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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/16/13

Guests: Montravias King

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Happy Friday and thank you for being with us tonight. There is breaking news tonight in politics. New Jersey`s Republican governor, Chris Christie, has tonight vetoed legislation passed by the New Jersey legislature that would have banned .50-caliber sniper rifles in the state of New Jersey. For context here, the bullet on the far right here, the one that`s a lot bigger than all the more familiar bullets you might have come across in your life, that is a .50-caliber bullet. Fifty-caliber guns are military weapons, essentially, first marketed to the Department of Defense, capable of shooting down jet aircraft and helicopters. Even though New Jersey has historically been a progressive state, they passed the first assault weapons ban in the nation, for example. These giant .50-caliber military-style rifles are legal for sale in New Jersey. The legislature this year passed a bill to ban this specific gun in the state. That ban passed overwhelmingly in the legislature. It was supported by editorial pages throughout the state. But, again, tonight`s breaking news, in an August Friday night news dump, traditionally a time when politicians do things that they hope won`t get too much notice, New Jersey Republican governor and presumed presidential hopeful Chris Christie has vetoed legislation tonight that would have made military-grade .50-caliber sniper rifles illegal in the Garden State. Now, Governor Christie also partly vetoed a change to the state`s medical marijuana laws tonight, sending that back to the legislature. And he did the same thing, a partial veto, with a bill that would require background checks for all gun purchases in New Jersey. And hey, who knows what`s next? It`s only like 9:00 p.m. in a few seconds. Anything could happen when you are trying to Friday night news dump things you don`t really want to answer for. So, check back in over the course of the night as more happens. Meanwhile, though, coming out of Chris Hayes` hour tonight on science and denying science and what that is costing us as a country and as a planet, consider this happy news -- on the right is Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. On the left, those little guys that sort of look like caterpillars, they are a species of bug called spring tails. What the Republican senator on the right and the fuzzy bugs on the left have in common is plaid is in tartan. Plaid is in the pattern on Lamar Alexander`s plaid shirt. When Lamar Alexander ran for president in the 1990s, his gimmick, his signature campaign trail prop was that he always wore a plaid shirt. And when scientists first discovered these fuzzy bugs in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee in 2006, their kind of fuzzy, cross hatch pattern reminded the scientists of Lamar Alexander`s plaid shirts. So, the bugs were given the scientific name Cosberella Lamaralexanderi. And while he got those bugs named after him in part because the spring tails kind of look like they were also wearing plaid shirts, the honor was also a recognition, kind of a thank you for Lamar Alexander`s long-standing support of federally funded scientific research. Yes, he is a conservative guy. But he is an old school conservative guy, who believes that one of the things the government really should invest in is science. Which these days means, ye, maybe u get a newly discovered species of bug named after you, but it also means in your own party, you are now an endangered species. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting now that Lamar Alexander has just been served notice by a long list of conservative activist group in his home state, a letter to him and published openly, warning him that he should not even try to run for re-election, because Tennessee conservatives are going to primary him and turf him out of office. Quote, "Our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America needs policy makers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values. We urge you to conclude your long and notable career by retiring with dignity, instead of fighting against a serious conservative challenger, who would expose to all Tennessee voters the actual history of your voting record." And it`s signed by a whole list of Tea Party and conservative activist groups in his state. It`s interesting, though. They don`t have a challenger to run against him. They`re just trying to scare him out of office by the idea of a right-wing challenger in the abstract. Lamar Alexander has an 80 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. He is a right-wing Republican politician, but he is not right wing enough! And so he must be purged! He has occasionally been known to work on legislation that actually becomes law, and that, of course, is an unpardonable sin. For that hard work, including compromise and bipartisanship -- that hard work that has contributed to real law and our discovery of things like new species, Senator Alexander is now being threatened by his own species with extinction, because -- irony. That process of purging, that purification instinct, that culling of the insufficiently ideological rigid has been a central and fascinating feature of the post-Bush and Cheney Republican Party. After Bush and Cheney, when it came time to pick a new presidential contender for the Republican Party, the party first tried to graft the candidacy of an establishment Republican on to