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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/02/13

Guests: Ryan Grim, William Barber

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this very, very important cable news hour. Mississippi.  Mississippi is not only a great state in its own right.  Mississippi has also for a generation, no, for a century, no, for the entire existence of our country, provided a great service to the rest of this country. Number one, Mississippi has forever helped American schoolchildren get over their native fear of spelling long words, because M-I, double S-I, double S-I, P-P-I is fun to say. And so, you can spell Mississippi.  If you can spell Mississippi, kid, you can spell anything. So, number one, Mississippi helps us spell long words.  Mississippi also helps us as a nation stay patient when we are counting off seconds in time. So, if you`re covering your eyes and counting to 10 while your friends run away to hide, if you use the word Mississippi while counting, that will actually afford your friends enough time to hide well, so you will have a good time seeking them out and the game will not be too easy. If a trout is nibbling on that worm on the end of your line, you need to count, one, Mississippi, two, Mississippi, three, Mississippi, before you give that line a yank if you want any hope of catching that fish, or so I hear. But that idea -- that one, Mississippi, two, Mississippi, three, Mississippi thing -- that idea of using the word Mississippi to help you count the appropriate length of time it takes to last a second, that is now the inspiration for this I think rather good ad campaign. Look.  One Mississippi, your health insurance exchange.  One site fits all. See, here`s the logo for it.  It`s the one that`s overlaid with the map of the state of Mississippi, One Mississippi, the only place you`ll need to look, your one-stop comparison shop for health insurance.  One site fits all! Also, they`ve got one that says, "With one, it`s done, an easy-to-use online marketplace to one-stop comparison shop."  "Search it, find it, buy it, your one-stop comparison shop for health insurance you can count on." Get it?  You can count on it?  One Mississippi? The idea was to do that ad campaign on buses in Mississippi and on billboards and on ballpark signage specifically, better way to play the game, One Mississippi. All the advertising would be directing you to this good-looking Web site, One Mississippi.  And all of it, all this stuff that they designed and tested and developed for the Web and went so far as putting up online in Mississippi, all of it is fake. If you go to shop and compare on the One Mississippi Web site -- look at this, you go to shop and compare.  See the button there?  It turns like it`s going to work, but you click on it, you click through, and oh, look at that!  "This web page is not available," sad face.  Page not found. The great state of Mississippi built this whole campaign, they built all this stuff, they built this Web site for themselves for the state.  The state insurance department, they prototyped it, they tested it, put it up online, they came up with this clever counting thing, One Mississippi.  It turns out when they put that Web site up, the health exchange, it works, it works well, even before doing any big advertising campaign, hundreds of people started signing up for health insurance through this very memorable, very well done, One Mississippi Web site. And so, it had to die.  The Republican governor of the state, Phil Bryant, killed it.  He wrote to the federal government and told the federal government, in effect, "Please shut down this thing in my state."  He said he did not want his state to have a Web site where people could get health insurance.  He said he did not think it was within the authority of the state Insurance Department to even try to do this Web site thing.  He said he would tell all other parts of state government to not comply and not cooperate with this effort from the Insurance Department. And then he told the federal government that if they did certify this Web site as Mississippi`s official place where you can get health insurance under federal regulations, he said that he as the governor of the state couldn`t promise that at some point he wouldn`t just declare the whole effort null and void, and they should consider that and close down the Web site. Mississippi built it.  It was working, and then they shut it down.  The Web site is still there now.  You can go to the front page of it still.  That`s how we got that screen cap today, but it`s just a ghost.  You click on anything and it`s "page not found." In the whole Southeastern United States, the only state that did put up its own state-run Web site for people to buy health insurance was Kentucky, where the Democratic governor of Kentucky wholeheartedly embraced the whole idea of Obamacare, right, and who famously, the citizens of Kentucky have reaped the benefit. Kentucky now leads the nation in new sign-ups for health insurance, and that would be huge anywhere.  It is a particularly huge deal for a state whose population is as unhealthful as Kentucky`s is.  I don`t mean any offense by it, but Kentucky`s population ranks at the bottom or toward the bottom of the nation`s health ratings in lots and lots and lots of different categories, and Kentucky has a lot of uninsured people. And it`s the exact same deal two states over in Mississippi, but in these two states, in the same part of the country, with the same health problems in their populations and a lot of the same challenges, one of them, Kentucky, is now best in the nation in terms of people getting health insurance, and one of them, Mississippi, is now worst in the nation, and not because they wouldn`t know how to fix their problem.  