The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/12/10

Guests:
Chris Hayes, Melanie Sloan, Michael Downing, Annabel Park
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  Thanks very much.  Have a great weekend.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Thanks.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for tuning in for this hour.

           

Tonight, we‘ll straighten out the facts on the “dead then undead then not really dead then back from the dead” public option.

We will witness Bart Stupak getting a little kooky in the wake of his anti-abortion stunt failing to stop health reform.

We will wonder at a move toward the Bush administration by Tiger Woods, of all people.  That‘s weird one.

We will meet the coffee partiers.  They are meeting this weekend.

And we will blow your mind about everything that makes no sense about Daylight Saving Time.  I geeked out all afternoon about that.

It‘s all coming up this hour.

But we begin tonight with a clearest sign yet that health reform will pass and soon.  The White House announcing today that President Obama is delaying an international trip in order to stay in D.C. to focus on health reform for just a few days longer.  It‘s a relatively sure sign that something‘s about to happen.

Another sign: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s response to the news about the president‘s travel plans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER:  I‘m delighted that the president will be here for the passage of the bill.  It‘s going to be historic and it would not be passable without his tremendous, tremendous leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The speaker telling reporters today that the president is sticking around for a week or so which means he will be here when the House passes the final version of health reform.  In other words, this is it.  Welcome to the last few days in which health reform is a few beat-up old bills instead of being a brand spanking new law.

Now, that the Democrats have a feasible strategy for passing health reform—with no Republican votes expected even in the Senate—surely they will include that public option that the House passed in Christmastime, right?  The public option—that will be in the bill, won‘t it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI:  It is with a little sadness that I view that it is not in the bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I—sadness aside, I had thought that the public option was back.  What we heard today, I think, is that it‘s dead again?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI:  I‘m quite sad that a public option isn‘t in there.  But it isn‘t a case of it‘s not in there because the Senate is whipping against it.  It isn‘t in there because they don‘t have the votes to have it in there, or they would have had it in there to begin with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Don‘t get it.  Since the Senate didn‘t have the public option in the bill that the Senate passed back at Christmastime, the public option can‘t be put in there now?  There‘s an 800-pound gorilla in the room here that nobody‘s talking about.

The public option is really popular.  Out of so many things in health reform that are hard to remember, hard to explain, hard to understand the benefit of—the public option makes sense, right?

You could—you could choose a government-run nonprofit insurance plan if you didn‘t like what private insurance were offering.  It makes sense.  It makes as economics.  People like the idea.

But for some reason, even though he‘s a great big gorilla and he‘s standing right out there in the open, the Democrats are ignoring him right now.  If you‘re willing to pay attention to the 800-pound gorilla in the room, the popularity of the public option, what that gorilla means is that Democrats don‘t need to be giving up the public option.  The public option doesn‘t have to be left out of the final House bill just because it was left out of the original Senate bill.

What‘s the evidence?  Gorilla?  Oh, well, for starters, there‘s Dick Durbin, majority whip in the Senate.  His office made an announcement ahead of Pelosi‘s press conference saying that if the House included the public option in their final bill, he and the rest of the Senate leadership will be aggressively whipping for the public option.

Further evidence?  Gorilla?  Let‘s see.  Gorilla, are you still there? 

Oh, yes.  Further evidence, gorilla.  There—yes.

See, the gorilla has very unwieldy hands but they are working now.  There are 41 senators who are on the record now supporting the idea of passing the public option when those changes to the Senate bill are passed using reconciliation.  In other words, 41 out of the 50 votes you need to pass the public option are pre-whipped – 41 of 50.  At least 41 of the votes needed to pass the public option in the Senate are already in the bag.

Contrary to what Speaker Pelosi said today, there is a good chance that the votes are there to pass the public option in the Senate.  She cannot blame this in the Senate.

So, is it possible that there isn‘t support for a public option, not in the Senate but in the House?  Well, the 800-pound gorilla that is the enduring popularity of the public option points out that the original House version had a public option in it.

What the 800-pound gorilla in the room means is that the public option enjoys broad support from the American public.  Well done.  The same American public that elected giant Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress based on promises that they do things like pass comprehensive health reform.

So now, after a year of fighting for it, when it appears they‘ve finally figured out how to get health reform passed, would the Democrats just give up on the public option?  Why when they finally figured out how to accomplish the single biggest, most ambitious item on their policy agenda would they throw away the part of it that people really like, and that looks like it would work really well?

Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation.”

Chris, thanks very much for coming on the show.  It‘s good to see you.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION:  Good to see you, too, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Nancy Pelosi taking a lot of heat about this from the left.

HAYES:  Right.

MADDOW:  She‘s the one not putting the public option in the final House bill, so she‘s taking most of the blame for killing it.  Is there a legitimate fear that if she did include, there wouldn‘t be enough votes in the Senate?

