The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/04/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
This is, of course, the fourth day of the shutdown of the federal
government. And apparently the fourth day is when the Democratic Party
starts pulling rabbits out of hats to try to save the Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: Good afternoon. Madam Speaker, all
of my colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.
We are announcing something good today. We are about to rescue the
Republicans who have gotten themselves in the unhappy position of the dog
that caught the car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Eighty-seven-year-old Congressman John Dingell of Michigan
today announcing the new Democratic plan, really more like a new Democratic
trick to try to end the government shutdown, even if the Republicans in
congress do not want to. Two of these Democratic tricks were actually
unveiled today. The first one they tried already and it didn`t work.
But the second one they are announcing, and it`s going to take a
while, but I suppose it might work. Here`s how this goes.
The guy on the right side of your screen here is a Republican. His
name is Pete Sessions. The woman on the left side of your screen is a
Democrat. Her name is Louise slaughter. She`s the top Democrat on the
rules committee, and he`s the top Republican on that committee, because the
Republicans are in charge in the House, that means that he is the chairman.
But even though she`s a Democrat and doesn`t chair the committee,
Louise Slaughter makes the most of her time on the rules committee. She`s
a bit of a schemer. She`s always coming up with something.
So, the first thing the Democrats tried today was a Louise Slaughter-
brokered trick, kind of an old trick, one that the Republicans once pulled
on Tip O`Neill back in the early 1980s. It`s basically a vote in which the
opposite party, the minority party, joins with a few rebels from the
majority to take over the House, to take over the House for just one vote.
It worked against Tip O`Neill back in the `80s. All the – he was a
Democrat, of course, right?
All the Republicans and a few conservative Democrats banded together
and voted to seize the floor from Tip O`Neill. Just for a second so they
could pass one vote. So they could pass something that President Reagan
wanted passed at the time.
This is an obscure parliamentary trick, and it almost never happens.
But if you have enough rebels in your speaker`s own party who are willing
to side against him for just one vote, theoretically and even sometimes
historically, this has worked. It`s worked in the past.
And Louise Slaughter tried to make it work again today. She tried to
get a handful of Republicans to join with all the Democrats to essentially
take over the House from John Boehner for just a second, for just one vote
– one vote with which, of course, they would pass a clean fund-the-
government bill and end the shutdown.
Louise Slaughter said yesterday that she was going to do this. She
tried it today, and it failed. No Republicans were willing to side against
John Boehner, even for just one vote. And so, it failed.
“Huffington Post” has been doing a running tally of which Republicans
have been saying that they don`t want a shutdown anymore, which Republicans
have been saying that they would vote for a clean bill to fund the
government, a clean bill to fund the government and stop the shutdown.
These are all the Republicans who have been telling the press,
particularly their hometown press, that they would happily vote for a bill
to fund the government, a clean bill. They don`t want a shutdown. All of
these guys have been saying they do not agree with Speaker John Boehner,
they would vote to fund the government cleanly, if only they were given the
chance to cash that vote.
These guys have all been saying that. But given the chance to
actually do it through the vehicle of Louise Slaughter`s old Tip O`Neill
trick today, none of these guys actually followed through and did what they
said they would do. Not a single one of them did what they have been
telling their constituents and telling the local press in their home
districts that they would do if they had a chance, even though Louise
Slaughter today gave them a chance to do it.
And that brings us to Democratic trick number two. It turns out there
were two rabbits in that old hat today. The second Democratic trick to try
to rescue Republicans from the shutdown today was announced that this
unexpected late Friday press conference from the House Democrats. As soon
as the Louise Slaughter plan didn`t work out, Democrats convened the press
to announce they had figured out another way to go about it.
Now, to be here clear, what`s going on is not Democrats making some
kind of offer to the Republicans in a negotiation about policy, right?
This is not a Democratic negotiating strategy that is evolving here.
Democrats are not trying to be persuasive to John Boehner or something.
What the Democrats are trying to do is steal John Boehner`s job. They`re
trying to figure out a procedural way, some sort of trick to maneuver
around him so they can restart the government even though he won`t do it.
More than enough Republicans have said publicly that they hold the
same positions that the Democrats do, which is that the government should
be started up again, and we should settle our policy issues through some
other means of fighting. More than enough Republicans have said that
publicly, that it should be possible.
But it`s left to the Democrats to try to find a way to make that true.
It`s left to the Democrats to try to find ways to let those supposedly more
moderate Republicans find a way to put their money where their mouths are.
So they tried the Louise Slaughter rule which effectively would have put
Louise Slaughter in charge of the house for a second instead of John
Boehner. That didn`t work.
