The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/09/10
CHRIS HAYES, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.
And thank you for staying with us for the next hour. As Lawrence
mentioned and you‘ve noted by now, I am not Rachel Maddow. I am Chris
Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine. Rachel is off tonight,
but she will be back tomorrow. We promise.
We begin tonight with the White House turning its rhetorical firepower
on the softest of targets as they make their latest—and they hope—
final push for health reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We needed a system that
work for the American people, not just work for the insurance companies.
The president wants to make the case again for what happens if we walk
away, what happens if we start over. If we walk away and start over,
individuals continue to get letters watching their health insurance go up -
again, 39, 60, 20 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs taking aim
at the health insurance industry, just one day after his boss, who is also
full-disclosure—my wife‘s boss, led that charge to pretty dramatic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every year, the problem
gets worse. Every year, insurance companies deny more people coverage
because they‘ve got pre-existing conditions. Every year, they draw more
people‘s coverage when they get sick, right when they need it most. Every
year, they raise premiums higher and higher and higher.
That‘s the status quo in America. And it is a status quo that is
unsustainable for this country. We can‘t have a system that works better
for the insurance companies than it does for the American people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Health insurance companies have clearly become enemy number
one for President Obama and Democrats as they try to finish off health
reform. And that is a status it turns out that the health care companies
are not at all happy about.
Today, the health insurance industry‘s lobbying arm, AHIP,
acknowledged it‘s about to launch $1 million advertising campaign to
essentially defend itself—an ad campaign that will focus on, quote,
“setting the record straight about rising health care costs.”
With headlines across the country about double-digit rate hikes, the
health insurance industry, sort of, has an image problem on its hands. The
only group less popular than Wall Street executives at this point is, I
think, health insurance executives.
Case in point, today the health insurance industry kicked off its
annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. Probably not helping their
cause much, they decided to hold their two-day conference at Washington,
D.C.‘s glitzy Ritz-Carlton Hotel. But the health insurance executives
weren‘t alone at the Ritz today. They were joined by about 1,000
protesters from the two labor unions and the group Health Care for America
The protesters wrapped the entrance to the Ritz-Carlton in corporate
crime scene tape and they depicted the bodies of dozens of insurance
victims who were killed by big insurance.
Among those protesting today was a doctor from Vermont, who also
happens to be the former chairman of the Democratic Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: This is a vote about one thing. Are
you for the insurance companies or are you for the American people?
DEAN: The Republicans are for the insurance companies. Let‘s have a
vote right now and see—we need a final vote. The president is right.
We deserve—the American people deserve a final vote. Let‘s see who we
stand with here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining us now is Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and
former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is now a
consultant to McKenna Long & Aldridge, and Democracy for America, as well
as a contributor to CNBC.
Governor Dean, thank you for joining us tonight.
DEAN: Thanks for having me on, Chris.
HAYES: How much blame do health insurance companies deserve for
DEAN: The biggest problem with the health insurance companies is not
just the contribution to what rising costs. They really are a heartless
industry. They really do push people off the rolls who need health care.
I heard a story yesterday—I was in New Hampshire, campaigning for
Paul Hodes who‘s running for the United States Senate. And a lady came up
to me who had been pushed off of the rolls. She got sick. She got cancer.
She couldn‘t work because she was getting chemo and radio therapy.
And the insurance company dropped her. And it‘s just unbelievable. And it
happens—it happens again and again and again.
I—today, when I gave the speech in front—at DuPont Circle, to
kick off the march, I held a picture of a 33-year-old who didn‘t get a
colonoscopy when he needed one, and he died a year later.
This kind of stuff goes all the time. And the health insurance
industry really—they really do care more about what they—how much was
their quarterly earnings are than they do about the people who sell
insurance to. If you get sick, you‘ve had it because they‘ll pull your
HAYES: Now, all those sort of abuses that you‘re talking about are
exactly the kinds of things that in any version of the reform packages in
either house of Congress are going to be ended. And yet, at the same time,
the health insurance lobby claims that they‘re in favor of reform. We also
know they‘ve been funneling money towards anti-health reform ads.
So, what sort of reform are they in favor of, if any?
DEAN: Well, the Senate bill is actually a treat to health insurance
industry better than I would. I don‘t—I‘m not that crazy about the
Senate bill because they basically force, you know, several tens of
millions of Americans to buy their product. And they don‘t really fix the
problem as well as it ought to be fixed. But there are some very good
things in the Senate bill.
And the House is going to go through this reconciliation process, so
that they can have a straight-up majority vote on this. And the House bill
was fairly good.
So, I‘m really hoping very much that the House will fix this. Forty
Democratic senators have now signed on to a public option. The obvious
public option is to allow people who are under 65 to buy into Medicare.
