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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 03/27/15

Guests: Jim Manley, Bernie Sanders, Beau Willimon, John Forte, Matt Kibbe

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: I have done my best. I have not been perfect but I tried my hardest to represent the people for the state of Nevada. HAYES: Harry Reid will now officially have more time to search for Mitt Romney`s tax returns. REID: Words out that he hasn`t paid any taxes for 10 years. HAYES: What today`s major shake up means for Democrats. Plus, mystery solved. We found the origins of that racist Oklahoma fraternity chant. Then, why President Obama`s David Simon interview was more than just a fan boy chat about the wire. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s one of the greatest, not just television shows, but pieces of art in the last couple of decades. HAYES: "House of Cards" creator Beau Willimon season three and the Netflix revolution, and a lift off from Kazakhstan. Astronaut Mark Kelly on his year-long experiment with his identical win brother in space. ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The greatest period of Democratic legislative accomplishments since LBJ maybe even FDR is coming to a close. After almost 30 years in the Senate, 10 at the helm of the Democratic caucus, Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced today he won`t run for reelection when his term ends in 2016. This will bring to an end the powerful triumvirate of Democratic leaders that has presided in Washington for the past six years and successfully redirected the course for the country. Reid has been coping with an eye injury sustained in a freak exercising accident earlier this year. But he said in a video today that`s not why he is stepping down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REID: This accident has caused us for the first time to have a little down time. I had time to ponder and to think. We have to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada, than us. And as a result of that, I`m not going to run for reelection. The decision that I made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it has nothing to do with my being minority leader, and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: What Harry Reid may lack in charisma, he`s already made up for in sheer behind-the-scenes muscle. Under his fierce leadership, the Senate has passed some of the most consequential progressive legislation in generation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the repeal of "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell", the stimulus package which kept our economy from falling off of a cliff, and the Dodd-Frank Act, which took major steps towards reforming the financial sector. Perhaps the most significantly, Reid managed to muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass an initiative that previously eluded seven presidents, a health care overhaul we know as Obamacare. He`s already been a master manipulator of Senate rules. In 2013, facing unprecedented obstructionism with the Republican Party, Reid took what`s known as the nuclear option, lowering the vote threshold to approve executive and judicial nominees. As a result, according to his office, the Senate confirmed 132 district and circuit court judges in the last Congress, reshaping the judiciary for years to come. Even after losing control of the Senate this year, Harry Reid has remained a force to be reckoned with -- rallying his caucus against a Republican majority`s political maneuvers, first their attempt to link Homeland Security funding to the fight over President Obama`s executive actions of immigration, which ended in total and complete failure. And now, their insistence on anti-abortion language in a bill to fight human trafficking. During an interview with a Nevada public radio station today, Reid got a call from a very appreciative citizen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: Harry, this is Barack. REID: Well, I`ll be damned. I`ll be damned -- OBAMA: Are you allowed to say that on a live radio? Harry`s going to be doing a lot of work over the next 20-some months, but I think when the story is written and when all is told, you`re going to have somebody who has done more for Nevada and for this country as anyone who has ever been in the Senate. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: It`s been a pretty unlikely career for a guy who was born dirt poor in the mining town in the Nevada desert. So far out in the middle of nowhere, he had to hitchhike 40 miles to get to school. At age 11, he reportedly donned a lantern, joined his dad down the mines, which may have helped him developed what became a repetition for toughness. He went on to be an amateur boxer, later took on mobsters in Vegas as chairman of the Nevada gaming commission. He has been written off in a political death numerous times including at the age of 34, in 1976, after losing two consecutive races, and again, in 2010, when the Tea Party wave put his Senate seat in peril. But now, to put it in Reid`s own words, he is going out on top. Joining me now, Jim Manley, former chief spokesman for Senator Reid. Jim, you worked for the man for a long time. What -- I think when people that watch Harry Reid from home maybe get a little bit of -- it`s a little hard to figure out how this guy who doesn`t have the kind of political gifts that you would get just watching him on television, how he has been as successful as he has been in politics. JIM MANLEY, FORMER CHIEF SPOKESMAN FOR HARRY REID: Sure, I don`t blame them for asking that question. The bottom line is that he is tenacious as hell. He knows how to count votes better than just about anybody else. But his real secret that each and every member of his caucus believes that the only thing he is