The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/19/10
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith, and thank you.
And thanks to you for staying with us for the next hour.
Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul will be here in just a moment,
as the whole country is getting to know him a little better now that he‘s
won the Kentucky Senate primary.
Democratic Senate candidate, Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania,
will also be here fresh off his primary win over 30-year Senate incumbent
We‘ve got a new edition of helpful hints for hypocrites coming up
tonight. And we‘ve got an important and unexpected development in the
Nevada Republicans‘ proposal to pay your doctor with chickens.
That‘s all ahead.
But we begin tonight with one of the more unlikely and more
politically pleasant events in the very short history of this show. It was
the moment when Rand Paul announced his candidacy for the United States
Senate right here on this show just about a year ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Paul, I understand that you yourself have some political
ambitions. I was hoping you might talk about those tonight on the show.
DR. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I do. I‘m
happy tonight to announce on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that I‘m forming an
exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, yesterday, Rand Paul walloped his Republican primary
opponent for that Senate seat, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
Mr. Grayson was endorsed by establishment figures like the state‘s other
senator, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, by Dick Cheney, by Rudy Giuliani,
by the Chamber of Commerce, but Rand Paul won that race and he won it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I have a message, a message from the tea party, a message that
is loud and clear and does not mince words: We‘ve come to take our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the wake of last night‘s big victory, the discussion of
Mr. Paul‘s win has turned from politics—he won, he beat the machine—
to policy. What does Rand Paul stand for? Who did Kentucky Republicans
just nominate to be their Republican nominee for Senate this November?
Getting a lot of attention already is Dr. Paul today, discussing his
views on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities
Act on National Public Radio‘s program “All Things Considered.”
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, NPR)
ROBERT SEIGEL, NPR HOST: But are you saying that had you been around
at the time that you would have, hoped you would have marched with Martin
Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater against the 1964 Civil Rights
PAUL: Well, actually I think it‘s confusing on a lot of cases with
what actually was in the civil rights case, because, see, a lot of the
things that actually were in the bill, I‘m in favor of. I‘m in favor of
everything with regards to ending institutional racism. So I think there‘s
a lot to be desired in the civil rights, and to tell you the truth, I
haven‘t really read all through it because it was passed 40 years ago and
hadn‘t been a real pressing issue on the campaign on, for the Civil Rights
SEIGEL: But it‘s been one of the major developments in American
history in the course of your life. I mean, do you think the ‘64 Civil
Rights Act, or the ADA for that matter, were just overreaches and that
business shouldn‘t be bothered by people with the basis in law to sue them
PAUL: Right. I think a lot of things could be handled locally. For
example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for
peoples with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office
with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-
story office and you hire someone who‘s handicapped, it might be reasonable
to let them have an office on the first floor rather than the government
saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to
solutions like that, the more local the better and the more common sense
the decisions are rather than having a federal government make those
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Rand Paul‘s brand-new Democratic opponent in Kentucky is Jack
Conway. He‘s already taking aim at those positions. But those comments
today on NPR are not the first time that Dr. Paul has gone on the record on
this potentially more controversial side of his small government views.
Here was Dr. Paul last month talking with the editorial board of the
Louisville “Courier-Journal” newspaper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended
discrimination in all public domains and I‘m all in favor of that.
PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” I don‘t like the idea of telling
private business owners. I abhor racism. I think it‘s a bad business
decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same
time, I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be
absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and
that‘s mostly what the Civil Rights Act was about, to my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was the substance of that editorial board session, that
federal protection against discrimination essentially amount to government
overreach when they impinge on the rights of private business owners to run
their business the way they see fit. It was that discussion that led “The
Courier-Journal” to endorse neither Republican candidate in the party‘s
“The Courier-Journal” actually called the Republican primary a, quote,
“dismal choice,” and they said, quote, “The trouble with Dr. Paul is that
despite his independent thinking, much of what he stands for is repulsive
to people in the mainstream. For instance, he holds an unacceptable view
of civil rights, saying while the federal government can enforce
integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people
should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people or gays or
any other minority group,” end quote.
Joining us now is the candidate himself. He can very ably speak for
himself, Dr. Rand Paul.
Dr. Paul, thank you so much for coming back on the show and
congratulations on your big victory last night.
PAUL: Thank you, Rachel, and thank you for that wonderful intro
piece, quite a collection.
MADDOW: I know this must feel like frying pan and into the fire here,
so soon after the election with really being the focus of this national
storm right now. Everybody is trying to figure out what you meant by these
things. But let‘s talk about it.
MADDOW: Was “The Courier-Journal” right? Do you believe that private
business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black
people or gays or any other minority group, as they said?
