The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/07/10

Dean Baker, Steve Kornacki, Kent Jones

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  And now with the new details on

what may have caused the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico—ladies

and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.

Good evening, Rachel.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Thank you very much for

that.  I can‘t tell you how much I enjoy “Thurber Fridays.”

OLBERMANN:  Do you remember those feelings of how to relax in

broadcasting, this studio here?  Ring a bell?

MADDOW:  It‘s been about I guess 10 years for me, all told in

broadcasting so far, my entire life, radio and everything.  I haven‘t

relaxed yet.


OLBERMANN:  Thirty-one for me.  Good night.

MADDOW:  Have a good weekend, Keith.  Good to see you.

We do begin tonight with some breaking news, as Keith said, on the

cause of the April 20th oil rig explosion, the explosion, of course, that

killed 11 workers and then spilled more than 3 million gallons of crude oil

into the Gulf of Mexico so far.

According to brand-new information from the “Associated Press,” rig

workers on board the Deepwater Horizon told British Petroleum investigators

that it was a methane bubble—a bubble of methane gas that triggered the

blast.  And apparently, that gas bubble was caused when workers removed

pressure from the drilling column, then they added heat to set a wellhead

cement seal.  A chemical reaction created the bubble and the cement

destabilized.  Again, this is according to the rig workers.  Then, the

bubble expanded rapidly blowing through various safety barriers on the rig.

This all happened, according to interviews from the workers, while

seven B.P. executives were on board the rig.  Why were they on board the

rig?  They were celebrating the company‘s safety record.

Again, these are new details that we are learning tonight from the

“Associated Press” based on interviews with workers on board the Deepwater

Horizon‘s rig.  We will give you more details as we learn them over the

course of this hour.

But now to what is officially bikini graph Friday here on THE RACHEL

MADDOW SHOW, first Friday of the month.  As you may have seen, the new jobs

numbers were released today, the biggest monthly jobs growth in four years. 

These monthly jobs numbers are where we got the whole bikini graph thing in

the first place.

This is what the job situation looked like before today, OK?  This is

a full year of rather horrific jobs losses.  This is the final year of the

Bush administration, right?  And then job losses steadily sort of get

better during the first year of the Obama administration.

And it gave us all together this graph that kind of sort of—at

least in the eyes of our executive producer Bill Wolff—looks like a

bikini, sort of.  Well, I‘m not sure it ever did in the first place, but

that‘s what we‘ve called it.

The thing is—it‘s not really a bikini anymore.  One of the things

that happened as new jobs numbers come out each month is that the figures

from the previous months get revised to reflect better data.  So, instead

of losing 14,000 jobs in February, we actually gained 39,000.  So this

number changed a little bit.  And instead of gaining 162,000 jobs in March,

this number changed a bit, too.  We actually gained 230,000.

That brings us to April.  That brings us to last month.  I love doing

this.  Ready?

Last month—ta-da!  Ahem – 290,000 jobs created in April.  Woo! Go

America.  USA!  USA!

The biggest job creation in four years, the biggest one-month

manufacturing job creation in almost 12 years.  So, instead of this thing

looking like a bikini, it‘s now starting to look like—I don‘t know.  I

don‘t know.  Maybe a Loch Ness Monster maybe?  See?  Loch Ness?

Wait.  Hold on.  Does that help?  Yes.  Little Loch Ness Monster,

maybe?  Nessie?

To be honest, our producer, Bill Wolff, named the bikini graph and

everybody liked that, and now, when he looks this he says he sees the Loch

Ness Monster!  So, we‘re just letting him go with that.  I don‘t know if—

yes, I don‘t know.

Whether or not you see the monster, these latest numbers are good. 

Even the bad news about the latest numbers is good.  As you‘d probably seen

today, in addition to jobs being up, the employment rate also went up. 

Now, the unemployment rate getting worse in this case is because there are

starting to be new jobs in the economy.

I know it sounds counterintuitive but people are looking for work

again.  People who have written off the unemployment rolls because they

were so discouraged that they were not even looking for work are now back

looking again.  And that‘s how simultaneously we see the unemployment rate

going up even as new jobs were created.

Now, big picture, overall—economically, are we in good shape as a

country?  No, of course, not.  We‘re obviously still digging out of a huge,

horrible recession right now.

Just for context, we are—I‘m going to use April here to help us out

here.  We are here in this recession here, right?  This is the graph of all

the big recessions that we‘ve had since World War II, since the late 1940s. 

This shows the percentage, right—oops—percentage of jobs lost over


Here‘s what past recessions have looked like, right?  Here‘s what ours

looks like.  Things are bad.  Nobody‘s going to tell you that things are

good.  But what came out today in terms of what happened in April reminds

us that at least we are finally going in the right direction.

Even though a bad economy is never good politically for the party in

power, the fact that things are going in the right direction now is

especially challenging for the party out of power.  The top Republican in

the House, John Boehner—did you see this today?  Did you see him react

to these numbers today?  John Boehner released a statement today decrying

these new jobs numbers.

