The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/04/10

Guests:
John Hodgman, Gail Collins, Tank Jones
Transcript:

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  That‘s Thursday, November 4th, two days since the Republicans took control of the House.  Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Good night and good luck.

And now, to discuss why the right is living in the United States of making crap up—ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.

Good evening, Rachel.

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

OLBERMANN:  Can we do this in sync, papers?

MADDOW:  Oh, sure.  Ready?

OLBERMANN:  All right.  Yes, OK, let‘s go.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Your turn.

MADDOW:  That was spectacular.  I quit.  You peaked.  It‘s over.

OLBERMANN:  Is Lawrence—is Lawrence ready to go?  I‘ll have a quick pop with Lewis, how is that?

MADDOW:  Thank you.  Good night.

OLBERMANN:  Good night.

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

Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  Did you hear?  Did you hear?

Get this—one-tenth of the entire United States Navy and $200 million a day is what it‘s going to take to send Barack Obama on a trip to India?  I know.  Did you hear about this?

Taxpayers are spending $200 million a day and the U.S. Navy is providing 34 warships to send Barack Obama to India?  Did you hear about this?  No, really, did you hear it?  I totally heard about this.

(BEGIN IVIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  Just within a day or so, the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day.  He‘s taking 2,000 people with him.  He‘ll be renting out over 870 rooms in India.  And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR:  No one really knows the cost, because for security reasons, they don‘t disclose the cost.  So, this idea that‘s it‘s, you know, $200 million or whatever, is simply made up.

BACHMANN:  Well, these are the numbers coming out in the press.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That is actually true.  That last thing she said there about how these numbers have been coming out in the press—that is true.  Those numbers have, in fact, been coming out in the press, in a very, very specific part of the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Two hundred million dollars a day, 3,000 people.  He needs the whole Taj Mahal hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s actually reported.

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  No, no, it‘s $2 billion.  We have 34 warships.  Have you seen this?

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  Five hundred seven rooms at the Taj Mahal, 40 airplanes, $200 million a day that this nation will spend on Obama‘s trip to India.

ERIC BOLLING, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK:  What‘s Obama about to do?  Go on a trip to India that will cost $200 million.  That‘s $200 million per day.

I will tell you, unequivocally, this has been reported.  Go to the Internet.  Go take a look.  I‘m not making this up.  The show‘s not making this up.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Go to the Internet.  I‘m not making this up.  This stuff is on the Internets.  It‘s true on the Internet.

You want to know what else is true on the Internet?  A conned Unicorn meat, with sparkles.

You want to know what else is true on the Internet?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Zoom in a little bit closer.  What does that look like to you?  Those are the bite of a vampire.  Rachel Maddow is a vampire.  We are letting a lesbian vampire comment on America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I love that guy.

Sometimes what you learn about on the Internet—sometimes what you learn about what people is true on the Internet, you learn about it in weird ways.  For example, at some point recently, somebody started screaming at me in all caps on Twitter, “Why don‘t you ask Obama why Muslims are exempt from Obamacare?”

Now, your immediate natural response is, oh, this is very sad.  This is a crazy person who thinks that Muslims are exempt from health reform.  This is sad that this crazy person is crazy and thinks that.  But at least all they‘re doing is yelling at me about in all caps on the Internet.

It turns out it is more than just one crazy person on the Internet.  If you go on Google right now—I know this from experience—if you go to Google and you try to search for articles about this allegation, Muslims exempt from Obamacare, to see if other people believe this crazy thing, you only get as far as typing in Muslims e—before Muslims exempt from Obama-care pops right up.  It‘s not true, of course, but people believe this stuff.

There is a lot of stuff on the Internet.  Stuff being on the Internet is not a guarantee that it is true.

This has been true—this has been an issue as long as there has been an Internet and a rumor mill before that.  But, today, we have an alternate, self-contained, right wing media universe.  The right wing Web sites and talk radio and the right wing TV network, and in that alternate, self-contained, right wing media universe, this stuff is not just repeated as if it is fact, it is made into de facto fact.

In the alternate self-contained right wing media universe, this whole “we‘re spending $200 million a day to send Barack Obama to India” thing is true because they‘ve confirmed it for each other.  They looked it up on the Internet and it‘s totally there.  Their friend said it, right along side the unicorn meat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN:  I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy, some 40 ships and an aircraft carrier to support the president‘s trip to Asia.  That‘s just comical.  Nothing close to that is being done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It is not in fact true that it is costing American taxpayers $200 million a day to send the president to India.  Nor is it true that one-tenth of the Navy is being dispatched to take him there.  It is not true.

