The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/12/2016

Guests:
Peter Montgomery, Joel Ebert
Transcript:

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 12, 2016
Guest: Peter Montgomery, Joel Ebert

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Jeb Bush says he`s not going to the Republican National Convention this
year. So, if there`s one last Republican somewhere in country who was
hoping that Jeb Bush would get drafted off the bleachers at the RNC and
brought in to save the party at the last moment, it turns out it`s going to
be at least a little more complicated than that because Jeb Bush will not
be in the room when the decision happens. He told CNN this afternoon that
he`s not going to attend the RNC.

And CNN is billing this news as part of a larger story about how lots of
prominent Republicans are maybe going to skip the Republican convention
this summer because it`s basically a foregone conclusion that it`s going to
be a controversial event. Either the party is going to pick a very
controversial nominee for president or the party is at least going to pick
whoever its nominee is by some very controversial process.

So, even if they pick somebody who is the most anodyne candidate that they
can imagine, the way they would get there would also be controversial even
if they don`t pick one of their controversial candidates. So, it`s going
to be controversial either way. But the most risk aversion Republicans in
the country are apparently planning on staying away from the Republican
convention because of that, and that list apparently includes Jeb Bush.

You know, this is going to be an interesting factor to watch in terms of
like Republican senators or Republican governors who are up for re-election
this year or Republican members of the House from swingy districts, right?
Do they show up and participate in their party`s big controversial event or
stay home and try to pretend like their own re-elections are totally
separate from that mess in Cleveland, and that they are totally separate
from whoever their party puts at the top of the ticket, right?

So, it`s going to be interesting to watch for other Republicans who are
running for things. But just the Jeb Bush factor itself strikes me as a
historically significant development, just because it has been a very long
time since the Bush family didn`t play a key role, a central role in
choosing the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. It`s impossible
to imagine a Republican National Convention without the Bush family there.

I mean, in modern American politics, there have been four different recent
Republican national conventions where the party has picked a member of the
Bush family as the Republican presidential contender for that year. That
happened in 2004 and in 2000 and in 1992 and in 1988. Even when a Bush
family member was not himself the nominee, the Bush family has been
intimately involved, absolutely integral to deciding who else the party
might pick if there was no suitable member of the Bush family available
that year.

Take for example, 1964. It was a year when George H.W. Bush`s dad, so
Poppy Bush`s dad, Jeb and W`s grandpa, Prescott Bush. In 1964, he played a
significant role that year in this happening to the Republican Party.

This is what happened on election night in November 1964 when the
Republican nominee for president was Barry Goldwater. He`s – the states
he carried represented in red here. Barry Goldwater got absolutely just
lacquered, totally shellacked by the Democratic nominee Lyndon Johnson in
1964.

And Barry Goldwater`s landslide lost was something you could see coming. I
mean, a lot of mainstream Republicans, lots of political observers of all
stripes, definitely the whole Democratic Party, they could tell in advance
that if the Republican Party nominated somebody like Barry Goldwater, his
politics were so far to the right that the Republican Party would just fall
off the edge of the electoral map, and they did.

The reason, though, that that avoidable political mistake happened, that
foreseeable political error was nevertheless committed, the reason that
happened in 1964 is because the so-called establishment choice for the
Republican Party that year, the guy who was supposed to get the nomination
that year, his campaign cratered and the party ended up turning to Barry
Goldwater once their plan A ended.

And Prescott Bush, Poppy Bush`s dad, is part of the reason plan A ended,
because the establishment choice that year, 1964, was this guy. The
popular, telegenic, centrist, recently reelected zillionaire governor of
New York state, Nelson Rockefeller.

Prescott Bush and Nelson Rockefeller had a sort of similar pedigree. They
had similar politics. Prescott Bush was a well-regarded, well-liked,
moderate Republican senator from Connecticut, who among other things had
taken a principled stand against Republican Senator Joe McCarthy in his
McCarthyite witch hunts.

Prescott Bush had a good, popular, high profile in the Republican Party
even after he left the Senate in his own terms in 1962 when he decided not
to run for re-election. Prescott Bush was friends with Nelson Rockefeller.
He`d wanted Nelson Rockefeller to be Nixon`s running mate in 1960.

Everybody assumed that Prescott Bush, of all people would be all in for
Nelson Rockefeller, as Nelson Rockefeller, the establishment choice, went
for what was almost his inevitable nomination by the Republican Party in
1964. But then – what happened to blow it all up was that Nelson got
divorced in 1962. And then even worse, unimaginably worse, the following
year in 1963, Nelson Rockefeller got remarried. Oh, no.

