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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/09/14

Guests: Clay Jenkins, Barbara Boxer

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: All right. That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you. It`s sometimes easier than others. HAYES: Rachel Maddow, the person I toss to every night. MADDOW: I just referred to myself by the wrong name a few days ago about, don`t worry about it. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. For the 2012 presidential election, Republicans held their convention in Florida, then in that election, they lost Florida. In the presidential election before that, in 2008, Republicans held their convention in Minnesota. And then in that election, they lost Minnesota. The election before that was in 2004, Republicans held their convention that year in New York, and then in that election that year, they lost New York. The election before that was 2000. Republicans that year held their convention in Pennsylvania, and in that election they lost Pennsylvania. Should I go on? Are you noticing a theme? In 1996, Republicans held their convention in California, and in that presidential election, they lost California, obviously. Over and over and over and over and over again, Republicans have done this. They`re just on a terrible losing streak with this particular decision that they make as a party every four years. Whatever state they hold their convention in, they lose that state in that year`s election. It happens over and over and over and over and over again. The last time a Republican candidate for president actually won the state where his party`s convention was held that year, the last time, was in 1992, more than 20 years ago. In 1992, the Republican`s nominee for president was Poppy Bush, George H.W. Bush. He was running for reelection that year, you will remember. And the Republicans decided they were going to hold their convention in Texas. In that year, yes, George H.W. Bush did win Texas, but he did lost the election, and ended up being a one-term president. Wherever the Republican Party picks for their convention, it jinxes that state for them for that election. Or if you want to go back more than 20 years, you could find that their choice for the convention jinxes the whole election for them. They have a terrible record when it comes to choosing where to have their big Republican Party every four years. Now, Democrats this year, they still have not picked where they`re going to hold their next convention for the 2016 presidential elections. Democrats are holding off on that for now. But Republicans, they have now gone ahead, you may have heard that the last two cities on their short list, cities they were choosing between at the end. It was Dallas, Texas, or Cleveland, Ohio. If you think about, if the Republicans want to break their losing streak, if they want to break their generation long losing streak, of always losing the state in which they hold their convention, you would think if they wanted to break that streak, that they would pick Dallas, right? I mean, they`ll probably win Texas. Yes, Democrats want to turn Texas blue, Democrats are wishing and hoping Texas is going to be a purple state that someday. And maybe it will. But you know what? There hasn`t been a statewide elected official who is a Democrat in the state of Texas since 1999. Texas is a really Republican state. And it is likely that whoever the Republican nominee is, in 2016, they will be able to win Texas if nowhere else, right? So, pick Texas if you want to break the streak you guys. Come on. They did not pick Texas. So, you know, listen, it`s not a guarantee that the Republican convention jinx will continue, but if you are a superstitious person, boy howdy, that was a bad choice. I mean, Republican always think they`ve got a shot at winning Ohio. They would love to win Ohio. They have not been winning Ohio lately. Picking their convention to be in Ohio, it`s like petting a black cat backwards while walking under a ladder, stepping on cracks all the way, admiring yourself in a broken mirror while you do it. OK, go for it. Cleveland gets the convention. And it turns out, Dallas is mad. This from "The Dallas Morning News", "what is the world coming to when Dallas, a city that rings like a cash register for contributions, can`t land the 2016 Republican National Convention. For some reason, this one stings a little more than our failing every few years to get the Olympics. It`s true, Dallas isn`t as Republican as it once was, but we are smack dab in the middle of one of the reddest states on the map. Cleveland, though? Really now? Dallas is, if Dallas is, say light blue, Cleveland is roughly indigo. Cleveland is a town built on unions and mediocre sports teams, not that there`s anything wrong with that." Ow! "Good luck finding the Dallas cowboys cheerleaders, Big Tex, or one decent plate of barbeque or Mexican during your convention." And it ends this way, "No matter how much fun you will have, when you wake up, you`ll still be in Cleveland." Meow. That was "The Dallas Morning News" just moments after the convention announcement was made by the Republican Party. Texas Democrats also put out a statement blaming the Texas Republican Party for the city of Dallas losing out in that particular competition. This is what the Texas Democrats said, "The choice of Cleveland over Dallas to host the convention shows just how toxic Texas Republicans are. By choosing Dallas, national Republicans would have essentially endorsed the Texas Republican platform and values, including reparative therapy for the LGBT community, repealing the 17th Amendment that allows citizens