They knew how to fix their problem, but they stopped fixing it. Mississippi has enrolled a smaller percentage of its -- excuse me -- a smaller percentage of its population than any other state in the nation.  They do not have anymore a state-specific Web site for signing up for health insurance, even though they built a perfectly good one that was working fine before they killed it. So, people who are shopping in Mississippi are having to use the glitchy federal Web site, which is getting better but has been very glitchy.  Once they get through the federal Web site process, if they can, they`re finding that in Mississippi, you`re not getting offered very good deals, very cheap plans, and that`s because there are not very many insurance companies competing for people`s business in Mississippi. And the state Insurance Department says they know why that is.  They said other insurance did want to offer insurance when they were doing that cool One Mississippi, state-based exchange that they had set up and that was working so well.  Other insurance companies were interested in coming to the state to work through that exchange, but then the governor killed that exchange, and so, those companies backed out, and so now there`s very little competition in the state, and so the plans stink, and so, Mississippi really is not doing very well. Congratulations, Mississippi.  You`ve got a lot of health problems in your state and you`ve got a health insurance problem in your state in terms of a lot of people not having insurance.  You also have the wherewithal and the skill in your state to fix both of those problems, but when you elected Phil Bryant to be your governor, he stopped you from fixing those problems. You could have done it.  You were doing it, and he stopped you. Mississippi, you could have been Kentucky, but you are staying Mississippi. It is now December.  Happy December.  That means the sign-up exchanges for health insurance have been under way for two months now, two months and one day.  Month two, turns out went much, much better than month one did, went like four times better.  That`s the same pattern that we saw in Massachusetts six years ago when we essentially piloted this same policy for the nation under Romneycare in Massachusetts. After a terrible few weeks on the federal Web site, the Obama administration now says the site is working for most people most of the time, which is what they were hoping for by December 1.  If the health care Web site is, in fact, working that much more smoothly, that should smooth the way for more people to get enrolled in health insurance plans all across the country. In these first nine weeks, in general, states running their own exchanges, Kentucky included, they have done better than states that are not running their own exchanges and letting the federal government do it.  But as the federal system works these kinks out, the numbers are going to keep going up.  They`re going to keep going up and up, even in places like Mississippi, even in places like Mississippi, which has done everything it can to ruin its own citizens` chances of getting health insurance, even to the point of unplugging what they had, which was working, which they designed for themselves. Even in a state like Mississippi, where the governor has been doing everything he can in his power to keep Mississippi uninsured, even in Mississippi, the numbers will rise over time.  The federal Web site does work.  People are going to get insured.  It is hundreds of thousands of people already who are newly covered under programs like Medicaid. It`s more than 100,000 people now getting new private insurance.  And this is just the start.  It has been a rocky rollout, but it has been a rollout, and it has, in fact, rolled out. And you know what they`re not doing in Washington, D.C., anymore?  They are not repealing Obamacare anymore.  The House of Representatives was back at work today, which is a notable thing.  It doesn`t happen all that often.  If you put together all the hours that they are in session this month. They woke up today facing six full days of work for the entire month of December, starting today.  Six days in a month?  Oh, man! They`re going to be home by December 13th for the year.  And they are not planning on spending their precious working moments voting to repeal Obamacare anymore. Since Republicans took over the House, they have voted to repeal Obamacare 46 times!  But they have stopped doing that now.  Since the shutdown, no more repeal Obamacare votes. Repealing Obamacare now would mean they would be taking insurance from hundreds of thousands of Americans.  When they come back in January, it will be hundreds of thousands more Americans who not just don`t have just the promise of health insurance, but who are actually experiencing health insurance coverage, many of them for the first time in their lives.  Voting to repeal Obamacare was an expression of pure ideological exuberance for the first two or three or four dozen times that they took that vote, but now that people are getting covered, it`s not that kind of vote anymore, and so, they`re not taking that vote anymore. And so, now, what are they going to do with their time?  Six whole days to fill for the month of December. There`s an interesting question when they`ve got in a way a small amount of time left between now and the end of the year, but six days for them.  What are they going to fill it up with? I mean, they are on track to be a truly historic Congress this year.  Numero uno, ichiban, never seen before, one in a million, oh my God, look at this, they are about to make history. In 1948, when Harry Truman ran against the go do-nothing Congress, what he was mocking them for successfully, running against them for, was their record of the least productive Congress anybody had seen until then.  