The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/19/10

Guests:
Matthew Yglesias, Chris Hayes, Max Kellerman
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening from Washington.  If this is your first time watching, welcome.  We hope you‘ll stick around to check it out.

Today in America, there was a sports story so big it affected the stock market.  That would be, of course, the confessions of Tiger Woods.

There was also an enormous news development today about the possibility of controlling how out-of-control your health insurance costs have been.

And tonight, after a week of trying, we will rename the thing that is stopping the government from working more than anything else that‘s stopping the government from working.

All that is coming up this hour.

           

But we begin tonight with a little bit of breaking news.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now signaling that he is ready to join the newly resurgent health reform fight.  He says he would support a plan to pass a public option for health insurance without Republican support.  Senator Reid‘s office releasing a statement tonight, just to make sure we‘re putting this completely in context, I want you to hear the full statement.

It says, quote, “Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition.  That is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal.  If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and member of his caucus in an effort to craft the public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes.”

Again, that statement from Senator Harry Reid‘s office tonight comes on the heels of news made on this show last night, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the Obama administration, in her words, is absolutely willing to fight for the option if the Senate puts it back on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The private insurance company writ large hasn‘t done a great job.  That‘s why we want a public option to compete with them.  These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold.  If that happens, will the administration fight for it?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY:  Well, I think, if it‘s—certainly, if it‘s—if it‘s part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Taken together with tonight‘s news of Senator Reid‘s support, we are seeing a real trend here.  The White House and Senate majority leader and now, with the addition since last night of Senator Specter, 19 other senators all signing on to a letter, indicating their support, all lining up behind a strategy for actually, finally, after all of this time, passing health reform.  A strategy that includes using budget reconciliation rules so that the Democratic majority could get around the Republican filibuster.  A strategy that says, in effect, if we go around the filibuster, we also might be able to put the popular idea of the public option for health insurance back into the bill.

The idea of a public insurance option to compete with private insurance had seemed like it was off the table.  That‘s because it had been traded away in the Senate in search of conservative votes.  Don‘t forget, there‘s still a public option in the health reform bill that passed the House.  Well, now it may be back in the Senate, too.

The day seems very different today—at the end of the day than it did at the beginning in terms of what‘s possible and what‘s likely in health reform.  At this point at least, it seems like the game is on.

Joining us now is Matt Yglesias of Think Progress.  He‘s a fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Matt, it‘s nice to see you.  Thanks for coming in.

MATTHEW YGLESIAS, THINK PROGRESS:  It‘s good to be here.

MADDOW:  How significant is senator—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s statement on this?

YGLESIAS:  It‘s fairly significant.  It shows that no one in the leadership, not at the White House or in the Senate, wants to rule out a public option.  But, of course, the question has been the sort of centrist Democratic senators.  That was the problem the last time around with the public option.  And it‘s still the problem today.  You have 20 senators signing on to a letter but you need at least 50.

MADDOW:  What was the count in terms of senators supporting a public option before it was traded away?  How many—how many votes did they think it could get before?

YGLESIAS:  Well, this is what no one is quite clear on.  There were two to four senators who, in effect, took the fall as being the ones who kill the public option.

MADDOW:  Right.

YGLESIAS:  But I think there‘s always been a suspicion among people who cover this, who report on it, that a broader number of Democratic senators aren‘t really thrilled with the idea.  They were sort of happy to have it be Joe Lieberman‘s fault so that it got taken out.  Now, the question is: how many, are there 10, who want to take responsibility for blocking this?  I‘m not clear that there are, but it‘s also not clear that there‘s 50 who really want it in.

MADDOW:  What could stop the Democrats from getting this done through reconciliation?  Let‘s say that there are 50 Democrats who want it.  What are the other obstacles they need to worry about?

YGLESIAS:  Well, the main obstacles they have to worry about is that there are a number other issues in play between the House and the Senate.  There‘s a question of abortion, which is very contentious in the House bill.  It looks like Bart Stupak and maybe about a dozen pro-life House Democrats sort of jumping ship.  So, they are going to have to make those votes up.

There‘s questions about taxes.  Will this be financed through a tax on rich people or to a tax on expensive health insurance plans?  So, there‘s a lot of different components in the air.  The public option gets a lot of attention, but it‘s not the only one.

MADDOW:  It does seem, though—just sort of game this out a little bit—even if they are not going to get the public option in the end, it does sort of seem like a good move to put it back on the table right now, even if only for the purpose of negotiation.  At this point, if they are going to use reconciliation, they should put everything on the table that they might want and then once the negotiation among Democratic Caucus starts, you can trade things away, you shouldn‘t concede them that—you shouldn‘t concede that they‘re gone from the beginning, right?

