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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  January 17, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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weekend put out a statement saying the obama administration, quote, will not support legislation that reduces freedom of speech, criticizing elements of the proposed law while still acknowledging intellectual property theft as a serious problem, that was largely viewed as a wrench in the works for sopa moving ahead. but they're still worried it's in process, they're still worried about its sister legislation pipa and going ahead with their online show of force. for those of who basically live online, like i do, tomorrow's going to be a very different day than i've ever seen before, kind of like me doing this whole segment like this, with basically zero graphics and things blinking on and off around me that i can't explain. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> so the richest guy running for president pays the lowest tax rate of all the candidates, including the other rich guys. and after the evangelical meeting last weekend where rick santorum emerged as the favorite of social conservatives, pimps and prostitutes have now chosen
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their favorite republican candidate for president, and they're here tonight to give him their official endorsement. and later we'll talk to michelle kosinski at the scene of the italian cruise ship disaster. mitt romney's tax rates. >> he told reporters this morning that if he was the nominee, then he would release his tax documents, but not now. >> what's the effective rate i've been paying? it's probably closer to the 15% rate than anything. >> he says he's paying close to 15%? maybe he's paying underneath 15% >> there is a suggestion that he's not paying the top 35 fact rate. >> there's a reason that these been loathe to do so, because we now know it is going to show him paying a lower tax rate than certainly lots of people than who is significantly more wealthy than. >> it's going to be hard for him to defend in the campaign going forward. that's the reason he doesn't want to disclose it. >> if i become our nominee, and what's happened in history, people have released them in about april of the coming year.
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>> i think it was a tradition that was nominated by then presidential candidate george romney. >> that's what i'm going to do. >> romney seemed a little rattled. >> it was clear in my mind he was uncomfortable answering it. >> will he end up releasing those tax returns by april and what will he end up releasing, one year, five year, ten years' worth. >> we know this guy has cash. come on. >> and i get speaker fees from time to time, not very much. >> not very much, that not very much amounted to about $349,000 a year. >> he just showed the old romney we've seen time and time again. >> he's the total 1% package. >> if you don't run chris christie, romney will be the nominee. today, democrats announced that president obama's convention speech in charlotte, north carolina, on september 6th has been upgraded from the time warner cable arena to the
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74,000-seat bank of america stadium. this will be the president's second open air stadium presidential nomination acceptance speech. sources close to god report that he was inundated today with republican prayers for rain in charlotte on the evening of thursday, september 6th. also today, republican front-runner willard m. romney spent the day talking about taxes, as republicans are want to do, but not in the way republicans want to. >> in the prior races for president, the tradition has been the nominee releases his tax returns in tax season, in april, and i know that if i'm the nominee, people will want to see the most recent year. so they'll want to see the tax returns that come out in april. so rather than sort of have multiple releases of tax returns, why, we'll wait until the tax returns for the recent year are completed and then release them. >> so romney is talking about releasing only his 2011 tax
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return, which has not yet been written. that means he can write that tax return with political convenience in mind. he can manipulate it to pay a higher tax rate than he has been paying to make it look like he's paying more of his fair share. that's why white house press secretary jay carney said this. >> i think going back to 1976, this has been a very standard tradition. and, obviously, we think it's a good tradition, and that's why then senator obama released his tax records going back, i think, six or seven years when he was a candidate for president in the 2008 election cycle. i think it was a tradition that was initiated by then presidential candidate george romney back in 1968, who released 12 years' of tax records. >> you can expect romney to make the mistake of trying to release only his newest tax return, written with political intent, which will then allow democrats to continue to bash him for not
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releasing 12 years' of tax records like his father did in 1968 or at least the same number of tax returns that president obama has released. romney did offer something of a sneak peek at his tax returns today when he addressed the question of what income tax rate he's been paying. >> what's the effective rate i've been paying? it's probably closer to the 15% rate than anything, because my last ten years, i've -- my income comes overwhelming from investments made in the past rather than ordinary income or rather than earned annual income. i got a little bit of income from my book, but i gave that all away. and then i got speakers fees from time to time, but not very much. >> the fact that romney finds his speaking fees laughable is yet another indicator of how big an income we would discover in his tax returns. the speaking fees that he calls, quote, not very much, are what the rest of the world calls
