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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/08/14

Guests: Heidi Hartmann

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Coming up on the show tonight, we have got some amazing examples of the three stages of political confrontation, all happening today, all happening live and on tape. I don`t think it was planned that they would all happen today, but they did. There is also an important new bit of information about the still-missing Malaysian plane. It is a bit of information that needs explanation tonight Unfortunately, explaining it will require me to stand up and to walk away from my desk which is always upsetting for the camera crews here. And of course, there is the Washington news today about equal pay, about the Democrats and President Obama trying to reduce the pay gap between women and men get paid in this country. The debate over whether policy can and should try to fix that problem. It`s always been kind of a weird, but now it is getting both really and really loud. And we got those stories ahead tonight. But we`re going to begin tonight with a very serious story out of Wisconsin. A story that was already disturbing. We`ve talked about it a little bit here on the show. But it has now taken a much more disturbing and serious turn. It has now veered unexpectedly to involve a sitting United States senator. OK, here`s the story. You may remember back in 2011, there was a huge fight over Republican legislators and the new Republican governor stripping union rights in the state of Wisconsin. She called that fight in Wisconsin contentious, does not do justice to the word contentious. That fight gave rise to the largest protests that have ever seen in the state. And to let the Democrats in the Wisconsin senate to desperate measures. The Republicans have won majorities in the legislature in 2010, and the Democrats knew they were outnumbered, just in terms of their voting numbers. But they still were so outraged and so shocked by what the Republicans were doing on this union rights issue, that the Democrats actually fled the state to deny the Wisconsin Republicans the quorum they would need to pass through the senate that bill stripping union rights. The fight in the senate was so dramatic, at one point, you may remember the Republicans sent state troopers to the Democratic senators` homes to try to find them and physically drag them back to the state capitol. The fight in the senate was over the top, it was really memorable. I still have the commemorative t-shirts from that fight. But the fight in the assembly, the other side of the state capitol, that was not nothing. The way that fight ended in the assembly was that the Republicans started the debate on the union bill on a Tuesday morning. The Democrats didn`t want there to be a vote. They knew they were going to lose the vote. And the Democrats decided they were going to everything they could to keep the debate going as long as possible to stem off the threat of a vote. The debate was opened up on Tuesday morning. The debate went all day long into Tuesday, and into Tuesday night, overnight Tuesday, into Wednesday morning, all day Wednesday into Wednesday night, overnight Wednesday, the captivating in the Thursday morning, all through Thursday and Thursday night, all one debate nonstop. They went for 60 straight hours. But then after midnight, early Friday morning, suddenly, suddenly after 60 hours, after they have been there day and night and day and night, suddenly with no worry the Republicans called a surprise attack. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYING) MADDOW: There was still 15 Democrats waiting to speak in the debate, only 13 of the 38 Democrats in the chamber managed to even cast their vote. And the time before the vote was closed, the Republican at the podium just snap, open the vote, held it out for few seconds, ignored all the points of order, and the cue of members waiting to speak, he banged the gavel, done and that`s how they got it done. And the guy who did that, the guy who was the Republican at the podium who pulled that off is a Republican from a very Republican district in Waukesha, Wisconsin named Bill Kramer. Republicans handing him the gavel, to have him run through the union rights, that happened in February, 2011. And of course, naturally, that made him a rising star. By this past September, Bill Kramer was the Republican majority leader in Wisconsin. reported that at the time of the vote when he got elected leader, that one Republican who is supporting his opponent in the leadership election had stood up and argued to his colleagues that Bill Kramer had exhibited a pattern of inappropriate behavior at Republican events. That they should not support him for such a profile job. These members said he had been to numerous political events with Bill Kramer over the years, he cited quote "a behavior pattern that is prevalent at every event I can remember." This Republican legislator said Bill Kramer was unsuited to the leadership job, specifically citing his behavior at an (INAUDIBLE) meeting in Chicago that had taken place the previous month. This Republican legislator said to his caucus that Mr. Kramer`s sexual innuendoes specifically out that Alec event showed that he should not be in leadership. But Wisconsin Republicans put him in leadership. They voted for him. He won the majority leader job in September. And then it didn`t take long. This is the BGR group. It is a major D.C. lobbying firm, Republican shop run in part by former Mississippi