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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/04/13

Guests: Marc Veasey, Jeff Merkley

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The last time they voted for governor down in Texas, this is the way Texas voted if you break it down by race. White people in Texas voted for the Republican in that race by a 40-point margin. African-Americans in Texas voted for the Democrat in that race by a 77-point margin. Latinos in Texas also voted Democratic, overwhelmingly in that governors` race. Latinos voted for the Democrat by a margin of 23 points. Now, of course, in the overall sense, the white population was the largest proportion of the vote overall, so the Republican candidate carried the day in that governors race in Texas in 2010, but the racial disparities were really, really, really stark. Same thing in the presidential race in Texas in 2008. It was Barack Obama running against John McCain. White voters went for the Republican by this huge margin. This does not mean that 47 percent of white people voted Republican in Texas. It means that white people voted for John McCain by a 47-point margin. Black voters picked the Democratic candidate for president by a 96-point margin. The black vote in 2008 in Texas was 98-2 for Barack Obama. For Latinos, it was a similar huge margin for the Democrats. The Democratic ticket did better than the Republican ticket among Latino voters in 2008 by a margin of 28 points. There is just a stark, stark racial divide in the voting patterns in Texas. Again, this is the `08 presidential race. I would show you the 2012 presidential numbers, too. But, weirdly, Texas did not get exit polled in 2012, some sort of cost-saving measure or something. So there aren`t 2012 numbers. But you can see between 2008 and 2010, there is a consistency over time. In the last governors race in Texas, in 2010, there was also a disparity in income. Households making over $50,000 all went Republican. Households making under $50,000 all went Democratic. Same thing in the presidential race in 2008. Over 50 grand, they voted for the Republican. Under 50 grand, they voted for the Democrat. So, if you`re a Texas Republican and you`re looking at numbers like this year after year, you`ve got to be thinking, you know, if only there were a way to keep these darn poor people from voting, if only there were a way to single them out, to make it harder for them to vote, that would be good for Texas Republicans. And same thing for Hispanics -- Latinos in Texas are almost 40 percent of the population, that`s from the census in 2010. But in that election that year in Texas, the proportion that turned out to vote was not 40 percent Hispanic, it was less than half that. You`re a state with 40 percent Hispanic turnout -- 40 percent Hispanic population with 17 percent Hispanic turnout. And Texas Republicans have to be saying thank God for that, because look at how Latinos in Texas vote. If more of them turn out, Texas Republicans are sunk, right? In 2008, Latinos go for Democrats by 28 points. In 2010, Latinos go for Democrats by 23 points. So, Texas Republicans have got to be thinking, we have got to keep these folks away on Election Day. There`s got to be a way to keep these folks away from the voting booth. And there is. "The Associated Press" has done a new study of the Republicans` changes to the voting laws in Texas. They have found that the draconian new ID law that Republicans passed in that state is essentially a prescription calibrated precisely to solve Republicans` problems in Texas. Look at how this works in Texas counties. Take Williamson County and Hidalgo County. Both of them have less than a million people. But Williamson County is pretty well off and it`s pretty white, 65 percent white, which is pretty white for Texas. Hidalgo County is a really poor county and the population there is 92 percent minority. "The A.P." today goes through the records from both counties and they found that, hmm in the mostly white county, less than 3 percent of the voters in that county are going to have any trouble with the new ID law. People in that county have the ID that you need to be able to vote. But in Hidalgo County, the percentage of voters, legal voters, who will no longer be allowed to vote because they don`t have the right idea -- the right ID, that`s over 9 percent. Problem solved, right? Same thing holds true in the big counties, in the urban counties, like Bexar County and Tarrant Counties, 1.8 million, 1.9 million people in these counties. These are big counties. Bexar County is in San Antonio, Tarrant County is in Ft. Worth. These counties are similar in lots of ways, except Tarrant County is mostly white, Bexar County is mostly Latino. But the ID law is going to affect voting in these counties in a way that is really perfectly suited to Republicans, because the number of people who are legal voters but who are going to be turned away from voting because they don`t have the right documentation? Look at it, it`s 2-1. It`s 2-1. In the white county, it`s only going to affect like 3 percent of voters, but in the Latino county, it`s going to be more than double that. Overall, this new "A.P." analysis of voter lists from every Texas county finds that counties with higher poverty rates or a higher proportion of minorities had higher rates of voters without IDs. So, tomorrow is Election Day in Texas, just as it is all over the country, but thanks to the w voting laws Republicans have pushed through in that state, that playing field in Texas is on a nice, steep