Now, their plan is to take over John Boehner`s job, to maneuver around
him for one vote by using something that is technically called a discharge
petition. But which for the last few years at least everybody really just
thinks of as the Reese Witherspoon option. In the Reese Witherspoon movie
“Legally Blonde 2,” not only did the whole plot turn on a successful use of
a discharge petition, but Reese Witherspoon and her cast-mates did, in the
movie, basically a perfect job of explaining how one works.
So watch this here. What they are explaining here is now the
Democrats` best idea and probably our nation`s best chance for ending our
very real four-day-old government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS: I just don`t think I`m cut out for this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, we have a plan. Two words for you. Discharge
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With a couple hundred signatures, we can spring
Bruiser`s bill from the committee straight to the House floor for a vote.
WITHERSPOON: I don`t know. That sounds really complicated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve come farther than any of us while
maintaining your bounce and sparkle. We never sparkle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, none of us ever thought one person could
make a difference until you came along.
WITHERSPOON: Well, if I remember correctly, isn`t that, like, 218
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not that hard.
WITHERSPOON: Yes. Yes. I guess I know women with more shoes than
that. Wait, that`s me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elle, it`s time to finish what you started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Swelling music. And it works! In the movie it works.
Bruiser`s bill can`t come to the floor for a vote otherwise because the
speaker won`t let it come to a vote and it gets forced onto the vote by
Reese Witherspoon. She gets 218 signatures.
That`s enough to do and end around the speaker who`s blocking
something that most members of Congress want to vote for if only they had
the chance. It takes it out of the speaker`s hands. Yes, it is a plot in
a not-all-that-great movie. I`m sorry. But it`s also now a real thing.
And now honestly, it is the only plan to bring the government back from the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), CALIFORNIA: We are now in the fourth day of
our government shutdown. The question on everybody`s mind, then, how does
this shutdown end? One thing that`s becoming clear is that the – as the
shutdown drags on, the growing number of Republican members of Congress
want the opportunity to work with Democrats to end this crises. We have
seen this in press reports and I have heard it in my own private
conversation with my Republican colleagues.
Today, we`re offering my Republican friends and the American people a
way forward. We are initiating this afternoon a discharge petition under
the rules of the House that will finally allow a majority of the house to
freely express their will on whether or not to reopen the government
through a clean funding resolution. If a majority of members sign this
petition, House members can take up an up-or-down vote on reopening the
government as early as October 14th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that`s Congressman George Miller of California. He`s a
very close ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. And today, Miller went on
to say Democrats would love it I Republicans would restart the government
right now. But if Republicans won`t do that, then the “Legally Blonde 2”
rabbit is the rabbit that they found down in the bottom of the hat.
If these 22 Republicans really did mean it when they said they wanted
to vote to end the shutdown, then at least theoretically this tactic could
work. Put all the Democrats together with most of these guys, and bingo.
Because it theoretically could work, you started to see some
excitement about this idea on the left today. “Huffington Post” today led
with this as a possible solution all afternoon long. Over at “The Daily
KOs,” which is a real liberal hub online, the first recommended diary about
this plan finished with this little happy dance. Like Mr. T., I pity the
fool who went up against Nancy Pelosi in a game of vote whipping and
parliamentary maneuvers with death on the line!
And among these Democrats who proposed this plan, there is excitement.
In the Beltway press on the other hand, there is wall-to-wall eye-rolling
skepticism that anything like this could ever work. Discharge petitions
have not worked on Capitol Hill in a long time. The last one that worked
was 11 years ago on a campaign finance bill 11 years ago. Before that,
though, a few years before that, it worked on a gun rights bill.
I don`t know why the Beltway thinks that circumstances like those are
somehow more unusual, more special than what we`ve got right now. Which is
the first-ever shutdown of the federal government during wartime with no
end in sight. The Beltway, however, all the old hands think this cannot be
done. The beltway press thinks, sure, the Reese Witherspoon cure is cute,
but it could never work.
Why are they so sure? Let`s talk to a guy who thinks the whole idea
Joining us now is Steve LaTourette, who`s a former Republican
congressman from Ohio. He retired this year, I should say, during his nine
terms in office. He was known for being willing to criticize his own
party`s right flank when the mood struck him.
Congressman, thank you for being here tonight.
FORMER REP. STEVE LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: Well, Rachel, thank you. As
I told your producer, I can now cross this off my bucket list. I
appreciate being on the show.
MADDOW: This is a rare thing to be on a bucket list. I`ll try to not
think about that.
Am I right characterizing your position on this discharge petition as
basically that this is nuts, it can never happen?
LATOURETTE: Well, yes. I mean, if you took a snowball, Rachel, and
put it on a microwave oven, it has a better chance of survival that this
discharge petition. You know, John Dingell, you know, you watch these guys
at this press conference, it`s all tongue in cheek because discharge
petition and Louise Slaughter`s vote on the previous question, they almost
never, never work. And I would suggest that John Dingell, good friend
who`s been in the House over 50 years, the next time he puts his name on a
Republican discharge petition won`t be the first time.
