The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/11/15

Guests: Diana DeGette, Andrew DeMillo

ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He`s a very accomplished leader. But, you know, I think this is just the first of many questions that he`s going to get that are going to be tough on this. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Michael Steele, Robert Gibbs, thank you both. That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. HAYES: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. Happy Monday. One of the things that happens at the onset of allergy season is that either because of allergies or because of the drugs we are all taking as a nation to cope with our allergies right now, everything can feel a little fuzzy. You know what I mean? I, for example, am drinking about five times my normal quotient of caffeine these days to overcome my allergy-induced brain fuzziness. One other option, though, if you need a little brain power boost this time of year, is that you could just wear your brain on the outside. One of the things you can buy at the living miracle that is is this super creepy, super cool wool beanie, 22 inches in circumference, which shows your brain as if it is on the outside of your head. And it`s in pretty anatomically appropriate pink. Also at Etsy right now, a large variety of eight-foot-long body pillows, body pillows, they`re designed to be hugged by your whole body and they are in the shape of a giant squid. Why stop at just one? You could have a whole family of them. In the earring department at Etsy, they`ve got a pretty good run going on moose poop. There are a lot of poop-themed things on Etsy. This, for example, is soft plushy poop shaped tissue box cover. You can pull your tissues right out of the poop pile. A lot of people make hand soap in the shape of dog poop which is very funny. Here is a $4,000 table lamp showing a Doberman doing exactly what you think he`s doing. The floor switch is -- yes. The name of this piece is called "Good Boy." There`s also a smaller one that`s a bright red Chihuahua. Same idea, though, same switch. The poop earrings, though, I`ve got to say, remarkable, really. They are guaranteed no smell. Wild collected moose droppings from Maine, according to the maker, that has been dried, coated in polyurethane, bejeweled, in this case with rhinestones and then turned into earrings. Actually, in the case of this specific one, it`s just earring. This is just one single drop earring. You see in the description there, real moose poop doo-doo nugget. Etsy -- Etsy is an amazing thing. Americans are amazing people. Americans are entrepreneurial in all sorts of amazing ways. But one woman selling weird earrings on Etsy out of her Jewelry studio in Akron, Ohio, had an unexpected run on one of her designs this spring. And it was because of something that happened in Colorado. The earrings that she makes and sells on Etsy look like this, they`re like little upside down T`s. She makes them in all sorts of different colors. Some have glitter, some of them don`t. But what they are is that they`re IUDs. They`re intrauterine devices. You might remember during the lead up to the election last year, we ended up doing a big run of reporting on IUDs in the election, because IUDs were unexpectedly right at the center of election politics in Colorado last year. Colorado over the past five years has had a huge public health success story in reducing the teen pregnancy rate in that state, reducing the teen pregnancy rate and teen birth rate and teen abortion rate. And the way they did it was that they had a state program that made it really easy for young women to get IUDs, regardless of their insurance status, regardless of their ability to pay. These earrings are not actual IUDs, but the IUDs really look just like this, this tiny device. And the basic idea in Colorado was that young women should be able to decide whether or not they wanted to be pregnant. They should get access to this contraceptive method, because using a contraceptive method like this one would make it their reality that they could decide when they wanted to be pregnant and when they did not. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. STEPHANIE TEAL, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: You know, it`s funny, because traditionally, again, that really wasn`t the population that we were thinking about with IUDs. It really was initially marketed as something for married women who have had, you know, a couple of kids. But again, we`re really trying to turn the paradigm on its head, that instead of having to do something every single day to stay non-pregnant, let`s just do one thing, make non-pregnant the default state, and then when you want to get pregnant, great, come on in. Start your prenatals. We`ll take out your IUD or your implant and you`re all set to get pregnant. Young people have such complex lives. You know, sometimes I`m at my mom`s, sometimes at my dad`s, sometimes I`m at my apartment, sometimes I`m at my boyfriend`s apartment. I have two part-time jobs and I go to school. Try to take a pill at the same time, every day. Forget about it. And that`s why we see the failure rate of pills, patch and ring are actually twice as high for women under 21 as women over 21. It`s not that the pharmacology is different. And somehow the medicine doesn`t work in young people. It`s that it`s complex to use. