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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 1/19/2016

Guests: Sam Stein, David Frum, E.J. Dionne, Ezra Klein, Mayor Virg Bernero, Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 19, 2016 Guest: Sam Stein, David Frum, E.J. Dionne, Ezra Klein, Mayor Virg Bernero, Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: It`s just amazing. Cruz can`t have -- guns bill was vetoed by Chris Christie.

This is a bill that had zero opposition, it was (AUDIO GAP 00:00:08-19) from the carjackers league of New Hampshire or something.

It`s just amazing. Congratulations New Jersey, you want your next governor to run for president too?

That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening Rachel. Hey, you`ve had a lot of big guests lately.

You had Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and then Hillary Clinton again and then Bernie Sanders again and again and again.


Well, have you noticed that Triumph, the insult comic dog is back on the campaign trail?

MADDOW: No, do you mean --


MADDOW: The actual Triumph? --

O`DONNELL: Triumph is on the campaign trail and the big get for THE LAST WORD tonight. Why?


From New Hampshire where he`s been chasing Ted Cruz all day.

MADDOW: Oh, wow --

O`DONNELL: Triumph --

MADDOW: Do you have a bleep button in your control room? --

O`DONNELL: I don`t (AUDIO GAP 00:01:08-11) probably smoking a Cuban cigar.

MADDOW: Fair enough, that`s awesome, well done.

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel --

MADDOW: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Well, tonight, Donald Trump was the one who was forced to endure listening to a Trump-like incoherent political speech.

And this one was from one of American politics biggest losers and certainly the biggest quitter.





PALIN: Thank you so much, it`s so great to be in Iowa.

TRUMP: I`m a big fan of Sarah Palin.

PALIN: This is going to be so much fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have triumph of reality television.

PALIN: You betcha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Palin was a Cruz gal before she was a Trump gal.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Oh, listen, I love Sarah Palin.

PALIN: Heads are spinning. Media heads are spinning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ll see more of these sort of odd endorsements.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He picked up the endorsement of John Wayne`s family.

TRUMP: I love John Wayne.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is fun for Trump, and people can tell.

TRUMP: Ted is worried about his temperament and people are talking about his temperament.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like two tarantulas in a bowl there in Iowa.

TRUMP: I haven`t talked about his temperament.

CRUZ: It is no surprise that the establishment is in full panic mode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iowa Governor Terry Branstad -- Ted Cruz nomination would be damaging.

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD (R), IOWA: I believe that would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only one of them is going to come out alive.

PALIN: No, next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!


O`DONNELL: Ask yourself this. What would you do the day after your 26- year-old son who lives at home with you is arrested in your home after assaulting his girlfriend and threatening to commit suicide using one of these.

An AR-15 assault rifle that is kept in your home? And, yes, he was drunk. What would you do?

You`d have your arms around him right now, right? You`d be getting him all the help he needs right now, right?

Well, according to police reports, all of that happened at Sarah Palin`s home last night in Wasilla, Alaska.

But Sarah Palin wasn`t home. She and her husband Todd were on their way to a big event in Iowa.

On nights like this, it`s worth pausing to (AUDIO GAP 00:03:37-41) that he did in 2008 and won the presidency.

Sarah Palin might tonight still be serving as the Vice President of the United States of America instead of Joe Biden.

And what happened in her home last night might have instead happened in the Vice President`s residence.

Here`s why Todd and Sarah Palin are not home tonight, given their troubled 26-year-old son, who is the divorced father of a 4-year-old daughter, the loving parental guidance that he so obviously needs now, as much as he ever has. (AUDIO GAP 00:04:23-25).


PALIN: Will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass!


PALIN: Ready for someone who will secure our borders, to secure our jobs and to secure our homes?

Ready to make America great again? Are you ready to stump for Trump? I`m here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: There were actually very few applause lines like that in Sarah Palin`s 20-minute speech.

It was the quietest audience reaction we have seen at any Trump event, for both Donald Trump`s soft spoken and rumbling introduction of Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin`s speech.

If Sarah Palin is supposed to add energy to the Trump campaign, it didn`t happen in that room tonight.

Here was her answer to Ted Cruz saying that Donald Trump is not a real conservative.


PALIN: Now, what they`re doing is wailing, well, Trump and his Trumpeters, well, they`re not conservative enough.

Oh, my goodness, gracious. What the heck would the establishment know about conservatism?

