'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, January 28th, 2010
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Guests: Kent Jones, Tricia McKinney, Sen. Robert Menendez, Tracey Ullman, Jonathan Turley
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I have to tell you, this is one of those things that I am both --- I‘m embarrassed, I am flattered, I‘m terrified and I‘m oddly nervous to sort of meet myself?
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: Yes.
OLBERMANN: Embrace it. It could be worse. You know what? It could be worse. Ben Affleck could be playing you and Tracey could, in fact, be playing me. It could get really confusing.
MADDOW: Hey, you got a signed cue card out of the deal. That wasn‘t
that wasn‘t too bad.
OLBERMANN: That‘s true. That‘s true. We‘ll get a signed cue card out of this deal.
MADDOW: That‘s a good idea.
OLBERMANN: All right. See you.
MADDOW: Thank you, Keith. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. The president choosing his post-State of the Union battles putting him and the Democrats on one side, Republicans and the banks and big business on the other. If you‘re wondering who that guy was who gave the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union last night and why Republicans picked someone to do that, who‘s only been in office 11 days, we will call upon the estimable, explanatory power of the game show in order to figure that one out. I hope this works.
Plus, how the fake anti-ACORN pimp guy-turned-alleged phone fiddler may have tweeted himself into some more trouble with the law. Jonathan Turley is here.
And as Keith said, oh, my, Tracey Ullman is here as herself. I can‘t wait.
That‘s all coming up.
But we begin tonight with an ancient political science blessing: May you have enemies who are truly and demonstrably villainous. Politics 101 is: picking an enemy who will resonate with the majority of people you‘re trying to reach—essentially picking a bad guy. In picking your bad guy, it‘s important to find someone who, A, deserves it and, B, seems like they deserve it—someone for whom it is hard to have sympathy.
Well, today the day after the State of the Union, it‘s clear that President Obama has picked his bad guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: . to stabilize the banking sector, particularly since they helped create this mess. But we also need some rules of the road for Wall Street so that reckless decisions made by a few don‘t take our economy over the side. That‘s common sense. There‘s nothing radical about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Big business, Wall Street, the fat cats who are doing great while most Americans are struggling, that‘s the enemy that Mr. Obama has chosen. Not only is Wall Street not hurting, they‘re doling out record pay this year, that they are a big part of why everyone else is hurting in terms of the financial meltdown.
During last night‘s State of the Union, it took President Obama 32 minutes to get to the issue of health reform, part of the reason it took so long to get to health reform is because he spent so much time before it battering the banks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there‘s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans and everybody in between, it‘s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One is blest in politics to have a clear, villainous political enemy who actually deserves it. Now, one is doubly blest if one‘s political opponents choose to side with that enemy.
Check this out.
OBAMA: We recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.
MADDOW (voice-over): See that? Just a few stray Republican claps. Give Republicans the benefit of the doubt, though. Maybe they were just daydreaming during this part of the speech.
Keep rolling the tape here.
OBAMA: Most but not all. To recover the rest, I proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Now.
OBAMA: Now, I know Wall Street isn‘t keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.
MADDOW: The Democratic side erupts with applause—and Republicans?
Glued to their seats, wide eyed.
Remember, the Democratic majority is so big that the Dems cross over the aisle. So, here are the Democrats and here are the Republicans.
MADDOW: John Boehner, Eric Cantor, House Republican leaders, here you are on tape forever. Leave the banks alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave me alone, please.
MADDOW: Politics 101 is picking a good enemy. Politics 201 is picking a good enemy, who your political opponent sides with in public. And that is what President Obama appears to have done here.
Everybody thinks that Republicans are on the offense right now, right? Democrats on the defense. But Republicans have a big political vulnerability on this issue for 2010. Not just with the liberals and the independents and the moderates who the president was clearly trying to appeal to last night, but also, potentially, to the angry populist crowds that the Republicans want to think of as their new base, the tea partiers, the so-called angry independents.
They‘re supposedly an individual freedom, power of the little guy populist movement. How are they going to feel about the Republican position against banks paying back the taxpayers for the bailout money?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: These firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again. They can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And the Republicans stay seated.
If the tea party folks really are independent and really aren‘t just supporting Republicans, this is going to be tough politics for the Republicans—not only against the liberals and the moderates but against the people who they want to be their new base. President Obama also last night got a huge assist on this subject from a surprising quarter. As Mr. Obama described last week‘s Supreme Court ruling, allowing corporations the world over to spend limitlessly on American politicians and political campaigns, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and muttered, not true.