YGLESIAS:  I think that‘s right.  I think that‘s why it‘s curious that they didn‘t have reconciliation as an option more forcefully six months ago, nine months ago.  Now, you can say to Republicans, as a bargaining tactic, maybe if you want to come on board, you can get some of these ideas out that you don‘t like.  But if you guys want to obstruct, we pay a price for that.  We wanted that bipartisanship.  But you also pay a price.  You get to go much further—

MADDOW:  Yes.

YGLESIAS:  –with a majority rules type of thing, do more progressive things, cater more to what our base is interested in.

And in the case of public option, it‘s something that the American people are interested in.  It‘s always been an idea that‘s more popular with the voters than with the senators.

MADDOW:  It‘s amazing—and that‘s, I think, so important.  I keep saying and all sorts of public venues, well, the public option is really popular.  I even described them in the intro, the very popular public option.  And you get this blowback from the right.

The public option, are you kidding?  It‘s such a horrible idea.  And it has been—it became a political football.  Joe Lieberman made sure that it was kicked out of the Senate bill, as you said.  But when you actually ask people if they want that from health reform, it‘s still consistently, all over the country, does very well.

YGLESIAS:  Well, it‘s a paradox in health reform, that some of the ideas that hold the best, that people like the most, are the ones that are considered most left wing and scary out.  The idea of a buy-in to Medicare, also polls very well.  But lots of Democrats are even afraid of it.  Public option, same thing.

You know, people like it.  People like the government-run health programs that exist and generally are supportive of expanding them, but there‘s very little—you know, interest groups don‘t it, a lot of senators don‘t like.  It makes a lot of people very nervous here in D.C.

MADDOW:  Heaven forbid, the people like it and it‘s a tried and true program that‘s already been shown to work.

YGLESIAS:  Well, you know, that gets very tricky.

MADDOW:  Yes.  Very ideological awkward.

The president expected to release his health care on Monday.  Briefly, Matt, given these recent developments, are you expecting that when we hear what‘s in that plan on Monday, the public option is going to be on it?

YGLESIAS:  No, the expectation is that it won‘t be in it.  And that I think the plan will be sort of 50 percent based on the compromise Democrats before Scott Brown came in and 50 percent the kind of last chance to say, “Republicans, you know, this is a reasonable idea.  Shouldn‘t you sign on?”

So, they want to keep the public option off of this initiative because they want to say, coming forward to this conference, you know, we‘re looking for compromise, we‘re looking to reach out, et cetera.  The public option is definitely a killer as far as Republicans are concerned.

But at the same time, you and I and, I hope, Barack Obama all realize that Republicans are not going to join with them.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  An initial foray to at least seem like Republicans now have a chance to jump on board, they‘ll all say no—inevitably, 100 percent.  And then, Democrats will get down to the real work.

YGLESIAS:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  Matt Yglesias, really nice to see you.  Thanks for coming in on a Friday night.  Appreciate it.

YGLESIAS:  Good to see you.  OK.

MADDOW:  Matt Yglesias is with Think Progress and he‘s somebody who I read every day.  It‘s mandatory.

One of the fun activities at day two of CPAC, the annual convention of conservatives here in Washington is the Nancy Pelosi pinata.  Take your best swing, everybody, at this lady speaker of the house.  Yes, “The Nation‘s” Chris Hayes will join us for a talk about that, that will not involved effigies of any sorts.  That‘s coming up.

And later, since it was Tiger Woods‘ apology day, I thought we should hear from somebody other than me on this topic.  One of the smartest people about sports there is: HBO‘s Max Kellerman joins us shortly.

Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, here in D.C. this week want you to know that fiscal irresponsibility is a very, very bad thing.  Earmarks, very, very bad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  We‘ll ban the practice of air dropping earmarks into bills at the last minute so nobody knows that it‘s really there.  And we‘ll outlaw monuments to me.  This is what lawmakers earmark money for projects that have their name on them.

SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  It‘s hard for me to believe that congressmen and senators who continue their addiction to parochial earmarks in their support for almost every new spending program have read the same Constitution I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Some of the anti-earmark red meat that you‘ve been hearing at CPAC this week.  Earmarks are the scourge of conservative politicos.  And in order to really get he details on earmarks, you should really need to ask the Republicans because they‘re really the ones who know.  And new report from Taxpayers for Common Sense says the top earmarkers in the House and the United States Senate are both Republicans: Congressman Bill Young of Florida and Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

So, aside from that awkward detail, we can resume our regularly scheduled blaming of the Democrats for everything.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER:  I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night.  It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that.  Elin never hit me that night or any other night.  There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  I think we can learn a lot from that situation.  Not from Tiger but from his wife.  So she said, “I‘ve had enough.”  She said, “No more.”  I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a nine iron and smash a window out of the big government in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  That would have been a weird enough statement coming from anyone?  Coming from someone as ostentatiously mild-mannered as Tim Pawlenty.  That was positively—ugh.

