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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/24/12

Guests: Karen Finney, Karen Tumulty, Erik Mouthaan

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks, Ed. Appreciate it. Have a good weekend, my friend. SCHULTZ: You, too. Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. My efforts to Republican newsmakers and national Republican leaders to be guests on this program, those efforts are getting less successful not more successful over time. Important Republicans, Republican candidates, Republican newsmakers, will not come on this program. They sometimes will once they left politics, but while they are still in it, nobody will talk to me. And it`s getting worse, not better. A year ago today, for example, I was at least still having communication with people associated with powerful Republicans. A year ago today, the spokesman for the speaker of the House, John Boehner, was at least writing me letters to complain about my coverage of his boss. Now I can`t even get that. John Boehner spokesman`s issue with the show are our hypothesis, our John Boehner is bad at his job hypothesis. Very early on in the speaker`s tenure, a month into his tenure as speaker, it seemed like he was not doing a great job. It actually started on his first day on the job. Two Republican members of Congress accidentally did not get sworn in to officially become congressmen. They instead were at some reception and when the official swearing in started and they weren`t on the House floor, they turned to a TV set broadcasting the swearing in and they raised their hands and tried to take the oath to the television. As speaker you have to make sure all your people are there before you start the swearing in, did nobody explain this? There was also the very pious reading of the Constitution on the House floor to mark the start of John Boehner`s speakership, except they left some parts of the Constitution out. Some parts they left out on purpose, but some parts they left out because pieces of paper in the loose leaf binder they were reading from got stuck together and nobody noticed. So those parts of the Constitution just got skipped and didn`t get read. Finger cuffs, maybe, somebody there to proof read that the whole thing was being said right. It is the Constitution, you did make a big deal, you asked for the attention -- didn`t take time to get it right? Under John Boehner, every bill was going to have a direct constitutional citation justifying its existence, remember that? That new rule that they announced with great fanfare. House Republicans immediately decided that that rule was a great thing to announce, but it wasn`t necessarily worth following. They also said that every bill they forward would be paid for except for the very first bill they put forward, which was not paid for. It would have added more than $100 billion to the deficit without any pay-fors at all. What`s a rule? Did we just announce it? Never mind. This is how John Boehner`s tenure in Congress started. This is how his tenure as speaker started, right? So, the John Boehner is bad at his job hypothesis was born. It started very soon after he took office. It is now a year later, and frankly, the hypothesis is still being borne out. He has not become any better at his job. And I don`t mean this as a slight against Mr. Boehner. I have never met Mr. Boehner. People who have met him say he`s a really nice guy. He is well-respected by his colleagues. He`s just manifestly not good at the job of being speaker of the House. The newest data for the John Boehner is bad at his job hypothesis came today with the collapse of what was supposed to be the John Boehner signature accomplishment of the year. It was a big bill on transportation that is now falling apart. Mr. Boehner now reportedly contemplating breaking this thing up in pieces after it has been repeatedly delayed. From "The Hill" today, quote, "The move would be seen as a dramatic retreat for the speaker." From "Roll Call," quote, "Republicans privately acknowledged the problems with the bill lie within Mr. Boehner`s own conference." Quote, "The turmoil is the latest in a series of embarrassing unforced errors for Mr. Boehner. The bill was intended to be his signature legislative policy" proposal, but he has struggled to pull together enough GOP votes to pass it." The Beltway reporting on this is that the problems here have nothing to do with the minority Democrats in the House, it`s that John Boehner is bad at his job. John Boehner cannot get his own side to agree to his own stuff. He is bad at his job. And that is the latest data in our ongoing now year-long test of the hypothesis that the most powerful elected Republican official in the country is bad at that job. And that I think is an important thing to understand about the Republican Party. It`s not a slight against Mr. Boehner. It tells you, though, how they are doing at governing. The other Republican in the nation who may not be as important as John Boehner yet but who would like to be the most powerful elected Republican in the country is, of course, Mitt Romney, the party`s frontrunner for the presidential nomination. And today, in the hopes that maybe Mitt Romney`s campaign will at least write me a stern letter disagreeing with me, I hope that you would forgive me if I tell you that it`s time to test another hypothesis, the hypothesis that Mitt Romney is also bad at his job. Mitt Romney`s job, of course, is trying to get the nomination of his party so he can try to get elected president. And again, I do not mean this as a slight against Mr. Romney, I`m just trying to assess whether or not he`s good at what his job is right now. And I think he might be bad at that job. This for example was the Mitt Romney campaign`s major event today. This was billed as a major policy address, although no major new policies were announced. But this is what it looked like. The