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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/19/11

Guests: Chris Hayes, Jose Antonio Vargas

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Happy Friday, everybody. Thank you for staying with us for the next hour. We have news tonight of some very, very dirty political tricks that appear to be being played in Michigan. Also, an attempt to put the remarkable candidacy of Michele Bachmann into context. And I think the most ambitious "Debunktion Junction" in the long and storied history of "Debunktion Junction.` That is all ahead tonight in this hour. But here`s where we start. One of the great dorky ideas in linguistics is you can`t really think about a thing well until that thing has a name. It`s sort of a function of us being word-based, language-based creatures. And I am starting to think my favorite, underappreciated mime of the Obama era in American politics, which is: Republicans being opposed to their own ideas now -- I`m starting to think that remains an underappreciated mime because it doesn`t have a name. So, I think we should name it. I think we should call it the "great flabbergasting." There`s something about Barack Obama and his brand of Democratic politics that so flabbergasts Republicans that he causes them to turn against themselves and develop vitriolic opposition to their own positions. I mean, this week alone, right, we`ve been talking about President Obama proposing action on new trade deals and on patent reform. He`s been talking about these things on his bus tour. These things are literally in the Republican jobs plan released earlier this year. Everybody overuses the word "literally," but in this case, literally it`s written in their jobs plan. President Obama is introducing something in their plan and they have responded by going, where`s your plan? I hate that plan. This has been the Obama era -- I shouldn`t even call it the Obama era in Democratic politics -- this is the Obama era in Republican politics. It`s flabbergasted Republicans against their own ideas. They are for a bipartisan deficit commission, so is Obama. So, now, they are against it. They support pay-as-you-go rules in Congress -- so does Obama. And so, now, they are against that. They support cap and trade, including Sarah Palin on tape, remember? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John McCain proposed legislation calling for mandatory cap from global warming gases or CO2 emissions. Do you agree on that? SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I support his position on that. Absolutely. He`s got a good cap and trade that he supports and details are being hashed out even right now. But in principle, absolutely, I support all that we can do to reduce emissions and to clean up this planet. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republicans support cap and trade. It is a Republican idea. Obama supports it, too. And so, now, Republicans are against it. The individual mandate in health reform as a means of getting everybody covered, not only is that Mitt Romney`s implemented idea from his time as governor in Massachusetts, it is a Republican idea, full stop, dating back to the 1990s when people first came up with the idea. So, this Republican idea, Obama is also for that. And so, now, Republicans see their own individual mandate idea as the end of the world over and over and over again. It is Republicans against their own ideas. This is the Obama era in politics, the great flabbergasting. We should have known it was coming during 2008 presidential campaign with the first and most blatant of these from the eventual Republican nominee, John McCain. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis, on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it? SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It won`t, it won`t. That`s why we went through the debate -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it did. MCCAIN: No, I would not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, I would not. No, I would not support my own immigration plan. I would vote no on my own idea. To be clear, this is not his party`s immigration plan, not just a plan that he voted for once upon a time. This is his own plan that he wrote, he authored it, he would vote against it. You have to give John McCain credit, he was an early Obama era flabbergast. Back in 2003, John McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act which would grant legal status to immigrants who complete two years of college or who served in the military. The DREAM Act was a Republican idea. It was originally introduced by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. The 2003 version of the DREAM Act, it had 13 Republican co-sponsors, including the aforementioned John McCain. President Obama gets elected in 2008. He also supports the DREAM Act. And so, flabbergast. It is their own idea, now they are opposed to it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The DREAM Act, offering a path to citizen to those brought to this country illegally as children, went down to defeat. Backers are unable to break a Republican-led filibuster. