The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/20/11
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. There will in fact be booze. Appreciate that very much my friend.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: We‘re watching.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Nice of you to spend part of your Friday with us.
There is some unexpected news from the campaign trail today. That is that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels got hurt today. Physically hurt—thankfully, not seriously. The Indiana governor and potential Republican presidential candidate got hit really hard in the forehead today while he was at his gym. His gym is a place called the National Institute for Fitness and Sport.
Governor Daniels‘ office said he had just finished working out when a swinging door at the gym for some reason swung open very suddenly and hit him in the head. Mr. Daniels went to the hospital and got 16 stitches. He is home now recovering. We are glad Governor Daniels is OK. We wish him a very speedy recovery.
I bet whoever swung that door open really hard into you, sir, feels really bad about it. Get well soon.
In less unexpected news from the campaign trail today, Jon Huntsman went to New Hampshire. The former Republican governor of Utah, also President Obama‘s former ambassador to China, he‘s spending today and part of the weekend in the Granite State, in New Hampshire, not in Iowa. It is possible to make too much of the New Hampshire not Iowa decision at this point. Maybe Jon Huntsman will end up spending tons of time in Iowa between now and the presidential caucus in February. But, at least for right now, he is leaving Iowa to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Michel Bachmann and the rest of him.
If Jon Huntsman is avoiding Iowa, we may end up looking to his politics to explain why. Mr. Huntsman in his maiden presidential TV interview today telling ABC News, quote, “In the case of civil unions, I think it‘s a fairness issue. I believe in traditional marriage, but I think we probably can do a better job when it comes to fairness and equality.”
Now, in the big picture, this is not really Jon Huntsman climbing out on a limb. Not with the latest Gallup poll with Americans favoring full-on gay marriage, the real deal, not just the second class citizenship idea of civil unions.
But in the Iowa Republican caucuses, what he just said is pretty much out on a limb, saying, yes, civil unions in the Iowa Republican caucuses that might as well make him Dennis Kucinich in a rainbow jump suit asking for his vote and that they buy the new Lady Gaga CD because it‘s fabulous.
When it comes to electing president, Iowa as a state cherishes its first in the nation role. But in recent years, Iowa Republican caucuses have been so hijacked by single issue, anti-gay politics and religious politics that Iowa is sort of becoming an irrelevant side show in the presidential race rather than being a bellwether.
Check this out. This is an ad for an appearance at Celebrate the Family, a Celebrate the Family event last year with Mike Huckabee. Watch.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Family is being eroded. We as pastors are largely responsible for the impact made in our congregations as well as in our communities. And it‘s time for the churches to rise up and recognize their capacity and responsibility to participate in a God-honoring society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A God-honoring society that very, very badly wants to be in charge at the courthouse and in the legislature and in the Oval Office and that has really taken over Iowa Republican politics, and transformed the state and its caucuses from a national proving ground into kind of a strange back water. Iowa has radicalized itself out of national relevance. And it‘s been coming for a while.
I mean, in 2008, Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses. Everybody knew immediately that that meant nothing other than that. And two months later, he was done. Winning Iowa has no predictive value anymore.
Part of the why that the Beltway media is so transfixed at the hint of a prospect that Michele Bachmann might run for president this year is that she probably can win in Iowa, this bastion of quite radicalized, social issue, single issue conservative Republicans. Michele Bachmann might not win anywhere else, but she probably can win in Republican Iowa now that it has turned into a fundamentalist fun house.
A Republican hopeful like Jon Huntsman, however, who has spent his entire career building a record and an image of moderation and even sometimes of liberal positions on social issues, he might well choose to steer around this indulgent side show of search conservatism that is the Iowa caucuses. That might be a smart strategy for him as a Republican presidential campaign. But don‘t take that to mean that Jon Huntsman is going to be running as a moderate Republican, as a Rockefeller Republican - - even really as a Jon Huntsman Republican.
Even as Jon Huntsman is about to announce that he‘s running for president, he is sprinting away from his own record and his own career. He is shedding his old policy positions like a maple tree sheds leaves in the fall right now. The old Jon Huntsman, for example, favored a cap-and-trade energy policy. The new Jon Huntsman says cap-and-trade would be bad for the economy.
People who knew the old Utah Governor Jon Huntsman say he wanted state health reform with an individual mandate. The new Huntsman denies that and says he would repeal the reform. The old Governor Huntsman said the federal stimulus should have been bigger and he happily spent what stimulus money there was in his state. The new Jon Huntsman says the stimulus should have just been tax cuts. What‘s with all this spending anyway?
