The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/17/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
OK, this is the Infiniti Q70. This is the Honda CRV. This is an Audi
that`s called the S4.
This is the Lincoln MKS, not to be confused with the Lincoln MKZ.
This is the BMW X6M. This is a KIA called the K900.
Behold the Mazda CX5. This is a Mercedes called the SLK55AMG. This
is the Ford F-150 FX4, which is what I have in the driveway at home.
And don`t get me wrong. I love cars. I love cars. I love cars too
But once upon a time, cars had names, right? Once upon a time,
shopping for cars wasn`t like reading a bar code – the S4, CRV, Q70, MKS,
Once upon a time not that long ago if you wanted to go shop, say, for
a Cadillac, a new one or a used one, you`d have to know the names of the
cars. You`d have to know the names of the line-up. You`d have to know,
for example, that the biggest Cadillac was the Cadillac de Ville. And then
the next size down was the Cadillac Seville.
And then for a brief moment from the late 1990s to the early 2000s,
there was a little Cadillac as well, and that was called the Cadillac
Catera. And nobody really liked the Cadillac Catera.
So when it came time for Cadillac to do what the rest of the car
industry was already doing, when it came time for Cadillac to start
dropping the names off its vehicles in favor of a hard to remember system
of similar letters and numbers, Cadillac let the dreaded Catera go first
into that dark tunnel. Nobody cried when they dropped the name Cadillac
Catera and instead calling it the Cadillac Catera Touring Sedan, better
known by its abbreviation, which they put on the back hood, the CTS.
The CTS stands for the Catera Touring Sedan. But nobody called it
that. They just started calling it the CTS. And over time, the CTS
stopped being the terrible car that the Catera was and it started being a
really nice car.
But the trend of dropping the names, that spread, just as the Catera
touring sedan turned into the CTS, the Cadillac de Ville, the big one, also
had to lose its name. A few years after they dropped the Catera thing,
they turned the De Ville into the De Ville Touring Sedan, the DTS.
The beautiful stalwart American icon Cadillac Seville, the Seville,
which had been the land yacht of American fake kings since 1975, the
Cadillac Seville in 2004 it too lost its name. It became the Cadillac
Seville Touring Sedan, the Cadillac STS.
But when they dropped the name Seville, that great name, and they
brought it back as the STS, that car was brought back as the flagship of
the Cadillac line. They retired the Seville name. They brought it back as
And the STS was the ultimate Cadillac at the time. You could get a
bigger Cadillac. You could get a smaller Cadillac. But you could not get
a more expensive Cadillac. The STS absolutely top of the line.
And as any car dork will tell you, if you are a car dork and you have
fallen in love with a particular car that`s a brand new model or a brand
new redesign of an old model, the year that you want to buy that car if you
can, whether you`re buying new or used, the year you want to buy of any new
model car or any totally redesigned model car, the year you want to buy is
the first year of that new model year, because that`s the year they make it
the best. That`s when they get reviewed. That`s when they know
everybody`s going to look at it and deal with all the fit and finish
issues. That first year, that`s what you want.
If you fell in love with that car and you want to drive the top-of-
the-line Cadillac newly redesigned STS, if that was the car for you, you
made sure to buy it in the first model year. 2005 was the first model
year. And you know who had a 2005 Cadillac STS in piano black? Joe Biden.
Vice President Joe Biden, yes, he did. He had a jet black 2005
Cadillac STS, the first model year of the total redesign of the baddest-ass
Cadillac that there was at the time. The STS came in a V8 or in a V6.
Naturally he got the V8, had the push-button start, had heated and cooled
front seats and back seats, Bose speakers with the special tweeters. He
got the all-wheel drive package. And yes, of course it`s black. Oh, yes,
yes, it is.
And we know this because that exact car is now for sale. A kid in
Delaware bought it at the end of Joe Biden`s lease without knowing whose it
had been before he bought it.
But see, that car, because it was totally loaded and it had
everything, it had the Bluetooth thing for syncing your car with your
phone, and when the kid went into the Bluetooth of the new car that he just
bought off a lease from the dealer, he says there were old phone numbers in
the Bluetooth system. For somebody named Beau and somebody named Hunter
and a few different numbers for somebody named Jill. Those, of course, are
the names of his sons and his wife and Delaware`s not that big. And if you
had a black Cadillac in Delaware with numbers in the dash for Beau and
Hunter and Jill it wouldn`t really be that hard to figure out.
The kid says he also got the warranty information from the dealer
where he bought it and that warranty information confirmed that oh, my God,
yes, I just accidentally bought Joe Biden`s car.
