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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/12/13

Guests: Gretchen Whitmer

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us for this next hour. I appreciate you being here. So Congress is done. The House is over now. They have gone home. It was only just last week that they came back from their Thanksgiving break, but now as of tonight, they have already gone home for Christmas. It must be nice. They`re gone for Christmas. They`re gone for New Year`s. They`re gone for the first part of January. See you. We`ll see you well into next year. They are putting the House of Representatives mad. And it turns out they`re going to bed mad. Contrary to the advice of all the old wives` tales and the relationships` columnists, John Boehner and House Republicans have decided to start a huge fight in Congress, right before bedtime. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Frankly, I just think that they`ve lost all credibility. You know, they pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government. Most of you know, my members know, it wasn`t exactly the strategy that I had in mind. But if you`ll recall, the day before the government reopened, one of the people at one of these groups stood up and say, well, we never really thought it would work. Are you kidding me?! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Are you kidding me?! Republican House Speaker John Boehner has apparently been nurturing some hard feelings for a while now. The "are you kidding me" moment he`s talked about happened on the FOX News Channel. This is while the Republicans were still in the middle of shutting down the government, as their way of trying to kill health reform. It was right before the Republicans gave up the ghost. It was the last day of the shut down, and this is what happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a Democrat in the White House and Harry Reid with the majority in the Senate, what can you do? MICHAEL NEEDHAM, HERITAGE ACTION: Well, everybody understands that we`re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017 and that we have to win the Senate and we have to win the White House. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Everybody understands we`re not going to be able to get rid of this law. Everybody gets that. Why would anybody be so dumb to think that anything the Republicans can do would get rid of Obamacare? The head of the conservative group, Heritage Action there, saying, everybody knows that elections are the only way to do it. It would be stupid and pointless for Republicans in Congress to try to get rid of Obamacare now. Everybody knows that, he says. Except, of course, anybody who had, at that point, been listening to his group. Anybody, at that point, who had been listening to Heritage Action itself, as they lobbied relentlessly, all year long, that everybody had to hold Republicans` feet to the fire to make the Republicans in Congress defund Obamacare. The continuing resolution to keep the government open is pivotal -- excuse me, for Obamacare`s fate. Shut down the government to kill Obamacare. Action alert, action alert! Congress can do it! Tell your senator to shut down the government, to defund Obamacare. These there guys who invented the whole gospel of shutting down the government as a way of getting rid of Obamacare, and then the Republicans did shut down the government. And it turns out it did not magically get rid of Obamacare. And then when it was all over, the group that had pushed for it in the first place with the action alerts and the Facebook campaigns and the fundraising campaigns and the threats to all the Republicans, the group that insisted, that demanded the shutdown to repeal Obamacare, once they got the shutdown that they`d been demanding, their head guy went on FOX and said -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEEDHAM: Well, everybody understands that we`re not going to be able to repeal this law. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh! And so, yes, yes, now, finally John Boehner gets to respond to that guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOEHNER: One of these groups stood up and said, well, we never really thought it would work. Are you kidding me?! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Don`t go bed mad, big guy. Just go to bed. But the Republicans and the conservatives really do seem to be mad at each other right now. Today`s "are you kidding me?!" excitement is actually day two of this stuff from John Boehner. This was yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, most major conservative groups put out statements blasting the deal, are you -- BOEHNER: You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it? REPORTER: Yes, those groups. Are you worried -- BOEHNER: They`re using our members and they`re using the American people for their own goals? This is ridiculous. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is ridiculous! It has been a testy, testy ending to this Congress. And that`s only talking about the Republicans. But House Republicans are leaving now, after tonight passing a conservative micro budget deal that Congressman Paul Ryan negotiated with Democratic Senator Patty Murray. Now, the outside conservative groups that John Boehner has been screaming at for the past couple of days, they did not want Republicans to vote for this deal tonight. That group, Heritage Action, as well as groups like FreedomWorks and the Cub for Growth, they all said they would score the vote on the Paul Ryan plan tonight, meaning any Republican who voted for it is going to get a bad report card from these big, powerful conservative groups and then the right will use that bad report card against them come election time. But you know what? Look at the vote. Look at the Republican line of the vote there. Republicans in the House told the conservative groups tonight, basically, to stuff it. Republicans voted for this deal tonight by almost a three-to-one margin. Even with all those Washington heavy hitter conservative groups, threatening that they`d have their heads if they cast a yes vote. The conservative groups have just got to be furious with House Republicans about this vote tonight. And we know that House Republicans are furious with the conservative groups. And it turns out, House Republicans are also furious with Senate Republicans as well. Watch the look on Paul Ryan`s face here, as he takes this question from MSNBC`s Joe Scarborough on "MORNING JOE" this morning. Watch Paul Ryan`s face here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE SCARBOROUGH, MORNING JOE: You have said that this budget deal, quote, "advances our principles." Marco Rubio said this, though, last night. Quote, "either your deal is going to make it harder for Americans to achieve the American dream." What would you say to Marco? REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Read the deal and get back to me. Look, that`s just -- look, I think that`s -- people are going to do what they need to do. In the minority, you don`t have the burden of governing, of getting things done. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When he says, in the minority there, he means Republicans in the minority, in the Senate, as in, ek, Marco Rubio. Must be nice to have the luxury of no responsibilities whatsoever. It goes on. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCARBOROUGH: Does it tick you off with people that haven`t read the budget say that it`s going to destroy the American dream? RYAN: I thought it was a little strange, because the press releases came flying out against the agreement before Patty and I actually even reached an agreement. So, you know, it is what it is. This is Washington. I would -- I would prefer that people would actually read what we`re going and see the details before forming conclusions. But I`m a big boy, I`ve been around for a while. It doesn`t really necessarily surprise me. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Paul Ryan saying that he`s the big boy in this scenario. And that means that Republicans in the Senate, who he`s complaining about, they are not big boys. Paul Ryan responding to a really over-the-top anti-Paul Ryan op-ed written by Senator Marco Rubio today at a conservative Web site. Senator Marco Rubio also went on conservative talk radio today with Sean Hannity and also with Mike Huckabee, in both interviews just trashing Paul Ryan and this budget deal that 169 House Republicans just voted for tonight. Marco Rubio and other Senate Republicans are calling Paul Ryan and the House Republicans essentially sellouts, essentially calling them liberals for making this deal and for voting yes on it tonight. And it`s not just Marco Rubio, and it`s not just the usual suspects, like Senator Rand Paul and Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. The other Senate Republicans fighting with the House Republicans on this include John Cornyn and Mike Enzi and Pat Roberts, all of which who are fighting primary challengers this next year, it should be noted. Also, Jeff sessions, the top Republican on the budget committee in the Senate. He`s essentially Paul Ryan`s equivalent in the Senate. But all of these Republicans are now tearing apart Paul Ryan and this deal that the House Republicans all signed on to. Even Lindsey Graham says he will vote no and that Paul Ryan`s plan is a terrible plan for the country. Two days ago, literally, days ago, Lindsey Graham was telling reporters how much he admired Paul Ryan for this plan. How much it showed his leadership and his wisdom. It would pretty much set Paul Ryan up to be president, if it wanted to, this was such a good deal. But that was two days ago. And somewhere between two days ago and now, somebody reminded Lindsey Graham that he`s about to have a primary challenge in South Carolina. So, now, Lindsey Graham is against Paul Ryan, because the front lines in the Republican civil war are apparently moving so fast right now, that there`s no way to tell which side you`re supposed to be on, until you realize you`re on the wrong side. But the Republicans just have broken out into a full-on civil war right now. It`s not just Republican members of Congress against outside conservative groups who pressure them. It`s also Republican members of Congress against Republican members of Congress. And particularly, right now, it`s Republican senators against Republicans in the House. And none of the old alliances appear to be sticking. So, this is all very fun. It`s all fascinating to watch, at least, as the House goes to bed for the year. The plan in the Senate, however, seems to be that they will never go to bed again, ever. The Senate stayed in session all night last night. They took a vote to confirm a judge around 1:00 a.m. And then they stayed all night to take another couple of votes to confirm another judge and another nominee around 9:00 a.m. Tonight, they are planning on staying all night, again. They`re going to stay overnight all night and eventually take votes on totally noncontroversial judicial nominees for federal courts in Montana and New Hampshire, on the new secretary of the air force, a couple deputy and assistant secretaries of state. Then they`re going to stay all night again tomorrow night, into Saturday, taking more votes that will all pass, without a doubt. Votes on nominees who nobody really objects to substantively or thinks they`re all that controversial. This brilliant up all night for no reason plan is Mitch McConnell`s