The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/02/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There`s a lot going on in the news right now. There`s a lot going on
in our show this hour.
We`re going to be getting to Egypt in just a few minutes.
We`re going to get to the surprise Republican sneak attack in North
Carolina tonight, which nobody saw coming. And which launched late in the
day and took everybody by surprise.
We`re going to get to our interview tonight with Texas Senator Wendy
Davis. She`s here live.
But there`s lots to have, there`s lots to get to.
And we start tonight with an unexpected turn in Republican politics in
our country. There are basically two different kinds of embarrassing when
it comes to politicians. I mean, beyond physically embarrassing, like,
remember when Gary Bauer was flipping pancakes a candidates event? Catch -
- oh – there he goes.
Beyond the physically embarrassing moments which can honestly, you
know, happen to everybody. Politicians are, you know, immune.
Beyond the physically embarrassing moments, there are really two
categories of embarrassing. Two categories of I don`t want to be seen with
that guy when it comes to politicians and the United States.
The first one is the temperamentally embarrassing politician. The
buffoon. The inappropriate time, tone and tenor, right? The kind of
politician where the local news about the state`s governor has to come with
a warning for children and for people who are easily icked out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re about to put on screen what the governor
said in response and some of our viewers who may find it distasteful may
want to hit the mute button and turn away for the second 20 seconds or so.
The governor told the reporters Senator Jackson claims to be for the
people but he`s the first one to give it to the people without providing
When he was asked if he realized some people might find that comment
offensive, he`s reported to have said, “Good, it ought to because I`ve been
taking it for two years.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s an embarrassing politician. That`s Paul LePage,
Republican governor of Maine, who hops right from the rape and Vaseline
invective into the Nazi stuff. Remember right after he compared the
federal government to the Nazi Third Reich last year, there was Jewish
groups in Maine who asked for an apology.
Here`s how he responded to their call for an apology. This is
amazing, I had read these comments before but I had never before heard
them. Listen to him.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: You`ve been criticized for the comments equating the IRS
with Gestapo and the Anti-Defamation League has said that sort of betrays
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: If it shows insensitivity, then I would
apologize to them. What I`m trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific
crime against humanity, and frankly I would never want to see that
repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad yet.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was how he apologized for equating the IRS to the
Gestapo. They`re OK, about to be like the Holocaust. But not yet. See?
Yes, Paul LePage is embarrassing. After investigating reporting on
the lobbyists he put in charge of environmental issues in the state of
Maine, Paul LePage responded by banning the whole state government from
talking to three of the largest newspapers in Maine – a blanket comment on
all matters from the entire government. Just trying to stop newspapering
in his state.
So after that, and after the Nazi stuff, after telling the NAACP to
kiss his butt, that was his exact phrase, after saying estrogen links
chemicals in baby bottles aren`t harmful because they just give women
Also remember his theory that windmills are a conspiracy. Windmills
secretly have little motors inside them that make them spin. Yet Paul
LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, is an embarrassment. He`s just a
disaster PR-wise. Right?
Even the state Republicans think that Paul LePage is a disaster. The
assistant leader in the state Senate for the Republicans just wrote this
op-ed lamenting the unfortunate tone being set by our chief executive. His
use of vulgarity and school yard taunts.
The assistant leader says, as a lifelong proud Republican who has
overjoyed to see a Republican elected back into the Blaine House three
years ago, I have one thing to say, “I a embarrassed,” end quote.
Republican Governor Paul LePage is embarrassing even to the Republicans in
his own state.
You know who`s doing a fund-raiser for Paul LePage right now, right
this second in Maine? Jeb bush. Oh, God, shame of what it takes to run
Thanks to the longtime Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, Jeb
Bush has ties to Maine and he seems to be trying to run for president. So,
today, Jeb Bush has to go wrap this Gestapo Vaseline albatross around his
neck forever. Poor Jeb Bush.
That`s one kind of embarrassing when it comes to American politicians.
The other kind of embarrassing is less about style and more about
substance. It`s about policy that is embarrassing.
This one`s a little slipperier because, you know, while calling people
Nazis is kind of a timeless embarrassment, policy embarrassments like, say,
mandating forced vaginal ultrasounds for the women in your state, even when
it`s against doctors orders, that kind of things starts off embarrassing,
engenders national ridicule and protests at your state capitol and people
across the country start calling you governor ultrasound.