angle, right? And it`s going to stay that way, unless Democrats find a way to get that law thrown out. In Texas tomorrow, even though they have made this big change to who is allowed to vote in the state, it is a fairly low-profile election tomorrow. It`s just a bunch of constitutional amendments and some municipal races that are going to on the ballot tomorrow. It`s not a high- profile race there. But that dynamic that is at work in Texas about who is going to be allowed to vote, that dynamic is happening all over the country, including in the state that is the highest profile race in the country tomorrow, and that, of course, is in Virginia. In the Virginia elections tomorrow, they`re electing a new governor, new lieutenant governor, new attorney general. Ahead of tomorrow`s election in Virginia, the Republican-controlled board of elections forced counties in that state to throw tens of thousands of people off the voter rolls, with no clear instructions for what happens to those people if they turn up to vote tomorrow and they find that they`ve been struck off the voter list. Counties are not being required to notify voters that they were purging them, and they`ve purged more than 40,000 people off the list. So, 40,000 people have been purged. Who knows how many of them have been notified that they`ve been purged. They`re going to turn up to vote tomorrow with no notice that there`s been any problem and no indication of what should happen once they point that out to voting officials. So, tomorrow may be a weird day at the polls across Virginia. In the past, Republicans have not liked to admit publicly what they will sometimes admit privately and what has become an article of political science faith, which is that lower turnout elections benefit Republicans. Higher turnout elections benefit Democrats. That`s always been sort of a known thing in political science. It`s something that Republicans will talk about behind closed doors and in sort of the conservative movement. But for some reason, this year, this has now become something that Republicans are no longer embarrassed about. This has become something that Republican officials will actually get less shy about saying in public and to reporters. So, in Virginia, heading into tomorrow`s big statewide race, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party did an interview with "Politico" this weekend, in which he just blatantly prayed that people don`t turn out to vote in his state. It`s the Republicans` only hope to get Ken Cuccinelli into the governor`s mansion, is if voter turnout is really, really low. "The path for the GOP`s gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli," the chairman says, "looks like this: if turnout is in the 30s, the low 30s, we are going to win." "Politico" points out that in the last presidential election, voter turnout in Virginia was 72 percent. In the last governor`s race, it was 40 percent. But the plan and the prayer and the hope of the Republican Party in Virginia this time around is that nobody turns out. They don`t want to be at 72 percent or at 40 percent. They`ve got to be down toward maybe 32 percent or lower, and then the Republicans might get their way. That`s the only way the Republicans can win. They think 32 percent`s their ceiling. Below that, it would be even greater. Anything above that, they start to get into trouble. Plus, they`ve got the purge on their side, so there`s that. Something has ticked over this year. Something has been triggered or unleashed somehow in this of off-off-year election cycle, where Republicans have been willing to admit this in public, that they really do not want you to vote. The fewer people vote, the better off Republicans are. It`s happening in Texas, it`s happening in Virginia. This is what it sounds like in Nevada. This is the leader of the Republicans in the state assembly in Nevada. This is him talking about why Republicans should all be hopeful about Nevada elections this year. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) STATE ASSEMBLYMAN PAT HICKEY (R), NEVADA: We have some real opportunities in 2014. This is a great year in an off-presidential election. Probably where we had a million voters turn out in 2012, we`ll have like 700,000, a lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a nonpresidential year. It`s a great year for Republicans! (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s a great year for Republicans. Young people might not vote. Minorities might not vote. We might have a very small number of people voting. Wouldn`t that be great for Republicans? That`s how we can win. That`s the only way we can win. This has become a very unsubtle, very overt thing in partisan politics all of a sudden. Today on the eve of Election Day in Minnesota, a lawsuit was filed against the secretary of state in that state, in Minnesota. Just a month ago, the secretary of state, who`s in charge of the smooth running of elections, after all, he launched this new Web site. In Minnesota, it gives you an easy way as an eligible Minnesota voter to register to vote online. The secretary of state is a Democrat who put this up in Minnesota. In the month that the Web site has been up and running, more than 1,900 Minnesotans have applied to register and vote online -- applied to register to vote online. And 1,900 in a month is a pretty good pace, right? Especially for an off, off-year when there`s not that much going on in politics. It shows people really want to register to vote, and if they can do it online, that is a very convenient way for them to do it. Today, a