The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/23/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, have a good weekend.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Thanks. You, too.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour in
In January of last year, in January of 2011, there was an
assassination attempt on a member of the United States Congress.
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was holding a “Meet Your Congressman” event at
a supermarket in Tucson when this mentally ill, heavily armed young man
This was the type of weapon he used. It`s Glock 9-millimeter
handgun. And the reason it looks like it`s kind of a strange shape is
because it has an extended magazine that is larger than the gun was
Now, the standard magazine for this gun would fit right into the
handle without hanging out below it, like you just saw on that other
picture. The standard magazine I think would hold about 15 bullets. Jared
Loughner had two of those standard-sized ammunition clips in his pocket
that day at the Safeway in Tucson.
But the clip he had in the gun held double the number of bullets as
compared to the standard one. It holds 30 bullets. And that`s why Jared
Loughner last January in Tucson was able to kill and wound so many people
before he was finally stopped. He fired the one bullet that was in the
chamber and then he fired the 30 bullets that were in the extended
magazine. It was not until he stopped that he had to reload that somebody
was able to tackle him and stop that massacre.
In the aftermath of the Gabby Gifford shooting, the country for a
second at least, puzzled over the fact that just a few years earlier, that
sort of extended magazine would have been illegal under the assault weapons
ban that was signed into law in 1994, extended clips were banned. And when
George Bush let the assault weapons ban expire in 2004, those extended
clips became legal again.
Now, there`s no reason for anybody outside law enforcement to have
the capacity to fire their handgun 31 times without reloading. If you have
a handgun for self-defense, if you target shoot with it, if you are a
sportsman for some kind of hand shooting hunting maybe, are you shooting
more than 31 of anything at a time? No.
No, gun rights hate mailers who I can sense are emailing me right
now, it`s Rachel@MSNBC.com, by the way. No, you do not need 31
uninterrupted handgun bullets for any legit, non-law enforcement use of a
And so, in the wake of that massacre in Tucson, it did not seem
impossible, at least to the Pollyannas among us, it did seem impossible
that that particular detailed gun law which has expired relatively recently
might be brought back. It would have greatly lessened the harm of that one
American gun massacre. There is no compelling reason not to bring it back.
Weren`t we shocked enough by what happened in Tucson that we could
make that one little change? No. The proposed legislation by
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Senator Frank Lautenberg to fix that
tiny piece of gun law, to fix just the extended magazine ban that elapsed
in 2004 and that helped cause so much carnage in Tucson in that Safeway
parking lot, that bill went nowhere.
In the House, the bill has 111 sponsors. It was referred to the
subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, and it never got a
vote. In the Senate, it had 10 co-sponsors. It was referred to committee,
but it never got a vote. And that`s as far as it went.
Since the Tucson shooting, here`s what actually has happened in terms
of gun laws changing in the United States. In Arizona, the state
legislature there passed a bill forcing colleges to allow guns on campus
even if the campuses did not want them. Another bill would have said that
every public building in Arizona must allow guns inside. And if they
don`t, they must set up metal detectors and armed guards at the door.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed those bills. She did however
signed a new law to make the Colt`s single action army revolver, Arizona`s
official state firearm.
Around the country, gun laws only go in one direction.
In Indiana, a new law says schools, public libraries, public
transportation entities and some local hospital authorities are now
prohibited from restricting firearm possession. In Kansas, you can now
carry a concealed weapon in or on the grounds of any public or private
school property or grounds instructing kindergarten through 12th graders.
Utah passed a similar law, but decided that kindergarten wasn`t quite
young enough. The new law in Utah also allows you to bring your gun within
a thousands feet of buildings that house preschools and day care centers.
Maine now let you bring your gun into state parks. Same with North
North Carolinians may now store their firearms also in their cars, in
their parking areas outside the state capitol. North Carolina also made it
easier last year for minors to possess handguns, not miners as in coal
miners, but minors as in kids, never to young.
Ohio`s Republican legislature felt an urgent need to pass a law that
allows concealed weapon permit holders to bring their guns into restaurants
and arenas and into bars. What could possibly go wrong? Also in Ohio, if
you are a person convicted of a drug offense, you no longer have to worry
about losing ownership of your gun. You get to keep it.
And in Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed, new laws say
concealed weapon permit holders can openly carry firearms. Another new law
makes concealed carry record confidential. And county authorities can no
longer impose waiting periods on firearm sales.
And this is just partial. This is arbitrarily chosen in terms of new
gun laws since the Tucson massacre and just a random list of states.