Tell me, is this conservative? GOP majorities handing Obama a blank check to fund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood and illegal immigration that competes for your jobs?

How about the rest of us, right-wing and bitter clinging proud clingers of our guns, our God and our religion and our constitution.

Tell us that we`re not red enough. Yes, coming from the establishment, right.


O`DONNELL: As she clings to the wreckage of her political career and her unsuccessful attempts at reality TV stardom, Sarah Palin, not surprisingly delivered her endorsement to the candidate who could guarantee her the biggest audience.

The candidate who could best stoke the dying embers of her fame. Joining us now are David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic", Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of

And Sam Stein, senior politics editor at "The Huffington Post" and an Msnbc contributor.

He is also the co-host of the new podcast "Candidate Confessional". Sam Stein, are there --


O`DONNELL: Any -- are there any Sarah Palin true believers who are not already Donald Trump true believers?

STEIN: Are there any still Sarah Palin true believers is a good question, it`s all right --

O`DONNELL: Well, you can start there then.


STEIN: Obviously, her star power has greatly diminished. I think they came when her reality TV show fell by the wayside.

And I just don`t get the sense that the draw is there like it was in the early Obama years.

I do think you`re right. I think there`s a strategic reason she attached herself to Donald Trump.

And that he is the brightest star in the GOP field, and she craves that type of attention.

But I guess I was struck when I watched her said how much the rhetoric has changed. I remember in 2008 when she was this unknown governor stumping for John McCain.

And we were all very alarmed at what was happening at her specific rallies.

And I look back at that, and then I look at what`s happening at the Trump rallies, and I look and I think that is almost quant.

That some of the stuff that we witnessed in 2007-2008 -- sorry, 2008 specifically, really wasn`t as alarming as what we`re seeing now.

And I think that`s a little bit frightening.

O`DONNELL: Well, she did also venture into foreign policy tonight, and I think highlighted something that has so far been, I think under analyzed in Trumpism.

Trumpism has trumped Cheneyism. When was the last time we had --

STEIN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Dick Cheney come out and tell us how to think about foreign policy and instruct Republicans about how to think about foreign policy.

Let`s listen to Palin on foreign policy tonight.


PALIN: Let me say something really positive about one of those individuals -- Rand Paul.


PALIN: I`m going to tell you about that libertarian streak in him that is healthy, because he knows, you only go to war if you`re determined to win the war!


PALIN: And you quit footing the bill for these nations who are oil rich we`re paying for some of their skirmishes that have been going on for centuries.

Where they`re fighting each other and yelling al-akhbar, calling Jihad on each other`s heads forever and ever.

Like I`ve said before, let him do get out and let Allah sort it out.


O`DONNELL: Now, you don`t have to rewind, she did say skirmishes. David Frum, Cheneyism has disappeared under this cloud of Trumpism which is now being combined with some form of Palinism.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: What the Palin endorsement it seems to me is about, and the choice of Donald Trump over Ted Cruz is a contest between what is conservatism anyway.

Ted Cruz is an ideology. It`s a set of answers to political questions. And Donald Trump has offered conservatism as an identity.

And Sarah Palin is one of the great pioneers of that idea that conservatism is an identity.

It`s not what you are, it`s not a set of -- it`s not what you think, it`s not a set of answers. It`s who you are.

And that is why what she did was important. And although as Sam said and as you have said, her star has diminished.

Must remember that in 2012, the first and second place in Iowa were separated by 34 votes.

So, if Sarah Palin can move a few hundred or a couple of thousand even votes from the Cruz column into the Trump column, where some undecided.

That could potentially mean a Trump win in Iowa. And given that everyone was expecting him not to win Iowa, but to win New Hampshire and for this race to be unsettled.

To back to back wins, a week to pack(ph), that could be kind of a seismic event.

O`DONNELL: Now that we have two frontrunners, policy is actually finding its way into the campaign, especially for Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz now going after Donald Trump on policy. Let`s listen to what Ted Cruz had to say about that today.


CRUZ: Mr. Trump enthusiastically supported the TARP big bank bailouts. I disagree with him, we should have no bailouts of Wall Street banks.



Mr. Trump enthusiastically supported President Obama`s stimulus plan and said the only problem was it should have been bigger.

I don`t think we should have a massive payoff to lobbyists from taxpayers. And if you want to turn around the debt, you`ve got to demonstrate that you are willing to stand up to that cronyism.