But then, when it`s a policy matter, sometimes the embarrassment wears
off. Since governor ultrasound, Bob McDonnell, became more famous for
forced ultrasounds in Virginia than anything else about his governorship,
since that probably cost him his shot at the vice presidential spot on the
Mitt Romney ticket, since then, forced ultrasounds have just stopped
embarrassing white guy Republican governors.
Since Bob McDonnell, we have forced ultrasound bills signed into law
from Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and Republican Governor
Mike Pence in Indiana, and just this weekend, the Republican Governor John
Kasich of Ohio, forcing women to have ultrasounds against their will,
primarily vaginal ultrasounds against their will, even against their
doctor`s will. That used to be a really embarrassing thing for Republican
politicians. But not anymore, I guess. They`re all sort of just going for
So, stylistic temperamental tacky outlandishness in a politician.
That is timeless embarrassment. The Vaseline thing, the Nazi thing, it`s
just never going to be OK. Policy outlandishness, on the other hand, fades
in and out with the boundaries of propriety in the two political parties.
Sometimes it`s very embarrassing to be governor ultrasound.
Sometimes, hey, it`s what everybody`s doing. But what`s happening right
now in Republican politics, a big deal Republican politician, a national
figure is crossing over from just being a shock to the conscience guy on
policy to also just being kind of Paul LePage, just being plain personally
shocking as a guy.
This is a path that is not well trod, but Bob McDonnell doing his
Virginia`s Republican governor used to be, yes, OK, a little out there
on policy, a little extreme as a social conservative, but, geez,
personally, great manners. Generally, a respectable guy.
He seems decent. He looks the part. Look at that square jaw. Look
at that hairline. He`s definitely not a Paul LePage embarrassing to be
seen with problem, right? Not this handsome guy.
Used to be. But now did you hear about the stretch Hummer limo thing?
The stretch Hummer limo is the latest thing in the bob McDonnell story.
The latest thing that he and his family reportedly took as part of what he
thinks he is entitled to take because he is governor of Virginia. Every
day it`s a new thing.
But here`s what has been reported so far. This is just what he has
not denied. The stretch Hummer limo that he took, it was white. He took
rides in a stretch Hummer limo from his daughter`s church wedding to the
reception, two hours or so worth of rides for all the wedding guests in the
Also, a Ferrari. A loaner Ferrari for Bob McDonnell to drive.
Apparently, it was also right.
A $10,000 Oscar de la Renta suede jacket for the wife. A Louise
Vuitton hand bag presumably also for the wife. Two pairs of designer lady
shoes, a designer dress.
A liver cleansing gastrointestinal cleanse product. Yes. I don`t
Vitamins for Bob McDonnell`s dog. He took dog vitamins.
Body wash. A wedding dress for the governor`s daughter.
A chicken dinner for the wedding that cost $15,000. For the record,
we do not know if this was the exact chicken preparation from the dinner.
This is for your reference only.
Also, he took deodorant on the taxpayers` dime.
Energy drinks that are called Boost. I`ve never had one.
An engraved $6,000 Rolex watch. A stay at a lakeside Virginia
vacation home. Breath freshening strips. Dry cleaning for the McDonnell
children`s clothing. Sunscreen.
Nasal spray. Something “The Washington Post” called sleep inducing
Also, cash. What “The Washington Post” described today as tens of
thousands of dollars of payments to the McDonnell family.
That is at least a partial list of things that the Republican governor
of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, has either reportedly charged to the taxpayers
of Virginia by just taking them from the executive mansion, even after he
was warned that he`s supposed to pay for his own body wash, himself. He`s
either taken the stuff for himself and his family and charged the taxpayers
of Virginia for it, or he has taken the stuff as gifts since he has been
governor – some of those gifts disclosed and some of them not.
And this is on top of the allegations from the former executive chef
at the governor`s mansion who has produced a whole other lists of things he
says the McDonnell family took for their own use from the mansion at
Things like pots and pans that were taken out of the mansion and given
away. Pots and pans. Liquor.
The chef who was under indictment for embezzlement gets his day in
court next week on July 8th. So, mark that day on your calendar. We`ll
hear more from the chef then.
But, meanwhile, a state prosecutor continues to investigate Governor
McDonnell`s reporting of the gifts he has received. And a federal grand
jury has convened in his case to investigate, we think, not just the gifts,
but whether or not the governor gave anything back in exchange for those
gifts. Just take the Rolex as an example.
“The Times Dispatch” in Richmond, Virginia, see that right there?