Anywhere else you look in the country, it`s the same story. People don`t
write gun laws. The gun lobby does.
After the Trayvon Martin shooting on February 26th, the National
Rifle Association was still lobbying hard for Minnesota to adopt a law like
the Florida stand your ground law that prevented the Trayvon Martin shooter
from being arrested. The Democratic governor of Minnesota vetoed it. But
that`s a bit of a policy miracle.
After Governor Jeb Bush signed the first stand your ground bill into
law in 2005 in Florida, which you can see here with NRA lobbyist Marianne
Hammer beaming down over his shoulder as he signed it, nearly two dozen
states have followed with their own laws similar to Florida`s. And then
the NRA now wants this to be a federal law that would force this regulation
on states around the country that don`t want it.
This is generally the way that gun politics works, all the changes in
law go in the same direction. All the changes in law go toward more guns
in more places and more legal excuses for shooting people. And once one
state stakes out what used to be radical ground in terms of clearing the
way for guns and more legal excuses for shootings, as soon as one state
clears that, ground like Florida did in 2005, as soon as one state goes
there, all of the other states rush toward that newly cleared ground.
I was one of the people who thought that after Tucson, we could at
least have one tick, one tiny little tick toward regulating just the size
of the magazines for ammunition in handguns. As a tiny correction for a
nation that was legitimately shocked by the horror of what happened in
Tucson. I thought that could happen after Tucson. I was wrong. Gun law
changes go in one direction.
The Florida state senate president says now, even in the midst of the
national uproar over the Trayvon Martin shooting, and the fact that
Florida`s gun law says that shooter can`t be arrested, he says that the
Florida senate will be not reviewing the law.
Usually on policy issues like this, we say, you know, what would it
take? What you would it take to look at this issue differently? What
would it take us to shock us out of pattern we`re in? What would it take
to swing the pendulum back now that he has swung so radically far in one
direction? What would it take?
In the case of gun laws and the gun lobby, we have an answer. It
doesn`t matter. Anything could happen. It doesn`t matter.
No matter what happens in the country in terms of gun violence or how
we feel about it, there is no outcry loud enough. There is no shock or
horror that is too grave. We do not get to make these decisions about our
laws in this country.
We do not get to make the decisions about laws concerns guns. They
do. They`re the gun lobby and they decide – at least that`s how they want
it to be and at least that`s how they have had it so far.
President Obama was asked about the Trayvon Martin case today at the
White House by NBC`s Michael Viqueira. This was his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously, this is
tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. When I
think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent
in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative
that we investigate every aspect of this.
I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how
does something like this happen. And that means that we examine the laws
and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the
But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a
son, he`d look like Trayvon. And, you know, I think they are right to
expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to take this with the
seriousness it deserves and that we`re going to get to the bottom of
exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Bob Herbert, former “New York Times”
columnist. He`s now a distinguished fellow at Demos.
Bob, thank you for being here.
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: Great. Good to see you.
MADDOW: The president talking about treating this case as seriously
as it deserves to be treated. Is he talking about an assurance that the
victim being a young black man in this instant will not excuse the need for
a prosecution in this killing? Is that what he`s getting?
HERBERT: I think what he`s saying is that no matter what happens in
Florida, and you can`t – in these instances, we know we can never be sure
of what will happen, whether justice will be done, that his administration
is prepared to step in and see that justice is done in this case. I think
that`s incredibly important.
And when the president talked about when he said that if he`d a son,
he would look like Trayvon, that comes in the context of a statement in
which he said he thought that every parent in America could understand the
depth of this tremendous tragedy. So, the people on the other side who had
are trying to make political hay out of this, need to stop.
MADDOW: The comment that I saw today in terms of people criticizing
the president for making this, is from Newt Gingrich speaking on the Sean
Hannity radio program this afternoon.
He said, “What the president said in a sense is disgraceful. Is the
president that it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK
because it didn`t look like him? Trying to turn it into a racial issue is
HERBERT: I mean I just think that that`s crazy. But I think the
Republicans have been so far beyond the pale for so long now. I mean, we
probably shouldn`t be surprised at any of their nonsense.
But one of the things that strikes me is that so many folks on the
conservative side want to go out of the their way to have this not be a
race based killing. That there`s not a racial element there. I just think
that`s crazy. It`s pretty obvious that it is.
I mean, we have on the 9/11 tapes this fellow, Zimmerman, saying he
has his hand in his waistbands and he`s a black male. I mean, that is what
sets off the suspicion, the fact that he`s black.
