The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/07/10
HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you very much for
And thanks to you at home for tuning in.
Tonight, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who we usually never talk about
on this show, says something that is hard to believe.
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says something that‘s hard to swallow.
And, Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says something that‘s
hard not to laugh at. But I will try.
And the Republican National Committee‘s spectacular 10 days of
humiliation has produced an outcome that is hard to fathom. It has caused
one high-profile possible candidate for office to switch to the Republican
Party—not from the Republican Party, but to the Republican Party. Like
I said, hard to fathom.
That is all ahead.
But, we begin tonight with the developing story on threats made
against Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Law enforcement
officials are telling NBC News tonight that the FBI has arrested a northern
California man, a San Francisco man, for making multiple, threatening phone
calls to Speaker Pelosi and to her husband. Federal officials say the man
made dozens of phone calls to Speaker Pelosi‘s home in California, to her
home in Washington, D.C., and to her husband‘s business office.
The charges remain under seal, but a federal official tells NBC
justice correspondent Pete Williams that the man will be charged with
violating a federal law against making calls that annoy, abuse, threaten or
harass. It‘s a charge that carries a maximum two-year prison sentence.
According to this official who spoke with NBC, “The calls were so numerous,
the decision was made that something had to be done.”
The “Associated Press” also quoting unnamed federal officials tonight
as saying that in the threatening calls, the man recited Speaker Pelosi‘s
home address and said that if she ever wanted to see her home again, she
would stop health reform.
This arrest, of course, comes within 24 hours of yesterday‘s FBI
arrest of a Washington state man who was is accused of making threats
against Democratic Senator Patty Murray.
Both of these stories are still developing tonight. We will let you
know about any further details as we get them.
Now, the other big story in politics today happened in the middle of
the country in Minnesota. On the myth of the moderate Republican—a
modern moderate Republican—finally came to an end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: Freedom-loving Minnesotans, please
welcome, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Governor Sarah Palin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, alongside Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in
Minnesota, stood Minnesota governor and 2012 presidential hopeful Tim
Pawlenty. Yes. There he is. Oh, yes. Yes.
Yes, same event. That‘s him, introducing Sarah Palin and Michele
Mr. Pawlenty not only appearing with Ms. Bachmann and Ms. Palin today,
but blast-emailing his supporters in advance of today‘s event, telling them
that they need to stand with Michele Bachmann to help send her back to
Here‘s the deal. Tim Pawlenty still gets described as a voice of
reason in the Republican Party—a voice of moderation in a party that is
increasingly leaning towards the very, very far right. You can either be a
moderate, you can represent the center, you can be the reasonable
alternative to the far right, or you can hitch your wagon to Michele
Bachmann. You can‘t be both. Trust me.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIPS)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Thomas Jefferson said, a
revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean,
And really now in Washington, I‘m a foreign correspondent on enemy
lines. I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous.
(END AUDIO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That is who Tim Pawlenty is now urging his supporters to get
If Tim Pawlenty is the voice of moderation in the Republican Party,
it‘s possible the Beltway media needs to find a new guy in the Republican
Party to call the voice of moderation. And they have, actually.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER (voice-over): Republican Bob McDonnell has focused not on
the president, but on taxes and jobs in a campaign targeted squarely at
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL ®, VIRGINIA: Private sector solutions and free
enterprise and limited government—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. McDonnell has done his best to rebrand himself as a
moderate willing to work with Democrats. During his campaign, Mr.
McDonnell ran as a moderate. Mr. McDonnell ran as a moderate conservative.
All quotes from the coverage of Bob McDonnell‘s campaign for the
governorship in Virginia, and the way that he has governed since he has
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, after Tim Pawlenty, is now being
christened the new voice of the Republican moderate.
When the “Richmond Times-Dispatch” endorsed Mr. McDonnell last year,
they noted his, quote, “moderate temperament.”
Mr. McDonnell was handpicked by the Republican Party to give the
Republican response to President Obama‘s State of the Union address earlier
this year, after he had been in office precisely 11 days. Mr. McDonnell
was praised widely at that time as the moderate-seeming, new face of the
Move over, Tim Pawlenty, there is a new Republican moderate seeming
guy in town—a new Republican moderate seeming guy that declared the
month of April will be Confederate History Month in the Commonwealth of
Virginia. Governor McDonnell releasing a proclamation to that effect
saying, quote, “April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined
the Confederate States of America in a four-year war between the states for
Oh, that‘s what we‘re calling it now, a four-year war between the
states for independence. It sounds awesome. Is that all it was for?