But the fact that it‘s not true doesn‘t matter anymore.  I mean, there have always been myths and lies around American politics.  But there used to be a process of debunking those things.  And then they would more or less go away, give or take the fringe, give or take protocols of the elders of Zion.

But the debunking process is gone now.  No non-right wing information is allowed to be used to debunk right wing information.  So, if conservatives self-confirm something as fact in their close circuit media world, it‘s fact to them.  We should have known we had lost the capacity to debunk when this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DICK MORRIS, POLITICAL CONSULTANT:  They‘re going to be saying, no, you can‘t give this person hip replacement.  They‘re too old.  This would be done by this federal board, which is really the death panel that Sarah Palin was talking about.

BECK:  Death panels, yes, back in the news again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He warned Americans about so-called “death panels.”

HANNITY:  Those death panels which created a big controversy—

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  There weren‘t death panels in health reform.  Democrats, in fact, accepted a Republican-proposed idea to promote living wills where people say what they want their own end-of-life care to be.  That is not a death panel.  There are not death panels.  There never were.

But in the alternate, self-contained, right wing media universe, death panels are real.  In that world, it‘s true.  They‘ve confirmed it with each other.  And it is therefore unquestionable.

The reason this is more than just funny or sad is that when people who are informed by their time in the alternate, self-contained, right wing media universe, when those people move on in life, sometimes what they‘re moving on is getting control of parts of the government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BACHMANN:  I‘m very concerned about the international move they‘re making, particularly the question that there was about moving the United States off of the dollar and on to a global currency.

Between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt.  And that‘s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps.

I‘m not saying that that‘s what the administration is planning to do.  But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Did you hear that the Census is being used by a tool by the Obama administration to round up conservatives and put them in internment camps, just like the Japanese in 1940?  I totally heard that.

Now, that census is over and so you maybe watching from a conservative internment camp right now.  If you are, I apologize for any offense.

But the idea that the U.S. Census mandated by the Constitution is a thinly veiled conspiracy to round us all up and put us on interment camps, the idea that Barack Obama has a dastardly plot to eliminate the dollar and create a one-world currency—those things aren‘t just stupid, they‘re true on the political right.

And because she is un-debunkable in today‘s media world, Michele Bachmann is now vying to become the number four Republican in the leadership of the United States House of Representatives.  Things that are true only in self-contained, right wing media world are leaking out into real politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  At a recent rally in Nevada, Senate candidate Sharron Angle said, quote, “Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law.  And I don‘t know how that happened in the United States.  It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States,” end quote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Sharia law has not, in fact, supplanted the United States Constitution anywhere in the United States.

When confronted with that truth, candidate Sharron Angle‘s response was not to withdraw the claim but to explain why she believed it, which is good enough for her.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LARS LARSON:  Did you say, though, that Sharia law was in place in Dearborn right now?

SHARRON ANGLE ®, FORMER NEVADA SENATE NOMINEE:  I had read that in one place, that they started using some Sharia law there, that‘s what I had read.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I have no doubt that you have, in fact, read that, Sharron Angle.

If you‘ve been reading around in conservative media world recently, you read a lot of stuff like that.  And because that media world is now so big and so well-funded that it is self-contained, and self-sustaining, there is no debunking of this stuff anymore.  It just becomes true by dent of mutual conservative reinforcement and repetition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  Their mission is to blur or completely erase the borders between Canada and U.S. and Mexico to get goods and services freely flowing between all three countries in the dream of one big, happy, Mexamericanada.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY:  I guarantee, this is one of the long term goals to have, you know, one sort of borderless, mass continent.

CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, FORMER DELAWARE SENATE NOMINEE:  American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals, and coming up with mice with fully-functioning human brains.

MADDOW:  Do you want to know what happened in Laredo?  Did you hear what happened in Laredo?  Oh, my God, a Mexican drug gang called the Zetas, the Zetas rampaged over the border and took over two ranches in Laredo, Texas.  American ranches now are being run, right now, by a Mexican drug gang.

Mexican drug gangs have officially breached the border.  The invasion from Mexico has begun.  Did you hear about it?  Did you hear about it?

If you live in right-wingville, then I‘m sure you have heard all about it.  None of it is true.  None of those things actually happened.

Good luck, you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Make sure you know that Lisa confirmed Eric Holder and we disagree with that.

MADDOW:  She what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Voted to confirm Eric Holder.

MADDOW:  And why are you against that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s the most anti-gun attorney general this country has ever had.