But the other thing is, I think that, you know, there`s a danger that
we`re all over the map here and we can miss the essential points of what we
should be paying attention to. And I think that there are two essential
One is what you were talking about at the top of the program, this
insane gun violence that we have in this country. The country is saturated
with violence and saturated with guns, which is handguns in particular.
And that`s just crazy. So, that`s one point.
You know, we had, since September 11th, where we lost 3,000 people in
this terrible terror tragedy, but since then, there had been over 100,000
victims of homicide in this country, over 100,000. And the majority of
them were killed by guns. That`s one point. This insane gun violence.
The other thing that we have not paid nearly enough attention to is
the racial violence that continues in this country. There`s a tremendous
amount of it. If you look at the New York Times today and you read the
Trayvon Martin story, right beside it, on the jump page, there`s a story
about these teenagers entering a plea in Mississippi where they had run
over – they coming to Jackson, Mississippi, looking for black people to
attack. That`s sort of what they did.
And there was this fellow, 47 or 48 years old and they spotted him in
a motel parking lot and one of the kids just ran over him and deliberately
killed him with a pickup truck.
So, these are huge problems that we really need to focus on and try
not to get sidetracked by all the nonsense.
MADDOW: The question for me too whether or not, how we will engage
on the racial issue of this and whether or not this can lead to a
productive discussion about guns. So far, it shows no signs of it. But I
think that this is continuing. I think this story will continue to grip
HERBERT: I think that it can. And I think the protests are a very
hopeful sign. So, I would hope there would be some follow through on this.
MADDOW: Yes. Bob Herbert, distinguished fellow at Demos Center for
Policy and Advocacy – Bob, thanks for coming in.
HERBERT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
HERBERT: Great to see you.
MADDOW: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell cannot understand why he`s
increasingly known as the transvaginal ultrasound guy. He cannot believe
it. Why does everybody call him that? A journey into the mind of governor
ultrasound is coming up.
MADDOW: Straight ahead, we`ve got a special THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
report on how one small group of regular people are taking on some really
large powerful institutions. And I think they`ve got a really good shot at
winning. This has not been covered anywhere else. It`s exclusive to us
and it`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t leave your home because you know what?
When those companies say they have your mortgage, unless you have a lawyer
that can put his finger or her finger on that mortgage, you don`t have that
mortgage. You`re going to find they can`t find the paper up there on Wall
So, I say to the American people – you be squatters in your own
homes. Don`t you leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Existential point: you live somewhere. Maybe you live in a
city or a town or in an unincorporated area like I grew up in, but you live
somewhere. And where do you live, the land you live on, literally the
ground under your feet is owned by someone or some corporation or maybe a
One of the first things Americans did as citizens was set up public
registries to keep track of who owns which land. If you and your neighbor
disagree about a fence when he wants to build, there should be an empirical
answer as to which of you is right and where that fence can go.
And the answer to where that fence can go is in books like these.
They tell us who owns what, and how are the land in our towns is bought and
sold, how it`s mortgaged and paid for or not. This is important stuff.
And the public record is a clear thing or it should be when the system
I want you to meet Lorie Linear (ph). Lorie Linear lives in
Greensboro, North Carolina. This is her driving. Lorie showed our
producer Laura Conaway around Greensboro, North Carolina this week.
Greensboro is a town of not quite 300,000 people. It`s in central
North Carolina, sort of between Raleigh and Winston-Salem.
She drove us to her neighborhood, to one particular house where she
was friendly with the owner. You can see that it`s a normal house in a
normal neighborhood. It`s not far from the big university in town.
Lorie Linear works in real estate in this neighborhood and she says
they are going through a new round of foreclosure foreclosures. She says
there`s been actually a couple of suicides in families that have lost their
The house that Lorie wants to show us, as you can see, is boarded up
being abandoned takes a toll on a house. On the door, there`s a sign that
tells you to call the bank if you have any questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORIE LINEAR (ph): If this property is not vacant, please call your
mortgage servicer immediately. We have date, 3/19. They were just here.
This is new to me.
Please call Wells Fargo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The owner of that particular house ended up in the
newspapers last month after he got into a 15-hour stand off with police.
He was a chiropractor, by all accounts a regular guy and now you can direct
inquiries about his house to Wells Fargo. They`ve got his house now.
Stories like that grew Lorie Linear to go to Occupy Greensboro last
week. The group held a big event in the old movie theater downtown. The
big event about foreclosures, and 400 people showed up. A few of them
telling their stories about losing homes. That`s happening all over the
country, but there`s not that many places where you can talk personally
about the fact that it`s happening.
