Skip navigation

'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guest: Michael Moore, Howard Fineman>

HOST:  Good evening, Lawrence.  I have to tell you, I

watched you on—I watched you do “COUNTDOWN” last night on live TV on an

airplane.  I was on one of those planes that shows live TV.


MADDOW:  You look—what a country—you look even better on the

back of an airplane seat than you do on a regular TV.

O‘DONNELL:  Because the screen is so tiny.  That‘s why.

MADDOW:  But you wear it well, Lawrence.  You wear it very well. 

Thanks a lot.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next


Congressman Bart Stupak and filmmaker Michael Moore have one critical

thing in common.  The latest news on Mr. Stupak‘s quest to hijack health

reform and our live visit with Mr. Moore here in studio are both just


Congressman Barney Frank will also be here this hour.

That‘s all coming up.

But we begin tonight with something brand-new and not before reported

on why health reform passing is a more likely prospect than most of us have

been led to believe.  The in-the-know Beltway insider common wisdom right

now about whether or not reform is going to pass holds that Congressman

Bart Stupak of Michigan is a big problem for the bill‘s chances.

Bart Stupak, of course, is the Democrat in the House who was trying to

make himself famous by threatening to kill health reform over the issue of



REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN:  We do not want our taxpayer dollars

going to fund abortion.  And so, we‘re just sticking to this principle.


MADDOW:  Mr. Stupak has been engaged in an effort that is as high-

profile as he can possibly make it to hijack health reform—to hijack the

whole health care reform debate, to turn it into an abortion debate.  That

effort has succeeded in the sense that it‘s made Bart Stupak much better

known than he otherwise was.  It remains to be seen if he‘ll be able to

keep himself famous, though, now that his big supposed threat to kill

health reform appears to be falling apart.

One of the things that folks have not paid much attention to as

they‘ve been putting Bart Stupak on TV and giving him more attention than

he‘s ever had in his life is that Bart Stupak never seems to name this bloc

of people who he supposedly represents—this block of Stupak-following

members of Congress who he supposedly speaks for.

Well, last month, Congressman Stupak said it was 15 to 20 unnamed

members of the House who he said had major concerns about the bill.


STUPAK:  But at least to the House members I‘ve talked to, probably

about 15 or 20 of them in the last 24 hours, they‘ve said there are other

problems with this bill.


MADDOW:  Fifteen to 20 members have problems with this bill, 15 to 20. 

Don‘t worry about who they are.

Well, now his 15 to 20 is supposedly down to 12.  But, again, don‘t

worry who they are.  Mr. Stupak says 12 members now would vote against

health reform because they agree with him, that the bill should be used to

try to restrict access to abortion.


STUPAK:  There are at least 12 of us who voted for health care who

have indicated to the leadership and others and unless you fix this

abortion language, we can‘t vote for a final version of the bill.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS:  You and your 11 colleagues who voted

yes the last time will vote no this time.  Does that mean you‘re prepared

to take responsibility for bringing down this whole bill?

STUPAK:  Yes, we‘re prepared to take responsibility.

Unless the language changes, there are at least 12 Democrats who have

said that they could not vote for health care.


MADDOW:  At least 12 Democrats.  I have, at least 12.

Without naming names, Mr. Stupak has claimed to have 12 -- at least 12

Democrats willing to join him in scuttling the entire health reform bill

for this abortion cause.  The Stupak dozen, right?

Well, today here‘s some news.  We spoke with a senior House leadership

aide, whose job is to not just pay attention to Bart Stupak because he

wants people to pay attention to him, but to actually fact-check what Bart

Stupak says, to see if he really does have those 12 votes he says he has.

And it turns out when Bart Stupak says “at least 12,” what he really

means is not really 12 at all.  This senior leadership aide is telling us

today that after an informal whip count on the Hill, quote, “We do not see

more than four or five members standing with Bart when this bill is

actually brought to the floor.”  Four or five.