a pretty much un-vetted, nationally unknown, but very confrontational and very right-wing running mate -- a decision seen now as a disaster, not least by the people who made that decision. By the time the party was ready to try again, that same instinct, that same drive within the party brought us a primary season that looked like this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN HILL, SERVING IN IRAQ: When I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I`m a gay soldier. Do you intend to circumvent the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? (BOOING) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Your state has executed 243 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times, have you -- (APPLAUSE) MODERATOR: A healthy 30-year-old young man decides, you know what, I`m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance. Who`s going to pay for, if he goes into a coma, for example, who pays for that? FORMER REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: That`s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- (APPLAUSE) MODERATOR: But, Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die? AUDIENCE: Yes! Yes! PAUL: No -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Whoo, yes! Let him die! Then vote for us! The Republicans picked a nominee in the "let `em die" Republican primary last year, and that nominee got clobbered in the general election. While the Republicans also lost seats in the Senate and also lost seats in the House. And afterwards, there were recriminations and some long, hard looks in the mirror. The National Republican Party convened a high-level study to take what they said would be an unvarnished look at what went wrong and to plan for how to fix it for the future. Quote, "If our party is not welcoming and inclusive, voters will continue to tune us out. We should educate Republicans on the importance of developing and tailoring a message that is non-inflammatory and inclusive to all." Quote, "The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We`ve become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly, we have lost the ability to be persuasive with or welcoming to those who do not agree with us on every issue." "The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We`ve got to stop just providing ideological reinforcement to like-minded people." That was the plan from the Republican Party in March. Now, the plan is to have the Republican presidential candidates debate in the next cycle moderated by Rush Limbaugh. Or maybe Sean Hannity. Or somebody else from talk radio. Today, at the national Republican Party`s annual summer meeting, the party chairman got a sustained standing ovation when he declared, "We are done putting up with this nonsense!" He got a standing ovation and then a unanimous vote by the RNC to ban CNN and NBC from carrying any Republican presidential candidates` debates in the next election cycle. Ostensible reason is because CNN is planning to do a documentary on Hillary Clinton`s career and NBC Entertainment is planning on doing a mini- series about Hillary Clinton`s life, which "The New York Times" says was to have been produced, actually sort of written and shot and everything, by FOX Television. So, FOX would produce it, FOX would make the thing, but interestingly, that doesn`t bother the Republican Party. The chairman says they only want to boycott CNN and NBC, because -- because it doesn`t have anything to do with Hillary Clinton. You`ve got to get rid of mainstream news organizations having anything to do with Republican candidates, because, instead, it`s going to be right-wing talk radio now! They`ll do the vetting and that is how America will learn what the Republican Party has to offer, these guys. Seem like a plan? The reaction on the left, predictably, is ecstatic. Look at this from "Daily Kos" today. This is the headline, "This is awesome." Quote, "There`s no reason for the Republican crazy machine to have to tone it down, to have a debate hosted by anyone other than their fellow crackpots. Raise the big top, boys, now we`re really going to put on a show." A Republican Party national election process moderated entirely by the most confrontational, abrasive, take-no-prisoners, purification above all part of the Republican base. The left, as typified by "The Daily Kos", with the left broadly speaking, is really psyched about this prospect, for obvious reasons. But the Republican Party must see some benefit to this for themselves or they wouldn`t be doing it, with right? How do we understand what that is? Joining us now is Abby Huntsman. She co-hosts "THE CYCLE" here on MSNBC, weekday afternoon. She also served as an advisor and a media surrogate for her father, Jon Huntsman, in his 2012 campaign for president. Abby, good to have you here. ABBY HUNTSMAN, THE CYCLE: My stomach cringes just watching those playbacks. MADDOW: I was going to put together a hits reel of Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut. And, Brian Fisher saying that, you know, the holocaust happened because they were gay people. So, I was going to put them together. But you know what the point is here. Why is -- what`s the advantage that I`m missing? HUNTSMAN: Look, it`s almost somewhat of an artificial threat, right? I mean, the RNC doesn`t actually have the power to approve and to fund these debates. So they can say that all they want, I mean, they can convince the candidates to essentially boycott the debate, but that`s not going to happen. So, you know, the party, it`s frustrating, the party used to