And Senator Prescott Bush, this fellow, Northeast, establishment liberal
Republican, he dropped his long time friend Nelson Rockefeller like a hot
rock. Prescott Bush gave a speech at a prep school graduation of all
places where he just ripped his old friend Nelson Rockefeller up one side
and down the other.

He said, quote, “Have we come to a point in our life as a nation where the
governor of a great state can desert a good wife, mother of his grown
children, divorce her and then persuade a young mother of four youngsters
to abandon her husband and their four children and marry the governor?”

Now, this was the early 1960s, it was probably going to be some level of
problem for Nelson Rockefeller either way for him to get divorced and then
remarried right before running for president, particularly when the woman
who he married after he got divorced was a woman who for herself had
previously been married, right?

But what Prescott Bush did when he didn`t just abandon his friend, he
publicly excoriated his friend as a moral reprobate for what he had done.
What happened when Prescott Bush made that break with Nelson Rockefeller,
that made clear to everybody there would be no cover from the moderate
liberal wing of the Republican Party for what Nelson Rockefeller had done
in his personal life.

And the fact that there`s going to be no cover for him in his own moderate,
liberal wing of the party, that, of course, made it more quickly and more
cleanly fatal for Nelson Rockefeller when the conservative wing of that
party descended on him like locusts.

The great Rick Perlstein wrote about this beautifully actually and with
some incredible detail in his book “Before the Storm”, which is the seminal
modern book about the conservative moment and the Republican Party. Rick
describes the scene where Nelson Rockefeller that year, after getting
divorced and remarried, he attended the convention of the National
Federation of Republican Women. And he attended that event with his new
wife on his arm.

The two, quote, “made their entrance into the ballroom to stony silence.
An entire table of bejeweled, begloved matrons rose and marched out. The
same matrons raised the roof when Barry and Peggy arrived.” Barry and
Peggy being Barry Goldwater and his wife.

When the Republican Party decided that they would rain moral disapproval
down on their establishment choice Nelson Rockefeller in 1964 because he
had been divorced and then remarried, when they decided that was too far,
that they would not let him survive that, the support of the party had to
go somewhere else.

One of the galvanizing arguments that pushed the Republican Party that year
to the choice they ultimately made that year to Barry Goldwater was this.
This argument. “A choice, not an echo.” This was published in 1964. It
was a clarion call to arms from the social conservative wing of the
Republican Party.

Are you uncomfortable about Nelson Rockefeller`s the divorce and
remarriage? Well, bring your moral approbation of that sort of thing home
to a Republican Party that rejects that sort of thing. That stands for
conservative family values, that stands for a rejection of all things
moderate, that calls for a renewed, hard edge fire and brimstone family
values, morally disapproving, social conservatism in the Republican Party.
It was a call to arms.

Phyllis Schlafly, she was a Barry Goldwater supporter. She went to the
Republican National Convention in 1964 as a Barry Goldwater delegate. She
wrote that book. She self-published that book making this argument in
support of Goldwater`s candidacy, a choice, not an echo, right? Railing
against the moderate and morally suspect likes of Nelson Rockefeller who
should never be seen as a real Republican because the Republican Party
should reject the likes of him.

And hundreds of thousands of copies, hundreds of thousands of copies of
that book were distributed that summer of the 1964 Republican convention.
And that`s not bad for a self-published of book, hundreds of thousands of
copies.

But the Republican Party liked the argument enough, right, that they picked
Barry Goldwater in 1964 and they got very worked up about the power of
conservatism, uncompromising conservatism within the Republican Party and
they took that to the general election and got taken apart by the
Democrats. And whether or not the Republican Party today takes that as a
signal lesson about how to conduct general election politics, it
undoubtedly established the religious right and Phyllis Schlafly in
particularly within the Republican movement and conservative movement.

It established Phyllis Schlafly and the religious right as a powerful and
persistent force in Republican politics. The Barry Goldwater nomination
was 1964. By 1972, Phyllis Schlafly had funded called Stop ERA aimed at
stopping the Equal Rights Amendment that passed the House and Senate, was
on its way to being ratified by two-thirds of the states before Phyllis
Schlafly`s anti-feminist hardcore conservative activism actually succeeded
in stopping the ERA in its tracks. I mean, I think it`s almost inarguable
at this point that the reason we never got equal rights amendment in this
country and we still don`t have one to this day is because Phyllis stopped
it with her conservative activism in the 1970s.