to elect their own U.S. senators and repealing the Voting Rights Act. Texas Republicans are out of step even with national Republicans and out of step with the needs of Texans. Today, the Republican National Committee confirmed it in this decision." That`s not meowing. That`s more like crowing. But I`m not going to go caw. There, I just did. Texas Democrats are basically saying that Texas cannot have the convention because Texas Republican politics are too toxic for the National Republican Party. The Texas politics are too toxic for the National Republican Party. And whether it falls that way or not on partisan lines, right now more than ever, Texas politics do actually happen to be our national politics as a country. And that is mostly because of the border crisis. That`s why President Obama was in Texas today, he was in Dallas today. He says he did not want to go to the American border with Mexico in Texas, did not want to go to the border itself, because trying to find a solution to the border crisis, quote, "isn`t theater." That`s what the president said about that today. The president said today that he was not interested in photo-ops at the border. He said he`s interested in solving the border problem. But the president did take a big chunk of his day today to meet with both Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas and also local officials from Dallas about how to move forward on this issue of what`s happening on the border. And you know what, having this meeting in Dallas specifically out of all the cities where they could have had the president today in Texas, having it in Dallas today I think ended up being an important thing, because there is something unusual that is going on specifically in Dallas. And it`s been clear in Dallas, for a few weeks now, thanks to coverage like this, from the local Dallas press. This is from mid-June, almost a month ago. The images of immigrant children packed into warehouses were too much for Paula Rosales Aldana. The Dallas lawyer reached for her phone after seeing photos of an emerging humanitarian crisis on the border last week. She called other members of the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association to begin looking into legal help that the group can provide to some of the tens of thousands of children who are expected to seek asylum in the U.S. this year. Members of the Dallas Hispanic Bar set up an ad-hoc committee Wednesday that has begun legal training to help address the crisis. This is weeks ago, local lawyers in Dallas moved by the sight of these kids coming to the border alone. Local lawyers in Dallas, themselves, setting up legal training measures for themselves to get those kids representation in the court system to try to help out those kids. And then there`s Catholic charities. Catholic charities in Dallas and Ft. Worth started holding orientation meetings for people to sign up to volunteer to help kids. Just as individuals, even if you didn`t have any special professional skills. People are signing up to be mentors to these kids or to do recreational activities with these kids. This is from "The Dallas Morning News" on July 4th, "While protesters in cities in other states have turned away buses filled with immigrant children seeking refuge in the U.S. this week, others in Dallas and Ft. Worth had a different message. Their message? How can we help? More than 130 people filled the room of an orientation meeting at Catholic charities this week. They heard about the agency`s need for support from Facebook posts, from e-mails and from word of mouth. So, they`re in Dallas. There`s the Catholics stepping up. How about the Baptists, anybody? Yes, there are the Texas Baptist Men, the name of the group, already involved in this, already agreeing to provide laundry and shower facilities at the camps that are holding their kids on the border. Texas Baptist Men is one coalition in a group called Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. That group`s vice president says churches and other social organizations are expressing interest in helping the immigrant children in Dallas County. And then at the Democratic Party Convention, the statewide Texas Democratic Party Convention, the chief executive of Dallas County, he`s called Dallas County judge, but essentially that means he`s the executive for Dallas County, Judge Clay Jenkins, he announced at the Texas Democratic Party State Convention that the county of Dallas would offer to the federal government to set up facilities to take in up to 2,000 unaccompanied kids. They are offering. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY, TX: Regardless of your stance on immigration or the causes for this human tragedy, we cannot turn our back on the children that are already here. (APPLAUSE) I have offered our assistance to the federal government and we are partnering to increase capacity to move a number of these children from incarceration on our border, to compassionate care here in Dallas County. (APPLAUSE) We can`t help all, but we can help some. And by helping some, perhaps we can aspire others to help, so that we can increase the capacity to help these children and together with communities across this country, we can end this humanitarian crisis. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Dallas County Executive Clay Jenkins, an elected Democrat, the top official in Dallas County, he put out the call not just for the city to help, the county to help. He put out the call for church groups, organizations, anybody who could help, to do whatever they could to try to help these kids. They put out a call for individual families to offer to take in foster kids or even to adopt them. Dallas County told us today, we talked with them, that they`ve had offers from potential foster families not just from towns across Dallas County and across Texas, they said they have heard from families in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, Montana, Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey and the calls just keep coming in from all across the country. The Dallas School District offered vacant buildings owned by the school district to set up facilities to house these kids and the superintendent of Dallas schools said these kids need an education, too. The superintendent said, quote, "If they are in our district come August, we will want to help educate them. I don`t know if that`s a role we will be asked to play, but that`s my equipment." I mean, just as a Texas political flashback, the idea of providing an education to kids, even to kids who are immigrants, that`s what Rick Perry said he supported when he was running for president in 2012. That is what got him almost booed off the stage at a Republican debate in Orlando. Literally, the whole crowd booed him for saying, "We ought to have a heart when it comes to these kids. They need an education." Republican politics are sprinting very fast to the right on this issue. Even Rick Perry himself does not talk like that any more about immigrant kids and he only just ran in 2012. Rick Perry no longer says something so reckless as, you know, we ought to have a heart when it comes to kids and families when they come across the border. And the law that governs how these kids have to be treated when they do present themselves to border guards, it is the law that was signed by President Bush in 2008. It was really an uncontroversial law. It was uncontroversial enough that it was barely even debated in Congress and the Senate. They didn`t hold a recorded vote on it. But that law requires that kids who turn up at the border in these circumstances, they have to be held in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child, while they`re being processed for deportation. So, when Dallas County is trying to find foster families for these kids, or some other human, non-jail-like facilities for these kids, which might include them getting some education, that is what would count as the legally required, least restrictive setting that`s in the best interest of the child. I mean, even though that was signed by George W. Bush not that long ago, and it was never controversial until now, the fact that that law is now being put into place and used in a compassionate way to try to help these kids, of course, means that some Republicans in Washington are now making noises about repealing that George W. Bush era law, repealing that law from 2008. Senator John McCain among the senators suggesting maybe that law should go now. As the country has started not just to come to terms with this crisis on the border with all these kids, but frankly, to freak out about it as well, President Obama has requested a supplemental appropriations bill to beef up the budgets of the agencies that are having to deal with the giant influx of these tens of thousands of kids -- money to transport them, money for detention facilities, money for deportation facilities, and deportation proceedings, money for their medical care, money for the immigration court system that is processing all of these individuals with this huge spike in numbers. And while increasingly, everyone in politics is screaming that something must be done about this problem that we need more resources to deal with this problem, that everything is overwhelmed -- well, now that the president has asked for these more resources so the systems won`t be so overwhelmed -- well, now that you`re asking for the actual money, it sort of looks like it`s not going to happen. Asked if he thought lawmakers would approve the proposal, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said, "No. Given the mood here in Washington, I don`t have confidence that it will happen." That earned this rejoinder from Kevin Drum. Kevin said, "Well, of course it won`t happen. The crisis along the border is tailor-made for Republicans. It makes their base hopping mad, it juices their campaign fund-raising. And any time the government is unable to address a problem, it makes Obama look bad. Why on earth would Republicans want to do anything to change any of this?" President Obama when he was in Dallas County today, he met with Texas Governor Rick Perry, and also with the Dallas County executive who made that call for Dallas County, for light blue Dallas in the middle of red, red Texas, to take this compassionate approach to this problem, to actually try to help these kids. The president thanked Dallas for taking that approach today, but he also had this to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This should not be hard to at least get the supplemental done. The question is, are we more interested in politics? Or are we more interested in solving the problem? If we`re interested in solving the problem, then there`s actually some broad consensus around a number of the issues. There may be some controversies and differences between Democrats and Republicans on some of the policy issues, but on a whole bunch of this stuff, there`s some pretty broad consensus. Let`s just get that done. Let`s do the work. Final point I`ll make is, I want to thank some of the faith-based groups I just met with, as well as mayors, commissioners, local officials. Dallas has been incredibly compassionate in looking at some sites, some facilities in which they can accommodate some of these children. And, you know, I indicated in a hearing, the stories of churches that are prepared