The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/26/10

Guests:
Rep. Anthony Weiner, Hal Sparks
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  Let me just take a

second here to tell you how grateful all of us at MSNBC have been to have

you here filling in for Keith while he‘s been away dealing with family

stuff.  You‘ve done a tremendous, tremendous job.  You‘ve just been great

to work with, Lawrence.  Thanks.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Thank you.

               

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home as well for tuning in.  It is Friday. 

It‘s Friday!  Yes!  This was a 30-day week, I‘m sure of it.

But for the first time since the presidential campaign today, John

McCain and Sarah Palin got reunited today.

We‘ll also be joined this hour by Richard Engel.

I will get professional advice on how not to run for Senate in

Massachusetts against Scott Brown because, so far, I seem to be really,

really bad at that.

And one of my favorite live moments in the history of broadcasting was

blessedly caught on tape right here at MSNBC today.

And with permission from the person who himself on camera did the

remarkable thing, we will relive that moment tonight.  I know I‘m being a

little mysterious here, but when you see it, you‘ll understand.  I can‘t

spoil it.  You have to see it.

All coming up this hour.

But we begin tonight by acknowledging that there is political life

after health reform.  The sky has not fallen, death panels are not

convening, to reap communist, fascist, death panel-y things upon the

nation, and Democrats have learned that passing stuff is one way to make

politics work well for you.

Today, President Obama, Democrats and Republicans, all began day one

of their new post-health reform political lives.  Republicans started in

the U.S. Senate by preventing the passage of benefits for Americans who are

out of work.  Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, turning himself

into a one-man roadblock, a one-man objection to the Senate‘s attempt to

pass an extension of unemployment benefits before the start of the Easter

recess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there an objection?

SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  I‘m reserving the right to object.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator from Oklahoma?

COBURN:  Again, I would note that this is the fourth time I‘ve done

this.  I have to object because we will be adding to the debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Thanks to Mr. Coburn‘s objections, hundreds of thousands of

jobless Americans may lose their unemployment benefits now, until Congress

comes back from its recess.  That was post-health care day one for

Republicans in Washington.

Meanwhile in Arizona, the team that led Republicans to their current

minority status in Washington got back together again for the first time

since the election in which they came in second.  Sarah Palin hit the

campaign trail again today to stump for her old friend, John McCain, and

his heated battle to hold on to his Senate seat come November.

Since she quit as governor of Alaska, Ms. Palin may be officially out

of the politics game now.  But it turns out political speechifying is

something that just never really leaves you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  I think this go-around, when

all the votes are tallied, I think he‘s going to win this one.

(CHEERING)

PALIN:  We‘ve come a long way from the 2008 campaign, but one thing

that has not changed is my deep respect and admiration for the McCains, and

my support of Senator John McCain.

(CHEERING)

PALIN:  Louisiana‘s governor recently said, you know, we‘re being

accused of being the party of no because we oppose some of the things that

the administration‘s doing.  The Louisiana governor says, “Well, no, we‘re

not the ‘party of no.‘  We‘re the ‘party of hell no.‘”

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  No, we can‘t.  No, we can‘t.  Hell no.  The “party of hell

no.”  They want to be called the “party of hell no.”

Go on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  You know, here in the news reports lately, kind of this ginned

up controversy about us, common sense conservatives, inciting violence

because we happen to oppose some of the things in the Obama administration.

(BOOS)

PALIN:  This B.S. coming from the lame-stream media lately about us—

about us inciting violence.  Don‘t let—don‘t let the conversation be

diverted.  Don‘t let a distraction like that gets you off track.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  We haven‘t done any of that alleged inciting—says the

woman who urged conservatives this week to reload, and then kindly offered

a map with all these friendly rifle scopes to direct conservatives to where

to aim their proverbial fire.

Please go on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  Let me clear the air right now.  We might as well call it like

we see, it right, and not beat around the Bush.  In respect to the tea

party movement—beautiful movement, you know what?  Everybody here today

supporting John McCain, we‘re all part of that tea party movement, because

               

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Remember first when it was “We are all Georgians” when

Russian invaded the Republic of Georgia. And then it was, “We are all Joe

the plumber.”  Now, it‘s “We are all tea partiers.”

It turns out we‘re a whole lot of things.  We, in fact, are crowded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  John McCain is standing up for the time-tested truths that

have built this country into the greatest country on earth, and it‘s why

we‘re so proud to be Americans, and we don‘t apologize for America.

(CHEERING)

PALIN:  He has stood up for these truths, the belief that the

government that governs least governs best.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It‘s nice to have them back together, isn‘t it?

While the Republican Party is framing itself now with all these

exclamation points, as the government in waiting that would like to not

really govern at all, that would like to govern as little as possible—

while Republicans are framing themselves that way, the actual government is

busy governing.

Today was day one of their post-health reform lives as well for

President Obama and the Democrats.  Riding the wave of their legislative

victory on health reform, the administration and congressional Democrats

are in position now of deciding what they want to do next, toward what goal

would they like to apply the political capital they have just earned with

this big win on health care.

It turns out they have decided to not take on something easy, they‘ve

decided to not go for a political gimme, they‘ve decided to not construct

something to run against that isn‘t real but gives them good headlines. 

Instead they‘re going after one of the heaviest things that is weighing on

the country right now—struggling homeowners who can‘t pay their

mortgages and they‘re getting their homes taken over by the very banks

which we all helped bailout.

