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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 02/02/15

Guests: Robert Costa, Ken Vogel, Jonathan Chait, Robert Reich, KentSepkowitz

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: See, Rachel, some of these small towns think that the Punxsutawney Phil act is a really easy act to follow. RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Yes. Ah! O`DONNELL: Not easy. Not easy. MADDOW: Exactly. O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, man. O`DONNELL: Well, the fun has begun in the Republican presidential campaign. We have a new front runner, and if it`s anything like the last time, we will have many, many more new front runners. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today feels a little like Groundhog Day. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s appropriate that we`re talking on Groundhog Day. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rand Paul, Romney, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney out for 2016. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker standing atop a new poll, a 60 percent favorable rating. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he tried real hard, he might be as charismatic as Mitt Romney. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re so mean. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Firebrand, he`s more of a smoldering stick. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush is either in fifth or sixth place. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush not even making the top five. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s as conservative as they come. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie is either in sixth or eighth place. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think Christie has a chance. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Christie is going to London. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In London, across the pond today. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never heard of him? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ring a bell? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know who Chris Christie is? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie steps in a minefield. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie threw on a lab coat. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Groundhog Day brought to you by a debate over the vaccines. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We vaccinated ours. Parents need to have some measure of choice. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rand Paul also has said that this should be up to parents. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parents are making the wrong choice. OBAMA: The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we turn to the president. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is White House budget day. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is an immediate battle that is looming OBAMA: You see Bill Murray playing the piano in the foyer, we`re probably going to do this again. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: In his statement explaining why he would run for president a third time, Mitt Romney said, "I believe one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well-known as I am today, one who may not yet have taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started may well emerge as being able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case." Mitt Romney gave no hint as to who that mythical character might be. After making that announcement, Mitt Romney had dinner with Chris Christie. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Governor, how did that dinner go with Mitt Romney? REPORTER: How are you doing? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, guys. CHRISTIE: See you all. You can yell (ph) at him now. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And the latest poll of Iowa Republican voters, Scott Walker is the new front runner, with 15 percent. Rand Paul is basically tied at 14 percent. Mitt Romney`s still in that poll at 13 percent. Mike Huckabee at 10 percent. Ben Carson at 9 percent. And Jeb Bush at 8 percent. Now that Mitt Romney is out of the race, conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham said this today. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: And so I think Jeb Bush, you know, if I had to bet right now, he`d be the nominee, and if I had to bet right now, he`ll lose. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post", and Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter for "Politico". Robert, it`s the race for the money. It`s the money that might have gone to Mitt Romney if he stayed in this race. Where`s that money going now? ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Money`s still on the sidelines. A lot of the Romney allies in the donor community -- they`re not sure about Bush. They think Bush is probably the front runner for the center right vote. But they are taking a closer look at Walker, Rubio, they like Christie. They`re waiting to see how this all unfold. O`DONNELL: And, Ken Vogel, there may not have been a whole lot of money sitting there waiting to go to Mitt Romney. And that might be part of why he pulled out of this thing. KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Yes, that`s right. I mean, that was Mitt Romney`s real strength, for all you can say and all the valid criticisms about him as a candidate, his inability to connect with people, he was an amazing fundraiser and he really set the bar high. And so, his donor network, even though it may have splintered a bit, there`s still some unity there and a real effort to court those donors, including through his main fundraiser, a guy by the name of Spencer Wick (ph), whose phone line is burning up right now with Republican candidates, prospective candidates and their advisers, trying to lure him into their camp. O`DONNELL: I mean, the real -- the next poll`s going to be interesting, once you start doing them with Romney out of there and see where people start to redistribute themselves in Iowa. Let`s listen to what Rush Limbaugh said today about Scott Walker. