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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/12/2016

Guests: Peter Montgomery, Joel Ebert

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: April 12, 2016 Guest: Peter Montgomery, Joel Ebert

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Jeb Bush says he`s not going to the Republican National Convention this year. So, if there`s one last Republican somewhere in country who was hoping that Jeb Bush would get drafted off the bleachers at the RNC and brought in to save the party at the last moment, it turns out it`s going to be at least a little more complicated than that because Jeb Bush will not be in the room when the decision happens. He told CNN this afternoon that he`s not going to attend the RNC.

And CNN is billing this news as part of a larger story about how lots of prominent Republicans are maybe going to skip the Republican convention this summer because it`s basically a foregone conclusion that it`s going to be a controversial event. Either the party is going to pick a very controversial nominee for president or the party is at least going to pick whoever its nominee is by some very controversial process.

So, even if they pick somebody who is the most anodyne candidate that they can imagine, the way they would get there would also be controversial even if they don`t pick one of their controversial candidates. So, it`s going to be controversial either way. But the most risk aversion Republicans in the country are apparently planning on staying away from the Republican convention because of that, and that list apparently includes Jeb Bush.

You know, this is going to be an interesting factor to watch in terms of like Republican senators or Republican governors who are up for re-election this year or Republican members of the House from swingy districts, right? Do they show up and participate in their party`s big controversial event or stay home and try to pretend like their own re-elections are totally separate from that mess in Cleveland, and that they are totally separate from whoever their party puts at the top of the ticket, right?

So, it`s going to be interesting to watch for other Republicans who are running for things. But just the Jeb Bush factor itself strikes me as a historically significant development, just because it has been a very long time since the Bush family didn`t play a key role, a central role in choosing the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. It`s impossible to imagine a Republican National Convention without the Bush family there.

I mean, in modern American politics, there have been four different recent Republican national conventions where the party has picked a member of the Bush family as the Republican presidential contender for that year. That happened in 2004 and in 2000 and in 1992 and in 1988. Even when a Bush family member was not himself the nominee, the Bush family has been intimately involved, absolutely integral to deciding who else the party might pick if there was no suitable member of the Bush family available that year.

Take for example, 1964. It was a year when George H.W. Bush`s dad, so Poppy Bush`s dad, Jeb and W`s grandpa, Prescott Bush. In 1964, he played a significant role that year in this happening to the Republican Party.

This is what happened on election night in November 1964 when the Republican nominee for president was Barry Goldwater. He`s -- the states he carried represented in red here. Barry Goldwater got absolutely just lacquered, totally shellacked by the Democratic nominee Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

And Barry Goldwater`s landslide lost was something you could see coming. I mean, a lot of mainstream Republicans, lots of political observers of all stripes, definitely the whole Democratic Party, they could tell in advance that if the Republican Party nominated somebody like Barry Goldwater, his politics were so far to the right that the Republican Party would just fall off the edge of the electoral map, and they did.

The reason, though, that that avoidable political mistake happened, that foreseeable political error was nevertheless committed, the reason that happened in 1964 is because the so-called establishment choice for the Republican Party that year, the guy who was supposed to get the nomination that year, his campaign cratered and the party ended up turning to Barry Goldwater once their plan A ended.

And Prescott Bush, Poppy Bush`s dad, is part of the reason plan A ended, because the establishment choice that year, 1964, was this guy. The popular, telegenic, centrist, recently reelected zillionaire governor of New York state, Nelson Rockefeller.

Prescott Bush and Nelson Rockefeller had a sort of similar pedigree. They had similar politics. Prescott Bush was a well-regarded, well-liked, moderate Republican senator from Connecticut, who among other things had taken a principled stand against Republican Senator Joe McCarthy in his McCarthyite witch hunts.

Prescott Bush had a good, popular, high profile in the Republican Party even after he left the Senate in his own terms in 1962 when he decided not to run for re-election. Prescott Bush was friends with Nelson Rockefeller. He`d wanted Nelson Rockefeller to be Nixon`s running mate in 1960.

Everybody assumed that Prescott Bush, of all people would be all in for Nelson Rockefeller, as Nelson Rockefeller, the establishment choice, went for what was almost his inevitable nomination by the Republican Party in 1964. But then -- what happened to blow it all up was that Nelson got divorced in 1962. And then even worse, unimaginably worse, the following year in 1963, Nelson Rockefeller got remarried. Oh, no.