MADDOW:  What‘s he done on guns that you‘re upset about, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I honestly—I‘m not—I don‘t know enough about him to answer that truthfully, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Can‘t I just ask why you‘re upset about Eric Holder?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Because he‘s anti-gun.

MADDOW:  What has he done that‘s anti-gun?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t have all the facts but I know that he is anti-gun.

REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  A little baby with ink on their foot, stamped right there on the birth certificate.  And there‘s one in this country we haven‘t seen.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  Get that.  Barack Hussein Obama hasn‘t seen that birth certificate yet.

Again, for the record, Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.  Eric Holder hasn‘t done anything against gun rights.  Mexican drug gangs are not seizing ranches in Texas.  Mice with human brains, that one actually I take a pass, I can‘t disprove that.  But Mexamericanada, I can tell you with confidence—not actually happening.

This is not just about gullible people believing untrue things.  It is about what‘s new in America about gullible people believing untrue things.

There is a closed circuit, giant, super well-funded conservative media machine that not only promotes this stuff when it‘s politically convenient, but they reinforce it and validate it and fend off any ability to debunk this stuff.  So, things that would have been disprovable myths in times past in America now become conservative truths.  Things that can be easily disproven outside of conservative American can never be disproven if you live in their closed circuit world on the right.

The other thing that‘s new is what happened on Tuesday night.  Politicians who are a product of this media culture, who raised their money for their campaigns on FOX News, the un-debunkable faith-based fact horde is going to Washington.  And as they get there, that becomes itself another means of validating these politically convenient made-up things.  They put the prestige of the U.S. government, the person of it that they control at least behind all of this made-up stuff.  Their new positions of power help to validate all of these otherwise totally disprovable things.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I keep reading that Obama keeps bringing small quantities of Muslims into this country.  Why can‘t Congress stop that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  OK, freeze frame.  You‘re a member of Congress.  You‘re Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa in this case.  You get asked that question by a constituent.  You have not heard that specific conspiracy theory about Obama and the tiny quantities of Muslims he keeps sneaking into the nation, what do you saw when confronted with this question?

Here‘s the difference between you and the new Republican Congress.  This is how Republican Congressman Steve King chose to respond to that thing he‘d never heard before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I keep reading that Obama keeps bringing small quantities of Muslims into this country.  Why can‘t Congress stop that?

KING:  You know, I don‘t know what the basis is of that.  I wouldn‘t be surprised that that is—there‘s real, factual basis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  To be clear, Steve King, a serving member of Congress, has never heard that crazy story before.  He doesn‘t know it to be true.  It has never crossed his mind before.  But there he is telling a member of the public that, you know, I wouldn‘t be surprised.  It very well might be true.  Because, you know, it sounds good.

So, now Obama has tiny quantities of Muslims on him at all times.  And he‘s taking 34 warships with him to India.  And these things cannot be disproven.  There is no debunking process anymore.  If you do not live in right wing land and you agree that those things have been debunked.

If that‘s not your reality, how do you ever talk to those people?

Joining us now is humorist and author of “More Information than You Require,” a man who is an expert in fake facts, John Hodgman.

John, it is great to see you.

What are you doing?

JOHN HODGMAN, HUMORIST:  Vampire!  Oh, no, you‘re not a vampire.  But I never did notice that you have “I hate USA” tattooed on your eyelids.

I heard someone say that on television once.

MADDOW:  You know, and on television, it must be.

HODGMAN:  I also read it somewhere.  In fact, I wrote it down and I read it.

MADDOW:  Is that—is there a place this comes from?  Is there a somewhere?

HODGMAN:  Yes, the Internet.  That‘s where it comes from.

MADDOW:  Right.

HODGMAN:  Would it make you more comfortable I put this on the Internet and then it would be true.

MADDOW:  Then it would be true because it would be citable with a hyperlink.

HODGMAN:  Absolutely.  Well, there have always been conspiracy theories and tall tales and urban legends and that sort of thing within the political world and without.  But now, we have this gigantic, massive churning, rumor-mongering machine.  The biggest that‘s ever been invented by humans.

And Internet is wonderful in terms of fracturing media into places where marginal view points that couldn‘t previously get into the conversation can now get into the conversation.

MADDOW:  Yes.

HODGMAN:  It also means that a lot of other marginal view points that we would consider crazy are getting in and sticking around and never going away.

MADDOW:  And that I feel like that‘s the political dynamic that we went through.  In the early days of the post-John McCain Republican Party and conservative movement, we—I remember we had like screen graphics that would say thing about like, oh, the fringe is moving to the center because the idea of believing conspiracy theories used to be a fringe thing.