The young man says it is in good condition inside and out. He does
say it needs shock absorbers. And also some minor engine work and also an
air filter and also a fan belt. But still, he`s asking $15,000 for the
car, which depending on the mileage looks to me to be about the Blue Book
value times a gazillion for this vehicle.
But hey, there`s a Joe Biden premium. This was Joe Biden`s car. So
I`m not saying the 15 grand is not worth it, regardless of what the miles
According to the Craigslist ad at least, Mr. Biden leased the vehicle
from 2005, when it was brand new, first model year of the new redesign,
yes, leased the car from 2005 until 2008. And we can guess that he loved
it all that time.
But in 2008, you might imagine that he ended the lease because a
little something came up.
I`m sure it is an awe-inspiring and very exciting experience to be
elected president of the United States, as Barack Obama was in 2008, or to
be elected vice president of the United States, as Joe Biden was in 2008.
But one of the very real-world consequences of that happening to you is
that you don`t get to drive yourself anymore, ever, anywhere. Unless they
buy you a pretend ranch in Texas for the duration of your presidency, I
guess whereupon they will let you drive around in the back yard of your
pretend ranch as long as you don`t go on any of the roads.
If you`re not going to pretend to be a rancher while you are president
or vice president, having that job means no driving for you. And some
presidents and vice presidents have taken that harder than others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, by the
way, you guys, everybody wants to know whether or not I`m going to run for
president. There`s a lot of reasons to run for president. But there`s one
overwhelming reason not to run for president. I`d like to get that Z06
with 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds, 3.4 seconds.
You tack that sucker up to 6 grand and it comes out of the hole like a
The press – I`m going to say it anyway. I was talking to the
chairman of General Motors and I said, God, I`d love to drive this sucker.
And I said, the only place they let me drive is on the test track with the
Secret Service. They said maybe we could arrange to have one there. I may
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Vice presidents and presidents do not get to drive themselves
anymore when they are elected. But in 2008, when Joe Biden still
apparently held the lease on this sweet caddie with the top-of-the-line
Northstar V8, that year he hedged his bets on the election. Joe Biden was
on the ballot in Delaware twice in November of 2008. Had he lost one of
those elections on that ballot and won the other one, he actually could
have kept the car.
It`s a weird thing to run for two offices at once, right? But that is
what Joe Biden did in 2008. He was up for re-election for his Senate seat
that year. And, of course, he was also on the ballot for vice president,
as Barack Obama`s running mate.
But look, here`s the ballot. Look. Can we zoom in? Yes, zoom in to
the first two lines there. You see, in the same election, in the same day,
in the same state, on the same ballot, the same guy, Joe Biden, is running
against two different people. He`s running against both Sarah Palin and
Christine O`Donnell – Christine O`Donnell. He`s running against Sarah
Palin for vice president and Christine O`Donnell for senator.
Lucky guy, right? Those were his opponents. So yes, Joe Biden won
both of those elections in Delaware that day.
If Obama and Biden had lost, if Joe Biden had lost the vice presidency
and still won that senate seat that day, Mr. Biden could have gone back to
the Senate with his awesome Cadillac. Fortunately, for him since he won
both election that day, he did get to keep the vice presidency. He did
lose the car and he resigned his Senate seat.
One of Mr. Biden`s staffers took over his Senate seat in 2008,
essentially as a caretaker until a special election could be held. The “I
am not a witch” lady, Christine O`Donnell, she ran again for that Senate
seat. This time she ran against not Joe Biden but a Democrat named Chris
That is how Delaware got its current Democratic senator, Chris Coons.
And that is how the nation got our current vice president. And that is how
some kid in Delaware was able to add I think roughly $10,000 to the price
of that used Cadillac that he is trying to sell right now on Craigslist.
I have one more detail about that Craigslist house – Craigslist ad
that I`m going to share with you in just a moment. You have to hold on for
it. It`s so great.
But the reason Vice President Biden was able to run for those two
seats at once in Delaware in November 2008 is actually because of LBJ. In
1960, Lyndon Baines Johnson, he was up for re-election in the Senate, and
he was also running for president. He did not of course win the nomination
for president in 1960. That honor went to John F. Kennedy. But then Mr.
Johnson did get tapped to run as Mr. Kennedy`s vice presidential nominee.
And even with that second choice job to run for, LBJ still had the problem
of his Senate seat being up at the same time.
Lyndon Johnson had served two terms in the Senate by this point. He
was the majority leader in the Senate. He was really powerful. He was
really good at being a senator. And he really didn`t want to give up that
base of power for himself.
But Texas stay law at the time was a problem. Texas state law at the
time said you can`t run for two offices at the same time. You can`t run
for re-election as a senator and for vice president. Johnson by law
couldn`t be on the ballot to be re-elected senator and be vice president at
the same time.