O`DONNELL: And Ezra Klein, Trump`s response was basically Ted Cruz is mean. He`s not engaged yet on the policy debate with Ted Cruz.

But it looks like policy may finally be ripening in the Republican campaign.

EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VOX.COM: We`ll see. But I do think there`s a fascinating difference between the two of them.

And I think David said something really worth taking seriously, that the Republican Party`s conservatism as right now is two dimensional.

And I don`t think we`re quite sure which dimension is dominant. There`s the dimension of ideology, right? What do they believe?

And that includes on policy, but it`s also philosophical question. And when it comes to ideology, there`s no one more purely conservative than Ted Cruz.

Then there`s what David called identity, I might call (INAUDIBLE). It`s a kind of an approach to the establishment, a level of confrontational -- what kind of -- how confrontational are your politics.

How willing are you to compromise? And that`s where Donald Trump is genuinely dominant.

Cruz is pretty far along that as well. But nobody is more confrontational than Trump.

And the reason I think it ends up being interesting is, GOP establishment begins to decide if they might need to decide whether they prefer Trump or Cruz.

Is Cruz has a lot of policies in his -- in his program and they are fairly spelled out at this point.

But are incredibly unpopular. His tax plan for instance is pretty unique among Republican candidates and putting down what`s essentially a national value-added tax, or a huge sales -- or a huge sales tax.

It would mean the lower and middle class pay much higher taxes than they are now.

Donald Trump because he doesn`t care that much about policy, he squirms his way to whatever he thinks is popular at that time.

And so in that way, he is much more willing to try to target the median voter than Cruz is.

In that way, might end up actually being more electable than Cruz if Republicans end up caring about that more than they care about keeping Trump off of the top of their ticket.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I can`t wait to hear Trump going after the value-added tax once he finds out that --

KLEIN: Right --

O`DONNELL: That is --


Cruz`s position. Right now, today was temperament day for Trump. Let`s listen to, you know, the calmest guy in the field talking about that temperamental Ted Cruz.


TRUMP: When you talk about temperament, Ted has got a rough temperament, that I know. He -- you can`t -- you know, you can`t call people liars on the Senate floor when they`re your leader.

It`s not a good thing to do if you want to sort of carry favor and get the positive votes later on down.

So, Ted is worried about his temperament and people are talking about his temperament. I haven`t talked about his temperament.

But he`s got to be careful because his temperament is, you know, has been questioned a lot.


O`DONNELL: In the middle of that paragraph of Donald Trump talking about Ted Cruz`s temperament, yes, you did hear the sentence, I haven`t talked about his temperament.

In fact, it was at the end of the paragraph. Sam Stein, I haven`t talked about his temperament either --

STEIN: Right --

O`DONNELL: We`re even --

STEIN: He`s a terrible person, not that I say that, not that I say that, but I`ve heard.

But this is again, to take you back on what my two esteemed co-panels have said, this is sort of quintessentially identity politics.

It`s very visceral reaction from Donald Trump. And I would add one thing.

When you talk to people who are in the establishment, whatever you want to call the establishment -- let`s say they`re party insiders among Republicans.

It`s part of the reason why you`re starting to get a sense of they`re a little bit more comfortable with the idea of Donald Trump winning this thing than they are of Ted Cruz.

Because they think Donald Trump is more ideologically malleable. They think that a lot of this -- he`ll just flip back on when it comes to the general election.

And that he can in fact play (INAUDIBLE), to use that term, whatever that means. Because he`s basically worked in Washington as a businessman before, so he knows how it gets done.

And so you`re starting to see a few -- a bit of chatter, I would say from establishment types saying, OK, if it comes down to these two -- we would probably prefer Trump over Cruz for precisely those reasons.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, we had two Republican establishment columnists today saying that Cruz and Trump are the worst thing that could happen to the Republican Party.

But are you hearing what Sam is hearing, that if they were forced to choose more Washington Republican types would go with Trump because he doesn`t actually believe anything.

FRUM: Well, yes, I want to be careful, the word establishment, I don`t know what that means --


FRUM: Anymore. I think probably because people in Washington know Cruz better. There are some -- there are some personal animosities that are maybe blinding them about what is the better choice.

Notice something Cruz did in that statement you quoted a minute ago. And I think this gets to the problem.

Ted Cruz attacked President Obama`s stimulus and TARP, he didn`t vote any (INAUDIBLE) in front of TARP.

What Washington Republicans remember is that TARP was a President Bush measure. Now, only about a third of Americans know that.