The fact that Jon Huntsman is now rejecting ideas formerly known as his policy positions is the surest sign as any that Jon Huntsman really is running for president and the surest sign that he is really running to win. This is not going to be a quixotic Ron Paul, Alan Keyes style vanity run, you know? Damn, the voters, I‘m here to raise my profile.
The surest sign that Jon Huntsman is not going to be a candidate who stakes unpopular positions for the principled glory of it is not just the rejection of all of those things I just described, but it‘s specifically the way Jon Huntsman is introducing himself to America on what is the great litmus test for Republican candidates this year.
ABC News‘s George Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Huntsman today whether he would have voted for the Paul Ryan kill Medicare budget. Quote, “Mr. Huntsman: I would have voted for it. Mr. Stephanopoulos: including the Medicare provisions? Mr. Huntsman: including the Medicare provisions.” I would have voted for killing Medicare.
This is the Jon Huntsman who is taking no chances on becoming the next Newt Gingrich. When and if Mr. Huntsman finally does go to Iowa, he wants to make sure that nobody comes to him in Iowa and shakes his hand and calls him an embarrassment to Republicans—at least not on the fiscal stuff, at least not throwing the House Republicans under the bus stuff.
To make sure this is all going to work, candidate Jon Huntsman is officially repudiating the old Governor Jon Huntsman. He hates that old governor guy.
Once one of the more liberal or at least more moderate—having one of the more liberal or moderate reputations of the any of the Republican governors, the new Jon Huntsman is unequivocally in favor of killing Medicare. I would have voted for it including the Medicare provisions.
For the few Americans outside of Utah who knew Jon Huntsman and liked him the old way, this is probably a bad day. Your reasonable pal in Republican politics just became a little less of that.
If you are just a Republican hoping that someone real will decide to run for your party‘s nomination, then Jon Huntsman‘s hurried housekeeping of his record is probably a hooray for you. Help is on the way. You will not have to be embarrassed by the entire presidential field anymore and that this is a Republican gift.
But the single biggest gift for Republicans into the Huntsman campaign may be the one that we are about to show you right now. If you are who goes by the handle smartwatermelon on Twitter, brought this to our attention today and I don‘t get to say this very often, but thank you, smartwatermelon for sending us this.
And here it is, Jon Huntsman‘s ready for air campaign theme song, with special animated video. Can we—do we have time to play all of this? It‘s a minute and a half.
It‘s Friday. I‘m overruling the control room. We‘re playing the whole thing.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Huntsman.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Yes, the Huntsman in which our hero stars is a lowly yokel with bad posture and seriously buck teeth, and who had never had a muscle in his life until the day he saves a chunky elf—that‘s the lyric, I‘m not making this up—until the day he saves a chunky elf from being eaten by a crow. The elf gives him the magic corn. And presto, our hero has got great teeth and big muscle and goes around arresting the bad guys in ways that show off his great teeth and muscles. He is the Huntsman, transformed, reborn and socking evil in the eye.
Let‘s just call it other right now. Jon Huntsman wins.
Joining us right now is Rocky Anderson, the unabashedly capital D Democratic former mayor of the Great Salt Lake City, Utah. He has known Jon Huntsman for a very long time.
Mr. Mayor, it‘s nice to see you again. Thanks for coming on the show.
ROCKY ANDERSON (D), FORMER SALT LAKE CITY MAYOR: Good to see you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Tell me what it was like working with Jon Huntsman. He was governor. You were mayor of the largest city. What was your relationship like?
ANDERSON: Well, the politics here are very right wing and as governor, Jon Huntsman stood up remarkably to our legislature and others in the Republican Party on issues like climate change. He signed on to the Western Climate Initiative, a regional cap and trade program, joining with seven other western states.
He stood up for equality, at least legal equality, although he wouldn‘t talk about marriage equality. He talked about civil unions and his support for civil unions, and he‘s maintained that stance, I think courageously given what his ambitions are now.
And he also stood up on reform of our alcohol laws. You and I have discussed those in the past. It was because of Jon Huntsman that he finally got rid of these ridiculous private club membership requirements. And in a state like Utah, it took a lot of guts.