there to do is try to protect their interests as a whole. He doesn`t play favorites. He doesn`t pick sides. He is there to protect the caucus as a whole. HAYES: What do you think people don`t know about him? I mean, you worked with him for a long time. He`s obviously become a real lightning rod. He almost seems to relish in a weird way being a lightning rod or a heat shield, attracting lots of incoming fire from the right, and sort of using that to protect members of his caucus. What do you think people don`t get about him? MANLEY: Well, first of all, that`s absolutely the case. If I had a dollar for every time I got nervous when he was prepared to embark on blowing something up, you know, I`d be a rich guy. You know, that was my job to be nervous when he went to battle like that. You know, he is just not afraid to mix things up. But I think what one of the things people don`t appreciate is that he is very a voracious consumer of pop culture. One of the first things he reads every week is "People" magazine, for instance. HAYES: And he also has a reputation, I think, fairly earned, I`m not going to say fighting dirty -- you`re laughing at me. (CROSSTALK) MANLEY: You see this gray hair? Some of this he has got -- I always contributed -- considered it a real attribute, but the fact of the matter is he has a nasty habit of saying what is on his mind, and that can be dangerous for a less skilled politician sometimes. Again -- and sometimes he`s gotten in trouble, sometimes he`s had to apologize. Other times, you know, he pressed the pedal to the metal and he keeps on pushing and pushing. He`s not afraid to mix things up. HAYES: He became a knifeman against Mitt Romney in 2012. This was him on the floor of the Senate leveling a charge that is to this day is not substantiated. Here is Harry Reid. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REID: The word is out that he hasn`t paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has, because he hasn`t. We already know from one partial tax return that he gave us, he has money hidden in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and a Swiss bank account. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: I mean, you know, speech and debate clause, you can say whatever you want on the floor of the Senate. But the word is out, that doesn`t -- that doesn`t pass muster in this building, with standards. MANLEY: What can I say? He`s not afraid of -- play smashed mouth politics every once in a while. You know, it`s classic Harry Reid. Make him deny it. HAYES: What has changed -- I mean, Harry Reid has been there at a moment in which two things have run into each other, which is Senate traditions and the kind of baroque rules around those traditions and the unprecedented polarization and partisan unanimity that exists in the respective caucuses. And those two have run into each other at the moment that Harry Reid kind of presided over at some ways looks almost like a constitutional crisis. Do you think he has changed his mind about how the Senate operates? MANLEY: I know for a fact he has. When it came to the so-called nuclear option, that`s something that he had to wrestle with for a great many years. He was under pressure from, you know, some of the younger members of his caucus to make that change. He carefully heard them out. He thought about it, he deliberated, and he consulted with the rest of the caucus, and in the end, of course, he decided to make that move. But, you know, his job as leader is to play the long game. But in the end, he decided this was the right thing to do if only because, as you were well aware, Republicans were filibustering everything in sight and that the current situation was no longer untenable. HAYES: Is the filibuster going to live much longer? MANLEY: I think Senator McConnell is pretty comfortable where things are right now. I don`t see them making a move anytime soon. I, for one, as someone who spent 21 years in the Senate, I hate to see the Senate turn in just another version of the House. I think there are responsibilities that go along with being a senator and that I`d hate to see on legislation curtailed. But the fact of the matter is, things have to change. The current status quo is absolutely unacceptable. HAYES: Jim Manley, always a pleasure. Thank you. Almost immediately after announcing his registration, Harry Reid endorsed the number three Democrat in the Senate, New York Senator Chuck Schumer to succeed him. Reid`s current number two, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, said he won`t contest the race, which means Schumer will likely have a pretty smooth path to the top spot in the Senate Democrat caucus. Not everyone is happy about it. Aside from his garrulous reputation, Schumer is known for his extremely close relationship to Wall Street, which maybe why some liberal groups are now encouraging Elizabeth Warren to run for Democratic Senate leader. Her office said she`s not going to run for the position. We heard that from her in other context. This comes at a time when Democrats are searching for a more populist alternative to Hillary Clinton in the presidential context, and when the party`s progressive wing symbolized by Warren is coming under fire from the big banks who are now threatening to halt campaign donations to Democrats. With Reid`s resignation ushering in a new era of Democratic leadership, the direction of the party is now at stake. Joining me now is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. What do you think about Chuck Schumer in that position and his closeness to Wall Street? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I think Chuck is a consensus leader. I think he has got to try to bring the whole caucus together and he will, and I think he understands that the base of the Democratic Party is moving to the left. People demand action on income wealth inequality. People are demanding action on the need to create millions of decent-paying jobs, people want to raise the minimum wage and deal with pay equity and deal with overtime situation, and I think Chuck will be there on all of those issues. HAYES: Senator, I agree with you in terms of where the base of the party is in terms of public opinion. But I got to say, as I look out across the landscape, having covered progressive politics for at least a dozen years, a little bit more, it really does occur to me that that landscape is quite barren in terms of where the institutions are that can essentially hold politicians accountable. I mean, the six years of being in power has done something weird to the sort of broad center left that being out of power didn`t do. When George Bush was in power, he had all of these groups coming out and lots of fundraising and lots of grassroots organizing. Where is that now? SANDERS: Well, I think, Chris, that the dynamic of politics now in Washington, especially since Citizens United, is the incredible power of big money. And I think to be very honest with you, if we do not overturn Citizens United and we didn`t move to public funding of elections, you will have a Congress heavily indebted to the wealthiest, most conservative people in this country continually ignoring the needs of working families. That is a huge, huge issue. And the only antidote that I know of is for the development of a very strong grassroots movement around the progressive agenda which puts pressure on any and everybody in the Congress to start representing working people and not just billionaires. Not an easy thing to do, but it`s absolutely imperative that that happens. HAYES: Is there that pressure right now? I mean, we`re going through a big budget fight, OK? It`s the first -- let`s say it could be the first post austerity budget fight. The Republicans passed their budget. The president has presented his budget. We might have something that looks like a normal budget process for the first time in awhile. I mean, is there that pressure there to deliver, you know, median wage gains for your average working people, to relive the strain of austerity? Do you feel that on Capitol Hill? SANDERS: Well, it depends on who you talk to. If you talk to me, yes, I feel that. If you talk to Mitch McConnell, you don`t. Look, I mean, one of the things that has bothered me and I speak as a ranking member on the Budget Committee is the failure of the mainstream media to talk about what is in this budget. Chris, this budget throws 27 million Americans off of health insurance. At a time when kids can`t afford to go to college and are leaving school deeply in debt, this cuts $90 million for federal Pell Grants. At the time when we have 40 million people living in poverty and people struggling to put food on the table, this budget makes savage cuts in nutrition, in food stamps, in programs for pregnant women. So, this is a horrendous budget. But I think in the media world, no one even takes it for granted -- no one is even willing to call it what it is. This budget will give tax breaks to billionaires and decimate programs for working families. The president in my view has got to get out his budget pen and say that when legislation comes out of this budget that he is not going to sign it. HAYES: Finally, what do you think the big -- when you think about Harry Reid`s tenure as leading your caucus, and obviously, there`s 22 months left - -what do you think the legacy is? SANDERS: Well, I would agree with Jim Manley`s remarks. I think what people don`t know about Reid, and Reid`s success is twofold, Reid is a lot more progressive than most people believe he is. He is not a great charismatic TV guy. But he is in his heart of hearts progressive. He remembers where he came from and he came from dirt poverty in Nevada. He has not forgotten that, and he has been a real warrior for low income and working families throughout his entire career. The other thing is that he is an honest guy for the members of the caucus. When you sit down and talk with him and he tells you something, he does it, people trust him. And what he has managed to do is bring together people who are fairly conservative with the Democratic Caucus, with progressives in the Democratic caucus. People respect him and trust him and that`s no small thing for a leader. HAYES: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you, sir. Have a good weekend. SANDERS: Thank you. HAYES: All right, the creator of the only show on TV that Ted Cruz says he is watching, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Something pretty funny happened when Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Republican from Washington state and the chair of the House GOP Conference, went on Facebook to ask folks to tell her their Obamacare horror stories in honor of the act`s fifth anniversary. They wrote things like the following. "Obamacare saved us. When my husband was unemployed and we couldn`t afford a coverage, we might have been ruined without it. My husband could not have had the eye surgery needed after an accident. So grateful." And this, "Five years of not waking up in the middle of the night panicked that my child would not be able to get health insurance, thanks to a brain tumor at the age of 2, thank God for Obamacare." And this, "Since signing on to Obamacare, the premiums have gone down $100 a month". I`m just guessing here, but this probably didn`t go like the congresswoman thought it would. It might be the only comment section I`ve ever read on my life that actually made me proud of humanity. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Fifteen seconds, the engines igniting, ramping up -- and lift off. The year in space starts now. Kelly, Kornienko and Padalka on their way towards the International Space Station. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Today, American astronaut Scott Kelly took off from Kazakhstan, heading to the International Space Station to spend almost an entire year in outer space. Now, that`s twice the length people normally stay and it will shatter the current American record. Before now, the longest an American has stayed in space has been just 215 days. As an added wrinkle to the already remarkable event, NASA will be able to study the effect of Kelly`s time at the space on the body because Scott Kelly`s identical twin brother Mark, husband of former Congressman Gabby Giffords, will be back on planet earth and available for testing. Mark himself also a NASA astronaut. Over the next year, scientists will study the brothers who share the same genetic profile to see what exactly spending a year in space does to a person, specifically their genome. I spoke to Mark Kelly, retired astronaut, current MSNBC analyst, on Skype from Kazakhstan, and ask him about his last conversation with his brother before he left. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARK KELLY, MSNBC ANALYST: We talked about the duration of the mission, and I just basically say, see you in a year and be careful. HAYES: You know, I got to say, obviously, I`m cut from the different cloth than you and your brother, as in I am not an astronaut, but a year in the space station, something seems very bleak about that. I mean-- how -- did you guys talk about what it`s going to be like? This is -- no one has ever done this before, no American has ever done this before. You talk about how he is planning psychologically to do it? KELLY: Yes, we talked about it. It is twice and long as he has flown before, and it`s twice as long as basically of any other American we have sent into space. So, it`s a big commitment. And you know, I think it depends on the person. He certainly has the approach to pace himself, and know this is a marathon. But you`re in a pretty closed environment for a long period of time. There are challenges that he`s going to have to deal with. HAYES: So, talk about the way the kind of physiological experiments that are going to be run with you and your brother as a kind of match pair, sort of control and experiment since as identical twins, you have the same genetic profile. What`s the plan going forward? KELLY: So, after he was assigned, you know, NASA realized that they had a unique opportunity for science they have never done before, and especially when it comes to our genes and the way that his genetic material will be affected over this long period of time. They basically have a control in me on the ground. So, they have -- there was at least 10 different studies with a bunch of different universities, like Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, that`s going to look at a lot of different things about bone loss, affecting our brain, cardiovascular system, and really detailed genetic, genomic stuff. And, you know, we need this information if we want to go into the solar systems in really long trips. HAYES: Imagine that the same technologies, I mean, right now, you`re coming to us via the magic of Skype from Kazakhstan, I imagine the same technologies that had made it easier for people across the world to talk to each other. Actually, it makes a huge difference in what it`s like to be in space, right? I mean, presumably, you and your brother can Skype the way you`re Skyping with me right now. KELLY: Yes, we could and, you know, NASA can set that up. They can do video teleconferencing. He tends to do that with his kids because it requires a little more, you know, you have to work it out ahead of time, but he can make a phone call whenever he wants in space. And we actually - - it turns out we talk more when one of us are in orbit that when we`re both on the ground, oddly enough. (LAUGHTER) HAYES: There`s something sort of funny about that. I know what you mean, though. Sometimes my own brother, when he`s live -- there`s been periods where he lived out of town and I`ve ended being in contact with him more through GChat or whatever than when he actually, you know, is a mile and a half away. KELLY: Yes, it`s exactly the same with us. I think when Scott was in space last time for six months, I talked to him probably almost every single day, but here on the ground with me living in Tucson and him in Houston, or even in the office together, it might be two or three times a week. So, big difference. HAYES: The program to become an astronaut is massively competitive. I mean, the funnel starts out like this and it narrows to the point where there are people who spend their whole life essentially in a program and never get admission. Was there times you felt competitive with your brother since those slots are so scarce? KELLY: Yes, you know, I get asked that question a lot. Not really. I mean, we were both maybe test pilots but we flew different airplanes. When we both got selected to NASA the same time, we felt very, very fortunate for this opportunity, like -- it`s kind of like winning the lottery, the lottery of jobs. In our case, I felt very excited about it. And then we kept our heads down and I got to fly four flights on the space shuttle and this is his fourth mission as well. So, not really competitive between each other, but I would say I`m considered a competitive person. HAYES: Yes, I don`t think anyone ends up doing the job you and your brother do without having quite a bit of drive. Mark Kelly, thank you so much. And we`ll be monitoring you and your brother. I`m sure your genome will be intact, well see about Scott`s when returns. KELLY: Yes, we`ll see. That`s -- thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me on. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: The mystery surrounding where the University of Oklahoma SAE fraternity members learned that racist chant that got the chapter disbanded was apparently solved today. We`ll talk about that, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Today, a lingering mystery swirling around the racist chant by SAE members of the University of Oklahoma was apparently solved. This was the footage, of course, which went viral about three weeks ago of members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma, using the n-word as well as referring to lynching in chant. The national headquarters of SAE responded by disbanding the University of Oklahoma chapter as well as appointing a national advisory panel and instituting mandatory online sensitivity training for its members. The University of Oklahoma for its part disciplined about 25 students, two students seen on the video withdrew from the university. Now it was always clear that the chant was not invented on that bus ride. So the big question was where did it come from and how did the students learn it? Levi Pettit, one of the two students withdrew, refused to say quite pointedly in his first public appearance earlier this week when he was asked directly. Parker Rice, the other student who withdrew from the school said the song was, quote, taught to us. And today, we got a much more complete answer from the University of Oklahoma President David Boren when he released the findings of a university investigation based on more than 160 interviews. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID BOREN, UNIVERISTY OF OKLAHOMA PRESIDENT: The origin of the racist chant at the Oklahoma chapter of SAE was that it was learned by chapter members at a national leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization four years ago. That chant was learned and brought back to the local chapter. Over time, the chant was formalized by the local chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledgeship process. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Mr. Boren did not limit his comments to that incident alone. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOREN: This is not just a problem here at this campus, or other university and college campuses across this country, this is a problem in America. We have had an epidemic of racism all across our country. Ferguson, Missouri might be the best known case, but it is all across our country. Every day, every week there seems to be another one. We can stop it if all of us in the institutions and organizations we belong to, and all of us as individuals, say we have zero tolerance for racism in America. 9END VDIEO CLIP) HAYES: The national headquarters of SAE released a lengthy statement which reads in part, "the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on Friday confirmed members of its former University of Oklahoma chapter likely learned a racist chant while attending a national leadership school about four years ago. However, executive Blaine Ayers said the organization had no current evidence the chant is widespread across the fraternities 237 groups. Ayers said SAE continues its in-depth investigation of its chapter." We here at All In wonder what it will turn up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: On TV I just finished the last season of House of Cards, which... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have good taste in TV shows. CRUZ: You know, fortunately there are fewer murders in politics in real life. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: This week, newly minted presidential candidate Ted Cruz joined a long list of politicians that says they watch House of Cards, the very, very dark political drama set largely in Washington, D.C. whose third and I think most controversial season debuted on Netflix on February 27. Last year, Hillary Clinton told People Magazine she and Bill, quote, "totally binge-watched" the first season. And President Obama tweeted before the season of two, "no spoilers, please." The show has become an obsession for many both inside and outside of Washington. And joining me now to walk about it, a man who is very good at avoiding spoilers, Beau Willimon, he`s executive producer and writer of House of Cards. Beau, great to have you back. BEAU WILLIMON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, HOUSE OF CARDS: Thanks for having me. HAYES: Congratulations on season three. WILLIMON: Thank you. HAYES: So here`s the thing -- let`s start with this, people have this weird relationship to the show`s realism, do you find that? WILLIMON: Sure. A lot of people ask me whether they`re in the media or not is this what Washington is really like? HAYES; Well, particularly people who are inside Washington, like people who are political junkies inside Washington and who are in the media both are obsessed with the show and are obsessed with critiquing it for not be sufficiently realistic. WILLIMON: Sure. Although there`s a lot of people in Washington will say, yeah, that`s exactly what it is like, obviously not with the murder -- you know, the frequent murder of enemies -- yeah, we hope. And then people who say this is totally inaccurate. And I think they`re both right. I mean, we go to great pains, do a lot of research to make sure that the inside baseball and the mechanics of Washington is accurate. We have to fudge the rules sometimes, but the people we`re focusing on are very extreme sliver of what you might find in Washington and so extreme -- I hope there is not a Frank Underwood in Washington. But no one show could possibly tackle the vast complexity that is D.C. on its alone. HAYES: And also -- I mean, it seems a little misplaced for me, too, this sort of -- this the question of realism, right, because your fidelity is to making dramatic television, like even if you have to fudge the rules, like who cares right? WILLIMON: Well, sure. I mean, you know, Shakespeare definitely fudged the rules with the War of Roses, you know, And, there