have this -- be confident in their own skin. You know, we used to have, you look at individuals that have paved the way for the Republican Party, like Jack Kemp. You know, Ronald Reagan, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, imagine them in the meeting this morning when they voted not to have these debates. What would they have said? They probably would have said, what are we doing, guys? What are we doing? Why are we tasting time talking about Hillary Clinton when we have to rebuild our party, when we really need to focus on our own message? So this is one wing of the party that you`re talking about that the media is focusing on, but then there is another part that I feel like I`m part of and many other Republicans are part of. And we`re watching this play out and we`re saying, this is not where we need to be. MADDOW: But that is what I thought, until there was a unanimous vote at the RNC today to say NBC and CNN can`t host Republican debates. And there is, I mean, there is a power when it comes to the Democratic election and it`s the Democratic nominee versus the Republican nominee. But at the Republican primary level, if NBC is going to host a debate or CNN is going to host a debate, and the party says, we are going to strip you of your delegates if you participate in that debate, they very well can control that. And a unanimous vote for it, that`s what makes this the most important politics story in the country, as far as I`m concerned. It seems like, I thought this was a fringe thing, but it`s taken over. HUNTSMAN: Right. But I do think the RNC represents a certain portion of the party. MADDOW: It is the party. HUNTSMAN: But there are a number of Republicans, and I`ll speak for myself, and many others, that are watching this plan and saying, this is frankly ridiculous. If this mini-series ultimately what`s going to put Hillary Clinton over the edge in 2012, why are we even getting in the race? Why are we even getting ourselves involved? Look, I understand what Reince Priebus is saying, we need to change the debates. It only made us look bad in 2012. MADDOW: It seems like there were too many. HUNTSMAN: There were 20 debates, there were too many. But the biggest problem was the content. People didn`t watch it for education, they watched it for entertainment. MADDOW: Which was rewarding. HUNTSMAN: It was rewarding. So, we need to get to the point where people aren`t watching it to watch a clown show, that they aren`t watching it to see who could be the most conservative, who could throw out the most red meat. MADDOW: But then why? It`s the Republican national committee, the spokesman for the national party who is suggesting talk radio hosts as the moderators. I mean, if you want it to not be a circus and not be ridiculous, you wouldn`t have a right-wing shock jock be the host and say you can`t have real reporters do it, real anchors do it. HUNTSMAN: You know you would pay for that, though? MADDOW: Oh, my God, I would pay for it. HUNTSMAN: I have to say, honestly, though, having Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, I kind of wan that to happen. Because I think that would be a moment where the party actually hits rock bottom. I think that would be a time where they could say, you know what? We can only rebuild ourselves from here. I`m not sure we have hit rock bottom yet. And I know I`ll get in trouble from folks on the right. But I know there are a number of Republicans thinking, something has to change, something has to convince them that this is not the right direction. This is not the direction that is ever going to get us to win a national election again. MADDOW: See, I think that would be exciting for a different reason, which is that maybe somebody looking at the Sean Hannity debate or whatever it`s going to be, the right wing talk radio debate, would confront them and say you`re bad for the party and actually, I think we need to be led by elected officials and not by talk radio. That`s never going to -- HUNTSMAN: Rush Limbaugh says he`s not even going to do it. MADDOW: He`s too famous. HUNTSMAN: He`s not even doing it. MADDOW: Abby Huntsman, co-host of the MSNBC daytime show, "THE CYCLE." Abby, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much. I know this is not the ideal place -- HUNTSMAN: Best place to find my Friday night. MADDOW: All right. Happy Friday. And because it is Friday, and because Abby was good enough to stay, the news gods today bring word of a heist. Heist! We have a great heist story. And that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Heist! Heist! Heist. OK. It`s a little before 3:00 in the morning, Tuesday morning, in October of last year, in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The museum in Rotterdam was hosting a one-week-only exhibit of a private collection of paintings, including works by Picasso and Matisse and Monet and Gauguin. A little before 3:00 that Tuesday morning, three men broke into the museum. You can see them here on the security video. By the time the alarm rang, they were on their way out again, carrying burlap sacks loaded with seven of the most valuable works in the collection. By the time the cops got there, the men were gone. The whole heist took them only 96 seconds for seven paintings. Well, now we know who those men were, because they have been arrested and they`re now standing trial. Some of them have even admitted to being the thieves. Mystery solved, right? But even though the culprits have been found, the problem is that the paintings have not been found. A Picasso, a Matisse, two Monets, a