About half of Americans identify TARP as an Obama measure, but it was a Bush measure. And it was one of the most difficult votes that many Republicans cast in their career, and many were unhappy about it.

But it was something that they were leaned on to do, that they felt was necessary and that probably did save the world from much more terrible recession than even the one that was experienced.

They were on the line then. And here is Ted Cruz arriving from Texas after it`s all over, condemning them and not even giving them the courtesy of acknowledging that this was a Republican vote that was done for Republican reasons.

O`DONNELL: Quick break here. Sam Stein, thank you for joining us tonight for the return of Sarah Palin --

STEIN: Thanks --

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Sam.

STEIN: Gladly.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, a new poll shows how Republican presidential candidates are hurting the Republican Party.

And in the rewrite tonight, how a dead man endorsed Donald Trump today. What John Wayne and Donald Trump really have in common.

And later, Triumph, the insult comic dog is back on the campaign trail -- there he is in New Hampshire today, he`s following Ted Cruz.

Triumph will join us live from the campaign trail in New Hampshire.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump doesn`t seem to know this. But we have U.S. Marines with names like Amir Hekmati.

And Amir spoke to reporters today, he`s a former U.S. Marine, he spoke to reporters today for the first time since being released as a prisoner from Iran.

He said he had resigned himself to spending ten years in an Iranian prison and his release was a stunning surprise.


AMIR HEKMATI, FORMER UNITED STATES MARINE: I feel very lucky, like I said, I feel alive for the first time.

It`s like being born again and I just really feel proud to be an American.

I just know that everyone, from the President, the Congress, even the Iranian officials who were our captors essentially were amazed.

And had asked us why is it that they`re, you know, working so hard for you? And I just said, oh, that`s America and they love their citizens.


O`DONNELL: Up next, how the Republican Party has according to one Republican, accepted its own self destruction.



PALIN: He`s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debated on his sleeve.

Where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide.

They didn`t want to talk about these issues until he brought them up. In fact, they`ve been wearing this political correctness, kind of like a suicide vest.

And enough is enough. These issues that Donald Trump talks about had to be debated.

And he brought them to the forefront, and that`s why we are where we are today, with good discussion, a good, heated and very competitive primary is where we are.


O`DONNELL: That was the point in the speech where Donald Trump was getting really tired up there.

A new poll shows the Trump agenda is not helping the Republican Party, unlike what Sarah Palin just said.

Forty two percent of registered voters say that what they have seen, read and heard during the Republican nominating process has made them feel less favorable toward the Republican Party compared with 19 percent.

Only 19 percent have said it made them feel more favorable toward the Republican Party.

Joining us now, E.J. Dionne, an opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst.

He is the author of the timely new book, "Why the Right Went Wrong". And back with us, Ezra Klein and David Frum.

E.J., this just happens to be what your book is about, that little section of Sarah Palin`s speech.

And that poll tonight showing that this isn`t working for Republicans.

We have David Brooks in the "New York Times" today, in his column saying he rarely has a party so passively accepted its own self-destruction.

He said nominating either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump would lead to a party decimating general election, just a wipe out for Republicans.

E.J., how did it come to this? And I know you took several hundred pages to explain how it came to this.

You know I have 30 seconds.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: OK, well, somebody tweeted tonight that I had arranged Palin`s endorsement of Trump as a brilliant marketing ploy from the launch of my new book.

And I just want to categorically deny that, although, I wish I had thought of it. I think that what you`re seeing are a couple of things.

One is that the Republican Party since Goldwater has shed all of the elements of who might have stood up against this tide towards Trump and Cruz.

That first, although liberals loved it, and there used to be a lot of liberal Republicans, as you remember.

And now most of the moderates have left the Republican primary electorate. That was a very long process.

And so now, when these so-called establishment types -- and I agree with David, it`s not clear what that means anymore.

When they`re looking around for votes to stop this, those voters aren`t in the party anymore.

And I think the other thing that you`re seeing is a kind of embrace of, you know, rationalism back, particularly in the tea party period.

And so a lot of Republicans are now complaining correctly that Trump or Cruz would be a disaster for the party.

But this started happening a while back, and to his credit by the way, David Frum, and I quoted him back in my book, wrote back in 2014.

That over the past five years, he said the American right had veered toward a reactionary radicalism unlike anything you`ve seen in America in many years.

And now you`re seeing that fully play out.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, is this the way you expected it to play out?