So, I‘ve known Jon both personally—I‘m the, you know, left-leaning
more than leaning, frankly, liberal here in Utah. But I always got along very well with the man who I think put principle over party when he was governor, and he did an extraordinary job.
And I can tell you, there are a lot of Democrats I know that lament that he ever left the state.
MADDOW: In terms of Utah‘s politics, though, in a state as conservative as Utah overall, when he‘s doing the kinds of things that you just described, how did he end up leaving the state with a 70 percent approval rating? How did he keep the right from getting angry at him as he took the kinds of positions you‘re describing?
ANDERSON: I think he actually had about an 80 percent approval rating.
ANDERSON: I can tell you I never saw anything close to that statewide in Utah. He—I think people saw that he was earnest, that they might disagree with him on one or more issues, but they could trust him. He‘s bright. He‘s worldly. He had already served our nation as ambassador to Singapore as deputy U.S. trade representative.
And I just think that he is so down to earth. I can tell you it‘s not a show. This isn‘t a guy who likes to look folksy while he‘s campaigning and doesn‘t really live his life that way. He lives his life that that every day and people who know him, who know his wife, have tremendous regard for them, whether in their personal lives or their politics.
Now, there are a lot of things that are going to change, I‘m sure. We certainly saw it with my friend Mitt Romney the day he decided to run for president of the United States. And I hope that Jon will hold true to some of these other issues. And I know on energy, climate, which I think is the greatest challenge and most important challenge facing our world today, I hope that that‘s something that he will focus on in a realistic way. But if it‘s not cap and trade, at least continue his stand for a commitment to clean alternative sources of energy because we need to get to that point and we need to do it urgently.
MADDOW: In terms of the idea of how running for president may change him, we‘re seeing him shift positions on—as you mentioned energy and climate; but also on health reform, on the stimulus. We‘re seeing him making the decision not to run his presidential campaign from Utah, but instead to headquarter it in Florida.
Do any of those things signify that he may be putting on a different face to run for president than he was willing to show in the state?
ANDERSON: No. I don‘t think setting up headquarters in Florida means anything like that. He knows what his record was here. He knew if he was ever going to have any national ambitions like this, that he was taking a chance. But he stood for what he thought was the right thing do when he was governor. I think he‘d do the same thing as president, frankly.
But I know these folks have all got their challenges getting through a Republican convention, with a lot of the nuttiness that‘s going on in that party right now. And I don‘t know how any reasonable person who really is going to remain principled is ever going to get through that process.
But I think Jon is somebody that as people get to know him, they‘ll have a lot of regard for him. But—
MADDOW: Oh, we just lost his transmission right at the end there. I‘m sorry about that. This is live, so—but I will say goodbye. That was Rocky Anderson, a Democratic, rock-ribbed Democratic former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah. And I‘m sorry he got caught off there at the end. But sometimes that happens in live TV.
Having a Republican candidate for president get that much praise from an in state cross party liberal Democrat is one of the things that the national press corps I think is going to have to get their head around with this Jon Huntsman candidacy. This is the start of the big ballooning coverage of Jon Huntsman which I think will happen over the next couple of weeks.
All right. One thing that I have learned this year if you take your eye off the state of Wisconsin for even a minute, 15 incredible things happen in that state‘s politics. Like for example, this –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re out of order, take your seat!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why is that man banging his gavel and cutting off his Senate colleagues while wearing sunglasses and chewing gum? Stay tuned.
MADDOW: There are a lot of different ways you can run for president. Maybe not you, but one. One can run all kind of different campaigns for president of the United States of America. You can be the slow and steady no surprises here restrained guy.
You can with the virile but lackadaisical “hey, look at my truck” guy.
You can be the true libertarian believer guy who thinks we should get all of our troops out of Afghanistan and who also thinks the Civil Rights Act is a bad idea and there shouldn‘t be meat inspectors anymore.
There are a lot of different ways to be a presidential candidate, but there‘s only one way to win. On Election Day, you have to get a majority of the electoral votes.
Right now, that majority number is 270. In ‘08, the Obama-Biden ticket didn‘t win 270. They won 365 electoral votes. John McCain and Sarah Palin got 173. Obama and Biden did that by playing what amounted to an almost 50-state strategy. They tried to be competitive almost everywhere, even in states they ultimately lost, Obama-Biden would travel there, they could campaign there, they would spend money and running ads there.
And on election night in 2008, they won in places they were not supposed to win, places like Virginia, places like Indiana.
