The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/23/10
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks very much.
And thanks to you at home for joining us.
Tonight, the Republican Party tries some novel strategies to score
political points on the issue of health reform—even as their opposition
of the bill fails to stop it from becoming law.
Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Senator Amy Klobuchar of
Minnesota both join us.
Also, the congressman who admits to screaming “baby killer” on the
floor of the House apologizes for having done that and then immediately
tries to fundraise off the fact that he did it.
Another Texas congressman proposes ending your right to vote for your
United States senator.
And Senator Scott Brown‘s best available fundraising weapon turns out
to be a big surprise. Apparently, Senator Scott Brown‘s best available
fundraising weapon—is me. He‘s trying to raise money using me. And
that very strange story tonight will make me a guest on my own show for the
first time ever.
That‘s all coming up.
But we begin tonight with an historic day in Washington. Today,
President Barack Obama did what generations of presidents before him only
dreamed of doing. He put his pen to legislation which officially made
health reform the law of the land.
Mr. Obama, today, joined by a huge audience of Democratic members of
Congress and a celebratory ceremony marking a year‘s worth of legislative
wrangling and nearly a century‘s worth of legislative aspiration finally
Vice President Joe Biden, in particular today, allowed his excitement
to show when he swore a little too close to an open microphone while
congratulating the president on the enormity of this accomplishment.
That was what was going on above the surface in politics today. This
hugely consequential legislative win, an accomplishment that will part of
paragraph one definition of Barack Obama‘s presidency no matter what else
he does in this term or even in a potential second term. That‘s what‘s
going on. That is the huge news going on above the surface, visibly, in
American politics right now.
What‘s going on below the surface in American politics is something
very different. Last night on this show, we reported on three separate
incidents across the country in which it seems that people opposed to
health reform abandoned the debate over this issue and decided instead to
express their opposition to health reform through violence and
intimidation. We described last night incidents at two Democratic Party or
Democratic-elected official offices in New York State and one in Arizona.
All three of them were attacked over the weekend.
Today, we are updating our reporting on what‘s turning out to be a
much more serious story. It turns out it wasn‘t just the three incidents
we described last night. It was more.
Here‘s what we know: Sometime on Friday, a brick was thrown through a
window of Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter‘s district office in
Niagara Falls, New York. Also, late on Friday or possibly early on
Saturday, another brick was thrown through a window at the Sedgwick County
Democratic Party office in Wichita, Kansas. That brick was reported to
have anti-Obama—anti-Obama and anti-health reform messages on it.
A day later, on Saturday or early Sunday, another brick shattered
glass doors at the Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, New York.
Shortly after the health reform vote on Sunday, a fist-sized rock was
reportedly thrown through the front window of the Hamilton County
Democratic Party in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio.
And at 2:40 a.m. on Monday morning, a few hours after the health care
vote, the front door and glass panel were smashed out at Democratic
Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford‘s office in Tucson, Arizona.
So, compiling all those, it‘s Niagara Falls, New York, Rochester, New
York, Pleasant Ridge, Ohio, Wichita, Kansas and Tucson, Arizona. Five
separate attacks on Democratic Party offices in the span of four days.
Since the initial reports we have also learned that the FBI is now
investigating threats reportedly left at Congresswoman Louise Slaughter‘s
campaign office—a recorded message reportedly threatening to assassinate
the children of lawmakers who voted yes on health reform. Again, the FBI
is now reportedly investigating that reported death threat against Louise
We can also now show you what was used to smash out the glass door at
that Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, New York. That brick had
a note wrapped around it which reads, quote, “exremism in defense of
liberty is no device.” Presuming they meant extremism and not exremism,
which is what they wrote, the brick wielder appears to have been, quoting
conservative U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater when he accepted the Republican
Party‘s nomination for president in 1964.
In last night‘s report on this show on some of those incidents, we
said that nobody yet had taken responsibility for any of those incidents.
That‘s the one thing that I said in reporting on this last night, that I
would have most guessed wouldn‘t change over 24 hours. Well, that‘s
The Rochester Democrat and “Chronicle” newspaper reporting that after
their initial story on the attack on the Monroe County Democratic office,
somebody did contact the newspaper to happily claim credit for that
incident. His name is Mike Vanderboegh. He‘s the former leader of a group
called the Alabama Constitutional Militia. Mr. Vanderboegh has been
advocating specifically that people throw bricks through the windows of
Democratic Party headquarters all around the country and he wants credit
apparently whenever anyone follows his advice.
On his blog last week, Mr. Vanderboegh wrote an anti-Democrat
manifesto that included this call to action: “We can break their windows
before we have to resort to rifles to resist their ‘well intentioned‘
tyranny. These windows are not far away from where you are reading this
right now. In virtually every city and county in this land, there is a
local headquarters of Pelosi‘s party—the Democrat party. These
headquarters invariably have windows.