You‘ve already got—everybody understands it, you already have the system
working. You can start signing people up within two months of the
president signing the bill.
And I‘m very much hoping that that‘s going to get into the
reconciliation bill, and we‘re going to have that as part of this. If you
put that in, that solves almost every problem that the insurance companies
create. When people get choices, they don‘t have to sign up for these
insurance companies anymore. Then the insurance companies will have to
clean up their act.
HAYES: And what‘s interesting is that you—all those sort of
movements towards a Medicare buy-in or the public option—we now have 40
senators who are saying they favor putting in to reconciliation. You know,
you had said earlier in December, when the Senate bill was passed, you were
arguing pretty vocally, and I thought persuasively and strongly Democrats
to kill the Senate version of the bill. Do you still feel that way, or has
something changed between now and then that even if—even if that is the
version of the bill that is the core of it, you would be willing to support
DEAN: Well, what they have agreed to do is that—because the
Republicans have been so obstructionist and are now able to kill the bill,
we don‘t have to live with just the Senate version of the bill. We pass
the Senate version of the bill of the House, and the Democrats in the
Senate have agreed to pass something in addition to that. If you can put
back some of the stuff that the Senate took out, then this would be once
again a decent bill.
I was very much in favor of the House bill, but not so much the Senate
bill, because it really does—there‘s a lot of goodies in there for the
insurance companies, and that‘s not—and goodies for the insurance
companies mean baddies for the American people.
HAYES: Right. Well, how optimistic then are you about the prospects
for either Medicare buy-in or a public option in this process over the next
few weeks as this plays on?
DEAN: Well, I still think it can be and it should be done. It‘s
smart politics for the Democrats. One of the things—if you don‘t put it
in there, the Democrats are going to have to explain this bill for two more
election cycles. If you do put it in there, then as soon as the president
as long as it‘s Medicare buy-in and that‘s the form of the public option
they use, then the president doesn‘t have to explain.
The other thing, you don‘t really need a public—you don‘t really
need an individual mandate. You know, we‘ve done all this stuff. Sixteen
years ago, we did most of this stuff that‘s being talked about in the
Senate. Except, frankly, we‘ve done it a little bit better than it‘s being
And we don‘t have an individual mandate, but we still have 96 percent
of our kids under 18 with health insurance. We have a sort of a public
option. We didn‘t call it that when we did it. But it allows you to sign
your kids up for Medicaid if you make less than $66,000 a year and you pay
480 bucks a year and everybody under 18 has health insurance.
That‘s—you know, that works fine without an individual mandate. Is
it better with an individual mandate? Yes, a little bit, but I think it‘s
going to be a political problem.
So, there are some changes that can be made. And I think the House is
going to make some changes and make it a better bill. So, I really want to
see something passed. I‘m tired of being pushed around by the far right
wing of the Republican Party, tired of Republican senators who put the
interest of their party ahead of the interest of their country.
We had a chance for bipartisanship, the president opened his hand and
he got it slapped, and I think it‘s time now to have an up or down vote,
let‘s see who‘s with the insurance companies and who‘s with the American
HAYES: Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National
Committee—thank you very much for your time tonight.
DEAN: Thanks for having me on.
HAYES: If health reform is finally going to happen this year,
Democrats still have one giant obstacle standing in their way—his name
is Bart Stupak. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan has
threatened for the last week to pretty much anyone who will listen, to
bring down the health reform bill if the anti-abortion language he prefers
is not in it. And Bart Stupak says he‘s not just speaking for Bart Stupak,
he‘s speaking for the Stupak dozen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: There are at least 12 of us who voted
for health care who have indicated to the leadership and others, and unless
you fix this abortion language, we can‘t vote for a final version of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As Democrats in the House scramble to find every last vote
they can to pass health reform, a 12-vote bloc committed to voting no just
might be the single biggest obstacle they face. And so, Democrats have
apparently started negotiating with Congressman Stupak who told reporters
yesterday, quote, “I‘m more optimistic than I was a week ago, I think we
can get there.”
So where exactly is there?
Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado.
She‘s co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.
Congresswoman DeGette, thank you for joining us tonight.
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Good to be with you.
HAYES: In terms of the substance of Congressman Stupak‘s complaint
that he claims the federal bill would allow federal funding of abortion.
Is that correct?
DEGETTE: Congressman Stupak is completely wrong. The House version
that we passed before—or the one we considered before his amendment had
a compromise that we reached in my committee which kept the status quo in
place, because we want this to be a health care bill, not an abortion bill.
So, we agreed that we would keep current law that says no federal funding
for abortion. That language was also contained in the Senate version that
was passed. So, there‘s nothing in the law as it stands right now that
would allow federal funding for abortion.
