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