It can be not just upsetting but embarrassing. You can feel like
you`re the only one. That night last week, a couple of occupiers screened
a movie to try to explain all the foreclosures and why this is a crisis.
They are trying out new ways of explaining, new ways of acting out how the
banks wrecked the economy and document mills and forged signatures; how the
banks lured people into loans they couldn`t afford and loans that didn`t
make sense; how they traded those loans like they were casino chips.
They`re looking for new things to help the public understand what
happened when all of this hapnneed.
They`re also looking for new things to do about it here and across
the country. In Greensboro, the occupiers have started formal training for
volunteers, like Lorie Linear, to examine the documents in new
foreclosures, to look for signs that the bank has not got the right to kick
that particular family out on the street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ll be trained to seek out evidence of fraud
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If the documents don`t hold up to scrutiny, and then the
bank might not be able to foreclose or the family might at least be able to
get into a better position to negotiate an extension or a new payment plan
Already, Occupy Greensboro filled up its first fraud detection
training, 35 regular Americans, just citizens saying they are ready to dive
into records at the county clerk`s office to help some homeowner they maybe
And more North Carolina counties are asking for classes like this to.
Going after the banks by going through their participate work turns
out not to be that hard to do. Regular people can do it with a little
training. And people want to do it. It`s popular. People want to take
these trainings and learn how to do these things. It kind of makes a mix
between a geek and the save your house super hero.
And the popularity of doing this though is in part because it works.
These folks diving into bank records for science of mortgage fraud, it is
looking more and more like they may be really onto something.
This is Jeff Pigpen (ph) in his office in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He`s the elected county register of deeds, which under normal circumstances
is one of the most humble little noticed jobs in government, right?
Jeff Pigpen`s got Greensboro records going back to 1771. If you ask
him, he will pull down the old books and show them to you. All this –
look – all this documentation of who owns what signed by actual humans
using their real names and old fashioned ink in the 1700s. The records
showing who owns what going back as long as the government exists
basically. It who owns what land and who owes who money for it.
But, Jeff, this county register says he cannot be sure anymore who
owns what in Greensboro or who owes whom, or who has the right to kick
anybody out of their house and into the street for not paying. Jeff
Pigpen`s little county register office in North Carolina went back through
a few years of records and they found just for a few years, thousands of
documents filed by big banks and mortgage companies in these document mills
– thousands of documents that Jeff Pigpen says looked to him like
forgeries, like the companies that filed them just did not care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF PIGPEN (ph), COUNTY REGISTER: I can`t make up to mind as to
whether or not they`re walking over me or they`re just completely ignoring
me, you know? And both are pretty humiliating, you know? It`s just kind
of take your pick, which one is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Except that now you can sue?
PIGPEN: Yes. We can sue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Last week, Jeff Pigpen`s little county office took more than
two dozen big banks and mortgage companies to court. It`s Jeff versus Bank
of America. Jeff versus Wells Fargo.
He says they wrecked 250 years of fair dealing in his county and it`s
his job to fix it. Quote, “This lawsuit seeks to have defendants clean up
the mess they created.” That`s from paragraph one. It`s hard to put a
legal case more plainly that.
Jeff Pigpen wants a court to appoint an investigator to go through
the documents on people`s houses, to find the mistakes and to set things
right. He wants the banks to clean up the mess he says they have made for
his office. The mess they have made in his county by making a mockery of
the legal paper work that you need to prove you own something in America.
He says until the banks do that, the people of his county cannot buy
and sell property with any real confidence about who owns it. The records
he said have been that corrupted by the banks.
And he says, the families kicked out of their homes, the bank
documents that justified that, some of those documents he says may have
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIGPEN: Public recording offices are part of our democracy in rule
of law and the laws that govern them need to be respected. If you don`t
respect that, then why am I any better that Wikipedia? I mean, if that`s
the case, Wikipedia would be better than me, you know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Explain that.
PIGPEN: Well, I mean, at least on Wikipedia, you`ll have multiple
people trying to correct what`s going on and get the story right. All we
would be doing would be logging in information signed by people four to 15
different times with no verification and then people could go out and use
it. They have the legal force of Wikipedia.
Come on. It`s basically – if you don`t get public recording offices
right, you don`t get the judicial system right. I mean, if these documents
are certified for my office and used in court proceedings, if they are not
right, it`s a fraud on the court system, baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeff Pigpen says he`s already found about three dozen
foreclosures in Greensboro, three dozens, where he now considers the
documents that justified those foreclosures to be seriously in question.