That is the Rolex in question. They say one of their reporters noticed
last January that he was wearing this really nice new Rolex and asked him
Quote, “During a January 2012 interview with the `Times Dispatch`,
Governor McDonnell was asked about the Rolex watch on his wrist. The
governor responded that it was a Christmas gift from his wife.”
It was not a Christmas gift from his wife. It was apparently a gift
from this man – well, no, sorry, from the man who owns the company that
makes the little pill that`s in the little bottle that Governor McDonnell`s
holding there. The man who owns the company that makes a magic tobacco-
based anti-inflammatory pill, which the company really wants the governor
of Virginia and the state of Virginia to get behind. There`s the governor
holding the pill.
According to reporting in “The Washington Post,” Governor McDonnell`s
wife noticed that the maker of that magic pill was wearing a very nice
Rolex, himself. When she noticed his watch, she suggested to him that he
should buy a similar one that she could give to her husband. The guy who
owns the magic pill company went ahead and bought the Rolex that she was
asking for and he had reason to. He had just enough time to say, yes, I
will buy you that $6,000 Rolex for the governor before he walked into the
meeting that the governor`s wife had just set up for him to pitch his magic
tobacco pill to be Virginia`s secretary of health.
Look at this. The first lady`s proposal about the watch occurred
moments before the meeting she had arranged for him with a stop state
health official to pitch the benefits of the company`s health products.
This company is now the subject of a federal securities investigation.
But that summer, that was the company that gave Bob McDonnell and/or his
wife the Louis Vuitton handbag, the two pairs of lady shoes, the designer
dress, the $10,000 suede coat, the lake side vacation home, the Ferrari
loan, and the $15,000 wedding dinner, as well as apparently cash payments
for some indeterminate amount and also the Rolex engraved. The 71st
governor of Virginia was the engraving. Classy, right?
All of those gifts from that one company to the governor and/or his
family. And the company in turn got a launch party for their magic tobacco
pill held at the governor`s mansion with the governor there helping them
launch it. Also, the first lady traveling to their event touting the magic
tobacco pill as first lady of Virginia giving her testimony on its behalf.
Also a one-on-one meeting between the head of the company and somebody
from the Virginia state secretary of health and human resources office.
They had him meet with the Rolex guy at the governor`s mansion at the
request of the first family. And then the guy from the company delivered
the Rolex to the governor. And then, Governor McDonnell told the papers it
was a gift from my wife? For Christmas?
Now, with the federal grand jury and the state prosecutor
investigating, in the midst of daily revelations of other stuff, other
stuff that Bob McDonnell and his family took for free but did not disclose
as gifts like the latest, the stretch hummer limo. In the midst of his
daily humiliation in the state of Virginia, one Virginia state senator is
calling on Governor Bob McDonnell to resign the governorship.
Senator Chapman Petersen says, “The substance of these reports give
the strong possession your family was materially and systemically benefited
by this person and his company. In return it appears you allowed this
person to use the governor`s mansion and the governor`s office for the
purpose of giving unique credibility to his company.” The letter then says
if the governor cannot clear this matter up, he should resign.
Governor McDonnell`s beleaguered spokesman has responded to this
letter today with a slap, saying this blatantly political statement from
Senator Peterson was not unexpected. The spokesman then went on to say,
“The governor has been diligent over the years in making his financial
disclosures.” Actually, Governor McDonnell still hasn`t even disclosed the
The rules say he has to disclose any gift over 50 bucks. You know?
That Rolex was over 6,000 bucks and he still hasn`t disclosed that he got
it as a gift and he`s not talking about it and this probably cannot go on
like this for very much longer, can it?
Joining us is Senator Chap Petersen of Virginia. He`s a Democrat. He
represents central and western Fairfax.
Senator Petersen, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
REP. CHAP PETERSEN (D), VIRGINIA: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you
for having me.
MADDOW: You are the first lawmaker in Virginia to call for Governor
McDonnell to resign, frankly we`ve been covering this story for a long time
and I thought we would have heard these calls earlier. But you`re the
I have to ask you if it springs from any kind of bad blood or personal
animosity between you and Governor McDonnell.
PETERSEN: No. Exactly the opposite. I actually – I like the
governor. He`s a friend. We played basketball together. We`ve been in
bible studies together.
I – I have great regard for him as a person. And no, there`s no
personal animosity. I think my position is as a Virginian, we just can`t
tolerate this type of conduct.
And I`m asking the governor to come forward and either explain it and
if he can`t explain it, he needs to step aside. There`s no personal
animosity. It`s really about the state of Virginia and what`s best.