It‘s rare in politics that a Supreme Court justice and a president get to square off like this. But the politics could not be more perfect for Obama here. You might recall the grounds on which then-Senator Obama voted against confirming Justice Alito.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When you look at his record, when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I found that in almost every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless, on behalf of a strong government or corporation, against upholding Americans‘ individual rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ding, ding, ding. The radical decision by the Supreme Court last week siding with corporations over Americans‘ individual rights, right? Giving corporations, even foreign corporations essentially limitless power over our politics. That decision which Republicans are still applauding is right in Democrats‘ political wheel house.
And Democrats made clear today that they would love to have this fight. They would love to have this fight as long and as loudly as possible, please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it‘s outrageous decision. And what he really said was—not outrageous that, in fact, these guys are bad guys. Outrageous in terms of the way in which to read the Constitution and what constitutes free speech. And so, what the president said was to the Congress: we got to fix this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In addition to the White House, Senate Democrats today also recognized that this is exactly where they want to be in terms of a political fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY CMTE CHAIRMAN: I cannot remember a time in my 36 years here in the Senate when I‘ve come on this floor to criticize even decisions I disagree with. But this one I am, because it goes to the very core of our democracy. The conservative, activist bloc on the Supreme Court reached an unnecessary and improper decision that‘s going to distort future elections. They‘ve run roughshod over long line, a long-standing court precedent. Mr. President, this is a threat to the rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The top Democrat on the judiciary committee, Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont. Senator Leahy also calling out Justice Alito by name today when he raised the possibility that Justice Alito might have lied under oath when he said during his confirmation hearings that he wouldn‘t make radical rulings like what Senator Leahy says this decision is.
Politics is about saying what you‘re for. Politics is also about saying what you‘re against. And having unpopular, powerful interests to fight against is the kind of thing that gives politicians and political parties meaning. It gives them their sense of purpose.
Right now, Democrats seem to be on the verge of getting their mojo back, by singling out big business and the banks as their target. Republicans—at least for now—handing them a huge assist by lining up alongside public enemy number one.
Joining us now is Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He‘s on the Senate Banking Committee. He‘s also chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which means he‘s the guy in charge of getting Democratic senators elected and re-elected.
Senator Menendez, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It‘s a pleasure to have you on the show.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: On Tuesday, Politico.com published a memo from the campaign committee which you run. The memo was about how Democrats should try to drive a wedge between the Republican Party and the tea party movement.
Do you agree with the analysis I laid out about this bank fee being one way that Democrats may be able to drive that wedge?
MENENDEZ: Absolutely. Look, this is about—and last night was a perfect example, of who do you stand with? Whose side are you on?
You know, Republicans sat on their hands on the question of a reasonable bank fee to pay back the money that American taxpayers laid out in order to stop the bleeding of the financial institutions and the consequence that would have meant to our overall economy and Main Street. They sat on their hands when the president talked about overturning or finding a way to limit the Supreme Court decision that would allow even foreign corporations to determine the outcome of elections of members to Congress versus average citizens. They even sat on their hands on regulatory reform, which is to ensure that we corral the bulls on Wall Street and make sure that we don‘t have excesses in a free market.
We all believe in a free market. There‘s a difference between a free-market and free-for-all market.
So, basically they showed last night—and our candidates and our incumbents need to make a real case to the American people of contrast—they showed whose side they stand on. And they do not stand with the average citizen.
MADDOW: In terms of that contrast and the political power of this as an issue—and I wouldn‘t be leading with it if I didn‘t think it was potentially powerful—it seems important to me that there is a sharp difference between the parties on this. If Democrats end up having a lot of blue dog defections on these issues of taking on the banks and the issues of trying to curtail the impact of that disastrous Supreme Court decision, if there are a lot of conservative Dems defecting, that‘s going to sap the overall strength of trying to use this against Republicans, is it not?
MENENDEZ: Well, I would suspect that these are issues that even blue dogs have to be onboard. And, you know, I served in the House before I came to the Senate. I served with many of the blue dogs, know them well.
Look, how can you be about not recovering the taxpayers‘ investments when you have record bonuses taking place on Wall Street? How can you be for allowing a foreign corporation to spend, and big money interests, to roll over the average citizen, puts the average citizen in a David versus Goliath set of circumstances? That‘s not blue dog philosophy.
So, at the end of the day, I‘ve got to believe that on these core issues, we are going to be united and we‘re going to put it to the Republicans. I think this is an opportunity for contrast.