lawsuit was filed to shut down that Minnesota Web site, to stop the Minnesota secretary of state from registering people to vote in that convenient way. Guess who filed the lawsuit? Four Republican state representatives, plus two conservative activist groups in Minnesota. Heaven forbid that people be able to register to vote online. Then they might register to vote! And then they might vote! And that, of course, would be bad news. And so, Republicans are suing to stop it. Republicans in state after state after state after state are increasingly openly and overtly admitting that the more people vote, the more that is a problem for them. But tomorrow is election day in mostly low-profile races across the country, Americans have been turning out to vote early already, are planning on voting tomorrow. In states where Republicans are in control, voting has mostly gotten harder over the past few years. In the Texas election tomorrow in Dallas County alone, one out of every four voters has had to file a legal affidavit in order to try to get their vote counted because of these new laws, one in four! In Texas, even the state government admits that something like 700,000 people in the state are legal voters but do not have the ID that you need to be able to show to be able to vote in that state now. Of those 700,000 people, we learned today the total number who have been issued free IDs by the state of Texas so they can get their vote cast and counted -- out of 700,000 people who need these IDs to be able to vote, do you know how many people have got their IDs from the state out of 700,000? As of today, the number is 121 -- not 121,000 -- 121. That is the latest figure we`ve got. We asked tonight and that`s what they told us, 121 out of 700,000 people -- 121 legal voters who will be able to vote; 699,877, eh, maybe not. Happy election eve. Good luck voting. You might need it. Joining us now is Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas. Congressman Veasey is one of several plaintiffs in a lawsuit contesting Texas`s voter ID law. He was a member of the Texas legislature when it originally passed that bill in 2011. Congressman Veasey, thanks very much for being with us tonight. REP. MARC VEASEY (D), TEXAS: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, tomorrow`s going to be the first statewide test of the ID law in Texas on Election Day. We`ve already seen one of the implications of early voting. One in four voters in Dallas is having to file an affidavit in order to try to get their vote counted. How are you feeling about Election Day in your home state? VEASEY: Well, Rachel, Greg Abbott has made a mess out of Texas voting. There was nothing wrong with our voting system in Texas previous to this voting ID law that was passed in the legislature. Texas had great voting laws. We have a very nice early vote period. You can vote for almost two weeks during early vote. Senior citizens have the right to vote by mail. We made it easy to vote by Texas. But because of the numbers that you talked about earlier, Republicans are seeing the growing numbers of Latinos in the state, the growing numbers of African-Americans, and they are beginning to be concerned because they haven`t made any sort of outreach to the black community or the Latino community. And so, they`re trying to skew the elections their way. I think this is a tragedy. And, Rachel, I`ll tell you that it`s so bad that you -- I`m sure that you saw earlier that Wendy Davis actually had to file an affidavit to vote. Greg Abbott, her presumptive opponent in the general election in 2014, he actually had to file an affidavit to vote. But the former speaker of the House, Jim Wright from Ft. Worth, he went to go and try and obtain a voter ID card, and he couldn`t obtain a voter ID card. That`s how absurd this law is. That`s how bad it`s gotten here. And it`s all about suppressing the rights of African-Americans and Latinos, elderly and the poor to vote in the state of Texas. MADDOW: I was struck by the "A.P." observation, what they found in their assessment. They went through county by county and looked at the voter lists in every county in Texas to see the impact of this ID law would be. And they found that Texas voters who don`t have the right ID to be able to vote live disproportionately in counties with high poverty rates and/or a large percentage of minorities. Was that -- was it known that that would be the consequence of this law when you were originally debating it and fighting it in the legislature when you were there? VEASEY: Absolutely. When I was in the state legislature, I made these points. Other Democrats made these points over and over again. We had data that showed that the people that would be disproportionately impacted by this voter ID law were Latino voters and African-American voters. The Republicans never answered the questions that we raised. They were just so eager to pass this particular law that would disenfranchise voters, and I think that what is really sad, Rachel, is that women are being disproportionately impacted by this law in larger numbers than was previously thought. It`s absolutely terrible. And for a state like Texas that is growing so fast, that has such a good reputation as a place to live and do business, it`s sad that now, because of this law that was passed by Republicans, we are known as a state that is trying to make it harder for people to vote just so it can favor the Republican Party. I think it`s terrible. MADDOW: Congressman, when I look at the numbers about Latinos in Texas and their political preferences, which are