HAYES: Congressman Stupak appears to be negotiating behind the scenes
here. Is there room for any kind of deal? I mean, it sounds like there
was a deal struck. Is there room for a deal now with Congressman Stupak?
DEGETTE: Well, we certainly are always willing to talk to Congressman
Stupak and anybody else. But the pro-choice caucus which has 190 members
has really said, we are not going to agree to final legislation that
restricts a woman‘s right to choose beyond current law, period.
And what Congressman Stupak wants to do is to ban people who want to
buy insurance with their own private money in these insurance exchanges
from doing so. And that would be a vast expansion of a restriction on a
woman‘s right to chose, and we can‘t agree to that.
HAYES: With the members of your caucus, if there was some deal struck
with Congressman Stupak, if the final legislation looked more like things
that were in the Stupak amendment than the version of the Senate bill,
would those 190 members really vote against the ultimate health reform
bill? Is that what you‘re saying?
DEGETTE: After Congressman Stupak passed his amendment in the House
version, which said nobody could buy insurance in these exchanges with
their own private dollars if it included abortion coverage, I circulated a
letter and the letter simply said to Speaker Pelosi, “We are not going to
vote for a final version of the bill if it restricts a woman‘s right to
choose beyond current law.” Forty people signed that letter. I‘ve gone
back and checked with all those 40 people, plus additional people, probably
about 10 or 15 more, who say, if a final bill restricts a woman‘s right to
choose beyond current law, we‘re not going to vote for the bill.
And so, I think—I mean, we‘re—we can‘t use this as a vehicle to
restrict a woman‘s right to choose. History shows that if we pass a
restriction on a woman‘s right to choose, we‘ll never get that back.
And we think women should be entitled to have a full range of
reproductive services under their insurance. They have it now. They can
go out and buy insurance policies with their own money that gives them full
reproductive services. We believe they should be able to get that under
this bill, too. We don‘t think we should give up a woman‘s right to chose
as a devil‘s bargain to get health care.
HAYES: Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado, co-chair
of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus—thank you for your time tonight.
DEGETTE: Good to be with you. Thank you.
HAYES: Look out history, Karl Rove is peddling his version of the
Bush years. Wayne Slater, author of the book about Rove, joins me for that
Plus, later, the internal split the tea party doesn‘t want you to talk
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is my honor and absolute delight to now
pronounce you Robert and James, husband and husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was one of the first same sex couples to get legally
married in Washington, D.C., this morning.
Also celebrating today, D.C.‘s wedding industry, which is looking
forward to a little localized economic stimulus, according to “The
Washington Post.” The paper cites a study predicting that same sex
marriage will create 700 jobs and bring more than $52 million to the
economy in the D.C. area.
Not celebrating? Catholic Charities of the archdiocese of Washington,
which responded to D.C.‘s new law by taking away spousal benefits from all
new employees just to be sure they wouldn‘t have to give any to the gays.
HAYES: Welcome back. I‘m Chris Hayes in for Rachel Maddow, who has
the night off.
In his ongoing quest for relevance, Karl Rove has written a book.
“Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.” And to
sell it, he went on “The Today Show” this morning—where he tried to
explain away the Bush administration‘s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: The president of the United States,
if he had dropped into New Orleans that morning, would have discombobulated
the recovery efforts. It would have had to close down the airspace. We
would—there would have been—you know, rather than a cargo plane
coming in with rescue people, it would have been President Bush.
MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”: But that picture almost, would have
been, was worse than no picture.
ROVE: No. We should have gone to Baton Rouge, which is where the
governor was and where the emergency center was and that‘s where we should
LAUER: You also write in the book, we did not have the ability to get
real-time information so did not realize the initial reports we were
getting were wrong. This is the president of the United States.
LAUER: Did anyone at the White House turn on the TV? We had real-
ROVE: Well, you know what? The media did not have real-time
information. For example, the media led people to believe that there were
snipers. So, as a result, rescue personnel refused to go into some of the
some of the—
LAUER: We showed the suffering though in some of these places.
ROVE: You know what? And that‘s the point is, is that you—for
example, you didn‘t know about the suffering at the convention center until
the government did, but the government should have known about it earlier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You didn‘t know about the suffering at the convention center
until the government did.
But according to someone who was there, Mr. Rove still doesn‘t have
his story straight about what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina. NBC News photojournalist Tony Zumbado, who shot that terrible
scene at the convention center exclusive for NBC News told us today that it
was NBC News that called then-FEMA Director Michael Brown to alert him to
the scene there. Until that moment, Brown didn‘t know about the convention
Joining us now is Wayne Slater, senior political writer for “The
Dallas Morning News” and co-author of “Bush‘s Brain: How Karl Rove Made
George W. Bush Presidential.”