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wicked huge. romney financial disclosure forms already show that mr. romney earned $374,327.62 in speaker's fees from february of 2010 to february of 2011 at an average of $41,592 per speech, or to put it in hourly wage terms, $41,592 per hour. newt gingrich saw something to be thrilled about in romney's claim that he pays about 15% in income taxes. >> since my flat tax is 15%, i'm thrilled at the idea that mitt, i assume, will endorse my flat tax and have every american pay at the rate he pays. i think that will be terrific. >> joining me now, brown university associate professor of political signed wendy
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schiller and aol "huffington post" director and msnbc political analyst, howard fineman. thank you both for joining me. howard, we've seen an awful lot of politicians go down this road, discovering that they had to release their tax returns. romney now has more than a toe in the water, at least about his 2011 returns. how is this going to turn out? >> well, it's going to turn out, i think, the way you predicted, lawrence. i think on april 15th or thereabouts, maybe a little after, mitt romney will release the best possible version of this year's taxes that he can, politically, and just as you say, everybody will say, where are the rest? let's see the rest of it. i'm constantly amazed at how lucky barack obama is, as a politician, and now as a president. you could not find a more central casting person or a more central casting issue for a lot of what barack obama wants to say in the campaign, because one thing that mitt romney's going to have to explain is this whole business of why he only pays
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15%. and the reason is that under the law, if you're in a partnership in an investment firm, you get to pretend that you own the assets that you're managing, and therefore you only have to pay a capital gains tax rate. that is a dodge that i think once explained, tens and tens of millions of americans will understand and be even more upset about than the rate itself. we're really opening all the envelopes and all the doors behind the world of hedge funds and investment firms on wall street, which is not a pretty sight, and one that barack obama, ironically, who got a lot of that hedge fund money in '08, is going to be going after in this campaign. >> wendy schiller, what is the history of this tax return release? there isn't a legal requirement that they do it. it's talked about as a tradition. how far back does it go and how much trouble have different politicians gotten into with the revelations of what's in their tax returns? >> well, i think it goes back, i
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think as the president's spokesperson said, to the mid-1970s, approximately even the 1960s. but i think when people get in trouble, it's really not so much the rate, although romney's really caused a lot of trouble with the rate. it's sort of where they get their income from, how they made their money. and i think this is where the romney narrow thetiative with cm is running into the biggest problem. he didn't make his money inventing anything or creating anything. he's living off dividends and interest and capital accumulation. i mean, he hasn't really worked, a real job, like most americans have, in a very long time. so he's been running for president. so this is even more difficult for most americans who are trying desperately to scrape by and thinking about filing and paying their taxes in april and that isn't even money that's coming from creating anything. it's simply living off wealth. and not paying a lot of taxes on wealth. so it's just sort of the worst of all financial crimes for someone who's running for president. and let's put this in perspective. he made about $41,000 per speech. the median income for most persons is $50,000 a year, and
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romney made that in about an hour. so i just don't understand how he doesn't think this is all going to be very damaging in trying to connect to voters when he's running for president of the united states. is this the best the republican party can do in terms of people who can understand what it's like to try to work for a living? >> also joining the panel now is pulitzer prize-winning reuters columnist david k. johnston, one of the best tax reporters i know out there. david, let's see what you can divine from what we know so far. talk about what it might mean that mitt romney thinks he's paying an effective rate of near 15%. >> well, he probably is. he probably gives away a good deal of his earned income, like those fees, as tithing to the church. as a good mormon, i'm sure he gives the church at least 10% of his income. i think what warrants the real problem is that he probably still has some carried interest, that is, he has money he made on which he has never paid taxes. and so i think we have a
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reasonable issue here in saying, well, where is your money? is it parked offshore, and how much of it have you not yet paid taxes on? those would be very crucial issues. and by the way, i would expect romney to love the gingrich plan, because he says he lives mostly off dividends. under gingrich's plan, dividends would be tax free. >> let's listen to what bill o'reilly had to say about this tonight. this is a rich guy, bill o'reilly, who no doubt pays a higher income tax rate than mitt romney since so much of his income comes from fox news salary. let's listen to his take. >> romney has nothing to be ashamed of. he's paying what the law requires and it's a smart law. what liberal america does not seem to realize is that risk/reward. you invest, you might lose. if your winnings are taxed at a higher rate, fewer people will invest. are we all getting this? even you, warren buffett? >> david, warren buffett says that the tax rate has never had
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anything to do with his investment decisions. o'reilly seems to think it has everything to do wit. >> well, bill o'reilly's not a capitalist, he's an entertainer, and he does pay the highest rate, which seems to grieve him a great deal. i don't know any of the businesspeople i know, ceos, owners of companies who tell me that tax rates determine what they're going to do. as paul o'neil, who was the treasury secretary at the beginning of the george w. bush administration said, you make the profit and then you worry about the taxes. but in romney's case, he wasn't creating a business. he was -- in many cases. he was reaching into companies, putting a small amount in, borrowing, and then pulling out a big dividend and leaving a weakened company behind. that's going to dog him. the fact that one of the steel companies ended up with a failed pension is going to dog him. and i really think the most important question is, how much of that money went offshore without ever being taxed? >> well, we've all seen what the
