are getting Medicaid.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

BRILL: Now, the way I like to think of the book is it`s sort of a
roller coaster narrative of what happens when you have a dysfunctional
Washington attempt to fix a dysfunctional healthcare system. And this is
what you get.

Now, the good news is, lots of more people got care, which I think is
a terrific thing.

The bad news is, they got it with the taxpayers having to pay the same
ridiculously high prices for hospitals, so-called nonprofit hospitals, with
drugs and everything else that we`ve had to pay over the last decade.

So, rather than this being a government takeover of healthcare, which
is something that opponents like to say it was, it is the government giving
the private sector tons of more money, so hospitals can charge, you know,
$77 for a box of, you know, gauze pads or Band-aids, which is what they do

And the taxpayers are paying that bill through the subsidies they
provide for people to buy insurance on the exchanges.

O`DONNELL: Your overall report card on the Affordable Care Act.

BRILL: I like the idea that tens of millions of Americans got
healthcare. And I think the President deserves a lot of credit for that.

Where he doesn`t deserve credit and deserves low grades is in how he
explained it, --


-- in his ability -- which may have been inevitable, I mean,
Washington to get any kind of cost controls and, of course, the intention
that he failed to pay to the implementation of the law such as building the
Web site.

O`DONNELL: Steven Brill, can you stay and we`ll add more to our
discussion online?

BRILL: Sure.

O`DONNELL: Oh, great, because we have so much more to talk about.
So, Steve Brill gets the last word on the show tonight.

Chris Hayes is next.


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