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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/15/13

Guests: Alexis Goldstein, Jameel Jaffer, Ben Jealous

CHRIS HAYES, GUEST HOST: Good evening and thanks for staying with us for the next hour. Rachel Maddow is clearly not here. She has a long scheduled day off, in which she is working, I`m sure. I am long scheduled guest host, Chris Hayes, and I`m especially glad to be here because it was an astonishingly crowded news day. Big developments in the Obama administration climate policy, the politics of same-sex marriage in the history of capital punishment and the future, yes, the future of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. So, we have a busy hour ahead. We begin tonight with day two of the Conservative Political Action Conference 2013. As you probably heard today, conservatives gathered just outside of D.C. for the second day of their annual meeting of the minds conference known as CPAC. In recent years, CPAC has become, for whatever reason, a really big thing. It`s a big thing for the conservative movement. It`s a big thing for the media who cover the conservative movement. This year, CPAC organizers issues more than 2,000 -- 2,000 -- press credentials for three- day conference. And even this year, with the pretty demoralized and fractured conservative base it has still been a big event. It exerts this massive gravitational pull on center-right politics that few other events like it do. Who is invited, who`s not invited is a story. What the big-name speakers say, when they get there is a story. And today, for a study and stylistic contrast, though not substantive ones, today was the day that titans of the right took the stage to opine on the future of the movement, 2012 Republican presidential Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: The fact is, we`re run by either very foolish or very stupid people. What`s going on in this country is unbelievable. Our can country is a total mess -- a total and complete mess. MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s fashionable in some circles to be pessimistic about America, about conservative solutions, about the Republican Party. I utterly reject pessimism. (APPLAUSE) We may not have carried on November on 7th, but we haven`t lost the country we love and we have not lost our way. I`m sorry that I won`t be your president but I will be your coworker and I will work shoulder to shoulder alongside you. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Coworker. Mitt Romney as coworkers, that`s adorable. For conservatives, the appeal of CPAC is essentially the appeal of a big tent revival, or a big industry convention or the appeal of, say, South by Southwest for hipsters. See, it`s a bunch of other people who are into the same stuff you`re into. They`re all going to be there. And if you`re young and in college or just after college, there will be some parties and alcohol and maybe a little extra curricular activity on the side after hours. And liberals, liberals get a thrill out of CPAC as well because it`s the political adversary on display. It allows liberals and progressives to get their hate on as they watch a bunch of people whose politics they can`t stand say things that liberals hate hearing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I want you to take a look at that stack of paper behind me. It is the most powerful argument yet against Obamacare. (APPLAUSE) This law is a disaster. Anybody who thinks we moved beyond it is dead wrong. Obamacare should be repealed, root and branch. (APPLAUSE) And I want you know, we`re not backing down from this fight. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: For liberals, CPAC represents a rare moment when the armies of reaction are all bunkered in one place. Things that stand in the way of the world being the way we want them to be are all there. The obstacles to progress, all in one defined geographic area, one convention center. But the thing is, the obstacles for progress really have two different components. There are the ideologues of people showing up at CPAC and organizing CPAC and then there are the interests, who actually unlike, Donald Trump, for example, don`t want you to know who they are, who aren`t looking to find free booze while stocking around Adams Morgan at 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night. They just want to keep running things the way they`ve been running them. And while CPAC was going on today just a few miles away, we saw a window into what it looks like when those interests, the ones outside of the spotlight, the ones not in front of the cameras, when they get to do what they want to do. This is Ina Drew, the former chief investment officers for J.P. Morgan Chase, testifying before the United States Senate today. Again, she is not a famous person. You have probably never heard her name before. But she helped to oversee one of the most colossal hits of the financial system we have seen since the Great Recession. She oversaw what has become known -- what has become known as whale trades, a series of disastrous JPMorgan trades that were uncovered last year, which nearly brought the global financial system to its knees again. The whale in this case was a London trader for JPMorgan who made a series of risky derivative bets that ultimately blew up. The bets cost JPMorgan more than, get this, $6 billion in losses. And that sort of shook financial markets around the world when it was discovered. JPMorgan executives who are in charge at the time that those bets were made were hauled before Senate panel today, one day after nine- month Senate investigation concluded, the bank ignored risks, deceived investors, and fought with regulators who are trying to contain the crisis. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: The derivative trading that produced the whale trades damaged a single bank. But the whale trades exposed problems that reach far beyond one London trading desk or one Wall Street office tower. The American people have already suffered one devastating economic assault rooted largely in Wall Street excess. They cannot afford another. When Wall Street plays with fire, American families get burned. The task of federal regulators and of this Congress is to take away the matches. The whale trades demonstrated that this task is far from complete. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: This Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan who has been incredible in investigating this kind of malfeasance. He said in his opening remarks today that one of the lessons of these whale trades is that, quote, "more control is needed". More control is needed. The forces of reaction in this country are extremely well-practiced in the diversionary tactics of a sidewalk pickpocket. The big flourish hand gesture is Donald Trump and Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. That`s the flourish that draws your attention. And the other hand, the one that is snatching your wallet, is the army of faceless nameless lobbyist who work for companies like JPMorgan Chase who as we speak right now, at this moment, are fighting tooth and nail against every single rule in the Wall Street reform bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama two and half years ago. They`re doing that far away from headlines and far away from any sort of public scrutiny -- note (ph), 2,000 press passes issued --in order to preserve their ability to make massive reckless bets that make them lots of money if they workout and for which they are implicitly insured by the government if they don`t. Those two interests, the flourished hand and the hand that`s in your purposes, those two interests can be extremely powerful when they are working together. Mitch McConnell, who spoke at CPAC today, has also been busy doing the bidding in the financial industry by trying to prevent us as country from having a confirmed head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the agency that is supposed to protect consumers from the often dangerous practices of Wall Street. Mitch McConnell and 42 other Republican senators sent this letter to President Obama aimed at blocking the president`s nominee to head that agency, Richard Cordray, not because Richard Cordray is a bad guy but, because they don`t like the fact that agency exists. They object to its existence. Former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, veteran of numerous CPACs past, now finds himself with Republican politicians as the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, one of the groups that is now attempting to weaken the Dodd-Frank/Wall Street reform law at every turn. Former Republican senator Jon Kyl, a long time members of the Senate Finance Committee, has now ended a cozy gig as a high paid D.C. lobbyists where he`ll likely represent some of the same financial interest in which he was recently in charge of regulating. If you don`t keep your eyes on what those folks are up to, you`ll find yourself wallet-less in no time. Joining us now is Alexis Goldstein, formerly a vice president at Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch, now an Occupy Wall Street activist, contributor to "The Nation". Alexis, it is wonderful to see you. How are you? ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, OCCUPY WALL STREET ACTIVIST: I`m great. It`s great to be here, Chris. HAYES: All right. You were down there today and you were tweeting the heck out of this hearing, the "fail whale" as you have dubbed it. GOLDSTEIN: Yes. HAYES: First, walk us through the issue here in layman`s terms as much as possible. We had this trader and he was making these super large bets and somehow no one was putting a check on him. GOLDSTEIN: So there`s a lot of deception going on about this, has been going on for a long time. So, internally, what was reveal bed this report that the Permanent Sub-committee on Investigations put out, it`s a 300-page report. And what was revealed from the hearing today, is that they did know something was going on. As early as January, there are things called risk limit. And that`s basically like a line in the sand where if you blow through it, it`s a red flag, something funny is going on. We need look into it. As early as January, multiple risk limits were being blown through and this was known by the bank and this was known at the highest levels. But the bank did not say anything. Jamie Dimon did not say anything when he came before the Senate and when they add call with investors in April, they did not report anything. HAYES: So their cover gets blown, right? People start talking about it. I know, I have reported on this, that people in hedge funds are talking about who is this person with these massive bets that are accruing in London. They call them the London whale. We know about this, right? And while we know it out at the press, people at JPMorgan are saying, we`re not sure about what is going on. It now turns out they knew more than they were admitting. My question to you is, what is the connection between that kind of risk-taking and the policy that`s on the table. Are there things right now in Dodd-Frank or things down the line that would stop them from taking on those kind of risks? GOLDSTEIN: They are absolutely is. So I want it zoom out for a second and make everyone aware of where this is happening and where this risky trade was happening. HAYES: Please. GOLDSTEIN: It was happening in the group called the chief investment office. This is where your money, your deposit or money, excess deposits, such a technical term that means depositor money that isn`t loaned out. It`s supposed to be invested in really safe things like treasuries. This