The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/04/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
Amazing broadcast from the heart of this.
Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us for the next hour.
All right. Online, when you are on line, you can never really be sure
that somebody is who they say they are, right? When you`re online, say
when you`re on Twitter or something, it can be pretty easy to just grab
somebody else`s name and type away as if you were a person who you are not.
For a while, people tried to fix this problem online just by insisting
that they were who they said they were. You may remember the basketball
player Shaquille O`Neal when he was one of the early celebrity adopters of
twitter, and he picked as his Twitter name The Real Shaq. You could follow
The Real Shaq. And if you`re lucky, you might end up getting free tickets
from him at the mall if he tweeted, if you were the first to go on the mall
and find him.
Maybe you couldn`t believe it at first, but The Real Shaq on Twitter
was, in fact, the real Shaq, IRL, in real life.
Shaquille O`Neal has since switched to just being plain Shaq on
Twitter. I think that maybe because it used to work to call yourself the
real something, it turns out that now just saying you`re the real you
doesn`t necessarily prove anything anymore.
Consider, for instance, the real Romney. That`s another Twitter
account that`s live right now. Even though it has Mitt Romney`s picture on
it and Mitt Romney`s name and it says the real Romney, the real Romney is
The presumed Republican nominee is not, for example, tweeting about
who let the dogs out. This is satire. The joke depends on you being smart
enough to catch on, and it`s funnier because it says, I`m real, I`m real,
when it`s plainly not real.
So, when people say they are the authentic something online now, when
people call themselves real online now, are we at the point where that can
be an authentic assertion or is it always a joke now, is it always ironic?
It`s important in practical terms sometimes. For example, to cover a
recent political story, a couple of producers on this TV show spend a good
part of a day trying to figure out how real this YouTube account was.
Rebecca for Real, it`s called. It says real in that it`s Rebecca for Real,
but it`s also kind of unbelievable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA KLEEFISCH (R), WISCONSIN LT. GOVERNOR: Hi to listeners.
Rebecca Kleefisch here. I`m in the global warming today poisoning the
world with my breath. No, it doesn`t stink, I brushed. I`m not talking
about that. I`m talking about the fact that the EPA says what I breathe
out is poison to the world.
I was on my way home when I saw these two turkeys fighting for real.
One has his whole face stuck down the other`s throat like he was trying to
eat the life out of him. It reminded me of the government trying to
swallow every dollar it can.
But then I thought maybe the fighting turkeys were more like Barack
Obama and Nancy Pelosi, at odds over whether to give tax breaks to
businesses that create new jobs. That`s one to fight over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So it turns out that YouTube account. It is the YouTube for
Wisconsin`s real lieutenant governor, global warming doubter, turkey fight
enthusiast and Republican TV anchor who once compared same sex marriage to
marrying a table, a clock and a dog. Serially? Not I don`t think
polygamous. I think you get to marry the table, then you get divorced,
then you marry the clock, then you get divorced, then you marry the dog.
She later apologized for having said but her own uncle said he did not
believe her apology and he donated $500 to the Democrats running against
her in protest of her comments and the apology he did not believe. Rebecca
Kleefisch is one of the amazing people in the middle of this drama in
Wisconsin who still has somehow avoided becoming a household name even as
the craziness of that state`s politics has attracted a white hot national
The recall elections happening in Wisconsin tomorrow are not just
going to decide the fate of Governor Scott Walker. They will also decide
the fate of the state`s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch. Miss
Kleefisch is up in the recall of this man, Democrat Mahlon Mitchell. He`s
a firefighter in the city of Madison. He`s the president of the Wisconsin
Only slightly less obscure than Rebecca for Real Kleefisch is another
key figure whose fate is going to be decided tomorrow. He`s the State
Senate Republican leader, his name is Scott Fitzgerald, and another amazing
Wisconsin character. So, Scott Fitzgerald, this guy, is the top Republican
in the Senate – this guy who doesn`t look much like him, trust me, is his
brother. His brother is the top Republican in the state assembly.
So when Republicans cleaned up in the 2010 elections, the brothers
took over. Scott Fitzgerald took over the Senate, and his brother took
over the assembly. A month into that arrangement, their father, Steve
Fitzgerald, got this wonderful new job as head of the Wisconsin state
patrol. Huh, I wonder who else interviewed?