is certain -- and there he is actually telling a real historical story. I mean, ours is a land of fiction. We want it to feel like as though it`s plausible and it could happen, but there are aspects of our characters that are on the far end of the moral spectrum and extreme like you say dark. And I don`t think that is par for the course in Washington at all. And we`re not trying to say it is. HAYES: You sold the first season. And I think you had a one season deal -- am I right? WILLIMON: Two seasons. HAYES: You had two seasons, right. I`m sorry. So you sold two. So then you get a third, right. And it strikes me you guys have a challenge that a lot of folks have in the world as sort of like prestige serial drama which is you become victims of your own success insofar as the better it is, the longer you have to go, the more you have to create a story arc, and the more in some ways you`ve got to heighten drama. You have to keep the balls in the air as it goes on. Was that hard? WILLIMON: It`s always hard. Seasons one and two were just as hard as season three. Our goal with every season... HAYES: It wasn`t harder with season three? WILLIMON: Well, harder. I mean, we always try to make it as hard as possible. And we try to make it as hard as possible by confronting narrative challenges that we have not faced before. Season three was a lot different. There is no longer a story ascendancy. Now that they have got the power, what do they do with it? And what stress does it put on their marriage, and we definitely deeper into the emotional journey of the characters. And a lot of people like that, some didn`t. But we didn`t want to repeat ourselves, you know? But you`re absolutely right. As you have this ongoing story and you don`t know exactly when it`s going to end, you know, how do you navigate that because you want every piece to feel like a part of a whole. So, you know, certainly you`re thinking about ideas of what is the end point, when will that be, what will that look like. But in the midst of it you don`t know exactly when that`s going to be. HAYES: When you found out, when you signed the deal for the third season, and it`s so far we don`t know if there is going to be a fourth, does the process start with a kind of outlining. I mean, do you basically get down with the writers and sort of say, ok, what are some of the big arches here and then you break it up from there? Is that... WILLIMON: Yeah, that`s absolutely right. I walk into the room with some big ideas of what I want to have happen during the season and we spend the first six weeks looking at the season as a whole with a big grid. There`s lot of dry erase boards and index cards and it slowly starts to take shape. And then we get more and more specific. HAYES: So you worked from the broad down to the granular, right. So by the end you`ve got writers sort of writing the scene. In this scene this thing has to happen that we`ve zoomed in on knowing what these various... WILLIMON: I mean, because our stories are so interwoven we have to look at the big picture first and then we get much more myopic, and start doing all of our research, talking to experts, thinking beat by beat emotionally. And that initial idea may change overtime as we do our research and explore things, but we need to have a sense of where we`re headed. We don`t just sort of say, well, let`s start writing and see what happens. HAYES: Free write, gentlemen -- ladies and gentlemen. When you started this, was House of Cards -- I`m trying to think, was it the first original series for Netflix? WILLIMON: Yes. Well I mean they had done Lilyhammer before that, but that was produced elsewhere and it was the first one they presented. In terms of something that started from scratch ours was the first. HAYES: So, do you feel like the older sibling now, because you have a household. You used to have the run of the place and now there are -- I don`t know, maybe seven or eight or nine original series from Netflix. WILLIMON: I wouldn`t say older sibling, I would say it`s a big party and just more people are in attendance. I mean, look, I look up to a lot of the shows that Netflix has developed and put out there. And I think Orange is the New Black is amazing. I mean, Jenji Kohan is an incredible show runner and I look at her show and her work and I learn a lot from it. So you know if anything, we`re looking around us and saying wow, we`re in pretty good company and we have got to raise the bar even higher to live up to the standards that Netflix has set. HAYES: Do you think -- how sustainable is this current explosion in the world of subscription video on demand and these really, really good complex dramas? I mean, are we going to keep seeing growth? Are we in some kind of bubble? WILLIMON: Who knows? I mean, if the last several years are our guide, it seems to keep expanding. I think as more great work is being put out there, the appetite for more is increasing. You know, is there a certain point at which there is too much content for even the billions of people that population this planet to consume? Who knows. But right now it seems to be heading in the direction of expansion. HAYES: Beau Willimon, thank you. It was great to have you here tonight. WILLIMON: Thanks for having me. HAYES: I bet Frank Underwood wishes he was in D.C. yesterday. I will tell you why ahead. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)) KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: My first job, oh, that can`t go in the book. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: why not? SPACEY: I worked for a man that grew cannabis in the back woods. UNIDNETIFIED MALE: A weed dealer. SPACEY: No, a farmer. Uncle Henry. He wasn`t my uncle, but that`s just what everybody called him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do for Uncle Henry? SPACEY: I packaged the product. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: I have absolutely no idea what news story we were covering one year ago tonight, but I do remember extremely well that I was not in this anchor chair, that`s because one year ago tonight I was returning home to Brooklyn with my wife and our newborn son David Emmanuel Shaw Hayes. That`s that little guy bundled up right here. He`s a year old today. His current interests include sweeping with a broom and dust pan, strawberries, his big sister Ryan (ph) and giving leg hugs. He is the sweetest, most delightful little dude I have ever encountered. Happy birthday, my little man. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: It was the biggest legal pot give away in the nation`s history and it happened in the nation`s capital. Hundreds of people lined up outside of a Washington, D.C. restaurant yesterday to get free marijuana seeds on the one month anniversary of the city`s new marijuana law. Now, while it is still illegal to buy or sell pot in D.C., if you are 21 or older, you can possess up to two ounces of marijuana. You can give away up to an ounce. And you can personally cultivate six seedlings, including three mature plants. And to help week aficionados do just that, the D.C. cannabis campaign organized yesterday`s perfectly legal marijuana seed giveaway. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAM EDINGER, HEAD OF TEH D.C. CANNABIS CAMPAIGN: You have the right to share seeds, up to one ounce, to any individual. So why not designate a location and have people come and get free seeds. And so I`m giving away my spare seeds that people gave me and some seeds I found in bags of marijuana over the years. KIMBERLY BROWN, WASHINGTON, D.C. RESIDENT: I feel like such a pioneer. Like coming here and getting seeds and be able to grow your own marijuana and toke it and be lovely. Like, I`m all for that. GIOVANNI ARCE, WASHINGTON, D.C. RESIDENT: I`m just inspired by the whole movement. So whatever I do with it, you know, hopefully it gets somewhere. MARCEL WATKINS, WASHINGTON, D.C. RESIDENT: Weed is not a drug. It`s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) plant that grows from the earth. God made it. SETH AAYE, WASHINGTON, D.C. RESIDENT: Well, there`s no dealing going on here and this is a fantastic crowd. TYLER COBALT, WASHINGTON, D.C. RESIDENT: It feels like it`s part of a community more or less. There`s a lot of people here. This is a very civilized event. It`s a very (inaudible) event. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your seeds and go. Get your seeds and go. CROWD: Get your seeds and go. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Police were there yesterday but only to direct traffic if needed. When asked about the event by the Washington Post, the spokeswoman for D.C. Police simply responded, quote, "seed sharing is not prohibited." The D.C. Cannabis Campaign estimates about 16,000 marijuana seeds were shared at yesterday`s event. They are hosting a second seed giveaway at their headquarters tomorrow. It starts, of course, at 4:20. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: A remarkable event took place at a hotel in Washington, D.C. this week has been called The Woodstock of criminal justice, a bipartisan summit which brought together some unlikely partners including representatives from the ACLU as well as Koch Industries for sole purpose of reforming our criminal justice system. It also brought together President Obama and the creator of the HBO series The Wire David Simon who had some interesting things to say about criminal justice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of what your show depicted though is also -- that there is a generational element to this, right. So you`ve got entire generations of men being locked up, which means entire generations of boys growing up either without a father or if they see their dad, they`re seeing him in prison. DAVID SIMON, CREATOR, THE WIRE: The drug trade itself it`s like a town. And this is an industry so large and with so much money around it that it is hard to get around it. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The president`s full conversation with David Simon was played on a big screen for the event`s organizers and speakers, which included a varied coalition from former Obama adviser Van Jones, Democratic Senator Corey Booker, to former Republican speaker of the house Newt Gingrich whose 1994 Contract with America once proposed funding for more prisons. We`re starting, I think, to see a real genuine sea change in politics on the issue of crime and criminal justice, because there is a growing understanding that the status quo is untenable, an abomination. I mean, one of the biggest areas of growth of government in a generation has been mass incarceration. Look at that chart. 500 percent increase over the past 30 years, according to the research and advocacy group the Sentencing Project. And the need to reexamine criminal justice policies has led to some concrete legislation introduced on the Hill -- Smarter Sentencing Act, which had cut mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders as well as the Redeem Act, which among other things allows people convicted of non-violent crimes to petition to have their record sealed, which in turn would make it easier for them to find work once they`re released from prison. When I sat down with Matt Kibbe, president of the conservative libertarian group Freedom Works and John Forte, Grammy nominated recording artist who served seven years of a 14 year sentence for a first time nonviolent drug offense before he was pardoned by President George W. Bush in 2008. I asked John a bout that experience, about what brought him to the criminal justice reform summit this week. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN FORTE, CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE: As for why I`m here in D.C. I`m participating in the bipartisan summit on criminal justice reform, because some people might say that I`m actually the poster child for a bipartisan initiative because I`m here seven years freed from a 14 year federal prison sentence for a first time nonviolent drug offense during a Republican administration. And -- with bipartisan support. So, while I was away, while I was doing my time, I had people who championed for my -- for my personal freedom and now I`m here because I don`t have the luxury of putting that time behind me and nor would I want to. I think that I would be doing not only myself but the powers that be to grade this service for giving me that second chance. HAYES: I mean, it`s remarkable to imagine the difference between those seven years of your life, seven more years being spent inside incarcerated and what you have been able to do in the seven years outside. In some ways, that is kind of the object lesson, right? That there are thousands -- tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions -- hundreds of thousands if not more people in the system of whom that might be said. FORTE: You`re absolutely correct. I don`t want to monopolize too much of the time, but the facts are true. The vast majority of men and women who are serving time or who will serve time, will come home. And we can`t as a country or as a people, as humanity attempt to put people away and isolate them and act as if they`re not there and then have nothing for them upon their return. This is bigger than an 800 pound gorilla in the room when you`re talking about millions of people who are obviously impacted by something as vicious as this. Unfortunately it`s not so far gone that we`ve crossed the Rubicon where it can`t be corrected. And that`s why we`re here. HAYES: So Matt, here is the big question to me, the make or break question, right. And there has been some folks on the sort of libertarian right who have been doing some great work on this on decarceration, on ending the drug war. But the rubber really hits the road to me on politics. I mean, I do think the politics are shifting such that some governor comes out and does something to reduce the levels of incarceration. And one of the people who is released commits a crime and they`re not going to face the wrath politically for that. MATT KIBBE, CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE: Well, I think politics is always a lagging indicator of where the American people are. And if you want to understand why so many Republicans and Democrats are coming forward on serious reforms to the criminal justice system it`s because the American people are pushing them to do that. And you can look at the Smarter Sentences Act and the strange bedfellows that are co-sponsoring that bill - - Mike Lee and Dick Durbin; Ted Cruz and Sheldon Whitehouse. On what planet do these four guys work together? I think it`s because they`re hearing from their constituents back home. And part of it is about too much federal power, too much federal dictating from the top down, and there are cost elements as well. But I think it is really about fundamental American values, innocent until proven guilty, equal treatment under the law, and these are not Republican or Democratic issues. HAYES: John, do you think you`re getting more of a hearing because of the particularities of your circumstances? Are there people that you feel like you`re speaking for having been afforded this very rare shot at redemption? FORTE: Without question. You know, I tell people that I feel as if I won the lottery. So things like birthdays and holidays for me aren`t reserved for one day a year. When you have your freedom taken away from you, you realize that it`s never about those big things, it`s never about the big house, the big car, everything that you probably risked your freedom for in the first place, before you lost it. It`s the little things in life. And that is what is really precious and fundamental here. You know, the humanity, the decency, we are talking about people, in many cases, who made a mistake, and in many cases a nonviolent mistake. And to know that there is a solution to this, to know that there are better days ahead. And I`m not talking about in the sort of spiritual kumbaya, quasi whatever, like, I`m talking about pragmatic solutions to pragmatic problems. HAYES: Well, let me ask you that, Matt, pragmatically. You know your way around Washington and the Capitol. I mean, where do you see the low hanging fruit from a policy standpoint, right? I mean, there is a sort of rising tide of sentiment. I think the reduction in the amount of actual crime people are experiencing is playing a part, or seeing the drug war be rolled back in really exciting ways. Where do you see the low hanging fruit policy wise? KIBBE: Well, I think civil asset forfeiture looks like it has the largest bipartisan support right now, but I happen to think that the Smarter Sentencing Act dealing with mandatory minimums, and really tackling the over population, the over criminalization in our prisons. That`s the opportunity. And if we can get to that before we get into presidential politics, because Rand Paul has been one of the guys leading the charge on this stuff and he has really changed the conversation within the Republican Party. But at some point we all get back into our corners and start fighting about who will is going to be president. That is why I think we have to do it this year otherwise we wait until 2017 and at that point, regardless of who is president, I think we get it done. But as we`ve already talked about, this is about people. This is about saving lives that will be ruined forever if we don`t solve the problem now. HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now. Good evening, Rachel. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END