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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/24/15

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Matt Malone

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The "don`t be a jerk" rule, we can`t exactly say that`s the golden rule but think it`s got to be some other form of metal alloy, right? HAYES: It`s basically that, right? And that`s what he`s so good. Just be nice. MADDOW: It`s very true. Thank you, my friend. Great to see you. HAYES: Great to see you, too. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. So, I was in Washington, D.C. this morning. I`m back in New York now. When I was in Washington, D.C. this morning, I was out before dawn to try to get my place so I could make sure I could see the pope at the capitol. And one of the strange things I wish now I had taken pictures of but I didn`t because it was before dawn and I`m not a morning person is that I saw the city of Washington, D.C. this morning and today using snow plows in the streets. They used snow plows to augment all the jersey barriers and the fencing and the absolutely overwhelming precedence all different types of security agencies. And it`s kind of weird to see snow plows on the street in the late summer, early fall. A warm trending toward hot late September day. You don`t expect to see snow plows. But when you need to have a security operation this big, you use what you`ve got. And apparently, in D.C., that meant giant municipal snow plows on the streets on a hot September morning. In New York City today, it was the awesome New York City variant on the municipal snow plow. In New York City what they`ve got is giant trucks which double as both heavyweight snow plows and also dump trucks. Plow in the front, dump in the back. Trash trucks were repurposed all over New York City today as basically movable fortresses to take up space, to close off roads, to be big bulky un-get-around-able metal barriers between Pope Francis and anybody who might wish to do him harm. After Pope Francis wrapped up his unprecedented address to a joint meeting of Congress today, the next thing he did right after that is he came out onto the speaker`s balcony at the U.S. Capitol. I have never wanted to be speaker of the House before, until I realized today that if you can speaker of the House, you get to control that balcony, which is sweet. I mean, look at that view. That balcony, that is better than anything at the White House. I mean, they don`t even let him use the front doors at the Supreme Court anymore. I mean, if you`re talking about branches of government and controlling something cool, seriously, the single best piece of you can use it architecture in Washington, D.C. is that speaker`s balcony, from which Pope Francis thrilled the crowd of thousands of people that I was standing in today when he walked out onto that beautiful balcony before that beautiful crowd on that beautiful day and he said, "Buenas dias." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POPE FRANCIS: Buenos dias. (through translator): And I ask you all, please, to pray for me. And if there are among you any who do not believe or cannot pray, I ask you please, to send good wishes my way. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Pope Francis asking for prayers but then making this really interesting acknowledgment through that translator there to that crowd at the U.S. Capitol today that he did not assume that everybody who was there to see him was Catholic. Beyond that he didn`t assume that everybody there to see him even necessarily believes in God. Explicitly asking people who don`t believe or who cannot or will not pray for some other reason to please send him good wishes. At which time John Boehner promptly opened the waterworks and started crying. And so did I. After Pope Francis left the Capitol, he went to a nearby Catholic Church to speak to a group that included the area`s homeless. He reminded those gathered that Jesus too had come into the world as a homeless person. He said he knew what it was like to start life without a roof over his head. Pope Francis skipped that D.C. power lunch that he could have had today and instead opted for this street side soup kitchen outside the local Catholic charities. He blessed the meal there. It was a boneless teriyaki chicken breast and pasta salad. And he wished everybody buon appetito. And then it was supposed to be a little down time, a little papal down time in Washington before he got off on the rest of his journey. But everybody in D.C. knows where he was staying. So, his trip back to the Vatican residence where he was staying of course it couldn`t be that simple. It entailed more meetings with more well-wishers and people stacked up to see him in the streets. And, of course, something that really seems to make him happy. You can see the smile on his face there, which happens to be these spontaneous unscripted meetings just with people in the street and particularly with little kids. Blessing little kids seems to be one of the things that brings up the biggest smiles on his face. But that was the close of his public time in Washington today. And then it was time to go to New York. This evening when Pope Francis touched down at JFK Airport in New York City, New York decided to be really, really New York about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If you can make it here you can make it anywhere? They played "New York, New York" to welcome Pope Francis to New York