stadium is Ford Field that has 65,000-seat capacity. It`s where the Detroit Lions play. And the campaign today put Mr. Romney on the 30-yard line. They put roughly 1,200 chairs in front of him and they put the candidate right in the middle of this, right in the middle of an empty 65,000-seat stadium. In a normal`s room, this sort of group might look like a large number of people. But in this room, it really didn`t. There is no shame in talking to 1,200 people except when it looks like this. And, you know, bad optics happen you can`t control everything. Sometimes there are visual elements of planned events that do not convey the message we are hoping to convey. Sometimes, the baby jams his fingers in the president`s mouth. Today, this poor guy tried everything he could possibly try to keep himself awake, while Joe Biden was talking, but oh, God, oh now, oh like a puppy going in the dish. He`s losing the battle. This guy is asleep. This stuff happens, bad optics happen. But you know, a sleepy guy isn`t something you can plan for. No advance person thought, hey, that guy looks like he is about to pass out. Let`s put him right behind the vice president. This was an accident. Booking a 65,000-seat stadium for 1,200 person event. That is not an accident. They knew this was going to happen. There were pictures that ran in the local press before the event took place showing how bad the event was going to look. Did the Mitt Romney campaign bail on the event? No, they did not. And then to add further injury to injury, they did not even fill the seats that they put there on the field in the first place. Even after jamming everyone in this teeny tiny little sliver of a stadium to try to make it look there was crowd, there were still all sorts of empty-folding chairs. It should be noted that the Romney`s campaign swears today that this was not their fault. They say because of security concerns with the original location, the Secret Service asked them to relocate, and the surface of the field was the only option at that point, but again, everybody knew way in advance this is what it was going to look like before the event started and they decided to go ahead and stick their candidate in the middle of that anyway. This is the campaign and not the candidate personally, right? This is a campaign decision. It is the candidate`s job to run the campaign that elects him. And this is a sign of a badly-run campaign. John McCain had some of the same problems in 2008. And, frankly, it was devastating at the time. On the night when Barack Obama declared victory in the primaries over Hillary Clinton in a speech in St. Paul, Minnesota in front of this crowd of 17,000 people, on the night when America found out that is what the Democrats were offering in the race for the presidency, on that same night, this is what the Republicans offered. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Good evening. From the great city of New Orleans. Thank you and good evening. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senator John McCain speaking in front of a backdrop that was actually a crime against plankton (ph). The McCain campaign also at one point set their candidate up for a speech at Navy and Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which has a capacity of 34,000 people. John McCain, obviously a distinguished Navy vet, but all the flags in the world could not disguise the fact in a stadium that holds thousands of people, they had him speaking to 64 people -- again, talking to 64 people not a crime. In a room with a capacity of 64 people, that would look very impressive. It could even be cacophonous. But context is everything. I mean, a grain of sand that stuck in your eye is the biggest thing in your world. A grain of sand on the beach is nothing. Do not put the candidate in a room that is too big. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: I can tell you this room, we talked about this a few moments ago, was not even half full. It is starting to fill in a little bit. But guys, this room is still not completely full. And keep in mind, we`re in the city of Denver, this is a large metropolitan area. Outside of the city limits, you have a lot o conservative and Mitt Romney is not filling this room tonight. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The campaign is not that great a campaign. But in some ways, it is also the candidate. Here is how Mitt Romney ended his speech today at the giant empty football stadium in front of all the giant, empty rows of folding chairs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This feels good, being back in Michigan. You know, the trees are the right height, the streets are just right. I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and Chevy truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Just a couple of Cadillacs? What`s with the trees thing? I mean, saying it once, non sequitur. Saying it twice, dude, what are you talking about? The response to the couple of Cadillacs thing in the list of cars at the liberal Web site Daily Kos, was a liberal take on it. But I think it was pretty representative of the response, to Mr. Romney`s remarks today. Quote, "Who doesn`t use a 20-sided dice every morning to decide which car to pull from the stable, is it an SUV or a convertible day or two- seater roadster day or a muscle car day? You know what I`m talking about, right?" The campaign later did clarify that Ann Romney does drive two Cadillac SRXs. She keeps one at Romney`s home in California, their mansion in La Jolla. And she keeps one at their home in Massachusetts. The campaign has thus far declined to release a full inventory of the Romney`s vehicles. The only reason they are being asked about the full inventory of the Romney`s vehicles is because Mitt Romney keeps talking about their full inventory of vehicles. He was at a Ford dealer in Tucson on Wednesday before the debate and he told the Ford dealer, quote, "See, I`m