PAUL: Well, I think to put things in perspective, when “The Courier-
Journal” does not endorse a Republican, that‘s not something very unusual
in our state. They typically don‘t endorse Republicans, and it‘s a very
But with regard to racism, I don‘t believe in any racism. I don‘t
think we should have any government racism, any institutional form of
racism. You know, one interesting historical tidbit, one of my favorite
historical characters is William Lloyd Garrison. And one of the
interesting things about desegregation and putting people together, do you
know when it happened in Boston?
MADDOW: What do you mean, the desegregation? In general?
PAUL: You know when we got—you know, when we got rid of the Jim
Crow laws and when we got rid of segregation and a lot of the abhorrent
practices in the South, do you know when we got rid of it in Boston?
MADDOW: I—why don‘t you tell me what you‘re getting at?
PAUL: Well, it was in 1840. So I think it is sort of a stain on the
history of America that 120 years to desegregate the South.
But William Lloyd Garrison was a champion and abolitionist who wrote
about freeing the slaves back in the 1810s, ‘20s and ‘30s and labored in
obscurity (ph) to do this. He was flagged, put in jails. He was with
Frederick Douglass being thrown off trains.
But, you know, they desegregated transportation in Boston in 1840, and
I think that was an impressive and amazing thing. But also points out the
sadness that it took us 120 years to desegregate the South. And a lot of
that was institutional racism was absolutely wrong and something that I
MADDOW: In terms of legal remedies for persistent discrimination,
though, if there was a private business, say, in Louisville, say, somewhere
in your home state, that wanted to not serve black patrons and wanted to
not serve gay patrons, or somebody else on the basis of their—on the
basis of a characteristic that they decided they didn‘t like as a private
business owner—would you think they had a legal right to do so, to put
up a “blacks not served here” sign?
PAUL: Well, the interesting thing is, you know, you look back to the
1950s and 1960s at the problems we faced. There were incredible problems.
You know, the problems had to do with mostly voting, they had to do with
schools, they had to do with public housing. And so, this is what the
civil rights largely addressed, and all things that I largely agree with.
MADDOW: But what about private businesses? I mean, I hate to—I
don‘t want to be badgering you on this, but I do want an answer.
PAUL: I‘m not—I‘m not—
MADDOW: Do you think that a private business has the right to say we
don‘t serve black people?
PAUL: Yes. I‘m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I
would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do
have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race.
But I think what‘s important about this debate is not written into any
specific “gotcha” on this, but asking the question: what about freedom of
speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we
limit racists from speaking?
I don‘t want to be associated with those people, but I also don‘t want
to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and
uncivilized behavior because that‘s one of the things freedom requires is
that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn‘t mean
we approve of it. I think the problem with this debate is by getting
muddled down into it, the implication is somehow that I would approve of
any racism or discrimination, and I don‘t in any form or fashion.
MADDOW: But isn‘t being in favor of civil rights but against the
Civil Rights Act a little like saying you‘re against high cholesterol but
you‘re in favor of fried cheese?
PAUL: But I‘m not against –
MADDOW: I mean, the Civil Rights Act was the federal government
stepping in to protect civil rights because they weren‘t otherwise being
protected. It wasn‘t a hypothetical. There were businesses that were
saying black people cannot be served here and the federal government
stepped in and said, no, you actually don‘t have that choice to make. The
federal government is coming in and saying you can‘t make that choice as a
Which side of that debate would you put yourself on?
PAUL: In the totality of it, I‘m in favor of the federal government
being involved in civil rights and that‘s, you know, mostly what the Civil
Rights Act was about. And that was ending institutional racism.
MADDOW: When you—
PAUL: And I‘m in favor of—I‘m opposed to any form of governmental
racism or discrimination or segregation, all of the things we fought in the
South, in fact, like I say, I think it‘s a stain on our history that we
went 120 years from when the North desegregated and when those battles were
fought in the North. And I like to think that, you know, even though I was
a year old at the time, that I would have marched with Martin Luther King
because I believed in what he was doing.
MADDOW: But if you were in the—
PAUL: But, you know, most of the things he was fighting—most of the
MADDOW: I‘m sorry to interrupt you. Go on, sir.
PAUL: Most of the things he were fighting—most of the things that
he was fighting were laws. He was fighting Jim Crow laws. He was fighting
legalized and institutional racism. And I‘d be right there with him.
MADDOW: But maybe voting against the Civil Rights Act which wasn‘t
just about governmental discrimination but public accommodations, the idea
that people who provided services that were open to the public had to do so
in a nondiscriminatory fashion.