That was then. This is now. “Roll Call‘s” Christina Bellantoni reporting today that the Obama-Biden 2012 re-election campaign will not be an almost 50-state strategy this time around.
Quote, “Some Democrats splash cold water on the big talk of outreach in all 50 states, saying it is obvious the president will focus on traditional swing territory. It‘s not the ambitious strategy that the hopeful Obama team once showcased to psych out opponents. A Democrat official familiar with the still-forming reelection campaign told ‘Roll Call‘ that the focus is on holding the 2008 pickups and flooding the traditional swing states.”
Flooding the traditional swing states—you know what that means? That means hello, Ohio! In 2012, Democrats only have Buckeyes for you, Ohio. In 2008, Obama and Biden won Ohio by about four points. The state sent 10 Democrats and eight Republicans to the House of Representatives that year in.
But in next election, in 2010, Ohio got a lot more red. Ten Democrats in Congress became five Democrats in Congress. Eight Republicans in Congress became 13 Republicans in Congress. And the state legislature looks like this all lopsided, 50 Democrats to 82 Republicans.
What does this mean for the president‘s re-election chances in this contested territory of Ohio? Although Ohio went red many the past year, there are a couple of Democratic opportunities that have arisen from that.
First, John Kasich. Ohio‘s Republican governor is a miracle for anyone wanting Ohio voters to think “ew” when they think Republican.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH ®, OHIO: Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who was an idiot? I have this idiot pull me over on 315. Listen to this story, he says to me, he says—he says, “You passed an emergency vehicle on the side to have road and you didn‘t yield.” He‘s an idiot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you, Governor.
In addition to that public persona, Governor Kasich has a hypocrisy problem that is ripe for a huge laugh line in presidential speeches, say in places like Columbus or Cleveland. For example, here‘s John Kasich is in 2008 taking about bailing out G.M. Quote, “Americans will say we don‘t mind helping them if they‘re going to be viable. If they‘re not going to be viable, we shouldn‘t throw good money after bad. So, I think the public‘s going to put pressure on them.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich against the G.M. bailout. Now that G.M. has just posted its highest quarterly profit in over a decade and it‘s clear the auto bailout saved tens of thousands in jobs at least, particularly in the Midwest, say, in places like Ohio, now that‘s happened—here‘s political speech laugh line for hypocrisy: Governor John Kasich, 10 days ago, touring G.M.‘s transmission plant in Toledo, celebrating the announcement that the bailed out company known as G.M. will be expanding and creating 400 new Toledo jobs, against the bailout, campaigned against the bailout, told the people of your state to be against the bailout, then the bailout worked and so you tried to take credit for it.
You, sir, are walking, talking political campaign ad for the other party, for the Democrats.
Governor John Kasich and Ohio Republicans are offering another electoral opportunity for Democrats this election season that they probably didn‘t intend. This spring, despite huge protests and outcry and outrage, Governor Kasich pushed through his very Republican legislature a bill to strip union rights. Democrats knew at the time that the basic map of the legislature meant they couldn‘t stop the bill from becoming law. Instead they decided, they would put to bill the voters after the Republicans passed it.
Remember the voters? These guys—they have been collecting signatures to put a referendum on the ballot this November to repeal Ohio‘s union-stripping thing. They‘ve got 90 days to collect the necessary signatures. And today, on day 30, it‘s only 1/3 of the way through their allotted time, they‘ve announced they‘ve got 90 percent of the signatures they need to get the repeal on the ballot.
And bonus, because some of Ohio Republicans union-stripping stuff was passed as part of the state‘s budget, that through some legislative hinky-dink means there‘s still a possibility that repealing the union-stripping stuff could not just be on the ballot this November, it could be on the ballot next November, too. And because John Kasich‘s union-stripping thing polls about as well as potholes and stomach flu, Democrats are expecting that only will they repeal Kasich‘s union-stripping thing in Ohio, but that repeal effort is likely to drive up Democratic voter enthusiasm and Democrat-leaning voter turnout in Ohio, in this election season, which is great news for any Democrat sharing the ballot with that measure—provided—provided Democrats are clearly on the right side of the issue in voters‘ minds.