I do understand though that to fit in with the cool kids on the right these days, like Mr. Pawlenty is trying furiously to do, you‘ve got to put a little violence in your rhetoric—all your best jokes even should mention the threat of force in some way.  For example, tonight, at the CPAC party, conservatives will have the opportunity to take a whack at a Nancy Pelosi-themed pinata or at a Harry Reid punching bag.

There‘s a gender divide here, though.  Only woman will be allowed to Mrs. Pelosi, only men will be allowed to hit Harry Reid.  We reached out to the group putting on that party today to find out why the gender separation, whether they really would deny a conservative woman the opportunity to hit Harry Reid when they would make that opportunity available to a man.  Not shockingly, they didn‘t call us back.

It‘s been a palpable undercurrent in conservative politics this year, including now here at CPAC.  Awkwardly, even the suicide attack on IRS building in Texas yesterday became the fodder for jokes at CPAC today.  Here‘s how anti-tax activist Grover Norquist was introduced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JED BABBIN, EDITOR, HUMAN EVENTS:  Let me say, I‘m happy to see Grover today.  He was getting testy in the past couple of weeks and I‘m just really, really glad that it was not him identified as flying that airplane into the IRS building.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I don‘t know.  Maybe wait until the building is not smoking anymore.  Maybe wait until after the funeral?

And an ill-timed or ill-considered joke isn‘t ever the end of the world.  It‘s not humorous misfires that are the story here.  The story here is the deep consistency of how much we‘re hearing and seeing about violence against the government on the right now.  Here, for example, was how Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington was name-checked at a tea party event over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How many of you have watched the movie “Lonesome Dove”?  What happened to Jake when he ran to the wrong crowd?  What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd?  He got hung.  Well, that‘s what I want to do with Patty Murray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  You can sort of hear the shock in the audience and response to that, right?  After initially denying that she said that at all, the tea party organizer who made the remark later clarified that no one had any actual rope on hand to do the hanging of Senator Murray any way.

If this is reminding you of something, it may be that incident back in July when anti-health reform group hanged an effigy of Democratic Congressman Frank Kratovil of Maryland.  That immediately proceeded at the stage of people bringing guns to anti-government protests over the summer.  And what is defined as normal among conservative protestors is now being tried on for size by Republican candidates for office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BEHNEY (R-IN), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE:  I believe, personally, we‘re at the crossroads.  We have one last opportunity.  And I believe 2010 is it.

CROWD:  Yes.

BEHNEY:  All right?  And we can do it with our vote.  And we can get new faces in.

Whether it‘s my face or not, I pray to God I see new faces, because if we don‘t see new faces—

CROWD:  Right.

BEHNEY:  – I‘m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  If I don‘t see new faces and after the 2010 elections, I‘m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show.

What do you think the big show is in this case?  That man, the speaker from that clip, the “cleaning his guns for the big show” guy is a Republican candidate for Senate in the state of Indiana.

We‘re a free country and that means there are fringe folks doing fringe things and even making threats from the fringe all over all the time.  That‘s not new and that‘s not the point here.  The point on the occasion of the CPAC Conference here in Washington is the mainstreaming of this stuff, the wink and nod encouragement from national political figures.  The dog whistles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BEHNEY:  If we don‘t see new faces—

CROWD:  Right.

BEHNEY:  – I‘m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The vote is happening right now.  I need your vote right now.  Please stand with me.  Thank you for standing.

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  The Republican Party would be really smart to start trying to absorb as much as the tea party movement as possible because this is the future of our country.  The tea party movement is the future of politics.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Why did you bring a gun to a meeting with the president of the United States given the violent history of this country with regard to presidents and assassinations?  Why did you bring a gun to a public event with president?

WILLIAM KOSTRIC, BRINGING GUN AT OBAMA EVENT:  Clearly, I‘m not advocating violence.

MATTHEWS:  Would you discourage Americans regardless of race, color, creed or political identification, not to come armed to public meetings?  Would you discourage them from doing that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My answer is yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I would not.  Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Congressman Cooper says—he‘s a moderate.  I guess, by today‘s terminology, a moderate is somebody that says, “Please don‘t come armed to get public meetings.”

Mr. Gingrey, your opportunity.  You can say what you want.  Do you think people should come armed at the public meetings to discuss health care or not?

UNIDENTIFIEDM MALE:  I would think that they should exercise their rights under the Second Amendment.

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN:  If weren‘t doing this job, I‘d be out there with the tea partiers.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  One of the co-sponsors of CPAC is the John Birch Society.  The John Birch Society was considered so extreme and so conspiratorial and so embarrassing and dangerous in the 1960s that conservatives led by William F. Buckley essentially kicked them out of the conservative movement and demanded denunciation of the John Birch Society as the price of admission for any leader who wanted to be taken seriously in the conservative movement.

Now that William F. Buckley is dead, the John Birch Society is back—actually sponsoring CPAC this year.

Who in the conservative movement now will say what‘s gone too far? 

What‘s too dangerous?