John Boehner choosing—despite the jobs report—to stick to the

Republican slogan: “Where are the jobs?”  That was his statement about the

new jobs numbers.

They‘re right here.  It‘s so weird.  It was such a weird thing to do. 

It‘s like handing somebody a cookie and them responding by saying, “I want

a cookie.  Show me the cookie.”  “Dude, I just handed you a cookie. 

There‘s your cookie.”

There‘s your job.  Show me the jobs.  Here they are.

Republican Congressman Roy Blunt, who is running for Senate in

Missouri right now, did essentially the same thing, too.  He put out a

release today in response to the jobs numbers which said, “Show me the


OK.  Roy Blunt, dude, here they are.  Here are the jobs.  I‘m showing

them to you.  Eat your cookie.

Again, there‘s no reason to be excited about the big picture story of

the American economy.  We are still in the dumps.  But things are going in

the right direction.

On the subject of the economy, though—and as long as I‘m standing

here talking about giant graphs, this is probably also the time to mention

this big graph.  Did you see this?  The big flash crash of 2010.  Graphs of

large-scale economic activity are never supposed to look like this.: things

like this aren‘t supposed to happen in economic nature—never, ever,

ever.  There‘s never supposed to be anything that looks like this.

But, yesterday, we had the market‘s biggest ever within-the-day point

drop.  The market has never dropped this many points during one trading


Now, last night on the show, we talked about what might have led to

this very dramatic thing happening.  There were rumors that a Citigroup

trader might have sold a billion shares of something when he only meant to

sell a million shares.  So, maybe it was such a typo that caused the whole

thing to collapse.

Citigroup denies that that happened with any of their traders.  They

say that didn‘t happen.  There‘s currently a really big financial autopsy

going on by regulators to figure out what did happen, though.

What happened yesterday on Wall Street was a moment of eek—

something really strange happened, and obviously, we need to get to the

bottom of it.  But it speaks to a much larger issue here about the whole

economy, about the whole financial system in this country.

If you are a global investor—somewhere in the world right now,

there are tons of places to put your money.  You put your money in New

York.  You can put your money in London.  You can put your money in Hong

Kong, in Singapore, you name it.  You can put your money anywhere.

We, of course, as Americans want all that money to come through the

U.S.  Whatever your feelings are about Wall Street, for the sake of our

economy, we want as much business as possible going through our financial


And when you think about it, why would anybody want to invest with us? 

If we have, A, unpredictable, inexplicable giant not found in nature flash

crashes, like we did yesterday; and, B, if government regulators are so

underpowered that something like, say, the Bernie Madoff thing went on for

years undetected by them; or, C, how about a financial system with giant

players like Goldman Sachs allegedly selling products to their consumers,

selling products to their customers that were designed to fail?  And again,

at least thus far they‘ve gotten away with it.

Essentially, our message to the rest of the global capital markets out

there is: come do business in America.  The system is totally rigged in

favor of the crooks and you‘ll get fleeced.

For a long time now, we‘ve had unregulated markets, poorly regulated

markets and markets that just aren‘t required to work very well.  The jobs

picture in this country might be improving but we have a problem right now

in terms of America competing for global financial industry money, with the

system that we have.  We can‘t compete for that money unless people believe

that the system rules and the cops in our financial system work well;

unless we reform Wall Street, even if we can figure out how to get that

Loch Ness Monster into that bikini.  Even if we pull off some sort of

domestic miracle, we are not going to be able to compete and to keep


Joining us now is economist Dean Baker.  He‘s the co-director of the

Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Dean Baker, thanks very much for joining us tonight.  Nice to see you


Do we have—


MADDOW:  Oh, now, I can hear you.


MADDOW:  Hi.  Sorry about that.

First of all, how was the U.S. financial system viewed by global

investors before, let‘s say, December 2007, when this giant recession hit? 

What was our reputation?

BAKER:  Well, Wall Street really was the gold standard.  You‘re

mentioning the other financial centers around the world, Hong Kong,

Singapore, financial centers in India.  I mean, we have a lot of


People went in to the United States—they went to Wall Street

because not that it was cheapest, it wasn‘t.  But they were the gold

standard.  You wanted people that were credible.  You knew that if you were

buying something there, it was supposed to be a good product.  That people

stood behind it.

So, it was thought to be gold standard—the best, cleanest market in

the world.

MADDOW:  In the wake of things like the Bernie Madoff scandal, the

Goldman Sachs charges—in the wake of what happened here that led to the

financial system crisis that we had, what would you say of our reputation

right now?

BAKER:  It‘s shattered.  I mean, you‘ve had disaster after disaster. 

You have—you know, the Madoff story, of course, is a big one.  Probably,

the Goldman Sachs is a worse scandal from the standpoint of potential

customers, that here you have this huge investment bank that‘s setting

their clients up to lose money.  I mean, that‘s pretty serious.

