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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/19/13

Guests: Pat Quinn

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The various branches of the United States military all operate service academies. The service academies are really prestigious institutions, right? There`s West Point, which was founded in 1802. That`s just to orient you on the map, that`s about an hour north of New York City, West Point, New York. The United States Navel Academy, it is in a beautiful spot in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, walking distance from the Maryland state capitol there. The United States Naval Academy founded in 1845. The United States Coast Guard Academy was founded shortly after the civil war. That is here in coastal Connecticut, New London, Connecticut, essentially just opposite Montauk, at the end of Long Island. And then there`s the United States Air Force Academy, which is in a totally different part of the country, it`s way inland in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Colorado Springs is really known for two things -- it`s home to the Air Force Academy, with its big airfield and it`s massive football stadiums. Colorado Springs is also home to Focus on the Family, the right wing social conservative organization. And what`s interesting about Colorado Springs is that those institutions that that city is most known for are right to next to each other. Literally, if you walk out the back door of Focus on the Family and you cross onto the Ronald Reagan Highway, you`re on the landing strip for the Air Force Academy. They are right next to each other. It`s kind of weird. I mean, all the other service academies are relatively near each other on the East Coast, and there`s the Air Force Academy, way inland at Focus on the Family-ville. Service academies are very, very prestigious place to go to school. If you are 18 years old and you`re thinking about a career in the United States military, you, of course, can just enlist. But if your grades are good enough, and you have the recommendations and you can do the PT and you have what it takes for the very stringent application process, you can also choose to apply to these service academy for your chosen branch of the military. And if you get in, and it`s hard to get in, if you get in, you will get a good college level education along with your military training. You will leave that service academy not only with that top ranked education, but also as a military officer. And at the Air Force Academy specifically, one of the things that`s required of every cadet that goes through the academy, is that you have to take part in a counseling program. Yes, counseling obviously sounds way too wussy. So, instead, they call it a coaching program. It is essentially though a counseling program that is mandatory for every Air Force Academy cadet. You`re assigned to something called the Center for Character and Leadership Development, where one of the academy`s counselors -- I mean coaches -- will work with you as a mental personal trainer, to help you reach your goals and live the values of the academy. Every at the academy, every cadet, has to do this in one way or another. John Aravosis today reported for the first time anywhere, that the man in charge of counseling, I mean, coaching at the Center for Character and Leadership Development at the United States Force Academy is this man, Dr. Mike Rosebush. Do you remember the rent boy scandal? Do you remember the scandal? One of the nation`s foremost opponents of the idea that homosexuality is something that can be cured, that the right counseling can cure you of being gay, was this guy George Rekers, who had the Rentboy scandal. He himself had the proponent of curing gay people through therapy, he himself was photographed by "The Miami New Times" returning from a long European vacation in the company of a young man whom he had met and hired through a Web site called The counselor guy tried to say he just needed somebody young and strapping to carry his luggage for him on this trip. But the Rentboy guy himself said actually what he was hired for was to give intimate, special massages to his older and well-paying client on that trip. Two weeks before his trip with the hot, young guy he met at, George Rekers and one of his "being gay can be cured" groups sent this letter to every school superintendent in America. They sent this all 15,000 superintendents in the country, telling them that they should not believe the hype that any of their students might have been born gay or transgender. The letter says, quote, "It is critical to understand that these conditions can respond well to therapy." So, if you`re gay, don`t worry, it can be cured, says the guy with the hooker, masseuse. Sorry, masseuse. George Rekers is part of a group called NARTH, probably the leading pseudo-clinical organization that says they can cure you of being gay. Not long after George Rekers was spotted the Miami airport with his young strapping blond friend, the other well-known organization in the country that pledged to be able to change your sexual orientation, a group called Exodus International, they actually closed up shop. After more than 30 years of maintaining this really high public profile, saying that gay people can be cured, Exodus International earlier this year shot themselves down as an organization. They issued a statement that essentially admitted, yes, you can`t