The proclamation goes on, “Whereas Virginia has long recognized her
Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every
region of the state, their leaders and individuals and the army, navy, and
at home who fought for their homes and communities and commonwealth in a
time very different than ours today; and whereas, it is important for all
Virginians to reflect upon our commonwealth-shared history, to understand
the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the
period of the Civil War.”
Do you notice anything missing here in all the “whereases” in this
call to remember Confederate soldiers fighting for their homes and
communities? In the war of independence?
Did you notice the lack of mention of something else the Confederacy
might have been fighting for?
The last time a Republican governor in Virginia tried to celebrate a
Confederate History Month in Virginia, he at least had the decency to
mention slavery. Governor Jim Gilmore included this in his 1999
Confederacy proclamation, quote, “Our recognition of Confederate history
also recognizes that slavery was one of the causes of the war, slavery is
abhorred and condemned by Virginians and was ended by this war.” Right.
This time around, Governor McDonnell cut that part out and made no
mention of slavery at all.
Criticized for that, the new moderate-seeming face of the Republican
Party said that he did not think slavery was an important enough issue to
include in a proclamation on the Confederacy. He told “The Washington
Post,” quote, “There were any number of aspects to that conflict between
the states, obviously it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But
I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.”
See, slavery just wasn‘t significant enough to mention. The civil
war? Any number of things going on there. Slavery? Whatever.
A spokesman for Governor McDonnell later had to clarify that comment,
telling the Web site “Talking Points Memo” today, quote, “The governor
knows that slavery is a significant part of Virginia‘s history.”
It turns out that clarification was not quite good enough, because
even later today, Governor McDonnell finally caved on the whole “the Civil
War was about any number of things, slavery shmavery, let‘s commemorate the
Confederacy” scandal. Governor McDonnell finally tonight forced to reverse
himself on the matter and to issue and apology.
He put out a statement that said, quote, “The proclamation issued by
this office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a
major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a
mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been
offended or disappointed.”
Along with this apology came an update to the official Confederate
History Month proclamation which, of course, is still in effect. The
update reads, quote, “Whereas, it is important for all Virginians to
understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil
and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable
rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia was supposed to be the new face of
Republican moderation. He says his “celebrate the Confederacy
proclamation” was, in the first instance, a way of encouraging tourism to
the Commonwealth of Virginia. Well, between the celebrate the confederacy,
slavery shmavery proclamation and the fact that Governor McDonnell‘s
attorney general is scheduled to be speaking at an event at the state
capitol on Monday to promote the open carrying of loaded firearms, I‘m sure
that tourists everywhere feel very, very welcome in Virginia these days.
Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Lacewell, an MSNBC contributor and
professor of politics and African-American studies, whereas, at Princeton
Melissa, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and probably more
important, the child of Virginia—I went to public school from
kindergarten through high school in the state of Virginia. So, I know
quite a bit about this War of Northern Aggression that the—that the
governor is speaking about.
MADDOW: Well, as an African-American studies professor and as a
Virginia native, before we even talk about Bob McDonnell, what do you think
about the idea of there being Confederate History Month in Virginia?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, you know, certainly, it‘s not as though
Governor McDonnell initiated this.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: But he did revive it. So, you know, again, I know
enough about Virginia history to know that there really are sort of two
different ways that Virginia has thought about its southern past. And one
is kind of the Thomas Jefferson notion of Virginia history. And,
obviously, the Thomas Jefferson notion of Virginia history includes
slavery. There‘d be no way to talk about Jefferson without talking about
But it is a tradition that is focused primarily on how Virginia
contributed to the founding of the nation, how someone who was himself a
slaveholder wrote a document that wasn‘t a slave document but a free
document, right? The Declaration of Independence, saying we have
inalienable rights, and that helped to create the union.
But then there‘s this other way that Virginia history is sometimes
presented in the schools and on Monument Avenue in Richmond and on
Jefferson Davis Highway where I grew up. And that is a history that says
what Virginia is primarily is the site of massive resistance against the
Union, that it is the site where sort of brave soldiers came together to
fight against this very thing that Jefferson had sacrificed to create.
So, in both cases, there‘s slavery. But the real question is how it
comports itself towards the national story. Is Virginia a place that
birthed the nation or that it‘s part of a birth of a nation?
MADDOW: Well, and what about the issue of tourism being linked to the
Confederacy? This idea that Americans would want to not just revisit
historic sites of the Civil War, but would specifically want to come to
Virginia to sort of commemorate and learn more about the Confederacy
To me, it‘s interesting and it‘s important that Republican governors
keep endorsing that idea, and Democratic governors keep not endorsing that
idea in Virginia.