a Detroit guy, so you know, I only have domestics. I have a couple of Cadillacs at two different houses." Remember, he`s at a Ford dealer. Talking about his Cadillacs. The Mitt Romney is bad as his job hypothesis is about the campaign but it is also about the candidate himself, too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) ROMNEY: My son, I get them looking at eBay, at `64, `65 Mustang, and look at those things. And looking at them and thinking about bidding. And next thing I know, my wife got me a `95 Mustang as a birthday gift. It was a birthday or Christmas, I`m trying to recall, it was a gift from Ann. It was a great gift. I got a car from (INAUDIBLE) in 1962. Hey, Rick, I`ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet? GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`m not in the betting business. ROMNEY: OK. I like being able to fire people that provide services to me. We went to the company and we said, look, you can`t have any illegals working on our property. That`s I`m running for office for Pete`s sake, I can`t have illegals. I`m not concerned about the very poor. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Mitt Romney`s job at this point is to be a candidate and run a campaign that elects him, that elects him to be the Republican nominee and then elects him to be president. Now, John Boehner has been bad at his job of being speaker of the House all year long. But John Boehner doesn`t have the luxury of a campaign that can maybe compensate for how bad he personally is at his job. Mitt Romney does have a campaign, but at this point, they are doing this to him. They are not making it any better for him. Joining us now is Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for "The Washington Post." She`s been traveling with the Mitt Romney in Arizona and Ohio and Michigan. Karen, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you. KAREN TUMULTY, WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Do you have any insight into why he keeps bringing up the height of the trees in Michigan? I thought it was a non-sequitur the first time, but he keeps doing it. Does it mean something? TUMULTY: Well, for the record, they are very nice trees. But I think he`s trying to get people a sense that he feels like he`s at home. The car issue, though, is interesting. It`s one that has dogged his political career. One of the revelations in the new book about Mitt Romney that was written by a couple of "Boston Globe" reporters is that when he was running for governor in 2002, one of the first things that his political consultants advise him was to keep his BMW hidden because it was not a good idea for it to be known that he was driving anything but Detroit cars. So, perhaps he`s trying to compensate for that. MADDOW: There is -- obviously, he`s a guy born into wealth and privilege and has become wildly more wealthy than even the wealth and privilege that he was born into. Most of the people that run for president are really, really rich guys, and that`s not the weirdest in the world. But there`s been a question of whether or not he talks about it in a way that is anything but alienating. And with the cars things, he`s trying to sound like a down home guy by talking about the fact he has American cars, but in part of telling those anecdotes. He talks about getting multiple cars for gifts as presents from family members, having multiple Cadillacs for his multiple mansions in places like California and Massachusetts, which aren`t really down home Republican locations. Is he getting worse at this? TUMULTY: Well, I`ll tell you, he`s -- the whole problem for Mitt Romney I think for a lot of this campaign is that he keeps being pulled in different directions. And in this case, he`s in Michigan. He`s got to win Michigan. It`s his home state. So, don`t forget he started out a couple years ago by writing this editorial, this op-ed in "The New York Times" that was headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." So, I think he is talking about cars so much because he`s really trying to remind people that he`s not only a son of Detroit, but that he`s a son of the car business. MADDOW: Well, with the problem on the auto bail out being that he did say that Detroit ought to have gone bankrupt, it`s been awkward to see him try to spin that as love for the auto industry. Let alone suddenly having to do with the paternity that he attributes to the auto industry in his own life. I mean -- do you think, I mean, you`re not partisan on this. You`re a reporter. You have seen campaigns come and go over time. Do you think he makes sense on the auto bail out? TUMULTY: Well, the -- you know, he is trying to go back and essentially get a mulligan on this, I think. He now says that what he was recommending was in fact what the Obama administration ended up doing anyway, which was a managed bankruptcy. So, what he seems to sort of glossed over is the fact that reason the government put capital into this, put government money behind it was that there was no private capital available at that time, including he`s -- one of the first that turned the government down on this was Bain Capital, his old firm. Essentially there was no where but the government to get this money. MADDOW: Karen, one last question, as you have watched sort of the mechanics of this campaign, everything from organizing events to organizing the candidates message for the day to preparing for debate -- is there anything you think important for to us know who is running the core of the campaign and who he surrounded himself with over time? TUMULTY: Well, I think he`s running it this time with a much tighter, much closer circle than he had the first time around. But the more important issue here is that they`re ending up in a different primary race than the one that they expected. They did not expect to be challenged by so many -- such a succession of contenders out of right