Also, something that‘s got a little less attention, all around this is

around United States and around the world—in fact, there was an article

about a town in Italy where they had bought a product totally inappropriate

for them.  It‘s a high-risk product they obviously didn‘t understand.  It

was a midsize city that Goldman Sachs sold to them.  People don‘t need

investment banks to rip them off.  Anybody can do that, you know?  So, why

should they go to Wall Street?

MADDOW:  I—as you can tell from my introduction—view this as a

global competitiveness issue for the United States.  Are other financial

centers across the world, like those you describe that are competing with

us, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, other markets—are they becoming more

attractive places for investors to put their money while we‘re

simultaneously becoming less attractive?

BAKER:  Well, they had been for a long time.  I mean, again, they‘re

lower cost, so they compete to some extent on cost.  They are building up

their credibility as, you know, good markets that people can go on and view

them as trustworthy.

And as we get more and more mired in, who knows what nonsense will

come out next, that we get more and more mired in corruption and, you know,

silly mistakes like, you know, this glitch that who knows what caused that,

it certainly undermines our credibility.  So, if we want to have a

financial center that can compete with all the other ones around the world,

we have to clean it up.

MADDOW:  What we are debating right now, politically, in this country

is more regulation for the financial industry, more rules for Wall Street. 

And some people look at that and say, well, why would global investors want

to put their money in a financial system that‘s becoming increasingly


How do global investigators view regulations when they‘re deciding

where to invest?  I‘m guessing that it‘s not a simple calculation.

BAKER:  No, it‘s not.  I mean, there are, you know, cost factors. 

Again, you know, the banks are often saying, well, this will raise our cost

and that‘s in many cases going to be true.  So, if you have to have

capital requirements—high capital requirements—that means you have

money sitting there not getting interest.  You‘re not making money on that.


So, you have to somehow cover that, so that will raise your cost.  But

it‘s the same sort of thing—think of the Food and Drug Administration. 

You know, we—I think most people, even Republicans tend to like that

because we want to know if we‘re getting—you know, we‘re getting this

drug, we want to know that it‘s the drug it‘s supposed to be, it‘s safe, it

was processed well, it‘s manufactured well.  Same thing with finance.

And if we can say that we have credible regulatory agencies—that‘s

a really big plus.  If we don‘t have credible regulatory agencies, people

don‘t know what they‘re dealing with.

MADDOW:  Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic

And Policy Research and a person who has a talent of being a clear

explainer of these things—thanks very much for joining us.  Appreciate

it, Dean.

BAKER:  Thanks for having me on.

MADDOW:  If you have been reading the Beltway press in the last few

months, you will no doubt be aware that the unbridled theory of the tea

party movement has changed everything this political season.  If you‘ve

been paying attention to what‘s actually happening in real politics, you

may have noticed that that‘s total bullpuckey.

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Still ahead: the mysterious story of the anti-gay crusader

who hired a rent boy, he says not for sex but to carry his luggage.  Here

is said anti-gay crusader and said rent boy in an airport returning from a

long European trip.

If you‘re not familiar enough with these things to know exactly what‘s

wrong with this picture, let me just point out that the luggage wrangling

in this picture is being done not by the young hot guy in the tight t-shirt

but by the old guy with the comb over.

Why that story is legitimate national news and not some sad posited

(ph) guy‘s sad posited story—coming up in just a moment.


MADDOW:  Do you remember how during the height of the fight over

health reform, every once in a while, an insurance company would get caught

sending out lobbying materials essentially to its own customers?  Lobbying

its own customers with anti-health reform mailers?  Like the super scary,

totally misleading letter that Humana sent to seniors last fall, warning

them that health reform was really a secret plot to cut their Medicare


You might also recall last summer when oil companies started bussing

their employees to rallies protesting against climate change legislation—

so it would look like there was a big swell of grassroots opposition to the

climate change bill.

If an industry—apparently any industry—is about to be regulated

in this country, you can pretty much count on that industry deploying a

massive professional fake grassroots P.R. campaign to oppose that

regulation at all costs.  We saw it with health reform.  We have seen it

with climate change.  And now—now that financial reform is getting

serious consideration in Congress, we are seeing it again.

But there is a more shameless and insidious element to the industry-

designed Astroturf campaign that‘s under way right now to oppose financial

reform.  This stealth corporate-lobbying tactic was devised and carried out

by the payday lending industry.  We talked about the cartoon villainy of

the payday lending industry on this show in the past.

Well, the term “payday lenders” sounds innocuous enough.  What payday

lenders actually do is more commonly known as loan sharking.  They offer

mostly to low-income customers what look like short-term loans, but they

are designed to roll over and over every couple of weeks collecting giant

new fees each time until their customers are buried in debt and ultimately

have to pay the equivalent of up to 400 percent annual interest.

Payday lenders are allowed to do that to engage essentially in usury

because they‘re not at all regulated by the federal government.  Some

states regulate them, but some states don‘t.  It looks like Congress might

be about to change that through a new consumer agency that‘s part of the

financial reform bill that‘s being debated right now.