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: For two years, I have been ballyhooing Scott Walker, not personally. But here`s a guy not only has he drawn the blueprints four beating the left. What are blueprints? They are designs for buildings. He`s built the house. He wrote the blueprint and he built the building. He built the machine that defeats the left. He has shown how to do it, and he did it. He is a walking gold mine. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Well, Robert, it`s worth pointing out that that is what we would call the Limbaugh curse. Rush Limbaugh has never supported the eventual Republican nominee at the early stable stages of the campaign. COSTA: True, but tomorrow, this week in Detroit, Jeb Bush is going to give a speech about his economic message, economic opportunity. And you have a lot of people in elite Republican circles talking about economic inequality. Who`s not talking about economic inequality? Scott Walker. The reason conservatives like Walker right now is he`s unabashed conservative. He`s not running to the center. He`s proud of what he did to fight the unions in Wisconsin. He also has a national fundraising base coming off of that 2012 recall. That`s going to be pretty powerful. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Rush explaining Jeb Bush`s problems. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIMBAUGH: Why is the base not thrilled about Jeb? Because Jeb Bush and the Republican establishment have made it clear they think the Republican Party`s big problem is Republican voters and not Democrats and their policies. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Ken Vogel, if Jeb Bush is still stuck down there in the next couple of polls, once you`ve cleared Mitt Romney out of the polls, if he hasn`t picked up something significant from Mitt Romney, it is going to start looking shaky for him. VOGEL: I think major donors are going to stick with him a while longer. That`s potentially one of his major strengths. However, a lot of the donors who I talked to are paying attention to this stuff. They are paying attention to the Laura Ingrahams of the world and they are paying attention to Rush and they are paying attention to these polls, because what they are nervous about is a potential splintering of the establishment vote that might allow someone like a Rand Paul or a Ted Cruz to kind of squeak through, to emerge from the wreckage of the fight for the establishment vote, or even the fight between the establishment and the Tea Party. That`s where someone like Walker is so strong, that Walker has the potential to cull from both camps and to appeal to these big donors in a way that you don`t think you could say about say, a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz or some other Tea Party favorite. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Mike Huckabee had to say, because what we are seeing emerge here is that it looks like there`s going to be a fight, there`s going to be a cluster on the right side of the party, and cluster in the so-called moderate side of the party fighting against each other, and that may come down to one moderate versus one real conservative or extreme conservative. But let`s -- if Mike Huckabee`s that guy, let`s listen to the way he`s talking. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: This is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue. And as a biblical issue, unless, you know, I get a new version of the Scriptures, it`s really not my place to say, OK, I`m just going to evolve. It`s like asking somebody who`s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don`t want to do that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Robert, that`s Mike Huckabee talking about marriage equality. Is that the way you see this field, a fight for the most conservative side of the party, while there`s a simultaneous fight fort moderate side? COSTA: And Huckabee`s certainly a threat for the right side of things. I was just on the campaign trail with Governor Huckabee in Iowa, as he went around evangelical churches. He`s still a retail political talent. This is someone who came out of nowhere in 2007 and 2008 to win the Iowa caucuses. He still has a base there. If you are Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, you`re paying attention to what Huckabee`s saying. The question, does Jeb Bush play in Iowa? He just hired Dave Kochel, an Iowa strategist to probably be his campaign manager. Jeb knows that Romney did OK in Iowa in 2012. The question is, is it worth the time and resources to really make a hard play for that state? O`DONNELL: And, Ken Vogel, going back to Jeb Bush, as we will, since he seems to be the center of gravity in that side of the party. The good news for him is, at this point, you know, Chris Christie is looking more and more unlikely. I`d bet him against him for a long time. I`ve expected Christie to be basically the Rudy Giuliani of this campaign. And so, is his attention now going to be aimed at how do I stop the Scott Walker surge? VOGEL: I think potentially, I think he does still have to pay attention to Chris Christie. One of the things that Robert and I both realize as Philadelphia fans is that Chris Christie likes a good fight. He likes to make it personal. Antagonize the