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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 08/13/15

Guests: Ed Cox, Eugene Robinson, Austan Goolsbee, Beth Akers, Dick Gregory,Tig Notaro, Stephanie Allynne

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And the deep archive`s tape on those guys? This election, I`m telling you, it`s a gift from God. Watch this space. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The dean of conservative columnist, George Will, today called one of the Republican candidates for president a counterfeit Republican. Guess which one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as Republicans converge on the Iowa state fair -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me begin with a recommendation, pork chop on a stick. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump dominates a new poll from the Hawkeye State. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So far I`m enjoying politics. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s nothing this man can say or do at this juncture -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To make his poll numbers -- SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Such profound things as you`re stupid, you`re fired! You`re a pig, you look terrible, you only have half a brain. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The feud between Rand Paul and Donald Trump has reached new heights. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think reality and TV and the presidential election ought to be separate. TRUMP: He`s failing in the polls, I mean here is a guy who called me a year ago -- oh, let`s play golf. JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: He paid the Clintons a 100 grand for access, he got them to come to their wedding, then I said, do the electric slide and see (INAUDIBLE) electric slid. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And should he run as an independent? TRUMP: I want to run as a Republican. As long as I`m treated fairly, that`s going to be the case. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He goes after things, he`s like a honey badger. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey badger don`t care, honey badger don`t give a -- just takes what it wants. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s like trying to ask him tough questions and he`s not answering them. TRUMP: It is what it is. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He hasn`t really said anything yet, there is no substance. CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Trump apologized, saying when I announced I was running for president, I had no idea people would take me seriously. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has a fixed talking point whenever he is asked about his history of supporting liberal positions and contributing to liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: For those that doubt your conservatism, explain the transition. How did you grow into a conservative? TRUMP: OK, I mean, it`s not an easy to explain -- and then one of the things I always start with, Ronald Reagan was a Democrat and he was sort of liberal, and I knew him. I didn`t know him then quite, but I knew him, and I knew him well. He liked me, I liked him. He was like this great guy. And he was a Democrat with a liberal bent and he became a great conservative in my opinion. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Pulitzer Prize winning "Washington Post" columnist George Will, knew Ronald Reagan a lot better than Donald Trump did. Ronald Reagan actually solicited George Will`s advice in preparing for his first presidential debate against Jimmy Carter and George Will insists that Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan. The headline of George Will`s column today is, "Donald Trump is a Counterfeit Republican". George Will writes, "when Trump decided that his next acquisition would be not another casino but the Republican presidential nomination, he tactically and quickly underwent many conversions of convenience concerning the abortion, healthcare, funding Democrats, et cetera." To the chorus of political pundits who keep saying that Trump has tapped into something, George Will reminds them that segregationist candidates for president tapped into something too. Something similar to what Donald Trump is tapping into now. George Will reminds Republicans of how the father of modern American conservatism, William F. Buckley Junior, dealt with the Trumps of his day. "Conservatives today should deal with Trump with the firmness Buckley dealt with the John Birch society in 1962. The society was an extension of a looney businessman who said Dwight Eisenhower was a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy. In a five thousand-word national review exploration(ph), Buckley`s word, he excommunicated the society from the conservative movement. Buckley received an approving letter from a subscriber who said, "you have once again given a voice to the conscience of conservatism." The letter was signed Ronald Reagan, Pacific Palisades, California." George Will says that Donald Trump should be excommunicated from the Republican Party unless Donald Trump pledges to support the Republican nominee for president. George Will put it this way in his column: "A political party has a right to in language Trump-likes secure its borders. Indeed, a party has a duty to exclude interlopers including cynical opportunists deranged by egotism. Let party members make the choices that define the party and dispense its most precious possession; a presidential nomination. So, the Republican National Committee should immediately stipulate that subsequent Republican debates will be open to any and all but only candidates who pledge to support the party`s