Tomorrow, Scott Fitzgerald is one of the four Republicans in the
Senate who is going to be up for recall. His recall election, it`s
important for a number of reasons. It comes with emotional as well as
pragmatic consequences for Wisconsin. One, and most obviously, he is the
top Republican in the state senate and his brother is top Republican in the
Two, his opponent, a Democrat named Lori Compas has become something
of a hero for the Wisconsin recall movement for the way she has essentially
boot-strapped the whole recall shebang.
But third, at the start of this fight, when Wisconsin Republicans
announced that they were going to strip union rights in the state, Scott
Fitzgerald, the state senator who is up for recall tomorrow, he was the one
Republican who had the guts to go on FOX News at the time and let the cat
out of the bag about why Republicans really wanted to destroy the unions
and why it was so important to them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R), WISCONSIN: If we witness battle and
the money is not there under the auspices of the union, certainly what
you`re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much more
difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If we strip union rights and kill the unions, President Obama
will have a much more difficult time winning Wisconsin. That`s the Senate
majority leader Scott Fitzgerald and that`s what he said in the middle of
the fight to get rid of union rights in Wisconsin.
He said that in the middle of the fight last spring, letting the cat
out of the bag. Cat, you are free to go.
People wonder why Wisconsin has been getting so much national
attention. I mean, lots of states have internal warfare, right? Why has
Wisconsin had so much national attention?
Part of it is that in the union stripping fight and in the recalls,
you can really see what Republicans nationwide want to accomplish. It`s
not just theoretical where Republicans are in charge. What do they want to
do and why? In Wisconsin, it is on bright lights display.
Also you can see Democrats trying out strategies for stopping them.
So there is a sort of microcosm aspect of what`s going on in Wisconsin
that makes it worthy of national attention. Also, in Wisconsin, and I
don`t think this can be overstated, this is a very human fight.
And there are all of these fantastic characters in Wisconsin state
politics. And I don`t just mean fantastic at the audacious end of the
scale. I mean, consider longtime Senator Dale Schultz. He is an amazing
Wisconsin character of a totally different kind.
Dale Schultz is a Republican. He has been either in the state senate
or the state assembly since the 1980s. But being a Republican has never
been the most important thing about him as a politician.
Senator Schultz does vote Republican on a lot of issues in the state,
but he doesn`t vote Republican on every issue. He makes a point, a
conspicuous point, about how important it is to keep an open mind and how
important it is to reach across the aisle and talk with people with whom
you disagree about some matters to find areas where you might agree.
For example, he has traveled around Wisconsin with a Democratic state
senator named Tim Colin (ph). They called it their common grounds tour,
making a point in the middle of this mess of Wisconsin polarization bout
the reason of debate and civility and common ground.
Dale Schultz is not a lock step Republican. When his party wanted to
strip union rights, he dissented. He said, no, he would not join the
otherwise united Republican front against union rights. He said on that
issue he would side with the Democrats.
This is last year when the Democrats, you may recall, fled the state
of Wisconsin to deny Republicans a quorum in the Senate. The Democrats
crossed the state line into Illinois, and for three long and riveting
weeks, they kept Republicans from passing their union stripping bill.
When finally the Democrats returned, when it seemed like Wisconsin was
having the metaphorical political equivalent of a civil war, there was Dale
Schultz astride the party divide, the lone Republican senator to vote
against the bill. Imagine the kind of will it must have taken to be that
guy at that moment in that state.
When Republicans forced through the union stripping legislation,
Wisconsin held a first round of recalls last summer. They held them on
both sides, on the Democratic side three senate seats that were held by
Democrats got put up for a vote. Democrats held onto all of those seats.
On the Republican side, there were six Republican senators who got put
up for a vote. Of those six, two of the Republicans lost their seats. And
so, it came to pass ultimately that the Republicans in Wisconsin in the
midst of this crazy fight, they lost their majority in the state senate,
the majority that they had won in the blood red election of 2010.
After a resignation earlier this year and after those recalls, the
Democrats and the Republicans are in a tie in the Wisconsin senate. And on
union rights, one of the Republicans is Senator Dale Schultz, who you just
met. And he takes the stand in favor of union rights.
So Republicans are in a tie with Democrats overall now in the state,
but on union rights, Republicans would now lose to Democrats.
