The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/16/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
We`ve got Jane Lynch joining us this hour - very excited about that.
The Jane Lynch joining us. She`ll be here at the end of the show for what
I think will be our first-ever special edition best new thing in the world
today. Very exciting.
Also, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is going to be
joining us here this hour. And George W. Bush followed up his endorsement
of Mitt Romney yesterday with a very surprising announcement today.
That is all coming up this hour.
But we begin tonight with this – the woman of your dreams just may
have a Russian accent. Don`t take it from me. Take it from this male
order bride Web site.
All afternoon when I was prepping for this segment in my office
today, I was very worried that somebody was going to walk in the door in my
office and see with this up on my computer screen. I thought people would
think I was looking at porn.
Technically, this is not porn. This is the Web site for a marriage
See, it says so right there above the lady with the bra straps
falling down and the lady in the red, white, and blue bikini who may –
what is she doing? Is she stretching? Is that some sort of bikini yoga?
We think of the mail order bride industry as a relic of the past, but
the industry still not only exists, it has been updated for the computer
age. See, you don`t pick your bride out from the back of a magazine or a
catalog now, now you pick her out online.
This service, Encounters International, specifically markets Russian
ladies. They say Russian women are no longer the best-kept secret of the
Cold War. They advertise to American men who may want to marry these women
and thereby allow them to immigrate to this country. They advertise that
Russian women, quote, “have a different outlook on life and marriage. They
are less materialistic than their American counterparts and more family-
oriented. As wives, they desire to build a loving home, follow their
husband`s lead, and stick with the marriage, even when times get tough and
things stop being fun.”
I`m not sure exactly what they mean by “when things stop being fun,”
but one of the worrying aspects of the whole mail order bride phenomenon –
not just now, but always – is that a woman who immigrates to the United
States using a service like this can end up dependent for her immigration
status in this country on the American man to whom she has just been
married for a fee. And if that man starts beating her up, an immigrant
woman under these circumstances can kind of be trapped. I mean, you don`t
want to stay with the abusive guy who bought her hand on the Internet, but
if she leaves the abusive American husband, she also may lose the marriage
tie that was making it legal for her to be here, and she will therefore get
So, that`s the choice, right? Stay with the man who`s beating you or
To help women out of that disgusting and dangerous trap, there is a
program by which women who are being abused and whose immigration status
depends on being married to their abuser, those women can in a low-key way
without tipping off the guy who is beating them, they can apply for legal
immigration status in this country that`s unconnected to the abusive
husband. It is a special visa program under the Violence Against Women
Republicans in Washington are right to roll that back.
The Violence Against Women Act was first passed almost 20 years ago.
When he was in the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden wrote the original
bill. It passed with bipartisan support. The act was reauthorized in the
year 2000. It was reauthorized again in 2005. It has never been a
particularly controversial thing, until now.
Republicans in the Senate initially voted it down this year on a
party line vote. They gave it zero votes in committee. It finally did
pass the full Senate on a 68 to 31 vote. All 31 no votes there were all
male Republican senators. All the Republican women in the Senate voted for
it, but 31 men voted no.
But now it`s over in the House. And House Republicans are not for
it. They introduced a Republican counterproposal that undoes big portions
of the Violence Against Women Act.
Their changes, for example, would take away the anonymity from their
special visa program for beaten women, thereby advancing the important
public policy goal of alerting the abusive husbands of mail order brides if
the woman they`re beating is trying to get away there them.
Why has the Violence Against Women Act turned into this? Why have
the politics around this issue turned so much this year? After being such
a non-controversial thing for decades?
It`s because the right wing of the right wing just decided this year
they`re going to make an issue out of it. This, for example, is a letter
signed by the Family Research Council, by the Eagle Forum, by Liberty
Council, which is affiliated with the Jerry Falwell university, at which
Mitt Romney gave the commencement speech this past weekend. Also , the
Traditional Values Coalition. This is them writing to Congress to say,
don`t reauthorize if Violence Against Women Act.
As first reported by Right Wing Watch today, one of the signatories
to this letter is a former vice chair of the North Carolina Republican
Party, who himself has a felony domestic violence conviction on his record.
He got a suspended sentence of 18 months in prison after admitting to
beating his wife into the hospital, breaking her nose, breaking her toes,
breaking a piece of furniture over her back.
Police found his wife in the couple`s home on Christmas day, bleeding
from the face and suffering from other injuries. He pled guilty to felony
aggravated assault in that case. He is now one of the signatories to the
vote against the Violence Against Women Act letter, right? It`s a letter
signed by him and by all those groups that have the word “values” in their
One of the other signatories in this coalition that seems to have
persuaded Republicans to be against the Violence Against Women Act this
year is a group called SAVE, a group based in Rockville, Maryland. They
have been lobbying House Republicans to oppose the Violence Against Women
Act this year. They`ve been lobbying specifically to roll back some of the
protections for immigrant women.