Ten million to 12 million homeowners are now in danger of getting

foreclosed on in the next three years.  To help people who are now in that

situation and in trouble today, the White House announced a number of new

initiatives.  Unemployed homeowners are now eligible for three to six month

break—for a three to six-month break on their mortgage payments.

If you own your home and don‘t have a job, you may soon be able to

modify your mortgage so you‘re not spending any more than 31 percent of

your monthly income paying to stay in your home.

The White House is also rolling out new financial incentives for banks

to reduce mortgage payments for homeowners who are under water, who owe

more on their loans than their home is worth.

Democrats also just voted to take commercial banks out of the student

loan market.  And it sounds like sort of a finicky regulatory change of

some sort, it‘s actually very simple.  For years, government gave

commercial banks like Sallie Mae, for example, guaranteed federal subsidies

to make college loans to students.  Trust me, I‘ve had my share.  On top of

those subsidies, the government assumed most of the risk for these loans

that the banks were giving out.

So, if you think about that for a second, the banks were essentially

getting guaranteed profits on these loans and no risks—all for the

privilege of being the middleman in all of our college loans.  So, why not

cut out the middleman and let the taxpayers make the profit on these loans,

since it‘s we, the taxpayers, who were assuming the risk on them anyway?

That‘s what Congress has just done.  And the profit we‘ll be making

instead of those commercial banks will go to pay for more student grants

for people who now can‘t afford college.

Ta-da!  Government.  Neat.

In the wake of this huge momentous legislative achievement for

Democrats this week in health reform, it is back to the starting line for

both parties in terms of what to do next in politics.  And this is how

they‘ve gotten out of the gate.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.

Congressman Weiner, thanks very much for coming in tonight.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  It‘s my pleasure.  Thanks.

MADDOW:  Now that the health reform fight is done for now, we‘re

starting anew.  In terms of legislating, what do you see as the main

priorities for what Democrats are going to do with the sort of political

capital they earned on health reform?

WEINER:  Well, I think we‘ve kind of set up this paradigm that‘s

exactly the way it look, which are Democrats are trying to solve problems. 

We don‘t always get it perfect and sometimes we have internal battles, but

we‘re trying to figure out a way to move the ball forward.

And the Republicans are stuck in a place that they don‘t really have

an agenda beyond stopping us from doing stuff.  Now, admittedly it‘s

sometimes pretty easy to stop us from doing stuff.  Sometimes, we can do it

all alone without their help, but I think the American people of all

political stripes ultimately want government to work.  They wanted to

accomplish things, and actually, I believe that the American people admire

the idea that we believe things and are trying to achieve them, even if

they‘re not 100 percent with us on every line of it.

So, we have this dynamic that their entire raison d‘etre on the

Republican Party is to gum up the works.  You saw Coburn do it.  You saw

Republicans pledge every single day that they‘re going to try to stop us

from getting anything done.

We‘re going to try to relieve the burden on homeowners, and it‘s not

just for the people that are going to get the relief.  If you live next

door to a foreclosed house, you‘re having a pretty bad day.  We‘re going to

try to figure out a way to lift the middle class up by trying go get the

economy go again.  Health care is a big part of that.  Student loans are a

big part of that.

All these arguments that two things don‘t go together—no, they‘re

actually go together.  They‘re the two biggest things that middle class

people worry about—going bankrupt because of health care and not being

able to afford to send their kids to college.

Now, we‘re going to keep trying these things.  And I think the

president realizes that if the Republicans want to go backwards and keep

litigating health care reform, OK, because it‘s just going to re-enforce

the idea that we‘re moving in the other direction.

MADDOW:  The other thing that is still out there in politics, and I

realize it‘s gotten a lot of ink and attention in the past couple of days

and I don‘t want to overdo it.  But I know it personally affected you in

terms of your office receiving some specific threats.  And I know that it‘s

and something about which I‘m very concerned, and that is the idea that

the anger that‘s out there in the country about political matters has been

channeled into both violence and threats in the form of intimidation.

               

In terms of your specific experience, what you‘ve been through, what

you think is going on in the country right now, how does it make you feel

to see Sarah Palin seeing this is a side issues, it‘s a diversion, we

shouldn‘t be talking about it?

WEINER:  Well, first of all, you‘ve got to wonder if there‘s a little

thought bubble above John McCain is thinking standing behind that woman. 

What happened to John McCain, he used to be someone that, you know, stood

up for what he believes.  Now, he‘s become captive to this tea party thing

also.

The mistake that Sarah Palin is making is that, yes, we know it‘s a

metaphor to say to target members and to put them into the crosshairs.  The

problem is, as I‘ve watched my mail, and maybe I‘ve led with my chin more

than most people so I get more mail than most people, you see the movement

of the line and you can see how crazy out there doesn‘t understand it‘s a

metaphor, and that reload is not just a figure of speech.

And I‘ve gotten a bunch of mail, most of it reasoned, some of it very

passionate, but a few folks who clearly don‘t understand that Sarah Palin

is talking in metaphors.  And she needs to understand that.  That‘s part of

being a leader in this country, is saying to your own crazies, you‘ve got

to dial it down some.

We saw in Congress in the last 10 days people getting into the House

gallery and heckling and being cheered by Republican members.  Republican

members saying to another, you‘re a baby killer.  Republican members

standing on the portico on the Capitol building urging on people who at the

same time were cursing and were saying anti-Semitic and racist things to

members of Congress.