Let me ask you a specific so we don‘t get into the esoteric
PAUL: Well, there‘s 10 – there‘s 10 different—there‘s 10
different titles, you know, to the Civil Rights Act, and nine out of 10
deal with public institutions. And I‘m absolutely in favor of one deals
with private institutions, and had I been around, I would have tried to
But you know, the other thing about legislation—and this is why
it‘s a little hard to say exactly where you are sometimes, is that when you
support nine out of 10 things in a good piece of legislation, do you vote
for it or against it? And I think, sometimes, those are difficult
What I was asked by “The Courier-Journal” and I stick by it is that I
do defend and believe that the government should not be involved with
institutional racism or discrimination or segregation in schools, bussing,
all those things. But had I been there, there would have been some
discussion over one of the titles of the civil rights.
And I think that‘s a valid point, and still a valid discussion,
because the thing is, is if we want to harbor in on private businesses and
their policies, then you have to have the discussion about: do you want to
abridge the First Amendment as well. Do you want to say that because
people say abhorrent things—you know, we still have this. We‘re having
all this debate over hate speech and this and that. Can you have a
newspaper and say abhorrent things? Can you march in a parade and believe
in abhorrent things, you know?
So, I think it‘s an important debate but should be intellectual one.
It‘s really tough to have an intellectual debate in the political sense
because what happens is it gets dumbed down. It will get dumb down to
three words and they‘ll try to run on this entire issue, and it‘s being
brought up as a political issue.
I think if you listen to me, I think you should understand that—I
think you do, I think you‘re an intelligent person. I like being on your
show. But I think that what is the totality of what I‘m saying—am I a
bad person? Do I believe in awful things? No.
I really think that discrimination and racism is a horrible thing.
And I don‘t want any form of it in our government, in our public sphere.
MADDOW: The reason that this is something that I‘m not letting go
even though I now realize it would make the conversation more comfortable
to move on to other things and I think this is going to be a focus for
national attention on you, I guess until there‘s at least clarity on it, is
that issue of the tenth, not the nine, but the tenth out of the 10 portions
proportions of the—the tenth of the Civil Rights Act that you would
want to have discussions about. As I understand it, what you‘re saying,
that‘s the portion of the Civil Rights Act that said you can‘t actually
have segregated lunch counters here at your private business.
I mean, when Bob Jones University in the year 2000 –
PAUL: Well, it‘s interesting. Actually, it‘s even—
MADDOW: Hold on just one second. Until the year 2000, Bob Jones
University, a private institution, had a ban on interracial dating at their
school, their private institution. If Bob Jones University wanted to bring
that back now, would you support their right to do so?
PAUL: Well, I think it‘s interesting because the debate involves more
than just that, because the debate also involves a lot of court cases with
regard to the commerce clause. For example, right now, many states and
many gun organizations are saying they have a right to carry a gun in a
public restaurant because a public restaurant is not a private restaurant.
Therefore, they have a right to carry their gun in there and that the
restaurant has no right to have rules to their restaurant.
So, you see how this could be turned on many liberal observers who
want to excoriate me on this. Then to be consistent, they‘d have to say,
oh, well, yes, absolutely, you‘ve got your right to carry your gun anywhere
because it‘s a public place.
So, you see, when you blur the distinction between public and private,
there are problems. When you blur the distinction between public and
private ownership, there really is a problem. A lot of this was settled a
long time ago and isn‘t being debated anymore.
MADDOW: But it could be brought up at any moment. I mean, if there -
let‘s say there‘s a town right now and the owner of the town‘s swimming
club says we‘re not going to allow black kids at our pool, and the owner of
the bowling alley in town says, we‘re not actually going to allow black
patrons, and the owner of the skating rink in town says, we‘re not going to
allow black people to skate here.
And you may think that‘s abhorrent and you may think that‘s bad
business. But unless it‘s illegal, there‘s nothing to stop that—there‘s
nothing under your world view to stop the country from re-segregating like
we were before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 –
MADDOW: – which you‘re saying you‘ve got some issues with.
PAUL: Well, the interesting thing is, is that there‘s nothing right
now to prevent a lot of re-segregating. We had a lot of it over the last
30 or 40 years.
What I would say is that we did some very important things in the ‘60s
that I‘m all in favor of and that was desegregating the schools,
desegregating public transportation, use public roads and public
monopolies, desegregating public water fountains.
MADDOW: How about desegregating lunch counters? Lunch counters.
Walgreen‘s lunch counters, were you in favor of that? Possibly? Because
the government got involved?
PAUL: Right. Well, what it gets into is, is that then if you decide
that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you
say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant,
even though the owner of the restaurant says, well, no, we don‘t want to
have guns in here.
The bar says we don‘t want to have guns in here, because people might
drink and start fighting and shoot each other. Does the owner of the
restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?