The treasurer of that group, SAVE, that`s lobbying to get rid of the
advisory rule that would help mail order brides, one of the officers of
that group, the treasurer of that group, is the founder of this thing that
everybody thought was porn on my Web site all day today – the Russian mail
order bride company, which again promises that these women will follow
their husband`s lead and stick with the marriage, even when times get
And just think how much tougher you can make those times if she knows
that not sticking with the marriage means she gets deported back to Russia.
So, yes, the whole Republicans have a war on women thing, this is the
sort of thing that has given rise to that sentiment, that Republicans have
a war on women. This is how you earn a political epithet like that.
For what it`s worth, Democrats have been fighting like heck on this
issue. President Obama has personally brought this issue up multiple times
in recent weeks. The president all but promising to veto the Republican`s
rollback of the Violence Against Women Act, which passed the House today.
Vice President Biden has brought the issue up multiple times. He, of
course, wrote the first Violence Against Women Act.
One of the president`s top advisers, Valerie Jarrett, has an op-ed
out on issue today.
Nancy Pelosi has been front paging this issue in her position as the
Democrat`s leader in the House.
And today, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, a Wisconsin
Democratic congresswoman named Gwen Moore went all out, not just on the
legislation, but on what in her personal experience has convinced her that
the Violence Against Women Act is so important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN: You know, one experience that I had
that occurred to me, I thought of this morning was a time when I took a
ride with a guy I thought was a friend to go get some fried chicken. And
he decided to take a detour behind some buildings to rape me and choke me
almost to death. I was sort of seeing that little light that you often
As a woman of color, I am particularly aggrieved that this bill
ignores the special circumstances of women who are minorities, women who
are in the shadows.
Stop playing games with the lives of women! This is yet another –
they don`t want to hear us talk about it being a war on women, but this is
a direct assault on women`s lives. Three women a day die from
victimization. And I would implore my colleagues to stop playing games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The House voted on and passed the Republican rollback of the
Violence Against Women Act today, passed it on a nearly party line vote.
So that was today in this crazy war on women idea that has no basis in
You want to know what Republicans are going to do tomorrow to earn
that epithet all over again? Tomorrow, Republicans are focusing on
Washington, D.C., which, as you know s, is the seat of our nation`s
capital. It is also in its own right, a real American city. D.C. has
mayor, it has a city council, but it is not a state and it is not part of
any state, and therefore, Congress as a federal entity plays this weirdly
local role in what the city of Washington, D.C. can do with its own
As such, D.C. often bears the brunt of whatever is in political
fashion for members of Congress that year. They tend to take their highest
priority partisan issues at the federal level and impose them on the
District of Columbia against D.C.`s will.
Republicans are in control of the House right now, and what`s the
majority for Republicans this year? What`s the issue they are more focused
on making policy about that anything else across the country? That would
be the issue of abortion, abortion rights.
Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, he represents Arizona, has decided
that in his infinite Arizona wisdom, he should take it upon himself to
limit when you are allowed to get an abortion if you are a woman who lives
in Washington, D.C.
They keep doing this. House Republicans insisted last year as part
of the national budget that Washington, D.C. be blocked as a city from
using any of its own city funds to subsidize any abortion services. Not
federal money, but the city`s own money, they`re not allowed to decide what
to do with it.
Congress is likely this year to force a ban on local funding for
abortion as a condition of D.C. getting some say in its own budget. And
now Republican Congressman Trent Franks has a standalone bill that he`s
holding a hearing on tomorrow, about the federal government stepping in to
an imposed new limits on abortion rights for women who live in Washington,
Why should a guy from Arizona be legislating what happens in this
little city that`s between Maryland and Virginia? Jobs, jobs, jobs?
I have no idea why Trent Franks think he was sent to Congress to
impose on a city he does not represent, rules that that city does not want.
But he seems very confident in it. He seems so confident in it, in fact
that he is not allowing the member of Congress who represents Washington,
D.C. to have a say in this matter.
Actually, she`s not allowed to vote, so she definitely doesn`t get to
have a say in this matter, but he won`t even let her comment on it. He
won`t even allow her to be heard. Trent Franks, Republican congressman
from Arizona, is holding a hearing on his anti-abortion bill that targets
The representative from D.C., Eleanor Holmes Norton, has asked to
speak at that hearing, since it is a hearing only about her city, the
answer from House Republicans is, no, it is about Washington, D.C., but the
views of the elected representative from D.C. are not welcome. Not when
the guys are busy talking about abortion. Job, jobs, jobs.