So, Bart Stupak‘s unnamed posse of 15 to 20 became Bart Stupak‘s

unnamed posse of 12 and now it looks like it‘s become Bart Stupak‘s unnamed

posse of four, maybe five plus Bart.

Bart Stupak‘s dwindling posse is not the only problem he has right

now, though.  In negotiating with Bart Stupak and trying to figure out what

he and his four friends want, there‘s also the problem that what he says he

wants is something that can‘t be done.


STUPAK:  The bottom line is, there has to be no public funding for

abortion.  That‘s been the law for 33 years.  Let‘s just put current law in

the bill and move forward.


MADDOW:  Congressman Stupak is proposing something that sounds very

simple.  It‘s also very easy to remember when you‘re on television.  It‘s

not, however, something that is legislatively possible.

The only way that health reform passes right now—the path to health

reform passing goes like this: The House passes the Senate bill as-is and

then another package of tweaks to the Senate bill are passed through

reconciliation.  That‘s the path to health reform passing.

Reconciliation can only be used for things that have budgetary

consequences.  Bart Stupak‘s proposed “ban abortion” language which this

whole stunt is about, that language can‘t the done under reconciliation. 

It can‘t be done.  It‘s against the rules.

What Bart Stupak is now demanding is a legislative impossibility. 

It‘s like a kid telling you they‘re not going to eat their broccoli unless

you hold your breath for 40 minutes.  You could try to please that child by

doing that, but it‘s not going to happen.  You are welcome to die trying. 

It can‘t be done.

There‘s also the increasingly awkward fact that the problem Mr. Stupak

is trying to solve with his solution that can‘t be done, the problem itself

does not exist.  Mr. Stupak keeps saying the Senate bill would subsidize

abortions, right?


STUPAK:  The bill that they‘re using as the vehicle is the Senate

bill.  And if you go to page 2,069 through page 2,078, you will find in

there, the federal government would directly subsidize abortions.


MADDOW:  I love the “cite the page numbers” trick.  It sounds so

authoritative, right?  But if you go to the section of the bill that Bart

Stupak is citing, it turns out that‘s the part of the bill that points out

that he‘s lying.  Quote, “If a qualified health plan provides coverage of

abortion, the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to

any government funds for purposes of paying for such services.”  Shall not

shall not—shall not subsidize abortions.  Government funds shall not

be used to pay for abortions.


In fact, the Senate bill goes further than even that specific

language.  It says, if you—if you as a person receive any federal

subsidies for health care, you must pay for your abortion coverage

separately.  Not just that you can‘t use federal money to pay for your—

for abortion coverage, but you have to pay twice—you have to pay

separately.  The Senate bill doesn‘t allow spending government money on

abortion, no matter how much Bart Stupak has convince his friends at “FOX

and Friends” otherwise.


GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  The reason that you have problems

with the Senate bill is because it allows federal funding for abortion.


MADDOW:  Not actually true.

Bart Stupak is not trying to keep federal money from going towards

abortions.  There‘s already an incredibly arcane procedure in the Senate

bill to make sure there is no federal funding for abortions in this at all. 

What Congressman Stupak‘s language would do is say if you get any federal

money for anything, then—get this—you are prohibited from spending

any of your own money on insurance that covers abortion, because, you know,

money is fungible.  That dollar that you got from the federal government

for something else, even if it‘s not for abortions, if you spend it on

insurance that covers abortions—well, that magic process of moving that

money through your life somehow offends Bart Stupak‘s belief about the

appropriate disposition of your uterus.

This is not about stopping federal funding of abortion.  Federal

funding of abortion is not in the health reform bill.  This is about

stopping people from being able to pay for insurance that covers abortion

at all.

In fact, if you think about it, there‘s no reason why Bart Stupak

should be trying to hijack health reform specifically in order to do this. 

He could be hijacking anything.  I mean, let‘s say you get food stamps. 

That‘s a federal subsidy, right?  If you get food stamps from the

government, Bart Stupak‘s big idea would mean that you‘re not allowed to

buy insurance that covers abortion with your own money because the food

stamps government money might magically through—move through your life

to pay for an abortion.

