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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/5/22

Guests: Betsey Stevenson, Zahra Hirji, Anna Merlan


President Biden touts "fastest job growth in history, lowest unemployment rate" in the last 50 years. CPAC shifts further to the right, welcoming fringe element of the party.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Mehdi, good evening to you. Have yourself a good weekend. We will see you Sunday night. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Back in 2009, Barack Obama took office amid the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Democrats had control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and for awhile, despite that dire economic catastrophe, it looked like Democrats were going to be able to deal with the crisis and move forward on a big, broad agenda.

That year, they passed an historic economic recovery, built to pull the country out of the great recession by early 2010, they had passed a major part of the president`s domestic agenda, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, if you will, bringing health care to tens of millions of Americans.

The next item on their agenda was another historic piece of legislation, a desperately needed climate bill to address the growing threat posed by global warming. Democrats had already coalesced around the bill that was written by two Democratic house members, then Congressman Henry Waxman, and Ed Markey.

In Washington and around the country, that bill became known as the cap and trade bill. After a central provision in the legislation to put a cap or a limit on carbon emissions and businesses chain themselves their emissions capacity to each other. It wasn`t the most far-reaching proposal that Democrats were pushing for at the time, but it wasn`t a half measure either. Had it passed, the cap in trade bill would have been the single biggest legislative attempt under dressing climate change in U.S. history.

And Democrats appeared to be on track to get it done. The bill had already passed the House in 2009. It looked like Democrats were going to keep building on their success. But that was when things sort of started to come off the rails.

First, it was the economy with the midterms fast approaching, the economic recovery had stalled. Unemployment remained highs, staying above 9 percent for the entire year of 2010. Republicans were on the verge of a wave election victory that year. The clock was running out on the Democrats agenda.

And it was right around that time that the cap and trade bill that the Democrats signature piece of climate legislation was just about then that it started coming under fire. Literally.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I am Joe Manchin, I approve this ad. Because I will always defend west Virginia. I will take on Washington and this administration to get the federal government off our backs and out of our pockets. I sued the EPA, and I will take dead aim at the cap and trade bill, because it`s bad for West Virginia.


VELSHI: That was a 2010 campaign ad from the Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. He literally found himself shooting his own party`s signature climate legislation. It wasn`t long after that that the ad was released that major newspaper started writing their obituaries for the Democrats big climate bill. The language in the Senate, and by November, the Republican t -- wave elections had smashed all hopes of further movement on the Democrats agenda in Congress.

Now for a while now, it has felt like we are repeating that history. Like President Obama, President Biden came into office amid a historic economic crisis. This time caused by a global pandemic. Like President Obama, President Biden passed a major economic relief package, the American rescue act as well as a major part of his domestic agenda, the infrastructure bill.

And it seemed like the rest of Biden`s first two years were going to play out just like they did in 2009 and 2010. Major climate legislation passed the house, and then stalled in the Senate at the hands of the very same senator who put a literal bullet through the binding of the last big climate bill.

There were widespread fears that the country was once again on the brink of recession ahead of this year`s midterms. Democrats had shifted their strategy from passing legislation to putting Republicans on the record, but holding symbolic votes to ban assault weapons, abortion rights, and -- things they knew wouldn`t pass the Senate. It all felt painfully familiar.

But then, over the last week, something happened. Something has changed. The timelines diverged. Last week, Democratic Senator Leader Schumer announced to everyone surprise that he had reached a deal with Senator Joe Manchin to pass a big portion of President Joe Biden`s agenda, including what could be the biggest investment in combating climate change in U.S. history.


We all spent the last week waiting with baited breath whether to see whether the other Democratic naysayer, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, would get on board. And last night, after some last-minute negotiations and tweaks, Senator Sinema announced that like Senator Manchin, she too is ready to support this bill.

Senator Schumer has now cut the senators weekend plans and will hold the first procedural vote on the bill tomorrow. Nothing`s edged in stone yet, and many of the bills provisions are still waiting formal approval from the Senate parliamentarian. But if it passes, this is bill stands to make history, and not just on one issue.

