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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/8/15

Guests: Jay Newton-Small

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: 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: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour, on what has been an absolutely wild news day. To understand the absolute chaos that reigned today in American politics, you have to start here. This very lovely Hilton Hotel in the Richmond, Virginia area. What happened today, this sort of tidal wave of chaos that flowed over Washington today, it started at that Virginia hotel ballroom at this moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FORMER REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: When I sit here and I listen to Mr. Brat speak, I hear the inaccuracies. (BOOS) My family`s here -- we are not a country of free speech. So decency`s also part of this. (BOOS) (APPLAUSE) I hear the inaccuracies. My wife and two of my kids are here. My mother and mother-in-law are here. They hear the falsehoods. But of course I`m tempted to fight fire with fire. But instead let me just leave you with some thoughts, to think over. You know, first of all, it is easy to sit in the rarefied environs of academia, in the ivory towers of a college campus with no accountability and no consequence when you throw stones -- (BOOS) When you throw stones at those of us who are working every day to make a difference. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Republican congressman at the time Eric Cantor of Virginia. He was then the number two Republican in Congress, and he was nearly getting booed out of the ballroom at that Richmond Hilton. That took place in May of last year, and the people who were booing him, those were his own constituents. They were Republicans in his own home district, the very same people who had sent him to Congress for seven straight terms. I mean, that was supposed to be a very friendly crowd for him. Instead, it turned into something approaching a bit of a mob scene. And within a month, Eric Cantor was out of a job. Sent packing. This powerful, high-profile Republican on the rise within the Republican Party, within American politics overall, Eric Cantor lost his seat, lost his seat to a political nobody whose name was Brat -- a local college professor named Dave Brat who had never been involved in electoral politics before, he beat Eric Cantor -- this titan of Republican politics - - in Eric Cantor`s home district. Kicked him out of Congress. And that in a strange way is how we got to today. Because we now know that had Eric Cantor won that election, had he been able to win over those people in that ballroom, had he held on to his seat against that no- name upstart college professor, today, Eric Cantor would be speaker of the House. He`d be third in line to the presidency. He`d be the leader of Congress. He`d be the second most powerful person in Washington after the president himself. Had Eric Cantor not been primaried out of his seat, the next thing that would have happened after Eric Cantor got re-elected to Congress that year, had that happened, the next thing that would have happened is John Boehner would have announced he was stepping down as speaker, that the time had come to put Eric Cantor in that job. That is what was supposed to happen last year. That is what as going to happen last year. And Eric Cantor had by now, had that all happened. Eric Cantor, by now, would be well into his first year as speaker of the House. But fate and that chorus of booing in that hotel ballroom in Richmond, Virginia, fate and political failure intervened. And because of what happened to Eric Cantor in that one district in Virginia, John Boehner had to change his plans and stay on the job. He was supposed to have stepped down and let Eric Cantor take over at the end of last year. But John Boehner stayed on because Dave Brat, who John Boehner then had to officially swear in as a member of the House, that must have been a happy occasion. Because this guy Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor, John Boehner was forced to stay on the job. And he has been on the job all that time until this happened. Cue the waterworks. See John Boehner there on the right side of your screen? John Boehner crying in public because he is moved by something, it is and always has been one of my favorite things about John Boehner. I find it uncynically endearing and human about him. I empathize with him on it because I too am an uncontrollable public cryer. But in terms of how we got to today`s tidal wave of chaos in Washington, John Boehner crying repeatedly and uncontrollably in the presence of Pope Francis this month ends up being an important part of the story. I mean, we`ll never know for sure. Mr. Boehner has given sort of conflicting answers about it. But John Boehner apparently was so moved by the visit of Pope Francis to the Capitol this past month that he decided literally right as Pope Francis was leaving Washington, D.C., he says he decided that if he was ever going to get out of this freaking job, it was going to be right then. No time like the present, right now. Let`s do it. And so in fact the day after Pope Francis left Washington, D.C. and John Boehner spent that entire day crying in public in the presence of the pope, the very next day, John Boehner surprised everybody and he quit. He quit one of the most powerful jobs in the world. He says he told the next man in line for the job, Kevin McCarthy, he says he told him a grand total of two minutes before he told everybody else. He told Kevin McCarthy he was quitting while he was walking into a House Republican meeting and at that meeting he stunned every Republican in Washington