Joining us now is Chris Hayes, aka Lamb chop, Washington editor for “The Nation” magazine.

Chris, thanks for coming in.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  Do you see anybody moving to draw the line, be the statesman, be the patriot on issues like this here?

HAYES:  I don‘t really.  I mean, look, there are some lines that have been drawn, right?  So, one of the things that happened was this interview with Debra Medina with Glenn Beck on 9/11 truth, right?

MADDOW:  She‘s sort of a tea party-inflicted candidate for the—in the Republican primary for governor of Texas.

HAYES:  Exactly.  And she had an interview with Glenn Beck and he said, “I‘ve heard all this stuff about your maybe running with 9/11 truthers and what you think happened in 9/11.”  She said, “Oh, I think there‘s a lot of questions opened,” and Beck kind of denounced her and Red State after that has done this thing where they‘re banning truthers and birthers from their comment section.

MADDOW:  OK.

HAYES:  But the problem really isn‘t the fringe views.  It‘s like you said, it‘s the inflection of violence and no one seems to be standing up against that.  There‘s two phenomena here.  One is, there are views that are really kooky, right?  And you want to kind of patrol that just for the sake of the mainstream viability of the movement.

But the more dangerous thing is really this kind of very loaded violent rhetoric and I don‘t see anyone standing up to that.

MADDOW:  It‘s—the reason that I was so shocked by Tim Pawlenty‘s—

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  – comments today, were not that they were the most shocking thing I‘ve ever heard.  But Tim Pawlenty has cultivated this reputation as the sort of—

HAYES:  Right.

MADDOW:  – friendly mainstream moderate, though conservative politician.  That‘s sort of the—that‘s the—that‘s the political capital he takes into his attempt at the presidency and to have him get up there and say, you know, let‘s take a nine iron and put it through the window of big government as his laugh line today, I mean, A, he‘s not very good at telling jokes.  B, you‘re Tim Pawlenty.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And it gets—it just gets redder and redder and redder from there.  I just—I wonder if that sort of the price of admission right now in terms of seriousness with conservative activists.

HAYES:  Well, they understand where the energy is.

MADDOW:  Yes.

HAYES:  And one thing that primary candidates always do is chase the energy and the energy is in the angriest part of the Republican base and the angriest part of the conservative movement and the people who are most ticked off and are standing up at town hall meetings, those are the people that come and lick envelopes, those are the people that they‘ll give you money and those are the people that show up at the caucuses in Iowa.  Those are the people you are courting.

MADDOW:  Yes.

HAYES:  So, they understand very well who exactly they‘re playing to for their political future.

MADDOW:  Michael Steele, in particular, has really aggressively tried to figure out some comfortable merger between the tea party and Republican Party.  Until this week, the RNC had a Web site that was TeaParty.GOP.com, where you could send Republican branded tea bags to your favorite Democrats.

When you do stuff that, when you put up your tea party Republican Party Web sites and stuff, are you accountable for the—you know, “I want to hang Patty Murray” type rhetoric?  Are you accountable for the more extreme rhetoric that happens at the tea parties?

HAYES:  That‘s a really good question.  I mean, look, guess I get really worried because I remember back during the Bush years when reporters on the right would go and find some Maoists at some crowd of 200,000 people that were protesting a war—

MADDOW:  Right.

HAYES:  – and say, you guys are Maoists, you know?

MADDOW:  Yes.

HAYES:  So, I don‘t know actually if you are responsible.

MADDOW:  But there‘s a difference, though, because there‘s the Republican Party, you know, I mean, it was the Democratic Party ever saying like it‘s us and Code Pink.

HAYES:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.

MADDOW:  It was the Democratic Party saying, you know, hey, it‘s us and an answer (ph).

HAYES:  And you‘re right.  It‘s to the degree that you appropriate them, to the degree that you invite them in, and yes, you—it‘s up to you to do the control.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  So, that‘s the degree to which you were held accountable.

HAYES:  That‘s right.

MADDOW:  And that‘s the issue that the Republican Party is facing this week.  With the Republican Party right now saying, everybody is talking about this incredible mainstream, you know, everybody glomming on this question of how close the tea partiers and the RNC are, and nobody is coming to the difficult question there, which is that they are then responsible for what happens—

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  – to the people they align themselves with.

HAYES:  That‘s right.  And no one—no one else is pointing out that the whole thing is a hustle.

MADDOW:  Yes.

HAYES:  Tim Pawlenty is not going to shrink government.  None of these people are going to do what the tea partiers want.  I mean, the entire thing is a joke.  They are manipulating and using them on the other end.

MADDOW:  In terms of their claims about small government—

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES:  Yes, they never—they never deliver.  They never deliver.  It‘s a total hustle.  They‘re going to go back to their lobbying jobs when everybody leaves town after CPAC.