These are important philosophical debates but not very practical
discussion. And I think we can make something out of this—
MADDOW: Well, it‘s pretty practical to people who were—had their
life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen‘s lunch
counters despite these esoteric debates about gun ownership. This is not a
hypothetical, Dr. Paul.
PAUL: Yes, but I—yes. Well, but I think what you‘re doing,
Rachel, is you‘re conflating the issue.
PAUL: You‘re saying that somehow this abstract discussion of private
property has any bit of condoning for violence. This—there‘s nothing in
what I‘m saying that condones any violence and any kind of violence like
that deserves to be put—people like that deserve to be put in jail. So
nobody‘s condoning any of that.
MADDOW: Well, I understand that you‘re not condoning violence, but
the people who were beating for trying to desegregate Woolworth‘s lunch
counters weren‘t asking to beaten. They‘re asking—
PAUL: Those people should have gone –
MADDOW: – for private businesses to be desegregated by the
government. You‘re saying those people should have gone to different
places? Left them segregated?
PAUL: People who commit—people who commit violence on other
individuals should go to prison and go to jail. And there‘s nothing we
should ever do to condone violence on other individuals.
MADDOW: And should Woolworth lunch counter should have been allowed
to stay segregated? Sir, just yes or no.
PAUL: What I think would happen—what I‘m saying is, is that I
don‘t believe in any discrimination. I don‘t believe in any private
property should discriminate either. And I wouldn‘t attend, wouldn‘t
support, wouldn‘t go to.
But what you have to answer when you answer this point of view, which
is an abstract, obscure conversation from 1964 that you want to bring up.
But if you want to answer, you have to say then that you decide the rules
for all restaurants and then you decide that you want to allow them to
carry weapons into restaurants.
MADDOW: I can—we could have a fight about the Second Amendment.
MADDOW: But I think wanting to allow private industry—private
PAUL: It‘s the same fight. It‘s the same fight.
MADDOW: – to discriminate along the basis of race because of
property rights is an extreme view and I think that‘s going to be the focus
nationally on your candidacy now and you‘re going to have a lot more
debates like this. So, I hope you don‘t hold it against me for bringing it
up. I think this is going to be a continuing discussion for a long time,
PAUL: Well, I think what you‘ve done is you bring up something that
really is not an issue, nothing I‘ve ever spoken about or have any
indication that I‘m interested in any legislation concerning. So, what you
bring up is sort of a red herring or something that you want to pit. It‘s
a political ploy. I mean, it‘s brought up as an attack weapon from the
other side, and that‘s the way it will be used.
But, you know, I think a lot of times these attacks fall back on
themselves, and I don‘t think it will have any effect because the thing is,
is that every fiber of my being doesn‘t believe in discrimination, doesn‘t
believe that we should have that in our society. And to imply otherwise is
MADDOW: Dr. Rand Paul, Republican nominee for the United States
Senate in Kentucky, where he‘ll be representing not only his own views
about how to live but what kind of laws we should have in America, sir, I
enjoy talking with these things about you. I couldn‘t disagree with you
more about this issue, but I do respect you for coming on the show, and for
being able to have this civil discussion about it. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the man who defeated Arlen Specter in a Democratic Senate
primary in Pennsylvania will join us next, Congressman Joe Sestak. Please
stay with us.
MADDOW: What do you call a man who makes pro-abstinence videos with
his mistress? Until this week in the third district of Indiana, you‘d call
him “congressman.” Family values, hypocrisy and a flash back to the Newt
Gingrich Republican Revolution class of 1994 – just ahead.
MADDOW: Arlen Specter‘s 30-year career in the United States Senate
had its final chapter written last night by a congressman and former Navy
vice admiral named Joe Sestak. A lot of people said it couldn‘t be done.
He defeated a long-time incumbent, sitting senator in Pennsylvania‘s
Congressman Joe Sestak joins us now.
Congressman Sestak, it‘s a pleasure to have you back on the show, now
as Democratic Senate candidate. Congratulations.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you very
much. Great to be back.
MADDOW: Great to be—great to see you again. Do you wish you were
running against Rand Paul?
SESTAK: Oh, yes.
Let me ask you if you feel—if you feel confident that you‘re going
to be able to unify Democrats behind your candidacy after this really hard-
fought primary that you had?
SESTAK: It‘s without a question. The president was so gracious last
night and the vice president also called.
But you know who really was the most gracious and set the standard for
it? Arlen Specter. When he called me he said, “Joe, congratulations. I
will support you.” It was really something. I mean, this is a warrior,
someone who went out there, had integrity. But at end of the day, he
really said, “I‘m behind you.”
