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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/30/15

Guests: Dave Helling, Scott Pelath

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well. Happy Monday. The highest ranking statewide elected officials in the state of Missouri are the two U.S. senators, Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, and Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. Also, the Democratic governor of the state, Jay Nixon. In this upcoming election year, in 2016, Claire McCaskill will not be up for re-election -- yet another reason why in 2016, she should totally run for president. I don`t think she`s going to, but she should. I`m just saying. In 2016, though, Roy Blunt is up for re-election. And he may get a run for his money in terms of trying to hold on to his seat. Democrats are going to run the current secretary of state against Roy Blunt. His name is Jason Kander. He is young and aggressive. He`s already well known in the state, already holds state-wide office. In 2016, that`s going to be a presidential year electorate which is way better for Democrat s than nonpresidential years are, in terms of who turns out to vote. So, that Roy Blunt re-election race for that U.S. Senate seat in Missouri is going to be a hot one in 2016. As is the governor`s race. Jay Nixon is finishing up. He is term limited out. He cannot run again. That governor seat is going to be open. The Democrats seem to be coalescing around a popular, young, Democratic candidate who already holds statewide office, in terms of their candidate for the governor`s race. Democrats look like they`re going to pick Chris Koster, who right now is already the attorney general of the state of Missouri. In terms of who he will run against, though, in terms of the Republican side, it is turning in to a free for all, with at least six candidates having entered the ring already. It`s not just like fringe candidates. It`s six candidates who all have a reasonable shot. And that free for all would be fascinating enough in political terms, if it were not also happening in the midst of what is starting to feel like a Shakespearean level of tragedy in that state. This story just took an unbelievable turn today. One of the first Republican candidates to declare he was running for governor this year in Missouri was the state auditor, Tom Schweich. Tom Schweich declared January 28th that he was running for governor in Missouri. And then, less than a month later on February 26th, Tom Schweich killed himself under circumstances that even now a month later are hard to get your head around. It was less than a half hour before he killed himself that Tom Schweich had called two well-known Missouri reporters, asked these reporters to come to his house saying he wanted to give them a public statement. Tom Schweich had spoken to these reporters numerous times before. They knew what he wanted to talk about, they knew what he was upset about, they knew what the public statement was going to be about. Tom Schweich believed that the chairman in the Republican Party in Missouri had been telling people in the state that he, Tom Schweich, was Jewish. The Republican Party chairman had worked for one of the other candidates who`s running for governor. And Tom Schweich believed that this guy was the falsely spreading this rumor, spreading a rumor that was untrue that Tom Schweich was Jewish. Tom Schweich believed the state party chairman was doing that basically as an anti-Semitic smear campaign to undercut Tom Schweich`s chances in the governor`s race, by spreading this lie that he was a Jew. So, Tom Schweich had spoken to these reporters from the "A.P." and "St. Louis Post-Dispatch". He had spoken with them numerous times about this issue. He spoke to both of them, or left messages for them, literally minutes before he killed himself in February. He had summoned those reporters to his house because he said he wanted to make a statement about this controversy, concerning his religion. Everybody knew he was upset about this. That day, Tom Schweich`s chief of staff was worried enough about his mental state and how upset he was about this religion issue, that she called a trusted family friend and asked that family friend to check in with Tom Schweich and his family to make sure that he was OK. It turns out, that old family friend was the assistant to former U.S. Senator John Danforth. That morning, February 26th, John Danforth`s assistant, again an old family friend, called Tom Schweich and his wife at their home. She says she didn`t get through at first. She left a message. Tom Schweich`s wife called her back. She later released this statement saying what happened. Quote, "Kathy returned my call. We spoke briefly. Kathy told me Tom was up and about and had been making calls. Tom picked up the phone and talked to me for about three minutes. He spoke solely about his outrage concerning the rumors that were being spread about his religion and how he should respond to those rumors. I told him I thought it was best to let others stand up for him. He then threatened to kill himself and handed the phone back to Kathy, his wife. Seconds later, I heard Kathy say, he shot himself. Kathy then called 911 on another line while I stayed on the first line with her until paramedics arrived." Police have not said whether Tom Schweich wrote a note before he pulled the trigger and killed himself. But there`s an unusual amount of evidence from those calls that he made to reporters, from the call that he was on, until seconds before he shot himself, there`s an unusual amount of evidence about why he did it, about what had so upset him. What had so upset