So, cue the depraved payday lending opposition effort.

David Lazarus of “L.A. Times” is reporting today on efforts—

apparently successful efforts—by the payday lending industry to pressure

not their employees, but their customers, the people borrowing money from

them at 400 percent interest into opposing financial reform.

This astroturfing effort was exposed when both of California‘s

senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, say they started getting

suspiciously similar sounding calls from payday lending borrowers demanding

that Congress leave the payday lending industry alone.  No regulations for

the loan sharks—I mean, payday lenders.

Senator Boxer told the “L.A. Times” the calls were coming from just a

few phone numbers and it sounded like the callers were reading from the

same script.  But Senator Boxer said, “What was most surprising was that

the callers were opposing a bill that was designed specifically to protect


Why would the very people being trapped or tricked into paying 400

percent interest be against regulations that would give them better

interest rates?  Well, a woman named Norma Canel spoke to the “L.A. Times.” 

She said when she visited her local loan shark—I mean, payday lender—

to make a payment on her 180 percent interest loan, she was encouraged by

an employee to make this call to fight financial reform.  She was given a

flyer that listed contact information for Senators Boxer and Feinstein.

The flyer read in part, quote, “If we don‘t act today, Congress will

create a new agency and a government takeover of your personal finances. 

This new agency would have the power to regulate and restrict your personal

credit options.  Tell the senators to stop the Community Financial

Protection Agency”—which isn‘t what it‘s called, but still.  “Tell them

you‘re angry about health care and now Congress wants to control your right

to get credit.  Tell them you‘ve had enough and that the senator should

stand firm against the administration‘s attempt to interfere in your

financial decisions.”

Cue the twirling of the evil villainous mustache.

Norma Canel was not of the loan shark customers who follow those

instructions.  She did not call her senators and demand that they vote

against financial reform that would benefit her.  But she did offer some

insight into why so many others did.  Telling the “L.A. Times” that she was

worried the payday lender holding her 180 percent interest loan would

retaliate against her if she didn‘t make the calls.  She said, quote, “What

if they call in their loan?”

And with that, the payday lending industry has bested its own record

for amoral sleaziness.  The founding principle of this industry—don‘t

forget—is that it‘s OK to exploit people who are financially desperate. 

Their business model is something that, frankly, should be illegal.

And now that it‘s in danger of actually being illegal, they are trying

to create a fake grassroots defense of that business model in the most

despicable way possible.  Not by just bussing their own employees to

rallies or organizing tea parties that are making grassroots-y looking Web

sites but by intimidating their victims—I mean, borrowers—the people

they‘ve already tricked or trapped into high interest debt cycles into

fighting for more high interest debt cycles.

The payday lending industry exits because the people behind it

essentially figured out how to legally steal your wallet.  And now, they‘re

trying to make you help them legally steal your wallet and others, too.


MADDOW:  Tell you what about the tea party movement.  From everything

I‘ve read, they are angry, they are massing in huge numbers, they are

independent, and they are principled.  Tea partiers stick to their—you

know, they believe in their cause—except when they don‘t.

We learned yesterday that the de facto patron saint of the tea party

movement, Sarah Palin, has endorsed a Republican candidate for Senate in

California and it is not the tea party guy, Chuck DeVore.  Instead, Sarah

Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive with the

insanely embarrassing campaign Web site and very little tea party creed.

How could that be?  Sarah Palin endorsing a super rich corporate-type

over the populist the tea party-type?  Quick, get to Facebook for her


Quote, “Please consider that Carly is the conservative who has the

potential to beat California‘s liberal senator, Barbara Boxer, in


Later that same day, there was an update.  Quote, “Most importantly,

Carly is the only conservative in the race who can beat Barbara Boxer.”

So, it‘s small government, anti-establishment, I hate Washington party

politics except when it‘s—whatever, I pick the one who‘s not a tea

partier because she‘s more electable.

It has been kind—it‘s been kind of a crummy couple of weeks for the

movement that if you believe the Beltway press is supposedly going to

dominate the coming elections.

The tea party candidate voted most likely to succeed in the class of

2010 is, of course, Marco Rubio, whose Republican candidacy for Senate in

Florida ran the Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, out of the

Republican Party altogether.

Now that Governor Crist has said he will still run for Senate but as

an independent, a Mason-Dixon poll of a hypothetical three-way race for the

Florida Senate including Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie

Crist—shows Rubio losing to Crist by six points.  But I thought the tea

party was the big story of 2010 (ph).

And then there were the election results of this week, none of which

substantiated the overwhelming eat, drink, sleep, every breath you take

Beltway story line that anti-establishment, anti-incumbency will rule the


On Tuesday night, tea party candidates will shut out in that night‘s

House and Senate primaries in Ohio and Indiana and North Carolina, showing

a remarkable reluctance to give up on the Beltway narrative.