So, if you wish to send a message that Pelosi and her party cannot
fail to hear, break their windows. Break them now. Break them and run to
Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break
them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience.
Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with
baseball bats. But break them.
The time has come to take your life, your liberty and that of your
children and grandchildren into your own two hands and act. It is after
all more humane than shooting them in self-defense.
If we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands
of Democrat—excuse me—Democrat party headquarters across this
country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves
at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary. Break their windows. Break them
Mr. Vanderboegh made this solicitation from Pinson, Alabama. It‘s a
suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, where he resides and from where he expounds
in great detail online all about the federal government‘s secret plot to
assert control over your life and then kill you.
It‘s worth nothing that Mr. Vanderboegh is an ex-militia guy who is
anti-government enough to call for this type of crime and physical
intimidation targeting politicians. He‘s anti-government enough to promote
this sort of thing and claim credit for it. He is not so anti-government
however that he is turning down the Social Security disability insurance
checks that the “Montgomery Advertiser” reports that he lives on.
Maybe he could throw a rock through his government check and see how
that goes over at the bank.
Mr. Vanderboegh‘s efforts to inspire violent action around the country
apparently derived from his belief that he leads millions of people who
think the same things he does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE VANDERBOEGH, FORMER MILITIA LEADER: We are 3 percent of American
gun owners. That‘s the muzzles of 3 million rifles who can be, if
required, pointed directly at the hearts of anyone who wants to be a tyrant
in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Define tyrant, mister.
Mr. Vanderboegh from his vantage point in Pinson, Alabama, is also
calling on like-minded anti-government people to prepare themselves for a
new civil war.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VANDERBOEGH: Folks, you need to be getting ready. You need to be
forming neighborhood defense organizations. You need to be looking to your
larders. You need to be looking to your—to your arsenals.
You need to be looking to your physical fitness. You need to be
looking toward your neighbors and who can you count on, and how do you—
how do you build small fire teams and things like that. These are the
things that you must be doing now because events will overtake you if you
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: While claiming credit for the recent attacks on Democratic
offices around the country, Mr. Vanderboegh offered this not very veiled
threat today during a radio interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VANDERBOEGH: There are rifles being cleaned right now. Do you folks
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being what? Claimed from where?
VANDERBOEGH: There are rifles being taken out of the closet and
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Organized attacks on Democratic Party offices across the
country are crimes that are designed to intimidate political actors into
changing their policies. And that is pretty close to the legal definition
of domestic terrorism in this country.
Mr. Vanderboegh, however, is comfortable with that. He wants this
attention quite desperately. He obviously can‘t claim credit for bricks
that flew or threats made before he made his blog post. And who knows if
he‘s just tooting his horn to try to get famous.
But it should be noted that he is tied into a somewhat organized
movement. He is a featured speaker at a forthcoming event, the Restore the
Constitution Open-Carry Rally. This is a gun rights rally scheduled for
April 19th at Fort Hunter National Park in Virginia.
Why Fort Hunter National Park? Well, according to the rally‘s
organizers, they believe that is the closest location to Washington, D.C.
in which they can legally, openly carry their firearms.
Again, what these people are doing is very explicit. They‘re trying
to get publicity. They admit that they are just trying to get media
But their other goal is to try to intimidate the political process in
this country. Because they can‘t get people to do what they want through
the voting process, they are instead using guns as a means of intimidating
our national politics and their fellow citizens along the way.
This gun theme has been a very consistent threat over the past year.
You might remember this tea party protest sign that we kept seeing lots of
different events over the past year, “We came unarmed (this time).”
Remember all the people showing up at politics events last summer with
guns strapped to their side. You might remember the guy in New Hampshire
who showed up at one of President Obama‘s town hall events brandishing a .9
millimeter pistol and he had the t-shirt on with the quote—excuse me—
the sign with a quote on it about “replenishing the Tree of Liberty with
This gun fervor that we‘ve seen, this effort to intimidate through the
show of force carried on this past weekend in the lead-up to the big health
reform vote. This sign appeared right outside the Capitol dome, warning if
Brown, as in Senator Scott Brown, can‘t stop it, a Browning can.