way that he is showing off his mad skills as a senator. This is the way he`s decided to make Democrats sorry that they changed the Senate rules a few weeks ago, so that nominees who can get a majority of votes can`t actually be confirmed. Senator McConnell is furious about that. So, he has mounted this mad cap special of keeping them in session for four straight days, overnight and overnight and overnight again. And it turns out when you do that, it`s really not a spectacle at all. It turns out actually when you do that, nobody really cares. It didn`t even make the papers today that the Senate was up all night last night. It did get one mention in one "Washington Post" blog today, which describes Senator McConnell`s attempt at creating a huge scene as instead, quote, "just a couple of people shouting at an empty room in shifts." And it`s true, that`s basically what it is. Look, this is what it looks like. This is something that Mitch McConnell threatened was going to be truly nuclear! This was going to be all-out war! Democrats would rue the day! Mitch McConnell would get back in the driver`s seat and America would be amazed at what he would do to get back at the Democrats. And this is all he has been able to do -- late nights that no one notices and nobody really cares about, where the Democrats get their nominees through anyway, and that rather profound and pitiful pageant of the Republican leadership`s weakness is happening at the same time that the Republican Party is having this angry and bitter and increasingly all-out fight amongst themselves. The Republicans in Congress are at war with each other right now, and with the conservative movement. What happens next here? Joining us now and working overtime is Chris Hayes, the host of "ALL IN." Chris, thank you for sticking around. CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: It is not work when I get to talk to you. MADDOW: Thank you very much. You even ran across the hall. I appreciate it. There`s a couple of different things going on in the Senate. One of them is this pageant of staying up all night that they`re doing around nominees. And I want to talk to you about that first, because I find it amazing that this is all Mitch McConnell has to offer. He said the Democrats would rue the day! They would regret ever doing this. I really thought he must have some amazing trick up his sleeve. His trick up his sleeve is people staying up late, Democrats getting what they want, and nobody noticing it. HAYES: It`s an amazingly ineffective technique. MADDDOW: Yes. HAYES: And you know, the first sign that all of the doom saying about the end of the filibuster for judicial nominations below the Supreme Court and presidential appointees, the first sign that wasn`t the end of the bipartisan Washington was the budget deal that got struck when back when we had that thing, we had shutdown. Then the shutdown happened. Then we got rid of this ridiculous mechanism and then a budget deal was struck. In fact, that budget deal was precisely half way between the Senate and half budget numbers, which as someone pointed out in Twitter today, a child could divide chocolate cake in a faster amount of time than we could get to that number. But, no. So -- MADDOW: If they were supposed to blow up Washington, Washington seems less blown up. HAYES: No. In fact, it seems less blown up because, A, there was a deal and you`re filling an executive branch and you`re filling judicial nominees. MADDOW: Right. HAYES: And that`s what people actually want to happen. MADDOW: The thing that is blowing up is the idea of what it means to be a Republican and Republican support for one another. When I thought it was going to be elected Republicans versus the outside groups, I was like, oh, this is interesting. Mitch McConnell tried to fight back against these guys because he`s got to worry about his primary challenge. John Boehner is joining with Mitch McConnell. Interesting. It will be the elected against the outside groups. No. HAYES: No. MADDOW: It turns out all the Republicans against each other. HAYES: And I think there`s a fascinating and sort of dramatic and soap operay story here to talk about petty vengeance that`s happening in an inter-cameral fashion, OK? Remember what happened. Senate bipartisan vote to end, to not have a shutdown. And the Senate Republicans who do that vote thought it would go to the House and pass, because obviously shutting down the government is bad idea. They got hung out to dry. They got hung out to dry by the House Republicans and the outside groups and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. MADDOW: Saying that they`re RINOs and that they`re sellouts, and pro- Obamacare. HAYES: They took it on the chin from the grassroots, right? And in the right-wing media. Then the whole thing ended up where the Senate Republicans who voted for that deal said it should end up, right? Well, now, they are having their payback at the House and they`re having their payback at the outside groups, because this is a free vote. They don`t have to vote for this budget. It`s still going to pass, right? It`s a free vote. Everyone`s like, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, free vote, free vote, free vote, and they get to screw the House people, who told them that they were RINOs. It`s like this perfect opportunity for payback. MADDOW: So, who wins in the long run? Obviously, the outside groups win, because anytime they`re getting attention, they`re presumably making money, and they`re attracting more donors and they`re attracting more that they need to perpetuate their own existence and their own relevance. So, they always win as long as they`re being talked about. But who wins among the Republicans? HAYES: Nobody wins. This is, to me, you know, I spent a lot of