Philadelphia Eagles fans. I think he`ll probably, if it ends up being a fight for that sort of centrist space on the Republican side, that he will, end up engaging with Jeb Bush. And Jeb Bush will probably be forced to engage with Chris Christie. That`s one of his sort of hallmark attributes as a politician, is the ability to mix it up and to bring his foe into the fight. O`DONNELL: Robert Costa and Ken Vogel, thank you both for joining me tonight. Coming up, Paul Ryan`s most shameless lie, according to "New York Magazine". Hint, it involves President Obama. And whacky, potential Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson has emerged tonight as the voice of reason on one subject that the candidates discussed today. And in the "Rewrite", learning to laugh at blasphemy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: And now, for the good news. The Detroit Free Press and WDIV-TV introduced us to James Robertson over the weekend because buses don`t cover the full distance between James home in Detroit and his job in Rochester Hill, he walks about 8 miles to work and about 13 miles home from work. That`s 21 miles total, five days a week, 105 miles. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES ROBERTSON: I can`t imagine not working, you know. I didn`t want to end up, you know, end up, you know, doing nothing. It`s -- you know, did you know how long it took me to find a job? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Until today, James did not have enough money to fix his car, but thanks to a stranger who started a Go Fund Me page for him, that page has now raised more than $100,000. Looks like he`s going to be able to have a car and pay the insurance for that car and a little more. Up next, Paul Ryan blames President Obama for -- what else? -- income inequality. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or are we going to build an economy where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead? An idea that this country does best when everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules. The budget that Congress now has in its hands is built on those values. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In an interview with the "New York Times", yesterday, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan said, "The Obamanomics that we`re practicing now are exacerbated inequality. They`ve exacerbated stagnation. They`ve made things worse. The wealthy are doing really well. They`re practicing trickle-down economics now." "New York Magazine" columnist Jonathan Chait called that comment, "Paul Ryan`s most shameless lie ever." He said, "What gives Ryan`s comments a veneer of plausibility is that income inequality has increased continuously, punctuated by a few short reversals for more than three decades. Economists have extensively studied and debated the cause of rising inequality for years, clustering about multiple theories, the decline of labor unions, technological change, the growth of finance, and so on. None of the theories blame Obama`s economic policies." Joining me now is "New York Magazine`s" Jonathan Chait, and former secretary of labor, Robert Reich. His film "Inequality for All" is available on Blu-ray, DVD and iTunes. Jonathan, so this, you believe is Paul Ryan`s worse lie? JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: It`s tough competition I`d admit. I`ve never seen n Orwellian reversal of reality this brazen, as Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan, of course, has offered policies which, if enacted have engineered the largest distribution of wealth from the non-rich to the rich in the history of the United States, and he`s blaming Barack Obama whose policies have really substantially taken money from the rich and given it to the working class and the poor and to some extent, the middle class. So, for Ryan to be attacking Obama, for Obama having done things that Ryan opposed, is just mind-blowing. O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, it seems that we long ago entered the zone in Washington where a politician really can say anything he or she wants to about economics. That economics is confusing enough a subject to the general public that there just really isn`t any way really for people out there to fact check it. ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, Lawrence, that`s right with regard to a lot of economic matters. I mean, if you`re talking about fiscal and monetary policy for example, many people`s eyes glaze over. They don`t know what the debate is all about. But if you`re talking about inequality, you`re talking about the fundamental issue that everybody understands, and that is that most people have gone nowhere in terms of their income and a very small number of people at the very top have got all of the economic gains over the past 30 years. So, when Paul Ryan comes along, as Jonathan Chait just said and provides this kind of Orwellian edifice of hypocrisy, I mean, it`s beyond the normal range of hypocrisy, I think if people understood and heard what he was saying, and, by the way, this is the kind of thing that Republicans have been saying for a while. Mitt Romney, before he dropped out was saying something very, very similar. If people simply wake up to the fact of what these people are saying, they will be utterly stupefied and amazed. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Paul Ryan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: What I think the president is trying to do here is to, again, exploit envy economics. This top-down redistribution doesn`t work. We`ve been doing it for six years. Look, it may make for good politics. It doesn`t make for good economic growth. