The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 12/31/2015
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: December 31, 2015
Guest: Maria Teresa Kumar, Jonathan Allen
[18:02:15] LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to the 2015 “Last Word”
holiday party where we will choose the best political theater of the year,
the biggest winner/biggest loser, the rising star, and of course the 2015
person of the year.
REPORTER (PH): – that two million people shivered in New York City to
watch the crystal ball descend on Times Square.
BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Each team has the
opportunity to prepare the balls. When I felt them, they were perfect.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I like a softer ball, that`s all I can
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something ball, ball, ball, ball ball (ph).
REPORTER (PH): They are off and running in this 2016 race .
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know there have
been questions about my e-mails.
BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American
people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails!
CLINTON: Thank you. Me too, me too!
AARON SCHOCK, U.S. POLITICIAN: Taylor Swift said haters are going to hate.
BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.
OBAMA: I`ve had some good weeks in my life, I will tell you.
LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: A landmark decision by the U.S.
Supreme Court making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
NIKKI HALEY, GOVERNOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: By removing a symbol that divides
us we can move forward as a state in harmony.
OBAMA: A comprehensive long-term deal with Iran will prevent it from
obtaining a nuclear weapon.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It`s a nightmare deal for the
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The alternative to the deal is not
some kind of unicorn fantasy.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American Dream
JON STEWART, FORMER HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW” You`re a bunch of drug dealers
and rapists. No disrespect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! Mr. Trump! We love you!
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: County clerk Kim Davis was released from jail.
JOHN BOEHNER, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: My oh
my, what a wonderful day. I informed my colleagues that I would resign
from the speakership and resign and from Congress.
PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This is not a job
I`ve ever wanted.
BOEHNER: Well somebody has to have this job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three thousand people running for the Republican
TED CRUZ, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not a cage
JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I`m the tortoise in the race, but
I`m a joyful tortoise.
DR. BEN CARSON, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was 14, I
tried to stab someone.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How am I losing to
HOLT: Donald Trump called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United
JOHN KASICH, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What has happened to
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, MSNBC “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”: None of them are
going to drop out, they`re all going to mutiny and it will be fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes?
O`DONNELL: This is “The Last Word” Holiday Party. Joining us, Joy Reid,
Kasie Hunt and Steve Kornacki.
Also with us, Jonathan Allen and Maria Teresa Kumar as well as of course
the staff and friends of the “The Last Word.”
This is of course cable news as it should be played. Our first category
tonight is Best Political Move of 2015. Kasie Hunt, what was the best
political move in 2015.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it was Nikki Haley
taking a stand on the Confederate flag in her home state of South Carolina.
She had sort of faded to the background. She`d been a real rising star in
the Republican Party, but she`d taken some steps back.
This really put her at the forefront. It was a courageous thing to do and
I think she`s probably going to be on a lot of lists for a potential vice
O`DONNELL: That`s what I was just going to ask. She`s on the VP list of
all those campaigns you`re talking to everyday?
HUNT: I think she has to be. I think she has to be, you know? It`s like
she`s - she - really has and she`s continued frankly to lead in the state.
And she took - she didn`t necessarily into her reelection quite
particularly strong, but she came out of it very well.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki?
STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, MSNBC`S “MTP DAILY: Yes, I`m going to be the echo
here because -
O`DONNELL: Oh, OK.
KORNACKI: I wrote the exact same thing - I swear.
HUNT: Great minds think alike.
KORNACKI: You know, I was - in 2014 she ran for reelection in South
Carolina. This was not something she wanted to touch in that reelection
I don`t think when the issue started to bubble to the surface this year in
South Carolina anybody expected her to touch it, and certainly there as
polling that said she probably, given her political basin where it was,
shouldn`t touch it.
But she did, and I think, yes, she certainly elevated her profile and I
think became a real national figure.
O`DONNELL: And on the VP list, Carly Fiorina, especially after that last
debate of the year, she just seems to have faded in terms of - (AUDIO GAP?)
and so if the Republican is looking for a woman to put in that slot -
especially if you`re running against Hillary Clinton.
KORNACKI: She`s it. Nikki Haley, maybe Susana Martinez. That`s the only
name you hear sometimes.
KORNACKI: But, yes, there`s not a lot to choose from.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reed.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I went for a sort of
sentimental pick I think as a global politician - Pope Francis.
And I think that no one roiled American politics and sort of scrambled the
left/right dynamic more this past year than Pope Francis.
Between his tour of the U.S. which I think was a triumph really for
liberals, he really sort of for the first time in a long time made the
Catholics sort of on the side of liberalism.
But he also I think was really pivotal in sort of sanctioning and giving
that important cosign to the opening of Cuba, which the President of the
United States obviously did want to - it`s going to go down I think as one
of the most important things that the President -
O`DONNELL: And the negotiations actually passed through the Vatican -
O`DONNELL: – in getting this done. It wouldn`t have happened without
REID: It wouldn`t have happened without him, and I think that behind the
scenes the Pope is seen as more of a religious figure, but obviously he is
sort of a global political figure, and I think on the things - the issues
that he cares about - not just remaking the Church and in just sort of a
more compassionate visage, but really on trying to move real policy.