him is his belief that the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party was falsely telling people he was Jewish as a way of trying to hurt his political career. The chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, his name incredibly is John Hancock. Mr. Hancock did not deny that he had been telling people that Tom Schweich is Jewish. He has only ever denied that he meant it in a bad way. Mr. Hancock sent an e-mail to other Missouri Republicans the day after Tom Schweich killed himself. In that email, he said, quote, "Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish. Why I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned tom`s faith in passing during one of my many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent and I certainty -- I think he meant certainly -- was not attempting to inject religion into the governor`s race." The same party chairman explained to "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch", sort of elaborated on that. He said, this is how "The St. Louis Post- Dispatch" wrote it up, Hancock said he may have mentioned that he was Jewish by it was an innocent conversation. He has vehemently denied it was meant as a smear. He said it was merely a description similar to saying, "I`m Presbyterian and somebody else is Catholic." At Tom Schweich`s funeral days later, former U.S. Senator John Danforth delivered the eulogy and ripped that state party chairman in his eulogy for even trying to get away with that excuse for what he said about Tom Schweich`s religion. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN DANFORTH, FORMER U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSOURI: Tom called this anti-Semitism, and, of course, it was. The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry. Some said there is no difference in saying a person is a Presbyterian, here`s how to test the credibility of that remark -- when is the last time anyone came up to you and whispered in to your ear, such and such a person is a Presbyterian. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After John Danforth gave that eulogy for Tom Schweich, long- time Missouri Republican political donor released a sworn affidavit in which he swore that this anti-Semitic whispering campaign by the state Republican Party chairman was a real thing. The donor said in this affidavit that he met with Republican Party chairman John Hancock at his office to talk about raising money for the state Republican Party. When John Hancock came to his office and they started talking about raising money in the gubernatorial campaign in the state, quote, "although I do not recall the exact words Mr. Hancock used, he said words to the effect of, well, you know Tom Schweich is Jewish. The meaning I took from Mr. Hancock`s statement in tone of his comment was clear. He, Tom Schweich is Jewish, in case you didn`t know, and being Jewish is negative attribute for Tom Schweich`s gubernatorial race." So, this was just an incredible turn of events, right? 2015, really, leading candidate for governor, statewide elected office holder himself, kills himself, less than a month after declaring he`s running for governor because he`s so upset about anti-Semitic smear campaign being waged against him by the chairman of the state Republican Party. There`s Senator John Danforth in the pulpit saying that this is making political profit from religious bigotry. This is naked anti- Semitism. There`s this loyal party donor swearing in a notarized document that yes, in fact, this happened and the chairman of the state party did it. And then, the first person to call openly and directed for the state party chairman to resign because of this is a staff member from Tom Schweich`s office, it was his spokesman, his media director, who is also reportedly personally close to Tom Schweich. They were friends. His name is Spence Jackson, long-time high-profile well-liked figure in Missouri Republican politics. And Spence Jackson just came right out and said it before anybody else would. He said, John Hancock should resign as the state chairman of the Republican Party, quote, "simply because his anti-Semitic whisper campaign does not reflect the values of the majority of Missouri Republicans." He said, quote, "You can`t have a chairman of a Republican Party who`s been out conducting, coordinating this sort of a whisper campaign." As to the state party chairman, saying he didn`t mean anything bad by it when he was falsely telling people that Tom Schweich was Jewish, Spence Jackson was having none of that. He said, quote, "I believe with all my heart that John Hancock knew what he was doing. He knew the reaction he was seeking from people. He knew what he was trying to get out of people." Spence Jackson from Tom Schweich`s staff was the first person in Missouri politics to call for the state party chairman to resign. He called on the competing gubernatorial candidate who Hancock had previously worked for Catherine Hanaway. He said Catherine Hanaway should demand that John Hancock resign as the head of the party. After Spence Jackson led the way, other Missouri Republicans also jumped in and said, yes. This John Hancock guy must resign. We cannot have him leading our party. Senator Danforth was asked if he, too, believed that John Hancock must resign and step down as head of the party. Jack Danforth said, no, he said he shouldn`t resign. The man shouldn`t be allowed to resign. Missouri Republicans should fire him. He said explicitly, he wanted the head of the party forced out of office. Quote, "Does our party stand for what happened to Tom Schweich? I think the state party chairman should be repudiated by all Republicans." Don`t