Right now, this bill lays out a plan to cut climate emissions by 40 percent over the next eight years. It includes a provision to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. Something Democrats have been trying to get past four years.

It would lower health care for millions of Americans who get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. It would keep corporations from getting away from paying nothing and taxes by instituting a 15 percent corporate minimum tax.

Even some of the compromised provisions included to get Kyrsten Sinema on board are with celebrating. Like a new provision that would help curb stock buybacks by companies, allowing companies to spend money lining their shareholder`s pockets instead of investing in their core business.

All of this seemed impossible a few weeks ago, a few days ago, frankly. But all of it is now on the verge of passing and becoming law. That alone would be good news for the Biden administration. If I stopped right now, a victory chose that history is not doomed to repeat itself. But then something else changed.

At 8:30 am, on the first Friday of the month today, we got the big monthly unemployment report. And, boy, was that a surprise. Despite months of dire warnings about a potential recession, today, at 8:30 this morning, we learned that the jobs market is growing faster than anybody expected. U.S. economy added 528,000 new jobs in July, more than half 1 million jobs in a single month, below outnumbers, more than double what the experts had predicted.

Today, an emboldened President Biden spoke to reporters outside the White House where he touted the latest jobs report, that`s what presidents do, but I want, point it looked like the president himself had decided the economy is so hot, it`s got to wear shades.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It had 10 million jobs. Almost a 10 million jobs since I took office. That is the fastest job growth in history. Today, we also have the maximum unemployment rate in the last 50 years, 3.5 percent. Yes, 3.5 percent. Today, there are more people working and than before the pandemic began. In fact, there are more people working in America at any point in American history.


VELSHI: I mean, you saw what he did there. He took his glasses off, and the news was so good, and he put it back on, this is so, good again enjoy this moment.

President Biden`s first two years in office, reporters found themselves asking the same questions over and over, will this time be different? Will Democrats be able to convince holdouts in their own party to pass major legislation? Will the administration be able to get a handle on the economic fallout from the pandemic?

Between today`s good can make news and the prospects of commerce finally moving on the presidents agenda, it feels like maybe, just, maybe this time, might actually be different.

Joining me now to discuss this big and bright news is the University of Michigan professor Betsey Stevenson. She previously served as the Department of Labor`s chief economist during the Obama administration.

Betsey, it is good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.

One month does not a trend make, but in fact, we have been seeing trends of job growth, it`s all been positive growth, we`ve seen trends of wage growth, offset by the fact that we have awfully high inflation right now. But if you need something to work on in an economy, you definitely need your jobs portion to be working. You need people to be getting jobs, unemployment to be low, and wages to be growing.

BETSEY STEVENSON, FORMER MEMBER OF PRESIDENT OBAMA`S COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Absolutely. Look, one of the things we saw in the data is the consumers keep spending, and one of the reasons they keep spending is because they keep working. And they keep working, because people are hiring.

So, people have jobs, they not only have jobs, but they are still a lot of opportunities out there. To change jobs, to get a job. And I think the most in citing thing is employers are out there looking to, hire another half 1 million people, and a half million people showed up to take those jobs. So, we saw a big expansion.


It`s part, as you, said of an ongoing expansion. We don`t ever want to look at one month and, say okay, this tells us everything that we need to know. But what we know, is the first seven months of the year, without went by extra meat clout fast, economic growth. We actually do expect that we are going to see job growth slow back down to the kinds of job growth that we saw (AUDIO GAP) were averaging about 150,000 to 200,000 jobs per month.

That is kind of normal growth. We are going to so you eventually. But clearly, employers are not done, recovering from the pandemic and building back, particularly the service sector.

VELSHI: A lot of Republicans like to criticize the president by saying the inflation that we are facing is because of the relief bills that the administration passed when they took over our too big. That obviously can be true because we have the same record inflation that the United Kingdom`s half, that France, has that South Africa has, that other places have that didn`t do the same thing.