Three dozen Greensboro families put out on the streets who maybe should not
What has happened in Jeff`s office, this situation with thousands of
documents that he says appear to have stuff missing or forged signature s,
this same situation quite likely exists in every county in the United
States. And if you look around, you will now see that lawsuits like there
this Greensboro one are popping up in Ohio and in Kentucky, and in
Oklahoma, and in Massachusetts, with the promises of more to come.
So far, so far, these clerks who are suing have been losing these
cases. But if these lowly clerks start winning and it looks like they
might, then this becomes a very big deal because there are thousands of
these clerks. There are thousands of counties. There are thousands of
people like Jeff Pigpen out there who have these responsibilities and take
And with the occupiers and the volunteers and the families being
foreclosed on, and the county clerks, and the courts, all going through the
records, the banks may start losing for what they did to those records. On
the way to doing what they did to what used to be our economy.
If the clerks start winning, we might start proving that the early
warnings were right like Marcy Kaptur back in the dark winter of 2009 when
she told Americans to be squatters in their own homes because while the
banks were getting rich trading and gambling on your houses, they did not
bother doing the work to prove who owned anything or who owed anything for
At the time she made, that argument from Marcy Kaptur sounded
revolutionary and impassioned. It was a manifesto from the populist
That argument is no longer fringy. Now it`s a days work in the
Greensboro County registrar`s office. Getting the basic paper work of who
owns what in this country back in good order again, like we have
prioritized since the 1700s.
The banks are scared of this. And they ought to be. They have been
trying to work out deals to avoid responsibility for what they did at the
federal level and at the state level. They are trying to get themselves
off this hook. I would too, if I were them.
But the Jeff Pigpens of the world and the Occupy Greensboros of the
world and the Lorie Linears of the word are trying to get American families
off of that hook first. And they might win on this and it`s a big deal.
MADDOW: At the quarter to midnight tonight, President Obama will get
on his helicopter, Marine One, and he will fly to Andrews Air Force Base in
Maryland. From there, President Obama will get on Air Force One and he
will fly to Seoul, South Korea, for his second big deal nuclear security
summit. There will be more than 50 heads of state and international
organizations all discusses and negotiating and arguing over how to make
nuclear terrorism less likely.
This is happening because of the speech President Obama delivered in
2009 in Prague in which he said, one, that loose – excuse me, in which he
said, one, that loose nuclear material and the threat that terrorism goes
nuclear threatens the security of every carbon base life form on planet
earth. Two, he said it`s a threat we can actually do something about.
And, three, he said we are going to do something about it.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I am announcing
a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around
the world within four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The following year, Washington, D.C. hosted the very first
nuclear security summit. The participating countries, more than 40 of
them, all agreed to the president`s four-year goal. And a couple of
countries agreed to get rid all together of their nuclear material that
could be used to make bombs.
One of those countries was the Ukraine. The other was Mexico.
Mexico agreed to work with the United States and Canada and the
International Atomic Energy Agency to get rid of all of its highly enriched
uranium. As we exclusively reported on this show this week, as of Monday,
that promise was kept. The United States upgraded Mexico`s nuclear
research facilities so it could use the kind of material that nobody can
make a bomb out of, gave them some of that safer material.
And then, the National Nuclear Security Administration packed up
Mexico`s highly enriched uranium and took it back to the United States for
lockdown and down-blending.
In the past few years, the United States has helped clean out weapons
usable uranium from six countries, from Romania, Libya, Turkey, Chile,
Serbia, and Mexico, which not even the “Associated Press” knew about when
they published this article with this headline yesterday, “U.S. says five
nations clear out five weapons grade uranium.”
Actually, it`s six countries – six, not five. Six is better than
five. Mexico, too. And six is better than five.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tomorrow`s the Republican presidential primary in the great
state of Louisiana. It`s important race in part because the front-runner
for the Republican nomination has lost every contested primary so far in
the South. He does not have the world`s toughest competition, but even
against this field, Mitt Romney has lost every contested Southern state so
He lost South Carolina, he lost Georgia. He lost Tennessee. He lost
Alabama. He lost Mississippi. And if you want to Florida as the South,
well, the part of Florida that really feels like the South, he lost there
It is very important to Republican chances in the general election
that they have no trouble at all winning the South. Not only do
Republicans expect to win the South, they don`t even expect to have to
waste too many resources competing there, right? So, Mitt Romney`s
inability to winning in the South could be a bit of an issue for the
Republican Party if they pick him as their nominee.
Now, Virginia, of course, is the most interesting part of that whole
calculation because Virginia Republicans totally screwed up their
presidential nominating contest this year so that only two of the
candidates qualified to be on the ballot. Remember, it was only Mitt
Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot in Virginia.
