The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/06/10

Zachary Roth, Jeff Biggers



Thank you very much very for that.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.  In

mid-February on this show, we aired this piece of tape of a tea party

leader in Washington State discussing Senator Patty Murray of Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How many of you watched the movie “Lonesome

Dove”?  What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd?  What

happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd?  He got hung.  That‘s

what I want to do with Patty Murray.


MADDOW:  “What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd? 

He got hung.  That‘s what I want to do to with Patty Murray.”

That happened at a TEA Party event in Washington State in mid-

February.  Now, a Washington State man was arrested for his threats to kill

Senator Patty Murray.  He‘s a 63-year-old Yakima, Washington, man.  He was

reportedly so enraged by his opposition to health care that his regular

litany of what were described as vulgar and abusive messages for Senator

Murray turned explicitly violent and threatening when health reform passed.

Quote, “There‘s a target on your back now.  It only takes one piece

of lead.  Kill the expletive senator.  Now, that you passed your health

care bill, let the violence begin.”

Quote, “I hope somebody gets through your security and blows your

expletive brains out.”

Quote, “I hope somebody puts a expletive bullet between your

expletive eyes.”

Quote, “I want to expletive kill you.”

Quote, “I do believe that every one of you expletive socialist

Democratic progressive expletives needs to be taken out.”

The FBI managed to find and arrest the caller who left those

messages this morning.  They are charging him with threatening a federal


After getting a subpoena to trace the man‘s blocked telephone

number, an FBI called the man‘s phone number and pretended to be from the

anti-health reform group Patients United Now.  You remember that Patients

United Now is part of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Industry funded

group that spent a good deal of the last year organizing those “hands off

my health care” rallies.

Well, during that course of that call from the FBI agent, the

affidavit in this case says the suspect, quote, “repeatedly expressed his

strong dislike for the recent health care reform legislation,” and, quote,

“confirmed that he regularly placed calls to Senator Murray‘s and Senator

Maria Cantwell‘s offices.”

He also told the FBI agent that, quote, “I do pack,” as in I carry a

gun, “and I will not blink when I‘m confronted.  And that is a guarantee. 

It‘s not a threat, it‘s a guarantee.  I pack a .38 and if somebody says, I

will not blink.”  He will not blink.

The FBI determined that man did indeed have a .38 revolver that was

registered to him.  He also had a valid concealed weapons permit.

Today also, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia released a sample of

what he has faced from opponents of health reform.  This is a voicemail

that Congressman Lewis released today.


CALLER:  I ain‘t getting the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) health insurance,

that (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  Don‘t tell me I got to get some (EXPLETIVE

DELETED) health insurance.  I ain‘t paying no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) a fine. 

Tell that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he can come put my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in

jail if he don‘t like it.  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) worthless (EXPLETIVE

DELETED), all them other (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that voted for that (EXPLETIVE

DELETED) Obama and all them white trash honkies that voted for that

(EXPLETIVE DELETED) communist socialist stuff.  Dumb mother (EXPLETIVE


I ain‘t getting the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mandatory health insurance


DELETED) white trash honkies, son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) communists

voting for this (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

I ain‘t going to fight no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) war, I‘m not going to

be forced to do something I don‘t want to do.  So (EXPLETIVE DELETED) all


worthless, communist (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


MADDOW:  We also learned today of an arrest in Texas after a 27-

year-old man declared that he intended to use deadly force to stop

abortions from being provided at a specific named clinic that provides

abortions in Dallas, Texas.  Oddly, the man made the threat in a court

filing.  He was trying to file a complaint against the Supreme Court,

demanding that the Supreme Court make abortion illegal immediately.

In this hefty filing, the man said, quote, “I will try to stop an

abortion using oral words, and if words are not enough, I will use physical

force if necessary, and if anyone tries to physically stop me, I will

overcome that force, and if I must use deadly force to defend the innocent

life of another human being, I will.”

The man stated he was headed to this clinic in Dallas.  He was

arrested.  He has been charged with transmitting an interstate

communication containing a threat and using a threat of force to intimidate

the employees of a reproductive health services provider.

And that last one is a law that only exists because of the organized

and extreme longstanding anti-abortion movement in this country, a portion

of which preaches force and intimidation to get what they want.

In the midst of this climate right now in the country, conservative

gun rights advocates are organizing armed shows of force in state capitals

around the country.  Culminating what they say they wish could be an armed

march on Washington on April 19th of this year.

April 19th of this year, of course, not only the anniversary of the

Waco disaster, not only the anniversary of the start of the American

Revolution, but most recently, the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing

by anti-government extremist, militia affiliated gun rights enthusiast,

Timothy McVeigh.  That bombing was on April 19th, 1995.