nominee." Joining us now, Kasie Hunt, Msnbc political correspondent, Eugene Robinson, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst. Austan Goolsbee, former chair of the Council for Economic Advisors for President Obama, he`s currently a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. Also with us, Ed Cox, he is the chairman of the New York State Republican Party. Chairman Cox, should New Yorker Donald Trump be excommunicated from your party? ED COX, CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE: Well, it`s different from excommunicating the John Birch Society and excluding someone who actually is a Republican now, who wants to compete, I say welcome to the fray, Donald Trump. O`DONNELL: What about the George Will point that you should be not allowed in Republican debates unless you pledge to support the Republican nominee - - COX: Now, there I think Donald Trump made a huge mistake. He should have had the answer ready for that, and I`m sure he`s going to reverse himself on that. If you`re going to compete for the Republican nomination, you need to pledge to support the Republican nominee, particularly the way he said it, as a matter of personal peak, not as a matter of policy. Only if he thinks he is treated fairly will he stay and support the nominee -- O`DONNELL: But -- COX: As supposed to the -- O`DONNELL: So, do you believe he should be allowed to continue in these debates if he does not take -- COX: Absolutely -- O`DONNELL: That pledge? COX: He`s added a lot to the debates. I mean, his -- what he is saying, let`s make America great again. In this time, you need to paint with a broad brush, something that Republicans and all Americans -- because America is not respected abroad and the economy is sour here at home. Let`s make America great again, that`s a good theme. O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, imagine for us, if you will, a scenario where your colleague at "The Washington Post", George Will, where his advice is actually followed by the Republican Party and Donald Trump is banned from the debates. EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right, well, what I`m imagining is that Donald Trump takes his -- takes his toys and goes away and runs an independent campaign for president and the Republicans lose big. And that`s what I think the Republican Party imagines could happen and probably would happen if they try to ban him from the debates. So, I don`t think that`s -- I don`t think that`s going to occur. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what George -- what Donald Trump has said about George Will. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: When I watch a George Will or a Charles Krauthammer, you know, I watched them for years, they`re losers, they`re just losers. They sit there, they haven`t done anything. Think about it. I built a $9 billion net worth, I have employed tens of thousands of people, I do a television show, becomes one of the biggest shows -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right -- TRUMP: On all of -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- TRUMP: Television. "Nbc" -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump -- TRUMP: Renewed it again, they`re begging for me to do it -- I write a book called "The Order of the Deal", it`s the number one selling business book of all time and I got a jerk named Krauthammer or -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, here -- TRUMP: George Will -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump -- (CROSSTALK) Saying, oh, gee, he doesn`t deserve to be in the race -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to take -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, that`s the Donald versus George Will argument in a nutshell. KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, I mean Donald Trump has taken on essentially any media figure or a political figure for that matter and seems to have come out on top no matter what. I mean, he took on Megyn Kelly head-on and the reality is, while she ultimately didn`t apologize to him, he also didn`t back down or apologized to her and at the end of the day now, he`s back talking on "Fox News". So, while, you know, this column certainly lays out an interesting argument, you know, I think that the Donald Trump has shown that he can win those arguments pretty easily. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to how Bernie Sanders handled this same question about would he run as an independent? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE : For a lot of reasons, the only way at this particular moment in history that we could run an effective campaign was within the Democratic primary and caucus process, and that`s what we`re doing. So to answer your question, if it happens that I do not win that process, would I run outside of the system? No, I made the promise that I would not, I`ll keep that promise. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, it sounds awful easy to say when you hear Bernie Sanders say it, it`s just a promise. AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Yes, he doesn`t want to say it, it was a very first question in the debate. He said who would not promise? Then he raised his hand, Donald Trump said, I do not promise that. And I think what Ed says is exactly right, it`s about personal peak, if he feels that he was mistreated, then he might run as an independent. I think the thing that we have to remember here is, he`s running in an environment that George Will`s vision of there`s somebody who we can consult the authority and that person can decide who`s a Republican and who`s not. That world is gone. If that existed, that would be "Fox News". But you saw Donald Trump on "Fox News" at loggerheads, and in a way, Donald Trump coming out on top. I think you`ve