And the armed and dangerous theme isn‘t just in the streets and at the
protests. It‘s now the vernacular by which supposedly mainstream
conservative politicians address their followers now. Sarah Palin tweeted
to her followers today, quote, “Commonsense conservatives and lovers of
America: ‘Don‘t retreat, and instead—reload.‘ Please see my Facebook
What she was directing people to on her Facebook page was this message
from her political action committee. Twenty Democratic congressional
districts that she says she‘s targeting with rifle scopes images over each
There‘s one other thing to note here about what‘s going on at the edge
of politics and why this is a big deal. The big “show your guns” rally
that‘s going to happen on April 19th, where the “throw the bricks through
the windows of Democratic Party headquarters” guy is going to be speaking,
the list of the speaker at that event.
That event is symbolic also in its timing. April 19th isn‘t just some
convenient date for these folks to get together. It‘s not just a random
Monday in April. We mentioned before that Mike Vanderboegh is a former
militia member, former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia back in
the ‘90s, which was sort of a heyday for the patriot movement, the militia
movement, gun rights movement in this country.
Well, April 19th is like Christmas Day for the militia movement,
overshadowing the fact that it was the first day of the American
Revolution, the Battle of Lexington and Concord. For them, it‘s also the
anniversary of the Branch Davidian Siege in Waco, Texas, in 1993 – which
these groups see as a call to arms against the American government. It is
not a coincidence that April 19th is also the day that Timothy McVeigh
deliberately chose for his bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in
April 19th, that‘s when the guest speaker is “throw bricks through
political office windows” guy at the “bring your guns to Washington” rally.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown was elected to replace
Senator Ted Kennedy early this year. And he promptly became a national
Republican Party rock star. As a national Republican Party rock star,
Senator Brown decided the best way for him to raise money is by using me.
I am the subject of Senator Brown‘s latest fundraising campaign.
I know a lot of weird things happen to me in my life. This is right
up there—right up there.
MADDOW: This is what it looks like when a state attorney general gets
famous. At least this is one way to be famous as a state attorney general.
What you are looking at here are protesters at Virginia‘s George Mason
University. They are protesting their State Attorney General Ken
Cuccinelli who was speaking at an event at George Mason inside.
When Virginia‘s new governor, Bob McDonnell, was elected in November,
the Republican Party treated him as their hope for the party‘s future, a
candidate with instant national stature. Someone who they said maybe could
appeal to moderates, not apparently because of anything he did or stood
for, but I guess because he looks very moderate or something.
Since taking office in January, Governor McDonnell and his attorney
general, Mr. Cuccinelli, have worked hand-in-hand to drag Virginia back,
back, back out of the 21st century. Between them, they have rolled back
protections against discrimination against state workers. The attorney
general has tried to force public colleges and universities in the state to
drop their own anti-discrimination policies. Then they made sure that
same-sex partners of state workers could not get health benefits in
Virginia. And now, they are teaming up to kill health reform for rest of
Mr. Cuccinelli at least seems to really intent on getting famous for
these activities. Beyond the lawsuit filed by 13 other state attorneys
general over federal health reform, Mr. Cuccinelli in Virginia has decided
to file his own lawsuit for which he has sat and received lot and lots of
press attention, and he‘s doing this with the full-backing—guess who—
his partner in turning back time, Governor Bob McDonnell.
The relationship between the governor and an attorney general in the
state is sometimes funny, sometimes prickly, sometimes fascinating. It is
fascinating in the case of the relationship between Pennsylvania Governor
Ed Rendell and his state‘s attorney general, Tom Corbett.
Get this—Mr. Corbett, the Pennsylvania attorney general, today
signed Pennsylvania on to that multistate lawsuit against health reform
even though the governor of Pennsylvania, Mr. Rendell, is totally opposed
to what Mr. Corbett is doing. It must make for interesting cabinet
Joining us now is Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
Governor Rendell, it‘s nice to see you. Thanks for your time.
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Hi, Rachel.
I was listening to your story and I happened to be on another network
as the vote was being taken. And when I got off the network, the
governor‘s residence in Harrisburg was bombarded with calls attacking me
for supporting the health care bill, bitching because I was smiling as the
bill passed, and suggesting that I had performed some obscene acts on
myself and others. It was a very—the trooper on duty had a very
But it‘s pretty shocking what is going on. And Tom Corbett is
And let me start out by saying I like Tom Corbett. We have a pretty
good working relationship. He‘s a good lawyer—and he‘s too good of a
lawyer to have filed this suit, because any good lawyer knows that federal
the federal Supremacy Clause dominates here.
We don‘t have separate passports. Each state doesn‘t have separate
passport. Each state doesn‘t have separate immigration laws. There are
some things that the federal government has the absolute power to do. This
is one of them.
So, this is a total waste of taxpayers‘ money. It‘s totally done for
political purposes. And as I said, Tom Corbett is too good a lawyer to
have joined this suit.
MADDOW: When you say that he is doing it for political purposes, I
know that Mr. Corbett is running for the Republican nomination for
governor. Is he not—do you think this is about his primary fight to try
to run for governor?