So, inflation is caused by something else. That said, one of the things that does cause inflation is the difficulty and getting labor, because wages are going up. The good news is that more and more people are entering this labor force. Should that start to moderate inflation overtime?

STEVENSON: Well, I think what we need to be looking at is whether wage growth starts contributing to ongoing inflation. I think there is some concern and signs that we are starting to see, that wage growth is stronger than what`s some people feel comfortable with.

I don`t think we have to worry about fast job growth, but we have to worry about when workers are looking at inflation, demanding higher wages, they get the higher wages, and then, their bosses turn around and raise the prices, which causes more inflation. And the whole thing sets off a snowball going downhill. That`s not how we got inflation in the first place.

And as you said, lots of countries around the globe are facing the same inflationary problem. It started out with supply problems, and we have just gotten an incredibly unlucky, just not we the united states, but around the globe. The pandemic has lasted longer than anyone expected, and then, Putin decides it`s a good time to invade Ukraine, and causing global energy price problems, global food problems, basically problems for everyone.

And that has contributed to the inflation. All of that supply base, there is some evidence that some of the inflation is due to demand being above supply. But I don`t think we can put that all on stimulus bills, particularly when the stimulus bills are why we have the strong economy that we have right now. And some of the issues are -- a lot of us didn`t do stuff for a year`s, for 2020, for 2021. We are out, there we want to go out to dinner again, we want to travel again.

So demands is, you, know expanding faster than supply. I think that is happening around the globe. And I think that`s because it`s easier for us to wake up one morning and decide to get back out there. Then it is for businesses to accelerate at the same pace, which we can accelerate our demands.

VELSHI: Betsey, good to see you, as always. Thank you for joining us. Economist Betsey Stevenson joining us tonight.

Now, let`s talk about the other part of this. The economy is one very big part of the story, and the bill that they are trying to get past. The other side is the climate measures in the Inflation Reduction Act.

So I want to talk to Zahra Hirji, climate reporter for "Bloomberg News".

Zahra, thank you for being with us tonight. Let`s talk about this very important part of the bill.

If this bill stays on track, it could become the most significant climate bill to ever pass Congress. Give us a sense of how big a deal this is, and the impact it is going to have.

ZAHRA HIRJI, BLOOMBERG NEWS CLIMATE REPORTER: This is a big deal, you know -- if is the key word, you mentioned, in history. But a lot of my sources say this is going to happen. And at the top of the show you mentioned a pretty key statistic. This bill could bring the U.S. close to cutting its climate emissions 40 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by 2030.

That gets the U.S. pretty close to the goal that President Biden said at the beginning of his term to cut emissions 50 percent. Really, no single legislation was going to get the U.S. all the way to the 50 percent number. But this gets us really close.

VELSHI: One of the things that got Senator Kyrsten Sinema`s support for, we, here is it has big provisions in this bill, about four billion dollars for drought remediation, which is obviously very important in the southwest.


Tell me about that. Is there enough in here to deal with that? Because when we think of climate in this country, we have the missions, we have a global warming, we have floods, we have, droughts and wildfires. Is that part of the conversation relevant?

HIRJI: I mean, it`s relevant because it is going to get Sinema on board with the bill. This is a piece that is still being negotiated and I will be watching it over the weekend to see what ends makes it through the Senate. Will any of these numbers fix or address, or solve, the drought? Will any of these numbers fix climate change?

No. But they are going to help the U.S. respond to the impacts that we are already seeing today. And the many impacts that are not just predicted but pretty well-established will happen over the next couple of decades.

VELSHI: Is there anything obvious, because there must be, these bills are never as big as people who are experts at climate change think they need to be, is there anything that was left out in the negotiations that scientists and activists are very upset about?

HIRJI: Well, the science community would always love for there to be more. And even just looking back a year ago, there was the original build back better act that passed the house that was slightly higher funding number, that also would`ve led to a slightly higher cut in emissions. Things that got cut, well there is going to be no tax credit for people if they want to buy electric bikes, there is less funding to support say the ramp up of certain renewable energy.