Are there—either partisan or left and right—differences of
opinion and perception about having a romantic view of the Confederacy?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Oh, absolutely. This particular romantic, and I
want to say even imagined notion of the Confederacy, and I say it‘s
imagined because part of what the Confederate story is, is this idea that
somehow poor, white southerners really benefited from the relationship of
slavery. When, in fact, we know that, you know, the vast majority of white
laborers did not benefit from slavery. They found that their labor was
degraded by slavery.
But instead, what happens with this sort of romantic notion of the
“great south” is that it gets sold as a commodity so that I can see, for
example, rebel flags, Confederate flags, in rural Pennsylvania and in
southern California and in downstate Illinois. Now, these are not places
that were part of the Confederacy, but they are consumed by Americans
across the country who want to have a sort of vision of white supremacy, a
vision of this kind of romantic moment in American history where black
people knew their place and women knew their place and laborers knew their
And so, this is clearly to me about attaching to one he perceives as a
national anxiety about the ways in which women, and people of color and
immigrants are changing and rewriting the American story, and saying, you
know what, Virginia will be a nice, safe place for those of you who want to
romanticize a past where this sort of, you know, power struggle did not
But, of course, it‘s not true. It‘s simply a romantic notion of the
Confederacy. It‘s not the reality of the ways in which the Confederacy
degraded whites and blacks together.
MADDOW: Sure. It certainly puts a very romantic asterisk on it so
you just forget that slavery was even part of the reason that the south was
fighting, just—I mean, he‘s excused this as a sort of mistake and
omission after initially defending today. But I sort of think this is the
this defines Bob McDonnell from here on out until he gives us a reason
to believe anything else important about him.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Yes, I would agree. And again, you know, having
gone to school in Virginia, it‘s not an uncommon thing to pretend that the
war between the states, or the War of Northern Aggression was somehow not a
war about slavery. It‘s a common narrative that emerges in textbooks and
You know, and again, I think it also highlights sort of what happened
in Texas recently around the changing of the curriculum. It is critically
important that as we tell our history as Americans, that we not only get
our facts straight, but, also, you know, employ kind of critical reasoning
skills to think on our past—because that past is with us even right now.
MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton professor, MSNBC
contributor, and one of the smartest people I‘ve every talked to about
anything, anytime, anywhere.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you so much, Melissa. It‘s great to see you.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Here‘s what one worker at the Massey Energy coal mine in West
Virginia said after an explosion at that mine killed 25 people and left
four more missing this week. The person said, “No one will say this who
works at that mine, but everyone knows it has been dangerous for years.”
Jeff Goodell, who is the author of “Big Coal,” joins us next for the latest
on what‘s going on with the rescue effort in West Virginia.
And later on, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma gets really uncomfortably
personal with me. Coming up.
MADDOW: We have some breaking news tonight from Afghanistan. For the
third time, the Taliban has released video that Taliban spokespeople say is
of a U.S. soldier who was captured in Afghanistan last June.
You‘ll recall this soldier‘s name. He‘s Army Private Bowe Bergdahl.
He‘s originally from Idaho. He was last seen living his base in eastern
The Taliban has consistently claimed that they have had him in its
Well, today, a group calling itself the Mujahideen of the Islamic
Emirate of Afghanistan released this video you‘re seeing here. They claim
that it shows Private Bergdahl with a beard doing pushups, presumably to
show that he is still fit and healthy.
Two weeks after Private Bergdahl disappeared, the Taliban released
their first video of him, showed him with a shaved head, sitting on a rug
with food in front of him. He says in that tape, he said in that tape that
he was scared he wouldn‘t be able to go home.
Then, in December, the Taliban released a second video also reportedly
showing him. This one showed him in full Army uniform.
Now, in the third video that was released today, Private Bergdahl begs
to go home. He asks for the return of all U.S. troops and for an end to
the war. You see that footage there, also Private Bergdahl looking quite
different now with a full, grown out beard.
We don‘t have further details to release to you. And, of course,
we‘re going on what the Taliban says this is, and what it appears to be.
It‘s not yet confirmed.
We will be right back.
MADDOW: If you want to dig coal out of the ground, you‘re going to
have to deal with methane gas. It‘s almost a fact of nature. It‘s
frequently true. Methane occurs naturally in the ground around coal seams.
