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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/24/13

Guests: Rick Larsen, Mark Seagraves

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I`ll get back from you, friend. Thanks, Chris! And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy Friday. It`s map time! This is the U.S./Canadian border, up here actually in the Northeast. So, you can see, green is land and blue is water. You got the U.S. mainland. You`ve got the Canadian mainland. And you`ve got a few really dramatic bodies of water. Obviously, the giant hulking Atlanta Ocean off to the east on the right side of your screen. But then, also, those really big bodies of water inland. The Great Lakes. What if you could get from the ocean into those inland lakes on a boat? That would be a miracle, right? If you think about it, if that was true, you could ship stuff across the sea but instead of having to drop stuff off at some East Coast port, you could drop it like all the way into Ohio. You could just get to those Great Lakes from the sea. For centuries, that was pipe dream, for the U.S. and Canada in terms of what that means in international commerce. But then, in 1954, our two countries came up with a big thinking solution. And that solution is something called the St. Lawrence seaway. Together, Canada and the U.S. built a series of canals, and dams and locks, that turned the St. Louis River in Canada into essentially an onramp to the Great Lakes. It`s essentially a giant highway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes so you can traverse it by boat. The St. Lawrence seaway revolutionized commerce in the Northeast and the Midwest. You can sail from Newfoundland to Toledo, right? And that marvel came about in part because of the determination of man who was president at the time it all opened up. Dwight Eisenhower. Canada really wanted to do this thing, but in our country, Congress for years was just hemming and hawing about approving a deal to work with Canada, to build the seaway. But then, finally, in the 1950s, it was Ike who got it done. The St. Lawrence Seaway opened for business during the Eisenhower presidency in 1959. The St. Lawrence Seaway created tens of thousands of jobs. It achieved the incredible feat of connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. I mean, Dwight Eisenhower, I think, does not really get his due in terms of being one of the most consequential Americans in the entire 20th century. You may not like the consequences, but he had consequences. Before he was president, you might remember that he kind of won World War II, at least the part of it in Europe. He was the supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe. Then, when Ike was president, he, as I mentioned, connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Ike also managed to add who two whole new states to our Union, the great states of Alaska and Hawaii. Both of those states became state under Dwight Eisenhower. But along with those literally world-changing, globe-changing accomplishments, there was one other achievement of the Eisenhower presidency that Ike himself saw just as important as those other things we just described. NBC News sat down with Dwight Eisenhower after his presidency. It was in color. It was an amazing thing. But here`s how the president answered an open question that was put to him about what he thought were his major accomplishment. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DWIGHT EISENHOWER, FORMER PRESIDENT: You got a number of things that had been on the agenda of both parties for a long time, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the admittance of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union. And another one, that I guess more than anyone else thought of, I guess, an interstate highway program. All of these things took a lost persuasion before you could get them on the books. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Alaska, Hawaii, connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes and also the interstate highway program. The interstate highway program, we think of it as kind after gimme, but it really did take a lot of persuasion at the time. Eisenhower essentially conjured up the idea of the interstate highway system, and then knew he had to sell the idea to the American public because it was a huge undertaking. But listen to this. This was President Eisenhower speaking in Cadillac Square in Michigan in October 1954. Listen to him making the case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EISENHOWER: This is the greatest construction program in the entire history of the nation. We are pushing ahead with the great road program. A road program that will take this nation out of its shackles of secondary road all over this country and give us places like -- give us the types of highways that we need for this great mass of automobiles. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: We look back on that project now, that national project and think, well, of course, we needed the interstate highways. We needed it for commerce if nothing else, right? But Dwight Eisenhower did have to go out and make that case. And it took him a long time. It was hard case to make. But it was finally in 1956 when he was able to sign into the Federal Aid Highway Act, and that lead to the creation of the interstates -- the interstates that, of course, changed the pace of America forever. It was sort after grand vision that Eisenhower had in behind when he signed that bill. In order to create the grand vision to interlinked interstate highways, it meant building big new road that didn`t exist at all, but it also in a large way meant connecting and building up existing smaller roads. Building them out and making them all inner connected. And that interconnecting of existing roads and bridges and stuff, that is how this bridge right here, which was build in 1955, that`s how this bridge ended up became part of Eisenhower`s grand plan. This bridge became part of the new Interstate 5, which is marked in red along the west of your screen. Interstate 5 stretches all the way from the Canadian border in the north and into the Mexican border in the South. And this particular bridge, which is about 16 miles north of Seattle, it`s what`s called steel truss bridge. In the 1950s, when we were building up our interstate highway system, steel truss bridges were a basically ubiquitous design, practical and unglamorous, sturdy and dependable, cost competitive and highly versatile. They were everywhere. And one of the distinguishing features of bridges built like this is the specific way in which they distribute their weight. The principle upon which all trusses rely is that the triangle is the strongest and most rigid geometric figure. So, when you look at steel truss bridges like this one north of Seattle, you can see that it is, see all of the triangles, it`s made of these different triangles. The system of interconnected triangle forms a helps steel truss bridges carry a really heavy load. It`s kind of neat, right? I always thought these were cool looking. Also, some bridges like this have a really important problem. The name for that particular type of problem will bother you and stick with you. These bridges, some of them, are known to be what is called fracture critical. Fracture critical bridges don`t have redundant supporting elements. In this case, redundancy is a good thing. Not having redundant supporting elements means if part of it fails, it all goes. If one support system fails for any reason the entire bridge is in danger of collapsing -- fracture critical. This is not how we build bridges any more, but that is how these bridges were built. There is lack of redundancy in their design. They are like Jenga towers. One expert complained about fracture critical bridges today, quote, "It doesn`t imply anything wad bad about the bridge. It just means that if a certain component fails, it could lead to the collapse of the bridge." Oh, is that all? Nothing bad. The reason that expert was being interviewed about the Seattle press today about fracture critical bridges is because of this. Last night, around 7:00 p.m. local time, a major section of that 1955 era steel truss bridge, just north of Seattle, collapsed into the Skagit River. Two cars that were going across the bridge at the time made a terrifying 25-foot plunge into the river below. Amazingly, nobody was killed. The three occupants of those two cars were pulled out of the water alive, with minor injuries. They are expected to be fine. What officials in Washington believe caused that collapse last night is this. We had to put an arrow there, because otherwise you wouldn`t know what we were talking about. This is -- that little dent, this is the top of a tractor trailer truck. That little dent you can see there, that dent is believed to be the result of that truck hitting into one of the steel beams on the bridge. And then Jenga style, right? This is security camera video released within the last few years. You can see the truck on the left approach the bridge. Then, apparently it clips one of those steel trusses and you see the entire span of the bridge fall into the water, in an instant. This is a fracture critical bridge. One thing goes, the whole thing goes. And it was an oversized truck that was legally traversing the bridge. Officials say the truck had a permit for its oversized load. But regardless of the permit, this oversized load hit the bridge in just the wrong way and it caused the whole section of the bridge to just collapse into the water. Bang. There are no real bad eyes here at least that we can tell, yet. There does not appear to be a villain that caused this bridge collapse. But this is a problem that really needs to be fixed, because this isn`t the only bridge like this. Are there good people in our American politics who are willing to be good guys in political problems like this, even when there aren`t bad guys to vanquish in order to get the great headline. In Washington state alone, there are nearly 400 bridges that are considered to be structurally deficient. More than a third of the bridges in the state are past their design line of 50 years. On Interstate 5 in Washington state alone, there are three bridges that are not the one that collapsed, that are considered to be structurally deficient. The one that did collapse is not rated structurally deficient. It instead is rated as functionally obsolete because of that whole fracture critical problem where if you hit one part of it wrong, the whole thing falls into the water. Yes, that does seem to be a problem. We inherited a great legacy of American infrastructure and the people who have the foresight to build it, and who put in the political work to get it done, they are historical figures who we still admire for that and a lot too for having done it. But we have not exactly been keeping up on what they give us. We just sort of been using it and hoping it lasts forever despite