There will be an armed group marching on April 19th of this year in

Virginia, just across the Potomac from downtown Washington, D.C.  They say

they‘re getting as close as they legally can get to Washington with loaded


Simultaneously, on the grounds of the Washington Monument, there

will be the Second Amendment March—unarmed but only reluctantly so.  As

the lead-up to that event on the Oklahoma City anniversary, the Second

Amendment March group is holding an armed march in Virginia, at the state

capitol in Virginia.  The featured speaker is Virginia‘s Attorney General

Ken Cuccinelli, who, of course, is the right-hand man of Virginia

Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who today declared April to be

Confederate History Month in Virginia.

It is news days like this that remind me that when somebody says to

you, “May you live in interesting times,” they probably mean it as a curse.

Joining us now is Zachary Roth, senior reporter with “Talking Points


Zach, thanks very much for joining us.

ZACHARY ROTH, “TALKING POINTS MEMO”:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  I want to ask you about an anti-abortion connection between

two of those events that I described today.  There was guy arrested in

Texas, right?  But then there‘s also the man arrested in Washington State. 

One of his messages to Patty Murray is reported as having been, “Baby

killer, Murray, I hope somebody gets through your security and blows your

expletive brains out, you expletive baby killing expletive, expletive.”

Do we know how connected the radical anti-abortion movement is to

other forms of anti-government extremism?

ROTH:  We don‘t know absolutely.  But what we do is that when, for

instance, George Tiller was murdered last year by a radical anti-abortion

protester, many abortion rights groups were saying they‘ve noticed an

uptick in this kind of violent language and rhetoric and there seemed to be

this kind of increase in that type of activity.  And, of course, that “baby

killer” phrase, as you know, relates presumably to a comment that was made

by a Republican member of Congress as the health care bill was passing,

where he yelled “baby killer” on the House, Texas Republican Randy


And this guy, as we saw in some of his other comments, was clearly

watching the news and paying attention to the health care reform bill.  So,

it‘s certainly not a stretch to think he was picking up on that rhetoric

and sort of taking it a step further.

MADDOW:  Certainly.  Although he doesn‘t have to be—he doesn‘t

have to have been quoting Neugebauer in order to have said that.  That‘s

the sort of thing that‘s been yelled by anti-abortion extremists for a long

time.  I have been yelled at and called a baby killer myself for discussing

pro-choice views.

The Virginia attorney general is speaking at this armed rally,

Confederate History Month being declared in Virginia by the new Republican

governor there.  Politicians, like Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia is

being sort of touted as the face of the Republican Party.

Is there a political cost that politicians like him have to consider

when sort of trying to appeal to the edges in political terms?

ROTH:  I mean, there is certainly a political cost if he, for

instance, chose to run for president, which some people in the Republican

Party think he might one day want to do.  Maybe there‘s a cost in Virginia,

too, which, you know, voted for Obama and is an increasingly sort of

centrist and leaning Democratic state in recent years.

But there‘s also cost for him, it seems like, in not going to that

extreme.  Increasingly what we‘ve seen with the Republican Party and polls

spell this out, is that Republican base voters now are so—the party is

so sort of shrunk down to its root, that in order to appeal to the people

who are going to come out and vote for Republicans, you have to kind of up

the crazy level a little bit.

And you‘ve seen that not just from McDonnell, but from Cuccinelli as

well, not only in speaking at this, you know, pro-gun march, but in trying

to repeal benefits or protections that universities have in place against

gay and lesbians, you know, this Confederate History Month that McDonnell

has instituted, a number of these things that seem like direct efforts to

appeal to that shrinking base.

MADDOW:  It is also striking.  And, again, this relates

specifically, this was one incident today in Washington State, the threat

against Patty Murray.  The FBI used the name of an actual an anti-health

reform group to catch this guy.  Strategically, I guess, both in a law

enforcement sense, does that make sense?  Does that have difficult

implications for the relationship between law enforcement and politics?

ROTH:  It might have difficult implications for this group to know

that they‘re the one that the FBI sort of chose successfully to think that

they would appeal to this kind of allegedly unhinged lunatic and that he

would want to get involved with them.  If you read the transcript of sound

of the conversation, it sounds like he was very interested in talking to


I mean, what else stood that out to me with him was how closely he

seems to have been picking up on Republican talking points and all of this

stuff.  So, he talked about socialism.  He talked about no bureaucrat is

going to determine my health care.  He even sort of made an oblique

reference at one point to a comment that Eric Holder, the attorney general,

had made about Americans being cowardly in not talking about race.

So, he is—you know, it‘s like he‘s almost like a conservative

blogger, you know, or something like that, rather than your average

unhinged lunatic.

MADDOW:  Or at least sounds like a conservative blogger. 


ROTH:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Zachary Roth, senior reporter of “Talking Points Memo”—

thanks very much for joining us.  Appreciate it.