And 395 laws passed by the do-nothing Congress. In modern times, we have sank to a whole new low.  In the Newt Gingrich era -- remember that midterm election in Bill Clinton`s first term, the Republican revolution when they took the House for first time in a generation, all those dozens of seats, that Congress put the Harry Truman do-nothing Congress to shame.  They only passed 88 laws in 1995.  That is on record as the least productive Congress in the United States, 1995. But now, oh, baby, USA!  USA!  New record!  Right now, John Boehner`s congress, this congress right now has passed fewer than 60 public laws in the whole year.  Unless some miracle happens in the roughly five minutes that John Boehner plans to have Congress working between now and the end of the year, we are about to set a new, all-time record, an all-time American record, since the history of our country, about to set a new all-time record for the size of the ratio between what we pay these guys and what they do. It`s kind of easy to see what happened.  I mean, if you spend all of your time and all of your effort saying you`re going to repeal Obamacare, which is not actually going to happen, then that takes up time in which you could be actually legislating.  It takes up time where you could actually be making policy. And so, we spent all our time fake repealing Obamacare and we don`t have a National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that`s passed every year in every Congress for more than 50 years without fail. We do not have a farm bill.  We do not have a doc fix that they have to pass basically every year for Medicare.  We do not have a housing bill.  We do not have a transportation bill.  We do not have a water bill. We do not have any of the things they pass every year when there are good Congresses and bad Congresses, gridlock or not.  We didn`t have any of the normal baseline stuff done.  We don`t have a bill that sets defense policy.  We don`t have the Bain (ph) Pentagon bill.  We have that every year, even in really bad years, but we don`t have that this year, because it was shut down the government year.  It was shut down the government, repeal Obamacare year. That`s what we did all year, and now we`re not doing that anymore.  And now nothing is done.  And time is almost up. And the question is, will they get it together?  Can they get it together to do something that isn`t "repeal Obamacare" before the end of the year?  What they said they wanted to do was immigration reform.  Remember?  Even Republicans said they wanted to do it.  Democrats are behaving as if it is about to happen. This is the president and the first lady on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  Friday afternoon down at a tent on the National Mall where legendary labor leader Eliseo Medina and mostly other young activists have been starving themselves in a fast for more than 20 days now to try to move the House to take up the immigration bill that passed this summer in the Senate. Republicans said they wanted to do it in theory, when the Senate passed the comprehensive bill with 14 Republican senators in support, Republicans said they wanted to support it in theory. First, the House came up with the objection that they didn`t want to do a comprehensive bill like that, they wanted to do it in pieces.  Then the Democrats, including President Obama, said OK, fine, we`d rather do it comprehensively, but we`ll do it in pieces if that`s what you need.  Now, the Republicans are saying, oh, yes, still, in theory, we do like this and we would go ahead in pieces with it, but even now, while they`re saying they`d go ahead and they`d go ahead with it in pieces, which the Democrats agree, the Republicans just refuse to put it on the calendar. The president and first lady visiting those protesters this Friday were not the only ones from the administration who have gone down there and talked to those folks. Before the president`s visit, the activists were visited by Vice President Joe Biden.  They were visited by the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough.  White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett has been down there.  The agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, the chair of the White House Domestic Policy Council, which was really important job, she was down there.  Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy visited there. They`ve each been visited by two Republican members of the House, Jeff Denham and David Valadao, who are two of the Republicans who say they actually want an immigration vote.  They want John Boehner to put it out for a vote.  They say they would vote with Democrats to pass it. Tonight on the House floor, Florida Congressman Joe Garcia recognized those hunger strikers, five of whom were in the House gallery tonight.  He called on Republican leaders to allow that Senate immigration bill to come to a vote. Barring a Hanukkah miracle, a pre-Kwanzaa miracle?  I don`t know.  Barring some kind of late-in-the-year miracle, this Congress is going to be the least productive Congress in the history of the United States of America. Republicans have been very, very good at repeatedly fake repealing Obamacare, almost four dozen times now, but that`s not actually policy.  And now, that time is over in our politics.  Health reform is done and they`ve stopped trying to repeal it.  It`s taken root.  It`s not going anywhere.  You guys need to move on. Now, the question is whether in these last couple of days, can Congress redeem themselves by doing at least one useful thing that even they themselves admit that they would like to do?  