And so, if he had followed that law then the cost of running for the
vice presidency and losing would have been Johnson holding no public office
at all. And that, of course, was totally unacceptable to Lyndon Johnson.
So he had that Texas law changed.
It`s a fascinate thing. Robert Caro wrote about this in “The Passage
to Power.” Quote, “Solving that problem required no more than a phone call
from Lyndon Johnson to Ed Clark, Texas` secret boss, who in fact took care
of the matter in the Texas legislature for LBJ. On April 20th, 1959, over
the violent objections of a little band of liberals, the Texas legislature
passed a special act which preserved the two-office prohibition except in
the case of a candidate who`d been nominated for both a statewide office
like U.S. senator and also for the office of president or vice president of
the United States.”
So, they changed the law just so LBJ could run for re-election for his
Senate seat and run for vice president at the same time. It`s the whole
reason they changed it and they tailored it right to him. And they called
that law in Texas the LBJ Law.
And it let Mr. Johnson keep his Senate seat in reserve just in case he
and JFK had lost that national election. Turns out he didn`t need it, he
did fine. But he had that Senate seat in reserve just in case.
Then almost 30 years later, it was Lloyd Bentsen who used that LBJ law
in Texas for himself. When Lloyd Bentsen ran as the vice presidential
running mate of Michael Dukakis in the same year that he was also running
for re-election as Lloyd Bentsen the senator.
Now, unlike LBJ, it turns out Lloyd Bentsen did need that little bit
of insurance. He did need the LBJ law more than LBJ did because Lloyd
Bentsen and Michael Dukakis did not win the vice presidency and the
presidency, but because he was able to be on the ballot for both races in
Texas, Lloyd Bentsen did hold on to his senate seat that same night in that
same election, and so he got to go back to Washington anyway.
And it wasn`t just Texas because it turns out those LBJ laws other
states started to realize that their politicians might want to do the same
thing. After Texas changed its law specifically for LBJ in the 1960
election, a lot of other states around the country made the same tweak to
their laws because these were widespread state laws that banned people from
running for two offices at once. So, Connecticut passed an LBJ law.
That`s how Joe Lieberman was able to go back to Washington as a senator
from Connecticut even though that re-election campaign for him was the same
campaign, the same year where ultimately the Supreme Court gave the
presidency and vice presidency to Bush and Cheney instead of Gore and
Same deal in Wisconsin in 2012, actually, where Mitt Romney chose a
member of the House to be his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, of
Wisconsin`s 1st district. Members of the House have to run for re-election
every even-numbered year. 2012 was no exception for Paul Ryan. He was up
So, there was this weird spectacle of the Paul Ryan for Congress
Twitter account. See, that`s the address there. Paul Ryan for Congress
tweeting out pictures of a Paul Ryan for Congress sign stuck into some
Wisconsin lawn literally right next to a Paul Ryan for vice president sign.
Of course, you can only hold one of those offices at one time. But in
Wisconsin, they had an LBJ law, so he was allowed to run for both at once.
So, Wisconsin has an LBJ law. And Joe – and Paul Ryan benefited from
it there. Just like Joe Lieberman benefited from Connecticut having an LBJ
law. Just like Joe Biden and his black Cadillac benefited from Delaware
having an LBJ law.
Lots of states have LBJ laws that allow people to run for a national
office while they`re also running to hold on to the existing office just in
case. Lots of states have LBJ laws. But not all the states have them.
The state of Kentucky, for example, doesn`t have one. In the state of
Kentucky, it`s illegal for a person`s name to be on the ballot in the same
election for two different offices. You cannot simultaneously run for two
different things in Kentucky.
And yes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is up for re-election in 2016. If
Rand Paul wants to run for president or vice president, he cannot also run
for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat at the same time.
And so, like LBJ did 55 years ago, Rand Paul is trying to fix this.
Rand Paul has realized that he`s got a real 2016 problem. He`s now gone to
the state legislature in Kentucky sort of quietly and asked them to please
change that state law so that he, Rand Paul, can run simultaneously to hold
on to his U.S. Senate seat while he`s also running for higher office, too,
on the same ballot on the same night in the same state.
And a kind of amazing thing just happened around this issue, which is
that Kentucky said no to Rand Paul. The Republicans control the Senate in
that state, and the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, they did pass
the bill that Rand Paul wanted them to pass. But the assembly is
controlled by the Democrats in Kentucky, led by Speaker Greg Stumbo, who
you see here. And Speaker Greg Stumbo just flat out said no, we are not
changing the state law for Rand Paul.
As soon as Rand Paul started asking for Kentucky to change this law,
Mr. Stumbo was really very clear about it. He told the “Courier Journal,”
“We kind of take the position over here that a man who can`t decide which
office he wants to run for isn`t fit to hold either office.”