RENDELL: Well, he doesn‘t really have a major primary opponent. He‘s
a very active state representative running against somebody who has no
money. Tom is a slam dunk to be the Republican nominee—and frankly, at
this stage, probably the favorite to become the next governor.
But he‘s always been a fairly moderate person in his approach to
things. And again, he‘s too good a lawyer to file this suit.
And I will tell you that I think this tactic that the Republicans are
taking, filing the suits, people promising, former Congressmen Toomey came
out today and said he vowed to repeal the health care reform act. As you
said, I think last night, they‘d have to pick up 113 seats to have the
power to repeal the health care reform act to be veto-proof. It‘s not
going to happen.
They are looking, I think, mean-spirited and irrational. Do they
really want to reform the rule that says that you cannot be denied health
care if you have a pre-existing condition? Do they want to take that back?
Do they want to repeal that? Do they want to repeal the rule that says
your health care company can‘t drop you if you become sick?
I think the Republican should think again about this strategy because
I think this is a strategy that could turn what looks like a good year for
them into a pretty bad year.
MADDOW: I wonder what you think about the specific—the specific
thing you‘ve identified there which is the futility of this. It‘s—
nobody really, I think, seriously thinks that any of these lawsuits, either
the one in Virginia or the one that your attorney general in Pennsylvania
has joined—nobody thinks these suits are going to go anywhere. It seems
sort of like an open and shut constitutional case. They do seem like
they‘re just for show.
Same with the repeal. Even if repeal was wildly popular, it‘s not
just going to happen. Numerically, these are futile cases that they are
And so, in the political calculus there, why do you run on something
like this that you know you‘re never going to achieve?
RENDELL: Because it feeds the base. And as far as the lawsuits are
concerned, I wouldn‘t care very much about the lawsuits because they are
futile, except they waste taxpayers‘ dollars. And there are petition
drives like you said in Virginia.
There‘s a petition drive in Pennsylvania. People who were signing a
petition to urge Attorney General Corbett not to go forward with this
futile suit and not to waste taxpayers‘ dollars. And I hope he listens.
As I said, Tom Corbett is a very decent guy. He‘s been a moderate
before. He doesn‘t need to do this to win the primary. He‘s pretty home
But I think the Republicans are making a big mistake. I think the
mean-spiritedness—I happened to be on the air and listened to the every
minute of the Boehner speech and the Pelosi speech, and that mean-
spiritedness, the American people don‘t like that. They don‘t like that.
Even if they agree with substantively, they don‘t want mean-spiritedness in
politics. They don‘t want extremism in the way you express yourself.
I think it‘s going to backfire dramatically. And in a sad way, it‘s
the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic Party. But it‘s a sad
commentary on the state of politics in the country.
MADDOW: Governor, did you lobby? Did you call members of Congress
and try to encourage them to vote for this? In pure political terms, not
in terms of the policy, but how do you make the political argument to
members of Congress when you know, in some cases, that this is going to be
a difficult vote for them?
RENDELL: Well, I said basically two things, Rachel. Number one, I
said, look, I‘m going to support you whatever you do, you know? I know
this is a difficult decision for you. My support is not contingent when
you‘re voting one way or the other.
But I said, number one, this is good policy. And as people understand
what‘s in this act, it‘s going to become more and more popular between now
And, number two, hey, all of us and I‘m an elected official and I‘ve
lost two elections, all of us got elected to do something. And if we‘re
going to lose, let‘s lose doing something that‘s going to change the fate
of 32 million Americans. There are some things that are risking and losing
about. And that‘s why we‘re here, to do something, to change people‘s
lives, to protect the most vulnerable citizens, to give people opportunity.
So, go ahead. Don‘t be afraid. If you lose, you‘re losing for the
best of all possible reasons.
MADDOW: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, thank you for your time
tonight, sir. I really appreciate it.
RENDELL: Thanks, Rachel.
So, the scariest thing you can say right now about the fate of a piece
of any legislation is: and now, it goes to the Senate. Dysfunction
junction, next stop. Our guest is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: The president signed sweeping health reform legislation into
law today. But the job still is not quite done. The Senate promised the
House that a majority of senators would vote to pass a package of fixes to
the health reform bill, fixes that the House demanded as a condition of
their passing the Senate‘s version of health reform.