And I think it`s going to be an important policy, the opening of Cuba and I
think political policy for the hemisphere.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, best political move of the year?
JONATHAN ALLEN, JOURNALIST: Can we go outside traditional politics and go
with Taylor Swift who understood her leverage -
ALLEN: – against Apple.
ALLEN: She got that she was bigger than Apple and when they started to
giving away her stuff for free, she said - well, I won`t quote what she
basically said -
ALLEN: – but she told them what they could do with themselves and all of
a sudden, boom, 24 hours later they`re on her side and now they`ve got a
O`DONNELL: All right. And my pick for Best Political Move of the Year,
which is the decisive (ph) and this means it is actually the best political
movement is Bill Clinton getting on the phone and encouraging Donald Trump
to run for the president.
O`DONNELL: Ah, that good old Clinton touch that nudged him into that race.
Think he would have run without that Bill Clinton call? (LAUGHTER).
HUNT: Oh, I think it`s possible he might have run without that Bill
O`DONNELL: I think it might just be.
HUNT: But I think we`ll be hearing a lot more about it if Donald Trump -
HUNT: – gets further in this nomination fight.
O`DONNELL: All right, worst, worst political move of the year, Kasie Hunt.
HUNT: Chris Christie talking in the quiet car. Who talks in the quiet
car? It`s clearly, clearly a very bad idea, especially when all your
constituents are on the train with you.
This is a train that runs through New Jersey, most people want you to be
quiet. Even Amtrak got in on it, they were tweeting about it.
I think as someone who is a regular denizen of the quiet car, I will say it
turned out I was on that same train with Chris Christie when he talked in
the quiet car.
I was sitting in a car on the phone with my mother, but I ran into him
afterwards in the caf‚ car and he could not have been more polite and we
had a lovely, lovely chat.
So I do think he recovered at the end of the day.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he doesn`t belong in a quiet car. I mean, –
O`DONNELL: – I mean ever. Steve Kornacki, worst political move of the
KORNACKI: And I - well I got to say too I`m the master in the quiet car -
the passive/aggressive glare.
HUNT: I am quite there -
KORNACKI: Breathing too loudly or whatever. My Worst Political Move of
the Year - go all the way back to the start of the year and Mitt Romney you
might have heard would like to be president of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.
KORNACKI: He ran twice before, was looking at running again in 2016. Now,
I don`t know if Mitt Romney had run this year if he`d have won and if he`d
be in first place right now.
I don`t know how it would have gone, but I do know this - he was looking at
running and the reason he decided not to run was because he decided that
someone was unbeatable. That someone was Jeb Bush.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes. Wow, that`s right.
KORNACKI: I think it was the worst political move of the year - making -
intimidated out by Jeb Bush.
O`DONNELL: That`s a great point. I got to say, when you look at that
debate stage, Mitt Romney could have dominated it maybe.
I don`t know, I mean - the question is how would he handle Trump? That`s
O`DONNELL: How does a gentleman like Romney handle that (inaudible) -
KORNACKI: Ten thousand dollar bets.
O`DONNELL: Yes, $10,000 bets.
O`DONNELL: Have to make it a little bit bigger than that. Joy Reid, Worst
Political Move of the Year?
REID: Well I think you could almost throw a dart at pretty much anything
that Rahm Emanuel did for the last two years.
You could pick any of them as the worst political move.
But I think that Rahm Emanuel`s entire handling of the Laquan McDonald
case, opposing the release of that video, allowing that settlement to go
through earlier this spring without comment.
And then saying that he never saw the video which completely mismanaged the
situation. It`s not only going to hurt Rahm Emanuel`s potential political
future - he`s not up again until 2019
But he`s also now, both political reverberations are going to hit Anita
Alvarez who is the Democratic state attorney in that area, and I think Rahm
Emanuel is now defunct as any sort of a surrogate for Hillary Clinton.
I think that his political career is going to be very difficult to revive
after the mismanagement of this situation.
O`DONNELL: He`s in a tough spot. Maria Teresa Kumar, the worst political
move of the year?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, FOUNDING PRESIDENT/CEO, VOTO LATINO, AND CONTRIBUTOR
WITH MSNBC: The RNC chairman when he signed that note with Donald Trump
saying that he was going to support him no matter what as long as Donald
Trump supported the Republican nominee.
I think what that did was really tie him up and now he realizes that he`s
about to face a brokered convention. It was the worst place that he could
possibly - his back against the wall.
O`DONNELL: All right. My Worst Political Move of the Year. John Boehner
inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address the joint session of Congress.
Trying to turn the Congress the President on the Iran deal, – it`s one
thing to do that - it`s a giant moment in Israeli politics to decide to do
It`s another thing to do it and fail as Netanyahu did.
HUNT: It was a pretty remarkable moment. I was at the Capitol during that
speech and I think there was a lot of anger and a sense of that it really
was an unprecedented situation.
REID: And you know there`s no greater risk to the Israeli position in
Washington than to make itself a partisan issue.
And I think that it was - Benjamin Netanyahu almost couldn`t help it, but
John Boehner sort of walked him into it as well.
KORNACKI: I was talking to somebody the other day, and I said, well you
know, when Obama is out of office and writes his memoir, the thing that I
am most interested to read is the Netanyahu (inaudible).