HODGMAN:  Right.

MADDOW:  But now, there‘s no qualitative way to distinguish.

HODGMAN:  Well, I mean, you know, when Sarah Palin and John McCain both made an innuendo that Barack Obama was hanging around with domestic terrorists, that‘s a serious accusation.  Something you would expect to hear in the hullabaloo of a political campaign from low-level, you know, sort of supporters.  From the candidate and vice presidential candidate, that was a real change.  At least, I sort of took a deep breath when that happened.

MADDOW:  Because you would want the presidential and vice presidential candidate, to serve as—if not leaders, at least arbiters of seriousness, is that what you want?

HODGMAN:  Sure.  Because behind that innuendo is an incredibly serious assertion that the other person is a criminal.

MADDOW:  Yes.

HODGMAN:  And, you know, John McCain did not look comfortable making that.  But Sarah Palin looked very comfortable and in no way will she punish for it obviously.

MADDOW:  Is there a way for truth to counter fake facts?

HODGMAN:  Yes.

MADDOW:  I feel like there‘s no way to talk to Steve King.  There‘s no way to make that better.

HODGMAN:  Yes.  I mean, well, Steve King is a perfect example.  He‘s afraid now that that might be a big conspiracy theory that he dare not refute, for fear that he be told of you don‘t believe in the truth, do you?  Do you know what I mean?  There is a lot of concern about these things because they are taking so seriously now.

And look, I don‘t want to make a false equivalency.  Any time you have an echo chamber, you know, in the left wing or right wing—this sort of like self-preserve, or, you know, myths that require no evidence do crop up.  But it does seem that the preponderance that happens in the right wing, or at least I just said that on television.  So, therefore, it‘s true.

MADDOW:  So, therefore, it‘s true and citable.

HODGMAN:  Yes.

MADDOW:  How do you construct the perfect political fake fact?

HODGMAN:  Well, it has to have a ring of truth, or at least speak to what people are afraid of.  Now, the Republicans created a very strong storyline from the begging with President Obama.  That‘s he‘s elite snob, profligate and probably foreign, and maybe from another planet.

MADDOW:  Right.

HODGMAN:  So, you have to tell something along those lines.  If I were to tell you, that I happened to know, for a fact, because I read it somewhere that Barack Obama sleeps standing up while covered with moths—that‘s not going anywhere.  That‘s crazy town.

MADDOW:  Right.

HODGMAN:  That makes no sense because it doesn‘t play into fears.

MADDOW:  Right.

HODGMAN:  But if I were to tell you, did you know that Barack Obama spent $10 million of taxpayer money to Jimmy Carter‘s estate to get his one of his old cardigan to use as his prayer rug on Air Force One, that‘s on the Internet right now.

MADDOW:  Right.

HODGMAN:  And the crazy thing about that, the thing about the moths is actually true.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  Exactly.  And also something about which I‘m afraid that might work on the left.

HODGMAN:  Right.

MADDOW:  Excellent.  John Hodgman, fake fact expert, humorist, the author of “More Information Than You Require” and all-around pal of the show—

HODGMAN:  Oh, gosh.  Thank you very much.  Boy, oh, boy.

MADDOW:  – nice to see you.

MADDOW:  So, if we learned one thing on election night this week, it is that the new guys in control of the House of Representatives hate the deficit so much they are about to make it a lot bigger.

“New York Times” columnist Gail Collins joins us for “The Interview.” 

Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Not only do we have John Hodgman here tonight but also Gail Collins from “The New York Times,” and Tank Jones, Levi Johnston‘s bodyguard and manager, the star of our show from Alaska and the closest thing we‘ve got to an authority on Sarah Palin‘s all but declaration today that she is running for president.

Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS:  Senator, you know that waste, fraud, and abuse is one of oldest phrases in the political playbook.  The difficult is when you get from the generalities of spending cuts, to the specifics of actual programs like Social Security, Medicare, student loans.  Are you saying every one of those programs is on the table?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY:  You really have to look at everything.  So many of the people who go to Washington or who are in Washington will say, oh, we‘re going to roll back discretionary spending to pre-Obama levels.  Well, yes, right, that will balance the budget in about 100 years.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  An honest and good point from our old friend, now Senator-elect Rand Paul.  Yes, right, he says, that will balance the budget in about a century.  This is the first big test, the first big “can the media handle this” test of our new post-election American politics.

First thing out of the gate with this new Republican Congress, running right up against a factual brick wall, OK?  Here‘s the problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re going to balance the budget.