Dale Schultz, this guy who you may never have heard of, has sort of
quietly, through this unique position that he is in, arguably become the
single most powerful figure in Wisconsin politics. Dale Schultz is like
the swing justice of the Wisconsin state senate. He`s what Sandra Day
O`Connor used to be on the Supreme Court, what Anthony Kennedy is now on
the court, the guy everybody is always talking to, everything rests on the
moderate shoulders of Dale Schultz – remarkable character, long time
Wisconsin legislator, family farmer. He is a member of the Wisconsin
Historical Society Board of Curators for real.
If Democrats win even one of the four senate seats that`s at play in
tomorrow`s election, then they frankly can turn down the spotlight a little
bit from remarkable Wisconsin Republican Senator Dale Schultz. The
Democrats will take some of the weight off his shoulders, I guess.
And I know the world is not paying attention to Dale Schultz right
now. The world wants to talk about the recall election of Governor Scott
Walker, the effort by Democrat Tom Barrett to replace Walker before the end
of his first term as governor.
No poll since April has put Tom Barrett ahead of Scott Walker. But no
poll has put Scott Walker above 50 percent at all. It`s going to be close.
It`s going to come down to turnout. It looks like it could be really,
Tonight on the eve of the election, President Obama tweeted his
support for Tom Barrett, for Mr. Walker`s Democratic challenger. That
followed a visit to Wisconsin last week on behalf of Tom Barrett by former
President Bill Clinton.
Nobody knows how the results, the ground game, are going to be
affected by the policy that in cited all of this, that law that decimated
the unions. That law has gone into effect in Wisconsin and it has
decimated the unions in just one year, exactly as Republicans hoped it
would, exactly as they hope it will around the nation, exactly as they
think will guaranteed Republican victories, even in presidential contests,
even this year, even in states like Wisconsin.
And yes, the world is watching what happens to Governor Walker at the
top of the ticket. For clues at what will happen at the top of the ticket
in November between President Obama and Mitt Romney, but the vote tomorrow
in Wisconsin is every bit as much about Dale Schultz, the last independent-
minded Republican standing.
It`s every bit as much about the Fitzgerald brothers and whether they
get to stay in charge, and it`s every bit as much about the lieutenant
governor with the poison global warming breath and these turkeys necking
violently in the snow.
On Wisconsin, just one day to go, the most amazing story in American
politics in a long, long time.
Joining us now is Mordecai Lee. He`s a political science professor at
the University of Wisconsin.
Professor Lee, it`s nice to have you back on the show. Thank you for
MORDECAI LEE, UNIV. OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: In terms of the ground game, everybody says in a very close
election like this with essentially no undecided voters left in the state,
with turnout expected to be very high, the ground game of turning out
voters is going to be the key to whoever wins this election.
Do you think that it`s going to be a different type of ground game
this year than it has been in previous elections in Wisconsin with the
unions having taken a hit, with so much out of state interest on the right?
Do you think it`s going to be different?
LEE: Well, in one sense it`s almost like we`re going back to the 19th
century elections where the only thing that counts is actually voting.
But I think this is very much a 21st century election in the sense
that think about all the social media and the technology they`ll be using
tomorrow to be sure that Mrs. Smith votes, if she hasn`t voted by noon, if
she hasn`t voted by 3:00. The only thing that counts is getting people
physically to the polls, and that`s why I think people are watching the
weather forecast because they think that`s going to affect the ground game.
MADDOW: How is the weather going to be tomorrow?
LEE: Light breeze, sprinkles, but otherwise pretty good.
The conventional wisdom of American politics and Wisconsin politics is
that good weather leads to sort of casual voters deciding to vote instead
of staying home, so they probably break Democratic.
MADDOW: In terms of the Democrats, I guess, logistical capacity, it`s
true around the country, it`s particularly true in states like Wisconsin,
that so much of the Democrats get out the vote effort essentially depends
on being copacetic with what the unions are doing to get out the vote.
Labor has been this key ally, particularly on Election Day, not just in
terms of spending but in terms of door knocking and making efforts and
getting people physically to the polls.
Have Wisconsin unions taken enough of a hit because of implementation
of the union-stripping law in the state that we will see a material
difference in what they are able to do in getting out the vote efforts?
LEE: Well, I think, indeed, if the law were to stay in effect, it`s
exactly the way you described it, they would get knocked out as political
But the current union members, the people who are union members last
year are still very much involved, and the ground game is as good as I`ve
ever seen. The Democratic Party, the Barrett campaign, labor unions, the
Obama campaign have run a really well, integrated, get out the vote effort.