chief investment office did not invest our money in really safe things. They invested it in these risky, risky trades. Now, there is a part of Dodd-Frank called the Volcker Rule that is basically about this exact thing. It says that banks that enjoy FDIC insurance and the cushion of customer deposits are not to make risky bets, and are not to do what is technically called proprietary trade. Now, this rule has yet to be finalized. We have been waiting for a very long time. It is supposed to be done at the end of this quarter but it needs to be air tight, because if this rule is not strong and is not done in a complete way, we are going to see more things like this. Where banks are taking our money and slapping us in the face in the wake of the bailouts and basically gambling with our deposits. HAYES: So I just want it reiterate. You give -- you deposit your paycheck, you get direct deposit, it goes into your bank account. There is some set of funds sitting there that are the deposits of Americans in the bank, right? And that money is invested by this wing of the bank and it is supposed to be invested in safe things rather than a reckless bet on some crazy thing happening in terms of the Greek currency for instance, right? GOLDSTEIN: Right. It`s excess deposits is technical term. So, anything that isn`t loaned out to a mortgage or small business is an excess deposit. It`s meant to be invested in something safe. HAYES: So right now, we have seen this and you and I have talked about this on my show. I mean, we`ve seen this remarkable, kind of tornadic battle happening underneath the kind of structure under Dodd-Frank in which lobbyists are trying to undermine the rules. Where -- what direction is the Volcker Rule, which is this crucial, crucial part of the reform, where -- what is the status of that? GOLDSTEIN: The status is they are trying to complete the final rule. There`s are a lot of questions about what will and will not be permitted. There`s a lot of concerns about whether or not there is a London whale sized loophole that will go into the final rule. To get a little technical, there was something called portfolio hedging that said, instead of hedging -- and, by the way, hedging means if I -- you know, if I buy one thing, how I do offset in case I lose money. It makes a lot of sense to hedge individual trades, but there`s an exemption in the Volcker Rule that lets you hedge at the portfolio level. And for a long time, JPMorgan was claiming that this was a hedge. And so, people are concerned there`s a loophole in the Volcker around this. Now, however, today in the testimony, they made it clear that this was not a hedge. Multiple people from JPMorgan said that. So they lied to us last year. Jaime Dimon lied before the Senate. And I for one would love to see the DOJ come and ask questions about whether they made material misstatements and violated securities fraud. HAYES: Alexis Goldstein, former vice president with Deutsche and Merrill Lynch, now an Occupy Wall Street activist, contributor of "The Nation" -- thank you very much for your time tonight. GOLDSTEIN: Thanks for having me. HAYES: OK. A hugely important thing happened in the state of Maryland today. I`m really excited to be talking to the guy who made it happen right here. Also, the massive secret national security apparatus United States government built after 9/11 may still be massive. Today, it is a little let secretive, in an amazing and kind of unexpected way. We`ll tell you, straight ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: There`s an update on former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tonight. Hugo Chavez is still dead. That is not the update. The update is where and how Hugo Chavez will spend the future, like forever. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: From the first days after 9/11, the executive branch of the American government has claimed extraordinary powers in responding to the threat of terrorism and the right to extraordinary secrecy about what it is doing. Many think of this as a Bush era approach to the Oval Office, with sweeping prerogative to hold prisoners indefinitely or wiretap phones or demand information from Internet companies about what their customers were doing, all without public scrutiny. Despite the hopes and objections of folks on the left and some on the right recently, President Obama continued to assert a prerogative of secrecy on wiretaps and capture of suspected terrorists and targeted killing in countries we are not technically at war with. Time and again, the courts have deferred the White House. The courts have gone along. The administration would tell judges before a court, the court didn`t even have the power to review a case because of the president`s broad authorities to keep things secret. And the courts would say, you`re right. Today, in two separate rulings, two courts that have nothing to do with each other struck back at that prerogative. In one ruling, a U.S. district court in California banned the secret letters used by FBI to demand detailed customer data from banks and Internet companies, so-called national security letters. Before today, the Justice Department argued that even challenging the government`s authority to make this kind of demand was against the law. Today, the Clinton-appointed judge in the case ruled the national security letters violate the right to free speech. She banned them outright. The second case comes from a three-judge panel in the circuit of the District of Columbia, which is second only to the United States Supreme Court in national influence. In that one, the panel of two Clinton appointees and one Bush appointee ruled unanimously the CIA cannot keep the drone warfare program so completely secret that a lawsuit asking for more information about it is dismissed our of hand. It said, the CIA must give the court at