by announcing he was stepping down. John Boehner announced that he was quitting on a Friday afternoon less than two weeks ago. For the whole weekend that followed, the whole news and politics world was furiously Googling Kevin McCarthy, trying to figure out who this guy is. Who is this shoo-in next in line guy to run Congress? All the Beltway news was about how Kevin McCarthy was on such great terms with all the other Republicans in Congress, how he had recruited many of them to be in Congress in the first place, how he had all but locked up the support he needed to become the next speaker, even if not too many people knew who he was. That was the weekend. So, we had John Boehner`s surprise -- we had the pope leave Washington on Thursday night. We had John Boehner resign on Friday. Over the weekend we got Kevin McCarthy all but anointed. And then the following Monday rolled around. Kevin McCarthy`s scheduled to give a big foreign policy speech that Monday. At that point, right? He`s not just a member of Congress giving a leadership speech. He`s now the man poised to take one of the highest-profile and most powerful political jobs in the entire world. I mean, the spotlight had never burned brighter on Kevin McCarthy. That Monday, the Monday after John Boehner quit. It`s the first huge moment of national and even international importance for lucky, lucky Kevin McCarthy. And it went very poorly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: We don`t have the same as difficult decision, but this White House is managing the decline in putting us in tough decisions for the future. Unlike during the surge in Iraq when Petraeus and Crocker had an effective politically strategy to match the military strategy. It defies belief that the president would allow the ban on Iranian oil exports to be lifted and also stand by a Russia blackmails an entire continent, all the while keeping the place of the band on America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Stand by a Russia blackmails an entire continent, keeping the place of the ban on peanut butter banana foo, foo, what? That was Monday of last week. Then came Tuesday of last week when the same Kevin McCarthy appeared on the FOX News Channel and said the thing that Republicans are never supposed to admit in public, which is that they created a multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded investigation into the Benghazi attack specifically for the purpose of bringing down Hillary Clinton`s poll numbers as she runs for president. And he said proudly they think it`s working. Kevin McCarthy had only been a candidate for House speaker for two business days at that point. But at that point with that serious self- inflicted wound, it all of a sudden started to sort of change the weather around Kevin McCarthy. It sort of became open season on this guy who just moments before was supposed to be a shoo-in for the job. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: It`s an absolute inappropriate statement. It is not how this started. It`s an absolute terrible statement. I don`t think it`s a fair -- WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He should apologize? CHAFFETZ: Yes. I think he should apologize. I think he should withdraw. MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I imagine you feel very disappointed in those comments, but you tell me. REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, Kevin`s wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats are right to criticize him. I would criticize him. I think he owes an apology to the families. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Those are not Democrats. Those were all guys from his own side. Republicans in Congress all going on TV to say Kevin McCarthy`s wrong, he needs to apologize. And because Kevin McCarthy is Kevin McCarthy, this is what it sounded like when he tried to take it back, or at least defend himself, or actually know what he was trying to say here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: I do not want to make that harm Benghazi committee in any way. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody was trying to make that harm Benghazi committee in any way. I don`t want to make -- but that was the lead-up to today. Today was the day House Republicans were set to nominate their candidate for House speaker. Kevin McCarthy, despite all of his screw-ups in the last few days, he was expected to wrap this thing up today. Early this morning shows up at work around 8:00 a.m. Reporters are gathered around. It`s the big day. Kevin McCarthy, all smiles. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Good morning. MCCARTHY: Good morning. How are you all today? Good morning. REPORTER: How`s it going to go? MCCARTHY: It`s going to go great. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s going to go great. That was 8:00 this morning. Kevin McCarthy is there with his family on Capitol Hill. He`s going to meet with congressional Republicans. He goes and meets with Republicans. He makes his final sales pitch to be speaker. All systems were go. And then very quickly for some reason, between then and about four hours later, things just went off the rails. I mean, this was him in the 8:00 hour. This was him 8:00 a.m. this morning, definitely running, making his pitch, all systems go. It`s going to go great, 8:00 a.m. And then just four hours later, House Republicans gathered again around noon to hold their actual vote. This was a foregone conclusion, right? I mean, the media were gathered around waiting to hear the big news, the inevitable announcement that Kevin McCarthy had been picked. I mean, most of what they`re interested in I guess was waiting to hear the actual vote total for him to see if that