And Senator Prescott Bush, this fellow, Northeast, establishment liberal Republican, he dropped his long time friend Nelson Rockefeller like a hot rock. Prescott Bush gave a speech at a prep school graduation of all places where he just ripped his old friend Nelson Rockefeller up one side and down the other.

He said, quote, "Have we come to a point in our life as a nation where the governor of a great state can desert a good wife, mother of his grown children, divorce her and then persuade a young mother of four youngsters to abandon her husband and their four children and marry the governor?"

Now, this was the early 1960s, it was probably going to be some level of problem for Nelson Rockefeller either way for him to get divorced and then remarried right before running for president, particularly when the woman who he married after he got divorced was a woman who for herself had previously been married, right?

But what Prescott Bush did when he didn`t just abandon his friend, he publicly excoriated his friend as a moral reprobate for what he had done. What happened when Prescott Bush made that break with Nelson Rockefeller, that made clear to everybody there would be no cover from the moderate liberal wing of the Republican Party for what Nelson Rockefeller had done in his personal life.

And the fact that there`s going to be no cover for him in his own moderate, liberal wing of the party, that, of course, made it more quickly and more cleanly fatal for Nelson Rockefeller when the conservative wing of that party descended on him like locusts.

The great Rick Perlstein wrote about this beautifully actually and with some incredible detail in his book "Before the Storm", which is the seminal modern book about the conservative moment and the Republican Party. Rick describes the scene where Nelson Rockefeller that year, after getting divorced and remarried, he attended the convention of the National Federation of Republican Women. And he attended that event with his new wife on his arm.

The two, quote, "made their entrance into the ballroom to stony silence. An entire table of bejeweled, begloved matrons rose and marched out. The same matrons raised the roof when Barry and Peggy arrived." Barry and Peggy being Barry Goldwater and his wife.

When the Republican Party decided that they would rain moral disapproval down on their establishment choice Nelson Rockefeller in 1964 because he had been divorced and then remarried, when they decided that was too far, that they would not let him survive that, the support of the party had to go somewhere else.

One of the galvanizing arguments that pushed the Republican Party that year to the choice they ultimately made that year to Barry Goldwater was this. This argument. "A choice, not an echo." This was published in 1964. It was a clarion call to arms from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Are you uncomfortable about Nelson Rockefeller`s the divorce and remarriage? Well, bring your moral approbation of that sort of thing home to a Republican Party that rejects that sort of thing. That stands for conservative family values, that stands for a rejection of all things moderate, that calls for a renewed, hard edge fire and brimstone family values, morally disapproving, social conservatism in the Republican Party. It was a call to arms.

Phyllis Schlafly, she was a Barry Goldwater supporter. She went to the Republican National Convention in 1964 as a Barry Goldwater delegate. She wrote that book. She self-published that book making this argument in support of Goldwater`s candidacy, a choice, not an echo, right? Railing against the moderate and morally suspect likes of Nelson Rockefeller who should never be seen as a real Republican because the Republican Party should reject the likes of him.

And hundreds of thousands of copies, hundreds of thousands of copies of that book were distributed that summer of the 1964 Republican convention. And that`s not bad for a self-published of book, hundreds of thousands of copies.

But the Republican Party liked the argument enough, right, that they picked Barry Goldwater in 1964 and they got very worked up about the power of conservatism, uncompromising conservatism within the Republican Party and they took that to the general election and got taken apart by the Democrats. And whether or not the Republican Party today takes that as a signal lesson about how to conduct general election politics, it undoubtedly established the religious right and Phyllis Schlafly in particularly within the Republican movement and conservative movement.

It established Phyllis Schlafly and the religious right as a powerful and persistent force in Republican politics. The Barry Goldwater nomination was 1964. By 1972, Phyllis Schlafly had funded called Stop ERA aimed at stopping the Equal Rights Amendment that passed the House and Senate, was on its way to being ratified by two-thirds of the states before Phyllis Schlafly`s anti-feminist hardcore conservative activism actually succeeded in stopping the ERA in its tracks. I mean, I think it`s almost inarguable at this point that the reason we never got equal rights amendment in this country and we still don`t have one to this day is because Phyllis stopped it with her conservative activism in the 1970s.