The Republican Party has to realize it‘s their responsibility to stand

up against that kind of thing, not just say—oh, everyone is doing it.

MADDOW:  On the issue of what our national conversation is, it‘s one

thing to talk about the tone of it and appropriateness of it and whether or

not it crosses the line, and it is anymore a conversation.  It‘s another

thing to think about the big ideas that we‘re actually fighting about.

A lot of conservative friends that I have, Republican friends that I

have, and I do have conservative and Republican friends, have been saying

to me for a long time what we want is a big picture, big ideas debate

between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, on the role of

government—because Republicans think that is an argument that they will

always win with the American people, that government is best which governs

least and that big government is something that all Americans are afraid

of.

Do you think that they‘re right, that they have an advantage on that? 

And do you think we‘re ready to finally have a national discussion on that?

WEINER:  Look, I would welcome that debate because I think the

American people are saying something different.  They want increased

security at the airports.  They want people to protect the quality of their

food.  They want people to figure out a way to reel in the abuses of the

big insurance companies.

They‘re actually saying to us, we don‘t necessarily want a bigger

government, but we do want a government that responds to the problems we

had.  We kind of had this debate in the campaign of 2008, and we won.  When

we—you know, for years, we had essentially none of these problems

getting addressed either domestically or internationally.  That was going

on and the American people said, of all political stripes, you know, we

need to start solving some of these problems.

And I think to some degree the Republican Party is stuck in a place

that they‘re bound to be even—a permanent minority, because not only are

they saying we want to do less, they‘re saying we want to do crazy things,

too.  You know, they‘ve got this radical fringe element that‘s tugging them

away from doing anything to solve problems.  I think the abiding thing the

American people want is problem-solving.

We‘re trying to solve problems on health care.  We‘re trying to solve

problems on the economy.  We‘re trying to solve problems on student loans

and on foreclosures.

And the other guys are simply saying “no.”  We‘re not going to do any

of that stuff and we‘re not going to help you even with one vote on trying

to get that done.

MADDOW:  Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York—thank

you for coming in on a Friday night and a holiday.  It‘s good to have you

here.  Thank you.

WEINER:  Thank you.  My pleasure.

MADDOW:  If you are the Republican Party and you want anyone to take

your lawsuits against the government takeover of health care seriously, you

really don‘t want the help of the governor of Nevada.  But that help,

you‘ve got.  That‘s coming up in just a moment.

And later, I will get some professional advice about how to not run

for Senate against Scott Brown in Massachusetts.  Whatever I‘m trying in

terms of not running against him doesn‘t seem to be working so far.

Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Sarah Palin is following up her critically-acclaimed

appearance alongside John McCain today in Arizona with another southwest

trip.  She‘s going to be going to Nevada to a great big tea party protest

that‘s being billed as the conservative Woodstock.  It‘s in Senate Majority

Leader Harry Reid‘s hometown of Searchlight, Nevada.  Joe the Plumber is

also expected to make an appearance at the conservative Woodstock.

It could turn out to be an awkward reunion since Mr. The Plumber

recently declared that John McCain screwed up his life, that John McCain

was trying to use him on the campaign trail and that, quote, “I don‘t owe

him bleep.”  Have fun in Searchlight with Governor Palin, Mr. Plumber.  Oh,

to be a fly on the wall.

The conservative road show going to Nevada may be very energizing to

tea party conservators and activists in that part of the country.  But if

Republican elected officials are hoping to capitalize on that energy, it

turns out—and I think this is important to note in the coverage here—

that elected Republican officials in the state of Nevada are not in a great

position to capitalize on anything like that right now.

Nevada‘s other senator, for example, who is not Harry Reid, is

Republican John Ensign.  He‘s in the middle of a sex and lobbying scandal. 

He‘s being investigated by both the Senate Ethics Committee and the Justice

Department.  A raft of Las Vegas businesses have John Ensign to thank, for

example, for federal subpoenas that they have recently been served.

The other highest-ranking Republican in the state of Nevada is

Governor Jim Gibbons.

Now, if you are not a Nevadan and the name Jim Gibbons is familiar to

you, it might be because of that time in 2006 when Mr. Gibbons was accused

of assaulting a cocktail waitress in a parking lot.  Or the time this year

when, by way of defending himself against those charges, he volunteered in

a legal deposition that he has not had sex with anyone in 15 years.  The

governor was not asked a question that lead directly to that, he

volunteered that information.

Perhaps you‘re also thinking of the time that he made news for sending

hundreds of text messages to, not his wife, from his state-owned cell

phone.

But if you‘re not from Nevada and you have heard the name Jim Gibbons,

you‘ve heard of Governor Jim Gibbons, I have to say that the most likely

reason is that you have watched hundreds of times, like most of us here at

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW have, one of the most incredible local news videos

I‘ve ever seen.  It‘s a video starring the governor, and a local TV

reporter named Jonathan Humbert.

Governor Gibbons was returning from the National Governors Association

meeting in Washington and Mr. Humbert, the reporter, was waiting for him at

the Reno Airport, where the governor arrived with a companion who he

bizarrely and repeatedly tried to insist was not there.

I bet you‘ve seen this.  But if you haven‘t—here‘s an excerpt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN HUMBERT, REPORTER:  Did you go with anyone today?

