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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/03/13

Guests: Ezra Klein

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. On November 4th, 1995, the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated. He was killed by a lone gunman as he was leaving a political rally. The prime minister was leaving a rally that was held in Tel Aviv. He was heading toward his car and three shots rang out. Two of them hit him. He was struck in the chest and in the spleen and a few hours later, at a local hospital, he died. Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by an Israeli extremist who was angry at him for having participated in U.S.-led peace talks a few years earlier. This is Prime Minister Rabin along with President Clinton and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. After Yitzhak Rabin was murdered, world leaders essentially traveled en masse to Israel for his funeral. And it all happened really, really quickly. The prime minister was killed on November 4th. The funeral was held two days later on November 6th. And the world essentially coalesced for the funeral. The U.S. contingent for that funeral in 1995 was enormous. It included not only the current serving president, Bill Clinton, who was very close to Yitzhak Rabin, but also former President Jimmy Carter and also former President George H.W. Bush, three presidents traveling together on Air Force One for the funeral. There was also a big congressional delegation that went along, including the then-speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. And that trip to Israel for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin in November of 1995, that trip, not the events that precipitated it, not the assassination, but the trip itself, specifically the flight, is in part how we got 1995 shutdown of the federal government, which is the last government shutdown before the one we`re in right now. Quote, "Gingrich had been invited aboard Air Force One to fly to the funeral. With a budget crisis pending, he expected that President Clinton would take time out during the fight to talk to him about a possible solution. But President Clinton, who seemed to be genuinely grieving over Prime Minister Rabin`s death stayed up front in a cabin with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush on both the outward-bound and return trips. Then, when the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said they were asked to deplane by the rear door. So, three presidents out the front door, everybody else, out the rear door. Newt Gingrich, a few days into the 1995 government shutdown, told reporters the story of that snub on the plane as his way of explaining why he had to play such hardball with President Clinton on that year`s budget. Quote, "I think that`s part of why you ended up with us sending down a tougher budget resolution," Mr. Gingrich said. "This is petty, and I`m going to say up front it`s petty, but I think it`s human." Look at this from "The Baltimore Sun." "Gingrich links stalemate to perceived Clinton snub." "As he has done repeatedly since returning home from the Rabin funeral, Mr. Gingrich railed against Mr. Clinton`s treatment of him. At a breakfast session with reporters, Mr. Gingrich said he was insulted and appalled that Mr. Clinton had refused to invite Republican leaders to the front of the plane. Mr. Gingrich said, "Where is their sense of manners, where is their sense of courtesy?" And thus was born one of the most famous newspaper front pages of all time. This was the cover of "The New York Daily News," three days into the 1995 government shutdown. "Cry Baby, Newt`s tantrum, he closed down the government because Clinton made him sit at back of plane." And this is not something the press made up, right? This was the Republican`s own explanation of why they had to do what they had to do. Newt Gingrich says he sent the shutdown bill to President Clinton specifically because of the bad manners, because his ego was bruised, was he felt disrespected. Not realizing how bad that sounded to admit until it landed on the cover of the "Daily News" with him drawn in diapers, Republicans seemed sort of surprised by the backlash. But the "cry baby, hurting the country for no good reason" narrative, the fact that they were hurting the country, essentially as part of a tantrum over their hurt feelings, that revelation really did help ratchet up the pressure on the Republicans in 1995 and 1996. It ratcheted up the pressure so much, in fact, that eventually they gave in and eventually the government reopened. But you know what, it was not just that one time. And because you`ve been good this week and because it`s been a long week, I`m about to show you something that will crystallize for you, that will remind you in very uncertain terms, very -- very certain terms, why it is that you miss Barney Frank being in Congress. It was five years ago this week when we were in the midst of a different kind of crisis. We were in the midst of a financial catastrophe as a nation. That`s when Wall Street was melting down and taking the country with it. This week, 2008, it was five years ago this week when Republicans in the midst of that crisis messed something up in the House. One of the most dramatic moments in that entire financial collapse was when congress unexpectedly, surprise, voted against a rescue package for Wall Street to try to stop the meltdown. It was at a time when it seemed like Wall Street, indeed, the whole financial system, might not be there at all the next morning, unless the government took this action. And when Republicans in the House unexpectedly voted down that rescue package, this was the front page of "The Daily News". The stock market plunged 777 points. It