Thanks for being here.
WAYNE SLATER, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Great to be with you, Chris.
HAYES: Well, what you said about Hurricane Katrina at least was a
provable moment where Karl Rove is sharing misinformation with the American
public. What else in the book is misleading?
SLATER: Oh, there‘s—as you can find, it didn‘t take me long before
I found the first one or just the first few pages. He talks about a 1990
race in which he was running against a liberal Democrat in Texas, an
acquaintance of his who was the FBI agent, came in and began investigation
this race, and there were embarrassing disclosures in the newspaper.
Now, in his book, Rove says, “I didn‘t have anything to do with this,
in fact, I was just reading the newspaper to find out what was going on
each day.” Well, I‘m one of the reporters that Karl was calling and was
giving the information, myself and some colleagues. And so, he was very
actively—trust me Chris—he was very actively involved.
But the other thing that Karl does is let‘s falsehood go without him
correcting it. Either denies a different argument or farces his words.
And the biggest example in the book that I‘ve seen so far is really Scott
McClellan. Scott McClellan asked him, “Were you involved in the disclosing
the identity of the CIA agent?” He says he wasn‘t.
Scott was sent out and Rove understood what was going on to say
something that wasn‘t true. And it really hurt Scott McClellan.
It reminded me really of that scene in “Animal House” where the
fraternity guy has taken the pledge, Flounder says, “We will hurt your
car.” With over his trust, when they wreck the car, then fraternity guys
tell him, “Hey, you screwed up, you shouldn‘t have trusted us.”
HAYES: Well, the Plame affair was one—was one of the iconic
examples of official malfeasance with the truth. The other big one, of
course, is weapons of mass destruction. Rove writes in his book that
without the threat of WMD, quote, “the Bush administration itself would
probably have sought other ways to constrain Saddam,” yet the vice
president—end quote. Yet, the Vice President Dick Cheney disagrees the
war wouldn‘t have happened if they had known there were no WMDs.
So, who should we believe here?
SLATER: Great—this is a great question. I‘ve got—either Rove
or Cheney. These are our choices? Can I have a lifeline?
HAYES: It‘s the devil‘s choice.
SLATER: I think—I think I believe Karl in this case. And the
reason I believe Karl is, because of Colin Powell. Colin Powell has
subsequently said that when he was sent—when he tried to investigate all
the evidence, that he didn‘t get all the evidence. He didn‘t get specific
information and specific information about one of the key sources about
Saddam Hussein‘s alleged cache of weapons of mass destruction.
So, if Colin Powell hadn‘t gotten that information, he never would
have gone to the U.N. and made the speech, he never would have gone to war,
and voila—I think Karl‘s right.
HAYES: So, I‘m putting a tick mark here in my true/false column for
Karl Rove after that.
So, Rove also in his book, he writes this interesting line. He says,
“I have the common adjective. There is something called a Rovian style of
campaign, and it‘s meant as an insult.” Then he goes on to defend his
You‘ve done a lot of reporting and digging around how—what Rovian
means and where that adjective comes from. Can you remind us why that term
exists? And did—does Karl Rove deserve it?
SLATER: He absolutely deserves it. You know, it began years and
years and years ago here in Texas in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. And it
became conventional wisdom among the political operatives and the political
reporters that when a campaign Karl was involved with, when they erupted
dirty tricks or some kind of, sort of, interesting and underhanded episode,
then it was the mark of Rove. That was what it used to be called 20 years
ago in Texas.
If you look at the entire history of Karl Rove, he began his career as
a young Republican, as a college Republican with Lee Atwater teaching dirty
tricks in seminars. There were the smears against Ann Richards when she
ran against George Bush, raising questions about her sexuality. In the
same year, exactly the same thing with a judge in Alabama. You look at the
South Carolina attack on John McCain, the whisper campaign, and the Swift
Boat scene of John Kerry.
The same thing happened in every case—one, Karl Rove was the
consultant. Two, he denied any responsibility for any of it. And three,
Karl‘s candidates benefited.
So, I think—I think the nature of the Rovian campaign is very well-
HAYES: Wayne Slater, senior political writer for “The Dallas Morning
News” and co-author of “Bush‘s Brain”—thank you so much for your time
SLATER: Great to be with you.
HAYES: Coming up: the latest about Heidi Montag and Obama‘s latest
push for financial reform and yes, the two are related. Thank you, news
gods. That‘s next. Stick around.
HAYES: Welcome back to the show. I‘m Chris Hayes sitting in tonight
Now, when I agreed to guest-host, I did it on one condition, that we
would do a segment about “Hill” star and semi-professional partygoer Heidi
Montag, and here I am. So, welcome to Montag talk.