GOV. JIM GIBBONS ®, NEVADA:  Well, what‘s it to you?  Yes, I went

with security.

HUMBERT:  And anyone else?

GIBBONS:  Well, what‘s it to you?

HUMBERT:  No one else came with you on this trip?

GIBBONS:  No.

HUMBERT:  Kathy Karrasch didn‘t accompany you on this trip?  She did

not.

GIBBONS:  No.

HUMBERT:  She‘s not in this airport right now?

GIBBONS:  No.

HUMBERT:  She was not on that flight?

GIBBONS:  No.

HUMBERT (voice-over):  Despite what the governor says, our cameras

caught Karrasch heading into an airport bathroom.  She came out but ran

back inside after seeing our camera.

When she came out, we asked her about the trip.

(on camera):  Did you attend this conference in any way with the

governor?

KATHY KARRASCH:  I did not attend any conference in anyway.

HUMBERT (voice-over):  She walked toward an SUV with tinted windows,

the governor‘s state-owned vehicle.

(on camera):  So, you‘re saying that you did not attend the conference

with the governor even though we saw you coming off the plane directly

after him?

KARRASCH:  You know what, I could have been in Las Vegas having tea

with the first lady?

HUMBERT (voice-over):  Then the governor walked out to the vehicle.

HUMBERT:  Governor you told just 10 minutes ago that Kathy Karrasch

was not on this flight.

GIBBONS:  Yes, I did.

HUMBERT:  Do you want to change your statement?

GIBBONS:  She was not with me in Washington, D.C.  I can‘t control

where she goes or what she does.

HUMBERT:  So, you just happened to be in Washington, D.C., with her

and happened to be leaving in the same car as her?  Sir, we‘re literally

less than 12 hours away from a special session that‘s going to decide

almost $1 billion in cuts and here you‘re with a woman who‘s not your wife.

GIBBONS:  You‘re full of (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You are.  You really

are.  All you‘re doing is out here late at night trying to make a scene.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Ta-da!  That is what Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is most

famous for outside of Nevada.

Could you guys make the teleprompter go back to the script that I‘m

actually talking in?  Thank you very much.

All right.

Awesome.  Very good.  Moving along here.  Thank you very much. 

Cheers.

With the tea partiers converging on Searchlight, Nevada, tomorrow,

Governor Jim Gibbons is trying to get famous for something other than that

video that you just saw.  Governor Jim Gibbons has asked his state‘s

attorney general to sue the government over health reform.  His attorney

general is a Democrat named Catherine Cortez Masto.  She said she wants to

look in to the matter first and she says she is conducting a thorough legal

analysis.

But Governor Gibbons is seemingly unperturbed by his attorney

general‘s desire to do real legal analysis before filing a lawsuit.  He‘s

now demanding an answer from his attorney general by early next week.

As we discussed on last night‘s show, these lawsuits are scams.  They

are political gamesmanship.  They are not even designed to change policy. 

They‘re aimed at creating political effect.

For example, as Igor Volsky from the Center for American Progress

noted today, quote, “I‘m no lawyer, but the fact that the suit doesn‘t

contain any references to past Supreme Court decisions or legal precedent

suggests that it‘s frivolous.”

How frivolous can it be, though, if you can make money off it and rile

up gullible people who don‘t realize that you are scamming them?

Same goes for the “repeal health reform” effort.  The Republicans have

been pledging to fight to repeal health reform, even though they know

that‘s not a practical or even feasible strategy.  Here for example is what

Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona had to say about the repeal strategy

this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA:  Our view is that we should repeal and

replace the bill with the solutions that we think actually work. 

Obviously, the president will not sign a repeal bill that the Congress

passes, so that‘s more of a symbol.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  More of a symbol.  In other words, that thing we‘re promising

to do, it‘s really more of a thing we can‘t do.

Here‘s another dose of intellectual honesty on the repeal strategy

courtesy of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER:  All you have to do is be

politically honest.  If the Republicans win a majority in the House and

Senate next year, they will not be able to repeal the bill, the president

would veto it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Ta-da!  Republicans essentially admitting the repeal strategy

is a scam.  Which means if they‘re asking you for money in order to pursue

their repeal strategy, if they‘re asking for your vote to aid them in their

effort to repeal health reform, it‘s not because even they believe they

actually can repeal health reform.  They know they can‘t.  It is just a

strategy that is designed to separate fools from their money.

Here‘s, though, what they didn‘t see coming.  Before health reform

passed, Republicans thought this was going to be a great issue for them. 

They thought this is what they wanted the 2010 election to be all about—

about how against health reform they are.

So, they committed themselves to the anti-health reform platform. 

They got behind the “overturn reform” lawsuits.  They started talking about

repealing health reform.  They said they‘d be running on repealing health

reform and how illegal health reform was all the way through November.

But then health reform passed—and lo and behold, everything

changed.  Democrats won on this one.  Republicans lost on this one.

And now, campaigning to repeal health reform means campaigning to

reverse lots of sweeping pro-consumer reforms to the insurance industry—

which is becoming a little bit of a political problem.  For example, do you

want to see the repeal health reform campaign strategy in action in all of

its problematic glory?  This is Republican Congressman Mark Kirk of

Illinois.  He‘s running for President Obama‘s old Senate seat.