MADDOW: So the parties never like to do this. It has happened. It`s
not historically unprecedented. We`ve got campaign finance bill in which
it happened. There`s a gun bill on which it happened.
MADDOW: The previous question, the Louise Slaughter trick today, that
did actually work against Tip O`Neill. Why is it impossible if there are
more than 20 Republicans who want that outcome and maybe this is the only
way to get it?
LATOURETTE: Well, it`s not the only way to get it, and I`ll be glad
to talk about that. But it`s not as simple. I mean, they want to say that
this is simple.
When you defeat the previous question, Louise Slaughter`s trick,
you`re not just abandoning the speaker for one vote. That, then, lets the
movement, Mrs. Slaughter, write any proposal she wants. The majority isn`t
going to do that. Nancy Pelosi wouldn`t do that.
As a matter of fact, if you look up all the Democrats who ever signed
a discharge petition when Mrs. Pelosi was speaker, they`re now called
former members because it doesn`t go over very well. And the same thing
with the discharge petition.
Now, that is an abrogation of the legislative process. It`s not the
way that things are supposed to get done. And it would be just as disloyal
of these 20 Republicans as it is disloyal of these 25 nuts that are holding
the country hostage.
MADDOW: When we think about how this is going to get resolved, I feel
like I`m not a great predictor in politics. If you go back and look at my
predictions, I`m the one with the shattered crystal ball. I don`t even
deserve to be in those contests.
But I feel like when I look at the Democrats right now both in
Congress and in the White House, I see zero percent chance that they will
turn either the shutdown or especially the debt ceiling into an opportunity
to negotiate policy points with the Republicans. Democrats, I feel like,
believe it`s an abrogation of the governing process to let this happen at
the end of a barrel of a gun. And therefore, I really see the only
solution as some sort of clean resolution being passed.
LATOURETTE: I do disagree with you. I would just go back when
President Obama was senator Obama. He didn`t think he was going to vote
and didn`t vote to raise the debt limit. You know –
MADDOW: But there was no chance that we were going to be up against
the debt limit when he did that. I mean –
LATOURETTE: Well, but you know what? That`s an answer without an
answer. I mean, either we pay the debts that we have incurred, as he has
suggested, or we don`t. And it doesn`t matter whether George Bush is the
president or Barack Obama is the president.
What – there is a way out. And the thing that sort of got lost in
the Democratic trickery is Ron Kind, Democrat from Wisconsin, went with
Charlie Dent, and indicated that there were members on both sides that
would vote for a C.R. if they dealt with something as small as the medical
Now, I know that`s horsing around with Obamacare, but, you know, 76
senators agreed to rescind the medical device tax. So there are ways out.
And I would suggest that, you know, here`s John Boehner`s position. That
you want us to extend the borrowing authority of the United States.
It`s reasonable then to have a conversation as to why we have to
borrow so much money. And that`s what he`s asking for. And I`m telling
you that there is a way out.
But, you know, the quote out of the White House today by somebody that
we`re winning, we`re winning, it isn`t about winning. This is about fixing
the country. And if everybody gives a little bit, you`ll have plenty of
votes and we`ll get out of here.
And the outliers on the right and left, they can go on MSNBC and FOX
News and say we got screwed. Who cares? Get 218 votes.
MADDOW: Fixing the country by threatening default is impossible. And
I think a dishonest way to think about it. I mean, I hear you that we
ought to be talking about long-term issues like the debt. Maybe there are
parts of Obamacare where they could find big bipartisan consensus.
But putting the potential for international economic catastrophe and
American economic collapse as the price of having that conversation now
instead of later, we just can`t – we can`t ever do it, ever.
LATOURETTE: No. And we`re not going to default. I`m going to tell
you, John Boehner is a friend of mine. We`re both from Ohio. I served
with him for 18 years. He`s not going to let that happen.
But the problem is – and the reason this isn`t working like Tip
O`Neill and Ronald Reagan, there is an absence of trust between the White
House and the House Republicans. Now, you can say – you can say, oh, it`s
Obama`s fault or it`s Boehner`s fault. It really doesn`t make any
And so, when the president says, I`ll talk to you all you want if you
just do this, it`s what I call the Wimpy statement. You`re not old enough
to remember Wimpy and Popeye. But, you know, Wimpy would go in and say,
hey, I`ll tell you what, I`d gladly pay you a Tuesday for the hamburger
today, the Republicans don`t buy that from the president.
MADDOW: Yes, if they were giving him a hamburger, OK. To keep the
government going, avoid catastrophe?