Our inaugural segment finds the bizarre pseudo-celebrity world Heidi
lives in strangely intersecting the one the rest of us occupy, because
today, Heidi Montag is stumping for financial reform. Yes, Heidi Montag is
putting her every bit of her substantial power as a kind of, sort of,
somewhat (INAUDIBLE) person into pushing for a Consumer Financial
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEIDI MONTAG, REALITY-TV STAR: With hidden fees and standard interest
rate increases that $11,000 jaw line can end up costing you upwards of
$50,000. Being in debt for elective surgery is bad enough, but when I
think about the thousands of Americans whose only method of paying for food
is their credit cards, it‘s enough to make me cry without moving my new
That‘s why I support the creation of a consumer agency to help protect
average citizens and reality stars alike. A consumer agency will stop
banks and credit card companies from being such sleazy jerks.
Call your senators and tell them to hold big Wall Street banks
accountable and to fight for strong consumer protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK. So, why does this proposed consumer watchdog agency need
Heidi‘s help? Because Senator Chris Dodd, the Democrat in charge of the
banking committee is working on a financial reform compromise with
Republican Senator Bob Corker. And Senator Corker said on the record,
going into those negotiations, that he could not support a stand-alone
Consumer Financial Protection Agency. In other words, Senator Dodd is very
likely whittling away at the consumer agency to try to bring Corker on
And the best evidence yet that that‘s going on, news from Sen.
Corker today that they almost reached a deal on the agency. Here, for your
viewing pleasure, is his warm-up victory lap on CNBC today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): I don‘t think we ought to try to pass
legislation that solves every problem in the world. I think when we do
that, we end up with things like what‘s happening right now with health
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In fact, the financial reform debate is a lot like health care
reform debate, but not for the reason Bob Corker says. Here‘s the real
analogy. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is the new public
Both the public option and the consumer agency would have meant
major changes for a major industry. And both industries have half-
heartedly pretended to support reform in theory, but often fought tooth-
and-nail against it.
And both industries focused the fight on that one piece of reform
would have meant a new source of power over them, something independent and
something they couldn‘t subvert. And so far in both cases, it‘s looking
kind of like Democrats are going to cave.
Joining us now is Heather McGhee. She‘s director of the
Washington Office of Demos, a non-partisan research and advocacy group.
Heather, thanks so much for coming on the show.
HEATHER MCGHEE, DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON OFFICE OF DEMOS: Thanks, Chris,
for having me.
HAYES: So an independent agency to protect consumers seems like a
very popular idea. Why would Republicans be fighting against it? And
maybe more perplexingly, why would Democrats want to abandon it?
MCGHEE: I‘ll take the easy one first. I really think that it‘s very
popular. Seventy-five percent of Americans recognize that the banks and
the payday lenders have been gouging them for years as the federal
government has looked the other way, and really support a strong
independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
We have to realize that Republicans and all people in Congress
have more than one set of constituents. They have the voters who are
paying attention sometimes, and the donors and the lobbyists who are paying
attention all the time.
And they‘ve been swarming Congress for the past year, ever since
the financial crisis, trying to weaken and ultimately kill a Consumer
Financial Protection Agency.
HAYES: So those banks that have been trying to kill this thing, and
they‘ve been going at it with hatchets from the very beginning. What is it
they‘re so afraid of? Why are they fighting so hard against it?
GHEE: What we‘ve seen is over the past 30 years, there‘s really been
a really radical experiment in financial deregulation across the board.
But at the consumer level, there‘s just a new Wild West situation out there
where the banks, the payday lenders, the rent-to-own stores, the used auto
dealers have just basically had very little oversight and they‘ve profited
from that regime.
MCGHEE: The financial crisis has absolutely shown that that was not
only bad for consumers. It was bad for Wall Street. It was bad for the
entire country. And they know that the jig is up, unless they can beat
down a consumer protection agency.
HAYES: So then, what is your sense? And I know that you have been
working with a lot of groups on the Hill. What is your sense of where the
Consumer Financial Protection Agency stands?
MCGHEE: I think we‘re at a very critical point. You mentioned health
care. Unfortunately, I really think that the financial reform battle has
really been waged in the shadow of health care.
The American people shouldn‘t have to learn that there‘s a fight
going on for their wallets from Heidi Montag and the “SNL” presidents, but
they have. I mean, really, I think that most Americans, if they knew what
the stakes were, that there were payday lenders and subprime mortgage
companies on one hand and a Consumer Financial Protection Agency on the
other hand, would be really outraged.
But the Democrats haven‘t been able to take the mike and make
that contrast clear. And so we‘ve got backroom deals right now. We‘ve
really got - Sen. Dodd really wants to make a deal, and he‘s going to give
away, I think, a real opportunity to make a very clear contrast and say,
“Hey, this is what the Democratic Party stands for, and it‘s you, your
family, your retirement savings and your home.”