If you get money from the government for anything—if you get—

let‘s say you get a tax credit to weatherize your home or let‘s say you

participated in “cash for clunkers,” Bart Stupak‘s big idea would say that

you‘re not allowed to buy insurance that covers abortion, because you

participated in “cash for clunkers” and because the “cash for clunkers”

government money might magically move through your life to end up paying

for abortion.

That‘s the argument that Bart Stupak is essentially making.  If you

received any government money for any reason, you‘re not allowed to spend

your own money on reproductive rights anymore.  Plus, you have to wear a

scarlet letter.

Bart Stupak is trying to create an America in which the only people

who can get abortions—a legal procedure, by the way—are people who

can pay for it out-of-pocket without insurance.  So, abortion rights—

only for rich ladies.  That‘s Bart Stupak‘s principled crusade.  I‘m sorry,

that‘s the crusade of Bart Stupak and his principled four unnamed friends.

Bart Stupak‘s threat to kill health reform appears to be more bark

than bite.  What he‘s asking to be done can‘t actually be done within the

rules of Congress.  The problem that he‘s diagnosed doesn‘t actually exist. 

And everyone else other than him and his four unnamed friends believes that

fighting to ban abortion or ban it for everyone other than rich ladies is a

fight that should be had separate from the fight over health reform.

But there is one way in which this quixotic nonsense crusade is

working for Bart Stupak and the way it‘s working is that Bart Stupak gets

to go on TV all the time now.  Jackpot!

Bart Stupak‘s supposedly principled stand right now has nothing to do

with health reform.  It has nothing to do with legislating.  It has nothing

to do with policy.  It has nothing to do with anything that can actually

happen in Congress.

What it has to do with is Bart Stupak being on TV all the time. 

Congratulations, sir, I hope you‘re enjoying your 15 minutes.

Now, who‘s been paying your rent?  Bart Stupak, you want to be famous? 

You‘re getting to be famous right now.

In terms of America getting to know, there‘s still one big piece of

the puzzle you continue to dodge our questions about: Who, sir, has been

paying your rent?  Who paid your aren‘t for years?  You even got asked

about it by your good friends at FOX today.


CARLSON:  The liberal blog Daily Kos now has picked up charges that

the condominium that you rent in D.C. from a Christian group, that you‘re

paying too low of rent, and they‘re calling now for both the IRS and the

House Ethics Committee to investigate you.  How would you respond to that?

STUPAK:  They can investigate all they want.  There‘s nothing

improper.  I no longer live there.  I actually pay about the same amount of

rent at a place where I live at now.  So, their—I‘ve always paid fair

market value.


MADDOW:  Always paid fair market value.

Here‘s why we‘re a little worried about that claim.  As we‘ve talked

about before, Bart Stupak lived at the C Street house in Washington for at

least seven years.  The C Street house is a $1.8 million 12-bedroom made

service townhouse right near the capital.  We have documented.  It is run

by the secretive religious group The Family, even though The Family has

recently denied that fact.

The Family has, in the past, acknowledged subsidizing the rent for

members of The Family who live in the house, reportedly charging about 600

bucks a month.  Even though Mr. Stupak denies being a member of The Family,

it seems clear from news reports, at least, that he was paying below market

rent to live there.

And if he wasn‘t, all he has to do is answer the questions that we

have put to him, repeatedly: Who did you pay your rent to, Congressman

Stupak?  How much did you pay?  And do you know who was subsidizing the

rest?  Did you report that subsidy as an in-kind donation?  Did you report

it as income to the IRS?

These questions don‘t go away because you moved out when the heat got

to you.  Mr. Stupak, you have succeeded in using this abortion stunt to get

on TV a lot.  If you really want Americans to know who you are, tell us who

has been paying your rent.

We‘ve just learned that Bart Stupak now as a Democratic primary

challenger back in Michigan.  Her name is Connie Saltonstall.  She says

she‘s decided to challenge him in part because of this anti-abortion

grandstanding on the health care issue.