HAYES:  Yes.  If you talk to people on the Hill side, Hill Democratic staffers, they will tell you the 41 votes—they‘re skeptical.  They think a lot of those, or a fair number of those senators put their name on it thinking, “Hey, this is a free pass.  I‘ll score some points to the base of the party and it‘s never going to come up anyway.”

And they also think that when Dick Durbin, a day before he said “I‘ll whip for it” said “I‘ll whip against it,” that was a moment of unintentional honesty when that‘s actually the agenda there.  And they feel like, on the Hill side, that it‘s a very high stakes game to move ahead with the public option if they‘re not sure they have it on the Senate side.

MADDOW:  What I understood about the Durbin thing was that his office was saying and he was saying, whatever the House sends over for the reconciliation package, the reconciliation stuff has to pass—start in the House, and then it comes over to the Senate side.

HAYES:  Right.

MADDOW:  And he was saying, no matter what‘s in that, there‘s not going to be any amendments.  There‘s not going to be any changes.  So, if the public option is in it, I‘ll whip for it.

HAYES:  Right.

MADDOW:  If somebody wants to add the public option over here as an amendment, I‘ll whip against that.  Nobody can add any amendments to this thing—which really puts it on Pelosi in term of what goes into the final package.  It puts it to the House in terms of what‘s actually going to originate from that House there.

HAYES:  Yes, except that what is going to come out of the House is being negotiated between three parties.  It‘s being negotiated between the House leadership, the Senate leadership and the White House.

The people on the House Democratic aide side—and I‘m channeling their side of the story and I don‘t know if it‘s the full story—they will tell you, look, the Senate doesn‘t want this and the president doesn‘t want it.  We‘re the only ones that actually passed this darn thing.

So, it‘s a very, very frustrating situation where it‘s become this kind of like murder mystery game of clue.  It‘s this Whodunit.  You know, who killed the public option? Was it—was it Senator Reid with procedural obfuscation in the Senate chamber?  Was it Rahm Emanuel with, you know, the insurance industry in the Roosevelt Room?

You know, everyone is pointing a finger at everyone else.  It really is hard to figure out who actually put the knife in.

MADDOW:  Well, there—if there is an overt plan to kill it and it‘s not just a big misunderstanding, “Three‘s Company” style, there is a problem with the way they‘ve rolled it out, because what Nancy Pelosi is explaining is there aren‘t the votes in the Senate.  We know there are at least—at least in terms of what people say they‘ll vote for it, there are 41 votes and it looks like it‘s conceivable there could be 50.  We‘ve got Dick Durbin saying, if it was in there, I‘d happily whip for it.  It‘s not inconceivable that they couldn‘t get it.

Their explanation doesn‘t make sense.  And so, you‘re looking—I mean, possibly to the administration to say that, hey, it doesn‘t make sense the way they‘re talking about it.  Maybe they are being told not to include it?

HAYES:  Look, I think it‘s—the administration has sent every conceivable sign, aside from saying, “Oh, sure, we‘re for it,” that they are not actually for it.  I mean, if you want to look at whose feet you rest this on.  It is the White House.  At ever opportunity when they could have intervened on behalf of the public option, they have very, very ostentatiously chosen not to.

Now, I think at this point, you‘re right.  The ball is in Pelosi‘s court and I think the speaker should just call everyone‘s bluff.  And she should—she should try to get it.  When they put it on the mark-up on 3:00 on Monday, she should put the public option in and actually make Dick Durbin do what he said and make the White House do what they said.  Because at this point, everyone‘s for it except no one‘s lift a finger to make it happen.

MADDOW:  In terms of the actual timing of this, is that what we‘re pointing towards, 3:00 p.m. on – 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday.  That‘s the final mark-up of the bill.  That‘s the reconciliation package language that will come from the House, and after that, nothing‘s going to change?

HAYES:  That‘s my sense.  I mean, the way that they‘re going to do—they‘re going to manage it on the floor in the House is they‘re not going to allow amendments, right, because that would open up this whole can of worms.

So, whatever is going to come out of that mark-up on Monday at 3:00 – remember, the House is a body whose legislative procedures are much more carefully managed by the leadership—whatever comes out of the mark-up, that‘s what we‘re going to be seeing in the final package.  If it‘s not in there at 3:00 on Monday, if it doesn‘t come out of that final mark-up, then I think the ship finally, finally has sailed, the nail is in the coffin—choose your metaphor for the end of this maddening, maddening bit of political malfeasance on the part of the Democratic Party.

MADDOW:  Well, let me pry the nail out of the coffin for a second—

HAYES:  Good.

MADDOW:  Let‘s say, as of 3:00 p.m. on Monday, it‘s not in there. I mean, I have a feeling it‘s going to be a busy weekend as people try to encourage Speaker Pelosi that the votes really could be there in the Senate and that people really could get this thing passed if she‘d only try.  But if it doesn‘t, could the public option realistically be brought back up separately?