allow him to quit. Fire him because it will say more about us. For a while, it really seemed like that guy was going to have to go. The whole state Republican Party sort of went quiet for several weeks after Tom Schweich killed himself, after the funeral. Catherine Hanaway, the competing Republican candidate for governor temporarily suspended her campaign out of respect for Tom Schweich. That state party chairman did a radio show last week in which she said she was doing soul-searching as to whether he could lead the Republican Party. But then, apparently by Friday, this past Friday, his soul had been searched and he decided he would stay put. He keeps his job. So, just check out this very brief time line. Thursday -- this past Thursday was the one month anniversary of Tom Schweich killing himself. The day after that, on Friday, John Hancock, state party chairman, announced that not only was he not going to resign, he`s not going to even talk about this anymore. He said publicly that he is sick and tired of even talking about it. Quote, "He is tired of talking about the controversy. I`m ready to move on and move beyond it." That same day, Friday, Catherine Hanaway who suspended her gubernatorial campaign out of respect for Tom Schweich started the campaign up again. That same day, Friday, Tom Schweich`s friend, then communications director Spence Jackson took a sick day from work at the state auditor`s office. Spence Jackson stayed home from work that day, and then, sometime that night or the next morning, he apparently killed himself as well. The same way Tom Schweich did, he shot himself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAPT. DOUG SHOEMAKER, JEFFERSON CITY, MO, POLICE SPOKESMAN: On Sunday, March 29th, 2015, at just after 7 p.m., Jefferson City police responded to the apartment in the 900 block of Southwest Boulevard for what we termed a check well being called of Robert Spence Jackson who is a Jefferson City resident. According to the caller who`s a family member of Jackson, he was unresponsive to phone calls or other attempts to raise him at the apartment. Property manager was able to provide a key to the responding officers who entered the residence and located Jackson in his bedroom. Initial assessment of the scene indicated that Jackson died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. There were no signs of forced entry nor any signs of a struggle. There was one firearm found at the apartment, a revolver, and one spent round was recovered, as well. I will answer questions. I would also caution you that this is an open investigation. There are some things I cannot answer. Don`t want to jeopardize anything we are doing, but I would be happy to try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. (CROSSTALK) SHOEMAKER: We do have a note. I won`t go into the contents of what was within that note. It`s part of the investigation at this time. REPORTER: Do you anticipate releasing it at some point? SHOEMAKER: That`s -- you know, I don`t know. I don`t know the answer to that question at this point. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There is a note. We do not know what the note says. Spence Jackson was Tom Schweich`s communications director. He had been since 2011. He lived alone. Police found his body last night after his mother was not able to get in contact with him on Friday, or Saturday or Sunday, and she got very worried. They found his body on Sunday night. They say he killed himself either on Friday or Saturday. The Missouri Republican Party rocked by the second suicide in a month. We do not yet know what can fairly be said about the connection between these two suicides, but long-time political reporter Dave Helling from "The Kansas City Star" spoke with friends of Spence Jackson today who told Dave Helling that Jackson continued to be angry about his party`s reaction to Tom Schweich`s suicide. Friends said that Spence Jackson had expected that Republican officials and consultants would face retribution for their alleged roles in Tom Schweich`s death. Instead, the controversy appeared to be dwindling, to the chagrin of this man who apparently killed himself this weekend. And so, now, two men are dead. The party chairman still has a job, still has his job. Catherine Hanaway`s campaign for governor proceeds a pace, and nobody knows what shoe is left to drop in this political story that is both unbelievable and unbelievably terrible in human terms. Joining us now is Dave Helling, political reporter and columnist with "Kansas City Star". Mr. Helling, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being with us. DAVE HELLING, KANSAS CITY STAR: Great to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Is there anything more to add tonight in terms of what we know about this investigation? Do we know if the police are treating this as a related matter to Tom Schweich`s suicide? HELLING: They believe that it may be related but they won`t say that officially on the record, Rachel. But I can tell you that everyone else in Missouri, Democrats, other people you talked with, think the two suicides are directly linked. They think that Spence Jackson was just simply upset that John Hancock had not stepped away from his chairmanship of the party and that the consultants working with Catherine Hanaway who put together a radio ad critical of Tom Schweich had not been punished by other members of the party. In fact that consultant continued to get work. And the word we got today was that Spence Jackson was very upset at both of those developments and apparently, as you suggest took his life over the weekend. MADDOW: In terms of what`s happening in Missouri Republican politics right