It turns out this is going to be a very, very exciting year for Bart

Stupak after all.  But it‘s not because he‘s going to kill health reform.


MADDOW:  Guess who Michael Moore‘s congressman is?  Michael Moore‘s

congressman is Bart Stupak!  Yes!  Michael Moore joins us in studio—




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Before they could take your house, they needed to

change the regulations and the rules.

What‘s this photo I found here?  It was in an annual report of the


WILLIAM BLACK, FORMER BANK REGULATOR:  John Gilleren (ph), the head of

the Office of Thrift Supervision, which is supposed to regulate savings and

loans.  He‘s the guy with the chainsaw.  And the four other grinning idiots

in the photo are the three leading lobbyists in banking and the deputy

director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

And they‘re poised over a pile of regulations.  And this is supposed

to demonstrate their intention to destroy regulation.  And they succeeded. 

And now, we know what happens when you destroy financial regulation—you

produce a financial catastrophe.


MADDOW:  Joining us now is Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker,

Michael Moore, who‘s latest film “Capitalism: A Love Story” is just now out

on DVD.

Michael Moore, I‘ve wanted to have you on the show for so long.  Thank

you so much for coming in.  It‘s really nice to meet you.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER:  Thanks.  I‘m so honored to be here.  I love

watching the show and thank you very much.

MADDOW:  You really watch it?

MOORE:  I‘ve been watching—I‘ll tell you, I‘ve been watching this -

the whole Bart Stupak thing.  As you mentioned, this is my congressman. 

I had no idea after, especially last week‘s show, I turned the TV off, I

said to my wife, our congressman lives in a brothel and he belongs to a

cult.  What‘s going on?!

MADDOW:  You know, he wants everybody to know that he didn‘t belong to

The Family for the eight years that he lived at The Family‘s subsidized

congressmen townhouse with all the affairs going on.

MOORE:  Yes.  And if he was living with, say, in house of skinheads,

he probably would just say, hey, you know, all these kids were out

skateboarding.  He just said, yes, I‘ve got a cheap room, come on in.

MADDOW:  It‘s amazing.

MOORE:  Now, it‘s totally amazing.  It‘s embarrassing.

You know, Michigan‘s a great state.  I live in his district actually. 

It‘s 31 of the 80-plus counties in Michigan he represents.

MADDOW:  Oh, wow.  Right.

MOORE:  All of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.  So—and I

know him.  He‘s a former Michigan state trooper, a police officer.  And,

you know, he‘s done good things and he‘s, you know, he‘s—NRA‘s been

after him and he stood up to them.

And—but this has just been shocking.  And it‘s unconscionable that

he would try to stop, even this watered down, pathetic version of a health

care bill that—over his own personal religious beliefs.  I just—it

just—you know, it‘s kind of like—my feeling is, OK, if you don‘t want

to have an abortion, don‘t have one, you know?  If you don‘t want to sleep

with somebody of the same gender, don‘t do it.

If you don‘t want to own a gun—well, actually, that‘s a little

different, because if you have 50 guns in your garage, I‘m a little

concerned about that.  But everything else it‘s like—I don‘t know where

they get this sense of they need to control everybody else‘s private lives.

MADDOW:  Well, the thing that‘s—the thing that‘s hard about it for

me is what we just talked about in this previous segment, that if he‘s

really concerned about federal funding for abortion, there really isn‘t any

federal funding for abortion in this thing.  And if he really wants to try

to get—to stop health reform, unless he can get this language put in

there, there‘s—by the rules, there‘s no way to put that language in


MOORE:  Right.

MADDOW:  All the things that he‘s supposedly standing on principle

about either aren‘t true or are impossible.

MOORE:  Right.

MADDOW:  And so, what‘s it about?  It‘s hard to—I don‘t know.  It‘s

hard to get inside of that, I guess.

MOORE:  That‘s right.  And I wouldn‘t waste a whole lot of time on it,

but I personally am trying to recruit somebody to run against—I just

heard today about Connie.  I know her, she‘s great.