I mean, Alan Grayson has this four-page—

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  – stand-alone public option act.  Could it happen that way?

HAYES:  I mean, yes.  The short answer is yes.  Now, there‘s an argument that says, look, we‘re at the high water mark of Democratic power in terms of the number.  We‘re never going to have a shot as good as this.

At the same time, the theory behind—you know, the theory behind progressive marginal legislative victories is that they enable the next fight.  That you set up the next fight, and as soon as you win one thing, you set up the next one.

Grayson has already got a bill on there, and because—as you‘ve noted, as all of us have noted time and time ad nauseam, it is very popular, there should be—the next push the day after it gets signed should be for that.  And you know what, they are going to have their feet held to the fire because they really screwed over the base on this one.  But you got—you know, it‘s rolling a rock up a hill.  There‘s no reason it can‘t happen in a future bill.

MADDOW:  Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”—Chris, appreciate you joining us on a Friday night and also the loan of the gorilla suit.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Unlike last time, we promise to have it cleaned this time.

HAYES:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  All right.  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Have a good weekend.

MADDOW:  All right.  Let‘s play “Who said this.”  And the quote is this, “Every day from Rachel Maddow to the Daily Kos, it keeps coming.  Does it bother me?  Sure.  Does it change my position?  No.”

Who said that?  If you guess that the quote today came from Bart Stupak, you still need to do something else way more impressive if you earn a treat.  That story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  As of yesterday, Congressman Bart Stupak‘s attempt to hijack health reform in order to expand restrictions on abortion is over.  Mr.  Stupak‘s bluff has been called.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told me in an interview yesterday that his claim about the Senate‘s health reform bill includes federal funding for abortion is simply wrong.  Several House members who voted with Mr. Stupak before on his anti-abortion language now are also admitting that Mr. Stupak‘s claims about the Senate bill funding abortion don‘t seem to be borne out by the facts.

The Senate bill, in fact, does not allow public funding for abortions.

If there was any doubt about the collapse of Mr. Stupak‘s threat to use his discredited claims about abortion to kill health reform, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer put those doubts to rest this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  I talked to Mr.

Stupak, but I made it clear that I wasn‘t negotiating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  “I made it clear that I wasn‘t negotiating.”

So, his own leadership is not negotiating with him.  So, they seem done with his threats, done with the attempted hijacking of health reform.

Congressman Stupak has said, of course, that he speaks for about a dozen members of Congress who agree with him on this issue.  House leadership has told us that they think it‘s more like four or five.

And Congressman Stupak himself today admitted in a rather strange interview that even that purported threat from him is crumbling.  Congressman Stupak today telling the conservative National Review Online, quote, “At this point, there is no doubt that they‘ve been able to peel off one or two of my 12.”  Or four or seven or two or whatever—but who‘s counting?

As things fall apart for him, as his perceived threat dissolves, the opening quote of Congressman Stupak‘s interview with the “National Review” let slip probably his gravest concern about how this whole thing is going to reflect on him.  His gravest concern at this point, what he told the “National Review”—his first quote to them today, “They‘re ignoring me.”

And when you‘ve been enjoying the attention for your big, fake, can‘t do it, imaginary friend bluff, as much as Congressman Stupak has, the idea that people are now just ignoring you again must be really hard to take.  At least that‘s what might explain what else he said today.  This is kind of amazing.

The “National Review” in this interview asked him about why Congressman Stupak is being ignored now, about what Democratic leaders are telling him about this whole anti-abortion stunt of his being over.  Here‘s what he said, quote, “If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore, it will cost us millions more.  That‘s one of the arguments I have been hearing.  Money is their hang-up.  Is this how we now value life in America?”

This is how Congressman Stupak understands what we‘ve all been arguing about.  This is how he understands the argument against the stunt that he‘s tried to pull off these past few weeks.  It‘s not that the people think this isn‘t the right venue for trying to change the law on abortion.  It‘s not even that he‘s anti-abortion and some people are pro-choice.  That‘s not it.

The way Congressman Stupak sees it is that the people who don‘t want him to get away with this thing he‘s been trying to get away with are anti-baby.  Bart Stupak‘s opponents want there to be less babies because babies are so expensive.  If you pass the Stupak amendment, he says, “more children will be born and therefore, it will cost us millions more.  That‘s one of the arguments I have been hearing.  Money is their hang-up.”

So, he thinks that people are against what he‘s doing because people think babies are expensive.  That‘s what he thinks this is about.

For the record, the argument the speaker of the House made yesterday in shutting him down is not that babies are expensive, but rather that Mr.  Stupak‘s plan to ban people from buying insurance that covers abortion, even with their own money, isn‘t part of lowering costs and expanding coverage.  It‘s not part of health reform.  It‘s a separate issue that he‘s trying to tack onto this.