In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he has a letter signed
by 52 Senate Democrats who have all agreed to pass those fixes through the
budget reconciliation process. That‘s the process that‘s underway right
now. The debate over those House fixes kicked off in the Senate this
And if, indeed, Senator Reid has those 52 votes, it should be just a
matter of time before the fixes are passed and health reform is totally,
completely, once and for all, or at least once until next time, done. It
is essentially inevitable if he‘s really got those 52 votes. Health reform
is already law and the House fixes, those tweaks, will soon become law as
However, Republicans are still taking every opportunity they can to
show themselves off as very opposed to health reform. As such, they are
all very excited about their Senate strategy for obstructing any further
Republicans in the Senate know that they‘re going to lose on this
issue essentially. But they‘ve decided that they want to look good losing.
They want to stake their reputation and their image as a party and being
seen opposing health reform every single step of the way no matter how
They‘ve decided to flood the Senate with amendments to this
package of House fixes. The problem is that when you combine futility with
desperate showiness, you tend to get awkward results.
Case in point, it‘s time for the Republicans‘ last stand against
health reform now. They want all eyes on them. It‘s time to unleash the
amendments. They really want to be seen doing this.
So who among them leads the charge at this critical moment when
they want the nation‘s attention on them as they demonstrate their
continued opposition on health reform even in the face of certain defeat?
Who is first up from the Republicans in this moment in the sun?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DAVID VITTER (R-VA): This fight is not over by a long shot.
I‘ll be on the floor regularly all this week fighting the separate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I can‘t tell you how happy Democrats are about that. For
some reason, it‘s Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and D.C. madam phone list
fame who has been given the privilege of introducing the first two symbolic
Republican stall tactics show-off amendments to the reconciliation package.
One of them is a repeal-the-bill thing, which, of course, in the
near term would mean letting insurance companies deny kids health coverage
because of preexisting conditions. Good luck selling that one.
The other amendment that Sen. Vitter introduced was about ACORN.
Seriously, that was the second amendment he introduced. It‘s an amendment
aimed at prohibition on funding for ACORN which, you might have heard,
doesn‘t really exist anymore.
That is the Republicans‘ big high-profile rollout of their last
ditch anti-health reform strategy. That is what they want America to see
them doing because they think it makes them look great. Sen. Vitter, lead
the way against ACORN or whatever.
Joining us now is Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota.
Sen. Klobuchar, it is very nice to have you back on the program. Thank you
for being here.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, thank you, Rachel. I do want to
recall - what was it that you called us? That I‘m live from dysfunction
junction? That was really - a nice way to introduce me. Thank you.
MADDOW: Do you deny that the Senate is where legislation goes to die
KLOBUCHAR: Could I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that in the last month, we passed
that major jobs package, remember, actually, with was some bipartisan
support. We‘ve got the FAA reauthorization props which may sound small,
which is actually a big deal for getting our air traffic modernized.
So we are starting to get some things done here in a big way.
And you will see a big thing this week with health care. As you pointed
out, they are going to delay and obstruct every step of the way.
You can call it the voter-rama-drama. And it will be going on
into the night. But our people, despite what you may poke fun at us, we
will not waiver and we will get it done.
You saw this in December when we got every single one of us
together to vote for that bill. And you can‘t actually say that about the
House. But Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, our leadership were able to unite our
caucus on that bill and you‘re going to see that again as we go forward.
And we are going to be hit with difficult amendments. But the
most important thing is to get health care done for the people of this
country. I was just looking at our letters in the office to kind of get me
going and inspire me for this week.
And the one that always sticks out for me is a woman who wrote
from Bemidji, Minnesota named Sherry. And she was writing for her
daughter, Mickey. She said, “Mickey just called me,” her words. She said,
“Mickey was sobbing so hard I couldn‘t hear what she said. She said her
husband‘s company just cut them off of their health insurance. It is a
small business. They couldn‘t afford it.”
She said, “And here‘s the deal.” She said, “My daughter, Mickey,
has cystic fibrosis and she won‘t be able to get insurance anymore.” And
then, she said, “She has been fighting her whole life and we need someone
to fight for her. We need to get this done.”
And so all of us that go to the floor this week that have to vote
on these just horrific amendments that are just meant to really hurt us
politically, are meant to delay things, are going to have one thing for our
guiding light, and that‘s the people of this country that need health care
but also people who have health care that see it getting astronomically
I wanted to put these costs under control and make it more
affordable, something in Minnesota that had been than my major focus from
the beginning on this bill. And as you know, half the bill is about our
cost control and it reduces the deficit by $130 billion in the first 10
years. And that‘s what we‘ll be focused on.
MADDOW: Senator, let me ask you about one - it‘s not altogether
procedural. It‘s about whether or not these fixes are actually going to
pass. I know the idea originally was that Senate would pass the House
fixes exactly as is. So after the Senate bill, health reform would go to
the president and will really and truly be done including this package
that‘s still pending.