What are the odds? Joining us now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post." Mr. Grim, thanks very much for being with us.  Nice to see you. RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  Thanks for having me. MADDOW:  So, it`s almost unfathomable that we might get to the end of the year without all the baseline level stuff that always passes, the Pentagon bill, the farm bill, the housing bill, stuff like that. What do you think it is realistic to expect from this Congress by the end of the year? GRIM:  About as much as they`ve done so far, you know, very little.  I think we`re finally going to get an answer to the question of, you know, are House Republicans and this Congress itself capable of that embarrassment? And you know, a couple weeks ago, we got the answer that just maybe they are, because coming out of the government shutdown, the House moved to pass the water bill that you mentioned.  And this is a major water infrastructure bill that could create jobs and is the kind of thing that both parties would like to see happen.  You know, it works, does flood protection, it`s a very noncontroversial kind of thing. The House actually passed it.  And I think it`s quite possible that Congress could pass the entire thing next week or the week after.  And it might just be all of the shame that`s being heaped upon them.  They work in an institution that 7 percent or 8 percent of the people approve of that`s kind of driving them toward that. The only other thing that they could possibly get done is undoing the sequester, you know.  There`s some irony there.  You know, their only accomplishment is a thing that they might, be the only thing they can get done. MADDOW:  Right, exactly.  They could maybe undo some of the harm they themselves have caused inadvertently by screwing up. On the immigration issue, obviously, the pressure on this from immigration reform advocates is not the sort of thing that gets a lot of credit in the Beltway, but I think it`s very emotionally compelling stuff that they`ve been doing, including a lot of personal pressure on leaders like John Boehner.  And John Boehner says he wants to find way to do immigration reform.  He had had this demand that it couldn`t be comprehensive, it had to be piecemeal.  Democrats now agree to that. Do you have any sense for whether he`s just blowing smoke or whether he does actually intend for anything to happen? GRIM:  I think he`d -- I think he`d rather see it happen than not happen, but I don`t think it`s a huge deal to him.  You can sort of take it or leave it. You know, come January, and increasingly in February and March, a lot of the key filing deadlines for Tea Party challengers to get on the ballot passed.  So, that means you`re going to have a lot of House Republicans who up until now have been unwilling to do anything on immigration because they don`t want to draw a primary challenger, but very soon, it will be impossible for there to be a primary challenger.  So, that really does change the political calculation. And, like you said, you know, they`ve been making awfully persuasive case.  And the establishment Republican would rather not have to deal with this issue anymore.  So, they do have that working for them. MADDOW:  Ryan, do you get the sense of whether -- I guess what the political heft is to what seems like is going to be a historic accomplishment of this Congress?  When they go home in December 13th, it seems like they will be officially, by a long margin, the least productive Congress ever in American history.  Are they going to try to spin that as to being a feature and not a bug, as a positive? GRIM:  It`s interesting.  Certainly, some elements of the Tea Party will say, yes, you know, that`s what we want there to do, nothing.  You know, there is this joke among Tea Party bumper stickers that the First Amendment should have ended with Congress shall make no law.  Done. But now, we`ve had a chance to test that.  And people despise it.  You know, people who come out to rallies and, you know, who talk to their members of Congress, they actually want problems solved.  You know, and so, while they may have been blaming the actions of Congress for previous problems, now they`re going to blame the inaction of Congress for their current problems. So, in some ways, you know, the Tea Party message is much better in opposition than it is in actually governing, since they don`t like governing.  MADDOW:  Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "Huffington Post" -- Brian, thanks for being with us.  Nice to see you tonight. GRIM:  You, too. MADDOW:  All right.  It looks like Congress will summon the energy to vote on at least one important issue this week, and they appear determined to do something sensible.  I know, sounds weird, especially coming from me, but I might actually have a tiny ray of -- well, it`s not good news -- reason to hope?  Reason not to be too upset?  Anyway, it`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW:  One of the consequences of Republicans taking over the whole state government of North Carolina is the state`s new "take your concealed weapon to the bar with you" law.  Guns and alcohol, what a great couple! The North Carolina law makes it really, really hard to ban weapons from pretty much anywhere.  It forces cities and towns across the state to allow guns in public places, even if locally, the police and the town and the people who live there do not want that.  When one small-town mayor in Morrisville, North Carolina, campaigned to protect her ton`s long-standing policy banning guns in a local park, the National Rifle Association decided to weigh in in that little town of 20,000 people and try to make an example out of her. They poured resources into the mayoral race in that small town to try to get rid of her.  