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republican super pacs have started to do to mitt romney in south carolina. let's take a look at what the democratic super pac, priorities usa, has done with what it now knows about mitt romney's tax returns. >> romney is worth as much as $250 million, but he only paid about 14% in federal taxes last year. that's less than what many middle class americans families pay. american families who are struggling to make ends meet. and while romney doesn't want millionaires like him to pay a nickel more, he doesn't see the big deal with letting taxes go up by $1,000 for hard-working americans. that's the romney rule -- lower taxes for millionaires like mitt, more pain for middle class folks like us. >> howard fineman, we're obviously going to see a lot more of that if mitt romney's the nominee, but if david is right and there's some offshore element to add into that kind of
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advertising campaign, what do you judge the effect of that to be in a general election? >> well, that will deepen the criticism. i see the point here. there are two questions. there's the one i was talking about in terms of carried interest, in terms of being part of the partnership, but not really being the owner of the asset, which allows you to claim capital gains, tax rate. and the other might be the offshore stuff. look, this is what, this is what all the other republicans, ironically, have put themselves in the position of saying. if you nominate this guy, they're speaking to the republican voters, this is going to be a defining issue, if not the defining issue. and of course, the other thing with mitt romney having covered him going back to '94, when he ran for the senate against ted kennedy and coverediing him on campaign trail, he's not really, at least as a public figure, the most personable and warm of characters, lawrence. so maybe some other political personality could either lessen
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or soften or somehow talk his or her way out of being richy rich. mitt romney has a very hard time doing that kind of thing, so he's just put himself into a tighter straight jacket than he can perhaps stand over the next six months. >> wendy schiller, i want you to consider an element in a "washington post" poll that was released today. it asked voters, what do you think is the bigger problem in this country? unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy or overregulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity? 55% say that unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy is the worst problem, overregulation, only 35% saw that. those numbers do not bode well for mitt romney going into a general election with this kind of tax return information out there. >> no, i don't think they do, but they don't bode well for this republican message, which
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is to get the government out of the economy. we shouldn't have people making investment decisions based on the tax code. you and i have heard that many, many years. no decision on the tax code. if this is free enterprise, you want capitalism, pure capitalism? with then don't rig the tax code to let rich people get richer. there's an inherent contradiction in this republican party message that is not just romney's message, it's the house gop's message, it's the republican's and the senate's message. it's the republican party message. and i don't know when they're going to wake up and figure out that it's not going to resonate. because if the government can't actually help people find a job or the government shouldn't, because the federal government shouldn't be so big, then what is it that they're going to do for the american people when they gain control of the white house? >> wendy shiller, howard fineman, and david k. johnston, thank you all very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. >> thank you. last weekend, evangelical leaders chose to back rick santorum. tonight, here on the last word, the favorite presidential candidate of the legal pimps and prostitutes of nevada will be
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revealed by america's most famous pimp and a couple of his employees. but up first, stephen colbert's super pac may be a joke, but robert reich is dead serious about trying to stop the super pac abuse that the citizens united ruling has unleashed. and later, michelle kosinski will join me from the scene of the italian cruise ship disaster. you'll hear the chilling audiotape of the captain refusing to return to the ship when he was ordered to do so. that's coming up. is it fast? it's got 10 speeds, my friend. ♪ is it fast? it's got a lightning bolt on it, doesn't it? ♪ is it fast? i don't even know if it's street-legal. ♪ is it safe? oh, yeah. it's a volkswagen. [ male announcer ] the security of a jetta. one of nine volkswagen models named a 2012 iihs top safety pick. ♪ got you in a stranglehold, baby ♪
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i'm now running stephen colbert's super pac and the vast fortune that that entails. but here's the the problem. i don't know what to do with the money, and stephen colbert, by law, cannot coordinate with me. do i use all this money that individuals and/or corporations who believe deeply in stephen
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plus, the economy. thankfully, there is one name on the ballot that stands for true american anonymity. herman cain. americans for americans believe believe that a vote for herman cain is a vote for america. >> and a vote for herman cain is a vote for stephen colbert. now, try to follow this. that is an ad paid for by stephen colbert's super pac, which is now run by jon stewart, a better tomorrow tomorrow, urging voters to vote not for stephen colbert, but for herman cain, because it is too late for stephen colbert to get on the ballot in south carolina, and because herman cain's name is on the ballot in south carolina, the colbert super pac is urging a vote for herman cain as a way of expressing support for stephen colbert's possible run for the presidency. this ad comes after colbert gave