In the 1975, she changed the name Stop ERA to the Eagle Forum. Over the years, that group had experience iterations, has claimed membership in the tens of thousands. They`ve got offices -- or they`ve got chapters in something like 30 states. They have played a central role in defining social conservatism, anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-abortion politics putting them right at the heart of the Republican Party and its platform.

I mean, you lock at social issues in the Republican Party over the years, you wonder why the party has sort of refused to ever evolve on those issues, even as the country has. It`s not there hasn`t been progressive or moderating influences in the Republican Party over the years, it`s not like the Republican Party hasn`t ever tried to evolve like the rest of the country over the last few decades. What`s happened is there`s an even stronger force pushing back against the moderating influences to make sure the Republican Party never gets conservative like homosexuality, abortion, feminism.

And more often than not, that stronger force pushing back to keep things as conservative as they can possibly be, more often than not, that force is named Phyllis Schlafly.


REPORTER: Republican abortion rights activists promise to wage what they call political terrorism until the platform`s anti-abortion language is changed. They claim the current platform could cost President Bush the election. Both his likely opponents favor abortion rights.

ANN STONE: Are Republican women going to desert you and vote for Bill Clinton? I don`t think so. I think the integrity factor will keep them from deserting going to Clinton. Now, will they go to Ross Perot? That`s another question. Yes.

REPORTER: Anti-abortion forces, which controlled the platform committee adamantly oppose any change.

PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY: The millions of Americans who are motivated by high moral principle will not stand for President Bush saying that he is personally pro-life while the platform is mushed up.


MADDOW: Mushed up.

I mention earlier the Republican National Conventions in modern history have four times picked members of the Bush family to be the Republican Party nominee for president. The one of those four times that didn`t result in that Bush family member earning the presidential terms was that one that you just saw footage of there in 1992, where Phyllis Schlafly happened to be the voice of the Republican Party platform committee on "NBC Nightly News".

I mean, that was the same `92 convention where Pat Buchanan leveraged his performance in the Republican primaries that year to get himself and Gary Bower and Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and yes, Phyllis Schlafly, all up on stage during that convention, pushing the party to the right, advertising to the nation that the Republican Party had more fire and brimstone to it than your average blacksmith`s furnace in a particularly region of hell.

And in 1992, just like in 1964, the Phyllis Schlafly influence on the Republican Party, it did pay off in November, but it paid off for the Democrats. The harder the hard liners pushed, the more success they have, the more repellent the rest of the country finds them. It has not always been a good political move for the Republican Party to follow the Phyllis Schlaflys of the world in terms of their politics and the way they talk about the issues and their fellow Americans. But the Republican Party keeps doing it.

And part of the reason why is, somebody like Phyllis Schlafly`s persistence. She has just been around in Republican politics for so long. I mean, I`m an old person. I just turned 43, but Phyllis Schlafly founded this group that became the Eagle Forum the year before I was born.

She was already 48 years old when she founded it and she`s still running it today. Phyllis Schlafly is going to turn 92 this year and she is still running the Eagle Forum. Yes. And there`s been awkward moments over the years. There`s been ups and downs.

After her command performance at the 1992 Republican convention, there was a really awkward moment when her oldest son was outed as gay. She`s the leading voice of vituperative, anti-gay politics in the Republican Party and then she had to come out and publically confirm that, yes, her oldest son is gay, but also he works with her and she says he agrees with her on everything, including how anti-gay she is. That was awkward.

There was that moment last fall when Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum put out an excited press release announcing that all of the Republican presidential candidates would be coming to the Eagle Forum`s national convention, what they call their Eagle Council. And then in the end, only four of the 17 Republican candidates actually showed up, and one of them, Rick Perry, only showed up because he decided that Phyllis` Eagle Council would be an excellent place to quit the race. The first person to drop out of the Republican presidential race this year dropped out on Phyllis Schlafly stage.

So, yes, there`s been ups and downs over the years but Phyllis Schlafly persists. And she`s had a remarkable influence over the course of her long lifetime on the Republican Party. For decades, she`s just been remarkably persistent and consistent in the way she has pushed and cajoled and hectored and shoved the Republican Party as far to the right as possible on all social issues. Everybody else comes and goes, she remains.