Anyway, though, the “A.P.” ran this inexplicable headline about the

primaries.  I‘ve got this printed out and taped up on the wall in my office

next to my desk because I think it‘s so awesome.  “Unharnessed anger:

Incumbents win in North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana.”  But if it‘s

unharnessed anger, wait a minute.  How—oh, geez.

Also, “The Christian Science Monitor” said this: “Primary election

results: establishment candidates battered.  Results from Tuesday saw

establishment candidates face stiff opposition from challengers, who they


Put another way, establishment candidates succeed tea party movement

may be louder and more reported than it is powerful or organized.

Joining us now is Steve Kornacki.  He‘s news editor at

Steve, thanks very much for being here.

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM:  Happy to be here.

MADDOW:  I enjoy reporting on the tea party phenomenon as much, if not

more than anyone.  Do you think that the pure enjoyability of that movement

has caused there to be essentially a media fisheye lens effect on their


KORNACKI:  Yes.  I have to plead guilty, too, you know.  As an editor,

we‘re trying to make decisions every day about what do we put up, what do

we not put up for stories. 

And you know, if it‘s a tea party story, you realize it‘s

generally going to get reaction.  You‘re generally going to find something

that‘s pretty colorful.  You‘re generally going to find something that the

audience responds to. 

But when you look at what the tea party itself actually is I

think what it represents in politics.  I think it represents something

that‘s not new at all that we completely understand. 

It represents, you know, the Republican base, the base of the

Republican Party and specifically how the base of the Republican Party

reacts when they‘re completely shut out of power. 

We‘ve seen this before.  There was no name threat in 1993, in

1994, the last time the Republican Party was out of the White House, was

out of the House, was out of the Senate. 

But the venom was there, the sort of irrational, knee-jerk

rejections of Bill Clinton, of the Democratic agenda.  It was all there. 

There just wasn‘t the name, like the tea party, to latch on to. 

And I think you‘re seeing that, you know, again now.  You‘re

seeing that sort of knee-jerk rejectionism and it comes under the name tea

party.  I think the problem with the media and the problem with this whole

perception is it‘s this new force that‘s, you know, all powerful that

you‘re talking about there.

I think the problem is it‘s getting mixed up in something else

that‘s very - that‘s not new at all in politics and that is the buyer‘s

remorse nature of midterm elections. 

It was inevitable.  You know, if you think back to Obama‘s

election in November 2008 and the euphoria and all of that, and that was

obviously legitimate.  It was a great night for a lot of people. 

But inevitable from the moment that the Democratic president with

massive Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, entering the office

with double-digit unemployment looming and all the economic catastrophe

that he inherited, not to mention two wars, there was going to be

substantial buyer‘s remorse. 

And buyer‘s remorse means that the swing voters, the voters who

are willing to vote Democratic or Republican.  They are some of them out

there.  They latch on to the opposition party simply as a vehicle of


And they don‘t look at all the details.  I think a lot of people

would have moved against Obama when you see these polls, his popularity may

be dropping a little bit.  Democrats aren‘t looking good in 2010. 

These are people who are simply latching on to the Republican

Party as a protest vehicle.  They will go back to the Democratic Party

because they like Obama - if the economy recovers - because they like


But right now the media looks at these big poll numbers and says,

wow, Obama‘s dropping.  Republican candidates are doing well, therefore the

tea party movement is on the rise.  There are two different things going on


MADDOW:  But the media getting thins wrong isn‘t just a reflection of

the media being dumb or easily swayed.  The media getting things wrong also

can also have an effect on politics. 

And if the perception of the tea party is dominating the

perception of opposition politics, that affects whether or not people are

willing to sign up with the opposition, does it not? 

KORNACKI:  Sure, yes it will.  And this is the trap for Republicans

and this is why, at one level you want to bemoan what the media is doing

now, because you feel they‘re getting it wrong and I think they absolutely


But this is a classic trap for the Republicans.  And you can see

I don‘t want to get too wonky with history here, but this is sort of the

trap the Democrats fell for in 1981, ‘82 when Ronald Reagan first came to


They didn‘t understand basic nature - the buyer‘s remorse nature

of 1982.  The Democrats absolutely slaughtered Reagan in the ‘82 midterms. 

They said, well, we don‘t to change.  They nominated Walter Mondale in 1984

and a 49-state, you know, catastrophe ensued. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

KORNACKI:  The Republicans, I believe, are going to do well this

November simply because of the buyer‘s remorse nature.  But then they‘re

going to wake up and the unemployment rate is going to be under eight

percent in 2012. 

And guess what?  Then the tea party is a problem.  Then

identification is a problem.  And then Obama is still standing there with

that personal popularity he had in 2008.  That comes back just like

Reagan‘s did. 

MADDOW:  And that‘s why it matters even the tea party candidates can‘t

win in elections if they do succeed in dragging mainstream Republican

candidates really far to the right in terms of policy.  Republicans are

paying the price in 2012.  That‘s right. 