got Donald Trump expressing this kind of ego-driven, hyper sensitivity and everybody is tip-toeing around because they just don`t want him to run as a third party. O`DONNELL: The George Will -- HUNT: And Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Kasie. HUNT: One other point on that, the Republican Party has essentially seeded control of these debates to the news organization. They`ve made a decision, they didn`t want to get involved in having to pick what should their candidates wear on those stage. And then doing so, they essentially sold out to the ratings. Twenty four million people watching that debate? I mean, seven or so million people was the most that ever watched a debate on a broadcast network in 2012. There is no way that at this stage the party has the power to pull him off the stage. They`ve given it away. O`DONNELL: But Ed Cox, George Will makes the point that this one candidate is hurting the other 16 by association. COX: Not at all. Look, let me just say, it`s not all Donald Trump. The fact is that the 5:00 p.m. debate attracted 6 million watchers and Trump wasn`t on the stage -- O`DONNELL: Which is way bigger than -- and that was a lost fact, that`s -- COX: It`s -- O`DONNELL: Bigger than most other primary debates would also -- COX: It`s -- and this is at 5:00 p.m. -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- COX: Eastern -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- COX: Time, 2:00 p.m. West Coast Time. So, it`s clear the people are interested in -- O`DONNELL: But wait a minute, I mean -- COX: Who`s going to be the Republican -- O`DONNELL: Does it not -- COX: Nominee -- O`DONNELL: Show that there`s -- (CROSSTALK) That Trump wasn`t in that debate and everyone knew Trump wasn`t -- COX: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Going to be in that debate, that got a higher number than -- COX: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Most primary debates. So doesn`t it show that even without Trump, there`s still a lot of interest -- COX: That`s exactly -- O`DONNELL: In this Republican field -- COX: Exactly my point, Lawrence, exactly -- ROBINSON: Oh, I think -- but I think that`s -- COX: Go ahead Eugene -- ROBINSON: Mostly Trump, I think that`s mostly Trump, Lawrence, I think people watched the first debate in large, just to warm up for the main event. Look, I don`t think there would be, frankly, as much interest as there is right now in the Republican field and in how this race progresses if Donald Trump were not in the race. So, he brings ratings, he really does. O`DONNELL: Yes, and -- COX: And they think it`s -- (CROSSTALK) They probably watched the 5:00 debate just to see who would attack Donald Trump even though he wasn`t there. And the big attacker of Donald Trump, the one who`s decided to go with this is Rand Paul. Let`s listen to him yesterday in New Hampshire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: What was Trump`s position then? He was for the bailouts. Obamacare became an all-dominant issue for us for three or four years, still is a dominant issue. What was his position? He`s always been for single-payer system. He`s always been for Obamacare. Now, he`s changed these positions, now that he`s a Republican, but he used to always say that Democrats were better at running things. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, remember when it used to matter if you got caught flip-flopping in politics. GOOLSBEE: What I love -- the juiciest irony of this to me is, a lot of the same Republicans and the kind of the libertarian argument against campaign finance reform was that money is speech and so people should be able to spend as much money as they want on elections. And they -- and they argued that for a long time. Now, in the Republican primary, here is a guy throwing his own money -- he`s going to wreak havoc, smash the other candidates and there`s kind of nothing they can say. O`DONNELL: All right, let`s listen to Rand Paul yesterday in the same situation there in New Hampshire going after Donald Trump`s style. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: We have now, people up there who say such profound things as, you`re stupid, you`re fired! You`re a pig, you look terrible, you only have half a brain. And then when you respond with an argument, it`s like you`re stupid! (LAUGHTER) But my favorite is, yes, the reason I tell women they`re ugly is because I`m so good-looking. (LAUGHTER) Everybody knows I`m good-looking, right? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Ed Cox, you`re one of the distinguished gentlemen of the Republican Party. Do you find Trump`s vulgarianism offensive? COX: Well, politics is a tough business. And this is a language that he`s always used, and so far it`s been effective for him. Whether it`s effective over the long haul or whether you have to come up with substantive backup to what you say your policies are, that`s another issue. O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, you`re out there at the Iowa State farm -- state fair where all the candidates are eventually going to show up and I have to assume the biggest anticipation is for Donald Trump. HUNT: That is definitely true, Lawrence. And the reality is, there`s a "Washington Post" story out today looking at Trump`s organization here. And I think not only are you hearing a lot of the people at the fair, voters here saying, they really want to see the guy. I mean, part of it is probably because he`s famous. But he`s also putting together a legitimate organization. He`s hired real operatives here, he was a -- he`s been a presence in this state for the last month or so. He`s got a bus that`s plastered with his logo, "Make America Great Again" that they`re driving around, and just the bus is drawing crowds. That almost never happens. You`d have to bring a candidate