time in the American left in my life. This is just classic factionalist politics in which, you know, people are just going to -- everybody`s going to get to everyone`s right. And you can never get far right enough. And you`re a sellout if you deviate from the party line this amount. And there`s a psychological to that, that is fractal, in which it keeps breaking into smaller and smaller and smaller pieces until it`s is a Hobbesian maelstrom of war against everyone. That is where it`s headed, because there`s no party right now. There`s no, after the shutdown, there`s not even like a clear, like you said, what the battle lines are, like that is where it`s headed. MADDOW: The primary threat that supposedly drives all of this, that the Republicans are worried about being primaried on their right, I think, is not even driving this anymore, because you look at somebody like Jeff Sessions, who`s, you know, the budget guy for the Senate Republicans. Yeah, he`s up in 2014, but he doesn`t have a Tea Party challenger right now. John Cornyn, his challenger is Steve Stockman. Come on, it`s Steve Stockman. John Cornyn doesn`t have anything t worry about. But these guys, still, they`re realizing that there`s no way to know where the front lines are, and that you can only really be -- HAYES: And they`ve been conditioned. And I think you can`t overstate the fact that everyone in Washington, until the shutdown happened, knew the shutdown wasn`t going to happen, because obviously that`s a crazy idea. Their world got flipped upside-down when the shutdown happened. When literally like a few dudes in the think tank in Washington called the shots and made the government shutdown. All of a sudden it`s like, whoa, if they can make that happen, like all bets are off. We don`t know what the rules are. MADDOW: And seeing John Boehner pushed against that makes sense. Seeing everybody attack John Boehner for that -- HAYES: Like, they`re like, maybe we can win off this, too. MADDOW: That`s amazing. HAYES: Yes. MADDOW: Chris Hayes, very nice of you to stay. Thank you very much. Great to have you here. All right. The one story in politics right now that feels like it was lifted from outtakes from the "Sopranos" today got even more New Jersey than it was yesterday. And it looks like it now may be turning into a real problem for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and that story is coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When Senator Cory Booker was mayor of Newark, New Jersey, he participated in the food stamp challenge, where he spent a week eating only the food he could buy with the average daily allotment for food that people get on food stamps, which is about $4 per person, per day. Now, lots of other elected officials have done the food stamp challenge, but one of the things about Cory Booker`s approach to being mayor of Newark was that he was Mr. Living his life in public. So him doing the food stamp challenge also meant that he Instagramed and tweeted these pictures of his every meal that week. Minute-to-minute updates on his choices and his hunger pains and his really detailed details. These are all Cory`s photos, on what he could and could not afford to eat. So, if what Mayor Booker could afford for breakfast and lunch one day was just sweet potatoes and beans, everybody saw that on his Instagram. The one breakfast that was a mashup of lettuce and chickpeas was a particularly memorable one in his Instagram feed. But now, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is New Jersey`s U.S. Senator Cory Booker. And as a U.S. senator, now he is putting his stomach on the line again for a different cause. Senator Booker and New Jersey`s other senator, Robert Menendez, both agreed not to eat anything at all for 24 hours yesterday, as part of the rolling fast that lots of legislators have been participating in over the last few days, along with immigration activists. They`re trying to pull hearings, basically, trying to appeal to House Republicans to please allow a vote on immigration reform. The activists who have been fasting have had this tent set up on the national mall and they`ve had a very high political profile. After the president and first lady visited them on the Mall, in that tent, the day after thanksgiving, the activists have since received visits from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman John Lewis and Senator Pat Leahy and singers and cultural figures. Today, the activists held a press conference with Democratic members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Lewis. Congressman Lewis, of course, is one of the members of Congress who was recently arrested, protesting for their cause. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Let us not wait, not be patient, as I said so many times before. We cannot wait. We cannot be patient. We need comprehensive immigration reform now. It is the right thing to do. Please, Mr. Speaker, bring the deal to the floor. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Separately today, a different group of immigration reform activists went not just up to the step of Capitol Hill, but into Capitol Hill offices, taking a different approach, but, again, asking for the same thing -- asking for House Republicans to please just let there be a vote. This rather remarkable -- look at this. This rather remarkable footage was apparently shot through the mail slot in Eric Cantor`s office door in the U.S. capitol building. Through the mail slot there, you can see immigration activists sitting in, inside Eric Cantor`s office, chanting and clapping and pleading that Eric Cantor should please, just put the bill up for a vote. That bipartisan bill that already passed the Senate, please, just put it on the House floor for an up-or-down vote. There are two things to say about that prospect today. Number one, there is not going to be a vote on immigration this year. It is not going to happen this session. And we know that definitively, because the House has already gone bye-bye. The House passed the Paul Ryan/Patty Murray budget thing and the defense bill tonight. And they are gone, they are off to bed, they are on vacation now until well into the New Year. Nice work if you can get it. But the second thick to know is this, Nancy Pelosi, who is not a Republican, and therefore not in the majority, but she does tend to know what she`s talking about when she talks about votes in the House. Nancy Pelosi is now saying that although immigration is not getting a vote this year, it may not be over. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: When are we going to this bill pass and what happened to immigration? Do we need to wait until next year? REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I asked the speaker that question yesterday and he said, yes, we`ll have to wait until next year. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Meaning, no, it was not going to happen by today, which is the last day that the house is there this year, but maybe it`s going to happen when they come back next year. As for the protesters, the protesters all over the country and in Washington, these protesters who have been pushing so hard for there to be a vote, the group that has been fasting said today that they`re ending their fast on the National Mall, but they`re about to kick off a whole new set of tactics aimed at pushing for a vote as early as possible in 2014. The immigration protesters are my vote for man of the year this year if I got to vote for one. The immigration protesters this year have been passionate and emotional and surprising and relentless, all year long. They have been very, very creative so far. What they are about to do next, we do not know, but they tell us we are due to find out soon, and they want that vote early next year. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you want to see New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie at his finest, look no further than the nearest scrum of pestering reporters, as the governor definitely swats away their questions with his boastful sarcasm and his signature New Jersey tough talk. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Governor, on Monday, are you going to be addressing the legislature? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Did I say "on topic"? Are you stupid? On topic. On topic. Next question. REPORTER: Governor, do you think this sort of confrontational tone can increase your odds of getting this through the legislature? CHRISTIE: You know, Tom, you must be the thinnest skinned guy in America. If you think that`s a confrontational tone, you should really see me when I`m pissed. I work the cones, actually. Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and a hat, but I was the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, pugnacious, the tough guy who plays for laughs. That is the patented and trademarked Chris Christie recipe for getting good press, no matter what, despite everything else about you. But that last bit there, the one about the overalls and the hat and the traffic cones, that may not be a serious enough answer to the questions that he was being asked there, because although he has been joking about it in public, Governor Christie is apparently dead serious about that subject when you talks about it in private. And the way we know that, and we do know it now, is coming up and it is a remarkable story. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Now, let me tell you something. My story is pretty well-known now. But I was pregnant, I was miscarrying, I was bleeding. If I had to go from one hospital to the next, trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California speaking in 2011, telling about her own terrible story of having a terrible miscarriage. She`s telling that story about one of the dozen of anti-abortion bills put forward by Republicans that year. And over these past few years, as Republican legislators not just in Washington, was around the country, as they have pursued a record number of rollbacks to abortion rights, as Republicans have become super-aggressive on anti-abortion and even anti-contraception legislation over these past three years, the other legislative phenomenon that has gone along with that is women legislators starting to tell very, very personal stories in legislatures, in a public context. Trying to hold off these new restrictions by talking about what they, themselves, have been through as women. Lawmakers taking the kind of risk that Congresswoman Jackie Speier took in Congress. More often, though, it`s happening in the states. In January of this year, Republican state legislature in Wyoming told her story in the legislature about her experience of having had to -- of having had an abortion. In Wisconsin, in June, a Democratic state rep named Mandy Wright, she began her remarks on the House floor by apologizing to her mom and dad for the story she was about to have to tell. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE REP. MANDY WRIGHT (D), WISCONSIN: I was 8 years old, visiting the family farm, and my cousin raped me repeatedly, several times. The only reason it stopped is because my father found us. My parents protected me and they made good decisions on my behalf. And I am a whole person because of the love and care of my parents and my faith community and the counseling that I was able to receive, individually, and with my family. And that should have been kept private. But because of this bill, I need to tell this story. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Because of this bill, which in Wisconsin, there was a mandatory ultrasound bill, because of this bill, I need to tell this story. This is a new phenomenon in our politics, in state after state, and sometimes in Congress, women lawmakers deciding to tell these incredibly personal stories. And you can tell they do not want to be telling these stories. But they say they feel compelled too this because of Republicans pushing so hard against reproductive rights now, both in Washington, D.C., and in the states. Yesterday in Michigan, Republican legislators passed a bill that makes it so that your normal, private health insurance cannot cover your abortion. Instead, you have to buy separate insurance just for abortion coverage, ahead of time. As if people ever plan on having abortion, so they buy abortion insurance. Abortion insurance, it should be noted, does not exist. It`s required now, by what Michigan just passed, if you want to have your abortion covered by insurance, but insurance companies don`t offer those kinds of policies. If those policies did exist, by their nature, you couldn`t buy them once you were already pregnant, right? So, the Republican idea here is that women should not be allowed to have their reproductive health care covered like other health care. Women should have to pay, especially, in advance, by planning ahead for unplanned pregnancy, including planning ahead for the possibility that you might get pregnant through rape. Even a woman who wants an abortion because she has been raped, Michigan Republicans say it should be illegal for the rape victim`s insurance to cover an abortion. She has to pay cash, which is why, in Michigan, opponents of this new law are calling this the rape insurance law. It was a point made yesterday by the Democratic leader in the Michigan Senate, Gretchen Whitmer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE SEN. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I think the fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive. And for those of you who want to act aghast that I`d use a term like "rape insurance" to describe the proposal here in front of us, you should be even more offended that it`s absolutely accurate description of what this proposal requires. This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it. By moving forward on this initiative, Senate Republicans want to essentially require Michigan women to plan ahead and financially invest in health care coverage for potentially having their bodies violated and assaulted. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And she was just getting going. The stunning turn in Senator Whitmer`s floor speech happened when she decided essentially to set aside her prepared remarks and tell her own very personal story. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WHITMER: I`m about to tell you something that I have not shared with many people in my life. But over 20 years ago, I was a victim of rape. And thank God it didn`t result in a pregnancy, because I can`t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker. And as a mother with two girls, the thought that they would ever go through something like I did keeps me up at night. I thought this was all behind me. You know how tough I can be. The thought and the memory of that still haunts me. If this were law then, and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage, because of this. How extreme, how extreme does this measure need to be? I am not the only woman in our state that has faced that horrible circumstance. I am not enjoying talking about it. It`s something I`ve hidden for a long time. But I think you need to see the face of the women that you are impacting by this vote today. I think you need to think of the girls that we`re raising and what kind of a state we want to be where you would put your approval on something this extreme. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After she gave that remarkable speech yesterday in the Michigan Senate, Senator Gretchen Whitmer says she called her father right away, because she had never told him that story before she said it last night on the Senate floor and she wanted him to hear it from her. Joining us now for the interview is Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan state senator. She`s the leader of the minority Democratic caucus in the state Senate. Senator Whitmer, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I really appreciate it. WHITMER: Thank you for having me, Rachel. I`m a huge fan and I`m glad to be with you. MADDOW: Oh, thank you. Well, I have to ask you about that decision to tell the story. I mean, watching your speech, it seems like it probably was not in your prepared remarks and that you were speaking from the heart. Is it just that you felt move to do it? WHITMER: Well, I tell you, you know, I`ve spent the better part of my life trying not to talk about that and not think about it, but it became very clear that the Republicans were not listening to any women in our state. They didn`t hold a hearing where women could testify. They didn`t pay attention to any of the editorials, which were all against this extreme petition language. And I was trying to encourage one of my male colleagues to tell the sad story about a DNC that his wife recently had to have to end a planned, wanted pregnancy, because there was a physical malformation of the fetus. I wanted him to tell his story, and I thought, if I`m not brave enough to tell mine, how can I ask him to tell his? And so, that`s -- I made the decision as I was standing at the microphone and, you know, it was very difficult, but I`m glad I did. The response from women across the state and across the country, frankly, has been amazing. MADDOW: After you made that speech, obviously, the