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes, yes. And that Congress treated Netanyahu - that
Republican Congress certainly - treated him in that joint session better
than they`ve ever treated the President of the United States.
And it was something to see. If they could vote it felt like that`s who
they`d be picking for president.
KORNACKI: Maybe he could have beaten Trump.
O`DONNELL: Yes. All right, a quick break. Coming up on “The Last Word”
Holiday Party, the 15 Minutes of Fame Award for 2015, the Rising Star Award
and of course Person of the Year 2015.
All that coming up.
(PARTY MUSIC PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: Welcome back to “The Last Word” Holiday Party. Our next
category, the 15 Minutes of Fame Award for 2015. Kasie Hunt.
HUNT: Mine`s a little bit apolitical but those - do you remember the lamas
that escaped in Arizona? We spent a whole day watching?
They`re my favorite 15 minutes of fame, partly because to a certain extent
the political process this year has been not unlike what you`re seeing on
the screen right now many days.
I don`t know if that`s how you feel, but certainly as someone who has been
traveling covering this race -
O`DONNELL: You know what? I think they got exactly 15 minutes of fame.
KORNACKI: Well I`m going to do something to combine two things that are
just distinctly New York - sliced pizza and rats.
Maybe somebody remembers something called pizza rat - and there it is.
Look at this.
SEVERAL SPEAKERS: Oh!
KORNACKI: This was on the steps of the New York City subway station this
summer. A rat actually dragged an entire slice of pizza down the stairs -
O`DONNELL: And I don`t get what was unusual about that.
O`DONNELL: Like why is that – ??
HUNT: Oh, God.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid - 15 Minutes of Fame. Do you have a video assist?
REID: I almost feel like my choice is inappropriate given that it`s up
against two llamas and a pizza rat.
O`DONNELL: So far.
REID: But, you know, unless you believe he`s actually going to be
president of the United States, I have to say that Donald Trump is on
probably about the 13th minute of fame.
And let me just explain why. Donald Trump was, you know, obviously a very
important businessman, billionaire, he was a reality show star and I think
that he has had more success running for president than probably even he
REID: And he has managed to encapsulate what tons and scads of research
are now discussing is the sort of rage and sense of displacement of working
class white voters in a way that has been disturbing for a lot of people
that have been - a learning experience for a lot of Americans who thought
we were somehow post-racial.
But I think he`s captured a moment that while it is incredibly disturbing
in a lot of ways, it`s actually real.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and -
REID: And I think he`s having his 15 minutes.
O`DONNELL: And the feelings of it no doubt will live after his candidacy.
REID: Yes, I project that this next election - the 2016 election - if it
is about anything thematically, it is going to be about that sense of rage
and displacement among white working-class voters.
And whether he stays in it for the long term or not, that is there and it
has to be dealt with in an extant and I think that it`s important in the
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, 15 Minutes of Fame 2015.
KUMAR: Well to piggyback a little bit of what Joy was saying, I actually
chose Rachel Dolezal when she basically came out and said wait, I`m
actually not black.
And I think she - and it`s again - this idea that you are seeing
increasingly a demographic shift in this country, no one has really
explained to it.
She was actually trying to build on that bandwagon and said, well, as a
white person I wasn`t getting my fair share.
I sued, I still wasn`t recognized so now if I go undercover and become the
head of the NAACP at my local chapter, maybe then I have a shot.
And I think, again, it started this race conversation that our country
O`DONNELL: My pick for 15 Minutes of Fame - Kim Davis who did a little bit
more than 15 minutes in jail in order to be convinced to get out of the way
of issuing same-sex marriage licenses in Kentucky.
I think her time is completely up in that situation.
All right, we`re going to take another quick break. Much more still ahead
on “The Last Word” Holiday Party.
Up next, the Rising Star Award.
O`DONNELL: And now to the Rising Star of 2015. Kasie Hunt, who was it?
HUNT: I think it was Paul Ryan, hands down. This is somebody who
obviously missed the VP pick in 2012. That was a little bit earlier in his
But, you know, he really - he came across as the reluctant hero in many
ways for the Republican Party. Basically he came to them and said, look,
you guys are going to keep on with this nonsense, I`m not going to do this.
If you want me to come in and actually change the way this job is done and
you`re going to get behind me, I`m going to do it.
And I think we`re seeing the results of that now.
O`DONNELL: Yes, we`ve never seen a speaker`s election, – first of all a
speaker just saying I quit. That`s one. And then suddenly we need one and
no one wants to be speaker.
The guy doesn`t want to be speaker, just kind of talks his way out of it so
to speak. Amazing, it was truly amazing. Steve Kornacki?
KORNACKI: I got a non-political one here, but this is - I have a soft spot
for benchwarmers in sports. Maybe because I was one growing up trying to
But the Monmouth University bench - their basketball team`s bench - look at
this. This has become a big thing toward the end of this year.
They celebrate, they have these elaborate dance routines -
KORNACKI: – even mime things that they do every time their team scores.
You can see a few of them here.
My favorite one, I don`t know if it`s in this reel, it`s called the Katniss
Everdeen. And they start shooting here - that`s the row, row, row your
But this has become a thing. People are showing up at their games to watch
But the reason I`m saying they`re rising stars is because every March you
have to fill out your office pool for the NCAA tournament.