field. MADDOW: Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for "The Washington Post" -- thank you for joining us tonight, Karen. It`s nice to have you here. TUMULTY: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. So, remember when Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, the vaginal probe guy said he wanted to be a guest on this show, he asked the talk show host Laura Ingraham to helped book him on this program. Bob McDonnell still has not been a guest on this program. Won`t even return our calls. Why that might be, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Now, we`ve done it, America. Now, we`ve done it. Now, we`ve got the Dutch mad at us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the bracelet is: "Do not euthanize me." (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nothing else, we know that it turns out the word candidate in Dutch is "candidot". I did not know. My late Dutch grandmother would smack me upside the head for that pronunciation I`m sure. But I have been watching Dutch news videos and reading translations of Dutch language headlines all day because the Dutch are really mad at us. And they are frankly not a people given to getting mad over nothing. But they are mad at us right now because of Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum has been saying a thing on the campaign trail about the Dutch. Right Wing Watch posted video of him saying it. It got fact checked by "The Washington Post" fact checker. It got picked up in the Dutch press. And now, this thing that Rick Santorum is saying about Dutch people has become an issue in their national politics. This was the headline on BuzzFeed yesterday, "Santorum roils Dutch politics," which almost sounds dirty. And you can tell even from just looking at the Dutch version, right, you can tell that they are mad, even if you don`t speak Dutch. When you get it translated by your staff member who is Dutch, then it all comes in focus. Rick Santorum thinks he knows the Netherlands murder of the elderly on a grand scale. Here is another one in the Dutch, right? In English translation, Dutch euthanasia according to Santorum. Here`s what Rick Santorum said that has the Dutch people so mad. Now, I want you to pay special attention to the gasps of shock and horror coming from the crowd as he talks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTORUM: In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if you`re elderly. And the bracelet is: "Do not euthanize me." Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands, but half the people who are euthanized every year -- and it`s 10 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands -- half of the people are euthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so, elderly people in the Netherlands don`t go to the hospital. They go to another country because they are afraid because of budget purposes that they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mr. Santorum goes on to say that that`s where we are heading now, too, as a nation now that we`ve had national health reform. Now, none of the things Mr. Santorum said there are true. None of them. We will verify that with an actual Dutch person in just a moment. But the fact that he has said it as a presidential candidate now has a leading Dutch opposition party politician demanding that the Dutch ambassador to the United States weigh in here and tell Rick Santorum where to go, please. And if the ambassador won`t do it, then the government`s foreign minister, the equivalent of their secretary of state, should do it. On his Facebook page, this labor party politician writes, this is the translation, "According to `The New York Times,` the Dutch ambassador has no comment on the scandalous charge from Santorum about our country. How is it possible? I have a directed a request to the foreign minister and have called on him to take a public stance. This can`t be real." It is one thing for Americans to look at the 2012 field and say, seriously? This can`t be real? But, now, we have the rest of the world looking at our 2012 candidates and saying, dude, this can`t be real. Joining us is now Erik Mouthaan. He`s the U.S. correspondent for the Dutch RTL Evening News. Mr. Mouthaan, thank you very much for being here and helping us figure this out. ERIK MOUTHAAN, RTL NEWS - DUTCH TV: Sure. MADDOW: Before we talk about what this means and the big picture, for the benefit of our viewers, I hope you won`t mind if I could just ask you some yes or no questions to clarify what Mr. Santorum said about your country. He says 10 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands are the rut of euthanasia. MOUTHAAN: Not true. MADDOW: He says half of all those people, so 5 percent of all deaths in the country are people being euthanized involuntarily. MOUTHAAN: Totally not true. MADDOW: He says elderly people in the Netherlands don`t go to the hospital. MOUTHAAN: That`s not true. Of course, they go. MADDOW: He said specifically, elderly people in the Netherlands don`t go to the hospital, and instead leave the country because they are afraid of Dutch hospitals. MOUTHAAN: Not true and insulting. MADDOW: The reason he says they are afraid of the hospital is that anybody going to the hospital with sickness, as he put it, in the Netherlands will not come out of that hospital. If you go to the hospital with sickness, the hospital will kill you for budget purposes. MOUTHAAN: Not true and funny but insulting at the same time. MADDOW: Last one, elderly people wear specialty bracelets in the Netherlands that say please don`t euthanize me. MOUTHAAN: It would be cool, right? But no, I have not seen one. MADDOW: OK. I can`t apologize on behalf of Rick Santorum because I can`t speak for him. As an American, I`m sorry this is happening to our politics to the extent that it is insulting, I am sorry. That said, do Dutch people see this as funny or enraging? MOUTHAAN: Sort of in