MADDOW: Is it the overall weight of the allegation, the long list of
things he has been – he has allegedly received in his capacity as governor
that bothers you, the overall accumulation of all of these allegations. Or
is it something in particular that you`re particularly bothered by?
PETERSEN: You know, Rachel, I have three daughters so when I heard
about the $15,000 spent on the wedding reception, that kind of took me
aback. There was a lot of joking about it and I guess people thought maybe
this was a one-time thing, maybe there`s an explanation. But as the weeks
have gone by and the days have gone by, and just one incident after
another, one item after another, it`s just been an accumulation, and
there`s been no explanation from the governor.
And the burden`s on him to say, what`s going on? And hiding behind
“no comment”, that`s not working. The people of Virginia deserve better.
So, I would say in response to your question, it`s an accumulation.
MADDOW: You know, he has – he has not been a particularly evasive
public servant as governor on a lot of other matters including a lot of
other controversies. In his tenure, he has been willing to talk publicly.
He does weekly radio shows. He`s taken a lot of questions. He`s not a guy
who previously has hidden behind people around him.
The repeated no comments on this, and no explanations on this, I have
also found surprising in departure from his previous behavior. But there
are these ongoing investigations, a federal investigation and a state
investigation. Is there a case to be made that he shouldn`t do anything
and maybe he shouldn`t comment at all until those investigations are
PETERSEN: Rachel, I would say those vases won`t be resolved until the
case is tried in front of the jury, if he`s indicted, and I`m not assuming
he will be. Frankly, I hope he won`t be.
But he has an obligation to the citizens now to explain what`s
happened. I mean, all of these items, all of these stories coming out, all
of us as public officials have to come forward and show that we`re honest,
that we`re fair.
And when these stories come out and when they`re not denied, when
they`re not rebutted, that frankly casts a shadow over all of us in the
general assembly and most of us like myself, we`re part timers.
I mean, this is not our profession. We do this because we believe in
it. And separate and apart from the governor`s legal status, he has an
obligation to tell the citizens that he`s making decisions that are in the
best interest of the commonwealth and not those that are financially
beneficial to himself.
MADDOW: Senator Chap Petersen of Virginia, thank you very much for
your time tonight, sir. I appreciate.
PETERSEN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: This is probably not a typical show you`d come on to talk
about politics but I appreciate you being here, sir.
PETERSEN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. One week ago today, this state senator in Texas
filibustered for 13 hours against an unprecedented rollback of reproductive
rights in her state.
Today, the fight starts up again. And Wendy Davis will join us
tonight live with the interview. That`s straight ahead.
MADDOW: Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is going to join us tonight
just ahead for the interview. Apparently, she`s got some news to share.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We have some strange and dramatic breaking news to bring you
right now. It is international intrigue. It`s an ongoing story that now
involves a head of state and his plane being indefinitely grounded in a
foreign country he did not expect to be in.
This is about the possible whereabouts of the alleged NSA leaker,
Edward Snowden. For the last nine days, as you know, Mr. Snowden`s exact
location has been a mystery.
He reportedly left Hong Kong on a flight for Russia nine days ago. He
was believed to be holed up inside the transit area of one of Moscow`s
airports. So, he hadn`t gone through passport control or anything. He was
still just inside the airport, maybe. Nobody`s been able to independently
confirm this story because nobody has seen him in the flesh.
While he has been missing, or in limbo or at least in the airport, Mr.
Snowden has still been releasing messages through the Web site, WikiLeaks.
He`s been sending out, for example, various asylum requests to foreign
governments which has driven a new round of news stories about where he
might end up as he tries to evade American authorities who want him
But in terms of his current location, that Moscow airport was presumed
to be where he was for more than a week now. But then, late tonight,
there`s been a strange new development in this story. A number of world
leaders from oil producing nations have been in Russia this week for a
meeting. It is a meeting that has now concluded.
And within the last few hours, word has trickled out that the airplane
carrying the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, was unexpectedly rerouted
after it left Russian airspace and was on its way back to Bolivia with the
Bolivia`s president was in Russia for meetings with Russian President
Vladimir Putin. Bolivia was among the countries that Edward Snowden sought
But tonight, as Bolivia`s president was returning home from that trip
to Russia, his state airplane was denied access to some of the European
airspace that he needed to fly through in order to get home. It was while
his airplane was in mid-flight already that the governments of France and
Portugal revoked the authorization they had previously granted for that
plane to use their airspace. They revoked that authorization apparently
because of their suspicion that Edward Snowden was also onboard that plane,
high tailing it to Bolivia, presumably to seek asylum.