in. There are some candidates here in Iowa, Rick Santorum spoke to a room with one person and he won the Iowa caucuses last time around when all is said and done. But I think -- I think at this point, yes, everybody is waiting on Trump. And I will also say, Hillary Clinton is potentially going to be at the state fair on the same day, it says a lot that Trump is overshadowing her. O`DONNELL: What about the Bernie Sanders crowd, Kasie? Because Bernie, he`s been drawing huge crowds too, does he have that kind of interest in Iowa? HUNT: He has, and I think it`s going to be really interesting to see how he is approached at the fair. I was actually just walking around with Martin O`Malley who ran into a lot of people who had no idea who he was. There were a lot of people who saw that, there were some cameras and sound booms above him and they all were pointing and saying, oh, who is that? I don`t think Bernie Sanders is going to have that problem. I`m interested to see what kind of crowd mobs him at the fair. Because it does eventually turn into this. A lot of the candidates come here, they go from booth to booth, so he could end up with one of those crushing crowds we`ve come to know him for. O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, Eugene Robinson, Ed Cox, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, the dueling plans from the Democratic candidates to make college affordable. Also a LAST WORD exclusive from the vaults of the old "Merv Griffin Show", comedian Dick Gregory talking about his experience in the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles 50 years ago this week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: If you`re wondering who helped Jeb Bush write his speech this week about what he`d do to defeat the Islamic State, it turns out, his ghost writer was President Obama. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must support the Iraqi forces which right now have the will to win, but not the means. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. BUSH: We must give these forces the consistent advantage of American air power. OBAMA: We will conduct a systematic campaign of air strikes against these terrorists. BUSH: The United States must engage with friends and allies and lead again in this vital region. OBAMA: America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. BUSH: We do not need and our friends don`t ask for a major commitment of American combat forces. OBAMA: These American forces will not have a combat mission. We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. BUSH: Only Iraq Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds can decide if they will live together and share power and resources in a way that will serve their interests. OBAMA: American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: The college for all Act will provide free tuition at every public college and university in America. (CHEERS) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No student should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university. (CHEERS) (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: At the Republican presidential debate, the candidates did not say one word about the affordability of college education, but it has become a top issue in the Democratic presidential campaign. Joining us now, Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Obama, he is currently a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. Also with us, Beth Akers, an economist and fellow at the Brookings Institution`s Brown Center on Education Policy. The estimates for this -- for these plans, Bernie Sanders estimates that the cost of his plan will be $750 billion over ten years. Hillary Clinton estimates the cost of her plan will be 350 billion over ten years, Beth Akers, what are the big differences in these plans? BETH AKERS, ECONOMIST, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION`S BROWN CENTER ON EDUCATION POLICY: Sure, so I caution against putting too much stock in any of these numbers that we have at this point. I mean, these are kind of sketches of what the candidates have in mind but where the expenses coming from in this plan, both of them are talking about refinancing outstanding student loan debt which is going to be expensive, lowering interest rates and then also increasing subsidies. The big difference between the two plans is on how they`re increasing subsidies on the finance. So the Sanders plan is talking about free tuition across the entire public education system, both by community colleges and that public four-year institutions. So, Clinton`s plan is much less generous on this front. They`re talking about free tuition at community colleges but debt-free tuition at public colleges. So, they`re still going to rely on students and their families to contribute out of savings and out of current income to foot the bill. O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, will -- do you think these plans would work as designed? GOOLSBEE: Well, it depends, yes, if you could enact them they might work, I mean, you`d have to flash out the details for sure. I think, given the composition of Congress, each one of them relies on a substantial tax increase to pay for it. So, I think right now they wouldn`t work as you couldn`t get them through. But I think, to highlight this issue, I think it`s quite important. I mean, the reduction in educational attainment or the stalling out of that is a key component of why we`ve had a rising income inequality in the country. So, I think addressing affordability is key. O`DONNELL: And Beth Akers, you know, if we -- I think if we limited ourselves to a discussion of exactly what legislation could pass, whether it`d be from Republican candidates or Democratic candidates, we wouldn`t be talking about very much of their