governor and former Republican party chairman Haley Barbour. On February 26th, the BGR group hosted a top-dollar fund-raiser for Wisconsin Republicans at BGR`s swank offices in downtown Washington, D.C. Downtown D.C. is a long way from Madison, Wisconsin. It is 850 miles with a shortcut through Akron. But this trip to D.C. is now become an annual junket for Wisconsin Republicans politicians. They all fly from Wisconsin down to this lobbyists office party in Washington D.C. And then D.C. lobbyists and D.C. other people with money turn up to this fund-raiser, they pay $5,000 a person, and that money goes to boosts, these Wisconsin Republicans` prospects back at home. And at that event this year, the Republican majority leader, Bill Kramer is accused of sexually harassing two women, both verbally and physically. According to the "Milwaukee Journal" sent multiple witnesses quote "alleged that Bill Kramer hugged a legislated staffer and touched a staffer`s breasts at a social event after the D.C. fund-raiser. He also allegedly made vulgar remarks about his sexual pros to a lobbyist on that night and then again the next day on the flight back to Wisconsin." So, it was a Wednesday night that was the fund-raise at Haley Barbour`s lobbying firm in D.C. That was the night that people say they saw Bill Kramer grabbing the staffer`s breasts. The next day, Thursday on the flight home he was harassing the lobbyist allegedly with remarks of his owned pro ass (ph). That was Wednesday and then Thursday. By Friday, Wisconsin media was buzzing about what had just happened on this D.C. trip. Remember it was multiple witnesses are making these allegations. Reporters were calling Bill Kramer at home. By the time the Saturday morning papers were out in Wisconsin , Wisconsin`s Republican leaders are started issuing statements calling the alleged behavior by Bill Kramer quote "reprehensible" Saturday morning. By Tuesday, Wisconsin Republican had voted unanimously to strip him of his leadership job. But they didn`t (INAUDIBLE) and they didn`t kick him out of the assembly. The legislative aide who the allegedly groped at the fund-raiser event in D.C., she did file a personal claim against him with her employer which after all is the assembly. The clerk of a assembly is apparently still looking into that personal claim. But nothing has happened with that so far. Here`s where things took a really dark turn. The allegations of propping and sexual harassment were first reported in the claims the Wisconsin press in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 1st. That was a Saturday. It was Tuesday, March 4th, he got stripped of his title as majority leader. But it was the next day after that, Wednesday March 5th, when another Wisconsin woman come came forward and this time she came forward to the police. Back in 2011, not long after this drama happened to the state capital in Madison, Republicans hosted something called pints and politics at a bar in Muskego, Wisconsin. And at that event, an incident reportedly occurred involving this guy, Bill Kramer and another female Republican legislative staffer. An instant, that was apparently a traumatic incident. The woman later explained that she didn`t report it publicly at the time because she quote "didn`t want any embarrassment to her or her family or to the Republican Party." But after this traumatic incident, what she did do was have a lawyer write up a letter and send it to Bill Kramer. The lawyer letter t Bill Kramer said that the lawyer told Bill Kramer, he had been contacted in connection quote "with the physical and sexual assault you perpetrated at the recent types and politics event in Muskego." The letter said the alleged victim quote "wants you to understand that she has been severely impacted emotionally as a result of your actions, and she wants to ensure that it not happened again to her or to another. She believes it`s likely your assault behavior was influenced by your use of alcohol. And she suggest you get treatments." And this is the really important part. Rest assures that if you persist with your sexually and/or physically inappropriate behavior toward her or another person, she will reconsider her decision not to go to the authorities. That was 2011. And now, just a few weeks ago, indeed, new allegations of a very familiar story have cropped up from around the same guy, Bill Kramer. And this woman who he allegedly assaulted in 2011 has now made good on her promise. She told him back them that she was not going to authorities then, in part for the good of the Republican Party. But said she in that lawyer letter, if she ever heard of him doing anything like that ever again, she would not hesitate to go to the police. And so, after this new round of allegations against him, she has gone to the police. This first reported by (INAUDIBLE) in Wisconsin. The police report she filed in Muskego included a very detailed statement from her of what happened that night in 2011. It include detailed corroborating statements from more than one witness who saw some of what happened, and who she told what allegedly happened that night and who attested to the police to the circumstance to the alleged assault and to her being very distraught when it happened. The police report was enough to convince the district attorney to file this criminal complaint, charging his Bill Kramer with two felony counts of second degree sexual assault. Now, the police report was also publicly released in conjunction with that complaint. The police reports is harrowing. Kramer placed his right arm around her