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So the state of Colorado dropped their teen birth rate by 40 percent. They dropped their teen abortion rate by 35 percent, over just a really short period of years -- four or five years. This is this wildly successful program that kept young women in Colorado from getting pregnant when they did not want to. It has been a huge success story, a national success story. The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association just this year gave Colorado an award for having the premier public health program in the country on this issue. And then the day after Colorado got that award, Colorado voted to kill the program. Colorado Republicans in the state Senate voted to kill that program. And they killed it. Republicans did really well in the 2014 elections, almost everywhere in the country. But they did great in Colorado in 2014. Mark Udall lost his U.S. Senate seat to Cory Gardner. Colorado State Senate had been Democratic controlled. It flipped to the Republicans. Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado did manage to hold on to his job in 2014 but barely. He got a scare from Republican former Congressman Bob Beauprez. One of the things that Bob Beauprez campaigned on against John Hickenlooper was that he, Bob Beauprez, was opposed to the IUD. He said he didn`t believe in that kind of contraception. He said taxpayers shouldn`t be funding that sort of thing in Colorado. And that was a significant part of the ground on which that gubernatorial election was contested in 2014. But even though Bob Beauprez did not win the governorship, enough Republicans did win in Colorado that year, and the Colorado Senate specifically that Bob Beauprez ended up getting his way on the IUD anyway. It became a Republican priority to kill that birth control program that had been so successful, national award- winning, national premier program in terms of public health. And it became their priority to kill it. Both the House and the Senate needed to overtly vote to continue the funding for that program, and the Republicans in control in the Senate, zeroed out the funding for it. So, it`s dead. People thought really hard in Colorado to try to hold on to that successful program. That is part of why people -- part of the reason why people bought so many IUD earrings off of Etsy. IUD earrings and also I guess they made IUD lapel pins for the gents. But it was not enough. The best teen pregnancy prevention program in the country just got killed because Republicans took over. In North Carolina, we recently reported on the efforts of Republicans in that state legislature to unravel their own health care claim to fame. The OB/GYN training at the University of North Carolina Medical Schools is considered to be the best in the South. That whole region of the country, nobody is better at training those kinds of doctors than UNC is. But North Carolina Republican legislators recently proposed new anti- abortion legislation that would put UNC at risk of losing accreditation for their med school training facilities by passing a new state law, which would have limited what doctors were allowed to learn or teach or practice doing while they were doing their training at UNC. I think when they realized they might be un-accrediting their star state medical school, Republican legislators in North Carolina backed off that provision they had been pushing. But they`re not giving up all together. And what they are moving ahead with now is going to look equally awkward on a bumper sticker. North Carolina Republicans already tried to change the law, to force women to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds if they wanted to get an abortion in that state. You might remember that ultrasound law from North Carolina was struck down as unconstitutional earlier this year. Well, now what they want to do is not only try again to force you to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound even if you don`t want one, even if your doctors don`t want you to have one. They`re going to make you have it, and then they`re going to make you turn it over to them. They`re going to force you to share your ultrasound and put it on file with the state government, because presumably the state government in North Carolina has nothing better to do than keep pieces of your medical records in their files so they can keep tabs on you both inside and out. And the great state of Tennessee, they just enacted a new law to close clinics across the state, the same way that Texas and Ohio and Wisconsin have done to shut down clinics across the states -- across those three states. Oklahoma`s governor just signed into law a new three-day mandatory waiting period for any woman who wants to get an abortion in that state. The great state of Alabama is dealing with a huge catastrophe when it comes to their budget this year. It`s a really big crisis in that state. They`re considering everything up and including legalizing gambling statewide in order to deal with this mess they have gotten themselves into. But this mess they have gotten themselves into doesn`t mean they don`t have time to pass more anti-abortion legislation. The state legislature in Alabama just advanced three new anti-abortion laws in the past week, including one that would effectively ban abortion all together in that state. The great state of Arkansas just this year has passed six new laws banning and restricting abortion. "The New York Times" reported that as of last week, 11 states have passed 37 new anti-abortion laws already in just the first five months of this year. And this is turning out to be a very salient indicator of party politics in our country. I mean, they`re just -- I mean, despite the way it gets talked about, there really aren`t that many things, that many specific things where if Democrats