The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/10/11

Guests:
Cenk Uygur, Wayne Slater, David Corn
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  You know, I‘m going to start doing that.  I think it gives one—it gives you a sense of importance that no other pen can.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST:  I‘m sorry.  It didn‘t have that effect on me.  You‘re going to have to try something else.

(LAUGHTER)

           

MADDOW:  I‘m going to start writing you notes that way.  You‘ll see how important you think I am.

Have a great weekend, Lawrence.  Thank you.

O‘DONNELL:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.  Happy Friday.  It‘s nice to have you here.

Presidential campaigns begin mostly with rumors, right?  Rumors that the potential candidate might be, possibly, maybe kind of halfway interested in somehow being dragged into the very personal sacrifice of running for the nation‘s highest office for the good of the country.

So, we start with the rumors, and then we get the announcement that the potential candidate will announce a very important announcement.  And then we get an announcement that the potential candidate will be exploring something.  And then, finally, we get the actual announcement which is a video.  That‘s what they do now, an announcement video like the one here from Republican Newt Gingrich, announcing the official start of his campaign almost exactly a month ago.

How do presidential campaigns start these days?  They start with well-lit videos like this.

But this week, Mr. Gingrich brought us a second question about presidential campaigning today.  We all know how it starts.  But how does it look when it ends?  How do we know these days when a presidential campaign is done skedaddle?

Only two campaigns make it to election day, right?  Most of them drop out along the way.  Some because the candidate sees support tapering off or maybe never really getting off the ground.  The candidate quietly calls it quits—some of them in that way.

But some because they end because their presidential campaign implodes, right, in a rather more spectacular fashion.

Headline: “Gingrich presidential campaign implodes.”  “The Washington Post” is reporting that Newt Gingrich‘s entire senior campaign staff up and quit him yesterday, from South Carolina to Iowa to New Hampshire to his Georgia headquarters, senior staffers citing a dispute over whether spending two weeks on a luxury cruise in the Greek isles was part of a path to victory.

So, that happened yesterday.

You want to see what else happened with the Gingrich campaign yesterday?  This happened.

This is how Newt Gingrich has been doing on the Web site Intrade.  Intrade is like a stock exchange for ideas.  It‘s kind of like a stock exchange for predictions, really.

This is what happened to Newt Gingrich‘s political stock on Intrade after his staff all quit in a coordinated exodus.  Look at this.  It looks like a ski jump, except without the inspiring lift part at the end.

This is a ramp straight down into concrete.  This is what real people betting with real money on Intrade are predicting for the future of Newt 2012.

Now, Mr. Gingrich insisted again today that he will reboot his campaign.  He says 178 people showed up in Iowa just the other day when he was expecting only 40.  And, hey, that‘s something.  He says he‘s willing to work hard despite what you might have heard from his staffers who all just quit.  He is still saying he‘s in this and he‘s in it to win it.

And, you know, that may be another way you can tell your campaign is in trouble, if you have to insist that you are running one, because people can‘t tell that on their own.

Nobody knows really whether Newt Gingrich‘s campaign is over.  But if it does end, here‘s another potential beginning.  Among the staffers who figured out how to quit Newt Gingrich are two, quote, “long time” aides to Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Rick Perry who has said in recent days that he is contemplating a run for president himself in 2012.

Rick Perry‘s top two political aides were working until yesterday for Newt Gingrich.  Dave Carney, described by the “Houston Chronicle” today as Rick Perry‘s lead political consultant and Rob Johnson who managed Rick Perry‘s re-election campaign for governor in Texas last time.  Both of those guys were with Newt Gingrich until yesterday, and now, they‘re both cut loose.  Ex-Rick Perry staffers galloping away from Newt New Hampshire, and Newt Iowa and Newt everywhere, those staffers are real political animals and they, right now, are heading for a barn somewhere—probably even money right now, but that barn that they‘re heading to belongs to Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry.

If you are betting on Intrade, if the wisdom of the crowd petting real money really does amount to something here, then it is better than even odds.  This again is what happened to Mr. Gingrich on Intrade when his staff quit him over the edge and off the waterfall.  This is what happened to Texas Governor Rick Perry.  That boink in the middle there where Mr.  Perry‘s fortunes took off, that is where Mr. Gingrich found himself yesterday answering the office phone himself.

If you‘re look for who in the Republican field might gain from Newt Gingrich‘s exit, here‘s your answer.  Somebody who is not yet in the race.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has already begun making noises about how he would consider running.  He only polled around 4 percent last month in a survey of Texas Republicans.  But some people, some influential people really do like his chance.

Mark McKinnon, a former George W. Bush advisor, telling CNN, quote, “Why wouldn‘t he run?  One of the only things holding him back is two key members of his team were with Gingrich.  And now, that‘s no longer a problem.”