between, because on the one hand, we know there is conservative people and people oppose our euthanasia policy and that`s fine. But the problem is if they start lying and this is just such a distortion of what goes on in Holland, and I think people are actually quite upset about it. You know, when Bill O`Reilly says something it`s fine. But when this guy who may get the nomination of the Republican Party says it, I think people are really, you know, worried if this is the view that Americans have of us. MADDOW: Is it also worry that somebody running for an office as important as president could lie so blatantly and sort of get away it? (CROSSTALK) MOUTHAAN: People ask me on my Twitter, they said like, well, doesn`t he -- shouldn`t he have his facts straight? I say, yes, I guess he does. We`re used to being the punching bag of conservatives in the U.S. because we`re like this crazy liberal country. The most liberal country ever. We were the first with gay marriage, legalized prostitution, legalized pot. I mean, if all your viewers started a country, it would be Holland. So, we`re used -- MADDOW: Then I would run for office. MOUTHAAN: You may win. But then we understand people are upset at us, but this is something different because it`s just not true. MADDOW: Yes. In terms of -- in terms of how this is being seen in the Netherlands, is it mostly being talked about, discussed, worried over by people who are already interested in American politics or is this crossover so that people generally are talking about it? MOUTHAAN: You showed a bit of like an evening news program, there was also sort of entertainment-type shows that talked about it. It has not really caught on because the Dutch government, as you said, is sort of backing off of making this a big issue. MADDOW: So, but there is debate over whether or not the Dutch government should make -- MOUTHAAN: Yes. Because I mean, the Dutch government normally does, because when Bill O`Reilly says these things, or when there`s like a U.S. general who said that the Muslim enclave in Srebrenica was, you know, overrun by Serbs because the Dutch army didn`t defend it because we allow gays in the military, then, you know, everyone was so upset, you know? Our secretary of defense called your secretary of defense. So, these things matter a lot to the Dutch. But this, in this case they are not responding because it`s an election year in the U.S. and they don`t want to get in electoral politics. That`s what they say, but the opposition is saying, this just goes too far, you need to say something. MADDOW: Do you think that there is a possibility that the Dutch government will actually sort of accede to the opposition party`s demands and start weighing in this? MOUTHAAN: I think the hope this will go away a little bit and the Dutch government doesn`t want to get into the politics. They are afraid this may be an issue and the conservatives will say, like, oh my good, the Dutch are against us now, so they are sort of trying to stay clear of this a little bit. MADDOW: If it makes you feel any better, about that decision. There`s a lot of things that Rick Santorum says that people don`t respond to, because they assume he`s going away. So, that happens even among Americans. MOUTHAAN: Yes. But people are actually saying like this is a serious candidate, right, Erik? I say, yes, he is. MADDOW: Erik Mouthaan, U.S. correspondent for the Dutch RTL Evening News -- thank you for helping us figure this out. And again, I`m sorry that we`re doing this. MOUTHAAN: That`s OK. MADDOW: Thanks. Bob McDonnell not visiting this show, apparently, ever. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Two weeks ago, if you`d ask me which leading Republican politician in the country was most likely to agree to come on the show for an interview, I would have told you it was going to be Virginia governor and apparent vice presidential aspirant Bob McDonnell. After all, he is the only leading Republican whom I have heard say with my own ears that he would like to come on the show. It happened on the Laura Ingraham radio program roughly a month ago. Listen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: I was going back on YouTube, governor, was watching some of Reagan`s old debates from the `60s, late `60s, early `70s. There wasn`t a place he wouldn`t go to argue the conservative message and advocate for conservative principles. And he got a lot of grief for it, but he also -- he won a lot of respect. And it seems to me if we have Republicans out there, maybe coming up through the ranks, who are concerned about going on Rachel Maddow`s show or, you know, concerned that she is going to get the better of him or her in a sit-down, then we have real problems. We have to be able to engage with these people. Doesn`t mean you`re going to convince her, but it means you`re going to probably be a stronger advocate across the board to people who don`t really know what conservativism even is. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: I couldn`t agree with you more, Laura, that is exactly right. You think you can li`l Rachel to set that up for me? INGRAHAM: Yes. I will send her a note, for sure. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: I love that he calls me li`l Rachel. Laura Ingraham and her producers did send me a note, which I do really appreciate. We did call li`l Governor McDonnell`s office to try to set something up. I legitimately thought we were going to get him as a guest. But, apparently, he did not mean it. Governor McDonnell, you shouldn`t have said you weren`t afraid to do something if you were actually afraid to do it. Already, not just around the country, but around the world, this from Australia, look, around the world. The first phrase that pops in people`s heads when they see you now is transvaginal ultrasound. I can not possibly make that worse for you, Governor. You did it on your own. So, let`s talk about it, like you said you would. Until then, I will keep reporting on the mess that you`re in like I`m about do more of in the next segment on this show. I just won`t have the benefit of you here to help me understand it. Come on. Don`t be afraid. You said you`d do it come on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is our custom to conclude the news-type schedule here on MSNBC for the night and for the week and let you know that prisons are about to start, right? Prisons. We try to be creative about it, countdowns, orange jumpsuit, choruses of people with beards, but tonight, after the show -- special programming note here -- tonight no prisons. Instead, something very, very cool. MSNBC is about to bring you something. It`s called "Semper Fi." It`s a documentary about what one U.S. Marine did to uncover the truth about a literally toxic and deadly problem at Camp Lejeune. Potentially, a million people exposed to toxic chemicals at an around the Marine base. It is an excellent documentary. It`s hosted and narrated by our own Lawrence O`Donnell. And I really hope that you`re going to stay tuned for that after the show tonight. That`s at the top of the hour right after us. But we will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, welcome to your post-vaginal probe world, a world that you have created. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to ask you about this red hot story that has gotten so much ink, so many women in particular fired up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virginia drew national attention for the proposal that was -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding they did. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a bill, an abortion bill that would have mandated that women what`s called a transvaginal ultrasound if they were getting an abortion. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This was not always Bob McDonnell`s world. The thing everybody was clamoring to ask him about until a couple of weeks ago was how vice presidential he was looking. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could be looking at the next running mate here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people say the guy sitting across from me would be a pretty good number two on the ticket. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you`d be open to it? MCDONNELL: Look, if someone called and said, you could help our country or help our ticket, I think any of us would think about it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Before he became the vaginal probe guy, Bob McDonnell was the guy who got showered with flattering questions about his political promise practically everywhere he went. But then, the last week and a half happened, Republicans in Virginia were all set to make a new law requiring Virginia women to undergo a vaginal probe ultrasound before the state would allow them to get an abortion. It passed both houses of the Virginia legislature. Governor McDonnell had already said he would sign it. And then the national media noticed and everyone including us, freaked out. Made its way on "Saturday Night Live" last weekend. There was a big silent protest outside the Capitol in Richmond on Monday. There were big unsilent protests all over the capitol grounds yesterday. Governor McDonnell and Virginia Republicans tried to back away from the national disaster they had created for themselves by claiming that they had no idea that they were requiring such an invasive procedure, they tried amending the legislation they are still having the government force your doctor to do medical procedures to you against your will. You`re still forced to have a political ultrasound mandated by the state, but the new requirement would stop just short of that forced state- machine dated ultrasound being forced state-mandated vaginal penetration. It`s kind of hard to unring that bell. And all the trying in the world has not saved Bob McDonnell from a new political reality in which he is the vaginal ultrasound guy. He`s the vaginal probe guy now. Personally evidence since "The Washington Post" put his mid-career thesis from Pat Robertson`s televangelist college online, I`ve always thought of him as the homosexuals and fornicators guy. But now to the wide world, he is the vaginal ultrasound guy. Now, the thing everybody is dying to ask him about is this vaginal probe bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You flip-flopped on this, you backed the bill, and now, you say no. Why? MCDONNELL: Gerri, I think you`ve got it wrong. I support the concept of an ultrasound requirement as part of the formal informed consent. I still support that. What I requested is simply an amendment that requires an abdominal ultrasound. Now, what we realized I said I support the bill, I still support the bill. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So in his first interviews, in his post-vaginal probe world, Governor Bob McDonnell wants to make it very clear that he still supports this measure. He still supports the government mandating a medical procedure for political reasons, just not necessarily the one that goes inside your vagina. Bob McDonnell is really resisting his new political identity as the vaginal probe guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were educating yourself did you originally not realize it might mandate -- MCDONNELL: Well, it wasn`t my procedure. After all, this wasn`t my bill. Normally, a governor would review hundreds of bills when they get to your desk. You`re so busy advocating your agenda, you don`t read legislator bill. We can`t always help what the media decides to focus on. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It isn`t my bill, I just said that I would sign it. I don`t even care about ultrasounds. I`m focused on, can we talk about something other than this? Now, there are probably innumerable Democrats who would love to the Democrat who gets to debate the vaginal probe guy about what`s important to the country, right? Unfortunately today for Bob McDonnell, there was a Democrat on hand to do just that. Mr. McDonnell was being interviewed by, right alongside, about three inches away from a Maryland`s governor, Democrat Martin O`Malley. Now, we are used to sharp political rhetoric in the abstract in our country, but this kind of scene is actually pretty rare in our politics. They are three inches apart. Governor O`Malley delivering what turned out to be a screed on everything wrong with Governor McDonnell`s politics while Governor McDonnell sat right next to him three inches away visibly squirming the whole time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: I would also dare to predict that in Virginia, where they have seen what happens when you put Republicans totally in charge, they had seen their legislature take a hard right turn. And that`s exactly the sort of overreach that they saw in Wisconsin, which has a 49th worst job creation rate, the sort of overreach they saw in Ohio, which has the 30th worst job creation rate, and also what they have seen in Florida which has the 45th worse job creation rate. They say, you vote for us, things would get better. And then you vote for the Republicans and they take a hard right turn, outlawing gay relationship, outlawing women`s rights, outlawing unions, outlawing all -- throwing all sort of social wedge issues when what people care is about jobs and economy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, I had a hunch we`d mix it up eventually here. I better let you respond to do that, and then I do want to get questions over on the wings where I haven`t gone. MCDONNELL: Well, I can say Governor O`Malley is the only one that`s got social issues at the top of his agenda, I don`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes you do. Actually. Nice try, but you were the one who said you would sign the mandated vaginal probe bill when it was clear that is what it was. You may have backed off now that it`s hurting you politically. But people have away of not forgetting that you were the mandated vaginal probe guy. That kind of thing sticks with you. Bob McDonnell`s whole career has been as a hard right, social conservative, punish the fornicators, forced the ultrasound kind of guy. He still is. And he may not want to be thought of that way anymore, who would? But actions speak louder than words, Governor Probe. The real question now is whether or not Bob McDonnell, the vaginal probe guy, is still on the vice presidential short list. In a political party in which all the of remaining candidates for president have voiced support for so-called personhood measures that would ban all abortion and likely ban hormonal contraception as well, a party that is fighting against access to birth control, who knows? Maybe this actually isn`t bad for Governor Bob McDonnell. Maybe the vaginal probe guy is exactly who the Republican Party in 2012 is looking for in a presidential running mate. Joining us is the Democratic Party former communications director, now a columnist for "The Hill" and MSNBC political analyst, Karen Finney. I should also note that Karen is a board member for NARAL Pro-Choice America. Karen, thank you very much for your time. It`s nice to see you. KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, Rachel. You know, you don`t look so scary to me. MADDOW: You know, the thing about Bob McDonnell the whole ultrasound thing happened after he told Laura Ingraham he wanted to come on the show. But even before we started calling him governor vaginal probe, he still wouldn`t return the calls. I think he was flat out lying. FINNEY: I think he might have been. That`s not right. MADDOW: Anyway, I know as the Democrats communications director, you`d never call anybody governor vaginal probe, but I wonder -- FINNEY: I never would -- honestly, Rachel, I never would have thought that we would be in a position to actually call someone governor vaginal -- transvaginal probe. I mean, did you ever think you would be having this conversation on your show? MADDOW: Never, never in my life. Not just on my show, never in my world, like really, never. But I have been training myself to say these things I`m still all red. But -- do you think that Governor McDonnell`s prospects for being the vice presidential nominee are totally scuttled by this or do you think this in some weird way in this year Republican politics, this might not that bad? FINNEY: It`s hard to tell based on the line of action that Republicans have chosen to take. I mean, think about the level of activity that we`ve had over the last several months and weeks. I mean, essentially, the Republican Party aligned itself with the Vatican. And you have 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception. So, the Vatican can`t convince its own women in America of their policies and the Republican Party thinks that is the place to go? I mean, and I think they are also not paying attention to the fact that women have very much been awakened over the last several months, again, look at these Republican legislatures and these sort of anti-women bill, having to prove you were raped in order to use Medicaid to have an abortion, you know, redefining rape, letting women die, the level of conversation we`ve been having, and then contraception, you know, and the reaction that we saw when Susan G. Komen Foundation really stepped over the line. I think McDonnell is in part -- I mean, this is a culmination of all of that activity and all of women sort of recognizing and some in the Republican Party, transvaginal insertion is probably over the line, maybe contraception is getting up to the line. But I think they totally miscalculated where the American people are. MADDOW: Well, I wonder if -- I think it has become part of the national conversation. And I think you`re right that all of these things have sort of cumulatively