KORNACKI:  Absolutely. 

MADDOW:  Steve Kornacki, news editor at “,” I can‘t believe

we haven‘t had you on the show before.  I really enjoy you and I hope

you‘ll come back. 

KORNACKI:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  Happy anniversary wishes are

in order this weekend for the birth control pill.  Also, Happy Mother‘s

Day, because the world is sometimes hilarious that way. 

Anyway, what better way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a

genuine game changer than by spotlighting the singular essential unmatched

piece of writing on the subject of the birth control pill?  It was the work

of an American treasure named Loretta Lynn and that is coming up in just a



MADDOW:  A Canadian kid was arrested in 2002 when he was 15 years old. 

He was picked up in Afghanistan.  U.S. forces say he confessed to throwing

a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. 

That kid, Omar Khadr, claims that he confessed to no such thing. 

He says that anything he said like that was forcibly extracted from him and

that therefore can‘t be used against him. 

This past week at a military tribunal at Guantanamo, the man who

was the first U.S. military officer to interrogate this kid after his

arrest back in 2002 testified as a witness and he made a really remarkable


He said that early in his interrogation of this 15-year-old, he

decided to use the fear up approach, the made-up, crypto, pseudo, fake

academic Bush-era interrogation technique invented by fantasists who watch

too much film noir as teenagers. 

The basic idea was to make prisoners so scared that they would

talk.  Actually experienced interrogators tell us that terrifying people

can be a way to get them to talk.  It just isn‘t a way to get them to tell

the truth. 

Omar Khadr‘s interrogator testified that in order to terrify the

kid, he threatened him with rape and possibly death.  Spencer Ackerman at

“The Washington Independent” has been doing great coverage of this case

from Guantanamo this week. 

Let me let Spencer describe what the interrogator admitted on the

stand.  Quote, “Interrogator number one began using techniques that he said

were designed to elicit fear from the detainee.  One of them involved

telling a fictitious story to Omar Khadr, something interrogator number one

said interrogators at Bagram came up with after noticing Afghan detainees

were terrified of getting raped and general homosexuality.” 

“According to the story, a poor little 20-year-old kid found to

be lying to interrogators was sent to a U.S. prison where four big black

guys and big Nazis eye up the fictitious detainee and the black inmates

rape him in a shower, a brutalization that proves to be fatal.” 

So in the interrogation of this kid, they told him if he didn‘t

cooperate, he‘d be sent to the U.S. to be raped and killed in prison.  Then

the kid confessed.  Despite the best legal gymnastics of the Bush

administration, threatening to kill a prisoner is a potential war crime

under the Geneva Conventions. 

Nevertheless, interrogator number one appears to have testified

about what he did without immunity and without being forced to give that

testimony.  Now, this was a pre-trial hearing about the admissibility of

the evidence of this against this Canadian kid, Omar Khadr. 

He has been in prison for eight years already.  He‘s now 23 years

old.  But here was the kicker that happened in Guantanamo this week. 

Pursuant to their reporting on this case, the office of the secretary of

defense decided to kick four reporters out of Guantanamo and has banned

them from coming back. 

The Pentagon‘s complaint against these four reporters is that

they published the name of interrogator number one who testified as a

witness.  Now, that interrogator has done an interview under his real name

with one of these reporters.  His name has been published in publicly

available documents by both the prosecution and the defense in this case. 

It has been printed in multiple publications other than those of

the reporters who were just banned.  But still the Pentagon has kicked

these reporters out and banned them from Guantanamo indefinitely. 

One of those reporters that was just banned is the single most

experienced Guantanamo reporter in this country, Carol Rosenberg of “The

Miami Herald.”  One of these reporters who has been banned is the reporter

who quite literally wrote the book on the Omar Khadr case.  She is Michelle

Shephard of the “Toronto Star.” 

The other two reporters who were banned were from “Canwest” and

“The Globe and Mail,” also in Canada.  They‘re described by Spencer

Ackerman as, quote, “invaluable resources about the Khadr case and

Guantanamo to their journalistic colleagues.” 

And now, the Pentagon has banned them from covering Guantanamo,

for publishing information that has been publicly available for years and

that other people have published, too. 

If this administration is trying to make the case that the

tribunals at Guantanamo aren‘t kangaroo fake courts that insult the whole

idea of the rule of law, then this whole authoritarian, inexplicable

banning the press thing is not helping. 

Next up, a quick programming note about Arizona‘s “Papers,

Please” law.  The anti-immigration group that takes credit for writing

“Papers, Please” is FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. 

We had the group‘s president on this show last week.  It was a

contentious interview.  Because the FAIR president said I had everything

all wrong in that interview, we fact checked it on the air the next day. 

Here‘s one thing he asserted that I got wrong though that we

couldn‘t fact check at the time but now we can.  Here‘s what he said. 