Until now? After all the other things the Republican Party has been through what appears to have torn apart Phyllis Schlafly`s 44-year-old organization, what appears to have caused a split not only between her and her organization but between her and at least some of her own family is the guy who the Republican Party appears poised to choose this year as their nominee for president.


SCHLAFLY: We have a candidate who really will give us a choice, not an echo. So, please give a big St. Louis welcome to Donald J. Trump.





MADDOW: Phyllis Schlafly endorsed Donald Trump on March 11th this year. And now, apparently, apparently, because of that endorsement, Phyllis Schlafly`s political world has finally started to fall apart.

This weekend, the president Phyllis Schlafly`s Eagle Forum put out this strange notice, which was billed as a hostile takeover alert, saying that a rogue group of board members, a gang of six was plotting to secretly force Phyllis out of her own organization that she founded 44 years ago. That warning was on Saturday.

On Sunday, Phyllis Schlafly herself publicly posted this letter which she said she wrote, quote, "With a heavy heart," demanding the immediate resignation of a majority of the board members of her organization. She was trying to get them to resign before they held this rogue board meeting.

Yesterday, Monday, and then -- yesterday, Monday, they apparently held the meeting and Phyllis Schlafly released yet another statement. Quote, "At 2:00 p.m. today, six directors of the Eagle Forum met in an improper, unprecedented phone meeting. I objected to the meeting. At 2:11, I was muted from the call.

The meeting was invalid under the bylaws, but the attendees purported to pass several motions to wrest control of the organization from me. They are attempting to seize access to our bank accounts to terminate employees and to install members of their gang of six to control the bank accounts and all of Eagle Forum."

She says, "This kind of conduct will not stand. I will fight for Eagle Forum. And I ask all men and women of goodwill to join me in this fight."

And then she names the names, what she calls the gang of six, including one member of the gang of six who is her own daughter.

So, Phyllis Schlafly and her organization, they have been at the heart of the conservative movement inside the Republican Party for over 40 years. And something is happening to blow it up. Right now, finally with Phyllis Schlafly at age 91, after everything she`s been through, it appears to be finally blowing up because of Donald Trump.

I mean, the Republican Party has been through nominating crises and ideological crises before. It`s part of how Poppy Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992. It`s definitely how Barry Goldwater lost to LBJ in 1964. And Phyllis had a role in both of the losses.

And we don`t know how it`s going to work out in the Republican Party`s nominating process this year.

Today, we learned that House Speaker Paul Ryan will not be riding to the rescue of his party. He said he wouldn`t accept the nomination at the convention in Cleveland even if they offered it to him.

Ted Cruz is still the main not Donald Trump candidate in the Republican Party. A number of Eagle Forum Phyllis Schlafly types not named Phyllis Schlafly have endorsed Ted Cruz, including Phyllis daughter and some of the other members of this gang of six. But Ted Cruz really has no real way to win the nomination ahead of the convention, as Donald Trump continues to lead in the race but put up mind-bending numbers for the next primary, which happens a week from tonight in New York state.

So, what happened here? In this sort of critical part of the Republican Party`s conservative id and how did a thrice married New York zillionaire get a Phyllis Schlafly endorsement in the first place any way? Hold that thought.


MADDOW: President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have said that they will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary this year. They`ll let the party make its own decision. But one of the two of them just almost accidentally broke that pledge on tape. Guess which one. That`s ahead.

And, an inside look at a decades long culture war that the conservative movement usually wages against outsiders but now it`s turned in on itself.

Stay right there.



97.1 FM HOST: This isn`t like the board of Nabisco. I mean, this is the Eagle Forum. This is Phyllis Schlafly`s Eagle Forum.



MADDOW: That was the president of the Eagle Forum founded by legendary religious right activist Phyllis Schlafly, saying today on Missouri talk radio that this pillar organization of the religious right, this 44-year- old stalwart organization of the conservative movement, this vehicle for 91-year-old Phyllis Schlafly, is currently blowing up over her endorsement for Donald Trump.

Joining us now is Peter Montgomery. He`s a senior fellow at People for the American Way. He`s somebody who has followed Ms. Schlafly and others on the right for years.

Mr. Montgomery, its` really nice to have you here tonight. Thanks for being with us.


MADDOW: In terms of understanding what just happened here, is this something that could be been foreseen or is this kind of out of blue?