In the 1975, she changed the name Stop ERA to the Eagle Forum. Over the
years, that group had experience iterations, has claimed membership in the
tens of thousands. They`ve got offices – or they`ve got chapters in
something like 30 states. They have played a central role in defining
social conservatism, anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-abortion politics
putting them right at the heart of the Republican Party and its platform.

I mean, you lock at social issues in the Republican Party over the years,
you wonder why the party has sort of refused to ever evolve on those
issues, even as the country has. It`s not there hasn`t been progressive or
moderating influences in the Republican Party over the years, it`s not like
the Republican Party hasn`t ever tried to evolve like the rest of the
country over the last few decades. What`s happened is there`s an even
stronger force pushing back against the moderating influences to make sure
the Republican Party never gets conservative like homosexuality, abortion,
feminism.

And more often than not, that stronger force pushing back to keep things as
conservative as they can possibly be, more often than not, that force is
named Phyllis Schlafly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Republican abortion rights activists promise to wage what they
call political terrorism until the platform`s anti-abortion language is
changed. They claim the current platform could cost President Bush the
election. Both his likely opponents favor abortion rights.

ANN STONE: Are Republican women going to desert you and vote for Bill
Clinton? I don`t think so. I think the integrity factor will keep them
from deserting going to Clinton. Now, will they go to Ross Perot? That`s
another question. Yes.

REPORTER: Anti-abortion forces, which controlled the platform committee
adamantly oppose any change.

PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY: The millions of Americans who are motivated by high
moral principle will not stand for President Bush saying that he is
personally pro-life while the platform is mushed up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mushed up.

I mention earlier the Republican National Conventions in modern history
have four times picked members of the Bush family to be the Republican
Party nominee for president. The one of those four times that didn`t
result in that Bush family member earning the presidential terms was that
one that you just saw footage of there in 1992, where Phyllis Schlafly
happened to be the voice of the Republican Party platform committee on “NBC
Nightly News”.

I mean, that was the same `92 convention where Pat Buchanan leveraged his
performance in the Republican primaries that year to get himself and Gary
Bower and Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and yes, Phyllis
Schlafly, all up on stage during that convention, pushing the party to the
right, advertising to the nation that the Republican Party had more fire
and brimstone to it than your average blacksmith`s furnace in a
particularly region of hell.

And in 1992, just like in 1964, the Phyllis Schlafly influence on the
Republican Party, it did pay off in November, but it paid off for the
Democrats. The harder the hard liners pushed, the more success they have,
the more repellent the rest of the country finds them. It has not always
been a good political move for the Republican Party to follow the Phyllis
Schlaflys of the world in terms of their politics and the way they talk
about the issues and their fellow Americans. But the Republican Party
keeps doing it.

And part of the reason why is, somebody like Phyllis Schlafly`s
persistence. She has just been around in Republican politics for so long.
I mean, I`m an old person. I just turned 43, but Phyllis Schlafly founded
this group that became the Eagle Forum the year before I was born.

She was already 48 years old when she founded it and she`s still running it
today. Phyllis Schlafly is going to turn 92 this year and she is still
running the Eagle Forum. Yes. And there`s been awkward moments over the
years. There`s been ups and downs.

After her command performance at the 1992 Republican convention, there was
a really awkward moment when her oldest son was outed as gay. She`s the
leading voice of vituperative, anti-gay politics in the Republican Party
and then she had to come out and publically confirm that, yes, her oldest
son is gay, but also he works with her and she says he agrees with her on
everything, including how anti-gay she is. That was awkward.

There was that moment last fall when Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum
put out an excited press release announcing that all of the Republican
presidential candidates would be coming to the Eagle Forum`s national
convention, what they call their Eagle Council. And then in the end, only
four of the 17 Republican candidates actually showed up, and one of them,
Rick Perry, only showed up because he decided that Phyllis` Eagle Council
would be an excellent place to quit the race. The first person to drop out
of the Republican presidential race this year dropped out on Phyllis
Schlafly stage.

So, yes, there`s been ups and downs over the years but Phyllis Schlafly
persists. And she`s had a remarkable influence over the course of her long
lifetime on the Republican Party. For decades, she`s just been remarkably
persistent and consistent in the way she has pushed and cajoled and
hectored and shoved the Republican Party as far to the right as possible on
all social issues. Everybody else comes and goes, she remains.