City today. Which is so freaking awesomely New York I can hardly -- ah, forget about it. But even though the pope was landing in the borough of Queens, the Brooklyn diocese wanted to make sure to get the name Brooklyn out there. The Brooklyn diocese unveiled their giant banner on a nearby airplane hangar that said the diocese of Brooklyn welcomes Pope Francis. Rather than subject the pope to the admittedly and truly uninspiring drive from John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens into Manhattan where he was staying and where he was due this evening they decided to fly the pope that distance by helicopter. That gave us this sort of remarkable scene of the helicopter carrying the pope against the backdrop of the New York City skyline. After the papal helicopter landed in Manhattan, Pope Francis then linked back up with his trusty papal Fiat, which drove him to 5th Avenue. Up at the top of 5th Avenue by Central Park, he then got out of the Fiat and got into his awesome Jeep Popemobile, which then proceed slowly down 5th Avenue. And it was quite a sight. The bells were peeling at St. Patrick`s as he processed down 5th avenue toward the cathedral. And there were thousands of people that gathered along that short route on 5th Avenue to watch him. But whole swaths of 5th Avenue were blocked off. I mean, look at the sides of the street here. Blocked off, kind of sealed off with these big very imposing back fences they used as a security cordon for him. And so, you know, undoubtedly New York is psyched to have Pope Francis here. New York is a huge city. It`s the biggest city in the country. It`s very diverse. There are tons of Catholics in New York City, tons of immigrant populations in New York City of every stripe you can possibly imagine and then the ones you can`t. I mean, to the extent that Pope Francis is who he is because he`s an urban pope who lived in the slums of Buenos Aires, having been born to an immigrant family and having been through that experience and who`s prioritized the needs of the poor. I mean, if there`s a city in America that`s this pope`s kind of place, it is New York City. But you`re not able to see yet at least the truly massive crowds that you might expect of New Yorkers out in the street cheering for him and greeting him and handing him their kids and hoping for a handshake or a blessing and shouting out to their friends that they`ve seen him. It doesn`t look like that, at least yet, in New York, because of that physical security that has been set up around him. And I say yet because that may change. Right now, at least so far in New York, the security I think is so protective as to be at least comparatively speaking pretty isolating for the pope. Look at the fences they`re using along 5th Avenue. I`m sure they`re very safe but they`re more shields than they are fences. They`re very tall. They`re basically solid. They have the effect of putting the pope kind of in a tunnel where many people cannot get to him and many people cannot even see him. And so this impression, the fact of access to the pope and what it looks like thus far, I should say that it may change in coming days. Particularly because Pope Francis is due to take a long motorcade through Central Park tomorrow afternoon. And that`s an event for which New York City has ticketed 80,000 people. So, presumably, that will be more of a people`s experience of the pope. Right now, at least so far the first day of his trip to New York is not like his trip to Washington. The bells are peeling. The head of Home Depot, Ken Langone, is lined up with other rich people and bigwigs and politicians to greet him on the steps of St. Patrick`s Cathedral. And this journey, this plane, to the helicopter, to the Fiat, to the Popemobile, to the cathedral, I mean, it is a journey that affords occasional distant glimpses of white cloth maybe, but so far at least he`s hived off. And it`s too bad. It`s too bad. Nobody would argue, though, that it is an unreasonable precaution. When Pope Francis spoke today in Congress with unusual specificity about his opposition to the death penalty, he said today he supported the abolition of the death penalty. He said, "I offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation." And execution by definition affords no hope for rehabilitation or anything else, which is why the Catholic Church is opposed to it. But when Pope Francis raised that death penalty issue so pointedly in his remarks to Congress today, it sort of harkened back to previous papal visits to the United States, in particular by John Paul II. When John Paul II came to this country in 1999, one of several visits he made to the U.S., he spoke out aggressively and repeatedly and with some real urgency that the United States should stop the death penalty. The United States should stop executing prisoners. And that repeated advocacy by him, particularly from a pope who was seen as a political conservative in this country or at least as an ally of political conservatives in this country. That advocacy from pope John Paul on the issue of the death penalty is credited in hindsight with changing Catholic opinion in this country on the death penalty and ultimately that shift of Catholic public opinion, it`s credited with at least partially moving the country as a whole to be now much more against capital punishment than we used to be. So, Pope John Paul has tread this path before. Pope Francis today was not hacking out new ground, right? Was not doing something that had never