Gauguin, Lucian Freud and Mired Dahan (ph), I hope I`m saying that right, seven paintings, worth tens of millions of dollars, but obviously very difficult to sell. How do you fence someone`s stolen stuff that is this unique and this well known? And that is how these guys got caught. Despite the skill with which they made off with the art from the museum, they apparently didn`t really think through the rest of the caper and they got nabbed a couple of months after the heist when they were trying to unload this stuff. Right now, police have the thieves. They don`t have the artwork. And that leads to the most worrying part of this whole story. Look at this headline. "Mother`s love said to lead to burning of master pieces." The mother of the admitted ring leader of this crime told police that after they arrested her boy, she took the paintings and burned them so they could not be used as evidence against her son. Everyone is hoping, of course, that Olga, the mom, is lying about burning the paintings. And indeed, the day after she told police that the paintings had all been destroyed, she burned them all, the day after she took her story back and replaced it with a new one, actually, it was a mysterious Russian-speaking man who took the paintings away in a black car. But by the time she got to that story, though, investigators were already on the way to her house to take a look see inside her house in Romania. And they say they found material that European artists typically use to prepare canvases for oil paintings, as well as the remains of some pigments that artists stopped using after the 1800s. Also, they say found copper nails and tacks made by blacksmiths before the Industrial Revolution. That looks pretty bad for the paintings, right, if Olga cook them. The good news is that the accused thieves now say that Olga, the mom, didn`t really cook them. They say the paintings were not destroyed. The thieves` trial began this week and they say they know where the paintings are. They haven`t been destroyed, they know where they are and they want to cut a deal. Do you believe the thieves? Has this been enough time to may have had fakes made? Could that be what they`re negotiating for? What`s up with the paint and the nails in Olga`s oven if she didn`t actually burn these priceless paintings? How does this story end? Good question, and it is the same question right now also for a billion dollars worth of art that is in Detroit. Same story, minus the Romanian lady`s oven -- and that is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The most famous newspaper publisher in the history of the United States was probably this guy, William Randolph Hearst. In the early 1900s, he was a giant of newspaper publishers. At the height of his power, he was the publisher of 28 different newspapers all across the country, from New York City to San Francisco and everywhere in between. In addition to being a newspaper publishing giant, Mr. Hearst also dabbled in politics. He was twice elected to Congress from the state of New York. But what he really loved was art. William Randolph Hearst maintained one of the most impressive art collections in the whole country. He collected paintings, he collected rugs. Oddly, he owned one of the world`s most famous collections of armor, like knights in shining armor from the Medieval Age. He had so much armor, that he set aside a whole hall in his house as an armor display area. And if for some reason you would like to see the amazing armor collection of William Randolph Hearst, you`re in luck, you can see it. It is right here at the Detroit Institute of Arts, in the main gallery of Detroit`s legendary art museum, they`ve got among other things, the vast William Randolph Hearst armor collection, because he gave it to the museum as a gift back in the mid-20th century. The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the largest city-owned museums in the whole country. It is a prize, a civic crown jewel. The Detroit Institute of Arts houses about a billion dollars worth of art, including original works from Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Rodin, Vermeer, (INAUDIBLE) Andy Warhol, it`s a giant list of very important art. The marble court of the museum features a whole collection of frescos by Diego Rivera. The Detroit Institute of Arts is amazing, it is a prize, and it is public. It is not just open to the public, it`s owned by the public. It belongs to Detroit. It belongs to the people of Detroit. It is part of the city. And over the next few months, all of the art owned by the museum, and therefore owned by the people of Detroit, is about to be appraised by experts with an eye towards selling it off, auctioning it off to the highest bidder, piece by piece, scattering it to the winds. The Riveras, the Van Goghs, the William Randolph Hearst armor -- it`s all getting inspected and appraised by Christie`s Auction House of New York City, which was hired last week by Detroit`s emergency manager. There`s no vote on a decision like this, the emergency manager gets to do whatever he wants on his own say-so with anything that belongs to Detroit. The emergency manager says this doesn`t mean he`s definitely going to sell the contents of the museum. It just means that now he has had the city file for bankruptcy, he wants to get a sense of how much it`s all worth. You know, cash value. Liquidation value, just in case. Is that legal? You might think, hey, this could be just this one guy`s decision? The Michelangelo drawings aren`t exactly his to sell, are they? That armor that William