“The Chicago Tribune” recently obtained an audiotape of Congressman

Kirk vowing to a local Republican audience to lead the effort to repeal

health reform.  That audio is appearing now in ads produced by Mr. Kirk‘s

Democratic opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK KIRK ®, ILLINOIS:  As your senator, I would lead the

effort, if it passes, to repeal this bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The ad kind of dares Congressman Kirk to say that in public,

to really and truly campaign on repealing health reform.  It points out

that Congressman Kirk, in voting against health reform—in the first

place, voted against major insurance industry reform.

In other words, really, Mark Kirk, you want to lead the effort to

restore the insurance industry‘s right to deny coverage to kids who have

preexisting conditions?  You want to lead the fight to demand that seniors

have a donut hole in their prescription drug coverage so they can‘t afford

their drugs?  That‘s what you‘re going to campaign on?

Unfortunately for the Republican Party, this is the strategy they have

locked themselves into.

But admit it.  It did make you forget who was in Jim Gibbons‘ car for

a second there, didn‘t it?  Just for a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  So this afternoon, we were having our news meeting for the

show, like we do every day at lunchtime-ish.  And while we were meeting,

Richard Engel came by.  Now, Richard is a world traveler.  Literally,

that‘s his job as NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent. 

So it‘s always nice to see Richard here at the office and we all

said, “Hi, Richard.  It‘s great to see you.  But then he didn‘t leave.  He

was just hanging around while we kept going on with the meeting. 

I was like, “Richard, do you want to add something to the meeting

here?”  And he said, “Yes.  Let me tell you what just happened in Iraq. 

There‘s this huge deal that just happened.”

And so he starts talking to all of us about this huge deal.  And

I notice his hand is twitching while he‘s talking.  So I give Richard the

pen for the white board and he proceeds to diagram the huge deal that just

happened in Iraq and what it means for the thousands of Americans who are

still in Iraq right now and what‘s going to happen next. 

He finishes up - this is our news meeting today.  We‘re all

totally impressed and I said, “Man, I wish you could do exactly that on the

show tonight.  Everybody who watches our show should just see what you just

showed us.  That was so amazing.” 

And so we make it so - NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent, Richard

Engel.  Richard, thank you for hijacking the meeting today. 

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:  This is the reward

for hijacking the meeting. 

MADDOW:  Thank you for doing this.

ENGEL:  I‘m sorry.  It is really important what happened today.

MADDOW:  I want you to just explain the whole thing again.  I just

want you to go and do it. 

ENGEL:  OK.  So today, they announced the election results of the

election in Iraq.  A very, very important election, game-changing, probably

the most important thing that happened in Iraq the last several years. 

So to understand what happened today and who is at stake, there

are four main players.  And I think you can see, right now, these are the

four main players.  This is how I put them on your whiteboard today. 

MADDOW:  Without the pictures. 

ENGEL:  Without the pictures.

MADDOW:  You‘re not that good. 

ENGEL:  Yes, exactly.  Ayad Allawi.  He is a Shiite.  Oops.  That‘s

not (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

MADDOW:  He‘s on fire. 

ENGEL:  He‘s not on fire.  He is a Shiite. 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  He is secular.  That‘s probably the most important thing to

understand him.  So let‘s put that - secular.  He is secular and he is

anti-Iran, right?  I‘m left-handed so it‘s hard to write on these things if

you touch the screen.

MADDOW:  OK.  So he‘s contra-Iran. 

ENGEL:  So he‘s contra-Iran.  So I‘ll make that Shiite, secular, anti-

Iran. 

MADDOW:  OK. 

ENGEL:  Maliki bloc.  Maliki is the government.  He is the current

prime minister, so he has all of the power of the government behind him. 

He is also from a Shiite religious party called the Dawa Party that has had

very close relationships with Iran in the past.  So it is more of Iran

leaning Islamic party and that has become the party of the state. 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  Then you have a more hard line Islamist bloc and that is

Muqtada al-Sadr and another Hakim family, and that is very close to Iran. 

That is Iran with a capital - why is it doing this?  Iran with a capital -

Iran with a capital I.

MADDOW:  OK.  And Muqtada al-Sadr is actually living in Iran right

now. 

ENGEL:  He is in Iran right now. 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  So you have the government bloc and then you have the - let‘s

call it the secular bloc to make it really simple. 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  And he also has the - an alliance with all of the Sunnis. 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  Sorry, things keep coming away here.  It‘s easier on a regular

whiteboard. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  It‘s all right.  This is cool. 

ENGEL:  So you have a secular party with Sunni in it. 

MADDOW:  With Sunni in it.

ENGEL:  You have the government party that is basically a - also has

close ties to Iran.  Then you have an Iranian Islamic Shiite party, Shiite

bloc, under Muqtada al-Sadr. 

And then, you have the Kurdish bloc.  They‘re just Kurds, just

state Kurds.  They do their own thing.  They‘ve established their own state

effectively in northern Iraq.  And so that‘s the political landscape, the

four different -

MADDOW:  So there‘s a lot of tiny little parties, but those are the

four main - those are the four blocs that are running? 

ENGEL:  Four other parties - there‘s other Kurdish parties but these

are the four main ones.  So what happened today? 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  This is the landscape.  Today, we saw that Ayad Allawi came

out just by a tiny little bit.  He emerged in the poll position first. 

MADDOW:  First. 

ENGEL:  He was tied with Maliki.  And Maliki is disputing the results

of the elections.  He says that he should have been first.  Now, none of

them get a majority.  None of them have an outright majority so they‘re

going to have to group together.  Form a coalition government -

MADDOW:  Form a coalition in order to figure out who runs the

government, right?