Mark McKinnon continuing, quote, “There‘s a huge gap in the Republican field right now.  And as a former six-man football player, Rick Perry knows how to run to the hole.”

Rick Perry knows how to run to the hole.  There he goes—straight for the hole.

And how is Rick Perry making that—Rick Perry making that run for the hole?  How is he setting up to run?

Governor Perry, you may know, has governed in Texas as a far right, big government Republican with an occasional flight of fancy about Texas seceding from the Union.  He recently signed legislation that forces Texas women to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds before he would allow them to get abortions.  He has signed legislation to make it significantly harder to vote in Texas, exempting people with concealed gun permits, though, of course.

This week, he released this press release, quote, “Governor Rick Perry has declared Saturday, August 6th, as a day of prayer and fasting for our nation, to seek God‘s guidance and wisdom in addressing the challenges that face our communities, states and nation.”

Governor Perry, not technically in charge of the nation, but calling everyone to prayer in the nation right there on the government Web site anyway.

The model Rick Perry, I think, is working off here is the National Prayer Breakfast maybe held every year in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February, when members of Congress and the administration turn out in their nicest suits for the National Prayer Breakfast and whoever is president that year gives a speech.  President Obama has done it.  Also, President Bush, President Clinton, the other President Bush, also President Reagan.

Having the president and other bigwigs there lends a veneer for respectability to the proceedings which can be discomforting when you remember that the group behind the National Prayer Breakfast, the host of the National Prayer Breakfast is The Family, the secretive quasi-church whose house on C Street offers subsidized rent to conservatives in Congress.

The Family and its C Street living quarters have been homes away from home for several Republicans who have ended up in trouble for cheating on their wives like Mark Sanford, and Senator John Ensign and allegedly, Congressman Chip Pickering, too.  The C Street house turning up in the resolution of all of those affairs.  The Family also has ties to the backers of Uganda‘s “kill the gays” bill.

But never mind all that, next year, they‘ll roll out the coffee urns and they‘ll do it again, this very respectable National Prayer Breakfast.

Governor Rick Perry, who maybe would like to be President Perry, the man who is talked about now as maybe riding in to save this lackluster Republican field, the guy who knows how to run for the hole—as Mark McKinnon said—Governor Perry has decided he would look good running one of those national prayer deals himself.  Maybe even a 50-stater—you know, get out of the beltway and into the states with Rick Perry in the lead.

If you click over to his events official Web site, you‘ll find this.  Quote, “There is hope for America.  It lies in heaven and we will find it on our knees.”

On the leadership page for his event, there‘s Governor Rick Perry, along with Don Wildman, president of—what‘s described as the event‘s host entity.  What‘s the host entity for this event?  The American Family Association.

So, this is a Rick Perry/American Family Association/Donald Wildman joint.  If Donald Wildman‘s name sounds familiar is because he and the American Family Association quite famously went after Barney the dinosaur for seeming kind of gay.  These are also the same guys who went off Buster the PBS rabbit who so wanted a visit a nice Vermont family that had two moms.

They also went after SpongeBob SquarePants who, after all, lives with his starfish friend Patrick in a pineapple under the sea and occasionally holds Patrick‘s hand.

The American Family Association is against Old Navy, and Home Depot and Ford for marketing shirts and trucks and stuff to gay people.  The American Family Association says they caused Ford sales to drop with their boycott.

This is the American Family Association with whom Governor Rick Perry is hosting the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation‘s Challenges.

The Web site Right Wing Watch has devoted themselves to keeping the American Family Association on the record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BRYAN FISCHER, ISSUES DIRECTOR, AFA:  Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual soldiers basically had no limits on the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whoever Hitler sent him after.  So, he surrounded himself, virtually, all of the storm troopers, the brown shirts, were male homosexuals.

TIM WILDMON, PRESIDENT, AFA:  We elected a commander in chief who doesn‘t care about the Marines and Army.  He just wants to force homosexuality into every place that he can.

FISCHER:  We should not allow Muslims to serve in the U.S. military.  We‘ve got to raise questions to whether we can afford to allow Muslims to immigrate into the United States as all.

These boards are not random.  They‘re set by God.  In fact, we discovered that in American history.  We tried a number of times to invade Canada and we couldn‘t do it.

Barack Obama nurtures this hatred for the United States of America and I believe nurtures a hatred for the white man.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW:  That‘s who Rick Perry is hosting his national day of prayer with.  That‘s the American Family Association.

Rick Perry has invited every other governor in the country, all 49 other governors to come to Texas to join with him and with those guys for what he has proclaimed as his national prayer event.