shoulder and squeezed her hard toward him. She felt uncomfortable and tried to get away from his grip. He and Kramer reached her vehicle and Kramer then shoved her hard into her car. She stated her back was pushed in to the car causing her head snapped back and hit the car causing her pain. Kramer then leaned his body into hers and pressed his weight against her. The report then goes into a lot of very terrible detail about the alleged assault which went on for a long time. The police report resulted in the criminal complaint and the felony charges. And both the criminal complaint and the police report were made public once Bill Kramer was arrested. Where upon the police took this mug shot of the former majority leader. And here`s the thing. This is the actually unbelievable thing about this story. The police report, that physical document, when they released it publicly, the police had tried to redact personal details from the report. They took a marker and they crossed out names and personal identifying information with the black pen. But it wasn`t a particularly black pen. You could see through all their redactions. The used like a cheap magic marker or something or they just didn`t bother to check to see that they are blacking out certain words, actually black them out for real. They have got this black marks on the police report, but you can read right through them. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, police blacked out the names in the report, but they can still be easily read and that`s true. And so, now, no one is publishing the names of the victim or any of her identifying information, thank God. But other names in the report that were supposedly blacked out, but not really, the other names in that report are basically the people who she cited as witnesses for her police report. Some of them people went and interviewed about this case when they are making decision of whether or not to hand this over to the D.A. to charge criminally this Wisconsin politician. And when you read through the magic marker, to read through the supposedly redacted names or the people who this alleged victim told about the terrible alleged sexual and physical assault by this Wisconsin legislator, it turns out that one of the people who she told at the time of the alleged assault, one of the people who was told by it contemporaneously so they have known about it for years was United States Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. The woman who filed the complaint against Kramer said that she told the chief of staff to U.S. senator Ron Johnson about the sexual assault at the time that it happens, and that the chief of staff in turn told Senator Ron Johnson himself. So they knew at the time when it happened. And when the alleged assault happened in 2011, remember, this alleged victim said she didn`t want to pursue the matter publicly, you remember, for the good of the Republican party. So instead, she sent her accused assailant this lawyer letter documenting what she said happened and warning him off. But think about the timing here. In the interim, between 2011 and now, Bill Kramer, the alleged perpetrator of that assault, of that Republican party event back in 2011, in the interim, he`s risen steadily through the ranks of Wisconsin Republicans. He was elected majority leader for the Republicans. And all that time, neither Senator Johnson or his chief of staff apparently said beat to anyone. About this guy, maybe being a bad choice for leadership, quote "neither Senator Johnson nor anyone from his office contacted the assembly speaker, Robin Vos (ph) who has lead that body since January 2013 or Jeff Fitzgerald, who served as speaker at the time of the alleged 2011 assault." Fitzgerald said, he only learned with the allegations when charges were filed last week. Quote "I got to be honest with you. No, I was never informed of the incident." Robin Vos, who was the speaker thereafter said he too was not informed. Nobody said anything then. After reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel read through the weak magic marker of bad redactions on the police report and published the story. Senator Ron Johnson thereafter released a statement saying that he and his chiefs of staff were following the woman`s wishes to keep the matter confidential and to take no further action. And so, the man now serving -- now still serving in the Wisconsin legislature, with two felony sexual charges pending against him, and multiple other similar allegations spending against him including those that are being investigated by the legislature itself, that man rise to the top of Republican politics in Wisconsin happened in part because the people facilitated his rise say they didn`t know the truth about this guy. No one communicated it to them, even though back channels or a quiet word, even though one of the people who did know was a United States senator and also his chief of staff. Bill Kramer`s court date is Monday. But meanwhile, from the lured allegations at the fund-raise at Haley Barbour`s office, to the lured allegations on the plane ride home back to Wisconsin to the decision not to kick him out of the assembly or sanction him, to this brave alleged victim, making good on her 3-year-old threat that she would file this charges if she ever heard of him doing anything like this again to the police report being poorly redacted. To the U.S. senator`s name appearing on the edge of the story. If you just hold that police report up to the (INAUDIBLE) in just the right way. From the start of story to the present of the story, it has never felt like the story was under control. And on Monday it will go to court. But it Wisconsin politics, it is now officially out of control entirely. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The three stages of fighting about politics were all on display today in fine form. Stage one, of course start with snark, but it goes from there and rapidly. We got them on tapes. Stay tuned for them. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It was the question that launched 1,000 Halloween questions that year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Romney, pay equity for women. MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Thank you. And important topic in one which I learned the great deal about particularly as I was serving as governor of my state. Because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet. And all the applicants for my cabinet seemed to be men. And I went to my staff and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are all men. They said well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, God, can`t we find some woman that are also qualified? And so, we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women`s groups and said can you help us find folks and they brought us binders full of women. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Faster than you could say, is that name still available on Tumblr? Mitt Romney found himself in a sea of binders full of women. Yes, America, it is fantastic what you can do with all the cardboard boxes. Even lady people can do fantastic things with cardboard boxes, making themselves into binders. They used that debate answer Mitt Romney got thousands of binders full of women, and America did, too. But did that helped Mitt Romney answer the actual question? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Governor Romney, pay equity for women? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, how about that pay equity for women? Not, can you find the women to hire, not can you find binders full of women t hire. But rather what should the government do as a matter of policy about women earning less money than men even when they working side by side during the same work? Binders full of women wasn`t only inverted very funny. It was also just not an answer to the question. During the campaign, we also here at the show asked Mitt Romney that question because we are trying to figure out his position on the issue. We contact his campaign asking for Mr. Romney`s position the paycheck fairness act, which was then up for a vote in the United States senate. And the Romney campaign answered us that he supports equal pay. And we wrote back, that`s neat, so does everyone. But does he support this actual legislation to try to get equal pay, it is not hypothetical, doe he support the bill? The campaign answered again, he supports equal pay. Frustrated, we then ask it in multiple choice format. Check one if he has no position on the bill. Check two if he does not support the bill. Check three if he supports the bill. We got no answer from our multiple choice question. You know, I did not take it personally because Mr. Romney and the Romney campaign were kind of this to everybody at the time. You might remember the Romney campaign famously convening a conference call for reporters specifically on the issue how great a president Mitt Romney would be for America`s women. Reporter Sam Stein for "the Huffington Post" asked the obvious question on that call about one of the first pieces of legislation that President Obama signed. It tackle one part of the problem of women getting paid less than men. It was called the Lily Ledbetter act. That was President Obama`s most high-profile legislation specifically about women and women`s rights. So, it was the obvious thing that the Romney campaign was going to get ask about when they ask for questions on policy about women. And yet, they were completely flummoxed when Sam Stein asked the question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our next question will come from Sam Stein with "Huffington Post." Please go ahead. SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. Does governor Romney support the Lily Ledbetter act? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll get back to you on that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We`ll get back to you on that. The Mitt Romney campaign struggled mightily with both pregnant pauses and the question of what to do about equal pay for women. And they struggled with it throughout that campaign. They struggled all the way to losing among women by 18 points and losing the White House another four years and losing ground in Congress and losing their dream in taking over the Senate in 2012. Republicans really needed that answer and they could not come up with it. And President Obama got elected again and the Democrats did pretty well besides. But the bill to address the pay equity problem more broadly, the paycheck fairness act it`s still has not passed Congress. And so, today, Lily Ledbetter herself was back at the White House with President Obama for the Democrats new and latest attempt to somehow, some way make paycheck fairness the law of the land. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Today, the average full time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. For African-American women, Latinas, it is even less. In 2014, that`s an embarrassment. It`s wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Seventy seven cents on the dollar for the average woman working in this country. Today is what they call equal payday in Washington. The day this year by which the average woman will finally have earned what her male colleagues earned just by working last year. Women have to work this far into the next year in order to catch up with what guys earned in 2013. And Democrats spent the day arguing that point. Republicans spend the day arguing that equal pay day is a myth and that American women are not paid less than men. The National republican party released a statement this week saying quote "the difference in pay isn`t because of their genders, it is because of their jobs. Women just happen to prefer jobs that pay less. And that was the polite way of putting it. Our friends across the street at the FOX News Channel, they have decided just to scrap the whole thing in much blender terms. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not buying this inequality business. I`m not. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what is he going to do? Tomorrow he is going to sign a couple of executive actions to make sure that women get paid the same as men. I know, I know, women gotten equal pay for decades -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now they think you`re anti-woman if you question that mean about equal pay. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put a man today and a woman today doing the same job at the same company, they`re virtually getting paid the same. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s true. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: At FOX News Channel, it`s the truth, right? So now, we have three competing ideas about equal payday. From Democrats, we have this persisting claim that women make less than man for doing the same work. From Republican, we have the equally persistent claim that women just happen to like making less for their woman reasons. And from the FOX News channel, we have the idea that women are not just paid less, it`s liberals making it up as a myth in order to give you bad dreams and bother you. Happy equal payday to you as well. Joining us now is Heidi Hartmann. She is president of the Institute for Women`s Policy Research and she is professor at George Washington University. She is also at the White House today for the equal pay event. Professor Hartmann, thank you very much for being with us. HEIDI HARTMANN, PRESIDENT, INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN`S POLICY RESEARCH: Pleasure to be with you again, Rachel. MADDOW: I just want to ask you a very basic but specific question. Do American women make less than men while doing the same work? HARTMANN: Well, it`s that doing the same work that is tricky. There are many companies in which a man and a woman in the same job would get equal pay. But it turns out there are many companies where they don`t. And you know, we take a look just recently at the 20 largest occupations for women, these are occupations that sound the same like let`s say customer service representative, retail worker, and the wage gaps range (INAUDIBLE) range from like 68 percent, women making only 68 percent of what men make in retail to 94 percent women making 94 percent of what men make in customer service work. So yes, they are not all necessarily in the same companies, but we do have many examples of women claiming discrimination even within a single company. Recently, I think last week, the Sterling Jewelers, women at Sterling Jewelers across the country filed a complaint that men were coming in for the same job, sales person on the floor, and they are being paid a couple of dollars more per hour than the women. Many of the women have been there for years and the men were brand new, yet, making more per hour. MADDOW: Well, how does the gap in pay change as you move across the income spectrum? Does it make a difference in terms of the likelihood of facing a gap in your workplace whether you are woman working at the top of the pay scale or at the bottom? HARTMANN: Well actually, there`s more room for differentiation at the top, right? Let`s say you are both selling securities at some, you know, Wall Street firm, whatever, and there is a bigger difference there because there is no limit at the top end. If you`re both in low wage jobs, man and a woman, there may be a smaller gap there. So, it is surprising, It`s not exactly what you think. Yes even in low wage jobs, we`ve studied that particularly, and many of the low wager women`s job actually require certifications, high school graduation, licenses, compared to the low wage men`s job which don`t require those things and actually pay more. So, there seems to be this, you know, an inequality between occupations, within the same occupation, bigger inequalities at the top and at the bottom. I mean, it is pretty rife throughout the entire labor market. MADDOW: From your research, from being about to take that nuanced of you and that fact-based of a view of the way it actually works out in real life, can you tell if there are policies that the government could pursue to reduce the gap in pay between women and men? Obviously, the contours of it are different as you say within companies, within occupations, within occupation groups, within income levels, is there something the government could do to bend the curve toward equality? HARTMANN: Well, absolutely. I mean, there is no question from the research that social scientists have done, that title 7 of the 1964 civil right act has made a difference. That the federal contract compliance that we do have now already which