very, very strongly Democratic, the last few elections voting Democratic by 20, 25-point margins or more. But then I look at turnout numbers in a state that the census says is 40 percent Latino, to only be turning out 17 percent Latino on Election Day, that is obviously something that very much scares Republicans in terms of what would happen if Latinos did start turning out in greater numbers. But it also represents a real failure for the Democratic Party for not having been able to maximize their vote among that population that`s been so friendly to Democratic candidates. What do you make of that and do you think Democrats are getting any better? VEASEY: Well, you know, Democrats, we`re working harder and harder every day on outreach, and we are making gains in the state. And I will tell you that when you look at this voter ID law, I`ve worked on campaigns before, I was an elected official. I worked on campaigns and I saw many Latino citizens that would come into the mall where we ran voter turnout programs in southeast Ft. Worth, and we would ask, would you like to go and vote? And oftentimes, many of those voters would say, yes, I want to vote, but I rode the bus here, or I don`t have my own car, you know, but I -- you know, and so, I can`t vote. And we would say, no, you can vote in Texas, because we have good laws here in Texas. If you have a copy of a bill or if you have an ID card from your university or your high school, you know, you can vote as long as you`re 18 years of age. And now, I know that that same population that I talked with at that mall in southeast Ft. Worth that really wanted to vote, that they`re going to hear this law and they`re going to be discouraged. They`re not going to go back like Speaker Wright did or like Wendy Davis did. They`re going to say that -- they`re going to think that the state of Texas doesn`t want them to vote and they`re going to sit out. And the Republicans knew exactly what they were doing when they saw to disenfranchise these very voters that you are talking about right now. MADDOW: Congressman Marc Veasey, Democrat of Texas -- thanks for helping us understand this tonight, sir. It`s nice to have you here. VEASEY: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. So, Senator Rand Paul has a message for anybody who has accurately reported his habit of lifting other people`s work in his speeches. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m going to have to check the MSNBC handbook, but I am almost sure I would have to turn down that offer anyway. I think it`s must always wear blazer, must never have duel with sitting senator, plagiarism or not. I`m going to have to check. It`s something about that and also you can`t reheat fish in the microwave. I don`t know. We only have a few rules here, but that`s one them. We`ll get back to you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy election eve. Election day this year is a little weirder than usual and a little more interesting than usual, because this year in politics, the most interesting fights going on around the country are not Republicans versus Democrats, they, of course, are Republicans versus other Republicans. For example, the number two Republican in the U.S. Senate, Texas Senator John Cornyn, is a powerful incumbent senator who`s facing re- election next year, but the latest potential challenger to emerge for John Cornyn`s Senate seat is not an up-and-coming Democrat who wants that seat, but rather, this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And whether killing is through abortion or drugs or suicide or anything else, you open the door to killing, it`s got a lot of different manifestations, but that`s the problem. If you choose leaders who say, oh, I support killing. We`ve opened the door to all of it. A door has been opened and we have said, you know, we embrace a wicked policy. OK, then I`ll take my hand of protection off your nation and, whack, here comes storms like we`ve never seen before and here comes floods and here comes climate stuff that we can`t explain all the hot times and all the cold times and too much rain and not enough rain and we`re flooding over here and droughts over here. And today we`re saying, oh, no, it`s global warming. No, we opened the door that lost God`s protection over our environment, and that`s our choice. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, global warming is real and caused by mankind by our choices but not the way you think. Global warming is actually caused by abortion. Wow. And that`s the kind of thing that lands you on the website Right Wing Watch all the time, because you, David Baton, are an amazing thing. David Barton, the abortion causes global warming guy, promises that he is a historian, that he has thoroughly looked into these matters. The former FOX News host Glenn Beck is already calling David Barton senator. He can barely contain himself, he wants him to run against John Cornyn so bad. So, who knows? Abortion causes global warming guy, he could in Texas unseat this guy, could unseat the second most powerful Republican in the Senate. That was the news just today from the Republican civil war, the Republican war on its own incumbents. And every day is a new amazing story that way about the way Republicans are attacking themselves. But it`s not all just promises, it`s not all just frothing at the mouth and exciting Glenn Beck about what might be some day. Sometimes it`s real concrete action and elections, and tomorrow we`re actually going to know the result of one of these fights, in Alabama. The fight in Alabama is