But there`s a lot in there. And it goes a pretty long way in kind of doing to really big things. First, it`s electrifying a power sector, and moving specifically moving where we get our energy, our electricity away from fossil fuels, to cleaner energy sources like wind and solar. And it`s also going to help with cleaning up transportation, a lot of the cars on the road, they run on fossil fuels, gas, and oil. And this is really going to help incentivize and ramp up the numbers of electric vehicles on the road.

VELSHI: And are we going to see that in rebates the way we used? To like if you buy an electric car you get a discount, or rebate? Or is this going to be on the supply side, where you are just going to see more electric cars, they`re going to be more price competitive, they are going to be more charging stations all over the place? How do you see it playing out in practical terms for Americans?

HIRJI: So this bill really gets at both things, but there is a lot of pieces of that will really impact households and individuals. So it does include tax incentives or tax rebates for people to say, 7,500 of a new electric vehicle, or 4,000 off and old or existing electric vehicle. All of these have caveats, there`s a lot of qualifications which vehicles will actually make it, you have to have a certain amount of income.

It`s really targeting low and moderate income houses and populations because it is trying to get the people right now, who maybe cannot afford to make some of these changes, whether it`s with their home, or their car, to really incentivize them to be able to make that change. But there is a lot in there that will come back to the consumer.

So, this is for buying heat pumps, this is for a lot of things that can make your home more energy efficient as well as your cars.

VELSHI: Zahra, you have taken a complicated issue and made it easy for us to understand. Thank you for that.

Zara Hirji, is with us tonight helping us make sense of this big part of the bill. Thank you for being with us.

Coming up next, the jury sends a big message to Alex Jones to the tune of $45 million.

Stay with us. We`ll explain.



VELSHI: What I am about to show you is the response from the far-right conspiracy theory pushing media personality, Alex Jones, last night when he found out that he and his company owed four point million dollars in damages that after pushing that Sandy Hook was somehow faked.


ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: We are so broke that I am not even worried about that $4.2 million. I am worried about our bankruptcy to emergency stabilize Infowars, and we have a plan. But to do that, we need support, so get a t-shirt, get a book, get a film, get my new book "The Great Reset". Get "Alex`s War". Get bodies ultimate formula. Get via merit neural fusion. Get them all at, and keep us on the air.


VELSHI: That was last night. Alex Jones effectively fundraising off the $4.1 million dollar ruling against him and his company, claiming he is broke. That the company`s bankruptcy, saying, he needs you to buy his diet pills and his teachers or he`s going to go under.

For nearly a decade, Alex Jones pushed a conspiracy theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was fake, 26 people died, 20 of them first graders.


I was there hours after the massacre. I can tell you personally, it was incredibly real. I saw parents before, and after, they learned of the murder of their children.

That $4.1 million last night was part of the damages Jones is now facing for pushing such a disgusting lie. And tonight, Alex Jones tab got even higher. That same jury in Texas had handed Jones another $45.2 million dollar penalty. Yesterday`s ruling was on compensatory damages, how much cash Jones owes to the parents of a sandy hook victims for the psychological torment and harassment that the conspiracy theory, he pushed caused him.

Today`s ruling was punitive. So how much money Jones owes those same parents as punishment for spreading that conspiracy. And Jones tab here is cumulative. So all in, all that means about $49 million total.

Now, as much as it would be nice to book and this and say the ruling is definitely going to teach Mr. Jones his lesson and there is no way Jones and his company could pay the 49 million bucks, it`s more complicated than that. First of all, there is one thing we`ve learned watching this trial. It is that Alex Jones lies a lot.

So while his TV network Infowars has essentially become a fund raising marathon, asking viewers to send them cryptocurrency or sign up for monthly payments or by their fluoride free toothpaste, we actually don`t have a transparent picture of Jones or his business finances other than taking their word for it. We have no way of knowing if that company is actually broke.

The other complicated factor is that there is a Texas law that caps punitive judgment. So it isn`t exactly clear that big $49 million judgment will actually be the amount taken out of Jones`s bank account.