been done before when he walked into Congress and said, hey, you guys should abolish the death penalty. Previous popes have done that to great effect in this country. And now, we know as of this address today that the church is not giving up on that issue. Pope Francis was also quite direct today in telling Congress to be generous and humane on the issue of the refugees in Europe. He connected that refugee crisis in Europe to America`s own experience of immigrants to this country, immigrants wanting as he said to travel north to this country in search of a better life. When he stood before Congress today and called himself a son of immigrants, presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who himself is the son of immigrants, he wiped away tears at that point in the pope`s speech. Pope Francis was also very specific on the issue of climate change today. He described it as the serious effects of environmental deterioration caused by human activity, so as to leave no doubt, right? He speaks slowly in English. And that`s a lot of syllables. But he wanted to make sure he spelled it out. It`s caused by human activity -- Senator Inhofe. But then, this is amazing. In his very next sentence after that, the pope said, this which itself is remarkable. It`s something we never hear in this country. It is something incredibly foreign to our ears as Americans. And it was something very nice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POPE FRANCIS: I`m convinced that we can make a difference. I`m sure. (APPLAUSE) And I have no doubt that the United States and this Congress have an important role to play. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "I am convinced that we can make a difference. I am convinced that we can make a difference. I`m sure. I have no doubt." I have no doubt -- he has no doubt that this Congress is going to play an important role in addressing climate change. He officially is the only person on earth who has no doubt that this Congress will play a role in addressing climate change. I mean, I guess if you do want one person on earth to be on the side of hope on an important issue like that, perhaps the person you want on the side of hope is the pope. But Pope Francis showed today that he thinks our Congress is worth something, which maybe is a lesson for us. I mean, nobody expected him to say yes when John Boehner asked him to address Congress. John Boehner has asked the last three popes to address Congress and Pope Francis is the first one to say yes. Nobody expected him to say yes. Nobody expected him to do this. But he decided to do it. He decided to pay Congress the honor of this visit today, because clearly, he thought it was worth it to do so. He thought Congress was an important and worthy place for him to speak. Important and worthy, that`s not the way we think of this Congress. But that`s the way he thinks of them. He told Congress today that their work is important and noble. He told members of Congress today that he trusts that they will do the right thing, that they specifically, those people you can see in that shot, they will do the right thing on the biggest and most important issues in the world. He compared members of the United States Congress to Moses today. Our Congress. Compared to how we usually think about our own politics and particularly the capacity of our Congress, that is an almost unbelievably radical bit of optimism. We have earned our political cynicism as Americans. But honestly, one of the things that I am left with about this visit is that this pope is trying to cure us of that cynicism. He paid our Congress this incredible honor today, and he told them he believed in what he thought they could do and he thought they would do the right thing. Let`s just hope nobody told him as he flew off to New York that that same Congress he has so much hope in is only six days away from shutting down the federal government through sheer incompetence. Who knows? Maybe he inspired them enough today to avert that next week. Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She was one of the select few who escort Pope Francis into the House chamber this morning. Senator Klobuchar, it`s great to see you. Thank you. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Well, thank you. I`m glad that we`re a few words between you comparing Congress to Moses and me. So thank you for that. MADDOW: I feel like our Congress, the Senate, the Congress, both sides of the aisle, you guys must be so used to people thinking of you as 9 percent approval rating, so used to people thinking that there`s never anything positive that can ever get done in Congress. I imagine the Moses thing was a little jarring to hear. KLOBUCHAR: Yes. But I think mostly you saw, as you noted with Marco Rubio, tears going down his cheeks, that this was -- this was a momentous occasion and there was a feeling of hope and unity in that chamber. And while there were a few instances where one side stands up, not the other, almost every single time people were unified. And I think part of this, while he raised all those difficult issues that you just talked about, difficult for some people, not for others, he did it with a sense of history, as you would imagine a pope would do, steeped in our own heroes, talking about Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day and really calling on Congress to remember what has made America great, the dreams of the immigrants, this perseverance, this looking out for each other. And I think he