proposals. And so let`s -- I think we`ll just leave that aside for the moment and talk about what is driving the increase in costs. And there is that theory out there that when we go in and subsidize in this area that tends to push tuitions up because the colleges now believe that with loan help and all of this stuff they`re able to charge more. AKERS: Sure, so I think there`re a couple of things. In one sense, colleges actually are very affordable. So, if we think about this like an economist and we look at the long term for these students, these are small investments on the front-end that pay off with huge dividends in terms of additional wages over the course of their lifetime for these students. So, the question about, can they afford to make ends meet (INAUDIBLE) to make those payments to college and that`s why we have a loan system to help them do that, and to smooth their consumption over time. And so, in one sense, prices are high because they`re buying something that`s incredibly valuable over the long run and that`s not necessarily problematic. In a more problematic sense, we have concern that prices are high because in this market, consumers are not particularly sensitive to price. So, education is fundamentally complex on product that people are trying to understand the quality and also understand the price tag, which unnecessarily complex in itself. We have a sticker price, we have a net price and we have all sorts of grants and loans and things layered on top of that. It makes it really difficult for people to be these sophisticated shoppers of higher education that is really necessary for us to keep prices in line with value in the long run. And I`m concerned that part of the creep up in prices that we`re seeing is just coming from a lack of savvy shopping on the front end. (CROSSTALK) GOOLSBEE: But you know, Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead -- GOOLSBEE: One thing I would -- I would observe in both of these plans, they`re trying to get at the thing that you`re raising then. Historically, our way to approach affordability is to give a voucher to give a subsidy to the student who then goes to the school and if the school says hey, you got that subsidy, now I`m going to raise the tuition. This thing works differently. It`s a big pot of money that they give to the states and you can only get the money if you limit the amount that the tuition goes up. So, they`re explicitly trying to address that issue. O`DONNELL: And Professor Goolsbee, I have to ask, how much of the problem is your fault? How much of the problem is this expensive faculty that we have to do -- GOOLSBEE: Yes, you know -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Pay raises for -- GOOLSBEE: I definitely have two minds on this -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- GOOLSBEE: Should we be cutting the wages of professors. Look, I`m at a private university so it`s not -- it`s not under this. I think it is the case that high-skilled labor of whether it`s professors or dentists or doctors or lawyers, the wages of all high-skilled occupations have been rising pretty rapidly for a very long time. And that definitely is a contributor to higher education costs. O`DONNELL: Beth Akers, what about the colleges and universities working on this problem themselves? I mean, here -- all these economics faculties around the country, I would expect them to be studying their own institutions and studying the system and coming up with proposals before Bernie Sanders comes up with a proposal or before Hillary Clinton comes up with a proposal. AKERS: You know, we`d like to think that`s the case. I think there`re a lot of great things happening at institutions across the country when it comes to, you know, working on affordability, working on getting students to make savvy choices with regard to debt and that`s absolutely happening. Unfortunately, I don`t think there`s a market that can go without regulation. And so it`s necessary to have something from the federal level layered on top of all of that of course. O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, since you`ve worked in campaigns, the Obama campaign and you -- when you`re inside a campaign and you`re pushing ideas like this, this is the kind of stuff you worked on in the campaign. And you hear silence from the other party, complete silence from the other party on what`s becoming the number one or number two issue up there with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Does that feel like an opportunity or does that feel like maybe -- GOOLSBEE: Yes -- (CROSSTALK) A 100 percent, 100 percent. I`d be shocked if the -- if that continues, the silence coming from Republicans, I`d be shocked if every Democratic candidate didn`t just hammer this everywhere they went. Every group of young people around the country and even not so young people who themselves have student debts that they`re -- that they`re carrying over. They`re just going to hammer it over and over and over and then you can bet you will start hearing the Republicans talk about it. O`DONNELL: Beth Akers, the -- is there a Republican approach to this? Is there an idea out there that would strike conservatives as acceptable? AKERS: You know, I think so. I`d be really surprised to see if the Republicans remain quiet on higher at reform in general. I think like Austan said, you know, the more conservative approach to this is a voucher system. So, we have two different models. I mean, the Clinton plan is actually really clever. You know, if you believe in, you know, using taxes to raise money and then let the government, you know, spend the money in the way that they see fit in a social education system, then this is pretty -- a pretty clever plan. The alternative, like I said, really comes to your -- you know, religion about government. Do you