MADDOW:  Can I—can I—one totally different note about CPAC, whether Bobby Jindal—

HAYES:  Whether Bobby Jindal.

MADDOW:  Bobby Jindal is not on the ballot.

HAYES:  I know.

MADDOW:  I had to beg and plead and cajole to get a voided ballots so I could look at the straw poll ballot.  Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich—

HAYES:  Newt Gingrich.

MADDOW:  – Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, John Thune?  Mitch Daniels?

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, no Bobby Jindal.  I am very upset on behalf of Governor Jindal.

HAYES:  Poor Bobby Jindal.  That was a rough State of the Union response apparently.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  I think he‘s supposed to be their guy.

HAYES:  You know, he should start introducing himself as “I‘m Bobby Jindal.  I used to be the future of the Republican Party.”

MADDOW:  Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”—thank you so much.

HAYES:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Good to see you here.

OK.  Today is the day, we are going to announce the winner of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Rename the Filibuster Problem Contest.  The competition has been fierce and today, a golfer seized the attention of the entire world while not golfing.  The apology heard around the world with my guest, HBO‘s Max Kellerman.  That‘s coming up next.

But, first, “One More Thing” about the John Birch Society.  These are the folks who said that President Eisenhower was a conscious agent of the Soviet Union while he was president of the United States.  They also said putting fluoride in drinking water was a secret communist plot.  As luck would have it, I got a chance to speak with the John Birch Society‘s president at CPAC in an effort to get some clarity on the white hot communist fluoride water issue.  The John Birch Society caught our exchange on tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m remembering a show you did, and you went after me on the subject of fluoridation, OK?  The reason e oppose fluoridation is that it‘s mass medication.  Right after we oppose it, a professor from Tufts University, you know where that its, he came out and said, “I think the population is growing so high and so fast that we got to put birth control substances in the water supply, and we can use as  precedent putting fluoridation in the water.

MADDOW:  Well, a lot of people say crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  It‘s true!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, right, I know.  Are we wrong to be opposed to mass fluoridation in the water?

MADDOW:  You know, what I‘ve always wondered was, what did you guys think about putting iodine in salt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, people can buy iodized or non-iodized salt. 

When you put it in public water supply, you know that‘s—

MADDOW:  Well, you can buy private water.  You can get well water—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It turns out those guys don‘t drink the water any way.  I asked.

For the record, we actually called the D.C. hotel that‘s hosting CPAC this year, the Marriot Wardman Park Renaissance Hotel, we asked them about the awkward fluoride in the D.C. water supply thing given that John Birch Society is cosponsoring CPAC.  The hotel confirmed for us that they don‘t do anything to filter out the evil, communist fluoride that D.C. puts in the water, but they said they do soften the water in-house.

So, CPAC-ers, John Birchers, there‘s your next communist plot—water softening.  Think about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER:  I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.  I was unfaithful.  I had affairs.  I cheated.  What I did is not acceptable and I am the only person to blame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  That, of course, is the world‘s greatest golfer, Tiger Woods in his first public statement since everyone learned just after Thanksgiving a whole lot of stuff about his personal life and his marriage that we really have no business knowing. 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW has admittedly bypassed the story almost entirely.  But no one else did.  And as much as I‘ve tried, I‘m finding that being this willfully ignorant about something this sociologically resonant that everyone is talking about is an overrated place to be. 

Mr. Woods‘ statement today was made before an invitation-only crowd of about 40 journalists and friends.  It was shown on every cable news channel and all four broadcast networks broke into programming with it. 

“Businessweek.com” reports - get this - that trading on the New York Stock Exchange fell to about a million shares as the speech began - its lowest level of the day - and then surged to six million shares when it ended.  In other words, everyone was watching this. 

The news here is that in 13.5 minutes, Mr. Woods apologized to his wife, his friends, his family, his fans.  He announced that he would return to in-patient rehab for sex addiction starting tomorrow. 

He repeatedly asked that his family be left alone.  And he did not announce a date for his return to professional golf. 

Also, the other news is that I hope this next part of the statement made Brit Hume feel really creepy about telling Mr. Woods that only Christianity could help him through this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODS:  I have a lot of work to do and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it.  Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age.  People probably don‘t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. 

Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security.  It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.  Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Joining us now, one of the only people on earth whose opinion on this subject I‘m actually curious about, it‘s my old pal, HBO sports broadcaster, Max Kellerman.  Mr. Kellerman, thank you very much for being here. 

MAX KELLERMAN, HBO SPORTS BROADCASTER:  A pleasure to be here, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  All right.  You know me enough to know that I don‘t think we should know any of this stuff about this person.  I don‘t think any of this is any of our business.  But we do all know and given how much everyone cares about this, what is the most important thing that happened today? 

KELLERMAN:  Well, first of all, as usual, you‘re right about it.  And this is why - this is honestly my favorite show on TV - this and yo gabba gabba, my daughter‘s favorite show. 