did it in a way that really was meant to bring people together. MADDOW: Do you think that anything will happen in Washington after this visit that wouldn`t have happened without it? Do you think that either small-scale stuff or large-scale stuff is more possible or likely to be derailed because of this visit? Does he change any trajectories? KLOBUCHAR: I think he does. And I don`t think we`re going to know it at first. We have the immediate problem of not shutting down the government. I think you`ve seen clearly that leadership on both sides would like to get through this with some extension so we can negotiate to get to some of the other things the pope is talking about, helping the poor and putting safety nets in place for people who are the most vulnerable. So, I think that will be helpful. Some of the other issues he raised, as you know, immigration reform, we have a bipartisan bill that had gone through the Senate. So, we know there`s that support out there for immigration reform. But I think he really brought it up a notch. One of my favorite lines that got a little lost today was when he talked about the refugees and he said, these aren`t just numbers. These are people. These are real faces. And you could almost picture that lifeless body of that 3-year-old boy being carried off on that beach by the rescue worker. That`s what he was talking about. MADDOW: One of the moments that moved me a lot, because I think in part because I`m not used to hearing it in a political context or even in a religious context as a Catholic, you just don`t hear it very much, is when he specifically spoke to the elderly, he talked about older people in this country and he talked about not just having respect for older people in this country but how much wisdom there is among the elderly, how much essentially he wants to both comfort them and make us recognize how much there is -- that we can all learn from older people. I thought that was -- it was a simple comment but it was right up top and I thought that was -- it really struck me. KLOBUCHAR: And I think it really set that stage again for looking at history and the past and not being so knee jerk in how you react to things. He also put at the top of the speech, religion, and he talked about pretty much a message of tolerance, how religion can be used for bad reasons, that all religions can for violence, but then his clear message was of religious freedom and respecting other religions. And I didn`t actually think he would start with that, but it`s a little like how he started his talk on the balcony that you pointed out, Rachel, where he appealed to people who might not be Catholic, that they might not believe. He`s been inclusive as a pope. He wants to build a house for everyone. And I think there`s just no way he can turn away from that and say, ah, that was political and I`m not going to listen to that. And that was the magical effect he had today. MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you. I totally agree with you on the magical effect. It will be fascinating to see what that magic does. But I think you`re right that -- KLOBUCHAR: Hang in there with us, Rachel. Hang in there with us. MADDOW: I feel more optimistic. I`ve been commanded to feel more optimistic and I feel it at least today. Senator, thanks very much. KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. MADDOW: I will say that hearing the pope talk about the fact that he recognized he does not only speaking for Catholic audiences and he`s not only here for American Catholics is -- I am a Catholic. But I feel like it`s a very -- it`s a nice thing. We are a religious country in the sense that we are a country of a lot of religious people, 70 million Catholics alone but many, many other faiths. But we by necessity have a secular democracy that respects religious pluralism and religious freedom and we don`t usually celebrate religious leaders in the seat of government. But for him to be cognizant of the fact that he`s there not as a Catholic leader per se but as a spiritual leader and somebody who has something to offer to everyone, that is what has made this a national story and a political story and not just something for America`s 70 million Catholics. It`s been a big week, and there`s a lot more to come. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, last night, we promised you a major story that you have not heard elsewhere about a major Republican presidential candidate and a federal corruption trial that`s about to go off like a proverbial bomb in the middle of his campaign. This is not a story about Chris Christie. It`s about another one of the Republican presidential candidates. You will not hear this story anywhere else. But that`s ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. This is potentially a big deal. We have some breaking news tonight that so far is only being reported by "The New York Times." NBC News has not confirmed this. But "The New York Times" is reporting tonight that China is about to announce a massive new cap and trade program to limit greenhouse gases in that country. If this is true, this is kind of the big kahuna in terms of global policy to address climate change. The Chinese president of course arrived on the West Coast earlier this week. He arrived in D.C. this afternoon. Tonight, he`s having a private dinner with President Obama. He`s due to have a state dinner with all the trappings tomorrow. But before that dinner, "The New York Times" is now saying that the Chinese president is going to announce this new cap and trade program. You`ll recall that President Obama has tried mightily to get our Congress to pass a cap and trade program for the United States. Those efforts failed in part because of objections that the Chinese weren`t doing more about their carbon pollution, so why should we get ahead of them. Now, if "The New York Times" is right and China is about to take this big step, that is huge for the climate. It`s also potentially huge for American policy on this subject. Again, "The New York Times" reporting tonight that the Chinese president is about to announce a massive cap and trade program for his country tomorrow. NBC News not confirming this yet. But if it`s true, it is a huge deal. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It was supposed to be a major announcement. It was supposed to be a game changer in the Republican presidential race. Monday afternoon, right around 12:30, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul was preparing to make news of the right kind. Good news. Rand Paul`s campaign has been struggling to get any good press for anything. But he was about to change that because he had just nabbed a major endorsement in the all-important early primary state of South Carolina. No member of Congress had yet endorsed a presidential candidate in South Carolina. But Rand Paul of all people had just landed the first one. A Republican congressman named Mick Mulvaney. There had been speculation that this very conservative congressman, Mick Mulvaney, he might endorse Ted Cruz for president. But no, he went with Rand Paul. And Rand Paul was so excited about this that he announced that the two of them, he and Mick Mulvaney, were going to go on an endorsement tour all across the state of South Carolina. So, this was big great news for Rand Paul. It broke around 12:30 on Monday. And then just a short time later came word that Scott Walker was about to come out and make some sort of announcement. Oh. And on the one hand, great news for Rand Paul. The field just shrank by one major candidate. On the other hand, hey, anybody want to cover my big Mick Mulvaney endorsement? That is sort of how it`s gone for Rand Paul in this campaign, stepped on by somebody else`s news at every turn. That`s about to happen to him again. Although this time, the somebody else is his own dad. Here`s the story. The Rand Paul for president campaign for most of the last year, they have had a little best a shadow following them around. It`s a scandal that started in the Ron Paul for president campaign in 2012. Allegations that the Ron Paul campaign paid a bribe, that they bribed an Iowa state senator in order to get that senator`s endorsement. Federal prosecutors say the Rand Paul for president campaign made more than $70,000 in secret bribery payments to this Iowa state senator and then they conspired with him to cover it up. That scandal has already led to that Iowa senator pleading guilty in federal court. Earlier this summer, it led to federal indictments of three Paul family staffers, two of whom have been work recently to get Rand Paul elected president this time around. Now, all three of them have pled not guilty. But this scandal from his dad`s campaign, it`s already led Rand Paul to lose two of his top aides at a time when he really can`t afford to be losing anybody. But they were charged. They`re pleading not guilty. They`ve got to fight the charges, they`ve had to resign from Rand Paul world. So he`s lost them. And now, there`s new bad news for Rand Paul in terms of what`s about to happen in this story. The federal trial for these three indicted Paul family staffers begins a week from Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, and one of the guys who`s on trial has been trying to get that trial moved out of Iowa into Washington, D.C. Now, whether or not the trial`s going to get moved, I don`t know. But in the process of fighting about that, in the process of trying to get that trial moved something sort of fascinating has been revealed, because each side in this federal case has to make filings with the court in order to have this argument over where the trial`s going to be held. Thanks to those new filings, we can now report that the Justice Department is planning to call as witnesses in this trial Rand Paul`s dad, former congressman Rand Paul, as well as Rand Paul`s sister, who has a connection to one of the defendants. These documents were first published by the Web site "Mother Jones", but they show that Rand Paul`s dad and his sister are on the prosecutor`s witness list to potentially be called to testify in that federal criminal corruption trial. And that`s not all. Check this out. The defense lawyer who`s representing one of these Rand Paul staffers said in these same court filings on where the trial`s going to be, he also says who he`s going to call, and he says he`s going to call Rand Paul`s current chief presidential strategist, the guy who is the -- running the operation, the brains behind Rand Paul`s entire presidential campaign. The man currently trying to get him elected president is potentially going to be called as a witness in this trial. The trial is set to begin a week from Monday in Iowa, which means in the run-up to Iowa caucuses where Rand Paul is already polling worse than Scott Walker, who just dropped out of the race because his numbers were so bad in the run-up to the caucuses where Rand Paul is in terrible shape, he`s now face the prospect of his father and his sister and his top campaign strategist all being hauled into federal court to testify under oath in a trial about how the Paul family tried to allegedly bribe their way to victory in the Iowa caucuses the last time around. I mean, at least -- what`s that guy`s name? He`s got -- at least he`s got Mick Mulvaney. He`s got that big Mick Mulvaney endorsement. So maybe none of this matters. Maybe it will all be fine. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOROTHY DAY, JOURNALIST: If your brother is hungry, you feed him. You don`t meet him at the door and say wait for a few weeks and you`ll get a welfare check. You sit him down and feed him. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Dorothy Day speaking in 1971. Dorothy Day was a journalist. She was a long-time activist. In 1933 she started a newspaper called "The Catholic Worker." And that small one-cent paper became a movement in this country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAY: "The Catholic Worker" is essentially a school, you might say. I mean, it`s the place where you -- a lot of young people come to us. It`s a pacifist, anarchist movement, and they come to us to learn more about this point of view of beginning a change from the bottom up rather than from the top down, through unions and credit unions. You do away with banks by credit unions. You do away with interest. You do away with mutual aid. You do away with possession of goods by sharing. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Do away with possession of goods. Dorothy Day, that small paper, "The Catholic Worker," became an organization of soup kitchens and aid centers, places that provide food and money to help the poor. Those places still exist. Dorothy Day was not born a Catholic. As a young person, she was actively anti-war. She was an advocate for women`s suffrage. She dropped out of college to become a radical journalist. It was not until she was 30 years old that she converted to Catholicism. And that is when she started "The Catholic Worker." And she protested war and she fought for unions. She was a pacifist. A pacifist to the extent she refused to pay taxes that she said would support wars. She was arrested and jailed many times. Here she is in 1973 at the age of 76 being led off to jail by the police woman you see on your right there. This was after she was protesting with the United Farm Workers Union. She spent ten days in jail at that time. One of America`s bravest and most beloved and true radicals, Dorothy Day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THOMAS MERTON: Christianity is against alienation. Christianity revolts against an alienated life. I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism and to these great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own tradition because they have gone from the natural point of view so much deeper into this than we have. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Thomas Merton. Like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton was not born or raised Catholic. She converted when she was 30. He converted at the age of 26. He became a Trappist monk. Trappist monks do not take a vow of silence, but they do live a life of solitude. They avoid speaking. They speak when necessary. They lead a very disciplined life. Thomas Merton served at the abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. He was known for his essays and for his poetry. He was passionately anti-war. He wrote passionately against the arms race and the nuclear standoff that characterized the Cold War and dismissed and attacked by some as a dangerous leftist because of it. Thomas Merton believed in interreligious and intercultural understanding. He was a friend of the Dalai Lama. He traveled extensively in Asia. He wrote about Buddhism and Taoism and other Eastern traditions for western audiences. He preached about the need for openness to other faiths. Thomas Merton. Those were the two Catholic Americans that Pope Francis went out of his way ton just mention today but to talk about in some detail today in this historic address he made before a joint meeting of Congress. He called Thomas Merton a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions. He talked about Dorothy Day`s social activism. He talked about her passion for justice. Why did Pope Francis single those two American Catholics out? Why did he put them right at the center of what he wants Americans to Google and figure out and watch YouTube clips of and learn from? Right at the center of the most high-profile moment of this incredibly high-profile and historic visit. Why did he pick them? Joining us now is Father Matt Malone. He`s editor in chief of "America" magazine. Father Malone, thank you so much for joining us. FATHER MATT MALONE, JESUIT PRIEST/AMERICA MAGAZINE: My pleasure. MADDOW: Do you know why he picked Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton or do you know what those figures might mean to him given what we understand about the pope? MALONE: Yes. I think so. Well, I can venture a guess. We had a lot of talk leading up to this speech about is he going to say something that`s going to play into the left wing? Is he going to say something that`s going to into the hands of the right wing? This pope is a radical. He didn`t give a liberal speech, didn`t give a conservative speech. He didn`t give a moderate speech. He gave a Catholic speech. It and it`s a radical Catholic vision of the world. He sees in these two people radicals. He sees two people