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I think mostly Republicans are just not embarrassed about stuff like this anymore. They are so not embarrassed about it that they don`t even explain the flip-flop. They just say they are outraged by the idea of the DREAM Act and just hope nobody notices that it was their idea in the first place. But the way that some other Republicans, like John McCain, for example, have tried to weasel out of that U-turn, was by saying that there wasn`t enough border security in place to move forward with the idea they used to like, that there were too few deportations, there`s too porous a southern border. And so, those things get sorted out. Nobody has any business talking about granting legal status to immigrants who are already here. Immigration is so central to who we are as a country. It is so fundamental to how we became the country that we are, that we have exact statistics on deportations going back to 1892. In 1892, I can tell you, the United States of America they deported 2,801 persons precisely. And because we keep detailed records of these things, and we have for a long time, I can tell you with great specificity that Barack Obama is deporting more people than any other president in American history, by a lot. By the time, George W. Bush left office in 2008, he had deported about 349,000 people that year. The very next year, President Obama`s first year in office, he kicked it up to nearly 400,000. We have never deported more people in this country that we have since President Obama has been president. He`s also beefed up border security like no other president before him, including George W. Bush. So, does that mean we can have the comprehensive immigration reform now? I mean, that is what Republicans said. They said we can deal with this as soon as we deal with enforcement. They like the idea of dealing with immigration, but not until we had enforcement. We have never dealt with enforcement the way we have during this presidency. So, now do we get immigration reform? They said we could. No, of course not. This is the great flabbergasting. And even President Obama himself knows that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All this stuff they asked for, we`ve done. But even though we`ve answered these concerns, I`ve got to say I suspect there`s still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time. You know, they said we needed to triple the border patrol. Now, they are going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol. Or they want higher fence. Maybe they`ll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They`ll never be satisfied. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: They`ll never be satisfied because it`s not about what they are asking. It`s about keeping you from doing anything. And he gets it clearly. That was a speech President Obama gave back in May. Since then, we`ve had the current governor of Texas get into the race for the Republican presidential nomination and suggest that if this president was really serious about the border, he`d have drones flying over the border,. Governor Perry, there are already drones flying over the border. Here`s an article about it from September -- excuse me, from 2009. You step up deportations and they demand deportations. You fly drones on the border, and they demand drones on the border. How do you argue with this? The Obama administration today, knowing what they know about arguing with Republicans on this issue and doing what they have already done on this issue, the Obama administration today took the next obvious step and stopped waiting for Republicans to make good on their word. The Obama administration today enacted administratively what looks to be everything they could on immigration reform right now short of getting something through the Republicans in Congress. The Obama administration has announced plans to suspend deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants who posed no threat to national security or public safety. The Department of Homeland Security will undergo a review of 300,000 cases of people in deportation proceedings and will allow those deemed a low priority to apply for work permits to stay in the country temporarily. This dramatic policy change has essentially two major impacts. And one of them is political. This has a political impact to President Obama, the 2012 candidate. When he was sworn into office in January 2009, President Obama held a 74 percent approval rating among the Hispanic community in this country and amongst, after he was sworn in, that actually went up to 85 percent. Now, this week, according to the latest Gallup poll of Hispanic voters, that approval rating is all the way down to 49 percent, nearly the lowest point of his entire presidency for that group of voters. Protestors turned up this week all across the country at Democratic Party offices, not to cheer President Obama on, but to protest his deportation policies. So, this sort of change in policy on this particularly issue does have the potential to help President Obama with a community he really does need help with, heading into his reelection campaign for 2012. Add to that, the vitriolic reaction from Republicans today against this policy change, and that gives Latino voters a very nice, stark choice between the two parties. So, that`s number one. This decision does have real world political implications. But more importantly, this policy shift has the potential to have a very large and very practical impact on tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of real people in this country who have been staring down the barrel of deportation. Undocumented immigrants who served or have served in the United States military, college kids, the spouses of American born gay or lesbian citizens, anybody who is not a convicted felon or a threat to national security, as well as children who are brought here by their parents at an early age and have never known another home. This policy could change all of those people`s lives and families profoundly. Joining us now is Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, formerly of "The Washington Post." Mr. Vargas came to the U.S. as a child from the Philippines. He lived his entire adult life here. He`s been extremely successful both academically and as a journalist. Back in June, he decided to write about his secret life in America as undocumented immigrant. He`s the founder of the Web