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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/16/12

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Paul Rieckhoff, Lewis Black

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, thank you very much. You know, if you are worried how much green wearing tonight in your show, when they put your show segments on the web, just have them PhotoShop your tie green. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: It`s amazing what we can do. MADDOW: That`s right. Technology can help your luck. SCHULTZ: Have a great weekend. MADDOW: You too, Ed. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining this hour. This is what it`s like to be in Republican governance right now -- not to be a Republican candidate for office, but to be a Republican governor who is in office and responsible for making policy. If you are, for example, Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas and you governed the way that he has governed, signing into law some of the most extreme anti-abortion measures in the country last year, with more on the way this year -- if you are Sam Brownback, your Facebook page right now is full of questions like this, quote, "Do you have a crossword puzzle book I can have for in between pregnancies? Seeing I can`t do too much walking around holding this aspirin between my knees." Or this one, "Governor Brownback, I just need to ask one more question, "Do you think it`s true that 100 percent of pregnancies in the state of Kansas were caused by men? And if so, do you have a proposal to deal with them? Thank you so much for your time and expertise." How about this one? "Governor, I am currently four years in perimenopause, what`s the best option for my husband to get sex from now on? Since sex with me would be pointless. And he is, after all, still ripe with untold millions of children that should not go to waste." Or this one, "Governor Brownback, I have a rash on the back of my hand. Please let me know when I can come or and you can look at it and re describe medication for it. It`s very uncomfortable. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you." Folks at BuzzFeed posted a round up of some of the best comments from Governor Brownback`s Facebook page this week. These were some of my favorites, but there are hundreds of others like this. And even those, the ones up there still are just the ones the governor`s staff hasn`t deleted yet, but they have been deleting as fast as they can. Governor Brownback, however, is not alone in having a Facebook page full of satire/protest, right now. Here`s Virginia Governor Bob ultrasound McDonnell`s Facebook page. Quote, "Hi, Bob. I just wanted to let you know what`s going on since you have been concerned about my reproductive organs. This is day two of my period. So, sometimes soon, I need to report that an egg was denied its right to achieve personhood. Is there a forum for that, or a number I should call?" How about this one? How does forcing women to have ultrasounds create jobs? Or this one, "Mr. McDonnell, thank you for your deep and abiding interest in the nether regions of America`s women. Is it safe to assume that your office will be involved in GYN investigations of all women, or will you be targeting only those in peak child-bearing years?" Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, he is dealing with the same treatment. Quote, "So proud to have a governor willing to take over my personal health-related decisions, not all women can be so lucky." This is what it`s like to be a Republican governor right now, when you have governed the way this year`s Republican governors have governed. Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania woke up this week to the Democrats sending out a blast e-mail petition about him. It said, quote, "If you`re a woman who opposes mandatory ultrasounds, Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has a suggestion for you. You just have to close your eyes. Close your eyes? Does Governor Corbett have no shame?" Does blankety blank have no shame? It`s like boiler-plate partisan hyperbole, right? That was about no shame. But, you know, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, the governor seriously did say that thing about closing your eyes, how you should close your eyes if you don`t want to look at the screen that`s been forcibly positioned in your sight line during a state-mandated medical procedure that he, Tom Corbett, governor of Pennsylvania says you have to have. He wants to make this law. The forced ultrasound bill that has been kicking around the Pennsylvania legislature is one of the most extreme in the country. It includes language like that likely mandates transvaginal ultrasounds in most cases, because of the time of pregnancy for most abortions and what the ultrasound has by law to show. The bill forces doctors to position the screen in front of a woman`s sight line, while the procedure is being performed, and it requires a print out of the image to be filed away in the woman`s medical records even if she doesn`t want that. This bill is stalled in Pennsylvania in part because the state medical association is telling Republicans to butt out of the doctor`s office. But since it stalled and not like on his desk or anything, he doesn`t have to make decisions about it right now, Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania could jus avoid talking about this. But no, asked about the bill this week, he just decided he was going to go for it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I wouldn`t change it. As long as it`s not obtrusive, but we`re still waiting to see. REPORTER: Not obtrusive? I mean, making them watch -- does that go too far in your mind? CORBETT: You got to make anybody watch? OK, you just have to close your eyes. But as long as it`s exterior, not interior. OK? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ladies, ladies, relax. Men at work here. Don`t mind Governor Tom Corbett`s state governor physically probing you against your will and shoving a screen in your face, just close your eyes. And there`s two things that are important here. First thing that`s important here is that he says it`s not -- it`s external not internal. He doesn`t know what to do with his hands for that one. But he`s wrong. It would actually require transvaginal ultrasounds. Something else is important here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CORBETT: But as long as it`s exterior, not interior. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It is interior. The way the bill is written, it would require vaginal probe ultrasounds for most women. Republicans in Kansas -- it`s fascinating, we`re seeing people talk about these ultrasounds, these ultrasound bills, as if none of them are transvaginal ultrasound. Remember, that`s what they tried to say in Virginia. Republicans tried to say that we`re not requiring that. Democrats called them on it and the governor weighed in and said you have to change this bill, but the Republicans keep explaining that they don`t know what is in their bills. They`re not doctor. They are not OB- GYNs. So, they tried to get detailed but it just shows the ignorance of these medical procedures that they are mandating as politicians, which is kind of the point. Republicans in Kansas this week dropped their own twist on the forced ultrasound -- a requirement doctors would be directed by the state to employ a Doppler handheld fetal monitor on a patient even if it was against the patient`s wishes and against a doctor`s medical judgment. But guess what Kansas left in their new anti-abortion bill when they passed it out of committee this week. They left in a script written by the legislature that a doctor has to say to a patient, a script that includes saying that abortion is linked to breast cancer. Abortion is not linked to breast cancer. So says the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. But why would you listen to idiots like that when you can get your cancer information from Kansas City Republican state representatives instead? They say there is a link. They heard that somewhere. And if and when they pass this bill and Sam Brownback signs it, in Kansas, doctors will be violating the law if they don`t read their patients seeking abortions a false medically in at accurate script written by the state legislature. The justification for this, State Representative Joe Patton says, quote, "We want women to be fully informed." Fully meaning including the false information. Oh, but wait, there`s more. Fully informing Kansas women not only means lying to them about cancer, under law, you have to lie to them about cancer. But it also means lying to women in order to trick them into doing something the woman doesn`t want to do. This is so strange. This new Kansas Republican bill would block you from being able to sue your doctor, if your doctor lied to you about your pregnancy. As long as your doctor lied to you about your pregnancy because he or she thought that telling you the truth about your pregnancy might make you want an abortion. So, in Kansas, under a bill named designed to sound like they are empowering Kansas women, it is now both mandatory for your doctor to lie to you about one aspect of your future health and it is legally protected for your doctor to lie to you about your current pregnancy. If you are a woman and you are pregnant. The government knows best. I don`t know why they say Republican policy would be so alienating to women this year. Wow. The "It`s OK for your doctor to lie to you" bill is actually picking up popularity among red states. In Oklahoma and in a few other states, anti-abortion legislators have already made it legal for your doctor to lie to you provided you are a woman and you`re pregnant, because you can`t handle the truth, woman, you have to hand that over to the state government. Arizona has an "it`s OK to lie to women" bill that passed the Arizona state Senate, steaming its way through the Republican-led legislature en route to Governor Jan Brewer`s desk. Also, in Arizona, a Senate committee has approved along party lines, obviously, a measure that the liberal blogs are calling the "tell your boss why you`re on the pill" bill. And while that kind of sounds like a very liberal bloggy thing to say, it quite accurately describes what this bill does. This has already passed the Republican-led House in Arizona. This blows my mind. The bill would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if the employee seeks contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes. So, Arizona Republicans are going to make you tell your boss if you are having sex but you`re taking precautions not to get pregnant. See what the boss says about that. It`s the law. You have to say. Over in Virginia, Democrats sent my friend, governor ultrasound, Bob McDonnell, a letter this week, asking him if now that his state government is forcing Virginia women to get ultrasounds they don`t want and don`t need, would he please consider not also forcing them to pay for it? Governor`s office said, no, we`re happy forcing this thing on women and forcing women to pay for it at the same time. Republicans in the Virginia legislature also had a chance this week to not force Virginia women to pay for the ultrasounds that the Republicans are forcing them to get. Republicans in the Virginia Senate also said no. Bob McDonnell and Virginia Republicans really want women to pay for the forced procedures themselves. And Bob McDonnell is actually very mad about it. He`s mad about Democrats suggesting there`s something wrong with forcing women