It`s almost like the get out the vote effort doesn`t involve the kind of
spending that Scott Walker has because this is the ultimate of sort of
So, I think they`re really matched pretty evenly for what happens
MADDOW: If the Democrats do win a seat tomorrow and they do take
clear control of the state Senate, do you see any hope for that body maybe
being a means for the parties reconciling? Do you think you see anything
changing in terms of the overall dynamics in the state? What do you think
would happen if the Democrats win the Senate tomorrow?
LEE: Well, I think when Tom Barrett talks about ending the civil war,
he`s acknowledging there is a need for a compromise. He`s not saying the
unions have to get absolutely everything back. In fact, what I think he
would do is he would call a special session of the legislature to divide
what was called Act 10 and a half, that public employees like me have to
give more but they give their collective bargaining rights back.
And so, that would be a compromise that moderate Republicans could
vote for. So the question would be not only passing it in the state
Senate, but I liked how you talked about the state assembly. Are there
just enough moderate Republicans in the state assembly who would be
willing, in a sense, to accept the verdict of the people and do – and vote
for that kind of compromise? I think that would end the civil war.
MADDOW: Mordecai Lee, professor of political science at the
University of Wisconsin, every time we talk to you, I always feel like you
bring not just insight but a lot of clarity to the issues that we get to
ask you about. So, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.
LEE: Thank you. I`m honored.
MADDOW: All right.
Tonight, I have to tell you, a RACHEL MADDOW SHOW first. We heard
back from the Mitt Romney campaign on a question we asked them, and what we
heard back is kind of perfect, sort of. What I mean by that is coming up
MADDOW: Big news. At least big news for us here at this show. For
the first time ever, the Mitt Romney campaign has finally responded to one
of our requests for comment. Whoo! They have never before even tried to
say, what? Or tell us no comment or buzz off or anything before. They
have always just blanked us and pretended we did not exist.
But today we got somewhere. OK. Here`s what it`s about. Back in
early April, you may remember the Mitt Romney campaign trying to turn
around its weakness with women voters by playing, I`m rubber, you`re glue -
- trying to make it seem like the Obama administration had problems with
women voters and that Mitt Romney did not.
The Romney campaign convened a conference call with reporters to push
that message, and on that conference call this happened.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: The next question will come from Sam Stein with
Please go ahead.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. Does Governor Romney support the
Lilly Ledbetter Act?
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Sam, we`ll get back to you on that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: And that was not a trick question being asked by Sam Stein,
that was a question about the first piece of legislation that President
Obama signed into law, a law that gives women access to the courts to sue
if they`re paid less than men for doing the same work. On the call
convened by the Romney campaign to talk about President Obama`s record on
women and the economy, the Romney campaign had no idea what to say about
these first legislation of the Obama presidency which was about women and
the economy. That was awkward.
And the attempt at damage control for that awkward moment actually
made it worse. The Romney campaign finally did get back to Sam Stein and
the rest of the country about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but the
best they could offer in terms of an actual position on it was Mr. Romney
would not actively work to repeal the law if he were elected president.
It didn`t say it he would have supported it, if he would have signed
it when it came up. It wouldn`t say whether people who voted against it
were right or wrong, he just said he would not repeal it if he were elected
as president. And I guess that`s where the Romney campaign takes a strong
stand for equal pay for women since the people who did vote against the
legislation were overwhelmingly against it.
And then the damage control got worse after that. The Romney campaign
then tried to roll out public support from two actual women who serve in
congress who support Mitt Romney, and that was neat. Women, look. But it
did not help, because bows of those women were among the almost all
Republicans who voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in Congress.
And that brings us to today. So there is another equal pay for women
bill in the news. It`s called the Paycheck Fairness Act, and it`s kind of
companion legislation. It`s kind of the other half of what was passed in
the Ledbetter Act. Among other things, companies who pay women less than
men for the same work would have to justify why it is that they are doing
Democrats are planning a procedural vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act
in the Senate sometime this week. And the Mitt Romney campaign has been
doing its level best to avoid saying anything about the Paycheck Fairness
Act or taking any kind of position on it at all. “The Washington Times”
reporting last week that the Romney campaign had not responded to five
messages throughout the week asking about Mr. Romney`s stance on that
Then today, President Obama brought even more attention to the issue.