I‘ve said to our incumbents and our candidates that this election needs to be a contrast. You need to define yourself. You need to define your opponent. And most importantly, you need to give the electorate a choice.
When they have a choice, they‘re not going to go back to the policies that brought us to the disaster that we were on the brink of and this president saved us from.
MADDOW: When you are advising candidates and incumbents on how to create that sort of distinction, obviously, the bank fee and other issues about financial regulation are right there in terms of making that case. What else is in that case? Or what else helps you make that case? What are the other key issues on which you expect Senate candidates and incumbents to be saying, “We‘re like this, Republicans are not”?
MENENDEZ: Well, you know, I start off with simply saying, now, start now, getting the differences between, quote-unquote, “moderate Republicans,” the ones that the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee wants, and the tea partiers and the extreme right-wing of their party—drive a wedge there.
Ask them: Do you believe Barack Obama as citizen of the United States? Ask them: Do you believe the Tenth Amendment doesn‘t allow for health care for every citizen in the country? Do you believe that Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid is socialism?
I mean, I think these questions need to be driven to them. It needs to be put to them. And then, as we move towards the general election—so that‘s in a primary context, I‘d get those candidates out there now defining these people as to where they stand.
And then secondly, in the general election, I think that driving these substantive issues as we create jobs and even there, you know, I want to see Republicans, what they‘re going to say, when it comes time to cast a vote to create jobs in America. You know, when we have an emergency in this country, like flooding or hurricane disasters—we consider a disaster—when 15 million American breadwinners don‘t have a job, I consider that a disaster, one that has to be responded to by the federal government.
Let them choose on whose side are they on, in trying to get families back to work in America or taking care of big business? That‘s going to be an interesting choice.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, coming out of a very tough loss in Massachusetts—but with what you laid out here, obviously, a plan for how to avoid that in the future. Thank you for your time tonight, sir. Appreciate it.
MENENDEZ: Thank you. Good to be on with you.
MADDOW: Democrats are the party of debt, right? Deficits soar under Democratic administrations. Enough! Right? That‘s the idea, right? Republicans are the fiscally responsible people. Democrats are the ones who let spending run away and let the fiscal balance get all out of whack.
Have you ever actually compared the record of Democratic and Republican presidents in order to find out whether or not that reputation, those slurs are deserved?
Coming up next, we will present the first ever RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on-set game show to try to prove the point. It‘s called pin the debt on the donkey. It‘s very complicated, but come on down.
Also, actor/comedian, force of nature, Tracey Ullman will be here live. She does an impression of me on the new season of her show. And now, we are going to meet—I‘m very nervous—worthwhile shattering encounter just ahead in tonight‘s interview. That‘s all coming up.
MADDOW: Last night, President Obama pledged he would work with Congress this year to repeal “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.” The policy has kicked more than 10,000 service members of the military for being gay. Since President Obama has been commander-in-chief, he‘s responsible for about 600 people being fired from the military for being gay. President Obama says he wants to repeal that policy.
Today, we got a glimpse of how that could start to happen. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Bob Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, are expected to testify about repealing “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” at a Senate Armed Services budget hearing.
The senior defense official telling NBC News that one possibility under consideration is the implementation of an interim policy, a sort of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” light, with restrictions on what kinds of allegations and evidence can be used to start military investigations under the policy.
Anti-“don‘t ask/don‘t tell” activists were happy the president reiterated his intention to dump the policy during last night‘s State of the Union, but they voiced disappointment today that the president has not yet put a halt to antigay witch hunts in the military while repeal of the policy is being considered.
Again, though, first hearing on the policy in more than a decade appears to now be scheduled for Tuesday, which means at long last, we have at least a little movement on this.
MADDOW: If you watched the official Republican response to the State of the Union address and you don‘t live in the state of Virginia, you might have noticed something a little strange, a little unfamiliar about it.
Like for starters, who is that guy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL ®, VIRGINIA: Good evening. I‘m Bob McDonnell. Eleven days ago, I was honored to be sworn in as the 71st governor of Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Republicans chose to deliver their message to the country, their rebuttal to the State of the Union, not a recognizable party leader or a long-serving member of Congress but, rather, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a man who today is working on day 12 of his incumbency.