So, yes, technically, Mitt Romney won there, but the only person he
beat was Ron Paul. It was definitely not a test of how Mitt Romney would
do in Virginia overall.
And this is not a pointless hypothetical because in the 2008
election, John McCain lost Virginia to a guy named Barack Obama. So, Mitt
Romney has lost everywhere else in the South. We have no idea how he would
have done in an actually contested primary in Virginia.
And Virginia is a must win and might not win state for the Republican
Party. Virginia is really important. That`s why pollsters are testing how
Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney might go in Virginia in 2012.
The answer, if you are a Republican, look at that – not good.
In the latest Quinnipiac poll released this week, President Obama
beat Mitt Romney in Virginia in a general election and matchup by eight
points. But there`s yet another factor at play in Virginia , which is that
Virginia has a relatively – I`ll get back to his popularity in a moment.
Virginia at least has a governor. Virginia has a Republican governor
who seems to want to be chosen as his party`s vice presidential nominee.
He has endorsed Mr. Romney. He has been traveling around the country
stumping on behalf of Mr. Romney. He`s not shy at all talking about how
delighted and honored he would be if he were asked to be the Republican
Party`s vice presidential nominee.
Well, we already know that Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama is not a
good outcome for Republicans in Virginia in terms of a head-to-head.
But what if Mitt Romney picked Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as his
running mate. Wouldn`t that put him over the top in Virginia? Wouldn`t
that lock up Virginia for the Republicans. You want to see the Bob
McDonnell effect in Virginia?
Remember, by himself, Mitt Romney loses to Barack Obama by eight
points. Get ready for the Bob McDonnell bump. Ready. Go. Aww. Bob
McDonald has a tiny bump. A mini-bump if you will – a one-point bump.
With Bob McDonnell on the ticket, Mitt Romney still loses to Barack
Obama not by eight points, but by seven points.
Even Bob McDonnell just by himself is down in the polls. His
approval rating has dropped five points since February. It`s the lowest
his approval rating has been since Quinnipiac started polling in Virginia
The pollsters at Quinnipiac looking for an explanation for Governor
McDonnell`s approval rating drop turns to two bills that he has recently
signed into law. The forced ultrasound bill and a bill repealing the
state`s one handgun a month anti-gun running law.
They found that Virginia voters preferred the old gun law, the one a
month limit on handguns over the repeal signed by Governor McDonnell up by
a 13 point margin. They also found that the state is not happy with the
law that gave Bob McDonnell the nickname governor ultrasound. Virginia
voters disprove of the new ultrasound by a 11-point margin.
For his part, Bob McDonnell appears to be furious that everybody
keeps calling him governor ultrasound. He has been trying to argue his way
out of being held accountable for enacting the forced ultrasound law since
before even he actually signed the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were educating yourself on this bill, did
you originally not realize that it might mandate an evasive procedure.
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: You have to realize this wasn`t my
You`re so busy advocating your agenda. You don`t read every
legislator`s bill. But we can`t always help what the media decides to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bob McDonnell has been trying for weeks to distance
himself from his own decision to sign into law – this radical, unpopular
anti-abortion measure. It`s not his bill. Blame the Republicans and the
legislature. Blame the media.
Now, he would like to blame Democrats for what he did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN: Governor, you`ve gone through this with the
personhood debate and the ultrasound bill in the state of Virginia. If you
look at your Facebook page right now, there`s a feisty conversation going
In terms of – the Democrats are calling this war on women. Do
Republicans need to be – is it more careful in their language?
MCDONNELL: This war on women argument is very unfortunate. It`s
false. It`s been a political theater from the Democrats for a couple of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Political theater for the Democrats. Governor Bob
ultrasound McDonnell this week explaining to CNN`s John King that this
whole war on women thing is the political theater cooked up by the
Democrats. It has nothing to do with Republicans in Congress voting to
defund Planned Parenthood, or voting to rollback access to contraceptives
or Republican led state legislatures enacting a record number of anti-
abortion measures, or Bob McDonnell`s own decision to sign into a new law a
state-ordered medical procedure and a new 24-hour waiting period for these
dumb, dumb women seeking abortions who don`t understand what an abortion
Bob McDonnell knows that all that stuff was not invented by the
Democrats. No one made him sign the forced ultrasound bill.
But Virginia Democrats are still trying to make him pay for it. A
couple of weeks ago, Virginia Democrats sent Governor McDonnell a letter,
asking him to set aside funding for the ultrasound that he was forcing
women to get.