are in control, it goes one way. And if Republicans are in control, it goes 180 degrees the opposite way. Usually, yes, there`s things in which the parties disagree, definitely. There is a reason for partisanship. Usually, it`s a little fuzzy around the edges when it comes to specific policies. There`s a little overlap, a little uncertainty. Not on this, though. This is the brightest policy line of them all. Everywhere, where Republicans are in control, they have been moving to prioritize anti-abortion and increasingly, anti birth control policies. Still. Still, in 2015. And when Democrats are in control, conversely, they try to undo those things. The great state of Virginia, for example, they have odd year elections and as Republican as things went nationwide in 2014, Virginia went in the opposite direction in 2013, Virginia had had a whole slate of Republican statewide elected officials from Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli on down heading into those 2013 elections but in 2013, Democrats beat Republicans for every statewide race in Virginia, and as diligently as Republicans had worked in that state to pass new abortion restrictions, the Democrats know they`re in charge have been trying to undo that work. Republican Ken Cuccinelli when he was attorney general in Virginia, he advanced a whole new regulatory system that would have had the effect of shutting down most abortion clinics in that state by order of the state government. Last week, the new attorney general who is a Democrat who succeeded Ken Cuccinelli, his name is Mark Herring, last week mark herring up ended those regulations and ruled they couldn`t be used to close down Virginia`s existing clinics and so Virginia`s clinics will stay open. There are sharp differences between the parties still on a lot of culture war issues. Every Republican running for president, all 21 that we know of at this point who are either running or likely to run, all of them, for example, are opposed to gay people having the right to get married. All of them. All of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton included, say the opposite. Say they`re OK with it. We`re going to have another one of these issues come up this summer when we get that Supreme Court ruling in June on the constitutionality of lethal injection. If that ruling, as expected, restarts a national debate on the death penalty, we will find, again, in all likelihood that all the Republicans hold one position on that and all the Democrats hold the other position. But even as the Beltway press has moved on, right, even as the Beltway press mostly ignores this or treats this as an old issue from a previous election, that surprises them every time it keeps coming around -- honestly, when you look at what`s going on in the country right now, the clearest single active governing priority for Republicans at the local level, at the state level, and at the federal level, the thing they work on when they work on nothing else is anti-abortion activism. Still. 2015. This week in Congress, they`ve got a huge amount of stuff on their plate, most of it being foisted on them by external timetables. A federal judge last week ruled the NSA bulk data collection thing that Edward Snowden blew the whistle on, a judge ruled last week it`s unconstitutional. The ruling was the end of last week. By the end of this week, Congress has to vote on whether or not to reauthorize that program. That`s a pressing matter. We`ve also got a vote this week on the big defense appropriations bill. That means they will be studiously ignoring the question of whether or not the war against is in Iraq and Syria is an authorized war. It actually takes active work to keep ignoring that question. While also authorizing this year`s Pentagon spending and as that fighting goes into its ninth month. There is also a very sensitive issue that`s going to come up in that bill, which Republicans are all tied up in knots about. It`s the question of whether or not you can enlist in the military even if you did not come to this country legally. There`s also a very thorny question about whether or not Congress can force President Obama to keep Guantanamo open. That will be part of this defense bill. All of that will be voted on this week in this big defense bill. Tomorrow, they have also got to take their vote in the Senate on this trade deal that`s turned into a huge fight among Democrats. This big split between the White House and liberal Democrats on whether or not they`re going to approve that trade deal, Republicans almost never get a chance to showcase Democrats hating on each other and talking smack about each other and having big substantive disagreements with each other. But they will get that this week with the vote in the -- on the trade deal tomorrow which absolutely divides the Democratic Party. So, there is a lot going on on Capitol Hill this week, with all different levels of political salience and political danger. But even with all of that happening all at once this week, it doesn`t mean there isn`t enough time for the Republican Party`s number-one priority. House Republicans already tried once this year to pass a new nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks. They are going to bring it back again tomorrow, in the middle of all this other stuff going on. After they couldn`t get it passed last time, they`re bringing it back. Now with new rape-related provisions, now there -- as far as I understand it, the language is a little unclear to me. But as far as I can tell, there appears to be what is in effect a waiting period for rape victims, where they want the federal