might be interesting. But everybody knew bottom line how it was going to go. And then to the surprise of everyone, Republicans pulled the silverware drawer out of the kitchen cabinet and put it over their heads and shook it. It was just stunning and amazing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Luke, the report that we`ve confirmed, Kevin McCarthy has taken himself out of the race? LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Andrea, this is a huge shock. This is a bombshell that nobody saw coming. A few members of Congress just left the meeting. A scrum of reporters went over there and said hey, guys, why are you leaving so early? We thought this process was going to take over an hour, hour and a half. They said that Kevin McCarthy stood up, announced that he would not be running for speaker, and then the current speaker of the House, Boehner, said, "As a result of Mr. McCarthy`s announcement we`re going to be postponing the election." (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was it. Just like that. Everything we thought was going to happen did not happen. I mean, House Republicans burst out of that room like a house on fire. They said they were stunned. That`s the word people used over and over and over again. Republican congressman Mark Sanford from South Carolina used the word "mayhem" to describe what happened inside that room. Mayhem. He said a number of Republican members of Congress were crying inside the meeting room. NPR reported that the crying, the sobbing of multiple Republican members of Congress was audible to people who were there at the Capitol. Kevin McCarthy himself then addressed reporters, again, standing alongside his family. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: Come on over, guys. Come on up. Come on up. All right. I think I shocked some of you, huh? Listen, we`ve been going through this campaign talking to a lot of members, but the one thing I`ve always said to earn this majority, we`re servants. We should put this conference first. And I think there`s something to be said for us to unite we probably need a fresh face. I`ll stay on as majority leader. But the one thing I found in talking to everybody, if we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that. So, nothing more than that. I feel good about the decision. I feel great to have my family here, my colleagues. I think we`re only going to be stronger. We fought hard to win this majority and turn this country around. And this will be our best step foot -- foot step -- REPORTER: You said at 8:00 a.m., you were going to run for the speakership. Why change it at noon? What happened in those four hours? MCCARTHY: You know, we had our conference, and there`s calls in to the district. I don`t want to make voting for speaker a tough one. I don`t want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes. I think the best thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor. If we are going to be strong, we`ve got to be 100 percent united. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Kevin McCarthy now saying that he had dropped his bid for speaker. I think I shocked some of you, huh? Yes. Yes. You think? The headlines today, "McCarthy shocks conference by dropping speaker bid." This was "Politico" today. "McCarthy drops out," colon, or comma. "House in chaos." "The Hill" went so far as foul out their big explanation point for their headline. "Shock! McCarthy drops from speaker`s race." I can`t be entirely That may be the first time we`ve actually seen an exclamation point in a Beltway headline. But this was just a total Republican mess today. Who`s going to run Congress? Nobody knows. Nobody knows. Who`s going to be third in line to the presidency after the vice president? The second most powerful person in Washington after the president? Nobody knows. Who runs the Republican Party? Nobody knows. Who gets to decide who runs the Republican Party? Say it with me now. Nobody knows. This entire process from the very beginning has been for the Republicans surprise after disaster after surprise after disaster. But that`s their process. And this is also the same process that ultimately has to result in somebody, somebody else, getting this really, really important job. And there`s nothing about this process thus far that gives us any indication whatsoever of what that person might be or who they might be chosen. Could be Dave Brat for all we know. Or how about one of those angry people who booed at Eric Cantor in that hotel room back in the spring last year? I mean, any of those people booing at Eric Cantor, any of them need a day job? Because there`s a really, really important one that`s vacant right now. And given what has just transpired, anything is possible. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On this issue that`s been batted around today about whether or not the Democrats might have to help Republicans pick a new speaker, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today was asked about that and she made clear beyond any reasonable doubt that that will not be happening. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) REPORTER: Tell me why you think nobody wants to be speaker. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC LEADER: You know what, you`re just going to have to ask nobody. REPORTER: Would you take it if it was offered to you? PELOSI: We want to win it. REPORTER: Is it a worse job for Republicans? PELOSI: You know what? I think it`s a great job. It has great opportunity. And I`m sure they`ll find somebody who is capable of accepting the honor. REPPORTER: You`re sure? PELOSI: I hope. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m sure they`ll find somebody who`s capable of accepting the honor. And while you`re at it, ask nobody. Nancy Pelosi today basically saying whoever the Republicans decide to try to go with, they`re going to have to do this on their own. She`s not planning on helping. Good luck, you guys. Joining us now is MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki. Steve, I`m so excited to talk to you about this right now that I could pop. Thank you for being here. STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. MADDOW: In all your days covering politics statewide and nationwide, you`ve seen a lot of drama and surprises. Can you sort of rank this in terms of how big a deal this is? KORNACKI: Yes. The only thing that comes to mind that`s comparable to this is at the height of the Bill Clinton impeachment drama in December of 1998, when Republicans had a speaker in waiting, Bob Livingston from Louisiana. He was all set to take the job. Then it turned out that he had an extramarital affair, this as Republicans were trying to impeach Bill Clinton over his extramarital affair. He went to the floor of the House. Nobody saw this coming at the moment. And he resigned on the spot. And there was just total chaos in the House on top of impeachment playing out. And the way that all sorted out in the end was you had this sort of vacuum then. With Livingston gone, Newt Gingrich had just stepped down as the speaker. So there was this big power vacuum on the Republican side. That`s how Dennis Hastert became speaker at the time. MADDOW: Yes. KORNACKI: At the time, nobody outside of Capitol Hill had heard of Dennis Hastert but Republicans were really in a jam. The biggest names in the party were off the table and Hastert was the only one they could find who just had good personal relationships sort of across the Republican spectrum. He was not a loud guy. He was not known outside of D.C. But that`s why they turned to him in that moment. And he was sort of an accidental speaker. MADDOW: It`s a really important precedent at this point because we look back at the Gingrich era. The whole reason Bob Livingston was going to be speaker-elect is that Gingrich had sort of resigned in disgrace after those mid-terms. So, Gingrich is out, there`s this huge controversy over whether his brand of ideological confrontational brand of Republican politics is going to be the Republican way going forward or whether there`s going to be a more conciliatory Republican Party. We see some of those same arguments now. Livingston was going to be one very specific guy. When they turned to Denny Hastert in obscurity and everybody had it look him up without the benefit of Google at the time, when they picked Hastert, were they picking somebody who had ideological specificity or no? KORNACKI: No. But what he did have, the twist there was he was also Tom DeLay`s guy. So, Tom DeLay was in the leadership back then and wanted to be speaker but there was a recognition especially in the wake of the bad mid-terms they had and the reasons Newt Gingrich was forced out as leader. Tom DeLay was too radioactive to be speaker himself. But he had formidable strength within the Republican caucus so he championed Hastert on his way out the door. Gingrich told Republicans there`s one guy that can unite us. They called him the coach. I mean, he`d been a wrestling coach, we now know more about that. But the coach is the guy who can bring us all together. MADDOW: So, that is fascinating because that gets us right back to today which is there was a guy named Tom DeLay there who could tell Republicans what to do, wrangle votes, get enough votes together, to not only get a nominee but to get the floor vote passed and to put somebody in leadership. Even if it couldn`t be him himself he could control people. Is there anybody in Republican politics who can control people? KORNACKI: Well, the two names that come to mind. First of all, Kevin McCarthy was supposed to be able to. The whole appeal of Kevin McCarthy and the reason why the optimistic Republican would have said he`d be different than John Boehner is all of those sort of House Freedom Caucus types on the far right on the Republican side who didn`t like Boehner and wanted him out, a lot of them were recruited to Congress by Kevin McCarthy in 2010. MADDOW: So, they at least owed him that. KORNACKI: Right. And he did what Boehner didn`t do. Over the last five years he met with them constantly. He called them constantly. He cultivated personal relationships. So, the thinking was one theory was the next time you come to a debt ceiling showdown or whatever it is and he has to move them toward compromise, they would give him the benefit of the doubt they never were going to give John Boehner. That was the thinking. MADDOW: At least listen to him, at least engage with him. KORNACKI: Right. They believe he would be acting in good faith in a way they never trusted John Boehner was acting in good faith because they liked him personally. That was the theory at least. McCarthy, obviously, that`s completely out the door now. The other one who comes to mind now and the one the full court press is on now, Paul Ryan. You have John Boehner telling Paul Ryan he has to get in there. You have Kevin McCarthy telling him he`s got to get in there. He does not want this job because he sees exactly what it leads to, it leads to you ultimately will have to strike a deal with the White House and the Democrats to keep the government open, to avoid the debt ceiling, you have to do that. He knows invariably when he gets to that point, no matter what he does, no matter how many times he bows to the right they will call him a traitor. And if he has political aspirations that extend beyond the House, which I think he does he does not want to be branded the next John Boehner. MADDOW: Yes, because Paul Ryan wants to be president and Paul Ryan is getting lobbied really hard by Kevin McCarthy and John Boehner who are both dying of political snake bytes right now and they are calling to him, beckoning to him from inside the nest of vipers saying please hop on and he`s saying, "No, I`m a young man and someday I`m going to be president unless I get in there with you guys. Sorry, I`ve got to go wash my hair." Ah, this is such an amazing day. Steve Kornacki, MSNBC political correspondent -- thank you. KORNACKI: Sure. MADDOW: Really appreciate it. KORNACKI: Yes. MADDOW: That was a really complicated metaphor. KORNACKI: I got it. MADDOW: A house and hair washing. KORNACKI: Sounds very inviting. MADDOW: I`m a little overexcited. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last night, we reported that this moving, supersized, minute and a half-long TV commercial basically begging Vice President Joe Biden to run for president, last night we reported this TV ad had been produced by a group called Draft Biden and Draft Biden was planning on running this minute and a half long ad on national cable TV channels. They said it was going to be a six-figure ad buy. We also reported last night that Vice President Biden himself is not affiliated with this group, which is this group trying to recruit him into the presidential race. Well, now, tonight, we can report that Vice President Biden has apparently asked that group to please not run that ad. Neither the vice president himself nor his office is officially commenting on this directly. But the "L.A. Times" spoke to a person "close to the vice president" tonight who told the paper, "The vice president appreciates that they are trying to help but he has seen the ad and thinks the ad treads on sacred ground and he hopes they do not run it." The sacred ground that the ad treads on is presumably the ad`s focus on vice president Biden`s two major family tragedies. His wife and daughter being killed in a car accident soon after he was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and his son Beau, his adult son Beau dying this year from brain cancer. Draft Biden turned tape of the vice president talking about those personal losses into basically a political cri de coeur in this ad. But Vice President Biden himself will not countenance that type of thing being done either directly by him or by anyone else on his behalf. Now, honestly, the fact that Vice President Biden is asking for this ad not to be run, I think it should not be seen as a sign one way or the other about whether he`s actually going to get into the race. But the Beltway press absolutely will take this as an important sign. So, be prepared for that. Specifically, be prepared to ignore that as continued baseless anonymous speculation, which is what it is and what it has been all these weeks. Vice President Biden is entitled to his own decision p he will tell us that he`s in or he`s not once he`s decided that he`s in or he`s not. He gets to decide for himself. None of us get to decide. Everybody`s speculating on it, is pushing him and speaking for him in a way that he hasn`t allowed anybody to do. Let him speak for himself. Enough said already. Leave him alone. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUBTITLE: Today at the TRMS production meeting. LAURA CONAWAY, TRMS SR. PRODUCER: Constitutionally, does the House have to elect a speaker? MADDOW: I believe. I think there always has to be a speaker. STEVE BENEN, MADDOWBLOG PRODUCER: Yes, it`s a constitutional office, yes. CONAWAY: Under penalty of what? BENEN: The body can`t -- literally can`t function, can`t pass bills unless there`s a speaker. ISAAC-DAVY ARONSON, TRMS PRODUCER: Well, perfect! (LAUGHTER) SUBTITLE: But really, what happens if Congress can`t elect a speaker? Hold that thought. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: John Boehner says he had a nightmare. John Boehner told fellow Republicans in Congress last week that he had a terrible dream about his job. And we now know that that dream was prophetic. Ooh-whoo-ooh. Here`s why we know that -- when Kevin McCarthy pulled out of the race to be House speaker today, sure, it might have been for some other reason that we don`t yet understand. But it pretty much seems like he pulled out because he couldn`t win, he couldn`t get enough votes from his fellow Republicans, couldn`t get 218 votes to win that top job. And that is sad news for Kevin McCarthy. But the sadder news for the Republican Party and the tremendously freaking fascinating news for all of us is that it appears that it`s not just Kevin McCarthy`s problem. It appears that no one can get the votes to win that job. I mean, he`s not viable as speaker, it turns out. But so far at least nobody else is either. And if there`s no one viable, then there are precisely four things that could happen next. Four. Option one: someone could become viable. Yes, you, silhouette. Somebody could become viable. The Republicans could reach deep into their souls and find a kumbaya center they didn`t know they had, and they could somehow therefore find someone from Congress who could get 218 votes and, therefore, take Speaker Boehner`s job. Maybe that`s Paul Ryan who reportedly got lobbied heavily today to do it by both John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy himself but who keeps repeatedly saying, no, he will not do it. Maybe Paul Ryan changes his mind. Maybe it`s somebody else. But that`s option one. They find some Republican in Congress who could do it, even though right now there`s no one. Or there`s option two. They could find somebody who could do, it who could get 218 votes, but who is not a Republican member of the House. Technically, that`s legal. Doesn`t have to be a member of Congress to be speaker. So, it just could be anyone in the world. Who, anyone in the world could a majority of Republicans come to an agreement on? Out of anybody in the world. First Lady Nancy Reagan. They could all agree on her, right? Senator Ted Cruz. He has lots of friends in the House. Maybe that guy from "Duck Dynasty." They could all agree on a Chick-fil-A sandwich. You could be speaker. Or perhaps former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who just today, I am totally not joking right now, Newt Gingrich just today said actually, he`d be happy to do it if need be. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEAN HANNITY: My question is, maybe this is a time for Newt Gingrich to come back with -- with a flurry of ideas and a new contract that would advance a conservative agenda to help the country solve these horrible problems. Would you consider, if nominated, being the interim speaker? NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Look, I can`t quite imagine a circumstance -- McCarthy problem is not getting a majority of the conference, it`s getting 218 votes. I mean, if you were to say to me 218 votes -- HANNITY: Why are you laughing at my idea? This is a serious proposal. GINGRICH: Now, I`m not laughing at it. I`m saying to you -- I`m trying to be totally honest with you. If you`re going to say to me 218 guys have called you up and given you their pledge, obviously, no citizen could ever turn down that kind of challenge. This is why George Washington came out of retirement. There are moments you can`t avoid. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: So there you have it. Option two. Newt Gingrich could rescue House Republicans. Or any random person they found on the street could rescue House Republicans if they could all agree on that random person. That`s option two. Or there`s option three. The ominous option. Which is that there actually isn`t anybody, Nancy Reagan included, Newt Gingrich included, Paul Ryan included, they can`t find anybody to agree on. In that case, conceivably, there could be no speaker. John Boehner retires, gets to spend more time with his golf game, but there`s nobody no take over in his place and nobody runs Congress. That would mean no votes, no convening, no offices, no nothing. Nobody can do business. Congress just closes. Congress just kind of ends. That`s the third of three options. And each of those three options right now seems either impossible or impossibly catastrophic. Which brings us to option four, which is honestly the most likely thing to happen. Which is that John Boehner is not allowed to quit. Poor guy. When he told his colleagues last week about this terrible work dream he had, this nightmare, what he said was this, quote, "I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn`t get out and a hand came reaching, pulling me." Is that the most likely thing that`s going to happen? Because that would be freaking amazing, right? Because, first of all, anytime you have a dream about work, whether it`s a good dream or a bad dream, it`s a bad dream because you shouldn`t be dreaming about work. That should be a different part of your brain than the sleeping part. But it would be truly a nightmare for this group of Republican hard- liners who just claimed Kevin McCarthy`s scalp, who just killed Kevin McCarthy`s chances of being speaker and they just killed John Boehner`s tenure as speaker. If the ultimate result of all of this is that John Boehner not only can`t quit but he can`t be fired, they can`t get rid of him, that would be a nightmare. Not just for John Boehner. That would be a nightmare for all the right-wing hard-liners who have been thinking all along that they were winning this thing. Congratulations. You win. You win your worst nightmare from which you can`t wake up because now it`s permanent. Joining us now is Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for "Time" magazine. Jay, it`s great you have to here. I promise I will not make you interact with any props. JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Thanks so much for having me on, Rachel. MADDOW: We have an overactive prop department, which is something that we all do. At this point, is the most likely outcome that John Boehner just has to stay on even though he`s trying to quit? NEWTON-SMALL: It is looking more and more likely that it is the most likely outcome. And it`s exactly like you said, his nightmare. It`s the worst thing that he wanted especially because he just thought -- I mean, literally he was so excited to leave. When he announced he was resigning, he literally walked up to the podium singing "zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay." And like it was the best day of his life. I am not seeing him so happy in 15 years. And now, he might actually have to stay. It`s sort of like he should have expected it, right? Because every single thing he`s stride to do with these guys has been completely like, you know, pulling teeth. And he`s never been able to convince them of anything. Why did he actually think that he would convince them of letting him go easily, quietly into the night was going to be so easy? I don`t know. MADDOW: Right, especially, when he tried to do it on his own terms, it`s almost like the universe rose up and was like no, John Boehner, you don`t get to do anything on your own terms, don`t you realize what this job meant? Well, in terms of the other options, obviously there`s all this attention on Paul Ryan. He could not be more clear that he doesn`t want it. We`ve heard that both John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy want him, they don`t care he said no, they`re trying to do their best to push him into doing it. Do you have any indication of what might happen in terms of that lobbying effort with Paul