ROTH:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  OK.  There‘s a lot more to come this hour.  We got the

latest on the mining disaster in West Virginia.  We‘ve got news about the

bank bailout that throws the common wisdom about it out the window.  And we

got an exclusive on ACORN, the videotape that destroyed that organization

and the new videotape that destroys the videotape that destroyed ACORN. 

It‘s all coming up.

Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  We now know that 25 miners have died in Montcoal, West

Virginia.  Another four are still missing, in what‘s now officially the

worst mine disaster in more than two decades in this country.  The

explosion at the Upper Big Branch South mine yesterday after is still being

investigated.  But experts believe it was caused by a buildup of methane

gas.  That same cause also played a role in the Sago Mine explosion that

killed 12 West Virginia miners in 2006.

Rescuers were ordered out of the Big Branch Mine early this morning

when methane levels became dangerously high again.  According to West

Virginia‘s governor, Joe Manchin, rescue workers had searched beyond the

point at which they were putting their own lives in danger when they were

finally pulled out.

Before the search effort can resume, crews must drill bore holes

into the mine to try to vent out this gas.  It‘s expected to take until at

least tomorrow evening.  So, the search for the four miners who remain

unaccounted for will not proceed for at least another day.

Governor Manchin giving updates today, alongside state and federal

officials.  He promised to conduct a full investigation into what caused

the explosion and to hold a public hearing.

Now, the company that owns the Upper Big Branch South mine where

yesterday‘s explosion took place is a company called Massey Energy.  Massey

Energy, one of the top five coal producers in the country.

“The Associated Press” describes Massey‘s safety record as spotty.

“The Washington Post” today reports that “Massey has been frequently

cited for safety violations, including 50 citations at the Upper Big Branch

mine in March alone.”

There have been three fatalities at this one mine over the past 12

years.  In seven of the last 10 years, according to the “A.P.,” its

nonfatal injury rate has been worse than the national average for similar


Researchers at “Think Progress” have also been compiling safety

information on the Upper Big Branch mine.  They found today that the mine

has been cited for more than 3,000 safety violations since 1995.

Now, the CEO of Massey Energy is a man named Don Blankenship.  Mr.

Blankenship is on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

He‘s very politically active.  In West Virginia, he spent more than $3

million on ads to defeat a Supreme Court justice, a state Supreme Court

justice who he expected would rule against him in a $50 million court case.

The new judge—after the guy who Blankenship wanted out was

defeated—the new judge, shockingly, became the deciding vote in the

ruling in Mr. Blankenship‘s favor in that case.  In November of 2008,

apparently in response to a series of articles about mountain top removal

mining and a fatal fire in one of the company‘s mines and the “buying the

judge” controversy, Mr. Blankenship lashed out at the newspaper that was

covering him, the “Charleston Gazette.”

He said at the time, quote, “It is as great a pleasure for me to be

criticized by the communists and the atheists of the ‘Charleston Gazette‘

as to be applauded by my best friends.  Because I know they are wrong. 

People are cowering away from being criticized by people that are our

enemies.  Would we be upset if Osama bin Laden was critical of us?”

“Charleston Gazette,” Osama bin Laden.

Here‘s what happened in April 2008 when ABC News tried to ask Mr.

Blankenship about the “buy a judge” controversy.


DON BLANKENSHIP, MASSEY ENERGY CEO:  If you‘re going to start taking

pictures of me, you‘re liable to get shot.

REPORTER:  Hi.  How are you doing, Mr. Blankenship?  ABC News.  Hey,

sir, don‘t touch my camera.


MADDOW:  He said at the beginning there, in case you missed it, “If

you‘re going to start taking pictures of me, you‘re liable to get shot.”

That‘s the head of Massey Energy, one of the largest coal producers

in the country.

Coal mining is the industry that lost 12 workers at Sago Mine in

2006, that lost five that same year in Millsboro, Kentucky, that lost

another six at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah in 2001, that lost 13

miners in Brookwood, Alabama, in 2001.

Coal mining is a dangerous industry by its very nature, but there

are ways to make it less dangerous, less deadly.

A top official with the federal Mine Safety and Health

Administration said today, “All explosions are preventable.”  Essentially,

the idea being, that mining is dangerous, but mining accidents like the one

that happened yesterday in Montcoal are preventable—if companies that

run these mines are forced to prevent them.  Clearly, by their track

record, the mine companies are not going to do this on their own, which

means they are going to have to be forced to.  In fact, they will probably

fight as hard as they can to not do what regulators tell them to do

because, of course, it will make them less profitable.

But you know what?  Digging coal out of the ground is expensive and

there is the possibility that we ought to pay for that expense in something

other than the lives of the people who do the mining.