After France and Portugal told Bolivia`s president – no, you cannot
use our airspace, the government of Italy then reportedly followed suit.
And that, as you can see, makes kind of a line. With their entire flight
plan essentially revoked, the plane carrying Bolivia`s president had to
circle around for three hours seeking permission to land somewhere until
they were eventually cleared to land in Austria of all places. And Austria
is where that Bolivian plane remains tonight.
The pink line, I think we can show you here – see that pink line?
It`s kind of thin. See it in the middle of the screen. The pink line
right there is the flight path for Bolivia`s airplane.
As you can see, it departs Moscow on what looks to be a regular flight
path, but then it detours abruptly right over Austria.
Bolivia, for its part, is furious tonight. They say Edward Snowden is
not onboard their plane and never has been. They`re calling that
accusation a mis-intentioned rumor. And their foreign minister says
tonight that this was an act of discrimination on the part of the
international community that has put the life of their president in danger.
Now, in terms of the U.S. government`s role in all this, that remains
very, very unclear at this hour. A senior U.S. official is telling NBC
news tonight there is no indication that Edward Snowden has left the
airport in Moscow. When asked if it was possible that Mr. Snowden had
managed to leave the country on a foreign official`s airplane, the official
told NBC, quote, “I have heard nothing remotely like that.”
But, again, the news tonight is the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales,
right now as we speak is stuck in Austria. After being denied access to
the airspace he needs to be able to fly over in order to get home. This is
a very strange story to say the least. We will have more as it develops.
MADDOW: I don`t mean to be weird, but more breaking news tonight,
this time out of North Carolina.
This evening in North Carolina, the Republican majority in the
legislature there made a surprise move against abortion rights in that
state. This came out of nowhere. At the last minute North Carolina
Republicans jammed a brand new previously unseen set of antiabortion
measures into an existing bill about Sharia law of all things, of the
surprise amendments tonight include requirements that are designed to shut
down as many clinics as possible in North Carolina.
Some advocates saying they would shut down all but one clinic in North
Carolina. They`d force clinics to meet new standards that are supposed to
be impossible for them to meet just like the restrictions Republicans
already passed in Ohio and Mississippi and North Dakota and Wisconsin. The
ones they`re trying to pass in Texas right now.
In North Carolina, today, until this hearing began, Democrats and the
public had no idea what Republicans intended to do. It was basically a
Moments before the vote, Democratic State Senator Martin Nesbitt
warned his colleagues in the senate to remember what happened when
Republicans in Texas tried the same thing. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. MARTIN L. NESBITT, JR. (D), NORTH CAROLINA: We have a
state full of people out there that don`t even know we`re down here doing
this. And let me tell you what I think you`re doing, I think the provision
having to do with ambulatory care centers is going to do away with health
care as we know it for women who need help, and there are going to be more
of them, not less of them.
When you force these things in the ambulatory surgical centers,
Planned Parenthood has four centers in the state. None of them comply, out
of business. Nobody told us that in committee. I was very alarmed about
the information, myself.
That crowd is going to descend on you when you get back down here is
going to know it. It`s an attack on these facilities that offer women`s
health care for women, things that they need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After that warning tonight from Democratic State Senator
Martin Nesbitt, North Carolina Senate Republicans went ahead and voted to
advance this surprise bill that, again, nobody saw coming. The legislature
is going to come back tomorrow morning in North Carolina for a possible
final vote before the bill will then go over to the North Carolina use.
We`re going to post a link to the live feed tomorrow on our blog if
you want to watch that action in the North Carolina Senate. But again,
tonight, North Carolina was just completely surprised by what Senate
Republicans did on abortion rights.
I do not expect the people of North Carolina to be surprised by this
twice even if everybody was surprised by it tonight. I think North
Carolina Republicans may have just picked themselves a serious fight.
We`ll be back in just a moment.
MADDOW: When we talk about Texas as a bright red state, we should
really put an asterisk on that. Texas has not always been bright red. It
has not even been red at all for all that long.
It was only 2002 when Texas Republicans got control of the
legislature. They`ve been out of power in the statehouse since the end of
the civil war, since reconstruction. But in 2002, Texas Republicans took
over. They already have the governorship, but as of `02, they had the
And they had this guy: Republican Congressman Tom DeLay, who would
like it if you`d call him the Hammer.
Now, eventually, a few years down the road, Tom DeLay would leave
Congress in a humiliating scandal and get convicted for money laundering.