The governor delivered his message from the statehouse of delegates, surrounded, naturally, by other people you never have heard of or seen before last night. In the course of his very high-profile, “hi there, nice to meet” with the country, 11 days Governor Bob McDonnell quoted Thomas Jefferson and scripture and his kids and his dad, and one living Republican.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDONNELL: The Senator-elect Scott Brown has said, we should be spending taxpayer dollars to defeat terrorists, not to protect them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the official Republican response to the State of the Union was delivered by a guy who has been in office for less than two weeks, who shouted out one other Republican in his speech and that Republican has not yet taken office.
It‘s almost like the Republican strategy is to make us all think they didn‘t exist before about two weeks ago. Hey, look at us. We‘re brand new.
And that might be why Republicans became so enraged when President Obama referenced the previous Republican administration in the State of the Union.
Watch Senator John McCain here and see if you can read his lips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door. Now.
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Now—just stating the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You see what he said there? “Blame it on Bush.” Darn these meddling kids, don‘t they know we‘re erasing that history?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: What we‘re hearing tonight is the BIOB. Let‘s call it that from now on, “blame it on Bush.” Whatever has gone wrong, let‘s blame it on Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You may not want to blame it on Bush, but, honestly, just—
I mean, frankly speaking, how else do you explain the $3 trillion hole in the budget that really was there before Obama took office without talking about George Bush?
I mean, I understand why they want to start over and just be judged on their record of the last 11 days and forget everything that came before that, but they don‘t get to. The record is the record. And sometimes, it is fun to pin the record on the president.
MADDOW: I‘m kind of can‘t kind believe we‘re doing this.
Welcome to “Pin the Debt on the Donkey.” The challenge? Figure out which president saddled America with the most debt and which president didn‘t?
Our two contestants this evening are: Tricia McKinney, the only member of the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW staff who has actually been on a game show. There she is with Alex Trebek.
And also Kent.
Great to have you both here. (INAUDIBLE)
And Kent Jones, I mean, yes!
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Glad to be here.
MADDOW: All right. You got—you got your fingers on your buzzers here? Ready?
Here we go. First question: which modern president added $4.9 trillion to the national debt?
TRICIA MCKINNEY, TRMS STAFF: Bill Clinton.
JONES: Jimmy Carter.
MADDOW: I was hinting at this just a moment ago. It is George W.
MADDOW: Yes. George W. Bush grew the debt by $4.9 trillion. Sorry, guys.
All right. Moving on. Next question: which modern president actually turned a deficit into a surplus?
MCKINNEY: Ronald Reagan.
JONES: George Bush Sr.
MADDOW: Yes. Both wrong again. Very sorry.
Yes. The correct answer is Bill Clinton, yes. Bill Clinton started his term with a deficit, ended with a budget surplus.
All right. So far, you guys are really bad at this. But the final chance to redeem yourselves, your pay is not contingent on being good at this. The last question: which modern president nearly tripled the national debt?
MCKINNEY: Jimmy Carter.
JONES: Trick question. Barack Obama.
MADDOW: Ah, yes—no. It wasn‘t a Democrat. Not even close. It was actually, a little known fact, the 40th president of the United States, legendary fiscal conservative: Ronald Reagan.
MADDOW: So, you guys, thank you. I appreciate your help here.
JONES: Good game.
MADDOW: Well done. Parting gifts actually. There aren‘t any at all.
But, you know, Ronald Reagan is not alone here. If you look at the last 30-plus years, you will see that it is Republican presidents—look at this—who have all added more to the national debt than modern Republicans. Even George H.W. Bush grew the national debt by a bigger percentage than President Carter.
Now, I understand the temptation to try to make a guy who‘s not yet in office and a guy who‘s been in office 11 days the new marquee leaders of the brand new, just-established Republican Party. I understand why that is more politically appealing than running on the kind of record that gives you graphs like we just showed—I get that.
What I don‘t get is how the Republicans get talked about by the press and the pundits as if they deserve that, as if they are somehow the natural party of fiscal responsibility, given that their record really doesn‘t look like that at all. I don‘t get it. I really don‘t.
But we do have Tracey Ullman joining us next. And that I get.
MADDOW: OK. Here is the Venn diagram. One circle is labeled “flattering.” The other circle is labeled “causes excruciating embarrassment.” The overlap between those two circles is the experience of being imitated by the walking, talking, 10-foot tall talent that is Tracey Ullman.
She is long-established as one of the world‘s most inventive comics from her ground-breaking “Tracey Ullman Show” to Tracey takes on where she invented a rather exotic universe of characters to inhabit. In her new series, “Tracey Ullman‘s State of the Union,” she inhabits a lot of familiar people from Arianna Huffington to Congressman Barney Frank to this kid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACEY ULLMAN (as Rachel Maddow): OK. Now, this is the least favorite thing about having my own TV show, having to get made up. Well, I‘m done. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no you don‘t. You get right back down here, little missy. Here you go.