We could talk about this all night. I have a feeling we`d end up at
the same place.
MADDOW: But your willingness to have the conversation and the
civility and spirit with which you approach it, I really appreciate it,
LATOURETTE: My pleasure.
MADDOW: Former Congressman Steve LaTourette, Republican of Ohio. I
should tell you, he`s now president of the McDonald Hopkins lobbying firm.
All right. Here for the interview tonight is the one and only Dan
Rather. He is here in person.
Plus, there`s something spooky going on in a very big election that`s
happening in our country very soon that nobody`s paying attention to
because of the shutdown.
And also, there`s booze all ahead, all still to come.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: One thing about the shutdown that`s getting weirder with each
passing day is that it`s becoming less and less clear with each passing
day, why exactly we are doing this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MARLIN STUTZMAN (R), INDIANA: We`re not going to be – I mean,
we`re not going to be disrespected. And so that`s where we`re at today,
where we have to get something out of this. And I don`t know what that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I don`t know what that even – sometimes when you are arguing
really strongly for something but secretly you are not totally clear on why
you are arguing so strongly about it, it can get awkward. For example,
that`s how we got Congressman Marlin Stutzman.
But also consider Utah Senator Mike Lee. When Senator Lee told a TV
station in his home state this week, KUTV, that even though furloughed
staffers were going without their salaries, he would continue to get his
paycheck, BuzzFeed picked it up.
Mike Lee tells hometown press, quote, “I`m working, I`ll continue to
Once that quote ended up getting national attention, Senator Mike Lee
denied he had ever said it. His staff called BuzzFeed and tried to get
them to take down their quote, saying KUTV`s story is wrong. We have
called for a correction.
Really? You never said that? You never said, “I`m working, I will
continue to be paid”? The TV station was wrong? They made up that quote?
No, the TV station, it turns out, was not wrong, which the TV station
proved by releasing the tape of Mike Lee saying exactly that thing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHRIS JONES, KUTV: I`ve seen a list of dozens of senators and
congressmen who have decided they`re not going to take any pay during the
shutdown. Do you have any plans to do something like that?
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Ah, I don`t.
JONES: So, you will continue to be paid, right?
LEE: I`m working, I`ll continue to be paid.
JONES: Do you think it would speak to those employees that are trying
to make their mortgages that, hey, we`re on the same side? Or do you think
– do you think people are going to look at this and say, that doesn`t seem
quite fair to us?
LEE: Yes. I understand the point, and I`ve answered the question.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. The problem here is not that Senator Mike Lee wanted to
keep his paycheck. Whatever floats your boat, sir.
The problem here is that he had to pretend he did not say what he
actually said. And that kind of thing keeps happening because Republicans
in Congress do not seem to be sure of why they are doing what they are
doing anymore or how to explain it. Take also North Carolina Congressman
Mark Meadows. He`s the guy from the most Republican district in North
Carolina who wrote the letter to John Boehner a month ago with 80 other
Republicans as co-sponsors demanding that the government shutdown strategy
that we are now pursuing be pursued by John Boehner.
Mark Meadows is kind of the architect of the whole shutdown strategy.
He`s the guy who wrote the letter demanding it in the first place, but even
he has no idea how to explain what it is they`re doing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is the C.R. fight really about the Affordable Care Act
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: This fight now has become
about veterans and about National Guard folks that perhaps reservists that
are not getting paid, that`s where the fight is today. Obamacare is
mandatory spending. It`s going on.
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: So then why not vote on a full – just like full
C.R. if you don`t care about Obamacare anymore?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Good question. If this is not about Obamacare anymore, which
is exactly what you just said, if it`s just about how bad it is for all
these other parts of the government to be shut down, why not just open up
the government again? If it`s not about Obamacare and you don`t want the
government to be shut down and it`s terrible that the government is shut
down, why don`t you just stop shutting down the government? You could do
that. It`d be no problem.
Listen to how he answers that question from the NPR reporter. This is
amazing. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KEITH: So then why not vote on a full – just like full C.R. if you
don`t care about Obamacare anymore?
MEADOWS: Why not vote on – on a full C.R.?
KEITH: Yes, just a full C.R.! If Obamacare isn`t the issue anymore.
MEADOWS: Because twofold. One is that when you start to look – they
say clean C.R., that translates into truly a blank check, and so Obamacare
is an issue for me and my constituents, but what happens is today is we`ve
got to figure a way to open it back up. And with that, in opening it back
up, when we start to look at these issues, it is critical that we make it -
- the decisions we make to be as least harmful as they possibly can be.
KEITH: So can you explain –
MEADOWS: I`ve got to check on the next vote.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, you got – the – twofold, blank check, Obamacare is an
issue. What happens today is open it back up. Be as least harmful as it
possibly can opinion. It`s critical that we make it. Opening it back up -
- you know what? I really have to run.