between these two Republicans. They`re in a runoff to fill a congressional seat. The guy on the left is Bradley Byrne. He`s been in public office for a lot of years, went to the University of Alabama`s Law School. He served on the state board of ed. He was a state senator for two terms. The guy on the right is Dean Young. He is a business guy, and he is the Tea Party guy in this Republican-on-Republican contest. "The Guardian" newspaper recently posed some basic getting to know you questions to these two congressional candidates. For example, who is the current treasury secretary? Bradley Byrne has a little trouble but gets there eventually. He says, "Is it Jack Lew?" Yes, it is. Dean Young cannot get there. He says, it was Paulson. Is it Tim Geithner now? No, it is not. They asked, who`s your political hero? Bradley Byrne says, "Winston Churchill". Pretty out there. That`s a foreigner, as you know. Dean Young, for his part, says, "Judge Roy Moore." Judge Roy Moore is the guy who got thrown off the court for putting up the ten commandments in the courtroom. Yee-haw! Next question, who is the Republican whip in the House of Representatives? Which, of course, is the institution that these guys are running to join. Mr. Byrne says the Republican whip is Kevin McCarthy, which is true. Dean Young says, "I don`t know. Eric Cantor? Is that who it is?" No, that is not who it is. This was a real hard one. Do you think gay people can feel the same love for one another as straight people? Bradley Byrne says. "Yes". Dean Young says, "When you start talking about that, I don`t even know. Homosexuality is wrong and that`s just the way it is. Always has been, always will be." They saved the stumper for last. Where was President Barack Obama born? Mr. Byrne says he was born in Hawaii. He has produced a birth certificate. Dean Young says, "That`s what I call the $64,000 question. I have no idea!" When pushed for an answer, he said, "Kenya." In this Republican versus Republican race in Alabama, guess who`s leading into the polls heading into tomorrow`s voting? If you guessed the Kenya guy, the who`s Eric Cantor guy, the who`s the treasury secretary guy, you would be correct. He is ahead in the most recent poll in this congressional race by three points. Republican-on-Republican fights are always amazing, but tomorrow is going to be really amazing. I hope you plan to stay up late with us tomorrow to watch these results come in. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There are some late developments to bring u tonight on, you guessed it, another previously unreported example of what appears to be plagiarism by Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. It was a week ago tonight that we first reported this story, but now every single day, the story seems to get worse. Tonight, Andrew Kaczynski at "BuzzFeed" is reporting for the first time that a September op-ed written by Senator Paul in "The Washington times" appears to have been largely lifted without attribution from an article that appears in a magazine called "The Week," just a few days earlier than the op ed. That article in "The Week" reads in part, "By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances." That exact line, word for word, appears in Senator Rand Paul`s op-ed for "The Washington Times," with no quotation marks and with no attribution given to the source. And it`s not just that one section. Senator Paul appears to have plagiarized large sections of that whole article for his "Washington times" op-ed in September. He also, apparently, repeated those plagiarized sections without attribution in testimony that he delivered before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 16th. So, plagiarism in print and plagiarism in testimony to the Judiciary Committee. Again, he`s saying this stuff as if it is his own words, when it`s not. It`s copied. So, this is just now the latest reported example of plagiarism by Senator Rand Paul. You can add it to the list, which at this hour is long and still growing. We`re going to have more on this coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Frequently, but apparently, without any consequence at all, frequently, the Web site "PolitiFact" is wrong, completely wrong. Marco Rubio said a majority of Americans are conservatives. "PolitiFact" looked into that, found that that is not true, and then they ruled his statement half true. President Obama made two claims about jobs numbers in a big speech, claims that were true. "PolitiFact" admitted the claims were true. They rated his statement half true. "PolitiFact" fact-checked a statement by Lawrence O`Donnell that the G.I. Bill had once been denounced as a form of welfare. That happened in real life. That is a true statement. "PolitiFact" rated it mostly false. "PolitiFact" is terrible at what they do. "PolitiFact" is terrible. Fact-checking is an important, important job, and there are people who do it well. "PolitiFact" does it terribly over and over and over again. Here was "PolitiFact" being terrible in May of this year. This was something they completely bollixed up when they tried and failed, as usual, to fact-check the CBS show "Face the Nation." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, TENNIS LEGEND: We still don`t have equal rights. I have been getting on Twitter, oh, why does this matter? I don`t care, which is kind of code for I really don`t want to know. But it does matter, because in 29 states in this country, you can still get fired for not just being gay, but if your employer thinks that you`re gay, you can still get fired. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova saying on CBS show "Face the Nation", that in 29 states in this country, you can get fired for being gay, or even if your boss just thinks you`re gay. "PolitiFact" decided to check that out. It`s not a hard thing do. If in fact, they found without looking into it too much Googling, it`s pretty easy to find, that indeed only 21 states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. So, let`s see. There are 50 states. If only 21 of the 50 states had discrimination laws that protect gay people, that means, right, 29 states do not have that protection. So, in those states, just like Martina Navratilova said, you can get fired for being gay or even if your boss just thinks you are. So, they checked what she said, they found it to be true. So, naturally, "PolitiFact" finding that her statement was true, rated it -- half true! "PolitiFact" is terrible! Terrible, terrible at what they do. And also, in 29 states, you really can be fired from your job if you`re gay or if your boss thinks that you`re gay, just like she said. The next time you want to cite "PolitiFact" as a source on something being truthful or not, don`t. Just fact-check whatever it is yourself. Even if you are drunk at the time you are doing it, you will do a better job than "PolitiFact" does. Stop talking about them and maybe they will wither away. OK. Today, in the United States Senate, there was a bit of drama involving plane rides and timed votes. It was a 15-minute vote scheduled on ENDA, which is the nondiscrimination bill that would make it illegal to fire somebody for being gay in all 50 states. Two of the senators who were known to be in favor of the bill, one a Democrat, one a Republican, were stuck on airplanes and not back to Washington in time to cast their votes. When it became clear that they might not be able to defeat the Republican filibuster against this bill without their votes, supporters of the bill started lobbying other Republicans to try to get over the 60-vote threshold, extending well into the allotted voting time with every Democrat on board but not enough Republicans there to get it done. That on the floor and in the cloak room lobbying today finally at the last minute brought on board these three Republican senators, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Rob Portman of Ohio. And with their votes, the bill cleared the Republican filibuster and is now on a path to pass the Senate once and for all on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. It was very dramatic. Passing the Senate, though, isn`t enough to make it law. And the Republican leadership in the House today said they will not even allow this discrimination bill to be brought up for a vote in the House. The speaker says he`s against it, says the Republicans will not even let the House consider it. What`s weird, though, is the stated reason why they`re against it. John Boehner and the Republican leadership in the House say they will not allow a vote on this bill because they say it`s already illegal to fire someone for being gay. Quote, "They believe existing law provides these protections." Existing law does not provide these protections. Remember? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NAVRATILOVA: In 29 states in this country, you can still get fired for not just being gay, but if your employer thinks that you`re gay, you can still get fired. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s true! That is a true statement. Whatever "PolitiFact" takes issue with, you can be pretty sure that it is true, and that is true. But this is a weird thing about this law in particular. Republicans are not necessarily arguing about this law on its merits. They`re arguing that the law already exists, and therefore, there is no need for this change? Speaker John Boehner`s office telling Sam Stein at "Huffington Post" today, quote, "This is covered by existing law." That is not true at all. In 29 states, there really is no protection in law against you being fired for your sexual orientation. It`s even more states for your sexual identity. But the Republican explanation for why they will not follow the senate to fix that problem is to deny the factual truth of what existing law is. This is not usually the way we fight over policy in this country. This is a really, really weird one, or as "PolitiFact" would say, this is totally normal. Joining us now for the interview is Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He introduced the ENDA legislation in the current Congress. He led the effort to pass it in the Senate. Senator Merkley, thanks very much for being with us. It`s nice to have you here. SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Oh, you`re welcome, Rachel. It`s great to be with you. MADDOW: So, 17 years ago was the last time this nondiscrimination issue was voted on in the Senate. It lost by one vote 17 years ago. Why are you on a path to pass it in the Senate right now, do you think? MERKLEY: Well, the difference now is that that vote 17 years ago, we only needed a simple majority or 50 plus the vice president. We lost 49-50 because one senator was absent. And now, we have to get 60 votes, both to close debate to get on the bill. And I should clarify, tonight we just broke the filibuster to get on to the bill. We`ll have to break another filibuster to get to a final vote. MADDOW: Oh, wow. MERKLEY: So, we have amendments in between. We`re not there yet. But I do hope that what happens this week in the Senate will provide the momentum that we`ll finally as a nation