In Ohio, at the state level, Democrats have been aligned with voters on this show. But nationally, the AFL-CIO president delivered a barnburner of a speech today in D.C. raising that question. He said essentially the Democrats have been able to count on labor support come election time for years. But in labor‘s hour of need this year in the states, labor will sit this one out unless Democrats stop sitting this fight out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD TRUMKA, AFL-CIO: Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It‘s to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our economy, our country. It doesn‘t matter if candidates and matters are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside to let it happen. The outcome is the same either way to us.
If leaders aren‘t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families‘ interests, then working people will not support them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Florida, and all of these important swing states this year, union-stripping overreach by the Republicans in the states has created a huge opportunity for Democrats, for Democrats in the states and for Democrats nationally. I‘m talking to you, Obama re-election campaign. But that opportunity only becomes available if and only if Democrats get right in a big, visible way on defending union rights.
First: base. It is a hard thing for Democrats to remember for some reason, unlike Republicans, who are in love with their base. But in these particular swing states, in this particular year, on this particular issue of union rights—first: base. Democrats are going to have to kiss the unions and make up if they know what‘s good for them.
MADDOW: It was a particularly difficult hard decision Friday today in the office. Usually, it has to do on a Friday with whether or not to have that fourth piece of pizza because we do pizza Fridays. But, today, there was this issue of tomorrow maybe being the end of the world. Off to heaven for some people, something much less appealing for all eternity to the rest of us.
So, we had this hard decision—what to do with the last few hours before the rapture in case what these hours are. I always wanted to learn Spanish, that seems rather ambitious, even for the end of the world.
I never saw “Citizen Kane.” Do I really want to spend three of the last hours on earth on that? It seems very anti-social.
I don‘t golf. That‘s off the table.
Ultimately, it came down to two things, one that I should do and one that I want to do. So, during what could be my final few commercial breaks I am cleaning out my email. And before we get off the air for the last time, for what could be the final time, we are going to do exactly what you think this show would do in our last segment ever.
It would mean an awful lot if you would choose to stay with us right until the end of the show because that‘s when we‘re going to do this thing and it might be last call.
I‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Yesterday in the august chamber of the Wisconsin state Senate, something not very august broke out. I think the technical term for what happened here is snarling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re out of order, take your seat! Continue the roll call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cullen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Darling? Ellis?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You there, blocking the television, take your seat.
That‘s what it has been like in Wisconsin this year ever since Governor Scott Walker proposed his big union-stripping bill threatening even as he announced that he would call out the National Guard if he had to. The governor‘s actions igniting loud protests day after day, for weeks and weeks. The great sleepover in the capitol rotunda, school kids and farmers on tractors marching across the state.
Back then, you will remember the governor justified taking away union rights by saying it wasn‘t a rights issue. He said it was just a money issue. Wisconsin was broke, busted, swimming in red ink.
Remember that the union-stripping thing was passed as something called the budget repair bill—part of something called the budget repair bill. Wisconsin had an immediate shortfall of $137 million. And Republicans said the first part of fixing that, of repairing that, was to take away union rights.
Even then the explanation seemed a little weird. Public sector unions made financial concessions, but the governor rejected their concessions. Then Republicans in the legislature passed the union-stripping thing in a new bill they said had no fiscal impact even though they had justified it all along by its supposed fiscal impact.
The courts are trying to sort out if that was legal.
But, now, this far into the story, a funny thing has happened on Wisconsin‘s way to the supposed poor house. Wisconsin got way less poor—
$636 million less poor. Wisconsin like a lot of states suddenly finding itself in the happy position of expecting way more tax revenue than they previously projected. In Wisconsin, it‘s $636 million more over the next couple of years.
So, now can we stop with the union-stripping thing? No, we cannot. Republicans not only not scaling back on their response to the emergency that‘s no longer so dire, but racing forward with a new union-stripping bill—this one specifically for cops and firefighters. Changing jobs that used to be filled by civil service employees and to jobs filled by whoever the president wants, new unprecedented veto power for Governor Walker over state regulations.
This person, secretary of state, Doug La Follette, was the last Democrat holding a statewide office in Wisconsin. Republicans are now stripping the power of his office and giving that power to the governor instead.
The committee stripping the powers of office from the last surviving Democrat strait official in Wisconsin would not even accept his testimony as secretary of state on what they were doing. They would not allow him to speak.
The video we showed you a moment ago—the one of the snarling in the Wisconsin state Senate chambers concerns what may be Republican‘s biggest power grab so far in that state. It‘s a new bill now on its way to becoming law, which makes it much, much harder to vote in Wisconsin. It nearly triples the time you have to live in a district to vote there. It cuts the time for absentee voting in half. It requires you to show a photo ID at the polls. If you vote absentee, you have to Xerox your ID and mail it in, too.