And the problem, of course, is that, if there‘s a certain amount of
methane gas in the air, between, say, 5 percent and 15 percent, it‘s very,
So, if you‘re mining coal, it‘s really, really, really important that
you take measures to get methane gas away from what you‘re doing, to keep
the levels of methane gas inside the mine at very, very low levels—
because otherwise, naturally, methane builds up, explosions can happen very
easily, and people can very easily be killed.
In Montcoal, Virginia, this week, 25 miners died. Another four are
still unaccounted for after an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine. The
cause of that explosion is still being investigated but the prime suspect
is a buildup of methane gas. Rescuers were ordered out of the mine early
yesterday morning, even though there are still four people missing,
because, they said, of dangerously high methane levels.
They have begun now drilling holes into the mine to vent out the gas,
but state and federal officials said this afternoon that gas levels,
including carbon monoxide and hydrogen, as well as methane gas, were still
too high to let rescuers back into the mine to resume the search for those
four miners who are still missing.
Just minutes ago, officials gave another update on the rescue effort,
saying there‘s still a possibility that rescuers could get back into the
mine as early as tonight. It hasn‘t yet happened.
The hope is that these four miners who are missing were able to make
their way to a rescue chamber in the aftermath of this explosion on Monday.
A top federal mine safety official who is on-scene in West Virginia said
today that hope is miniscule.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin is promising a full investigation
into the explosion. Staffers from the House Education and Labor Committee
have been dispatched to West Virginia as part of a congressional
investigation. And the Department of Labor has just announced its own
Already, though, the Upper Big Branch mine where the explosion took
place, and Massey Energy, the company that owns it, are under intense
scrutiny for their safety record or lack thereof. We learned yesterday
that the mine had been cited for 53 violations last month alone. We know
now that the mine was even cited twice on the day of the explosion.
Perhaps the most instructive thing we are learning about all these
safety violations at the Upper Big Branch mine is not how many safety
violations they were, but what they were about.
Among the mine‘s violations was one in January for ventilation systems
that are supposed to prevent the system of methane gas and coal dust that
can cause explosions. According are to the “Associated Press” earlier this
year, federal inspectors found the air flow had been reversed on a fresh
air system that was meant to bring clean air to miners in an emergency.
The “A.P.” reports, “The mine foreman told investigators he‘d known about
the problem for weeks without addressing it.”
One former federal mine safety official told “Bloomberg” today, quote,
“Massey has a history of violating safety regulations especially of the
sins of ventilation, methane and coal dust that can caused this kind of
Also, two miners speaking on the condition of anonymity told “The New
York Times” today that in the past two months, miners have been evacuated
three times from the Upper Big Branch mine because of dangerously high
A 22-year-old electrician who worked in the mine as a subcontractor
went on the record to “The Times,” saying, quote, “No one will say this who
works at that mine, but everyone knows it has been dangerous for years.”
Specifically, according to that subcontractor, workers had regularly been
told to work 12 hour shifts when eight hours is the industry standard. He
also said that live wires have been left exposed and that an accumulation
of coal dust and methane was routinely ignored.
We‘ve also just had a piece crossed the wire from “Reuters.” Jimmy
Platt, 54 years old, a former miner worked for Massey during his 17-year
career, said the explosion at Upper Big Branch mine on Monday was an
accident waiting to happen. He said he and other miners were sometimes
required to put in 18- to 20-hour days. He says they were told to work
what he says was un-mineable coal, which opened wide cracks in the mine
ceiling, making a roof collapse more likely.
Mr. Platt said the main difference between working for nonunionized
Massey and working for other mine companies that have union representation
was, in his words, “the right to say no.”
Again, methane gas happens in coal mines. There are multiple causes
of explosions and other things that can be dangerous in coal mining.
Methane gas is one of those things that‘s just there. It‘s highly
explosive and it‘s there for the very important job of coal mining
companies, to keep it from building up and exploding and killing their
For safety violation upon safety violation upon safety violation,
federal inspectors have proposed more than $1 million in fines this year
alone for this one mine where this blast happened on Monday. So far, the
company that profits from the mine, Massey Energy, has paid only 16 percent
of those fines. As of now, the price paid by the people who actually do
the mining is 25 lives. And four more for which we wait and hope.
Joining us now, Jeff Goodell. He‘s “Rolling Stone” contributing
editor and author of the book, “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America‘s
Jeff, thanks very much for being here.