So think ahead to March of 2016 because Monmouth is one of these schools
you probably haven`t heard of if you`re not from New Jersey -
KORNACKI: – they`re probably going to make the tournament. They`re going
to be like a 13-, 14- seed. There`s your first round upset the take (ph),
and if they win you`re going to see an incredible celebration.
O`DONNELL: That`s something I`ve never seen before.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid - 15 Minutes of Fame 2015.
O`DONNELL: No, no, sorry. We are at Rising Star.
REID: Rising Star. Always tough to follow Steve Kornacki, but I picked
Marilyn Mosby, the prosecutor in Baltimore who brought the cases in the
Freddie Gray case.
And the reason that I chose her is that if you look statistically, it is so
unusual for police officers to ever be prosecuted in cases of a civilian
death in their custody.
But there`s no greater political risk - whether the prosecutor is a
Democrat or a Republican - than to make that step.
It turns the police unions against you, it can make you essentially the
target in your next reelection.
She took that step which is so unusual. Only she and the district attorney
in Brooklyn, New York did that.
And I think that Marilyn Mosby, if she is able to, having done that,
survive her reelect, then I think that she has an incredible future in
And by the way, her husband is also running – he`s running for city
But I think she`s become a powerful course in giving hope to the people in
Black Lives Matter - that there is a possibility of at least a process when
a police officer kills a civilian.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I`ll never forget that moment where she stepped up to the
microphone for the first time and America and I was meeting her for the
It was an amazing moment. I`m picking a prosecutor - a former prosecutor -
as my rising star. And I`ve kind of declared her a rising star before.
This is Kamala Harris. When she was the D.A. in San Francisco, I
confidently predicted she would win her race for attorney general, which of
course she did. She`s now running to replace Barbara Boxer in the United
She is going to be the next Senator from California in the United States
Senate. She`s going to be more than a star on day one.
I mean, we`ve seen people come into the Senate from time to time who have
starred them on the first day. I`m not sure we`ve seen anything like this.
Her arrival is going to be really something to watch. What do you think,
HUNT: I think that`s right. I think that she`s going to bring some new
blood into the Senate, or could - you know, assuming that all goes to plan
for her out in California - in a way that we hadn`t seen in a while.
I mean, one thing that the Senate has fewer of than say the House of
Representatives, are people who are this age and who are of this moment
whether you want to think of it as millennial or people who are frustrated
with the slowness of the process.
And I think you`re going to - the more faces you start to see like hers in
the Senate, the more we`re going to see -
O`DONNELL: You know, and because I don`t like timid predictions, when she
started running for attorney general I predicted she was on her way to the
So she will be back -
O`DONNELL: – in our Rising Star category as these shows -
O`DONNELL: – as these shows continue through the years. All right, quick
Up next - the Best and Worst Political Theater of the Year, and you know
there was a lot of political theater.
(PARTY MUSIC PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: That`s the spirit. Welcome back to “The Last Word” Holiday
Party. It`s time for the Worst Political Theater of 2015.
Maria Teresa Kumar`s going to tell us what that was.
KUMAR: I think the Worst Political Theater has been the GOP and the GOP
leadership. Because we have now a candidate Trump that has created
incredible divisiveness in this country and instead of standing up to him
and saying not on our watch, they sort of stood - took a step back and
tried to say, oh, but he`s mobilizing the base. This is going to be good
And now I think we`re actually in a very difficult position in these
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, Worst Political Theater of the Year.
ALLEN: I have a tie.
O`DONNELL: Oh, OK that happens, that happens. Go ahead.
ALLEN: News (ph) surprise, both involve Hillary Clinton. The first was
back in March.
O`DONNELL: Does that have anything to do with the fact that you wrote a
book about Hillary Clinton
O`DONNELL: – titled “H” - what is it?
ALLEN: “HRC” - it`s State Secrets and the Rebirth of -
O`DONNELL: Yes, OK, yes.
ALLEN: – Hillary Clinton. Nothing - has nothing -
KUMAR: It`s not a plug, it`s not a plug.
ALLEN: I actually that these might the tie for the Worst Political
First in March, she does the press conference where she reveals the private
sort of rumor which had been reported around before and all of a sudden
it`s telling us that all her State Department e-mails were on a private
server tucked away somewhere.
I have not seen a press conference that bad by a politician that did not
involve admission of an affair or sending tweets that were bad or something
along those lines. That was a terrible press conference.
KUMAR: Well and the backdrop was terrible, right? Because she did it at
the U.N. so it basically reinforced the fact that she wasn`t `of the
ALLEN: Yes, and it did not seem like she was telling the truth in any of
And then on the other side, the Benghazi hearing where she testified, was
the worst congressional hearing I`ve ever seen in my life and I`ve seen a
lot of bad ones.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I agree, yes.
ALLEN: These guys came out, they didn`t have a plan, they weren`t
prosecutors, they didn`t line up well. None of them had a lot of
experience on committees.
And they basically handed Hillary Clinton the rebound that she needed for
her presidential campaign, bouncing her back into looking like a president.
O`DONNELL: Having completely poisoned the atmosphere for themselves before
the hearing with what their leadership was saying about it being political
and all of that.