to pay for something that they don`t want that the state is mandating. His office is putting out a statement saying this was partisan and petty. Statement ends with this, quote, "I hope they are having a good time." You know, who wouldn`t be having a good time, governor ultrasound, upon learning your governor has not only ordered you to have this medical thing done to you, but he`s ordered you to pay for the privilege. Governor McDonnell`s snippiness however, highlights his temperament but also an interesting divide right now among Republicans on this issue. Republicans in states are frankly just full steam right now on this stuff. Women, the state is going to mandate ultrasounds for you. Your doctor is going to lie to you by state order. You have to tell your boss in detail about your sex life. It`s the law. You have to. We are cutting off access to all that slutty birth control you want to use. If you can think of it, they are doing it in Republican states. But then at the national level and for state level politicians who want to be thought of as guys on the national level -- hi, Governor McDonnell -- the implications of how all this sounds to women may finally be starting to scare them off, a little. Maybe. "The New York Times" reporting that the anti-contraception bill, the Blunt-Rubio bill, the Republicans were so fired up a few weeks ago, that Scott Brown was going to run on in his race for reelection in the Senate in Massachusetts, that the Republicans were going to see sail through the House of Representatives which they control, that`s dead, at least for now. Republicans have decided not to move on it. Quote, "It has been kicked up to the leadership and they want a cooling off period." Yes, I would imagine they do. In analyzing the Republicans` new birth control back-pedaling, "Talking Points Memo" brings us this bit of reporting today, quote, "One GOP strategist pegged the problem to Rick Santorum, who has become a national poster boy for right-wing views on women`s health." Quote, "We have definitely failed to make the contraception fight in an advantage. I think Debbie Downer being the primary guy out there talking about this is part of why. Debbie Downer is an adorable nickname for Rick Santorum but here, come on. You guys may think this is a Rick Santorum problem, but you wish at this point. This is in every red state in the country problem. Even if Rick Santorum did not exist, God for bid, you would still have to be trying to explain Bob McDonnell and Kansas forcing doctors to lie to women about breast cancer and Arizona trying to force you to tell your boss why you`re on the pill, or Pennsylvania and their forced vaginal probe bill. This is not a Rick Santorum problem. This is a Republican problem. This might be the Republican problem of 2012. Joining us is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. Congresswoman Schakowsky, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here. REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Rachel. I have a great idea. MADDOW: OK. SCHAKOWSKY: I think every woman voter should be required to see these 13:00 of what you said before you vote. What do you think? MADDOW: See, if I was -- this is why I`ll never run for office I would be the kind of tyrannical governor, who would say that, yes, that`s the law and I`m going to make you watch. SCHAKOWSKY: But that it will be free. You won`t have to pay for it. MADDOW: That`s fair enough. That`d be the moderate thing about me. SCHAKOWSKY: That`s right. MADDOW: In terms of what is happening with this in Washington, do you think that at the federal level at least, and for state level Republicans who have federal ambitions, do you think they are changing their mind about this, that they`re having second thoughts? SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think they are certainly has been a backlash. I don`t know if they`re getting e-mails quite as clever as some of the governors you read from wonderful women who are writing those clever things. But I definitely think that women have been expressing themselves in no uncertain terms that they are not going to accept going back, they`re not going to accept these ridiculous restrictions. I mean, imagine the idea of having to tell your boss that you -- using birth control not to control birth, but for some acceptable medical condition it`s ridiculous. And so, people, women see on the horizon at the federal level, too, that this may just be the beginning and we`ve got to stop it right now. And Republicans are beginning to get a little scared. MADDOW: It is really interesting, though, to see the divide between Republicans in the states and the kind of I think Republican awakening that you are hinting at there. Certainly that we`ve seen in terms of Republicans backing off some of these issues in Congress. I mean, the Jan Brewers and Bob McDonnells and Tom Corbetts of the world -- they are really steaming ahead with this. I mean, Sam Brownback said when he was asked about this current bill that`s going through the legislature, if he would sign it and he said, I haven`t read it, but I`m sure I will. I`m paraphrasing what he said. I said that I would sign anything pro-life that got to my desk. (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: I wonder -- do they have a different calculus on these things? SCHAKOWSKY: You know, for the moment, they do. But you`ve had on your show and others have some of these wonderful state legislators, women, who are speaking out and I think that what you see happening at the federal level is going to catch up with these governors at the state level as well. The absurdity of some of these proposals and laws now -- we have many of them enacted in law. When women have to be subjected to these kinds of non-medical, the suddenly we`ve got OB-GYN legislators