JEFF GOODELL, AUTHOR, “BIG COAL”: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: On this “Reuters” story, one of the things that strikes as
remarkable about this is that there are now people who are former workers
for Massey, some family members of people who have worked for Massey, who
are willing to put their names to their quotes and talk about the company
being dangerous. Is this new?
GOODELL: It is new because for a while, and for a long time, there‘s
been a code of silence around Massey Energy, because they‘re such a big
coal operator in that region, in Appalachia there, that if you bad mouth
Massey, if you‘ve even tell the truth about what‘s going on in the mines,
then you don‘t have a job.
But I think what‘s happening is they‘re having a building, obvious
anger about what‘s gone on here. Massey was—you know, pleaded guilty to
10 criminal counts, charges in the Aracoma Mine in 2006 where two miners
were killed. There was a lot of anger about the behavior there. They were
they were found to have falsified the mine logs in that mine.
There‘s a lot of anger around Massey‘s mountain top removal mining,
which is flattening large areas of Appalachia, a lot of water—Clean
Water Act violations there.
So, I think what‘s happening, people are finally standing up in West
Virginia and saying this has to stop. We have to change the way we mine
MADDOW: When we think about trying as a country to make sure that
people have a right to work without it costing them their lives, and we
think about trying to make—create the expectation that companies will
follow the law and not try to either buy their way or bully their way
around it, you look at what happened with the Aracoma Mine fire. That was
in West Virginia in 2006. And, as you say, Massey didn‘t just pay
multimillion dollar fines there, they were found criminally—they were
found guilty in a criminal case on that.
MADDOW: And yet, we are still seeing safety violations related to
ventilation, related to some of the same things that killed those miners in
West Virginia in 2006, still happening. If criminal penalties don‘t work,
multimillion fines don‘t work, increased regulations don‘t work, what
GOODELL: Well, it‘s a good question. I mean, this is a political
problem. This is—this is about the fact that Don Blankenship basically
is the biggest political power in West Virginia. Nobody wants to stand up
to him. He goes after politicians who do anything that he doesn‘t like.
He spent $3.5 million a few years ago in attack ads against a state‘s
Supreme Court justice who had made a decision in a case that he didn‘t
like. The word on the street in West Virginia is, you don‘t mess with Don.
And there‘s just—it‘s just a really simple kind of intimidation that
And then, in these mines, you know—you know, it‘s not as all above
board as we would like to think, you know? I mean, this is—these
inspections happen down in the dark, and I know from talking to some of
these mine inspectors, I know federal mine inspectors, and there‘s a lot of
corruption in this, and there‘s a lot of back slapping and turning it,
looking the other way, especially in the case of Massey.
I mean, the obvious question here is: why wasn‘t this mine shut down?
MADDOW: When we look at the disasters that have been happening so
frequently in China, with Chinese coal mines, we don‘t look at that and
think like, oh, those Chinese coal mine operators, they sure are shady. Or
those Chinese coal miners, they sure don‘t know what we‘re doing in terms
of safety. We, from this comfortable distance, look at that problem and
say, wow, China‘s got a problem.
MADDOW: China‘s got a problem that they‘re growing so fast they don‘t
care about the lives of their people.
MADDOW: We look at that problem and decide that‘s a government
problem, that‘s a problem about effective governance and government
priorities. I feel that way about the mining industry in this country,
too, and I‘m not at a comfortable distance from it.
What do you think is the best hope for things actually getting better?
GOODELL: Well, I think that, you know, part of what we‘re seeing is
the Bush administration spent eight years kind of gutting the mine safety
administration, so that became kind of a ineffective agency.
There‘s good sign the Obama administration has put in a tough
administrator in the mine safety administration. I mean, I think we‘re
really talking about political reform, but not just in the mine safety
level, but within West Virginia.
And that‘s a really complicated problem, because this is a state
Don Blankenship makes the argument that the economy of West Virginia is
dependent upon continuing to mine and burn coal. And he sees the coal
industry - mining coal as a commodity game. It‘s just get the stuff out of
the ground as cheaply and as quickly as possible. But that has to change.
We have to think about coal in a different way.
MADDOW: Only to the factor in the lives and safety of the people
doing this work in terms of figuring out the cost of it.
GOODELL: All right.
MADDOW: Jeff Goodell is “Rolling Stone” contributing editor and he‘s
the author of “Big Coal: The Dirty Secrets Behind America‘s Energy Future.
Thank you for joining us. Appreciate it, Jeff.
GOODELL: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: OK. Oklahoma‘s Republican Senator Tom Coburn is not only
proud to have blocked the extension of unemployment benefits this week. He
is raring to go on a blocking spree when Congress reconvenes, because he
says he‘s so responsible. There is so much more to this story, including
him dragging me into it. Stick around.