(on camera):  In 1997, you did an interview with Tucker Carlson.  And

he has asked you to respond to this quote from somebody else who is on

FAIR‘s board of directors.  And the quote he asked you to respond to was

this, “It would be better to encourage the breeding of more intelligent

people rather than less intelligent.  He said that in the context of -


Tucker Carlson has already conceded -

MADDOW:  Expressing his alarm about people in other countries

reproducing too much. 

STEIN:  Rachel.  Rachel -

MADDOW:  Your response to that was - let me just finish the question

and then you can answer.  It works every night.  I try it.  Trust me.  Your

response was, “Yes, so what?  What is your problem with that?  Should we be

subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible and

not subsidizing those with high ones?”  Did you not say that without a

misquote from Tucker? 

STEIN:  Rachel, no.  I didn‘t say that. 

MADDOW:  It was a misquote? 

STEIN:  It was an absolute misquote.  Tucker Carlson has admitted that

most of the quotes in there were twisted in misquotes. 


MADDOW:  Tucker admits I never said that.  He‘s taking it all back. 

As we noted on this show, the day after that interview, we couldn‘t find

any indication that a correction had ever been run about that interview

from “The Wall Street Journal” or that any of the super-creepy Eugenics-y

quotes that Tucker Carlson attributed to the president of FAIR had been

corrected or retracted in any way. 

Since then we have heard from Tucker Carlson himself who assured

us that not only was there no correction or public retraction made of those

quotes but he stands by what he reported.  Tucker told us, quote, “My ‘wall

Street Journal‘ piece on FAIR is accurate and I have never said otherwise.” 

So to be clear, the president of the group that wrote Arizona‘s

“Papers, Please” law says that all the things we turned up about that group

and their links to white supremacists and white separatists and eugenics -

he says we were all wrong. 

When pushed, though, they have been unable to disprove any of the

things we said about them.  Have a nice day. 

And finally, it‘s Friday.  It has been a tough news day, frankly. 

It‘s been a tough news week.  There‘s a lot going wrong in the world. 

But there‘s also Loretta Lynn in the world who is pure American

goodness.  And the fact that the birth control pill turns 50 this weekend

is all the reed-thin excuse I need here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW to leaven

the heaviness of this week‘s news burden with a little bit of Loretta. 

So happy birthday, birth control pill, happy excuse to play

Loretta Lynn, circa 1974. 


This old maternity dress I‘ve got is going in the garbage.  The

clothes I‘m wearing from now on won‘t take up so much yardage.  We will be

right back.


MADDOW:  So is everything but Loretta Lynn in turmoil this week?  The

answer is apparently yes.  The proof is that our investigative reporting

team has uncovered controversy in the world of yodeling.  You heard me. 

Stay tuned. 


MADDOW:  Meet George Alan Rekers, a conservative Baptist minister, co-

founder of the vehemently anti-gay group, The Family Research Council, and

one of the nation‘s loudest proponents of the idea that homosexuality can

be cured. 

Here George Rekers photographed by “The Miami New Times” at

Miami‘s airport returning from a 10-day European vacation with a much

younger quite hunky companion, whom he met and hired through the Web site


“Rent Boy,” in case you‘re unfamiliar with the term, is not like,

you know, “Man with a van, we‘ll help with moving,” or get tickets to

“Rent,” the Broadway show.   It‘s “Rent Boy,” as in when you log on, you‘ll

have to click through to acknowledge you‘re OK with sexually explicit

material and then you essentially agree to pay for hunky male


When the story broke in “The Miami New Times,” Mr. Rekers told

the paper he had hired this young man in question because, quote, “I had

surgery and I can‘t lift luggage,” which doesn‘t explain why, in this “New

Times” photo, as you can see, it is Mr. Rekers who was the wrangling the

cart, not his young consort. 

Mr. Rekers also told the paper that he used the trip to explain

that the Christian faith is based in love and to show the rent boy how he,

too, could be could be saved.  Later, the young man who Mr. Rekers brought

to Europe told the paper that he had spent part of each day on that trip

giving Mr. Rekers massages - very, very massages. 

You can look up the descriptions of them online yourself. 

There‘s no need to get into that here.  I realize this story has been

everywhere this week.  There are a lot of things that are funny about it

and it is easy to have schadenfreude about a guy this ostentatiously


I would like to add something, though, to our understanding of

what‘s going on here after a week of coverage of this story.  People being

gay, people being closeted, people hiring sex workers, in themselves, these

things are neither all that funny nor all that newsworthy. 

But when people have built their careers, their professions on

professions of their own sexual moral rectitude - David Vitter, John Ensign

when people have built their careers on trying to make life miserable and

dangerous for gay people while they themselves are secretly gay, Larry

Craig, George Rekers, then congratulations, you‘ve made the news. 

It‘s no longer just your private business.  What hasn‘t been

appreciated about the George Rekers-Rent Boy case is just how miserable he

has tried to make life for other gay people in this country and the fact

that he‘s still doing it. 