site defineAmerican.com. Jose, it`s really nice to see you again. Thanks for being here. JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, DEFINEAMERICAN.COM: Thank you so much for having me. MADDOW: Does this change of policy affect you personally? And can you tell yet for what you know of it? VARGAS: Well, actually, no, it doesn`t affect me personally. I mean, I`m not on deportation proceeding. Although I have to tell you, all of us, you know, 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, when there`s one good piece of news, even though it`s affecting only 300,000 people, it`s good news for everybody. So, this is good news for everybody. But at the end of the day, it doesn`t affect the majority of the undocumented immigrants in this country. Even the majority of dreamers in this country, you know, people who would -- students who would benefit from the DREAM Act, or DREAM Act eligible kids. MADDOW: It`s one thing to reprioritize deportation proceedings, where the administration has done. It is another thing, as you, for the federal government to provide a pathway towards becoming a citizen or a legal resident. This doesn`t affect that at all. VARGAS: Which is why it`s really laughable and just very intellectually dishonest, you know, for conservative Republicans to just cry backdoor amnesty or for them to say the president going after the will of the American people. The will of the American people is people were people are hungry for immigration reform. While Washington, while -- you know, Senator John McCain, Senator Orrin Hatch, you know, while people play political football with our lives, this is something that Americans, undocumented immigrants, and American citizens want. But, at the end of the day, given the political reality here in Washington, the fact that no one can agree on a compromise, you know, people are basically still in limbo. Mind you, this -- what happened yesterday when this policy was introduced, this could change if Obama was not reelected -- is not reelected to be president in 2012. So, lives are still in limbo. MADDOW: In terms of the potential calculus here and the room to maneuver that the administration has, as you heard in the introduction there, I felt like the Obama administration has made it pretty clear that they felt like the investment they made in border security and also the hugely stepped up number of deportations should d have bought them some political room to move in terms of making immigration reform possible. Do you think they did buy themselves room to maneuver? VARGAS: Well, I think the Obama administration tried to be as forthcoming, you know, with what their plans are, although mind you, I mean, the Obama administration has gotten a lot of heat from immigration groups because of a program called Secure Communities that is literally dividing families apart. One of the things that American citizens might not understand is a lot of undocumented immigrants live in mixed status families -- meaning an undocumented immigrant married to an American citizen who then might be -- you know, because of Secure Communities, those families could be separated, but I think what`s interesting here, is, as you mentioned, you know, the president is preparing for reelection. Governor Perry is the governor of Texas, you know, a huge Hispanic population, a huge immigrant population. At the end of the day, the Latino vote is something that they both desperately need. And this is not something -- given the kind of grassroots activities happening online, happening especially among DREAM Act kids who re organizing online and offline, this is an issue that is not going to go away. I think this is -- in my mind, this is going to be one of the key issues of this campaign. MADDOW: If the president wants to prioritize immigration reform further either between now and the campaign or just whenever he can, with this Congress and with the politics of immigrant and the Republican caucus being what they are, is there anything else he can actually accomplish? Is there -- did he do as much as he could do administratively? Is there anything else he can do? VARGAS: At this point, people feel as if this is as far as the Obama administration is willing to go. And you got to give him credit. You know, this was unprecedented in a way that they were able to, you know, form this joint committee, from people from DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice. But what I think what`s missing here is really the truth and honesty from congressional leaders on the other side of the aisle, on the Republican side of the aisle. I mean, we are talking about an issue that is not just political but personal for a lot of people. One out of six Americans is Hispanic. Many of them, you know, have undocumented family members or co-workers. And mind you, not all undocumented immigrants are Hispanic. I`m Filipino myself. I mean, this is an issue that affects Filipino Americans in this country. So, what`s fascinating here and what`s really sad in a way is that as all this political and electoral posturing happens, you know, people`s lives are in limbo. And all the stereotypes, like, for example, I`m sure you heard about the hero in New Mexico, the 22-year-old guy that saved the life of the 6- year-old girl, who happens to be an undocumented immigrant, he`s married to an American citizen. That`s a mixed-status family. I mean, under certain laws, this guy you know, this hero, in Albuquerque, might get deported -- hopefully because of this new law yesterday, that`s not going to happen. But this is the kind of reality that we`re dealing with. MADDOW: Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of DefineAmerican.com, that`s doing some incredible advocacy on immigration reform issues -- Jose, thanks again for joining us. It`s good to see you. VARGAS: Thank you so much for having me. MADDOW: I know many regular viewers of this show are also fans of the show that airs right after this one. No, not "THE ED SHOW," "LOCKUP." I know you like "THE ED SHOW," too, but on Fridays, it`s "LOCKUP," right? Until today, I haven`t had a solid, newsy reason to really talk "LOCKUP" during the show, but now I have a beauty. Let the synergy begin. That is just moments away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: To all my friends in Michigan, if you get a robocall that starts like this. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) VOICE: This an identity theft alert. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: If you get a robocall like that and you`re in Michigan, that is an alert all right. It is an alert, though, that somebody may be trying to stop you from exercising your rights as a citizen. Dirty tricks coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you are in Detroit and you want to go to Canada, which direction do you go? Actually, you go south, counterintuitive, I know, but Ontario comes down and sort of cuddles Michigan on top of Lake Erie there. So, in order to cross the Canadian border from Detroit to get to Windsor, Ontario, you sort of drive south across the Detroit River, southeast essentially. One way to get there is to drive across the Detroit River on the Ambassador Bridge. The Ambassador Bridge is privately owned by a Detroit billionaire. And that billionaire is very, very much opposed to the idea of local officials -- to the idea that local officials on both sides of the border have that there needs to be a second bridge. A second bridge, of course, would be competition for this guy. And so, the owner of the existing bridge does not want that second bridge, and in Michigan, like in lots of places, when big power and big money are involved in a decision like that, things can sometimes get ugly and quickly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheets of paper meant to look like eviction notices showing up in this neighborhood Monday. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do what you`re going to do and stop playing games with the people. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fake notices asking residents like Cheryl Maddox to protest the new international trade crossing project. CHERYL MADDOX, RESIDENT: Stop scaring the people, stop trying to intimidate the people, help the people. Stop playing politics. JENNIFER JONES, RESIDENT: It`s an underhanded, sleazy way of getting people to fight against the bridge. REPORTER: In the fine print, it says they were the work of Americans for Prosperity, a group against the bridge. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For them to pull a stunt like this -- I mean, if you can`t argue something on its merits, then you don`t have a viable argument. REPORTER: Neither the group nor the bridge company responded to our request for comments. JONES: The amount of stress this is going to cause people, it should be illegal. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It may not be illegal, but it is slimeball politics, those eviction notices -- slimeball politics, Michigan style. That was a video report from the Detroit Free Press. They do really excellent video reporting at their Web site. Congratulations to the Free Press folks. The Koch brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity is the group that sent out those fake eviction notices in Detroit to scare people into opposing a public project that might cut into a revenue stream of a billionaire monopolist. And they spent the rest of their day twirling their mustache and cackling easily. Meanwhile, Michigan is facing upheavals that have roiled other parts of the Midwest that had big Republican elections last year. In Wisconsin, backlash against Republican Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature there, of course, led to recalls of state senators, two Republicans lost their seats in those recalls, trimming the Republicans down to a one-seat majority in the Senate, a one-seat majority that doesn`t actually support the governor on his stripping of union rights in Wisconsin. Over in Ohio, backlash against Republican governor John Kasich and the Republican legislature there has led to a recall campaign against Ohio`s union stripping bill itself. A recall/referendum that has so much support Governor Kasich and the Republican this week cried called uncle. They said they are now willing to compromise on the law if Democrats and unions would call off the vote, which polls say is likely to pass by a mile. The group`s response to the offer today was: yes, right. They said they`d be delighted to sit down and talk with the governor about a fresh start and a new compromised law, all the governor has to do first is get the Republicans to recall the old law or he can just watch while the voters of the state of Ohio do so on November 8th. In Michigan, the backlash against Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican legislature of Michigan has motivated a recall campaign there, too. But their recall campaign is 26 times over, there are 26 recall petitions circulating now in Michigan to recall the state`s draconian, democracy-override measure called the Emergency Financial Manager law. There`s one to recall the legislative sponsor of that measure. There`s one to recall Governor Snyder himself, and to recall more than a dozen other officials. And as if Michiganders haven`t been subject to enough dirty tricks already this year, this one that we learned about today to me sounds like a new one. Michigan`s Eclectic Blog has posted this audio of a robocall, a robocall that has been reported in Michigan in the midst of these recall signature gathering efforts against Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his emergency financial manager law and other officials. Listen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) VOICE: This is an identity theft alert. Petitions are being circulated door-to-door and at public locations throughout the county that require your name, your address, and your signature. The state of Michigan does not require a license or a bond for signature gatherers and anyone can collect signatures regardless of their police record. Be very careful who give your personal information to, particularly your signature. In many cases, copies of these petitions, with your signature are sent overseas for processing. Be on the alert for fraudulent attempts to get your personal information. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Don`t sign any petitions, any recall petitions, no matter what you do, be afraid. Also, if the billionaire doesn`t get what he wants on the bridge project, you`re going to be evicted, be afraid. Nobody claims credit for the message on this call. When you call the number that the message purports to come from, this is what you get. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) VOICE: Thank you for calling back. If you are not interested in receiving future calls regarding our special promotions and would like to be placed on our do not call list, please press one. Please allow up to 72 hours to have your number removed from our referred marketing list. Thank you and have a nice day. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Our special promotions -- don`t sign anything, Michigan. That`s all you get when you call there. You can opt out of future calls, but, you know, nobody ever claims credit for things like this. They do tell you one thing, though: in Michigan, someone facing recall is scared enough of what Michigan thinks of them that they are turning to something as disgusting and cheap as this to try to keep people from making their voice heard. That`s what this teaches you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There was a little sort of under-noticed moment on the not quite campaign trail this week in Iowa that at first glance seemed to be kind of just a snippy confrontation between a citizen and a politico. In this case, between a woman who said she`s an Alaska president, and Todd Palin, who is the husband of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now, at first glance, this is just a mano-a-womano, almost personal snip fest between the two of them. Very tense. But then Todd Palin said something here in this little snip fest that I actually think in retrospect is key to understanding at least why a lot of the people who are running for president right now are, in fact, running for president. Listen to what Todd Palin says here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re from Alaska. We were sick when she quit. TODD PALIN, SARAH PALIN`S HUSBAND: What would you recommend? What would you recommend doing when you got $600,000, $700,000 of debt hanging over your head, and you still have all these people filing complaints against you? What would you do? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you go for the money, obviously. That`s what she did. Everybody in Alaska thinks she sold out. PALIN: When you have that much money over your head. What would you do? Hundreds of thousands and dollars in debt. You got all this debt going to be there. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not there anymore, is it? You got quite the deal. Sell out. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The husband of Sarah Palin telling a woman confronting him in Iowa this week that his wife stopped being governor and started doing what she`s doing now -- this is part of her new Iowa-specific campaign ad out today, her husband Todd Palin said she started doing this and stopped being governor so she could do this instead because she had a lot of bills to pay. And that actually explains a lot. Not just about Sarah Palin but about what everybody is doing in the Republican presidential field right now. That is ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This channel, MSNBC, was founded as a cable TV channel in 1996. But it was not until about 10 years into MSNBC`s life that this channel really began to solidify its place in the market and really started to take off. In the interim years in that first decade, one of the things that MSNBC did that people do not believe this company did, one of the things that MSNBC did that seems patently impossible in retrospect but I know for a fact that did indeed happen, one of the things MSNBC did in its first decade, was it broadcast a TV show for 23 weeks that was called "Alan Keyes is Making Sense." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) ALAN KEYES: Also, a reminder the chat room tonight is busier than the court office at the court. There are some other folks who believe that the mere fact that I raised that question proves that I`m some kind of a nut. Maureen, hold up. Maureen, stop there, please. Don`t talk over me. Don`t talk over me. We`ll cut your mike up if you don`t stop when I start. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Clips from "Alan Keyes is Making Sense." That`s the name of the show. If you have to insert in the name of the show the host is making sense, it tells you something about what the people think the appeal of that host might be. You will know that a new truth-telling but worried overlord has taken over this network this show`s named gets changed to "Rachel Maddow`s Blazers Sure Fit Good." But it was "Alan Keyes is Making Sense" that I thought first thing when Michele Bachmann did this on the campaign trail in Iowa this week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Before we get started, let`s all say happy birthday to Elvis Presley today. Happy birthday! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Michele Bachmann said that not on Elvis Presley`s birthday, but on the day that Elvis Presley died. Then there was this from Michele Bachmann during a radio interview yesterday. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BACHMANN: What people recognize is that there`s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, rise of India, rise of the Soviet Union. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Soviet Union. You may also remember Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail saying she was proud to be from Waterloo, Iowa, because that`s where John Wayne was from. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BACHMANN: Well, what I went them to know is just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, that`s the kind of spirit that I have too. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The John Wayne is from Waterloo, Iowa is not John Wayne the movie star, but rather John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer, executed in the mid-1990s. Michele Bachmann also earlier this year gave a shout-out to Lexington and Concord for their work in the Revolutionary War. She did this while she was in New Hampshire, not as a shout out to a neighborhood state or a generic yea, New England, or an even more generic yea, America -- she did it when she was in New Hampshire because she thought the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord actually were towns in New Hampshire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BACHMANN: What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You`re the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No. You know, people make mistakes. I make mistake all the time, constantly. Candidates make mistakes. Candidates do not usually make this many mistakes, though. And here`s the thing whether or not gaffes like this, repeated constant gaffes like this from Michele Bachmann are important politically for her. Michele Bachmann, as far as I can tell, like Alan Keyes, Michele Bachmann is making sense. Her candidacy makes sense. There`s a reason why more than a gadfly, less than a contender conservative candidacies are an important part of the way Republicans run for president. When Alan Keyes ran for president in the year 2001, one of the concrete outcomes of that was him getting a TV show on the cables, which not only paid him, of course, but also helped him maintain his influence. He ran for president again in 2008 and runs for Senate every time you turn around. He even moved to Illinois at one point to run against Barack Obama for Senate in 2004. Running for office is a career strategy for Alan Keyes. Pat Robertson ran for president in 1998 when he was already a very successful televangelist. Pat Robertson came in second at the Iowa caucuses. He got lots of attention before parlaying all of that into all sorts of ways to make money and maintain his influence, he even spoke at the Republican Convention that year. His television empire grew. Since then, he has published about a dozen books, plus the thing about the diamond mine he owned with the dictator in Liberia. Plus, he has his age-defying shake recipe that he says allows him to leg press 2,000 pounds whenever he wants, even though he`s 81. Like Alan Keyes, being more than a gadfly but less than a contender, as a candidate a very good thing for Pat Robertson`s career. It was also good for Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses. Was he ever going to win the Republican nomination? Who cares, when all was said and done, what he was, was a FOX News commentator with his own show called "Huckabee" with Mike Huckabee. He`s published four more books since his presidential run, plus audio books. He`s got his history revisionist history DVDs for kids. One of the reasons Mike Huckabee said he wasn`t going to run this time is he said he`d be walking away from a pretty good income. There is a reason that there is not a broad Democratic Party parallel here. I mean, there are individual Democratic candidates here and there who have tried to do the same thing, but the Republicans do this wholesale. Every year, a lot of their candidates are following this path, and that`s because the conservative movement that overlaps with, but is not the same thing as the Republican Party, the conservative is in constant need of conservative celebrities. They`ve created this market and they needed a product to sell to that market. Becoming a conservative media celebrity is really a remunerative things, speaking tours, and the publications and the books clubs, and the direct mail, and the giant TV network and smaller TV networks, and the religious TV networks -- the conservative movement needs celebrities, people who whether or not they have won political offices are famous for being conservative. They just need to be well known. They need name recognition. They need to stay conservative headline grabbing things. And a presidential campaign is a great platform to do that. It`s a great place to build the brand, as they say. Whether or not every twist and turn and mix up between the serial killer and movie star is a newsworthy thing this year, I think that`s up to the individual news agency to decide on about Michele Bachmann`s candidacy. But whether or not the more than a gadfly, less than a contender candidates like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum and Herman Cain -- whether or not those folks stay in the race, that isn`t really a judgment call, that isn`t really a mystery. That, like Alan Keyes, is making sense. Joining us now is Chris Hayes, editor at large of "The Nation" magazine and soon to be host of his own MSNBC weekend show starting next month -- Chris, it is good to see you. Thanks for being here. CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Thanks for being here. I think all cable news hosts should be showed the clips from the "Alan Keyes is Making Sense," in case anyone`s head starts too big that they have a cable news show. MADDOW: The title of the Alan Keyes show, the name of the show is "Alan Keyes is Making Sense" is one of the most profound things to have ever happened in cable news. HAYES: It`s pretty sweet. MADDOW: I was trying to think about the parallel. I mean, I went with "Rachel Maddow`s Blazers Fit Well." HAYES: Which is adorable and self-deprecating. I don`t know if it`s exactly proper. MADDOW: You know, I was trying -- I mean, if you try to advance your critics, their argument with the title of your show. I don`t know. It`s a challenge to all of us. All right. Are you going to be telling me I`m underestimating Michele Bachmann at my peril in this campaign? HAYES: Rachel, I really think you`re underestimating Michele Bachmann -- no. Well, here`s what I think you`re underestimating. I do think you`re underestimating the megalomania and self-delusion of people that run for president of the United States. I mean, it`s unclear to me how self conscious the strategy is. I think you`re exactly right about the broad structure of the incentives and monetary -- intense monetary incentives for people on the right who run for president, and the Sarah Palin phenomenon itself sort of blew open the barriers. But I do think, and it`s impossible to kind of get a sole X-ray, but I do think her hearts of hearts, Michele Bachmann thinks she has a chance of being the next president of the United States. I think her husband probably thinks that and I think the small knit circle of advisors around probably think that too. And I think all sorts of people who have no chance of actually being presidents of the United States manage to convince themselves that they will, in fact, be president of the United States. MADDOW: Why don`t we see -- and tell me if you disagree with the premise, but I don`t think we see the same thing happening as much with Democratic presidential candidates. I think there`s an odd here and there, but I do feel like it happens wholesale with Republicans, and it really is an odd thing when it happens with Democrats. Do you think it`s true that there isn`t balance here on both sides? HAYES: I think there`s an imbalance on the scale, and I think that`s just largely about the fact that conservatism in America is a multi-billion industry. I mean, self consciously conservative conservatism, there`s a whole universe of platforms. I mean, there are people, Rachel, who -- there are radio talk show hosts that almost no one who is watching this program have heard of, who have millions of people who listen to them every day. I mean, you can go to the "New York Times" best seller list and see four or five right wing authors on "New York Times" best seller list. Sometimes people I have never heard of, and I sort of think about this and cover this for a living. So, there is an entire universe and entire industry and it dwarves the scale of whatever there is in the left. And this is not to say -- I mean, look, I write for "The Nation" magazine. That`s how we make money, selling subscriptions to liberals. There`s nothing wrong with it per se. It`s just the size of it is so large. And also, I think there is a question, at a certain point, whether people are doing this for the right reasons, whether they are sort of ideological warriors or whether they are -- this is essentially a racket and it becomes harder and harder to see the two apart. MADDOW: Whether or not, what it tells us about them as individual candidates and the potential trajectory of them as candidates and what it says about whether they are delusional people or good people, or bad people, and all that, that is sort of the most personally interesting part of it, but I think it also has a political impact. And I wonder if it might be possible, even sort of informally just separate off, to hive off the people who really are running just as a racket, just to build their brand and get other jobs, to set them apart from the people who are really running to be president, because the presence of the brand builders makes the actual presidential context just that much more stupid and craven. HAYES: I totally agree, yet what would be the hypothetical decision procedure one could plausibly apply to the field to do that separation? I mean, you know, Michele Bachmann is polling quite well, thank you very much. There are -- I mean, there are certain candidates who were excluded from the last stage in the last FOX News debate, Gary Johnson, who is a very successful governor of New Mexico and Buddy Roemer, who we had on "THE LAST WORD" last week, who is not only a governor of Louisiana, but he was a congressman -- you know, people with credible records who are not on the stage. I don`t think are running to be celebrities, but if you say well, Herman Cain is just running for this reason, Herman Cain saying, no, I`m running to be president of the United States, and I have the fundraising to show it. It`s very hard to think of how you would go about making that separation, but I agree that it does produce a circus atmosphere for sure, particularly in the early stages of the Republican primary. MADDOW: Chris Hayes of MSNBC and "The Nation" magazine, obviously, cleaning up. Thank you so much for your time. HAYES: That`s right. Thank you, Rachel, mostly "The Nation." Yes. MADDOW: Yes, I understand, filthy looker. All right. It is Friday night, so we are especially grateful you`re spending an hour watching this show, it`s Friday. But as our Friday viewers know, right after we are done, it is the time for the show that is about the prison, right? But before we`re done on the show, we have a new story for you about the show