MADDOW: President Obama right now is on Air Force One heading for
Prague. He left the White House this evening, almost a year to the day
since his last visit to the Czech capital.
Last April, standing in what had been enemy territory during the
Cold War, Mr. Obama laid out his vision of a world minus nuclear weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I state clearly and with
conviction America‘s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world
without nuclear weapons. This goal will not be reached quickly, perhaps
not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence.
But now, we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the
world cannot change. We have to insist, yes, we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, we can change, he says. And we sort of have an
incremental but important ways on this issue. The call for a world free of
nuclear weapons isn‘t a new one. It was a vision, of course, that was
shared by President John F. Kennedy, also shared by that other notorious
weak-willed liberal, Ronald Reagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We‘re not just
discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek
instead to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination, one day, of
nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What a lily-livered liberal that Ronald Reagan was. Today‘s
right wing is attacking Barack Obama for embracing Ronald Reagan‘s policy
on nuclear weapons, which tells you a lot more about today‘s right wing
than it does about either Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama.
But the actions that Mr. Obama is taking on nukes shouldn‘t be a
surprise. The last time he went to Prague a year ago, he told us what he
is planning to do in this field. He said, for example, that the U.S. would
cut back on the circumstances under which we would consider using nukes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Put an end to Cold War thinking. We will reduce the role of
nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Done. This week, the administration released its new nuclear
strategy plan which boils down to, “If you don‘t have nuclear weapons, we
won‘t use nuclear weapons against you.” Unless your name rhymes with schm-
Iran(ph) or schm-North Korea(ph) - you guys are exempt from any deal with
anybody else because you‘re cheaters.
Russia, too, made a similar announcement earlier this year. Mr.
Obama also said he‘d like to reduce the number of nuclear weapons that
already exist in the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To reduce our warheads in stockpiles, we will negotiate a new
strategic arms reduction treaty with the Russians this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Also done, albeit a little bit late. He will sign the new
strategic arms reduction treaty, the new START treaty, with Russia
tomorrow. It should cut the number of deployed nukes by almost a third.
Back at that speech a year ago in Prague, President Obama also said we‘d do
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We should build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation,
including an international fuel bank so that countries can access peaceful
power without increasing the risk of proliferation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Also in the works. International fuel banks on the agenda
for next week‘s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. Mr. Obama hopes to
secure an agreement on them then.
The goal of a nuclear-free world has been around for half a
century. Actually achieving it will probably take just as long. And
anyone calling President Obama a commie or worse for trying to achieve a
world free of nuclear weapons should probably be asked if they think Ronald
Reagan was a commie, too.
In response to President Obama taking on this issue that I still
like to call the “nucular(ph)” issue, even though that‘s not how you
pronounce it, the nation of Iran is getting its nuclear (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today gave an anti-American speech
that included this pure-gold bombastic dictator strangeness. He said,
quote, “Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer to politics. Wait until your sweat
dries and get some experience. Be careful not to read just any paper put
in front of you or repeat any statement recommended. American officials
bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn‘t do a damn thing, let
Wait until your sweat dries? Don‘t make any nuclear policies
until at least 20 minutes after you‘ve completed your exercise routine
because you might cramp. Wait until your sweat dries?
To be fair, the tiny little Iranian president might be distracted
on this issue. He is busy these days planning a nuclear summit of his own,
which he says will compete with the one that Mr. Obama is convening in
Washington next week.
The American summit is going to focus on securing loose nukes
around the world, preventing terrorists from getting their grubby little
mitts on them. Leaders from more than 40 countries are expected to be in
attendance. For its alternate summit, Iran has invited 60 countries. Take
that, Yankee imperialists.
So far, only six countries have RSVP‘d. But don‘t worry, Iran,
we are sure that more leaders will get back to you and RSVP soon, just as
soon as their sweat dries.
MADDOW: This time last year, the modern tea party movement was just
cranking up, and the Fox News Channel was all over it. They had special
tea party coverage across the country.
They advertised Fox News channel - see, FNC - Fox News Channel
tax day tea parties. You can see at this map here that they‘re called Fox
News Channel tax day tea parties because all the big Fox News Channel
personalities appeared at tax party - tax day tea party events.