Joining us now is Jeff Biggers, author of the book “Reckoning at

Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland.”

Mr. Biggers, thank you very much for coming on the show.  It‘s nice

to see you.


me, Rachel.

MADDOW:  There‘s been a lot of reporting today on this particular

mine owned by Massey Energy.  It‘s racked up with what seems like a lot of

safety violations over the years.

Can you put Massey‘s safety record in perspective for us?  How bad

are their violations considering the industry as a whole?

BIGGERS:  You know, Massey not only had 500 violations in the last

year, but 10 percent of those violations are what we call unwarrantable

failure violations, which means serious life-and-death issues.  You know,

at the same time, we really have to point out the issue of putting

production over safety, Rachel, because at the same time, they had an

increase of 500 violations, they tripled their coal production.

And this is really part of the coal industry and a large part of the

coal industry.  I don‘t want to say all of the coal industry.  But for the

most part, the idea that you can continue to operate a coal mine in a

continual state of violation and denial.

MADDOW:  If these coal mine disasters are preventable, why do they

keep happening?  Is—are the fines not tough enough?  Are the regulations

not tight enough?  Are the regulations not being enforced properly?

Are they defying findings against them?  What‘s the problem?

BIGGERS:  That‘s a great question.  I mean, essentially, as a

historian, what I have found is we passed a century of regulated

manslaughter.  Over 104,000 Americans have died in our coal mines and

thousands upon thousands of coal miners still die from black lung disease.

Every day, we lose three coal miners to black lung disease.  Think

about it.  In 2010, three coal miners daily die from black lung disease.

So, these regulations, what‘s happening?  You know, for the most

part, it‘s more profitable for a coal company to be slapped on the wrist

and pay fines, even fines up to $1 million than to halt their production.

And I think that‘s ultimately what we‘re having to come to grips

with is, does this regulatory system work?  Do we need to change it?  Do we

need to have more visits, for example, instead of quarterly visits, which

we‘ve been stuck on since 1969?  Perhaps we have to have six to eight

visits and inspections per year.

There are many ways to tackle this.  But I think, more importantly,

it‘s a state of mind, that a crisis is not a crisis in this coal industry

until we have these horrific disasters.

MADDOW:  One of the—one of the sort of ongoing stories about

mining in this country, coal mining in particular, but mining in general,

and the struggle of powerful mine owners like Don Blankenship at Massey

Energy and others who‘ve been so willing to throw their weight around in

the political arena.  The other side of that story has been the struggle of

mine workers unions to try to not only get access to workers, to organize

workers who work in these mines, but also to try to play a role in safety


Right now, in 2010, this particular mine not a union mine. 

Generally speaking, does the presence of unions make mines any safer?

BIGGERS:  You know, that‘s a wonderful point to make.  Virtually,

all the major accidents and disasters have taken place in non-union mines. 

And really, Massey Energy is infamous not only for their state of

violations both with underground and but also surface mining, but the fact

that they really were part and parcel of being aggressive about breaking up

the unions in the 1980s and the 1990s.  And this is ultimately what we‘re

paying for.

You know, in the old days, Rachel, or in a union mine, you had union

fire bosses who came in, who pointed out the violations.  And it was a

brotherhood to really make sure that those violations were corrected and

you have a safer mine, because those were members of the union that were in


Today, we have less than 20 percent of our coal miners, estimated,

who actually are with the United Mine Workers or any sort of union.  And

ultimately now, we‘re paying the price.

You know, that‘s the problem.  The coal companies and their

representatives who do any kind of inspections outside of federal

inspectors, they see regulations as just obstacles to production.  They

don‘t realize that regulations are about human lives.  It‘s about

protecting American citizens and the coal miners.

MADDOW:  Jeff Biggers, author of “Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The

Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland”—Mr. Biggers, thanks very much

for joining us tonight.  Thanks for being here.

BIGGERS:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  So, do you remember the undercover pimp video that

supposedly blew the lid off the corruption at ACORN?  The video that helped

shut down ACORN?  We now have the unedited videotape of some of those

incidents, and the firestorm that destroyed ACORN turns out was fueled by

pure manure.  That‘s next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  On October 7th last year, Republican congressman named Pete

Olson of Texas introduced a resolution in Congress to honor Hannah Giles

and James O‘Keefe III, who the resolution said, “filmed investigatory

videos uncovering the fraudulent and illegal practices of the Association

of Community Organization for Reform Now or ACORN.”

A few months earlier, of course, James O‘Keefe III and Hannah Giles

got the right wing of this country very excited when they released

supposedly incriminating undercover videos that they filmed at local ACORN

offices across the country.  They claimed the video showed Mr. O‘Keefe and

Ms. Giles dressed as a pimp and prostitute, receiving assistance and advice

from ACORN about how to do stuff like smuggling underage girls into the

country and securing funding for their illegal prostitution business.