Joining us now is Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington,
Congresswoman, thank you very much for being here. I really
appreciate your time tonight.
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: Of course, Rachel.
MADDOW: You asked to be allowed to hear to testify at this hearing
on a bill that specifically targeting your district and you were refused.
Is there precedent for allowing a member from an opposing market to
speak on legislation that affects his or her district?
NORTON: Abundant precedent.
Rachel, when there is a bill, a bill affecting a country, but you
want to speak on the bill, perhaps you were a cosponsor, maybe one of 10
cosponsors, you get to speak on the bill for any of the really relevant
Here, you have a bill that affects only my district, no other
districts in the United States, which singles out the residents of the
District of Columbia and say, you women will not be subject to the
constitutional mandate of Roe versus Wade. You alone can have an abortion
only until 20 weeks. By the way, don`t talk to us about how this violates
the 14th Amendment as well, which treats you differently from women in
other states. Not only are we going to try to impose that on you, but we
don`t want to hear from the only voice you have in the House, you have no
voice in the Senate, we shut her up, so we don`t hear from D.C. residents
Fortunately, we do have a young woman who has gone through this
experience who has a very relevant story to show. But nobody who can speak
for, who has been elected by the representatives of the District of
Columbia, an all-male panel will hear why they should have their Roe versus
Wade with rights differentiated from those of every other woman in the
MADDOW: Congressman Franks has prioritized the issue of abortion
legislation in his career. In this case, he`s specifically going after
D.C., but he has pushed anti-abortion legislation every time he has the
Why do you think something targeting your district, targeting
Washington, D.C., is important to Republicans this year? Important to
somebody who has this as a national agenda?
NORTON: Rachel, we pointed out to him that his own district allowed
abortions after 20 weeks, so he quickly got somebody to introduce a bill
there. I don`t know if it`s passed yet.
But there`s one and only one reason why he targets the District of
Columbia. It`s such a principled matter, Rachel. Why wouldn`t he want
this principle to apply to every district in the United States?
This is a straight-out cowardly case of bullying. Because the
Congress has somewhat more jurisdiction over the district than others,
because he doesn`t have the nerve to try to paste this on the United States
of America, he`s trying to make it his ideological point by going, like a
big bully, at the only residents who don`t have a voting member – yes, I
vote in committee, but no voting member in the final vote, and has no
senators to protect the district.
That`s why he`s doing it. A straight-up gang-up on the most
disempowered district in the United States of America.
But let me tell you something about us, we know how to fight back.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat of Washington,
D.C. – I have absolutely no doubt about that last point you just made.
Ma`am, thank you very much for talking to us tonight. Good luck tomorrow
when I know this hearing is going to be convened. Good luck.
NORTON: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right, still ahead, Jane Lynch is here tonight. Also, Richard
Engel is here tonight. And no, I did not find them in the same place.
MADDOW: So, what happens when NBC`s chief foreign correspondent, my
friend, Richard Engel, e-mails me in the morning and tells me he has news
that he really, really, really wants to talk about on the show? At some
point that night, I say to you, just ahead, we`re going to have Richard
Engel ahead on the show. That`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHRISTINE O`DONNELL (R), FORMER DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m
not a witch.
American scientific companies are crossbreeding humans and animals,
and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.
REPORTER: Why should we vote for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should you vote for me? Because I do not
wear high heels.
REPORTER: How do you feel about abortion? Are you for abortion,
against abortion? If you`re for it, in what instances would you allow for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am pro-life and I`ll answer the next question.
I don`t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest.
SHARRON ANGLE (R), FORMER NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m hoping
that we`re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will
be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Those were all candidates from the 2010 election cycle.
This was the open carry armed contingent of Alaska Republican Joe Miller
supporters in 2010. Joe Miller was the Republican candidate for Senate in
Alaska in 2010. He lost.
Republicans were really, really, really confident heading into that
last election cycle in 2010. They knew they were going to win big all
across the country. But candidate “I am not a witch” and candidate `I
don`t wear high heels” and candidate “Second Amendment remedies” – those
candidates did not win.
No matter how bright red or bright blue one particular election is,
candidates do matter. Not just parties, but candidates matter. And in
some of the key races in 2010, Republicans, you know, frankly just picked
badly when they picked their candidates. They had more electable, more
moderate candidates available, but they rejected them in favor of the
Sharon Angles of the world.
And the consequence of that for the Republicans was that no matter
how red the election of 2010 was across the country, especially in
Congress, no matter how red the results were overall – well, for example,
Democrats kept the Senate. That`s what happened in 2010.