But that big dollar amounts still sends a message. It sends a message to Alex Jones, and do people likes like Alex Jones pushed conspiracies for profit, that they can and will be held accountable.

And this is just the first of three damages cases about Sandy Hook that Alex Jones is facing. So whether or not he`s actually broke now, he might be soon.

Joining us now is Anna Merlan, senior staff writer at "Vice" who has been following this trial incredibly closely.

Anna, thank you for joining us tonight.

Let`s first talk about this cap, the $44.2 million in punitive damages is eye popping especially on top of yesterday`s $4.1 million in compensatory damages. But there`s a Texas state law that caps punitive damages at twice what the compensatory damages were plus $750,000.

So, is Alex Jones going to own $48 million or $9 million after that cap is taken into account? How do they figure that out?

ANNA MERLAN, SENIOR STAFF WRITER, VICE: Right, this is the big topic of discussion today. It is very likely that this case is going to go to the Texas Supreme Court. This is what the plaintiffs attorney said this afternoon when the ruling was completed, and it`s certainly ending what`s Alex Jones and his lawyers are expecting. They`ve already objected to the filing of the judgment.

So at this point, it`s anybody`s guess how much Alex Jones and Infowars, and Infowars parent company, Free Speech Systems, is actually going to pay. There`s another complicated factor here, to which in the middle of this trial, Free Speech Systems also filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. So there`s a real financial mess going on right now as far as how much is being owed.

VELSHI: And there are two financial misses, there`s whatever is the owe as a result of these judgments, and the other one is, as you, said his personal wealth and his company`s, and the bankruptcy, and the judge admonished him for talking about that because filing for bankruptcy is not the same as actually having bankruptcy protection.

Do you have some sense of the picture of Alex Jones`s wealth and his companies and what it looks like?

MERLAN: Well, we got a very good picture today in testimony from a forensic economist, who testified before the jury went into deliberations. This was only complicated by the fact that Jones and Infowars did not provide basic financial information in these lawsuits that he is facing in Texas and Connecticut which is part of what caused him and the company to lose this case by default. This is why the wheels were damages trials and not actual trials to determine culpability. So that was part of the issue.

But this forensic economist testifying today said that, what we think is the company probably has enough worth of $139 million on the low, and $270 million in the high-end. There have been points in the company`s history where Alex Jones was putting himself a salary of about $6 million a year. And this is without taking into account all of his income streams.


So we know that Infowars makes a lot of money from a store that sells supplements, movies, books, other products. But we also know that Jones is making money off sites like Amazon. And so, it is really difficult to get a full financial picture of exactly what he has, and exactly where it is, especially with a pretty concerted lack of cooperation from the company.

VELSHI: Does this get better by virtue of the fact that this is just the first of three damages cases against Alex Jones, by family members of sandy hook victims? What are the other two cases look like and can they do more or go further than this one has gotten to the bottom of Alex Jones`s money and where it is?

MERLAN: Yeah, that`s a great question and unfortunately it`s another sort of murky question right now. So, there is another case set to begin in Texas in September that is -- Posner and Dela Rosa. And the other plaintiffs were supposed to be beginning their trial in Connecticut, also in September.

But with the bankruptcy filing by free speech symptoms it`s very unclear what`s going to happen in those cases, when they might happen, when the jury selection was supposed to begin. And then the candidate case -- it was recently and it obviously did not. So, I would think that if these cases actually do end up in court room, that will be big focus on part of these attorneys, trying to create some transparency about where Alex Jones`s money is and to really examine these claims that he has made repeatedly during the trial in the courtroom and here on Infowars that he is broke, that he is personally insolvent, that the company is going to have to start laying people off and canceling shows.

He has made very specific claims that I think will be subject to examination.

VELSHI: Anna, thanks for your explanations. We appreciate.

Anna Merlan is a senior staff writer at "Vice". We appreciate your time tonight.

MERLAN: Thank you.

VELSHI: Still to come tonight, conservatives invited the authoritarian ruler of Hungary to speak at their conference in Dallas yesterday. But that was actually just the beginning. The latest antics from CPAC are next.