telling doctors what to do. I really do think there will be a backlash at the state level, too, that`s going to -- I think unelect some of the legislators who have proposed these crazy laws and I think the governors, too, will feel the heat. I can`t imagine anything else. MADDOW: I know that this morning I was told you were at a protest with Planned Parenthood supporters outside of Mitt Romney`s campaign stop in Rosemont, Illinois. What was that like? SCHAKOWSKY: Yes. Well, that`s in my district, and we decided to help greet the Romney supporters, if not Romney himself, we had the president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois and myself, and about a dozen women holding signs that says, "Keep your mitts off our birth control," and lots and lots of media out there with us -- just to continue to send the message that women are simply not going to go along with Mitt Romney who said that he`s just going to stop funding -- what did he say? He`s going to end Planned Parenthood, get rid of it, those were his words. And just kind of a flip comment, oh, yes, we`re going to get rid of it. Meaning, he was going to defund the $75 million, which is 0.002 percent of the federal budget from Planned Parenthood. MADDOW: Heading in the Illinois primary, it has been strange to see Mr. Romney trying to out-flank Rick Santorum on the right, saying Rick Santorum is too liberal on the issues like reproductive rights and Mitt Romney wants to be seen as more right wing than Rick Santorum on these issues? What do you think that`s gong to do to the Illinois vote? SCHAKOWSKY: Well, you know, the problem for Mitt is he needs to double down on this, because in 2002, he actually sought the support of Planned Parenthood, when he was running for governor. So I think he feels like he needs to prove himself by even moving more to the right. It will be very interesting to see, Rachel, how this plays out in Illinois. We have a somewhat of an upstate/down state difference in the voters. But the other thing about Illinoisans and Chicagoans is they like authenticity. You know, we`re a pretty straightforward bunch here, and I`m not sure if Mitt Romney, with the fakeness that he projects, it will be attractive to the voters here. MADDOW: Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois -- thank you so much for your time tonight. I really appreciate it. SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. Not all Friday nights are created equal. A candidate for the all time single most ridiculous, hysterical, upside down paranoid attack on the president of the United States we have yet seen from the right is coming up. Plus, the one and only Lewis Black is our special guest for the interview tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is absolutely stupid that we live without an ozone lawyer. We have men, we`ve got rockets, we`ve got saran wrap -- fix it. That`s Lewis Black. He`s going to be here in the flesh coming up tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The family of the U.S. soldier accused of Afghan civilians past this weekend, mostly women and children, has hired an attorney to defend him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very close-knit very loving family. His wife is an executive. She is an intelligent person. Kids are normal, no domestic violence, no critical financial problems. I do know he had a concussive head injury, that often brings on PTSD. I know that his two tours in Iraq were horrific, and he saw people killed literally standing next to him. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Army staff sergeant who`s accused in this case has been flown to the United States from Kuwait. His name ways made public this evening. But even before the release of his name, there has been a frenzy of reporting about who he is and what about him might explain why he allegedly did this horrific thing. The coverage of the incident has been intense in this country, and it has been interestingly intensely focused on him as an individual, his whereabouts after the crime. He was airlifted out to Afghanistan and flown to Kuwait. Kuwaiti reportedly flipped out that he was in Kuwait, so they flew him to United States. He`s going to be at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. We have learned about his personal history, three deployments to Iraq, this was the first to Afghanistan. He has spent 11 years in the Army. He`s 38 years old, his wife, his two children, where he grew up. We have learned about his injuries, his combat record. Unnamed military officials are describing what about him specifically on this night specifically might have led to this specific crime. From the perspective of the American public learning about this crime and trying to make sense of it for us is reflected by our media, it has been all about the suspect as an individual. In Afghanistan, it seems to have been almost exactly the opposite. In Afghanistan, it not about what are the particulars of this one soldier that made this happened. In Afghanistan, what has been seen about this crime is not what is important about this one individual -- in Afghanistan, frankly, they do not even believe that he acted as an individual. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN PRESIDENT: The story of the village elders and the affected is entirely different. They believe it`s not possible for one person to do that. In his family, in four rooms people were killed, children and women were killed and then all brought together in one room and then put on fire. That one man cannot do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: U.S. officials insist it was one man acting alone. In the first reported pieces from the scene of the massacre, villagers who survived described there being a helicopter and maybe other Americans at the scene. Reporters talking to those witnesses right after this happened, interpreted that as probably describing Americans who showed up to investigate and respond after the incident happened. But there was some initial confusion in witness statements about whether this was a lone wolf incident. And that tiny smudge of fuzziness has now become the whole story in Afghanistan. This is what Americans do. This wasn`t just one rogue person. This is what Americans are doing here. As Hamid Karzai put it, this is the end of the rope. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARZAI: It is by all means the end of the rope here. REPORTER: End of the rope in? KARZAI: The end of the rope -- this form of activity, this behavior cannot be tolerated. It`s past, past, past the time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Of course, Americans also say this can`t be tolerated. Since the massacre, Karzai has said that he wants American troops withdrawn to bases and no longer essentially interacting with Afghan civilians by next year. And that could logistically be feasible if the United States decided to do that. That would essentially put U.S. troops in the position U.S. troops were in Iraq in rough the last year of the Iraq conflict, when they were still in country but mostly they were packing to leave. They were still in danger but mostly, they are preparing to go -- mostly preparing a logistical exit, which is a big deal when you have been there with that many people and that much material for a decade. Now, anything that Hamid Karzai says should be taken with a giant grain of salt. President Karzai, frankly, makes grand statements and pulls them back, often makes very confrontational anti-American statements and then pulls them back. He is seen as somewhat unpredictable and somewhat untrustworthy by Americans with whom he negotiates, it`s thought as soon as troops do leave Afghanistan, he may be overthrown. So, his loyalties and his interests are complicated. But what is perhaps more important here is not what he thinks or what he says. But what Americans feel and what Americans are saying starting to say about the war on the basis of this incident, in which we are mostly focused on the individual alleged perpetrator. We are focused on the soldier, this troop -- excuse me -- this veteran. We are focused on the human cost of deployment in four combat tours. The human cost brain injuries, of year 11 of combat in Afghanistan. Accidents in which civilians have been killed have not changed Americans views of whether or not this war should be fought and how much more of it should be fought. But this incident in which civilians were allegedly deliberately killed by an identifiable person who we want to know as much as possible about, may be changing the course of the war forever. Joining us is Paul Rieckhoff. He`s the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America -- Paul, thanks for being here. PAUL RIECKHOFF, IAVA: My pleasure, Rachel. MADDOW: Let me ask you if anything I just said seems to you, wrong or off or if you think that -- does any of that rub you the wrong way? RIECKHOFF: There is a lot in there. MADDOW: Yes. RIECKHOFF: But I think what we have to understand is that it is an incredibly complicated situation. It` a very emotional situation. It`s a terrible situation, and it`s coming at an incredibly complicated time. And so, what I and a lot of other veterans and military folks are encouraging people, especially in the media to do is take a big deep breath. Let`s think about this. Let`s understand the facts, let`s not speculate, let`s not jump to stereotypes, because we`re still unpacking this by the minute. News is coming in. So, you know, I think it emphasizes a lot of cleavage that exists between the military and our civilian population. It exaggerates a lot of the differences between us and the Afghan people. But, right now, we don`t know a lot of what`s happening. We were encouraging people not to rush to stereotypes about our troops, about our veterans, about the Afghans, and really unpack this thing, because it`s going to be a short story. This is going to go on for a while. MADDOW: And you have been -- right out of the gate, you and IAVA, were are very, very clear that there should not be stereotyping of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as if having served in these wars means you are damaged or unstable in some way. Were you anticipating that people would do that or do you see people doing that -- do you think it`s already happening? RIECKHOFF: It`s already happening. I mean, "The New York Daily News" here a couple days ago had a headline that said, "Sergeant Psycho." MADDOW: Yes. RIECKHOFF: You know, an incident like this folds into those pre- existing stereotypes that this country has about a group of people they generally don`t understand. So, we`re pushing back and saying, whoa, we don`t know if he had a brain injury, we don`t know if this guy had PTSD, and even if he did, that doesn`t excuse any of this, that doesn`t necessarily explain any of this. You know, a lot of rampages have happened in other places and you may never know what happened here. And I think we have to understand, like the shooting in Fort Hood or even what happened with Gabby Gifford, we may never know what happened. And I think we have to go in the conversation at least thinking about that. MADDOW: What do you think about the fact this is getting a lot of people`s attention, that it is resonating. I mean, there`s a lot of incidents in which -- and it`s not a good thing, in which Afghan civilians are killed inadvertently and the United States apologizes and it wasn`t what`s meant to happen, but it happened. This one, because it appears to have been a deliberate act, and again, we don`t know for sure, it has caught the nation`s attention. And it is