Governor McDonnell`s office at the time dismissed that request with a
lot of anger. No way. We are going to make women have this procedure done
to them and we`re going to make them pay for it, too.
The governor`s office responded with the Democrats` request with a
nasty statement calling it partisan and petty and accusing the Democrats of
playing political games.
But you know what? The Virginia budget does actually have to get
through the Senate. And Virginia Democrats are not giving up on this
point. The Senate is set to vote on Monday on a Democratic budget
amendment to not force Virginia women to also have to pay for the medically
unnecessary ultrasound that Bob McDonnell them to have done to them even if
they don`t want it.
Bob McDonnell wants to sadly to be done with the ultrasound bill and
he`s so mad that people won`t stop talking about it. He wanted to be able
to sign that bill into law but not have anybody notice it. Certainly, he
wanted nobody to ask him about it.
It does not work that way, governor ultrasound. Your record has a
way of following you around.
The Virginia Democratic Party put out an ad last week highlighting
Governor McDonnell`s very, very long record of anti-abortion legislation,
calling his ultrasound bill more of the same, pointing to the fact that as
a state legislature, Bob McDonnell sponsored or co-sponsored 35 bills to
restrict abortion rights.
We fact check the heck out of that actually, and it`s true, 35 bills.
You cannot be the 35 separate anti-abortion bills guy and say, hey, stop
saying that abortion is my priority. I don`t want to talk about that.
Bob McDonnell would like to be seen this election season as the ash
blonde Mitt Romney. He wants to be seen as a jobs kind of guy. A guy who
might help Mitt Romney win the South.
But you don`t get to say what you`re agenda is. People figure out
what you agenda is by watching what you do in office. And watching what
Bob McDonnell does in office is watching a culture warrior at work.
Joining us now is Mark Segraves. He`s a reporter for WTOP radio.
Governor McDonnell appears on Mark Segraves, “Ask the Governor” every
Mr. Seagraves, thank you very much for joining us. It`s nice to have
MARK SEGRAVES, WTOP RADIO: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: When Democrats first started pressing him to fund the
ultrasound mandate, to set up a system by women will not be forced to pay
for the privilege of this thing they may not want but the state is forcing
them to have, his office was really dismissive of the whole thing. But
now, it`s a real issue in the budget negotiations.
How do you think this new front is affecting the governor?
SEGRAVES: Well, he would rather talk about jobs and the economy than
talk about social issues. But he`s got to deal with this.
The general assembly is much closer to passing their budget than they
were a week ago. But now, they have to deal with this ultrasound funding
issue. I asked the governor about this on my show last month, whether he`s
upset about federally mandated unfunded mandates and I asked him what the
difference was with this, and he was very comfortable with this, pointing
out that the government often passes rules, laws, regulations that impose a
fee or a cost to taxpayers and that this was no different.
So, the Democrats tried once before to get this through, this funding
measure through. It wasn`t successful. We`ll see how it goes next week.
MADDOW: In terms of the governor`s responses to you pressing him on
this, as you know, Mark, we played a bunch of tape of you talking to him
about it, because you seem to draw him out more on this issue than a lot of
other people had been able to. Obviously, he wants to downplay the social
issues on his agenda, but when he gets asked about it by people like you
who really pressed him on it, he doesn`t go very far in advocating for this
stuff that he presumably believes in.
He did sponsor or co-sponsor 35 anti-abortion bills. He did sign
this into law. He did say he supported and would sign it before the
vaginal, the transvaginal part of the ultrasound requirement was amended.
Why won`t he defend it when pressed?
SEGRAVES: You know, he will point out that he cautioned the general
assembly, which is just turned totally Republican, Republican dominated
that they shouldn`t get two arrogant and he shouldn`t get too far ahead of
themselves with the social agendas as we`d seen that they have done. He
warned them of that last year.
And when you ask him about these bills, the gun bill, the abortion
bill, this bill, he`ll point out these weren`t his ideas and he`s got an
agenda of 100 bills for the economy and whatnot, and prefer to talk about
But when you press him, he doesn`t back way from the fact he`s always
been a staunch supporter of the pro-life agenda. He`s never waivered from
that. He maintains that he will be a defender of the pro-life position.
But when you ask him about the transvaginal or the ultrasound
requirements, that`s when he`ll start to deflect and point to the fact he
didn`t actually propose those bill, others did. At the end of the day, he
does support them. And he proves that by signing the bills.