functional obsolescence and all the rest. President Obama through all five years of presidency has been calling for making investment in our infrastructure. Most recently, he made that call in Miami. The president went to Miami in March to call for what he said was a deficit neutral $21 billion infrastructure bank that would involve a public-private partnership. Fixing our roads and our bridges is something that always gets applause whenever he brings it up. At the president`s State of the Union address this year, he called out by name our nation`s structurally deficient bridges. He said we should have a fix-it first program to do all of the maintenance that needs to be done to fix things up. And as you here, he got a big round of applause for saying that. And yay, everybody applaud him -- and then nothing. Lots of applause for five years now, every year, and virtually no investment. Does a bridge built half a century ago, falling into the water just north of Seattle, change any of that political calculation? Joining us now is Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington. Congressman Larsen represents the district where the bridge collapsed. He`s also in the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate your time. REP. RICK LARSEN (D), WASHINGTON: Thanks, Rachel. I`m glad to be here to talk about something that frankly a lot of folks don`t talk about. MADDOW: Yes. And I`m wondering if you think that this bridge in your district falling into the Skagit River, obviously, everybody is very, very grateful that nobody was killed in this incident. Do you feel like this might be an occasion for new round of national talking about this issue? LARSEN: Well, I certainly hope it is. You know, you mentioned the legacy that Eisenhower left us and I think morally we`re not leaving to that legacy. But I also think from an economic perspective, we`re getting an shorter end of the stick by not investing in our bridges and our highways. I hope that, you know, if there`s only good thing that come out of this is that it does jumpstart the conversation about the kind of investment you need to make in roads and bridges and highways and our transit systems, it creates jobs and it invests in the future. There is nothing wrong with doing it. MADDOW: What`s -- why do you say to the side of the argument that says, listen, we have invested as much as we can in this, it would be nice to do more, but right now, basically we don`t have very much money in the short term, maybe we can plan this for the long-term but we have to hold out and hope this stuff stays together well enough in order to patch us through at times when we`ve got maybe an ability to patch into a rainy day fund or something? LARSEN: Yes. I think right now, we are in the long-term period. And we are approaching the end of the long-term period when it comes to infrastructure and heading off beyond that into nowhere. It is time to begin reinvesting in infrastructure. The president has proposed a fix-it first fund of about $50 billion. That is good as for as it goes. We clearly, this bridge we clearly do need to fix some part of our infrastructure. But we also know we can make a long-term investment at roads, bridges, highways that creates jobs today for folks to do the work. But we know to be competitive with other countries, they`re doing these things, they`re investing in their roads, bridges, highways, rail and we`re not doing it. That is going to put us competitively behind other countries if don`t do this investment now. MADDOW: I`m told Congressman Larsen that members of your staff have been at that bridge collapse scene since last night. I know you spoke with the transportation secretary. How do you think the response has been so far to this collapse in your district? Do you feel like you`re getting what you need? LARSEN: Yes, the response locally has been created. I mean, I was born and raised in my district. I spent, you know, many, many of my years going up and down I-5, across that bridge. The communities there hang together, stay together. And I want to give a shout out to Secretary Ray LaHood. I know he is leaving his job soon but he was on the job today. I spoke with him this morning. He assured me that dollars were available to help through emergency relief fund. They already have released $1 million. The estimate is $15 million fix. So, we still have a little bit to go, but they released early dollars to get started on the design for construction of a replacement and repair. MADDOW: Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington state, I`m sorry this happened in your district again. I`m glad that injuries weren`t worse and that nobody was killed. It`s very lucky. Good luck with the recovery in your district, sir. Thanks for being with us. LARSEN: I appreciate it, Rachel, being on tonight. Thanks so much. MADDOW: All right. Newt Gingrich -- before Newt Gingrich was known primarily as a salesman of many fine Newt Gingrich books, DVDs and certificates of entrepreneurship, all 1995, Newt Gingrich was famous before that for one really bold, really, really bad political move that he made almost 20 years ago now. How the United States government Gingriched itself and made Newt`s mistake itself today. That`s next. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most talked about phase of the act is the interstate highway system, a 41,000-mile network of our most important roads. Most of these roads will be four, six, even eight lane expressways, constructed for true traffic. They will take the over the road driver from city to city, coast to coast, at highway speeds, even through large population centers. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Every year in D.C., the kick off to the event surrounding Memorial Day happened at the D.C. War Memorial to local victims of the First World War. That memorial is not the huge new National World War II Memorial, which you see here, or the world famous, very moving Vietnam War Veterans Memorial Wall. It is much more subtle, and less famous structure that you see here. But the World War II Memorial in D.C. is lovely and it is there in a leafy spot on the National Mall and ceremony there every year kicks off the week that culminates in Memorial Day. Well, this year, the people that organized and did that kick off event for the nation, the people who took on that responsibility for our country were these ladies, just them alone. Instead of a formal ceremony with bugler playing "Taps", instead of dignitaries assembled to hear a speeches, and a formal program, instead of crowd waiting there to hear speeches or public prayer or something. No, this year, these three women, along with a reporter, who is one of the few people covering the event, they just held their own brief moment of silence after putting wreaths at the memorial. Just them. This year, this commemoration became a freelance gig just for those patriotic Americans working on their own, because the National Park Service which usually paid about thousand bucks to cover the cost of those proceedings, this year, the National Park Service could not do it. This year, the sequester, that nearly universally agreed upon to be stupid, self inflicted problem we made for ourselves in Washington, made it so the Park Service had to cut back and could not pay for that program this year. Also today, because of the same self inflicted Washington policy that nobody thinks is a good idea but that we`re doing anyway, also today, the EPA stopped working on some of the criminal investigations and today, the EPA did no site inspections anywhere in the country. Also today, the White House Office of Management and Budget did not do any managing of the budget, which means again, because of this stupid budget problem that no one said they wanted but have to have anyway, the people who supposedly work on fixing stupid budget problems could not even work today because of the stupid budget problem. And if you needed help on a tax-related matter, today was also not your day. Today, all 400 taxpayer assistant centers across the country were closed. If you went to call the IRS toll fee hotline for help about something, it was closed. If you needed to contact the IRS taxpayer advocate service, it was closed. If you are waiting on your tax return, I`m sorry to say, today, zero tax returns were processed. Today was a furlough day, an unpaid, mandatory day off work for the IRS and other major federal agencies, leaving 115,000 employees out of work for the day, the biggest government shut-down since the `90s. The IRS, of course, is embroiled in its big Washington scandal right now. The IRS executive who took the Fifth so dramatically at that congressional hearing earlier this week, she did not get fired but she did get put on administrative leave and somebody else has now replaced her in her IRS job. More congressional hearings on the IRS are expected at the beginning of June but the agency in the meantime is responding to a matter horn size mountain of demands from Congress. Committee staff members are now doing interviews with IRS staff members both in Washington and in at least Cincinnati field office. Of course, none of that work happened today because the IRS had a furlough day today. Regardless of who`s going to get blamed for the facts that this IRS scandal happened, the way that they are going to fix it and make sure it never happens again is likely to be something having to do with increased training, right? Increased training particularly for the kind of low level IRS employees who we know carried out the policy that upset everyone in Washington so much. And especially hit area in the IRS budget by the sequester is the IRS training budget. So, we`re doing less of that now than ever. Times like this in the news are sometimes overwhelming. It`s almost like the new problems we are creating can barely keep up with the old ones we are not fixing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Canada is stupendous for a lot of reasons. Canadians have a history of war time. Canada declared war on Hitler`s Germany just days after France did and Britain did. Way before the rest of the world caught up. Also, Canada has protein. And Canada has universal healthcare, in case you eat too much protein. They have commander Chris Hadfield who made us fall in love with space travel again and who can sing a pretty descent David Bowie cover even at zero gravity. Canada has birth the musical geniuses Neil Young and the Barenaked Ladies. Canada has hockey, which is truly and totally awesome, even if my eyesight isn`t good enough to actually see the puck on TV. Canada`s hockey legacy includes the Toronto Maple Leafs, who chose to make leaf plural with a simple S, because Canada is awesome and they wanted to do it. And they do what they want. Also, my mom is from Canada. Canada is perfect in every way. But the best thing in Canada this week has nothing to do with the aforementioned awesome things, because it turns out that when Canada decides it`s going to have truly