But, you know, that separate issue is part of Congressman Stupak‘s quest for fame.  And with that quest for fame came scrutiny of things like his living arrangements at the C Street house, which is owned by the secretive religious group in Washington called The Family.

Mr. Stupak did address the ethics issues involving his reduced rate rent at The Family‘s house saying today, quote, “People are threatening ethics complaints on me.  On the left, they‘re really stepping it up.  Every day, from Rachel Maddow to the Daily Kos, it keeps coming.  Does it bother me?  Sure.  Does it change my position?  No.”

Whether or not it bothers Congressman Stupak or changes his position, the questions about his living arrangements at C Street remain open only because he won‘t answer them.  When a congressman pays only $600 a month to live in a $1.8 million 12-bedroom townhouse right near the Capitol that is run by a power-playing pseudo-religious secret group that he denies being part of, his constituents and everybody else deserve to know who is subsidizing him.

Who pays your rent, Congressman?  Who paid your rent at the C Street house?  How much rent did you pay?  How far below market rate was it?

Who picked up the subsidy?  Did you ever report it as income in taxes? 

Did you ever report it as an in-kind donation?

The only reason those questions aren‘t going away is because you won‘t answer them.

Today‘s calls to Congressman Stupak on this subject, again, went unanswered.

Joining us now is Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Melanie, thanks very much for coming on the show.  Appreciate it.

MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: 

Always a pleasure.

MADDOW:  So, The Family, in the past, has acknowledged subsidizing rent for people who live at C Street.  At one point in the press, acknowledging that people only paid about $600 a month.  Is there anything potentially wrong with living in subsidized housing?  Could there be problems with this with either tax laws or House rules?

SLOAN:  Absolutely.  It‘s a violation of House rules.  There is something called the House gift ban preventing members of Congress from accepting any kind of gift.  And this applies to members of the House and Senate, and taking rent from somebody does, in fact, violate the gift ban.

I looked just today, for example, at what rent go for on the Hill and in comparable houses nearby, the rent would be $1,000 a month.  There has been some discussion that Mr. Stupak got room and board, as well as maid service.

We called a Capitol Hill hotel, only a block from the C Street house, and found that their rooms go for between $2,700 and $7,000 a month depending on the month.  That‘s just for a standard room.

So, clearly, Bart Stupak and the other members of Congress who lived at the C Street house have been given some kind of gift by—when they live at the house, and they are not paying full rent.

MADDOW:  We should make it clear that Congressman Stupak won‘t tell us how much he paid in rent.  He won‘t tell us to whom he paid his rent, nor if he tell us if he was aware that he was getting any sort of subsidy.  So, a lot of this is us trying to piece together what his potential answers to those questions would entail in terms of his ethics liability or criminal liability, if any.

I don‘t want to go beyond what we know from reporting on the subject, but wouldn‘t it—in terms of looking to this as an ethical matter—would it help you in terms of figuring out his liability here to have answers from him to those questions?

SLOAN:  Well, of course, it would be helpful if we have answers from him.  But if we‘re not getting any answers from, CREW, my organization is going to bring this to the House Ethics Committee and ask them to investigate the matter, and then Mr. Stupak can answer in the House Ethics Committee on this issue.

MADDOW:  What is the potential penalty for violating the gift ban?

SLOAN:  Well, the penalties, as you know, range wildly in the House Ethics Committee, because they‘re notoriously lax and they don‘t like to come down on members very hard for misconduct.  There can be the kind of admonishment that Charlie Rangel got a couple of weeks ago where they just say: bad, bad, that‘s not good, you can‘t do it again—all the way up to expulsion.

I wouldn‘t expect any kind of expulsion here.  But at the very least, you could expect to see Congressman Stupak disciplined for violating the gift rule and told to pay back all the extra money probably to the U.S.  Treasury.

MADDOW:  In terms of people who have actually been at C Street, who have lived there, who would potentially be subject to an ethics inquiry like if one were to happen, we know that Congressman Stupak lived there for years.  A lot of other members of Congress have, at times, acknowledged living there and at times not.

Is there any means by which we could actually, I guess, require members of Congress to acknowledge where they lived and when?  Or is that considered to be private information that‘s not available for an inquiry like this?

SLOAN:  Well, again, sadly, you and I can‘t ask for that.  But certainly, the House and Senate Ethics Committees can.  And so, if we were to go to the House and Senate Ethics Committees, as CREW is planning to do and say, these are the members who‘ve lived there over time, or it‘s been reported that they have, Zach Wamp, Mike Doyle from the House, John Ensign from the Senate, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint from the Senate.

If we ask the ethics committees to investigate whether all of these members have properly paid the amount of money they should in return for their room and board at the C Street house, and whether they have all accepted improper gifts, then the House and Senate Ethics Committees can demand explanations.