MADDOW: Well, Mark, the polling that`s out newly him from Quinnipiac
suggests that his drop in the polls could be tied to the socially
conservative bills that despite his best efforts he`s very much tied to
because he signed them into law and because he supported them throughout
his career. Not just the ultrasound bill but also repealing the one
handgun per month.
Quinnipiac zoomed in on those. They pulled on those specifically.
They seem to have found a correlation.
Does that correlation seem reasonable to you? Do you think that is
affecting his approval ratings?
SEGRAVES: Well, certainly, if you look at the time frame alone, that
he`s enjoyed a 60-plus approval rating pretty steadily. He still is above
50 percent. And he actually gets a good approval rate, almost 50 percent
approval from Democrats in the state of Virginia.
But when you look at the slip in his numbers, as well as the bigger
slip in the general assembly`s approval numbers, they go hand in hand with
the timeline of these more socially conservative bills that have passed
about gay adoption, one gun a month and the ultrasound bill.
MADDOW: Mark Segraves, reporter for WTOP Radio, who does a damn good
interview from what I have seen of the tapes of your show – Mark, thank
you very much for joining us. It`s been really helpful to talk to you
SEGRAVES: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. Tonight, the answer to the question, does the newly
appointed head of the World Bank sometimes dress up like a robot and dance
around? The answer is obvious. But the pictures are amazing. That`s
MADDOW: Programming note: on Sunday, the day after tomorrow, I`m
very excited to be David Gregory`s guest on “Meet the Press,” which airs on
NBC on Sunday morning. I`ll be talking about this new book I`ve got coming
out, which is called “Drift,” which I`m simultaneously very proud of and a
little nervous about talking about it into the public all over the country
as it gets born into the world this week.
But there I will be – “Meet the Press,” this Sunday morning. I hope
you`ll watch. Did I mention nervous?
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: America gets to run the World Bank. It`s kind of like the
World Series, when it says world in the name but eh, it`s kind of us.
Because of the clout we have wielded in the world since the end of
the Second World War, by tradition, the United States gets to pick the
person who heads the World Bank. It does not have to happen that way, but
so far it always has. Membership has its privileges.
So, what has America done with that privilege? Well, here`s who
President George W. Bush chose to run the World Bank when he got his first
chance at it, he picked Paul Wolfowitz and that was after Iraq.
Hey, thanks for your role in getting us into the Iraq war, Paul
Wolfowitz, that was really awesome. Now you get to run a hugely important
program providing economic aid to poor people in developing companies.
Within two years, Wolfowitz was forced out in an ethics scandal.
Today, President Obama got his first chance to nominate a World Bank
president and picked somebody who literally everybody who wrote about this
today described as a surprise, or at least as an unconventional choice. He
picked the president of Dartmouth College.
And if you were among the many Googling the name Dr. Jim Yong Kim for
the first time ever today, you probably quickly read into this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: The new president of the World Bank dressing up like a robot
and rapping not all that badly about the Dartmouth College`s version of
Nice to meet you, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.
Even though Jim Kim is not exactly a household name, he is pretty
spectacularly accomplished. I`m doing all this press for my book that`s
just coming out and as part of that press I did the questionnaire that runs
on the back page of “Vanity Fair” magazine, they call it the Proust
questionnaire and they ask everybody the same question.
And one of the questions they asked everybody is: which living person
do you most admire? My answer was Paul Farmer.
Paul Farmer is a doctor who founded organization called Partners in
Health and he founded Partners in Health with Jim Yong Kim. He has
dedicated nearly his entire adult life to eradicating disease among the
poorest people in the world, beginning in the 1980s in Haiti when he was
still a medical student.
These guys have done the seemingly impossible, providing high level
health care to people everyone else in the world wrote off as a lost cause.
This year, Partners in Health is planning to open a teaching hospital in
the central plateau of Haiti.
Seriously? How did that happen? That is impossible, but there it
is, they are doing it.
Dr. Kim and Partners in Health went on to Peru, where they created
the first large scale program to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
They had phenomenal success.
Dr. Kim then figured out how to navigate the bureaucracy at the World
Health Organization so he can bring their program to 40 more countries
around the world. And then he went on to work for the WHO where he ran
another impossible program, one that would ultimately provide drug
treatment for 3 million people with AIDS in developing nations and it
So if he is approved as President Obama`s choice, this guy might get
to be in charge of a giant international pool of money called the World
Bank that`s meant to help lift people out of poverty. And knowing that is
kind of a nice way to ease into the weekend. Go, go big green indeed.
That does it for us tonight. I will see you again Sunday morning on
“Meet the Press.” Until then, enjoy prison.
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