who took the gospel mandate literally and tried to apply it in their lives. These two people were troublemakers, right? And they were seen by both the authorities in the church and the authorities in the state as troublemakers, and they were in different ways castigated for it. He has repeatedly said go out and stir things up, go out and make trouble. It was the last utterance he gave to the folks at World Youth Day last year. He said go and make trouble. He said if we are not making trouble or making things uncomfortable or feeling uncomfortable ourselves, then we`ve failed to realize how radical this message is. MADDOW: When he uses such dramatic language to make that case, when he talks about wanting a church that is battered and bruised and dirty and wanting a church that smells like a sheep, when he uses those kinds of language to talk about -- he says he wants a poor church, he wants a church that has given everything away. MALONE: That`s right. MADDOW: What is he asking for materially? How radical a change does he really want, or is that symbolic language, is that religious language that means something that we might not get in lay terms? MALONE: No, it`s certainly not symbolic. He wants to take those words and put them into action. But he doesn`t have a policy prescription for us. He doesn`t have an ideology or philosophy he wants to impose upon the church, right? He wants each of us to discern in our everyday lives as these two Catholics did, how is it that I am to live out this radical gospel call? What he`s saying is, you know, it`s not enough to say that you`re a Catholic or to say that you`re a Christian. If you spend the rest of the week after Sunday mass in the relentless pursuit of profits in the bond markets, because what is absolute in your life is not God, it`s something else, right? He`s calling us to reflect on and to revisit the very ways in which we live our lives, just as he thought about what kind of car do I drive, where should I live, who should I talk to, he wants us to be asking those same questions too. He said it to the folks in Congress this morning. He said if to the priests and religious at St. Patrick`s tonight. It was the same message. You`ve got to rethink your lives and rethink your work in light of this gospel imperative, to go to the margins, to meet people, to empower them, to lift them up. MADDOW: And in that incredibly high-profile speech in the secular seat of government, in English, finding those American examples of that way of living, that radical way of living and that controversial way of living was a very pointed way to do it. Father Matt Malone, editor in chief of "America" magazine -- thank you very much for helping us understand what happened tonight. Thanks. MALONE: My pleasure. Thank you. MADDOW: Much more ahead tonight. Very, very busy news night. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So I need to update our breaking news from just a few moments ago because NBC News has now confirmed that the president of China is going to announce a massive new cap and trade program for that country tomorrow during his official visit to D.C. This is the biggest news in climate policy maybe ever. Happy visit to the United States, Pope Francis. "The New York Times" is first to report the news of this sweeping new policy on greenhouse gases in China. NBC News, again, has just confirmed it. President Obama, of course, has tried to get the U.S. Congress to pass this kind of program, or some other program to limit carbon in the U.S. the congressional resistance has been in large part because China wasn`t doing enough and so therefore why should we. Well, now, if China is forging ahead here in dealing with climate change using a U.S.-designed policy to do so, this could change everything in the political climate around the climate climate. Again, "New York Times" first reporting this. NBC News now confirming the announcement tomorrow that there will be a cap and trade program in China. It is due to start, to go into effect in 2017. So, it`s on a short time frame. This is huge news for the environment globally and potentially for policy in the United States. This is almost as big as environmental news can get. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One more big story left for you tonight and it involves the unexpected importance of Sheryl Crow, remember her? Sheryl Crow in the national news, plus a weird hospital in Missouri. It`s a weird story. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When John Kerry ran for president against George W. Bush in 2004, that`s the year there was a swift boating effort against Kerry where tried to say he didn`t earn his medals in Vietnams. And Republicans mocked the Purple Heart with band-aids that wore at the Republican convention. That was the year when four days before the election, bin Laden released a new al Qaeda videotape taunting the United States over 9/11. Four days before the election. That was the year when a young Senate candidate shocked the country in a good way with the single most memorable, and maybe most consequential speech ever given at a political convention in modern times. There were a bunch of legitimately shocking things, good and bad that happened in that election, but that was also the election when they said that John Kerry, as the Democratic nominee for president, he couldn`t get communion anymore. The archbishop of St. Louis said in January `04 if John Kerry came to his archdiocese, quote, "I would have to admonish him not to present himself for communion." Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis is a rabid conservative. He so disliked Kerry`s politics that he said Senator Kerry should be denied the sacraments of his faith. When beloved liberal Senator Ted Kennedy died, that same archbishop, Raymond Burke, said Ted Kennedy should have been denied a Catholic funeral. When Obama spoke at Notre Dame, Archbishop Raymond Burke lost his mind and said it was the, quote, "greatest scandal that they would offer a speaking slot to the sitting president of the United States." Archbishop Raymond Burke famously lost his mind over Sheryl Crow. He resigned in protests from a hospital board because Sheryl Crow played a benefit concert for that hospital. He thought that was so outrageous that he quit the board. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FATHER RAYMOND BURKE, ARCHBISHOP OF ST. LOUIS: My concern is a fundraising event, which is to take place on this coming Saturday. At the fundraising event, the featured artist will be Sheryl Crow. It is unacceptable to the church that it features any person who is in such grave error regarding the natural moral law and the church`s teaching. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Sheryl Crow, too scandalous for Archbishop Raymond Burke and so the hospital must suffer. Ted Kennedy can`t have a Catholic funeral. The president of the United States can`t be a graduation speaker, presidential nominee John Kerry should be banned from the sacraments of his faith. Archbishop Burke was fired up and incredibly right wing and pretty confrontational about it. And the last pope loved that about him. He not only promoted Archbishop Burke to be a cardinal, he brought him to the Vatican to make him America`s highest ranking official at the Vatican. And once Archbishop Burke ascend to that hugely high profile job, he used the opportunity to truly indulge in which ended up being the most public love affair with the most ornate vestments and trappings that any cardinal is supposed to wear for anything. He took it to the nines. And the pope then, Pope Benedict, he loved it. He made Raymond Burke essentially the chief justice of the Vatican version of the Supreme Court. But then that pope, Pope Benedict, quit, which is amazing. Popes don`t really quit, right? But Pope Benedict did. That`s how Pope Francis became the new pope. And Pope Francis didn`t have the same feelings about Cardinal Burke. He demoted him. He yanked him off the Supreme Court and gave him basically a ceremonial job where no one would ever hear from him again. The highest ranking American official in the Vatican under the old pope was sent to a desk job by Pope Francis. One of the most amazing things about Francis is that he made the whole scandal, the whole mystery of this pope who quit, the second pope, this pope emeritus, he made that whole scandal and story kind of disappear. That was a world shakingly bizarre and inexplicable scandal when the previous pope stepped down and nobody knew why. One of the almost miraculous things about Pope Francis is that his papacy has been so consequential and such a big deal, that it has totally eclipsed the scandal that opened up the position for him in the first place. But he could not be more different than the man who so mysteriously quit and he replaced. The previous pope, Benedict, had supported radical right wing archbishop waging war on John Kerry in `04. When he ascended to the papacy himself, he promoted that archbishop above anyone in the American church. Francis undid that and made it a point to make sacrament aren`t prizes for award for good behavior, they should be seen as sustenance to give people strength to do the right thing. And you had to wonder how that is all felt to old John Kerry, who by now is secretary of state in the Obama administration. And when Pope Francis came down to center aisle at that joint meeting of Congress, like a president arrive as a member of the State of the Union, the members of Congress who are designated as blockers by the two parties to keep other members of Congress from touching the pope, to keep their fellow politicians from reaching out and trying to shake hands with the pope. Those blockers, they did their job. The pope was able to walk down that aisle unmolested by any politicians. People applauded him, they smiled at him, they welcomed him with cheer, but he didn`t have to worry about touching anybody or shaking hands as he came in. And then he got to the bottom of the aisle and he decided actually there was someone there he wanted to shake hands with, who he wanted to single out and touch and talk to personally, just one, one in the whole chamber. And it was John Kerry, secretary of state. John Kerry did not expect it, clearly, but it was the one moment of the pope`s choosing where he singled out a politician for this hand shake and this greeting and these words. And, you know, Pope Francis supports the Iran deal. He was intimately involved in setting up the Cuba conversations. He`s advocated for an increased response to the refugee crisis and Kerry said we will up our response to that. There are a lot of places in which these two see eye to eye. But it`s hard to not see this as coming full circle, as closing a chapter. And if the church is going to be used as a right wing weapon against some American politician again, it seems like it`s not going to happen again soon, not while this one is in charger. 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