salacious, jaw- dropping scandal, they can also do that better than anyone. The story that was already the craziest story in politics this week just got way crazier today. That is coming up right at the end of the show tonight. We are saving the best for last. Please stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you live in a purple state, basically, a state where either side needs to play pretty much to the middle to get elected statewide, then this guy might not be your first choice for statewide candidate. This is Ken Cuccinelli from Virginia. He has been spent his term as Virginia`s attorney general defending sodomy laws, trying to save the Virginia law against gay people having sex. He also use the power of his office to hound a Virginia professor who`s a leading scientist on climate change. He has been moving heaven and earth in Virginia to close down the state`s abortion clinics. One of his first acts of attorney general was to overtly advise state universities that they should not feel constrained by anti-discrimination laws. He wrote to them to ensure them, just in case they wanted to, it would be OK with him if they wanted to fire a professor just for being gay. He wanted to let them know it was all right and wanted a lady on the common wealth seal it put some freaking clothes on. Can`t she cover up? For his next act, Ken Cuccinelli wants to be governor. He is running for governor in the election that is this year in Virginia. Because he is who he is, because his base of support is so far out there on the edge, Mr. Cuccinelli apparently decided this year that he could not secure the Republican nomination for governor in his state in the usual way. Virginia Republicans usually pick their nominees by holding a primary where everybody across the state gets to vote. But what Ken Cuccinelli needed in order to get the Republican nomination was actually just for a few people to vote, the right few people -- the very, very, very far right few people. And so, Ken Cuccinelli used his whiles and political muscle to change the rule. He got the Republican Party to agree that this year, they would pick the nominee for governor, not by statewide vote in primary but instead at a convention, because conventions are where the ideological hard cores go for a weekend of tri color hats and keep the government off your lawn. Ken Cuccinelli got that convention that he wanted. And last weekend at that convention, he got the nomination for governor in Virginia. Now, because the middle is where you win a general election in a purple state like Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli has sort of recently tried to stop himself from talking so much about non heteronormative intercourse and other things he has built his career on. He has tried to sound a little more jobs-ish and economy-ish and less of the old Ken Cuccinelli culture war the state has come to know so well. But fly in the ointment, which probably isn`t legal in Virginia any more either. Ken Cuccinelli is not the only statewide candidate who Virginia Republicans picked at their convention last weekend. They also picked the rest of the slate that Cuccinelli is going to run with. (BEGI NVIDEO CLIP) BISHOP E.W. JACKSON, VIRGINIA GOP LT. GOVERNOR NOMINEE: The Democratic Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil right leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Meet Bishop E.W. Jackson, Virginia Republicans official nominee for lieutenant governor and therefore the running mate of Ken Cuccinelli. It is as though Virginia Republicans thought Ken Cuccinelli would find sprinting to the political middle too easy so they attached Bishop Jackson to him to make it about 550 times harder. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) JACKSON: The military has been decimated by this lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender policy that is now been implemented. Their minds are perverted. They are -- they`re frankly, very sick people, psychologically and mentally and emotionally, and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love, they are not talking about love. They are talking about homosexual sex. Homosexuality is a horrible sin. It poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies. It brings the judgment of God unlike very few things, that is, we can think of. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s just how Bishop Jackson feels about the gay, the man Virginia Republicans picked for the second highest statewide office. He said we should e-mail him if you want to know the names two of the devout Muslims who President Obama hired for Homeland Security and said Obama and his comrades are totalitarianists who`s unholy would destroy this country if we let them. And President Obama is the first homosexual president, based on his affinities. And he says -- in this one, the president proclaimed June as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month. Well, that just makes me feel icky all over. Yuck. Yuck. Virginia Republicans, welcome to the top of the ticket, as picked by Virginia Republicans. Your guy for governor is very out there, but is trying not to be. Your guy for lieutenant governor is out there and does not care. Your guy for attorney general, well, that would be Mark Obenshain, a Virginia state senator who is noted for once fleeing the Senate chamber, running away to block the confirmation of a judge who is gay because he is a judge who is gay. He is also known for 2009 bill that would have required women in Virginia