And it‘s not just any ID that you need. The bill requires a very specific photo ID that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites do not have. According to the Wisconsin legislature‘s nonpartisan Fiscal Bureau, 20 percent of people in Wisconsin don‘t have the kind of ID that will be required to vote. That‘s what they were fighting about in the Wisconsin state Senate yesterday, a bill that makes it harder to vote.
The new law would say, for example, that you can use a student ID in order to vote. It sounds like good news for the 180,000 students in the state‘s public university system, expect for the fact that none of the IDs issued by any of Wisconsin‘s colleges and universities would qualify. None of them have the information on them that will be required in the new law.
And that‘s basically the point. The people who are least likely to have the kinds of documents and access to photocopiers that you‘ll need to be able to vote in Wisconsin now are the poor and the elderly and minorities and students—the people least likely to pass muster under Republican‘s new “make it harder to vote” bill are people who are most likely to vote for the other side, most likely to vote for Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN: This is voter suppression. It‘s voter disenfranchisement. This is voter confusion. This is voter restriction. This is voter discouragement bill. That‘s what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor speaking yesterday, in that speech thanking Republicans for doing what they‘re doing, she said, in plain view. So, the next generation could see it.
This new bill to make it harder to vote in Wisconsin which Governor Walker says he‘ll sign, “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” says it will cost the state 7 million bucks to implement. Wisconsin investigations have repeatedly said the state has very little voter fraud and the main kind of fraud there, that there is will not be solved by this bill because it‘s not addressed by this bill.
Stripping union rights was never about the budget. It is a power grab. The state just found hundreds of millions in unexpected revenues basically in the couch cushions. They responded with a bigger power grab. The “make it harder to vote” bill is a “make it harder for likely Democratic voters to vote” bill. It is a make it harder for Democrats to get elected bill.
It is not about the budge. It is not about vote fraud. It is a power grab.
And in jamming it through yesterday, this is what it looks like. Republican Senate President Michael Ellis shut down the nation‘s longest-serving state legislature, Mr. Fred Risser, who was first elected in 1956. That‘s Fred Risser this. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re out of order, take your seat! Continue the roll call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cullen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Darling? Ellis?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re interrupting the roll call. No adjournment motion can be made during a roll call. Read the book. Go ahead and finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We did not PhotoShop the dark glasses and chewing gum on to the Republican Senate president to make him look for cartoonishly evil. He did that himself. We actually called his office to find out if there was a medical reason he was wearing the sunglasses while screaming at Fred Risser in the state Senate, they said there was not one.
After yesterday‘s vote, Governor Walker took a moment to savor that victory. He tweeted, quote, “Glad that photo ID bill passed. I authored that bill 10 years ago.”
MADDOW: Yes, Governor Walker, you do own this one. You have been waiting a long time to pull something like this off.
Joining us now is Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach of Wisconsin, who voted no on the new restrictions on voting in Wisconsin.
Senator, it is nice to you again. Thanks for being here.
STATE SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: How do you think this voting restriction bill is going to work in your state?
ERPENBACH: Well, in a word, chaotic, I guess. It‘s confusing to say the least. But I think that‘s what they wanted to do. They want to make it as confusing as possible.
As you mentioned earlier, it‘s going to disenfranchise about 20 percent of our voting population in Wisconsin, and that‘s by design. It‘s going to be difficult to get the kind of ID that you need for a lot of people. And so, chances are, some people will probably stay home.
But those who do show up at the polls and they don‘t necessarily have the proper ID, depending on whether or not the clerk actually knows what the law is. Maybe they will be able to vote, maybe they won‘t be able to vote. Who knows? But it‘s certainly going to be confusing.
MADDOW: Students have been an important constituency in Wisconsin, a Democrat-leaning constituency in your state. How do you think this is going to affect students?
ERPENBACH: It‘s actually pretty funny. If you have a student ID and you have the receipt that you paid your tuition, then you can vote. I mean, that‘s pretty much it. And students have to get a new ID every two years. It‘s going to be really difficult on students all over the state of Wisconsin because we have—we have campuses all over Wisconsin to get engaged in the process.
But, more importantly, they moved the residency rule from 10 days out to 28 days. So, that will guarantee that students won‘t be able to vote in a primary. It‘s just ridiculous what they‘ve come up with.