Republicans are trying to gut investor protections, consumer
protections. They‘re trying to stand up for the subprime lenders and the
payday lenders. I mean, this should be a very easy political fight.
So I think if we can make that political fight more visible to
the American people, and it‘s really just starting to heat up, then I think
we‘re going to have a stronger hand to try to get this consumer agency
HAYES: Heather, maybe we can get a Lady Gaga video on the Internet in
favor of the agency. Heather McGhee, Washington Director of the non-
partisan group, Demos, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
MCGHEE: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Up next, watch Congressman Eric Massa make Glenn Beck‘s world
HAYES: Still ahead, the issue that could tear apart the tea party
movement. I‘ll tell you about that shortly. And “Saturday Night Live,”
watch out. The folks in one New York town don‘t take lightly to you
calling them a bunch of rock eaters. Kent Jones explains.
But first, a few holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. All eyes and
ears were on recently resigned Congressman Eric Massa this afternoon who
made his first TV appearance since accusations of harassment were lobbed
against him last week.
The self-described “salty old sailor” appeared on the “Glenn Beck
Show” for what Beck promised to be a barnburner of an interview. Beck‘s
idea was to give over an entire hour of his show to a man who, just today,
earlier, seemed poised on revealing the dark, secret inner workings of the
whole socialist conspiracy running the country, a man who knew who the
bodies were buried.
And now, on live TV, he was going to name names. But then things
did not go quite as Beck had hoped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, HOST, “THE GLENN BECK SHOW”: Tell us what you know. Make
a difference now. Pick up a shovel and show us where to throw the dirt.
FMR. REP. ERIC MASSA (D-NY): Sir, the most important thing that
people can do is to get involved.
BECK: No, no, no.
MASSA: Involved -
BECK: You‘re in - no, no.
MASSA: OK, go ahead.
BECK: Please don‘t be a commercial.
MASSA: All right.
BECK: Everybody knows that.
MASSA: All right.
BECK: People - you‘re in. You claim that the system is corrupt. I
agree with you.
MASSA: Demand we do one thing in Congress, and that‘s change campaign
finance reform, because nothing else matters until we do that. Until we do
that, nothing will change.
That‘s my - that to me is the number one issue facing America
today. It really is. We won‘t change jobs. We won‘t change anything
until that is changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Beck really, really didn‘t know what to do with that. You
could see his brain frying right in front of your eyes. I want names. On
the left and the right, we‘re always looking for villains, the bad guys who
are screwing people over or screwing up the country.
But a lot of times, the problems go much deeper than that. And
the answers involve pretty boring sounding reforms like campaign finance.
As Glenn Beck might expect, a dirty hippie like myself to say, “It‘s the
system, man. It‘s the system.”
Now, in one of the more colorful electoral races this year, Florida
Governor Charlie Crist is in a bare-knuckles primary fight for the Senate.
It‘s a job Crist thought he had locked up a year ago.
Now, fast forward to March 2010, and Charlie Crist is desperate.
His Republican primary challenger, Marco Rubio, leads him by more than 30
points in the latest poll. If there‘s one thing we know about desperate
campaigns and desperate candidates, it‘s that they make really stupid
mistakes. Here‘s Crist last night taking a jab at his opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R-FL): He‘s trying to pawn himself off as a
fiscal conservative. In yet, just in recent weeks, about two weeks ago -
it‘s come out in news accounts that he had a Republican Party of Florida
credit card, that he charged a $130 haircut, or maybe it was a back wax.
We‘re not really sure what all he got at that place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So beyond just insinuating the hirsuteness of your opponent,
is there a political point here somewhere?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRIST: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from reality is stunning to me. And you
know, to try to say that you‘re a fiscal conservative, yet you spend $130
for maybe a haircut and maybe other things - I don‘t know what you do at a
salon when you‘re a guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, you could tan there, I suppose. But how would a regular
old fellow like Charlie Crist know about that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRIST: I get my haircut for $11 from a guy named Carl the barber in
St. Petersburg, Florida where I grew up. And you know, to me, that‘s real
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes. Finally, someone standing up for real fiscal
conservatism. Where a Senate candidate gets his or her haircut would be
relevant if the super-cuts were a federally funded program.
But so long as a senator merely has to appropriate federal funds,
consent to treaties and confirm presidential appointments, Crist is
probably barking up the wrong palm tree on this one.
Marco Rubio is the tea party-approved candidate and he is also
the son of immigrants. More on why that does not compute - later on in the
And finally, even if you know nothing about hockey, you do know that
Canadians love it. I mean, they really, really love it. And they are good
at it too - Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and of course, Sidney Crosby who
scored the winning goal for Canada in its incredible gold medal match
against the U.S. in this year‘s Winter Olympics.