good to have the nation paying attention to the fact that we`re at war, but does it worry this is the reason why? RIECKHOFF: Yes. I mean, it`s about time everybody paid attention. And it really needs to take this for people to understand what traumatic brain injury is or what PTSD or that people are going for multiple tours. I mean, I know guys who`ve done four and five tours. And they`ve come back and they`re going to school, and they`re in jobs and they`re doing well. You know, this is really unleashed a lot of attention around our community. But did it really have to take something like this before people realized how much are people are going through over there? Maybe that is something that can start a bigger conversation. But in the meantime, understand, this is not your average person. It`s a very small - - you know, maybe only one person of a larger population of 2.3 million people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We`ve got to push back against those easy stereotypes that people are sometimes jumping right into. MADDOW: How do you toe the line between advocating for the real concerns about PTSD and traumatic brain injury without encouraging stereotyping? How do you -- how do you as an advocate make that case? RIECKHOFF: I think you understand it. I mean, there are plenty of people with traumatic brain injury. There`s a guy on our staff named Nick Colgan (ph) who stood with the president because he`s been such a success story. Bob Woodruff, you know, national media personality, has traumatic brain injury, and he`s an incredible family man, doing great things. You know, there is not necessarily a cause here. So, let`s understand TBI, let`s understand PTSD, let`s understand ridiculous demands that we`re putting on our troops and their family, and that can be a good thing there. But let`s also separate all the other arguments and break them apart. You do a great job of this. I mean, a couple of years ago, we were calling it forgetastan. Everybody is talking about Afghanistan now and that`s probably a good thing, but let`s make sure we don`t lump it in one oversimplification for the media. MADDOW: Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran of America nice to see you, my friend. Thanks a lot, man. Thanks. RIECKHOFF: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. It turns out that hoping for a less mean-spirited and more generous society makes you a total jerk. It`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It`s been just over a year since Governor Scott Walker stripped union rights in that state. At the time, Republicans in the state senate had a solid 19 to 14 majority. Then two Republican senators got recalled from office for supporting the union stripping. That left the Republicans with just one-vote margin in the Senate. Now, four more Republican senators are up for recall. Those elections will be in May or June, depending on primaries. But then, today, in a surprise move, one of the four Republican senators up for recall resigned from office effective right away. So, now, Republicans no longer control the senate in Wisconsin. They are down to even 16-16 split, and that`s with more Republican recalls still to come including, possibly the governor himself. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It was all going too well. The economy was starting to get back on its feet. The unemployment was coming down, the stock market was hitting record levels, his opponents were slinging mud at each other on the campaign trail in a particularly nasty way and it seemed to be sticking. It was all going too well. Did you see what happened today? An old quote from President Obama`s past has resurfaced and it could change everything for this year`s presidential election. It is from 1990, Barack Obama at the time a community organizer in Chicago. He gave an interview published in a newspaper called "The Illinois Daily Herald," talking about his work. And a quote that he gave during that interview has sent the right wing into all caps OMG, not LOL hysterics. They say this is the proof they have been searching for four years that Barack Obama, obviously, hates America. The 22-year-old quote appears to have been first posted this week by a conservative blog called "Ironic Surrealism." But since then, it has rocketed around the right wing blogosphere at ludicrous speed. Look at the headline for that quote here, "Face it, he hates you. Obama in 1990: we`re going to reshape mean-spirit and selfish America." Or this one, "Young Obama at Harvard: transform mean-spirited America." This one, "1990 Obama interview: America is mean-spirited." This one, too, "Obama in 1990: America too mean-spirited on race." Yes, you get the idea. This is awful for Obama, right? This quote, I mean, they say it`s so bad -- this must be how you get bingo in a game of Barack Obama hates America bingo. Do you want to know the awful thing President Obama said 22 years ago that`s ruining his chances for reelection? Brace yourself. Ready? Quote, "Hopefully more and more people will feel their story is part of the larger story of how we`re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous." Is this the smoking gun? Apparently, this is the smoking. As the commentator Steven Struka (ph) noted at our "Maddow Blog" today: according to the right, when America asks President Obama why should we vote for you? President Obama can reply, well, off the top of my head, I saved the auto industry and took out bin Laden. Well, yes, but you once said you wanted people to be nicer to each other! Seriously? This is what they`re all upset about? Yes, seriously, this is what they`re all upset about. Wow. And actually, even though it is the right wing blog world that is upset about this quote this week, the FOX News Channel business thing, their business sub channel, was