If Rick Perry runs, that‘s how he‘s going to run for president of the United States.  The phrase yeehaw does not come to mind.

Joining us is Wayne Slater, senior political writer for “The Dallas Morning News.”

Wayne, it‘s great to see you.  Thanks for being here.

WAYNE SLATER, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS:  Great to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, Wayne, does Governor Perry know what he‘s doing here? 

He‘s hosting this prayer day paid for by the American Family Association. 

Does he realize who these guys are?

SLATER:  I would like to say he‘s not sure of all those stuff, but he

is.  He knows exactly what he‘s doing.  He knows this group.  He knows the

some of the controversial things that have been said about them, that this group has said.

           

The office has said this week that that isn‘t important what comments they‘d made.  The important thing is prayer.

But Rick Perry has been comfortable certainly for a number of years with some exotic associations on the Christian right.

I mean, one of the people who the governor asked this week to come and be a part of this prayer meeting was John Hagee, the televangelist from San Antonio who said the Catholic Church was the whore of Babylon, who said we ought to bomb Tehran, who basically is to the right of Netanyahu on the issue of Israel.  He‘s a controversial guy who may remember John McCain briefly took and then rejected the endorsement in the last presidential race.

Rick Perry also more recently was speaking to a Christian group in Washington in which he touted an author named Cleon Skousen.  This is a John Birch Society associate and advocate who Glenn Beck has really talked about and touted.

Now, Perry talks about this guy and says other Christians ought to buy this book.

Perry understands who the audience is he cares about.  And that audience, Rachel, will see nothing wrong with the comments made by the American Family Association.

MADDOW:  The reason that this is bigger than just Rick Perry‘s story -

I mean, he has done some wacky stuff as governor.  I think the reason this rises to—of national interest right now is all this excited speculation that he may be getting into the presidential race.  That he may have a shot at the Republican nomination.  And also the fact that he‘s invited all of the nation‘s other governors to Texas for this event.

           

For the other governors out there who may be thinking about hopping into bed with Rick Perry on this, what would you tell governors looking at Texas, looking at Rick Perry for an event like this to understand about how the politicians of something like this are going to work?

SLATER:  Well, they‘re going to work exactly as Perry‘s people think they will work.  That that small—relatively small sliver overall—the large accumulation, the large constituency of social conservatives, religious conservatives, will be important in early states like Iowa, South Carolina and Florida will find this a very appealing argument, will find their attitudes and their associations with Christian conservative groups like the American Family Association just fine.  And so, the only governor I know who actually said he‘s going to come is Sam Brownback from Kansas.  I suspect Bob Jindal might and maybe some others.

But for the most part, what I‘m hearing from other governors is, both Democrat and Republican, they‘re not coming.

MADDOW:  It is amazing to think about Sam Brownback, who‘s been such an activist on the issue of faith and public life and Catholicism and all of those things, to imagine him appearing along the same line with John Hagee and the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon skit that he used to do over and over again.

Wayne, do you know anything about whether or not Rick Perry really is going to run?  Whether he‘s leaning toward it, whether people close to him are advising him one way or the other?

SLATER:  What I know is the departure of Dave Carney, who is Rick Perry‘s Karl Rove, that is his political chief—a guy he relies on and has since 1990 when Rick Perry ran for the first statewide office that was the agriculture commissioner here—that his departure and the departure of Rob Johnson, Rick Perry‘s former campaign manager, was not—is not a signal that Rick Perry is about to announce this week or in the next week or so that he‘s going to run for president.

What it is, is evidence that it will make it very—much easier at least for Rick Perry to run.  He is leaning in that direction, I am told by the people who are on the inside, his wife wants him to run, unlike Mitch Daniels.  His two kids want him to run.  And Perry is surrounded by a small group of advisors, a few money men, who are encouraging him to run because they say the current GOP field is so weak.

MADDOW:  Wayne Slater, senior political writer for “The Dallas Morning News.”  If Rick Perry keeps floating with this and not making a decision, if he decides to get in, you are going to be a very busy man explaining Rick Perry to the rest of the country for as long as this goes on, Wayne.  Thanks so much for being with us tonight.

SLATER:  Great to be with you.

MADDOW:  Speaking of Republican governors and even half governors, the state of Alaska just released more than 24,000 of Governor Sarah Palin‘s emails from her term in office in Alaska.  And we‘re going to read every one of them out loud on this show—I‘m being told we won‘t do that.  We won‘t do that.  Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  By now, if you care, you have seen pictures of people carting around boxes and boxes and boxes of tens of thousands of printed out pages of Sarah Palin‘s email from the time she was Alaska governor.  These emails were released today in this kind of hilariously 20th century form.

But do you know why this was released today?  What made this whole

spectacle happen today?  The great wood pulp massacre of Juneau explained

by the man who caused it to happen, next.