ULLMAN (as Rachel Maddow): All right. But, please. Not too much powder blue eye shadow. The last makeup artist made me look like Joan Van Ark.
ULLMAN (as Arianna Huffington): Hello, Rachel.
(as Rachel Maddow): Oh, Arianna. Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you to sit still.
ULLMAN (as Arianna Huffington): That was my fault. That was my fault. I distracted her. I‘m going to shut up.
(as Rachel Maddow): it‘s her fault.
(as Arianna Huffington): I haven‘t stopped talking since “Morning Joe” when I picked apart the health plan debacle with Mika Brzezinski. And then it was on to an all-you-can-tweet breakfast at the ABC Wireless Room with Diane Sawyer. Now there is a makeup department that really knows how to make an older woman look good in high definition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Tracey Ullman, star of “Tracey Ullman‘s State of the Union” that airs Monday at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on Show Time. It is very nice to meet you.
TRACEY ULLMAN, COMEDIAN: It‘s really nice to meet you.
MADDOW: Thank you for coming.
ULLMAN: I‘m a huge fan of yours.
ULLMAN: And I found these glasses in a pharmacy. They cost me $11 bucks. And I put them on and I don‘t know. I went - you have a goofy laugh. You have a really goofy laugh. They get you doing goofier bits like the “Price is Right” thing?
ULLMAN: And so, I don‘t know. I just wanted to be you.
MADDOW: Do I always laugh like that?
ULLMAN: Sometimes. You weren‘t laughing in Doyle‘s last week. You looked so sad.
MADDOW: I think I was attacked for looking more sad than I actually looked.
ULLMAN: You were going to look like this. I don‘t blame you, though.
MADDOW: That‘s just age.
ULLMAN: What I did as well - Matthew Mongel, an Academy Award winning makeup artist gave me a chin, so I have the Rachel Maddow - because you have a long face.
MADDOW: I do?
ULLMAN: I tried to make a nose and it didn‘t look right.
ULLMAN: Yes. I looked really kind of Hebrew.
MADDOW: I can imagine.
ULLMAN: And you‘re not.
ULLMAN: So distantly, but -
MADDOW: Yes. OK.
ULLMAN: And then, as soon as I got to start impersonating you, I laughed and my chin cracked.
MADDOW: Where does a prosthetic chin attach to one‘s -
ULLMAN: They‘re the hardest things to wear because as soon as you go
it cracked. I know. It‘s a tough one. I spent probably $10,000 in post-production covering the line of the chin that cracked on the day. So you‘re worth it to me, though, Rachel.
MADDOW: You did the whole thing with a cracked chin?
MADDOW: And through the magic of technology and $10,000 -
ULLMAN: Yes, I was kind of pasting it down. Yes, so that‘s what happened.
MADDOW: Well, you have a totally line free chin as it turns out. I hope it‘s worth $10,000 to you. I am very flattered by this, but also mystified that you would pick me. How do you pick who to do this? I mean, obviously, the glasses.
ULLMAN: You‘re so hot. But you‘re hot. I just - I don‘t know. I mean, it‘s - why do I pick Barney Frank?
MADDOW: Yes, why do you pick Barney - oh, I mean, Arianna is -
ULLMAN: Does he wear teeth? Please - I‘m new (UNINTELLIGIBLE) these news people. I adore him. But is he not wearing teeth? Just come on. Tell me.
MADDOW: I don‘t - I‘ve never checked.
ULLMAN: Come on.
MADDOW: I‘ve never checked. It looks like he‘s - there you are.
ULLMAN: There you go, see? There you go. Look (UNINTELLIGIBLE) systems. Look, there he is.
MADDOW: Whether or not he has teeth, he could be playing - I don‘t know. I don‘t know this.
ULLMAN: And the makeup artist is Ms. Yvonne from the “Peewee Days.”
MADDOW: Oh, gosh.
MADDOW: That‘s amazing. The other thing that‘s strange about this is that I am sort of like that in the makeup room. Did you know that?
ULLMAN: Imagined you would be a little not into the getting made up. I‘m not either and I just spoke to your makeup artist and she said, “It‘s so true. She runs in here.” But you have a nice makeup department. Some of the news departments could sort of cover you in that Caribbean orange sunset stuff, couldn‘t they?