MADDOW:  Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW—will you let us know what they say in response?

SLOAN:  Well, don‘t hold your breath.  As you know, it takes a while.

MADDOW:  I hear it.  But thank you for keeping us apprised.  I appreciate your expertise on this.  Thank you.

OK.  Another kind of March madness begins this weekend and I‘m not talking about basketball.  On Sunday, Daylight Saving Time begins, when everybody springs forward an hour because—because—actually, why do we do that?

It turns out the answers to that question are even weirder than Bart Stupak‘s ideas about the expensiveness of babies.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

MADDOW:  I think we have exhausted all of our cliche metaphors for the dawning of a new day.  Is that all of them?  Can we have another one?

(MUSIC)

MADDOW:  We have another one.  Excellent.

Al right.  That‘s all we got.  We‘re done now.

When you wake up Sunday morning, unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii, you will very likely have slept late without sleeping in.  And that‘s because on Sunday at 2:00 a.m., Daylight Saving Time begins and we spring forward.  Remember that?  Spring forward, fall back.  We‘re springing forward.

If it seems like the time change is coming a little early this year, it is, relatively speaking.  In 2007, the Energy Policy Act went into effect, which makes daylight saving start about three weeks earlier than it used to.

Why do we change the clocks at all, let alone change them earlier now?  Well, it‘s for farmers so they can get their food to market when it‘s super-fresh.  Also, extra daylight keeps criminals off the streets.  And daylight saving saves energy for obvious reasons, right, because you don‘t need to turn on the lights as early. 

Those are some of the ways that Daylight Saving Time has been explained and it turns out that none of them are true.  Farmers have hated Daylight Saving Time since it was proposed more than 100 years ago.  They generally say it makes their mornings harder, not easier.

Also, on the crime thing - crime generally goes up in the summer which is during the Daylight Saving Time.  And in terms of the energy issue, some energy costs seem to go down with Daylight Saving Time, but some seem to go up. 

The studies of this - and there are a bunch of them - seem to be a wash at best.  Whether you love it or hate it - full disclosure, I love Daylight Saving Time more than anything.  The reasons that most of us think we have Daylight Saving Time, the reason that explains this wonderful thing that we do are generally all bunk. 

Joining us now is Michael Downing.  He is a creative writing professor and novelist and an insanely knowledgeable guy on the topic of Daylight Saving Time.  He‘s the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time”.  Michael, thank you very much for being here.  I‘m looking forward to talking with you about this. 

MICHAEL DOWNING, AUTHOR, “SPRING FORWARD”:  I‘m happy to join you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  I know that you are a novelist and a creative writing professor by trade.  What got you interested in this topic in particular? 

DOWNING:  It was really simple.  I was 45 years old.  I put my finger in the face of the clock one October and I thought, how am I serving American agriculture exactly? 

I‘ve grown up with the farmer myth and I thought, you know, there aren‘t many things I have been doing for this long that I don‘t understand.  And that was the beginning of the project.  I started to talk to friends and everyone had the same idea I had.  And we were all wrong, of course.  That‘s how the book began. 

MADDOW:  But what was the farmer myth and what‘s the truth about farmers and Daylight Saving Time? 

DOWNING:  I grew up like most Americans thinking that somehow we did daylight saving to help the farmers get the produce to market.  Well, it turned out, of course, farmers were the only Americans who really used morning sunlight.

So let‘s say it‘s 1916, and they‘ve got to get their crops harvested.  They need the sun to see them and the markets are going to open at 9:00 in the cities.  They‘ve got three hours to get that done. 

You pass a Daylight Saving Law and you turn the clocks forward.  Now, they have one less hour to do the same amount of work.  Farmers hated Daylight Saving Time.  It was terrible for them. 

MADDOW:  But what about the post farmer myth - or maybe it always existed alongside the farmer myth, and that‘s the idea that Daylight Saving Time saves energy.  This is something that I know was part of the reason, part of the discussion around the oil embargo in the ‘70s.  It‘s part of the justification for the modern extension of Daylight Saving Time.  What‘s the rationale and what‘s the truth? 

DOWNING:  The rationale is this - early in the 20th century William Willett, a Brit, noticed people were sleeping through the early sunrises with their curtains closed.  And he thought if you pushed the clocks forward and gave them an hour of sunlight in the evening, they would use it and not waste a natural resource. 

A few things changed over 100 years.  One was our consumption patterns and the way we produce electricity in this country.  There has been a 100-year effort to try to squeeze a drop of oil out of our clocks.  It has yet to work. 

Richard Nixon tried it during the oil embargo.  Notably, a long-time opponent of Daylight Saving Time, Richard Nixon got desperate during the embargo, turned to year-long daylight saving.  It was so unpopular and such a failure that within two months, he had to rescind the policy. 