But before all that, back a decade ago in Texas, he was still swinging the
Like the rest of the country, Texas had drawn up new election maps,
right, of the 2000 Census. But just two years later, in 2002, once
Republicans were in charge, Tom DeLay decided he wanted to redraw the maps
again. They`d only done them two years before but he wanted new maps drawn
by the new Republican majority. That would make all their seats safe, that
would make the new Republican majority a permanent majority.
Because Republicans were in the majority and Democrats were in the
minority, the Texas Democrats could not stop this surprise redistricting by
Tom DeLay and the Texas Republicans. At least they could not stop it in
the usual way.
Watch what they did, though. This is amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: For a second straight day, Texas politics is in chaos,
turmoil after more than 50 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives
refused to show up for work Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The quorum is not present.
REPORTER: Without a quorum, two-thirds of its member, the statehouse
is shut down. Can`t pass any laws.
SUSAN WEDDINGTON: What we`re witnessing right now is the tyranny of
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Quite frankly, they should all resign.
REPORTER: Republican Speaker Tom Craddick ordered state troopers,
even the legendary Texas rangers to round them up, arrest the missing and
return them to the statehouse.
By then, most of them had already fled to a holiday inn across the
Oklahoma state line, pursued by Texas troopers.
JIM DUNHAM: And we decided yesterday that we were going to stay as
long as it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Texas House Democrats managed to drag that fight out all
summer. Rick Perry had to call two different special sessions to get the
bill passed, after the House Democrats fled the state. The second time
around, it was the Democrats in the Senate who fled the state. The House
Democrats had gone to Oklahoma, the Senate Democrats, they went to New
They stayed out of state for six weeks. They shut down the Texas
state legislature rather than just let Texas Republicans quietly roll their
bill into law.
Ultimately, Texas Republicans got their new maps but not before
Democrats made sure the entire country could see what the Republicans were
up to. Texas Democrats use the power of their minority to maximum effect
by dragging the process out for as long as they could.
You might remember the same kind of thing happened in Wisconsin in
2011 when the new Republican majority in that state moved to strip union
rights. Fourteen Democrats in Wisconsin state Senate, the whole Democratic
caucus, fled the state of Wisconsin to go to an undisclosed location, also
known as the state of Illinois. They high tailed it across state lines and
in so doing those Wisconsin Democrats denied the Republican majority, the
quorum they needed to strip union rights.
The Democrats filibustered with their feet for three weeks and turned
out to be enough time for tens of thousands of Wisconsin supporters of
union rights to mass at the state capitol for the biggest protest Wisconsin
has ever seen. If those Democratic senators had not left the state,
Republicans could have passed that bill as fast as they approved the day`s
minutes. But by stalling, the Democrats – well, they didn`t end the
bill`s chances, the way it works federally, what happens when you
filibuster. Instead they just slowed it all down.
But in so doing, they got a lot of attention and they created a
movement far greater than their voting numbers inside the legislature.
That same year, same thing also happened in Indiana. Indiana`s
minority Democrats fled their state for five weeks to block a union
stripping bill there as well. Like in Wisconsin, like in Texas before
them, in Indiana, they could not stop that Republican bill forever.
The Republicans brought it back in 2012. When they did, this was the
scene outside the governor`s state of the state address. Indiana Democrats
lost that battle over that policy but put up one heck of a losing fight.
Today in Texas, a committee in the House started hearing testimony on
Texas` sweeping new abortion ban, 2,000 people signed up to testify on the
bill, 2,000 people. They filled the main room and an overflow room and not
just an overflow room, they filled a half dozen overflow rooms.
It was a replay of the citizens` filibuster from last month, the one
that gave Democratic lawmakers a chance to filibuster the abortion ban for
real until the clock ran out on the special session. When the hearing
opened today in Texas, Democrats on the panel pressed the Republican
sponsor of the bill about the effect her new ban would have on the abortion
clinics in the state.
This is the map of where clinics now exist in Texas, 42 of them. You
can see what happens to them if the Texas bill becomes law, only five
remaining in the whole state.
Another version of this map was made by supporters of abortion rights
in Texas. But the same version has been used by supporters of closing the
clinics, too, to explain why they`re doing this.
The lieutenant governor of Texas tweeting that they, quote, “fought to
pass the bill through the Senate and this is why.” So they can close as
many clinics as possible. They`re saying that`s what they want to do.
Abortion might technically be legal in Texas, but Texas Republicans are
going to make it so Texas women cannot actually get one. Same difference
in the end.