Randolph Hearst donated to the museum, so that public institution, to the city, could it just be sold off now for cash? If the museum has anything to say about it, the answer is no. The director of the Detroit Institute of Art said this week that the museum is prepared to take legal action if necessary to block any potential sale of its collection. This week, supporters of the museum from all across the country rallied to the museum`s side. They did what they call a day for Detroit, more than a dozen art-focused blogs and Web sites, essentially sounding the alarm about what`s happening with Detroit`s art museum, the risk to its collection. But because Detroit is under the control of an emergency manager appointed by the governor, what happens to the city`s massive and important art collection isn`t really up for public debate. It`s basically just up for that one guy to decide. And it`s not just in Detroit that this is happening. Democracy is dead in a bunch of different places across Michigan, thanks to the state stripping local officials of their power and installing, instead, individual emergency managers who rule unilaterally. In six cities across the state of Michigan right now, including Detroit, which is the state`s largest city, it doesn`t matter who you vote for to represent you anymore. The Democratic process, local control of your city, that has been abolished. Maybe. Something interesting is afoot right now in Michigan that is maybe threatening to turn this situation upside down. In one of the cities that`s now under emergency management is the city of Pontiac, Michigan, which is just north of Detroit. After the emergency manager in Pontiac last year decided, personally, unilaterally, to yank people`s health insurance, a class action lawsuit was filed against the city. They argued that that one person, no vote, no hearing, unilateral decision by the emergency manager, they argued that violated the due process rights afforded to us by our Constitution. It violated the U.S. Constitution. Last month, a federal judge in Michigan ruled against the lawsuit, let the emergency manager`s decision stand. But when they appealed the case up to the federal appeals court, which is just one level below the U.S. Supreme Court, the people who were suing won. They struck gold. It was an unexpected, improbable victory that ultimately could be a really big deal, for the idea that when we have problems in this country, the way we fix those problems is through a little system called democracy. And, of course, democracy is a terrible political system. It`s very messy, it`s slow, it`s annoying. Everybody gets a say, jabber, jabber, jabber. It`s so inefficient. Democracy is terrible. It is the worst political system in the world, except for all the others. That`s why we picked it. You may remember that back in November at the same time as the presidential election, Michigan voters went to the polls and they voted resoundingly to repeal the emergency manager law, to repeal the Republicans` radical emergency manager law, which stripped democracy at the local level in Michigan, and instead install these one-man governments -- these unilateral emergency managers chosen by Republican Governor Rick Snyder. The Republicans` radically expanded emergency manager law was put on the ballot and Michigan voters repealed it. They chose to eliminate the law altogether. In response to that, Michigan Republicans in the state capitol just went ahead and passed a new one. They just passed a new emergency manager law a month later, a month after the voters had repealed the previous one. Redid basically all the things that they had done under the old law, except this time, they did it in a way that it basically can`t be repealed. So, screw the voters, right? Republicans know what they want. Voters repealed it. Eh, we`ll put it back. It turns out maybe not. This federal appeals court, in very plain English, is now telling Michigan Republicans, not so fast. The ruling does kick the law back to a lower court, but they`re directing the lower court to, quote, "consider whether the Michigan legislature possesses the power to retroactively immunize its own acts that the voters rejected by referendum." You may also remember our coverage of how the Republicans passed this law in the first place. I mean, after you pass a law, normally, there`s a long lag time before the law goes into effect. Most laws in Michigan go into effect three months after the end of the session in which they are passed. But when Michigan Republicans pass this emergency manager law, they decided it would go into effect immediately. Under the Michigan Constitution, you can only do that if you have the support of two-thirds of the legislature. Republicans did not have the support of two-thirds of the legislature, but they rushed the bill through like that anyway. They claimed they had the votes for it to go into immediate effect, but they plainly did not. Well, the federal appeals court is shutting them down on those grounds now too. Saying, quote, "The Michigan legislature seems to have ignored the two-thirds vote requirement when it gave the emergency manager law immediate effect. The legislature has perverted the immediate effect exception." And then listen to this, with this is from the ruling, quote, "Apparently, the Michigan legislature believes the Michigan Constitution can be ignored." So, the federal appeals court is now asking a lower court to essentially look into whether Republicans passed that law illegally. So, against the voters and against the Constitution -- against all