PAUL:  What we really need to do is balance the budget.  I will be on who will say to the Republicans in my party, we need to stay the course and we do need to go ahead and balance our budget.  And balance the budget.  Balance the budget.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No more spending money we don‘t have.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY WHIP:  We will also get right to work to reduce the deficit.

RAND:  People are concerned about the debt.  And they don‘t understand why if we as individuals have to balance our own family budget, why the government shouldn‘t have to balance their budget.  And that‘s really what they‘re concerned about.  The government is spending money we don‘t have.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  I am convinced this is a test.  This is of test of whether we as a country can communicate rational and factual information.  With all of the resources we devote to covering politics, covering Washington, to the horse of who‘s winning and who‘s losing, with everything we spend purportedly to try to understand what‘s going on in Washington politics—can we explain and understand that the first thing being proposed by the new Republican majority in Washington is that we should tackle heart disease by cooking up a passel of deep fried cheese?  Tackle the deficit by adding $700 billion to the deficit?  That is what they want to do first thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  What‘s the most important issue you‘d like to make H.R.1?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let‘s extend those tax cuts.

MATTHEWS:  Number one goal?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s the number one goal.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They want to see these tax cuts extended.  They want the spending stopped.  They want the deficit and the debt addressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Ah!  That is the “eat fried cheese for your heart” health plan.  To address the deficit—to address the deficit, they want to add $700 billion to the deficit.  Whether or not you care about the deficit, whether or not you care about the deficit and the debt, whether or not you care about this as a policy issue, this is worth caring about if only because you care about your country, because if we cannot be counted on to understand that adding $700 billion to something is not making that thing smaller—then honestly, it doesn‘t matter what you think about the deficit.  All hope is lost.

If you extend the tax cuts for the richest people in the country and if you cut rich people‘s taxes, like Marsha Blackburn and all the Republicans are proposing, $700 billion that would have been mailed to Washington in envelopes by rich people does not get there—so Washington has $700 billion fewer dollars, which means we have to borrow $700 billion more dollars unless we cut spending by that much too, which Republicans do not plan on doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Do you agree that tax cuts cannot be paid for.  But tax cuts are not paid for, is that correct?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  I am not for raising taxes on the American people in a soft economy.

GREGORY:  That‘s not the question.  Are tax cuts paid for or not?

BOEHNER:  Listen, what you‘re trying to do is get into this Washington game and their funny accounting over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The funny accounting may be funny but it is actually accounting.  It is a real thing.  This is empirical world.

If you add $700 billion to the deficit to pay for tax cuts for rich people, then you‘ve just added $700 billion to that deficit thing, which is not a way of making that deficit thing smaller.  Thing plus 700 billion does not equal smaller thing.

The announced first major policy initiative of the new Republican House of Representatives is to add $700 billion to the deficit, by extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest people in the country.  They are trying to get away with saying this will reduce the deficit, not increase it.  They are not telling the truth.

I think we are all capable of understanding that.  I think even with the media we‘ve got, we are capable as a country of understanding that a fried cheese diet is not a means of preventing heart attack.  And adding $700 billion to a thing does not make a thing smaller.

So, why is the White House signaling that they might be willing to go along with the Republicans on this instead of killing the Republicans on this?

Gail Collins joins for “The Interview”—next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  So Gail Collins has wise if not comforting words for liberals and Democrats, liberals and Democrats who do not know quite what to feel or do after the Democratic Party lost tons of seats and control of the House in this week‘s midterm elections. 

In her latest column she says “The first order of business for the lame duck Democrats is going to be to make sure that the Bush tax cuts only get extended for non-wealthy families.  The Republicans want to keep them for the rich too, thus blowing a new hole in upcoming budgets. 

Democrats, we are you are sad.  This next battle will involve parliamentary moving and Harry Reid and worrying about the innermost thoughts of Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, everything that made the public turn on you in the first place. 

But this time, see if you can remember to point out that you are on a noble venture.  Lift up your tails and trot out there and help balance the budget by killing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  The American dream is depending on you. 

Republicans keep saying they will reduce the deficit by giving rich people tax breaks.  Giving rich people tax breaks will actually add to the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.  It will not help, it will hurt.  This seems like maybe a good place to start for Democrats.”

Joining us now for the interview is “New York Times” columnist Gail Collins.  Her book “When Everything Changed, the Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present” is out now in paperback.  Gail, thanks very much for being here. 

GAIL COLLINS, COLUMNIST, “NEW YORK TIMES”:  Good to be here.