Now, James O‘Keefe and Hannah Giles were all over FOX News for this. 

They were lauded as the right‘s answer to that biased, biased left-wing

profession known as journalism.

And this resolution that 32 House Republicans ultimately signed on

to was meant to commemorate their good work, said, quote, “Whereas Hannah

Giles and James O‘Keefe III have displayed exemplary actions as government

watchdogs and young journalists, Hannah Giles and James O‘Keefe III are

owed a debt of gratitude by the people of the United States.”

That resolution never passed the House.  But six months after it was

introduced, California Attorney General Jerry Brown released details of his

investigation into the ACORN prostitution sting.  And what he found

suggests that the conservative activists who brought down ACORN deserve

something other than just the nation‘s thanks, declaring that the tapes

that were aired on FOX News in a seemingly constant loop were, quote,

“severely edited,” in his words.

The attorney general released the unedited tapes that Mr. O‘Keefe

and Ms. Giles had shot at California ACORN offices.  He said those unedited

tapes show that, quote, “Things are not always as partisan zealots portray

them through highly selective editing for reality.  Sometimes, a fuller

truth is found on the cutting room floor.”

The thing that was supposed to be so shocking about this scandal in

the first place was the accusation that ACORN employees willingly helped a

pimp and a prostitute skirt the law, even though it was perfectly clear

that they were a pimp and prostitute.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s dressed exactly in the same outfit that he

wore to these ACORN offices.


MADDOW:  James O‘Keefe went to those offices dressed up as a pimp

and they still helped him.

Outrageous, right?  Wrong.

Here is how Fox News viewers were shown Mr.O‘Keefe reportedly setting

up his stunt at the ACORN office in San Diego.  Watch this.




So the implication there that Mr. O‘Keefe walks into the ACORN office

dressed in the fur and the hat and everything as a superfly, black

exploitation-style 1970s pimp, but that is not actually what happened. 

Check out the unedited tape.  This is the very end of that visit to the

office in San Diego.


O‘KEEFE:  Thanks, Ma‘am.

VERA:  OK.  Nice to meet you.

O‘KEEFE:  Nice to meet you.

MADDOW (voice-over):  Wait it a second here.  You see that dress shirt, the

pink stripes there.  See that dress shirt that‘s visible as Mr. O‘Keefe

opens the door and exits the office.  It is a dress shirt.  What happened

to the fur and the 1970s superfly black exploitation outfit?


MADDOW:  The pimp outfit thing is just the start.  If you watched the

footage these guys released, if you follow the wall-to-wall coverage on

Fox, if you read all the fun in mainstream media coverage of what these

guys did.  If you are a member of Congress and voted to defund ACORN

because of the outrage portrayed in these tapes, you were had.

Consider this, during that same not-in-a-pimp suit trip to ACORN San

Diego office, Mr. O‘Keefe claimed that he caught an ACORN employee giving

him advice on how to smuggle underage girls into the country.  This is from

the edited version of that trip that O‘Keefe released, and Fox News aired

over and over and over again.  Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Question, would ACORN employee, Juan Carlos, consult

his contacts in Mexico to find a way to help us smuggle the underage girls

into the United States from Tijuana?

What things do you need from me in terms of shipment information, like

what can I help you?  What information would you further need would help

you in the advice you would give me.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Whereabouts like what type, like the city, the state,

what do you need?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The location they are going to take the girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is it better if it is Tijuana?  Is it better if it is

somewhere inland?  Where is the best place?  All these answers he wants

right away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s better if it‘s in Tijuana.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because I have a lot of contacts in Tijuana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK and they might be able to assist crossing the



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, there‘s like 12 of them.  Is that OK?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are 12 girls, but they‘re like 13 to 15 years



MADDOW:  Damning video, right?  Billed by people like Fox News Host Sean

Hannity as cold, hard evidence of ACORN aiding and abetting this crime.


SEAN HANNITY:  This new, never before seen undercover footage shows the

great links than one ACORN official is willing to go in order to help set

up a prostitution ring once again involving underage girls.  Now, the man

on this tape even offers to help smuggle underage illegal immigrants into

the U.S. for the purposes of prostitution.


MADDOW:  Actually, what you don‘t see in that Fox News report is the rest

of the video, which shows the ACORN employee pressing, pressing for as much

information as he could possibly get from these two people in his office.


VERA:  So the telephone number is 201?  What area is that?

O‘KEEFE:  It‘s from—I‘m from back East.  I‘m actually originally from

New Jersey.

VERA:  OK, so you don‘t know what date or day?

GILES:  They‘re coming on Saturday, Saturday morning.

VERA:  Saturday morning?

GILES:  Yes, Friday night, Saturday morning.