Today, the sponsor of the Texas bill rejected amendments that would
try to achieve the stated aims of her bill without closing down all the
clinics. She rejected all proposed amendments. The point is bluntly to
close the clinics.
A new poll out today from PPP shows among voters in Texas who have
formed an opinion about the bill, more people oppose it than support it by
eight points. But just over half of Texas voters say they don`t have any
opinion on it at all.
So, if you`re a Texas Democrat or somebody who supports reproductive
rights in Texas, that high no opinion number, that is where you really have
room to work.
Tonight, we can report exclusively that that work is beginning in a
very specific way. Planned Parenthood and NARAL and Texas Democrats tell
us they`re starting a Texas bus tour next week that`s all about the
Republicans` antiabortion bill.
The legislature is going to be on recess next week so opponents of the
abortion ban are going to use next week, use that time to go to the Texas
cities where this new law is going to close the clinics including Houston
and Ft. Worth. They tell us they`re going to be registering voters along
the way, making sure people know exactly what is in this Republican bill.
They`re going after that majority of Texas voters who say they have not
heard enough about this fight to form an opinion on it yet.
Already today, there was dogged organizing at the capitol, signing up
voters and phone banking outside the hearing with all those protesters who
showed up to make themselves heard. The Texas state capitol was full again
today with people trying to stop this ban.
The protests against this bill are not stopping – 2,000 people signed
up to testify at the committee. This is not going away.
Still, though, if you consider just the votes in the legislature,
Texas Republicans should be able to pass this thing. They say they are
fast tracking it. They say thousands of protesters are not. They expect
to win on this thing.
In response, Texas Democrats say they have tricks up their sleeve,
still have cards yet to play and this thing is no sure bet for the
What are the Democrats planning? Why do they seem more confident than
they maybe ought to be given the numbers?
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS: This legislating is being done,
voted on. Look around the room, primarily by none. You can imagine, or
maybe you can`t, how a woman feels to be told that her feelings on these
issues, that no matter how difficult, no matter the circumstance that she`s
dealing with, if she can`t fit into every one of these little square pegs,
she is not going to be able to exercise her constitutional right. And
what`s so disturbing is that we don`t seem to care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: State Senator Wendy Davis of Texas during her marathon
filibuster of state`s draconian new proposed antiabortion bill last week.
Wendy Davis ran out the clock on the Republican-called special session
trying to pass that abortion ban last week.
But now, another special session has been called and Republicans in
Texas say they won`t have their plans foiled this time.
Joining us now for the interview is Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.
Senator Davis, thank you so much for being with us.
DAVIS: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So your filibuster made all the difference to beat the clock
in the first special session. What are – what are you planning, you and
your fellow Democrats planning now for the second special session?
DAVIS: Well, obviously, we`re not going to talk about our strategy
ahead of the game, but what we do know, obviously, and you talked about it
in the lead-in to the segment, thousands of people showed up to the capitol
today to testify and to observe the testimony. I expect that we`ll see
that same sort of turnout when the bill is heard in Senate committee
hearing, which is going to take place on Monday morning. It`s my
And we expect or hope that their voices will add in a way that makes a
difference in the way some of these lawmakers are considering this bill.
If not, and if Democratic leaders are not able to stop the passage of the
bill, I would be shocked if it weren`t immediately followed with some sort
of a suit to enjoin its enforcement based on it intruding upon the
constitutionally guaranteed liberties that exist in this country.
MADDOW: Do you think a lawsuit would be based on the efforts to close
clinics in the state or would it be based on the 20-week cutoff time for
when abortions would be allowed in the state if this thing passes?
DAVIS: I think the thing that is most repugnant to the constitutional
is this idea of infringing upon a woman`s liberty, and that protected right
to make that difficult decision. And with the closure of so many of these
clinics, but also, Rachel, included in this bill is the severe limitation
of the number of doctors that would actually be able to practice in this
arena. That severe limitation on her liberty I think is really going to be
the best thing that has the chance of a constitutional challenge.
MADDOW: It strikes me when I look at the overall situation here.
They obviously have the numbers in terms of the Republican majority and the
sizes of the majority in both Houses of the legislature, but so many people
blooding into the legislature, the attention that your filibuster has
brought to Austin.
It seems maybe the most important consequence has brought this far,
you making your Republican colleagues explain themselves, make them debate
these anti-abortion measures, making them not only put their arguments out
there but having it tested.