was biggest point plunge of all time. And whatever you think about that vote on the merits, part of why it was so consequential at the time is that nobody expected it to fail. Republicans thought they had the votes. They said they had the votes. They thought it was going to pass. Then they put it on the floor, and oops, what happened? This was the explanation they came up with for why they unexpectedly failed, why could not count their own votes. This is what they said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: I do believe that we could have gotten there today had it not been for this partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House. I mean, we were -- we`ve put everything we had into getting the votes, to get there today. But the speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get to go south. REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: We did think we had a dozen more votes going to the floor than we had, no more than that, but we think we had a dozen more. Unfortunately, too many of our members were already on the floor when they heard that late speech with the speaker. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: See, they would have voted to save the United States of America from financial catastrophe. They wanted to. But they found themselves unable to cast those votes, because somebody else`s speech hurt their feelings. They wanted to help the country. They did. They just couldn`t anymore because their mellows were seriously harshed, seriously. And this is why you miss Barney Frank being in Congress. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There`s a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis, and because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country. Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country. I mean, that`s hardly plausible. And there are 12 Republican members who are ready to stand up for the economic interests of America, but not if anybody insult them. I`ll make - - I`ll make an offer. Give me those 12 people`s names and I will go talk, uncharacteristically nicely to them. (LAUGHTER) BARNEY: And tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they`ll now think about the country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "And maybe they will now think about the country." Doing something that you know will hurt your country because you feel personally disrespected, because nobody has stroked your ego enough and complimented you enough and said nice enough things to you and let you use the more prestigious plane door. You know, it`s just not a good look. It wasn`t a good look in 1995, it wasn`t a good look in 2008, and it is not a good look now. Behold Indiana Republican Congressman Marlin Stutzman. Marlin Stutzman elected to the House in 2010. Last night, he told the conservative newspaper, "The Washington Examiner", why it was so important for Republicans to dig in their heels and keep the federal government closed. Mr. Stutzman? (BEGIN AUDIO LCIP) REP. MARLIN STUTZMAN (R), INDIANA: We`re not going to be -- I mean, we`re not going to be disrespected. And so that`s where we`re at today, where we have to get something out of this, and I don`t know what that even is. (END AUDIO CLI.P) HAYES: "I don`t what that even --" why are we shutting down the government? I don`t even know! What would it take for you to allow the government to reopen? I don`t even know! I don`t even know what that thing is that we need, but it better be something good. We`ll come up with something that we want. We just don`t want to be disrespected. That`s we the government is shut down. When Newt Gingrich indicated back in 1995 that his government shutdown was the result of him being personally disrespected by President Clinton on Air Force One, Democrats and the president pounced. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, I had a traumatic experience on an airplane Monday. I asked for an aisle seat and they gave me a window. The pilot never came back to say hello! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Speaker, please, quit whining. REPORTER: Indicating the speaker`s tantrum is partly to blame for the government train wreck, the president today offered to apologize. WILLIAM J. CLINTON, THEN-PRESIDENT: If it would get the government open, I would be glad to tell him I`m sorry. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is what day three of the great government down of 1995 looked like. Here`s what day three looked like this time around. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just yesterday, one House Republican said, I`m quoting here, all right, because I want to make sure people understand, I didn`t make this up. One House Republican said, "We`re not going to be disrespected, we have to get something out of this, and I don`t know what that even is." That was a quote! You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people. There`s no higher honor than that. (APPLAUSE) You`ve already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one. Workers like these. So, the American people aren`t in the mood to give you a goody bag to go with it. What you get is our intelligence professionals being back on the job. What you get is our medical researchers back on the job. What you get are little kids back into Head Start. What you get are our national parks and monuments open again. What you get is the economy not stalling, but continuing to grow. What you get are workers continuing to be hired. That`s what you get! That`s what you should be asking for! Take a vote, stop this farce, and end this shutdown right now! If you`re being disrespected, it`s because of that attitude you got, that you deserve to get something for doing your job! Everybody here just does their job, right? You don`t -- if you`re working here and in the middle of the day, you just stopped and said, you know what, I want to get something, but I don`t know -- I don`t know exactly what I`m go to get, but, I`m just going to stop working until I get something. I`m going to shut down the whole plant until I get something, you`d get fired! (APPLAUSE) Right? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Democratic leaders in the Senate today said they are willing to offer Congressman Marlin Stutzman and House Republicans, quote, "a group hug" if it will end this Republican shutdown once and for all. A few hours later, Congressman Stutzman walked back his comments. He said he had carelessly represented the Republican view of this shutdown. Anyone who believes it was a misrepresentation of the Republican view of this shutdown, raise your hand. Anyone? Come on. Anyone? (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) STUTZMAN: We`re not going to be -- I mean, we`re not going to be disrespected. And so that`s where we`re at today, where we have to get something out of this. And I don`t know what that even is. (END AUDIO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The crisis now is a government shutdown. Thee crisis next is a default, if they do not up the debt ceiling, and soon. Ahead of this government shutdown, last week, the great Ezra Klein posited that maybe if Republicans got the government shutdown they wanted, that might scratch their itch. If you`d let them have a government shutdown, that might make them less likely to also want to force an economic default, which, of course, would be way, way, way worse than even the shutdown. I think of this as Ezra`s ya-ya hypothesis, as in, let them get their ya-yas out and then things might go back to normal. It does not seem like they`re getting their ya-yas out. Today, John Boehner got some headlines that seemed to suggest that he was not going to allow an economic default, like this one in "The New York Times," "Republicans say Boehner vows to avert federal default." Excellent headline until you read what his office is actually saying in the article, which is that John Boehner won`t up the debt ceiling, in the same way that he won`t fund the government. It seems like what we have got now is a government shutdown. And what is as likely or more likely to be next is that disastrous default that we encounter when we don`t raise the debt ceiling. And I say that not only because John Boehner`s office says that is so, but also because of this guy. Senator Rand Paul, who now says he has come up with a magical Rand Paul way to not really have an economic default be all that big a deal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The Democrats are scaring people, saying we might not pay it, because Republicans don`t want to raise the debt ceiling. If you don`t raise the debt ceiling, what that means is you`d have a balanced budget. It doesn`t mean you wouldn`t pay your bills. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rand Paul says it is all just a big Democratic lie, that there would be any bad economic consequences if we don`t raise the debt ceiling. He says, essentially, don`t believe the hype, it would be fine. Why would it be fine? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: We just promise we`ll always pay it. If I were in charge, I would say, absolutely, we will never default. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Do you remember when Rand Paul`s dad was going to sneak up from behind and win the Republican presidential nomination last year, because the Paul campaign had figured out a way to trick all the state Republican parties to accidentally having Ron Paul delegates that they didn`t really want? I think this is the same kind of logic. In Paulville, it will be fine if we don`t raise the debt ceiling and the largest economy in the world goes into default for the first time in history, because Rand Paul will promise the world economic markets that it will be OK. See? It`s fine now. Joining us now to tell us the fate of the Republican ya-yas thesis and whether or not Rand Paul is talking real policy or whether this is just some Paul family magic is our own Ezra Klein, editor of "The Wonk Blog" for "The Washington Post". Ezra, thanks very much for being here. EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening. MADDOW: So, has Senator Paul found a magic way of not raising the debt ceiling and that not being a real bad idea. KLEIN: The way to think about Rand Paul`s plan is imagine I said to you that unless you give me what I want, I`m going to burn down the studio. You said to me, that sounds like a very bad idea if you born the studio, nobody will have a studio. And I said, no, no, I`ve got a plan. While it`s burning down, I will run in and grab all the things of value amidst the chaos, so that will all be fine. That`s basically the theory that he`s come up with here. If you default on the debt, the government has a payment system, right? That`s how we put out our checks as a country and it sends out hundreds of millions of dollars of checks a year. And it not like somebody in treasury is cutting each one. There`s a computer and the only thing the computer is built to do is pay the checks on time. There isn`t an option in the payment software, to begin to pay some of them and not others. So I spoke today with Mark Paterson, who is a chief of staff at treasury in 2009, `10, and `11 and one of the thing he said was, we have no way to do that. We looked at this back in 2011, and we can do our best, but the likelihood that we can make a fine distinctions between payments so we never miss a payment to our interest holders is nuts. And then beyond that, imagine that you are doing that, so you`re now saying to the American people, we are