Joy Reid, Worst Political Theater of the Year?
REID: Well my answer`s actually related to the 11-hour infomercial for
Hillary Clinton that was the Benghazi hearings.
REID: And it is one Kevin McCarthy. We talked earlier about Paul Ryan and
his star rising.
Well the star was supposed to be on the door of Kevin McCarthy who was the
man in line to be speaker of the house until he decided to boast and brag
about the real purpose of the hearings.
O`DONNELL: You know what? You know what? I think we might actually have
REID: Let`s do it.
O`DONNELL: Let`s see that.
KEVIN MCCARTHY, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was
unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee - a
What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.
O`DONNELL: And his number dropped as badly as it could ever drop.
REID: And his political career is now over.
O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, Worst Political Theater of the Year.
HUNT: So I went with something a little lighter than the rest of you all,
but I don`t know if you remember when Ted Cruz was campaigning in New
Hampshire and he declared the world was on fire, causing a small child to
burst into tears?
O`DONNELL: Ah, yes, yes.
HUNT: Not ideal.
ALLEN: And there`s a fire behind you for that.
O`DONNELL: I think we actually have that too. Let`s take a look at that.
TED CRUZ, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The whole world`s on
GIRL: The world`s on fire?
CRUZ: The world is on fire, yes!
CRUZ: Your world is on fire.
O`DONNELL: Oh, mean man, mean man.
FEMALE: Yes, you`re bad.
O`DONNELL: All right, my choice for Worst Political Theater is everything
Donald Trump has been saying about Muslims. Let`s take a look at the two
TRUMP: I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I
watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims
entering the United States.
O`DONNELL: Political theater doesn`t get uglier than that, that was the
worst. Let`s get a quick mood change here. Get that away, a best
political theater of the year, Maria Teresa Kumar.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, FOUNDING PRESIDENT AND CEO OF VOTO LATINO: I`m
actually going to go say the GOP because they have basically sucked the air
out of the Democrats. If you ask majority of Americans, they may not know
the Democratic candidates that they sure have to know that somebody is
running for the Republican office for the White House.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, best political theater of the year.
JONATHAN ALLEN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF FOR BLOOMBERG NEWS: I`m going to
go with the other side of the Donald here.
ALLEN: This is incredible political theater. You can`t stop watching.
O`DONNELL: Well, the goofy side. Yeah.
ALLEN: Well, the goofy side, but when you watch him do an event, he did –
even did one right after the Republican debate the other night. And he
does an event, everybody wants to watch him, hear what he has to say next.
And then they shift to another candidate and you can hear the televisions.
ALLEN: So that he`s the greatest political theater. It may end up not
being great for…
O`DONNELL: I don`t – I don`t…
ALLEN: . Republican Party or necessarily the country but.
O`DONNELL: I cannot disagree with the way you`ve phrased that.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPODENT: There we go. There you go.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, best political theater.
REID: As we`ve watch for John Boehner twist in the wind on the other end
of the fork of the tea party for all of these many years. We`ve all been
wondering how will he end his own torment, the answer hide behind pontiff
I think that the way John Boehner exited by using the combination of his
own (inaudible) and our favorite pope ever. Combine those together and you
can flip out a dodge without the tea party even knowing he`s gone.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, Best political theater.
STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL WRITER: I got a twist on the Donald Trump when,
specifically, Donald Trump`s Instagram videos…
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to see him run?
BARBARA BUSH, WIFE OF GEORGE H. W. BUSH: No. I really don`t. I think
it`s a great country. There are a lot of great families. There are just -
- there are other people out there that are very qualified. And we`ve had
JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is succeeding right now for sure.
He is a gifted politician. But, he is just a gifted politician. He`s just
a gifted politician that is appealing to people`s anger and frustration
that is quite legitimate.
TRUMP: 15 seconds, they are incredibly heavy handed, comically heavy
handed. They can be petty. But you know what, you end up watching these
things and you just find yourself laughing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yes. I imagine you do. All right, my pick for best political
theater occurred in Cuba. Let`s take a look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Conan O`Brien took the show to Cuba. It was the best most informative hour
of television about Cuba I have ever seen. Great work by Conan O`Brien.
We are going to take a quick break, when we come back the biggest surprise
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MILLISA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m Millisa Rehberger with breaking news.
A massive fire partially engulfed the luxury high rise in Dubai.
Earlier the building called the address houses an upscale hotel, residences
and a mall near the world`s tallest tower. 14 people were hurt. This 63-
story tower burned as tens of thousands attended a fireworks display
And police in Munich are warning of a serious imminent threat. Two train
stations have been evacuated and authorities say people should avoid
Now, back to a special edition of the LAST WORD.
O`DONNELL: OK. Just audience can`t see this, but best dancer during the
commercials is Jonathan Allen.
Now, we are back at LAST WORD Holiday Party. This category is biggest
surprise of 2015. Maria Teresa Kumar, biggest surprise?
KUMAR: I would say Sophie Cruz. And this was the young little girl, if
you remember that basically brought out a letter to the pope.
O`DONNELL: Well, there she is. Yeah.
KUMAR: And all of a sudden shed light to millions of Americans the burden
and responsibility that kids under the age of 18 are bearing for their
parents. And it started a conversation.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, biggest surprise of the year?