           

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  OK.  I can explain that.  Mom, if you‘re watching right now, first of all, hi.  And second, there‘s a reason that this praise is in quotation marks.

It is in quotation marks while I have not personally read every single Sarah Palin email released today in the state of Alaska, I‘m willing to bet almost a whole dollar that this is the most interesting phrase in any one of those emails.

A publicist emailed Governor Palin inviting her to see a band play at a house party.  This was the pitch, quote, “The Strange Boys are playing at 7:30 sharp.  So, tip the kids and bring beef, tequila and condoms.”

That was in September 2008 after Sarah Palin has become John McCain‘s running mate.  Governor Palin did not reply to the email, but she did forward it on to a staffer, which means absolutely nothing in the greater scheme of national politics or state politics.

But it does give us a handy new phrase to unsettle the mothers of everyone who works on this show, and which does really pointedly raise the question, why do we know this stuff?

At 9:00 a.m. local time in Juneau, Alaska, today, the state released box sets of nearly 25,000 pages of emails then-Governor Sarah Palin exchanged with her husband and with about 50 government officials.

The six boxed sets weighed 250 pounds, had to be taken out on state owned trucks, which had to be returned.  Journalists raised the documents off to the nearest scanners because these documents were delivered on actual paper.  They were not delivered electronically.  So, in order to make them searchable, they would have to be scanned into electronic form.

This all started by in 2008, 10 days after Republican nominee John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.  David Corn, the Washington bureau chief from “Mother Jones” magazine filed a request with the state of Alaska to see all of the emails that had been sent by or to Governor Palin in what had then been her 21 months as governor.  Within days, David was joined by a heaping handful of other media outlets who filed their own email requests.  That was the fall of 2008.

More than 1,000 days later, the time that has elapsed since this records request was filed is longer than the entire time Sarah Palin served as governor.  More than 1,000 days later, the state has coughed up the records.  But they‘ve done it in print.  Not online.  Reading rooms were set up at Centennial Hall Convention Center in Juneau today.

Volunteers from the Legal Women Voters and the retired public employees pored over one set of the document.

Another set was scanned for MSNBC.com.  You can find the emails at Palinemail.MSNBC.msn.com.  “Mother Jones” and “ProPublica” cosponsored that Web site.

“The Anchorage Daily News” and “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” all did this sort of thing, too.  In “The Washington Post” blog, “The Fix” had said they were going to move 100 people from the lower 48 physically to Alaska to read the documents there, but then they realized that everybody would be putting the documents online as fast as possible, so then they can be read by everyone, so they didn‘t airlift anybody to Alaska.

It‘s essentially been a crowd sourcing problem today.  Everybody read and tell everybody else what you find.

“The Huffington Post” did not pay for their own set of the documents.  But they too have been asking people to share at their Web site what they have discovered in the emails as they browse them.

Now, just one note here.  “The Associated Press” is taking a slightly more perplexing approach.  Even though the full cache of emails is already online for free, thanks to people scanning and uploading them, “The Associated Press” has chosen to fly the documents so where in Continental United States where they have created a physical archive of the emails in print that is only available to their paying customers.

No, I don‘t know why.  I really don‘t.  I don‘t know why.  Maybe they have paying customers who hate computers.  I don‘t know.

These Web sites and news organizations today have made the Sarah Palin emails immediately and searchable basically in the hopes that they could harness the intense interest that a lot of very energetic people have in Sarah Palin in order to make sense of this as a news story.  The question is: has all that time and effort and box hauling turned up anything of interest yet today?  And big picture, why exactly do we know about the beef, tequila and condoms email?

Joining us now is the person who set all this in motion with his September 2008 request for all emails sent and received by then-Governor Palin, David Corn, Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones” and columnist for PoliticsDaily.com.

David, it‘s great to see you.  Thank you for being here.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES:  Great to be with you.  I‘ve never been called a wood pulp massacre doer.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  Doer.

Why did you put this broad request in the first place?

CORN:  Think back long ago, you know, those foggy days of 2008 – when John McCain picked Sarah Palin, she was such an unknown that journalists throughout the lower 48 were scrambling to find out anything they could about her.  I was in that pack.  And one of the first stories I came across was about an email request that had been put into her office for emails of her aides, not of hers.

MADDOW:  OK.

CORN:  And I also discovered that about 1,000 of them had been withheld probably under sketchy or dodgy exemptions.  But it got me looking at the law and said, hey, that open records law in Alaska is not so bad.  Let‘s sort of shoot for the moon and put in a request not for her aides, but for her emails.