MADDOW: I ask for that sometimes on days when I need cheering up. Make me look sunny. Is it harder to imitate a real person or to create a character from scratch?
ULLMAN: I‘ve never impersonated famous people before but this show I‘m doing, “State of the Union,” going across the country and I really felt if I threw in some celebrities and famous folks, it almost gets you more attention than being you, because that‘s the state we are in now. Everyone is so celebrity-obsessed. But it can be. It depends. It depends. Arianna is a cinch.
MADDOW: Because the accent drives everything?
ULLMAN: Because it‘s Eva Gabor from “Green Acres.” And then I threw in - also, I was bipartisan and did a little Meghan McCain, the Republican there.
MADDOW: Yes. I think she enjoyed it. Didn‘t she say she enjoyed it?
ULLMAN: I think she did, yes. Oh, what am I doing here?
MADDOW: That‘s you doing like the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance scene with the TSA check point.
ULLMAN: Yes. I try everything.
MADDOW: Here‘s my question about State of the Union and famous people. I have an issue in - I mean, obviously, we don‘t do performance here but I am absolutely, I feel like I‘m doing you imitating me right now. This is really awkward. I feel like I‘m very entertained by politics.
MADDOW: And the problem I‘m having this year is I think the most fascinating show in American politics is what‘s happening to Republicans and with the conservative movement and the tea party and all that stuff. There are no famous Republicans, though. Like there‘s Sarah Palin who is very famous.
ULLMAN: Tina Fey did a definitive Sarah Palin. It was superb.
MADDOW: So you can‘t do that. Nobody is going to do that other than her.
ULLMAN: I think there‘s been - I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Barack Obama is getting better. I think they were a little reluctant to imitate Barack Obama in his first year, but it‘s like anything is up for grabs now.
It‘s like, I‘m still kissing the TV screen when he‘s on but I don‘t follow him off the screen anymore. So even, you know.
MADDOW: But to be able to - I want to be able to talk about people on
the right even more than I do but there‘s -
ULLMAN: Who do you think of? Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter -
MADDOW: Would you ever do Michele Bachmann?
ULLMAN: I don‘t know. She is a glamorously bonkers. Maybe, maybe
next year -
MADDOW: John Boehner?
ULLMAN: He can barely control his disdainful look. He‘s just like John - you know, look at Barack Obama without going - like, just be polite, as your mother would say.
MADDOW: He just wants a cigarette. That‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ULLMAN: He got in trouble in the tanning salon.
MADDOW: Oh, I have one other thing that I want to talk to you about.
MADDOW: Dual citizenship.
MADDOW: You‘ve lived here for a long time.
MADDOW: But you‘ve just become a citizen.
ULLMAN: I have. This is like so bad. It‘s like school, right? Do that impersonation of that girl in the third grade. It‘s really funny. It‘s horribly so annoying.
MADDOW: No, it‘s not annoying at all. It is cool and totally weird.
But you decided to become an American citizen.
ULLMAN: I did.
MADDOW: You‘re a dual citizen.
ULLMAN: Yes, I am.
MADDOW: did you have a choice?
ULLMAN: Yes. You can remain English and American and I wanted to
vote in this country. I‘ve been here for 25 years. Had my kids here. And
so, you know, I get the best of both worlds. I have my European
perspective. My daughter works for the government in England actually, so
we‘re very sort of - she is very into politics. And -
MADDOW: Do you feel differently about the country since getting your citizenship?
ULLMAN: At the beginning of the turn of the century, I was a little scared if I said anything odd. Dick Cheney might take my green card back so I decided to become a citizen.
MADDOW: I felt the same way except for the green card part.
ULLMAN: He didn‘t and here I am.
MADDOW: Tracey Ullman -
ULLMAN: Psychologically freed to impersonate people.
MADDOW: And make them both uncomfortable and incredibly flattered and happy, which is what you‘ve done to me.
ULLMAN: You‘re really cool.
MADDOW: Yes, thank you.
ULLMAN: You‘re getting a little goofy over Christiane Amanpour.
MADDOW: We didn‘t play that part because that made me extra embarrassed.
ULLMAN: OK. All right. You‘ll get used to it because I‘m doing it next year. All right? Good to see you?
MADDOW: “Tracey Ullman‘s State of the Union” airs Mondays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on Show Time. These are filthy.
ULLMAN: They are horrid. They were only $11, Rachel. They were only $11.
MADDOW: Thank you very much, Tracey. It‘s nice to meet you.