least a description of the records it keeps on drone strikes. While we are not likely to see the records now posted on WhiteHouse.gov, there are new limits on White House privilege and that`s extremely big news. Joining us is deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Jameel Jaffer. Jameel argued the case about drone warfare in front of the federal affairs court on behalf of the ACLU. Jameel, it`s good to have you here tonight. JAMEEL JAFFER, ACLU: Thank you. Good to be here. MADDOW: Walk me through this case. It started with a basic FOIA, right? You go to the government and you say, through the Freedom of Information Act, we are empowered by the statute to get information about you and the government are doing. What happened next? JAFFER: Right. We asked for information about the CIA`s use of drones to carry out targeted killings. And the answer that the CIA gave us was that it couldn`t confirm or deny any involvement in the targeted killing program without jeopardizing national security. It`s called the Glomar response. The CIA essentially said we can`t even process your Freedom of Information Act request. And that`s the question that we took up initially with the district court, and then to the court of appeals. The question was: can the CIA really respond or not respond to freedom of information act request in this way. And the decision we got today is a decision that the CIA can`t do that. The CIA has to process Freedom of Information Act requests. It can`t claim that its interest in the targeted killing program is a secret. It is a very narrow victory in a way because if in a way all the court is saying is that you the CIA have to acknowledge what everybody knows to be true. But on the other hand, it can have significant procedural implications because it means that CIA now has to explain which records it`s holding, about the drones. HAYES: So, it has to respond within the sort of four lines of FOIA -- JAFFER: Exactly. HAYES: It can`t just say, the process, we are cutting off the process before we are even responding, right? Within the bounds of the FOIA process, they have to say, well, look, there are these documents and you can`t see them because these documents are very secret. JAFFER: Right. And that`s important. It`s not just that they have to explain which document they have. They have to say why they are not released. HAYES: Give a reason. JAFFER: Right, right. And that`s obviously an important step. HAYES: One of the things that is fascinating in reading the circuit court opinion is that one of the things that undercut the CIA`s argument is the fact that recently, there has been so much talk in Washington by members of officialdom, sometimes in hearing rooms, about this program that the CIA meanwhile simultaneously saying, we cannot admit exists. JAFFER: Well, that`s the kind of, you know, crazy and comical thing, is that the CIA would talk to reporters or government officials would talk to reporters, the president went on Jay Leno and talked about the drone program. And then the CIA would walk in the court and say, all of this is a secret. And not only is it a secret, but it would jeopardize national security for anybody to mention it. So, there was this, you know, profound inconsistency between what the agency was doing in the public sphere and what it was doing in court. And this decision narrows the gap between those two things, at least a little bit. HAYES: The courts have been really quite differential and reluctant. And seems like there`s a kind of high water mark that was hit in which the court was pushing back against a lot of assertions both in the secrecy front and just sort of executive authority front. And a lot of that had to do with detainee treatment during the Bush era. And it seems like the courts have been much more differential the last three or fours years, broadly speaking. Maybe you don`t think that`s the case. But it seems to me that that has been the kind of way the winds have been blowing. Now, I wonder if you think that the cultural and political shift that we`ve seen around this issue, particularly on targeted killing affects the courts. The courts are kind of embedded this that same national conversation. JAFFER: Yes. Well, I mean, I think that`s good question. It is hard for me to say. You know, I don`t know what goes on behind closed doors. I see the judges when they are at the bench and then they go home and they write their opinions. But, you know, this is a decision that is based largely on things that happened in the public domain. It`s based largely on what government officials were talking about to the press and in speeches at universities and in law schools. So, the judges are aware of all of that and we introduced that kind of thing into the record, when we litigate these cases. HAYES: Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, thank you for coming in tonight. JAFFER: Thank you. HAYES: In this one day`s worth of news cycle, free major changes have occurred in three huge areas of American politics and policy -- same-sex marriage, capital punishment and climate change all today, all today and all coming up, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every gay lawyer, teacher, doctor, dog catcher, we have to leave the ghetto. We have to let all those people out there know that they know one of us and if somebody doesn`t want to step out of the closet, we open the door for them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole state is in San Francisco, Harvey. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harvey, that could be really, really dangerous. I mean, there is such a thing as a right to privacy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this moment at this time, I`m not saying this as a supervisor, privacy is the enemy. And if you want real political power, if that`s what you want, try telling the truth for a change, starting here. If there`s anyone in this room right now who hasn`t told their families, their friends, their employers, do it now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My folks know already. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad doesn`t know yet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They vote for us two to one, if they know, they know one of us. DAN SAVAGE: When a gay person comes out to their parents and perhaps the acceptance initially is tentative and conditional and as they become more comfortable with having gay child, when they see their gay child in relationships, when they see the gay child have a breakup and see that the pain and their heartache is the same. And that when they see their gay child in a long term successful relationship, they see the love and the commitment is the same as their straight children and that can radically transform a family and it`s our super power. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Rob Portman is a Republican senator from Ohio. He`s been in a Republican Party politics for many years. First, as member of the House, or one of his major legislative victories in the 1990s was the Defense of Marriage Act. He was a cosponsor of that bill defining marriage federally is between one man and one woman, even though gay marriage wasn`t legal, Rob Portman made sure only straight people had the right to marry. That was part of his legacy in Congress. And then in 2000, Portman served in the George W. Bush administration as United States trade representative and then as White House budget director. 2010, Rob Portman ran for Senate in Ohio and he won. Over the course of his 20 years in public service, Rob Portman has been a pretty run of the mill Republican. People think of him as a budget guy, a numbers guy. In fact, the Romney 2012 campaign considered him for vice president but people argued he was just too boring. That`s right, too boring to be vice president which is quite something. Today, that dependable Republican senator, the one who sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s, came out in favor of gay marriage. In today`s "Columbus Dispatch," the senator writes, quote, "I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn`t deny them the opportunity to get married." In fact, Portman became the only Republican sitting Republican senator to be pro-gay marriage. What`s more interesting is what he credits for his transformation. "Two years ago," he explains, "my son told my wife and me that he is gay. At the time, my position on marriage for same sex couples was rooted ion my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman knowing that my son is guy prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective." This little moment, little moment of personal empathy, a son coming out to a father, has been a huge part of this social revolution we`re all seeing and it shows why as Dan Savage said earlier, why coming out is a foundational act upon which gay equality was built. You cannot create these moments of personal empathy until people know that their friends and brothers and daughters are gay. And it`s not just gay rights where we see the sort of thing happening. Republican Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois suffered a stroke a year ago. Since then, since experiencing a life-altering and debilitating medical emergency, he told the "The Chicago Sun-Times" that he has a new perspective on Medicaid, (INAUDIBLE) amount of rehabilitation that most Illinois residence are not sufficient he said, he`d like to take a fresh look at his state`s program. During last year`s presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan claimed he thought Social Security was a very important program. His policies didn`t support that necessarily. That`s what he said, because when he explained his father died tragically when he was a teenager, his mom was able to keep the family afloat thanks to Social Security survivor benefits. New Jersey Republican Chris Christie was no federal government tax and spend liberal, but when hurricane Sandy devastated his and other East Coast states this fall, Governor Christie became probably the most vocal and confrontational advocate for federal government spending billions of dollars immediately to help out his and other states. Even Florida`s Republican Governor Rick Scott who spent years and millions of dollars of his own money fighting Obamacare tooth and nail now says he supports that laws expansion of Medicaid in his state. The governor said his change of heart came when his own elderly mother died last year. Empathy, especially in elected officials, is a good thing. But there is also something frustratingly blinkered and limited about this form of persuasion. If it`s going to take every anti-gay politician having a gay son for gay people to be treated like other human beings in this country, then equal rights are going to take longer to achieve than they should. That`s why this is still necessary in order for change to happen -- things that turn those moments of personal empathy into civil rights advancements. That`s the work of activists and social movements and organizing. They build on top of the moments of personal empathy and build them into votes and city counsels and state legislatures and Congress. They build the sentiment of the Rob Portmans of the world into civil rights laws and protection answers build them into a new society. They build the bridge between the personal and the political. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having 82 votes in the affirmative, 55 in the negative. Senate Bill 276 with a constitutional majority is declared passed. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Big news. An amazing and under-covered story out of Maryland as the state`s legislature has voted to ban the death penalty. House of Delegates this afternoon voting 82-56 to abolish executions in the state, joining the state`s senate which passed the ban earlier this month. The bill ending the death penalty now goes to Maryland`s Democratic Governor Martin O`Malley who has fought for legislation and vowed to sign it. Governor O`Malley has been a long time opponent of capital punishment, promising since he first came into office in 2007 to push for repeal and making an attempt in 2009. The numbers were not in his favor until now. The death penalty repeal needed 71 votes to pass the House of Delegates. Today, it got 82, including two Republicans. And today`s vote is just a latest in a pretty remarkable string of victories against the death penalty. Before 2007, only 12 states and the District of Columbia had abolished the death penalty. And six years ago, legislators in the state of New Jersey became the first since the 1970s to abolish the death penalty. The same year, New York emptied its death row after that state`s highest court had declared in violation of the state constitution three years earlier. In 2009, New Mexico repealed its death penalty, followed by Illinois in 2011. Connecticut repealed the death penalty just last year and now Maryland becomes the sixth state in six years to say not to executing prisoners once the measure is signed. Will more states follow? Joining us now is the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. Ben, thank for being here tonight. BEN JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: Thank you. HAYES: OK. So, how -- you worked very hard on this. JEALOUS: Yes. HAYES: The NAACP worked very hard on this. JEALOUS: Yes. HAYES: How did this get a done? JEALOUS: You know, this got done because it was bottom up. It was, you know, our folks going door to door, call centers, it was the Catholic Church, it was people who frankly had come off of death row like Kirk Bloodsworth (ph) because they were innocent. HAYES: Yes. JEALOUS: -- getting out there and telling their stories. It was the parents who lost children to murder, standing up and saying my child didn`t believe in this. So, it was bottom up. But it also, we add governor who had the courage to step forward and lieutenant government who intends to be the next governor, encouraged us to step forward and say, this is the right thing to do. You know, this is the second year in a row. I`ve stood next to a governor who is former prosecutor who says, look, I know this from both side. And this is the right thing to do. We just got to get it done. HAYES: That governor in question, because I think this plays into politics, Governor O`Malley, he`s often talked -- you know, and again, this is one of the speculative parlor games. JEALOUS: Sure. HAYES: But he`s often talked about as a contender in 2016, the Democratic primary. JEALOUS: Yes. HAYES: And I wonder what it says about the politics of this issue and where they are, that he is so out front on this issue, given the fact that he does have national political aspirations or is said to have national political aspirations. JEALOUS: You know, this is proof that pre-presidential politics have changed in this country. Twenty years ago, we had a young governor like this governor from south of the Mason Dixon line who was running for president, who felt the need to stop during his campaign to execute three people, including one who was so mentally retarded. That`s the term the court uses. HAYES: Right, right. JEALOUS: That he saved his dessert thinking he would come back after execution to finish it. And it was seen as sort after necessary evil. Well, it`s no longer -- HAYES: Speaking of Bill Clinton. JEALOUS: Yes. Yes, yes. That`s no longer the case. And I think, you know, and this governor, today, he supported marriage equality last year, supported the DREAM Act. He`s championing the end of the death penalty. And standing next to him is his lieutenant governor, who -- you know, let`s be clear, President Obama hasn`t been a real champion for abolishing the death penalty. HAYES: Right. JEALOUS: And yet this man who is thought of perhaps as the next generation, sort of rising black politicians, out there very clear saying, look, I have black sons. And when you look at the innocent, who gets swept up, they are disproportionately black. So, I think this really speaks to the fact that the politics of our country is evolving. Even as the issue changes. HAYES: We have Brian Stevenson who is an amazing guy, a few weeks ago on my show, from the Equal Justice Initiative down in Alabama doing incredible work. JEALOUS: Tremendous lawyer. HAYES: Tremendous lawyer and advocate on this. And while we were talking about, which is I think what is interesting is the argument made in the states on fiscal lines. Right, that there is some sort of way of using this kind of political judo to take the contours of the austerity boundaries, right? And people say, we got to cut and we don`t have money and turn around and say, you know what, this death penalty is an incredibly, incredibly, incredibly wasteful undertaking. JEALOUS: You know, look, it is actually I think really hard to be conservative and to defend the death penalty. And you saw it today. People just get down and say, it is just retribution and we need retribution. Because typically what conservatives say is that (a), the states shouldn`t act like God, one. You know, (b), if something isn`t working we shouldn`t do it. And if it isn`t working and it`s really expensive, we shouldn`t do that either. And that is absolutely the argument that, you know, was made. And it`s very compelling. It`s -- but it`s also in the context of having more and more innocent people coming off of death row. It`s in the context of having more and more murder victims families stand up and say, you know what, the far right wing victims rights movement doesn`t speak for us. All of that is very important. HAYES: Yes, the Supreme Court has sort of put a kind of marker down about the number of states that would have to ban the death penalty before it would fall into the unconstitutional parameters of cruel and unusual. And you, Ben Jealous, and NAACP are helping march this country towards that one by one. JEALOUS: Yes, eight more states to go and four in play right now. HAYES: Thank you very much. JEALOUS: Thank you. HAYES: God bless, man. Did you know the Obama administration has under its current legal authority the ability to make serious progress on the issues of carbon emissions? Like without Congress, without the courts, without a vote, the administration can just do it -- which is why what the administration did today is serious move. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: It`s Friday night, so naturally, there`s a significant deceased world leader corpse news to bring you -- news from smoldering in his grave bureau, if you stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: On the occasion of being sworn in as president for the second time, when he likely commanded about as much attention of the country as he ever will, President Obama put climate change front and center. It`s one of the first issues he talked about in detail in his inaugural address after first addressing the economic issues that are obviously at the front of everyone`s minds. He went right to climate change, came before immigration before he talked about detail in war even. He did the same thing during his State of the Union Address less than a month later, after first tackling the economy. He went directly to climate change. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I urge this congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But, if Congress won`t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct -- I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take now and in the future to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: It`s provoked both bouts of hope and angst preemptive disappointment among the ranks of people fighting to save the planet from burning to a crisp, because there are two very important things a president can do alone without having to go through Congress. Without having to overcome a certain filibuster in the Senate or go through the House. One has gotten a lot of attention. Chances are, you have already heard about it. It is the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline designed to bring the tar sands of Canada all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Tar sands, of course, are dirtier, more carbon intensive form of oil. And creating this pipeline would be in the words of NASA climate scientist James Hansen, would be like creating the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet. The people in the know had supposed all along that Keystone was a done deal. But a remarkable movement of activist have mobilized to delay it at every turn and are continuing to mobilize and delay it, which in turn has made it a top tier issue for Republicans who simply cannot understand why we are still not pumping Canadian oil sand into Texas already. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: You know there`s one major shovel-ready project ready to go, and that`s the Keystone pipeline. REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It`s called the Keystone XL pipeline. And it`s a no-brainer. But it`s been blocked by the Obama administration now for four years. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are absolutely committed as the Republican team to keep the Keystone pipeline on the front burner. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approving this pipeline seems like a no-brainer. MCCONNELL: Keystone was an obvious choice. BOEHNER: There is no reason for the Keystone pipeline to be blocked another day. HAYES: In case you are curious, that third to last clip there was a Republican jeans caucus coming up in favor of the Keystone pipeline. That is the Keystone XL pipeline that is one piece of climate change policy the president can affect on his own. The other thing the president can do on his own, without going through Congress, which in the grand scheme of things might even more significant to Keystone, is that thanks to the Supreme Court`s ruling in Massachusetts versus EPA in 2007, a decision little noticed outside of energy circles, it was determined that the EPA could under its existing authority, under the Clean Air Act, regulate carbon as a pollutant, which means the EPA could promulgate rules, binding rules that would make it very difficult for dirty power plants, like coal- power plans, to continue operating as they are now. This was the crucial freighted subtext when the president said in his State of the Union Address that he`d prefer a cap and trade plan like John McCain and Joe Lieberman had proposed, but that if Congress didn`t act, he would. That was the subtext that hung in the air when he said he would act on climate change if Congress did not. That was the subtext when the president nominated Gina McCarthy to be the new head of the EPA, because Gina McCarthy, aside form having been one of Mitt Romney`s top environmental officials during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, back when he accepted the science on climate change, aside from that, Gina McCarthy is also the person who is most recently running the division that overseas clean air at the EPA and proposed rules, quite good stringent ones, on new power plants, which brings us to today`s news, which is really important but also completely and totally buried. As part of this on-going battle that`s happening outside the view of the public, we got notice today that those regulations, the one that Gina McCarthy oversaw of new power plants, which could dramatically reduce