Lawrence O'Donnell on Monday accused people that voted for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) last November of being "shockingly ignorant," and said one of the reasons was because her district is 92 percent white.
This happened as "The Last Word" host went on an almost seven-minute rant about Bachmann's gaffe this weekend concerning Lexington and Concord being in New Hampshire rather than Massachusetts (video follows with transcript and commentary):
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Time for tonight's "Rewrite.” Okay. This one does have the feel of shooting fish in a barrel, but so does anything involving fact checking Michele Bachmann. In fact, the phrase shooting fish in a barrel could be replaced with fact checking Michele Bachmann, or better put, mistake proving Michele Bachmann, because finding Michele Bachmann’s mistakes is as easy or perhaps easier than shooting fish in a barrel, especially for those of us that aren't exactly handy with guns. And mistakes is a kind word when it comes to Michele Bachmann. Many of the falsehoods she has spouted, such as healthcare death panels, must be lies because she must know, she must know that they are completely untrue.
But many of the things she says are truly breathtaking demonstrations of ignorance levels previously unimaginable in a member of Congress or a graduate of an American elementary school. Like when she said recently in prepared text that the Founding Fathers ended slavery, obviously having absolutely no idea that the Founding Fathers deliberately did nothing to end slavery, and that it was, in fact, the 16th President of the United States who issued the Emancipation Proclamation and fought and won a civil war to end slavery.
Actually, the ignorance on display here was O'Donnell's. Bachmann didn't say the Founding Fathers ended slavery. She said they - in particular, John Quincy Adams - worked tirelessly to end slavery. As NewsBusters reported on January 27, this is technically correct.
More importantly, to say "the Founding Fathers deliberately did nothing to end slavery" is 100 percent false, for as NewsBusters also reported in January, there was originally an anti-slavery clause in the Declaration of Independence that southern delegates to the First Continental Congress, led by South Carolina's Edward Rutledge, forced the removal of.
If members of the northern delegation led by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin did not accede to this demand, the Declaration of Independence never would have been signed. That O'Donnell made this mistake while chastizing Bachmann's knowledge of history was laughable:
O'DONNELL: She got off another one of those American history things this weekend. In New Hampshire, she pandered to more than one audience by saying, quote, “You're the state where the shot was heard round the world at Lexington and Concord,” end quote. The Lexington and Concord she was referring to, of course, are in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire, and unfortunately for her, there's no one in New Hampshire who doesn't know that. She said this on Friday night, and again on Saturday.
The question of how ignorant is Michele Bachmann is now unanswerable. Just when you thought you knew, she comes out with something shockingly - and I don't use the word shockingly lightly - shockingly ignorant about Lexington and Concord, two of the most famous sites in the Revolutionary War.
This was certainly quite a gaffe by Bachmann, but shockingly ignorant might be taking it a bit far. However, O'Donnell wasn't close to done pointing fingers:
O'DONNELL: Now, what fascinates me more than the question of how ignorant is Michele Bachmann are two other questions. One, how ignorant is Michele Bachmann’s staff, and two, how ignorant are her voters?
How pathetic. As a commentator, going after an elected official is one thing, but going after his or her voters is unhinged:
O'DONNELL: Remember, Michele Bachmann said this thing about Lexington and Concord twice. She said it on Friday and then her brilliant staff allowed her to say it again. And remember, it's the same brilliant staff that allowed her to say the Founding Fathers ended slavery. That means Michele Bachmann’s staff doesn't know that the Founding Fathers did not end slavery, and they don't know that Lexington and Concord are in Massachusetts. How and where did she find Congressional staffers who don't know that?
I hereby promise you based on my experience working in the Senate, there is no other staff in the history of the Congress that does not know that Lexington and Concord are in Massachusetts. Who are these people who work for Michele Bachmann? Who wrote that speech for her? Where does she find these people? There are many, many ignorant members of Congress, and many ignorant senators, but they are protected all day long from revealing most of their ignorance by staffs who are hundreds of times smarter than they are.