MADDOW:  So I thought Democrats had a gift here.  Republicans want to add $700 billion to the deficit to give a big handout to rich people.  It is a great campaign issue for Democrats.  But now instead of crushing them with it, the White House says maybe they will compromise and go along with this Republican idea.  Do you understand? 

COLLINS:  They‘re so into the people have told us that we have to get along thing that they‘re doing this.  And it‘s not—we went down this road before.  That‘s the road of we‘re going to really win the people over by getting along with the Republicans.  It‘s not going to work out. 

MADDOW:  But polling data says that when you say “we‘re all going to get along,” people like the sound of that more than they like “we‘re going to kill you.” 

COLLINS:  Yes, and the president is good at saying that and should continue to keep saying that.  But this is not the place.  This a perfect line to draw.  This is the best line in the world.  No $700 billion added to the deficit so rich people can have a tax cut.  It‘s perfect. 

It encompasses everything that Democrats believe in.  It‘s simple.  You can explain it to people without charts.  It‘s wonderful.  It‘s perfect.  This is not the place right now—

MADDOW:  This is the reason Democratic strategists wanted the House and Senate to force a vote before the elections because they thought it would be good for Democrats running.  And now the White House is looking at trading it away. 

COLLINS:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  Big picture, are Democrats now with the Republicans in control of the House better off letting Republicans float ideas like this and shooting them down, or are they better off putting forward their own ideas and their own agenda to try to frame the discussion? 

COLLINS:  Well, I think this is a great idea to put forward to frame the discussion.  I don‘t know that you‘re going to see the Democrats putting it to their list of things they want to cut from the budget out, unless the Republicans do it first. 

But why not?  This is perfect.  We don‘t need to do anything else right now except talk about this one thing.  It‘s really, really, really good. 

MADDOW:  The Republicans though—the Republicans keep bringing this up, which implies they think this works with them.  Whenever you say tax cuts, it doesn‘t matter if you‘re talking about the deficit and rich people.  They think it‘s going to work for them. 

So is this to some extent a reading comprehension test for the country?  They‘re counting on us just not getting if people send the government less money, the government has less money?  Are they counting on people not being able to focus after the comma? 

COLLINS:  If people in this country when it‘s explained to them clearly and succinctly and passionately think it‘s still a good idea to cut taxes for rich people and add that to the deficit, then we‘ve lost and we should do something else. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  That policy should be—

COLLINS:  We can raise unicorns. 

MADDOW:  But they‘re counting on that not being the debate.  And Democrats would have it take responsibility for making sure that‘s the debate. 

COLLINS:  Right.  And you‘d have to then trust that the people once you make that the real debate, instead of trying to trick them or trying to work out some strange weenie parliamentary thing the way they always do that you‘re just going to stand up there and take up or down votes and you‘re going to make it safe for people like Ben Nelson of Nebraska to vote with you because the people are going to be on that side. 

MADDOW:  And because it‘s been defined as the fiscally conservative choice, which it is.   

COLLINS:  We need Ross Perot and charts and things. 

MADDOW:  No charts. 

(LAUGHTER)

John Boehner as speaker—is John Boehner more serious about the deficit than this tax thing would suggest?  Is there anything about him as a politician that suggests he does get this as an issue? 

COLLINS:  There‘s one thing, a plane, the F-35, which has two engines.  Every time they build one, they build two engines, an extra engine just to put in your pocketbook in case the extra one you lose it somehow. 

The Pentagon has been begging forever, please, please can we stop building two engines?  They are built near John Boehner‘s district.  And John Boehner will throw his body on the second engine any time.  He‘s that serious about cutting the deficit. 

MADDOW:  I think I get the point. 

“New York Times” columnist Gail Collins.  It is a pleasure to read your column and it‘s even more of a pleasure to have you here. 

COLLINS:  It‘s great to be here.

MADDOW:  Thank you. 

So do you want to know how you can be sure that the presidential race for 2012 has already started, that midterms, it‘s time to run for president?  Here‘s how you know. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That is not a bear yawning.  I made that mistake myself too.  If you thought it was yawning, apparently not.  It‘s roaring.  That‘s how you know it is run for president time.  That is next with the help from the one and only Tank Jones.  Please stay with us.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Still not over.  Only minutes ago, NBC news declared Senator Patty Murray the apparent winner in the Washington Senate race.  She now leads by more than 46,000 votes as the Seattle returns in King County keep trickling in, 82 percent of the vote in in Washington.  NBC News declaring Patty Murray the winner, the apparent winner in the Senate race in Washington. 