paying Chinese bond holders but we are not paying Social Security recipients. We are paying Wall Street, but we are not paying out Medicare claims. It would be complete political chaos domestically too. And the idea that Wall Street and investors are going to look at us doing that and say, oh, yes, these are great, we can totally trust them, they`re not doing anything crazy at all despite the fact that people are riding in the streets is optimistic. MADDOW: The idea that there would be some sort of controlled defaults in largest economy on earth, that we would promise to pay the people that would be immediately responsible for whether or not we use the word "default" and not pay anybody else and then world investors would then trust us to keep paying them even though we`re not paying anybody else, it does -- I mean, it does -- I feel like it is magic. KLEIN: You want to hear something amazing? I talked to a bankruptcy lawyer, an international bankruptcy lawyer, who does these major bankruptcies for countries, for sovereigns, right? So he`s involved in Greece and other things. He told me that the U.S. bonds, they don`t have the things that other countries have. Other countries have in their bonds the explanation for what happens if they begin to not pay, right? They have a bunch of rules and who adjudicates it and all the things that happens if the country doesn`t make good. We don`t because it`s all been unthinkable that anything could go wrong. It`s a complete mess if something goes wrong, because we`re the only country that doesn`t have to tell you what would happen, because, of course, we would never do it, we would never even put it in danger, and yet here we are. MADDOW: Last week, Ezra, you said a government shutdown might be a good thing because it would allow Republicans to vent and venting with a shutdown is better than venting with a default. Now, we are three days into the shutdown, do you still feel that way? KLEIN: I do. MADDOW: Wow (ph). KLEIN: So, look, nobody wants a shutdown. I wish we weren`t doing either one. But it`s not -- I wouldn`t characterize it as giving Republicans an opportunity to vent. I think it gives other people an opportunity to vent at Republicans. So, what is happening right now on Wall Street, which is extremely calm about everything, a few weeks ago, they thought it will be just like 2011, just like early 2013, they`ll just fight and at the last minute, nothing will happen, they`ll make a deal. They see a shutdown happening, an extended shutdown happening. So, they`re beginning to make calls. They`re getting nervous. You can see it in the markets already. We`re talking to busy CEOs, as a reporter I am, who are getting nervous, beginning to make calls already. You have Republican congressmen, as you had in the earlier block, saying very dumb things already. You had 800,000 government furloughed workers who are furious and yelling at congressmen already. Contractors are beginning to wonder if this goes on five, six, seven days, if they begin laying people off. Typically, people who run these sorts of shutdowns in the past say it takes about a week for the pain to really be felt. So, there is pain. I think it is beginning to stack up and the people who need to weigh in are getting more scared and beginning to weigh in. And I think it is good for the Republican Party to face this kind of outcry now on the shutdown in the next week or two, than to have to wait until the debt ceiling. But I should say, I don`t think the debt ceiling will be smooth. The fact that I wanted a shutdown as opposed to just going straight to the debt ceiling is not evidence of how well I think this is going to go. I think it`s how bad the debt ceiling could have been or still, frankly, could be. MADDOW: Ezra Klein, editor for "The Washington Post`s" "Wonk Blog" -- Ezra, thank you for that. Your optimism that we`re still going to get out of this is still a little bit out of reach for me, but I do like hearing you say it. It is soothing. KLEIN: Thank. MADDOW: Thank you, my friend. I will also say that hearing Republicans, like Chris Hayes had a Republican guest on at the very end of his show tonight, just before this show started, and hearing Republicans articulate now how great they think this government shutdown is going for them, how they think they`re winning, how they think this is awesome. Maybe it`s true, maybe on FOX News and whatever else they watch, they`re winning. But the idea that they`re really feeling the heat, they don`t seem like it. They seem giddy. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Of all the hundreds of thousands of federal employees either furloughed or working without pay right now, why did Vice President Joe Biden call one single specific park ranger today? One on one phone call. Hello, ranger, this is the vice president. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There was one moment of absolute unity today in Congress, specifically on the floor of the House. Specifically when the number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, took to the floor to say, thank you to the Capitol Police who protect the United States Capitol. It was a unanimous, bipartisan, standing ovation, a big round of applause, thanking the U.S. Capitol Police. And then there was another one for the House sergeant-at-arms, who`s the security officer in charge of protecting the house and its members. Those rare moments of putting their differences aside today came after today`s bizarre and ultimately tragic accident at the Capitol grounds, when a woman driving this black sedan apparently tried to gain entry into the White House complex at 15th and E. She was denied entrance and then she backed her car out on the 15 Street where appears to have hit a uniformed Secret Service officer. Police