VERA:  Really late, in the middle of the night.

GILES:  Secret.  Like between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

VERA:  So they‘re working on then?

GILES:  They are working on the arrival.


MADDOW:  Why is he asking for stuff like phone numbers, dates of arrival,

specific locations, all these details?  What is this ACORN guy going to do

with all that information?  What does he do with all that information?  He

calls the police and reports what they‘ve told him is going to be a crime. 

Quoting from the attorney general‘s report, “Immediately after the couple

left, Mr. Vera telephoned his cousin, Detective Alejandro Hernandez at the

National City Police Department (and said) that a self- prostitute had been

to the office and was discussing human smuggling.”

Detective Hernandez contacted Detective Mark Haas at the San Diego

Police Department.  Detective Haas works with cases involving human

smuggling.  So that ACORN employee who by the way doesn‘t speak English all

that well, did the responsible thing.  He elicited as much information as

he could get out of his supposed pimp and prostitute in his office and then

he immediately reported it to the police.  For that he ended up getting

fired after fantastical interpretations of his actions like these aired on

Fox News.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He told us that it would be best if we had them ship

into Tijuana because he had contacts there that could help us.  It was

extremely unusual.  He said, yes, my people have experienced bringing

people across the border.


MADDOW:  Yes, I remember when he said my people have experienced—that

was you that said that.  The fact that the ACORN employee collected all

that information, including phone numbers and dates and passed that

information on to the police.  That never made it into that Fox News report

on this outrage at the San Diego ACORN office. 

If you watched the Fox News coverage of these undercover ACORN tapes, you

would have gotten the impression that every ACORN employee offered their

assistance in hiding what they were explosively told was a prostitution



HANNITY:  It is almost inconceivable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can‘t think that this is okay.  You know that if it

were you and this couple came in and walked into your office, you wouldn‘t

sit there.


MADDOW:  You wouldn‘t sit there.  You wouldn‘t sit there like these evil

ACORN employees did before they called the police.  I know this may shock

you, but Fox News it turns out was not giving its viewers an accurate

portrayal of how exactly these two activists represented themselves when

they went into the ACORN offices.

The story Fox News told its viewers was that O‘Keefe and Giles went

into ACORN saying they wanted to start a child prostitution business,

right?  ACORN employees like Lavell Stewart in Los Angeles were more than

eager to help them out with starting this child prostitution business. 

Here is how it played on Fox.


HANNITY:  After telling Stewart they are looking to start a prostitution

business, Stewart is well pretty encouraging.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You can do anything.  OK.  Never give up.  Keep

pushing.  Somebody will say yes.


MADDOW:  So that is how Fox News packaged and reported what happened in

that office.  They reported that after this ACORN employee was told that

this pimp and prostitute wanted to start a prostitution business, she

encouraged them to go for it.  Now that we have the unedited tapes, do you

want to see what actually happened?


O‘KEEFE:  We have an interesting situation.  My girlfriend here is from

Miami originally.


O‘KEEFE:  She came over to California.  She is in a unique line of work.


O‘KEEFE:  It has been so much trouble trying to get a house because the



O‘KEEFE:  They want to see something official, and we don‘t have anything

like that.  So that‘s why ACORN—

STEWART:  You know what, when you go to them, tell them exactly what you

told me.  Tell them your situation, because they can probably give you some


O‘KEEFE:  Yes, they can probably help her out.

STEWART:  They can help her.

O‘KEEFE:  Because we have been to so many banks, and they‘re just like—


O‘KEEFE:  We don‘t like to deal with prostitutes.

STEWART:  Yes, you can do anything.  OK, never give up, no matter who says

no.  Somebody‘s going to say yes.


MADDOW:  See how she turns away from him and turns to her.  What actually

happened is that O‘Keefe and Giles told this ACORN employee they couldn‘t

find housing because Ms. Giles was a prostitute, and that‘s when that

employee turned to her and encouraged her to keep trying to get housing for

herself.  Not encouraging her to start a prostitution business, but

encouraging her keep trying in her effort to get housing.

But don‘t let that stop you, Mr. Hannity.  Don‘t let that get in the

way of your great story.  In criticizing this type of selective editing,

California attorney general Jerry Brown‘s office said, quote, “the video

releases were heavily edited to feature only the worst, almost

inappropriate, statements of the various ACORN employees and to omit some

of the most salient statements by O‘Keefe and Giles.

The unedited videotapes released by the California attorney general‘s

office last week clear ACORN employees in California of criminal

wrongdoing.  They do not clear ACORN offices in other parts of the country. 

We have talked about ACORN‘S real various misdeeds before on the show

including having an executive who embezzled funds and some other problems.