FRUM: It`s although more spectacular than I expected. But yes, it is sort of what I expected.

I`ve been writing about this for a while. That we have extraordinary economic distress and we have had extraordinary neglect by the former leadership of the Republican Party of the distress in its own ranks.

And the autopsy that was done after the 2012 election, that said there was nothing wrong with the Republican platform in 2012.

Nothing wrong with taking more of the Medicare guarantee when people are under 55. Nothing wrong with not having a wage agenda.

The only thing that was wrong was the party needed to be -- to undo the one thing that the big donors have never liked anyway.

Which is Mitt Romney`s noises about immigration. So, what was set in motion was a dynastic succession.

You know, we hear you rank-and-file, you want something new, how about another Bush. And that unsurprisingly triggered a rebellion.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, do you agree with E.J.`s tracing of this over the arc of time that has led to where we are now?

KLEIN: I basically do. And I think watching Donald Trump and Sarah Palin on that stage and seeing Ted Cruz where he is in the polls is a reminder of how much the Republican Party establishment brought this on themselves.

They`ve been in the cycle for years now, where they keep trying to take control of these forces and indulge with them just enough.

So, they let Sarah Palin in but (INAUDIBLE) the vice presidency. Of course, she can`t do any harm there, and then she becomes a few radical in the party.

They`d be -- they sort of indulge the tea party and tried to cop the tea party into the establishment and then overruns the establishment.

And John Boehner`s gone and Ted Cruz is leading in the polls.

And folks, remember, Mitt Romney flying to accept Donald Trump`s endorsement during the 2012 campaign, and he was another guy of celebrity, rich, can donate money, he can get some attention in the media.

They thought they could bring him just enough into the party and once again, he was able to storm through the gates.

And they`ve done this enough times with enough different factions and forces and celebrities and individuals.

Now, they actually don`t have any defenses left. The sort of -- the insurgents are too deep into the city center.

And now there`s really no establishment left to fight. You mentioned David Brooks` column earlier today about what the Republican Party should do.

But I don`t know that there is an establishment within the Republican Party that has the power, discipline or the credibility to really do anything at all, even if they were capable of mobilizing.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I found the diagnosis in David Brooks column correct. But then the recommendation that there was somehow an establishment that could -- that could bend together and do something about this.

E.J., did you find that establishment in going out there and researching this book?

DIONNE: In fact, what I concluded is what a couple of conservative writers Ramesh Penur(ph) and Rinch Lawry(ph) concluded in "National Review" back in 2014.

They wrote a very important piece called "Establishment Tea". And essentially, what they argued is that, in order to hold power in the party, the establishment had essentially gone over to the tea party`s views, was parodying their views.

Now, they were kind of celebrating it as a kind of party unity, but I think you`re seeing the cost now.

One of my favorite John F. Kennedy quotes is from his inaugural address where he said, "he who rides to power on the back of the tiger usually ends up inside."

And that is exactly what`s happened to the Republican leadership now.

The funny thing is, if you will go all the way back to the Goldwater period, there were people after Goldwater won the nomination and conservatives essentially took over the Republican Party.

Who asked the same questions David Brooks asked in his column. Why aren`t they fighting? Why didn`t we do anything?

This has been a moderate, conservative refrain for 50 years.

O`DONNELL: And no less an establishmentarian than Bill Kristol(ph) tweeted mockingly today about the return of Sarah Palin.

But Bill Kristol(ph) was one of the Republican talent scouts who went up to Alaska and discovered her.

And David Frum came back with this very positive report, she`s a star, we`ve got to elevate her --

FRUM: Right --

O`DONNELL: He pushed her toward where we are now.

FRUM: Look, I remember 2008 when I got the rumor, I watched the then three hours of Sarah Palin video available on YouTube.

I watched them and I was alarmed and wrote about it in 2008. But you know, David Brooks is a good friend, a wise person.

But what could the establishment do? I don`t know. Could they raise a $115 million in campaign funds to try to work their will in the Republican Party?

That`s just what they did. That was astonishing. It was an astonishing display of economic muscle, it just didn`t work.

And I don`t think it`s hard to say that it wasn`t tried, I think it`s been tried on a spectacular scale and it failed.

The problem is not effort, the problem is thinking. And the core problem is that the donor lead of the Republican Party is not willing to make substantial concessions to the economic concerns of Republican rank-and- file members.

And so, what choice do they have? Because what are they being offered by the people with the $115 million to give.