MADDOW:  Oh, good.

MOORE:  But he needs to be challenged in the primary.  People in

Michigan are embarrassed by his behavior on this, pure and simple.

MADDOW:  We bumped in with a clip from “Capitalism,” which is just out

on DVD, with the guys with the chainsaw over the regulation.  Can I show

you one other quick clip to add to the chainsaw imagery there?  It‘s just

really quick.  Just watch this.

MOORE:  All right.  Good.



the one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago and by John McCain and

Sarah Palin today!


ROMNEY:  The right course is to rein in government spending, lower

taxes, take a weed-whacker to excessive regulation.


MADDOW:  The weed-whacker.

MOORE:  What is it with these guys and yard work?

MADDOW:  I know.

MOORE:  You know, I don‘t really see Mitt Romney out there doing

edging, you know, along his sidewalk.  These guys—I‘ll tell you, let me

tell you something—these guys haven‘t done a yard work in like 30 years. 

If I had been there that day in the press conference with the guy with the

chainsaw, I would have asked him to turn it on.


MOORE:  I‘d like to actually to see if he knows how to use that


MADDOW:  He‘d put the tip down and it will kick right back at to him. 


MOORE:  You know, he just would have called his help in.

MADDOW:  Right.  Well, the—but that—you know, I wanted to show

you that Mitt Romney clip because that was—the photo that you had was

from 2003, and it‘s this ominous sense, like, whoa, they‘re cutting through

all the regulation.

MOORE:  Right.

MADDOW:  But that was in 2008 during the RNC, while the financial

system was supposedly melting down.

MOORE:  Right.

MADDOW:  It just makes me think that they‘re—I mean, they‘re still

talking about using garden implements on regulation, even in the midst of

the financial system collapsing.

MOORE:  Right.

MADDOW:  What does that make—what does that say to you about the

way the sort of the way the rhetoric and the politics don‘t change with the

they can even tell the impact of them?


MOORE:  Well, it - they are—they are blind and they are deaf to all

of this.  And it‘s—I‘ll tell you what‘s going to happen here.  Because

not one single regulation or rule has been reinstated on the banking

industry, on Wall Street, you know, they‘re back to dealing with their

crazy derivatives and credit default swaps and all that—


MOORE:  Trust me, the next collapse or crash is right around the

corner, because they‘re doing the same stuff they were doing leading up to

that first crash in ‘08.  And it‘s amazing that nobody‘s doing anything. 

It‘s amazing that the Democrats in Congress haven‘t forced this issue in a

very strong way, because they would have the support of the American

people.  Nobody wants the other shoe to drop here, and it‘s getting ready

to drop.

And I—I just—I don‘t understand—well, I guess I do

understand, because those banks and the people on Wall Street are lining

the pockets of our members of Congress.  So—

MADDOW:  But on the right, of course, they‘re caricaturing Wall Street

reform as socialism.  Everything is socialism.

MOORE:  Yes.  Everything is socialism to them.  Boy, that is so tired,

isn‘t it?

MADDOW:  I know.

MOORE:  It‘s—you know, as I said in my film, to me, everything that

they call socialism, wanting to help people when they‘re sick, wanting to

provide, you know, jobs for people when they don‘t have work, these are all

aren‘t these the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, even atheist

principles that we all grew up with?  That we were told that we were to be

good to those who were without?  And then we were to share the pie?


MADDOW:  But those must be kept in check—they must be kept in check

so that greed can lead us towards something.

MOORE:  Yes.  Well, we see what it‘s led us to.  It‘s led us to the

fact that one out of eight homes now in America is in foreclosure or



MOORE:  One out of eight home—and, of course, millions that don‘t

have health care and everything else.  It‘s—you know, how do you—how

do you get yourself out of bed every morning to do this show?  Just the

despair of how—the hope that we all had a year, year and a half ago, and

now it‘s like, I just feel like the Democrats are—they‘re in for an ass-

whooping of biblical proportions in November if they don‘t get off the dime

and do the job they were sent there to do.  I mean that.  I mean—don‘t

they see that?  It‘s just—

MADDOW:  Well, I mean, since the Civil War, every—it‘s only been

twice that the president‘s party has not lost seats—

MOORE:  Right.