Ryan? NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, he announced today, or actually it was broken today that he suspended doing fund-raisers for the next 48 hours, which a lot of people took as a sign that he may be reading the tea leaves. These are Biden-esque tea leaves at this point, that he might actually run, or might actually become speaker. Honestly, it`s not in his best interests. MADDOW: Yes. NEWTON-SMALL: So if he ever wants to run for higher office, this a part-time -- this is not a part-time job. This is a very temporary job. Whoever is the next speaker is not likely to last beyond the next 18 months left of Boehner`s term because everything that`s left to do for this legislative term is completely unpopular with their own conference. I mean, you have to raise the debt ceiling by early November. You have to increase transportation infrastructure spending. You have to increase spending for the budget for the government. I mean, all passed on the back of Democratic votes. Or you`re going to face a government shutdown. I mean, none of these things are things these guys want to do. Reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. Again, something they don`t want to do. So, all of things, every single time the speaker pushes this through on the back of Democratic votes, whomever he or she is, they`re going to say, OK, motion to vacate the chair, you`re fired. Sort of like Donald Trump`s Congress, you`re fired, you`re fired. Let`s have a new speaker every other week. And so, whoever this next speaker is, is not going to last very long because there`s nothing he or she can do that`s going to make it very popular to stay. MADDOW: I will say, after all of the effort that we`ve put into coming up with our four options including John Boehner sadly having to keep doing this thing, you have just inspired me that we should have done a fifth, which is House speaker on a chore wheel where everybody has to be house speaker for three days and then it goes to somebody else and it ruins their career for three days but everybody has to take a turn and it`s like doing the compost in a hippie house. That`s amazing. Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for "Time" magazine, really appreciate your time tonight. This is going to be fun to watch it play out. Thank you. NEWTON-SMALL: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks a lot. All right. Programming note: if you are planning your later night TV viewing for this evening, I should let you know that I`m going to be on "The Daily Show" tonight with Trevor Noah. We just taped it before this show. It was super fun. Also it was a little painful. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TREVOR NOAH, THE DAILY SHOW: I would love to know one thing. I`d love to know many things, but one thing from you. If you had to vote for one of the Republican candidates -- if you had to vote -- (LAUGHTER) If you had to vote, had to vote, if someone held a gun to your head because Ben Carson said point it that way, who would you vote for? If you had to vote for one of the 12. MADDOW: For one of the ones who is running? NOAH: One of the 12 -- one of the main 12 on that debate stage. MADDOW: The main 12. NOAH: Yes, the main 12. I know it sounds ridiculous. Who would it be? MADDOW: Ah! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Tonight on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah, you can see how that ends. I will warn you, it ends very poorly. But that`s later tonight on Comedy Central. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Something to keep an eye on today. Senior defense officials have told NBC News that four of the cruise missiles that Russia launched yesterday from its ships in the Caspian Sea intended for targets in Syria, U.S. military sources now telling NBC News that missiles, some of those missiles did not hit Syria. They hit Iran instead, by accident. We don`t have a lot of detail on this story. We don`t know how U.S. officials supposedly know this. But they say four of the 20-something cruise missiles that Russia tried to launch into Syria yesterday from their ships 900 miles away, they say four of those 20-something missiles instead landed in a remote and rural section of Iran. The Russian defense ministry is disputing this. They say all the missiles fired from their ships found their targets precisely. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday that the Russian strategy in Syria is flawed and the U.S. will not be cooperating with the Russians in Syria as our two countries wage our own separate wars there. That was yesterday. Then today after these reports of Russia`s missiles straying into Iran and landing there instead, today, Ash Carter called the conduct of Russian military forces in Syria, quote, "increasingly unprofessional." But again, news tonight is that senior defense officials say four of the Russian cruise missiles intended for Syria hit Iran instead. So far, Iran`s not saying anything about this either. But we`ll let you know more as we learn more. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The last we heard from the state of Oklahoma, they had just called off an execution at the very last minute because, surprise, turns out they had the wrong drug. They were supposed to kill this man using something called potassium chloride, but they instead discovered what they had on hand was potassium acetate -- oops, glad we noticed. Officials in Oklahoma say they opened the box of drugs that they had for that execution, and they discovered two hours before that lethal injection was supposed to happen, they just discovered that in the box was the wrong stuff. And so, a little bit of chaos. Governor Mary Fallin called off that execution at the very last minute. The prisoner himself was sitting in a holding cell wondering why he was still alive. Now, the state has halted all executions while they try to figure out why they had the wrong drug, what went wrong. That was the unsettling news from Oklahoma last week. Now, we have learned something even more unsettling. Turns out when Oklahoma discovered, less than two hours before that execution that they had the wrong drug, turns out they were actually lucky that time. Because in January, we now know they actually went ahead and used the wrong drug to kill someone else. That information was just released today in that man`s autopsy report. You can see here, this is from the autopsy report. The syringes were labeled with the right drug, the syringes were labeled potassium chloride, but the syringes were filled from vials containing the wrong drug. They were filled from vials containing potassium acetate, the wrong drug. And Oklahoma killed that prisoner that way in January. As the execution began, witnesses say the man called out, "It feels like acid and my body is on fire." Even though witnesses and reporters and the public didn`t know it at the time, the drug they said they were using wasn`t really the drug they were using. Nobody knew that until today when the autopsy report came out. We don`t know if Oklahoma knew it all along and they were covering it up, or maybe they just didn`t really notice and it turns out that Oklahoma is blindly injecting people with whatever drug is at hand without noticing the label. What about the execution before that? The gruesomely botched lethal injection last year when the man in Oklahoma writhed and gasped for 43 minutes and they tried to stop that execution and bring him back before he finally died of a heart attack. His syringes were labeled with the right drug. They say that`s what they used. They say they used the right drug in that execution. But who knows now in Oklahoma. This system, the way we carry out the death penalty, it`s been a mess for a long time now, but in Oklahoma, it`s almost unbelievable what a mess it is right now. The Oklahoma attorney general says tonight his office is now investigating the wrong drug execution that they called off last month. They`re also now investigating the executions that happened before that, where it is no longer at all clear how they killed those people or really what happened. Oklahoma has shut down their entire process of killing prisoners because they made such a hash of it. But the hash in Oklahoma inevitably raises the question of whether this is happening in other places, too. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The night of November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated hours earlier and Lyndon Johnson had been sworn in as president as a big rush. Nobody knew if that assassination was part of a larger plot. Nobody knew if the new president, Johnson, might be in danger, too. That night at Lyndon Johnson`s house, a Secret Service agent heard footsteps in the dark. Quote, "Blaine picked up the Thompson submachine gun and activated the bolt on top. The next instant, there was a face to go with the footsteps. It was the new president of the United States Lyndon Baines Johnson who had just rounded the country, and Officer Blaine had the gun pointed directly at his chest. A split second later, Blaine would have pulled the trigger. Fourteen hours after losing one president, the nation came chillingly close to losing another one." If that that had happened, if Lyndon Johnson had been accidentally killed by that jumpy Secret Service agent at his house that night, then the 37th president of the United States would have been this man, speaker of the House, John McCormack. And not only was John McCormack just one itchy trigger away from the presidency that night, Speaker McCormack e apparently did think he was president for just a moment on the day of JFK`s assassination. He was in the House cafeteria when he was misinformed that both President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson were dead. Quote, "The possibility that he was at that moment president prompted a severe attack of vertigo. McCormack almost collapsed in table cloth and silverware." Obviously, John McCormack he was not president nor did he ever have to be, but he did go on to play a pivotal role in some of the most consequential legislation ever passed in our country. The Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare. On the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he rallied a bipartisan collation to pull the veil out of the hands of a segregationist committee chairman who bottled it up for years. Nearly 50 years, when President Obama`s health reform law came to the brink of death in Congress, it was the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who saved it. She whipped the Democrats to pass a bill many feared would cost them their jobs. If you love Obamacare or hate Obamacare, you can blame or thank Nancy Pelosi for it. The speaker of the House really matters. It matters constitutionally. It matters legislatively. Our lives are substantially different than they might have been because of who has occupied that job at pivotal times. And so, with this incredible chaos in Washington today, it is a spectacle, it is exciting, it is fascinating to watch. But it is also unbelievably consequential, unbelievably consequential American politics. And how it gets resolved is one of the most important things that will happen in our political lifetimes. And it is amazing to watch, but it is also serious business. And that does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD". Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence tonight. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END