ALLEN: The Donald, there are all the Donald. It was everything – the
O`DONNELL: The surge of the Donald.
KUMAR: I rather you plug in – talk about it.
O`DONNELL: Who predicted he would get up to over 30 in the polls? I
believe no one.
ALLEN: Yeah, pretty much no one. There was a hard cap of 25 percent.
ALLEN: Look, we`re all denying that Donald Trump is leading for the
Republican nomination. I don`t know how long that lasts. It may be right
through the convention.
ALLEN: And I think journalists and the analysts put themselves in peril
when they suggest that he is not winning or that some that how there`s
going to be some sort of supernatural event that takes him out.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, biggest surprise of the year?
REID: I would say John Bel Edwards on winning governorship of Louisiana.
The Democrats have done so poorly in red states and essentially been
evacuated from the red – the entire red part of America particularly off
year elections. But I guess they proved that all you need is a completely
scandalized Republican opponent…
REID: … and an electorate that is desperate for that kind of change.
And, you know, a Democrat actually won in a southern state.
O`DONNELL: A campaign unlike any other we`ve seen with accusations about
hookers in the past and all – well, it`s a Louisiana campaign.
ALLEN: That`s not going to (inaudible)…
O`DONNEJL: My biggest – my biggest surprise of the year does involve
Donald Trump and it involves his money. And I am one of the prominent
disbelievers of his claims of wealth and how rich he was. He put out a
press release before he did his financial disclosure form saying he made
over $200 million from a TV show.
If you know about the economics of televisions, that sounds impossible. I
don`t believe it. The next week to very little notice on his federal
disclosure form, there was an item called salary, the apprentice. It was
$14,222. That is the only amount of money from the apprentice he has ever
disclosed in an actual federal filing. And that was actually lower than I
thought it was going to be.
O`DONNELL: $14,000. All right, quick break. Up next, biggest winners and
losers of 2015 and, of course, person of the year.
O`DONNELL: Welcome back to the LAST WORD holiday party. Next category is
the biggest loser of 2015. Maria Teresa, biggest loser of 2015?
KUMAR: I`m going to be with Debbie Downer. I think that the American
people because we have yet to pass gun control. And we`ve had – since
Sandy Hook, we`ve had over 300 young children killed by firearms.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, completely. Jonathan Allen, biggest loser.
ALLEN: After that I want to agree with Maria Teresa.
O`DONNELL: You`re allowed too.
ALLEN: So I`m just going to go.
KUMAR: It`s OK.
ALLEN: . I`m going to just like vote twice there though I was going to say
Kevin McCarthy blowing a speakership.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, yeah. I think that that`s for real. Steve, biggest
KORNACKI: Oh the woman named Melissa Click. And who is she? She`s the
Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri. And if you remember all
those protest at Missouri this fall.
O`DONNELL: Oh yeah.
KORNACKI: And there was a journalist who attempted to cover the protest in
a big public space. There you see her on the screen. This is a journalist
trying to do journalism in a public space and she calls for muscle. She
said, “Can I get some muscle to get this reporter out of here?”
This was pretty outrageous and offensive assault really on freedom of the
press. And I call her my loser of the year for that.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, amazing. My biggest loser of the year even bigger than
those guys in the house leadership now, Dennis Hastert. That`s a pretty
big fall from grace, couldn`t expect much more.
All right, biggest winner of 2015, Maria Teresa?
KUMAR: I think – so, I`m going to back since I have two on this one. I
think one is the American people because they have affordable care, 16
million people basically are no longer on the verge of filing for
bankruptcy because now they have healthcare.
And I also say Black Lives Matter because they basically were able to
expose systemic problems within police departments and have created a
ALLEN: And I`m going to go with Vladimir Putin. At the beginning of this
year, he was reviled by the United States. He was hated for going to
Crimea, Ukraine. We thought he`s playing games with Iranians and Syrians
and now we need him.
O`DONNELL: But his economy is reeling as we`re talking about.
ALLEN: His economy is reeling because of the sanctions we put on him. But
Vladimir Putin has put himself and his country back on the international
map and strengthened himself, and his country, and his allies in a way that
I think no other world leader has over the past year.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki.
KUMAR: And is keeping his shirt on.
ALLEN: Yes. Well, that may or may not be helping him. And I think taking
the shirt off has been part of the (inaudible) quite a while.
O`DONNELL: Steve, biggest winner of the year?
KORNACHI: I – it`s trivial compared to these, but I am one of these. I`m
going to say the New England Patriots fans. I mean – bring it on. Bring
it on. You know why? You know why? Because we won the Super Bowl,
because we got Brady reinstated because we started 10 and 0. Bring on the
heat because you can`t beat us.
O`DONNELL: Kasie, Kasie Hunt, Kasie Hunt biggest winner of the year?
KASI HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I honestly think Hillary Clinton and
the Democratic Party.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. So far, yeah.
HUNT: I was trying to figure out who won the last Republican debate of the
year and I kept thinking to myself the person that wins this debate,
Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. So the Republican Party, the nomination fight
that they`re having I think just – it benefits the Democrats enormously.
O`DONNELL: All right, my biggest winner of the year, Lin-Manuel Miranda
who wrote and stars in Hamilton which is by far the most important Broadway
show of – as long as we can remember.
