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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/09/12

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Eric Schneiderman, Charlie Dooley

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. You can listen to me on the radio, SiriusXM channel 127, Monday through Friday, noon to 3:00 p.m. Follow me on Twitter @EdShow, and like THE ED SHOW on Facebook. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. OK, are you ready? August 2007 through October 2008, Republicans are for cap and trade. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Joe Lieberman and I, my favorite Democrat, and I have proposed legislation which is called cap and trade. So, this cap and trade, that there will be incentives for people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It`s a free market approach. SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: He`s got a good cap and trade policy that he supports. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: For cap and trade, OK? Now, same Republicans, same policy, a couple years later, 2010. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PALIN: I have to address a little bit of the cap and tax is what I call it not cap and trade, and the devastation as was already suggested that it would have on our country if it were to pass. CAIN: I will not and cannot align myself with a giant government slush fund. PALIN: Even worse than the financial hits that our country and we as individuals would take with cap and tax, it would so disincentivize work ethic, and industry and production, because we are so reliant on our energy source. CAIN: It`s cap and tax. It`s cap and tax. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s cap and tax. So, Republicans came up with cap and trade idea. They were all for cap and trade. It was their Republican proposal. And now, they`re not only against it, it`s the end of the world. All right. September 2008, Republicans are in favor of bailing out the banks, to the point of John Boehner weeping about it on the floor of the House. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: So, I ask all of you, both sides of the aisle, what`s in the best interests of our country? Not what`s in the best interest of our party, not what`s in the best interest of our reelection, what`s in the best interest of our country -- vote yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Vote yes. Vote yes to bail out the banks. OK. Now, same Republican, same policy, a year or two later, in 2009 and 2010. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOEHNER: I`m going to ask my colleagues, if you have enough of bailouts, if you have enough of TARP, let`s do the right thing for the American people. They are ways saying enough is enough. Let`s end TARP, let`s pay down the deficit. Let`s cut spending back to 2008 levels, back before the bailouts and the stimulus and all the nonsense. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: All that nonsense, but I wept and begged you to vote for. So, Republicans came out with the bailout idea. They were all for the bailout idea. And now, they`re not only against it, it`s the end of the world. June 2009, Republicans are in favor of an individual mandate for health insurance. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: When it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance, because everybody has some health insurance cost and if you aren`t insured, there`s no free lunch. I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yay, individual mandates. OK. Now, same Republican, same policy, in 2010. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRASSLEY: I personally think and I think constitutional lawyers think the mandate in itself is unconstitutional because never before in the 225- year history of our country has the federal government said you had to buy anything. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, Republicans came up with the individual mandate idea. They were all for the individual mandate idea. And now, they`re not only against it, it`s the end of the world. OK, just one more. Check this out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: Women shouldn`t be held hostage by virtue of where they live. All we`re saying in this legislation is that if health insurance plans provide coverage for prescription drugs, that that coverage has to extend to FDA-approved prescription contraceptives. It`s that simple. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the -- actually, that was the day before 9/11. That was September 10th, 2001. Republican Senator Olympia Snowe pushing along with five of her Republican colleagues in the Senate, along with 15 Republicans in the House, the Republican idea that contraception must be covered by health insurance plans. Like cap and trade, like the bank bailout, like the individual mandate for health reform, like all of these things, it is a Republican idea. But now, they are not only against that Republican idea, it`s the end of the world. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The Obama administration has crossed a dangerous line. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, Ms. Sebelius, you have overstepped the boundaries, you have violated our constitutional rights, and we will fight. BOEHNER: And in imposing this requirement, the federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, Ms. Sebelius, you`ve crossed the line. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is a particular gift of the modern Republican Party. This is why the word conservative is kind of a misnomer. The word conservative general means you don`t want things to change, right? You want to conserve things the way they are. You want to stand shouting stop, conservative, right? But in the modern Republican Party, change is an art form. They`re not only happy to turn against their own ideas and quickly, they are happy to denounce anybody who espouses what used to be their own ideas as essentially the anti-Christ, for even having allowed that previously Republican idea to cross their mind. Today, a group of students from universities affiliated with the Catholic Church held an event at the National Press Club. They did it essentially to let the cat out of the bag -- to let the cat out of the bag on the actual position instead of the political position of institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities. Remember, the purported outrage is any Catholic university would ever provide health insurance that covered prescription birth control. That`s supposedly the outrage. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND (D), FORMER MARYLAND LT. GOVERNOR: I have four daughters, two of whom attended a Catholic university. And I want to say clearly that Catholic women of this generation know that they need contraceptive coverage. Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women use contraceptives, 98 percent. Twenty-eight states already require large institutions, Catholic institutions cover contraceptive, 28 states. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy-seven percent of Catholic law schools already provide contraception coverage to their students. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Right. Cat is out of the bag. Tons of Catholic universities already provide for health insurance that covers contraception, including a big majority of Catholic law schools. They are already doing this thing they are supposedly so outraged by. If a Catholic university covers contraception in its health insurance plan was going to cause the end of the world the way Republicans are saying, since it`s already happening, we can conclude the end of the world is not so bad. At least after the world ends, we still have cable news. In these 28 states, there`s already state law that requires employers, including in many cases employers associated with religious institutions to provide health insurance that covers contraception. That is already the law of the land in these 28 states. There was a reason you have not been deafened by the cries of outrage over the policy in these 28 states, it`s because nobody in the Republican Party decided that that sort of thing would be an outrage until now, until they could somehow try to use it against President Obama, even though they never cared about it before. Actually, in eight of those 28 states that require health insurance to cover contraception, in these eight states, there`s not an exemption for churches. That`s true of all these godless places you see here, like Georgia and Iowa, and Montana. So, in fact, the Obama administration`s proposed new rule on health insurance which says religious institutions like churches do not have to provide health insurance that covers contraception, those new rules from the Obama administration would actually give church as new exemption from that law that they never had before. In eight states, the Obama administration rule would carve out more space for churches to evade the rules that everybody else has to operate by on the basis of their religious believes. More space for the proverbial Amish bus driver rule to get invoked, right? Where you can hire a guy to be bus driver, and then once he`s got the job, bus driver, he can cite the fact that he`s Amish as the reason that he`s not going to drive the bus. I personally, along with many other people across the country, along with eight states across the country, think it is bizarre there should be religious belief exemptions from having to follow laws like this. But the Obama administration is willing to go there. Their rules will exempt churches, which eight states right now don`t even do. These rules are a compromise measure design to be super sensitive to religious institutions. Their rules are precisely what was proposed by Olympia Snowe and other Republicans in 2001, but yet they are being denounced as some sort of liberal abomination. It is, in fact, such a liberal abomination that anybody who disagrees with Republican`s position on this today, according to the folks at FOX News, should never have been born at all. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And to get it started, I thought we would also start with the panelist who couldn`t be with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, we`ll hear from Rachel Maddow. MADDOW: You guys want to make this only about religion. But listen, Mitt Romney is campaigning saying he would like to end --. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask the bishops. MADDOW: He would like to end all family planning support at the federal level. He would like to eliminate federal Title 10. Rick Santorum says that he would like states to be able to make contraception illegal. You can try to make this an issue of oh, Democrats hate religious. But the fact is, churches were exempt from this in the beginning. This is about providing health insurance. And the Republican Party is waging war on contraception at this point. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m really glad, Genevieve (ph), that you played the Rachel Maddow clip because I think that she is the best arguments in favor of her parents using contraception. I would be all for that, and all the rest of the crowd at MSNBC, too, for that matter. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That happened at CPAC today, at Conservative Political Action Conference today. Mr. FOX News person speaking there, I`m sorry that you feel that way about me, that you wish I had never been born. Personally, I`m glad that you were born. Otherwise, how would Republicans get the special FOX News bat signal that it`s time to be outraged now about what used to be Republicans own policy idea. Joining us now is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois. Representative Schakowsky, thanks very much for joining us. It`s nice to have you here. REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you. And I`m awfully glad you were born, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. I sort of feel like that should become a generic greeting in America now. Nice to see you. I`m glad you were born. SCHAKOWSKY: That`s right. MADDOW: In any case, since this issue has blown up so hugely in the media, are you hearing from your constituents on this issue, what are you hearing from people? SCHAKOWSKY: You know, Rachel, it is so astonishing to me that in 2012, we`re actually having to defend the right of women to have contraception when virtually 100 percent of women who are sexually active in their lifetime use contraception. The case is closed. The deal is done. We -- all women expect to have access to contraception, and the great thing about what the Obama administration said, that no matter where they work, they should be able to get this, with no co-pay because contraception can be expensive. And you know, I think for women this is just not an issue, except for a few women, who want to go along with a narrow band of bishops, who actually have said, this Anthony Picarello (ph). He said, no employer should have to provide contraception. He says if he leaves being director of the bishops and he wants to open a Taco Bell, that he shouldn`t have to be able to have to provide insurance coverage for contraception because he`s a good Catholic. Imagine. MADDOW: Why was this not controversial when Republicans proposed it federally a decade ago? Or when 28 states put it in law, it`s law in 28 states across the country, and yet we have not heard a peep about it? Do you think this is a manufactured controversy? SCHAKOWSKY: Absolutely, I do, because I think that we have seen that these churches, that these hospitals, let`s remember too, we`re talking about hospital, we`re talking about universities that operate in the public space. They get public dollars. They get special tax breaks because they are not for profit institutions, and they hire people. And we`re talking about janitors and secretaries and nurses and students, and teachers -- and they have been doing this for a long time in more than half of the country. And now all of a sudden, this has become an assault on religious freedom in our country? It`s incredible to me in this 21st century we`re having this debate. MADDOW: But why do you think we are? One of the things I think is interesting is the timing. This had been out and known for weeks before anybody problematize it, before anybody started crowing about it. Obviously, the Catholic Church decided to make an issue. They had their clergy read to it people at Sunday mass. We saw Newt Gingrich pick it up on the campaign trail, thereafter, which treated the country to the spectacle of Newt Gingrich lecturing the country on good Catholic behavior, particularly with regard to sex. But we didn`t see an immediate response to this. It was definitely -- there was a decision made to make it a political issue. Do you think they have calculated this will succeed as a political issue, that this will harm the administration? SCHAKOWSKY: Well, first of all, I think they have made a wrong political calculation, that most of the pundits that we hear, most of the spokespeople in favor of this are men who are saying that we should change the rules. But I think they also may have waited until after the jobs numbers came out, the unemployment numbers came out, the economy seems to be doing better, and so, let`s go back to the culture wars. We think that works. But I think this is a serious miscalculation. Don`t they even read the polls? I thought they were poll-driven when the majority of Americans including Catholics, men and women, that were polled say that the majority thinks that all employers, including Catholic hospitals and universities ought to provide health care coverage, that includes contraception. I don`t know what they are thinking and when they make this calculation. I think they are really off base. And, you know, the women in Congress, the Democratic women in Congress have been absolutely fierce about it and I really appreciate that. So calling on women as they did with the Susan G. Komen protest, to now protest this effort, which I think is even more serious to take away their right to birth control. MADDOW: Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, thank you for being with us to tonight on this. I really appreciate it. SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Tonight, a special until death do us part edition of the best new thing in the world, very excited for that. Big banks who nearly tanked the economy get a taste of accountability. And New York attorney general and Obama administration`s new Wall Street cop, Eric Schneiderman, will be joining us for an interview. We`ve got a big show ahead. It`s all coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is a hard job to make good TV ads. It`s hard to grab people and make them pay attention especially on a do-gooder issue that people are otherwise not necessarily inclined to care about. But here`s a way to do it. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: That is an ad by organization call "The Truth" -- an in your face, blunt, well-directed ad campaign about the dangers of smoking. In a sea of millions of TV ads, some of them about do-gooder causes, these ads stand out. They are meant to be shocking to the system. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: OK. Who do you think pays for those ads? Surgeon General`s Office? National Institutes of Health? Maybe the Mayo Clinic? Try the tobacco companies. Why in the world would the tobacco companies pay for ads telling you how dangerous their products are, how you shouldn`t use them under any circumstances? In short it`s because the federal government made them do it. After decades of selling products to the general public that were plainly harmful, after not fessing up to the risks they were knowingly creating, after using deceptive, and fraudulent business practices, and getting really very rich at the expense of the lives of their customers, they got caught. The federal government, along with 46 states, banded together and sued the tobacco industry. They sued the top four tobacco companies in the country and they won. They beat them. In winning, they force the tobacco industry into a massive cash settlement. That was 1998. A settlement made the tobacco companies pay more than $200 billion to the states to cover the public health nightmare their industry had caused. And it made them fund new anti-smoking ad campaigns like those super blunt truth ads you see all the time now. An industry that illegally caused a lot of pain to a lot of Americans was held accountable for that, 1998. Today, the federal government reached the single largest settlement with one industry since the giant tobacco settlement in 1998. Today, the industry in question would be this one, the mortgage industry -- the one that destroyed the American economy by turning your house in a casino chip; the industry that created the means of trading and betting and getting rich on other people`s homes, leaving behind millions of foreclosures, broken family, a shattered economy and entire banking sector that survived thanks to the graciousness of U.S. taxpayers. Today, after three years of those banks getting away scot-free, there was a little measure of accountability. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By now, it`s well-known that millions of Americans who did the right thing and the responsible thing, shopped for a house, secured a mortgage, that they could afford, made their payments on time, were nevertheless hurt badly by the irresponsible actions of others. It was wrong, and it cost more than 4 million families their homes to foreclosure. Under the terms of this settlement, America`s biggest banks, banks that were rescued by taxpayer dollars, will be required to right these wrongs. That means more than just paying a fee. These banks will put billions of dollars toward relief for families across the nation. They will provide refinancing for borrowers stuck in high interest rate mortgages. They`ll reduce loans for family whose owe more on their homes than they are worth. And they will deliver some measure of justice for families that have been victims of abusive practices. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Today, President Obama and the attorneys general from 49 different states announced the terms of a giant settlement they reached with the nation`s five largest mortgage providers -- Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial. These banks will collectively pony up $25 billion in relief for American homeowners. Some of it will be in form of the direct payments to people who were improperly foreclosed on. Some of it will go toward reducing the size of existing mortgages, some of it will allow people who are currently underwater to refinance their homes. Now, in the grand scheme of things, when you look at the scale of the crisis this industry caused, the settlement is in some ways a drop in the bucket. I mean, these banks helped blow a $700 billion hole in the housing industry, and this is a $25 billion band-aid. But here`s the thing: when the federal government nailed the tobacco industry to the wall in 1998, there was one really, really important provision of the settlement. The settlement released the signing tobacco companies from any future lawsuits by the state and local governments that participate in the settlement. It was a one and done thing. Yes, they had to pay but they would never have to pay again. This time with the mortgage industry, that is not the case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The settlement also protects our ability to further investigate the practices that caused this mess and this is important. The mortgage fraud task force I announced in my State of the Union Address retains full authority to aggressively investigate the packaging and selling of risky mortgages that led to this crisis. This investigation is already well underway. And working closely with state attorneys general, we`ll keep at it until we hold those who broke the law fully accountable. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In other words, this $25 billion is the beginning and not the end. It is step one of a long effort to hold accountable an industry that has so far fled the scene of a fire they lit in the first place. Joining us next, tonight for the interview, is one of the state attorneys general who was key not only to this deal getting done, but to making sure that this deal got done in a way that would not let the banks off the hook. That`s the interview tonight. Eric Schneiderman is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We have reached a landmark settlement with the nation`s largest banks that will speed relief to the hardest hit homeowners, and some of the most abusive practices of the mortgage industry, and begin to turn the page on an era of recklessness that has left so many damage in its wake. This settlement is a start. And we`re going to make sure that the banks live up to their end of the bargain. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A start. That was President Obama today describing the most substantial effort yet, a $25 billion settlement demanded of the nation`s mortgage industry, demanded of five of the country`s largest bank. Joining us tonight for the interview is Eric Schneiderman. He is New York state`s attorney general. He is also co-chair of the mortgage fraud task force. Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here. ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN (D), ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK: Great to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: I think throughout the whole process, a lot of people who are angry about the lack of accountability for the financial disaster for Wall Street have been looking at you to get a sense of whether this was a good deal, whether this was a good idea, or whether this would be something that would let the banks off scot-free. Why did you decide in the end to sign on? SCHNEIDERMAN: When I first got engaged with this about a year ago, the banks were, as you pointed out, they were asking for a general release. They wanted a release for all their misconduct including that blew up the economy. The only investigation that really was done and was settled today had to do with robo-signing and abuses in the foreclosure process after they had already blown up the housing market and driven people under water. We preserved in this case. And I refused to go along with a settlement to give them a general release, and some of them, as we talked about it more, some more of my colleagues joined me -- we whittled down these releases to the point that the banks still face all the exposure for the conduct that blew up the economy -- securities fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud, everything that provides as you pointed out about the tobacco industry. The big liability, not the $25 billion or $30 billion, banks are facing hundreds of billions of dollars of liability for claims against them that are still preserved that our working group is now pursuing very aggressively. And we`ve got a downpayment. Today is a downpayment. It`s the first step as the president pointed out that`s going to get relief to some people. In New York, we got $136 million, most of which will go for legal services for housing counseling. So, no New Yorker is ever wrongfully evicted because they don`t have a lawyer. But in the long run the main thing is what`s not in the settlement. We did not release the claims for the biggest exposure, the biggest misconduct. We`re going to hold these people accountable. And I`m very pleased with the aggressiveness of the effort since the president announced our working group to investigate the conduct take really blew up the economy a few weeks ago. MADDOW: When there were -- when you talk about hundreds of billions of dollars in potential liability from other actions against Wall Street because of the crisis, do you expect that those actions will come from state attorneys general suing at the state level? Do you think those will come in terms of federal cases? Where do you think those are going to come from? SCHNEIDERMAN: I think it`s a combination of -- and when we formed our joint investigation to go after that, which was announced a few weeks ago, we combined all the agencies, state and federal to give us the broadest jurisdiction possible. So, in New York we have some of the most aggressive and flexible securities laws in the country. But there are things we can`t do that for example the internal revenue service can do, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can do. The groups put together in the working group have the broadest jurisdiction -- and believe me, there are people who are hungry to get going. This includes possibility of criminal liability and whole variety of areas. Release today gave up no criminal liability. That is still on the table. And it gave up no rights of homeowners. That`s a very important point, that there is some relief in this for homeowners, but no individual homeowner is barred from suing the banks. Why couldn`t they sue the banks before? They didn`t have lawyers. We just got the money to get a lot of lawyers on the payroll of legal service and legal aid, groups that have been cut to the bone over the last few years to help those people being foreclosed on, get justice. MADDOW: What about this case in Missouri where the state attorney general there has brought a criminal indictment with potential jail times as penalties in a case related to robo-signing? Will that be precluded by -- SCHNEIDERMAN: No. MADDOW: That`s going forward. SCHNEIDERMAN: No. Every possible criminal case is still on the table. Every case related to the conduct that melted the economy, inflation of the housing bubble and the crash, pre-2007, still on the table. I filed a lawsuit challenging the use of MERS, the shadow mortgage electronic service -- MADDOW: Where the banks couldn`t say, prove they own the house, the mortgage for the house they were foreclosing on. SCHNEIDERMAN: Exactly. In our case, like the others that had gone before, named the banks for their abuse of MERS as well the MERS Corp