From Governor Rendell who I‘ve spoken with, to Mayor Nutter—all
across the board, we all know that this president of ours needs someone
down in the United States Senate that believes in the policies that are
different than the person you just had on with you. Someone who actually
understands that this nation is the very first nation ever founded on
principle, not power. And that really, as we try to achieve, I think, that
perfect union of the forefathers is really the mark of the progressive
movement from freedom, civil rights, suffrage, to equality for all, and
that‘s what this president stands for and I want to be down there with him
and so do all the Democrats.
And I believe, so do so many Republicans and independents, I want to
go down there and help make that happen.
MADDOW: Now, you said that last night in your victory speech that
your win was a victory over the establishment, over the status quo, even
over Washington, D.C. And you sort of laughed a little bit after you said
Does that mean that you‘re not going to want help in the fall from the
D.C. establishment that supported Senator Specter in this race, from the
White House, as you said, from Governor Rendell, from Senator Casey?
SESTAK: Yes, you know, it‘s interesting. I always remembered those
words that John F. Kennedy said so well.
Sometimes the party asks too much. At the end of the day, I decided I
had to stand up for the people of Pennsylvania, the working families, those
that didn‘t have jobs and want to have them. I appreciate the deal that
was made in Washington, D.C., but we were going to have to live with it for
the next six years. And so, therefore, I want to make everyone in
Pennsylvania understand that, yes, I stood up to the party establishment
when I thought they were wrong for you. I just want to re-emphasize that,
at the end of the day, I‘m like all Pennsylvanians, pretty independent-
minded but I still believe in Democratic principles.
But when the party get it‘s wrong and I think there are many in
Washington on both sides of the aisle that get it wrong, sometimes a bit
too worried about their own job rather than doing what‘s right, rather than
helping others. And that‘s what I‘ll stand up to do what‘s right for the
people of Pennsylvania.
I really believe, if I learned anything in the military, it was that I
was accountable for my actions and I like to be part of the team that kind
of brings that back to Washington, D.C.—not just responsibility, but
accountability and being ready to lose my job over doing what‘s right.
MADDOW: Well, your opponent in November is going to be Republican Pat
Toomey, former congressman, former president of the conservative anti-
regulation Club for Growth. In terms of that defining strategy, that
defining strategy for your career in public service and for your political
success, how does that square off against Pat Toomey?
Do you think that you‘re going to end up talking most of the time
about what Democrats are trying to do in Washington, the success, as you
see it, of President Obama‘s agenda and the Democratic congressional
agenda? Are you going to be talking about what‘s wrong about the
Republican choices for America?
SESTAK: I think it‘s going to be two things. First is, I take this
from having been elected in a district that‘s 55 percent Republican, 33
percent Democrat, to where last year, all I did was put money in yard
signs. First year, I had to put $3 million out there in TV ads and others
that they learn to trust me. They didn‘t always agree.
But regaining the trust that I am going to listen and I‘ll try to do
some principle compromise, never compromise a principle, I think is the
first issue that I really want to continue to talk about. Washington,
D.C.‘s lost the trust and faith of everyone. That‘s what Massachusetts
said. Fox on both your houses. We voted for change in politics, not just
And second, look, government does have a legitimate role. I do agree
with you in that previous discussion. We go and make sure that small
businesses have certain health policies so our common enterprise, all our
individuals don‘t get sick. I think we do stand in this nation for equal
rights for everybody.
And so, I want to make sure that people understand that there is a
role—a legitimate job done in the right way that government has to do.
And the absence of that during the eight years of the Bush administration
permitted those on Wall Street where Congressman Toomey worked and where he
actually voted as a congressman to help George Bush take the referee off
the football field for Wall Street and let them gamble with the savings of
our senior citizens—which to mark (ph) – to Wall Street was a small
market correction last year. No.
Now, for these seniors, it means they‘re going to be working until
they‘re 75 or 80. And to young couples, they lost the savings for their
children to go to college. That‘s a legitimate fair referee on the
football field that I‘d like to make sure people to understand that the
grand alliance of America‘s character, the rugged individualism, and the
common enterprise is so important, and education, economic and health
MADDOW: Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, now the Democratic
candidate for Senate in the great state of Pennsylvania. Thank you so much
for joining us tonight, Congressman. Good luck.
SESTAK: It‘s always a pleasure with you. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks. So the Indiana Congressman who resigned yesterday
because he was having an affair with his staffer comes from the large class
of Republican revolutionaries elected in part on the strength of their
family values in 1994.