That`s what`s called word salad. What that man just said right there,
no comprehende because nobody can quite articulate exactly why the
government is still shut down now. Even Republican pundits don`t know what
the shutdown is about now.
Look at this from “The Washington Post” today from Mark Thiessen.
“Quick: What do Republicans want in exchange for ending the government
shutdown? If you know the answer – congratulations – because Republicans
Does the fact that they cannot explain why they`re doing it anymore
make it any easier to end the crisis now?
Joining us is Senator Amy Klobuchar, from the great state of
Minnesota. She`s vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee.
Senator Klobuchar, thank you for being here.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Well, thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I feel like the Republican rationale for shutting down the
government was very clear at the beginning. They wanted to use shutting
down the government as leverage for trying to get rid of the Affordable
Care Act, trying to get rid of Obamacare. They are no longer trying to do
that. Do you know what they`re doing now?
KLOBUCHAR: They really can`t give an answer. They keep pointing to
these bills they had sent over last week which were clearly defeated by the
Senate. The president has made clear that he would veto their bills. And
now it is up to them.
And I don`t think it`s surprising. I was watching your first segment,
and I was thinking maybe you could have Reese Witherspoon of “Legally
Blonde” come and give a talk at the House. That might be nice to explain
how she got that discharge petition through. I was just picturing her up
there on the House floor.
But in any case, it`s no surprise that you now have over 20 House
members publicly saying that they want to simply vote on the Senate bill,
which as you`ve explained on the show before, is simply a six-week
extension, no bells and whistles, no extraneous legislation, to simply
allow us to negotiate on the bigger budget issues that we need to do.
And I don`t think they can explain that anymore, especially when many
of their own members are coming out and saying let`s just vote on it. And
certainly you see it, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, saying we
already passed this. It`s time for you guys to get this done.
MADDOW: Senator Klobuchar, you are, throughout your time in public
service, you have been known as somebody who has worked across the aisle.
You are a not particularly partisan politician, and you never have been.
I cannot get a lot of Republicans to come on this show, but I have had
a few in the last few days, including Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia,
former Congressman Steve LaTourette who I just spoke with – a lot of
people who I think of as very thoughtful, reasonable Republicans who
actually don`t want the government to be shut down.
But what they keep saying to me is – well, the way we should end this
is by negotiating on some policy points. And then the shutdown can end.
Or then we can avoid the debt ceiling. Is that actually what this is now
boiling down to, whether there should be a policy negotiation before the
gun is taken away from the country`s head or before we can wait until
after? Is that what it`s about now?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think first of all what we`re talking about here
is six weeks so that we can try to eliminate the sequestration, replace it
with a mix of spending cuts, revenue, some reform. There`s all kinds of
And I was glad to see that Speaker Boehner made very clear, Rachel,
that he was not going to let the country default on its debt, that we were
going to pay our bills. I thought that was a very good sign in the last 24
hours, that somehow they`ve realized that they`re going to have to get this
done so that then we can have that policy debate. I think discussions
always continue, but the fact that you have these Republicans coming out
now and saying get this open, and I think you`ve seen the effects of this.
We`ve seen – we just had a hearing in judiciary. Seventy percent of
our civilian employees in intelligence are now furloughed. The head of the
intelligence said, well, we`d put them back if we saw an imminent threat.
And so then we hear about NIH, 72 percent of their employees.
And I was thinking about the fact that they`re now deciding to fund
certain agencies in the government. It`s like a game of whack-a-mole.
Well, someone got mad about this, so we`ll fund that department.
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, there`s an antitrust suit that`s come up. Maybe we`ll
fund a few antitrust lawyers.
This is not how you fund the greatest nation in this world. This is
not how you fund the United States of America, this democracy that`s been
the basis for so many democracies around the world.
And so I think they`re coming to their senses. I don`t think it`s
going to happen tomorrow. I`m going to be on the Senate floor tomorrow
waiting for it to happen. But I think it`s going to take a few more days.
But we are somehow going to get a resolution to this and move forward and
be able to resolve some of these major issues that we need to resolve.
MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, buckling down for yet
another weekend at work. Thank you very much for your time tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: Very good.
MADDOW: Great to see you.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Reporter, analyst, proud Texan, Dan Rather, joins us straight
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN RICHARDS (D), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: And for eight straight
years, George Bush hasn`t displayed the slightest interest in anything we
care about. He`s like Columbus discovering America. He`s found child
care. He`s found education.
He can`t help it.
He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She`s actually talking about George Sr. there, believe it or
not. The great Ann Richards, a little dose of something to alleviate your
government shutdown anxiety. It`s coming up next.