actually change these people. All the leaders at Exodus International who said that they personally had been cured of their sexuality basically said, yes, actually, we`re still gay. It turns out it doesn`t work. Sorry. Here`s the amazing, though -- Exodus International is now gone. George Rekers is now impossible to Google without finding yourself lost in an online world of fascinating gay dating sites. But Michael Rosebush who was the director of counseling at Exodus and co-authored a book with George Rekers of fame, Michael Rosebush has found a way to land on his feet, because he`s the guy who`s now running the mandatory counseling program for all cadets at the United States Air Force Academy. It`s not like he`s been hiding his particular light under a bushel here. I mean, this is his work history. This is his handbook of therapy of how to rid yourself of homosexual attractions, co-authored by him and George Rekers among others. Here`s his other book called "Sanctification Coaching". It kind of sounds like counselor speak word salad that means nothing. But they do spell it out easily in the book. "If you are tired of being distressed over your same-sex attractions, then sanctification coaching was written for you. Its groundbreaking methods will help you achieve sexual purity and heterosexual confidence." Here`s a Web site for his business that he operated before he got hired at the Air Force, showing as you can see there, sad but very attractive men who presumably from the context are gay right this instant, but they`re about to not be gay. This guy`s entire career, before being hired at the Air Force Academy was devoted purely toward curing gay people. That is his resume, that is what his career has been. It`s what his bio says, it is what he does. He is a professional, lifelong career-long I will make you not gay anymore counselor. The thing this guy does is not just disappearing, as groups like Exodus go out of business and NARTH gets humiliated through like the, through no fault of their hunky young consorts who actually do not carry their luggage. This stuff is disappearing in America in part because it is being made illegal. This type of quack counseling that purports to be able to cure people of being gay is now illegal in California and in New Jersey, and coming soon to a state near you. The Air Force, though, does not seem to have a problem with this -- with letting this guy oversee the counseling for every single cadet that goes through the Air Force Academy. What were they thinking in hiring this guy? Yes, he did used to work at Focus on the Family, which we know is just across the road, so maybe they were psyche to save on the relocation allowance? Maybe they`ve run into him at the underpass. Did the Air Force hire him despite his expertise or did they hire him because this is actually what they wanted? This is who they wanted specifically, because of his past, overseeing the mandatory counseling program for every Air Force cadet? We spoke with the Air Force Academy tonight and they confirmed that Dr. Rosebush does have this job and that cadets are required to have this counseling, I mean coaching, through counselors who he oversees. The Air Force told us this evening that the person who hired Dr. Rosebush, this is kind of strange, has retired from the Air Force. And because of that, they said they could not comment on whether his background as an ex-gay counselor factored into the decision to hire him. But they did tell us that this revelations about what his qualifications are would not necessarily lead to his being removed from his current position, because according to an Air Force spokesman, there have been no complaints against him from within the academy. In a statement, the Air Force told us he was hired for his background in leadership development and analytical skills. This would not be the first time that the physical proximity of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Focus on the Family led, I ink, to the conservative movement, and especially the social conservative and religious conservative part of that movement bleeding over into this very specific and very important part of the U.S. military. But in the broader picture, even without infiltrating the United States military at levels like this, the social conservative and specifically the anti-gay parts of the conservative movement, they`re kind of feeling their oats right now. I mean, the Beltway commentary has people who talk about politics for a living keep saying that the Republican Party is changing on this issue, that Republican politics should sometime soon start to be embarrassed or at least get electorally shy about associating themselves with the hardcore antigay politics that surely represents the party`s past and not it`s future. That conversation is happening in the press and it`s happening in the Beltway, by that is not the way conservative politicians are behaving, not at all. This weekend, one of the Republican Party`s mainstream 2016 presidential hopeful, one that`s supposed to be popular with the kids and fresh face for the party, he did an event with the head of the Pat Robertson university law school. See, there`s Marco Rubio there on the invitation on the right. That`s the Pat Robertson law school guy on the left there. He is the guy who put out my nominee for the single greatest Obamacare press release title of all time. Remember that? "Obamacare will mandate free sex changes." Really? Incidentally, also when