trumpeting this quote as far back as November. They were using it as exhibit A for why President Obama, according to them, lost independent voters. Remember, this is the smoking again. He`s asked a question about racial minorities and race relations in America and he responds by saying, quote, "Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story as somehow part of this larger story of how we`re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous." That is what the right says proves how much Barack Obama hates America. If you`re thinking that quote maybe reminds you of something else? It may be this famous saying by America`s most famous communist, authoritarian, radical, left wing, lesbian, jihadist, professor, Kenyan revolutionary. (BEGIN VIDEO CLI) GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We`ve come far, but I think we need a new harmony among the races in our country, and we`re on a journey in a new century and we`ve got to leave that tired, old baggage of bigotry behind. Where is it written that we must act if we do not care, as if we`re not moved? Well, I am moved. I want a kinder, gentler nation. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Kinder, gentler -- is he saying we are ungentle and unkind? Remember how mad everybody was when George H.W. Bush showed how much he hated America with the kinder, gentler nation stuff? That he hates America outrage for George H.W. Bush was dwarfed only by the further outrage when that radical son said basically the same thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So today, I`m outlining the next steps of welfare reform, the next actions we must take to build a more just and generous nation. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Come on, why does America have to get more just and more generous? We`re unjust now? We are un-generous now? Why are you trying to change everything? Why does George W. Bush hate America so much? Remember the outrage against them? Remember the "Face it, America, he hates you" headlines against the Bush family when they said stuff like that? Yes. Maybe the great comedian Lewis Black remembers that. He`s here tonight for the interview, that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last night in the part of the show that we call the interview, we were very lucky and excited to have Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe here. That was the interview and then some. Tonight, we`re very luck y and excited and probably the exact opposite direction, tonight, the one and only Lewis Black is here. His newest comedy rant, "In God we rust" premiers tomorrow night in EPIX H.D. Lewis Black, it`s very nice to have you here. LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: Thank you. MADDOW: So, President Obama in 1990 said that he wanted to move -- wanted to work toward a world, country, that was less mean-spirited, and more generous. The right says that means he hates America. I think it sounds like I want a kinder and gentler America, which is what George H.W. Bush said. BLACK: That`s then. That language doesn`t apply anymore. That is a different Republican Party because we have moved on, there is a new Republican Party, and they seem to have -- that language doesn`t work for them. It`s a new Republican Party. It`s -- there is a -- it`s like -- I mean, I think of it like if you were in the communist party, toe the line, here`s what they think, that`s the deal, screw him, that`s the deal, you can`t -- are you going to use those words, or those words don`t work? Whatever words he uses, don`t work for them. MADDOW: But do you think we`re at the point some were some -- I mean, I feel like it`s not that weird. It wouldn`t be that much of a joke for a Republican candidate to come out and say, actually, we need a less gentle, meaner country because we need to be because that`s what -- BLACK: Well, in a way, when Eric Cantor, he`s the one that really gets to me. When Cantor said, we`re going to help -- we`re not sending money to help Vermont after the hurricane -- MADDOW: Oh, yes. BLACK: -- until we take, until we reduce the budget. That isn`t the way we work. America works exactly -- you know, we kind of have to remember that. You know, because even if the government forgets it, whatever they do, when something horrible happens, all these people get in their cars and drive there to help other people. It`s astonishing! MADDOW: Do you feel like there is among the Republicans who are trying -- I mean, the Republicans don`t have a leader for -- there hasn`t been anybody since George W. Bush who`s emerged as the person who would lead the Republicans. They had trouble with McCain, and anyway. But isn`t there anybody that`s the id of the new Republican Party? As you see it, when Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or one of these guys talks, do you feel like, ah, he`s speaking for this new Republican Party, he is the one who -- BLACK: There`s not -- there`s like this -- they`re speaking to -- I don`t think either of them -- they`re speaking to the people that they think really are kind of like the baseline. You know, it kind of started with the Tea Party and that`s the drum beat. So, Newt kind of speaks to them, and Santorum has always been on that kind of whatever it is he`s on, that social issue thing, where you know, we have to toe -- you know, he`s not -- you know, he wants a free America, but you`d better do what he says to do. MADDOW: Yes. The social conservative thing took a surprising step to the front of the stage. Nobody thought this was going to be the economy election. But even before the economy looked for sure like it was getting better, which it kind of looks like now, they started talking about contraception and all the abortion stuff that`s going on in the states. I mean, they are running with