MADDOW:  -- in the election after which that president was elected. 

And so, it‘s almost historically impossible for the Democrats not to lose


Do you see any way that there‘s any way they cannot lose too many

seats?  That they could avoid the bloodbath?

MOORE:  Yes.  They can avoid it by having courage of their convictions

and doing what the Republicans do when they take power.  You know, when the

Republicans come into town, they get in the Hummer and they drive down

Pennsylvania Avenue, mow down anybody in sight.  They walk into Congress

with both guns blazing and they say, “We were sent here to do a job,” and

then they do the job.

Democrats come in—I mean, by an incredible majority in the Senate

and the House, an this historic election with Obama in the White House—

Democrats come in and go, “Oh, hi, hi, I guess we don‘t need universal

health care for everybody.  We can—we can—you know, we can

compromise.  It‘s OK.  It‘s OK.”

You know, it‘s like—they used to at least just sing kumbayah.


MOORE:  Now, they go in like frightened animals.  I don‘t understand -

I don‘t understand it.  Why is it about them where they can‘t do the

math?  It‘s like your Stupak math, you know, where a dozen is actually




MOORE:  He‘s got four members.

Actually, in Michigan, we call that the Stupak dozen.

MADDOW:  Right.  It got explained to them.

MOORE:  So, it‘s like—you have all Democrats, are they all

afflicted with this math disease?  I know liberals were better in English

and social studies in school.  Have they just not figured out how much the

American people wanted them to do this?


MOORE:  And I think, too, remember Reagan.  You know, Reagan was loved

by many people who didn‘t necessarily agree with all of his policies.  But

Americans don‘t really see themselves as Democrats or Republicans.  They

want somebody in there who believes in something, who‘s going to go for it.

And if the Democrats would just say to themselves, you know what,

we‘ve got these eight months here, let‘s just do what we were sent here to

do and damn the torpedoes.  And yes, some of us may lose as a result of

that, but so many more Americans are going to admire us for standing up for

something, for believing in something.  That‘s what‘s going to put them out

of office more than anything, and the fact that their base is going to be

so depressed by the fact that we didn‘t get universal health care.


MOORE:  That we didn‘t put any restrictions on the banks and on Wall

Street.  People are just going to stay home.  And why they would allow this

to happen is beyond me.

MADDOW:  Yes.  I mean, it seems like they—when you listen to

Democrats talk about election prospects, they‘re convinced that they‘re

going to lose.  You would expect that would free them up to try something.

MOORE:  Yes, right.

MADDOW:  Yes, right.

MOORE:  It‘s kind—it‘s kind of like, OK, the boat is taking in

water.  Do we just sit here or do we pick up the Dixie Cup that‘s over here

and start bailing?  I mean, we may not make it, but, you know—


MOORE:  -- do something.  Do something, Democrats.  Are you listening

to me?

MADDOW:  Mike, one last moment.  I know that today, actually—today

specifically is an important date for your family.

MOORE:  Oh, right.  I was telling you this, right?


MOORE:  Yes, my Uncle Lawrence Moore was killed on this day 65 years

ago today in World War II.


MOORE:  And it‘s my dad‘s brother.  You know, I brought along a little

that‘s him in the center there.


MADDOW:  I wanted to make sure we show this.

MOORE:  And thank you for honoring him and doing that.  That‘s him in

the center, that‘s my dad on the left.  And they called him “Lorny” and my

dad said he was the kind of guy that would give you the shirt off his back

and he gave his life for this country on this day in the Philippines in

World War II.  So, thank you for doing that.

MADDOW:  Sure.  And, I mean, one of the things that‘s so powerful

about the way you tell your stories is that you do involve yourself and

your families and the way that you do, and it‘s why people are interested

in you as a guy, as well as being interested in your films.  And that‘s why

I really enjoyed having a chance to meet you.  Thank you for coming in.