to report a miscarriage to the police within 24 hours. So they can investigate it? Yes, Virginia, Republicans, you nominated that guy to be the top law enforcement official in the state. And he is supposed to be the one from the establishment. Virginia`s Republican ticket is really quite a spectacle. Former Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, says of them, quote, "The Republicans I`m talking to are saying, what the hell are they doing in Virginia? Is this 101 ways to lose an election?" Still, though, Virginia`s new Republican nominees have been out touring the state, doing their best. Ken Cuccinelli was not Republican Governor Bob McDonnell`s first choice of successor but now that he`s stuck with him as a nominee, Governor McDonnell has been stumping for him just the same, fundraising and campaigning for Ken Cuccinelli. Meanwhile, Attorney General Cuccinelli has been doing this for Governor Bob McDonnell. Back in November, he quietly ordered a special investigator to probe whether Governor McDonnell broke Virginia law about reporting gifts. The headline gift in question was a chicken dinner. A $15,000 chicken dinner served at the wedding of the governor`s daughter, that was paid for by a campaign donor who makes a tobacco-based supplement of some kind and is himself under federal investigation. Mr. Cuccinelli it turns out also received gifts from that same donor and then did not report them and then, years later, finally did report them. FBI agents are looking into the governor`s gifts for any sign after quid pro quo between the governor and this company. And also, the governor`s former chef is facing embezzlement charges. And as part of his defense, he is demanding to know in open court what the governor`s grown children were doing carting off flats of eggs and Gatorade and protein powder from the governor`s mansion kitchen. But do not worry, Virginia, Governor McDonnell says, that`s his headline, that should be framed, says "The Washington Post", "McDonnell says he is still able to govern." And if you like the way he is governing, please vote for Ken Cuccinelli and for that guy with the gay/Planned Parenthood/KKK thing. And for the guy who wants to you report your last heavy period to the sheriff within 24 hours, just in case. Heading into the November election, Virginia Republicans may look like a slow motion disaster but Virginia Republicans hand-picked all these guys. Right? Maybe they don`t see these guys as a problem. Joining us now is Mark Seagraves. He`s a long time host of Virginia`s "Ask the Governor Program" on WTOP Radio. He`s now a reporter for NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Mr. Seagraves, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate your time. MARK SEAGRAVES, WRC TV: Rachel, thanks for having me back. MADDOW: So, how are mainstream Virginia Republicans reacting to this ticket they got picked at their convention? Papers make it seem like they are panicking. But what is your take on it? SEAGRAVES: Well, you know, we`ll see. Right now, the polls have Terry McAuliffe with slight lead over Ken Cuccinelli in the governor`s race, but it`s within the margin of error. As you said, in the convention, you just had a few thousand die hard Republican activist who put Cuccinelli in this slate together. Thus, avoiding a statewide election. So, we really don`t know how the full elector to the state would have voted on Cuccinelli had he faced Bill Bolling in an open election who is the current lieutenant governor and who was going to run and was Bob McDonnell`s pick to replace him. But in the past, I mean, we can look at 2008 when this happened before. This is when Congressman Tom Davis wanted to run for Senate and he was facing former Governor Jim Gilmore in what would have been a primary. The conservative party went for a convention in that instance because they didn`t want Tom Davis. They put Jim Gilmore in. Tom Davis famously said his party gave him the middle finger in that and Gilmore lost to Warner, I think it was 65 percent to 35 percent. So that`s what happened the last time we were in this situation in Virginia. MADDOW: In terms of the choice of the lieutenant governor candidate, the guy who he calls President Obama gay. He says President Obama is a Muslim. He says he is a totalitarian. He is very, very, very virulently anti-gay, often using very florid language when he talks about both abortion issues and gay rights issues. Isn`t that the kind of candidacy that is conceivably viable in a statewide election in Virginia for any office? And if it isn`t, is that going to hurt Cuccinelli? SEAGRAVES: Well, you`ve got two good questions there. The answer to the first one is, yes, he is a viable candidate. We will see who the Democrats put up. They have their primary in June and there are two candidates running there who don`t have the statewide name recognition. You know, say what you want about good publicity/bad publicity, the fact is a lot of people across the state are hearing about Bishop Jackson and hearing his name and seeing him out in public and what not, and getting this head start on the Democrats. Now, there are people who think, that he is so far to the right, that he will make ken Cuccinelli look more moderate. Cuccinelli said he is not going to spend this campaign defending his fellow slate members, the other candidates` records. But the other day in Fairfax, we asked him about this on Sunday, and you know, he didn`t back away from socially conservative statements, Cuccinelli, that he has