Cut to 2005, the Energy Act.  Congress, again, its favorite energy saving proposition is daylight saving and there is a reason for that.  It doesn‘t ask Americans to conserve.  It has no direct cost to taxpayers so it‘s fantastically popular though it doesn‘t do a darn thing. 

MADDOW:  But around the 2005 change - because they voted on it in 2005 but it went into effect in 2007, right? 

DOWNING:  That‘s right. 

MADDOW:  They did a study by the Department of Energy that said extending Daylight Saving Time by a few weeks would save us - it was like 1.3 terawatts of electricity, that it would save us all of this electricity. 

Did they not account for other types of energy we would use more of?  Or do you dispute that we would actually save that electricity? 

DOWNING:  There are two things.  First of all, energy use is variable year to year, so there have been dozens of studies.  The most comprehensive study was in Indiana right after they adopted daylight saving which turned out that Indianans were paying about 8.6 million a year for daylight saving in energy costs. 

So there are different studies, but here‘s the most important thing that the Department of Energy didn‘t look at in their study and has never done a full study of.  Since 1930, the petroleum industry has known this - when Americans are given extra sunlight in the evening, it absolutely changes our habits. 

And we go to the ballpark and we go to the mall.  But Americans don‘t walk there, we drive.  Daylight saving reliably increases energy consumption by driving up gasoline usage.  So on the whole, it has been, for 100 years, an energy loser. 

MADDOW:  So you‘re bumming me out because I like Daylight Saving Time because I sleep late.  So I think it just makes me happier.  Do you actually think with all the things you have looked at - I‘m willing to believe that all of the rationales that have been offered for doing it are bunk. 

But I‘m still in favor of it because it makes me happy.  After all you have lifted to and all that you‘ve exposed about how much bunk there is in those rationales, do you think it should be abolished? 

DOWNING:  No.  I‘m a devoted fan of late summer evenings.  I love the beach.  I grew up in New England.  You know, you can‘t give me enough summer.  So I think this - I think it‘s a cynical substitute for real energy policy. 

It‘s a retail spending plan.  It definitely helps some small retail businesses.  And it has social benefits which we all enjoy.  Just stop selling it to us as an energy policy and give us something real as a way to conserve. 

MADDOW:  That is cogent and it makes sense and it doesn‘t bum me out, so let‘s leave it there. 

DOWNING:  That‘s all we ask. 

MADDOW:  Michael Downing is the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.”  I really, really appreciate your help with this.  Thanks a lot, Mr. Downing. 

DOWNING:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:   OK.  So the man who helped sell the Iraq war to the world is gainfully employed now, helping to sell the world the rehabilitation of Tiger Woods.  Can‘t make this stuff up.  The story‘s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  The tea party movement?  It‘s very, very August.  Make way for the coffee party movement or the coffee party at least, an attempt at civil political discourse with 100 percent fewer posters of Obama with a Hitler mustache drawn on.  That‘s coming up. 

And the world of cheese rolling is rocked by some shocking news.  That‘s ahead with our world cheese-rolling correspondent.  I think you can guess who that is.  That‘s coming up. 

But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  Did you hear today that they have arrested another American with alleged ties to al-Qaeda?  This time, it‘s a 26-year-old natural-born U.S. citizen from New Jersey, a man named Sharif Mobley. 

Authorities in Yemen say he was arrested this month in a security sweep of al-Qaeda suspects in Sana‘a, which is the capital city of Yemen.  The Yemeni embassy in Washington today says that while he was in custody in Yemen, the man complained this past weekend that he felt sick.

When he was taken to a hospital, he reportedly grabbed a gun off a security guard at the hospital, shot and killed one guard and shot an wounded another.  Mr. Mobley was then recaptured and we learned about his arrest today. 

There are three things to know about this.  Fist, he‘s accused of having links to the branch of al-Qaeda in Yemen, which is the group that‘s also linked to the Christmas Day failed underwear bomb attack. 

Second thing, like the kid in the underwear bomb attack and like Major Nadal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, this newly arrested American guy is also said to have been in contact with a man named Anwar al-Awlaki, who is a radical American cleric who lives somewhere in Yemen. 

He claims to be involved - there have been - these three different suspects have been said to be in contact with this man, and this man seems to have quite a rolodex. 

The final thing here that is important about this case is maybe the most worrying thing.  Did you see this headline today?  “Suspected Militant Worked at Nuclear Plants.” 

So in addition to being a U.S. citizen with a passport in touch with a radical cleric who seems to have inspired lots of attacks and attempted attacks on the United States, this guy appears to have worked at nuclear power plants here for at least six years. 

He worked at three nuclear plants in New Jersey as a relatively low level laborer.  The alleged al-Qaeda kid at the nuclear plant.  A law enforcement official telling the AP today that they think the nuclear plant job was unrelated to his alleged al-Qaeda job, so there‘s that. 

