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

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 02/26/15

Guests: Luke Russert, David Frum, Blake Zeff, Mona El-Naggar

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Next week. Now, there has been no official announcement on this. Junior Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been campaigning that the Republican leadership in Congress shouldn`t even allow a vote on her on the floor. But again, our sources telling us tonight that the Republican leadership in Congress is blowing off Ted Cruz on this matter and Loretta Lynch will get her vote to be the next Attorney General of the United States next week. We`ll see. Watch this phase. That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, hello Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, you`ve been great about pushing the Loretta Lynch vote in the Senate, and insisting that there`s absolutely no reason for delay. Finally, we have movement. MADDOW: There is movement. And our sources tonight tell us that she`s -- it`s going to happen next week, no official word on that, but Ted Cruz is saying it should never happen, we shall see. O`DONNELL: We heard it from Rachel first -- MADDOW: Indeed -- O`DONNELL: A vote next week, that means she`s going to be sworn in at the end of the week. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. Well, with funding for Homeland Security running out tomorrow night, Republicans in the house and Senate are still arguing about exactly when they should surrender to the Democrats and President Obama. And Rand Paul is opening up a new campaign attack against Jeb Bush. Jeb`s use of drugs when he was in high school. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, UNITED STATES: Every mayor, governor, police chief, sheriff and police commissioner should be concerned about this. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Funding the Department of Homeland Security -- REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Is absolute insanity for Republicans if we don`t vote on a clean bill. Maybe if their state was attacked, they`d knock it off. NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This is all about time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time is running out. REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER, UNITED HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: When they make decisions, I`ll let you know. PELOSI: It`s about time for them to grow up and pass this bill. GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil, if I can take on a hundred thousand protestors, I can do the same across the world. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a job to do. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men and women who are gathered here today are gathered to fight for freedom in our country. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that job is not just to find the guy who can shout freedom the loudest. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people want freedom online. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The future of the internet may have just been decided in a landmark vote today by the FCC. CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: On to important news now. The Llamas are still on the loose -- JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Oh -- O`BRIEN: Oh, doesn`t want to be caught, we should probably move on with the news. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the clock struck midnight overnight, pot became legal in the nation`s capital. SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: When Jeb was a very wealthy kid at a very elite school, he used marijuana but didn`t get caught. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They basically think this is Jeb Bush`s race to lose. PAUL: The law seems to target and seems to go after poor people, often people of color. Three out of four people in jail are black or brown. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin`s death. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today marks three years to the day since Trayvon Martin was shot to death in Sanford, Florida. OBAMA: It reminds us that the history of America doesn`t belong to one group or another, it belongs to all of us. O`BRIEN: I just want to go and meet the people. Obviously it`s a politically charged situation. STEWART: When does it air? When is it taken on? O`BRIEN: Oh, never air. (LAUGHTER) I don`t know -- STEWART: Why don`t I just -- O`BRIEN: I`m dead last -- STEWART: Read it, because it appears right now -- O`BRIEN: Oh, it`s right there. (LAUGHTER) As you asked me, I saw it right there -- STEWART: It`s just you -- O`BRIEN: And I thought, there`s a reason you`re leaving. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: For six weeks, house Republicans have been clinging to a hopeless strategy for funding the Department of Homeland Security. They have mistakenly believed until tonight that they could force President Obama to sign a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security. A bill which would include provisions that would nullify the President`s executive actions on immigration. They foolishly believed President Obama would sign such a bill because funding the Department of Homeland Security is so important. Of course, house Speaker John Boehner never believed any of that stuff, but he had to publicly pretend that he believed it so that the amateur right- wing of his party would not rebel against him. As it happens, Senate Democrats successfully filibustered the house bill in the Senate and have now forced Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to advance a clean bill that Democrats can vote for and the President can sign. With 26 hours left before funding for the Homeland Security runs out, house Republicans have stopped clinging to the wreckage of their failed strategy and are finally offering a new idea; a time-out of sorts. The house Republican plan is now to vote tomorrow on a clean, three-week extension of Homeland Security funding, which if passed, will do nothing more than delay the inevitable Republican surrender by a few weeks. The Republican delayed surrender strategy would mean another few weeks of the secretary of Homeland Security explaining things like this to the Congress and the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHNSON: If you look at photographs of the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, much of the first responder communications equipment, portable radios, fire helmets, high visibility vests, response vehicles, life saving equipment, and mass casualty supplies were things paid for by grants from the Department of Homeland Security. This is not just an inside the beltway political jousting. A failure to fund the Department of Homeland Security fully has real impacts on public safety. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now is "Nbc News" Capitol Hill correspondent Luke Russert, also joining us, the senior editor of "The Atlantic", David Frum, and "" political editor Blake Zeff. Luke, you created today one of the great performance art moments in the history of the speakership of the House of Representatives. Let`s take a look at that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Homeland Security funding runs out on Friday, are we less safe as a nation? BOEHNER: If `ands and buts` were candy and nuts, everyday will be Christmas. RUSSERT: It`s going to be a clean DHS funding bill. Are you going to put it on the floor? Are you going to kill it? Are you going to vote on it, and have you even had this discussion? BOEHNER: When they make the decision, I`ll let you know. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Luke, I am speechless. But can you translate for us? You know the speaker, you`ve listened to him often, can you translate, if `ands and buts` were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas, what does that mean in -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s it -- O`DONNELL: Legislative terms? RUSSERT: It`s something that the speaker often says when he`s -- O`DONNELL: Really? -- RUSSERT: Got his back against the wall -- O`DONNELL: He`s done that line before? -- RUSSERT: Yes, he`s said that -- O`DONNELL: Oh -- RUSSERT: A few times when he has his back against the wall and we say why don`t you pass essentially the way forward? But I will say that the comparison I`ve used for John Boehner this week, Lawrence, is really is Marshawn Lynch. Which is that John Boehner has repeated the same thing over and over again a variety of times, essentially that the house acted, the ball is in the Senate`s court and they are awaiting to hear from the Senate. Even though Mitch McConnell made his intentions known on Monday. So John Boehner is doing exactly as he`s done since he started his speakership. He is allowing for the conservative faction of his conference to beat their chest, to scream and yell, to try and figure out a way to "stand up" to the President regarding this issue of immigration in the past. It`s been different issues, but at the end of the day, especially when McConnell cuts this deal, we all know that John Boehner eventually is going to have to take what McConnell is giving him from the Senate. It`s just a question of when? It`s not a question of if. So in this case, John Boehner today in his press conference was just sort of trying to move it along, coming up with different Marshawn Lynchs and say the sort of same thing over and over. And then around 5:00 today, he came to the realization that, OK, we`re going to have to do something because we don`t want to allow Homeland Security funding to expire. The one thing I will just point out, Lawrence, that came to my mind during that press conference, if the shoe was on the other foot, and a Democrat had done something like that over the issue of Homeland Security, the outrage from conservative media, I don`t think anybody would have been able to hear themselves speak, it would have been so loud. But -- O`DONNELL: Well -- RUSSERT: It just shows you that this is the issue where they decide to fight immigration, DHS, as one Republican said to me earlier in the week, there`s two things Republican party is doing well, we lower your taxes and we say we`re going to kill terrorists. I don`t know why we`re giving away one of those two good things. O`DONNELL: But David, David Frum -- DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: In 2000 -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead David. FRUM: In 2011 and 2014 when Republicans forced debt ceiling battles over issues that were not relevant to the debt ceiling, it was the Republicans who were behaving in a way that was detrimental to American institutions. That is not true this time. The predicate, the cause of all this is President Obama`s executive amnesty. That his determination to wave enforcement of immigration laws on a massive scale and to issue Social Security cards to people who are not legally entitled to bear them. The Republicans are looking for a way to stop this. The -- what -- it is - - what the President is doing this time, that is an attack on American institutions. O`DONNELL: But David -- FRUM: And there is -- it is very -- O`DONNELL: But David, there`s a way to stop it. Why -- they`re going to have a separate vote on stopping it, separate from funding the Department of Homeland Security, that`s a way to stop it. FRUM: The -- there`s nothing as you know from your days in the Senate, there is nothing more traditional that Congress does than to say to the President, you may not spend any money to do this, that, or the third thing. And Congress does that all the time. And that is what they are doing here, is they`re attaching on the bill that is relevant to the U.S. citizenship and immigration service. They are saying no money may be spent to further this purpose that has never passed the house -- O`DONNELL: Right -- FRUM: Never passed the Senate -- O`DONNELL: But Dave -- but David -- FRUM: It`s a solo act -- O`DONNELL: The votes -- FRUM: Of the executive -- O`DONNELL: But David, the votes aren`t there to pass that bill. So the adult choice is to move to the next possibility -- FRUM: But -- O`DONNELL: Isn`t it? FRUM: But the -- what the President has done here, he didn`t have the votes either. And the President did something -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- FRUM: That is clearly a prerogative of Congress. That he`s -- well, he is not -- he is not exercising prosecutorial discretion, he is simply stopping enforcement of a whole vast category of law and entering people into the Social Security system who shouldn`t be there. O`DONNELL: OK -- FRUM: And Congress is saying -- O`DONNELL: I get it -- FRUM: You don`t have the power to do that -- O`DONNELL: Let`s -- FRUM: And we`re looking for a way to stop it. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a Republican who understands your argument, David, and who would like to stop all those things that you would like to stop, but also recognizes that the Department of Homeland Security has to be funded. Let`s listen to what Peter King says about this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KING: It`s absolute insanity for the Republicans if we don`t vote on a clean bill. If the Senate sends us a clean bill, we have an absolute obligation, not just a political obligation, but a moral obligation to vote on that. To be defunding the Department of Homeland Security at a time when the terror threats are greater now than any time since 9/11. To me, it`s just living in a -- it`s a fantasy world, a delusional world, the time has come for a decision to be made after this come to a vote. Just put it on the house floor, people can vote any way they want. I have no doubt that a solid majority of the House of Representatives would vote yes. Just give us democracy and let us vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Blake, he is absolutely right, isn`t he? If you put that on the house floor, it would pass. RUSSERT: Yes, and I`ve spoken to -- O`DONNELL: Luke -- RUSSERT: Some -- O`DONNELL: Let me hear from Blake on this. RUSSERT: Oh, I`m sorry. BLAKE ZEFF, POLITICAL EDITOR, SALON.COM: Well, yes, I mean I think the problem for David`s argument, and I think David comes from a good philosophical place here, it`s a difference of opinion that you and I might have with him. But the problem for David and people like him is that Mitch McConnell disagrees with him. Yes, Mitch McConnell, Mitch McConnell said the game is over. OK, we played this little stunt, we tried to appeal to our far right base and you know, if the deadline is coming, we got to stop the game. And so Mitch McConnell is saying, let`s do a clean funding bill. So there`s no other option but John Boehner anymore. David could talk about how this is about President Obama`s immigration order and all that kind of stuff. But something about President Obama anymore, Mitch McConnell chose President Obama`s side over John Boehner`s side. O`DONNELL: Luke Russert, how many Peter Kings are there in the Republican house and how many people not facing reality as Peter King would describe them, are there -- RUSSERT: Well -- O`DONNELL: In the Republican house? RUSSERT: I sort of asked leadership aides and a few members a few days ago what they thought the number would be if in fact a clean Homeland Security bill that went through the end of September would go on the floor. The number I got was at least 65, maybe as high as 75 or 85. So there`s no doubt they could have moved it forward. But it would have violated the Hastert rule which is of course, the rule that says whenever you have a GOP majority, you want to get the majority in the majority before you put something on the house floor. And that really has been kind of the story of the Boehner`s speakership, is that he does not want to violate that Hastert rule until a last possible moment. One last thing that I would tell you though, about this whole fight, Lawrence, I find fascinating is, here you have the new Republican majority, they`ve literally spent two months on Keystone and this, and more likely they`re not going to spend most of March on this and a Medicare doc fix. So any type of big bulled new types of ideas they were trying to show the American public have really been pushed to the back burner. And a lot of senior Republicans have told me that`s what they hate about this the most, that they`re not having opportunity to express what they`re for. It`s just going from crisis to crisis. O`DONNELL: OK, we`re going to take -- FRUM: And President Obama also had -- O`DONNELL: Quickly, David, quickly. FRUM: President Obama also had the option of putting the Department of Homeland Security first, and he didn`t. He put it second to his quite lawless, now struck down by federal court executive amnesty. That was his top priority, Homeland Security was second for him. O`DONNELL: And will -- FRUM: So, he is not the responsible adult here. O`DONNELL: We will hear more speeches like that on the house floor as they go through the surrender process. So Dave, we`re going to -- we`re going to be back with more on this. Before we leave, I just want to -- one thing about this so-called Hastert rule, and Luke, I`m just saying this for the audience, I know everybody in Washington calls it that -- it`s not a rule. There is no rule of the house that says this. It was just Denny Hastert`s preference, his political preference when he was speaker, and there`s nothing that binds any speaker on that. RUSSERT: It`s not in the constitution -- O`DONNELL: Right or -- RUSSERT: Perfect -- O`DONNELL: And there ain`t no rule book of the house either. We`re going to take a break, coming up next, Rand Paul wants to know why Jeb Bush wants to put people in prison for doing exactly, and I mean exactly what Jeb Bush did in high school. Smoke a lot of pot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: He used marijuana but didn`t get caught, didn`t have to go to prison. I think it shows some hypocrisy that`s going to be difficult for young people to understand. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Scott Walker says as president, he could absolutely handle the Islamic State because as governor, he actually had to handle some labor unions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: And for years, I`ve been concerned about that threat. I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil, if I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: A Walker spokesman was then, of course, forced to tell "National Review" that the governor was in no way comparing peaceful, protesting American citizens to the beheaders of the Islamic State. What the governor was saying was, when faced with adversity, he chooses strength and leadership according to his spokesman. Up next, Rand Paul opens up a new campaign attack against Jeb Bush. And Jeb Bush admits to smoking a lot of pot in high school and getting away with it. And Rand Paul wants to know why Jeb Bush thinks pot users, pot users like him, the ones who don`t get away with it, should go to prison. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: When Jeb was a very wealthy kid at a very elite school, he used marijuana but didn`t get caught, didn`t have to go to prison. I think it shows some hypocrisy that`s going to be difficult for young people to understand why we`d put a 65-year-old -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- PAUL: Guy in jail for murder, for marijuana -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I mean -- PAUL: What I`m talking about, there is not the hypocrisy of well, it`s the hypocrisy of evading the law because the law seems to target and seems to go after poor people, often people of color. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Rand Paul talking about Jeb Bush`s drug history on "Fox News" last night. Tomorrow, both Rand Paul and Jeb Bush will address the Conservative Political Action Conference where Rand Paul has won the straw poll for the last two years. Back with me, Luke Russert, David Frum and Blake Zeff. And David Frum, how is that line of argument going to go over with Republican primary voters? FRUM: The Republican party is divided on the marijuana issue, so it may draw blood. But let`s remember that Rand Paul is here advocating. He is not a friend to the groups that he is speaking for. He is not a friend to young people and the people of color when he wants to make marijuana completely legal. And the consequences of legal marijuana are very dangerous, and they are life-changing and they are going to fall on the people who are going to be exposed to all kinds of life risks if it is made easier to start taking drugs, easier to keep using drugs. O`DONNELL: Blake Zeff, what I find -- ZEFF: Yes -- O`DONNELL: So fascinating about this line of attack is that, it is the obvious side of it, of the -- look at this guy, he gets away with it then he wants to put other people in prison for what he got away with -- ZEFF: Yes. O`DONNELL: There`s also a very clear line of attack here about Bush privilege. ZEFF: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Just Bush life privilege -- ZEFF: Absolutely -- O`DONNELL: In general. High school is not exactly the way we describe the school. This is Andover, this is one of the -- you know, the elite, most elite boarding schools in America, where he was. And let me just read to you where -- this was all revealed in the "Boston Globe". Let`s just read this description of Jeb`s pot use at Andover. And this is from Peter Tibbetts who was a classmate of his, and the "Globe" reports it this way. "The first time Tibbetts smoked marijuana, he said was with Bush and a few other classmates in the Woods near Pemberton Cottage." "Then a few weeks later, Tibbetts said, he smoked hashish, a cannabis product typically stronger than pot in Jeb`s dormitory room." "The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb`s room, Tibbetts said, he had a portable stereo with removal speakers and put on Steppenwolf for me. As the rock group`s signature song, "Magic Carpet Ride" blared from the speakers," Tibbetts said he smoked harsh with Bush. He said he once bought hashish from Bush, but stressed in a follow-up e-mail. "Please bear in mind that I was seeking the hash, it wasn`t as if he was a dealer, though he did suggest I take up cigarettes so that I could hold my hits better after that first joint." Blake Zeff, who taught you how to hold your hits better when you were in high school? -- ZEFF: Unfortunately for me, Jeb Bush was not there when I was in college - - O`DONNELL: Which -- ZEFF: I wish he were -- O`DONNELL: Presidential candidate taught you how to hold your hits better? ZEFF: I think Rand Paul would probably be a good teacher of that, but certainly he wasn`t. O`DONNELL: Good -- ZEFF: But I need it -- but your point is a good one, he is bringing up this whole idea of elite privilege. I always think it`s kind of funny because Rand Paul of course is the son of a Congressman and doctor. He is hardly some guy who had to, you know, work his way up from boot straps. But the other bigger point that I think you`re getting at, I`m sure is what David Frum thinks is that, this feels to me like -- about more than marijuana. This is Rand Paul taking a shot at Jeb Bush who is the big dawg in the establishment lane of the GOP primary, right? Tomorrow he`s going to be speaking at C-PAC which is very much a far right crowd, that`s kind of Rand Paul`s home crowd. The libertarian types, tea parties. And it`s like hitting a pi¤ata, going after Jeb Bush, the candy falls out with the far right crowd, I think Rand Paul really doesn`t like Jeb Bush and sees this as another opportunity to just hit the guy and score some points with his base. O`DONNELL: And Luke Russert, Jeb`s brother had maybe the most charming answer to the drug question by any candidate when he said, when I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish. Jeb is not quite so good at poet, what he said to the "Boston Globe" about this was, "I drunk alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover. It was pretty common." Luke, how do you see this particular line of attack playing out by Rand Paul? RUSSERT: Well, it`s interesting because I think the real purpose of it is, he`s trying to grow the GOP brand and he`s talking about criminal justice reform. Which is something that we`ve heard inclines(ph) up on Capitol Hill from some Republican lawmakers. And think about Washington D.C. where I am right now, which we just legalized today. There is a report that was really a sort of catalyst for legalization, which was when there were drug possession arrests in Washington, this was in the "Washington Post", even though blacks and whites use it equally, nine out of ten of the arrests were for blacks. So I think Rand Paul is trying to tap into that and a byproduct of that is what? Going against Jeb Bush, saying, you know, arrest you know, a 65-year- old white guy for -- a 65-year-old man rather, for medical marijuana. Kind of showing this aged difference in this idea that Jeb Bush is trying to overreach here, at least legally to pander to a base and he is not having a realistic view of it -- O`DONNELL: Is this -- RUSSERT: So