itself. Those cases are all preserved. So, we gave up very little by way of releases of liability for the banks. The big liability is still out there. The big payday is still to come. This is a down payment. And for people who are really hurting, who needed rules in place right away to stop abuses in the foreclosure process, this is a step, this is a step. And it`s a better deal not just because I said no, but because there was a public outcry, really, and a lot of groups organized, a lot of labor unions, a lot of housing activists, Move On, and civil rights group, to demand that the releases be narrowed, that there`d be one set of rules for everyone, that there`d be some accountability. And this is a victory for those groups today that the big cases are still going to go forward and in the short term, the public still gets a down payment toward justice. MADDOW: In the big picture here, what you were describing is a 180- degree turn or at least 90-degree turn in Washington and with state authorities but really in Washington, in terms of the aggressiveness with which people will be held accountable for what happened in the crash. Why didn`t this happen before? SCHNEIDERMAN: I don`t know. When I got elected to, I took office about a year ago, and the atmosphere in the country was very different. What we`ve seen is a swing towards progressive populism in this country and I`m glad to be a part of it, but I`m just a part of it. You wouldn`t imagine that the demand for accountability that animated the Occupy movement would have taken place. For the president to stand up and say everyone deserves a fair shot, everyone should pay their fair share, there has to be one set of rules for everyone in the State of the Union speech, and back it up by empowering our task force to investigate the frauds, that is a dramatic move. And that`s -- again, a lot of progressives forget about this, it`s not who you elect, it`s providing the movement to empower them to do the right thing. Conservatives don`t forget that. MADDOW: Yes. SCHNEIDERMAN: They don`t go home after election day, they never go home. We got to have a little bit of that same attitude. MADDOW: New York state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, co-chair of the president`s financial fraud task force -- congratulations on this today and thanks for helping us explain it to the country. I really appreciate it. SCHNEIDERMAN: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. If you like a really good -- seriously a really good and funny political speech about civil right, stick around for the best new thing in the world tonight, that`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The worst of political speechifying usually lacks one key ingredient, and that ingredient is heart. My opponent is a danger to democracy. We`re going to take this country back. This is the most important election in all of human history. You hear these things repeated, repeated, repeated -- you wonder if politicians believe the words they are saying or just have a focus group in a mall, right, in the secret room to Annie`s pretzels. Occasionally, though, a politician gives a speech with feeling -- a speech that is not only effective for the political point at hand, but that kind of restores your faith in political speechifying in general. The best new thing in the world was that kind of speech about civil rights. I don`t want to oversell it, but I think you will be glad you heard it. And that is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Pop quiz -- who won the Korean War? We supported South Korea below the 38th parallel. China, to a different degree, the Soviets supported North Korea, above the 38th parallel. More than a million Americans served, nearly 40,000 Americans died there. It lasted three years, from 1950 to 1953. Who won? Who won the Korean War? Trick question. It`s still going on. The Korean War stopped because of a cease-fire -- a cease-fire is usually a temporary thing, but the one in Korea is still in effect 59 years later, even though the fighting stopped in 1953. Over the course of the year, 1953, there were five different parades in Lower Manhattan for various U.S. troops coming home from Korea, two for commanding generals, one for the first troops home, one for wounded vets, one for a war hero POW, they even held another one the following year in 1954 when another infantry division got home from Korea, parade, parade, parade, parade to mark the end of the Korean War -- or at least to mark the war that had had the cease-fire, at least to welcome home the men and women who fought there. But this is interesting. In 1991, we decided to do it again -- decided to make sure that 38 years later as the Korean War got talked about less and less, it was overshadowed by the war before it, World War II and the war after it, Vietnam, we wanted to make sure in 1991, the Korean War vets they and their war were not forgotten. When you look back at contemporaneous coverage from the time, I think part of the impetus for going back and marking the Korean War nearly four decades after it ended or at least stop, is because we`ve realized that even as doing it very late was still a good thing to do. We realized that as a nation I think in 1985, when 10 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the country finally got around to welcoming home Vietnam veterans. It was the largest parade in New York City`s history when it happened, 25,000 Vietnam veterans and many more people watching and cheering them on. It was a huge deal for a country that had at times conflated our feelings about the war itself and the people who fought the war. Universally every headline