O`DONNELL: E.J., this book takes us right up to the current presidential campaign, the Donald Trump campaign. Did you finish writing this last night? How do you get a book out now that has yesterday`s news in it?

DIONNE: God bless you for saying that. Well, unfortunately, for me as a Trump phenomenon was growing, it actually fit in to the broader argument of the book. And, to underscore something David said that was already an argument in my book before the Trump phenomenon started.

What you are seeing here is the revenge of the republican working class. You got a very rich guy leading a class war. Because for election after election, republicans relied heavily on the votes of white working class voters and delivered absolutely no economic benefits to them. And, so, now, they are using Donald Trump to say we have had enough.

O`DONNELL: E.J.`s book is once again "Why The Right Went Wrong." I will be reading it during the commercials. Ezra Klein and David Frum, thank you all for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

Coming up in tonight`s rewrite, everything you really want to know and need to know about Hollywood legend John Wayne, who endorsed Donald Trump today, even though he died in 1979. But, first, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The governor apologized tonight and took full responsibility. Hmm, sort of.




MICHAEL MOORE, ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER: The thing is that the governor knew about this. The governor, his office`s people, his so-called environmental office, all packed with cronies, not real scientists or real environmentalists. They did this to the people of Flint.

And, I have been calling for Attorney General Lynch to investigate, arrest, prosecute him for a crime that was committee. A crime of both fraud, of covering up, and of polluting the water. There has been no big movement to do anything about this. They have had a few state police handing out these bottles. This is all PR. The speech tonight he gave was PR.


O`DONNELL: That was Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker Michael Moore with Chris Hayes tonight reacting to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder`s state of the state address tonight.


RICK SNYDER, (R) MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight, as I have before, I am sorry and I will fix it. No citizen of this great state should endure this kind of catastrophe. Government failed you. Federal, state and local leaders by breaking the trust you placed in us.

I am sorry most of all that I let you down. You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. I know apologies will not make up for the mistakes that were made. Nothing will. But, I take full responsibility to fix the problem, so it will never happen again.


O`DONNELL: During the governor`s speech, demonstrators protested outside the Michigan State House, demanding the governor`s resignation.

Joining us now, Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero. He ran against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in 2010. Mr. Mayor, what was your reaction to the governor`s speech tonight.

MAYOR VIRG BERNERO, (D) LANSING, MICHIGAN: Well, Lawrence, it was good to hear him say that the buck stopped there. It, certainly, began with him, with the emergency manager law. When the governor removes a mayor and essentially takes over that city in a hostile takeover, he is substituting his judgment and his leadership for that mayor. And, it is a very important job. Huge mistakes were made. This is a massive debacle. It is going to take millions and millions to fix.

But most importantly, lives are at stake. So, it is sobering to hear that he is taking it seriously. We are talking about the basics of human life. And, it is great that they handing out bottles of water. But you know, you cannot shower with this. And, it is hard to cook with these bottles of water.

There is so much work that needs to be done to fix the infrastructure, and that of course to fix the psyche and to fix the economic development, to encourage people to come to Lansing, all the things that a mayor does that local leadership does that has been supplanted by the emergency manager.

So, this is an indictment really of the entire emergency manager system, which he fought for. He got a new powerful emergency manager law. And, Lawrence, I will tell you, they say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And, These emergency managers have absolute power and that, I believe, is some of the root of the problem here.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, I heard him spread the blame around. He is saying on one hand the buck stops here and then spreading the blame around to, as he put it, federal, state and local. Now, after he took over basically the mayor`s office there, what did the federal government -- how can he hand off some blame here to the federal government.

MAYOR BERNERO: I cannot imagine how. I mean, that happen sometimes when a disaster -- you know, they say success has a million authors and failure is an orphan. And, so, I am not entirely surprised by that, but there is no question that the governor through the emergency manager act took over, supplanted. It was a hostile takeover and it has happened in other cities as well.

And, when you do that, you are taking full responsibility. And, so, the governor needs to be watching very carefully what those emergency managers do. And, I do not believe that has happened. And, he used the word accountability, Lawrence. We do need accountability. We need standards.

And, I am going to be discussing that here in Washington with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. We need to look at all these emergency manager laws and demand accountability and standards and protocol in place and protections, by the way, and appeals process for the emergency manager. There is no accountability.