that George Rekers Rentboy thing came out in "The Miami New Times", that guy from the Pat Robertson law school is the one who defended George Rekers saying that clearly this was a setup. Somebody planted the hooker there. I don`t believe the massager thing for a minute. But there`s Marco Rubio doing an event with him this weekend as part of his 2016 kickoff, right? The Liz Cheney, Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney public feud that erupted over the past 48 hours in Wyoming and in "The New York Times," and on Facebook and in the PR shop hired by the family so they could have their family change in public, that delightful spat was sparked by these ads being run against Liz Cheney in Wyoming as she tries to mount her Senate campaign there against Mike Enzi. This antigay ads being run against Liz Cheney saying she`s too pro-gay for Wyoming. And they seem like back to the future, to have Mike Huckabee`s daughter, her PAC running attack ads against a candidate who has a gay sister saying, see, this shows you`re not anti-gay enough, that may seem like `80 style retro anti-gay politics to do that. But that ad was effective enough in Wyoming, it got Liz Cheney to basically change her stated public opinion now, to now say she`s against gay marriage, to throw her only sister under the bus in the process, because of that pressure from that right wing ad. In Texas right now, anti-gay politics from Rick Perry and from Greg Abbott, his attorney general now and wants to be governor after Rick Perry, their anti-gay politics have driven the state of Texas right now to start personally insulting and mistreating serving members of the United States military, which you would not think would be good politics anywhere, let alone in Texas. But these guys desire to be a purely uncompromising anti- gay in Texas has now brought Texas Republican politics to the point where the state is defying Pentagon policy and defying a direct order from the secretary of defense in order to tell active duty service members who show up at state facilities that they need to get out, that they need to go deal with getting their benefits and their housing allowances and their ID cards elsewhere, because if they are in a same sex relationship and that is their family, Texas doesn`t care that they`re serving service member, Texas doesn`t care that they`re active duty, Texas doesn`t care your kind is not welcome at Texas state offices, get out of here, soldier. A state government choosing to spit in the faces of active duty service members, currently serving troops ought to be a huge political liability for any state politician associated with that behavior, right? But in Texas, the Republican calculation is that it is more important to be really anti-gay than to support the troops. Contrary to Beltway wisdom right now, on the right, radically anti-gay politics are in ascendance in the Republican Party. They`ve got a bunch of big political victories lately. They`ve got the Republican Party wrapped around their finger to the point where people are choosing their anti-gay politics over their support for members of the military. Right now, as the Republican speaker of the House is booking meeting rooms so virulently anti-gay groups can meet in the basement of the U.S. Capitol and is refusing even allowing an anti-discrimination bill to be come up for a vote, right now, the Republican Party, from the very top, is taking a more aggressively anti-gay stance than they have in a really, really long time. It`s weird and you would never know it from reading the Beltway press but that really is what`s going on in Republican politics. And to the contrary, on the other side, in the blue states, it`s completely opposite to that, particularly since the Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act this summer. Democratic controlled states are rushing now to the courts, through the legislature, through voters` own decisions to move forward a Democratic controlled state in this area of civil rights, particularly on the issue of marriage. A couple started getting married in New Jersey a month ago yesterday. The Hawaii state legislature voted last week to approve equal marriage rights for that state. And tomorrow, in the state of Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn, himself a staunch Catholic who nevertheless has championed the issue of gay rights in his state, Governor Pat Quinn will sign a bill into law tomorrow, making Illinois the 16th state in the nation to recognize equal rights for all married couples in that state. The two parties are moving in two completely different directions on this issue of policy. It`s not being reported that way. It`s not being talked about that way in the Beltway press. But that is the way it`s going. Don`t listen to what Republican pundits say Republican politicians ought to do. Look at what they are doing. You would think it was 1992 all over again and these guys were cheering for Pat Buchanan at the Republican National Convention. Nobody calls it a culture war anymore. But as much as anytime in the last generation right now, there are definitely two sides on this issue. Joining us now is the governor Illinois, Pat Quinn. Governor Quinn, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to see you. GOV. PAT QUINN (D), ILLINOIS: Yes, same here, Rachel. How are you doing? MADDOW: I`m good. Thank you. Why did you decide to champion civil unions a couple of years ago and why did you decide to make it such a