I didn`t think -- O`DONNELL: That Rand Paul version of this -- RUSSERT: I should also say Rand Paul, more so than other candidates, has been throwing the hammer down at his opponents. O`DONNELL: Yes -- RUSSERT: And he is not -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this isn`t nightmare -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- RUSSERT: Holding back at all -- O`DONNELL: David -- FRUM: This is -- O`DONNELL: Frum -- FRUM: This is -- O`DONNELL: A quick last word for us -- FRUM: This is nightmare version of GOP extension. The way you want to extend the GOP brand is by making healthcare more available. By speaking for that, not by saying we`re going to make drugs more available. The libertarian message purports to be the solution to the Republican problem. It is the Republican problem. What the party needs is a healthcare and middle class economic message, not a drug message. O`DONNELL: David Frum gets the last word on it tonight, thank you David Frum, Luke Russert and Blake Zeff, thank you all for joining me tonight. FRUM: Take care. O`DONNELL: Coming up next -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye -- O`DONNELL: One of the Islamic State fighters who has been photographed beside a beheaded corpse used to have only one dream, becoming a fitness instructor with his own fitness studio. The extraordinary story of how that dream turned into fighting for the Islamic State is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: I know that there are some media outlets that are reporting that this suspect has been identified. At this point, I`m not in a position to either confirm or deny that the individual named in these reports is the individual that we`re searching for. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The "Washington Post" and the"Bbc" have confirmed the identity of the man known as Jihadi John. A masked British man seen here just before the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Former friends have identified Jihadi John as a Kuwaiti-born British man in his mid 20s from London named Mohammed Emwazi. According to the "Washington Post", he is a University of Westminster graduate with a computer programming degree. The identification of Jihadi John follows the arrest in the raiding(ph) on Wednesday of three Brooklyn men on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State. A fourth man is in custody today and he`s being questioned by federal agents in connection with the alleged Brooklyn conspiracy. Also today, Canadian law enforcement officials said six people from Montreal left Canada last month and are likely headed to Syria. The best current reporting on how young middle class men are moving from dreams of career success to fighting for the Islamic State has been done by Mona El Naggar in the "New York Times" with a company video on the "New York Times" website. Joining me now is Mona El-Naggar, a video journalist for "The New York Times." Mona, this article that you wrote for "The New York Times," entitled, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "From A Private School in Cairo to ISIS Killing Fields in Syria," absolutely stunning. (END VIDEO CLIP) When I read this news -- I read it, I knew we wanted to talk to you about it. And it`s the case study of -- his first name is Islam, -- EL-NAGGAR: Correct. O`DONNELL: -- Islam Yaken. EL-NAGGAR: Yaken. O`DONNELL: And I just want to read your introduction to this. This is an amazingly tight paragraph that takes him from what was his life, you know, into the Islamic state. And you begin by quoting his father, who you found and was able to talk to. And his father said to you, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "You have to understand, I am in pain. My son is gone." Mr. Aly raised his son, Islam Yaken, in a middle class Cairo neighborhood, with tended gardens and trendy coffee shops, and he sent him to a private school where he studied in French." "As a young man, Mr. Yakan wanted to be a fitness instructor. He trained relentlessly, hoping that his effort would bring him success, girlfriends and wealth." "But his goals never materialized. He left that life and found religion, extremism and, ultimately, his way into a photograph where he knelt beside a decapitated corpse on the killing fields of Syria, smiling." (END VIDEO CLIP) That is as -- and then you lay out in great detail how that all happened. How did you, first of all, get this story and get all these people who knew him to agree to be interviewed. EL-NAGGAR: Right. Well, Islam Yaken was, fortunately for us, very vocal through his social media -- on his Twitter account, Facebook, at first. And he would just post -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- pictures and tweet out where he was, what he`s doing. And, of course, a lot of people that shocking. And local Egyptian media became sort of became aware Islam Yaken and what he was up to. And there was a bit of focus on his specific case because it was out there. And so, I was intrigued, you know, by his sort of -- I was intrigued by -- well, how did he get there, really. (END VIDEO CLIP) And that`s what made me pursue the story. O`DONNELL: And his father was very disappointed when he became not so religious during his body building pursuits. EL-NAGGAR: True. I mean, his father used to sort of push him to pray and -- O`DONNELL: Right. EL-NAGGAR: -- and, you know, because he wasn`t very observant. O`DONNELL: Does his father now regret that he pushed him to pray. EL-NAGGAR: You know, I didn`t ask him this very specific question. You know, the father is really -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- sort of struggling with the entire situation and -- but he does -- he did -- you know, I remember ember he -- you know, he`s sort of struggling with his own feelings really. (END VIDEO CLIP) And one of the things he`s struggling with is, well, how did his son get there. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And to what extent did he sort of, somehow, contribute to this, just in how he raised him really. And he said, you know, at one point, he`s like, "You know, this is," -- I`m trying to remember exactly what he told me but he said basically like, "You know, this cannot mean that I failed as a father. Everyone is responsible for this. The system is responsible for this. The leadership is responsible for this." And what he really was trying to say is that there are so many different factors that have basically pulled his son toward this -- in this direction, toward ISIS eventually. And he couldn`t face the fact that he could have, somehow, possibly been entirely -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- responsible for how he raised his son and how his son ended up with ISIS. O`DONNELL: You do mix in all the various elements in the article, including religion. And there`s something you touched in here that I have not read specified in any other kinds of accounts of this. And that is the kind of sexual repression that these young boys are living with. You refer to it as -- in the piece, you say, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) "There are some more delicate subjects not often publicly-debated, let alone dissected, like the increasingly conservative thinking that defines the faith for many Muslims today, or sexual repression among young people who are taught that their Physical and emotional desires Can bring them eternal damnation." (END VIDEO CLIP) And we see, later in the piece, as he becomes religious that -- well, he used to chase girls and proudly talk about actually having had sex with girls -- he then will push his friend, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) "We have to walk faster so I don`t have to look at that woman walking in front of me." EL-NAGGAR: Right. I think, sir, that -- what we`re talking about earlier, the -- being pulled in different directions and trying to really figure out like sort of what moral code he wants to observe and live by. It manifested itself in this issue of women as a young guy. You know, a lot of young men everywhere are like, you know, thinking about women and like pursuing women, not pursuing women, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- what`s the best thing to do and not to do. O`DONNELL: And what is their -- EL-NAGGAR: And this is like a common thing for young men. O`DONNELL: And what is their religion telling them about women at that same time. EL-NAGGER: I mean, well, the religion is telling them broadly that they should not be in a relationship with a woman unless they`re married to her. I mean -- O`DONNELL: His mentor he eventually starts to follow lectures that, if you see women in class and school, and you become fond of them and you never say a word to them, you have still sinned. EL-NAGGAR: Right. O`DONNELL: That`s how repressed this is. EL-NAGGAR: Right. And that`s very ultraconservative view. So, some, you know, religious leaders may not go to that extent -- O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. EL-NAGGAR: -- but they would still tell you that, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- you know, if you`re in a relationship with a woman who you are not married to, that`s a sin. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. EL-NAGGAR: Of course, this particular religious leader has sort of taken it to the next level and saying that just, you know, merely looking at a woman or just, you know, -- O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. EL-NAGGAR: -- platonically falling in love with a woman is still a sin, which is a very difficult lesson for a young guy to process and live with. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. (END VIDEO CLIP) And, at the same time, incredibly Difficult for them, in the culture they`re in, to move into a more western view of this. And so, there`s just this incredible frustration that they`re -- EL-NAGGAR: There is an incredible frustration, but it`s also happening in a certain context. The context of a region that`s mired in conflict and war. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. EL-NAGGAR: And that`s a very important component. And, also, in a country where, at one point, these young men, you know, had this very strong sense of hope -- there was a revolution, there was this brief moment that really sort of motivated people and made them feel like they could matter, that they -- he could be a somebody, he can really sort of, you know, change his life, take charge. And then that sort of collapsed. O`DONNELL: And what do we know about -- all of that, I think, I can follow. And the part that I haven`t heard anyone describe is how we get from that recruitment point to, now, you`re a member of this fighting force, -- EL-NAGGAR: Right. O`DONNELL: -- to it`s now your turn to behead someone. That actual act is so strange that there are all sorts of soldiers who would absolutely refuse to do it. They`ll say, "Well, you know, that`s not the way we`re going to do this." EL-NAGGAR: Right. So, I mean, from just, you know, speaking and reporting on the story, I mean, basically, I mean, we have to look at this as stages. You know, the Islam Yaken, who started as someone who`s slightly dissatisfied with his life and turned to religion is not the same Islam Yaken who is engaged in this fight in Syria -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- with ISIS that`s committing, you know, these murders and killings. So, there`s a progression there. When, you know, when he turned to religion, he was looking for some sort of definition in his life. And he adopted this very ultraconservative view that made it very uneasy for him to sort of cope and live in the society and be happy. And when he -- you know, when he was waiting for sort of a political transformation, he had a vision of an Islamic state in Egypt. And that did not happen, and the country sort of turned around and went in the opposite direction. He became very sort of desperate and looked for something else. And, at this point, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- you know, I mean, he sees what`s happening in Syria. He`s thinking that, maybe there`s some kind of calling there, maybe he can go fight the forces of Bashar al-Assad, then, you know, be sort of a constructive force against evil. That`s part of what`s going on there. And he thinks he`s fighting for a just cause. As soon as -- O`DONNELL: No, I get all that. EL-NAGGAR: Right. And he gets to Syria -- O`DONNELL: And I get the taking up arms. And I don`t get the -- EL-NAGGGAR: But as soon as you`re in Syria, things change. O`DONNELL: Yes. EL-NAGGAR: And, now, you`re -- you know, the dominant sort of group is ISIS. He joins ISIS and he becomes indoctrinated with, you know, even more conservative, even more radical views of what his role should be as a Muslim, and how to define his religion, and how to live by his religion. And he takes it all the way. And, basically, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- within that sort of militant ideology, anyone outside of their very sort of specific definition of Islam is considered an infidel. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Mona El-Naggar, -- EL-NAGGAR: And, you know, I mean -- you know, the vast majority of Muslims clearly would not, -- O`DONNELL: Of course, yes. EL-NAGGAR: -- you know, see that as being the proper definition of their faith. O`DONNELL: Exactly. EL-NAGGAR: But, with this one, you know -- O`DONNELL: Mona El-Naggar, thank you very much for your report. Thanks for joining us tonight. We will link to this very important "New York Times" article on our Web site. EL-NAGGAR: Thank you. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up, Texas sportscaster, Dale Hanson, has a deeply personal response to some high school basketball fans holding up signs that said "White Power." And Robin Williams` daughter, Zelda, does her first television interview since her father`s death. That`s coming up. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Senator James Inhofe is Chairman of the Senate`s Environment Committee, and he insists that climate change is a hoax. And, today, according to Senator Inhofe`s logic, he proved it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the Chair, do you know what this is? It`s a snowball. And that`s just from outside here. So it`s very, very cold out, very unseasonal. So, here, Mr. President, catch this, uh-hmm. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: No, Senate rules say absolutely nothing about throwing snowballs in the Senate chamber. Coming up, at a Texas high school basketball game, the fans for one team held up signs saying, "White Power." That got the attention of legendary Texas sportscaster, Dale Hanson, who delivered a deeply personal response about his own experience growing up with racism all around him. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Dale Hanson is back with a guest rewrite of sorts. Dale Hanson is well- known to Texas sports fans, having done 33 years as the sports guy at WFAA TV in Dallas. Dale Hanson first appeared on this program when we showed you his very positive reaction to college football player, Michael Sam, revealing that he is gay, just before the NFL draft. Something happened at a recent high school basketball game in Texas that Dale Hanson felt compelled to comment on. The game itself was worthy of TV coverage since it took three overtimes for the Flower Mound Jaguars to beat the Plano East Panthers, 75 to 73. But Dale Hanson wasn`t interested in what happened on the court. Dale Hanson wanted to talk about what the Flower Mound High School fans did during the game. They held up two signs beside each other, one sign saying, "White", the other sign saying, "Power." Dale Hanson had a very personal reaction to that, including the memory of growing up under the spell of racism. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DALE HANSON, TEXAS SPORTSCASTER: That basketball game in Flower Mound a week or so ago with Plano East has changed some of the rules now, but it hasn`t changed nearly enough. Kids on the Flower Mound side were seen holding up signs saying, "White Power." And too many parents and, apparently, others who care, tried to defend what you cannot defend. Some parents actually argued that it was just a mistake. They had five signs, grabbed two, and they just, accidentally, when held together, said "White Power." Louisville school officials say now, it was no accident. And how could it have possibly been. They`re taking their signs away. But there`s a history in Flower Mound. When my granddaughter, who went to Louisville High, would be at a game in Flower Mound, she and her friends would hear the chant, "Welfare babies, do you know who your daddy is, because we know ours." I feel sorry for people who find their value in the value of their home or the money they have. But I don`t blame the kids as much as some of you might. Maybe because I used to be one of those kids. I was raised in a small Iowa farm town that had only one black family in the county and raised by a man who used the "N" word like it was a proper noun. I think I was 12 before I realized the "N" word actually wasn`t the first name of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Elston Howard, and so many more. My dad always referred to the black athlete and any person of color he didn`t know that way, but he loved the Matthews Family. Henry and Billy Matthews were good people. The whole family was. My dad always said they were different. The one black family he knew were good people. All the others he didn`t know, they were the bad people. The ignorance in that reasoning, if you think about it long enough, will twist your mind. And it twisted mine. Kids have to be taught to hate. And its our parents and grandparents, and our teachers and coaches, too, who teach us to hate. Kids become the product of that environment. I was and they are. The kids who hold the signs and chant their racist slurs -- and it`s not all of them, it never is, but their ignorance perpetuates the stereotype of all of us in Texas as a racist, ignorant people. But that ignorance will be replaced someday by the wisdom they learn, when they live in the real world, when they meet the people who don`t look like them, didn`t grow up the way they did, the people who make this life worth living, they will change. Not all of them. It never is. But they will change. I did a long time ago. They can, too. But not if we try to defend what you cannot defend. And not if we stay silent and think taking their signs away is doing enough. The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything -- Albert Einstein. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up, Robin Williams` daughter gives her first -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- television interview since her father`s death. That`s next. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Last year, the organization, American Atheists, was not allowed at CPAC. This year, they got a booth and speaking slot. Reporters say, atheist Republican, Jamila Bey, got a tepid response among the mostly Christian conservative audience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMILA BEY, JOURNALIST AND PUBLIC SPEAKER: Embrace me. Let me vote for G.O.P. candidates. Let`s do this as Americans, one and all. Thank you. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Hmm, I wonder why they didn`t embrace her. What could it be. We`ll be right back with the first TV interview of Robin Williams` daughter since her father`s death. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) "He was one of a kind, kind, gentle, and funny beyond belief. Shocking." That was a text I received from a dear friend of Robin Williams the day he died six months ago. Robin Williams` 25-year-old daughter, Zelda, has now done her first television interview since her father`s death with NBC`s Kate Snow. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZELDA WILLIAMS, DAUGHTER OF ROBIN WILLIAMS: Laughter was incredibly important to him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATE SNOW, NBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You wrote last summer that your father was one of the kindest, most generous and gentlest souls you`ve ever known. And I want to quote what you wrote. You said, quote, "The entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again." (END VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: Yes. SNOW: Is that why you`re doing this. WILLIAMS: I don`t think it`s sadder in general that he`s gone. I mean, I think a lot of people feel his absence. But, for me especially, yes, it`s going to take a lot of work to -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- allow myself to have the sort of fun, happy life that I had. SNOW: When everything happened last summer, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- I`m curious how it felt to be you, because it seemed like everybody was so stunned by it. And there was so much outpouring of -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- I hope there was outpouring of support to you. Did you feel that. WILLIAMS: It is not something that`s even easy -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- to put into words, for as much as I love words and have a lot of faith in them. There was an enormous outpouring of love from -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- every corner of the world. And it`s not to say that people didn`t know dad. They knew a dad that he was proud -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- of them knowing, because he was -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- an incredibly kind and incredibly caring man. And he was also very private and very calm and very subdued. And so, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- the side of him that people know and love and that is attached to their childhood is the characters that he had so much fun being. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: Hello. WILLIAMS: And that`s what`s important. And I do think that`s what a lot of people will hold on to. Dad`s not going anywhere. Of course, it`s lovely when people say things like, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- "My condolences." But, for the most part, it`s nice to have just -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- our private life be our private life. SNOW: You know, I lost somebody to -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- suicide, too, so I know that there`s often that, sort of, "Why did this happen," question. WILLIAMS: I don`t think there`s a point. SNOW: Because you`ll never know. WILLIAMS: No, and it`s not -- it`s not important to ask because it`s -- SNOW: It`s done. WILLIAMS: Yes. SNOW: Because that seems to me, like what -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- all the people who knew your dad as a fan, all the people who loved him and his work, when it happened, everybody wanted to know why, how could this happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: Diseases are, until we find out exactly how they work, we don`t have an explanation. So, there is no -- there`s no one that can offer -- SNOW: That`s not going to hang on to. WILLIAMS: No. A lot of people who have been through it and lost someone, the ones that I found that have gone on to lead very -- to lead very full lives, found that they just had to know that there`s no point questioning it, and there`s no point blaming anyone else for it. And there`s no point blaming yourself or the world or whatever the case may be, because it happened. So, you have to continue to move. And you have to continue to live and manage. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SNOW: And while it won`t be easy for her, on Friday night, Zelda Williams will honor Robin Williams and his legacy of giving back by presenting an award to her father and his teammates at the Challenged Athletes Foundation, who joined him in a triathlon every year. (END VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: Dad was an extremely athletic person. Like people -- SNOW: Huge biker, right. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: Oh, yes. SNOW: Huge biker. Robin Williams met his teammate, Rudy, when he was just 10. WILLIAMS: They were on Team Braveheart. (END VIDEO CLIP) And Rudy is a wonderful paralympian. He just won the gold last year. He would do the swimming leg, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- tag dad in, dad would do the biking leg, and then he`d tag in Scott Tinley, who`s an Ironman. (END VIDEO CLIP) And that was the team. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SNOW: Zelda remembers her dad, always taking people under his wing. WILLIAMS: He would meet guys there that were not participating, that had just lost limbs, and was just there -- you know, maybe a family friend brought them because they were depressed or because they needed to witness something remarkable. And he would go and talk to them. And he`d be like, "Next year, I want you to do this, bud." He`s done charity for as long as he had to, with all the ability to do it. That was what his favorite thing, other than comedy, really was. (END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END