This is not meant to excuse what ACORN has done wrong in the past,

but the huge tide of negative publicity that followed these videotapes and

the coverage they‘ve got on Fox wall to wall (inaudible).  It was

dishonest, political stunt that bears no resemblance to journalism and no

resemblance to the actual facts of what happened in those offices, but it


This big organization serving poor people, registering thousands of

low income voters, advocating for a higher minimum wage, this organization

has been shut down.  Means be damned, in the end it worked.  Who do you

think is next on their list?


Hey, it turns out the common wisdom is broken.  The bank bail out is

making a profit.  U.S. Treasury says from the 49 firms who have paid back

the money and exited the program, they have made or rather taxpayers have

made $10.5 billion profits.  According to the Financial Research firm of

NSL Financial that‘s a tidy 8.5 percent return on the bail out investment.

Included in the bargain, the banking system appears to have survived

and most Americans do not live in cardboard boxes.  Politically though,

don‘t forget bail out huge failure, the country is communist now and ACORN

is responsible for everything bad including that guy from Butler missing

that half court at the buzzer last night.  They did.  They did it.  Don‘t



MADDOW:  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Senator Tom Coburn, possibly the

most right wing member of the United States Senate goes after Fox News. 

Really.  The first a few holy mackerel stories in today‘s news, are you

ready for your does Michael Steele still have a job as head of the RNC

updates?  Of course you are.

After the RNC was found to have spent donor money at a fake lesbian

nightclub, and after they paid $13,000 to the RNC co-chair‘s daughter and

they charged expenses at a fly-fishing shop and liquor store as meals and

office supplies.  And after big wig formed their new group and told donors

to stop giving Michael Steel any money.

And after Sarah Palin demanded that her name be taken off an RNC

fund-raiser and after maybe these single biggest fund-raiser in the

Republican party quit the RNC and after the RNC chief of staff either quit

or was fired and Michael Steele replaced him with a reportedly widely hated

guy who run his not reportedly but actually disastrous and scandal ridden

failed Senate campaign.

After all that happened and Mr. Steele hired at his new finance guy

and then who was recently fined thousands of dollars in fines for misusing

donor‘s money, after of all that, today happened.  In today‘s news, we

learn that an RNC member from New Hampshire has resigned in public protest

of Mr. Steele‘s leadership.

And we learned that the political consultants who helped Mr. Steele

get the RNC chairman gig in the first placed have quit him too.  We have

learned that Mr. Steele has written to all of the remaining members of the

RNC saying the buck stops with him and he wants the RNC to buckle up and

hunker down with him that‘s the actual phrase he used.

Buckle up and hunker down, and Mr. Steele still has his job.  For the

record, right now as I‘m speaking it is 9:47 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday,

in case this needs to be timestamp.

In Nevada, the trials and tribulations of Senator John Ensign are

threatening to take a public turn.  A source in the justice department

saying it is very likely John Ensign will be indicted and that charges

would include the allegations when Senator Ensign last year paid almost

$100,000 to his mistress.  He did so in a way that was deliberately

designed to keep that payment from having to be reported.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ralston‘s paper, “The Las Vegas Sun”, Mr. Ensign‘s

hometown paper, has published perhaps the most scathing, brutal takedown of

a sitting as yet an indicted senator that I have ever read in any senator‘s

hometown paper ever in my entire life.  They call him tone deaf, borderline

obtuse, increasingly arrogant, narcissistic, reckless, a detached self-

righteous figure oblivious to the collateral damaged caused by his actions.

Examples of Ensign‘s selfishness and arrogance they say are legion. 

They use the word narcissism again.  They say he has character defects.  He

was an ass to his employees, he was a show horse not a workhorse, neither

knowledgeable nor interested in the gritty details of policy or politics. 

He is uninformed.

These are all words used in the article in John Ensign‘s hometown

paper and most of these allegations again Ensign are sourced to Nevada

Republicans quite a few of them are willing to be quoted by name saying

these things about sitting Republican Senator John Ensign.  No matter what

you think about John Ensign, this piece in the “Las Vegas Sun” is one of

the most remarkable hometown takedowns I have ever seen of any politician. 

It is linked if you would like to cuddle up with it at  We‘ll be right back.



MADDOW: The video we are about to show you here is graphic and it may

be disturbing.  Take a look if you want to a video released yesterday

reportedly taken during combat operations in Iraq.  It was reportedly taken

from a U.S. attack helicopter.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, firing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me know when you‘ve got them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Light them all up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Come on, fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Roger.  Keep shooting.  Keep shooting.


MADDOW:  That is just a small portion of a 38-minute video posted online by

whistle-blowing web site  Wikileaks says it received the

classified video and supporting documents from anonymous military sources. 

The video appears to depict the U.S. military attack helicopters shooting

at what the pilots appeared to believe are armed insurgents on the streets

of Baghdad.