Is that now happening again?
In Nebraska last night, an avalanche of right-wing money against the
establishment front-runner, money from the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks
and Jim DeMint`s PAC thing, an avalanche of right-wing money destroyed the
front running Senate Republican candidate in Nebraska, the state attorney
general. Had the front-runner won, Democrats were frankly all but writing
off any chance of keeping Senator Ben Nelson`s seat in the Democratic
But since that tide of right-wing money took out the guy that
everybody expected to win, the race is now going to be former Democratic
senator and governor, Bob Kerry, against a Republican state senator
nobody`s ever heard of, who`s never won a statewide race. And that
Nebraska Senate seat staying Democratic is now much, much, much more
plausible than it was even 24 hours ago.
The same thing happened in Indiana new days ago, with Senator Dick
Lugar running for re-election in Indiana. That seat was with essentially a
100 percent sure bet to remain Republican. But Dick Lugar will not be on
the ballot this fall. Instead, the Republican line will be held down by a
hard-core Tea Party challenger who beat Dick Lugar in the primary. He`s a
guy who already ran for Congress three times. He has lost three times.
So, now, Dick Lugar`s reliably 100 percent definitely Republican seat
might not actually turn blue.
Are we watching a replay of the Christine O`Donnell, Ken Buck,
Sharron Angle, great Republican botch of 2010? Is this the sequel? We
won`t know until election night in November, but we`re going to know a
little bit more in a few days.
On Friday, Connecticut Republicans will be picking their Senate at
their state convention. Their choices are the moderate, well-known former
Congressman Chris Shays who looked strong in the polling for the polling or
wrestling executive Linda McMahon, who won the nomination in 2010 and then
spent $50 million of her own money, trying to win a Senate seat in 2010 and
she lost, even in that super Republican year.
So, we will see if Connecticut keeps up the trend of what Dick Lugar
is calling the purification process in these Republican primaries. I think
it`s a process that must feel great to the Republicans, because they keep
But so far, in 2012, just like in 2010, it means that the Democrats
are starting to look like they will have a chance of holding on to the
Senate in November. That is something that nobody thought the Democrats
could do until a few months ago, without this unexpected windfall they have
had from the Republican primaries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s start with your laugh.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I live for
laughter. I mean –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It isn`t working. It`s inert. It just doesn`t
come across as genuine. Worst of all, it`s mirthless, which is to say that
while you expect us to be amused, you`re not the least bit amused yourself.
I`ve advised people who are watching you to freeze the frame and then
put their hands over the lower part of your face and look at your eyes.
There`s no pleasure there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The legendary James Lipton at the Web site of “New York”
magazine, offering acting tips to Republican presidential candidate, Mitt
Running for president is partly introducing yourself to the country,
explaining what you would do if elected. But it is also sort of a way of
modeling appropriate behavior as a leader, showing the country how you
think a leader should behave. We scrutinize every nuance from these guys,
because the way a politician behaves on the campaign trail is, in essence,
a lesson they are teaching the country about how they think authority
figures should behave in our country.
Tonight on this show, we are about to hear from the person who is the
most opposite of that in our American culture, the actor who has made a
career modeling very bad behavior by authority figures.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JANE LYNCH, ACTRESS: Don`t you sass me. What, do you think, I`m a
pushover? You know what I used to eat for breakfast? Cocaine. You know
what I used to eat for lunch? Cocaine.
I`m very discreet, but I`ll haunt your dreams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
You know how I feel about hats. Just cause none of you should be
making eye contact with me. Get out! Go! Get used to this abuse, glee
kids, I got nothing but time. Nothing but time.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Jane Lynch as counselor, as boss, as cheerleading coach –
America`s favorite authority figure/anti-role model. How not to behave if
you`re in charge of something. Jane Lynch is here tonight to do a special
edition of the best new thing in the world and we`re all really excited.
That`s coming up.
MADDOW: “Reuters” has a new poll of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
It shows that those veterans and their families favor President Obama over
Mitt Romney in the presidential election by seven points.
Same poll shows that by a 10-point margin, Iraq and Afghanistan
veterans and their families think that we should get out of Afghanistan.
This is the St. Louis, Missouri, parade that was held in January to
mark the end of the Iraq war – to say welcome home and thank you to the
troops who fought in Iraq.
This weekend, there`ll be two more of these parades, one in Richmond,
Virginia, and one in Kansas City, Missouri. If you are in driving distance
of either city, each parade is plan for Saturday. In Virginia, it starts
at 10:00 a.m., in downtown Richmond. That`s the boulevard. The parade
ends at Bird Park in Richmond with a resource village to help hook veterans
up with job opportunities.