It‘s really a self-fulfilling - by the way, Rachel, and it‘s why when everyone else is talking about Sarah Palin bickering with Ashley Judd about shooting wolves from helicopters, and you‘re talking about the kill-the-gays in Uganda bill.  It‘s why I love this show.  

But this is merely a self-fulfilling media prophecy, right?  I mean, you go back 15 or more years at this point.  And there‘s a young phenom who was not white in a predominately white sport and he was an incredible golfer.

But the kind of media attention that he drew was out of proportion - it was disproportional even to his enormous talent.  And I think that‘s because a lot of people in the media, who are in charge of making editorial decisions like golf.  They golf themselves. 

They follow golf and personal preference certainly influences what gets covered.  And that goes for the same for people who dole out corporate sponsorships.  So this image and this name, Tiger Woods, was everywhere.  And he became one of the most recognizable people on earth. 

And then when he scandalized, there‘s even more media attention.  And so it becomes this self-fulfilling media prophecy, right?  You can‘t get away from it.  People actually are interested.  It‘s a story. 

MADDOW:  I feel like the sort of - it‘s not exactly ethics, I guess.  It‘s just the taste, whether or not it‘s tasteful for us to know about all of this stuff about him, whether or not we should all feel uncomfortable about knowing this stuff about him. 

It‘s about whether or not he ever made any claims to be anything other than what he‘s been proven to be.  Did we just imbue him with this great character?  Or did he make that case for himself?  I‘m happy to go after him if he‘s a hypocrite.  He just doesn‘t seem like a hypocrite to me. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, you could argue that he actually owe an apology to his corporate sponsors, right?  Because they‘re scandalized by what happened, because he is projecting a certain image that they want to be associated with.  And now, suddenly, the image is not right and they suffer as a result.  Ostensibly, they suffer as a result. 

But, no.  I mean, I‘m not really interested in what he does in his private life.  He doesn‘t really owe an apology to his fans, who he did apologize to.  Although I suppose if you think about your won private life, your most embarrassing moments of your own private life were revealed publicly and they disappointed people you care about or who you like or who like you. 

You don‘t necessarily owe them an apology, but it might make you feel good to apologize, “Hey, I‘d like to be better than this.”  And I think that‘s what he did.  There was enormous cynicism heading into this quasi-press conference and this statement. 

And I think that‘s because, in recent years, I‘ve got to tell you

often, it‘s baseball players doing some kind of mea culpa in a prepared statement which clearly a PR firm wrote, right?  So they don‘t want to open themselves up to questions right away, because then, they have talk extemporaneously about what happened and they‘ve already misled or they continue to lie. 

That really wasn‘t the case here.  Tiger was - seemed to me - I know he‘s played to mixed reviews but he seemed to me to be genuine about what he was saying.  You heard him reference Buddhism, you know. 

I thought that was significant for a couple of reasons.  One, he‘s a global brand, not just an American brand.  It suggests that in this country, if you‘re just trying to say what people - what you think people want to you say, you have to kowtow to Jesus. 

And he didn‘t do that.  He highlighted something about himself that, I think, lent an air of authenticity, at least emotional authenticity, to the proceedings.  And I was impressed. 

MADDOW:  HBO‘s sports broadcaster, Max Kellerman, introducing to this show for the first time ever, it‘s hard to believe, the phrase “kowtowing to Jesus.”  And for that, I owe you very much, sir.  Thank you.  It‘s good to see you, Max.

KELLERMAN:  My pleasure, Rachel.  Thanks for having me. 

MADDOW:  Thanks.  All right.  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” fresh off the live Tiger Woods apology, Keith is going to do something amazing.  He‘s just going to tick down the most cringe-worthy moments ever on television.  You have to see this. 

Next on this show is some post-Obama patriotism from the state government of South Carolina.  One official there wants to ban American currency.  We will be using a Ouija board to contact President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee for comment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Still ahead, the results are in and we have a winner in the first and hopefully only ever RACHEL MADDOW SHOW filibuster challenge.  We also have some filibuster performing arts coming up.  Hard to explain though.  We‘ll let that be a surprise.  Definitely, I think you will like it. 

First, we have a few holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. 

President Obama spoke at two fundraisers yesterday in Denver.  First, Sen.  Michael Bennett.  Nothing too unusual there.  The president usually supports Congressional incumbents in his party. 

But there was one tweak to the normal presidential pageantry surrounding these events.  Want to see what is missing here?  Notice anything missing there?  The presidential seal is not on the podium. 

NBC‘s chief White House correspondent and political correspondent Chuck Todd reports that the missing seal is not so much missing as it has been removed on purpose. 

According to Chuck, the White House has decided it would no

longer use the official presidential seal at political events.  Why?  I

have no idea why they have done this.  But you can count down to it as

being denounced as a communist plot in three, two -

Something new to expect from the bewildering experience of modern American airline security.  The Transportation Security Administration is announcing it will start swabbing travelers‘ hands to search for traces of explosives. 