the interests our governing system is supposed to serve in a democracy. What started off here as a small-scale dispute between angry retirees in Pontiac, Michigan, and their emergency manager, has now grown into something that could potentially restore small "D" democracy across that state. Democracy has been dead in Michigan, in a lot of places in Michigan, for a few years now. And, you know, anti-democratic fantasies aside, it turns out that stripping people of their right to have a say in their government is no magic bullet for fixing those places. Take Flynt or Hamtramck, which got stripped of their local government and they got emergency managers. Even after they got emergency managers, the state decided that they still apparently weren`t fixed. Apparently, it didn`t take, so the state put them under emergency management again. Wait, I thought that was supposed to be the magic bullet. If it didn`t work the first time, why do you think it would work the second time? Or maybe in America`s great troubled city, citizens having a say and having a vote is not actually the problem, and therefore getting rid of democracy isn`t the solution. It may be that Detroit`s emergency manager, Detroit`s unelected one- man government, thinks that selling the city tease greatest assets, scattering them to the winds is just what the city needs. That`ll fix everything. But now, maybe the U.S. federal courts and the U.S. Constitution will intervene will stop what Michigan Republicans are doing and will it make so that one man`s whims are not the deciding factor for what happens to these great civic treasures of one of America`s once and future great cities. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All hail little old ladies, who in fighting for their own rights end up fighting for all our rights. And one of those fierce 90- sometihng little old ladies got a big win today. This is Vivian Applewhite. She`s 92 years old. She was 91 years old when she started fighting the state of Pennsylvania for her right to vote. Republicans in that state passed a new law last year that would block you from voting unless you showed documentation that you`ve never had to show before and that hundreds of thousands of legal voters in the state do not have, including Vivian Applewhite. She became the lead plaintiff in a court challenge of Pennsylvania`s voter suppression law and she got the law blocked for the presidential election. Well, today, Ms. Applewhite got another big win. A state judge ruled that the law will not be in effect for elections these November either. And now, Vivian Applewhite is pressing on, asking the court to permanently block the law. Get out of her way. And it turns out in the great state of North Carolina, they have their own Vivian Applewhite, and her name is Rosanell Eaton. Rosanell Eaton is 92 years old. She registered to vote in her North Carolina county way back in the days of Jim Crow. She said she rode to the county courthouse with her mother and her brother in a wagon that was pulled by a mule. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROSANELL EATON, 92 YEARS OLD: As we approached their office, there were three white men seated. One of them looked at me and asked me, "What do you want, little girl?" I quickly told them the story what I wanted and what I was there for. One of the men, looking at each other again, told me, "Stand up straight against that wall, with your eyes looking directly toward me and repeat the preamble of the United States of America." Without missing a word, I did it. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You want to vote, little girl, stand up, look at me, and recite the preamble from the Constitution, do not miss a word. If you were African-American and you wanted to vote back then, especially in the South, you might get put to all kinds of challenges, ridiculous challenges like that. Ridiculous challenges like these ones from Louisiana that were recently dug up by Quote -- I can`t even say this one -- "Write right from the left to the right as you see it spelled here." Huh? How about this one? "Print the word `vote` upside-down but in the correct order." Or this one. "Spell backwards, forewords. What?! You can`t do that quick? Then you can`t vote." Rosanell Eaton knows what it means to want to vote even when powerful people try to keep you from it. She has lived this. This week, she became a named plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, challenging the new voter suppression laws there -- the new law that`s expected to keep her and up to 600,000 other North Carolinians from voting. People who are legal voters, who may have been legal voters for years or for decades, but do not have the documentation that Republicans now say you cannot vote without. The Republicans` new law in North Carolina also cuts early voting and voter registration and ends all voting on Sunday. Elections expert Rick Hasen calls North Carolina`s new law, which was just signed on Monday, he calls it the worst voter suppression law pass in any state since 1965, since before the Voting Rights Act put a stop to literacy tests and poll taxes. That is the law that Rosanell Eaton, 92 years old, that is the law that she is challenging now in federal court. But that law is only part of what they are doing in North Carolina. As we`ve been reporting this week, North Carolina`s new Republican governor has also stacked the state board of elections this year with Republicans, who in turn have been stacking the county board of elections with Republicans. And those new Republican majority