to not just make donations, but send volunteers to help to construct some of these facilities or fix them up, and there willingness to volunteer in providing care and assistance to these children. I told them thank you, because it confirmed what I think we all know, which is the American people are an incredibly compassionate people. And when we see a child in need, we want to care for them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Short hand way we talk about the reaction to this problem on the border in our country is that we`re essentially having a nativist impulse as a nation, a nativist outburst, that the country`s outraged about these kids coming across the border and the country is essentially revolting against the idea that we ought to help them, we want them, just want them sent back. There are definitely are pockets of the country and people in the country who are having that reaction. There are other parts of the country, even in red states, that are having a very different reaction to those kids. Joining us now is Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who was in that meeting today with President Obama in Dallas, along with Governor Perry and other local officials and faith leaders. Judge Jenkins, thanks for being back with us. I really appreciate your time tonight. JENKINS: Great to be with you. MADDOW: So, how would you characterize that meeting and the mood in the room today, with -- particularly thinking about the president and the governor talking about these issues? But what was the overall discussion like today? JENKINS: Well, it wasn`t bad for Texas politics. By and large, we put our partisan hats aside and we had a good productive hour and 10- minute, of an hour and 15-minute conversation, and everybody agreed that the answer long term is to make conditions better for the children in their home country. But short term, we`ve got a problem, because we had children, just like your children and my children, that are here in Texas, thousands of them, in cramped, unsanitary conditions, our border patrol is doing the best we can. But this is no humane way to treat children. And we`re going to help them here in Dallas County. I was pleased that everyone in the room was not opposed to that idea. Governor Perry said that he doesn`t the like the federal government telling him what to do, and he doesn`t plan on putting roadblocks in front of Dallas County either. So, I was pleased to hear that. MADDOW: One of the things the president said in his remarks today, which I was struck by, I didn`t expect him to put it this way. He said, you know, we have -- we may have disagreements around that table and in that room about some of the broader ideological questions here, but in terms of what to do about this crisis, he said, even people who are criticizing me in Washington are only saying that the stuff that we should do is the same stuff that I`m proposing. It`s only -- he`s saying, essentially, there`s no real policy disagreement on what to do on the border right now to try to alleviate these conditions for these kids and also to try to beef up whatever we need to do in terms of our resources on the border. He essentially characterized it as just a political decision, you know, that we have to decide whether or not we`re going to do it, but nobody disagrees about what we ought to do. Was that the feeling that you got from the discussion today? JENKINS: By and large, it was. You know, everybody has got a role to play. We`re doing what we can do here in Dallas County. The president`s fully locked in and up to speed on this, and he`s doing what he can do. Our states doing what -- doing some work as well. But it`s time for Congress to join into this as well. You know, $1.8 billion of the money that`s in this emergency appropriation goes toward caring for these children. But another $1.6 billion goes towards further securing our border. So, there`s really no good reason why the Texas delegation can`t stand up for Texas and these children and our country together. If the Texas delegation all stood together and voted for this emergency appropriation, then the government would have the tools that they need monetarily to end the crisis. We may not be able to reach an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform. We certainly need to, but we may not be able to do that in the short term, there`s no reason why the Texas delegation can`t put their partisan beliefs aside, because this is about children and the humanitarian crisis, and quickly lead Congress to pass the supplemental appropriation. MADDOW: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the senior executive official in that county. Judge Jenkins, thank you for being with us. I really appreciate it. JENKINS: Thank you. MADDOW: I`ve got to say this, the whole issue of how we`re discussing this as a nation I think, does not account for these remarkable stories in places like Dallas County, where their approach to it is to try to help. They have a plan as a county to take in 2,000 unaccompanied kids and then moving forward with that, dealing with the politics of that locally, and there`s sort of lots of that locally. But that is as much a part of how we`re dealing with this as a country as those screaming people in the middle of the road in Riverside County, California. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You want to see a senator get really mad and really confused at the same time? This happened today in Washington today. And I think it is worth having some empathy. I mean, there`s a fine emotional line between being confused and being mad in that you`re confused, right? We`ve all experienced this. But I think that is what happened to Senator John McCain today and it was an amazing moment today and I will show it to you on tape in just a second. But in order to see what went so wrong for him here, you have to know about these two different guys whose names both end in owski. The first one is Thomas Winkowski. He`s the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Thomas Winkowski is his name. The other guy, the other owski, is Gill Kerlikowske. He is the head of the Customs and Border Protection. Gill Kerlikowske and Thomas Winkowski, both owskis, both involved in border issues and immigration, and both today summoned before the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate to talk about the border issue with John McCain and other senators. And the problem it turns out, is that John McCain cannot tell these two owskis apart. And then rage ensues! (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Mr. Winkowski, I`ve been representing the state of Arizona for many years, and I`ve never seen anything like your instructions to -- signed by your name, interim protocol for visitations and tours to CBP detention facilities. Are you telling me when I visit a detention facility, that I can`t bring a cell phone with me? Are you saying that? The United States senator visiting a facility, these are the instructions that you have signed in. Is that what you`re saying? THOMAS WINKOWSKI, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: That the visitors -- MCCAIN: Visiting congressional -- member of Congress. WINKOWSKI: I don`t recall saying that. What I recall -- MCCAIN: Let me provide you with a copy, it says see distribution. Gill Kerlikowske, commissioner, interim protocol for visitations and tours to CBP detention facilities -- you didn`t see your own memo? GILL KERLIKOWSKE, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: That would be me. MCCAIN: OK. KERLIKOWSKE: That would be me. I did issue that memo, and we have had huge numbers of -- MCCAIN: Am I allowed to bring a cell phone with me when I go on to a facility in Nogales, Arizona? KERLIKOWSKE: Not to take photographs, Senator. MCCAIN: I`m not allowed to take photographs? KERLIKOWSKE: Not to take photographs inside the facility. MCCAIN: Why not? Why am I not allowed to do that? KERLIKOWSKE: The children have a right to privacy, that`s why we`re not having their faces shown on -- MCCAIN: I may want to take a photo of something else? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senator John McCain is very angry. He demands to know why this Thomas Winkowski character was disavowing knowledge of his own memo, because, look, his name is right there on the memo, Gill Kerlikowske! Kerlikowske, Winkowski, owski, owski, owski. Owski, that had to have hurt a little bit, right? Oh, you`re different men, I see. But, no, Senator McCain can`t take cell phone pictures of child detainees whether he can tell which owski runs the border patrol. Senator McCain did not get far with that enraged about mistaken rant today. But Senator McCain-owski did get a little further with something else that he is working on and it happens to be something really, really important and he has been working on it with an unexpectedly liberal partner. And that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: How you doing? How`s business? Business doing all right? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s all right. OBAMA: What`s your name? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Karen. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m so excited. OBAMA: Give me a hug. I`m glad you`re excited. I`m excited, too. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we get a picture? OBAMA: Yes, you can. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh, it`s the best day of my life. OBAMA: You got to get in here, right? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want one too? Oh, my gosh, someone`s going to think you`re like wax. OBAMA: Nice to see you, good to be us. The bear is loose. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The bear is loose, he said. This is sort of been the summer of unscripted, unscheduled presidential moments. Starting in May, President Obama started doing these things out in public that are not on his schedule. And the people around him don`t seem to know to expect him, hopping out of his motorcade and walking over to the Interior Department instead of driving, seeing people along the way, going on an impromptu Starbucks run in Washington, D.C. The very next day, ducking into a restaurant that was not expecting him. The bear is loose, the president says when he has these little impromptu public moments. And then, last night, ahead of his trip to Texas today, the bear was very, very loose in Colorado, specifically in Denver. The president did a walk around in downtown Denver. He shook a lot of people`s hands. He made small talk with kids about what grade they were going into in school in the fall, to the evident alarmed of at least -- look at the Secret Service guy on the right. The evident alarmed of one Secret Service guy, the president shook hands randomly with a guy who was wearing a horse head mask. And remember, this was not an announced event. So, it`s not like the guy woke up yesterday and thought, I`m going to meet the president tomorrow. Better remember my horse head. This is the guy who happened to have the horse head on him when the president unexpectedly came by. Hey, Denver. In the evening, President Obama played pool with Governor John Hickenlooper in a bar that the governor used to own. Obviously, the shots of them playing pool sort of in a roped off area, they`re not too mobbed. But the president did have to push through the crowd