Eighty percent of Canadians were watching that game - 80 percent.
And not just as casual viewers either. Pat Kiernan, a news anchor here in
New York, draws our attention to a graph which shows water consumption in
one Canadian city, Edmonton, during the gold medal game, OK?
So here we have water consumption before the game - pretty
straight line. And then, it falls off drastically for face-off. First
period ends and everyone runs to the bathroom. Oh, game‘s back on.
Now, second period ends - back to the loo. Players back on the
ice? Quick, hurry, bathrooms in Edmonton are emptier than a Sarah Palin
book signing in Berkeley.
End of third period - sweet relief. The game goes into overtime,
Canada wins, and they get their medals. And then, once again, it‘s back to
being an acceptable time for a bathroom break.
Canadians are great at hockey, and if it were to be an Olympic
sport, they would probably also be very good at synchronized you-know-what-
HAYES: When Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol launched their smear campaign
aimed at Justice Department lawyers who previously defended Guantanamo
detainees, I hoped it would finally be the tipping point, the at long last
“have you no decency” moment when the Washington establishment said enough.
And it has occasioned something of an attack of conscience from a
number of prominent right-wing lawyers who have come forward to condemn the
The latest is Sen. Lindsey Graham who said today that, quote,
“Every time a defense lawyer fights to make the government do their job,
that defense lawyer has made us all safer.”
But while conservatives are busy condemning Cheney, “The
Washington Post” is, well - if not endorsing it, at least giving its
endorsers a pretty nice platform. Yesterday, their newest columnist,
former Bush speechwriter, Marc Thiessen, wrote a piece recapitulating the
same execrable garbage as Cheney and his fellow “Post” columnist Bill
I‘m not going to repeat it. You‘ve heard it all before. The
column could hardly come as a surprise to “Washington Post” opinion
editors, given since Thiessen was given his gig after publishing a book
that defended the torture regime at length and accused of President Obama
of, quote, “inviting the next attack.”
We have witnessed our national conversation over national
security grow so degraded that war crimes are now debated on TV as if they
were the gas tax. Someone needs to say no more.
If Ted Olson can do it, then “Washington Post,” you can, too.
Really. We believe in you.
CHARLIE ROSE, HOST, “CHARLIE ROSE”: Now back to the tea party and you
had pointed out that it is a very big tent. What part of that tent are you
FMR. REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX): I was, for example, not really happy to
see Tom Tancredo on the stage calling himself a tea party guy with because
of his harsh and uncharitable and mean-spirited attitude on the immigration
ROSE: But what do you say to that? Do you speak out against that?
ARMEY: Absolutely, I have. And I‘ve taken a lot of heat for it, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That‘s former Republican House Majority Leader, Dick Armey, in
his new job as head of Freedom Works. He‘s done his darnedest to focus the
tea party‘s energy on issues that unite the right wing coalition like
deficits and bailouts and Obama care, so they don‘t spend their time
fighting over issues that divide the tea party movement, like immigration.
But how long is that going to work? Remember this reaction to
former Congressman and well known anti-immigrant activist Tom Tancredo at
last month‘s tea party conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO): Mostly because I think we do not have
a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country. People who
could not even spell the word “vote” or say it in English put a committed
socialist ideologue in the White House. The name is Barack Hussein Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sure sounds like those were cheers you heard when Tancredo
suggested bringing back the literacy test for those who can‘t say “vote” in
So as the White House vows to pass comprehensive immigration
reform and a group of pro-immigration activists plan to hold a “March for
America” rally in Washington, D.C. in support reform, when tea party
activists and Republicans were counting on their support in the midterm
elections, turn to anti-immigration agenda.
Joining me now is Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the
Center for Community Change, a grassroots advocacy group that focuses on
policies that affect low-income people and people of color. Mr. Bhargava,
thanks for being here.
DEEPAK BHARGAVA, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE: It‘s great to
be here, Chris.
HAYES: What has been your experience with tea party activists and
immigration? Is the tea party really just all about deficits?
BHARGAVA: Well, my sense is that this is going to be a case of two
bad things that are going to go very badly together, meaning the tea party
activists on the one hand and nativist anti-immigrant movement on the
The anti-immigrant movement is in real decline in the country.
Lou Dobbs is off the air. Their turnout at meetings is low. So it‘s no
surprise that they are looking to get on the tea party bandwagon. But I
don‘t think that‘s going to work because it‘s going to divide the base of
BHARGAVA: You say divide the base. I mean, when people think about
immigration often, they think about it dividing the Democratic base.
Immigration is considered such a third rail of politics. I‘m wondering,
can you make a political case for immigration reform?