And so the Kentucky Democrats said no. Or to be more specific, they
just let the clock run out on the legislative session where they would have
had to pass the bill. They let the clock run out without ever acting on
it. And they are palpably gleeful about shoving this in Rand Paul`s face.
Look, here`s Mr. Stumbo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. GREG STUMBO (D), KENTUCKY: Still reading it. We can`t
decide what it says.
REPORTER: There`s only one paragraph.
STUMBO: Well, you know, two offices. One says Senate. One says
president. Check one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We couldn`t possibly act on it. We`re still reading it.
Weeks later. It`s only the one paragraph.
But that is how Kentucky Democrats laughingly made it this week so
that Rand Paul really might have to give up his U.S. Senate seat if he
wants to run for president.
And, you know, maybe this will get sorted out some other way. Maybe
Republicans in Kentucky will talk the Democrats into changing their minds.
They`d have to talk the Democratic governor into changing his mind, too.
Or maybe the Republicans will take over that House in the legislature
in Kentucky next year somehow and then they can do it on their own. But in
the absence of something like that happening, this is a weird little quirk
in the states that hasn`t received any national play at all, but it might
have really big implications for national politics.
And, of course, for Mr. Paul and his national ambitions, this calls
into question of whether or not he and his father`s brand of Republicanism
is actually about holding office and not just running for it. I don`t mean
to cast aspersions when I say this. But Ron Paul was basically a lifelong
protest candidate for national office. The platform for his views, the
support and fund-raising prowess that he could demonstrate to his own
party, giving his views more seeming viability within the Republican Party,
hoping to nudge the party in that direction. There was reasons for him to
run as a protest candidate.
But no one, including Ron Paul, I think, ever thought that he was ever
anything but a protest candidate, that he was ever actually going to be
president. Running was its own end. He held on to that House seat from
Texas for decades. You know, casting protest votes and passing zero
legislation and every four years, he would run for president in order to
build support for the Paulite brand of the Republican Party.
Nobody knows if Rand Paul is just chapter two of that legacy, if he
too is playing just to play instead of playing to win.
But as foreign policy moves back into the forefront of national
politics, thanks to Russia, and as the Republican establishment gets its
claws out this week against Rand Paul`s foreign policy ideas, which drive
them crazy, they`re absolutely apoplectic that he could be taken seriously
as a Republican with the isolationist foreign policy ideas that he has –
while all that is happening at a substantive level, at a procedural level,
this weird little hurdle that Rand Paul just did not clear in Kentucky as
the Kentucky Democrats laughed in his face about it, that little hurdle may
call into question as to whether or not the Republican Party is going to be
able to keep swatting him down as a relatively inconsequential senator the
way his dad was a relatively inconsequential congressman, or whether this
round of the Paul family might actually be willing to run for office in a
way that he would have to win and not just play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUMBO: Still reading it.
REPORTER: You`re still reading it?
STUMBO: We can`t decide what it says.
REPORTER: It`s only one paragraph.
STUMBO: Well, you know, go to two offices. One says senate. One
says president. The whole sentence. Check one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Check one. Senate or president, that was the Democratic
speaker of the Kentucky House, which this week has upset Senator Rand
Paul`s plans for his grand political future. Mr. Paul wanted Kentucky to
change a state law so he could both run for re-election in his senate seat
in 2016 while also potentially making a much riskier run for president or
Kentucky Democrats took one look at that request and said, no, we are
not doing it, even though lots of other states around the country have.
Senator Paul doesn`t just have Democrats in the Kentucky legislature
stymieing his plans right now, though. He`s also got the Republican Party
establishment against him right now. Most vituperatively because of his
views on foreign policy, which of course are taking center stage right now
because of what`s going on with Russia.
Joining us now is Nicolle Wallace. She`s former communications
director for the George W. Bush administration and senior adviser to the
McCain-Palin presidential campaign.
Nicolle is someone with whom I basically disagree with everyone on
NICOLLE WALLACE, FORMER G.W. BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But I love
the word vituperously.
MADDOW: Thank you.
WALLACE: It`s awesome.
MADDOW: I overuse it.
WALLACE: I love it.
MADDOW: I`ll send it home with you with flash cards so you can use it
in regular conversation.
WALLACE: I think it`s there. I know my limits.
MADDOW: Foreign policy is back on the front burner because of world
events. Rand Paul drives sort of establishment Republicans crazy about
WALLACE: Well, let me say a couple things about Rand Paul. One, he
certainly deserved to have – you laid out at the beginning of the show all
of the precedent over decades, over generations of politicians having the
privilege of running for two offices. It`s a privilege.