They called her a member of a radical national gun ban group.  They poured resources into that race, and when she lost her re- election bid a few weeks later, the NRA took credit for it. If your town doesn`t think that guns belong on your playgrounds or in your parks -- well, if you`re in North Carolina, too bad, you don`t get a choice in the matter anymore.  And, by the way, the NRA will come after you if you try to fight it. On the substance of it, though, let`s say you`re OK with the idea of guns in playgrounds.  How about guns in bars?  How about that?  I mean, the idea with guns in bars is that if you`re in a bar with your loaded weapon, you have to promise not to drink. How does that work in practice?  Are you breathalyzed if you pick up your weapon?  Whose job is it in the restaurant to confront the man who is drinking while carrying a loaded, concealed firearm?  And what`s the correct approach? Let`s say you`re OK, though, with guns on the playground.  Let`s say you`re OK with guns in bars.  Let`s say you`re OK with guns in schools.  How about guns on airplanes?  Should everybody on a commercial airplane be allowed to have a loaded gun with them on the plane?  Should we stop law enforcement from being allowed to detect guns before people can bring them on to planes? How about an event with the president of the United States?  Let`s say you`re going to a town hall meeting where it is you and the president.  It`s campaign season.  You`re going to be sitting 15 feet away from the president of the United States at a town hall meeting, should police be able to check to see if you have a gun with you in the room with the president at an event like that?  Or no? A group called Gun Owners of America apparently says no.  They say guns on a plane.  They say guns in a room with the president.  They say guns in bars, guns everywhere. Gun Owners of America sent out an action alert today opposing something called the Undetectable Firearms Act, which is up for renewal right now.  It was first signed into law in 1988 by President Reagan. At the time, there was an increasing popularity of lightweight pistols like the Austrian manufactured Glock.  There was fear that we were getting close to all plastic, essentially undetectable guns, which couldn`t be effectively banned from anywhere in the country because they couldn`t be detected by metal detectors or by other traditional means that we use to find weapons. Those fears were largely theoretical when that plastic gun ban was passed in 1988.  Those fears were still largely theoretical when the law was re-authorized in 1998.  Same thing when it was reauthorized again in 2003. But now, it`s 2013, and the plastic gun ban is up for reauthorization right now.  And right now, for the first time, plastic guns that can fire real bullets that can kill you are a reality. The 3D printed, almost all plastic gun, has been promoted by attention-seeking libertarian Texans for the past couple of years.  And so, pretty much everybody has seen the videos of them firing off their 3D printed Galt master, Ayn Rand gold standard audit the Fed machine, baby. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms eventually tested plastic gun designs and found when they 3D printed those guns, the result was a machine that was unstable and dangerous and that couldn`t fire a lot of rounds before it was likely to blow up, but more often than not, could get the job done. Quoting the ATF, their "testing showed the weapon could penetrate several inches of soft flesh as well as a human skull.  The .38-caliber bullets fired from the gun penetrate sufficiently to reach vital organs and perforate the skull."  And it`s plastic. So, now, after living 25 years with a gun ban that bans any weapon that won`t show up on an X-ray, a metal detector, or standard imaging technology, now that those guns that wouldn`t show up on those types of devices are a reality, the gun lobby, at least a part of the gun lobby, has decided that the plastic gun ban should expire.  Guns everywhere -- guns on planes, guns at the park, guns at the White House, guns everywhere!  Good luck to us all. When the plastic gun ban was initially passed in 1988, the vote in the House of Representatives was 413-4.  Tomorrow, the House will vote again on whether or not they want to reauthorize the plastic gun ban for another 10 years. This used to not be a hard decision to make.  But this Congress is not like other Congresses.  Tomorrow, the House will decide whether this plastic gun ban still is an easy call, even under pressure from parts of the gun lobby. Good luck to us all. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW:  The train derailment yesterday in New York City, the commuter train that went off the rails at a place called Spuyten Duyvil, just north of Manhattan, that crash remains under investigation tonight.  Four people were killed, more than 60 people were injured when multiple cars of that train flew off the tracks.  It was a horrific crash which would have been all the more horrific had the derailed cars slid into the nearby river which they very nearly did, or if there had been more people on board the train when it crashed. Initial reports put the total number of people on board at the time of the crash at only about 100.  It was a very early-morning train on the Sunday after Thanksgiving coming into New York City, so it was just not crowded by luck.  But of those 100 people, again, a majority of the people on the train suffered at least some kind of injury.  Eleven of the injuries are considered critical and 4 people have already died. Investigators have recovered the data recorders from the crashed train now.  Trains have them the same way that airliners do.  