VELSHI: Just under a decade ago, when the right wing of the Republican Party gathered at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, it was a separate gathering just outside the conference for those who were considered too extreme to be invited. It was called the uninvited. It was hosted by the editor of a right-wing website, a man named Steve Bannon.

The attendees at the separate conference, there was considered too crazy to be allowed into CPAC itself included several notorious Islamphobes, including a woman who advocated for, quote, an immediate halt of immigration by Muslims. That was 2013, when such views weren`t welcome at CPAC.

Fast forward just four years and not only was Steve Bannon invited to CPAC, he worked in the White House. And they couldn`t very well keep Islamophobes out. After all, Donald Trump had just gotten elected president, promising a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States.

But in 2017, there was still at least one person at CPAC would not allow in. Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist. CPAC said that Spencer and his advocacy for an all white state was not welcome. They forcibly removed him from the conference. That was a life ago, 2017.

Fast forward five years, apparently stand intelligent again, because yesterday Dallas, CPAC welcomed as its own speaker, the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who just last week gave a speech denouncing race mixing. It was a speech that was so vile that one of his closest advisers, resigned calling the speech pure Nazi.

But don`t worry. CPAC isn`t just for foreign autocrats to sound like Nazis. Today, it show that it has a little room for everyone in every corner of the far-right, from the frightening to the ridiculous, to the absolutely bonkers.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Now today we face the greatest danger we have ever faced. The militant left wing in our country has become the enemy within. In the new socialist order, everyone will obey and no one will be allowed to complain.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): When I said that I am a Christian nationalist, I have nothing to be ashamed of, because that`s what most Americans are.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): My name is Ted Cruz. And my pronouns are kiss my ass.

If you see someone with a beard and chest hair and a voice like Barry White, that`s a dude.

J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: The Joe Biden economy has made it hard for families to have hot dogs with hot dog buns. And that is an unacceptable thing. Our American citizens have dreams to. And one of those dreams is that they should be able to have a family cookout with hamburger buns.

MIKE LINDELL, MYPILLOW CEO: It`s very important you hear me on this. Over 54 countries have now been taken by the machines or are getting taken by the machines. And you never get to go back. Venezuela, Australia, they are gone. You don`t get to vote out the machines once they are there.



VELSHI: I was away for a couple of weeks in Africa. And I seem to have missed when hot dogs or hamburger buns got canceled.

But that`s actually CPAC today. The conservative political action conference in Dallas, today, where America is bereft of both funds for its hot dogs and its hamburgers and facing a machine takeover apocalypse at any moment.

That last speaker was the election conspiracy theorist and phone pillow mogul Mike Lindell. He and other speakers at CPAC celebrated today`s news that the election denier extraordinary, Kari Lake, has won the Republican nomination for governor in Arizona which poses -- this one is a brainteasers actually -- because has Kari Lake been insisting for weeks at the rice that she was in, the results were fraud, the results could not be trusted.

So, Mike Lindell and others where that circle by saying that Kari Lake and her supporters overrode the evil voting machines that were program to steal her victory. Neat trick.

Another big draw CPAC today was this little bit of performance art, a man portraying a January 6th rioter in his jail cell, weeping at his political persecution. No one seemed bothered by the irony that the man playing the role of weeping prisoner was in fact a January 6th rioter himself who avoided jail time.

How did he do that? He cooperated with prosecutors, helping them convict other rioters who then went to prison. You can`t make this stuff up.

But the main event for CPAC actually hasn`t come yet. It`s tomorrow night, when the former twice impeached insurrectionist president himself will give a speech. Tonight, he is in Wisconsin speaking at a rally for Republican candidate for governor. Trump is backing that candidate because, why else. ? He believes the 2020 election was stolen. He won`t commit to certifying the next election if he is elected governor.

Joining us now is the former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida.