MADDOW: Both parties, all over the country.
WALLACE: So, this was clearly political, that he`s been deprived of
Rand Paul also has a lot of grassroots support in the Republican Party
and also among younger sort of self-identified libertarians and
independents. What people who have served in government, what people who
keep an eye on foreign policy not just in Russia but in the global war on
terror and the ongoing threat that we face as a country from Islamic
extremism, in the measures and the counterterrorism measures that two
presidents who agree on very little both did basically the same thing on,
the Bush counterterrorism policy that`s were created were largely left
unchanged by –
MADDOW: Not largely, but some of the most controversial –
WALLACE: The drone policy was accelerated. The NSA program was more
than Cheney ever could have dreamed of in his wildest fantasies. I mean,
Obama has done things in very much the same vein as the Bush
So, there`s a lot of concern not just from Republicans but from people
who have an idea of the threats that we face as a country with Rand Paul`s
views on a lot of those issues.
MADDOW: So, Rand Paul`s views on a lot of those issues appeal to both
people who are critical of the Obama administration on those things and
people who are critical of the legacy of the Bush administration.
WALLACE: Right. And I don`t think it`s a political opportunism for
him. I think the thing about Rand Paul that appeals is he is a convicted
candidate who believes what he believes because those are his views and
that`s what he thinks is in the best interests of the country.
MADDOW: So my question is how important is foreign policy to the
Republican Party? Because – and I don`t mean this in a mean way. But the
nominee in –
WALLACE: You never mean it in a mean way.
MADDOW: Well, I`m not – I don`t have mean feelings about it. But I
do feel like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were absolute dunces when it came to
foreign policy. I think they were laughably bad on the issue, to the point
where, you know, they`d forget to bring up the war, you know, and stuff.
It just – and it – they were good at a lot of things. They were
terrible about that. And what was clear to me about that was it just
wasn`t important. It wasn`t part of why they were picked. Wasn`t part of
why they were chosen against their rivals.
I feel like John McCain was sort of the last hurrah of the Republican
Party in terms making foreign policy an issue. And I don`t know anybody
else in the Republican Party who does.
WALLACE: You hit on something important. It`s not that it wasn`t
important to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It wasn`t important to the
American voter. The voter was very focused –
MADDOW: Well –
WALLACE: The voter was very focused, the voters in both parties were
almost exclusively focused on the economic crisis in 2008. And neither
Barack Obama nor John McCain had too much opportunity to focus on exactly
what they would do on foreign policy.
MADDOW: Well, but to be fair, I think the Obama-Biden re-election
campaign could be boiled down to GM`s alive and bin Laden`s dead. They did
actually – Democrats were willing to talk about foreign policy. The vice
presidential debate –
WALLACE: And Mitt Romney about did talk about Russia being the
MADDOW: Number one geopolitical foe.
WALLACE: They both had things to say. But no, it is a political
reality that foreign policy did not drive or determine the outcome of the
elections in 2008 or 2012 –
MADDOW: I would agree with you that it didn`t in the Republican
primary. I think it`s an open question as to the general.
WALLACE: Well –
MADDOW: I don`t think anybody –
WALLACE: Exit polls. I don`t think foreign policy ranked in the top
three issues in either 2008 –
MADDOW: But if the Republican Party does care about foreign policy
and that`s part of the reason that there`s this Rand Paul is unacceptable
freak-out that`s going on right now, which has this great wrinkle in terms
of him having to decide he doesn`t want to be a senator if he wants to run
for president. Who is acceptable and viable on the Republican Party on
WALLACE: Well, let me just say the Republican freak-out is about
having a commander in chief who draws red lines and then doesn`t enforce
them. If we`re freaking out about things, it`s about our standing in the
world. And Republicans are freaking out about that. Republicans who,
again, pay attention to foreign policy above other issues are alarmed by
Rand Paul`s positions –
MADDOW: But who they like?
WALLACE: Well, I think there`s going to be a robust debate. And I
think it`s really important that you`re pointing out this distinction and
divide in the Republican Party because it is real and I think it is more
divisive than the issues a lot of other people focus on. There is a base
of the Republican Party who really sees a strong America, who believes we
have – who almost has this view of American interventionalism that we have
a moral purpose.
And that`s not a right-left divide. It really is a philosophical
divide about America`s role in the world. But there is a growing segment
of the Republican Party that believes in more isolationism along the lines
of what Rand Paul believes.
So, this is going to be a big, loud debate.
MADDOW: And my point is that they don`t have a candidate, that they
know what they don`t want. But they have no idea –
WALLACE: Well, I think Jeb Bush has a world view that`s more
consistent with –
MADDOW: Oh, please.