That class of ‘94 has left an impressive legacy of ethics
violations, sex scandals and horrible awkward crying resignations and jail
sentences. Our second episode of helpful hints for hypocrites, coming up
MADDOW: There was a new young Democratic president. The Republicans
had gotten trounced by that Democrat in the last presidential election, but
they set their sights on the midterms for getting back some of what they
It was the year 1994, and Republicans did great in that first
midterm election and Bill Clinton‘s first term. It‘s a nearly ironclad
rule of politics that the first Congressional election after there is a new
president in that election, the opposition party picks up seats.
Call it buyer‘s remorse, call it the swinging back of the
pendulum, it doesn‘t really matter. It‘s just what happens essentially
But in 1994, it happened in a way bigger way than usual. There
were 81 Republican freshmen in the House and Senate in the class of 1994.
It was the Republican revolution.
“Time” magazine in November ‘94 put this rampaging GOP elephant
on its cover. Notice how it‘s not just rampaging, it‘s a rampaging
elephant stomping on a Democratic donkey so hard the donkey‘s eyeballs are
exploded out their donkey eyeball sockets.
Nice, right? The Republican revolution of 1994 also earned Newt
Gingrich this Man of the Year cover from “Time” magazine in 1995. And
then, pretty soon after that, the Republican revolution class of 1994
started to become famous for more than just politics.
They started to get famous for flaming out, for catastrophic and
often career-ending scandals of a sexual, ethical and/or criminal nature.
Barely a year after the whole Man of the Year thing, for example, Mr.
Gingrich himself was ordered by the House to pay a $300,000 ethics penalty
in an investigation over misuse of tax-exempt funds.
He was nearly forced out as speaker. He then quit as speaker and
quit Congress altogether in 1998. Mr. Gingrich was just the tip of the
class of 1994 Republican ethics iceberg, though. Class of ‘94 Republican
Bob May was indicted and went to prison on federal corruption charges.
Class of ‘94 Republican Wes Cooley was convicted first of having
lied to voters - yes, you can be convicted for that. He was later indicted
on unrelated federal money-laundering and tax charges.
Also, class in the class of 1994, the very famous Republican,
Mark Sanford, who narrowly avoided impeachment this year after having said
Bill Clinton should be impeached because of Monica Lewinsky, after
campaigning on his own family values and then having to admit to his own
extramarital affair which he lied about.
The Republican class of 1994 also included John Ensign, also a
family values campaigner, now remarkably still a senator. Mr. Ensign, seen
in this footage, all but running away from TV producers trying to ask him
about his confessed extramarital affair and the money involved in that and
the criminal ethics investigation that‘s have followed.
Another Republican revolution 1994 classmate was Mark Foley,
another family values, loudly anti-guy campaigner who resigned in disgrace
after his sexually aggressive text messages to underage male Congressional
pages were published.
The holier-than-thou, family-values-proclaiming Republican class
of 1994 also included at least three more members of Congress who, after
getting elected, divorced their wives and took up instead with people who
worked for them.
And even as the Republican revolution is starting to feel like a
long time ago, members of the class of 1994 are still out there and they‘re
still getting busted. Yesterday, yet another family-values-proclaiming
class of ‘94 Republican revolutionary had to do the hypocrisy-humiliation
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK SOUDER (R-IN): I wish I could have been a better - I sinned
against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a
part-time member of my staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That‘s Mark Souder, Republican Congressman of Indiana‘s third
district, elected as part of the class of 1994 as a self-righteous defender
of family values which he, of course, claimed to have in spades.
You see him here in this tape, for example, discussing one of his
pet causes, what he sees as the imperative that there be no sex education
in this country, that children be taught only that sex is to be avoided at
all costs outside of marriage. The person Mark Souder is talking to in
this tape is the woman on his staff with whom he had an affair outside his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a member of the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee, you participated in an April 2008 hearing at
which you were one of the only voices in the room speaking in defense of
You‘ve been a long-time advocate for abstinence education. And
in 2006, you had your staff conduct a report entitled “Abstinence and Its
Critics” which discredits many claims purveyed by those who oppose
abstinence education. What did you think of this hearing?
SOUDER: Well, I personally feel I should have probably abstained from
the hearing that -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. Mark Souder doing a fake interview about his devotion to
abstinence with the person on his staff with whom he cheated on his wife.
If you have built your political career on denouncing other people‘s sexual
immorality and proclaiming your own sexual morality, perhaps old
hypocritical habits die hard.