vote went down on almost party line votes and the measure that you were arguing so passionately against did pass. It is slated to become law in March. I wonder, even with that vote, if you`ve also had support or expressions of sympathy and solidarity from the members of the Senate, the people you serve alongside, despite the differences in how you voted? WHITMER: I had. You know, I had a number of Republican women staffers come up and share their stories with me. I had a few of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle who were stunned and regretted that they didn`t have the temerity to stand up and cast a no vote. And most importantly, the resounding feedback from Republicans, Democrats, independents, men, women, all across the state who are just floored by what the Senate and the House did yesterday. And that is going to become law, based on what a petition signed only by 4 percent of people in our state. So, I am -- really, we`re gearing up for another fight in this battle. And so, it`s the Republican war on women, but I believe that people are motivated and we`re going to do everything we can to repeal this repugnant law. MADDOW: You alluded to the sort of strange way this is going to become law. I`ll probably say this wrong, but as I understand it, it goes through normal legislative channels by Republican legislators. Governor Snyder vetoed it, saying he thought it was a bad idea and an unconscionable intrusion into the private contracts that people make with their insurance companies, among other things. Then, it was put on the ballot. A petition was formed so it went back to the legislature. When Republican legislatures voted for it last night, that means that it becomes law without the governor ever signing it again. It`s a strange way that things become law. Does that mean that another petition effort, another populist effort across the state could repeal it, could get rid of the law? WHITMER: We could. You know, it`s a terrible loophole in the law, and Right to Life, sidestepped the second Republican governor to veto this, by the way. They sidestepped a vote of y the people by getting the legislature to put their stamp of approval on it within 40 days of when they certified the signatures. So, now, it`s incumbent for us to go to a vote of the people. I`m going to introduce legislation immediately to repeal this, but considering the makeup of the legislature, I don`t -- you know, I`m not optimistic that we`ll get it through, but I am optimistic, because I know the people of this state are robustly against this legislation, and I believe if we go to the ballot, we can win, but it`s a heavy lift and we`ve got a big fight on our hands. MADDOW: Senator Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan state, leader of the Democrats in the Senate, I can`t imagine how difficult it was for you to do what you did last night, but I hope the national response of just sort of respect and awe for what you did is at least some comfort in what I`m sure is a very difficult time. Thanks for being here tonight. WHITMER: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: I appreciate it. All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Chart imitates life. I love this. All right. We are now little more than two months into a grand experiment that we have undertaken as a country about whether or not people who don`t currently have health insurance should be able to get health insurance. It`s an experiment called Obamacare, or if you prefer, the Affordable Care Act. The signing people up for health insurance part of the Affordable Care Act, it started on October 1st. And here the progress so far. The data that has just been released is fascinating. Look at this -- since October 1st, since the Obamacare enrollment period started, this is the number of people who signed up for health insurance through one of the state or federal exchanges. This is people bought private health insurance on one of the new exchanges. Now, here is the number of people getting new health insurance through Medicaid, which is the public insurance program that you`re eligible for based on your income. The fascinating part is when you break it down to where these people come from, whether they come from states run by Democrats or states that are run by Republicans. Of the people who are newly able to get public health insurance, here`s how much it breaks down by state. Look -- the vast majority of people who are getting new public health insurance, thanks to Obamacare, come from states with Democratic governors. These are for the most part states that elected to expand their Medicaid programs and allow more people to get health insurance that way. Look at the disparity. Look at the red versus blue there. Of the people who have signed up for private health insurance on one of the Obamacare exchanges. Now, look at this. This is how the private insurance breaks down by state. Look at that. Again. The vast majority of people who have signed up for new private health insurance come from states controlled by Democrats. Democratic state governments have embraced and promoted Obamacare. And this is the result. This chart tells you basically everything you need to know about Obamacare and its implementation so far. "The Associated Press" wrote about this today, this huge partisan disparity among states in terms of who is getting new health insurance. In the dozen states who have embraced Obamacare, mostly Democratic states, more than 50 percent of the people who want coverage have been able to get coverage. That`s not an amazing number it is when you compare it to the states who have chosen not to embrace Obamacare. Those states, those Republican states basically, the percentage of people who want health insurance and able to get it is not 50 percent. It`s 15 percent, 1-5. If you`re not insured and you want to be, good luck if you come from a Republican controlled state. If you live in a state that has Democratic elected officials, we are getting to be a country where that means you are more likely to have health insurance or at least more likely to be able to get it if you want it. That is the consequence of Obamacare so far. Vote for Democrats. You can get insurance. Vote for Republicans. You are going to stay uninsured. That`s the trend. And you can choose to look at that in terms of its electoral consequences what it will mean for how people vote. But it`s also going to have a big if pact on who we are as a country. On which states people choose to live in. These are amazing new numbers. Chart imitates life. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is getting crazier in New Jersey, which is saying something when it comes to New Jersey. Specifically this, September 9, the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey, all but one lane of traffic to the busiest bridge in the nation. The George Washington Bridge got abruptly shut down. No warning, no apparent reason. The lane closures cause traffic Armageddon. A 30-minute commute to New York City suddenly took two hours. And nobody had any warning. Cars could not move in the entire town of Fort Lee. It was gridlock that went on for the better part of a week. Nobody had any idea why it was happening. Official explanation from people in charge of the New Jersey side of the bridge was that those lanes had to be closed for a traffic study. That was news to their boss, the guy responsible for the whole Port Authority and, therefore, the whole bridge. When he was asked why it got shut down, crippling the town of Fort Lee, the head of the Port Authority said under oath said he was, quote, "not aware of any traffic study." Then, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that the lane closures and therefore the traffic disaster had been ordered by one specific namable guy. A former Republican mayor, political activist blogger, who was also turns out an old high school buddy of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The governor`s buddy, alone, called up the bridge and told the workers there to close down those lanes in Fort Lee and not tell nobody about it. Don`t say a word. Just do it. Don`t warn the town. Don`t warn the police. Just do it. But why? Why did he do it? Why did he do that to Fort Lee? What had the town done to merit terrible treatment? Well, the mayor of Fort Lee had two weeks earlier rejected requests to endorse Governor Chris Christie`s re-election efforts. But come on. I mean, Governor Christie was ahead by 100 miles in the polls by then. This couldn`t have been some political brush back just for that, right? I mean, that would be crazy. Who would believe that? But then last week, Governor Christie`s high school buddy who ordered that lane closures, he resigned. And this week, the head of the Port Authority and others were questioned under oath at the state capital in Trenton, specifically contradicting the early claim that the Fort Lee traffic closure thing was part of some sort of study. New Jersey`s biggest newspaper, "The Star Ledger" editorialized yesterday, that legislators should call more officials to testify about the Fort Lee traffic jam mystery with the threat of perjury hanging over their heads. Well, today, New Jersey lawmakers made it so. The head of the New Jersey side of the bridge, the guy who said it was all a traffic study don`t worry about it, him and six other people from the port authority were handed subpoenas this afternoon, demanding that they appear at the state capitol to answer question as but what exactly happened here. Now, throughout the whole thing, Governor Chris Christie has said very little. Last week, he was asked directly about whether or not he was involved in the Fort Lee lane closure possible political retribution scandal. And in response he told jokes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: I worked the cones actually. Unbeknownst to everybody. I was the guy out there. I was in overalls and a hat. So, I wasn`t -- but I actually was the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question. What happened? No, I haven`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Chris Christie does not really care about this scandal as of a week ago. That was made a little squirrely today by "The Wall Street Journal" in a small, significant way. "Wall Street Journal" reports that while Governor Christie was maintaining publicly he has no involvement here, how dare anybody ask him about this, such an unserious matter. While he has been maintaining that publicly he has been on the horn to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, complaining about this. Mr. Christie would like this story to please go away. And reportedly he is unhappy about the role of New York state employees of the Port Authority, who have been advancing the investigation and trying to get to the bottom of it. Governor Chris Christie, reportedly, does not want that. And he has been trying to make this go away by making it seem hilarious even though he is privately on the phone with his fellow governor on the other side of the bridge saying how much he would look Governor Cuomo to please weigh in to make this thing go away. It`s still kind of a hilarious story. But it is becoming significantly less hilarious for Governor Chris Christie. How long can he go on before he actually explains what happened here? There is still is no explanation for what happened here that makes any sense and seems to be born out by the facts. What happened, and when is the governor going to explain it? 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