Sen. Baucus said today there might be a few changes to the
reconciliation package in the Senate. That would mean it would have to go
back to the House again which opens up a whole other can of worms, takes
this out for longer and also opens it up to more of these Republican
delaying tactics in both houses. Do you think that will happen? Are you
worried about that?
KLOBUCHAR: You always have to worry about that. But really, the hope
here is to not have that happen, to pass this bill pure. We have made some
major fixes in this bill that needed to be made.
From the left to the right people agree that that Nebraska deal
should get out of there. And that is what one the major fixes is. It‘s to
extend the same benefits to the people of this country, some of the changes
to the excise tax and some other things that were necessary to be made.
So from the Senate perspective, we are simply taking a bill that
had some very good things in it and making it better, making these
improvements, fixing the bill. And that is what reconciliation is about.
And as you have done so beautifully done on your program many
times pointed out, reconciliation is something that has been used 22 times,
16 times by Republican Congresses. And it just gives you an ability to fix
MADDOW: Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, thank you for your time
tonight. It‘s been too long since we had you on the show. And I promise
not to use the dysfunction junction thing next time.
KLOBUCHAR: It was a nice rhyme, I have to tell you.
MADDOW: I‘ll use the voter-rama one next time, OK?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I gave you one - voter-rama-drama.
MADDOW: Thank you, Senator.
MADDOW: OK. Super-conservative Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is
famous in THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW officers because he is the guy who once
made an overt toilet joke about the health reform bill. We like bathroom
humor. But the good Congressman has one upped even himself now. That‘s
MADDOW: Still ahead, Sen. Scott Brown is already raising money for
re-election by blasting his presumed Democratic opponent for Massachusetts
Senate, someone I know really, really well. In just a few minutes, watch
me get dragged into the political arena kicking, screaming, et cetera.
And later on in the show, carbo rating at The Last Supper. That
is all coming up. Stay with us.
But first a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.
When Congressman “You Lie” Joe Wilson screamed at President Obama during a
joint address to Congress last year, what did you think the effect of that
outburst would be on Joe Wilson‘s career?
Congressman Wilson‘s outburst was widely criticized by everyone
in mainstream politics. But on the far right, Joe Wilson became a hero.
He became a hero for screaming at the president during the joint
congressional session from the floor of Congress.
And that lesson, apparently, has not gone unnoticed by the
latest, very conservative member of Congress who had shrieked out an
epithet at the top of his lungs in the middle of someone else‘s speech in
This time, it‘s Texas Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer who
now admits that it was he who screamed the words “baby killer” at
Congressman Bart Stupak during the House votes on health reform on Sunday
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those who were shouting out are out of order.
REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER (R-TX): Baby killer!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Common wisdom holds that the person who screamed “baby
killer” in Congress would look back on the incident with regret, that he or
she would be embarrassed. That common wisdom would be totally wrong.
Congressman Neugebauer now looking back on that incident and trying to use
it to raise money for himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEUGEBAUER: Hello. I‘m Randy Neugebauer and this is my wife, Dana.
Last night a very historic vote took place on the floor of the House of
Representatives. Not only did we see the government take over your health
care, but we saw the lives of unborn children used as a bargaining chip to
get to somehow get the needed votes to pass this legislation.
I feel very passionately because I believe what was going on was
not right for America. You know what? I‘m never going to quit speaking on
behalf of the unborn. I‘m never going to quit speaking on the behalf of
the people of Texas and the people of the United States of America that
find this policy up acceptable.
And I will continue to speak with the same passion that I spoke
last night, maybe with a little bit different form but still, with the same
I want to thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support.
But more importantly, I want to thank you for the opportunity and honor of
representing you in the United States Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “I‘m Randy Neugebauer, and if you want more screaming ‘baby
killer‘ on the House floor, you can donate right here. Oh, and also, I‘m
really sorry for the screaming.”
The Congressman “vote for me, I‘m the screaming baby killer on
the House Floor” Randy Neugebauer is not the only member of the Texas
delegation who is making news today. There is also Louie Gohmert.
Louie Gohmert is the congressman genius enough to combine his
vitriolic fervor against health reform with a theme of deservedly very
popular children‘s book. It is hard to make health reform fit the plot of
this book, but if anyone can do it, Louie Gohmert can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIS GOHMERT (R-TX): This should not be passed by anyone unless
they eat it. If they eat it, then I‘m in favor of them passing it.
Otherwise, don‘t pass it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The recap - if you eat it, you can pass it. It took me all
day to practice saying that without turning as beet red as I am right now
and losing my composure.
Since his “go ahead, eat it and then pass it” contribution to the
health reform debate, Mr. Gohmert has decided that the democratically-
elected Senate voting for health reform is the actual problem.