You saw that I think in Congressman Souder‘s angry resignation
statement yesterday as he tried to portray his “I‘m resigning because I‘ve
been shtupping my staffer” decision as yet further evidence of his own
superior family values.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOUDER: In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any
personal failing is seized upon, twisted for political gain. I‘m resigning
rather than put my family through a painful, drawn-out process of which any
legal question would have been clearly resolved and I would have been
But the political price to pay and the personal price of my
family was not worth it. I and my family were more than willing to stand
here with me. We‘re a committed family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maybe. In any case, it is a weird thing to bring up when you
are resigning for cheating. But bragging about his family values is
apparently hard-wired into a politician who has built his own career on
demagogue-ing the supposed inferiority and immorality of other people‘s
Mr. Souder was a co-sponsor of the D.C. Defense of Marriage Act
which would have had the federal government reach in and stop D.C.‘s local
decision to recognize marriage for people like, say, me, or your gay
cousin, because Mark Souder maintained that government should uniquely
privilege marriages like Mark Souder‘s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOUDER: I believe that the New Testament believes that marriage is
between a man and a woman and that when we define the marriage laws, we
should speak out.
MADDOW: Mark Souder‘s Web site, still humiliatingly up today, says,
quote, “I believe that Congress must fight to uphold the traditional values
that undergird the strength of our nation. The family plays a fundamental
role in our society. I am committed to preserving traditional marriage,
the union of one man and one woman.”
And sometimes one other woman, too. Even as Mr. Souder had to
announce his resignation because his own hypocrisy had become the low-
hanging tree branch that smacked him in the head and knocked him of his
high family values horse, even as he was making his resignation
announcement, Mark Souder was still bragging about his awesome and superior
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOUDER: It has been a privilege to be part of the battle for freedom
and the values we share. The ideas we advocate are still just and right.
America will survive and thrive when anchored in those values.
Human beings like me will fail, but our cause is greater than
individuals. It is based upon eternal truths. By stepping aside, my
mistake cannot be used as a political football (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in attempt
to undermine the cause for which I‘ve labored for my entire adult life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK, OK, OK. The cause for which he has labored his entire
adult life. The cause of claiming moral high ground for his own purported
fake, just-for-show sexual morality and denigrating everybody else‘s.
So good-bye, Mark Souder. Good-bye from Congress. Everybody
hopes that your family forgives you and that her family forgives her and
that it all works out OK for everyone.
But as the high-horse-values, self-proclaiming hypocrites of the
Republican revolution class of 1994 continue to fall out into scandal and
prison and the C Street house, they‘re making this whole helpful hints for
hypocrites series we‘re doing way too easy.
First, Google yourself to remind yourself what your values are
supposed to be. Second, don‘t sponsor legislation that denigrates other
people‘s marriages when you‘re denigrating your own every Tuesday, in some
parked car or hot tub somewhere.
And third, today‘s new addition to our helpful hints for
hypocrites series, don‘t make pro-abstinence videos with your mistress. I
have a feeling there are more helpful hints to come. We will be right
MADDOW: Democratic leadership in the Senate made a first try at
breaking the Republican filibuster of Wall Street reform today. Didn‘t
work. Democrats continue to wrangle not only with Republicans but with
some in their own party on further amending the bill.
A couple of the votes against going ahead with reform today were
actually from Democrats - Maria Cantwell of Washington and Russ Feingold of
Wisconsin, arguing that the bill needs further strengthening before it is
finalized. As the big wrangle-y amendment process continues to get
wrangled, however, some senators are managing to settle some issues.
Remember the whole payday loan issue? Remember the guy in
Tennessee who‘s made so much money ripping people off to the tune of 400
percent interest on payday loans that he built himself his own private
personal regulation-size football stadium in his backyard?
Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina has been trying to make sure
that Wall Street reform would finally regulate these loan sharks since
there‘s just a patchwork of state level regulations now, a patchwork the
industry is very good at evading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC): By reining in payday lenders, we will protect
consumers from racking up endless long-term debt that can ultimately cause
a family to declare bankruptcy. This amendment protects consumers by
ensuring that short-term cash advances remain short-term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina introduced the regulate
payday lenders thing yesterday. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama blocked it.
So Wall Street reform now chugs along, much still to be decided. A final
vote yet to be scheduled.
But if there is one thing that the top Republican on the banking
committee wants to be known definitively at this really un-definitive
moment, it‘s that the 400 percent interest payday loan shark unregulated
guys have friends in Washington looking out for them. Payday lending stock
- payday lender stock actually rose on Wall Street today.
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”
magazine. Hi, Chris. Good to see you.
CHRIS HAYES, WASHINGTON EDITOR, “THE NATION”: Good to see you too,
MADDOW: Are we in danger of not getting Wall Street reform now? How
big a setback was this vote today?
HAYES: Well, it‘s really hard to say. I mean, Dave Dayen who‘s been
covering this for “Firedog Lake” described it as “Lord of the Flies” on the
Senate floor today. And that‘s because there‘s a number of things in play
right now, right?