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his super pac to jon stewart. stephen colbert's super pac has been a joke from the beginning and is now building absurdity on absurdity, but super pacs have had a deadly serious impact on this presidential campaign already. so far, they've spent more than $27 million this campaign season, according to the federal election commission filings. during last night's debate, rick santorum confronted the man with the biggest super pac, mitt romney, over this ad. >> and he even voted to let convicted felons vote. >> santorum called that line a lie and romney responded in what has become his typical super pac rebuttal. >> i did not have a super pac run an ad against you. that's the -- as you know, that's something that's completely out of the control of candidates. >> what he's saying is the ad that says that i said -- or that i voted to allow felons to vote
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is inaccurate. and it is inaccurate. and if i had something in the super pac that was supporting me that was inaccurate, i would go out and say, stop it. that you're representing me and you're representing my campaign, stop it. >> joining me now from berkeley, california, a man who takes super pacs very seriously, professor robert reich, their chair of the common cause national governing board. bob, thank you very much for joining us tonight. this is all the product -- the predictable product, i guess, of the citizens united ruling by the united states supreme court, this out-of-control super pac environment. do you think stephen colbert is helping by showing how crazy this has become or is he letting people relax about it and thinking it's just kind of funny and turning it into something too light? >> well, lawrence, never underestimate the affect of satire in politics. i think it does have a positive effect, but when you come right down to it, this is not a joke. i mean, super pacs, money in
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politics completely out of control right now. and it all does go back, not just to what the supreme court did two years ago, 5-4 majority, citizens united against the federal elections commission, saying essentially that corporations are people, and then also combined with the prior supreme court case that said money is speech. well, if corporations are people and money is speech, the net effect is to open the floodgates to money in politics right now in a way that we haven't seen in this country for over 100 years. and given that we are also in a country right now where a very, very large percentage of total income and wealth is going to a smaller and smaller number of people in this country, they have an open invitation. and you've seen in the republican primary some of them have taken up that invitation to pour as much must be as they want into these super pacs that are secret. right now nobody knows who is actually putting the money where and run countless, a huge amount
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of the negative advertising. well, if you've seen it in the republican primaries, wait until the general election. you ain't seen nothing yet. i mean, essentially -- essentially we're losing our democracy. i don't want to be overly dramatic about it, but that is the only thing that i can say. we are -- we have to take our democracy back, lawrence. >> and colbert has handed the pac over to stewart so he can say that romney line, i have no control over this super pac. i mean, he's doing everything that highlights what's wrong with these super pacs. where do we begin to try to get control of this? when you talk about taking the country back, how would you begin that? >> well, common cause, the organization of which i am chairman of the board, and other organizations, grassroots organizations, are now launching a citizens movement across the country to have states really use referenda, initiatives, instructions to congress to get
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a constitutional amendment to reverse citizens united and also to make sure that money can be restricted in campaigns. we probably do need a constitutional amendment. that's the conclusion that many lawyers and constitutional experts have come to. the supreme court, unless we get a radically different supreme court soon, and we're probably not all that soon, the way to do it, the most direct way to do it, it's going to take some time, but the most direct way to do it is to have a constitutional amendment. >> constitutional amendment takes a long time, but someone has to take that first step. robert reich, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. in tonight's "rewrite," we'll examine the shocking revelation by the associated press today that the strongest opponent of government spending in the congress, ron paul, has been flying first class at government expense. the story's more shocking than you think. also ahead, as the death toll in the cruise ship disaster off the coast of italy nearly doubled today, we will hear the
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shocking audiotape of the captain after the accident. michelle kosinski is covering the story in italy at the scene and she'll join me, coming up. ♪ ♪ you and me and the big old tree ♪ ♪ side by side, one, two, three ♪ ♪ count the birds in the big old tree ♪ ♪ la la la [ male announcer ] the inspiring story of how a shipping giant can befriend a forest may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. ♪ ♪ you and me and the big old tree side by side ♪ but if you take away the faces on the trees... take away the pixie dust. take away the singing animals, and the charming outfits. take away the sprites, and the storybook narrator... [ man ] you're left with more electric trucks. more recycled shipping materials... and a growing number of lower emissions planes... which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale.