They were Fox News endorsed and promoted and, in some cases,
hosted events. They didn‘t just cover the tea party protests. They ran
ads for them. They used Fox News Channel staff production time and ad time
on their air to promote the events. They ran tea party promotions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALE ANNOUNCER: All across the country, Americans are making their
voices heard. In California, Texas, Georgia, Washington, D.C., citizens
are standing up, saying no to more taxes and demanding real economic
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Apparently, someone forgot to run all that by the boss. Here
is international, founder and chairman of the News Corp, and thereby the
guy who owns Fox News, Rupert Murdoch taking questions after an interview
with Martin Kalb at the National Press Club yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI RABIN-HAVT, MEDIA MATTERS: Your network had graphics saying “Fox
Day Tea Parties.” Is it appropriate for a news network to be engaged in
that much politics?
RUPERT MURDOCH, FOUNDER, NEWS CORP: No, I didn‘t think we shouldn‘t
be supporting the tea party or any party. But I‘d like to investigate what
you‘re saying before I condemn anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I don‘t think we should be supporting the tea party. I
thought you were going to tell the boss. I thought you were going to tell
the boss. I totally, distinctly remember you were going to tell the boss.
You were going to tell the boss. You‘re going to at any minute.
I wonder what happened at Fox News today after the boss
investigated whether they really did this thing that he couldn‘t believe
they would do.
Joining us now is Sam Stein of “Huffington Post” who was at the
Press Club for the Rupert Murdoch interview. Mr. Stein, thank you very
much for your time tonight. It‘s nice to see you.
SAM STEIN, “HUFFINGTON POST”: Well, thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Here‘s my first question, and I don‘t want it to be construed
as rude but it‘s really what I‘m wondering. Is it possible that Rupert
Murdoch does not know what the tea party movement is? Is it possible he
thinks it‘s like a declared political party, like Democrat or Republican?
STEIN: I find that a little bit hard to believe. He did show
obviously a good handle of current events, political affairs also at that
press club. So someone who consumes that much news would - one would think
would have an understanding at the very least of what the tea party
But by, you know, sort of acknowledging implicitly that he
doesn‘t understand that his news channel has covered it with such
boosterism, it does suggest a little bit of detachment and makes you wonder
whether that‘s deliberate or not, whether he‘s too hands-off with Fox News,
giving too much rein to Roger Ailes.
MADDOW: It is - because he has chosen throughout his career to be so
closely associated with all of his news properties, to not only brand them
with his own political views but also to really be the public and political
face of those networks.
Is this possible that this means there is a divide between
Murdoch and Fox? Or is it also possible that this is just plausible
deniability, that he doesn‘t want to be tarred with what Fox News is doing?
STEIN: A couple points here. One is there‘s obviously the element of
plausible deniability. Fox‘s motto is “fair and balanced.” And to admit
you‘ve sort of boosted the tea parties would remove that veneer.
Secondly, keep in mind Murdoch is the recent owner of “The Wall
Street Journal.” And by all accounts, he‘s been trying very hard to make
that an on-level competitor to the “New York Times.” So perhaps, his
attention is divided elsewhere.
But also, you know, this is a man who is very much devoted to
ratings. And love it or not, Fox News gets a lot of good ratings. And so
maybe he‘s simply entrusted the enterprise to Roger Ailes under the premise
that as long as he can deliver viewers, you know, what‘s the harm?
MADDOW: I admit to not having any idea how they run their business
MADDOW: But now that Rupert Murdoch has said, “It would be a very bad
idea to be promoting these tea parties,” do you think they‘ll have to stop?
STEIN: I‘m not holding my breath. You know, Fox News - listen. When
Fox News was conceived, it was done very cleverly. It was done because
there was a niche to do sort of a Republican viewpoint on the cable news
Well, you know, Republicans right now aren‘t that popular, even
among conservatives. What‘s in vogue right now is tea partiers and is
conservatism. And so Fox understands that you have to be sort of with the
flow of events.
So to attach yourself in a way to the tea party whether it‘s
through deliberate attachment or simply a nonobjective reporting, it makes
business sense. And I think above all else, that‘s what motivates Murdoch.
MADDOW: Sam Stein of “Huffington Post,” thank you very much for being
here. I really appreciate it.
STEIN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith asks a serious question
about how a president is legally able to authorize the killing of an
American citizen without due process. Very important story.
Next on this show, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma‘s strange new
observations about me out of the blue. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: One spotlight-seeking Republican senator brags about his
courage in squeezing the unemployed. And a spotlight-seeking Democrat
switches parties to the Republicans because of the whole naked lady
nightclub thing. Turns out that whole naked lady nightclub thing has an
upside to the Republicans. The whole story is coming up.