WALLACE: – leaders like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
MADDOW: It`s amazing.
WALLACE: You`re going to insult him another night? We don`t have
MADDOW: I`m never going to say a word about Jeb Bush in the hopes it
will bring him to fruition.
Nicolle Wallace, former Bush administration communications director,
senior adviser to McCain-Palin – again, I believe you are wrong about
everything on foreign policy but I like you very much.
WALLACE: I like you very much. And I`m going to look for a
thesaurus. So I have a good word next time I`m here.
MADDOW: The thing about Joe Biden`s car that I was going to tell you.
MADDOW: You guys have to bring back the Joe Biden`s car thing. Come
on. It`s there? Come on. A lot`s going on in the news tonight.
Here it is. I just can`t let this go.
Vice President Joe Biden`s 2005 Cadillac, up for sale on Craigslist,
$15,000. Needs a fan belt, et cetera. Right? I have to show you this.
The hopeful seller of Mr. Biden`s Cadillac on Craigslist, he did post
several pictures of the car along with his Craigslist ad, but the pictures
he posted included this one. Look very closely.
See, it`s a very nice paint job on this car. It`s quite reflective.
Almost like a mirror.
And I think that that is the seller. Look carefully. Himself.
Reflected in Joe Biden`s freaking Cadillac. Hot selfie with Joe Biden`s
Cadillac and cigarette.
That is awesome.
We talk about things being so New Jersey on the show. That right
there, that is the most Delaware thing I have ever seen in my life. And I
mean that in a good way.
And we`ll be right back.
WALLACE: I love that.
MADDOW: The embarrassing kvelling over cars is over for tonight. I`m
sorry. I got a little carried away.
But the shame of me trying to pronounce words not in English, that is
still ahead tonight. Please stay with us. Lots to come.
MADDOW: The word “new” in the Italian language is nuovo. In Spanish,
it is nuevo. In Latin, it is novus. Even in Esperanto, it`s all pretty
consistent. The word for new in Esperanto, it is nova.
And in Russian, forgive my pronunciation in all of these – but in
Russian as far as I understand it it`s novaya. Of course in Russian they
don`t use the same Latin characters as the other languages. So unless
you`re good with Cyrillic you probably can`t read that at the bottom of the
screen, but sound-wise it is all pretty consistent.
New, nuovo, nuevo, novus, nova, novaya. It all means new.
The word Russia if you pronounce it in Russian is Rossiya, and if you
add that word, Rossiya to the word for new in Russian, novaya, well, that
makes this –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA: Nova Rossiya.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nova Rossiya. Did you get that? One more time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN: Nova Rossiya.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nova Rossiya, New Russia. New Russia.
As the world has been watching trying to figure out whether or not
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has plans for taking over more of
Ukraine than he`s already taken over, it seems like a pretty ominous sign
that today is the day he stopped calling eastern Ukraine Ukraine and
started instead calling it New Russia. New Russia. That`s part of what it
was called in the 19th century when it was part of the Russian empire
instead of its own country.
And if Vladimir Putin has now gone back to calling it that now it
seems fairly ominous about his intentions toward that part of Ukraine.
It`s like if Mexico started calling Texas one of its provinces again.
President Putin also made clear today that his parliament has given
him the right to intervene militarily, to use military force in the Ukraine
if he so chooses. He said all of this in a super long, four-hour sort of
press conference today which included all this goofy stuff in it, including
him taking sort of a stunt question from Edward Snowden on video, him
making a crack about how no, he doesn`t want to invade Alaska because
Alaska`s not worth anything and it`s really cold there. It was weird.
But for all the messing around, in this four-hour-long thing today in
Russia, all of this happened amid a very serious day in Ukraine, a day that
resulted in bloodshed. Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian protesters engaged
in some really serious fighting in eastern Ukraine in the last 24 hours.
Hundreds of protesters had marched to a military base and demanded the
Ukrainian military station there surrender their weapons at the base. The
crowd got more and more rowdy, started firing bullets, started throwing
Molotov cocktails. Ukrainian troops reportedly first fired into the air
and then the protesters are described as having charged the gates of the
base. The two sides did exchange fire. And three pro-Russian protesters
are said to have been killed. Thirteen are said to have been wounded.
And then after that news today there was news out of Geneva that
Ukraine and Russia and the United States had reached a diplomatic agreement
of sorts. They signed a pact agreeing to try to defuse the current crisis
in Ukraine to try to deescalate it. The deal included amnesty for the
militant pro-Russian groups if they leave these public buildings that
they`ve been occupying and barricading themselves in in eastern Ukraine.