And initially, I got a response back from the state that was so un-encouraging.  It could take eight hours of come computer time to do this and it might cost a couple thousands dollars.  We‘re going to start and give us a check now for $500.  I said, “Pretty good.  Let‘s go ahead.”

MADDOW:  Yes.

CORN:  And then it turned out, as you referred to earlier.  She had more than one account.  And, in fact, she had two private accounts that she used for much of her state business.

MADDOW:  So, she had an Alaska.gov address or something like an equivalent of that.  But then, also, a private address.

CORN:  You have Sarah@yahoo.com.  I mean, that site became known.  It was hacked.  But that caused a big problem, because the state IT people claimed those are Yahoo records.  We can‘t reach them.  We can‘t capture and collect for you.

So, eventually, they figured out the only way to get her emails is by looking at what she sent from her unofficial account to the official accounts of people who worked for her.  They came up with 51 people, or what people who work for her sent from their official account to her unofficial account.

MADDOW:  OK.  So, one official account many the mix in order for them to get it.

CORN:  If she sent something to an unofficial account of someone who work that had to do with state business, forget it, it‘s lost.  If she sent something to a state employee or someone outside the state that had to do with state business, that too was lost.  So, this was the best they could do and it‘s an approximation of what you‘d expect.

MADDOW:  And it also explains exactly why people use their personal email accounts so that they can evade open record.

CORN:  Well, it made—she didn‘t know this ahead of time, but it made it clear and obvious we can‘t get her emails before the election of November 2012 because this just took months to get together and it took years to review.  And so, it got her around that scrutiny that erupted at the beginning.

MADDOW:  In terms of what has been gone through already today, and it has been sort of a crowd sourcing effort.

CORN:  Yes.

MADDOW:  But there‘s been a lot of trained reporters going through it, too.  Is there anything sheds new light or is important in Sarah Palin‘s record?

CORN:  Well, there are no, you know, bombshells as one would say.  We, at “Mother Jones,” you know, working with MSNBC.com and ProPublica, to put up this archive and we‘ve been methodically going through these emails and we‘ve looked at a few thousand.  And there are a couple of interesting things.

I mean, we can talk about redactions in the moment because sometimes what‘s most interesting is what they won‘t show you.  But, for instance, in March—it was June 2007, she wanted to go to a religious event with John Hagee.

MADDOW:  John Hagee, who we were just talking about.

CORN:  You were just talking about him.  John Hagee, to remind people who can‘t remember four or five minutes ago, is a pastor in Texas who is very anti-gay, very anti-Catholic and he had a whole controversy when John McCain sought his endorsement, accepted his endorsement in 2008 and then had to renounce him.

But Sarah Palin was making time on her schedule to go to a religious event, it was nothing about politics, and she was even asked to sort of do the reading at the event for John Hagee.  So, it shows you that she was—this was all from her—she was talking to her schedulers.  I want to be her.

MADDOW:  This is not just her being asked.  This is her saying I want to be part of that.

CORN:  I want to be there.

So, it shows that she had a real affinity or a real interest in this fellow.  And I think it‘s an indication of sort of how—if you want to use this term, I mean to (INAUDIBLE), but how far she might be on that spectrum of social conservatism.

MADDOW:  On the issue of redactions who gets to this?  There are some interest things that are blocked out of the emails.  Who actually gets to decide what gets redacted?

CORN:  Lawyers who worked for Sarah Palin or the governor now who used to be Sarah Palin‘s lieutenant governor.

MADDOW:  Oh, wow.

CORN:  So, I mean, it‘s not like we‘re going to get an independence source.  And so, there‘s an email that is subject heading indicates it‘s about meetings between Palin staffers and Vice President Cheney about a pipeline in Alaska and the implications for the Endangered Species Act.  That‘s withheld.

There‘s an email about potential conflicts of interest involving Todd Palin her husband.  That‘s been held back.  There‘s an exchange that has a subject heading that just same sex.  And everything in that exchange is redacted.

MADDOW:  OK.

CORN:  Who knows what they were talking about?

MADDOW:  Yes, and if it had—OK.  Yes, the mind reels.

CORN:  And there‘s just a lot of redactions throughout the releases.  And you just can‘t know if they‘re legitimate, which they might be, or if they‘re covering up something more embarrassing rather than a legal issue.

MADDOW:  That‘s part at least, those redactions are un-appealable.

CORN:  Well, they probably.  I mean, yes, you could go to court and you could file an appeal.  But, first, you have to go through 25,000 pages.

MADDOW:  David Corn, Washington bureau chief “Mother Jones,” columnist for PoliticsDaily.com, and the man we really have to blame for all this.

CORN:  I‘m sorry.  I apologize to all those trees.

MADDOW:  I will plant a few trees in your name for this one.  David, thank you.