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait, economic envy? CHAIT: Right. So, that`s the real Paul Ryan line that he`s been saying all along. That`s his attack on President Obama, saying you`re taking too much from the rich, you`re punishing the rich, the job creators, the people who are responsible for the wealth in this country and giving it to the takers he`ll sometimes call them or people he thinks are lazy or otherwise undeserving. That`s what he actually believes. So, you know, I think it`s a reprehensible belief. But at least that is Paul Ryan saying what he actually thinks, as opposed to the previous comments of him trying to get to Obama`s left, which is really the absurd thing that set me off this time. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said yesterday to Savannah Guthrie about the economy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLPI) SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: The economy is doing better, but you`ve laid out a bunch of proposals that you know cannot get through this Congress that is run by Republicans now. Isn`t that kind of counter- productive? OBAMA: No, I disagree with that. Republicans believe that we should be building our infrastructure. Question is, how do we pay for it? That`s the negotiation that we should have. I -- GUTHRIE: You`re offering tax hikes for the wealthy, that`s something they couldn`t even get through the Congress when it was run by the Democrats. OBAMA: Savannah, my job is to present the right ideas, and if the Republicans think they`ve got a better idea, they should present them. But my job is not to trim my sails and not tell the American people what we should be doing. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, you worked for President Obama -- President Clinton as labor secretary when he had lost both bodies of Congress and had to deal with those Republican majorities in both bodies. It`s a very tricky situation of what does the president propose then, because as soon as the president proposes anything a lot of political media`s ready to say instantly, well, that`s impossible, they`re never going to do it, now what? I`m not sure what the alternative is for a president in that situation. REICH: There`s not much of an alternative except simply using a veto pen, but if you want to be a president who has any initiative, who sets the agenda in any way at all, you`ve got to be a president that is willing to take the brunt of criticism that it`s dead on arrival. But I think with regard to President Obama, this is somebody who`s become the master of political jujitsu. I mean, if you look at the proposals he set up, one proposal was to tax the foreign earnings of big American corporations. You know, they`re putting -- they`ve stashed about $2 trillion abroad that can`t be touched. And so, Obama`s saying let`s put a 18 percent tax on these foreign earnings and use it to rebuild the American infrastructure, roads, bridges, tunnels, mass transit. Let`s actually build the productive capacity of the United States on the basis of the foreign earnings of big corporations that are being protected by America in terms of their assets the around the world. Now this, if it`s understood by the public, could actually gain some traction. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait, if anything is to get done, President Obama and Paul Ryan are going to have to work together. They`re going to have to come to some agreements on something. Do you see any areas where that might happen? CHAIT: Well, look, it wasn`t that long ago that they managed to lift the lid on sequestration, which are these automatic budget cuts that neither party really likes and they sort of cut a deal to ease that budget pressure a little bit. So, I think the optimistic scenario is maybe they could ease that budget pressure a little bit and maybe get a little done on the infrastructure issues that you were just discussing. Look, there`s plenty of business leaders in this country who want to rebuild bridges and roads and ports. And there`s a lot of money to be made there if they can get past the anti-spending dogma that has a big hold on the Republican Congress. Now, I don`t think they can, but there`s a chance. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait and Robert Reich, thank you both for joining me tonight. REICH: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, a voice of reason has finally emerged among the potential Republican presidential primary candidates, and it is the least- likely voice of reason possible. And, later, the best ads from the Super Bowl. Janet Mock will join me. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We`ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated. There aren`t reasons to not get vaccinated. GUTHRIE: Are you telling parents you should get your kids vaccinated? OBAMA: You should get your kids vaccinated. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, the one thing that possible Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and President Obama agree on. Ben Carson told "BuzzFeed", "Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country, and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them." Some Republican candidates seem to be paying more attention to Jenny McCarthy than Dr. Ben Carson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) JENNY MCCARTHY: I do not believe that vaccines are the sole cause for autism. I do believe they are a trigger. They are a trigger. And the dumbest way to explain it though, for me is, if you become overweight, you might trigger diabetes. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: All I can say is we vaccinated ours. So, that`s the best expression I give you my opinion. But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So, that`s the balance that the government has to decide. SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. (END VIDEO CLIPS) O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, the deputy physician for quality and safety at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, and E.J. Dionne, MSNBC political analyst and columnist for "The Washington Post". Doctor, do you want to respond to what you just heard Rand Paul say? DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, MEMORIAL SLOANE KETTERING: Well, first, I want to say how nice it is to hear Ben say something quite sane. O`DONNELL: It`s the first time he`s sounded like a physician to me. SEPKOWITZ: Right, right, it was sort of reassuring. Rand Paul, also a physician on the other hand, is pandering as fast as he can toward the illogical, desperate, make everybody happy approach to, you don`t have to do anything you don`t want to do. And this is the problem is libertarianism falls apart when it bumps into public health. You can`t have it both ways, and he wants to have it both ways as both politicians do. O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, I really -- I want to re-read the Ben Carson quote. We`ve listened to him now for a couple of years saying things like Obamacare`s the worst thing since slavery. He said that. Obamacare worse than 9/11. He has said that. The same man who said that, said this very precise, careful medically correct thing about immunizations, but Chris Christie can`t bring himself to say something that clear about it and Rand Paul can`t. E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I never expected to sit here and say I stand four square with Ben Carson. O`DONNELL: This is the night. DIONNE: And I think you heard the physician in him speaking. And when Christie puts himself to the right of Ben Carson, he might reconsider. I mean, the issue here, as Ben Carson said, is public health policies have helped eliminate a lot of diseases, and that we all have a responsibility to the health of each other, and that we don`t want our kids going to school with kids who are not immunized against disease. (END VIDEO CLIP) Because when immunization falls below a certain rate, you get the outbreak of diseases that we thought we had wiped out. And I think -- and somebody mentioned this earlier tonight -- older people seem to understand immunization better, perhaps because they still remember the polio epidemic -- the big polio epidemic. And vaccines were a great relief to people all over the country. And so, public officials should not be saying things that discourage people from being vaccinated. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Polio was a formative event in this country`s attitude towards the -- when I was a little kid growing up in Boston, the first mayor of Boston in my lifetime, John Hynes, was in a wheelchair because he had polio. DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, SLOAN KETTERING: Correct. Right. It was in front of everyone, all the time, FDR obviously and others. And it was within everyone`s immediate memory that someone had either become severely ill from polio or from measles, or had been crippled in some way from one of the viral infections that vaccines, I think, may have gotten rid of. So, it`s exasperating beyond belief. I think one of the real problems we`re having is that logical, persuasive argument isn`t helping that much - - that there`s still a belief that you can believe anything you want to. And that there`s no reality out there. And that`s making it very difficult to win on the basis of merit. O`DONNELL: And, E.J., this is just one of those things that is, seems to be, connected to other thinking in the Republican party -- on issues of climate science, on things where they just can`t seem to be able to process the known scientific evidence. DIONNE: Well, I think there is definitely some of that, and I also think that, you know, every time we think well, there are certain issues that we`re not going to turn into partisan or ideological issues. We all used to agree, the very conservative AMA doctor and the very liberal unionized nurse used to agree that immunizing liberal kids against disease was a great advance for human kind. And, now, suddenly, those issues are turned into ideological issues. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And I do think there`s something about evidence playing less and less of a role in our public arguments that include scientific evidence. But as a doctor said, you know, if you feel something is true, that seems to be enough. (END VIDEO CLIP) And it is a problem with libertarianism because there are certain things that are in the public interest that work only if we agree to do them together. And I think immunization is a classic example of that. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what libertarian, Dr. Senator Rand Paul, said to Laura Ingraham today. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think there are times in which there can be some rules. But, for the most part, it ought to be voluntary. The biggest one was -- I don`t know if you remember when Governor Perry made it mandatory to get -- for a sexually-transmitted disease, to have everybody have to take it. While I think it`s a good idea to take a vaccine, I think that`s a personal decision for individuals to take and when they take it. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Doctor, he just said, for the most part, it ought to be voluntary. SEPKOWITZ: Well, he got the word, sex, in there very quickly to win his audience over. I think that if when we`re to argue with him vaccine by vaccine, rather than taking the extreme -- the real hot button one, which is HPV, -- O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. SEPKOWITZ: -- papillomavirus. That one`s a little edgier as an argument, so he was smart to go there politically, but sleazy to avoid the discussion. Although it`s very disappointing that a physician, and from a well- trained place, has got a big brain. You know, medically is pandering the way he is. I`m very disappointed. O`DONNELL: Dr. Kent Sepkowitz and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining me tonight. Coming up in the "Rewrite,"" after cartoonists were assassinated in Paris for blasphemy, Ireland has something to teach the world about blasphemy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) For the second week in a row, another massive winter storm has rolled into the Northeast. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The snow first buried the Chicago area in a foot of snow, leaving -- more than a foot there. And, tonight, Boston is expected to pick up a -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- total of 15 inches after the two feet they got there last week. Joining me now from Boston`s Copley Square is Katelyn Flint, reporter from New England Cable News. Katelyn, what`s the latest there. KATELYN FLINT, NEW ENGLAND CABLE NEWS REPORTER: You know, right now, it is looking like more of a snow globe than a city when you take into consideration all of snow that we saw from the blizzard last week, and then again, more than a foot that has fallen from overnight last night and just today. So, if you want to take a look behind me again -- you said, this is Boston`s Copley Square area, and you can see crews hard at work because they have been out plowing and sanding all night last night and all throughout the day. And if you can see from the streets that are behind me here, we are still not down to pavement. So, making for some very slippery driving conditions. And some concerns also, as we do move it to the overnight with concerns of dropping temperatures, all of this snow on the ground, that slush that remains there, basically just freezing over and turning into ice. So, they have been hard at work, especially with the blizzard from last week. You know, the mayor today said that they had shipped and moved, over the weekend, about 6,000 truckloads of snow from the city here in Boston. And that was before the storm that we saw today, where we`re getting about 16 inches in total. I want you to take a look over here just so you can get an idea of the embankments we`re seeing. Such large drifts covering these benches. The snow is that light and fluffy snow, so it`s not hard to shovel but anyone here will tell you that digging out under a foot of snow or more, is still digging out under a foot of snow. Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Katelyn Flint in Boston. Thank you very much, Katelyn. I don`t know, I`ve seen much worse there. The "Rewrite" is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL MAHER, HBO HOST: New rule, no one can blame me when I say, this is a stupid country, when 60 percent of the adults in it think the Noah`s Ark story is literally true. The thing that`s really disturbing about Noah isn`t the silly, it`s not it`s immoral. It`s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and His name is God. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In the "Rewrite" tonight, blasphemy. As the 20th Century came to an end, we had a right to believe that the world we lived in was long past the point where you could be executed for blasphemy. The last person executed for blasphemy in Great Britain was Thomas Aikenhead who was hanged in Scotland in 1697. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) According to the indictment prepared against him, Aikenhead had claimed that theology was a rhapsody of feigned and ill-invented nonsense. He also attacked the view that Scripture was divinely ordained, suggesting that the books of the Old Testament should be called Ezra`s Fables, since he claimed, described Ezra had made them up. And the New Testament should be titled, "The History of the Impostor Christ." Jesus, he said, had tricked His followers with magic he learned in Egypt, where Moses had acquired similar skills. (END VIDEO CLIP) The last person to be jailed for Blasphemy in this country was Abner Kneeland, who was convicted of blasphemy in Massachusetts in 1838. He was an ordained minister and theologian, who eventually came to see Christianity`s concept of God as a product of Christians` imagination. Blasphemy still had a foothold, here and there, in the laws of the western world in the 20th Century, but no one really noticed when the Republic of Ireland finally achieved full independence and wrote its own Constitution in 1937. It made blasphemy a crime and enshrined that in the Constitution itself. Article 40 of the Irish Constitution says, "The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter is an offense which shall be punishable in accordance with law." The Irish Constitution also said, "The state recognizes the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) Ireland is a Catholic country. Eighty-five percent of the Irish population is Roman Catholic, another six percent are members of other Christian religions, almost six percent say they have no religion, about three percent belong to religions they don`t identify in polls, and one percent say they are Muslim. Last night, Ireland was treated to quite a spectacle -- an Englishman came to Dublin, sat for an interview on a government-funded television network and committed extreme blasphemy. The comic actor, Stephen Fry, was interviewed by the legendary Irish talk show host, Gay Byrne, whose program is titled, "The Meaning of Life." Let that be a lesson to those of you who think the title of this program is a tad presumptuous. There`s a talk show in Ireland actually called, "The Meaning of Life." And that is indeed what the show explores. The interview took place in the one-time home of Oscar Wilde, the famed Irish writer who once denounced all the harm the Bible has done but found God on his death bed. Last night, Gay Byrne asked atheist actor, Stephen Fry, what if he`s wrong. What happens if he dies and then finds himself at the pearly gates. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GAY BYRNE, IRISH TALK SHOW HOST: You walk up to the pearly gates and you are confronted by God. What would Stephen Fry say to him, her or it. STEPHEN FRY, ENGLISH ACTOR: I will, basically -- that is the Odyssey. I think, I`d say, bone cancer in children? What`s that about. How dare you. How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It`s not right. It`s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect the capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world, which is so full of injustice and pain." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: With a Catholic country watching, a Catholic country where blasphemy is technically against the law, Stephen Fry continued to describe God creations that led him to believe there is no God. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRY: Insects, whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind, that eat outwards from the eyes. Why. Why did you do that to us. You could easily have made a creation in which that didn`t exist. It is simply not acceptable. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Stephen Fry wasn`t finished. I`m about to show you how he finished his point. And you will see how Gay Byrne reacted on behalf of his Catholic country, where blasphemy is illegal -- how he reacted to this energetic stream of illegal blasphemy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRY: Atheism is not just about not believing there is -- it is not believing there`s a God but, on the assumptions there is one, what kind of God is he. It`s perfectly apparent that he`s monstrous, utterly monstrous and deserves no respect whatsoever. The moment you banish him, your life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner, more worth-living, in my opinion. BYRNE: That sure is the longest answer to that question -- (LAUGHTER) -- about God in this entire series. So, well done and thank you -- FRY: Thank you so much. BYRNE: Good day to you. FRY: Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, there`s Ireland`s legendary talk show host getting a good laugh out of the big blast of atheistic blasphemy, visited upon all of Ireland by an invading Englishman. With cartoonists being shot dead at their desks in Paris for blasphemy, we can only wonder, in what century will an English actor be able to offer several uninterrupted minutes of blasphemy to Saudi Arabia`s premiere talk show or Pakistan`s premiere talk show host, then have a good laugh about it, a handshake, and get out of that country alive. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Twenty-five percent of Super Bowl viewers, the smart 25 percent, say that the commercials are the best thing about the Super Bowl. And here`s why. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS 1: Marcia, what happened? DANNY TREJO, ACTOR: Peter hit me in the nose with a football. I can`t go to the dance like this. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS 1: Well, I`m sure it was an accident, sweetheart. TREJO: An eye for an eye is what dad always says. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I never said that, honey. TREJO: Shut up. I`ve got to Peter a lesson. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS 1: Marcia, eat a Snickers. TREJO: Why. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS 1: You get a little hostile when you`re hungry. Better? UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS 2: Better. STEVE BUSCEMI, ACTOR: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS 1: Jan, this isn`t about you. BUSCEMI: It never is. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`ll be back with the best commercials of the Super Bowl. Janet Mark is here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) Over 114 million people watched the Super Bowl last night, making it the most watched television program in the history of television in the United States. In a recent survey, 25 percent of viewers said, the most important thing is not the game. It is, of course, the commercials. Here is Bryan Cranston`s contribution to the most important part of the Super Bowl. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRYAN CRANSTON, ACTOR: Hi. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: My doctor called in a prescription. CRANSTON: Uh, yes. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You are not Greg. CRANSTON: I`m sorry, Greg. We`re both over 50 years old. We both used to own a Pontiac Aztek and we both have a lot of experience with drugs -- sorry, pharmaceuticals. So, say my name. UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Sorta Greg. UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE-OVER: Esurance helps make sure you only pay for what`s right for you, not someone who`s sorta like you. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Janet Mock, host of "SO POPULAR" on shift by MSNBC. Janet is also the author of -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "Redefining Realness." (END VIDEO CLIP) Janet, they redefine the possible every year with these commercials. They`re so great. JANET MOCK, MSNBC HOST: They really are. And, you know, seeing Walter White there. O`DONNELL: Oh. MOCK: I think a lot of people were so excited to hear him say, "Say my name." And also to have the yellow hazmat back on. O`DONNELL: That was my favorite. And then, of course, there is the return of that famous "Today`s Show" team, Katie and Bryant. MOCK: My 80s heart just -- O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at that one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRYANT GUMBEL, NBC HOST: That 56 pass. I wasn`t prepared to translate that. KATIE COURIC, NBC HOST: That`s right. GUMBEL: That little mark with the a and then the ring around it. ALLISON: At? GUMBEL: See, that`s what I said. Katie said she thought it was "about." COURIC: Yes, -- GUMBEL: But I`ve never heard it -- COURIC: -- or around or about. GUMBEL: -- I`ve never heard it said. I`ve only seen the mark. There it is -- at am feedback com. I mean, what is Internet anyway. What -- do you write to it, like mail? COURIC: Miss Allison, can you explain what Internet is? GUMBEL: See, that`s what I said. What do you mean there`s nothing under the hood. Katie said she thought this was a car. COURIC: Yes. GUMBEL: And it`s built using wind, like from a windmill. COURIC: Or a fan. UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE-OVER: The all-electric BMW i3, built-in wind- powered factory with the strength of carbon fiber and BMW performance. COURIC: Come on, loosen up, Gumbel. GUMBEL: Can you twerk. COURIC: Maybe. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Now, Janet, I know you`re too young to remember not knowing what the Internet was. But -- (LAUGHTER) -- I was -- I think I was about 18 months ahead of them, maybe two years ahead of them on asking the same questions. It was so great to see that. My first thought was that, "Did they really say that on the `Today Show." It turns out, yes. MOCK: Yes, I love the fact that they kind of poked fun at themselves, their younger selves, not quite understanding the hip technology. And I love that. Now, I think we`re all in the same space with the electric car. I think it`s something that, maybe, we`ll look back on and see as the space in which we didn`t quite know. I loved other commercials, too, where celebrities kind of made fun of themselves, you know, there was like Kim Kardashian in the T-Mobile ad, and Mindy Kaling, of course, with the -- O`DONNELL: I think we have the Mindy ad. Let`s look at that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MINDY KALING, ACTRESS: Taxi. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE NARRATOR: After years of being treated like she was invisible, it occurred to Mindy, she might actually be invisible. ROY ORBISON, SINGER: Pretty woman, walking down the street. Pretty woman, the girl I`d like to meet. FEMALE NARRATOR: But Mindy was actually not invisible. MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Whoa, excuse me. KALING: Did you see me? FEMALE NARRATOR: She had just always been treated that way. DAMON: Yes, yes, ma`am. KALING: You don`t want to kiss, just to make sure? DAMON: Absolutely not. KALING: No, I didn`t want to kiss you either, Matt Damon, so -- NARRATOR: Join the nation that sees you as a priority. Nationwide is on your side. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: She is so brilliant. And that`s kind of a snatch of her show, too. I mean, her show behaves an awful lot like that commercial. MOCK: It does. And this is also a young writer and creator who made her first break by playing Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in that OffOffOff Broadway play that kind of got her to where she is today as a writer and a thinker. O`DONNELL: Yes, it was just fantastic. What are the other -- oh, wait, I`m told -- MOCK: The puppy. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: -- I`m told, the Budweiser puppy ad, they say, is the most popular. Is that based on the social networking commentary. MOCK: Yes, and it`s also because there`s a puppy lab. So, you write it like there`s a horse who`s going to save a lab. O`DONNELL: No need to describe it. Here it is. (LAUGHTER) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (HORSE NEIGHING) THE PROCLAIMERS, SCOTTISH BAND: When I wake up, when I know I`m going to be. And I will walk 500 miles. And I will walk 500 more just to be there for all the thousand miles to fall down at your door. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Boy, Budweiser knows its audience. They`re not going for cool, they`re going for America. MOCK: Yes. O`DONNELL: And heartwarming, and they got it. MOCK: They`re giving you -- they`re giving you a feeling. There was no Budweiser -- O`DONNELL: Yes. MOCK: -- in the commercial at all, right. O`DONNELL: Yes. MOCK: And, also, it brought me back to kind of looking at -- watching "Homeward Bound," where it was about these puppies and these animals who find their way back home. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And I also think about this "Lion King" kind of scenario that also happened here with this viral video. (END VIDEO CLIP) And so, it`s very click-baity in that sense. O`DONNELL: And it`s just the wicked cute dog. What else did you like among the commercials. MOCK: I also -- I think, another one that I loved, too, was the Dove. There`s a Dove commercial talking about what real dads do. And it kind of framed, you know, obviously we`re watching the Super Bowl, so there`s hypermasculine -- American hypermasculinity. And you have these dads who are kind of centered in, taking care of their children. O`DONNELL: We don`t have time for another commercial, so just tell us one more because we`re running out of time. (LAUGHTER) We don`t have 40 seconds for another commercial. MOCK: Oh, I also loved -- there was also a darker one, which is more of a P.S.A. --, which was, you know, in this space about domestic violence. O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, right, right. And an important one for the NFL this season. MOCK: Exactly. Thank you very much for joining us. Your show is entitled, "So Popular," according to the teleprompter. (LAUGHTER) The teleprompter says that it`s at 11:00 a.m. Easter on Thanks, Janet. Chris Hayes is up next. END