In Kansas City, Missouri, the parade is also on Saturday at 10:00
a.m. everybody`s welcome. They`re expecting thousands of veterans. It
starts at Grand Boulevard and Pershing downtown, not too far from the train
station in Kansas City. They`re going to walk the parade route and it too
will end up with a resource village for these post-9/11 vets.
So, again, that`s Kansas City, Missouri, and Richmond, Virginia, this
weekend, Saturday at 10:00. You could go. This is something for civilians
to do. It`s been civilians, regular folks like you who have organized
these parades to mark the fact that our war in Iraq is over after 8 1/2
years and to say welcome home and thank you to the troops who went there in
Meanwhile, there is some big news that has just broken on our war
that is still ongoing in Afghanistan. This is a politics story, but it is
also really important logistic news about how exactly we are going to
extract ourselves from that country.
Joining us now to explain is NBC News chief foreign correspondent,
Richard, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It`s great to
be here. Thank you.
We haven`t done this enough, but we should do this more.
MADDOW: Well, you`re not here enough, but we should.
ENGEL: It`s not just a logistics story; it`s a story that`s
revealing about bilateral relations. It`s about pressure, and it`s about
ENGEL: And Afghanistan, as you mentioned, we still have about
100,000 troops there, they`re supposed to be there for the next two years.
But starting now, the drawdown is under way and it`s going to be picking
up. So how do you get out of that country?
MADDOW: It`s landlocked.
ENGEL: It`s landlocked. It`s in Central Asia. It is high in the
mountains, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
MADDOW: It`s right next to Iran, which we can`t go through by any
So, for the entire – most of the war, almost all of the supplies
have gone through Pakistan. But six months ago, Pakistan closed its
border. There was a very ugly incident. The two country`s relations,
U.S.-Pakistan has been bad since Osama bin Laden was found hiding in
Pakistan. Then there was an incident when the U.S. troops killed 24
Pakistanis and the Pakistanis closed the border.
We`ve learned that very soon, tomorrow, the next day, Pakistan is
going to announce that it will reopen its border to allow two-way traffic,
supplies to go into Afghanistan and supplies and troops to leave. So it
will become a two-way highway, a very, very important supply route –
because for the last six months, helicopters, planes have been flying out
vehicles. Think about trying to empty a lake with a spoon.
ENGEL: How long it takes, how expensive it is, and all of the other
people we`ve had to pay kickbacks to and things like that. But it comes
with a big price.
MADDOW: Literally, a big price.
ENGEL: Literally a big price.
MADDOW: They`re charging us to do this.
ENGEL: A million dollars a day. So that`s roughly the figure that
Pakistan is going to ask for, for use of its roads.
MADDOW: Wow – do we know –
ENGEL: And there`s more. There`s another $1 billion I`ll get to in
MADDOW: Do we know enough about the comparative cost of shipping
stuff overland through Pakistan, which is the cheaper way to move heavy
equipment, is it $365 million a year cheaper, since that`s we`re going to
be paying in addition to the –
ENGEL: We don`t really know what the costs are right now. There are
– the route in from – because Pakistan does have a border. There`s a
port. So you can get from Karachi on a boat, you drive and it`s about 500
miles until you get to Afghanistan. So it`s not that long, and the other
way, you get from Afghanistan, you drive through the Khyber Pass and get
down to the port and you can put your goods on a ship and ship them out.
So even at $1 million a day, it`s cheaper than flying them to Central
Asia, than driving them across Central Asia to the Black Sea, which then
has to go all the way around the world to get back here. And that`s like a
6,000 mile trade route. So this is cheaper.
MADDOW: What`s the extra billion dollars?
ENGEL: OK. The extra $1 billion is not directly linked to this, but
it`s a de facto link. This is what`s going to happen. Pakistan, which
wants the $1 million for use of the roads, because it says having all these
vehicles going across the roads is wear and tear on the roads. It comes
out to about $1,600 to $1,800 per vehicle.
ENGEL: And that`s a heavy toll. The $1.1 billion more is for
something else, which is going to get settled. Pakistan says the United
States owes several billion dollars for past services rendered in the war
ENGEL: There is a deal between the U.S. and Pakistan that says the
U.S. pays for Pakistan`s contribution in what is still in Pakistan called
the war on terrorism. So, if Pakistan moves troops to help set up a
blocking position across the border from Afghanistan, the helicopter fuel
and whatever wear and tear there is on those vehicles is covered by the
United States. And that`s an agreement that`s been in place for a long
And Pakistan puts – gives us receipts and we`re supposed to
reimburse them. Well, since bin Laden was found, hiding in Pakistan, the
United States hasn`t been paying those bills. And now that these deals are
going to come and once this gets announced, which I think will be quite
soon, we`re going to have to pay those back.