about the prison -- also about me, also about the Republican governor of Florida. This is our whole show`s staff`s favorite story of the day, if not the week, if not the month, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Historians, I have to ask you to take note here, this is I believe a phrase never before spoken in the annals of the television network or cable, "LOCKUP," Rick Scott, and me. Coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There is a big bunch of news today in the big, underreported change the country story of this year in the states that is the story of Republican governors and legislators radically curtailing abortion rights. In Arizona, as of today, women can no longer get abortion services anywhere in the state except that two locations in the Phoenix area and one location in the Tucson area. That`s it. Planned Parenthood had to cut all their other services in the state of Arizona after an appeals court lifted an injunction on a 2009 Arizona law that imposes new mandates on abortion provider services and consent-based waiting periods. De facto banning abortion news also tonight out of North Carolina where a judge just stopped that state`s defunding of Planned Parenthood. The Republican-led legislature in North Carolina stripped all state funding of the organization and their budget this June. Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit against that decision. And a federal judge just ruled tonight that funding must be continued until that lawsuit is decided. Washington is not much noticing what is happening to abortion rights in this country this year since comparatively not much of it has been happening in Washington itself. But I`m telling you -- 2011 will go down in history as the year where we pulled back on abortion rights on America since Roe versus Wade. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: Due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. MADDOW: We put the train in the prison. All right. "|Debunktion Junction," the prison edition. True or False? Florida Governor Rick Scott pulled the plug on a new series of the MSNBC prison show "LOCKUP" in Florida because I teased him on the air? Is that true or false? False. The production team that makes the "LOCKUP" series recently signed a $110,000 contract with the Florida Department of Corrections to film inside the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution. Not Florida paying "LOCKUP," but "LOCKUP" paying Florida to film in their prisons. Florida`s Department of Corrections put out a big press release last week touting the benefits of having "LOCKUP" come in. The head of the department, Ed Bus (ph), who had worked with "LOCKUP" team in his previous job as the head of the prisons in Indiana said, quote, "I have no qualms about them coming into our prisons. I`m proud of our staff and how well our facilities are run and I hope this will help Floridians understand the challenges we face with our inmate population as well as the benefits prison provided their communities through our programs and re-entry efforts." Press release, all sounds good. A few days later, the "LOCKUP" production team starts filming inside the Santa Rosa correctional institution in Florida, and then suddenly, this week, on Wednesday, Florida`s Republican Governor Rick Scott pulled the plug on the whole project. His stated rationale, "The secretary of the Department of Corrections did not have the authority to grant this contract and failed to vet the contract with the governor`s executive staff before signing it." Governor Scott`s spokesman adding, quote, "The feeling is it was outside the scope of the Department of Correction`s purview to engage the state in an entertainment related contract. Right now, the "LOCKUP" contract is locked up. And I don`t know if it`s going to be unlocked. It`s not going forward at this point." Word play. In reporting on the canceled "LOCKUP" contract today, the "Bradenton Herald" newspaper said this, quote, "It`s probably just a coincidence but MSNBC`s liberal night-side anchor, Rachel Maddow, has been a persistent critic of Scott and his policies." Persistent critic. I prefer to think of it as principled pointer- outer. But I understand. And that is left us to either prove or debunk this that I`m why Governor Rick Scott canceled this contract. He had to prove or debunk that he is that thinned skinned. So, we look into today. First, we learned that the Florida Department of Corrections told the production company "LOCKUP" was not only the media project that the state getting the heat (ph) from the governor. They said, quote, "Other contracts were pulled, too. It wasn`t just yours." What those other projects were, we do know. But it appears that "LOCKUP" was not singled out, which suggests that I was not part of any cause and effect situation in Florida. And then, further tonight, Governor Rick Scott`s spokesperson e-mailed us to our query, flatly denying even the suggestion that, ye oldie primetime cable news needling led to the kibosh on the prison show in the Sunshine State and Florida losing more than $100,000 in income. The spokesperson said, quote, "We weren`t aware of any affiliation with Maddow, not that it would have mattered. That would indeed be petty. The contract was cancelled because the secretary of corrections did not have the authority to sign it. It was entertainment related and outside the scope of his agency." There you have it. We had nothing to do with it. This is a full-on debunktion provided you believe him. And that concludes our allotted time on the network tonight. And now, because Florida or no Florida, the show must go on. Now, as you know, it is time for "LOCKUP." And this is how I watch it every week. I don`t want to talk about it. Have a good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END