Investigators said late today that on the sharp curve just outside the Spuyten Duyvil station, the sharp curve where the derailment happened, the speed limit for trains there is 30 miles per hour.  The train`s data recorders apparently showed that in that 30-mile-per-hour zone, the train was going 82 miles per hour before it crashed. Nobody knows why the train was going nearly three times the speed limit before it crashed.  The speed limit on a straightaway north of the curve doesn`t even have a speed limit that high. But it now seems clear that excessive speed is likely to be what caused this terrible, terrible Metro North train crash.  Whether the excessive speed itself was caused by human error or by equipment failure or by something wrong with that section of the track, that remains to be seen.  The investigation continues and we`ll keep you posted as we learn more. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW:  The town of Fuquay Varina is smacked in the middle of North Carolina.  It`s about a half hour away from Raleigh.  In the late 1800s, a farmer from the Fuquay family discovered a mineral spring while plowing the fields.  Those mineral springs soon became a tourist attraction of sorts, and the town became a big trading hub. Fuquay Varina also became home to these discount five-and-dime stores, which started in the 1930s by James Melvin Pope.  After going to college and serving in World War II, Mr. Pope`s son took over the shops and expanded the family chain. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR:  From his father`s five little stores, all located in eastern North Carolina, John Pope would create a retailing powerhouse of over 500 discount stores.  His business model was a simple one -- locate your store in small towns where there was little competition, where folks could get almost anything they need cheap, without having to drive to the big cities. The model worked.  Pope`s discount stores always made a profit, even during years of recession.  From a 5 and 10-cent store, John W. Pope learned that nickels and dimes managed with insight and hard work could grow into millions of dollars. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW:  That business did grow into millions of dollars.  You know, if Walmart proved anything, it`s that discount and bargain retail is one of the tried and true roots to gazillions of dollars in this country.  But Walmart`s not the only success story in that field.  In North Carolina, it has been the Pope family who has followed that same plan, and it`s been a very specific business plan for them. When you look at the site criteria that they list for Pope-owned discount stores in the South, they say very specifically that they are looking to put their stores in low-income neighborhoods with a median household income of $40,000 or less, and they want the area where their store goes to definitely have a population that is at least 25 percent African-American. This has been the Pope family retail strategy for nickel and dime success.  And today, the original five-and-dime stores started by grandfather James Melvin Pope, they are part of Variety Wholesalers, which is a discount store chain with more than 400 and it`s all still in the same family, now run by James Melvin`s grandson, Art Pope, who has parlayed his family`s discount stores selling to poor and minority populations fortune into his own enormous political power in the state of North Carolina. The Pope family has given so much money to Republican causes in the state of North Carolina that the party`s state headquarters building is named for them. Before 2010, Republicans had not controlled both houses of the North Carolina state legislature since the 1800s, but then, Art Pope and his conservative funding network poured about $100,000 per race into 22 different legislative races across the state, and in so doing, they engineered a Republican takeover of the legislature.  Three-quarters of all the outside money that flooded into races in that state in 2010, three- quarters of it came from accounts that were linked to Art Pope. And of the 22 races that he and his network targeted, they won 18 of the 22.  That`s an 82 percent win rate.  And North Carolina`s legislature turned completely red for the first time since Reconstruction. And that, of course, has brought about not only the voting rights role back that has made North Carolina nationally famous this year, and the abortion rights rollback and the short-lived attempt to establish a state religion in the state.  Remember that one? It`s also been a wildly aggressive approach to budgeting in the state, spearheaded by the guy who made it all possible for the Republicans, spearheaded by Art Pope, who was the architect of the North Carolina Republican takeover, but who is also the state`s new budget director under Republican Governor Pat McCrory.  Under Republican control and Art Pope`s budget stylings, North Carolina has pursued deep, deep, deep cuts in education and unemployment benefits and health insurance for the poor. They`ve even gone after free school in the state, all policies that will pretty directly hit the shoppers at the Pope family stores, right?  Bargain Town, Bill`s Dollar Store, the Super 10, the Super Dollar, Treasure Mart, Roses, Maxway, all of the dollar stores that are part of their empire, all of the discount dollar stores that have made Art Pope and his family all of their many millions, which they have now spent to go after the poor in North Carolina in a way that nobody has in more than 100 years. Today, the state`s NAACP held a news conference outside the state budget office, outside Art Pope`s office, announcing campaign targeting Mr. Pope`s discount stores.  They`re calling it a picketing campaign to educate Dollar Store customers about what they called the extreme and aggressive policies that they are funding by shopping at stores owned by Mr. Pope. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REV. WILLIAM BARBER, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP PRESIDENT:  We want to put a stop to the use of wealth to influence policies in a negative way.  That`s why it`s not a boycott, it`s a picket. ART POPE:  If I came to the North Carolina justice center, democracy North Carolina instead of the John Locke Foundation, that would be OK because I support --  BARBER:  It`s whether you give in the influence -- let`s meet --   (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW:  The head of the NAACP and Mr. Pope himself facing off today at the press conference.  Head of the NAACP there calling for a picket campaign targeting the Pope family`s discount stores.  His name is the Reverend William Barber, the president of NAACP in North Carolina.  He`s the man who is instrumental in the Moral Mondays protest in that state and he`s now leading this multistate protest effort against the most influential Republican in North Carolina politics. Joining us now for the interview tonight is the Reverend William Barber.  He`s North Carolina`s NAACP president. Reverend Barber, thank you very much for being here.  It`s real nice to have you here, sir. BARBER:  Rachel, thank you so much and for all that you do. MADDOW:  Why are you picketing art pope`s businesses?  What`s the goal? BARBER:  Well, what we see with art pope is the most lewd and cynical and sinister form of wealth and power manipulation.  To put your stores deliberately and publicly in communities of low wealth and 25 percent African-American, make your wealth off of people, pay them low wages, and then, in turn, use that power to push and promote policies that are adverse to their lives and diametrically opposed to their future is just untenable. What we have seen with Art Pope, you listed all those numbers -- $50 million over the last decade, $3.5 million since 2010 through 2012, millions of dollars, either him or his family or groups that he influences used to promote the most extreme policies. And, you know, you mentioned about the 2010 takeover, but he actually was a part of the redistricting plan that led to that takeover which produced the most race-based redistricting plan we`ve seen since the 19th century. Rachel, everywhere we look, whether it`s denying unemployment to 170,000 people or Medicaid expanded to 500,000 people, or rolling back the earned income tax credit or pushing the voter suppression law that we`re seeing now that`s the worst in the country in North Carolina, all of that, you see the money imprint and the handprint imprint and the philosophical imprint of either Art Pope or groups he has backed in such a wrongful way.  And that`s why we`re fighting. MADDOW:  Do you think that people in North Carolina broadly understand the connection between that agenda that you just described and the network of discount stores that have made the Pope family so wealthy over all these years?  Do people already know the connection between those policies --  BARBER:  No. MADDOW:  -- and those stores?  They don`t. BARBER:  No.  That`s why we`re doing these informational pickets.  Now, we hope in this season of Christmas and Hanukkah, his own conscience - - we`ve actually asked to meet with him -- that he would change.  We have to believe in the possibility of redemption.  We`ve shared with him that it`s against our greatest moral values, you know, we`ve talked about Scripture of woe to those who e their wealth and political power to influence the systems of government in ways adverse to the poor. But the other goal is to seek to touch the consciousness of the state.  People don`t know -- and it`s not just about black people, it`s poor people, white people, Hispanics, anybody who is poor, to think that you go in and you spend your money in a certain place, and that money that you helped them make is actually used in ways to undermine your future, your health, your voting rights, your public education, your rights in the court system.  It`s just wrong. And so, what we`re doing is making sure people know.  How they choose to spend their money after that will be their own determination, like in civil disobedience, their own free will and accord, but people must know, this must be exposed. And people must know particularly, because Art Pope has gone from being a king-maker, a private person to now a North Carolina employee.  He`s the budget director, one of the most powerful positions in any state. And budgets are moral documents.  And what he is promoting is constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane.  And people need to know how he`s doing it with the money that comes out of poor communities and minority communities. MADDOW:  Reverend William Barber, North Carolina NAACP president, the leader of the Moral Mondays protest, which brought so much national spotlight to the very dramatic changes that North Carolina`s seen over these last couple years.  Thank you for your time tonight, sir.  I hope you stay in touch with us and tell us what happens in the state and whether your conversation with Mr. Pope continues. BARBER:  Thank you so much.  God bless. MADDOW:  Thank you. The man posed to make big, big changes in post-Soviet politics right now stands 6`7" with a record of 41 knockouts.  The new angle on political muscle is coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW:  I am a word based life form.  I`m not a visual learner, but sometimes, particularly when it comes to international news, there is just no substitute for a good chart.  Sometimes it`s the only accurate and to scale visual aid that makes international news make sense. Looking at this makes it all make sense.  