ENGEL: Services rendered fee for the global war on terrorism. So
it`s going to be $1 million a day plus around $1.1 billion.
And the toll – the tab is still running on those services rendered,
by the way.
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel – now,
when everybody hears, like, oh, there`s this NATO meeting in Chicago and
the president of Pakistan is going to be there, he`s not in NATO, now we`ll
ENGEL: The 20th to the 21st is that NATO meeting in Chicago, the
idea is to have this happen and the border trucks flowing in time when they
show up to the NATO meeting, what are you talking about? Everything`s
great, the trucks are already moving. It may not be possible, but that`s
MADDOW: Richard, thank you. Richard Engel, NBC`s chief foreign
correspondent. We will be right back.
MADDOW: Jane Lynch and a special edition of the best new thing in
the world, coming up.
MADDOW: It is now day two of this new era in the presidential
campaign. What new era in the presidential campaign? Well, quoting
verbatim from ABC News yesterday, “Mitt Romney has the support of George W.
Bush.” “I`m for Mitt Romney,” Bush told ABC News yesterday as the doors of
an elevator closed on him,” end quote.
Yesterday was the day that George W. Bush officially endorsed Mitt
Romney for president, as quietly as possible. I`m sure this is just some
kind of oversight, but these are the Romney campaign`s press releases from
today and a press release about the big George W. Bush endorsement is not
among them. By way of contrast, the Romney campaign did put out a press
release to celebrate their endorsement from the “I am not a witch”
candidate who lost her Senate race by 17 points, but they are not press
releasing their endorsement from the last president of the United States.
Mitt Romney was out campaigning today in St. Petersburg, Florida.
See if you can pick up on the very specific word choice he uses in this
particular part of his stump speech attacking President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: He was very critical of his predecessor for the debts the
predecessor put in place. He was very critical of his predecessor, because
the predecessor put together $4 trillion of debt over eight years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The predecessor is not that easy to pronounce. It is not
really that easy to pronounce four times in 10 seconds. But thou must not
speaketh his name. When reporters started asking the Romney campaign today
what role they envisioned in the campaign for George W. Bush, what role the
predecessor, the previous Republican president might play in this year`s
Republican race, they were told by Republicans close to the Romney campaign
that, quote, “There are no plans to use Bush in a significant way.”
Republicans are really intent right now on claiming that George W.
Bush will not factor into this the year`s presidential race, whatsoever.
He`s not even involved in politics anymore.
Here`s what former Bush aide Steve Schmidt told us about that last
night on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER BUSH AIDE: George W. Bush has a traditionalist
approach to this. He`s really retired from political life. You know, he
is out of the combat and conflict of day-to-day politics. You know, as
someone who worked in the administration and worked on the campaign, you
know, the Bush alumni network, you know, we all enjoy getting the Facebook
pictures of him with wounded warriors out, you know, on bike rides, running
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He`s retired from political life, he is out of the day-to-
day combat of politics. I understand why that is what Republicans want
from President George W. Bush. But that is not actually what`s going on.
Just last month, for example, here`s George W. Bush arguing very
publicly that President Obama should approve the Keystone tar sands oil
Here`s George W. Bush in Washington, D.C., just yesterday, advocating
for how the U.S. should proceed on foreign policy matters when it comes to
the Arab Spring. Oh, but wait, there`s more.
As “The New York Times” noted in covering what George W. Bush thinks
about foreign events, quote, “two months from now, President Bush plans to
publish a book.” Really, what kind of book? “A book outlining strategies
for economic growth.”
Not only is that not retired, that`s amazing. I mean, George W. Bush
has lessons to offer on the economy. Lest we forget, this was your economy
on George W. Bush.
The first line there is household income in the 1980s, then household
income in the `90s, and there`s household income under George W. Bush,
Here`s poverty going down in the `80s, going down in the `90s, and
here`s poverty going up under President George W. Bush. Here`s job growth
in the `80s, here`s job growth in the `90s, and here`s job growth under
George W. Bush.
Oh, wise, economic master, please share with us your secrets.
Republicans may want George W. Bush to disappear from public life, like he
did behind those elevator doors in the seconds after he endorsed Mitt
But he is not going away. He has a book of economic advice coming
out right before the election. Maybe the Romney campaign will get really
lucky and George W. Bush will start a lecture series on, what, avoiding
unnecessary wars? Maybe hurricane preparedness?