priority to pursue equal marriage rights in Illinois? QUINN: Well, Dr. King once said it`s always the right time to do the right thing. It is the right and, you know, it`s ironic, today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address delivered by Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. And I was at his tomb this morning, and at the presidential library last night where we heard the Gettysburg address. And it begins right at the beginning with saying, "We`re a nation conceived in liberty and we`re dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." So, liberty and equality, that`s what marriage equality is all about. And it`s very important that our state I think send a message because we`re the most representative in the Union of the whole American population. And by signing the bill into law tomorrow for marriage equality, we`ll be the 16th state and I hope we can spread the movement all across the other 34 states in the Union. MADDOW: When you look at the future of this issue, particularly in your state, now that you`re going to have this change in the law, do you think that is -- that fact in the law and the fact of equally married couples in your states is going to continue to change the politics around this issue? There was a big issue in Illinois Republican politics when the state chairman essentially was forced out of that job in the Republican Party for supporting equal marriage rights. Do you think that changes once people can get married in Illinois? QUINN: I sure hope so. You know, there was a chairman of the Republican Party in our state who favors marriage equality and he was drummed out of the party basically, kicked out. But, you know, the people are way ahead of politicians on this issue. And I -- the people of Illinois favored marriage equality by a good majority, and it was really special I think two weeks ago when the debate occurred in the Illinois House that led to the passage of the bill, it was very reverent and important debate, people listened and spoke from the heart. And that`s what it`s all about, that`s what democracy is all about. And I think the process of democracy will lead to more states adopting marriage equality, I hope sure so. And our state`s a big state. We`re the fifth largest in the country and I sure hope we can get marriage equality in Texas real time soon. MADDOW: Well, on that issue of Texas, obviously, as governor, you`re commander in chief of the National Guard in your state as -- QUINN: Right. MADDOW: -- as Governor Perry is in Texas. I`ve got to ask your reaction to his decision to refuse to afford equal treatment to all married couples among service members, defying a direct order by the Pentagon, pushing that conflict actually further now. He`s now adding additional things that same-sex service members, families are not allowed to do in the state of Texas. They are being sent to federal offices instead. What`s your reaction to that? QUINN: Well, he`s just plain wrong. You know, as commander in chief of our Illinois National Guard, I went to Iraq and Afghanistan a couple of years ago with Governor Perry. As a matter of fact, I was his roommate and I was sentenced to the harshest punishment known to man, seven days on the road to Rick Perry. And I don`t agree with him on his position on discriminating against those who have a right under federal law to marry and have their rights recognized by the United States military. I think it`s very, very important that we protect all of our service members who volunteer, answer the call of duty, defend our democracy, our right of government of the people. You know, Abraham Lincoln a long time ago, he was in Illinois National Guard and he understands how important it was to volunteer to defending our democracy. And that`s what we believe in Illinois, we`re a welcoming state. We don`t want to where like any state that would discriminate against people when it comes to equality in the matter of love. MADDOW: Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, thank you for your time tonight. I imagine that planning ceremony tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it, sir. QUINN: Yes. We`re going to have 3,000 or more people packed together. It`s going to be a special day for democracy. MADDOW: It`s going to be a big day in Illinois. Thank you, sir. Appreciate your time. QUINN: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Creigh Deeds and I both have -- let`s face it -- sort of funny names. (LAUGHTER) Still trying to figure out the spelling of Creigh. (LAUGHTER) But that`s not the reason I`m here tonight. It`s not just because of my personal bias. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We have devoted a lot of ink on this show to weird and dramatic twists and turns in the politics of the great state of Virginia. Before the "Ripley`s Believe It or Not" victory of Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe in the governor`s race, before the Republican Party upended their own nominating process to pick a really surprisingly hard right wing ticket that then lost the most interesting election anywhere in the country this year. Before the outgoing governor`s bribery scandal, we were the first national to cover the state controversies in Virginia over forced ultrasound and reproductive rights and voting rights and, and, and, and. We have spent a ton of time covering Virginia in the show in the past few years, often with snarky headlines like "Below the Beltway", or the "Virginia Monologues", or "SpongebBob and Friends" when we were talking about the governor`s corruption scandal. Because Virginia politics have been amazing recently, we have covered Virginia politics on this show a lot. But the political news in Virginia came to a halt today with a tragic and almost unimaginable piece of news out of Bath County. Bath County is north of Roanoke, Virginia. It`s way out in the western part of the state. When Governor Bob McDonnell was elected governor in Virginia, the Democrat who beat to get that job was State Senator Creigh Deeds. Creigh Deeds had also run against Bob McDonnell four years earlier, for Virginia attorney general, a race that was beyond close. Before the attorney general`s race this year, which still isn`t decided, that Creigh Deeds/Bob McDonnell race was the closest statewide race in the history of Virginia. Creigh Deeds is a well-regarded, well-liked middle of the road Democrat in Virginia. He`s famous for supporting gun rights among other positions that are popular for his rural district. Creigh Deeds` son Gus was a co-chair of Sportsmen for Deeds, in his dad`s last campaign. That`s him there on the left. His son also loved blue grass and he played banjo, which made for this, I think, super awesome "A.P." photo from the campaign trail during his dad`s losing campaign for governor. Well, today, at Senator Deeds` home in rural Bath County, it appears that the senator`s son attacked his father with a knife, stabbing him multiple times in the head and upper body. Senator Deeds survived. He`s being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center. But sources told the local press today that he lost a lot of blood. His condition is described by the hospital now as fair. Again, at this time, the working theory is that the person who stabbed Senator Deeds and nearly killed him was his son, Gus. Police say they`re not looking for any other suspects. First responders at the scene found Gus at the place where his father was stabbed, at the same home. Gus himself was near death when first responders found him, his near- death from a gun shot wound. First responder summoned a medevac helicopter to try to save Gus, but he died on the scene in Bath County. Police are treating this as an attempted murder and a suicide. Gus Deeds was 24 years old. "The Richmond Times Dispatch" first reported that yesterday, he had been hospitalized briefly under an emergency custody order, which allowed him to be held for four hours so he could be evaluated psychiatrically to see if he should be held even longer. Quoting "The Times Dispatch", "The son was evaluated Monday," meaning yesterday, "at Bath Community Hospital, but he was released because no psychiatric bed could be located for him across a wide area of western Virginia." For whatever reason, this young man was committed for psychiatric care yesterday, but then he was released, specifically because there was nowhere to put him. That`s at least the reporting from "The Times Dispatch". Virginia mental health beds, at least in part, that part of the state, if this reporting is correct, was just maxed out. There wasn`t anywhere to go. Last year, a report by a mental health advocacy group tried to raise the alarm that cuts to mental health services had caused a severe shortage of beds for psychiatric patients. That led to a burst of local news coverage in and around Virginia about how Virginia in recent years had cut more than 250 available beds for psychiatric patients in the state, leading to a severe shortage of help for people suffering in extremis with mental illness, with just nowhere for them to go. A Fairfax County state senator today said of this tragedy at the Deeds home, quote, "This was preventable," describing a lack of psychiatric beds that prevented them from holding Gus Deeds yesterday, described that as, quote, "breakdown in the mental health system." Gus Deeds was the valedictorian of his high school class. He broke school records for perfect scores on states standardized tests. He had the highest class average in 10 different subjects. This past spring, he made the dean`s list at the College of William & Mary. He`s survived tonight by his three siblings, by his mother, and thankfully by his father. We`ll let you know more as we learn more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: NBC News Richard Engel is one of my favorite people to talk to in the world about anything. But when Richard is personally breaking a really big story as he did today, he is definitely the best person to talk to in the world about that. Richard Engel broke a huge story today and he`s here live, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We are accustomed to thinking of the end of a war as a good thing, right? Say, a time for skipping out into the streets and grabbing somebody good-looking and giving them a kiss. And, yes, we thump our chest in roar when a war begins. But we are so very happy when a war finally ends. In October 21st, 2011, President Obama announced that U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq right away, the very last of them would be home for Christmas that year. The war was over. After 8 1/2 long years, the troops were coming home, all of them. NBC`s Richard Engel was there when they crossed out of Iraq and shut the gate behind them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS: It is now just after sunrise here in Kuwait as the last American troops leave Iraq. Some of the soldiers have been waving, others taking pictures to remember this moment -- the moment the Iraq war ended. (voice-over): Moments later, the gate to Iraq was shut. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Iraq was a war that our nation`s leaders chose, and American troops by the hundreds of thousands were stuck there for more than eight years, fighting and dying, even after it quickly became clear that the pretenses under which they were sent to Iraq were false. And after all that, you might have expected that the closing of the actual physical gates on that bloody, expensive, morally disastrous war would be cause for celebration, bipartisan, nonpartisan, beyond partisan celebration in America. But that is not how it went. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Unfortunately, unfortunately, it is clear that this decision, of a complete pullout of United States troops from Iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests. DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We`re now in a situation where we`re pulling all of our troops out of Iraq -- period, no stay behind force. That`s a mistake. MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They were unable to negotiate a status of forces agreement to allow the 10,000 to 20,000, to 30,000 troops to remain which I think was a failure on the part of the administration. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: President Obama got the troops out of Iraq. Republicans were furious. They wanted that war to keep going. They wanted thousands of Americans to stay in Iraq indefinitely. But that kind of arrangement was not agreed to between our government and the Iraqi government. And so, sadly, every American came home, and almost everyone in the country not named Cheney or McCain or maybe Romney celebrated that the troops were home. That one of America`s forever wars was finally over. But even as that happened, the other forever war dragged on. Just a few months before the last U.S. troops left Iraq, President Obama announced that U.S. troops would also be leaving Afghanistan eventually. He said the U.S. would start bringing troops home then, but it would take a long time to get them out. He said the U.S. would start handing security responsibilities over to the Afghans, but the process wouldn`t be complete, and American soldiers wouldn`t be scheduled to leave until the end of 2014. By 2014, in the president`s words, the transition will be complete. And yet, it has not been exactly clear what complete would mean in this context. It has not been clear whether or if any U.S. troops are going to remain behind and for how long. And that led to this, frank and I think startling question from an American service member, a master sergeant, for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaking a year ago. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MASTER SERGEANT: Sir, I`m Master Sergeant (IANUDIBLE) from communications squadron. Looking at the long term plan, I understand that -- my understanding is that the drawdown in Afghanistan is not completely, is not completely pulling out. So, can we expect five, ten years from now our children will still be serving in that region of the world to maintain security? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Five, ten years from now, Mr. Secretary, are my kids going to be serving in Afghanistan too? The answer from the defense secretary that day was basically, yes. He said the plan was to have an enduring presence in Afghanistan, even after the war was technically over. Well, today, NBC`s Richard Engel broke the news of what the plan is, for that enduring presence. Richard has posted an early draft of an agreement between the American and Afghan governments allowing for an ongoing presence of American troops in Afghanistan, even after the end of 2014, thousands of U.S. troops and major U.S. facilities on the ground. Richard writes, "The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new open ended U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan." "The war in Afghanistan," he says, "does not seem to be ending, rather it is being renewed under new scaled down terms." Joining us now live from Kabul is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Richard, congratulations on this scoop. Thanks for being here tonight. ENGEL: It`s a pleasure to be with you as always. Kabul is missing you. MADDOW: Yes, I was going to say. ENGEL: You`ll have plenty of time to come back, it seems. MADDOW: I was just going to say -- I know that spot, and I have a feeling we`re going to be seeing you long there longer than we expected to be. Richard, I`ve got to ask you -- what struck you about this draft agreement when you first got a hold of it? ENGEL: Well, I was struck by the scale of it. As you mentioned earlier, there`s always been this vague notion which now U.S. officials are saying was never vague. We said all along there was never going to be this enduring presence. But really, it was all vague. It was never clear how many troops were going to stay, it was never clear how long they were going to stay, and some of these questions remain unanswered. But what is clear, when you see a draft of this document, is that U.S. officials and Afghan officials behind closed doors have been very hard at work hammering out a detailed agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay here that would, in fact, require an enduring U.S. presence for decades or at least a decade or more. The