MADDOW: Hey, here`s something that`s not about the shutdown. The
very first woman elected governor of Texas was this one. Her name is
Miriam Ferguson. She succeeded her husband as Texas governor after he was
impeached and thrown out of office for corruption. Everybody called her
husband Pa – Pa Ferguson.
And so when his wife decided that she would run for governor, it`s
only natural that they called her Ma Ferguson. Her campaign slogan was “Me
for Ma, and I ain`t got a darned thing against Pa.”
Ma Ferguson served two terms as Texas governor in the 1920s and the
1930s. “Time” magazine reported at the time that the Ku Klux Klan was
against her. She was anti-Klan, and they had their own candidate in the
race, but the Klan was unwilling to attack her directly because of her
gender, so they attacked her husband instead, calling him a buzzard, a
yeller dog, an old skunk and a he-viper.
I love the idea that a viper is a she unless you say otherwise. A he-
After Ma Ferguson, it took another 50 years for Texas to elect another
woman governor, and that, of course, was the great Ann Richards in 1990.
Even before Ann Richards got elected governor of Texas, she had a very
bright moment in the national spotlight when as Texas state treasurer, she
was given the keynote speaking slot at the 1988 Democratic Convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDS: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Buenas noches mi
I`m delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening
to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real
Texas accent sounds like.
RICHARDS: Twelve years ago, Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman,
Barbara made the keynote address to this convention. And two women in 160
years is about par for the course.
But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers
did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ann Richards was one of a kind. She was also the end of
appear era for Texas Democrats. There has not been a statewide elected
Democrat in that state in 20 years now.
Now, though, there is possible an inheritor to that legacy. Texas
state Senator Wendy Davis with a long record of service in her state, sky-
high name recognition, a national profile that any politician would want
and a place for her at the head of the ballot in a year when Democrats are
throwing everything they have into trying to nudge the state of Texas from
red into purple. Wendy Davis has now announced that she is running for
Joining us now for the interview to talk government shutdown and Texas
and all the rest is a proud Texan, Dan Rather. He`s anchor of the special
series “The Big Interview” on AXS TV. He`s also former anchor of “CBS
Dan, great to see you.
DAN RATHER, AXS TV: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: I want to talk government shutdown with you in just a moment.
But I do want to get your take on Wendy Davis announcing for governor. Is
it fair to see her in the light of Ann Richards?
RATHER: It is. Not the least of reasons being she`s a woman
candidate. But also, listen. Texas Democrats are gaga over Wendy Davis.
They really think they have a chance at winning. Now, “Texas Monthly”, for
one, has already decided the race is over. They and CNN have just said,
listen, you`re more likely to see water run uphill than you are to see
Wendy Davis elected.
MADDOW: Any Democrat.
RATHER: Any Democrat like she may do better than the 42 percent the
last Democrat got 45, 47 percent, no way. Their basic argument is she
can`t win. Texas is too red, deep red, blood red, no chance of being
purple. She`s not just an underdog. She says politically a dead dog.
Now, that`s the conventional wisdom of the state at the moment. And
one reason is Greg Abbott who will be her opponent on the Republican side,
Greg Abbott is a very attractive candidate. I can hear people booing the
television set. Texas Democrats –
MADDOW: He`s a pretty hardcore conservative.
RATHER: Oh, listen. He is so far to the right, such a hardcore
conservative, if you want to put it that way, he makes Rick Perry look like
a liberal and Ted Cruz look like a moderate. But he has his own story of
overcoming adversity. So that`s the reason that the so-called smart money,
so-called smart money says Wendy Davis basically has no chance.
Now, if Wendy Davis has a chance, if she has a chance, it will be that
she persuades the moderate Republican women and moderate independent women
that enough is enough, and she`s going to hammer home – listen, we can`t
afford to get into the kinds of political stalemate that we`ve been in one
For example, her opening slogan has been: “every kid deserves a fair
shot.” the state legislature and led by her opponent, among others, just
whacked the hell out of the public school budget, $5 billion or something,
while giving a multimillion-dollar test contract to some of their crony
friends. Anyway, the economy and education and appealing to moderate
women. I will say this. This is going to be a very expensive race. It
may be the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in the history of the
country. Remember Texas has so many television markets that have to be
MADDOW: And so few campaign finance rules.
RATHER: And very few. It will be an old Texas, old-time Texas
political knife fight.
RATHER: It`s certainly odds against Wendy Davis. But you know, I`ve
been around long enough. I`m not predicting she`ll win. If you have to
bet the trailer money, you bet she loses. But overnight`s a long time in
politics, a week is forever. And we`re talking about an election that
doesn`t happen a year from now. So let her rip.
MADDOW: It will be interesting to see if she runs a campaign, no
matter how close she gets, her chance of winning, if she`s able to maximize
every last Democratic voter in the state of Texas, what that – what kind
of effect that will have down ticket, too. That might change politics.