This is a stunning piece of work that he`s done. It has changed the nature
of musical theater. It has changed the nature of theater itself. And in
Hamilton, there is more wisdom about who we are as a country than anything,
any candidate has said all year.
We`re going to take another quick break. When we come back “Sorry To See
You Go” category.
HUNT: You know, I wonder if.
O`DONNELL: Here is a moment from the LAST WORD holiday party exactly one
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Next year, I can do my Sorry To See You Go right now. For next year, it is
going to be David Letterman, OK? It is going to be Letterman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And since there`s no surprise about who my Sorry To See You Go is, I will
go first. And my Sorry To See You Go is of course, David Letterman. And
who can forget that night, in this very room, when Bill Murray wandered on
to this set after doing his last appearance on David Letterman`s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE MURRAY, MUSICIAN: Everyone is feeling it. And Dave is at some
incredible level of capability right now. People come out and they can do
anything. And he`s just so – he just floats above everything. He`s
really in a different plane than the rest of us right now.
O`DONNELL: That was a champagne night on the show just like tonight.
Maria Teresa, the Sorry To See You Go for 2015?
KUMAR: I have two but one is perhaps someone that no one has ever heard of
here, but that basically was piped into tens of millions of Latino every
Saturday. Don Francisco Sabado Gigante, one of the longest running variety
shows in the world and he just basically closed up shop. And I know that
millions of Americans are going to miss him.
And then the other one is RadioShack. And RadioShack was a place where a
lot of folk – you know, young kids like me would go in and find like
little gadgets and electronics and technology became accessible and they`re
no longer in the corner.
O`DONNELL: I needed something there like every six months, which I guess
wasn`t enough to keep them alive. Jonathan Allen, I`m Sorry To See You Go.
ALLEN: I`m sorry to see Julian Bond who passed away this year. I used to
see him a lot in Washington D.C. I mean, I didn`t know him but I see him
around a lot. He seemed a very nice gentleman and obviously an icon of the
civil rights era and a political leader in that era and coming out of the
original civil rights movement, so very sad to see him go.
O`DONNELL: Just a truly great man. And I remember there was tremendous
anticipation at the beginning of his political career of Julian about just
how far it would go. And no one really saw any limits.
REID: Yeah, indeed. And he might have been a Congressman. He actually
ran for the same seat that John Lewis now holds. He actually drew that
Congressional district as a State Representative in Georgia, a position he
also had to go to court to fight for.
So, I feel like I should throw out my pick because I think that there is no
pick better than Julian Bond, a truly, truly great man.
O`DONNEL: Yeah, and we`re really going to miss him.
Kasie Hunt, the Sorry To See You Go of 2015.
HUNT: I am sorry to see Rick Perry go out of the presidential race.
O`DONNELL: Excuse me? This is Sorry To See You Go.
HUNT: It is Sorry To See You Go, I`m sorry to see him go. His charm, his
– you know, shooting coyotes that are threatening his daughter`s dogs. I
mean, what`s not to love?
No, but he actually – I covered the governor`s campaign in 2012 and also
this time around and I am really genuinely sorry to see him go. He brought
some charm and humor to the – for the presidential race.
O`DONNELL: So, in terms of fun on the campaign trail and the different
camps you`ve covered this year, Perry actually – the Perry camp scored
HUNT: The Perry camp scores well. I mean, they – you know, I`ve known a
lot of the people who`ve worked for him for many years, and he is very much
an utmost gentleman so.
O`DONNELL: All right. Steve Kornacki, Sorry To See You Go.
KORNACKI: I`m going – this is a Boston one but if anybody in Boston –
O`DONNELL: We`re so surprised.
KORNACKI: You will know this name Jack Williams –
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes.
KORNACKI: – was an icon – no, is an icon of television in Boston.
My first gig in television was interning at WBC Channel 4 in Boston in the
summer of 2000. Jack Williams could not have been nicer to me. He was the
anchor for like 40 years in Boston. He retired this year. I am sorry to
see him retire.
O`DONNELL: You don`t know anchormanning is until you`ve see Jack Williams
KORNACKI: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: He will be missed.
All right, up next the LAST WORD holiday party, the big one, the big one,
person of the year is next.
O`DONNELL: We`re back and it`s time for the big one, person of the year.
Kasie Hunt, who was the person of the year?
HUNT: Is there any – I mean, it`s Donald Trump obviously.
O`DONNELL: Excuse me, who?
HUNT: Donald Trump, obviously.
HUNT: I`m sorry, I don`t know how Time Magazine…
O`DONNELL: Because, because?
HUNT: Because he is completely defined what we`ve been talking about since
– I mean, I was sitting on – I remember sitting on the set with you
talking about whether or not he was going to run for president. You were
adamant that was never…
O`DONNELL: I knew for a fact he wasn`t going to run…
HUNT: … going to happen, was never going to happen.
O`DONNELL: I knew that.
HUNT: And I`m pretty sure I told you at time that he was and look where we
O`DONNELL: That`s correct. Jonathan Allen, person of the year.
ALLEN: I`m going to opposite side of the religious spectrum from Donald
Trump and go with the pope.
O`DONNELL: That`s very different.