He made a surprise appearance on a media conference call to personally push
for the bill passing. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At a time when we`re in
a make or break moment for the middle class, Congress has to step up and do
its job. If Congress passes the Paycheck Fairness Act, women are going to
have access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work. If they don`t
– if Congress doesn`t act, then women are still going to have difficulty
enforcing and pressing for this basic principle.
And we`ve got to understand this is more than just about fairness.
Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families, and if they`re making
less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by
for less money for child care, tuition and rent. Small businesses have
fewer customers. Everybody suffers.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president personally weighing in today – the Obama
administration clearly and strongly and loudly campaigning for the passage
of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Senate set to vote on it maybe tomorrow.
Where is Mitt Romney on this legislation? Nobody knows. They have
been avoiding the issue in terms of the press.
We went ahead and e-mailed the Romney campaign expecting no response,
but we wanted to ask them whether or not Mr. Romney supports this bill. So
we asked them in writing. We said, quote, “What is Governor Romney`s
position on the Paycheck Fairness Act being voted on in the Senate on
Tuesday? President Obama weighed in on the proposed legislation and we
want to cover the issue on our program. Thank you for your time and we
look forward to your response.”
We send lots of messages like this. Never before, never once have we
gotten a response of any kind from the Romney campaign. Not an answer, not
a no comment, not even a please stop bothering us, nothing until today.
Today we got a response. We got a really fast response.
Roughly two minutes after we e mailed the Romney campaign that
question, to ask if Mitt Romney supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, a
Romney campaign spokesperson wrote back with his. Quote, “Of course,
Governor Romney supports pay equity for women. In order to have pay
equity, women need to have jobs. And they have been getting crushed in
this anemic Obama economy, losing far more jobs than men as President Mitt
Romney will create a pro-jobs business climate that will put all Americans
back to work.”
A response. We have never, ever, ever, never, never, had a response
before from the Romney campaign. We always frankly assumed that all of our
e-mails just went straight into the Romney campaign`s spam folder. We got
While it was, indeed, a response, it was not actually an answer to our
question, though. I mean, just saying Mitt Romney is for pay equity as a
concept is not answering the question of whether or not Mr. Romney is for
this bill, for this particular means of trying to achieve pay equity.
So we tried again. We said, quote, “Thanks so much for responding.
Just a quick follow up. Does this mean Governor Romney supports the
Paycheck Fairness Act being voted on tomorrow?”
Here`s our follow up email was answered. Quote, “Governor Romney
supports pay equity for women, period.” Again, neat. Not the question.
Does he support the bill? Undaunted, we sent one last response, one
last attempt to try to get an actual answer. I wrote this one myself.
Quote, “Thank you. I`ll try one more time. Should we take this as,
one, Governor Romney has no position on the Paycheck Fairness Act? Two,
Governor Romney does not support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Or, three,
Governor Romney does support the Paycheck Fairness Act? Based on what
you`ve told us, our best guess for the governor`s position is two, that he
does not support the bill. If that is not correct, can you let us know?”
We have not received an answer to that last e-mail. It`s multiple
choice. It`s got to be one.
I`ve defined the available options. The universe of – I think we are
back in the spam folder. But as if they were trying to replicate the
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as precisely as possible, the Romney campaign did
today make a big to-do about elevating Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers
in the Romney campaign structure. That, of course, only reminds everybody
that she was one of the people they ruled out to assure about Mitt Romney`s
on pay equity, even though Cathy McMorris Rodgers also herself personally
voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2009.
So, on the day he`s being pushed on his position on the Paycheck
Fairness Act, on equal pay for women, he refuses – overtly refuses to take
a position on it. And he puts front and center in his campaign a
Republican member of Congress who voted against it three years ago. It`s
almost like they don`t think it`s about policy, that they just think women
like to see a few gals around, and who cares what they stand for?
The namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act joins us next.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the course of her career, a woman with a college degree
is going to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man doing the
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama making a surprise appearance on a press call
this morning to push Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote on that tomorrow.
Joining us now is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,
it`s an equal pay measure that Congress did pass, and that was signed into
law in January of 2009 as the first legislation signed into law by a brand
new President Obama. Lilly Ledbetter is the author of “Grace and Grit: My
Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond”.
Lilly Ledbetter, it is great to have you back on the show tonight.
Thank you for being with us.
LILLY LEDBETTER, AUTHOR, “GRACE AND GRIT”: Thank you, Rachel, for
having me. I`m excited to be here to talk about my thoughts about the
Paycheck Fairness Act.