George W. Bush is getting back into politics, ladies and gentlemen,
on the side of Mitt Romney and in time for the presidential election. That
sound you hear is Democrats across America throwing open their front doors
and running into the streets, jubilant, looking for somebody to high five.
LYNCH: The best new thing in the world today is a growth opportunity
for Republican political strategist, a lucrative source of revenue just
waiting to be tapped. Now I, Jane Lynch, am not normally one to give
career advice to Republicans, but guys and gals, there`s money to be made
on promoting gay rights within the Republican Party.
You see, the de facto head of the Republican Party, one Willard Mitt
Romney has taken a strong position on the side of the gay rights debate,
that if your politician is getting to be on the side you don`t much want to
be on. But the rest of his party may be about to evolve around him.
This weekend a respective Republican pollster, one who helped
President George W. Bush win re-election, wrote a memo, basically saying
guys, I`ve got a lot of polling here, and the gay marriage thing is getting
kind of popular. And he suggested that Republicans might want to change
the way they talk about stuff, like gay marriage. Maybe start saying that
support for gay marriage is consistent with, quote, “conservative
As people who promote personal responsibility, family values,
commitment and stability and emphasize freedom and limited government, we
have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes
the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your
choosing – the freedom to live without the interference of the regulatory
force of the government.
Folks, that`s a Republican telling Republicans to reframe gay rights
– to make equality under the law sound like a conservative principle,
which it is. He may be one of the first to do it, but he won`t be the
But, Jane Lynch, you ask, where is the job opportunity in all of
this? After all, we Republicans are all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Well,
here it is. Someone is going to have to teach Republicans to talk about
gay rights, without seeming like they`ve caved to the Democrats. Some
strategists are going to have to make it their specialty to teach
Republicans how do be pro gay while still sounding angry. That`s a very
tall order, but the good news is, you can charge more money.
Republicans are trying to figure out how to lose gracefully – the
best new thing in the world today.
MADDOW: Jane Lynch, you`re the best new thing in the world today.
LYNCH: Oh, thank you so much.
MADDOW: When you said folks – do I do that?
LYNCH: You do, I was mocking you.
MADDOW: Yes, I felt it – I felt it in a very painful way. Thank
you for doing the best new thing in the world.
LYNCH: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: It`s weird I`m in the guest chair.
LYNCH: I know. How does it feel?
MADDOW: Subservient, but in a good way.
LYNCH: I`m up a little higher and this is the better side of my
face. I`m really happy.
MADDOW: Do you want to be a cable news host ever?
LYNCH: I would love to play one.
LYNCH: I don`t know that I would want to do it day in and day out.
I know how much you work and how you have to have your finger on the pulse
and all that. But I`m a political junkie. But yes, I`d love to play one.
MADDOW: When we asked you, you had a Republican pollster memo in
mind for what you wanted to do.
MADDOW: The thing about the subject of what you just talked about
that I think is interesting is that this is something – I mean, you are
out. You are Sue Sylvester on “Glee.” You`ve written the book “Happy
Accidents,” in which you talk about you`re coming out story and your family
and all these other personal things, and we are in a moment when the
politics of gay rights are rapidly, rapidly changing the country.
LYNCH: I know. Fast. Really fast.
You know, it`s an issue that I have not really taken personally so
much. I mean, it`s something that I watch on television with great
interest. I have a stake in it. I`ve got skin in the game.
But when the president came out and said that he supported the
dignity of our families and our relationships – that really moved me.
That really touched me for the first time. And I realized I had been kind
of distanced emotionally from it. But that really broke it open for me.
It made me very, very happy.
MADDOW: See, I felt like – that was one of the things that covering
it as a gay person, thinking about it as a gay person and covering it as a
gay person in the news, I felt like half of me had to have a talk with the
MADDOW: Because in the one pundit world, the way that that was
responded to and the way that way that people are still talking about in
pundit world, in politics world, is well how many people are there who
agree with the president, it`s going to help it with him? How many people
disagree, it`s going to hurt him with them?
And the gay part of me, sort of human part of me wants to explain,
you know what, the big issue here is not who already agrees or disagrees
with him, but who is changing their mind? Who`s persuadable? And is he
going to persuade anybody? Does this change history?
LYNCH: Yes, I don`t know if it changes history. I don`t know if it
was just political calculus on his part. But I think he really believes in
the dignity of our relationships and our right to exist.
But I think there are people we`re not going to get. And that`s
fine. And probably not in this lifetime, and that`s fine. But I think
there are changeable folks. And I think a lot of people change when
they`re in the presence of one of us. They get to know us, and they get to
know our family.