Congressman, it`s good to see you again. It is hard not to grin when talking about CPAC these days. But back in 2014, when you are running for Congress, you were a featured speaker at CPAC. You are actually named as a rising conservative star under 40 that year. That wasn`t even a decade ago.

What on earth has happened to CPAC? It used to be a place where conservatives and conservative thinkers went to talk about their stuff. Now it is something else.

CARLOS CURBELO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Ali, it`s good to be with you. This is a tough topic and the worst part of what you said is that I am no longer under 40, but aside from that, you are right. CPAC has become just unrecognizable from what it used to be. He used to be a place where conservatives we don`t talk about ideas, proposals, the role of government in our country, legitimate conversations.

Now it is a place where lies get amplified, conspiracy theories get advanced. And we hear all other sorts of miscellaneous demagoguery. And it`s a shame, because it really has nothing to offer accept this toxic material that is pushing Republicans and conservatives deeper into this whole, this picked that Donald Trump started digging back in 2015.

VELSHI: So there`s a couple of flavors to this that are alarming. One is the conspiracy theory stuff that sort of leads in CPAC, the speeches about Mike Lindell, the phone polygamy, talking about the machines taking over, this kind of nonsense. But then there is the other.

Stuff like Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, who a lot of conservatives are looking to as an example of a guy who runs understandably Democratic nation that is a member of NATO, that doesn`t like immigration, that doesn`t like race missing, that doesn`t like transgender rights and doesn`t like a whole lot of stuff -- that almost worries some people more because they are looking at the legitimate example of someone to follow.

CURBELO: Yeah, think about what is being celebrated at CPAC. And of course this is all inspired by Donald Trump. And it was unleashed by Donald Trump.

We have an authoritarian -- I mean, at CPAC, when I had been there, used to criticize governments like Castro`s in Cuba, Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela, and now you are celebrating authoritarian dictators.

And then the other image you showed of the insurrectionists in the jail cell, that is something else that apparently CPAC thinks is worth celebrating, the fact that a group of Americans, criminals who attacked the capitol and tried to interrupt a constitutional process -- I mean, the constitution is something that used to be sacred at CPAC. Now, apparently it`s just something to mock.

VELSHI: Congressman, what do you see happening here? Does CPAC to sort of remain a fringe movement?


Or is it becoming more central to the Republican Party of today?

CURBELO: Ali, this is all tied to what happens to Donald Trump. We have seen a lot of mixed results this primary season on the Republican side. Trump has had some clear victories. He has had some clear defeats as well, as has Georgia, North Carolina, with Madison Cawthorn and others.

And this is a battle for the Republican Party. But I would tell everyone, this isn`t just about the Republican Party. This country only has two parties. We really need both to be viable options, to be decent alternatives, because one party is always going to get swept out of power. So, we want the alternative to be tolerable.

And right now, if this Trump movement continues to dominate the Republican Party, that is just terrible news for the country. Again, there are some Republicans out there fighting this battle, trying to restore some sense of decency, of normalcy, of integrity. But right now it`s not clear who is going to win.

VELSHI: Congressman, good to see you again, thank you for joining, us former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida.

Through the magic of television I look like I`m doing this show as usual from New York, tonight, but I`m not, I`m in another part of this country that I travel to, because people who have been hit hard by a Supreme Court decision are strategizing about how to fight back. Who they are, what they said and where I am, next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Representative Angela Mendez, does this apply to a fifth grader who has been a victim of incest?

STATE REP. KAREN ENGELMA (R), INDIANA: It -- it does. But I think it is harmful to put a minor in a position of being the new Jane Roe, the weight of whether or not we allow lives to be ended should not rest on the traumatized shoulders of a young rape survivor.


VELSHI: On Thursday, lawmakers in Indiana, debated amendments to their abortion ban bill, like the one offered by the woman in pink you just saw. She had many of her colleagues wanted to remove exceptions for rape and incest from the proposed legislation that would ban virtually all abortions in the state.

Ultimately, the House voted 61 to 39 to keep those exceptions in the bill. But most House Republicans voted to remove them. And today, the state house held its final vote on the bill. And it passed, 62 to 38. It goes back to the state Senate for other amendments now.