MOORE:  Thank you.  Thank you.  You‘re a force for good and a national


MADDOW:  Oh, thank you.

MOORE:  Thank you very much.

MADDOW:  OK.  Show‘s over.  Goodbye.  I have to go.


MADDOW:  I‘ve peaked.  It‘s done.

Michael Moore, of course, is Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker.  His

latest film is called “Capitalism: A Love Story” and is out right now on


All right.  Remedial politics, 2009 edition.  What did Democrats learn

after soliciting Republican input on health reform?  They learned that

Republicans don‘t care about health reform.  So, why are they now doing the

exact same thing for Wall Street reform?

Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  So I was away for a couple of days.  Good job, lamb chop. 

And that gave us the chance to air some of the special on Monday about the

ways in which health reform has almost died. 

And now that it looks like we probably are actually going to get

health reform, it seemed like a good idea to make sure that we haven‘t

forgotten all the different ways that health reform came under attack. 

The assault on reform that I still find most frustrating and

mystifying is what Democratic Senator Max Baucus did to it back last summer

before the August recess.  Remember, it was last summer health reform had

passed all three of the committees it needed to pass in the House. 

It had passed in the Senate House Committee.  It just needed to

pass one last committee, the Senate Finance.  And then Congress could move

forward and vote on a final bill. 

But Democrats have such big majorities in both Houses of Congress

that they have big majorities on every committee as well.  So on the Senate

Finance Committee, there are three more Democrats than there are


But Max Baucus, the chair of that committee, inexplicably decided

to give up his own party‘s majority.  And instead of negotiating in the

committee, which is the way laws are made, he decided to just work it out

with a gang of six with three Democrats and three Republicans, as if the

election never happened, as if Democrats and Republicans had equal numbers

if the Senate, which they don‘t. 

And what was the result?  The supposed negotiations in this

bipartisan kumbaya gang-of-six senators stretched on and on and on.  And

because it was taking so long to execute this awesome bit of Max Baucus

strategery, any chance that health reform might get done then before the

August recess, like the White House wanted, was destroyed. 

Looking back now, it seems crazy that the Democratic leadership

ever even conceived of getting health reform done by last summer.  But they

really could have been done it if not for Max Baucus deciding to

unilaterally give up the Democratic majority that people voted in and that

prevailed in his committee. 

Even if that weren‘t the main procedural reason, we still don‘t

have health reform now, which is what, I would believe, it would still be

mystifying to me that anybody would do something like that, that anybody

would just voluntarily give up their majority in order to negotiate on a

50/50 split with Republicans who don‘t make up even close to 50 percent of

either house of Congress. 

And yet, somehow, believe it or not, this same thing is happening

again.  It‘s a gang of two this time, and it‘s Wall Street reform this

time.  The gang of two is Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut,

head of the Banking Committee, and Republican Senator Bob Corker of


There are three more Democrats on that committee than there are

Republicans.  But rather than work out a Wall Street reform package within

this committee with its 13 to 10 Democratic majority, Sen. Dodd decided

instead to pretend like the ‘08 election never happened, to pretend like

it‘s a 50/50 split in the Senate and on his committee, to pretend like

Democrats don‘t have a majority.  And he decided to work out a financial

reform plan, 50/50, primarily between him and his friend, Bob. 

How‘s that going so far?  Well, as he began negotiations, Sen.

Corker said, at the outset, that he couldn‘t support a stand-alone Consumer

Financial Protection Agency.  He said he‘d be unwilling to back mandatory

limits on banks‘ size.  He said he was against out-of-court resolutions for

failing companies. 

And now, Bob Corker has landed himself on the front page of the

“New York Times” for pushing to remove the part of the reform bill that

cracked down on loan sharks - I mean, payday lenders, an industry that

makes its money by charging mostly low-income clients the equivalent of a

300 or 400 percent annual interest rate on short-term loans.  And

coincidentally enough, it‘s an industry that is a significant contributor

to Sen. Corker‘s campaigns. 

