Earlier this year, 47 Senate Republicans took the extraordinary step of sending a letter to Iranian officials, trying to sabotage American foreign policy. The gambit failed, but the effort itself was, to a very real degree, scandalous: nearly half of the Senate told the world that when it comes to international affairs, the United States does not speak with one voice.
Indeed, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and his 46 friends explicitly told a foreign foe the opposite: American officials, the Republicans argued, are not to be trusted.
Several months later, U.S. officials are once again in the middle of delicate talks, but this time negotiators are working on an international climate agreement in advance of a global gathering in Paris in December. The Hillreported this week that some GOP lawmakers intend to pull a play from Cotton's playbook, only this time they hope to sabotage American policy in person.
Lawmakers including Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee energy and power subpanel chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) are considering going to Paris or sending staff to try to influence the talks.
“I don’t know if I’ll repeat what I’ve done several times before, which is to go over and be the bad guy, the one-man truth squad, and tell the truth, that they’re going to be lied to by the Obama administration,” Inhofe said.
We've come to expect this nonsense from people like Inhofe -- his version of "truth" is that the entirety of climate science is some kind of conspiratorial hoax, hatched by nefarious people for nefarious reasons -- but that doesn't make it any less offensive.
When American officials deliberately tell the world not to trust the United States, it's not politics as usual. It's vastly worse.
One of the more persistent troubles with the field of Republican presidential candidates is that candidates love sharing made-up quotes from historical figures. Ben Carson, for example, is a repeat offender.
But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tends to be in a league of his own, relying with great frequency on historical quotes that are "fake, misquoted, or taken entirely out of context."
Yesterday, BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski and Megan Apper went so far as to send Rand Paul a letter, documenting multiple instances in which the Kentucky Republican falsely attributed quotes -- in print and in speeches -- to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. The journalists' letter pleaded with the senator, "Stop using fake Founding Fathers quotes."
And while all of this is interesting on its face, the amazing part was Rand Paul's response to the story. The senator talked to the Washington Post's Dave Weigel yesterday afternoon, and took aim at the journalist who helped highlight Paul's dishonesty.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), hit back at Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski Tuesday after the meticulous reporter challenged the veracity of quotes used in Paul's newest book. [...]
"That guy," Paul said dismissively, referring to Kaczynski. "The only criticisms have come from some guy who’s a partisan. We discount partisans."
Paul added that the journalist who helped document the senator's falsehoods is an "idiot."
It's entirely possible that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) heard the expression "don't quit your day job" and took it too literally.
The far-right Floridian, more so than other senators running for president, just doesn't show up for work much anymore. After five years in Congress, Rubio doesn't even like his job, and he makes no real effort to do it effectively -- choosing instead to routinely skip votes, briefings, hearings, and practically all day-to-day tasks.
The senator has even begun fudging relevant details, insisting over the weekend, “We do all the intelligence briefings." The claim was untrue -- Rubio doesn't attend all the intelligence briefings, and even if he dispatches aides to appear in his place, there are some classified briefings that staffers are not allowed into.
It's against this backdrop that the editorial board of the Sun-Sentinel, one of Florida's largest newspapers, is urging Rubio to resign.
Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We've got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.
If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it. Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day's work. Don't leave us without one of our two representatives in the Senate for the next 15 months or so.
You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems.... You are ripping us off, senator.
Keep in mind, the editorial board of the Sun-Sentinelendorsed Rubio's election in 2010. No one can accuse the paper of having some kind of reflexive bias against the no-show senator.
For years, congressional Republicans have been very excited about the prospect of impeaching President Obama. At various times, GOP lawmakers have also considered impeaching then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Last week, one Republican congressman said he's eager to impeach Hillary Clinton, and she hasn't even won yet.
In each instance, far-right members of Congress have struggled to explain why, exactly, any of these officials actually deserve to be impeached, and Republicans never took their efforts beyond the rhetorical stage.
House Republicans filed papers Tuesday to begin impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the agency’s alleged campaign to revoke the tax-exempt status of tea party-affiliated groups.
The resolution -- filed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and 18 other members of the committee -- accuses Koskinen of lying to Congress about agency emails that were found to be missing.
Just on the surface, it's alarming that too many Republicans look at Congress' impeachment power as if it were some kind of toy, to be pulled off the shelf and played with whenever it offers opportunities for entertainment.
But what's also striking about this is the GOP lawmakers' sense of timing. It was late last week that the Justice Department completed a lengthy and rigorous investigation into the imaginary IRS "scandal," concluding that no laws were broken and no charges would be filed.
It's against this backdrop that House Republicans have decided to pursue impeachment against the IRS commissioner who not only did nothing wrong, but who wasn't even at the IRS at the time of the institution's alleged misdeeds.
Rachel Maddow rounds up the latest developments in the Republican primary field, from the top tier where Ben Carson has passed Donald Trump in national polls, to the bottom rung candidates like Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie struggling to stay viable. watch
Rachel Maddow alerts viewers to the fact that Martin O'Malley will be a guest on Wednesday night's show, noting that though he is considerably behind Hillary Clinton in polls, he is making gains and is not without opportunity. watch
Courtney Kube, NBC News national security producer, talks with Rachel Maddow about testimony by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter suggesting that "direct action" by U.S. soldiers against ISIS in Syria and Iraq may become more common, an apparent change in U.S. policy. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that in addition to federal authorities looking into the violent actions of a South Carolina school officer seen on video dragging a student from her desk, the sheriff is promising a quick turnaround on an internal investigation into watch
Rachel Maddow reports on expected new House Speaker Paul Ryan signing a written promise to extremist congressman, Mo Brooks, ruling out any immigration reform legislation while Barack Obama is president. watch
Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about expectations for tomorrow night's Republican debate, with Donald Trump looking to retake front-runner status, Jeb Bush looking to prove his worthiness as a candidate, and likely a lot of railing against the budget bill in Congress. watch
* A stunning video from Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina: "The FBI has been asked to investigate an incident at a South Carolina high school Monday in which a police officer appeared to body slam a female student and drag her across a classroom."
* Middle East: "Iran has been invited to participate for the first time in international talks over Syria's future, U.S. officials said Tuesday, a shift in strategy for the United States and its allies as they seek to halt the four-year civil war and eventually ease President Bashar Assad out of power. Iran has yet to reply, the officials said."
* This, notably, was not part of the budget deal: "The House on Tuesday approved a measure to extend federal transportation funding for three weeks in an effort to prevent a highway funding stoppage. The bill, H.R. 3819, would extend federal transportation spending, currently set to expire Oct. 29, until Nov. 20. It was approved by voice vote after a brief debate."
* ISIS: "Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. will begin 'direct action on the ground' against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against them remains elusive."
* Related news: "Turkey has confirmed that it struck positions in Syria held by Kurdish militias that over the last year have become the most important allies within Syria of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State."
* Usually, when House Republicans rebel, it's right-wing members. Not on the Export-Import Bank, however: "A small but powerful band of House Republicans rebelled against party leadership Monday night, a near-constant theme of Speaker John A. Boehner’s tenure the past five years."
* Oklahoma: "An abortion law that was set to go into effect Sunday was put on hold Monday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The law, Senate Bill 642 by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would require abortion providers to take a sample of the fetal tissue when the abortion patient is younger than 14 and send it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation."
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.