BHARGAVA: Well, look, John McCain actually lost a number of states -
Colorado, Nevada, Florida, New Mexico - in large part. And this was a pro-
immigrant candidate. In large part because Latinos reacted viscerally to
the demagoguery and anti-immigrant hate that was coming out of many
And 20 out of 22 Congressional candidates who took this anti-
immigrant message on the road lost in 2008. So I think we‘ve seen that the
Republican Party faces a kind of long-term electoral suicide if it pursues
this anti-immigrant course. Some of the wiser heads like Dick Armey
recognize that that‘s the case.
HAYES: President Obama is meeting with Democratic Senator Chuck
Schumer and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday to discuss
bipartisan immigration reform.
Do you believe immigration reform will pass? Is this another
example where we‘re talking bipartisan and it‘s just absolutely hopeless?
BHARGAVA: No. I think there really is hope that we‘ll get this done
this year. I mean, look, candidate Obama promised the Latino community
over and over again that we would get immigration reform in the first year
that he was president and that he‘d put a stop to the terror and the raids
and the deportations that are devastating communities all over this
He has yet to deliver on that promise. The community is
extremely restless, extremely angry. There‘s a lot of pressure on him to
deliver. And there are parts of the Republican Party that recognize that
they‘ve got to take this issue off the table if they‘re going to have a
long-term future. So I think there‘s real prospect for getting it done
HAYES: Do you think - you said that there‘s a lot of anger about the
policies. My sense is that a lot of things have been continued in a way
that have been deeply frustrating and angering to a lot of the groups that
you work with.
HAYES: Do you see a potential for Latinos to just stay home in the
midterms? How has Obama been on the - even if he hasn‘t passed reform -
how has he been on enforcement issues and so forth?
BHARGAVA: This administration has actually managed to deport more
people in its first year in office than the last administration, the Bush
administration, did in its last year in office. And that‘s a shock. It‘s
a record level of enforcement.
A thousand people a day are deported. So that anger is really
building in the community, and I think there‘s a huge expectation that the
president and the Democrats who they helped to put in office are going to
stand up and deliver.
HAYES: Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center of Community
for Change, thank you so much for your time tonight.
BHARGAVA: Thanks, Chris. Great to be with you.
HAYES: Coming up on “Countdown,” an exclusive interview with Scott
McClellan who reacts to Karl Rove‘s book and Karl Rove‘s refusal to
publicly apologize to him this morning.
And next on this show, comedy writers gone wild. We‘ll be right back.
HAYES: We turn now to our hellhole correspondent, Kent Jones. Hey
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Chris Hayes, everybody.
This is great. You know, “Saturday Night Live” is having such a good time
skewering New York‘s Governor David Paterson. But now, I think they may
have stepped on the wrong toes. Check it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, how are you going to fill out your
remaining year in office?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I‘m going to do a farewell tour of upstate
New York, hellholes like Plattsburg and Peekskill. I‘m going to speak at
their town halls or whatever abandoned Shoney‘s they huddle in.
I‘m going to give those rock eaters something to cheer about.
Those freaks love me up there, Seth. They find me refreshingly off.
JONES (voice-over): Freaks, rock eaters, hellhole? Mary Foster is
calling you out.
MARY FOSTER, MAYOR, PEEKSKILL, NEW YORK: Why call it a hellhole? You
know, that felt a little weird. .
JONES: That would be the honorable Mary Foster, mayor of Peekskill,
New York, who, during a real live press conference, has now responded to a
pretend shot by a comedian on a fake news cast.
Mayor foster even invited the “SNL” writers to visit the jewel of
the Hudson valley. Hellhole? Rock eaters? I think not.
FOSTER: But we do think of ourselves as a hip city. We work very
hard in not saying things to other things to other people that could be
viewed as offensive.
JONES: Here, here. If I may, Mayor Foster, the writers probably
picked Peekskill because of that combined P and K sound which is a
guaranteed laugh, you know, like pickle or cupcake or porcupine.
Peekskill, right? But I digress.
FOSTER: Really, you shouldn‘t make fun of people.
JONES: Comedy writers, they‘re hopeless. Trust me.
Peekskill, it‘s one of the great funny words. You can‘t escape
HAYES: I‘ve been to Peekskill. It‘s a very nice place.
JONES: I‘m sure it is. I think this is slander - horrible.
HAYES: Well, thanks a lot, Kent. Really appreciate it.
JONES: Thank you.
HAYES: So that does it for us tonight. I‘m Chris Hayes sitting in
for Rachel who will be back here tomorrow night. Until then, you can E-
mail us at email@example.com. And our podcast is at iTunes or at
Thank you so much for joining us. “COUNTDOWN” starts now. Good
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>