Sharif Mobley‘s father in New Jersey today was asked by reporters to comment on his son‘s arrest in Yemen.  He said, “I can tell you this - he‘s no terrorist.”  We will keep you posted on this case. 

And finally, unemployment in this country stands at about 10 percent.  Jobs are hard to come by.  So what do you do and where do you look for work if you‘re the guy who said this lie and had the misfortune of saying it on tape? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  There have been contacts between senior members of senior Iraqi officials and members of the al-Qaeda organization going back for quite a long time.  Iraq provided some trained al-Qaeda in chemical weapons development.  There are contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Where do you find work again if you‘re that guy, if you‘re that guy who looked people in the eye and lied like that and everybody knows it? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLEISCHER:  There is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical, particularly. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  If you‘re the guy who said that stuff, who told those lies over and over again, what do you do after that lying job?  How do you ever get another job?  How do you market yourself? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLEISCHER:  I think that if you look at the Iraqi people, the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly pleased with the fact that the United States has helped them to get rid of the Saddam Hussein regime.  That was clear from the dancing in the streets, from the way they tore down the statues. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Wait.  Who tore down the statues?  After his last job as White House Press Secretary, you may think that the only subsequent job available for Ari Fleischer was something like acting, something in fiction, right? 

But actually, after the press secretary for the Iraq War left Washington, he became a full-time paid proponent of using aluminum bats in Little League, that lovely ping sound instead of the crack of a real bat.  What a great sound, worth every concussion. 

After tackling that great noble cause, Ari Fleischer‘s second job post-White House is plotting media strategy for Tiger Woods. 

Mr. Woods has reportedly hired Mr. Fleischer to help him prepare for his return to golf which is expected soon.  It turns out I hear already that there were no affairs, no car crash and there is definitely no naked Tiger tape.  It was all some secret plot by some Arab golfer to make Tiger look bad.  Right now, he‘s invading.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  There is a countermovement to the tea partiers.  And if there is anything in a name, it is much stronger and it might stain your teeth.  The story of the coffee party and it thousands of members, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think people need to come together over a cup

of coffee, over something simple.  Coffee -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m doing coffee and common sense from a very nice lady who works at the Dew Drop Inn. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You don‘t have to fight to have a debate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That‘s part of a video pitch from the Coffee Party USA which is holding its first ever National Coffee Party Day tomorrow at hundreds of coffee shops across the country. 

The Coffee Party got its start last month when documentary filmmaker, Annabel Park decided she‘d had enough of all the hollering in politics, especially the tea party hollering.

So she posted the Facebook status update heard around the world, quote, “Let‘s start a coffee party, smoothie party, Red Bull party, anything but tea.  Geez.  How about a cappuccino party?  That would really make them mad because it sounds elitist.  Let‘s get together and drink cappuccino and have real political dialogue with substance and compassion.” 

When Annabel Park‘s idea really picked up steam, they did decide to go with calling it the Coffee Party.  People loved that Facebook update so much that Annabel Park, the next day, started a Facebook page.  It‘s grown to more than 120,000 members. 

And that page grew into a Web site that got 600,000 page views in its first week.  And all those clicks seem like they might be turning into maybe a movement.  The working slogan is “Wake up and stand up.” 

But stand up for what exactly?  The tea party movement on the right doesn‘t always seem to have an agenda that makes sense.  But we have heard from them how mad they are about communism and the fascism and the czars and stuff and the president secretly being foreign.  Whatever they‘re mad about, they‘re definitely mad. 

In contrast, here‘s what the Coffee Party says about their first ever National Coffee Party Day tomorrow.  The Coffee Party says they have no preexisting ideology. 

They just want folks to get together - get together tomorrow with your friends and neighbors within this idea of the Coffee Party and without hollering agree to name an issue that you think is important and you politely agree to write the name of your issue on a sign and you have to be willing to stand by the sign. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And you have to come to a consensus.  You have to create a sign that all of you would be willing to stand by.  If you have 60 people there, don‘t try to have 60 people agree on what to put on a poster. 

What will happen then is some people won‘t get a chance to speak and some walk away feeling silenced.  So break into groups of five or six. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Because five or six may be as many people as you can get to agree on anything this country right now.  I like polite.  I like polite very much.  But I‘m worried this is organizing idea is maybe going to produce a lot of little cliquish coffee klatches rather than a big Coffee Party. 

Joining us to politely discuss those worries with me, talk about the Coffee Party idea is Annabel Park.  Ms. Park, congratulations on your success so far.  Thanks for joining us tonight. 

ANNABEL PARK, COFFEE PARTY FOUNDER:  Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So can you explain both to me and everybody who is curious about the coffee party what‘s going to happen tomorrow? 