And the story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW:  Take a look at this before and after picture.  This is the before.  It is a Ukrainian politician named Viktor Yushchenko.  This is picture of him while he was running for president of Ukraine in the summer of 2004. This is what he looked like a few months later.  Oh.  During that presidential campaign, Viktor, the underdog candidate for president in his country, was poisoned. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER:  The effects were startling.  The healthy vibrant opposition candidate for Ukraine`s presidency transformed in a matter of a few weeks this fall in to a gravely ill man.  His face almost overnight changed in to a scarred, bloated mask. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW:  Ultimately, Mr. Yushchenko was found to have ingested toxic levels of dioxin, possibly fed to him secretly in a bowl of soup.  Viktor Yushchenko survived the dioxin poisoning but he later lost the election.  Or at least it seemed like he did before his supporters took to the streets.  Day after day, they marched on this square saying the election was rigged.  They waved orange flags and they wore orange scarves and flags because org was his campaign color. In the end, they won.  That mass protest movement eventually forced a new presidential election and when all the votes were counted in that new election, hey, it turns out the poisoned guy won.  That was known as the Orange Revolution because of the sea of orange-clad protesters that filled the streets in Ukraine.  That was 2004. The guy who was ultimately declared the winner of the election, the poisoned guy.  He was a pro-Western politician.  He was running against anti-Western guy, an ally of Vladimir Putin, who was pushing for closer ties to Russia. Well, now, nine years later, that other guy, the pro-Putin guy, he has managed to become president of the Ukraine and now the pendulum is swinging back rather fast.  This is fascinating.  Last month, the pro-Putin guy, the president of Ukraine now, decided to reject an agreement that would have brought his country closer to the European Union.  It would pull the country away from the grip of Russia and toward the rest of Europe. His rejection of that agreement, his embrace of Putin instead has led to what maybe Orange Revolution number two.  Nine years after the first one, mass protests again in the streets of Ukraine`s capital city and they are protesting against the same guy they were protesting against last time. Yesterday afternoon, the crowd was estimated at 1 million people that marched through the streets of Ukraine`s capital city of Kiev.  The protesters were marching against the country`s president.  They were demanding that he`d sign the agreement with the rest of Europe, demanding that he`d turn his back on Putin and open their country to the West. Now, just like they did in 2004, the protesters are beginning to occupy and hold territory in Ukraine`s capital city them spray paint in the picture says "revolution headquarters." Quoting "The New York Times", "Protest leaders, sensing that momentum had turned to their advantage continued to add infrastructure to their operation, bringing in TV monitors and erecting a small tent city that included first aid stations and canteens. This weekend, those protests in Main Square turned violent when police decided to use force against the protesters.  The clashes between the police and the protesters, in fact, got so violent that Kiev`s chief of police submitted his resignation last night. These protests that are underway in Ukraine are said to be larger than the protests from the orange revolution nine years ago, which, after all, were big enough to overthrow the government at that time.  And this time, I have to tell you, one of the guys who`s now leading the opposition, leading the protest movement is a guy you may have heard of before, even if you have heard of nobody else from Ukraine. This is Vitali Klitschko.  Mr. Klitschko is currently boxing`s WBC heavyweight champion of the world, pound for pound.  He`s considered one of the greatest boxers who`s ever lived. In addition to being the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, Vitali Klitschko is also a member of the Ukrainian parliament.  And in his capacity as the most enormous member of the Ukrainian parliament, he`s one of the opposition leaders who`s been in the streets with the protesters pushing for his country to shed its ties with Russia and embrace the rest of the world. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VITALI KLITSCHKO, BOXING CHAMP:  What happened last night in the main square in Kiev, it`s not the European country.  It`s not modern country.  It`s dictator.  And that`s why the people don`t trust any more the government, don`t trust anymore the president.  We see how many hundreds of thousands of people to say we don`t believe the government.  We don`t believe the president.  We want to live in European country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW:  So what says the heavyweight champion of the world.  If it ever comes down to it, this is the tail between ginormous Vitali Klitschko, and enormous in his own mind Vladimir Putin. It`s unclear what`s going to happen next in the standoff but the situation is escalating by the day.  The protests continue to grow in size.  It`s really anybody`s guess as to what is going happen next year.  Vladimir Putin is trying to create a Eurasian union of former Soviet states to be a counterweight to the European Union.  His plans are not going well, not in Ukraine at least. Watch this space, or at least watch that space. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks for being with us tonight.  Have a good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END