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last weekend, most evangelical leaders united around rick santorum as their choice for the republican nomination for president. now the pimps and prostitutes have made their choice, and they will announce it, right here on
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"the last word" later tonight. but first, the cruise ship disaster on the italian coast. it's now four days after the accident and the search for those still missing continues as hope for their survival fades. michelle kosinski joins us from the scene, next. [ male announcer ] every day, thousands of people are choosing advil. my name is lacey calvert and i'm a yoga instructor. if i have any soreness, i'm not going to be able to do my job. but once i take advil, i'm able to finish out strong. it really works! [ laughs ] [ male announcer ] make the switch. take action. take advil. fantastic! [ man ] pro-gresso they fit! okay-y... okay??? i've been eating progresso and now my favorite old
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the search for survivors continued off the the tuscan coast in italy today, inside the sunken hull of the "costa concordia," which ran aground friday. but only more victims were found. the death toll nearly doubled as italian naval divers discovered the body of five more people, all wearing life vests. more than 20 are still missing. the captain who is being blamed for the deadly accident appeared in court today on charges of manslaughter. and for the first time, we're getting a clearer picture of that captain's actions the night the ship ran aground.
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through newly released audiotapes. nbc's michelle kosinski joins me from the site of accident. michelle, what is the latest development there? >> reporter: hi, lawrence. today searchers blasted their way through the hull, determined to get to every cabin, but there was no joyful rescue. in fact, no sign of life on board. at the same time, the ship's captain was being criminally charged. the man who while passengers were still fighting for their lives to get off that ship was ordered to get back on, but it seems he never did. a loud blast midday was not an accident. but the fastest way inside the "concordia's" hull. this video was shot by divers this afternoon, urgently making their way through holes they punched. then deep inside, the murky silence that friday night was
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the start of a vacation. they hammer their way through the dim maze of rooms, under 30 feet of water at times, searching for victims. today, they found them. four men and a woman beneath the water, all wearing life vests. the number of missing still more than 20, including jerry and barbara heil from minnesota. their family says they put four kids through college, retired, and finally had the means to see the world. beyond excited about their dream mediterranean cruise that lasted only three hours. as the search continued, the ship's captain, francesco schettino was in court, charged with manslaughter and abandoning the ship. which an audiorecording now reveals. in a heated conversation with a furious port authority captain.