cruisers then pursued her vehicle in a high speed chase right across downtown Washington to the corner of Constitution Avenue and Second Street outside the Capitol grounds where the confrontation continued. When the story about this incident broke just after 2:00 this afternoon, it was initially reported as a Capitol Hill shooting incident. Shots fired at the Capitol! The two things that we knew first before we knew anything else were -- shots fired and a shelter in place order issued on Capitol Hill, including in the House and in the Senate. Ultimately emerged that the woman driving the vehicle did not fire any shots. She does not seem to have been armed with anything other than her vehicle. But she used that vehicle as a weapon when she rammed her car into those barriers and ultimately into and toward uniformed officers, shots were fired by law enforcement at her. At least one law enforcement officer opened fire and she was killed. There was also reportedly a child inside her vehicle, who was removed by law enforcement officials and is reportedly, physically safe. The uniformed officers who were involved in this scary but short incident this afternoon, they have been declared essential enough as federal employees that they were still on the job today and able to respond to this very scary incident. One officer was injured. But if the shutdown goes on much longer, these guys are going to start skipping paychecks. The Capitol police and the uniformed Secret Service officers who protect the Capitol, including in instances like this one today, they have been told by their supervisors to start making alternate plans for paying their bills, because they don`t know and nobody can tell them if they`re going to get their next paycheck. It all depends on whether or not this shutdown is going to keep dragging on. Meanwhile, in the state of Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal today declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm making landfall. Right now, it is a tropical storm, Tropical Storm Karen, but it`s expected to become a hurricane by possibly tomorrow night, which is also the time that it is potentially going to paycheck landfall in the Gulf Coast. A hurricane watch is in effect from Grand Isle in Louisiana to Indian Pass in the Florida panhandle. A much larger area has a tropical storm watch already in effect. Now, this, of course, is oil country. BP was the first major oil company to announce that it was evacuating the workers that it considers to be nonessential, who are on the offshore production platforms that are in the path of this storm. Other oil companies are expected to follow BP`s suit. Nobody knows exactly what`s going to happen with this storm, when and if it`s going to become a hurricane, when and if it`s going to become a really big deal or where, exactly. But the experts, of course, on this stuff are the federal emergency management responders at FEMA. And right now, 86 percent of the full-time employees at FEMA are furloughed. At least that was the case until this afternoon when the states of emergency started getting declared and tropical storm Karen started flooding parts of South Florida and the federal government was able to now recall to work the FEMA employees who will help prepare and deliver the expert federal response that is needed to deal with this big oncoming storm. And that`s kind of the story of how we`re piecemealing it together right now, to try to avoid disaster. We`re hoping we can keep up the staffing levels for the police that protect the U.S. Capitol Building in the event that somebody tries to ram their car through the gates. We`re hoping those staffing levels can keep up, even after we stop paying those officers. We`re hoping that the disasters that hit, the natural disasters, are big enough and predictable enough, ones you can see coming from a long way off on the satellites, whose information we are still monitoring, so we can get FEMA back to work in time before anything else starts flooding. We`re hoping there won`t be a flu outbreak, since the CDC has just canceled its flu shot program. We`re hoping that no one really botches a civilian airliner repair job since 300 aviation inspectors are on furlough now. They`re the ones who make sure airplanes are maintaining planes safely. They`re the ones who visit the repair stations, where airliners get fixed, to make sure everything copasetic there. Those inspectors are staying home. We`re hoping there`s no plot being hatched against the United States that in normal circumstances would be ferreted out by one of our intelligence agencies that is mostly manned by civilian employees, since 72 percent of our civilian employees in the intelligence community have been sent home. But then there`s all the stuff that`s not just about closing your eyes and cringing and hoping something really awful doesn`t happen. This stuff -- there`s also the stuff that we have agreed as a country that we ought to do, which we now have just stopped. Take, for example, this guy who`s a farmer in Brighton, Colorado. His name is Dave Petrocco. He expected to be harvesting about 110 acres of onions and cabbages on his farm in Weld County right about now. But his fields are mess. They`re covered with sand and debris, completely destroyed by the flooding in Colorado a few weeks ago. When farmers have catastrophic damage like that from natural disasters, we have decided as a country that they should be able to turn to the emergency conservation program at the Farm Services Administration. It`s basically a program that says, it`s not in our national interest as a country to lose all our farmland and to have to sell it off for development or whatever because of one-time disasters. If a farmer is hit by an act of God, we have this emergency conservation