The governor‘s race in Connecticut is now more confusing than it was yesterday if that‘s even possible.  The Associated Press has withdrawn its‘ call for the Democrat in the Connecticut governor‘s race Dan Malloy.  At the moment Dan Malloy leads the Republican Tom Foley.  He is ahead with 6,200 with 91 of the vote in. 

Why is only 91 percent of the vote in two days after voting?  Because officials in Bridge Port, Connecticut, have not submitted its vote total yet.  They usually trend hugely Democratic in its voting patterns.  The Connecticut secretary of state says the governor‘s race in that state will not be decided until those results are in. 

The governor‘s race in Minnesota is likely to drag on even longer than the Connecticut one.  The Democrat there, Mark Dayton in the lead by fewer than 9,000 votes in a three-way race.  Should that race not be called by January, retiring Republican governor Tim Pawlenty said he would not only be happy to stay in the seat, he would also be presiding over a state house that went Republican in both chambers.

So Mr. Pawlenty would be presiding indefinitely while the governor‘s race thing got worked out.  He‘d be there signing legislation and stuff unless he had the decency not to. 

NBC News naming Democrat Pat Quinn the apparently winner in Illinois.  He has a 19,000 vote lead with 97 percent of the vote reported.  Before that call was made, Republican Bill Brady said this afternoon that he was not ready to concede. 

In other news in that race, the Green Party candidate, Rich Whitney, got almost 100,000 votes.  Rich Whitney is famous in this election cycle nationwide because election officials in Illinois misspelled his name on the ballot as not Rich Whitney but “Rich Whitey.”  Ultimately the typo was fixed, but not before the whole idea of “Rich Whitey” was burned into all of our minds forever. 

In Oregon, the Democrat John Kitzhaber has been declared the apparently winner.  In Arizona, the seventh district, the Associated Press is giving the race in Arizona to Raul Grijalva.  It has national implications because he is the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House. 

No such luck from the AP next door in Arizona eighth.  Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords has a 2,000 vote lead with all the returns in there, but that race has not been called.

In Virginia‘s 11th district, the incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly appears to have a 920 vote lead with 100 percent of the vote in.  Still no call though by the Associated Press. 

That means the abundance of caution watch will continue here for yet another day at least, which is kind of awesome, because the only thing more satisfying than Election Day is election week.  We will be right back.     

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Since Tuesday‘s election results became clear, there‘s been one really big but also one really easy questions.  It is a very big question, but it is an easy one to answer.  The question is this—will there be any policy made in D.C. now at all?  Will there be any legislation passed in Washington over the next two years? 

Or does the 2012 presidential campaign begin immediately now that the midterms are over?  It is a big question but one that is easily answered. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, ® FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  That is our movement.  This is our moment.  This is our morning in America perform. 

(APPLAUSE)

We‘re going to stand up and speak out.  It may take some renegades going rogue to get us there. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I guess the first 2012 presidential campaign has just run.  It is by Sarah Palin‘s political action committee.  Obviously there‘s a lot of Sarah Palin in it.  She narrates. 

There is also a lot of other familiar faces from this year‘s elections.  Among them there is a lot of Marco Rubio, the Tea Party poster boy who won the three-way race for Senate in Florida.  Also our friend Rand Paul who is not the senator-elect from Kentucky, Kelly Ayotte, who was the Republican establishment candidate for Senate in New Hampshire, but she won governor Palin‘s endorsement nonetheless, Nikki Haley, South Carolina‘s first female governor, Allen West who says he has a higher security clearance than the president. 

Also Sean Duffy, just elected to the U.S. House in Wisconsin, better known for his stint as a reality show character person on MTV‘s “Real World Boston.”

The ad is full of candidates who Sarah Palin endorsed who won their elections.  Her record on endorsements was about 50-50 in this cycle.  She did not of course tout any of the losing candidates she endorsed. 

But there were also some faces in the new ad that are familiar for other reasons.  For example, this guy is known in stock photo circles as “control room engineer.”  This is “father plays with two children in Autumn Park.” 

The cowboy featured in Sarah Palin‘s ad is also featured in stock footage of Monument Valley that you can purchase on line.  And look, it is “circle of hands show unity.”  I know this is going to be a disappointment, but it‘s even true of the yawning bear at the end of the ad. 

If you like Sarah Palin‘s yawning bear and you want to have the yawning bear for yourself you can buy the yawning bear at naturefootage.com.  It is called “silhouette of grizzly bear on mountain range.” 

The question of whether or not Sarah Palin will run for president in 2012 is another one of those questions now that is both a big question and an easy one.  Now that she‘s all but declared by running this first ad, in retrospect it seems so clear she was always going to run. 