now, obviously, this is a story that is about politics. It`s also a story about human beings and families and loss, and there`s no reason to put more politics in to this story than we know should be there. It`s also, though, very hard to see what the -- what the appropriate and respectful response would be from the party, given that these two men were such high-profile figures in the party and what seems to have -- the best we know about what drove them toward the end of their lives was about party politics. HELLING: Right. And we should also be careful, though. No one really knows why someone takes his or her own life. MADDOW: Yes. HELLING: The Republicans will say that, too. The politics are very tough. But that doesn`t completely explain two suicides. Having said that, I talked to a Republican today who told me that he thinks the party should simply blow itself up in Missouri. That all of the people connected with this tragedy, these tragedies, including John Hancock, Catherine Hanaway and others should step away from the party. Let other candidates come in because he thinks -- this person I talked with -- thinks that this will dominate the discussion in to 2016 and make it very difficult for Republicans to redirect attention to issues facing the state. And nominally, a Republican should be the favorite in Missouri. It`s increasingly a red state, much like Mississippi or Alabama. But the Democrats believe they have a real opportunity now that the Republicans have essentially struggled with their reaction to both the Tom Schweich and now, the Spence Jackson suicide. MADDOW: And, Dave, the allegations and concerns at the center of the story. I put it at the center of my narrative leading in to this decision with you because I do feel it is central to understanding what happened here, is this alleged anti-Semitic, whispering campaign. There seems to be at least some evidence, even if it`s contested evidence, that the state party chairman was doing this. Is there continued debate in the state about whether or not something like that would be politically effective? Has Hancock effectively defended himself against the allegations that he`s done this or that it`s a big deal if it did. HELLING: Well, it was going away. The controversy was going away for several days after the Schweich suicide in mid-March. There was momentum for John Hancock to either stepped down or fired as you reported earlier but that controversy was simply dwindling. He sort of said to reporters in the state, Hancock, that to quit would be an admission that he was anti-Semitic and he didn`t want to make that concession to anyone. So, he was going to stay in the job. And again, you get the sense that Spence Jackson was very frustrated that the momentum that had built for John Hancock to step aside simply wasn`t having its desired effect. When Jack Danforth tells you should leave office, in Missouri, that used to mean something. It means less now than it did then, and I think Spence Jackson was very, very frustrated with that fact. MADDOW: Dave Helling, political reporter with the "Kansas City Star", thanks for being here, Dave. I appreciate it. HELLING: You bet. MADDOW: I appreciate it. I will say, Dave just mentioned a consultant who produced a radio ad that had been very critical of Tom Schweich before he killed himself. It was another issue that Jack Danforth said that Schweich was very concerned about in addition to the religious bigotry in that whispering campaign, this negative radio ad against him. The consultant who appears to have created that radio ad has not had his political career hurt by this at all. In fact, he is the chief political strategist now for the Ted Cruz for president campaign. He`s moved to Texas. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s some late developing news tonight from a medical group which may really big implications in dozens of state governments across the country. That news is first here next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The great state of South Carolina just ran out. Next door, the great state of Georgia has run out. Pennsylvania ran out last year. Ohio ran out last year. Tennessee won`t say if they have run out. But that`s making most people think that they probably have run out as well. Texas was down to the last one a couple weeks ago but they just scored a few more, less than they need but enough to keep them going for a while yet before they run out again. Everybody is running out. It is difficult enough to run a system to legally kill your state`s prisoners without the modern difficulty of constantly running out of the means by which you are supposed to kill those prisoners. Drug manufacturers make drugs and sell drugs to diagnose, and cure things and alleviate pain. No pharmaceutical is manufactured for the purpose of killing people with it. Because of that, the drug companies have stopped OK`ing the sale of their products to prison and corrections departments that want to deliberately misuse those drugs to kill people in state-run executions. The companies refusing to sell those drugs has put a real crimp in the supply of those drugs to prisons around the country and a lot of states have been running out. This has been going on for a while now. But it`s sort of over the tipping point now. More and more companies have banned the sale of their products to the prisons. Supply lines have been getting increasingly sketchy. But it seems like this year, in this first quarter of 2015, the supply lines are basically now gone. There really aren`t legal ways for states to buy the commonly used lethal injection drugs anymore, not from the companies that make those drugs. One of the only