say you should be able to get hired and not get fired without your sexual identity being the issue. MADDOW: When you have done the personal lobbying that you have done of your colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle, and when you have seen Republicans who support this legislation lobby their colleagues about casting a vote in the same way that you did today, what are the arguments that are persuading them? Why are people like Pat Toomey and Kelly Ayotte and Rob Portman and Mark Kirk and these other Republicans able to come along when the rest of their colleagues on the Republican side aren`t? MERKLEY: One of the real concerns was religious exemption, and we anchored it in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and that`s answered a lot of the concerns that they had about balancing religious organizations and this issue of employment discrimination. By taking the standard of the Civil Rights Act, that helped a lot. The only thing they were really worried about we lawsuits, and by looking at those 21 states you referred to and their record, we find that lawsuits do not materialize in surprising numbers or cause a real problem for business, and thus, businesses are very much on board with nondiscrimination. So, those have been two key factors in bringing this together. MADDOW: What do you make of the argument from the house leadership that they are not going to allow a vote on this on their side of Capitol Hill because they believe it`s legally unnecessary? They believe it already is illegal to fire someone for sexual orientation or sexual identity. I have to admit that I was struck by the strangeness of this as a factual assertion. MERKLEY: It`s one of the most astounding things I`ve ever heard. To have it be perfectly legal to fire somebody in 29 states of this nation because of their sexual orientation and then to have somebody say those 29 states don`t really have those laws? But they do. MADDOW: Yes. MERKLEY: And it`s why we`ve been having this conversation for, it`s almost 40 years since Bella Abzug first introduced this in the House of Representatives, 39 years this year. And millions of Americans have been denied the opportunity to have full pursuit of happiness or equality under the Constitution because of these laws, and it`s time to put an end to this kind of discrimination, because it affects not only the individuals and their ability to fulfill their dreams, but it affects the promise of all of America when the potential of individuals is compromised. MADDOW: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, you have been a very clear voice on the subject. I know you have fought hard on this. Congratulations on today`s procedural vote and keep in touch with us this week as this moves forward. MERKLEY: Very good. Sure will. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks very much, Senator Merkley. Rand Paul`s Wikipedia plagiarism scandal is metastasizing into weird shapes unforeseen just a few days ago. We will have the latest with no shooting, straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Tomorrow is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which means that it`s Election Day across the country! Washington state is going to vote on a ballot measure about whether or not products derived from genetically modified organisms have to be labeled as such. One of those failed in California last time around. Washington should be very close. That will be interesting. Eleven counties in Colorado tomorrow are going to vote on whether or not they want to secede and form north Colorado. It will probably never happen, but still, they`re trying. New Jersey not only tomorrow votes for governor, they also vote statewide on whether or not to raise New Jersey`s state minimum wage. New York is going to vote for New York City mayor tomorrow. But also, on the statewide question of whether to open casinos across New York state. Boston`s going to pick a mayor tomorrow. Virginia, of course, picks a governor and Virginia picks a governor, lieutenant governor and an attorney general. It may be an off off-year Election Day tomorrow, but it is still an election. And we are going to be all over it tomorrow night here on MSNBC, with the election music and everything. Cancel your plans. You will want to spend tomorrow night with us right here. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: What used to be the controversy about Senator Rand Paul as an author was that he hired this guy to be his ghost writer, the Southern Avenger! A conservative Confederate flag wearing commentator who would write longingly about avenging the South. "John Wilkes Booth was right." John Wilkes Booth, of course, assassinated Abraham Lincoln. So says the Southern Avenger, quote, "I raise a personal toast to every May 10th to celebrate John Wilkes Booth`s birthday." When Rand Paul was called out for having this guy ghost write Rand Paul Tea Party manifesto book, Senator Paul`s defense for having the toasting the Lincoln assassin guy as his paid ghost writer, was that all of that Confederate stuff from that guy was sort of a youthful indiscretion. Can no one do dumb things in their youth that they grow out of as adults? The problem with that defense was it turns out it was only a few months before Rand Paul hired him that the Southern Avenger was still defending in print the virtues of southern secession. So, the confederate flag wrestling mask unrepentant Confederate toasting the assassination of Lincoln, him being hired by Rand Paul to ghost-write his book, that used to be the controversy about