ENGEL:  Why is it important - who‘s first?  The important thing is the

person who is first, who has the most votes gets the first opportunity to

form a government, right?  So if Maliki had gone first, and let‘s just

assume that Maliki had won and there was a lot of momentum in his way and a

lot of people suggested, and Maliki certainly believes that he should have

been number one. 

               

What would have happened most likely is that Maliki would have formed

a coalition with the other three, and kept Allawi‘s bloc out. 

MADDOW:  And that means there are no - that means Sunnis? 

ENGEL:  There are no Sunnis and no secular people in the government. 

MADDOW:  OK.

ENGEL:  Kurds are secular, but think of them as a Kurdish party

serving Kurdish interests.  They‘re really interested in Kurdistan and the

rest can go its own way. 

That, I think, could have led to increased instability.  And a

lot of political analysts thought there could have even been war.  Because

if you‘re from a Sunni‘s perspective, you would have looked at this

government and you would have said - oh.

MADDOW:  There‘s no place for me. 

ENGEL:  There‘s no place for me.

MADDOW:  Yes. 

ENGEL:  Yet again, this is another Kurdish government.  It is another

Shiite government.  It is another Iran-leaning government, and I‘m out. 

Instead, something potentially revolutionary happened. 

You had the - I‘ll put it in a different color here.  You had

Allawi coming in as number one, and he will probably form a coalition with

the Islamic group and with the Kurdish group and keep Maliki out.  But he,

Allawi, by being number one, will be the prime minister. 

MADDOW:  And then you end up with a diverse - a diverse coalition

where everybody feels like they‘ve got some representation.  You‘ve got

Sunnis.  You‘ve got the religious Shiites arrive in Iran.  You‘ve got

secular Shiites.  And you‘ve got the Kurds. 

ENGEL:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  So it‘s a recipe for more stability. 

ENGEL:  It‘s a secular government, first and foremost -

MADDOW:  Yes.

ENGEL:  Even though you have the Islamist part of it.  It is primarily

a secular government.  It includes the Sunnis, and it is much more

American-leaning.  Allawi, in general, leans toward Washington. 

The other parties lean toward Iran.  So it is a radically

different thing.  Because right now, the government that‘s in power and

that has been in power for the last several years has been a pretty

religious, pretty Iran-leaning government that excluded the Shiites -

excluded the Sunnis, rather. 

And now, you‘re going to have a different kind of a government,

includes the Sunnis, secular, leaning toward the U.S. 

MADDOW:  Briefly, how long will it take for us to know if he‘s able to

form this coalition? 

ENGEL:  Well, there is a major dispute right now.  And the - Maliki,

the current prime minister, who is still prime minister until a new

government is formed, is rejecting the findings of this - the results of

this election. 

He says he won‘t accept them.  He has 13 days to dispute it. 

Allawi says already, in this coming week, he‘s going to start forming a

government.  So if this period of disputes can get past and the election

results get certified, then it‘s up to Allawi to form a government. 

MADDOW:  Wow, thank you for helping us -

ENGEL:  And it could be a very big deal -

MADDOW:  It could be a huge deal.

ENGEL:  Potentially the best news for the U.S. troops who need this to

work in order to leave. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  If we‘re looking at opening up another can of worms and

another civil war, then U.S. troops probably have no hope of leaving.  If

we‘re looking at stability, they can come home.  Richard -

ENGEL:  It‘s all recreated.  I have a few teleprompter problems.

MADDOW:  We‘ll get you better pens.  It‘s great to see you. 

ENGEL:  Great to see you, Rachel.

MADDOW:   Thank you, Richard.  Thank you so much.  That was so cool. 

Richard Engel is NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent and our chief

illustrator. 

ENGEL:  I need some training. 

MADDOW:  You‘re the only one we‘ve got.  You don‘t have any

competition.  I have said on the TV machine, I have told reporters and now,

I‘ve taken out a full-page ad in “The Boston Globe” all to say I am not

running for Scott Brown‘s Senate seat in Massachusetts. 

I kind of can‘t believe I‘m saying this but Scott Brown

apparently does not believe it still.  He is still fake running against me

as of today to try to raise money off of my name today.  I think I may need

some professional help here.  That is coming up in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Within five minutes of President Obama signing the health

reform bill on Tuesday, within five minutes of him finishing signing that

legislation, stuntmen from the office of Virginia‘s new attorney general

raced to the federal courthouse in Richmond to start the process of suing

to stop health reform. 

               

Five minutes, they were ready to go.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are doing everything they can

to make themselves the most famous hard-right conservative state government

in the country right now. 

The five minutes after the bill signing, race to the courthouse

on health reform, rescinding the state‘s non-discrimination policy and

overtly telling all Virginia‘s colleges to rescind their policies too.  The

attorney general giving interviews talking about how detrimental the gays

are to American society.

The governor, having written his master‘s thesis on how state

government should oppose fornicators - what will Gov. Bob McDonnell and

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli try next? 

Nobody knows of course.  But this week the “New York Times”

reminded us of a cause that the attorney general alluded to on the campaign

trail that he hasn‘t yet pursued in office. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF VIRGINIA:  You know, we‘re going

to have our seventh child on Monday, if it‘s not born before.  And for the

very concerns you state, we‘re actually considering. 