ULLMAN: It‘s nice to meet you.
MADDOW: All right. So he‘s outraged at what the president did not talk about last night in the State of the Union except the president did talk about those things. Rudy Giuliani attacks the president and proves that when you channel surf, you miss things. That‘s coming up. Do not channel surf in the meantime.
MADDOW: Lesson number one for politicians-turned-TV-pundits? Watch a State of the Union Address before you criticize it. Rudolph Giuliani learns that one the hard way. That‘s coming up.
But first, a major development in the case against the man who admits to killing Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortion services at a clinic in Wichita, Kansas. Scott Roeder took the stand today in his murder trial and acknowledged to the jury that he shot Dr. Tiller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you dispute any of the evidence as represented by the state?
SCOTT ROEDER, ALLEGED KILLER OF DR. GEORGE TILLER: I do not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret what you did?
ROEDER: No, I don‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On May 31st, 2009, did you go to the Reformation Lutheran Church and shoot and killed George Tiller?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The facts in this case are not in dispute. Scott Roeder killed Dr. Tiller. We know that. He admits to it. But the defense wanted Scott Roeder convicted of voluntary manslaughter, which would earn him five years in prison instead of first-degree murder which would earn him life in prison.
To meet the voluntary manslaughter definition, Mr. Roeder tried to mount a defense that his killing Dr. Tiller was justifiable. Today, the defense rested that case and it failed. The judge ruled that the jury cannot consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.
They can only find him guilty or not guilty of first degree premeditated murder. Both sides will present their closing arguments tomorrow. We will cover that on tomorrow‘s show.
The tea party nation convention is still scheduled for next week in Nashville, Tennessee. But if you are one of the unlucky few people who shelled out more than $500 for your ticket to this for-profit event, you should probably know that the program is thinning out a little bit.
Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann have both now pulled out of the event, both citing concerns about the ethics of appearing at a for profit concern.
Earlier this month, a sponsor of the conference, the American Liberty Alliance, pulled out of the convention as well, soon to be followed by the National Precinct Alliance, yet another sponsor, followed today by the Tea Party Express which released a statement explaining that they were saddened to not be able to make it, but they found themselves, quote, “overextended and unable to take on the mini-tour and rally we had planned for the tea party convention.”
Also we had to wash our hair and we just got out of a really long relationship. It is totally not you. It‘s us. At this point, there is only one politician still willing to be associated with this event which the blog, “RedState.org” has described as “smelling scammy.”
The one politician still willing to be associated with it? Sarah Palin, reportedly being paid $100,000 for her appearance at the convention and that kind of money can buy a lot of patriotic “we, the people” fervor.
The best URL in all the tea party land of course is
“TeaParty.org.” However, “TeaParty.org.” sadly has the misfortune of being run by this guy. His name is Dale Robertson on behalf of - can you drop the bug there so we can see what the sign says? That would be awesome. Please? Thank you.
On behalf of “TeaParty.org,” Mr. Robertson sent out a fundraising E-mail yesterday as a response to President Obama‘s State of the Union Address. The fundraising E-mail was titled, “Obama Pimping Obama-care, One last time!”
The E-mail included this picture brought to you by the fine, fine folks at “TeaParty.org,” run again by this gentleman. Common wisdom is that the Republican Party is doing great for itself by embracing the tea party movement. The tea party movement is the energy, the soul of the new Republican Party.
The energy is certainly there. Whether this ultimately works out well for the Republicans, though, I think the jury might still be out on that.
MADDOW: Four guys charged with trying to tamper with the phone system in a United States senator‘s office. Now, one of them is tweeting about it in violation of what I thought was a legal gag order. That‘s next with Jonathan Turley.
MADDOW: What were four men with ties to conservative organizations doing when they were caught this week in Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s New Orleans office? Today, a lawyer for one of the men said they wanted to record embarrassing hidden camera footage from the office.
The lawyer says that they did not want to wiretap or disable the senator‘s phones. The men are all in their 20s. They are charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony.
Authorities say two of the men entered the office dressed as telephone repairmen, one of them equipped with a hidden camera, while a third used his cell phone to videotape them in the office. A fourth man waited in the car down the street.
All four face up to 10 years in prison. Despite a reported gag order, the conservative activist made famous for dressing up as a pimp and videotaping ACORN workers, James O‘Keefe, who was the man with the cell phone recording the fake repairmen. He has tweeted about the incident telling Twitter followers that the government, quote, “concedes no attempt to wiretap.”