carbon emissions, they are going to be delayed. They`re going to be reviewed further, and likely revised. This is, of course, occasion for the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the perpetually, preemptively disappointed environmentalist with whom I personally cast my lot. But if there`s one thing we have learned from watching the Keystone pipe is that public attention matters. And in the absence of public attention, the White House will only hear from one side, the dirty energy companies. Your government right now, as you sit and watch this, has the power without Congress to take what would be the most significant step in our country`s history to curtail carbon emissions through the EPA process. And there are people around the country and swarming around Capitol Hill and in Washington, D.C., and in Texas, and in West Virginia, and everywhere that fossil fuels are produced and extracted who will stop at nothing to make sure that does not happen. Right now, the White House is more or less only hearing from those people. If you don`t like how that sounds, they should probably hear from you, too. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: An important embalming update tonight. Last week on this show, Rachel Maddow reported Venezuela`s post-funeral plans for the body of their late President Hugo Chavez. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: The nation of Venezuela held its state funeral today for its beloved President Hugo Chavez who died on Tuesday. But that does not mean they buried Hugo Chavez. All week long, people have been waiting in line to pay respects to Chavez`s casket. They were still doing it today, even as the funeral was getting under way. But this is not a last chance see him now or the opportunity will be lost forever kind of lineup. What we have learned is that President Chavez is going to be embalmed and placed in a glass box on permanent display. Venezuela`s vice president who tonight became the country`s new president explained that this way, quote, "the people can have him forever." (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: They`re going to preserve Hugo`s body forever. Since that initial reporting, we`ve learned that Hugo Chavez`s permanent installation might not happen after all. Chavez`s vice president who is now the country`s acting president has announced that Mr. Chavez`s handlers may have waited too long for the eternal embalming thing to work. Quote, "Russian and German scientists arrived to embalm Chavez and they tell us it`s very difficult because the process should have started earlier. Maybe we can`t do it." In fact, government sources told Reuters to expect a formal announcement this week. The permanent embalming is not possible. It is not surprisingly a time sensitive proposition. Hugo Chavez died a week and a half ago. His body apparently has been embalmed, just not with the kind of super specialized techniques needed to preserve it forever. The decision to try to preserve his body forever and forever was made two days after he died. The Venezuelan acting vice president now says that was too long. That decision was made too late. One embalmer told the "A.P." that a body needs to be chemically treated within hours of death unless it`s kept refrigerated. So, by the time Venezuelan officials decided they wanted to put their late president on permanent display, it was likely already too late. But it`s apparently not too late to investigate whether it was ordinary, naturally occurring cancer that killed Hugo or whether it was cancer caused by poisoning by dark forces who wanted Chavez dead and managed to secretly weaponize cancer in order to carry out their plot. Back in 2011, Chavez himself suggested maybe the CIA was secretly infecting Latin American leaders, like him, of cancer. Quote, "It`s very difficult to explain, even with t law of probabilities, what has been happening to some of us in Latin America. Would it be so strange the CIA has invented technology to spread cancer and we won`t know about it for 50 years?" And last week, hours before announcing Chavez`s death, vice president leveled the same accusations. Quote, "There`s no doubt that Commandante Chavez`s health came under attack by the enemy." And now, he is launching a formal investigation into the weaponize cancer poison accusation, saying, quote, "We have the intuition that our commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way." The U.S. government, it should be noted, denies having secretly poison Hugo Chavez with cancer. State Department saying, quote, "An assertion that the United States was somehow involved in causing President Chavez` illness is absurd and we definitely reject it." You know who else who thinks it`s absurd? An oncologist and former president of the American Cancer Society who told CNN that the notion that injections or poisons could have caused Chavez`s cancer has absolutely no scientific substance. Quote, "Science cannot sustain this hypothesis." There`s that old line that even paranoids have enemies and Lord knows Chavez had them by the bushel, including -- and this is important in the context of this -- and American government that tacitly accepted a coup to remove him from power, heck, even a "New York Times" editorial page that cheered on a coup from afar. But there`s one thing we see in the U.S. here at home and era since 9/11 is that a persistent state of fear tends to hurtle political leaders and political culture. Same holds true throughout the world and in Venezuela. That does it for us. I`ll see you again tomorrow morning. Listen, in just 10 hours, I am back here at 30 Rock, hopefully talking to all of you. So, go to bed right now, wake up early. Have a great show on tap tomorrow. Now, stick around, the great Alex Wagner will bring you "THE LAST WORD". Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END