MONTGOMERY: Well, it`s kind of Shakespearean in some ways, when you have her sending out calls for her own daughter to step down. But I think we could have foreseen it in way that Phyllis Schlafly is the victim of her own success. She has spent the last 50 years trying to build the kind of hard right Republican Party that we now have. In this moment it should be her crown and glory, because there`s not one but two far right candidates at the top of the ticket.

All the things she used to build that party, the anger and conspiracy theories is being turned in on itself and tearing the party apart. And now, she`s caught in the cross fire.

MADDOW: Some of the other board members of the Eagle Forum or as she would call them, the gang of six, have suggested that maybe this is a product of some sort of infirmity on her part. They have raised the issue explicitly of her age. They have suggested that maybe Donald Trump or somebody took advantage of her and manipulated her and relieving her as an act of mercy or kindness.

What do you make of those charges?

MONTGOMERY: I thought that was pretty stunning. It`s true that she`s 91 years old. But she`s also been going on radio. She`s done press conferences with Donald Trump. It seems clear that she knows her mind.

And I think that if some liberal had made comments like that insinuating that she only supported Donald Trump because somehow she was manipulated into it, I think people on the right would be very offended.

And if you look at Trump`s record and her record, it`s not surprising that she supports Trump. She`s always had a thing about U.N. sovereignty and American sovereignty being sold out to the U.N. She has said she would love to see railroad cars full of illegals heading to the southern border.

So, I think she sees in Trump a kindred spirit. So, it`s not a surprise to me that she endorsed him even though a whole lot of her colleagues in Eagle Forum have signed up with Ted Cruz.

MADDOW: Yes. So, in some ways, this feels like a personal story and another way, this feels, I guess a sign of a cleaving to come at the top of the party and within the conservative. But we`ll see.

Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at People for the American Way, thanks for your work on this. Thanks for helping us understand it.

MONTGOMERY: Thank you.

MADDOW: Appreciate it.

We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: In an interview that Vice President Joe Biden did yesterday, we saw something we don`t usually get to see. The vice president was answering questions on camera about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic primary. And when he started to give one particular answer, you could actually hear his staffers in the room try to jump in and stop him from saying what he was saying.


INTERVIEWER: Do you think she`s held to a higher standard because she`s a woman?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don`t think she`s held to a higher standard. And this country is ready for a woman. There`s no problem. We`re going to be able to elect a woman in this country.

INTERVIEWER: Would you like to see us elect a woman?

BIDEN: I would like to see a woman elected.

STAFF: That`s it.

BIDEN: No, no, that`s all right. I`d like to see -- no, I don`t (INAUDIBLE). I`m not getting into that.

INTERVIEWER: I`d like to ask one more question.

BIDEN: The president and I are not going to endorse because we both when we ran said, let the party decide.


MADDOW: OK. That`s it. You can hear his staffers. Oh, God, he just accidentally endorsed Hillary Clinton.

The vice president is like, no, no, I said a woman. Not any particular woman. Come on, you guys. I got this.

That was great from the vice president yesterday. Fascinating.

And then, today, President Obama had this to say while he was otherwise busy designating a new national monument to the women`s suffrage movement.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want young girls and boys to come here, 10, 20, 100 years from now, to know that women fought for equality. It was not just given to them.

I want them to come here and be astonished that there was ever a time when women could not vote. I want them to be astonished there was a time when women earned less than men for doing the same work.

I want them to be astonished that it was ever a time when women were vastly outnumbered in the boardroom or Congress. That there was ever a time when a woman never sat in the Oval Office. I don`t know.



MADDOW: Again, a woman. Not any particular woman, mind you. But still in the Democratic Party that really, really likes President Obama and Vice President Biden, if you are the woman who is running for president right now, both of those comments have got to be very welcome.

But I should also tell you, in that hard fought Democrat primary, there was also some really, really good news for Bernie Sanders today. And that`s next.


MADDOW: The New York primary is a week from tonight.

On the Republican side of this race, Donald Trump is leading by such huge numbers, he may be breaking records for this primary season actually. We think this might be the first time a Republican candidate has broken 60 percent in any major statewide poll.

On the Democratic side, it`s not nearly as dramatic, but Hillary Clinton continues to hold a big lead in the state of New York. All that said, though, there is one way on the Democratic side in which Bernie Sanders is really cleaning up in New York. No idea what it`s going to mean for the ballot box, but Bernie Sanders` rally crowds right now are freaking enormous.