Now, there are worries that Russia`s foreign minister signing on to
this deal is just Russia`s foreign minister signing on to this deal. There
are worries, increasingly widespread worries, that Sergey Lavrov, the
Russian foreign minister, may not actually speak for anyone more than
himself, that he may look like a diplomat but his diplomatic actions don`t
actually bind Russia as a nation.
There are real questions right now as to whether anyone but Vladimir
Putin speaks for Vladimir Putin and now that he`s speaking in four-hour
bursts on Russian television, can we see anybody else in Russian government
as binding Russia – as binding the Russian president by anything that
anybody else signs?
So, Sergey Lavrov signing on for this agreement on behalf of Russia,
on paper this did look like a breakthrough toward de-escalation of this
very scary situation in eastern Ukraine. But the White House made clear
today that that breakthrough might just be on paper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia right now still
has its forces amassed along the Ukrainian-Russian border as a gesture of
intimidation, and it is our belief and not ours alone but I think broad
portions of the international community believe that Russia`s hand is in
the disruptions and chaos that we`ve been seeing in southern and eastern
But there is an opportunity for Russia to take a different approach.
We are encouraging them to do so. In the meantime, we`re going to prepare
additional responses should Russia fail to take a different course.
We`ve already had an impact on their economy. That is well-
documented. They could get significantly worse.
But we don`t have an interest in hurting ordinary Russians just for
the sake of it. Our strong preference would be for Mr. Putin to follow
through on what is a glimmer of hope coming out of these Geneva talks. But
we`re not going to count on it until we see it. And in the meantime we`re
going to prepare what our other options are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`re not going to count on it until we see it. We`re going
to prepare additional responses should Russia fail to take a different
course. What does that mean exactly?
Hold that thought. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our strong preference would be for Mr. Putin to follow through
on what is a glimmer of hope coming out of these Geneva talks, but we`re
not going to count on it until we see it. And in the meantime, we`re going
to prepare what our other options are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama earlier today saying that his
administration is going to prepare what other options are when it comes to
Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs
correspondent and the host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” here on MSNBC.
Andrea, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
ANDREA MITCHELL, ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS: Great to see you. Thanks
for having me.
MADDOW: So, everyone is worried that this is war or that this is at
least Russia further extending its territory by force. Today felt like
both an escalation on the ground in terms of the violence but also a
breakthrough on paper in terms of the diplomacy.
What do you think is most important about what happened today?
MITCHELL: I think what`s most important is whether what happened on
paper in Geneva really holds up. And there frankly is a lot of skepticism
at the White House and at the State Department that that is the case,
precisely because we don`t know whether Lavrov speaks for Vladimir Putin.
He has not during all of this crisis. And not really on Syria either.
So Putin has a small circle of advisers. They`re mostly former KGB
people. They`re not diplomats. And they are the people he talks to.
You saw that performance you were referring to today – the hours and
hours of his teleconference. This is an annual business that he does. And
it was very filled with bluster, very belligerent, aggressive.
And it didn`t certainly sync up with what Lavrov and the diplomats
were doing in this their first meeting, which was the one achievement
today, that it was the first time the Russians had agreed to sit down face
to face with the Kiev government officials.
MADDOW: Well, in that four hours of bluster and that remarkable event
today how big of a deal was it that president Putin called Ukraine new
Russia today? I know you highlighted that in your report tonight on
“Nightly News.” Is that just – is that carefully calculated bluster? Is
that laying the groundwork for something larger? Is that just a
MITCHELL: Well, that`s what they don`t know. They don`t know whether
he actually is still going to try to destabilize Ukraine, eastern Ukraine
and the rest of the country by keeping thugs in eastern Ukraine, by having
You know, the view for most analysts from the organization of security
and confidence in Europe and others from the U.N. is that – and polling
recently – is that eastern Ukraine is not like Crimea was. That in fact
the protests, the pro-Kiev rally we saw in a Donetsk today was fairly
representative of the view – a mixed view towards Russia in eastern
Ukraine. It`s not really represented by the people who took over those
So there is a variety of opinion. Not that easy for him to move
troops in. But he`s got these uniformed thugs that are clearly Russian.
He denied they were Russian. They clearly are.
So, is he going to keep those troops amassed on the border of Ukraine
and make it difficult for Ukraine to have a legitimate election in May?
That would be a real problem. That is destabilizing Ukraine without moving
any troops literally across the border.
MADDOW: And President Obama today called that a gesture of
intimidation, some of his strong remarks on that.
MADDOW: Secretary Kerry today said, “If we are not able to see
progress on efforts to implement the principles of this agreement this
weekend”, he said, “Then we will have no choice but to impose further costs
Are those carefully chosen words? Should we see that essentially as a
Monday deadline from the State Department before the U.S. starts looking at
more sanctions toward Russia?