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>> schettino gave several reasons why he says he's staying put near the ship, quote, coordinating. >> reporter: schettino claims he's going, but prosecutors say he never did return. even as passengers fought to escape that stricken ship. after spending days in jail, today the captain was released and placed under house arrest, and his attorney claims he may have saved dozens of lives if not more by working quickly to move the ship on to the beach and otherwise it might have sunk into deeper water. so it could have been a bigger
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tragedy according to his attorney, but prosecutors say otherwise. lawrence? >> michelle, it all seems to come down to this captain. were there any witnesses of his behavior immediately afterwards, when he was onshore? any indication of drunkenness or anything like that? >> reporter: well, today there were reports in the italian press, and there are all kinds of reports and speculation and stories about things that may have happened in his past, on other ships. none of that's really confirmed at this point. we kind of go by what prosecutors tell us. we don't know how much of this is substantiated, but we're told, according to these reports, that he will be drug tested. so far, you know, we haven't had any indication that that has actually happened, but there's a reasonable part of any investigation of this type, of this magnitude. but as for his behavior, it seemed like when you listened to those tapes, he's saying that he's right at the base of the ship, that he got off, but he stayed with the vessel, which was obviously not the right thing to do. but he's claiming he did not abandon the ship. we haven't really had too many
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accounts, though, of, you know, passengers speaking with him. his attorney says that he's distraught over all this. really sickened by the loss of life. lawrence? >> and michelle, what are the rescuers saying now about the possibility of those 20 or so who still remain missing? this is a long time to remain missing in a situation like this. >> reporter: it is. you know, it's tough to say this, it's tough to hear it said, it's tough to report it, but they are of the mind-set now that they think it's unlikely that anybody will be found alive. just because they've been on it for days, they've got in there. they haven't seen any signs of life. that said, look at the size of this thing. more than 1,500 state rooms, air pockets could be all over the place. it's been so difficult to get in there, a lot of it is submerged. it's dangerous to get on there, and the waves keep moving the ship. there's always that possibility, they say, you know, always wanting to hold out that shred of hope that somebody might be
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alive in there. and as we've seen in other tragedies of enormous magnitude, sometimes victims are found a week, two weeks later. so i guess you never know. but it's really upsetting for people on this tiny island who work so hard to save those coming to shore, to still see that sitting there. and you look at it, and you just think, is it really possible that all of this could have been caused by one decision by one person. >> it's an extraordinary image behind you, michelle, to know that there are those missing 20 still out there in that hulk, tilted over there in the ocean. it is just an extraordinary thing to see. and your reporting on it has been extraordinary. thank you very much. nbc's michelle kosinski for joining us tonight. >> reporter: thank you. up next, if there's one thing ron paul has been consistent about, it is his intense opposition to government spending. than why has he been flying
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first class at government's expense? there's a lot more to this story than has been reported so far, and that's next in the "rewrite." and if evangelical leaders can unite to support one candidate in the republican party, why can't prostitutes and pimps? it turns out they can. they've made their choice and america's most famous pimp and two of his employees are here to tell us who they're endorsing for the republican nomination for president of the united states. [ female announcer ] this is not a prescription. this is mary... who has a million things to pick up each month on top of her prescriptions. so she was thrilled that her walgreens pharmacist recommended a 3-month supply and would always be there to answer questions about her health. now mary gets 3 refills in one and for 3 months, she's done. more or less. ask your pharmacist about a 90 day supply today. walgreens. there's a way to stay well.
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his consistency, but not his reasoning on government spending has been flawless. he's voted against every unbalanced budget and every increase in the debt ceiling throughout his career in the house of representatives. but his anti-government spending consistency was broken today by this associated press headline. "paul's flights fly in face of cut-spending theme." the associated press report says, "ron paul has been spending large amounts on airfare as a congressman flying first class on dozens of taxpayer-funded flights to his home state. the practice conflicts with the image that paul portrays as the only presidential candidate serious about cutting federal spending." the ap goes on to present a detailed study of ron paul's flights to and from washington at government expense. "paul flew first class on at least 31 round-trip flights and
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12 one-way flights since may 2009 when he was traveling between washington and his district in texas, according to a review by the associated press of his congressional office expenses." well, that's it. case closed. time to rewrite the image of ron paul from an anti-government spending fanatic to an anti-government spending fanatic who is in favor of lavish government spending on his first class air travel. that's what i intended this rewrite to be, until our crack research team here at "the last word" contacted congressman paul's congressional office for more detail. the congressman's chief of staff, jeff dice, e-mailed us a few more details. congressman paul "doesn't purchase first class tickets for congressional travel. he buys a refundable coach ticket at the federal government rate. this fact was lost in the
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headline of the ap story." it wasn't just lost in the headline of the ap story, it wasn't anywhere in the ap story. anyone who read the ap story was led to believe that congressman paul was buying first class tickets using congressional funds. paul's chief of s "changes in the congressional voting sedule are frequent, and if he bought a nonrefundable ticket and then didn't use it, he would incur the expense or change fee personally. that is, the u.s. house would not allow him to be reimbursed for a flight he ultimately didn't take." i can attest from personal experience that that is the standard practice in the congress in both the house and the senate in both parties.