document talks about going up through 2024, and beyond. MADDOW: Wow. ENGEL: It outlines a variety of commitments like U.S. paying for Afghan security forces, securing Afghan security forcers, maintaining outposts that are not called bases but that are called access to Afghan bases, but access where the U.S. personnel would have exclusive control and could keep their planes and vehicles inside and would be allowed to patrol the perimeter and taxation and that they would receive mail without subject to subject to censorship or confiscation. Very detailed agreements, talking about a new phase of the war. And what I was struck about, is -- I`m in Afghanistan right now because potentially several thousand leaders, tribal leaders, and politicians in Kabul are going to start debating this openly over the next few days here to decide if this is a good deal for Afghanistan. The reason this is all coming out right now is Afghanistan doesn`t think that this is a good enough deal and they want to try and get a better deal. And I was struck that, why is it that the United States knows much about this when at the end of the day, it will be the U.S. paying for all this and sending its sons and daughters to support all of this. MADDOW: Right. The debate about whether it is a good deal for the United States of America, even after technically the end of our longest war ever in America history, it seems like a debate worth having. I don`t want to ask you to compromise your sources at all, but do you think the word is getting out through the scoop that you got today? Do you think that this draft is being leaked because the Afghans are dissatisfied or because the Americans are dissatisfied? ENGEL: I think that both sides, the Afghans -- the Americans think this is a done deal, that this is no big deal, that this is an important thing for Afghanistan`s instability, and that it`s an important thing to safeguard the American progress that has been made, those are both the diversions of events that are being explained to me from U.S. and Afghan officials. Both of them seem like this is a done deal and what we`re seeing now is negotiating tactics, with the Afghans debating this so they can get slightly more restrictive procedures put in place so that American troops who will stay won`t be allowed to enter Afghan homes, or that they will be required to high pay a higher percentage of the budget, or pay more in customs duty and taxes. And the Americans are saying that`s just what the Afghans are doing, so don`t worry about this, this is really a negotiating ploy. But nobody seems to be asking, is this a good idea at all? We had 12 constant years of warfare and now we`re going to have an open ended period of training and dependency from Afghanistan. MADDOW: NBC -- ENGEL: Now, there are hard options here, if there is no truth left behind, this country could collapse and the insurgency, the Taliban, the other extremists networks could either take over or make this country ungovernable. So it`s not like you have great options in Afghanistan right now. MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, doing more than anyone in the country as usual, to make this a subject of debate rather than something that we possibly receive, Richard, thank you very much. I really appreciate it, man. Well done. Absolutely. All right. Good to have you back with us. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Late in the day today, the United States Supreme Court decided to not block the Texas anti-abortion law that has shut down or stopped a third of the clinics in that state from providing abortions. This is not a totally done deal. There`s another case about a similar law that may not yet to the Supreme Court. But that ruling came down late today. Also late today, a federal court in Missouri decided to delay the execution of the white supremacist serial killer who is best known for having shot and paralyzed "Hustler" publisher Larry Flynt. The same man confessed to killing 20 people. Larry Flynt survived the assassination attempt and he recently has been lobbying against the planned execution that was schedule for tonight, at a minute past midnight in Missouri. Today, late in the day, a federal judge stayed that execution in Missouri indefinitely. There was a bunch of big national news today, that broke late in the day, all on different issues, but all concerning courts and crime. And in one case, a congressman. Today, in D.C. superior court, Republican Congressman Trey Radel of Florida was charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession. The congressman is in his first term. He was a conservative radio host before coming to Congress last year. We do not yet know the circumstances of his arrest other than the fact that it occurred on October 29 in the district. And he has not yet said anything, he had not yet said anything about it publicly before broke the news from the court documents. The congressman we know is due in court tomorrow, in D.C. So far, there is no sign that he is planning to resign. He did put out an apology statement tonight after "Politico" broke the story. The apology statement said he, quote, "struggles with the disease of alcoholism" and that, quote, "led to an extremely irresponsible choice," one apparently involving cocaine. But, again, Congressman Radel due to appear tomorrow in court to face cocaine possession charges. We will keep you posted as we learn more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a really good story. All right. In late 2010, during year two of the Barack Obama presidency, conservatives all over the country were outraged that President Obama had the nerve, the gall, to go on vacation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS: He is actually shoehorning the job of the presidency into his busy schedule of going on vacation, listening to the comic stylings of George Lopez, swaying to Paul McCartney, playing golf, shooting hoops, taking smokes. What else is this guy doing? Is he ever working? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Is he ever working? The President Obama takes too much vacation thing was not confined to the right-wing fringe and FOX News, it really became a mainstream Republican critique. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) ROMNEY: His idea of a hand-on approach to the economy is getting a grip on his golf club. He`s going off for 17 days in Hawaii. He`ll be playing a lot of golf. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, Hawaii. Can you believe that guy? Why would anybody go there? Republicans have been incredulous and outraged every single time President Obama and his family have gone on vacation, from the very, very beginning of his presidency. In the second year of his presidency, like being mad again at the time, about him going to Martha`s Vineyard. But what`s never really noted in all of that fuming outrage was that this -- is how much time President Obama had taken at that point in his presidency, compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush. That`s a comparative vacation time by that point into the presidency. It doesn`t matter, though, right? Obama is lazy. That guy never works. You know what President Obama does? He puts his feet up on the desk at work. Earlier this year, the conservative Web site, the Drudge Report, posted this photo of the president on the phone in the Oval Office with his foot on the desk. The right lost its collective mind. It was disgraceful. It was offensive. It was -- it was, exactly what lots of presidents before him had done without upsetting anyone. This is called Obama derangement syndrome, right? It`s when common sense, logic, ability to simply Google something vanishes. It surrenders before the superior force of just incoherent blinding disdain for this particular president. Today, a new one that is a doozy. Today, the American right is outraged that President Obama removed the words "under God" from the Gettysburg address. Did you hear that? Oh, my God, did you hear, did you hear? Oh, my God. Oh, my God. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: When Obama recited the Gettysburg address for Ken Burns to be included in the PBS documentary -- Obama left out "under God" from his reading of the passage. That this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. He left out "under God". (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He left out "under God"! This was a thing on the right today, all over the right. Not just on AM radio. Look, "Obama removes God from Gettysburg address." That was at a Web site called Breitbart. Or this one, "Obama omits God from Gettysburg address reading," on the right-wing blogs. On this one, "Watch, President Obama leaves out an important word in the reading of Gettysburg address, God." That was on right-wing radio. "Obama delivers Gettysburg address on YouTube, leaves out under God." The conservative "Daily Caller" Web site was apparently so heated about but their version of the story that they had the managing editor of the whole Web site, write up their article about it. This was the headline at "National Review Online": "Obama cuts `under God` out of Gettysburg address." The conservative media criticism Web site Mediaite also covered it under the guise of covering the outrage about it. "President Obama omits God." The right just had its hair on fire about this today. How dare President Obama, alter the language of the Gettysburg address to remove its reference to God? Yes, he did not do that. The Gettysburg address is one of the speeches where a few different versions exist. Nobody taped it if you know what I mean. At least five versions of the address are in circulation at any given time, which is why you often hear the speech recited differently each time you hear it. When the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns put together his compilation of lots of different people, including actors, politicians, and news anchors, and TV hosts, reading the Gettysburg address, he published for this project all five major known drafts of the speech. And he, he, let it be publicly known that he asked President Obama, specifically to read a very early draft called the Nicolay draft, and that draft does not include the phrase "under God", which is why President Obama did not include the phrase "under God" in what he read, period. End of story. In America, at least, that would be the end of the story. In conservative media land-istan, though, this scandal will never die because President Obama killed God. Everybody freak out. Folks at "Media Matters" first noticed this story today, and they have since been posting all of the embarrassed corrections from all of the conservative media outlets that ran head first toward the story that did not exist. Not all are apologizing yet. And honestly, why would they? The stuff has been working for them for years. Amazing. Now, it`s 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