about the event noted that it was late. It was good to be doing it but it was bad it was years and years late. Interestingly in this "A.P." story from that day in 1985, a real estate developer named Donald Trump is cited for having made a donation to vets groups at a nighttime celebration of veterans that was held in conjunction with the 10 years late parade. He told the "Associated Press" that night, it`s a great evening, I only wish it could have taken place 10 years ago. The slogan of the parade in New York for Vietnam veterans in the `80s, the slogan for the parade was: "It`s time." And after that New York parade, after New York did that for Vietnam veterans and the Vietnam War in 1985, 10 years after the war ended, other cities in America decided to do it, too. In the following year, 1986, Chicago did one. That was the largest march of its kind in American history. In Chicago, 200,000 veterans marched over 300,000 people watching. Houston did it the year after that. This was more than a decade after the war ended. And in all of these cases, the same sentiment, we wait too long, we waited too long, why didn`t we do this a decade before. Still now, nearly four decades after Vietnam, we`re still lamenting that we waited too long to thank troops that fought there. That when the unpopular Vietnam War ended in the 1970s, we did not thank the troops right then, we did not welcome them home right then. We waited too long. One of the people who`s still saying that, who says he is still lamenting that 40 years after the end of the war is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: I thought one of the sad things is when the Vietnam vets came back, we didn`t treat them the way they deserved to be treated. It was conscription. Today, our armies of volunteers. Those days, it was conscription. And they went over, and some didn`t come back, to protect the freedoms that we have. And you can say whether you are favor of the war or against the war, I guess nobody is in favor of war, but, you know, whether you think it`s necessary or not is a better way to phrase it. Our vets deserve the respect and help when they get back that I always thought America -- that`s what it`s about. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: The city of St. Louis, Missouri, did not wait to get permission to give respect and help to veterans back from the Iraq war, now that the Iraq war has ended. They just went ahead and did it in St. Louis. It went off great, 100,000 people turned out. And when it came time to present a proclamation of support to Iraq veterans from the city of St. Louis, that proclamation was presented by Charlie Dooley. Charlie Dooley is the county executive of St. Louis and he`s a Vietnam veteran. Joining us is Charlie A. Dooley. Mr. Dooley, many thanks for your time. I really appreciate you being here. CHARLIE A. DOOLEY, COUNTY EXECUTIVE, ST. LOUIS: Thank you, Rachel, for having me. MADDOW: The decision to hold the parade to mark the end of the Iraq war in St. Louis I know didn`t start with the city or county. It started with just a couple of concerned citizens. But the city did end up supporting it. You end up supporting it very visibly as county executive. Do you think that s a success? DOOLEY: It was a great success. It was a great day. It made you feel proud to be a St. Louisan. MADDOW: Was there any downside of what you did in St. Louis, any sort of hidden pitfalls or anything to worry about -- any negative consequences that might be cautionary for any other cities that are considering doing this? DOOLEY: Well, from the St. Louis perspective, on such a short notice, we were concerned whether there would be a crowd. There was a crowd, 100,000 people, 20,000 participants, 83 floats. It was a great success. MADDOW: Sir, I know that you yourself are a Vietnam veteran. In terms much your experience as a veteran and now your experience as a county executive, having seen what St. Louis did, do you think there are lessons from how people who fought in Vietnam were received upon coming home? Are there lessons from that era that apply to us considering this question at the end of the Iraq war now? DOOLEY: I think the lesson is: regardless how you feel about a particular conflict that United States is participating in, these are our veterans, our soldiers, our men and women fighting for freedom that we believe in. And we should always should always welcome them home. MADDOW: Was there a cost, do you think, to Vietnam veterans to the nation in terms of healing after the great divide over that war in this country? Was there a cost to waiting so long to recognize Vietnam veterans after you all came home from there? DOOLEY: Yes, there was a cost. For a long time, I felt disappointed that we wasn`t welcomed home. There was an emptiness that I felt that I loved this country. But I thought when I came home in 1967 from Vietnam, no one was there to greet me and to say, job well done. MADDOW: Did it make a difference 10 years later, in 1985, 1986, 1987, cities around the country changed that and decided that even though it was going to be late, they were still going to do it? Would that make a difference to you as a veteran? DOOLEY: I think it did make a great difference. Quite frankly, the Iraq war we had in St. Louis, I felt just as much a part of that as those that participated in New York in 1985. I felt vindicated. I felt welcomed. I waved my hand. I just felt good about it. MADDOW: A lot of veterans groups, even Korean War veterans groups, I saw -- I watched the parade live streaming from the NBC affiliate there on the Web. And one of the things that I noticed that I didn`t expect was to see a lot of