You may have seen these swabs that they use to test for explosives already.  Screeners already use them now to check some bags and shoes.  The new give me five policy where they will check your hands has received an unofficial provisional thumbs up for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Provided the policy is not implemented in a discriminatory fashion, the ACLU says this is the right kind of direct security measure that is not an invasion of privacy. 

We contacted security expert Bruce Schneier to get his take. 

He‘s been very critical of TSA measures that he calls “security theater.”  Mr. Schneier told us about the new explosive testing, quote, “It‘s no more idiotic than any of the other stuff they‘re doing.”

So you can file that under faint praise, comma, damning whiff.  The TSA already has about 7,000 explosive trace detection machines.  Many from the federal stimulus bill will provide for about 400 more, which you should probably in mind if you hear someone who voted against the stimulus bill taking credit for the 400 new explosives detection machines. 

And finally, if you live in South Carolina, you may want to think about trading in your wallet for something a little bigger and sturdier.  Republican State Representative Michael Pitts introduced legislation earlier this month that would ban American currency in the state of South Carolina.  No paper currency.  No nickels, dimes or quarters.  Forget that whole legal tender thing.

If Republican State Representative Michael Pitts has his way, you will only be able to buy things in the state of South Carolina with gold or with silver.  He explained his reasoning to “The Palmetto Scoop,” saying, quote, “To me, something that I can hold tangible in my hand, I can put more value in, especially under the current rate of inflation.  In the case of total economic collapse, a barter tool is going to be worth a whole lot more value than paper with ink on it.” 

That said, one of the things about paper with ink on it is that its value doesn‘t fluctuate every minute of every day that there‘s an exchange somewhere in the world with people trading gold and silver as a commodity. 

So buying eggs would be like $1.98.  $2.00.  $2.01.  $1.96.  The good news, however, though is that you could in a pinch, pay with fillings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  The Obama administration is re-branding the Iraq War.  On Pentagon orders, the U.S. mission there will no longer be called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”  Instead, U.S. forces will be part of “Operation New Dawn.”  The new name takes effect September 1st by which time troop levels are scheduled to have fallen to around 50,000. 

“Operation New Dawn” is supposed to make you think of a shining new day in Iraq.  It‘s not supposed to make you think of the Marine offensive that nearly leveled the city of Fallujah in 2004.  That was also called “Operation New Dawn,” which is awkward. 

It is also awkward that “new dawn” is the name of something that bills itself as the world‘s most unusual magazine.  The current issue promising to reveal, quote, “who really runs the world” conspiracies, hidden agendas and the plan for world government. 

“New Dawn,” also the name of a Christian rock band from Oregon.  Also, there‘s the New Dawn Singers, sort of traveling glee club that plays school assemblies, holiday shows, and gospel concerts.  They seem to be very good. 

“New Dawn” also is the name of an engineering company that makes big industrial peanut grinders like this one.  They are based in Swaziland.  War is very hard.  Planning for war is very hard.  Preemptively Googling your proposed operational name for your war is not that hard actually.  It could have been then. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Our interns are exhausted.  Julia, Rachel, you guys have done great work.  Thank you.  I have to tell you, it‘s starting to pay off.  So far, 16 senators and the president of the Senate, also known as the vice president, have responded to our calls or otherwise gone on the record about whether they support the idea of performing the filibuster. 

Now, the Republicans are using it in a way that‘s never been used before, now that they are using it to require 60 votes on everything.  A result so far, nine senators and Joe Biden said they are for the idea of changing the filibuster rules. 

And Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington is now joining the other six senators on the other side who say they do not support changing the rules.  That leaves 84 senators who have yet to get back to us with a definitive position. 

Senators, Senate staffers, this is not a trick.  This is not a trap.  We just want to know where to put you on our chart.  In the hope of inspiring you to respond to these calls from our very nice hard-working interns, we‘re tapping the considerable talents today of “Newsweek” contributor, Jerry Adler. 

Every week, Jerry Adler turns a story from the news into a verse for “Newsweek.”  So now, without further ado, we present “Newsweek‘s” Jerry Adler reading his latest opus, “59 to 41: Filibuster this Poem,” with a special assist from our own Kent Jones. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

JERRY ADLER:  The urgent business of the people now must shuffle limp and creeple.  Three steps forward, three steps back, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq.  That crazy North Korean cook with missiles and a suitcase nuke.  Thirty million uninsured, giant loans go unsecured, unemployment unabated, bankers unabashed, unsated, unwanting to be regulated.  Greenhouse gases in the air, bad news for the polar bear. 

No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, no, no.  Olympia Snowe. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Sort of can‘t believe we did that.  That was so awesome.  Ladies and gentlemen, that was the news verse of Jerry Adler.  And a big thanks to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW‘s official bongo boy, Kent Jones.  Wow. 