His proposed solution is that we don‘t democratically-elect
senators anymore. Louie Gohmert is proposing now to repeal the 17th
Amendment of the Constitution so state legislatures would just pick
senators from here on out instead of letting the regular citizen riffraff
in the states choose their own senators by voting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: The 17th Amendment took out the last check and balance on
usurpation of states‘ rights. It‘s time to get the balance back in place.
We have 39 states upset, wanting to do something and not have another
unfunded federal mandate coming down their throats.
This will do it. Let‘s get an amendment that gets the balance
back into the country and the Constitution before this Congress destroys
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In other words, take the 17th Amendment to the Constitution,
chew on it for a while, swallow, allow it to travel through the narrow
passage of the legislative process where it will be broken down into
smaller constitutional molecules, wait between 24 and 72 hours and then
dump it out.
Then and only then will you have a real Louie Gohmert-style
democracy where democratically-elected legislators never again take
majority votes in favor of something they campaign to do.
MADDOW: Sen. Scott Brown is my senator in Massachusetts and I
apparently am his fundraiser against my will. Extraordinary measures will
be taken to correct this situation right here, next.
MADDOW: For the first and probably the last time, I hereby recuse
myself from hosting this segment.
BILL WOLF, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Good evening. Good evening I‘m Bill
Wolf, the executive producer and one-time-only proxy host of THE RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW block in a moment, a very special guest.
Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts is not up for re-election until
2012, but he‘s taking nothing about his extraordinary popularity or
perceived mega-power in the U.S. Senate for granted.
For fully two-and-a-half years out from his next election, Sen.
Brown has begun raising money in earnest. And to motivate his base, he
chose the single most frightening potential opponent that the Democratic
Party could produce, a possibility so disastrous in its consequences as to
scare cash money right out of Massachusetts wallets and into Sen. Scott
Brown‘s war chest.
Who or what could instill that sort of populist mania? TV‘s
Rachel Maddow. Maddow hosts an hour of cable news on MSNBC weeknights at
9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 Central, 7:00 Mountain, 6:00 Pacific.
And Sen. Brown sent this urgent communique to potential campaign
donors in the base saying, quote, “Friends, the political machine in
Massachusetts is looking for someone to run against me. And you are not
going to believe who they are supposedly trying to recruit, liberal MSNBC
anchor Rachel Maddow.”
“Rachel lives in Western Massachusetts and recently, it was
reported that the chairman of the state Democratic Party had apparently
tried to reach out to her in an attempt to coax her into a race against
“The Democratic Party bosses in Massachusetts want a rubber stamp
who will vote for their plans to expand government, increase debt and raise
taxes, someone like Rachel Maddow. I‘m sure she‘s a nice person. I just
don‘t think America can afford her liberal politics. Rachel Maddow has a
nightly platform to push her far-left agenda. What about you?”
Though it‘s not entirely clear, Sen. Brown‘s rationale for
playing the Maddow card, as it‘s known, likely derives from this tweet by
Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh on March 5th.
Quote, “Some of you - some are talking about you running versus
Brown in ‘12. I‘m the chair of MA Dem Party.”
Mr. Walsh did not specify who “you” was in that tweet, though
there was Internet speculation that he meant Rachel Maddow. Of course, in
the world of fundraising for reelection campaign for statewide office,
anything about which some are talking is presumed to be absolutely true, as
is everything on Twitter, an all Internet speculation.
Joining me now in studio for the interview is the host of MSNBC‘s
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, the Rachel Maddow. Rachel, thanks for making time
MADDOW: I didn‘t know I was going to be the interview. That‘s
WOLF: We have you, yes. And we appreciate you making time. We know
you‘re busy at this time of night. But first, the obvious question - in
his E-mail to supporters, he says, “I‘m sure she‘s a nice person.” Is Sen.
Brown right? Are you a nice person?
MADDOW: I am a bewildered person.
MADDOW: I have to say, you know, supposedly - not just the Democratic
Party supposedly try to recruit Maddow. It was reported that they‘re
trying to recruit her. Why didn‘t they just call and ask me if it was true
before sending out the fundraising letter?
WOLF: Let me take this opportunity to clear some things up.
WOLF: To what degree is the machine, Democratic machine in
Massachusetts, recruiting you to be the Democratic candidate for Senate in
MADDOW: If they are doing so, it‘s a silent invisible machine that
hasn‘t yet contacted me through any means.
WOLF: That happens more often than you think. Oh, yes.
MADDOW: I mean, there‘s a Facebook page.
MADDOW: My friend, Bill, did it, I think, as a joke.
WOLF: A different friend Bill.
MADDOW: A different friend Bill.