Until now? After all the other things the Republican Party has been
through what appears to have torn apart Phyllis Schlafly`s 44-year-old
organization, what appears to have caused a split not only between her and
her organization but between her and at least some of her own family is the
guy who the Republican Party appears poised to choose this year as their
nominee for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHLAFLY: We have a candidate who really will give us a choice, not an
echo. So, please give a big St. Louis welcome to Donald J. Trump.

(CHEERS)

(MUSIC)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Amazing. Amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Phyllis Schlafly endorsed Donald Trump on March 11th this year.
And now, apparently, apparently, because of that endorsement, Phyllis
Schlafly`s political world has finally started to fall apart.

This weekend, the president Phyllis Schlafly`s Eagle Forum put out this
strange notice, which was billed as a hostile takeover alert, saying that a
rogue group of board members, a gang of six was plotting to secretly force
Phyllis out of her own organization that she founded 44 years ago. That
warning was on Saturday.

On Sunday, Phyllis Schlafly herself publicly posted this letter which she
said she wrote, quote, “With a heavy heart,” demanding the immediate
resignation of a majority of the board members of her organization. She
was trying to get them to resign before they held this rogue board meeting.

Yesterday, Monday, and then – yesterday, Monday, they apparently held the
meeting and Phyllis Schlafly released yet another statement. Quote, “At
2:00 p.m. today, six directors of the Eagle Forum met in an improper,
unprecedented phone meeting. I objected to the meeting. At 2:11, I was
muted from the call.

The meeting was invalid under the bylaws, but the attendees purported to
pass several motions to wrest control of the organization from me. They
are attempting to seize access to our bank accounts to terminate employees
and to install members of their gang of six to control the bank accounts
and all of Eagle Forum.”

She says, “This kind of conduct will not stand. I will fight for Eagle
Forum. And I ask all men and women of goodwill to join me in this fight.”

And then she names the names, what she calls the gang of six, including one
member of the gang of six who is her own daughter.

So, Phyllis Schlafly and her organization, they have been at the heart of
the conservative movement inside the Republican Party for over 40 years.
And something is happening to blow it up. Right now, finally with Phyllis
Schlafly at age 91, after everything she`s been through, it appears to be
finally blowing up because of Donald Trump.

I mean, the Republican Party has been through nominating crises and
ideological crises before. It`s part of how Poppy Bush lost to Bill
Clinton in 1992. It`s definitely how Barry Goldwater lost to LBJ in 1964.
And Phyllis had a role in both of the losses.

And we don`t know how it`s going to work out in the Republican Party`s
nominating process this year.

Today, we learned that House Speaker Paul Ryan will not be riding to the
rescue of his party. He said he wouldn`t accept the nomination at the
convention in Cleveland even if they offered it to him.

Ted Cruz is still the main not Donald Trump candidate in the Republican
Party. A number of Eagle Forum Phyllis Schlafly types not named Phyllis
Schlafly have endorsed Ted Cruz, including Phyllis daughter and some of the
other members of this gang of six. But Ted Cruz really has no real way to
win the nomination ahead of the convention, as Donald Trump continues to
lead in the race but put up mind-bending numbers for the next primary,
which happens a week from tonight in New York state.

So, what happened here? In this sort of critical part of the Republican
Party`s conservative id and how did a thrice married New York zillionaire
get a Phyllis Schlafly endorsement in the first place any way? Hold that
thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have said that they
will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary this
year. They`ll let the party make its own decision. But one of the two of
them just almost accidentally broke that pledge on tape. Guess which one.
That`s ahead.

And, an inside look at a decades long culture war that the conservative
movement usually wages against outsiders but now it`s turned in on itself.

Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

97.1 FM HOST: This isn`t like the board of Nabisco. I mean, this is the
Eagle Forum. This is Phyllis Schlafly`s Eagle Forum.

ED MARTIN, PRESIDENT OF THE EAGLE FORUM: Yes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was the president of the Eagle Forum founded by legendary
religious right activist Phyllis Schlafly, saying today on Missouri talk
radio that this pillar organization of the religious right, this 44-year-
old stalwart organization of the conservative movement, this vehicle for
91-year-old Phyllis Schlafly, is currently blowing up over her endorsement
for Donald Trump.

Joining us now is Peter Montgomery. He`s a senior fellow at People for the
American Way. He`s somebody who has followed Ms. Schlafly and others on
the right for years.

Mr. Montgomery, its` really nice to have you here tonight. Thanks for
being with us.

PETER MONTGOMERY, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Thanks. I`m happy to be
here.

MADDOW: In terms of understanding what just happened here, is this
something that could be been foreseen or is this kind of out of blue?