PARK:  Well, we‘re going to come together as a community.  We‘re going to sign a civility pledge.  And basically, we‘re going to leave our party affiliation at the door and meet each other as human beings, as individuals, fellow Americans, and see if we can come to a consensus and work on collaborating together. 

MADDOW:  And the idea of naming an issue - is it naming a proposed solution to an issue?  Or is it just picking an issue that you think is important? 

PARK:  Well, just for tomorrow, this is really the first step, right?  Because it‘s really - it‘s really about community building and practicing democracy. 

And we believe that the first step in the Democratic process is having an open dialogue, so tomorrow is really about that open dialogue.  And next step we‘re going to take is deliberation. 

So next time we meet, it‘s going to be a little bit more about decision-making.  And then, further down the road we are going to take collective action together. 

MADDOW:  OK. 

PARK:  So it‘s about taking the practice of democracy and basically showing our government this is what cooperation should look like. 

MADDOW:  So this is sort of almost a trust-building exercise, an effort to say, listen, we can at least agree that the process ought to be civil, that we ought to respect one another and come together in calm discussion.  Is that fair to say? 

PARK:  Yes.  I mean, I would say there are three things about the Coffee Party.  There‘s a need for civility.  There‘s a need for cooperation in government.  And it‘s also about affirming the American community, that we don‘t have to be so divided over our differences of opinion. 

MADDOW:  Let me give you a case study.  I think this is a fascinating idea.  So many people asked me what I think about it and what they ought to think about it.  And I think people are excited by this. 

But let me give you a case study.  I did an interview a year ago with Sen. Ben Nelson about the stimulus.  And Sen. Nelson argued to me that we needed the stimulus to be as efficient and effective as possible. 

And he said school construction was one of the single, most purely efficient economically stimulative things that you could ever do.  He also then said he wanted less school construction in the stimulus bill. 

I was flabbergasted. 

And to me the moral of the story was that sort of meeting Ben Nelson in the middle and cooperating with him on that one would be a bad thing to do because his argument was wrong.  It wasn‘t even internally consistent. 

Is it or would it be un-Coffee Party-ish to call Ben Nelson wrong on that, to say, “No, you can‘t participate in these talks.  We‘re not meeting you halfway.  You don‘t make sense”? 

PARK:  Yes.  I think that‘s in keeping with what we want.  We want real representation.  We want people to be, you know, sincere in their efforts to represent us.  So I mean, at this point, we‘re actually quite critical of the current government, especially in Congress. 

MADDOW:  Annabel Park, founder of the Coffee Party, good luck with tomorrow‘s event.  For my worry about the coffee klatch thing, you have assuaged my worry.  It seems like you‘re leaving it open in order to let people their own direction here. 

PARK:  Right.  We‘ll get back to you, Rachel.  I think you‘re going to be pleased. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Good.  I really look forward to it.  Thank you, Annabel.  Good luck tomorrow. 

PARK:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  OK.  From the political metaphor of coffee to cheese - not as a metaphor for anything, not “Who Moved the Cheese,” “Cheese Stands Alone,” blah, blah.  Just actual cheese.  Really important news about cheese.  Cheese and sports.  Cheese sports, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  One unexpected thing that I learned when I got a TV show is that every show, everyone, even game shows and everything, they all have to have a dairy sports correspondent. 

Because we are required to, like everybody else, we have dairy sports correspondent.  And of course it‘s Kent Jones.  Hi, Kent. 

KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Rachel.  You know, I have a story that‘s going to shock and sadden, I believe, the entire world of British dairy sports right now. 

MADDOW:  Oh, wow.  This is heavy. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over):  The Super Bowl of cheese rolling has been canceled.  This year‘s event at Cooper‘s Hill in Gloucestershire has been nixed because 16,000 fans mobbed last year‘s event, more than three times what the site could handle.  Now, the organizers have safety and security issues.  Apparently, chasing cheese is the next big thing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s become to popular and we‘ve got to find some way to reduce the numbers turning up to make it safe. 

JONES:  Safety?  Please, what could possibly go wrong when a gaggle of lagered-up Brits fall halfway down hillside chasing a seven pound wheel of Double Gloucester which can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.  And for what?  So the winner can keep the cheese.  Score. 

Now, no one is sure exactly when this tradition began, but they‘ve been at it for at least 200 years.  One historian suggests the sport began this way. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, Mike, you want to chase a wheel of cheese down the hill? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  All right. 

JONES:  The organizers of the Cooper‘s Hill cheese roll say they are keen to resolve the security issues and stage a glorious return in 2011.  So here‘s looking forward to next year when no one will be tempted to cut the cheese, so to speak.  I‘m very sorry. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW:  Can‘t talk about cheese without talking about cutting it, can we, Kent?  Can we?  I‘d like to wear a gorilla suit, everything.  “COUNTDOWN” starts right now.  We‘ll see you again Monday night.  Have a great weekend.

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

END   

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