boards are becoming national news in a hurry. Consider the case of Montravias King, a college senior at the historically black college in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where he has lived and voted since 2009. This year, Mr. King decided that he would run for city council in Elizabeth City. But the chairman of the local Republican Party this week challenged his right to do that. The local Republican Party boss told the new Republican majority board that Montravias King shouldn`t be allowed to run for office. And the Republican board said, that`s right. In our view, Mr. King, you may have been living here and voting here since 2009, but in our view, you don`t live here anymore. You are not one of us, not anymore. They disqualified him from running. And since it seems like the qualifications for running for office and the qualifications for voting are identical, if local Republicans in North Carolina can now pronounce Montravias King ineligible to run for office, what about his right just to vote? Can they not just take away his voting rights, his and the entire university`s? Well, that same county Republican chairman, who successfully challenged his right to run for office, says that he now plans to challenge the right of students at that school to vote. And then he expects the Republican Party will do that all over the state. Quote, he says, "I am going to take this show on the road." Montravias King`s run for city council in North Carolina is about a whole lot more than that one city council seat in North Carolina and that one young man. It`s about something really, really radical going on in the American South, again. And Montravias King joins us next. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Montravias King is a senior and student activist at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. County Republicans this week disqualified him from running for city council when they voted that his on- campus address would not count to establish his residency so he could run for office. They also say they will now use those same tactics to go after students` right to vote more broadly from his historically black university. The Supreme Court has ruled in very clear terms that that`s illegal, that students -- college students, have a right to vote, where they go to school. But apparently that clear constitutional direction from the Supreme Court is not stopping North Carolina Republicans, at least not yet. Joining us now is Montravias King. Mr. King, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s a pleasure to have you here. MONTRAVIAS KING, ECSU STUDENT: Thank for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: On what grounds did the local election board object to you running for city council? KING: The local elections board, which is Republican-controlled, they objected to me running for city council on the grounds of my residency, which is currently 1704 Weeksville Road, the permanent address for Elizabeth City State University. MADDOW: They contend that an university address, an on-campus address, can`t be a legal residence for the purpose of running for office. Are they also saying that that can`t be a legal residence for the purpose of voting? KING: In fact, that`s exactly what they`re saying, Rachel, because the residency requirements for a candidate are the exact same residency requirements for a voter. And I`ve been voting at the 1704 Weeksville Road address as a student since 2009. MADDOW: Why has the change happened? Is this because the local elections board has changed its makeup recently? If you`ve been voting there since 2009, this wasn`t a problem before. KING: That`s correct. Well, this has been going on now in Elizabeth City for some time. This has been going on, you know, as far as I can remember, since 2008, you know, it`s just been thrust into the national spotlight now with the passage and signage of North Carolina`s restrictive voter ID law. MADDOW: In terms of the voting rights of students at your school, and, indeed, of students across North Carolina, one of the reasons people are calling the new law in North Carolina the most restrictive voter suppression law, maybe, since the 1960s, is in part because those voter ID laws don`t include student IDs. Your student ID is not an appropriate ID for establishing your ability to vote in the state. What are your fellow students, people at your school, thinking about whether or not they`re going to be able to vote in North Carolina? KING: A lot of students are very concerned about it. You know, we want to know why is it that we cannot use our student IDs, when Elizabeth City State University is part of the UNC system, which is a state-supported -- which is a state-supported system, university in North Carolina. So this is clearly efforts on part -- on the Republicans` part to suppress the college vote. MADDOW: Mr. King, I know that you have been an activist. I read that you`re studying pre-law and politics. I know that you are both a civic- minded student and a civic-minded man. What happens here next? I mean, the county elections has ruled you cannot run for city council. The Republican county chairman is saying he definitely will use the same tactics to try to go after everybody`s rights to vote from your school. What`s going to be your response? What are you going to do next? KING: Well, Rachel, we are definitely going to appeal this to the state board of elections. And we are very optimistic about that. We also are going to make sure that students are aware of what`s going on on campus and make