And we think of him getting huge crowds as a feature of the early part of primary. But it started up again now for Senator Sanders in a huge way. More than 18,000 people turned out for Senator Sanders` first New York event a couple of weeks ago at a park in the South Bronx.

Then, more than 10,000 people showed up to see him at Temple University in Philly. Now, just the past two days have been, for a lack of better word, they have been bunkers. Senator Sanders started his day yesterday by speaking to a crowd of 5,000 people in Binghamton, New York.

Then, in Albany, New York, same day, he held another event filled to capacity, over 4,000 people. Then, last night, there was an overflow crowd at SUNY Buffalo. More than 8,300 people inside and another 3,000 people standing outside and watching him speak on a big screen. That`s more than 11,000 people turning out to see him last night in Buffalo.

This morning in Rochester, New York, another 6,000 people. Our imbed at that event said it was packed to the walls. Then, another 5,000 people turned out to see him in Syracuse this afternoon. And to top it off, Senator Sanders finished today speaking to a crowd of 3,700 people inside a room at Marist College and Poughkeepsie, New York. And that might seem like it`s on the smaller side for Bernie Sanders. But then taken to account the fact that the overflow crowd of another 1,200 people waited outside the venue.

So, again, that`s nearly 5,000 people turning out tonight in Poughkeepsie. And all of those recent numbers could pale in comparison to what is expected tomorrow. Senator Bernie Sanders is going to hold a 6:00 p.m. event tomorrow night in Washington Square Park, which is in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City, right by NYU.

And at this event, there are going to be celebrities and bands than usual for a big Bernie Sanders event. But even still, look at this. So far, 17,000 people have RSVP`ed for the event on Facebook already and counting, and it`s not until tomorrow night.

I mean, in terms of history here and context, in the 2008 presidential race, you might remember that Barack Obama also did a massive event at Washington Square Park. In the 2008 race, he drew a crowd of 24,000 people at the same location where Bernie Sanders is going t obe tomorrow.

And turning out 24,000 people in New York City, that was almost an unimaginable number that year for candidate Barack Obama. But after he turned out 24,000 people in Washington Square Park, he went on that year to lose the New York primary to a candidate named Hillary Clinton.

So, rallies are not votes, but they`re something. The number of people Senator Bernie Sanders is turning out is a political phenomenon unto itself.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: On the 21st day, he caved, kind of.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a discrimination bill into law for that state back in March. Governor McCrory`s new law took away existing protections for sexual minorities in North Carolina. It banned towns and cities from passing any new ones anywhere in the state.

And ever since Pat McCrory signed that discrimination bill last month, things in North Carolina have been kind of a mess. Dozens of corporate executives have warned the governor that the law will be bad for business. PayPal called off a big planned expansion in North Carolina. Federal agencies announced that they`re reviewing New Carolina`s new law that could take away billions of dollars in federal aid.

On Friday, Bruce Springsteen announced that he wouldn`t play a concert he was scheduled for North Carolina this weekend. Deutsche Bank announced today a freeze on its planned expansion in North Carolina, over 200 jobs that will not go to the state now because of that new law.

And it must really have been sort of a lot to bear for the North Carolina governor, right? Day after day of condemnation and cancellations and criticism and lost business. I mean, day after day, for 21 days, titans of industry and entertainment, our nation`s capital all leaning on North Carolina over this discrimination bill, and then came this -- maybe the biggest blow of all.

A very popular pornography site with an adorable mascot announced it was shutting off North Carolina, quote, "Because of the anti-LGBT law." And this announcement wasn`t like the other corporate announcement. This wasn`t like we`re not going to open an office in North Carolina. This wasn`t we`re cancelling our convention in North Carolina. We`re cancelling our big meeting planned in Charlotte.

No, this decision by this porn company was no porn anymore. Not anymore for anybody logging in from North Carolina. If you`re logging in from Charlotte or Greensville or Chapel Hill, where are you? Wah, wah, sad trombone. No porn for you.

Look, if you went to this site from a computer in North Carolina today, instead of porn, you got a message about North Carolina being the land where homophobia is law. Here we go.