think that we should do that or do we think that we should leave the hands in the people and let them choose and then also subsidize the system through vouchers? And so, my guess is, we`ll see something more similar to that from the Republican Party going forward. O`DONNELL: Beth Akers and Austan Goolsbee, thank you both for joining us tonight. Coming up, we`ll have more of our conversation with standup comedian Tig Notaro. We kept the cameras rolling last night after the show and we learned a lot more about the worst year of her life which she has magically turned into brilliant standup comedy. And standup comedian Dick Gregory was America`s hottest and most innovative comedian in the early 1960s and 50 years ago this week, he was shot during the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. We will show you 50-year-old video of Dick Gregory talking about the cause of those riots. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL, Dick Gregory, the first African-American stand-up comedian to make it big says, quote, "There had been only three comic geniuses, Mark Twain, Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. Richard Pryor disagreed with Dick Gregory about that. Richard Pryor said, quote, "Dick Gregory was the greatest and he was the first." Somebody had to break down that door. At the peak of Dick Gregory`s stardom, he began a transition into much more serious pursuits beginning with the civil rights movement. He became a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy. When rioting broke out in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts 50 years ago this week, Dick Gregory was there trying to make peace. In the chaos, he was shot in the leg. But he tried to keep walking and keep telling people to go home. Merv Griffin was the host of an entertainment talk show in those days. Merv was a master of light-hearted conversation, but did not shy away from the serious issues of the day. Here is Dick Gregory on "The Merv Griffin Show" after the Watts riots in 1965. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK GREGORY, COMEDIAN: I think what we have to look at is that every incident that had been tipped off in this country in the last two years of North has been tipped off by the uniform police. I`m not saying the police is right or wrong. I`m saying when you have these incidents that are tipped off with this one symbol, then we should look into it and see what it is. When 22 million people, be they black or white, stole and holler police brutality, then it is time to start listening to 22 million people and going in. A lot of people say, well, it`s not police brutality. Police brutality is not when a cop necessarily knocks me up side the head. It is when a cop calls me (EXPLETIVE DELETED) when he`s making the arrest. It`s when he hounds me wrong in every process of processing the arrest. This is a form of police brutality. And there`s so few people that seem to understand that when a negro says it is police brutality, then you say, well, he is just looking for a way out. Well, how do these many people look for a way out in so many areas in America. It`s like Billy Graham, I think, made the statement of statements when he came into L.A. and he said he thought the communists was behind the riots. And there`s just not enough communists in Russia to stand on every corner in a Negro ghetto waiting for a cop to arrest a negro and start a riot. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Three years later, a commission appointed by President Johnson to study the cause of riots in the 1960s confirmed Dick Gregory`s observation. The report said, "Virtually every major episode of violence was foreshadowed by an accumulation of unresolved grievances and by widespread dissatisfaction among Negros with the unwillingness or inability of local government to respond." Dick Gregory is now 82 years old and still telling America what it needs to hear. Here he is last year on Joy Reid`s show, discussing the history of the civil rights movement. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GREGORY: We took on the mightiest nation in the world in the history of the planet and we won. Not with guns, not with being nasty. We won for the spirit of non-violence. We brought it to its knees. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Not only will Beyonce, Coldplay, Pearl Jam and Ed Sheeran will be giving a free, live concert in Central Park on September 26, but today global citizen announced that they will be joined by Stephen Colbert, Salma Hayek, Deborra-Lee, Hugh Jackman, Kerry Washington and Olivia Wilde, the hosts of the Global Citizen Festival. A benefit concert to help end extreme poverty. MSNBC`s Willie Geist, Alex Wagner, Janet Mock, Thomas Roberts, Tamron Hall will host MSNBC and NBC`s coverage of the festival. Salma Hayek, co-founder of one of the festivals presenting foundations, "Time for Change" explains how you can win free tickets. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SALMA HAYEK, TIME FOR CHANGE CO-FOUNDER: Time for change is a global company for girls and women rights co-founded by Gucci, Beyonce and I to amplify the voices of girl and women around the world. We will be coming together to join artist like Pearl jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, as well as tens of thousands of global citizens to encourage our world leaders to commit to ending extreme poverty. The best part, you can be there, too. It`s easy. Go to and take action to be entered to win a pair of free tickets. I`ll see you in Central Park on September 26th. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up, conversation with Tig Notaro. When she started talking about her breast cancer on stage, it was like nothing the world of stand up comedy had ever seen. Ed Helms called it historic and Louis CK tweeted this, "In 27 years of doing this, I have seen a handful of truly great, masterful stand up sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo." Tig Notaro is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIG NOTARO, STAND UP COMEDIENNE: Good evening, hello. I have cancer. How are you? I came on stage, not knowing if I was going to live or die and because my life had fallen apart so quickly I kind of assumed I was going to die. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That`s from the extraordinary documentary "Tig," which is available now on NetFlix. Last night, Tig Notaro and her fianc‚, Stephanie Allynne, joined us for a discussion of that documentary and of Tig`s stand up comedy special on HBO, which premiers August 22nd. We stuck around after the show last night and kept talking with the cameras rolling. Here`s some of that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: OK. So now here are the questions that are the things magicians won`t answered. How do we do the trick? How much did you know you were going to say after you said, "I have cancer?" Because there is such an improvisational feel to the next couple of minutes. NOTARO: Yes. I mean, in my writing process, it`s very much in the moment and live on stage. I go on stage with bullet points typically. That particular set I probably wrote out more than I normally do, because I thought my life might be ending and it might be my last performance. So I wanted to give it a little more home work than I normally do. I`m a drop out. I`m a failure, you know. And so I bring that to the stage and I wing it. And -- O`DONNELL: There was another moment like that which is the -- it`s in here somewhere in my notes of when I was watching today. But, no, I want to get to this other thing that we talked about during the break. This thing about there is a line in there when you come to a big decision point and it`s a decision point involving your own health and there`s a risk you might take, basically, in order to have a baby. And you say, you either live with regret or you die. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NOTARO: What am I going to back out and not do this? I would live with regret. Either live with regret or you die. What are you going to choose? You`re going to choose death. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: You make it sound simple. You say you choose death. Like we would all choose death instead of living with regret. Which you are watching a lot of living with regret right here, right now, OK. It`s not so bad. I don`t get the choosing death over regret. NOTARO: You know, obviously -- I mean, hopefully it`s obvious that I am exaggerating but I really am somebody -- O`DONNELL: That wasn`t an exaggeration. It was very real. That`s the science of where you were. (CROSSTALK) NOTARO: I know. I know. O`DONNELL: And you didn`t make that choice. NOTARO: I know. I know. I know, but I was also under the care of my oncologist and my fertility doctor and they were in constant contact. They had worked out the safest plan, if this is what I wanted to go forward with. I did consult with people. It wasn`t just, you know, -- ah, let`s do this, flip a coin. But there is a part of me that it was so in me that I wanted children. And it was something I have been moving towards. I want to get my career to a place where I can be home more and I reached that place. And then I got sick. And then once I got through that, I thought the physical and emotional pain that I was going through, I`m going to get back on track and I`m going to have this kid. And then I`m told, you can`t have kids, you have had cancer. O`DONNELL: Can I get to what you were actually told? That`s really struck me. The doctor says that at a certain point that if you use this technique, it may ignite the cancer. And if it ignites the cancer, they said they told you if the cancer comes back, it`s not treatable. And there is a spot in the documentary where you say nobody said if it comes back, it`s not treatable. And it made me wonder, are the cancer doctors kind of spoon feeding you in a way that isn`t the full picture. Like they`re only saying what they feel like they have to say that day. NOTARO: You know what, when I said nobody told me that, in all honesty, somebody might have told me that. O`DONNELL: Right. NOTARO: You need to be a doctor when you are diagnosed with cancer or any serious illness because there`s information you are getting that you don`t know the words, you don`t know the implications. You don`t know anything. I`m a comedian. I don`t -- what are you talking about? And so they might have told me, but I just might not have absorbed it, but it didn`t sound familiar. And it was very -- it was confusing. It was upsetting. And I couldn`t -- I couldn`t get myself off that track. O`DONNELL: So Stephanie, you make the choice to start dating someone who`s living in the middle of the documentary. There`s cameras everywhere when the dating starts. STEPHANIE ALLYNNE, TIG NOTARO`S GIRLFRIEND: And most of the time I was hiding behind them. O`DONNELL: I mean, on the list of things that I would find off putting, in a dating environment, I would say the presence of cameras would be the number one thing that I`d go uh, no. NOTARO: What about someone that constantly takes their shirt off in public. O`DONNELL: See, I would have no opposition to that at all. But this camera thing, right in the middle of this blooming romance, how weird was that? ALLYNNE: It was always weird. And I feel like I never got used to them being there. I feel like I have seen people that are in documentaries, on reality shows and they`re like, you know, with the camera, you just all of a sudden, you forget about them and you live your life. I never felt that way. Did you? O`DONNELL: You fooled us. I mean, because the audience has no