So the - clearly, Harry Reid thought that he was going to get
Scott Brown‘s vote for cloture. And he was ticked off about that and said
“One of the Republican members lied to me,” more or less.
Then, there‘s the fact that a number of amendments that Democrats
wanted to bring, including some extremely important ones like Kay Hagan‘s
payday lending one, the one of Volcker Rule and there‘s one to reinstate
Glass-Steagall which separates investment and commercial banking. Those
haven‘t been able to come up for a vote.
And so the reason the Democrats rebelled in Feingold and Campbell
was to say, “Hey, wait a second. We‘ve had this whole process where
everyone is supposed to bring their amendments. And now, you turn around
and say we have to vote for cloture.
That‘s not fair. So Harry Reid has to figure out things in his
own caucus if we‘re going to get this forward.
MADDOW: On the issue specifically of payday lenders, are these - are
the payday lenders actually safe now? Can the Kay Hagan language come
back? Is anybody else likely to be able to get payday lending regulations
into the bill?
HAYES: OK, so it‘s a little procedurally complex. But basically, the
Hagan bill never actually came up for a vote today. It was denied
In the Senate, basically, you need unanimous consent to move
forward on anything. And the Republicans have just started saying no more
amendments. We won‘t give unanimous consent.
So it‘s possible leadership can bring the Hagan vote to the floor
still. And if that doesn‘t work, it‘s possible that the CPFA, which is the
sort of consumer protection element of the bill, can actually bring payday
lenders under its regulatory purview, although that also is a little bit of
a question mark once everything cashes out. So that is an unsatisfying
answer but that is where things stand.
MADDOW: So at this point, though, bottom line, the payday lending
thing could still come up. The Democrats need to get their own house in
MADDOW: In terms of casting the dumb thing and we don‘t know when it
is going to happen?
HAYES: That is more or less right. It is probably going to get
shaken out in the next few days from what I‘m hearing from people on the
HAYES: But that is where things stand. I mean, I think it is really
important for the viewers to recognize that in some respects, this bill has
gotten stronger and right now is a real tipping point.
And some of the things that the leadership and the Republicans in
kind of tacit compromise want to keep out are some of the most important
things. And it is right and proper for people like Feingold and Campbell
to say, “No, we are not going to vote for cloture until you give us votes
on these very good progressive amendments.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation,” always great
to see you, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith asks Robert Redford about his
call for President Obama to step up on clean energy in light of the BP oil
First, on this show, which came first, the chicken or the denial
of the chicken? The candidate whose proposed solution to high health care
costs was that we should all pay doctors in chickens - that candidate has
crossed the road. That‘s next.
MADDOW: We turn to our avian dissonance correspondent, Kent Jones.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: All right, Rachel. You know, Nevada
Republican Sue Lowden seemed to be the most pro-chicken-as-payment-for-
health-care candidate in a generation.
MADDOW: Oh, yes.
JONES: But now - now, I‘m having second thoughts. Take a look.
SUE LOWDEN ®, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: In the olden days, our
grandparents - they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say,
“I‘ll paint your house.” I‘m not backing down from that -
JONES (voice-over): Only now, prepare yourselves. Sue Lowden is
anti-chicken. In a shocking 180, Sue Lowden has turned her back on
In a round table of candidates in the Nevada Republican Senate
primary, journalist Jon Ralston quizzed Lowden about paying for things with
chickens. It seemed to pickle her giblets.
JON RALSTON, JOURNALIST: You don‘t think that it is misleading to go
on TV in an ad and say, well, those remarks were taken out of context. You
said, in the olden days, “You take a chicken to the doctor. I‘m not
backing down from that system.”
LOWDEN: No, I never said from that system.
RALSTON: Yes, you did.
LOWDEN: I never said from that system.
RALSTON: Of course, you did.
LOWDEN: I said - no, that is not a policy.
JONES: Whoa. Hang on. Hang on.
LOWDEN: I never said from that system.
JONES: I say, I say that is mighty peculiar, peculiar that is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand there with your beak open. Explain
yourself. Your tongue is flapping but no noise is coming out of your big
MADDOW: Thank you, Kent. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Decorated fighter pilot Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach
went public about being a gay man one year ago today on this show. Since
then, the president promised in the State of the Union Address that he
would work with Congress this year to end the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell”
But House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton said that this
year‘s Defense Authorization Bill will not include a repeal. Mr. Skelton
helped craft the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” law and he opposes repealing it.
Today, he says he wants to support the military‘s request for
time to study the issue. The military‘s study of the issue is due to end
in December even if the policy does start to be repealed then. Nobody
facing discharge now has any idea if their careers in service to this
country will survive the wait.
That does it for us tonight. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann
starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>