MADDOW: You fought for equal pay at Goodyear after you learned that
men doing your same job were being paid more than you were being paid. You
write about it with emotion and with – in a very moving way in your book.
The Paycheck Fairness Act addresses that specific issue, the issue of how
people find out what they`re making vis-a-vis their coworkers, literally
how you discover you are being discriminated against.
Do you see it as sort of a companion bill to the bill that bears your
LEDBETTER: I do. In fact, I`ve heard someone from – Lisa Mast (ph)
from the American Association University of Women described it as the
hammer for the nail that the Ledbetter bill was. The two go together.
But I really believe had this been the law back in my day, had this
been an act that had been on the books, I could have found out from
coworkers without being retaliated against.
MADDOW: Mr. Romney – I`m sorry to interrupt. Mr. Romney, the
Republican presidential nominee, has not taken a position on this bill as
we ended up finding out today through a sort of bizarre series of e-mails,
in which he said he supported the concept of equal pay but he would not
take a stand on whether or not he supported legislation to try to achieve
If you could have an audience with Governor Romney to try to persuade
him on this, what would you tell him to convince him that this is a good
LEDBETTER: I`d want to tell him he needs to be committed to doing
something for the women and their security, because this is so important to
the American family because it was like what the president said, there are
so many families that the women are the sole breadwinner, and they`re the
ones who bring the money home, and their pay determines whether or not they
can pay tuition and put food on the table and pay the mortgage and all the
other bills. It is so critical to the families across this nation.
When you talk about women, it`s not just women – it`s them and their
families. And it`s a long reach, because when the women are compensated,
they spend that money on their families, and it benefits the communities
and the state and the nation. And this doesn`t belong to either party.
It really disturbs me, Rachel, when I hear people that voted into
office in Washington and they will vote against something that would help
most American families across this nation. It`s so simple to me because it
is just a tool that these people can use in order to get their pay lined
up. It`s also an incentive to employers to do the right thing and to treat
their people fair and pay the equal wage that is required by law.
MADDOW: Lilly Ledbetter is the author of “Grace and Grit: My Fight
for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond” – which I have to
admit, I recommend but as a story about this policy, but also just as
really moving and good read.
Ms. Ledbetter, thank you for being here tonight. It`s an honor to
have you here.
LEDBETTER: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you for all you do.
MADDOW: Thank you. To be clear, Governor Romney, we tried to nail
him down on this subject today. His campaign will say he supports the
concept of pay equity, but they will not, will not, say whether Mitt Romney
actually supports this legislation.
That is, I think, important right now as senators decide what they
will vote on this bill tomorrow. It will become particularly important
tomorrow once we see how particular Republican senators vote on this issue.
All right. Gail Collins is still to come up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last week on this show, I threw down a challenge loudly and
publicly on the TV machine with utter confidence that I was likely to win
this bet. Tonight I`m here to report that not only I lost, but I`m really
happy to have lost. The revelry of my defeat, still ahead.
MADDOW: True or false? Mitt Romney won last week`s Republican
presidential primary in Texas, and in doing so, he clinch clinched the
Republican presidential nomination. But in that same primary, former 2012
presidential candidate Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, also
maintained his undefeated record in Texas politics.
So Mitt Romney won the Texas presidential primary, but Rick Perry did
not lose it. Is that true or is that false?
True. Rick Perry`s own presidential aspirations petered out fast and
funny with him cuddling maple syrup bottles in New Hampshire and ending
debate questions by saying, whoops. But even after failing miserably in
the presidential race, Governor Perry still managed to maintain his perfect
record of never losing in Texas. That`s because he got his name removed
from the ballot in last week`s Texas presidential primary.
Michelle Bachmann was still there, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon
Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum, also some guy named John Davis,
whatever – but not the governor of Texas. He has a consecutive winning
streak in Texas stretching back nine elections in 1984. And by making sure
he was off the ballot this time, he kept his perfect record.
So, even out of the race, Rick Perry found a way to emerge from the
Texas political primary victorious, quietly, making a mark – in this case
by not making a mark. Most people did not even know it was happening. And
that is kind of what Texas politics has been doing to our whole country for
a long time now, influencing our everyday lives in many different ways,
even when we don`t really know what`s going on.