The new CNN opinion research poll that came out this morning actually polled on Sarah Palin versus Barack Obama in 2012.  Both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee poll in that CNN poll ahead of President Obama in a theoretical 2012 matchup.  But Sarah Palin, not so much. 

Our special guest on the possibility of a Palin 2012 presidential run, Rank Jones, joins us next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Joining us now is the closest we can get into insight into the political phenomenon that is Sarah Palin.  It‘s Tank Jones, our amazing tour guide in our recent trip to Anchorage.  The man has had a lot to do with the Palin political machine as bodyguard and manage for Levi Johnston. 

Tank, it is really good to see you again.  Thanks for agreeing to do this. 

TANK JONES, LEVI JOHNSTON‘S MANAGER:  Anytime, Rachel, anytime. 

MADDOW:  Down here, everybody has been debating whether or not governor Palin is going to run for president.  She‘s now done this ad that seems like a presidential ad.  Does it seem clear to now that she‘s going to run? 

JONES:  Well, she said if nobody else would, she would.  And I was thinking to myself since the conception of this country somebody has ran for president, we‘ve never had nobody run.  If nobody else runs she‘ll run, so I don‘t know. 

But the commercial, it‘s a good commercial.  It‘s a good commercial.  She left me out of the commercial.  Why didn‘t she invite me?  I don‘t understand. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  If the presidential campaign starts now—that was the big debate, right?  After the midterms do we get to have a little policy for a while or do we go right into the presidential campaign.  Turns out we go right into the campaign. 

And if that starts now and she‘s running, all that national media attention is going to shift back up to Alaska like it did after John McCain named her after his running mate.  And what‘s the national media going to find up there?  What‘s the Alaskan perspective on Palin now since she has quit as governor? 

JONES:  Well, they‘re going to be surprised, because even in her own state she doesn‘t have the support people think she has.  She has more support outside of Alaska than she does in her own state. 

And I believe if she ran—and I really hope she do, because wow, that‘s going to be some good jokes.  But if she runs, she‘s not going to have the support that she thinks she‘s going to have in her own state because she quit.  People don‘t like quitters. 

MADDOW:  Is that the basis of why people are down on her in Alaska?  When she got picked for vice president, people didn‘t want to know what her reputation was in Alaska because they wanted to know how Alaska was going to vote.  Alaska was going to vote Republican no matter what.  They wanted insight into whether or not she was a good candidate and a good person.  And that‘s why they went to Alaska. 

But do you feel like the anger about her up there is about her quitting? 

JONES:  That‘s probably one of things.  But she doesn‘t have a message that‘s going to bring the whole country together.  She keeps talking about us against them.  So who is us and who is them?  This is one country.  So who is us and who is them? 

Is she talking about the Tea Parties?  I mean, that‘s just a fad to me.  The Tea Party, that‘s not going to be around.  In the next five year, you won‘t hear somebody say tea party unless they‘re having a tea party with real tea.  That‘s just a fad.  That‘s my opinion.  She doesn‘t have a message. 

MADDOW:  Tank, as somebody who knows Sarah Palin because of your work with Levi, because of your long standing time in Alaska, you feel like it would be good for Democrats if she ran? 

JONES:  Oh, I would love to.  I would endorse her.  I would love for Sarah Palin to run for president.  I‘m saying that publicly right now.  Please, Sarah, run. 

MADDOW:  Tank Jones, I had such a good time with you in Anchorage and I‘m really happy that you agreed to be on the show with us tonight.  Thanks lot for joining us. 

JONES:  I appreciate it.  And you got to come back. 

MADDOW:  I will.  I was really hoping the whole Senate would hang on whether it was Murkowski or Miller or McAdams so we could move up there for weeks.  But it doesn‘t seem like it‘s going to work out that way. 

JONES:  No, it‘s not. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  All right, thanks, Tank.

JONES:  Poor Joe.  All right, bye-bye. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Tank.

That does it for us tonight.  Again, the news on politics this hour is that we‘ve had had news within the past hour, NBC calling the apparent winner in the Washington Senate race as Patty Murray.  Patty Murray prevailing over the Republican Dino Rossi in that race.  Dino Rossi tweeting his concession tonight to Patty Murray.  So Patty Murray will be returning to Washington as the Democratic senator from the great state of Washington. 

We will see you again tomorrow night.  There‘s lots to add to what you see on the show.  We‘re very proud of our excellent blog, Maddowblog.msnbc.com.  Our e-mail address is Rachel@MSNBC.com.  And our free podcast is at iTunes. 

“The Last Word” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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