Perhaps all of Michele Bachmann’s staff come from her district, which may be the most ignorant Congressional district in America. In 2010, 52 percent of that district voted for Michele Bachmann to represent them in Congress. Now, she had already proven time and time again to her district and to America that she is unworthy of representing any Congressional district in America. But 52 percent, the same percentage in that district who voted for John McCain for president, voted for Michele Bachmann in 2010.
So, people in this district are ignorant because they voted for McCain in 2008 and Bachmann in 2010? Is this what the folks at MSNBC consider acceptable - attacking Americans that vote for candidates the commentators don't support?
Does that mean the 46 percent of Americans throughout the nation that voted for McCain in 2008 - including yours truly! - are also ignorant? Is this what MSNBC has devolved to?
Regardless of the answer, readers are advised to fasten their seatbelts, because things were about to get really ugly:
O'DONNELL: What makes those voters so ignorant? Well, for starters, they are whiter than the average district. 92 percent white in fact.
What? They're ignorant because they're white? Are you kidding? O'Donnell continued:
O'DONNELL: But that explains nothing. Missouri's 8th Congressional district is 91 percent white and has been represented by Jo Ann Emerson since 1997. We do not have a litany of imbecilic comments by Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. In fact, we have none. If we’ve missed any, please submit them to our website, thelastword.msnbc.com, and we'll see if they compare to Michele Bachmann’s.
Well, if that "explains nothing," why bring it up? It's almost like O'Donnell and his staff knew they were going too far with the 92 percent white remark, and felt they needed to soften it a little by bringing up Emerson's district.
But the damage was already done. After all, imagine for a moment Bachmann was black, Emerson was black, these were black districts, and the commentator was a conservative:
What makes those voters so ignorant? Well, for starters, they are blacker than the average district. 92 percent black in fact. But that explains nothing. Missouri's 8th Congressional district is 91 percent black and has been represented by Jo Ann Emerson since 1997. We do not have a litany of imbecilic comments by Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. In fact, we have none. If we’ve missed any, please submit them to our website, thelastword.msnbc.com, and we'll see if they compare to Michele Bachmann’s.
You think that would have gone over well in the black community, or would there be calls Tuesday for said conservative commentator's immediate termination?
I guess along with feeling comfortable attacking white women as long as they're conservative, O'Donnell now feels it's acceptable to go after all white people.
O'DONNELL: The median income in Michele Bachmann’s district is $68,000, which is roughly the equivalent to the median income in Barney Frank's district, $66,000. So the money explains nothing, because Barney Frank's intelligence and expertise in public policy, not to mention his wit, is second to none in the House of Representatives. So those income levels in Michele Bachmann’s district are not the explanation for why her voters are so ignorant.
Barney Frank's intelligence and expertise in public policy is second to none in the House? Really? But isn't he white and therefore should be disqualified?
I guess O'Donnell missed the hypocrisy there:
O'DONNELL: And so tonight, I surrender, since I have no answers, I will leave you only with questions. Question one: How ignorant is Michele Bachmann and how did she get that way? And remember, this is a graduate of Winona State University and Oral Roberts University’s Coburn School of Law. Law school graduate. So do not overlook her academic achievement in trying to explain this. Doesn't make it any easier to explain. And two, where does Michele Bachmann find her shockingly ignorant staff? And three, perhaps most important of all, what explains the rank ignorance of the 52 percent of the voters in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional district? Good answers to any of those questions will be used on this show, and of course, you will get full credit.
For the record, Bachmann also has a degree in tax law from William & Mary Law School. I'm not sure why O'Donnell chose to omit that.
Regardless, as NewsBusters has been reporting the past few weeks, MSNBC is clearly in full campaign mode, and is willing to do anything to get Barack Obama re-elected.
O'Donnell on Monday demonstrated that includes attacking Americans that vote for candidates he doesn't support, and using race as a wedge issue when necessary.
The folks at NBC and Comcast must be so proud.