And I think that`s – you know, that`s why I think being out for me,
anyway, is important, and, you know, allowing myself to, you know, appear
in public with my family and not hiding about it. I think that`s really
I have a sound bite from before President Obama came out and said
what he did. A few days before that, Vice President Biden, God bless him,
on “Meet the Press.”
MADDOW: To everybody`s surprise started talking about how he was all
in favor of same sex marriage. But he mentioned, he hit a pop culture TV
touchstone while he was explaining it. Guys, can we play that sound bite?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is evolving and
my measure, David, and I take a look at when things really begin to change
is when the social culture changes. I think “Will and Grace” probably did
more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever
done so far. And I think that people fear that which is different. Now
they`re beginning to understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As a person who is part of the phenomenon that is “Glee” on
TV – how do you think it felt to the “Will and Grace” people to be
mentioned in that context?
LYNCH: I`m all for them. And I`m sure they`re absolutely thrilled
about it. When they first did that show and NBC sat them down and said,
this could possibly turn into a huge thing and you might be threatened. It
might get ugly. It never happened. Never happened.
And these are flawed characters. They`re funny. You laugh at them.
You want to go in the apartment every – whatever night it was on, Thursday
night, and hang out with them. And I think that that does change a lot.
Like Biden said, you have to put us out in the culture and see who we are.
And if we`re flawed, it has nothing to do with our orientation. It`s
because we`re flawed.
MADDOW: Full human beings.
LYNCH: Full human beings.
LYNCH: Aren`t we?
MADDOW: I wonder if you think there`s an extension. You were saying
as people know more gay people, as people come out, that tends to sort
soften very hard attitudes. Is there an extension that as people are
exposed to the reality of gay lives, through culture, through TV, through
theater, whatever it is, that it also has that effect?
LYNCH: Absolutely. People tied to this their televisions. People
come up to me like they know me because I appear on their television.
MADDOW: They want you to believe them.
LYNCH: Say something mean to me. They think we`re they`re friends.
So we do befriend the people on our television, so I think it`s
really great like Ryan Murphy, the creator of our shoe takes this very
seriously. That`s why he has every flavor of kid in the “Glee” club. He
wants every kid who watches to have somebody that they can point to and go,
that`s me. And, look, I`m being supported. I`m in a place where people
have my back, and I get to raise my voice in song.
MADDOW: Yes. You know, I always felt like one of the things that I
would always try to explain to people about like what I learned from junior
high and high school is that popularity in junior high and high school
doesn`t buy you anything in later life. And then I hear really you ought
to look for the kids who are – like the dorkier you are at those important
ages, the cooler you are probably going to be as an adult. It`s not always
true. But that`s what I observe.
LYNCH: I think if you`re being dorky or what is perceived geeky,
it`s because it is a geeky/dorky time in your life. So, you`re being
LYNCH: You`re being yourself. You`re not trying to be something
How many junior high or high school stars have we heard about who
have just failed as adulthoods because they really haven`t gone through
that. They haven`t gotten to know their true self.
MADDOW: Yes, I sort of feel like I`m waiting to meet my true self.
LYNCH: I`m looking at her and she`s great.
MADDOW: It`s going to be in a dark alley and there`s going to be a
fight when it happens. One last question for you about politics.
LYNCH: Sure. Yes.
MADDOW: And that is, at the same time that we`ve been seeing this
transformation in the Democratic Party, the president completing his
evolution and all these different things, on the right, in the Republican
Party – Mitt Romney has actually gone the other direction in his stance on
gay rights. When he ran for Senate, he said he would be to the left of Ted
LYNCH: Left of Ted Kennedy, yes.
MADDOW: And now, he`s not only against equal marriage rights. He`s
against civil unions. And –
LYNCH: Even us talking together right now, he`s probably against
MADDOW: Yes. That`s exactly right. It`s probably illegal
somewhere, and he supports that state`s right to make it that way. I don`t
– I understand how people evolve on this issue. It`s hard for me to
understand how people devolve.
LYNCH: Devolve, yes. I don`t think you do devolve on this issue. I
don`t buy it. I don`t think it`s genuine. I think it`s politically
MADDOW: Mitt Romney?
LYNCH: Mitt Romney politically calculated. I think deep down
inside, yes, I think there`s a little bit of calculus going on with him.
MADDOW: Well, if he wants to come on the show or talk to me, or fake
me, which is you about that, that would be awesome.
LYNCH: I would love that.
MADDOW: Jane Lynch, I should say the finale of “Glee” airs next
Tuesday night on FOX. And the new book, which is awesome “Happy Accidents”
with a forward by Carol Burnett, which is really great, is now on
Jane, thank you very much.
LYNCH: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: And any time you want to do the show. I can get an $11
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for the “THE
LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night.
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