made in the past. And that`s what Democrats are going to try to do. They`re going to try to remind people of the things that Cuccinelli has said in the past that are very similar to what Bishop Jackson is saying right now. MADDOW: When I have talked to people on the Democratic side about the Democratic approach about this election in Virginia, they seem clear that they want to run against Ken Cuccinelli the crusading antiabortion -- super antiabortion, super anti-gay, culture warrior guy, the guy who wanted to cover up the statue on the Virginia state seal and all the rest of it, as this real throwback social conservative guy, it seems like the slate would help them make the case more than anything else that`s happened. Do you think Virginia Democrats are right to see this as an opportunity or they are sort of resting on their laurels here? SEAGRAVES: Oh, no, it`s absolutely an opportunity. As you said in your lead up to this, you look back at President Obama and now, Senator Tim Kaine who both won in Virginia. This is the same Virginia that elected Obama in the first time then elected Bob McDonnell governor. So, Virginia, you know, they go the way that they want to go and, you know, Northern Virginia is going to play a big role in this. Northern Virginia, the further north you go in Virginia, the more liberal and moderate it gets. This is a huge factor. And Democrats, you know, they believe this is a good strategy. You know, the Republicans and particularly Cuccinelli, he wants to talk about taxes. He`s going to want to talk about the economy and he`s going to talk about the fact that he has devoted his career to public service in the past 10 years or more. Whereas, Terry McAuliffe has been seen as a businessman and a national fund-raiser for President Clinton but when he lost his last statewide race here, he lost in the primary, people of Virginia hadn`t seen much of him since then. You know, he went back into private sector. Now, he is back on the scene. He worked back behind the scenes during transportation negotiation and budget in the general assembly. But, you know, the Republicans won`t want it define the election about economics. Democrats want to define it about social issues. MADDOW: It sounds like both of these guys wanted to be about the other guy, which is always a good sign for covering it at least, because it makes it the most fun. SEAGRAVES: The best planning to do. MADDOW: Exactly. Mark Seagraves, reporter for WRC TV in Washington, D.C. -- Mark, thank you so much for being with us. It`s nice to see you again. SEAGRAVES: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. What would you pay to see tape that allegedly reportedly maybe shows the mayor of a huge and important North American City smoking crack on tape? No seriously, what would you pay? You should think about it because you have the opportunity to actually pay some of that in order to see that tape. That story is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you`re president, what are you looking for in a Supreme Court justice? As president you get to pick people for the court. Obviously, you want them to be qualified, to be a good judge. You want them to share some of your basic values in terms of how you think a judge should approach the law. You want them to be fairly young. I mean, as president, after all, you only get to serve for a term or two if you`re lucky. But your Supreme Court picks are there for life. So, when you pick somebody you want to be sure they have plenty of life left. You also want it make sure that they can be confirmed. Presidents choose Supreme Court nominees but it`s the Senate who confirms them. And although it is rare for the Senate to flat-out outright reject a president`s choice for the Supreme Court, it does happen. It happened most recently to a man named Robert Bork in 1987 and the threat to Harriet Miers in 2005 made President George W. Bush withdraw her name from consideration. So, you`re looking at qualified for the job, judicial philosophy that you agree with, age. You may also consider the diversity of the court or other factors like that. But always on your mind has to be, can they be confirmed? And you can get that, but it is a mystery, right? You can never know if they`ll be confirmed unless and until you try to confirm them. So as this president looks at the Supreme Court, looks at the justices and their ages, justice age 80, justice age 77, 76, 74, the president has to be looking at the court, thinking, man, if only I could grab someone who is qualified, who could do the job, whose judicial philosophy I agree with, who is young, who can take somebody like that, and test fire them in the Senate. Only if there was some way to know in advance if I picked this kid for the Supreme Court, the Senate could confirm, only if there was a way to test that. There is a way. Say hello to this guy. Sri Srinivasan. That is the name that will get easier to pronounce when it ends up in the news a lot more. He is a deputy solicitor general confirmed by the Senate unanimously for a judgeship. He got confirmed for D.C. circuit court. You know, the Supreme Court reigns supreme over the whole country. But just one level below Supreme Court is the appeals court system, divvied into 11 regions, and also what they call circuit court. And D.C. circuit court is a big deal. Four of the justices on the Supreme Court come from the D.C. circuit court. It is kind of like the feeder court for Supreme Court justices. Out of 11 seats on that D.C. court, there are four