And by the way, speaking of accountability, he is talking about accountability for state, local and federal. What about the guy, who made this happen. What about the emergency manager, who is still in power now? He has been promoted and given a pay raise and is in charge of the Detroit public schools. So, maybe, he can do for the children of Detroit what he has done for the people of Flint?

O`DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, when these gubernatorial powers were enacted such that a governor can take over a mayoralty like that. I heard a lot of talk at this distance about how it violated democratic principles of democracy representative government. But, what I did not hear were really practical predictions about how this could go wrong. Was this the kind of thing that was predicted that could possibly go wrong under this kind of system?

MAYOR BERNERO: Well, I certainly did not predict this. And, I do not think anybody predicted this level of catastrophe. But, this shows you, Lawrence, what can happen. The saying is famous for a reason or infamous, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These emergency managers have too much power. They have no accountability. And, this is a governor who ran unaccountability. His big thing was talking about dash boards and measuring and metrics.

Where were the metrics? Where is the measuring? Where is the accountability? When the guy who is in charge of all of this, who is responsible for it got a raise, a promotion and a new assignment. And, the folks of Detroit are justifiably concerned about that leadership. The governor, it is great that he is accepting responsibility. I do not see accountability up and down the food change. And, we need to see that accountability and people held responsible for what has happened.

O`DONNELL: Virg Bernero, Mayor of Lansing, Michigan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

MAYOR BERNERO: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

MAYOR BERNERO: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, in the rewrite, Donald Trump and John Wayne and what they really do have in common. And, later, "Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog" is back in the campaign trail. He will join me live from New Hampshire.


SEAN PENN, AMERICAN ACTOR, FILMMAKER AND POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Of course, I know that there are people who do not like me out of the gate, whether it is political --

CHARLIE ROSE, CBS HOST OF "60 MINUTES" PROGRAM: You are not without controversy.

PENN: Not without controversy. Fair enough. Again, journalists who want to say that I am not a journalist. Well, I want to see the license that says that they are a journalist.


O`DONNELL: OK. I got my license right here. Well, OK. It is not exactly a license. It is an NBC I.D. with a bad picture of me on it. It gets me in the elevator. It works for that, anyway.

Up next, how a dead man endorsed Donald Trump today. It really happened.



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John Wayne represented strength. He represented power. He represented what the people are looking at today, because we have exactly the opposite from John Wayne right now in this country. And, he represented real strength and an inner strength that you do not see very often. And, that is why with this endorsement it meant so much to me.


O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump today at the John Wayne Museum in Winterset, Iowa, where a Hollywood cowboy movie star, John Wayne, was born. There is no record of John Wayne being born there because John Wayne was fake. I mean, the name John Wayne was a fake name. John Wayne`s real name was Marion Morrison.

Marion Morrison rewrote his name, so he could have a career playing fake tough guys in movies with a name that sounded just a little tougher than Marion Morrison. Today, the fake tough guy with the fake name in effect endorsed the fake tough guy candidate, who built his tough guy image by pretending to fire people on T.V.

John Wayne`s daughter endorsed Donald Trump today at the John Wayne Museum, saying that if her father was still around, he would be doing the same thing. If you can see only one John Wayne movie, it should be "Trumbo" starring Bryan Cranston as Hollywood blacklisted screenwriter, "Dalton Trumbo," who had a few run-ins with John Wayne, who has played brilliantly in the movie by David James Elliott.

Bryan Cranston is nominated for an Oscar for his role this year as "Dalton Trumbo." The movie reminds us that John Wayne, the real John Wayne supported the 1950`s witch hunt in Hollywood that led to the blacklisting or writers and actors and directors for their political belief. Some of them like "Dalton Trumbo" were jailed for those believes. Lives were ruined.

The real John Wayne, Marion Morrison, is actually a mirror image of Donald Trump in one respect. Each of these fake tough guys completely ducked military service during wartime. Donald Trump during Vietnam and Marion Morrison during World War II. But, that did not give John Wayne any pause at all about playing tough combat soldier in World War II movies, an irony that Dalton Trumbo relished.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: you better wake up because it is a new day. A new day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: And maybe it is not for your kind.

CRANSTON AS TRUMBO: My kind? What kind is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: The kind that has no idea why we just won a war.

CRANSTON AS TRUMBO: That is curious. That is the second time you mentioned that. See, I was a war correspondent in Okinawa. Eddie`s son was stationed in the Philippines. Eddie was in Europe with the office of war information. Where did you serve again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: You trying to say something?