MITCHELL: We did have the call to Angela Merkel today from the
president, and also tonight to David Cameron as well, and strong words in
readouts from the White House on both of those conversations. They have to
coordinate this with Europe. The president has the authority. He could
move to step up the sanctions. We are told that more sanctions are being
preferred against cronies, against their businesses, against Putin circle.
But to do the really big sanctions that would hurt Russia, it would
also hurt France, and Britain and Germany. So, he`s got to coordinate that
with the leaders. And figure out how to proportionately do financial and
energy and mining and arms shipments sanctions that will not
disproportionately hurt Germany more than allies.
That`s what they`re trying to do. They`re going to figure out the
actual measurement of sanctions as they step them up. I don`t think it`s
literally Monday. It will take a couple days to see, to test whether
Russia really does de-escalate, whether they disarm these militias, whether
they give up these government buildings.
And if they don`t do that, I think you will see some additional
sanctions. Whether it is the big guns from the United States and the
allies remains to be seen.
MADDOW: And that balance of trying to – sort of ratchet up the
tension or escalate the effect while also maintaining unanimity among
allies on the issue. It`s fascinating stuff.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea,
thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
MITCHELL: My pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: Andrea, of course, hosts “THE ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”, which
is here on MSNBC at noon Eastern every weekday.
All right. We`ve got some news that you won`t believe out of the
great state of Texas. And that is coming up next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, Venn diagram, right? Two circles, each of which
represents a thing, then usually the point of the diagram is the overlap
between those circles.
The thing I`m about to show you is the Venn diagram overlap between a
circle called neat and a circle called unnerving.
It`s an interactive map of the country. The blue marks represents
schools. The orange marks represent chemical facilities, especially
chemical facilities to report to the EPA`s risk management program. You
have to report to that program if you produce or use or store significant
quantities of hazardous chemicals that the EPA says are risky to human
health if they get spilled or released into the air or involved in an
explosion or fire.
So, with this map, you can cross reference where schools are and where
these facilities are that have to report to the risk management program
about their chemicals. With those two sets of data, you can graphically
come up with a fairly representative map of which American schools are
within one mile of facilities that handle dangerous chemicals.
You can zoom in to the area where you live. You can type in the name
of your kids` school to see whether there are facilities full of dangerous
chemicals nearby that school. And you can learn how many accidents have
taken place at that chemical facility if any.
See, it`s neat. Also very unnerving. It turns out there are about
10,000 American schools located within one mile of this kind of potentially
dangerous chemical facility. That`s one in every 10 American school kids,
within a mile.
And that`s current data. And that data feels even more unnerving than
it used to. Ever since what happened one year ago, one year ago tonight in
a little town called West in Texas. One year ago tonight that a fertilizer
plant in the city of West in Texas exploded. The facility was storing
large amounts of ammonium nitrate. Among other things, 15 people were
killed. Just a few minutes ago at 7:51, local time, residents of West
gathered to hold a full minute of silence to mark the moment the explosion
took place a year ago.
The damage that day left a 90-foot wide crater and damaged or
destroyed hundred of buildings. The damaged of destroyed buildings
included a nursing home, a nearby apartment complex and three schools,
including one that backed right up on to the plant, storing all of those
explosives, as it turns out, in wooden bins. “The Wall Street Journal”
yesterday quoted Texas state fire marshal saying since the explosion at
West, his office has identified 46 facilities in Texas still storing large
amounts of explosive fertilizer in bins and buildings made out of wood.
That was what happened at the facility in West. We know how that turned
But even knowing that, nearly 50 other Texas facilities are doing the
same thing that was done at West, even a year after what happened there.
Texas has done nothing to change any of the rules in the state. The state
fire marshal says he is advising owners of fertilizer facilities in the
state to please think about installing sprinklers, please think about
storing their explosives and structures that won`t burn, take them out of
wooden bins and buildings and put them in stuff made out of cinder block,
or made of concrete.
But the state fire marshal confirms with us today that he can only
make those suggestions as suggestions to people who are storing large
amounts of explosive fertilizer, because nothing in Texas state law or
regulations allows the Texas fire authorities to require that sort of
thing. They lack the authority to require it. And nothing that happened
in West, Texas, a year ago tonight has changed Texas`s mind about that.
The line from Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry on this is that
“there`s no need to jump to conclusions on this subject.” But if something
like this is not cause for reconsidering safety rules and neither is the
news that nearly 50 other facilities in the state are storing explosives
the same way this place was, then essentially, the state of Texas is saying
that this is what to expect if you choose to live in the great state of
Texas. And that is the very definition of unnerving.
Thanks for being with us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Thanks.
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