All right.  If at first you do not hand your political opponents the next election, try, try again.  Only five Republican senators and four Republican members of the House voted no on killing Medicare this year.  We have just learned what the Republicans are going to do for their next act.  Democrats get your “thank you” notes ready.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  When New York Congressman Anthony Weiner gave his mea culpa on Monday after a week of lying about his online behavior, he took an unusually long time fielding questions from the assembled media after he gave his statement.  Among the answers he was forced to give sort of awkwardly was this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  I don‘t know the exact ages of the women.  And I don‘t know if you do—I‘m going to respect their privacy, but they were all adults.  At least to the best of my knowledge, they were all adults.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Earlier tonight, on the ground reporting from the state of Delaware indicated a possible development in the big bad area about which the congressman had to say “to the best of my knowledge” in that part of the press conference.  Every detail we have about this story, the new details from Delaware, including the congressman‘s response to this reporting is coming up.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  There was a party happening tonight in Milwaukee—for Wisconsinites looking for a way to kick off the summer festival season.  For the low, low price of $30 American plus cash bar, party hardy in service for State Senator Alberta Darling raising money for her recall election.  Senator Darling is one of six Republican state senators facing being recalled from office in Wisconsin after Republicans in that state helped their new governor, Scott Walker, push through his union-stripping bill in the absence of Senate Democrats who fled the state to try to stop it from happening.

So, tonight, in what will always be to me the land of Laverne and Shirley, in Milwaukee, the Republican Party of Milwaukee County is hosting a summer festival fundraiser to help out Senator Alberta Darling.  Prominently on the invite list, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan—because who better to have on site shaking hands with the senator who is facing recall for her role in passing a big old, unpopular, anti-middle class, union-stripping bill than the man who is nationally famous right now for his plan to kill Medicare, a man who wants to take away Medicare and replaced it with coupons.

There‘s been some confusion as to whether or not Congressman Ryan was actually planning on attending tonight‘s fundraiser for this embattled state senator in Wisconsin.  Despite earlier reports that he would attend, Congressman Ryan‘s office told “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” that Paul Ryan was not planning to go.  The organizer of the fundraiser told us she was not expecting the congressman to attend, but she hadn‘t heard from his office, but that she didn‘t necessarily expect to even though he was printed on the invite list.

Since Congressman Paul Ryan of kill Medicare fame was printed on that invite list for the summer festival/Republican recall fundraiser, we asked the senator, Alberta Darling‘s office if she supports him?  If she supports what he‘s famous for, if she supports Congressman Ryan‘s budget—if she too wants to kill Medicare?

We did not get an answer from the senator‘s office on that.  We asked a couple of times.

The Paul Ryan budget has been no fun for Republicans this year ever since almost all of them in both the House and the Senate voted for Ryan‘s kill Medicare plan.

But Paul Ryan may end up being in luck.  His kill Medicare thing may be about to become the second most hated Republican idea in the country.  The second most avoided question by Republicans who actually need to get elected to something soon.  Turning Medicare into coupons is about to become second banana in the buddy cop movie of Republican bad ideas.  It‘s about to become the dark haired “Dukes of Hazard” brother in the new number one.

Privatizing Social Security—this is a bill in the House right now introduced by Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, it would move to privatize Social Security.  This is not popular, messing with Social Security.  Remember how well George W. Bush did with this idea in his second term?

Pete Sessions is part of the House Republican leadership and he is the one sponsoring the privatize Social Security bill right now.

Republican Joe Heck of Nevada recently got pretty famous on the YouTube machine when someone recorded what he said about killing Social Security at a town hall late last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE HECK ®, NEVADA:  When they first conceived Social Security they didn‘t think they would be paying benefits for 13, 15 years.  That‘s one of the reasons this pyramid scheme isn‘t working.  And so, we‘ve got to look at every possible—that‘s why we‘ve got to look at every possible—

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  After that reception, Congressman Heck went into damage control.  He put out this flyer saying, quote, “I chose my words poorly.”

But then this week, “Las Vegas Sun “columnist Jon Ralston heard Congressman Heck agree with a talk radio caller who called in to support his original assertion that Social Security is a pyramid scheme.  You got that right.

So, now, Congressman Heck, having said it‘s a pyramid scheme, “I chose those words poorly”—yes, there‘s pyramid scheme, Congressman Heck would please not to—no.  No talky talky about Social Security anymore.  Thank you very much.

According to the “Las Vegas Sun,” Mr. Heck had a chance to clarify his comment Wednesday at a town hall meeting with his constituents but he refused to discuss Social Security in any detail.

It‘s causing problems already.