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the government rate for official travel, which is available for purchase at any time, up to and including the day of travel, is usually lower than other airfares, except the fares that require advanced purchase and are nonrefundable. congressman paul's chief of staff said, "he absolutely needs the flexibility of a changeable ticket." and i can tell you, that is absolutely true. every member of congress does. every member of every congressional staff does. new congressional staff members are discouraged from looking at the calendar for the recess dates and then buying advanced purchase nonrefundable tickets for the day after the scheduled recess date, because congress almost never recesses on the day it is scheduled to recess. watching 24-year-olds in a senator's mail room have to throw away their nonrefundable
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plane tickets home after the senate stays in session as christmas eve approaches is always a sad thing to behold. and what about all those first class seats ron paul has been enjoying? his chief of staff explains, "he upgrades to first class when available, not always, using his frequent flyer miles with continental airlines, which he flies frequently from houston to washington, thus generating many such miles." so the first class seats don't cost the government one additional penny above a regular government coach rate. i so wanted the associated press take on ron paul's first class travel to be true. it's nothing personal about ron paul. i just love to find inconsistencies in the behavior
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of anti-government spending conservatives, like michele bachmann's family making hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies, the ultimate in unjustifiable government handouts. but this is not that. ron paul has done nothing inconsistent with his rhetoric in his congressional travel. it's the associated press story that needs to be rewritten. in place of the headline "paul's flights fly in the face of cut spending theme," it should say something like, "paul's congressional flights home just like everyone else's." but i, for one, never would have read that story, and the ap probably wouldn't have published it. is it fast? it's got 10 speeds, my friend. ♪ is it fast? it's got a lightning bolt on it, doesn't it?
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evangelical leaders held an urgent summit at a texas ranch this weekend and through their support behind rick santorum as the conservative alternative to mitt romney. meanwhile, the pimp and prostitute coalition has found their favorite among the republican presidential candidates. >> are you suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty? >> well, you know, i probably never used those words. you put those words someplace. but, yes. in instance, if i leave it to the states, it's going to be up to the states. up until this past century, you know, for over 100 years they were legal. what you're referring, there are strict rules on freedom of choice of this sort. because you can't hurt other people, you can't defame other people. but, yes, off right to do things that are very controversial.
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>> joining me now from the moonlight bunny ranch in nevada, owner and proprietor and hbo star dennis hoff and two women who work for him, "hustler" centerfold cammy parker and miss caressa kisses. while the evangelicals were having their discussion down at that ranch in texas, at your ranch, you were discussing with your employees who you want to support for president, and who is that? >> well, here's what happened. you know, the girls love a good caucus, and i polled all the girls. all 500 girls and it came up with this. we are in the sex business, so we don't want anybody to tell us who to sleep with or what to read or watch. so typically we have to vote for obama. but when obama signed the bill where you could start with the legalization of consumption of horses, they lost them all. they're not going to vote for
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obama unless hillary's on the ticket. so we polled the girls. went down the republicans. newt gingrich, we like newt, even though he's a cheater, he's a big cheater, in fact, but we can't vote for him. we can't trust him. in fact, we do have a gingrich party here. when you're with your bunny, our lawyers will file a lawsuit and divorce your wife. so we're doing that. so we went for ron paul. and because ron paul is for state's rights, and that's why prostitution is legal in certain parts of nevada. and so we went for ron paul, and we're pimping for paul, meaning we are supporting ron paul. >> and caressa, i know pimps can be very persuasive people, did you come to this decision to support ron paul on your own? >> yes, i level, that he served in the air force and his medical background. i really believed that he cares genuinely for people's lives. he takes them in his own hands.
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on a personal level, he wants to back the internet staying free, which could definitely cost me and the industry i'm in. and again, state rights, i have a job because of state rights. so there's so many interests that he has. he's from texas. i'm from texas. i think that he is a valiant man of honor and integrity and i think he'll do a wonderful job for this country. >> and cammie, he may be in favor of the states legalizing prostitution, but he also said this in 1990. and i wonder if it shakes your support for him. he said about martin luther king day, boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, martin luther king. i voted against this outrage time and time again as a congressman. what an infamy that ronald reagan approved it. we can thank him for our annual hate whitey day. does that bother