MADDOW: No, I mean, actually there‘s a Facebook page, but there‘s a
Facebook page for a lot of things.
WOLF: Oh, yes.
MADDOW: If that‘s the basis for famous Sen. Scott Brown making me the
fundraising pitch, that - it surprises me about him.
WOLF: So is there any chance whatsoever that you are running for
Senate in 2012.
MADDOW: You know me well enough, Bill, for you to be able to answer
this question. What do I think about my current job?
WOLF: She‘s left some wiggle room, folks.
MADDOW: No, I have the best job in the world. I‘m not running for
office. I never said I would run for office. Nobody has asked me to run
for office. Scott Brown didn‘t ask me if I was planning on running for
office before he decided to write a fundraising letter using my name to
raise money for him.
MADDOW: Well, it‘s completely made up by him.
WOLF: What‘s most interesting to people on the staff is that you are
the scariest possibility he could think of.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly. I mean, you think about -
MADDOW: You think about all of the things that he has to run on.
MADDOW: The fear of Rachel Maddow is what he‘s raising money on in
Massachusetts, “Massachusetts donors, open your wallets. Maddow is
WOLF: Sounds like an effective campaign.
WOLF: Quickly, any plans for your non-campaign or non-candidacy that
you can tell us.
MADDOW: Yes. Actually - Julie, are you here? We‘ve made a t-shirt
so far. It says, “I‘m raising money for my nude model U.S. Senator right
now. Ask me how.”
WOLF: Oh, that‘s very grassroots.
MADDOW: We only have one so far, but we‘re thinking about branching
WOLF: Well, that‘s fantastic.
MADDOW: Thank you, Julia.
WOLF: Thank you very much, Julia. Excellently done. We‘re going to
put something extra in your non-check. Rachel Maddow, you are the host of
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, every night - every weeknight here on MSNBC. We‘re
all big fans of the show. We sure appreciate you taking the time to be
here with us.
MADDOW: This is so weird. Thanks, Bill.
WOLF: I find it to be extremely weird as well. Coming up on
“COUNTDOWN” - I guess this is my job. Sarah Palin‘s violent rhetoric when
it comes to health reform.
And next on this show, Rachel Maddow returns to the host position,
thank god, to explain how - thanks to President Obama‘s 22 different pens,
you can know more about exactly what you eat. Stay with us, I implore you.
MADDOW: One lesser-known part of the health reform bill that
President Obama signed into law this morning requires restaurants with 20
or more locations nationwide to display nutritional information on their
That means you‘ll be able to see the exact number of calories in
that burger or pizza, or extra super-ginormous really quite large bubbly
drink before you order it and put it in your mouth.
New York restaurants have already been displaying this type of
info for a couple of years in an attempt to make people - to help people
make healthier choices when they order.
Expect conservatives to begin seeing Maoist numerological plots
in the calorie counts on menus at any moment.
But while legislation might now be helping us become a slightly
less obese nation, it turns out that art has been no help at all in this
fight against the fat. Kent Jones has the story. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, senator. You know,
art looks at life and then says back to us, “Eat more carbs.” Here‘s the
scientific proof right here.
(voice-over): We live in the golden age of big, stupid food. Portion
sizes have ballooned and ballooned until voila, we are absolutely flab-
Professor Brian Wansink of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab wanted
to know if this craving for more and more food was a new phenomenon or
something that‘s been expanding over time, like we have. So he analyzed
the food shown in 52 of the best-known paintings of “The Last Supper” from
1,000 AD until today.
PROFESSOR BRIAN WANSINK, CORNELL UNIVERSITY FOOD AND BRAND LABORATORY:
We measured the size of the food, and measured the size of the plates and
measured the size of the bread. We indexed them based on the size of
JONES: And he found that the main courses shown in the paintings grew
by 69 percent, the plate size by 66 percent, and the bread size by 23
percent. As it was written in the Gospel, according to Olive Garden.
Said Wansink, “I think people assume that increased serving sizes
or portion distortion is a recent phenomenon. But this research indicates
that it‘s a general trend for at least the last millennium.”
So basically, more food in the real world means more food in the
paintings. And that means more food for Jesus and the apostles. It‘s a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was blessed are the cheese-makers.
MADDOW: I love that they based it on head size.
MADDOW: That was the index.
JONES: Yes. Don‘t eat anything bigger than your head, right?
MADDOW: Because that‘s the rule, right? I broke that rule in
JONES: We heard about that. But anyway -
MADDOW: I‘m sorry. All right. That does it for us tonight. Thank
you very much, Kent. We will see you again tomorrow night. Until then,
our new blog at MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com is awesome. We hope you check it out.
“COUNTDOWN” starts right now. Have a good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
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.>