And as I‘m sure many of you here didn‘t get a social security

number when you were born - they do it now.  But we‘re considering not

doing that.  And a lot of people are considering that now because it is

being used to track you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

MADDOW:  Your social security number is being used to track you.  Will

Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli be able to save Virginia from this

terrible conspiracy of the social security number tracking device? 

If they decide to take on this threat, you will hear it here

first.  Well, second.  I mean, these things usually come through first via

the transmissions that the CIA and aliens send us all through our dental

fillings.  Well, want to wear the hats?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Hal Sparks joins us here on set in just a moment to advise me

on how I can, once and for all, convince Sen. Scott Brown that I am not

running for his Senate seat.  Apparently, the ad we took out in today‘s

“Boston Globe” didn‘t even do the trick.  We spent a lot of money on it,

too.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  So I have a problem.  Sen. Scott Brown does not understand

me.  The new Republican senator from Massachusetts is using me to raise

money for himself by spreading a totally made-up story that the Democratic

party of Massachusetts tried to recruit me to run against him for Senate in

2012. 

It never happened.  Honestly, I‘m not running.  They never asked

me to run.  Never, not, didn‘t.  Without even bothering to vet this rumor,

Mr. Brown decided to run with it, to try to scare people who don‘t know

better, I guess, into giving him money to fight the big horrible far-left

liberal on the TV machine. 

After he did the fundraising letter, I categorically and

truthfully denied that I was ever approached by anyone to run for anything. 

I did that on TV.  I tried to do a robocall to Massachusetts voters

debunking the rumor. 

No joke - I really was going to do it as a robocall, but it

turned out to be against MSNBC rules.  After I did that, Scott Brown did an

interview where he still said I was running against him.  He said, bring

her on. 

Quite exasperated at this point, I decided to write a full-page

ad in the “Boston Globe,” an ad that says, “I‘m not running against Scott

Brown.  I never said I was running against Scott Brown.  The Massachusetts

Democratic Party never asked me to run against Scott Brown.  Honestly.  I

swear.  No.  Really.” 

He‘s still doesn‘t believe me.  Or maybe he believes me but he‘s

still trying to get away with telling people that I am running.  Even after

this, he‘s still doing it. 

In a statement to the “Boston Globe,” “The Boston Herald” and

“CBS News,” Brown‘s adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, said this today.  He said,

quote, “It was an open secret that the Democrats were trying to recruit

Rachel Maddow to run against Scott Brown in 2012.” 

OK, it was so secret it was secret both from me and from the

Massachusetts Democratic Party.  I want Scott Brown to stop telling people

I‘m running against him.  I want him to stop telling people the Democrats

have tried to get me to run against him. 

I want him to stop raising money off these lies that he keeps

about me and Massachusetts Democrats.  I want him to retract this

fundraising letter. 

But A, he won‘t return my calls, four straight days now of

calling.  And B, I‘m getting worried that maybe it‘s me.  Maybe he just

doesn‘t understand when I am doing the speaking about this.  Maybe he just

doesn‘t get it.  How do I get through to him?  How can I more effectively

not run against Scott Brown? 

Joining me now is a special guest, un-campaign strategist, my

friend, Hal Sparks.  Hal, thank you for helping me. 

HAL SPARKS, UN-CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST:  Oh, my pleasure.  This is

something I relish. 

MADDOW:  How can I convince Scott Brown that not only am I not running

against him, I never was.  What am I doing wrong? 

SPARKS:  Well, first of all, you‘re speaking too much.  Bur first -

OK.  We have to break this down.  This is simple.  First of all, don‘t do

any major interviews and do a total media blackout.  I would advise against

even doing your own show for a while.  I know it‘s hard -

MADDOW:  Yes. 

SPARKS:  But whatever you do, don‘t take out any more full-page ads. 

MADDOW:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SPARKS:  Yes.  That‘s classic denial, “I‘m not running,” meaning

you‘re actually seeking money right now.  That‘s a fundraising tool right

there. 

MADDOW:  You know what?  Great.  Send me money. 

SPARKS:  And thirdly, you live in the state of Massachusetts. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

SPARKS:  What kind of vehicle do you drive? 

MADDOW:  I have a pickup truck.

SPARKS:  Yes, you can‘t drive your pickup truck anymore.  That‘s - I

mean, you are slowly but surely becoming not only the candidate that Scott

Brown wants to be. 

I‘m going to go out on a limb and say that you‘re the woman Scott

Brown wants to be at this point.  You have to know you‘re like the bizarro

Scott Brown at this point and you are everything he fears.  So -

MADDOW:  I don‘t think he wants to be me.  Maybe I‘m just not stating

my message clearly.  I mean, maybe I just talk too much.  That‘s

(UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

SPARKS:  Clarity is a problem with you.  You are overtly clear in what

you say, and that does not work in campaigns and certainly doesn‘t work

with the GOP. 

You speak in technical terms, “mumbo jumbo.”  So many big words. 

You can‘t do that anymore.  You have to come up with something shorter,

something that can be on a button, something like, “No, I won‘t,” the

opposite of “Yes, we can.” 

MADDOW:  OK. 

SPARKS:  You know, with the kind of button that say, “No, I won‘t.”

MADDOW:  No, I won‘t. 