requires, you know, those firms with government contracts to report and to have an affirmative action plans. All of the research shows that those policies has made a difference. The new policy that the president outlined today, two of the policies would make a difference. One is for pay transparency making it illegal for federal contractors to retaliate against workers who do share information about their pay. I mean, Lily Ledbetter found out toward the end of her career at Goodyear from an anonymous tip of the co-worker that she was making tens of thousands of dollars less than her male colleagues who also in the departments same as she did. So, if you have that information, if you can share without penalty, then chances are the workers will try to do something about it and even the employers may do more about it when they realized that the employees can have this information. MADDOW: Professor Hartmann, can I just ask you, in terms of your professional work on this, you are somebody whose obviously dealt with this in an academic context, but you can also tried to articulate this in public in a way that people sort of can understand and can have well-informed arguments about it and try to make policy about it. I have seen the debate on the political right in this country shift from being against the idea of equal pay because women shouldn`t be working to not wanting to talk about equal pay because there`s no right answer, to now talking about equal to as if it`s a liberal plot. That is has been made of. And if you believe this, you probably believe that the earth is warming, too. To hear it become something that the right is announcing as a conspiracy theory, I just have to ask your reaction to that as somebody who sort of build partly a career around this. HARTMANN: Well, you know, I don`t take it too seriously. I took at the data, the actual data that comes from the federal government agencies. And you know, all the data shows a wage gap. And most of the social science confirms it and says yes, there may be a portion of the wage gap that we can be explained with reasonable factors, but there`s still a portion we can`t explained and that is probably due to the discrimination. But the other data, a survey data, and you know, if you ask American women and men, what is the biggest problem for women on the job? Most of the women, and the vast majority of the women, and even the majority of men will say equal pay. Lack of equal pay. So, for the whole campaign -- it is actually been going on, I`d say 30 years, this campaign from conservative economists, from conservative politicians to try to, you know, make the pay gap go away, make pretend it`s not real. It hasn`t convinced the American people. I mean, American women are pretty convinced. I just saw some data from Pew, which they looked at young men and women, 24, 25 to 34, pay ratio of 93 percent. That`s pretty good, seven percent differential. Seventy five percent of the women in that age group, according to Pew, said they`d like to see the government do more about equal pay. So the argument that they have been making honestly I think it has been very long time is not winning the hearts and minds of the American people. MADDOW: I honor and respect your resilience in these matters. To just not take it seriously, it makes me want to poke myself in the eye. Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women`s Policy Research. Thank you very much for your time today. Thanks for being here. HARTMANN: Fun to be with you again. MADDOW: Thanks, appreciate it. All right, if you are an elected official and you find yourself not poking yourself in the eye, but rather punching someone in the face at your workplace and doing it over and over again, clearly the political process that you are supposed to work in has gone as tray somewhere. We got a road map of political rage on tape, coming up just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Three miles is not all that far, if what you are doing is running a foot race or heading to a friend`s house or even ascending in an airplane. Three miles across town, even three miles up in the air is imaginable. But three miles down is incredibly far down. And to understand what is happening in one compelling news story in the world right now, it`s really helpful to at least try to grasp how deep down it is to be three miles deep. And we may fail in trying to demonstrate that here tonight, but we are going to try really hard to do it because it`s worth it if it works. We`re going to try. That is coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Three stages of political conflict that fall short of an actual war. All three happen today and all three happened on tape. Stage one, is the passive aggressive stage where adversaries call each other idiots implicitly without ever uttering the word idiot. Last night, attorney-general Eric Holder and Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas got into an argument at a House committee meeting. The just was that the congressman basically alleged that the department of justice under Eric Holder had failed to prevent the Boston marathon bombing and they could have. Here`s how that altercation went. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You don`t have access to the FBI files. You don`t know what they did. You don`t know what the FBI`s interaction was with the Russians. I know what the FBI did. You cannot know what I know. That`s all/ REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And that is simply the reason -- I didn`t assert what they did or did not do. I asserted what -- I can`t have someone challenge my character. (CROSSTALK) GOHMERT: When you attack somebody`s integrity and say they made statements that were not true, then of course, that raises a point of personal privilege. But the attorney general failed to answer my question -- (CROSSTALK) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What was the last thing that he said again? Play that again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOHMERT: Aspersions on my asparagus. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The gentleman cast aspersions on my asparagus, said congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas. All right. Today, was round two between the same amazing congressman and the same attorney general. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLDER: I think what we promised to do was provide you and your staff -- GOHMERT: Sir, I read what you promised, and it is inadequate and I realized that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general. But it`s important that we have proper oversight. HOLDER: You don`t want to go there. OK? GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there? HOLDER: No. GOHMERT: About the contempt? HOLDER: You should not assume that it`s not a big deal to me. I think it was inappropriate, and it was unjust. But never think that that was a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And then, the nation`s top law enforcement officer recalling last year`s confrontation with the same guy, he decided to close this one with a flourish. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOHMERT: Well, let me ask you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired. HOLDER: Good luck with your asparagus. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Good luck with your asparagus. Note that use of the word idiot was implied but it was never actually said. But stage one of political conflict short of war, passive-aggression that rising to the level of mocking snark, if not outright insult. Stage two of political conflict short of war is what passive-aggressive becomes aggressive-aggressive. During stage two, you are essentially calling each other idiots and most likely you are shouting the word. Today, secretary of state John Kerry appeared at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing where he and his old friend-enemy Senator John McCain put on basically a master class in insulting stage two political conflict. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: On the issue of Ukraine, my hero Teddy Roosevelt used to say, you talk softly but carry a big stick. What you are doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact a twig. It is really Palestinian talks are, even though, you may drag them out for awhile or finished. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me begin with the place that you began with your premature judgment about the failure of everything. I don`t know. I guess it`s pretty easy to lob those judgments around. But particularly well before the verdict is in, Israel Palestine, it is interesting that you declare it dead. But the Israelis and Palestinians don`t declare it dead. They want to continue to negotiate. MCCAIN: We`ll see, won`t we, M. Secretary? \ KERRY: I beg your pardon? MCCAIN: We will see. KERRY: Well, yes. We will see. But why -- MCCAIN: It has stopped. Recognize reality. KERRY: OK. We`ll see where the reality is as we go down the road here. There are serious problems, it`s a tough issue. But your friend Teddy Roosevelt also said that the credit belongs to people who are in the arena who are trying to get things done. And we are trying to get something done. That`s a Teddy Roosevelt Marxism and I abide by it. I think it`s important to do this. Sure, we may fail. And you want to dump it on me? I may fail. I don`t care. It`s worth doing. It`s worth the effort. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: John McCain and John Kerry going head-to-head today, accusing each other of being out of touch with reality, taking personal shock at each other. That happened today. That was stage two of political conflict short of war. But stage three of political conflict short of war is when we regress from words that will never hurt me back to sticks and stones. Stage three is when we give up on arguing with or without snark and we just start throwing punches. And that also happened today in the parliament of Ukraine. A full-on fight broke out when numbers of communist party in Ukraine accused members of a right-wing nationalist party in Ukraine of dividing the nation, by adopting with the communists called extreme tactics on the on-going Ukrainian crisis. The communist is accused the nationalists of playing into Russia`s hands and splitting Ukraine apart. And the nationalist party politicians responded to that accusation by basically starting a bench-clearing brawl that nobody could break up for a really long time. Since the opposition ousted Ukraine`s pro-Russian president, after months of protests, international attention has shifted to the other side of Ukraine where border`s Russia on the east. After invaded and then annexed the small peninsula in eastern Ukraine called Crimea, the Russians have since massed tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border of other parts of southeastern Ukraine. They have fostered fears that Russia is going to keep going. They are going to take more parts of that country. Well, over the weekend, pro-Russian demonstrators seized government buildings in three cities in eastern