ALLEN: Very different. Went on a world tour and obviously, we saw him
here in the United States and then Washington D.C. in particular at the
Capitol. I think he is somebody who reminds us all of our better angels
and of our humanity, everywhere he goes. And agree with him on everything
or not, I think the message is one that is well-heard by everyone around
HUNT: I covered the pope a little bit and I have to say, it`s the most
unifying – I have unified with people around me that I have –
O`DONNELL: But in your world, the pope is no Donald Trump?
HUNT: I have to say, I would love to see the pope meet Donald Trump talk
about the moment of political theater.
O`DONNELL: Oh, boy. All right, we`ll see.
Joy Reid, person of the year?
REID: Well, I am also going to go with somebody who is the opposite of
Donald Trump and her name is Johari Osayi Idusuyi. And if you don`t know -
- do not know who Johari is, she is the woman who I think was, every – at
least every person of color in this country, whenever they have to sit
through what is called entertainment when Donald Trump is practicing it,
she is the women who read at the Donald Trump rally.
And I think in that moment of quiet resistance, I think she represented
millions and millions of Americans who look at the message that Donald
Trump is using his fame and the power he has accumulated to, you know, to
send out into the world and it`s horrified. And I think her quiet
resistance represented so many people because I`ll tell you, people of
color have been trying to warn this country about Donald Trump for a really
long time and I think she reminded us.
O`DONNELL: There`s been a lot of protests at his rallies and speeches.
O`DONNELL: But the silent one –
REID: I think it was so effective.
O`DONNELL: – possibly the most effective.
REID: – so effective. And she was reading a book about our politics and
our country and who we`re supposed to be. I think she is brilliant.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, person of the year?
KORNACKI: Well I`m going to go with – I have three actually but they`re
all for the same thing. I mean this is a terrible year in a lot of ways.
You have Paris. You have San Bernardino. But there was, if you remember
the summer, there was that attempted terror attack on the train in France.
There were two U.S. Marines, there`s one other guy. They were three guys
who got up and who stopped that attack. Nobody died. They are heroes and
they are my people of the year, three of them.
O`DONNELL: All right, that`s a good choice.
Maria Teresa Kumar, person of the year?
KUMAR: I`m going back to basically saying the pope. And I think it`s
because he was, again, he was able –
O`DONNELL: We got a winner.
KUMAR: Right. Well, and he was able to unify the Catholic Church. My
favorite was when he said that he believed in climate change and then one
of the members of Congress saying well we need a scientist, and the pope
said I am one. And I think that basically nailed it. And, you know, we
actually are moving forward on the conversations. But he was, again,
something that a case with a – he`s very much a unifying voice not just
for Catholics but worldwide.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, I just loved that in his week here he pulled everybody
out of the small mindedness of whatever and we were thinking about and
focusing on –
HUNT: It was so remarkable. I remember standing on the corner across the
street from the White House and just the crowds of people and the unifying
force, even among reporters, those of us who cover high profile figures
everyday – either so much cynicism and it was none of that.
REID: I wish everyone who been inside Madison Square Garden when the pope
delivered in English and then in Spanish an incredible message of hope and
unity. He is such a good man and I think he`s reinvented the image of the
Catholic Church and he`s made us all think deeper about our humanity.
O`DONNELL: All right, my person of the year, the person who did the most
important work that anyone in the American government did and possibly the
world, John Kerry who delivered the nuclear deal with Iran.
If this deal actually works, he could be considered the most important
secretary of state we`ve ever had, if you think avoiding nuclear war is the
most important thing you can do in the job of secretary of state.
It was an amazing accomplishment. We`re now waiting for the verdict that
is going to take years to know if it works. But in Washington, he is not
regarded, I think, in the way he should be for what it took to get that
HUNT: He also played a key role in those climate talks that recently
resulted in a major deal. So I think at the very least, he has had, you
know, a year where he has done quite a high number of very consequential
O`DONNELL: And his career starting in Washington in his army fatigues kind
of fresh off the boat from Vietnam, as a Vietnam veteran against the war,
that`s his first moment in the Senate foreign relations committee as a
witness, to see him then become the chairman of that committee, then become
secretary of state, the biggest figure who deals with that committee.
A hundred years from now, there may be Lin-Manuel Miranda who does a
musical called “Kerry” and tells this amazing story of the rise all the
way. Am I going too far, Jonathan?
ALLEN: Well, it`s a little – I mean, it is a good story from, you know,
from the day he veteran who – the last men who died – so he one who now
exceeds Henry Kissinger in your mind as the most important secretary of
O`DONNELL: Wait, Kissinger was a disaster. What Kissinger?
ALLEN: I wasn`t saying that he was good. No, I wasn`t going to read it`s
good. I think (inaudible). So, I`m just saying it is a big arc for Kerry
but will he have a rap musical?
HUNT: We need a survey.
O`DONNELL: We`re saving this video for 100 years, we`ll see you if it
ALLEN: If you write it, I`ll dance in it.
O`DONNELL: All right, to all of our guests tonight. Kasie Hunt, Joy Reid,
Maria Teresa Kumar, Steve Kornacki, Jonathan Allen, all of you, thank you
very much for joining us.
That is The LAST WORD 2015, we`ll see you next year.
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