After gunning down eight people, the helicopter then shoots at people

who emerged from a van to help the people who were wounded in the earlier

shooting barrage.  But according to the context provided by Wikileaks, two

of the victims were actually not only not armed insurgents, they were

actually journalists for Reuters‘ news service.

The military‘s response to this has been not to deny the authenticity

of the video, but to defend the choices made by its troops in this war

zone.  Here‘s what the military said after an internal investigation into

this incident in 2007.  They said that the attack weapons team positively

identified the threat, established hostile intent, conducted a collateral

damage assessment and received clearance to fire.  They also say after only

extensive review of the helicopter gun cam video did they realize that two

of the individuals killed may have been reporters.

Nearly three years later, the Wiki-leaks video surfaced on the same

day as the “New York Times” published another heart in your throat

description of an attack that killed civilians in a war zone.  This time in

Afghanistan, it was this February, a couple of months ago during a

nighttime raid.

Special forces looking for Taliban insurgents fired on two armed men

who emerged from their home to investigate.  They also shot and killed

three women who were standing near one of the men.  An investigation by

Afghan authorities determined that not only did the U.S. Forces kill

innocent people in that incident, but they also tried to cover up the

deaths, one man claiming that U.S. troops dug bullets out of the women‘s


Pentagon officials have admitted that the civilians were killed

inadvertently, but as to the specific allegation of a cover-up, they have

denied having attempted to retrieve any bullets from the bodies.  The U.S.

military has opened another investigation into that Afghanistan incident to

try presumably to reconcile the widely different stories that are being

told about what happened there.

What‘s important about both of these incidents, in Iraq and

Afghanistan, is not just accountability for the individuals involved,

necessary, moral, legal and appropriate as that may be.  What‘s also

important is what these incidents mean for Americans, for all of us and for

our national security policy as we contemplate the beginning of year 8 in

Iraq, and the middle of year 9 in Afghanistan.  But the American government

is counting on to win these ongoing wars, the way out we have chosen is

counter insurgency.

That‘s the approach spearheaded by General David Petraeus since 2007,

and his protege and successor, General McChrystal in Afghanistan since

2008.  What that strategy depends on for success is a lack of civilian

casualties.  The point of counter-insurgency, like the old saw says, to win

the hearts and minds of the people, to shore up legitimate authority of the

local government, and then get the population to side with the government,

to side with authorities instead of siding with the insurgency.

That‘s why the exposure of these incidents is important, and

critically the response from the military is important.  All eyes on the

Pentagon here for their response.


MADDOW:  Today President Obama unveiled his nuclear posture review,

which is about the most boring title ever assigned to something so

important and ambitious and actually fascinating.  The president of the

United States says he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  He can‘t

just throw him on a barge in the Potomac and be done with it, but to begin,

Mr. Obama says the U.S. won‘t use nuclear weapons against nations that have

signed and are complying with the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

Just saying that is a real change in policy and in practical terms,

it might foster unprecedented diplomatic capital at the cost of roughly

nothing to the United States.  On Thursday, the president returns to Prague

to sign a new treaty with Russia that will reduce each country‘s nuclear

arsenal by about a third.

On Monday, the president will host world leaders on a conference on

safeguarding weapons and radioactive materials, so bombs and the stuff used

to make bombs don‘t end up floating around on the black market.  So with

all these going on naturally we turn now to our countries with bad nuclear

posture correspondent, Mr. Kent Jones.  Hi, Kent.


Korea‘s ambitions are not entirely nuclear.  Their latest initiative is

ominously artistic.  Take a look.


JONES (voice-over):  At a big inauguration ceremony this weekend, the

African nation of Senegal celebrated its 50th anniversary of its

independence by unveiling this statue, called the monument of African

renaissance.  This copper sculpture depicts a family rising out of a

volcano, a really buff family.  And at 160 feet tall, it‘s one foot taller

than the statue of liberty.  So is everyone super-psyched about the giant

new artwork?

No.  Forget that a giant statue may not be the first item on the list

of thing that a poor country like Senegal needs, critics are into the hole

hero of the people it doesn‘t say Africa so much as it says Stalin.  If it

looks like something that belongs in North Korea, that‘s because the

workers who built it are from North Korea.

In exchange for $27 million to build the statue, North Korea received

a piece of land in Senegal.  African renaissance, brought to you by Kim

Jong-il.  No one likes a massive chunk of monumental art more than dear

leader, maybe he‘ll use that parcel of land in Senegal to build something

like this, or this, or this.  So to recap, Senegal now has a really big

statue a lot of people don‘t like, and North Korea got part of an African

country thousands of miles away.  Sculps locally, act globally.


MADDOW:  It‘s so weird, thank you, Kent.  I appreciate it.





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