RATHER: It could.
MADDOW: Itself, yes.
RATHER: It should be mentioned that this will be campaign nasty
enough to gag a buzzard. That what they`re already trying to paint her as,
one, an abortion Barbie Doll, which from their view point has the
advantage. She`s also, quote, “hates guns”.
And if they have to go onto the dark side, she`s a single woman who`s
been single for quite a long while. You can bet the negative research
people are playing on this.
RATHER: It will be a down and dirty campaign.
MADDOW: Let me ask you, Dan, if you see any light at the end of the
tunnel in terms of the shutdown. I will tell you personally I`m happy to
see Democrats start turning up procedural tricks because I don`t see any
political hope right now so maybe it`s going to be procedural hope.
RATHER: Well, you should be interviewing somebody else because I
don`t at the moment.
MADDOW: Oh, great.
RATHER: I think we`re in for a long pull. I do think finally in the
end, we won`t default. We won`t go into default. I think the Republicans
– they`ve given up. They`ve surrendered on that to a degree. We`re not
going to shut the country down on the default, that is run the risk of
wrecking our economy, and for that matter, wrecking the global economy.
By the way, I think one reason that Boehner, the House speaker, came
out with that is around the country, it`s less now about what can we do
about Obamacare than are we going to crash the economy again?
MADDOW: Yes, on purpose.
RATHER: While wasting billions of dollars, and many people see this
as day five of America held hostage, and that`s the box Republicans have
painted themselves into.
MADDOW: Dan Rather, host of the special series, “The Big Interview”,
which airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on AXS TV.
Dan, as always, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much, sir.
RATHER: Thank you. Thank you very much.
All right. Still to come, the connection between the government
shutdown, an old barn in New Hampshire, a smoking carpenter and 1.5 ounces
of fine white rum.
That is straight ahead.
MADDOW: So, I have the government shut down. Have you heard? If it
you`ve heard any of the news about politics, that is what you have heard.
Because of that, a lot of people this week have not heard about a big-deal
politics story that has just blown up in Virginia inside the biggest
political contest this year which is the one for Virginia governor.
Right now, the Republican candidate, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli,
is trailing in the polls. The latest NBC/Marist poll has Ken Cuccinelli
behind by five. The latest “Washington Post” poll has him behind by eight.
But there`s still a month to go, so Ken Cuccinelli is campaigning like
crazy, like a guy who`s losing the race with only a month left. He
recently had Ted Cruz come to Virginia on his behalf.
The Democrat in the race, Terry McAuliffe is also campaigning like
right now, too. But despite all the campaigning and drive-bys by the
national politicians, and despite how high the stakes are in this very
important election, voter turnout in Virginia still expected to be super
Number one, it`s an odd year with nothing else on the ballot. Number
two, honestly, nobody who was not related to these guys particularly likes
either one of them. So, voter turnout is not expected to be high. But
that increases the importance of each voter, and that makes any change on
who`s eligible to vote a bigger than usual deal.
And right now, with nobody paying attention at all, the Virginia board
of elections has decided to purge nearly 60,000 voters off the rolls in
Virginia right before this election. In response on Tuesday of this past
week, excuse me, Tuesday of this week, federal government shutdown day, the
Virginia Democratic party filed a lawsuit against defendants who include
current Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, and Ken Cuccinelli himself, the
lawsuit alleging a political motivation for that purge of nearly 60,000
people off the voter rolls right before everybody`s supposed to vote.
In Loudoun County, the registrar there initially decided that this
purging was a really sensitive thing and it ought to wait until after the
governor`s race. Wait until after the election to go through a list of
more than 2,000 names that the state government had told her to purge. But
when the state government learned that she was waiting until after the
election they instructed her that actually she needed to start immediately,
actually, she needed to start the purge today.
So far, she says she has discovered more than 400 people whose names
were on the list of those to be purged who actually are legitimate eligible
voters. In Fairfax County, the most populous county in the state where
voters almost always lean Democrat, the Republican majority elections board
there is showing no such reluctance to throw people off the rolls, the
state sent Fairfax a list of 8,000 names that they wanted purged. Fairfax
County went ahead and purged more than 7,000 voters taken off the roll,
these people now ineligible to vote, only a month before the election in
the biggest largely Democratic county in the state.
If you feel like you have heard this song before it`s because you
have. Republican secretary of state in Colorado tried the same thing last
summer right before the presidential election, tried to purge thousand of
Coloradans off the rolls. Even when local officials resisted. That guy,
Scott Gessler, is running as Republican candidate for governor in Colorado.
Same thing happened last year in Florida. Republican Governor Rick
Scott`s election office tried to purge tens of thousand of Floridians off
the voters` rolls before the presidential election, despite fierce
resistance from even Republican local officials.