As “New York Times” columnist Gail Collins argues in her excellent new
book “As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda,”
nowhere is that more evident than with Texas small government conservatives
pushing really, really big government as long as we`re talking about your
She says, “Texas frames its political world view on the ideology of
empty places, which holds that virtually any amount of government is too
much government. Plus, nobody needs it anyway because there`s plenty of
room. You leave me alone and I`ll leave you alone. It`s an inarguable
world view unless, a, there really isn`t plenty of room, or b, you are not
actually leaving me alone.”
One of the interesting things about this empty place ethos is that
this theory about leaving people alone to do whatever they want does not
apply at all when it comes to sex. Long after the Supreme Court struck
down the state`s anti-sodomy as unconstitutional, the legislature still
refused to take it off the books.
Texas regulations on abortion are among the more draconian in the
country, and it pushes abstinence only education in its public school, a
little more on abstinence.
Two professors of health education at Texas state contacted every
school district in Texas and requested information in their sex ed
programs. One of the professors said he was drawn to the subject when his
undergrad students regularly told him that they got little or no sex
education in school even though the state`s education code requires that
it`d be part of the curriculum. Also he said, last year a sincere male
student asked aloud, what is my risk for cervical cancer?
The researchers found that more than 94 percent of Texas public
schools give abstinence-only instruction exclusively. Students, condoms
aren`t safe. “Never have been, never will be,” one abstinence speaker
warned her classes.
An abstinence-only program used in three districts assures them that
“if a woman is dry, the sperm will die” – which harks back to the colonial
era theories that it was impossible for a woman to get pregnant unless she
enjoyed the sex.
There are repeated suggestions that premarital sex could have fatal
consequences. A video used in three Texas school districts has a boy
asking an evangelical educator what will happen if he has sex before
marriage. “Well, I guess you`ll have to be propped t prepared to die,” is
Joining us now for an interview is the wonderful “New York Times”
columnist Gail Collins.
Gail, congratulations on “As Texas Goes.”
GAIL COLLINS, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you.
MADDOW: It is terrifying and a hoot.
COLLINS: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: What happens when a state as big and influential as Texas
refuses to accept any funding for sex ed programs, they push abstinence-
only sex ed, and they do it for a long time? What`s the effect?
COLLINS: Well, you know, one of the reasons I wanted to write this
book was because I got to see this video of the “Texas Tribune” editor,
Evan Smith, interviewing Rick Perry before the last gubernatorial election,
saying, should we do something about this abstinence-only sex education
because we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country?
And Perry said, nope, nope, we`re good.
And Evan pushed and said, we have the highest – second highest,
double or triple teen pregnancy rate in the country. And Perry said, no,
no, we`re good and keep poking them. And finally Perry said, look, I know
for a fact this works, I know from my own personal experience abstinence
I thought, oh, my gosh. I want to go and write about this. This is
And the interesting thing about it is I kept trying to balance states`
rights versus our national interests in Texas. The birth rate is humongous
because there is a war going on against family planning. The teen birth
rate is humongous partly because there is no sex education, there is no
contraception availability even if you are a mother as a teenager, you
cannot get publicly funded contraceptives.
So the result of all this is you have a humongous birth rate, 60
percent of which are Medicaid-funded deliveries because the women are so
poor. Now, we as a nation pay a good chunk of the Medicaid bill for Texas,
which, God bless, I`m sure everybody is happy to do, but I think in return
we should get to have a little bit of a say about whether or not there is
any family planning, any sex education that really works.
MADDOW: As you write in the book about that, happy to help, but –
MADDOW: But I mean, one of the things that had not occurred to me
before reading the book is that part of the reason that Texas is very
influential is not just because of the sort of mind meld hold it has on
Republican politics, but specifically because of its population and its
booming population, which explains so much of what`s going on in Texas
economically, but does also explain why as goes Texas, so goes the nation.
But you`re saying that birthrate is a product of Texas policy failure.
COLLINS: Yes, even then as the rest of the country, on behalf of the
rest of the country, I said, OK, Texas, if you`re prepared to spend a bunch
of money educating many, many, many, many of these babies really, really
well, then maybe we have no reason to complain, but they`re not.
They`re cutting back on education. The school scores are terrible.
The SAT scores are among the lowest in the country. That`s 10 percent of
the future workforce of America because of the size of the state and the
So stuff like that really matters to the rest of us. And if Texas,
which is going to be a majority Hispanic state within the next decade or
so, if Texas can`t get a grip on these problems, then it goes in places
that it`s not good for us to be going as a country.