CRANSTON, AS TRUMBO: If you are going to talk about World War II as if you personally won it, let us be clear where you were stationed. On a film set, shooting blanks, wearing makeup. And, if you are going to hit me, I would like to take off my glasses.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump was right today when he said this --


TRUMP: John Wayne represented strength. He represented power.


O`DONNELL: That is right. He represented strength, just represented it. He was not actually strong. Like Donald Trump, John Wayne did not know what strength really is. So, yes -- John Wayne would have no problem endorsing Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: I have seen an awful lot of young people in their 20`s enter politics, enter government, work in the United States senate, working with campaigns. Every one that I have seen at that age begin, at least, as an idealist, and maybe stays an idealist for years. Braden Joplin did not get that chance.

A 25-year-old Braden Joplin was in the Ben Carson campaign. He was killed today in Nebraska in a car accident. Ben Carson just spoke to reporters at the hospital a few minutes ago.


BEN CARSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had an opportunity to get to know him. And, the thing that impressed me the most was how compassionate he was. How caring he was about the feelings of other people.



O`DONNELL: "Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog" is back on the campaign trail. There he is Sunday night in the spin room in South Carolina at the Democratic Presidential Debate on NBC, and he was in New Hampshire today following Ted Cruz, who spotted him in the audience there. That is the Ted Cruz audience.

We had some video of Cruz spotting him, but we do not have that -- Oh, there we are. Watch Cruz now, he sees him -- and turns away as quickly as he can. Joining us now from New Hampshire, live from New Hampshire from the campaign trail, Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog.


O`DONNELL: Triumph, Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

TRIUMPH: Thank you. You should be thanking me. I am freezing whatever is left of my nuts out here.


O`DONNELL: I am worried about you. It is very cold up there, is not it?

TRIUMP: It is. Look at this effect. I have got smoke coming out of my mouth like a real dog.

O`DONNELL: I have never seen that with you before, Triumph. That is really cold.

TRIUMPH: I know. Pretty impressive for MSNBC. See your budget really skyrocketed once all that Ed Shultz money freed up.


O`DONNELL: Triumph of -- go ahead. I do not want to interrupt.

TRIUMPH: No, no. I am just saying I am actually using the same humidifier that Debbie Wasserman Shultz uses for her hair. Beautiful hair. Let us go, come on.

O`DONNELL: So, you are getting in from the cold at least when you go to these campaign events, do they let you inside. .

TRIUMPH: Yes, I am able to go inside the Ted Cruz events, but I am not to talk to Senator Cruz. You know, I was there with a media pass like a legitimate press person. You know what legitimate press is like, you know, before MSNBC days. No, seriously, I went -- all I had was questions, you know.


TRIUMPH: Simple questions.


TRIUMPH: The world needs to hear for Ted Cruz. Questions like, you know, ted, now that -- wait -- your wife works for Goldman Sachs, Ted. We all want to punish Wall Street, but is not sharing a bed with you a little extreme? You know, simple questions like that.


O`DONNELL: That is --

TRIUMPH: Ted, you are against -- sorry.

O`DONNELL: What did it feel like when Ted Cruz spotted you in the audience today, did you think you were going to get your moment?

TRIUMPH: No, no. I had fear in my eyes.



TRIUMPH: That is a very scary glare, that Ted Cruz glare.


O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes, I can imagine.

TRIUMPH: You know, John Wayne`s daughter endorsed Trump and Cruz, I understand, got the endorsement of the daughter of John Wayne Gacy.


O`DONNELL: Now, what about the big endorsement, Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump today.

TRIUMPH: You know, no one really gives a crap except the media about them, do they? At this point --

O`DONNELL: We spent 15 minutes on it here.

TRIUMPH: Exactly. She is, you know, news nip. Now, I guess she likes -- you know why she voted -- she is choosing Trump because he is against background checks and so is she, because if John McCain had conducted one, she would never have been on the ticket.


O`DONNELL: Now, do you think you have a chance of getting a question in with Donald Trump? Are you afraid of his crowds? That his crowds would turn on you?

TRIUMPH: Oh, you know, I think it has really been misrepresented. There is quite a diverse group of individuals, who show up at Donald Trump`s events and get the crap beaten out of them.


O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

TRIUMPH: People of all races and creeds get around and dejected.

O`DONNELL: I hope that does not happen to you. Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog, thank you very much for braving the cold tonight and for joining us.

TRIUMP: Thank you, Lawrence. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.