government to force you to sit and wait and think it over, Missy, as to whether or not you are sure you do not want to bear the rapist`s child. So, a de facto federal waiting period for rape victims. They`re also having a hard time sorting out exactly how lax they want to be on incest victims. So, if you get pregnant by your own father or uncle or brother or what-have-you, Republicans in Congress have been working hard on the details as to whether or not you`ll be allowed to get an abortion after 20 weeks, only if you are age 17 or younger. If you are 18 when your male relative impregnated you, Republicans in the House have been having a hard time deciding whether in that instance Congress should actually force you to have that baby. This is a bill in which even Republican women in the House revolted earlier this year. When the new Congress started up this January, this is one of the first pieces of legislation that house Republicans decided they need to move on. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, still says this is one of the Republicans` top three priorities for this year in Congress. That they want to get this abortion ban passed, with the rape stuff in it, and the incest stuff in it and all the rest of it. They couldn`t even get it past their own female members a few weeks ago. But they`re going back at it tomorrow, because it is -- it is the most salient Republican governing priority in this country. If they do nothing else, they do this. The beltway press never covers it that way. But that is exactly what`s going on. Still. Joining us now is Congresswoman Diana DeGette. She`s co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus in the House. Congresswoman DeGette, thanks for being with us tonight. Nice to see you. REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, I will admit to being fuzzy on the language as to what has ended up being in this new iteration of the House Republicans` abortion ban. Do you understand what it is they`re going to ask for a vote on in terms of these rape and incest provisions and all the rest? DEGETTE: Well, it just seems like they keep doubling down on the burdens on these victims. The rape -- what we (AUDIO GAP) victims will now have to prove in writing that they made a complaint to a government agency or law enforcement agency. And same thing with the incest victims, which is just appalling to me to say somebody who has been the victim of incest now is required to report that to a law enforcement official or she can`t get an abortion. I mean, once again, they are just -- they`re just revictimizing the victims. It`s the same kind of outrageous language that did make the Republican women walk the last time. They had to pull the bill from the floor, which is a first for me. I haven`t seen something like that. And now, this just looks like they`re making it even worse. MADDOW: So, I mean, the implication of this is -- and I mean, I don`t want to put words in their mouths. But the implication of this to me is that they believe that women are faking being victims of incest, so as to access abortions they wouldn`t otherwise legally be able to get under a law like this. I mean, if you have to prove written documentation, that implies your word isn`t strong enough. DEGETTE: Right. I mean, I think you`re right. What they`re saying is, that women who just want to have abortions after 20 weeks, which is very rare anyway, are going to now fake being a rape or incest victim in order to get it. It`s just ludicrous. And it is so disrespectful to women in general, and to rape and incest victims. It`s just appalling. MADDOW: Do -- is it your sense that the Republicans have I guess gotten past the objections within their own caucus, particularly women in their own Republican caucus, and that they do have a way to pass this? Do you think this is something that ultimately is going to end up on President Obama`s desk? DEGETTE: Well, I -- when I first heard they were bringing it up this week again, I thought they must have watered it down somehow or something to get people`s approval. When I looked at the language today, I really couldn`t believe that they could have anymore support than they had before. Because I think the bill is worse. And so, I`ll be shocked if all these Republican women and some of the more moderate Republican men vote for it. If they do, it will go to the Senate. I can`t imagine that they could get 60 votes in the Senate over there. But I`ll guarantee you: President Obama will veto it if it comes to his desk. MADDOW: Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado, who is the chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus in the House and from a state that has had its own roller coaster ride on these issues recently -- thanks very much for being with us. Nice to have you here. DEGETTE: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. We`ve got lots more ahead including another major front in the culture wars that the Beltway media is underreporting. But don`t worry, there`s others of us around, too. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got lots ahead tonight, including stories you will not see anywhere else, including one from the state of Vermont. The lovely state of Vermont, continuing to be a big surprise for not good reasons. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, in January, the speaker of the House in New York was arrested on federal corruption charges. That was the speaker of the House. Then, last week, the leader of the state Senate was arrested too, on totally different charges. But federal corruption charges, as well. The state Senate guy is charged basically with doing public favors for companies that paid money to his son. One problem New York Republicans have faced in terms of replacing him as head of the Senate now that he`s been arrested and indicted is that the number two Republican in the state Senate was also arrested and indicted last year, also on federal corruption charges, also for allegedly doing favors for companies who he wanted to help out his son. Hey! Legislators find it hard enough to decide what to do when their leadership gets indicted and arrested, even without the next in line guy having been indicted and arrested for the exact same thing. But today, they decided in New York that the state Senate president would step down from his leadership job while he prepares to go on trial, and they did have to skip down the list a little bit to find the next guy. But they did pick a replacement for the state Senate president, who isn`t actively under indictment. Nor has he been arrested any time in recent memory. Although I better check my notes. So congratulations there, New York state legislature. It might even feel weird now to have absolutely no federal charges pending against one of your legislative leaders for a minute. And it isn`t often that anybody besides New Jersey really truly competes with New York for the lowest stinking ring in the ethical sewer of state legislative politics. But this week, the competition comes from an unexpectedly nice place. It comes from Vermont, where one veteran state senator is making local news reporters in Vermont say things they probably never thought they would have to say on TV in their whole Vermont careers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The 63-year-old senator, who lives in this home in Franklin, allegedly forced his female farm workers to engage in sexual acts, according to investigators. Court paperwork says victims were told they could live in this trailer in exchange for sex. In addition, at least one victim told police the senator offered to take her to a farm where she could have sex with a group of farm hands for more money. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: On Thursday, State Senator Norm McAllister was arrested by Vermont police at the state capitol during a break in the Senate debates. Two other Republican state senators briefly interceded with the police and said they were acting as Senator McAllister`s lawyers as he was being arrested and questioned. Following morning, Friday morning, he was charged with three counts of felony sexual assault and three counts of prohibited acts. The criminal complaint against him alleges that a pattern of assaults on multiple women, going back several years. State police say they know of three alleged victims so far, but they say there may be more. That was Friday. Since then, it`s been reported that the senator`s alleged crimes may be worse than what was in the criminal complaint unsealed by prosecutors on Friday. One of the accusers telling the Vermont paper this weekend, that she may have been as young as 15 when the senator, she says, first assaulted her on his farm. She went on to be his assistant at the Vermont statehouse, where she claims the assaults continued in the Montpellier apartment he shared with two other lawmakers. So, that`s what`s unfolding in Vermont of all places. But here`s the thing: the senator is apparently not stepping down, still serving as a senator while out on bail on these charges. Vermont`s governor has called on him to resign. The speaker of the House has called on him to resign. The president of the State Senate has called on him to resign. They`re all Democrats, though, and he`s a Republican. But then, the state`s top-ranking Republican, lieutenant governor, said yes, Senator McAllister would resign. But apparently nobody told Senator McAllister that, and he would not resign and would not say if he plans to. He also told the "Burlington Free Press" that he has had, quote, "had better days." Yes, you`re not the only one, Senator. Vermont Senator Norm McAllister has set a new bar for horrifying indictment of a sitting lawmaker. It remains to be seen whether he will also set a new bar for state legislators who continue to serve while under that horrifying indictment. Watch this space. This absolutely disgusting space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)( MADDOW: To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nazi surrender in World War II, Russia threw a giant party in Moscow over the weekend. One of Russian President Vladimir Putin`s buddies who came to Moscow for the parade was Mr. Putin`s best American friend, Steven Seagal -- one time but no longer pony-tailed 1990s action hero. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVEN SEAGAL, ACTOR: You know, you shouldn`t knock Chinese potions. I have something in my pocket right now that will completely clear up that bruise on your forehead. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What bruise? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: While Steven Seagal`s presence at Russia`s victory parade this weekend was admittedly weird, both in Russian terms and international terms, it was not the weirdest thing that happened at that parade. And that is just ahead with pictures. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, if the news cycle ever lets me out of the office again, this might be where I go first. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The new great passion play. In the small Victorian village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the beautiful Ozark Mountains is America`s number-one outdoor drama. See the story of the Passion of Christ up close. Close enough to hear the cheering followers as they lay palm branches before him as he enters Jerusalem. Close enough to hear the wheels Roman carriers and the horses` hooves upon the cobble streets. Close enough to hear the donkeys` bray and the sounds of the marketplace. These sights and sounds will transport you and your senses back over 2,000 years into the very heart of the greatest story ever told. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The great passion play runs every year in the warm months in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It`s been seen by millions of people over the past half century from May until October every year. You can take the Holy Land tour. You can get close enough to hear the donkeys` bray. You can also see the gigantic Christ of the Ozark`s statue. This is Eureka Springs, Arkansas, part of the Ozark Mountains up in the northwest corner of the state by Fayetteville. Eureka Springs is known for its natural springs, which are supposed to be good for you, known for its passion play, known for its big Christ statue, known for its arts festival, and its Victorian looking shops and streets. It`s a cool place that attracts and welcomes everybody, generally. Eureka Springs is a small town, only a couple thousand people live there. This is the local government. When something comes up, city council can all spit around party table and talk it out. A few months ago, for example, they debated a recommendation for how to throw away yard waste and another for repairing a parking lot by the town auditorium. They debated a measure to ban circus animals from town which they decided to do. But while they were tending locally to the business of Eureka Springs, state lawmakers in the state capital were also in session. The Arkansas legislature decided in their infinite wisdom that they as a state would ban local cities and towns from passing anti-discrimination laws. The state legislature banned Arkansas cities and towns from making that decision on their own. Because the Eureka Springs Council could see that bill working its way toward their relatively gay-friendly tourist town in Arkansas, they preemptively passed anti discrimination ordinance for Eureka Springs. All present voted aye. It was unanimous. No discrimination in Eureka Springs. They were not the first town to try this in a red state or even within Arkansas. Last summer, the city council and the college town of Fayetteville, Arkansas, also passed a civil rights ordinance for their town. But then the Fayetteville civil rights ordinance got put up for repeal. The graffiti on this sign from the election is a little hard to read, but it`s a three-letter word that starts with an F and ends with a G. Fayetteville, Arkansas, lost its anti-discrimination ordinance, got put up for referendum and lost. Same thing happened last month in Springfield, Missouri. City council in Springfield, Missouri, passed a nondiscrimination bill but then the bill was struck down in a voter referendum. The college town of Starkville, Mississippi, they got themselves a big profile in "The New York Times" because of their progressive policies in deepest Mississippi. But then the same Starkville, Mississippi, officials who voted in those nondiscrimination policies then voted to take them away. And then we have the little town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where they passed their civil rights ordinance, city council level, but that ordinance is up for repeal, decision time in Eureka Springs. It`s a voter referendum. The residents of Eureka Springs voting tomorrow on whether or not they want to keep their new equality ordinance or whether they want to erase it from the books. The side trying to throw the thing out says the vote is, quote, "basically a crapshoot", could go either way. The side trying to keep the nondiscrimination ordinance sees it as the right thing to do. The counselor who introduced it in the first place tells the "A.P." today, quote, "We don`t go by convention. Somebody else us you can`t do something, well, watch us." The big arc of gay rights in this country the last few years has been toward more. The shorter term story of gay rights, though, particularly in the South has been toward less. We are experiencing a short term period of backlash, at least in the South, this effort to rescind existing discrimination provisions that protect gay people. That mini trend is going to get a test tomorrow in Eureka Springs, which may tell us more about how big a trend this actually is. Joining us now is Andrew DeMillo, capitol correspondent for the Little Rock bureau of the "Associated Press". Mr. DeMillo, thanks very much for being with us. ADNREW DEMILLO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: So, Eureka Springs sees itself very much as a tourist town. They market themselves very well, even nationally, not just throughout the South as a tourist town. What sort of powers that be in town and businesses there think about this referendum? DEMILLO: You know, when you walk around downtown eureka springs, you see a lot of signs in favor of keeping the ordinance. As you referred to it, Eureka Springs kind of has an interesting dichotomy there, the great Passion play and Christ of the Ozarks which attracts tens of thousands of people each year. But this is also a town known as very LGBT-friendly community, very inclusive, you know, very artsy community. And these are both very important parts of the town`s identity. And this is really kind of a kind of test to the relationship between those two identities. MADDOW: As far as