"North Carolina, stop your homophobic insanity." That happened today. The porn blockade.

I don`t want to get too Lysistrata on you. I don`t want to draw too strong a conclusion. I don`t want to say that Governor Pat McCrory has changed his mind completely on that bill, or that North Carolina`s insanity has stopped, but I will note that also today, Governor Pat McCrory started to cave a little bit. Twenty-one days and one porn mascot boycott thing later, Governor McCrory today began trying to undo the law that he signed and that he has defended until today. He put out executive orders that purport to soften the impact of the law, at least for some North Carolinians.

And whether you see this as a change of heart by the North Carolina`s governor or you see this as merely an attempt to not crash the state`s economy while he`s up for re-election, the sustained protests and the very real economic harm to the state of North Carolina because of this discrimination law, it has been very, very front and center. That trouble might be visible all the way next door in Tennessee because the Tennessee legislature has been debating its own discrimination bill.

Like the North Carolina law, this bill in Tennessee specifically goes after transgender students in school. Last week, the Tennessee lawmakers rolled the bill forward over the objections of business leaders. The official paperwork warns it could jeopardize among other things, federal funding for schools in Tennessee. It could cost Tennessee more than a billion dollars just in education money alone.

Yesterday, the attorney general of Tennessee warned the legislature that the potential consequences of passing this would be real and very painful for the state. We spoke today with the office of the Republican governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam. The governor`s office told us that he, too, is worried about the potential loss of federal funding if this bill becomes law.

Quote, "The governor does have financial concerns over the loss of Title IX funding. Currently in Tennessee, this issue is being handled on a local basis situation by situation. The governor trusts our teachers and local school boards to make necessary accommodations in those situations."

That statement to us today from the office of Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

And then, today, the sponsor of that bill put on the brakes. And the sponsor said he needs time to figure out where all these dire financial warnings are potentially going to come true. But he really is risking at least a billion dollars in education funding alone for Tennessee.

Joining us now is reporter Joel Ebert. He has been covering the story for the daily paper in Nashville, "The Tennessean".

Mr. Ebert, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to have you with us.


MADDOW: So, what is the status of this Tennessee bill and is the experience in other states that have considered or passed these bills weighing on the decision in Tennessee?

EBERT: So, for the first question, the status of the bill, it`s essentially still in limbo right now. The Senate version was delayed. Any action was delayed today. They believe they want to take it up after what we call the budget process. So, they`re essentially maybe going to do it tomorrow, maybe early next week in the Senate side.

The House version is supposed to come up later this week, possibly as early as tomorrow. And as far as your second question -- no, the lawmakers, the proponents of this legislation have not said any of the business concerns from other states, anything we have seen in other states is even in the back of their minds it seems.

MADDOW: In terms of the governor`s statement to us he was pretty explicit about having concerns about the financial consequences of the bill with the loss of federal funding. We`re talking about federal education dollars, that`s a lot of money. What`s the governor`s relationship with the legislature? If he did veto this, which he seems like he`s laying the groundwork for, is that the sort of thing that could stick or would the legislature override that veto?

EBERT: The legislature could easily override his veto. It only takes a simple majority here. So, his relationship with mainstream Republicans is fairly good. But I think for some of these other folks who are really trying to run on sort of -- you know, the non-central tenants of the Republican Party, people that think that, hey, my constituents really care about this issue, the social issues. That`s where the governor disagrees.

So, simply put, if the governor would get this bill and he were to veto it, I could easily see them coming back and saying, let`s give it a ride and see how far we can go with overriding it.

MADDOW: Joe, why is all this stuff happening right now? Tennessee has this transgender bill we`ve been talking about. Tennessee just passed a bill that would let therapists refuse to take gay clients like that`s a national crisis that we need to start fighting. Why is this stuff percolating right now in Tennessee?

EBERT: I think, right now, it seems like everybody is trying to react to the Obergefell decision last year from the Supreme Court. And so, at the beginning of this year`s session, we had a number of bills that were sort of push back efforts to say, hey, we disagree with that decision. We actually had one lawmaker, two lawmakers put forward a resolution that explicit said that they disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court, that easily passed in both chambers here.

So, I think a lot of these -- these bills are just a reaction to that decision.

MADDOW: Joel Ebert, state government reporter for "The Tennessean", I`ve been enjoying your coverage on this. It`s big part of the way that we`re follow it from here. Thanks for talking with us about it. Appreciate it.