idea that either one of you could ever be uncomfortable when that camera is around. There are a bunch of scenes when you`re talking straight to camera. Obviously, you know, the camera is there. But in all the other ones, there`s no way we can detect that you are uncomfortable with this. NOTARO: Well, when I got, when we got bad news, I became aware that the camera was there and I had -- and I was trying to play it cool but I was crumbling inside. And then I no longer was playing it cool. It was really starting to hit me. I was having really, you know, one of those moments of, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I don`t want these cameras here. I need to just curl up. I was gutted. ALLYNNE: Because there`s an element in that moment with no cameras are there. You`ve received, you know, horrible news. And then with the cameras being there, you are going, oh, and now I have to somehow talk about it immediately or I have to let people know what I`m feeling. NOTARO: Publicly, which will be public. ALLYNNE: And you`re in a moment that -- like we said, we thought it was going to go one way and went another way. Had it gone the other way and you`re in a room with our crew and full of people. It`s all celebratory. And then when it goes the other way, all of a sudden, like, oh, my god, I`m in a room with all of these people and the camera is rolling. O`DONNELL: Yes. So what was the total production time on this documentary? How long were these cameras in your life? NOTARO: I would say roughly a year of consistent filming and then they hired a writer to come in and sort through the footage because there were so many stories that were going that they needed to streamline. So what you are seeing is actual events, but they needed somebody to come in and edit this beast that they got so much footage. And it was really -- it was - there is so much. And so there were pickup shots that they did to kind of bridge certain gaps and, you know, just kind of post production-type things. So it bled in to probably a year and a half of filming. O`DONNELL: How many times did you have to do that 30-foot jump shot? (LAUGHTER) ALLYNNE: They cut away from it. O`DONNELL: Why? That was a clean shot. ALLYNNE: That was like (INAUDIBLE) reaction which is so appropriate. But I was like I made that. (LAUGHTER) NOTARO: And I`m like, oh. That`s not athletic. How`s that? Somebody that doesn`t know sports. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Up next, how Tig Notaro`s mother inspired her comedy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea that this show happened went viral. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your latest prognosis? NOTARO: I had surgery. I did, yes. Double mastectomy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s your doctor, the Fonz? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: More with Tig Notaro next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Stand up comedian Tig Notaro was with us last night discussing the worst year of her life, which she has magically transformed in to brilliant comedy. She hung around after the show to talk about it a bit more. We`re going to show you more of that. In that terrible year, Tig was diagnosed with breast cancer. And just weeks before that, Tig`s mother died in a freak accident at home. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: You say my mother was hysterical. And when I hear that from a hysterical stand up comedian, I want to know more. I feel like ah, that`s where this whole career really begins. NOTARO: Yes. I mean, my mother, she was a prankster. I talked about that in the movie. She was very free spirited and did her own thing. And she was an artist, a painter, a dancer. She was so funny. And she was a bigger, louder version of me. She was also a risk taker. And I always tell people that there`s never a person that comes up to me and says, you know what, I think I met your mother. It`s always -- I met your mother today, you know. It`s that kind of response that came from meeting my mother. You know, she -- her best friend hung out with somebody that my mother just couldn`t stand. Just silly things. My mother went and tied empty cans and beer bottles to this person`s bumper to have them driving down the street as, you know, a ridiculous prank on this person. My mother, if somebody wasn`t waiting on her quickly enough -- O`DONNELL: Which happens to us all. NOTARO: She would call the restaurant that she was sitting in and tell them she needed more butter on her bread. O`DONNELL: Oh, that is great. NOTARO: And then she would also send water shots to strangers across the place. And they would be like -- me? And she would be like, yes, it`s for you. Just, you know, so far apart and across the restaurant and they are like thank you. And you see them throw back water. O`DONNELL: I so wish we could have dinner with your mother when we`re getting slow service. NOTARO: Well, you can now, you can use that. O`DONNELL: Yes, all right. Well, I see -- I know your mother can do it. I wouldn`t have the courage to do that, but now I know, I know exactly -- NOTARO: You can carry it on, though. You carry on her ridiculousness. O`DONNELL: I know exactly where you got this notion in your head of refuse to live with regret. NOTARO: Yes. O`DONNELL: That`s your mother. NOTARO: Yes. O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for doing this tonight. I really appreciate it. NOTARO: Thanks for having us. O`DONNELL: Great to have you coming here. Stephanie -- ALLYNNE: Great to see you. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Tig Notaro gets the last word two nights in a row. The HBO comedy special "Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted," premieres Saturday, August 22, and the documentary "Tig" is now available on NetFlix. Chris Hayes is up next. END