a little bit at one point which is where a guy shouted out a question to President Obama of whether he wanted to take a hit of some legal, recreational Colorado marijuana. Then, the guy posted on Instagram the president laughing in his response to this question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want a hit, man? (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama very off script last night on this trip to Colorado. Including the inevitable but awkward pot question in that state that is doing tens of millions of dollars a month in newly legalized pot sales. But the unscripted nature of the president`s time on the street and out and about in Denver, it also led to one very serious moment, which pool reporter said let the woman who spoke to the president a little teary, not upset after this conversation happened, but she was tearful after this exchange with President Obama. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: How are you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. OBAMA: What`s your name? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kaylynne. My brother died in Afghanistan four years ago. OBAMA: I`m so sorry. What was his name? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sergeant Kenneth May -- OBAMA: Yes. Older brother? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Older brother. My only brother. OBAMA: How are your folks doing? Still hard? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. OBAMA: To think about it sometime. It`s an unbelievable sacrifice. Marvin, do you have one more coin? I want you to take this as a thank you. I only give this to vets or active service members. So, this is for your brother. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That woman`s name, I actually think the subtitle is wrong there. I think what he said there is not "this is pretty great". I think he said this is for your brother." And said, "Ok, thank you." That woman`s name is Kaylynne May Eric (ph). She`s my Tyler, Texas. Her brother is Marine Sergeant Kenneth May who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. And what the president gave her and said, this is for your brother, that`s called a -- it`s a challenge coin, like this one, which is a mark of respect and camaraderie among service members and veterans and also sometimes the commander in chief. So, in the middle of this, you know, hurly-burly, off-script bear is loose kind of evening in Colorado, there was a sobering face to face moment about the wars and about a marine sergeant lost to the war. Here`s the thing, though, we are still in the midst right now of a real crisis of how we are handling veteran`s issues. The thing everyone was talking about just a few weeks ago has still not been fixed in terms of veteran`s issues. It`s been more than a month since V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the crisis in veterans health care. It`s now been nearly a month since the Senate came together in this kind of magical crisis moment where they were willing to stop being petty for a second and they did pass a big comprehensive veteran`s bill to try to fix veteran`s health care. That was the bill that was written in that atmosphere of crisis by cranky conservative Senator John McCain and cranky liberal Senator Bernie Sanders. It was a strange pairing, right? But they were able to come together on this issue on the midst of crisis, and their bill passed in the vote of 93-3. In the midst of all that criticism on the way veterans were being treated, all that outraged being voiced on Capitol Hill, that bill passed 93-3, they fast tracked it on Capitol Hill, it was flying through walk, it was on its way to the president`s desk, they told us, it was going to get passed. That was nearly a month ago but it never made it to the president`s desk. It got stuck in the conference committee where they are trying to iron out differences between the bill passed by the Senate and the bill passed by the House. It stuck. Apparently, it`s bottlenecked there, because of some Republican complaints about the bill`s costs. See, when the attention is there, and everyone is complaining about how something must be done, it`s easy to demand, in theory, that this must be done. No expense spared. This is a sacred obligation that we`re violating, we have to fix it. It sounds great, print it, put it in a campaign ad, right? But when it comes to doing it? When it comes to actually putting your money where your mouth is, apparently so far, the answer is no. We don`t want to spend the money. We want to be quoted saying the money should be spent but we don`t want to spend it. This thing passed the Senate on June 11th, when it passed by that huge margin, it looked like it was done. But apparently is not done, because some objections are now objecting to paying for it. And so, Senator Bernie Sanders has now gone back to the Senate floor, because he has found he still has to make the case for this, still. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Let me just say this as we continue to proceed. If there`s anything I`ve learned since I`ve been chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, I think as a people, as a nation we underestimate the cost of war. And before anyone votes to go to war again, I think they should fully appreciate what the repercussions of that vote are. Several weeks ago, Senator McCain and I put together a proposal to deal with the current crisis at the V.A. and I`m very proud that that legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 93-3. Now, what are we dealing with? What`s the cost of this proposal? This is an expensive proposal, because the cost of war is expensive. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Didn`t you think that this was done? Didn`t you think that this was done after that whole crisis and Shinseki resigning, and that bill passing? I mean, that`s Bernie Sanders and John McCain of all people. If they could get together on this, and the Senate agreed 93-3 to go with them on this, didn`t you think this was done? This is not done. And since Eric Shinseki resigned more than a month ago, that means there`s no one running the V.A. right now, the nominee to replace him has not been confirmed. And there is more legislation on prevention veterans suicide that`s going to get a hearing tomorrow in the House, and members of Congress love to go to hearings on issues like this. They love talking about veterans issues and appearing to be concerned about veterans issues. There`s a ton of political capital in wrapping yourself up in veterans issues. Apparently, there`s less capital in actually doing anything substantive to help veterans, like passing legislation instead of just talking about it. We will see how that goes with that suicide bill that gets a hearing in the House tomorrow. We are already seeing how it`s going with the big V.A. bill that everybody thought was going to solve some of those problems. But right now, while this crisis is still happening, all of Washington`s flagrant and shameless lip service on veterans` issues is not being matched at all with action. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado is running for re- election this year against the conservative Republican Congressman named Cory Gardiner. And even though President Obama yesterday did a fund-raiser in Colorado, when he was in that state, he did a fund-raiser in Colorado for Senator Mark Udall, Senator Udall did not attend. He was originally expected to, but the senator said he needed to be back in Washington to attend to some legislation. I have to say, though, it`s not like he was doing something unrelated to his campaign for re-election. To give you an understanding of what I mean, considering that this is the first ad that Senator Udall ran against Cory Gardiner in this Senate campaign. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: It comes down to respect for women and our lives, so Congressman Cory Gardiner`s history promoting harsh anti anti-abortion laws is disturbing. Gardiner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, including cases of rape and incest. Gardiner even championed an eight-year crusade to outlaw birth control here in Colorado. But Mark Udall protects our right to choose, our access to birth control. Mark Udall, in a word, respect. SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: I`m Mark Udall, and I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Senator Mark Udall`s first ad of his campaign against Cory Gardiner. This was his second one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UDALL: Because this really matters, it`s important you hear this directly from me. My opponent led a crusade that would make birth control illegal and sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, even in cases of rape and incest. His record is beyond troubling. It`s wrong. We`re talking about your rights as women, as families, as Coloradans. I`m Mark Udall, you have the right to live life on your own terms to make your own choices, and that`s why I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, those are the first two Senator Mark Udall ads in his Senate reelection campaign. Just in case it`s not totally clear what the contours are of that fight, right? And today, while President Obama was in his home state campaigning for Mark Udall, Mark Udall was in Washington helping to introduce legislation that he is cosponsoring that Senate Democrats say would reverse the Supreme Court`s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. They say their legislation would essentially reinstate universal health insurance coverage for the full range of contraception in this country even if your boss at work doesn`t like you using those forms of contraception. Senator Udall`s involvement as a cosponsor of this legislation, it underscores one political part of this issue, which is how the issue of Republicans opposing contraception and Democrats sticking up for access to contraception, how that`s likely to play in elections this year all around the country. The second political part is the question of whether or not a bill supporting access to contraception could actually pass the United States Senate if the Republicans filibuster it, which they will, and whether it can get even a vote in the Republican-controlled House, which it won`t. And given those political realities, is it valuable for Senate Democrats to push this legislation that they introduced today? Will it help? And if it won`t practically help this problem that was created by the Supreme Court, what will? Hold that thought, because we have a person on hand tonight for the interview who is more than anyone who is likely to know the answer to that question, and that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Engraved over the Supreme Court are the words, and I quote, "Equal Justice Under Law". It does not say equal justice under law except for women. But yet, that is what the Hobby Lobby case says. So, we are here today to say loudly and to say clearly that every single person in America is entitled to equal justice, no matter who your boss is. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Today in the United States Senate, Democratic senators introduced legislation design to effectively overturn the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, which said that employers can decide whether or not their employees should have access to birth control covered under health insurance. Joining us now for the interview is Senator Barbara Boxer of California. She`s one of the co-sponsors of this new legislation. Senator Boxer, thanks very much for being with us. It`s nice to have you here. BOXER: Thank you for inviting me. MADDOW: So, the legislature and the judiciary are obviously co-equal branches. You guys can`t overrule the Supreme Court directly. But what would this legislation do to try to reverse the effect of the Hobby Lobby decision? BOXER: Well, we actually listened to the chief justice who said Congress can fix this. Just like we fixed the Lilly Ledbetter case, we can fix this. And we simply say, not withstanding any law, including this -- the law they cite, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which I voted form, despite that law, a boss cannot deny you any procedure, any medical treatment that is placed into federal law that you`re entitled to. No boss can tell you, you can`t have birth control or for that matter, a vaccine for your child or a blood transfusion for your husband. So, it`s very important, because this is a slippery slope. MADDOW: Based on everything that we have seen from Republicans in Congress over the last couple of years, I can`t imagine that you have very high hopes as far as this bill becoming law this year. I can`t imagine Speaker Boehner putting this up for a vote if it does pass the Senate. I wonder what will happen if the Republicans decide to filibuster this legislation, which I expect they would. What do you think are the reasonable chances of this becoming law? BOXER: First of all, I`m ever the optimist. That`s what I do what I do for so many years, and I`ve gotten some things done. I want to be clear on that. So, here`s the thing -- we`re not talking about anything radical here. This, I believe last I checked, was the 21st century. We`re talking about access to birth control, and as we know, I think you know, 1.5 million American women take birth control pills for conditions other than birth control. They take it for painful, difficult medical conditions. And another 5 million take it in part for those conditions. So, we`re talking about millions of women, and we`re talking about 99 percent of sexually active women taking birth control. So, here`s why I am optimistic. I believe, and I haven`t seen any polls that people will support us overwhelmingly. This is a free country. We have elections. You saw Mark Udall and his wonderful ad making this point, and I think it puts the Republicans in a bad situation, and frankly, I don`t care. We have to step up to the plate, whether it`s an election year or not an election year, and we have to protect the women of this country, our families, and it`s essential that we take the step. MADDOW: Senator Barbara Boxer of California, thank you for helping us understand this tonight. I imagine that on that political point, simply taking a vote on this in the Senate and making everybody get on the record is going to be a very politically potent thing. Thank you for your time tonight, Senator. Thank you. I appreciate it. BOXER: OK. MADDOW: All right. More to come. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Set your Google news alert. There`s something going on in conservative and Republican politics right now, that I think is a "watch this space" kind of thing, where it`s not clear where the story is going to end up, but it may very well end up being a huge hairy deal and it`s worth watching. In Mississippi for a while, it felt like losing Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel was just living on that old Lucinda William song "I Can`t Let Go", right? He lost his runoff election for Thad Cochran Senate seat two weeks ago, Mississippi certified those results on Monday, but Chris McDaniel was still not conceding, still making noises about challenging the results, somehow, somehow he can`t let go, right? It`s not like this thing was done everywhere but in soreloserville, Mississippi, population one. But then, in the last 48 hours, there has been a bit of an explosion on this issue. First, Yahoo News reported that the Senate Conservatives Fund is sponsoring soreloserville this week. This week, the Senate Conservatives Fund reportedly wired $70,000 to the Chris McDaniel legal fund to challenge the election. And then, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas went on conservative talk radio and proclaimed that he too wants an investigation into what happened in that Mississippi election. Thad Cochran might have stolen the election. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: What happened in Mississippi was appalling. I mean, primaries are always rough and tumble, but the conduct of the Washington, D.C. machine in the Mississippi runoff was incredibly disappointing. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: It was one thing when that Mississippi Senate race goes a distant annoyance for the Republican Party, right? But now, with conservative case makers like Senator Ted Cruz weighing in and saying Chris McDaniel robbed, the Republican Party robbed him, it kind of looks like somebody just ripped the band-aid right off this thing, and the healing that might have begun seems to no longer be healing. So, again, I don`t know if this is going to become anything more than it is right now, but I think watch this space on this Mississippi story. It`s going to be interesting to see if all the other ambitious Republicans and media figures out there line up with Ted Cruz on this, because they usually do when he gives them the opportunity to do. That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END