sure that students are registered to vote and make sure that students understand and know that no one can intimidate them, that no one can stop them from voting here on campus. That we -- it`s our constitutional right to vote where we attend school at. So, we`re going to make sure the schools understand that, that no one can stop them from voting. MADDOW: Mr. King, there is a lot of national attention to this law. But beyond the law, your case and what is happening in your county is like -- it is a bit of a canary in the coal mine, I think. I think alarming lot of people about what`s happening in your state. Montravias King, student activist at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina -- thank you very much for talking to us. Please stay in touch as this unfolds. I appreciate your time. KING: Thank you. I appreciate you. MADDOW: All right. Conspiracy theorists, you know I love you. And, listen, no matter what you learn here in the next segment with me right here, I want you to remember, we`ll always have Roswell. The truth is out there and some of it is next with alcohol. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Friday! Haven`t done one of these in a long time. OK, this is Nevada, Nevada is enormous. The seventh largest state in the country in terms of area. But that is not how we generally think of Nevada, right? We think of Las Vegas, which is Las Vegas, and also Reno, the capital of broken dreams. But aside from Las Vegas and Reno, which are memorable places, and Ely, Nevada, where I got a flat tire so I remember that. Nevada is a vast place. And it is also pretty empty. Most of Nevada is your property, yours and mine and all of ours. According to the General Services Administration, 85 percent of Nevada, roughly, is federal land. Native American reservations, wildlife preserves, and property controlled by the United States military, incredibly wide swath of the Nevada desert, areas bigger than the quaint little entire state like Delaware or Rhode Island, that may technically belong to you and me but they are not there for us to go campaign or star- gazing. They are there for storing and testing heavy weapons. Nevada is where the greatest fighting force the world has ever known goes to blow stuff up. And out there somewhere, out in the dark desert, north of Las Vegas, is a place where the extra-suspicious among us have long believed that the United States government kept secret everything it knows about aliens. Area 51, the infamous Area 51, where they keep the UFOs, man, where they have the aliens in captivity, they have since 1950s. Oh, they know. Obama knows flying saucers loaded with hyper-intelligence creatures who came here to be vaporized humanity and we got them in little cages there. Yes, we know, the truth is out there. The U.S. government has forever avoided answering questions about Area 51 and that, of course, has given conspiracy theorists plenty of room to let their imaginations run gloriously wild for about 60 years. You can almost always find some terrifically compelling show about Area 51 on late night cable, complete with an official "no comment" from the government. Except that all ended today. Today, the CIA divulged documents which for the first time formally acknowledged the existence of Area 51. It`s real. And according to the CIA, yes, OK, we admitted it exists now, but nothing to see here. Move along. Nothing to see. It`s nothing interesting. NBC`s Pete Williams divine from the CIA`s release of documents today, that the long rumored UFOs at Area 51 were actually just U-2 spy planes flying so high over Area 51 that they reflected the sun`s rays even after dark, so people called them UFOs, instead that they look like fireballs, but they`re really just really high up their planes. In an email to MSNBC, a CIA spokesman says, quote, "What readers of the CIA study will find is that the CIA tested is U-2 and A-12 reconnaissance aircraft at a site in Nevada, sometimes referred to as "Area 51." What readers will not find are references to aliens or other conspiracy theories best left to the realm of science fiction." Well, they would say that, wouldn`t they? And whether or not you believe them, I leave that to you. But in honor of the CIA at least admitting it`s there, tonight, Area 51 in your honor, you get a sky pilot, which is kind of a pretty good drink. Applejack, which is apple brandy, if you can get the bonded, which is 100 proof. That`s a really good thing. If you can`t get 100 proof applejack, the bonded kind, then you`re going to want Calvados, which is Frenchie but same idea. Applejack is better, though, and it`s merkin (ph). One and a half ounces of applejack, and three quarters amount of a nice dark rum, any nice, good dark rum, not with flavor-added please, just dark rum. This is Gosling`s. This is delightful. You want three quarters of an ounce of nice, dark rum. Cartoon pouring noise. Grenadine gives you some sweetness, just a quarter ounce of grenadine, all right? And the thing that actually makes it palatable is lime juice. Half an ounce of lime juice. You can do a little bit less if you have a sweet tooth, but you should grow (ph) out of that. So, half an ounce of lime juice, and you want it to be actually from a lime, which I realize can be difficult. But hey, you know what? Scurvy, the root word is scourge. Area 51 is real. So is the sky pilot, we`ll put the recipe on our blog, and I hope you have a really, really nice weekend. Before your weekend starts, though, you have to prison. Cheers! THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END