program, essentially as insurance of last resort, to help farmers save their land and not go belly up because of one bad incident, just because of one catastrophe. We need farmers to still be farming, even when bad stuff happens. Farmers didn`t decide that they wanted this something. We as a country decided that we ought to have this. This is in our national interests. This is not a controversial program. Farmer Dave Petrocco in Weld County is now riding this out alone. No help with the cleanup, no help with the financial hit. The local director of the farm services agency in his county cannot help him because the farm agencies services staff in that county has been furloughed. It`s a federal agency. So, the guy who`s the local director of the FSA is not allowed to go to work. He told the "The Greeley Tribune", quote, "We would love to be helping more, but there`s not much more we can do right now." Since he has been furloughed, he has instead been volunteering locally to help with repairing some of the flooded homes in town. But he`s not allowed to go to work. There are 3,000 kids who have been turned away from their preschool classes already because of the shutdown this week. That number is set to go to 18,000 unless they figure out how to restart the government by tomorrow. This is from "Clarion Ledger" in Mississippi. Curtis Magee of Magee, Mississippi, which is great, Curtis Magee said his 4-year-old daughter, whose named Gift, was confused when he told her she could not go to school on Tuesday after it was closed to the government shutdown. Quote, "I have to come up with something like, you just have to wait a few days," Magee said, but three days into the shutdown, his daughter is still confused, wondering why she is not going to school. She knows this time of year, she is supposed to be to in school. We`ve done a lot of reporting on this show over the last couple of years about the veterans administration and the backlog there, this incredible backlog they`ve been digging out of, for veterans coming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are applying to the V.A. for their benefits, these unconscionable delays when hundreds of thousands of veterans are waiting months, and beyond months, waiting years, to even hear back from the V.A. about their applications. After veterans groups yelled about that as loudly as they could, for years, and put as much pressure on the V.A. as they could. And the V.A. did everything it could to slowly, slowly, slowly start getting that horrible problem under control, to try to start making progress against it. The backlog this year finally started shrinking. Finally, finally, finally the V.A. was able to get that backlog on track to start disappearing. But now, with the shutdown, the V.A. says the size of the backlog is once again growing. After it took them all those years to start shrinking it, the backlog once again has started to grow. If you are a veteran who has turned down for your benefits and you want to appeal it, well, that`s an even simpler story. The appeals board for your veterans benefit is shut down altogether. That is gone. Last night on the FOX News Channel, Republican members of Congress explained how they feel so far about what they have done this week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This is about the happiest I`ve seen members in a long time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republican members of Congress, the happiest they have been in a long time. At FOX News Channel, particularly on their Web site, they have not been calling this a shutdown at all, they have been calling it a slimdown, like, it`s been -- you know, awesome, I lost five pounds the week before prom. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn explained yesterday that the shutdown was not just worthy being happy about, it was probably good for us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: People are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government than what they thought they needed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Look on the bright side, kid just getting turfed out of preschool. He didn`t need preschool. What are you, a communist? It`s good for the country. Bathed in a conservative media that says this is all no big deal, do not worry about the harm you`re causing, you`re not causing much harm at all -- Bathed in that, Republican members of Congress have been happy, they have been psyched about what they have done already to the country. The only thing this week that they have seemed upset about at all is the closing of memorials on the National Mall, because those memorials are part of the National Parks Services, which is shut down. Yes, voting for a federal shutdown means voting to close those two. Closing the World War II Memorial made one Texas congressman very, very angry, even though he voted for the shutdown, when he realized that the shutdown meant that that one memorial was going to be closed, he became very angry at a park ranger who was there to enforce the shutdown policy that he voted for. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER (R), TEXAS: How do you look at these people that have traveled with their family? How do you look at them and say how do you deny them access? I don`t get that. PARK RANGER: It`s difficult. NEUGEBAUER: Well, it should be difficult. PARK RANGER: It is difficult. I`m sorry, sir. NEUGEBAUER: The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves. PARK RANGER: I`m not ashamed. NEUGEBAUER: You should be. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas berating a park ranger for having to do the terrible job that his vote forced her to do. How dare she enforce the shutdown that he wanted? She ought to be ashamed of herself. It`s like driving your car into someone`s living room and then berating them about how messy their use is. Yes, super messy, your car is in the middle of it! Kindly back out sir, and then start cleaning up. After Congressman Randy Neugebauer berated that park ranger to her face today, this afternoon, the office of Vice President Biden tweeted that the vice president had personally called that specific park ranger and told her, quote, "I am proud of you." Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington" and MSNBC political analyst. Gene, it`s great to have you here. EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: Republicans say they are very happy about this shutdown. The politicians say they`re happy, the pundits say they are winning! What do you think of that assessment on their part? ROBINSON: Well, there are Republicans and there are Republicans. OK? There`s the Michele Bachmann wing of the party, essentially, that is very happy. That, frankly, is out of touch with reality, certainly out of touch with the reality you were talking about just now, and thinks it`s just jim- dandy and we`ll have, you know, we`ll lose those five pounds. Who doesn`t want to lose those five pounds? But there are a lot of Republicans, even in the House, who think this is crazy, who hate this. Who wish it would all go away and who, you know, past whom Ted Cruz should not walk down a dark alley anytime soon, because they`re going to jump him, you know? They hate this. But they don`t think they can vote to do anything about it at this point. MADDOW: Why -- what would -- everybody says that John Boehner can`t wring up the fund the government bill, just plainly fund the government, even though it would get every Democratic vote in the House and even though it would get enough Republicans to put it over the top, everybody says he can`t do that because it would be too politically dangerous for him. Why? I mean, I understand that that would make him unpopular with House conservatives, but House conservatives don`t exactly like him anyway. ROBINSON: Right. If -- you know, if he`s in a position so precarious that he can`t bring this up, then, you know, what is he worried about? Is it going to get a lot worse for him? Actually, it could get a bit worse. They could toss him out and I think that would improve his lifestyle quite a bit. MADDOW: He would be a happier man. ROBINSON: He would be done with this silly job. But it actually isn`t that he can`t, it`s that he won`t. He`s not ready to, yet. He believes that he can still play out the string and get something or be able to construe the result in such a way that he can tell the Tea Party members that they got something. And he`ll just kind of lump on. MADDOW: In terms of the way this pressure is felt on the right and whether or not this gets resolved, there`s definitely different perceptions in conservative land versus the rest of the world, in terms of whether or not they actually feel any heat. But we have had a few moments, I think, that are jarring to anybody, no matter where you are in the spectrum. Randy Neugebauer berating the female park ranger about how she ought to be ashamed of herself for enforcing the policy that he voted for. Also, Marlin Stutzman, the congressman from Indiana saying, we just can`t feel disrespected, we`ve got to get something out of this, I don`t even what. The president taking him to task at length for that. Do moments like that change the political momentum? ROBINSON: Oh, I think they do, but, you know, there hasn`t been all that much polling, and maybe you can`t put that much stock in it, but as this goes on, I think it`s pretty clear that people understand who did this, who is doing this. And people understand, as that number, in Head Start, goes from 3,000 to 18,000 to who knows what, more people are going to appreciate and feel what this shutdown is going. I mean, this is absurd! This is the United States of America and we don`t have a government right now. You know, Rachel! Come on! MADDOW: I share your sense that this is absurd. I also see no way out of this. I have to say, I do not see -- I can barely see into the tunnel, let alone the end. ROBINSON: I am not quite as sanguine as Ezra Klein is. We may avoid the debt crisis, the debt limit crisis, but the shutdown -- John Boehner, call John Boehner and ask him when he wants it to end because that`s -- (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The Post", MSNBC political analyst -- thank you, Gene. It`s great to have you here. All right. Throughout this whole shutdown crisis, there may be only one person in the U.S. Capitol who has really, really been telling it like it is, to the faces of Congress. And they have to sit there and take it without saying anything back. And we`ve got it on tape and it`s amazing. And that`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Apart from all of the current drama in Washington, right now the other thing going on in politics is that people who want to run for president are quietly making trips to Iowa. "The Des Moines Register" is full of stories about local visits from Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Scott Brown? Seriously? Scott Brown? Everyone who is thinking about running in three years is in Iowa already, because the Iowa caucuses, of course, are first in the nation. That said, Iowa screwed up its caucuses this past time, at least they did on the Republican side. Part of it was that the Republicans never said with any confidence this past year who actually won their caucuses, so that was bad. Now, though, there are gory new details emerging about the other much bigger problem that they have in Iowa. And that problem, apparently, is bribery. Republican politicians paying off Iowa politicians for endorsements in the caucuses. The state Senate