EBERT: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Up next, we`ve got a heist done by some thieves who apparently have very, very good taste but not in art. That`s ahead. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Indulge me a personal matter for a moment. I like to issue a quick note of congratulations and good luck. My friend, my pal, somebody I am honored to call a colleague, the great Chris Hayes, along with his staff at "ALL IN", they have been named finalizes for Peabody Award for their work on their shows "Back to Baltimore" special, the special report that they did back in December.

Chris`s reporting from Baltimore from the very, very beginning has been invaluable. That special where they went back in and checked in and did progress, "Back to Baltimore", it was stunning work.

And honestly this network is lucky to have Chris and his team here, all of us could not be prouder of them. They`re nominated for a Peabody.

The announcement of the winners is going to start this coming Tuesday. Until then, if I look awkward on the air, it`s because for an entire week or so crossing all of my fingers and all of my toes so I will be a little off balance.

But congratulations to them. To be nominated itself is a huge honor and I`m proud to work here.

I`ll be right back.


MADDOW: I love this story.

OK. By now you have heard about the Andy Warhol theft in Missouri. This is a heist that was pulled off the Springfield art museum in Springfield, Missouri, this past week. But it turns out there was something weird about this heist and by weird I mean math weird.

And here it is -- it was Wednesday night at 5:00. The staff closed the doors at Springfield art museum. They locked up for the night, they went home. The next morning, they went back to open the museum back up in the morning, about 8:45 in the morning, Thursday morning, lo and behold, and the Warhols were gone, taken off the wall.

Now, there is no overnight security presence at the museum. Now, though, they`re trying to figure out what happened overnight. And part of the mystery is that these things were big.

Andy Warhol`s first famous/infamous Campbell Soup paintings, they were done in 1962. Those were not that big. In that first series, he painted 32 different varieties of soup and the canvasses, each of the cans was only about 16 inches by 20 inches. That was the original series. That`s the super famous one.

These ones that were stolen in Springfield, they were a later series, which was much bigger. Each of the soup cans that was just stolen is -- see how much bigger it is. Two feet wide and over three feet tall. And they were all framed in wooden frames.

So, it would have been sort of unwieldy to get a whole bunch of these things out of that museum, easily, particularly without being solved. So, that`s part of the mystery. The things are big.

The other part of the mystery is what exactly they took. So, in this later series by Andy Warhol, there were ten different varieties of Campbell`s Soup in the series. These were the soup flavors in the series, which the Springfield art museum had. Beef soup, beef consomme, black bean soup, chicken noodle soup, cream of mushroom soup, green pea soup, onion soup, pepper pot spot, tomato soup, vegetable soup -- those are the ten.

Now, Andy Warhol made about 250 copies of this series initially, but since he made them in 1968, most of them have been split up as sets. The great value of this ten-soup can series from Andy Warhol is that there are almost no intact sets of these ten soup cans still left. Somebody may have a black bean or a green pea, right, somebody may have one or two or three, but all ten together, that`s the value and that`s what the Springfield art museum had that they were so proud of.

And so, now, check this out. The Springfield art museum has all ten up on the wall. When the thieves get into the museum, they had all ten soup flavors right there on the wall. These big unwieldy framed soup cans, all ten of them.

But what did they take? Look. They only took seven of the soups. The intact set is what`s invaluable. Stealing seven of the ten means they`re of almost no value compared to having the whole set.

But even more than that, look at what they left behind. They only left behind the gross soup. They left behind the beef consomme, the pepper pot soup, what`s that, the cream of mushroom. And I know that`s controversial for me to say that`s the gross soup, but what I mean is that cream of mushroom is tasty in other foods, but when it`s a soup on its own, it`s disgusting. I mean, everybody`s got their preferences.

But it is inarguable that these thieves left behind the only three disgusting flavors out of those ten flavors of soup. And so, it`s a mystery.

The FBI is now seeking the public`s help. The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward in this case, but from what we know of the heist, it`s clear that we`re dealing with someone that was not stealing the art just for its value as American art, what we`re looking for is a soup fan with good taste in soup, but no clue about art.

Twenty-five thousand dollar reward. Call the FBI if you know anything. Soup heist.

I told you I love that story.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.