groups of older veterans, veterans of previous conflicts who were there alongside the Iraq vets being recognized the same thing. It was striking to see. DOOLEY: There`s no question about it. You see a lot of World War II vets were there, Korean vets were there. And every time I saw one of those individuals, I made it my business to make sure I shook their hand and thanked them for their service. MADDOW: Sir, one last question for you. I realize you`re the county executive of St. Louis, and you don`t have jurisdiction in New York City. But from your perspective, from your experience, what do you think about New York City`s decision to essentially take the Pentagon advice, the Pentagon`s advice, not the veterans groups, but the Pentagon`s advice, that they should wait and not do a parade now for the Iraq war even though the Iraq war ended? DOOLEY: I have a great respect for our government and for the Pentagon. But I also have a great respect for our veterans. It is for our veterans. It`s the right thing to do. And the time to do it is now. MADDOW: St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, also veteran of the Vietnam War, thank you for your time tonight, sir. I`ve been looking forward to the chance to talk to you about this. I`m really grateful for it. Thanks. DOOLEY: Thanks for having me, Rachael. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Still ahead on "THE LAST WORD," Lawrence O`Donnell has a jaw-dropping investigation about guns -- guns being sold with no background checks at all and it`s apparently perfectly legal. Essential viewing. He`s got tape. And here florists, caterers, DJs, your stimulus has arrived. Best new thing in the world, that`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Yesterday, legislators in the Washington state house joined their state senate counterparts in voting to recognize marriage rights for same sex couples in the state of Washington. If Governor Christine Gregoire signs the law next week as she is expected to, Washington state will become the seventh state where same-sex marriage is legal in the United States. It`s also legal in the District of Columbia. Now, anti-gay groups say they will fight it still in Washington state and, of course, it`s not signed. The deal is not done until it is signed, sealed and delivered. There is still more of the story to tell about the process in Washington state. But, the best new thing in the world today is this raw demonstration of how changes like this always happen. This portrait from one state representative in Washington of how change happens, not in groups, not for states, but person by person, life by life. This is State Representative Maureen Walsh. She is a Republican representing Washington`s 16th district. She came to this from a very personal place, as somebody who has been married, but who then lost her husband. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE REP. MAUREEN WALSH (R), WASHINGTON: You know, I was married for 23 years to the love of my life. And he died six years ago. And, you know, I`m a lonely old widow right now. I`m 51 years old looking for a boyfriend, not having much left with that. And, yet, when I think of my husband and I think of all the wonderful years we have and the wonderful fringe benefit of having three beautiful children -- I don`t miss the sex, you know? To me, that`s kind of what this boils down to. I don`t miss that. I mean, I certainly miss it, but I don`t -- it`s not -- it`s certainly not the aspect of that relationship that incredible bond that I had with that human being that I really, really genuinely wish I still had. And so, I just -- I think to myself, how could I deny anyone the right to have that incredible bond with another individual in life? To me, it seems almost cruel. Someone made the comment this is not about equality. Well, yes, it is about equality. And why in the world would we not allow those equal rights for individuals who truly were committed to one another in life to be able to show that by way of a marriage? My daughter came out of the closet a couple years ago. And you know what? I thought I was going to agonize about that. Nothing`s different. She`s still a fabulous human being and she`s met a person that she loves very much. And some day, by God, I want to throw a wedding for that kid. And I hope that`s exactly what I can do. I hope she will not feel like a second class citizen involved in something called a domestic partnership with frankly sounds like a Merry Maids franchise to me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That`s all I want to say. And thank you for the civil wonderful debate today. It`s been great. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, I would agree. It has been great. That`s Republican State Representative Maureen Walsh from Washington state`s 16th district. That story she just told about her own path, her own making up her own mind on this issue is part of why Washington state is about to recognize same-sex marriage rights. Christine Gregoire, the state`s Democratic governor, had previously not been in favor of recognizing same sex marriage rights. She held a press conference to announce she had a change of heart on that as well. She explained. And now, the state is on the path to recognizing them. With that speech from Maureen Walsh, after all the really bad post- primary speeches we`ve been suffering through the past couple weeks, that speech from her renewed my faith in political speeches -- Democrat and Republican -- best new thing in the world today. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Thanks for being with us. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END