Ethics Committee in Iowa filed a 500-page report yesterday which found probable cause that an Iowa state senator accepted payment from a Michele Bachmann PAC for being her Iowa chair, even though that is against ethics rules, even though the senator denied the Bachmann camp ever paid him. Not only did the Bachmann camp apparently pay him, apparently they did not pay him enough. Because just before the caucuses, after taking all that money from Michele Bachmann and endorsing her, the same state senator changed his endorsement just before the caucuses from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. Yesterday`s ethics report confirmed that that senator then received a $25,000 check from a senior official in the Ron Paul campaign. Wow. Another $73,000 in wire transfers to the senator were found by the investigation to be, quote, "deeply suspicious." Just hours after that report was filed in the Iowa state senate yesterday, that Republican senator resigned. But you know what? It`s not really his scandal if you think about it. I mean, guy who takes bribe. That`s part of the scandal. Bigger scandal is that Republican presidential campaigns apparently have been bribing their way through Iowa, as the first step on the road to the Republican nomination for president. Now, I know there`s other things going on. I know this is not the federal government shutdown. But I think this might be Iowa shutdown. How on earth can Iowa stay first, at least for Republicans, if this is what they have been doing with their first in the nation status? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Let us pray. Have mercy upon us, `O God, and save us from the madness. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Good save us from the madness. One of the most resonant poetic ways to track the madness of our federal government shutdown is to follow where we are, by just following prayers of the Senate chaplain. His name is Barry Black. He`s a retired rear admiral in the United States Navy. He was head chaplain for the whole Navy when he retired from the service in 2003. He was named chaplain. That was the same year that he was chaplain of the United States Senate. So, he has been chaplain there for 10 years. On this past week, on the occasion of this government shutdown, the chaplain has been giving Congress "what for" about them shutting down the government. He does it in a totally nonpartisan way and he was always very succinct. But you can kind of see him now escalating his browbeating of them as the days go by. Each new day needs a prayer to start them off. It started on Friday when the shutdown was still on the other side of the weekend. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLACK: Let us pray. Holy God, you created us for freedom. So keep us from shackling ourselves with the chains of dysfunction. Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Deliver us Lord from governing by crisis. That was Friday. By Monday, when they were actually closing in on the crisis, the chaplain stepped it up. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLACK: Let us pray. Eternal God, as our nation stumbles toward a seemingly unavoidable government shutdown, Lord, lead them away from the unfortunate dialectic of us versus them, as they strive to unite for the common good of this land we love. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: At that night Monday night, they did not unite for the common good of this land we love. Shutdown. So, then on Tuesday when it`s time for the prayer. He goes ahead and calls them cynics and cowards. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLACK: Let us pray. Be merciful to us, `O God, during this legislative stalemate. Help our lawmakers to test all things by their conscience in these days that try our souls. Strengthen our weakness, replacing cynicism with faith and cowardice with courage. We pray in your holy name. Amen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Replace cynicism with faith, cowardice with courage. That was Tuesday, the first prayer of the shutdown in effect you. Can sense his momentum building here, right? I cannot imagine what he`s going to say tomorrow if this keeps going on. But the key words from today`s prayer included smugness, selfishness, hypocrisy, and unreasonableness. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLACK: Let us pray. Have mercy upon us, `O God, and save us from the madness. We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable. Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown. We pray, in your merciful name. Amen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I cannot get within four octaves of that amen. But if the shutdown needs a hero, I think we`ve got one. Nobody is happy about the government shutdown. Nobody is happy about a pointless government shutdown, costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars every day and inflicting needless but real harm on hundreds of thousand, and soon to be millions of Americans. Aside from the congressional Republicans who say that they`re happier than they hatch ever been, nobody is really happy about that harm being done to the country right now. But one man in Washington has the cat bird seat, has prime real estate to tell Congress every day -- to their faces -- exactly how he feels about what they`re doing to the country for what they cannot get over about themselves. And they have to listen to it. They cannot talk back. The fact that he is a man of God, and a rear admiral with 27 years in the Navy adds some heft off to it, sure. But even without that, these increasingly hard hitting daily prayers are doing a pretty good job of laying down the shame every single day. God bless him. And now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END