options that states have left to do is what Texas just did. After Texas` last execution, they were down to the last lethal dose of drugs. But a few days ago they got more, three more doses. Now, they have enough to kill four more people. Where they got the new three doses from was, quote, "a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound", which means they are having the drugs made to order for them by hand. Compounding pharmacies make drugs by hand in small batches by hand. So, like, if you have an allergy to a nonessential ingredient that is a filler in some drug that you otherwise need, your doctor may send you to a compounding pharmacy to make you up a batch of that needed drug without the filler stuff in it that makes you itch or whatever. Compounding pharmacies can`t make everything, but they can make a lot of drugs. States have been turning to these compounding pharmacies to cook up individual batches of these drugs they want to use to kill people. Over the last few months, that has become pretty much the only option, nationwide for states to legally get the stuff anymore. And now, I can report that that option is going away, too. Check this out. Two things have just happened and these two things combined are going to be a really big deal. First one was a few days ago. The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists told its members to stop participating in this system, to stop making drugs that prisons will use to kill their prisoners. This is the leading trade group for compounding pharmacists in the U.S. saying that they now, quote, "discourage our members from participating in the preparation, dispensing or distribution of compounded medications for used in legally authorized executions." So, that`s the statement from the compounding pharmacists group. That`s the first thing. And then tonight, just a couple of hours ago, the whole big trade group for all pharmacists in the country, the American Pharmacist Association, which is giant. They`ve got 62,000 members. The American Pharmacist Association just voted tonight, a couple of hours ago, to do the same thing, telling all of the pharmacists of America, don`t do this anymore. Quote, "The American Pharmacist Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care." Now, other medical associations have made statements like this in the past, including the AMA, and the American Nurses Association, and the group that board certifies anesthesiologists but the pharmacists getting out. This is a qualitatively different thing, because pharmacists are how they get the drugs now. That`s where the drugs come from. They are the only way that states can get these drugs. Texas is better off than most states now and they are down to their last four doses only because they were able to get a compounding pharmacist to make those last doses for them. But the compounding pharmacists and pharmacists overall now say they are out of the business. They are not going to do it anymore, as of tonight -- which means the supply line for legal execution in this country is officially gone. So, get ready. I mean, if we won`t give up killing our prisoners, then logistically what we are looking at from here on out are firing squads, gas chambers, electric chairs maybe. Maybe we`ll start to hang people again or cutting off their heads. Maybe we will stone people to death now or boil them in oil. Did you ever look up what it means to have somebody drawn and quartered? You should look that up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When TV interviews don`t go as planned, that`s usually a good thing. Sometimes, though, it is an amazing thing. Take this man. His name is Patrick Moore. Mr. Moore apparently thought he was going to be interviewed by a French TV anchor about his great passion, which is advocating in favor of genetically modified foods. The interviewer thought that topic led logically to a discussion about weed killer, but Patrick Moore disagreed. And then it was magic. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PATRICK MOORE: I do not believe that glyphosate in Argentina is causing increases in cancer. You can drink a whole quart of it and it won`t hurt you. TV ANCHOR: Would you like to drink some? We have some here. MOORE: I`d be happy to, actually. But not really. TV ANCHOR: Not really? MOORE: But I know it wouldn`t hurt you. TV ANCHOR: If you say so, I have some. MOORE: No, I`m not stupid. TV ANCHOR: OK. So, you said it`s dangerous, right? MOORE: No, people try to commit suicide with it and fail fairly regularly. TV ANCHOR: Tell the truth. MOORE: It`s not dangerous to humans. No, it`s not. TV ANCHOR: So, are you ready to drink one glass of glyphosate? MOORE: No, I`m not an idiot. Interview me about golden rice. That`s what I`m talking about. TV ANCHOR: We did, we did. MOORE: OK, then it`s finished. Then the interview is finished. TV ANCHOR: That`s a good way to (INAUDIBLE) MOORE: Yes, you are a complete jerk. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: All good interviews end that way, jerk. One good rule for doing a TV interview is that in that interview, you should never offer to drink a quart of something if you are not prepared to drink that thing. That went very poorly, wonderfully poorly, wonderfully poorly, depending on your perspective. You may have also recently seen this poor man make a similar mistake. Dave Rousse is a lobbyist for the nonwoven fabrics industry, which is a thing. And he went on Chris Hayes` last week and tried to do his job which is singing the praises of non-woven fabrics like, for example, baby wipes. You would think he would have been prepared for this but he was not prepared. For Chris Hayes wanting specifically to get to the bottom of how adult flushable wipes have become such a huge business and what`s wrong with good old toilet paper anyway? I think the man wasn`t ready for this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: My question, is a chicken or egg question. Was there a group of people who said, you know what, baby wipes, I bet we can get adults to use those too, or did people start using it and you guys caught on and the industry started catering to that need? In more the latter than the former. There were attempts to market moist toilet tissue as toilet tissue that did not work. There was nevertheless a need out there to supplement toilet paper with some moist apparatus to complete the function. DAVE ROUSSE, LOBBYIST: More of the later than the former. There were attempts to market moist toilet tissue as toilet issue that did not work, but there was nevertheless a need out there among consumers to supplement toilet paper with some moist apparatus to complete the function. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There was a need for a moist apparatus to complete the function. We`ll call it the function? Can we call it the function? I don`t want to talk about this? Can`t I just talk about the wonders of acrylics? Sometimes interviews do not go the way you want them to. And as uncomfortable as those were, there is somebody who just had an even worse one on a huge national stage. And that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Governor Mike Pence of Indiana went on ABC Sunday morning show "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", to try to stop the bleeding this weekend after the new so-called religious freedom law that he signed last week led to nationwide calls for a boycott of the state of Indiana. Governor Pence went on Mr. Stephanopoulos show to clarify what he said were national misunderstandings about that bill and it was very awkward. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So, this is a yes or no question. Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment? GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Well, let me explain to you. The purpose of this -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes or no, if a florist refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana? PENCE: George, this is -- this is where this debate has gone. STEPHANOPOULOS: Said it would protect a Christian florist, who -- against any kind of punishment. Is that true or not? PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two-way street or not? STEPHANOPOULOS: So, when you say "tolerance is a two-way street", does it mean that Christians who want to refuse service, or if people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays or lesbians, that it`s now legal in the state of Indiana? That`s a simple yes or no question. PENCE: George, the question here is, if there is a government -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Final yes or no question, Governor. Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians? PENCE: George -- STEPHANOPOULOS: It`s a yes or no question. Yes or no, should it be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians? PENCE: George, you are following the mantra of the last week online. You are trying to make this issue about something else. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If you are wondering why George Stephanopoulos had to keep asking that same question, what was that, six times, it`s because obviously Mike Pence never answered it, not like partly answered or vague or internally contradictory, he`s just literally never even tried to answer it. Instead, it just got more and more pain, by the fact, George! Tada! Problem solved, issue clarified. Here`s how bad Mike Pence`s interview was. The leaders of the Indiana House and Senate, Mike Pence`s Republican colleagues who sent that bill to sign, called a press conference this morning to themselves tried to further clarify what was bill was meant to do. When they were asked by a reporter whether they called the press conference because of Mike Pence`s performance on TV yesterday, their response was -- let me get the exact quote here, their response was "yes", and I quote, "yes". And, of course, the reason there is so much clarifying going on is that everybody in America is dropping Indiana like a hot potato because of this bill. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, the world`s most profitable company, right, wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" today, slamming the Indiana bill. The CEOs of nine of Indiana`s largest companies wrote a letter to Governor Pence and legislative leaders today, urging them to change the law, including Eli Lilly, Anthem, Roche Diagnostics, Angie`s List, Dow AgroSciences. Unions and other big organizations are cancelling conferences in the state. Governor Pence tonight published an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" trying to talk people down about how they are freaking out about this bill. In his op-ed, the governor does finally sort of answer the question he wouldn`t answer on ABC this weekend. If you are worried about gay people being denied service in Indiana businesses and restaurants, don`t worry, it turns out Governor Pence explains in "The Wall Street Journal" tonight there`s a plan for that. Quote, "If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn`t eat there anymore." So, if you were worried that gay people might be refused service by a business in Indiana now, don`t worry. That could never happen because the state has decided to wield the grave threat of depriving businesses of Mike Pence`s personal patronage. So, clearly, nobody