MONTGOMERY: Well, it`s kind of Shakespearean in some ways, when you have
her sending out calls for her own daughter to step down. But I think we
could have foreseen it in way that Phyllis Schlafly is the victim of her
own success. She has spent the last 50 years trying to build the kind of
hard right Republican Party that we now have. In this moment it should be
her crown and glory, because there`s not one but two far right candidates
at the top of the ticket.

All the things she used to build that party, the anger and conspiracy
theories is being turned in on itself and tearing the party apart. And
now, she`s caught in the cross fire.

MADDOW: Some of the other board members of the Eagle Forum or as she would
call them, the gang of six, have suggested that maybe this is a product of
some sort of infirmity on her part. They have raised the issue explicitly
of her age. They have suggested that maybe Donald Trump or somebody took
advantage of her and manipulated her and relieving her as an act of mercy
or kindness.

What do you make of those charges?

MONTGOMERY: I thought that was pretty stunning. It`s true that she`s 91
years old. But she`s also been going on radio. She`s done press
conferences with Donald Trump. It seems clear that she knows her mind.

And I think that if some liberal had made comments like that insinuating
that she only supported Donald Trump because somehow she was manipulated
into it, I think people on the right would be very offended.

And if you look at Trump`s record and her record, it`s not surprising that
she supports Trump. She`s always had a thing about U.N. sovereignty and
American sovereignty being sold out to the U.N. She has said she would
love to see railroad cars full of illegals heading to the southern border.

So, I think she sees in Trump a kindred spirit. So, it`s not a surprise to
me that she endorsed him even though a whole lot of her colleagues in Eagle
Forum have signed up with Ted Cruz.

MADDOW: Yes. So, in some ways, this feels like a personal story and
another way, this feels, I guess a sign of a cleaving to come at the top of
the party and within the conservative. But we`ll see.

Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at People for the American Way, thanks for
your work on this. Thanks for helping us understand it.

MONTGOMERY: Thank you.

MADDOW: Appreciate it.

We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: In an interview that Vice President Joe Biden did yesterday, we
saw something we don`t usually get to see. The vice president was
answering questions on camera about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic
primary. And when he started to give one particular answer, you could
actually hear his staffers in the room try to jump in and stop him from
saying what he was saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Do you think she`s held to a higher standard because she`s a
woman?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don`t think she`s
held to a higher standard. And this country is ready for a woman. There`s
no problem. We`re going to be able to elect a woman in this country.

INTERVIEWER: Would you like to see us elect a woman?

BIDEN: I would like to see a woman elected.

STAFF: That`s it.

BIDEN: No, no, that`s all right. I`d like to see – no, I don`t
(INAUDIBLE). I`m not getting into that.

INTERVIEWER: I`d like to ask one more question.

BIDEN: The president and I are not going to endorse because we both when
we ran said, let the party decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: OK. That`s it. You can hear his staffers. Oh, God, he just
accidentally endorsed Hillary Clinton.

The vice president is like, no, no, I said a woman. Not any particular
woman. Come on, you guys. I got this.

That was great from the vice president yesterday. Fascinating.

And then, today, President Obama had this to say while he was otherwise
busy designating a new national monument to the women`s suffrage movement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want young girls and boys
to come here, 10, 20, 100 years from now, to know that women fought for
equality. It was not just given to them.

I want them to come here and be astonished that there was ever a time when
women could not vote. I want them to be astonished there was a time when
women earned less than men for doing the same work.

I want them to be astonished that it was ever a time when women were vastly
outnumbered in the boardroom or Congress. That there was ever a time when
a woman never sat in the Oval Office. I don`t know.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Again, a woman. Not any particular woman, mind you. But still in
the Democratic Party that really, really likes President Obama and Vice
President Biden, if you are the woman who is running for president right
now, both of those comments have got to be very welcome.

But I should also tell you, in that hard fought Democrat primary, there was
also some really, really good news for Bernie Sanders today. And that`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: The New York primary is a week from tonight.

On the Republican side of this race, Donald Trump is leading by such huge
numbers, he may be breaking records for this primary season actually. We
think this might be the first time a Republican candidate has broken 60
percent in any major statewide poll.

On the Democratic side, it`s not nearly as dramatic, but Hillary Clinton
continues to hold a big lead in the state of New York. All that said,
though, there is one way on the Democratic side in which Bernie Sanders is
really cleaning up in New York. No idea what it`s going to mean for the
ballot box, but Bernie Sanders` rally crowds right now are freaking
enormous.