you can tell, could you predict what`s going to happen tomorrow? Do you feel you know which way this is going to go? DEMILLO: It`s -- you know, it`s very hard to predict. It`s a special election, especially a town of its size, a little over 2,000 people. Only about 1,600, 1,700 of whom are registered voters. My understanding is they have had early voting for the past week. They actually had at least 400 people cast early ballots, which is, you know, very strong turnout, very strong turnout for special election. And I think it`s something that the supporters of the ordinance see as a very encouraging sign. MADDOW: In terms of supporters of the nondiscrimination ordinance in terms of keeping it, they see that as a positive sign. DEMILLO: Yes. MADDOW: From your perch in Little Rock, and when you look at the gay rights politics that are happening right now around the marriage issue, around the religious freedom bill that came up in Arkansas that`s also come up in other states, do you feel like there is a backlash that is against those things that is organic? Or are those types of advances and those types of debates just sort of being harnessed by people who have a preexisting interest in this issue and are using this moment to try to push the agenda that they have wanted to go forward with anyway? DEMILLO: You`re definitely seeing a backlash at the local level to this. Before Eureka Springs vote tomorrow, we`ve seen cities of little rock and hot springs pass anti- discrimination ordinances that were more limited dealing with city employees, city developed doors, Pulaski County, the most populous county and where Little Rock is located looking at a similar ordinance. And this is really kind of a local pushback to the restriction on these anti-discrimination ordinances but also as you mentioned, the religious freedom measure in Arkansas. So, you are seeing kind of this local pushback, and really the pushback being kind of based on a business argument from these cities who are saying they want to send a different message than what they thought was sent during the legislative session here. MADDOW: Andrew DeMillo, capitol correspondent for the "A.P." in Little Rock, it`s going to be fascinating to see how this goes tomorrow. Thanks for helping us understand. Appreciate it. DEMILLO: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Lots more still to come. Did you see the speech the first lady just gave? Have you seen this? You have not seen anything like this if you have not seen this exact thing. That and more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a thing that just happened. Imagine $180 million. Picturing that? $180 million. Now, which would you rather have? Would you rather have $180 million or would you rather have this? There is at least one person in the world who finds that to be a difficult question. This is a Pablo Picasso work called Le Femme d`Alger Version O. It was painted in 1955. Tonight, it just set the world record as the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, $179,365,000. You give Christie`s that much money, they give you this. That is an exchange that just happened. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Sometimes, 80 years is not too late to right a wrong. This is how the United States Military Academy at West Point is trying to make something right for one of their cadets who graduated 79 years ago. These are new barracks for West Point cadets, and they`re going to be named after this gentleman. His name is Benjamin O. Davis Jr. He was from Washington, D.C. He was the son of a career army officer, and West Point was willing to let him in as an African-American cadet in 1932, but they were not willing to accept him once he was there. Cadets who violate the honor code at West Point are treated to something they call silencing, where no one will speak to you except on an official as-needed basis. No one would speak to him. No one would allow them to sit with him to eat. No one would be his friend. No would room with him. He roomed alone. And all of that went on for the whole four years that he was there. Four years. Try that and see how you would do. Before Benjamin O. Davis got there in 1932, West Point had not graduated a single African-American cadet in the whole 20th century. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. for those four years he was frozen out, tormented for the whole time he was there, but he persevered, he graduated in the top 15 percent of his class, this is class that hated him for being black. And he went on to a very distinguished military career. He was an original Tuskegee Airmen. He commanded the Red Tails. He was one of the Army pioneers who helped create the United States Air Force. He became the first-ever African-American Air Force general. And now, West Point will house 650 cadets in a six-story building they are naming for him on campus. The head of West Point`s history department saying today Benjamin O. Davis` career, quote, "was not West Point at its finest hour, but this is a chance for West Point to recognize one of its finest." First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama this weekend. At that speech, she talked about what it meant for Tuskegee to be the site of the airfield and flight school for America`s pioneering pilots the Tuskegee Airmen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Instead of being defined by the discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the most successful pursuit squadrons in our military. (APPLAUSE) They went onto show the world that if black folks and white folks could fight together and fly together, then surely, surely, they could eat at a lunch counter together. Surely, their kids could go to school together. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at Tuskegee University this weekend, talking about the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. She also went onto talk in personal terms about something I`m not sure she has talked about in public before. And I sort of hate this term but if you have heard that the speech from the first lady has gone viral in the couple days since she gave that speech, this is why. This is a side of the first lady we do not often see. This is something she does not often talk about in public. But watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Back when my husband first started campaigning for president, folks had all sorts of questions of me. What kind of first lady would I be? What kinds of issues would I take on? Would I be more like Laura Bush or Hillary Clinton or Nancy Reagan? And the truth is, those same questions would have been posed to any candidate`s spouse. That`s just the way the process works. But as potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud or too angry or too emasculating? (APPLAUSE) Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman? Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover. It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. Now, yes, it was satire. But if I`m really being honest, that knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me. Or you might remember the on stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a terrorist fist jab. And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited a little bit of uppityism. Another noted I was one of my husband`s cronies of color. Cable news charmingly referred to me as Obama`s baby mama. But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do. And that was to have faith in God`s plan for me. (APPLAUSE) I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself and the rest would work itself out. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: First Lady Michelle Obama speaking to graduating students at Tuskegee University this weekend in Alabama. Honestly, just a remarkable speech from her on a subject she can speak to in a way that no one else can. We have posted a link to the whole thing, at tonight. I highly recommend that you check it out. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. Its kleptocracy, its corruption, it`s a nation that is really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A gas station masquerading as a country -- one of John McCain`s best lines. And like most really good lines, it wasn`t all that true. I mean, yes, oil and gas for Russia, absolutely. But Russia is also one of the world`s greatest suppliers of military hardware, weapons. And their crown jewel right now, their international claim to fame right now is this shiny new tank, the T-14 Armada. The base model weighs 48 tons. It`s able to reach speeds of more than 50 miles an hour which is a lot when you`re a tank. Apparently, its main gun can fire multiple types of different ammunition including guided missiles with a range of nearly five miles. It has an automatic defense system. It has an unmanned turret that uses radar to detect incoming threats and shoot them out of the sky. Russian news outlets have even reported that that tank could at some point be fully remote controlled. It could be a drone tank. American outlets have been pretty impressed by the new Russian tank`s specs. Needless to say, Russia is very excited about this new piece of weaponry and the international props they`re getting for it. This past weekend, the new tank was finally unveiled to the Russian public at Russia`s giant victory day parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Nazi surrender at the end of World War II. Triumph! But then a bad thing happened for the brand new tank. It broke down. It broke down at the dress rehearsal. It just stalled out. Russia rolled out its newest tank. In the middle of them rolling it out, it just stopped rolling. They tried to tow it away, but they couldn`t because after all, it does weigh 48 tons. Eventually they did get it moving again. It was embarrassing, right? They`re basking in the international reception. This is embarrassing letdown, so much so that initially they tried to pretend that it had stopped awkwardly on purpose. No, I swear we meant it. But that was at least just during the dress rehearsal. That was just during practice, right? The good news is during the actual VE Day parade, the new tank drove like a dream. No more stalls, no problems. And, frankly, almost every piece of Russian weaponry in the giant VE Day parade was impressive and imposing as I`m sure they were supposed to be. Almost every piece performed flawlessly. Those darn tanks! It was a different model this time and a different problem, but this time this other tank -- the problem was it caught on fire, which wouldn`t - - you know, it`s never good. It would be bad enough if this tank that caught on fire wasn`t also a tank carrying missiles while it was on fire. Likely, the flames are quickly extinguished. The tank was successfully towed away. So the parade could continue. The missile didn`t blow up. So, a couple of rough moments for one of the world`s biggest weaponry suppliers, all was not lost though. One military exercise did go off without a hitch this weekend. Russia`s seal team performed flawlessly. Did it all while keeping their little seal hats on. I salute you Russian seals, long may you wave. That does it for us tonight. We will 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