And there‘s Rick Santorum.  There‘s always Rick Santorum.  Here‘s how Rick Santorum launched his run for president.  This was day one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Heading back down on trying to reform the Social Security system, President Bush went out after the 2004 election and said we‘ve got to do something because Social Security is an unsustainable.  In an election year, I went out to the floor of United State Senate with Jim DeMint and started arguing for reforming Social Security.  Not even Paul Ryan in his budget now in the face of trillions of dollars of deficits currently had the temerity to step forward and say we had to do Social Security.

So, yes, I did some things that were very unpopular.  But if you look back and what I did and when I did, people can say, you know what?  He may have lost, but he didn‘t flinch.  He stood by what he believed in.  And he continued to fight through the end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Not even Paul Ryan had the temerity to step forward and say, let‘s not stop at Medicare.  Let‘s go after Social Security, too.

If you liked how well killing Medicare went over for Republicans so far this year, welcome to step two.  I do not know what Democrats did to deserve this gift.  Some Democrats somewhere must have been really good in a past life for Republicans to be handing this to them now.

Joining us now is Cenk Uygur, host of “MSNBC LIVE” at 6:00 p.m., as well as the “Young Turks” radio and online.

Cenk, it is great to see you.  Thanks for being here, my friend.

CENK UYGUR, “MSNBC LIVE” HOST:  Thank you, Rachel.  Great to see you.

MADDOW:  What did Democrats do to deserve this bounty, Cenk?  I mean, are Republicans seriously, seriously considering going after Social Security after what has happened with them on Medicare this year?

UYGUR:  Well, I think they are.  And the reason for that is that they can‘t help themselves.  This is what they‘ve been trying to do ever since Social Security was created.  They came up with the, you know, phrase Ponzi scheme in 1967.  They‘ve been pushing that ever since.

Dick Armey of FreedomWorks fame pushed it just at the end of last year, at one of his conventions.  And then all of a sudden, we had words pyramid scheme and Ponzi scheme starting popping everywhere, including in Joe Heck‘s mouth.

If you remember, last year, actually Pawlenty wrote an editorial called “Ponzi on the Potomac.”  Why?  Because they can‘t help themselves.  They‘ve been at this forever.

And it‘s not just because they want to get rid of Social Security.  It‘s because that‘s what they get paid to do.  Their donors want them to do this.  And their donors are a lot more important to the Republicans than their constituents.

MADDOW:  So, do you think, though, that, given the unpopularity of the stance on Medicare and the stance on Social Security—do you think they are banking just on the long haul, on the horizon, like, yes, we‘ll lose elections over this—individual people will be kicked out of politics and the public furor over this.  But if we keep bring it back again and again, eventually it will start to seem like not a crazy idea?  Is that—is that the calculus here?

UYGUR:  I think—there‘s a couple of things at play here.  One, I think they‘re drunk on 2010.  You know, they won and so, they convinced themselves, Rush Limbaugh and FOX News Channel on the right, the key to victory is you go further and further and further right.  And if you‘re going to go further right, what‘s right of killing Medicare?  Killing Social Security or privatizing Social Security.

And so, they figured they can‘t go wrong if they go further right.  And I think that they‘re incredibly block.  The polls show how wrong they are.  I think the election in the 26th district showed how wrong they are, and I think they might be handing Barack Obama and other Democrats an enormous gift in 2012 if the Democrats, of course, are willing to accept that gift.

And Barack Obama has a great advantage of having the worst most clownish enemies of all time.

So, if they go in that direction like you said, it will be the gift from the skies.

But look, they‘ve been pushing for that since Eisenhower.  You remember the famous Eisenhower quote about how only a few people want to do this in the country and they‘re Texas oil millionaires, which by the way, the Koch brothers Texas oil millionaires.  And he said they‘re few and stupid, but they keep on pushing.

MADDOW:  Well, you know, Cenk, one of the things that you and I have talked about is how the sort of different time frames that different players in politics have.

And even as—you‘re right, this is a gift from the heavens, right?  This is something that Democrats will have to try hard to screw up to have the Republicans running on killing Medicare and killing Social Security this year at a time when the middle class is under so much pressure and so dependent on these things, in terms of thinking about ourselves having dignity into later life, right?  It‘s such a gift.

But is the long-term effect of this to reframe everything?  To make this seem like an acceptable mainstream policy option that Democrats will have to triangulate?  That Democrats will have to go halfway there?

UYGUR:  That is absolutely right.  That is the best point made on this topic which is, they don‘t necessarily expect to win.  They don‘t necessarily expect to win on Medicare.  What they want to do is they want to push the spectrum further and further right so that—well, they push the Democrats and pull the Democrats and the Washington media and everyone else closer to their position.

And that‘s why they keep moving what they call the Overton window. 

And this is part of that process.