will do it even if it is now legal. It`s going so well in Indiana now two other states are thinking about following Mike Pence down this hole. In Arkansas, their bill is almost through the legislature. Governor Asa Hutchinson now says he will sign it -- so much for his plan to attract tech businesses to that state. Arkansas`s largest employer is Wal-Mart, that liberal worth. Wal- Mart is against the bill and lobbying against it, telling him not to do it. But Arkansas Republicans don`t appear to care. In North Carolina, the powerful house leader in that state has also introduced a similar bill. But it seems like Governor Pat McCrory in North Carolina might have actually learned the lessons that Mike Pence has been mumble mouthing at the front of the class. When McCrory was asked about the North Carolina bill today, the governor said it`s not necessary. He said, quote, "What is the problem they are trying to solve?" Arkansas and North Carolina still have time to avert this disaster. But in Indiana the deed is done. This is the law now. It really, really is not going well for Indiana thus far. So, what are they going to do about it? The answer to that question is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Is part of the reason you gentlemen are here today because of the governor`s performance on George Stephanopoulos this week? STATE REP. BRIAN BOSMA (R-IN), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the fact he did not answer questions clearly, yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Uh, yes. Republican leaders of the Indiana House and Senate this morning at a hastily called press conference after Governor Mike Pence`s disastrous appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" yesterday morning. The two Republican leaders said they wanted to clarify the language of the state`s new law which has been roundly criticized as discriminatory, especially by the state`s business leaders and even by business leaders across the nation. Joining us is Scott Pelath. He`s the Democratic minority leader of the Indiana House. Representative Pelath, thanks very much for being with us. Appreciate having you here. STATE REP. SCOTT PELATH (D), INDIANA: Hey, thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, we have been watching the sort of -- the swell of criticism get bigger and bigger and bigger as the country starts to figure out what Indiana has just done. How worried are you about the state, about what the consequences are going to be for the state in terms of how much bad publicity this has been already? PELATH: Well, I`m extremely worried. You know, the Republican super majorities and the governor are drunk with power right now. And when you`re drunk with power, what happens is you do embarrassing things that affect everyone else. In this case, it affected the entire state. We are seeing investors threaten to pull out. We are seeing headquarter expansions cancelled. We are seeing very key employers like the NCAA start to question their commitment to Indiana. We have a real image problem now and it`s going to take a lot of work and a lot of time to repair it. MADDOW: Do you believe the Republican leaders in the legislature, they got a super majority in both houses, do you think they are worried enough that they themselves may try to undo what they just did? PELATH: Well, I`ll tell you what, it was interesting to see the speaker of the house throw his governor under the bus this morning. This is a problem that we haven`t seen in Indiana before. We`re accustom to, you know, quiet life, people working hard. We`re accustomed to enjoying what we really know is Hoosier hospitality, which is people being very tolerate and welcoming, and this just sends an image to the rest of the nation that can probably only be fixed by completely taking this so- called Religious Freedom Act, completely repealing it, throwing it on the trash heap, and then making long-term changes to ensure all people, and that includes people of all sexual orientations are completely welcomed. And that`s going to take some time. It can`t be fixed with a rush job. MADDOW: Do you think they will try to come up with a smaller fix, some sort of patch, some sort of clarifying bill and try to make it go away that way? PELATH: Well, you know, that`s what it looks like right now. It`s either going to be an attempt at a band-aid or fig leaf or whatever metaphor you want to use. But I got to tell you, that`s not going to get it done. I mean, this bill is so tainted and it`s so tainted nationally and even internationally. It has to -- but repealing it is just the first step. That`s just the frank admission of a very serious mistake. We have to do that and then we have to demonstrate to the rest of the nation that we are serious about equality and that we are serious about welcoming folks from all across the country and all across the world. And until that happens, this is going to be dogging our state for a while. MADDOW: State Representative Scott Pelath from Indiana, leader of the Democrats in the assembly -- thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate it. PELATH: Thank you so much, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, we`ve got some exciting news about tomorrow night`s show. And also, there is a brand new playhouse for civic geeks and part of me wants to live there. That`s a good news story. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Programming note, you might have seen reports over the past few days that big Wall Street banks are so upset by the way Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren talks about them, that they are threatening to punish all Democratic Senate candidates in 2016 by not giving them anymore Wall Street money, unless the Democratic Party figures out a way to rein Elizabeth Warren. Wouldn`t you love to ask Elizabeth Warren about that? I get to. Tomorrow night, Elizabeth Warren is here for the interview. And, you know, come to think of it, there are a few other things I would like to talk to her about as well. That is tomorrow night, 9:00, right here. Woo-hoo! Much more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. Check this out. This is a diagram of the U.S. Senate floor, sort of a blueprint of the Senate chamber in Washington. You can see at the front there is a little VP, that stands for vice president because the vice president is also president of the Senate. There are also rows of 100 desks in total, one for each senator, all spread across the Senate floor. Democrats on the left. Republicans on the right. But there`s one desk here that`s labeled desk 24. You see it on the right side? Sort of a hidden gem of the Senate chamber. Desk 24 is most commonly referred to as the candy desk. It is a desk on the Senate floor that is literally a stockpile of sweets. It is not just a random extra desk the candy lobby controls. This is an actual senator`s desk on the Senate floor. The tradition of the candy desk started in the `60s when the Republican senator named George Murphy from California, who apparently had a wicked sweet tooth and he would pack his desk full of candy. He would share candy with his fellow senators, and even past his time in the Senate, the tradition stuck. Whoever is at 24 is the candy senator. The current candy senator is Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. His office told us today that the candy desk is stocked with all sorts of candy native to his home state. So, that includes both Hershey`s chocolate and something called Gertrude hawk candy bars, which I don`t understand. The placement of the candy desk is sort of key to this whole thing. It`s right by the entrance to the Senate chamber that is most used by senators as they come in and out of the Senate floor. That`s Pat Toomey`s desk right there on the Senate floor, right by the entrance, packed with candy. So, that`s the candy desk. Hold that thought. Today, the center of the American political universe shifted about 400 miles to the north and to the east from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts. It`s not often that President Obama and Vice President Biden travel to events together. Usually, it`s one or the other. But today, they were both in attendance for the dedication of the Ted Kennedy Institute, just outside of Boston. Former Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, of course, passed away in 2009. But before he died, he made his wishes known if there was going to be a memorial for him after he was gone. He wanted it to be a place that honored not him, not his own personal achievements, but rather the body in which he served for so long of his life -- the United States Senate. He wanted a place where you could essentially stand in a senator`s shoes for a few hours. Well, this is what he got. Do not adjust your TV machine. This is not the actual Senate with a cleaner carpet. This is a life size replica of the U.S. Senate that they have just built at the Ted Kennedy Institute. The walls are the same, the carpet is the same. There`s even a press gallery overlooking the chamber that is the same. They basically took the U.S. Senate in Washington and made a physical carbon copy of it in Boston. And it`s not a scale model. It`s full scale. The carbon copy, the exact replica nature of this extends right to the fact that yes, there is also a dandy desk in the Boston replica. What they just unveiled in Boston is essentially a living, breathing, U.S. Senate chamber that if you were just dropped in there you would be forgiven for thinking it was the real thing. Former Senator Trent Lott was at the unveiling today. He said, quote, "I walked in there and I actually got a chill." This is the headline at "Roll Call" today, "Even senators are awestruck by Ted Kennedy`s Senate chamber." You look at that picture. Honestly, it is hard to tell if that is the real thing in that picture or the fake thing. The purpose of this place is to act as basically a model Senate. To have kids from all over the country go there and pretend to be senators. To stand in a full-scale model and debate and argue the big issues of the day and then, unlike the actual Senate, the thing that happens after the debate is there is a vote -- weird. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who but Ted Kennedy and his family would create a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber, and open it to everyone? We live in a time of such great cynicism about all of our institutions. And we are cynical about government and about Washington most of all. It`s hard for our children to see in the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of today`s politics the possibilities of our democracy, our capacity together to do big things. This place can help change that. It can help to light the fire of imagination, plant the seed of noble ambition in minds of future generations. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama continued by saying, it`s maybe not just for kids. The replica Senate is going to open to the public tomorrow in Massachusetts. It is sort of astounding how close it is to the real thing. But that spot, just outside of Boston, maybe the only place in America where you can see with your own eyes what a functioning Senate would be like. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. 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