And my favorite, so far, is, if you live in your house for 27 days, Rachel, you can vote for the president, but you can‘t vote for governor or U.S. Senate or Congress or state Senate or anything else like that. Again, it‘s a very confusing piece of legislation. But they want it to be confusing.
MADDOW: In terms of the larger picture here, Governor Walker said about this bill, “Requiring photo ID to vote will go a long way to eliminate the threat of voter fraud in Wisconsin.”
How rampant is voter fraud in Wisconsin? And will this legislation solve the kind of fraud you know about?
ERPENBACH: Well, there are a lot of—a lot of people saying there‘s a lot of fraud in 2008. So, the attorney general spent two years investigating fraud and came up with 11 actual cases of voter fraud. Eight of those were felons who shouldn‘t have been voting and probably didn‘t know it. And then three votes were miscast. So, that was about it.
As a result, we‘re going to say to 178,000 senior citizens who don‘t have a photo ID in Wisconsin, you can‘t vote where you‘ve been voting probably the last, you know, 40 or 50 years. So, again, it‘s one of those situations where what they‘ve done, Rachel, is they‘ve created this fear. And they said, oh my God, we have voter fraud. There are people bussed in from Chicago—although I probably shouldn‘t talk about Chicago. But people are being bussed in from all over outside of Wisconsin and they‘re voting illegally—when there isn‘t one shred of evidence.
And I asked a lot of my colleagues on the floor when we were debating this, can you show me the evidence? Can you show me on paper where there is voter fraud in Wisconsin? And nobody could.
ERPENBACH: So, really, we don‘t have voter fraud. People think we do. But we really don‘t.
MADDOW: Just finding that $636 million in new revenue that wasn‘t expected—has that changed the approach to all these emergency measures in your state?
ERPENBACH: Oh, not at all. If anything, we‘ll probably have like much higher level of emergencies. If Wisconsin had like one of those color grids, we‘d be way off the chart red, because of all the things they‘re making up majority fraud and we‘re so broke and so on. What we need to do with that surplus that we have, the $636 million, is back fill some of the cuts that Governor Walker wants to make to our UW system, to our K-12 education system, as opposed to spending it on all sorts of other things.
And, so far, the Republicans and Governor Walker haven‘t been specific as far as what they want to do with that money. So, I‘m waiting to hear what they want to do with it.
MADDOW: State Senator Jon Erpenbach of Wisconsin—thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. It‘s good to see you again.
ERPENBACH: You too, Rachel. Thank you.
For reasons big and small, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW are rooting against tomorrow being the end of the world. We‘re also, however, hedging our bets just slightly. We will prepare for the end that the only way we thought appropriate. That is coming up at the end of the show.
But, first, “One More Thing” about the Republicans in the state using policy to put a partisan thumb on the scales of how government works, Republicans in Ohio this week passed a bill that would put Ohio in the running with Wisconsin for the state that‘s made it the hardest to vote in the nation.
Ohio‘s bill would drastically scale back the ability to vote by mail. It would scrap Ohio‘s five-day period in which you can register and then vote right away. And then it would require that in order to vote, you have to show a kind of ID that an estimated nearly 900,000 Ohio residents do not have.
And that ought to thin out potential Democratic voters nicely in time for next year‘s presidential election.
MADDOW: When a Tea Party rally was held outside the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia yesterday, this photograph of the event was carried in the local newspaper “The State.” The photo made it appear as if the tea in Tea Party stood for two—T for two. What appeared to be only two Tea Party ralliers turned out with their comfy lawn chairs to hear Governor Nikki Haley speak. That‘s the governor at the podium announcing, incidentally, that she‘s forming a new governor‘s Tea Party coalition to be run out of her office to deal with this very, very large and important constituency.
To be fair, the T in Tea Party might not stand for two. It could also stand for 30, which is how many people the newspaper reported were on hand in total. This is another view. The newspaper ran of the same event.
Or the T in Tea Party could stand for the rally‘s original featured speaker, Trump, Donald Trump, who cancelled his appearance apparently only after he decided this week he would no longer be running for president. Purely coincidentally, the current season of Mr. Trump‘s reality show is now winding down.
Mr. Trump‘s decision according to the paper left local Tea Party leaders in South Carolina stewing. If he had shown up at their rally, Tea Party leaders said they think they would have gotten 2,000 people to attend that event—instead of two, or maybe 30.