Do you feel like the open debate has really aired out the argument a
DAVIS: I think it`s helped a lot. I think it`s really exposed their
hypocrisy, because they really can`t defend this bill based on improving
women`s health care. And in fact, all objective medical scientists and
doctors who have weighed in on this have said this will endanger women`s
health. It will put women in the back into the alley that she once was in.
It won`t decrease the demand.
And what is amazing about this movement, that purportedly is to reduce
the need for the service in the state of Texas is that we as Democrats
asking for consideration of making sure that we truly do reduce unintended
pregnancies, and therefore, the need for a woman to make this difficult
decision. Those things are met with absolute opposition.
So adding women`s health services, making sure that we`re giving age-
appropriate sex education in our schools, those are off the table. And in
fact, in 2011, this legislature kicked about 160,000 women, this
Republican-controlled legislature, off of family planning services in
And we`re asking right now what happened as a consequence of that?
What happened to the demand for abortion services? What happened to the
demand for Medicaid births and the costs of Medicaid births in the state of
Texas? None of it makes sense with what purportedly is the agenda of this
Republican majority, particularly when it comes to matters of liberty.
Last session, Governor Perry vetoed a bill that would have prohibited
people from texting while driving. And he said that he vetoed it, in his
statement, because it was an unacceptable intrusion of government into a
person`s liberty. If that is an intrusion that`s unacceptable, I can`t
imagine how he can say with a straight face say that intruding upon these
very, very personal matters, constitutionally guaranteed matters of
liberties are somehow appropriate. It`s just absurd.
MADDOW: Senator Davis, your fight in Texas, your overall fight in
Texas, is getting a lot of attention in Texas. You, personally, are
getting a lot of attention around the country and in Texas. If have to ask
you if strategically you have an approach to try to leverage this kind of
moment in the sun that you`ve got towards the causes that you care the most
What is the advantage to you and to Texas Democrats of having so much
attention on this fight that you`re waging?
DAVIS: Well, for a very long time we felt frustrated, Rachel, that it
didn`t seem like people really understood what was going on in the Texas
capitol. And a lot of that is due to something that you talked about
Redistricting has assured that there really are not general elections
that take place here that really matter. Instead, we have poorly drawn
republic districts, and many fewer but purely drawn Democratic districts.
So, all the elections are taking place in primaries where these issues
don`t come to the surface and resonate in a way that people in our
communities across Texas really understand what`s happening.
I think that most Texans find themselves in the middle. They don`t
align with far, far right politics. Nor do they align with far left
politics. And they want to see us talking about and serving them in that
place in the middle.
But, unfortunately, their agendas are being hijacked by Republican
partisan politicians who are using issues that truly put people at risk.
That`s the most upsetting thing. It truly puts women and their health at
risk in order for them to feed their primary partisan politics, and to try
I hope that what this has done is shown that they will be answerable
in general election settings, and that voters have woken up in a way that
is going to hold them to that.
MADDOW: Wendy Davis, Democratic state senator of Texas, showing
tonight why it was not just your tactics in this fight that got you all
this attention, but it`s the way you explain yourself. Thank you very much
for your time. Please stay in touch with us as this moves forward. Thanks
DAVIS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is not an early Fourth of July celebration – yes, there
are fireworks and lasers and lots of crowd celebration. But this is about
another revolution in another country. This is going on in Egypt right
now. Egypt`s president was elected a year ago, after massive street
protests forced out the last guy. It forced out Hosni Mubarak who had been
in office for more than three decades.
But now, it is the new guy who is facing enormous pressure to resign.
Many Egyptians have been out in the streets demanding the resignation of
President Mohamed Morsi.
Yesterday, the military gave Morsi 48 hours to respond to the
protests. Essentially, they gave him a 48-hour ultimatum to find a
solution or the military would intervene somehow presumably to force him
out. President Morsi reacted today with his own demand that the military
withdraw its ultimatum to him. He also said he would not step down.
So, the military wants him to reconcile. The president and his
political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, say they want the military to butt
How does this end? Who`s going to back down?
Well, the clock ticks down towards the ultimatum deadline tomorrow,
the military deadline which should hit tomorrow morning on the East Coast
in the United States in the morning. The United States and Canada have
since both closed their embassies in Egypt. They have suspended consular
services. Non-essential staff have been sent.
Tahrir Square in Cairo is full at this hour in the middle of the
midnight. You may want to make some space in your schedule tomorrow to
tune in to the news early in the day tomorrow because of what`s happening
in the most populous country in the Middle East. What happens there over
the next 12 to 24 hours may very well change the world in a big way. Stay
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
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