SPARKS:  So every time you go, “You think I‘m going to run against

Scott Brown in 2012?  No, I won‘t.”  And we just keep - you know, we ham it

out and I‘ll make a Will.I.am video of it, where I kind of just -

MADDOW:  I can get people to chant it, “No, I won‘t.”

SPARKS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  No, I won‘t. 

SPARKS:  Yes.  And I‘ll do that whole read like that, standing in the

background in black and white and overlay it.  It would be beautiful. 

Trust me.  It‘s an ad we‘re going to run. 

And then, of course, there is a language barrier that you have

that you have to deal with.  You are speaking English and they are speaking

GOP.  When you say no to the party of no, that‘s actually a yes, that‘s a

double negative. 

You actually create a positive in their head and then you can‘t -

but you can say, “Well, with OK.  Then yes, I am running, because then

you‘re kind of like O‘Brien(ph), “Yes, I am the messiah,” and then you‘re

stuck again.  So talking is out.  We need symbols and simplicity. 

MADDOW:  OK.  Could I just do like a big -

SPARKS:  No.  Then they‘re now running on, “Rachel Maddow is coming

for Scott Brown.  She thinks his policies of keeping America the best in

the world are loser policies.”  And they‘ll make your friends their

enemies. 

MADDOW:  Hell, no.  Hell, no. 

SPARKS:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  How do I get him to stop fundraising on my name? 

SPARKS:  Well, I‘ve come up with a couple of ways. 

MADDOW:  OK. 

SPARKS:  The first is divert attention.  We need to find another

person that he can worry about more than you. 

MADDOW:  That‘s a good idea.

SPARKS:  Yes.  Another famous Massachusetts star.  I‘ve narrowed my

field down to three people - Barbara Walters, born in Massachusetts - Dane

Cook, and Leonard Nimoy.  These are my three kind of favorites. 

MADDOW:  Oh, OK>

SPARKS:  Barbara Walters - too close, female journalist.  Might be a

problem.  Dane cook is actually running for king right now.  I don‘t know

that - you know, you‘re going to have to run. 

So I‘ve boiled it down to Leonard Nimoy.  And what we‘re going to

do is we‘re going leak a memo from the - a forged memo from the Democratic

Senatorial Committee. 

MADDOW:  Oh, nice. 

SPARKS:  Like that.  I just created.  This one says, “Dear Mr. Nimoy,

if you would like to run against Scott, please check this box.”  Yes, and

then, we‘ll put a little check in this.  “Thanks, your pal, the Democratic

Party.  P.S., we hate America, FYI.”  And they‘ll run with this.  This will

be on “Drudge” for weeks before they ever look -

MADDOW:  That will free me. 

SPARKS:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  That will free me from the tyranny of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

SPARKS:  And the last tip - and if that doesn‘t work, I can endorse

your campaign and that will end it right there. 

MADDOW:  Hal Sparks - I‘ll do anything that you told me to do. 

SPARKS:  I think that‘s wise.  Yes. 

MADDOW:  I‘ll circulate this right away. 

SPARKS:  Absolutely.

MADDOW:  Thank you.  Hal Sparks is our un-campaign strategist.  His

Showtime special, “Charmageddon,” airs this June.  Hal, thank you very

much.  I appreciate it.

SPARKS:  Absolutely.

MADDOW:  Up next, one of the greatest moments on live television ever

happened right here on MSNBC.  I can‘t believe nobody has picked up on

this.  Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  That used to be the greatest sneeze ever caught on camera. 

Used to be.  Until 5:48 p.m. Eastern Time yesterday, when this happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  We‘re back.  There‘s a conservative

battle unfolding in reliably conservative Utah.  Republican U.S. Senator

Bob Bennett is fighting to keep his job despite tough opposition in the

state‘s nominating caucuses that started - that started on Tuesday. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  OK.  For a decade I have lived in fear of sneezing on the

air, ever since my very first gig in radio.  I am not lying when I tell

you, I think about it every single day that I‘m on the air. 

It has never happened, I have never sneezed on the air, but every

day I worry about it.  What do I do if it happens?  But then it happened -

it never happens to anybody, and it happened to my friend, Chris Matthews,

and he handled it perfectly. 

He just sneezed and sort of smiled and kept going.  I could never

have done that.  And it turns out we have investigated it and it turns out

that Chris knew what might be coming.  We have exclusive footage here. 

Chris tried to avoid sneezing by getting that sneeze out of the

way in the commercial break before coming back on air. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nine, eight, seven - here we go.  In five.  Bless

you.  Three, two -

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  There‘s a conservative battle unfolding in

reliably conservative Utah -

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

MADDOW:  First, the floor director, bless you, and then keeps with the

countdown.  And then he just - he sneezes.  Then once the live show was

over, the director of “HARDBALL” gets into Chris‘ ear, starts talking in

his ear piece to make a little request. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, sir.  I understand.  I am ready.  You want to un-

sneeze me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Un-sneeze me.  What does that mean?  Here‘s what they did if

you only caught the 7:00 p.m. re-air of “HARDBALL” last night, this is what

you saw. 

               

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  There‘s a conservative battle unfolding in

conservative reliable Utah.  Republican U.S. Senator Bob Bennett is

fighting to keep his job despite tough opposition in the state‘s nominating

caucuses that started on Tuesday. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Chris Matthews - total legend.  And now, a lifelong

inspiration to all of us on air sneeze-phobics.  There‘s nothing more to

say here except, Chris, God bless you. 

That does it for us tonight.  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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