Joining us is Jonathan Turley, professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University. Professor Turley, thanks very much for being here.
JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON
UNIVERSITY: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Why is the tweet significant? How could he get in trouble for tweeting about the case if there is a gag order?
TURLEY: Well, if there‘s a gag order, it usually binds all parties and you‘re not allowed to discuss the case. That can sometimes raise some constitutional issues about a person‘s right to defend himself in public.
But usually, if you want to get outside of a gag order, you have to petition the court. But putting aside the gag order and the possibility of contempt, it‘s a uniquely stupid thing for a defendant in a criminal case to be addressing the media or the public directly. It‘s a very dangerous practice, and I don‘t know any attorney that would tolerate such a thing.
MADDOW: Why is it dangerous?
TURLEY: Well, because anything that you say in public usually can be admissible in court. It also tends to destroy the relationship with the judge. It could bring a charge of at least a technical violation or a contempt sanction.
MADDOW: On New Year‘s Eve, Mr. O‘Keefe tweeted that something big would happen in 2010. He said, “2008, Planned Parenthood VPs fired. 2009 ACORN defunded. 2010, get ready because this is about to get heavy.”
In terms of things being used in the case against him, could that be significant in this case?
TURLEY: Well, it can. It‘s also significant in the sense that he seems to have been at least hinting and perhaps discussing this operation with other people. And, you know, the charges that were brought against him under Section 1036 - that‘s going into a federal property with the intention to commit a felony - it also alleges malicious interference.
Now, that provision on malicious interference, which is Section 1362, that includes a section on aiding and abetting. And it also allows you to be prosecuted even if you attempt to maliciously interfere with phones.
So it is possible that other people might have been part of a wider conspiracy, had knowledge or supported this activity. Those people should feel very uncomfortable.
MADDOW: In terms of the four that have been charged thus far, does it matter whether they were trying to cut off phones or wiretap them or if they were there to secretly gather embarrassing video?
We‘ve heard a bunch of different potential scenarios for what it was they were doing there. Is there a huge difference between them in terms of their criminal culpability?
TURLEY: It probably is not going to be huge. If they were engaged in surveillance, there is a chance that they could have been facing more than 10 years, particularly if the court applied a consecutive sentence.
But if they‘re just being charged with malicious interference as the felony, plus this entry into federal property, they‘re still looking at 10 years. The question becomes where in that range they‘ll fall.
For Mr. O‘Keefe, he should expect to be the target of this prosecution. And there‘s a lot of aggravating conditions here.
MADDOW: Jonathan Turley, professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University, thank you for helping us sort this out tonight. It‘s nice to see you.
TURLEY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith investigates how Sarah Palin, of all people, has garnered the wrath of the tea partiers.
Next on this show, Rudy Giuliani has a State of the Union malfunction live on TV. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We turn now to our specious rebuttal correspondent, Kent Jones. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel. You know, Rudy Giuliani went on TV this morning to blast the State of the Union.
JONES: Surprisingly, Giuliani seemed to have issues with Obama‘s approach to national security.
JONES: Imagine -
(voice-over): Leave it to America‘s mayor -
FMR. MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R-NY): September 11th. I‘m not talking about September 11th just because of September 11th. September 11th is part of our debate. What I did on September 11th. Not just September 11th.
JONES: To drill down to the tough questions. Barack Obama, prepare for Rudolph W. Giuliani.
GIULIANI: the president last night, in his State of the Union speech, ignored national security.
JONES: Bam! Yes, Mr. Commander in chief, answer that.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: National security.
Security. Security. Security. Homeland security. Security. Security.
JONES: Yes, OK, whatever. Rudy is not done with you.
GIULIANI: Didn‘t talk about the Christmas - almost bomber.
JONES: Underpants guy. Where‘s he? Did somebody accidentally hit delete?
OBAMA: We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence.
JONES: Typical. Obama‘s playing games just to make Giuliani look bad. This isn‘t over. Come on, Rudy, bring the pain.
GIULIANI: We are at war with Islamic terrorists and notice once again, he never used that word.
JONES: Oh, terrorism! Is Obama afraid of that word? Hello.
OBAMA: Terrorists. Terrorists. Terrorism.
JONES: Now, I know what he left out. Obama didn‘t say anything about politicians trying to regain a tiny shred of relevance by just making stuff up, even though everything he says can be fact-checked by a bright 10-year-old with a Twitter account. Yes. Talk about that.
MADDOW: Thank you, Kent. Appreciate it. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now. That was very good.
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