So, lower taxes, smaller government, fiscal conservativism, these are supposedly the founding principles of the Tea Party movement that get people fired up and are guaranteed in 2011 to turn out a crowd—of two, at least now that the Donald Trump publicity stunt is over.
Let this be the image that pops in your mind whenever the Beltway press talks about how there is no way for a Republican to win in South Carolina without going really far right to satisfy the huge Tea Party movement there.
MADDOW: Let‘s say for the sake of argument, the world does end tomorrow. Stuff happens. How would I want to end my last show ever? Guess.
MADDOW: By now, you have heard that maybe it‘s the end of the world tomorrow. I know. It‘s amazing. The end of the world is always amazing which is why everybody is talking about it.
But you know who has been all over the story in a way that I un-cynically totally admire? Lawrence O‘Donnell. “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell, the show that precedes me here on MSNBC, has been doing absolutely stellar coverage of the impending apocalypse, of the fact that people believe it and what it means for our culture. Seriously.
Look at some of what he‘s done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: In “The Rewrite” tonight, once again, the end of the world.
Eighty-nine-year-old radio host Harold Camping says his bible study has led him to make a series of calculations that have determined with exactitude that the world is coming to an end next Saturday at about 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
According to Family Radio IRS filings, Camping‘s organization received over $18 million in donations in 2009 alone, and it is worth over $70 million. That‘s right. Harold Camping, for one, is sitting on $70 million just in case the world doesn‘t end on Saturday.
I have had to tell Glenn Beck‘s audience that the world is not going to end. And now it falls to me to tell Harold Camping‘s audience that the world is not going to end. Specifically, it is not going to end on May 21st.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Both my family and my partner Susan‘s family have a little history of relatives believing in this stuff or stuff that if it‘s not exactly this stuff, it‘s at least sort of like this stuff. I think maybe that is why I haven‘t personally really been able to find an appropriate way to cover the end of the world excitement leading up to maybe the rapture tomorrow night. We haven‘t really been able to cover it on this show.
However, I have been loving the excellent coverage of the forthcoming end of the world on Lawrence‘s show “THE LAST WORD.” So, to thank Lawrence for doing the heavy lifting on that story for MSNBC primetime and to warm us all up for maybe the end of the world, we are going to make a “Last Word” cocktail. It‘s really called “The Last Word.” Last call, everyone.
All right. “The Last Word” cocktail is a prohibition era cocktail. You can find the recipe at our blog if you want to follow along MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com. It‘s a prohibition era cocktail, a cafe called the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle, is credited with sort of re-popularizing it.
And one of my favorite things about old drinks is that they often, if they‘re not two ounces of something to one-half ounce of something else to one-half ounce of something else, two half-half, they are equal parts. And this is an equal parts recipe.
So, make it any size you want. I‘m going to make a four-ounce cocktail using one ounce each of fresh lime juice squeezed from an actual lime. That‘s important.
Also, green chartreuse. Chartreuse comes in yellow and green and in super expensive versions of yellow and green. You can use the normal green one, but don‘t use the yellow one. The yellow one is like, I think they like reformulated it for ladies or something, so it‘s sweeter and lighter and just not that good.
So, you use a green chartreuse, again equal parts all of these ingredients. Gin, in honor of Governor Scott Walker, we always use Death‘s Door gin because we assume this annoys him, because it‘s made in Wisconsin and I love it.
Gin and the one thing that might be sort of hard to find, maraschino. Not—it looks like maraschino, isn‘t maraschino, it‘s pronounced maraschino. It‘s a liqueur. It‘s made from, I don‘t know, some sort of fancy Italian, cherry pit combination thing. I don‘t know.
It‘s an Italian thing. It‘s delicious. All Italian ladies put it on their fruit salad.
And you essentially take equal parts of those four ingredients and put it in a cocktail shaker with way more ice than you think. Shake it up and put it in a cocktail glass that unlike this one has been chilled in your freezer. It‘s called “THE LAST WORD.”
Again, it is a prohibition era cocktail. This is a classic. Thanks to the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle for re-popularizing it because it‘s awesome. You have to shake for longer than the end of the world.
Been a long time coming. This is our cocktail moment for the rapture. If the rapture doesn‘t happen Saturday night, I‘ll be in Chris Matthews‘ show on Sunday morning on NBC.
Have a great weekend.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>