this stuff like no time since Roe versus Wade. I don`t know why this stuff has come up for them now. I can`t -- the political calculus for why to run with this doesn`t make sense. So, it`s got to be something else. BLACK: I think it`s -- some people have acid flashbacks, and they`re having a flashback to what they consider to be a better time before, before everything got out of control, and people, you know, and women became empowered. Now we`ve got -- you know, and what they`re doing, I mean, what I don`t understand, and I think it`s a great thing, is they`re literally -- you know, there was the point that women reached, and now what they do is up in the Pandora`s box again, ha, ha, ha, good luck now. Good luck that you`re coming up with this stuff now? It`s like, we can`t go back? It`s done with. This is stuff -- I`ve been through this for the last 40 years of my life. We`re not doing it again. I`m not going through this again. MADDOW: Yes, so, how does this end, though? I mean, I keep thinking, it`s over. They`ve woken up to fact that they`ve gone too far, but you open up the paper, it`s a new thing every day. In Arizona, a new law on its way to the governor that will force you to tell your boss what you`re using contraception for, by state law. BLACK: No. MADDOW: This is an idea. BLACK: It`s not passed. MADDOW: Your job -- it`s passed one house of the legislature in Arizona, it`s Republican controlled, and the other house, it`s a Republican governor. Your boss has the right to know. BLACK: Well, there maybe -- it`s possible there is a God in heaven and they do pass it, and that building will be struck down. There will be a thunderbolt. You can`t do that! And how could -- imagine how many bosses really are going to do that. MADDOW: Yes. BLACK: I mean, it`s not like -- people don`t care. They`re fighting a wave that, it`s too bad. There`s more people kind of like want people to do whatever they want to do, as long as you don`t bother them. That`s what the country is based on. That`s why we left the other neighborhood. That`s why there`s immigration. It`s like, I can`t take this anymore, I`ve got to go someplace where people aren`t going to bother me. And now, they`ve started to bother people again. MADDOW: You know what else this country`s built on? Cocktails. I`m doing a cocktail moment at the end of the show today. Would you mind having a cocktail with me? BLACK: Oh, you have no idea. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Lewis Black. The cocktail moment is next. I have to get ready. Hold on. Go wait. I have to go. I have to get the stuff. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Boy, are we overdue for this! "Cocktail Moment." It`s Friday, it`s St. Patrick`s Day Eve. It`s almost time for prisons, all great reasons for a cocktail. In this case, with Irish whiskey because of the whole St. Patrick`s things. Lewis Black is here. We`re going to make a Cameron`s kick. You don`t hate whiskey, do you? BLACK: No, not after this week. No, I don`t hate whiskey. MADDOW: I have a new rule now that I`m old, no spirits on school nights. BLACK: I agree with that. MADDOW: Because I`m now old and I can`t process cocktail information the next morning. BLACK: But imagine there was that time when they just drank that night and then woke up the next morning and started again. It did work! MADDOW: Yes. BLACK: I`m sorry I missed that. MADDOW: The three martini lunch thing. Like, I understand like the golden age of drinking at work or whatever, but were all of those people 22, or was there just nothing of use done in the afternoon? BLACK: Or they just, like, you know, plowed on through it and didn`t -- you know, they kind of got through their work really quick. MADDOW: Plowed being the operative term. OK, so, what this is, Cameron`s kick, it`s an ounce of scotch, in which case we`re using a nice P.D. scotch. BLACK: Nice. MADDOW: You can use whatever you want, depending whether you like that smoky flavor. And equal amount of Irish whiskey. In this case, we`re using Jameson, which is delicious, and it`s because we`re on St. Patrick`s Day. BLACK: Yes. MADDOW: There`s an ounce each of both kinds of whiskey. Then you want a half ounce of lemon juice and a half ounce of a crazy ingredient that`s very hard to pronounce but is spelled o-r-g-e-a-t, orgeat, or something French sounding. Anyway, it`s almond. BLACK: Is it really? MADDOW: Yes. It`s great, actually. It`s really, really good. It`s the kind of thing -- you know, French people drink it as soda. They put a glass of ice and they dump some stuff in there and soda water on top. Anyway, it`s almondy. In this case, it`s all homemade, so it`s gooey. BLACK: Ooh, nice. MADDOW: Oops, I`ve gone over a little. I have to go back to -- oh, there we go. There we go. And so, that gives it the sweetness, the lemon gives it -- here`s scurvy. And then whiskey gives it the reason to live. There aren`t very many good scotch cocktails. Do you drink scotch on its own? BLACK: I drink scotch on its own. It`s not -- it`s like, it`s not cognac cocktails. It`s drinking liquors that just don`t work -- MADDOW: That are harder to mix than others. I don`t know, if you`re into scotch at all -- let`s see. BLACK: Wow. MADDOW: This is from the "Savoy Cocktail Book", so it`s a classic. BLACK: Wow. MADDOW: And I think I`m running out of time, so I can`t get the rest out of the shaker, so quick. And if I wasn`t running out of time, I`d put an orange twist on it, but we`re out of time -- BLACK: Cheers. MADDOW: -- but we have to go to prison. Cheers, Lewis Black. BLACK: Cheers. MADDOW: Thank you for being here. Congratulations your new show. BLACK: My pleasure. Thank you. MADDOW: Details about Lewis` new show on It`s not bad. BLACK: Is it good? MADDOW: Yes, it worked. Yes! Prison. Bye! THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END