Rand Paul as an author. Now, the controversy about Rand Paul as an author is what was first reported by "BuzzFeed" Andrew Kaczynski over the weekend. Reported that three solid pages of Senator Paul`s most recent book was lifted without quotation marks directly from a right wing think tank. For context, I should tell you that is a block of text longer than the lead story in today`s "New York Times" just copied straight up and reprinted in his book as if it is his own words. And another section of the same book was lifted directly from a different right-wing think tank. And then tonight, yet more, Mr. Kaczynski at "BuzzFeed" reporting tonight on yet another example of Rand Paul lifting language, in this case from a magazine article for an op-ed that he wrote in "The Washington Times". He then apparently repurposed that same plagiarized text to use as testimony in the Senate. Asked on ABC`s Sunday morning show yesterday about just some of what he has been caught stealing from others and presenting as his own work, Senator Paul told ABC the people reporting this information about him are hacks and haters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: I think I`m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters. And I`m just not going to put up with people casting aspersions on my character. I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say that people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting, I have never intentionally done so. And like I say, if -- you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can`t do that because I can`t hold office in Kentucky. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senator Paul takes the reporting what he does in his books and his speeches as an insult. He says he is being unfairly targeted. He goes so far to say it would be the cause of a challenge of duel if dueling were still allowed in Kentucky. Senator, there`s nothing wrong in the reporting and there is nothing intended to be personally insulting about the reporting. It is true reporting which shown in many instances, in print and out loud, you have lifted whole long passages of other people`s work and passed it off as your own. I understand that may be an uncomfortable thing to hear. Senator Paul seems to be sort of skirting the line between shame and anger on this, right? But there`s nothing wrong with the reporting. This sort of thing happens. You know, this show, we`ve been on the air long enough I have experienced this kind of argument before. At one point, we had a strange exchange when Marco Rubio was running for the Senate, where on the show I pointed out he was running as a fiscal conservative, but he`d put out a budget proposal that would raise the deficit by $3 trillion. Mr. Rubio responded to that reporting by me by saying, essentially, I`m proud to be insulted by this Rachel Maddow character. If she thinks I`m wrong, then I must be right. OK. You are still putting forth a budget that would raise the deficit by $3 trillion. How about engaging with the facts? This is how it works, though, right? We pointed out that FOX News TV host Bill O`Reilly had unfairly smeared a government employee named Shirley Sherrod rod. Mr. O`Reilly responded by saying, well, you have low ratings. OK. You can try to make this about me. But how about addressing the substance? And now, Senator Rand Paul wants to shoot at me or stab me with a sword or something for reporting something true that he has done wrong as a politician. Responding to the person rather than to the charge is a time-tested tactic. Honestly, it is a symptom of immaturity in our political discourse that this is expected that it is part of the way you respond. But the way the senator is comporting himself in the light of this controversy seems to be having bigger controversy for him than who he tries to start fights with. In the senator`s home town press back home in the state of Kentucky, the reaction to this whole episode has been pretty brutal and it hasn`t had anything to do with me. Last week, on Halloween, in response to the plagiarism revelations, "The Lexington Herald Leader" published a stinging editorial that read in part, quote, "With Senator Paul`s shape shifting history, the plagiarism raises a more fundamental concern, how will the public ever determine what he believes or knows? The sheriff with a big tin star for the law and order crowd, Robin Hood for the liberal enclave. Judging from the flexible persona of the adult Rand Paul, one wonders if the little boy changed costumes from block to block after determining the preferences of adults handing out candy." Today, "The Louisville Career Journal" wrote that the plagiarism revelations in the way that Senator Paul has dealt with this issue calls to mind his refusal to answer their questions about a whole host of unrelated topics, namely, Senator Paul`s refusal to answer the "Career Journal`s" questions about his medical practice and whether or not he really is a board certified ophthalmologist. Which it kind of seems like he`s not. I do not care if Senator Rand Paul ever responds to me personally. He has not come on the show since he wouldn`t answer my questions years ago about the Civil Rights Act. But Senator Paul may yet feel compelled to finally answer questions from his hometown press because of this pressure on him. If that is the case, then this may yet be a growth experience for the young freshman senator. We shall see and we shall hope so. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". En garde! THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END