Ukraine. They declared each city a peoples republic. They called for a referendum on succession from Ukraine and each of those places. They ask Russia to send in troops over the border into Ukraine. The Ukrainian government says it is Russian forces and provocateurs who were sent over the border from Russia to try destroy Ukraine from within. Today, Ukrainian media posted this scary video reporting that an unnamed pro-Russian radical group had taken 60 hostages in the city called (INAUDIBLE) in the eastern part of Ukraine demanding that that city be allowed to succeed from Ukraine. Secretary Kerry and NATO, both issued warnings to Russia today to back off, to stay out of the rest of Ukraine. Secretary Kerry saying in between slot flight with Senator john McCain today that in his words quote "it`s clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind of the chaos of the last 24 hours." But this is not just a fight between the United States and Russia. This is the fight the U.S. is waging with Russia in part on behalf of Ukraine. Ukraine where they are beating one another to a fault inside their owned parliament today, the men and the women both. Russia`s whole strategy is to try to crush Ukraine, right? To try to crush the people who ousted their pro-Russian president and took over the government. Looking at what`s going on inside their government right now, is Russia succeeding? Are we defending a country that can`t stand up itself? And if so, should that change what we`re hoping for from this fight? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back to "FOX & friends" with me s usual, Elizabeth Hasselbeck. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well President Obama did his best to make us all sign up for Obamacare. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, it wasn`t easy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s tough to sign up for things. I have tried for years to join the NAACP. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you do that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just love college basketball. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all do. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the u-Conn huskies are the 2014 NAACP national champs. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Chart imitates life. Over the weekend ships looking for the missing Malaysian flight 370 picked up some fake pinging sounds in the Indian Ocean. And the hope, of course, is that those sound might have originated from the black boxes inside the lost plane. Those pings are a source of hope that maybe the plane could be found so we could learn what happened to it. But pinpointing where the pings are coming from is really, really hard. And that is because the location where they`re searching for the black boxes is almost unimaginably deep. And I mean that in the literal sense. For understanding the story, I think it helps to be able to try, at least, a realistically imagine what is almost unimaginable about the search. Today, "the Washington Post" deserved credit for figuring out a helpful way to demonstrate just how difficult it may be to find those black boxes in the Indian Ocean. They produced a chart called the depth of the problem. I`m going to try to show it to you here to try to convey this very large quantitative thing to show just how deep this search site is. So here, on this wall, you can see the Boeing 777, about 200 feet over the water. And you see the Australian search vessel that heard the pings. The Ocean Shield on the surface of the Indian Ocean. Let`s -- let`s start trying to understand the depth here. Under the water, you see the silhouettes of both the Washington monument and empire state building, this is all to scale. We are also passing the big one there, the (INAUDIBLE) tallest building in the world. We are also at the deepest point at which a giant squid is known to be able to swim. At nearly 3300 feet in mater, we passed the deepest point a sperm whale known to dive, also the deepest point from which a human can see light from the surface at around 4600 feet, that little squiggle was the outline of the pinger locater they dropped, which is how the Australian crew picked up those pings on Sunday, getting half a mile under sea now, right. 6,000 feet below. At 8,000 feet below the sea level, where 2,200 football fields from the surface of the water. And at about 10,000 feet, under the water, 10,000 feet below sea level, we are approaching the maximum known depth of the deepest diving mammal on earth. We are now about two miles below sea level. At 12,500 feet, we are passing the depth that which the wreck of the titanic was found in the Atlantic ocean. Just below that, at 13,000 feet where searchers found the black box from air France flight 447 two years after it crashed into the pacific. And here, just about 15,000 feet below sea level, it is the maximum known depth of the ocean floor in this area. Around the depth that the pinging signals were picked up almost three miles below the sea. The visual that we just showed you by scrolling through it looks like this if you print it out from top to bottom. From sea level at the top to 15,000 feet below. Hopefully, scrolling through the entire graphic gives an idea just how far below the ocean these black boxes might be, gives you some scale of how hard this search might be. Chart imitates life and sometimes intimidates it. Now, it is time for "the Last Word with Lawrence O`Donnell." Thanks for being with us tonight. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END