As you may also know we have been trying to come up with a new name for the filibuster problem.  Since saying the Republicans are abusing a role that used to be used infrequently to now require a 60 vote supermajority for everything in the United States Senate that‘s never been done before. 

I makes people sleepy.  It‘s a little tiring and boring.  We have very much enjoyed reading through the thousands of suggestions you guys have made at our Web site for renaming the filibuster problem. 

But now, it is Friday.  And it is time to unveil the finalists, and tell you who we picked as our winner.  So here are our honorable mentions that - you guys made the finals and I want to congratulate you on that. 

First one is “invoking the gridlock rule.”  As in the nominee would have passed with the majority vote, but since Republicans have invoked the gridlock rule, the nomination failed. 

Also, “pass interference,” as in the bill earned a majority of yes votes but failed because of pass interference.  That‘s a good one. 

“Catch 41” as in Catch 22 but for 41 votes.  Republicans could not muster a majority to stop the nomination but they did so anyway because of Catch 41.  It‘s good. 

This is a good one, la, la, la, la, la, la.  As in, extending unemployment has got a majority vote, but it failed because of la, la, la, la, la.  I think that would be hard to translate to print. 

There is also “minority override.”  That‘s a pretty good one.  The bill had a majority and would have passed if not for the Senate‘s minority override now. 

Similarly “minority rule” - this one was very popular.  The bill had a majority and it would have passed except for the Senate‘s minority rule now. 

Just one more finalist before the winner, the word “snagcloddle,” which like the word, “canoodle,” we would be making up, as an onomatopoetic word simply for the purpose of describing this problem.  So it would be like, “The nominee would have passed with the majority vote except for the snagcloddle in the Senate.”  I like that one. 

All the finalists were very good.  There were lots more good ones besides.  I want to thank everybody who participated.  But our winner is, I think, our best hope of picking something that is actually memorable, that actually sticks and it gets people talking about this problem. 

Can we get a drum - with he can do that?  Can you give me a drum roll?  The winner is the “Tarantino.”  The “Tarantino” because it kills bills. 

So here‘s how it works in a sentence, right, like, “Extending unemployment earned a majority of yes votes but failed to pass anyway because of the Tarantino.”

“Republicans could not muster a majority to stop the nomination, but they were able to stop that nomination anyway because the Tarantino.” 

“The real question is whether climate change legislation could pass now, even if there weren‘t a Tarantino.”  It is the Tarantino.  The hash tag on Twitter is hash tag, The Tarantino. 

As if I even need to say this - this is meant as an homage, not a criticism of any kind of director Quentin Tarantino.  That‘s why it is The Tarantino, hash tag The Tarantino. 

And I will tell you, the filibuster problem was very, very, very nearly christened of the Uma Thurman instead.  But we think The Tarantino is really it.

The winner for our RACHEL MADDOW SHOW made in the USA mug and sweatshirt for having submitted the Tarantino is a viewer named Alan A.  Waldman.  Congratulations, Alan.  A mug and a sweatshirt and the thanks of a grateful nation are on their way to you.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Apparently, in parts of North America, between the months of November and March, frozen white precipitation sometimes falls from the sky and coats the earth.  I know.  Meteorologists call this period winter. 

And Washington, D.C. seems genuinely surprised when it happens to them every year.  Snow, here?  Impossible!  Last week, when our nation‘s capitol got slammed with up 40 inches of the white stuff, the default response was, “Ah, close everything down, Armageddon!” 

Fortunately, other cities have better winter coping strategies than Washington does.  In Washington, officials need help digging up their city.  They wisely reached out to, among other places, Boston. 

Eight days ago, a team of about 40 Boston area drivers including these guys here from W.L. French Excavating Corporation drove their dump trucks, their front end loaders and their sidewalk bobcats down to D.C.  They‘ve been plowing nonstop ever since. 

Housing projects, schools, sidewalks, you name it.  Contractors were hired from all of over, but the biggest number came from Boston.  And in the process and those Bay Staters became rock stars here in D.C.  “Boston Globe” gleefully reporting today how grateful the Washingtonians have been for the help up north, even inviting the drivers inside for a little something to eat, giving (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to use the bathroom if need be. 

According to one of the plowman quoted in “The Globe” today, “In

Boston, yes, it‘s just another day.  With this, we have people out and

hugging us saying, ‘Thank you.  I can finally get out of my house.‘”

Which is, let‘s face it, wicked night.  What would be really awesome is if Washington had its own snow-removing rock stars.  Alternatively, they can ask Scott Brown and John Kerry, maybe Congressman Barney Frank and Ed Markey to put plows on their cars and pick their chances.  I know that Sen.  Brown has a pickup truck.

That does it for us tonight.  And now, because I‘m on before him for the first time ever, ladies and gentle, here is Keith Olbermann.  I‘ve never been able to do this before.  Good evening, Keith.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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