And we think of him getting huge crowds as a feature of the early part of
primary. But it started up again now for Senator Sanders in a huge way.
More than 18,000 people turned out for Senator Sanders` first New York
event a couple of weeks ago at a park in the South Bronx.

Then, more than 10,000 people showed up to see him at Temple University in
Philly. Now, just the past two days have been, for a lack of better word,
they have been bunkers. Senator Sanders started his day yesterday by
speaking to a crowd of 5,000 people in Binghamton, New York.

Then, in Albany, New York, same day, he held another event filled to
capacity, over 4,000 people. Then, last night, there was an overflow crowd
at SUNY Buffalo. More than 8,300 people inside and another 3,000 people
standing outside and watching him speak on a big screen. That`s more than
11,000 people turning out to see him last night in Buffalo.

This morning in Rochester, New York, another 6,000 people. Our imbed at
that event said it was packed to the walls. Then, another 5,000 people
turned out to see him in Syracuse this afternoon. And to top it off,
Senator Sanders finished today speaking to a crowd of 3,700 people inside a
room at Marist College and Poughkeepsie, New York. And that might seem
like it`s on the smaller side for Bernie Sanders. But then taken to
account the fact that the overflow crowd of another 1,200 people waited
outside the venue.

So, again, that`s nearly 5,000 people turning out tonight in Poughkeepsie.
And all of those recent numbers could pale in comparison to what is
expected tomorrow. Senator Bernie Sanders is going to hold a 6:00 p.m.
event tomorrow night in Washington Square Park, which is in the heart of
Greenwich Village in New York City, right by NYU.

And at this event, there are going to be celebrities and bands than usual
for a big Bernie Sanders event. But even still, look at this. So far,
17,000 people have RSVP`ed for the event on Facebook already and counting,
and it`s not until tomorrow night.

I mean, in terms of history here and context, in the 2008 presidential
race, you might remember that Barack Obama also did a massive event at
Washington Square Park. In the 2008 race, he drew a crowd of 24,000 people
at the same location where Bernie Sanders is going t obe tomorrow.

And turning out 24,000 people in New York City, that was almost an
unimaginable number that year for candidate Barack Obama. But after he
turned out 24,000 people in Washington Square Park, he went on that year to
lose the New York primary to a candidate named Hillary Clinton.

So, rallies are not votes, but they`re something. The number of people
Senator Bernie Sanders is turning out is a political phenomenon unto
itself.

Watch this space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: On the 21st day, he caved, kind of.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a discrimination bill into law
for that state back in March. Governor McCrory`s new law took away
existing protections for sexual minorities in North Carolina. It banned
towns and cities from passing any new ones anywhere in the state.

And ever since Pat McCrory signed that discrimination bill last month,
things in North Carolina have been kind of a mess. Dozens of corporate
executives have warned the governor that the law will be bad for business.
PayPal called off a big planned expansion in North Carolina. Federal
agencies announced that they`re reviewing New Carolina`s new law that could
take away billions of dollars in federal aid.

On Friday, Bruce Springsteen announced that he wouldn`t play a concert he
was scheduled for North Carolina this weekend. Deutsche Bank announced
today a freeze on its planned expansion in North Carolina, over 200 jobs
that will not go to the state now because of that new law.

And it must really have been sort of a lot to bear for the North Carolina
governor, right? Day after day of condemnation and cancellations and
criticism and lost business. I mean, day after day, for 21 days, titans of
industry and entertainment, our nation`s capital all leaning on North
Carolina over this discrimination bill, and then came this – maybe the
biggest blow of all.

A very popular pornography site with an adorable mascot announced it was
shutting off North Carolina, quote, “Because of the anti-LGBT law.” And
this announcement wasn`t like the other corporate announcement. This
wasn`t like we`re not going to open an office in North Carolina. This
wasn`t we`re cancelling our convention in North Carolina. We`re cancelling
our big meeting planned in Charlotte.

No, this decision by this porn company was no porn anymore. Not anymore
for anybody logging in from North Carolina. If you`re logging in from
Charlotte or Greensville or Chapel Hill, where are you? Wah, wah, sad
trombone. No porn for you.

Look, if you went to this site from a computer in North Carolina today,
instead of porn, you got a message about North Carolina being the land
where homophobia is law. Here we go.

“North Carolina, stop your homophobic insanity.” That happened today. The
porn blockade.