vacant seats now. President Obama nominated Sri Srinivasan to one of those vacancies. And the Senate this confirmed him unanimously. And that means Sri Srinivasan can be confirmed by the Senate. He can be. He just proved it. And that`s really good to know, in case there`s any other judgeships that that guy might need to be confirmed for anytime soon, hint hint. But the big news here, we may have gone through essentially the first round of President Obama`s next nomination for the Supreme Court. If he picks Sri Srinivasan, he would be the first justice of South Asian heritage. He is an Indian American. He`s only 46 years old. He apparently does not have an enemy in the world, and the United States Senate voted for him for a judgeship, 97-0, which bodes well for them voting for him again if nominated for the highest court in the land. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Friday. Update for you on the craziest politics story we have covered in a long time. It`s the story of the mayor of Canada`s largest city smoking crack, maybe. Both "The Toronto Star" and have now published reports describing a cell phone video that stars Robert Ford, the mayor of Toronto, and what looks to be a crack pipe. Gawker`s editor says he was contacted by a tipster in Toronto who described the video to Gawker, wanted them to buy it, having been told the tale that there is a video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack, Gawker sent its editor to Toronto to see for himself. There were a bunch of false starts and difficulties in trying to meet the guy with the video, it didn`t work out for awhile. But, then, finally, the Gawker editor says the video was shown to him on a touch-screen phone. He says, quote, "Here is what the video shows. Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. Prior to the trip, I spent a lot of time looking at the photographs of Rob Ford. The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well lit, clear, seated in a house, and has a glass pipe, the kind with the big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it, and the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford." Mayor Rob Ford then uses an anti-gay slur to describe a former Canadian prime minister or his son, who in either case is one of his political rivals. Then, quote, "Ford pipe in one hand, lighter in the other is laughing and mildly protesting at the sacrilege he seems to keep trying to light the pipe, keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds this moment and lights up. He inhales." End scene. Gawker decided not to buy the 90-second video because the guy selling it wanted too much money. I have not seen the video, we cannot confirm Gawker`s reporting here, but their description comports with the reporting from two reporters at "The Toronto Star", who also say that they saw the video. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEVIN DONOVAN, TORONTO STAR REPORTER: The video which appears to be real showed Mayor Rob Ford in a room, his shirt open, lulling back in his chair and appears to be smoking a crack pipe. ROBYN DOOLITTLE, CITY HALL REPORTER: The man in the video we believe is Mayor Rob Ford appears stumbling. He seems incoherent. He rambles. DONOVAN: Mayor Ford ends this segment on camera, which lasts only 90 seconds, by being startled when he hears a telephone ring. He looks directly into the camera, says, that thing better not be recording. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, maybe it was recording. The story broke eight days ago. Today, the mayor made his first public comments on the matter. At a hastily called press conference, the mayor seems sort of flustered, and out of sorts. He read this from a prepared statement, and then he took no questions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Or does not exist. The mayor today denying he smoked crack, denying that there`s video of him smoking crack. Meanwhile, the Crackstarter campaign is under way online. You can participate if you would like to. Having reportedly seen the mayor smoking crack video in Toronto, didn`t object to content of paying for the tape, that`s something some publishing organizations don`t do, Gawker seems to have no problem with that in concept. Gawker`s only objection to buying the tape is that it was too expensive. So, now, they set up a fundraising drive, a crowd-funding called Crackstarter, to raise $200,000 for the video. As of tonight, they`re pretty close. The deadline they set is Monday. They only have 30- something grand to go. The problem is that Gawker freely admits the crack smoking tipsters offering the video didn`t seem to be the most reliable guys on the planet. And, now, apparently they`ve lost touch with them, the guys who reportedly have the video. So, who knows how this ends? Maybe Gawker gets the money and gets the video and we all get to sit it and judge for ourselves, maybe Gawker raises the money, but they still can`t get the video. Maybe somebody else gets the video. Maybe the mayor decides to take a question first time in a week. Who knows? But until the video surfaces, and you know it will, it is the maybe crack smoking mayor of Toronto versus Gawker, versus "The Toronto Star", versus crowd funding power eager to see the supposed crack-smoking mayor video and eventually, something is going to have to give. And while we are waiting for that something to give, you have to go to prison right now. Seriously. Three, two, one. Prison. Go. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END