And you know what?  The reason they do that is because it works.  The Democrats fall for that trick every single time.  You‘ve seen in every negotiation, you know, initially, you know, the Republicans wanted $30 billion in cuts.  And you remember they wound up at $38 billion in cuts in the last round of negotiations because then they said later, oh, I want more, right?

And look, the real problem is, if the Democrats agree to any of this, and I‘m afraid, given the talks with Joe Biden and the Republicans, that they might go some way towards that direction, which they should never, ever do.

MADDOW:  Cenk Uygur, host of “MSNBC LIVE” at 6:00 p.m. and the “Young Turks,” of course—Cenk, I have been wanting to talk to you about this for a while, my friend.  Thanks very much for your time.

UYGUR:  Thank you, Rachel.  Have a great night.

MADDOW:  One thing the news business teaches you is that bad news tends to get worse on Friday nights.  That may be the case for Congressman Anthony Weiner.  New details to get through on that story as of late tonight.  We will have the latest details for you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  When Congressman Anthony Weiner took questions from the press on Monday after he had admitted sending explicit photos of himself to women who are not his wife, even after he took questions, one thing remains sort of unclear, or at least open ended.  And when he discussed it in questions with reporters, it caused all the discomfort you would expect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  I‘m here to accept responsibility for very bad decisions.

REPORTER:  (INAUDIBLE) very young, 21 years old.  Does that bother you?

WEINER:  I don‘t know—I don‘t know the exact ages of the women, and they – 

REPORTER:  Some are young enough to be your children?

WEINER:  I don‘t know the exact ages of the women.  And I don‘t know, if you do, I‘m going to respect their privacy, but they were all adults.  At least to the best of my knowledge, they were all adults and they were engaging—and they were engaging in these conversations consensually.

REPORTER:  But if you don‘t know how old they are, how do you know they were adults?

WEINER:  Well, all I know is what they publish about themselves in social media.  Someone could theoretically have been fibbing about it.  And that‘s a risk.  I know I never had any intention of having any interaction with underage women and no information that I have now shows that I did.

But, yes, whenever you engage with anyone and that‘s true—that‘s always true in social media, that you‘re relying upon their characterizations, and I took them at those characterizations.

REPORTER:  Was there anything predatory about your behavior?

REPORTER:  Yes.

WEINER:  Look, I—the women that I have been in contact with without

you know, without violating their privacy, they‘re not—they‘re not uniformly young women.  I don‘t know that their ages, but the people that I‘ve had these engagements with on Facebook are not young per se.

           

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That was the background from the Monday press conference.  Early this evening, a story hitting FOXNews.com said police visited the home of a 17-year-old high school student in New Castle, Delaware, to ask her about direct online communications she may have had with Congressman Weiner.  FOXNews.com reporting that sources have told them—sources, not the police department—sources close to the student told them that the girl followed Anthony Weiner on Twitter after hearing him speak during a school trip to Washington, D.C., and that the two of them, Congressman Weiner and this high school girl, had a direct messaging conversation after that in mid-April and possibly on more occasions.

We called the New Castle County Police Department in an attempt to confirm this story ourselves tonight.  Public information officer there told us only that officers responded to a call at a residence in North Wilmington this afternoon, but the officer couldn‘t say what the police were investigating, what the age of the girl is, or if the investigation is in connection to Congressman Weiner at all.

Congressman Weiner‘s spokeswoman tonight said this, quote, “According to Congressman Weiner, his communications with this person were neither explicit nor indecent.”

“The New York Daily News” reporting tonight, quoting, a source close to this girl in Delaware, telling “The Daily News,” quote, “She was not targeted in any way and did not receive any inappropriate messages or photos or anything from the congressman.  If she had, her family would have filed charges.”  Again, that from “The New York Daily News” quoting a source close to this girl in Delaware.

So, is this a damning new development with regard to Congressman Weiner tonight?  The headlines on FOXNews.com and other sites that have picked up the FOXNews.com story read as if it is a big, damning new development.  Frankly, the publicly available details on this do not necessarily support the implications in the headlines at FOXNews.com and at “The New York Post” and all over the internet.  Not at least at there point.

Now, if there is more to report here, we will bring it to you as we know.  But those are all of the known details as of this moment.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  In Alaska right now, reporters and volunteers still poring over boxes of e-mails from Sarah Palin‘s brief tenure as Alaskan governor.  Along with “Mother Jones” and “ProPublica,” MSNBC.com has put the whole archive online.  A link to that is at our Web site, Maddowblog.MSNBC.com.  So, you too can ruin your weekend reading about gubernatorial staff members getting the carwash from members of the Palin family.  I‘ll never get that time back.

That does it for us tonight.  We‘ll see you again on Monday.  Have a good night.

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

END   

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