I don`t want to get too Lysistrata on you. I don`t want to draw too strong
a conclusion. I don`t want to say that Governor Pat McCrory has changed
his mind completely on that bill, or that North Carolina`s insanity has
stopped, but I will note that also today, Governor Pat McCrory started to
cave a little bit. Twenty-one days and one porn mascot boycott thing
later, Governor McCrory today began trying to undo the law that he signed
and that he has defended until today. He put out executive orders that
purport to soften the impact of the law, at least for some North
Carolinians.

And whether you see this as a change of heart by the North Carolina`s
governor or you see this as merely an attempt to not crash the state`s
economy while he`s up for re-election, the sustained protests and the very
real economic harm to the state of North Carolina because of this
discrimination law, it has been very, very front and center. That trouble
might be visible all the way next door in Tennessee because the Tennessee
legislature has been debating its own discrimination bill.

Like the North Carolina law, this bill in Tennessee specifically goes after
transgender students in school. Last week, the Tennessee lawmakers rolled
the bill forward over the objections of business leaders. The official
paperwork warns it could jeopardize among other things, federal funding for
schools in Tennessee. It could cost Tennessee more than a billion dollars
just in education money alone.

Yesterday, the attorney general of Tennessee warned the legislature that
the potential consequences of passing this would be real and very painful
for the state. We spoke today with the office of the Republican governor
of Tennessee, Bill Haslam. The governor`s office told us that he, too, is
worried about the potential loss of federal funding if this bill becomes
law.

Quote, “The governor does have financial concerns over the loss of Title IX
funding. Currently in Tennessee, this issue is being handled on a local
basis situation by situation. The governor trusts our teachers and local
school boards to make necessary accommodations in those situations.”

That statement to us today from the office of Republican Tennessee Governor
Bill Haslam.

And then, today, the sponsor of that bill put on the brakes. And the
sponsor said he needs time to figure out where all these dire financial
warnings are potentially going to come true. But he really is risking at
least a billion dollars in education funding alone for Tennessee.

Joining us now is reporter Joel Ebert. He has been covering the story for
the daily paper in Nashville, “The Tennessean”.

Mr. Ebert, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to have you with us.

JOEL EBERT, THE TENNESSEAN POLITICAL REPORTER: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: So, what is the status of this Tennessee bill and is the
experience in other states that have considered or passed these bills
weighing on the decision in Tennessee?

EBERT: So, for the first question, the status of the bill, it`s
essentially still in limbo right now. The Senate version was delayed. Any
action was delayed today. They believe they want to take it up after what
we call the budget process. So, they`re essentially maybe going to do it
tomorrow, maybe early next week in the Senate side.

The House version is supposed to come up later this week, possibly as early
as tomorrow. And as far as your second question – no, the lawmakers, the
proponents of this legislation have not said any of the business concerns
from other states, anything we have seen in other states is even in the
back of their minds it seems.

MADDOW: In terms of the governor`s statement to us he was pretty explicit
about having concerns about the financial consequences of the bill with the
loss of federal funding. We`re talking about federal education dollars,
that`s a lot of money. What`s the governor`s relationship with the
legislature? If he did veto this, which he seems like he`s laying the
groundwork for, is that the sort of thing that could stick or would the
legislature override that veto?

EBERT: The legislature could easily override his veto. It only takes a
simple majority here. So, his relationship with mainstream Republicans is
fairly good. But I think for some of these other folks who are really
trying to run on sort of – you know, the non-central tenants of the
Republican Party, people that think that, hey, my constituents really care
about this issue, the social issues. That`s where the governor disagrees.

So, simply put, if the governor would get this bill and he were to veto it,
I could easily see them coming back and saying, let`s give it a ride and
see how far we can go with overriding it.

MADDOW: Joe, why is all this stuff happening right now? Tennessee has
this transgender bill we`ve been talking about. Tennessee just passed a
bill that would let therapists refuse to take gay clients like that`s a
national crisis that we need to start fighting. Why is this stuff
percolating right now in Tennessee?

EBERT: I think, right now, it seems like everybody is trying to react to
the Obergefell decision last year from the Supreme Court. And so, at the
beginning of this year`s session, we had a number of bills that were sort
of push back efforts to say, hey, we disagree with that decision. We
actually had one lawmaker, two lawmakers put forward a resolution that
explicit said that they disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court, that easily
passed in both chambers here.

So, I think a lot of these – these bills are just a reaction to that
decision.

MADDOW: Joel Ebert, state government reporter for “The Tennessean”, I`ve
been enjoying your coverage on this. It`s big part of the way that we`re
follow it from here. Thanks for talking with us about it. Appreciate it.