Indiana is now that much closer to joining the ten states that currently ban all abortions at anytime during pregnancy, with a few exceptions.

States like Alabama, where the law only makes exceptions for the life and health of the mother. Alabama`s abortion ban was passed in 2019. It was unenforceable at the time because Roe v. Wade made it so but was built to go into full effect as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

The law makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy. And that law is vaguely written and has wide-ranging implications.

So, today, I came to Alabama. And I met with a panel of doctors, activists, organizers and lawmakers in Tuscaloosa to hear firsthand what this law means firsthand, and from where they fear things might be headed next. It`s not going to stop with abortion limitations.

Here is Robin Marty, who ran one of the few abortion clinics in the state until the end of Roe v. Wade.


ROBIN MARTY, WEST ALABAMA WOMEN`S CENTER OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: We don`t believe that birth control is going to be accessible or available or legal in Alabama for too much longer, because there`s too much control right now. There is too much control in the legislature to overturn it. Birth control is already extraordinarily impossible to get in Alabama.

For the most part, the only place you can get it, if you are -- and uninsured is from a county health department. And it`s a two, three, four month wait, in order to get into see somebody for. So although --

VELSHI: Let me just be clear on this. If you do not have health insurance or other coverage, and you would like -- you are a woman who would like to be on birth control in the state of Alabama, you could wait 3 to 4 months to get an appointment?

MARTY: Absolutely. That`s how we ended up with so many people at our clinic.

JENICE FOUNTAIN, YELLOWHAMMER FUND FAMILY JUSTICE ORGANIZER: Like 8:00 am to call the clinic -- not an easy making the call to the appointment. You have to wake out at a certain time, you`ve got about a five minute window of waiting on the phone, if you get through on that day, to make it down to get an appointment. It`s not like an accessible thing.

STATE REP. CHRIS ENGLAND (D), TUSCALOOSA: Legislation introduced would`ve given employees the ability to terminate --


VELSHI: Insurance for birth control.

ENGLAND: We argued in the legislature about whether or not an employer can tell you to taking birth control or not.

VELSHI: So, Kerry, -- this is the first -- we do these discussions across the country. But this is the first one post-Roe. And I remember people said, why Alabama? That was my question coming into this conversation, becoming abundantly clear, why Alabama?


VELSHI: And that is why I am in Alabama tonight. You can see much more of my conversation tomorrow on Sunday at 8:00 a.m. on my show "Velshi".

We`ll be right back.



VELSHI: Going to tell you a story that may sound familiar. There is a twist at the end, so hold on to this.

It`s about a woman, Pamela Moses, who was sentenced earlier this year to six years in prison to trying to register to vote in Shelby County, Tennessee, when she was illegible, not for voting, but for trying to vote, to try to register to vote. Moses was on probation, so she was ineligible to vote. She thought she was ineligible because the Department of Corrections gave her permission, and so did the county election commission.

But despite, that the judge hearing her case claims she tricked the probation department into signing off on her paperwork. The top prosecutor for Shelby County, Tennessee, Amy Weirich, sought to make an example of Moses, announcing her sentencing in his press release.

When Pamela Moses got her conviction thrown out, after a "Guardian" report uncovered information proving that the Department of Correction had made a mistake, that district attorney Amy Weirich sent out another press release without another apology. In fact, she called the 82 days Moses had already spent in jail, because of the state`s mistakes sufficient.

Pamela Moses`s case is the latest involving Amy Weirich and that Shelby County D.A.`s office that has drawn accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.

And here`s the twist I promised you. Yesterday, the people of Shelby County decided they`ve had enough. They voted her out in favor of a progressive challenger, a former civil rights lawyer whose campaign promises included creating a conviction review unit.

So, as Rachel often says, elections have consequences. But maybe it should be this time, consequences have elections.

That does it for us tonight. Rachel is back here on Monday.

"THE LAST WORD" with Zerlina Maxwell, who`s in for Lawrence O`Donnell, starts now.