built to the point that is not an avoidable discussion anymore. But I wonder from the Democratic perspective, do you think we`re at a point where resistance to the Republican`s abortion agenda is a national political issue for the Democrats? Obviously, this is an issue that people want to talk about. But the Democrats want to talk about being the ones who are going to stand up and stop them on this? FINNEY: I think we should. I think Democrats should, and we were talking about this earlier today at our NARAL board meeting, that to me, the way I see this is, we have an opportunity to have a conversation with Americans that says, let`s not -- it`s not about the procedure at some point. And I think that that`s part of what has reinvigorated and reawakened women in a lot of ways. It is -- at some point, it`s about fundamental liberty and freedom, that my government tells me I have to have some kind of probe inserted into my vagina? I mean, if that isn`t government intervention, I don`t know what is, right? And even in these conversations about contraception -- I mean, I wrote about this last week. In 1936, people believed contraception should be available. So, the culture wars, and the nature of the conversation I think has really shifted. I think you`re seeing that when it comes to gay rights and marriage equality. And I think we`ve seen the backlash on contraception, I think has shown that. Democrats I think have an opportunity to open a conversation with people that again is about not necessarily the procedure, but about this fundamental concept of, you know, liberty and freedom. And certainly as women, we need to step up and take ownership of the fact that, if we`re going to be seen as equal human beings in this country, no man gets to tell me when I`ve been raped. MADDOW: Former DNC communication director, columnist for "The Hill," MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney -- fired up and ready to go tonight. Karen, this story is equally bewildering and enraging -- but thank you for joining us and being willing to talk about it tonight. I appreciate it. FINNEY: Good to be with you. MADDOW: All right. The best new thing in the world today is sort of an antidote to all of this. The best new thing in the word today is one of these things that makes me very, very glad and very glad for our country. Please stay tuned, that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The best new thing in the world is the best new thing in the world for everybody. But if you are in driving distance of Fayetteville, North Carolina, it is really specifically your best new thing in the world. And that is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today and it`s from Fayetteville, North Carolina, which is the home of the huge U.S. Army base Fort Bragg. When President Obama gave his speech to mark the end of the Iraq war, he gave that speech at Fort Bragg. And as we have reported on this show, so far, there has been precisely one civilian community in the United States, one city to do something publicly to mark the end of that war. That was the great city of St. Louis, Missouri. On January 28th, in St. Louis, it was just a couple of local citizens, normal guys, who ignored the politics, they paid no mind to the Pentagon, they got the word out, they called veterans group, and they put on a parade -- a parade organized by civilians for the troops. And 100,000 people turned out in St. Louis. And to date, that`s it. But tomorrow, there`s another one. We just found out, tomorrow in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a local nonprofit has taken the initiative without anybody else`s go-ahead or approval to organize what they`re calling a convoy tomorrow in Fayetteville to say welcome home, to say we think it`s a big deal you served in this war, we think it`s a big deal that this war ended and we want as an American city want to mark by saying thank you and we`re so glad your home. The convoy is essentially a parade on wheels. The idea is to mirror the last convoys that left Iraq in December. It will drive an eight-mile route through Fayetteville tomorrow on Saturday and anybody can participate in your own car, your own truck, your own minivan or whatever, or you can just turn up along the route and cheer. As explained by the head of the local nonprofit that is organizing this, simply, this is Fayetteville`s way of saying thank you. We`ve got a link to their Web site at That`s got the route and everything else, all the details. After Fayetteville, the next city to throw a parade might be Tucson, Arizona. Local news reporting that Tucson has scheduled a tentative date for their end of the Iraq war parade for March 31st. There is still a little work to be done before it`s all official, but it might happen in Tucson. Then there`s Richmond, Virginia`s parade which is scheduled for May 19th. May 19th is also Armed Forces Day. We`re told that the city of Rome, Georgia, is apparently onboard with a parade and a festival on June 16th. That will include booths with resources for veterans and their families. So even though the Pentagon inexplicably still wants there to be no welcome home parade in New York City -- for what it`s worth, the Pentagon has said they`re very happy with St. Louis and they`re very happy for other cities to do other things to mark the end of the war. And Fayetteville, and Richmond, Virginia, and Tucson, and Rome, Georgia, and St. Louis, Missouri, are showing us all how to do it. You just do it. You worry more about asking forgiveness than asking permission. Cities doing their own thing to mark the end of the Iraq war and say thanks to the vets -- best new thing in the world today. Thank you for being with us tonight and this crazy week in politics. Now is not prison. Now is the new documentary "Semper Fi" which is hosted by Lawrence O`Donnell. We hope you stick around and watch that. It starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END