EBERT: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Up next, we`ve got a heist done by some thieves who
apparently have very, very good taste but not in art. That`s ahead. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Indulge me a personal matter for a moment. I like to issue a
quick note of congratulations and good luck. My friend, my pal, somebody I
am honored to call a colleague, the great Chris Hayes, along with his staff
at “ALL IN”, they have been named finalizes for Peabody Award for their
work on their shows “Back to Baltimore” special, the special report that
they did back in December.

Chris`s reporting from Baltimore from the very, very beginning has been
invaluable. That special where they went back in and checked in and did
progress, “Back to Baltimore”, it was stunning work.

And honestly this network is lucky to have Chris and his team here, all of
us could not be prouder of them. They`re nominated for a Peabody.

The announcement of the winners is going to start this coming Tuesday.
Until then, if I look awkward on the air, it`s because for an entire week
or so crossing all of my fingers and all of my toes so I will be a little
off balance.

But congratulations to them. To be nominated itself is a huge honor and
I`m proud to work here.

I`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I love this story.

OK. By now you have heard about the Andy Warhol theft in Missouri. This
is a heist that was pulled off the Springfield art museum in Springfield,
Missouri, this past week. But it turns out there was something weird about
this heist and by weird I mean math weird.

And here it is – it was Wednesday night at 5:00. The staff closed the
doors at Springfield art museum. They locked up for the night, they went
home. The next morning, they went back to open the museum back up in the
morning, about 8:45 in the morning, Thursday morning, lo and behold, and
the Warhols were gone, taken off the wall.

Now, there is no overnight security presence at the museum. Now, though,
they`re trying to figure out what happened overnight. And part of the
mystery is that these things were big.

Andy Warhol`s first famous/infamous Campbell Soup paintings, they were done
in 1962. Those were not that big. In that first series, he painted 32
different varieties of soup and the canvasses, each of the cans was only
about 16 inches by 20 inches. That was the original series. That`s the
super famous one.

These ones that were stolen in Springfield, they were a later series, which
was much bigger. Each of the soup cans that was just stolen is – see how
much bigger it is. Two feet wide and over three feet tall. And they were
all framed in wooden frames.

So, it would have been sort of unwieldy to get a whole bunch of these
things out of that museum, easily, particularly without being solved. So,
that`s part of the mystery. The things are big.

The other part of the mystery is what exactly they took. So, in this later
series by Andy Warhol, there were ten different varieties of Campbell`s
Soup in the series. These were the soup flavors in the series, which the
Springfield art museum had. Beef soup, beef consomme, black bean soup,
chicken noodle soup, cream of mushroom soup, green pea soup, onion soup,
pepper pot spot, tomato soup, vegetable soup – those are the ten.

Now, Andy Warhol made about 250 copies of this series initially, but since
he made them in 1968, most of them have been split up as sets. The great
value of this ten-soup can series from Andy Warhol is that there are almost
no intact sets of these ten soup cans still left. Somebody may have a
black bean or a green pea, right, somebody may have one or two or three,
but all ten together, that`s the value and that`s what the Springfield art
museum had that they were so proud of.

And so, now, check this out. The Springfield art museum has all ten up on
the wall. When the thieves get into the museum, they had all ten soup
flavors right there on the wall. These big unwieldy framed soup cans, all
ten of them.

But what did they take? Look. They only took seven of the soups. The
intact set is what`s invaluable. Stealing seven of the ten means they`re
of almost no value compared to having the whole set.

But even more than that, look at what they left behind. They only left
behind the gross soup. They left behind the beef consomme, the pepper pot
soup, what`s that, the cream of mushroom. And I know that`s controversial
for me to say that`s the gross soup, but what I mean is that cream of
mushroom is tasty in other foods, but when it`s a soup on its own, it`s
disgusting. I mean, everybody`s got their preferences.

But it is inarguable that these thieves left behind the only three
disgusting flavors out of those ten flavors of soup. And so, it`s a
mystery.

The FBI is now seeking the public`s help. The FBI is offering a $25,000
reward in this case, but from what we know of the heist, it`s clear that
we`re dealing with someone that was not stealing the art just for its value
as American art, what we`re looking for is a soup fan with good taste in
soup, but no clue about art.

Twenty-five thousand dollar reward. Call the FBI if you know anything.
Soup heist.

I told you I love that story.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again. Now, it`s time for
“THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

Good evening, Lawrence.



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