MADDOW: Doubling down is when you‘ve made a bet at a hand of
blackjack and you decide in the middle of the hand that you are going to
double your bet. What the senator doctor, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, did
today was not to double down, but infinity down on his choice to cut off
unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans.
Speaking to “The Hill” newspaper, Sen. Coburn first said this
about the unemployed people whose money just dried up, thanks to him.
Quote, “The easiest thing in the world is to pass this bill
unpaid for. But consider the millions of Americans whose financial futures
would be damaged versus the relatively small amount of people who would be
affected by this delay. Now, you tell me which vote takes the most
Well played, senator. Making millions of Americans with no jobs
and no money a small deal and making yourself a huge courageous deal in the
process. The senator also told “The Hill” newspaper that he would
absolutely object to every other spending measure that he says isn‘t paid
for with other spending cuts or tax increases.
That‘s the part where the infinity down. He says now he will
block everything. Now, as I was assembling some facts today to put this
decision into context about the senator‘s voting record, his subsidized
residence at C Street, his role as hush money negotiator between Sen. John
Ensign and Sen. Ensign‘s mistress and all that, Sen. Coburn said this to
the “Daily Caller” Web site.
He said, quote, “Look at Rachel Maddow. She comes at me on the
basis of emotion. She demonizes me. I don‘t want conservatives to win on
the basis of emotion. If we lower ourselves to the level they operate on,
we hurt ourselves and our arguments.”
I was trying to do my work. But then, that pops up in my Google
alert and then I read it and I become ultimately so blindingly enraged and
then hysterically upset and then inconsolably morose and then hyperactively
giddy and then happy and then sad and then mad and then happy again.
But I couldn‘t make sense of any of the facts that I was
gathering, all of which I was trying to read through the tears of joy and
anger and anxiety, but I just can‘t control it. Can you tell? I‘m falling
apart right now.
So I promise - I‘m getting emotional by this promise. I promise
that tomorrow I will gather myself and offer a full analysis of today‘s Tom
Coburn news. I hope you will join us. If I can hold it together long
enough, there is plenty of evidentiary facts to present and I will do it if
I can tomorrow night right here.
Will you excuse me? I need a minute. So we‘re going to be right
back. OK? OK. Sorry.
MADDOW: After the Republican National Committee‘s financial filings
last week showed that the party had spent $2,000 of donor money at a fake
lesbian bondage-themed sex show nightclub, Republicans started bailing -
big donors, the RNC chief-of-staff, Michael Steele‘s consulting firm.
But now, the scandal appears to have earned Republicans a
convert. A potential candidate for U.S. Senate in Louisiana says she is
switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party because of the
voyeur nightclub scandal.
She said, quote, “I cannot help but recognize that over time, my
libertarian values regarding both money and sex and the legal use of one
for the other is now best espoused by the Republican Party.”
Here now to explain, our own Kent Jones. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel. You know, for the
Republican Party to move forward, they‘re going to have to let some new
people into the tent.
JONES: But I wonder if the tent is ready for this.
(voice-over): Republicans, please welcome to your party potential
Senate candidate Stephanie Gregory Clifford, better known as Stormy
Daniels, star of such adult films as “The Witches of Breastwick” and winner
of the 2007 Golden G-string award.
Daniels is now planning a run against Republican Senator David
Vitter, a.k.a. the hooker guy who dismissively called Daniels‘ possible
primary run a Republican sideshow and shameless antics.
Stormy‘s response, “We are disappointed that Sen. Vitter has
shamelessly allowed the Washington and Baton Rouge Republican elite to
violate Ronald Reagan‘s 11th Commandment and attack a fellow Republican who
is not, as of now, even a declared candidate in this race.”
Don‘t laugh. Stormy could turn out to be David Vitter‘s worst
nightmare, a camera-ready tea partier who attacks him from the right. She
added this, “Fellow Louisiana tea partiers and true conservatives will
reject the Republican elite‘s attempt to ram down our throats closet
liberals like David Vitter and support a true conservative that is
committed to fiscal responsibility, reforming the tax system and, yes,
The floor yields to the gentle-lady from Louisiana.
MADDOW: You know, the Vitter camp has been trying to blame this on
Democrats saying she is a stunt.
JONES: Right. Yes.
MADDOW: The Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman today said if the
National Republican Senate Committee is uncomfortable with a Republican
challenger who has a history of selling sex, I would suggest they
reconsider standing by an incumbent with a history of paying for it.
MADDOW: Done. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.
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