So here‘s George Rekers getting caught at the Miami airport on

April 14th, OK?  That‘s him in the blue shirt in the foreground.  It‘s a

picture he didn‘t want you to see.  The George Rekers he does want you to

see shows up here exactly two weeks earlier in this letter, dated March


This letter was reportedly sent to every school superintendent in

America, all 14,800 of them.  The letter advises school districts, quote,

“In dealing with adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction, it is

essential to understand there is no scientific evidence that an individual

is born gay or transgender.  It‘s also critical to understand that these

conditions can respond well to therapy.” 

Right, if you have the gay, don‘t worry.  It can be cured. 

Although doing so sometimes leaves a lingering backache, maybe?  The “hey,

superintendent, any gay kids in your school district need to be told they

can be cured” letter is from none other than George Rekers. 

See, he‘s listed here on the letter as a member of the Pediatric

Psychosocial Development Committee of this group, the American College of

Pediatricians.  That sounds official.  It sounds serious, right?  It‘s not. 

They are just one of these wacky far-right “cure the gays” groups. 

They‘re hoping that you will mistake them - they are the American

College of Pediatricians - they‘re hoping you will mistake them for the

real doctors group, the American Academy of Pediatrics.  That‘s the real


Again, the “cure the gays” letter from George Rekers‘ group goes

out on March 31st to every school district in the country.  George Rekers

then shows up at Miami‘s airport two weeks later with a hot young guy he

hired off of “,” having just returned from a 10-day rent boy

vacation.  It‘s as though he and his colleagues put the letter in the mail,

deadline met, and then left for two weeks of much-needed vacation and


The reason George Rekers‘ pitiful, closeted hypocritical life

news is actual news is because he‘s quite actively engaged in trying to

change this country to make it a more difficult place to be gay,

particularly a more difficult place to be a young gay person, while he is

simultaneously hiring at least one young gay person to not carry his


In 2004, George Rekers was paid tens of thousands of dollars to

testify as an expert witness for the state of Arkansas, supporting that

state‘s ban on gay parents caring for foster kids. 

In 2008, George Rekers was again paid tens of thousands of

taxpayer dollars to be an anti-gay expert witness, this time by the state

of Florida, to defend Florida‘s ban on gay parents adopting. 

Florida is fighting for that ban with the help of esteemed

experts like George Rekers.  A court ruling on the constitutionality of

that law is expected any day now.  Here‘s the basic idea about cases like

this, and Larry Craig and Ted Haggard and John Ensign and David Vitter and,

and, and, and. 

The miserable denial and lying in your own sex lives is your own

miserable, in-denial lying business, unless you make it the whole country‘s

business by crusading against the thing that is true about yourself that

you hate so much.  Being gay cannot be cured.  Being a contemptible,

pathetic hypocrite can be cured.  Come out, come out, whatever you are.


MADDOW:  We turn now to our alpine throat-singing correspondent. 

What, you thought we didn‘t have one?  It‘s Kent Jones, of course.  Hi,



MADDOW:  Oh, yes.

JONES:  Hi, Rachel.  You know, I don‘t know how many times we said to

each other at the morning meeting, gosh, I wish we had more times for this. 



JONES:  Ah, yodeling.  Originally a form of intermountain

communications between isolated valleys in the alps, yodeling became a folk

art in Europe and a staple of country music here in the States. 


Good news, yodel fans, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of

the Swiss Yodeling Association.  And to honor that event, the association

will stage a gala yodeling concert at a huge hockey stadium in the Swiss

city of Bern. 


Organizers feared the hockey rink was so big that the 600

yodelers on stage wouldn‘t be able to be heard properly, so they suggested

backing the yodelers with recordings of extra voices.  Swiss yodelers

howled with indignation.  Why, that‘s just one step away from lip syncing. 

Are you trying to ruin yodeling? 

Fumed one yodeler quote, “This is taking the mickey out of the

public.”  Insisted another, quote, “We‘ll never sing over pre-recorded

tapes.  In singing, we express our feelings.” 




JONES:  Come on, clap. 

MADDOW:  Yes, I know.  Here‘s the thing about the yodeling story. 

JONES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  So yodeling now is just for joy, but yodeling, obviously, was

started to yell really loud to people on other mountains.  The whole point

was so that to do something with your voice that could be heard a zillion

miles away. 

JONES:  Yes, Johan‘s(ph) over here and Georg is over on the alp.  And

they got (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  You know, they‘ve got to -

MADDOW:  So what kind of Swiss Yodeling Association can you be, if you

think, “Oh, these guys won‘t be able to be heard in row 13”? 

JONES:  Well, it shows a lack of confidence in the yodeler which is

bad for him. 

MADDOW:  Which is bad for - a bad strategy. 

JONES:  Always.  Always.  Yes. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Kent.  Appreciate it.  That does it for us

tonight.  We will see you again on Monday night.  Meanwhile, do what our

favorite junior viewer Cassie does.  Hang out with us in our new blog,

“”  Have a great weekend.  Good night. 




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