MADDOW: How do you have a Republican Party that seems to repulse most
Latino voters now, and you have a one-party Republican state in Texas and
you have Texas about to become majority Latino – how do those three things
COLLINS: If you talk to Democrats in Texas, they`re like, oh, yes,
next year, it`s coming. The fact that Texas has: A, a terrible voter
participation rate among everybody.
COLLINS: And among Latinos even worse. Now they have a new voter ID
law that makes it even more difficult for poorer people to get in and vote.
It`s a law in which your gun license counts as a voter ID but not your
university ID card. It`s just the way they`re going there. What can I
MADDOW: It`s one thing to try to not be outnumbered. If you are,
make sure the people who outnumber you can`t say anything about it.
Gail Collins, author of the new book, “As Texas Goes” and I should
note, Ohio native.
COLLINS: Yes. Nobody says don`t mess with Ohio though.
MADDOW: Thank you, Gail. It`s the funniest political book of the
year. Really smart.
COLLINS: Thank you so much.
We have a correction to make coming up on the show. It`s a more
exciting correction than the one I`m giving you right now for misspelling
my own name in our brand new graphics package at the top of the show. The
next one is even better. I promise.
MADDOW: They said it couldn`t be done. They said it couldn`t be
done. I said it couldn`t be done. At least, I intimated it would never be
On Thursday on this show the Republican Party`s presidential nominee,
I let you know, had told a whopper – a big, fat, easily disprovable lie.
A stated fact you could check in the world to see if it was true. He
opened up his mouth on Thursday afternoon and lied about it.
Thursday night we devoted a significant portion of this show to a hand
wringing, all caps, sweaty, emphatic aggravation that nobody was calling
him on this. Shouldn`t this be a big story that the guy lied? I mean, he
is running for president, for Pete`s sake and he`s lying.
It`s checkable. It`s not even a close one. It is black and white.
It`s a lie. Why is nobody covering it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: An independent inspector
general looked at this investment and concluded that the administration had
steered money to friends and family to campaign contributors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is not true. An inspector general did not look into the
investment in Solyndra and conclude that the administration had steered
money to friends and family. That did not happen. That is a lie.
He says something was concluded by an inspector general that was never
concluded by an inspector general. It`s not true.
That seems important given that he`s running for president. Don`t you
think the candidate telling a big, blatant lie in the middle of the news
cycle deserves a little follow up?
Yes, it does deserve follow up, and it got some. Praise be. This is
great news about the news.
Since my plaintiff cry here on Thursday night, news organizations have
actually been fact checking Mitt Romney`s statement and calling it what it
was. They`re calling it a lie.
There was this from the “Associated Press” on Friday. Romney misses
mark on Solyndra friends and family claim. Quote, “He didn`t get the story
completely straight when he accused the administration of favoring cronies.
There was no evidence of family members of top federal officials receive
Quote, “Romney hits the sauce again.” That was the headline in the
“Chicago Tribune” on Friday. Noting Mr. Romney`s inspector general, the
“The Tribune” op-ed concludes, “No inspector general has concluded any such
There was also this fact check from Jack Tapper at ABC News. Quote,
“This isn`t true. The charge is simply false.”
Factcheck.org put it this way: “Romney`s solar flareout. He
misrepresents Obama`s green energy program using false and twisted facts.”
Quote, “That`s not true.”
Here`s the headline today at “Fortune” magazine. “Romney wrong on
Solyndra facts.” Quote, “It`s one thing to spin thing to one`s advantage.
It`s another to make things up to make the other guy look bad. Romney`s
Solyndra speech was an example of the latter. Disgraceful.”
I was wrong. Hooray. Presidential candidate utters big fat,
checkable lie on the campaign trail, news organizations check it and call
him on the big fat lie. That is what`s supposed to happen, and it is
happening. I was wrong that it wouldn`t happen, it happened. Great news.
Mitt Romney is wrong about this. The inspector general never
concluded that Energy Department contracts were steered to friends and
family by the Obama administration. That is an untrue assertion, and he
has been called out on it multiple places, multiple times.
Now, a test. Next order of business. Here`s the ad that the Romney
campaign is still running against the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The inspector general said contracts were steered to
friends and family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Still a lie whether or not Mitt Romney says it out of his
face or whether or not it`s in the ad. Shouldn`t Mitt Romney have to pull
down that ad? Isn`t that what`s supposed to happen next now that this
thing has been called out as a lie? It`s a test.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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