Rick Scott is now running for re-election as the Florida governor.
But if you believe the polls, he is likely to lose the race, to former
governor and now Democrat Charlie Crist.
In Colorado and Florida last year, though, these purge efforts got
noticed. There was a humongous national election going on. People were
paying very close attention. Because of that, there was a political
backlash, big fight in both of those states.
This time around in Virginia, nobody is paying much attention, at
least not yet. We`ll watch this space.
MADDOW: OK, a week from tonight in Keene, New Hampshire, there is
going to be a showing of a movie that has never been shown before, at least
not in modern times. It is a silent film from 1911, starring Mary
Mary Pickford was the biggest movie star who ever was. In the teens
and 1920s there is a case to be made she was the single most famous woman
in the whole world. She was also very smart about the business. She
insisted on ownership of her content. She negotiated around contracts,
starting when she was a teenager. She was a filmmaker herself. She
produced. She joined with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks and D.W.
Griffith to found United Artists, so filmmakers and artists could control
their own studio instead of having to work for someone else.
Mary Pickford was kind of amazing. She broke the mold and they broke
it after her when she was gone.
In 2006, in southern New Hampshire, a local carpenter named Peter
Massey was hired to knock down an old barn. He decided he was going to
check through the barn, check it through and through to make sure it was
totally empty before he started knocking it down.
And lo and behold inside the barn, slated for demolition he found a
stack of film canisters, tucked away in the eaves of the barn, long
forgotten. One of those film reels contained this film which everyone
thought was lost to history. This is from 1911. And the studios at the
time didn`t want their movie stars getting too famous. They didn`t want
any body getting billed too highly with the public because then they
thought actors would demand more money.
So, the studios liked to not really credit their actors. That 10
minute silent film found in eaves of that old teardown barn in New
Hampshire was the first Mary Pickford movie where she beat the system and
got her name in the credits on the poster and on the ads. This was the
start of Mary Pickford`s real stardom, for the greatest movie star ever.
And there were three great strokes of luck that saved it from history
so it can be shown in Keene State next Friday. First, obviously, the
carpenter, Peter Massey thinking to look around in that barn, finding the
film canisters before they started demo.
Second stroke of luck was that the film didn`t blow up. It was on
nitrate film stock, which is really highly flammable.
And Peter Massey, the carpenter, told “The Associated Press” he didn`t
know it was flammable and he drove around with the canisters in the cab of
his truck for a long time while he drove around smoking cigarettes. Then
he brought the canisters home, parked the cans of film next to his wood
stove. But, luckily they did not blow up. So that was stroke of luck
Stroke of luck number three, though, is that the film professor who
the carpenter called to find out what was on these old film reels that
we`re all stuck together and messy, who knows what`s on them, the professor
he called, called an archival film place, and got enough handle on what was
there to realize, oh, man this is really important historic stuff. And
when he realized he might have something important, a missing link in the
great history of American film, he thought, to call somebody associated
with the library of Congress. And a library of Congress recognized the
historic significance of that find from the barn from the movie star lost
to the ages and the library of Congress agreed to finance the restoration
of the film.
And so, the first film in which the greatest movie star ever was
allowed to be a movie star in her own name instead of the property of some
studio has been rescued from time and from fire and it will have its re-
premiere next week in New Hampshire. Tonight and all this week, of course,
the library of Congress is shut down along with the rest of the federal
government. In part, because the people who have insisted on the shutdown
think we are better off without most of what the federal government does.
If you care to disagree, I will show you how to make a Mary Pickford.
All right. You need white rum – good white rum – which means it
shouldn`t taste like hairspray. That`s the test, 1 1/2 ounces of white
This is a classic drink modified from its original proportions a
little bit by John Gertzen (ph), who is the manager of drink in Boston, to
make it both the right size and a little bit more palatable. So, 1 1/2
ounces of white rum, one ounce of pineapple juice, and then a quarter ounce
of two ingredients little harder to find but you will be fine, trust me. A
quarter ounce of grenadine, and a quarter ounce of maraschino.
And the great thing about any sort of drink with pineapple juice is
that when you shake it up, it gets really frothy on the top like the head
on top of a beer that comes out of a keg. So when you shake it up, you
will have a nice, frothy Mary Pickford drink. That`s how you know you have
done it right.
I don`t know if I have enough time.
See, frothy, like I said.
All right. I have to tell you something. Alec Baldwin`s show
premiere`s next Friday at 10:00. And that`s very exciting.
But it also that means this is probably the last night for it. This
probably the last night I get to do this – but I will always cherish the
opportunity I have had, all of these years, to, on Friday nights, give you
a toast – and send you to prison.
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