Sen. Corker today denied that he is trying to get special

treatment for payday lenders - I mean, loan sharks - I mean pay day

lenders, written into the financial reform bill.  But the question remains,

why does he get a say at all?  Why is he working this out with Chris Dodd? 

Why does Bob Corker get anything other than to be part of a minority vote

against what the majority Democrats come up with? 

Joining us now is Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of

Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.  Mr.

Chairman, welcome back to the show.  Thank you for joining us. 


COMMITTEE:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  You‘ve already passed financial reform legislation in the

House.  Your version would create an independent Consumer Financial

Protection Agency.  Are you worried that the Senate will negotiate that


FRANK:  I am.  Let me say very - I have a great deal of respect for

Chris Dodd and he‘s been an advocate and a champion of the right things. 

And if he were writing the bill, he and I, we would have had the bill


The Senate‘s a stranger place procedurally, but what began to

trouble me was people were acting as if whatever deals were made in the

Senate to deal with the filibuster, et cetera, that somehow that would be


And we passed our bill, as you noted, in December, wasn‘t

everything I wanted.  It is a much tougher bill than it appears to be

emerging in some ways in the Senate and an independent consumer agency. 

We are requiring that if someone wants to be your broker and sell

you stocks, he or she has to have a fiduciary responsibility and that is

they have your interests at heart. 

We cover pay day lenders and in the consumer agency.  There are

other areas where we‘re tougher.  So I just made this announcement.  We are

going to wait for the Senate to pass the bill.  I hope it‘s a better bill

than there have been some indications. 

I hope Sen. Dodd is able to get what he really wants to.  But if

not, we‘re going to have a House-Senate conference.  And we‘re going to

give my conservative Republican friends what they kind of wanted - I‘m not

sure they do.  We‘re going to do this on television. 

I‘m going to ask for a House-Senate conference, and we will then

sit there, members of the House, members of the Senate, and we will

negotiate this out.  And my own view, Rachel, is that some of these people

are eager to accommodate the banks by killing the independent consumer

agency in private negotiations, will be less willing to vote that way on C-


MADDOW:  In terms of the specific fate of the Consumer Financial

Protection Agency, one of the things that‘s been floated is that - at

least, as Republicans see it, the problem is that the agency is

independent.  They say, instead, why not put it inside the fed?  What do

you think about that prospect? 

FRANK:  Well, that‘s what we‘ve had.  Consumer protection in our

federal banking laws has, for years, been in the various bank regulatory

agencies as a second or third choice.  The Federal Reserve has, in fact,

been the major area where consumer protection was lodged. 

And I guess you could say the consumer protection powers

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) in very good shape because they haven‘t been used. 

They‘ve been kind of preserved.  Now, it is true that unlike Alan

Greenspan, Chairman Bernanke has done a couple of good things in the

consumer area. 

But every time the Federal Reserve has moved, after the Democrats

won Congress in 2006 and after we took over the Financial Services

Committee, and after we initiated a reform, they haven‘t moved on credit

cards.  They haven‘t moved on overdrafts.  They haven‘t moved on a couple

of other things like mortgages, but only after we prodded them. 

So the notion that you would leave this to any bank regulator is

a mistake.  And it‘s ironic.  What some of the conservatives are saying,

it‘s really much more critical of banks than maybe anybody except Michael,

which is that if you have an independent consumer regulator that ensures

fairness, the banks will be in trouble, that the financial solvency of the

banks apparently causes some of these people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) able to

mistreat consumers. 

You know, part of the problem is we haven‘t seen enough lending

from the banks to the extent that banks can make money by inducing to

overdraft and charging you disproportionately or retroactively raising

interest in your credit cards.  They make enough money with these tricks so

they don‘t have to lend.  And we want to cut off these other ways they‘re

making money at the consumer‘s expense. 

At any rate, we‘re going to have this out in public.  We will

have a nice, big, open conference and let the Republicans and others,

Democrats who may agree with them, who don‘t want derivatives toughly

regulated, who don‘t want an independent consumer agency, let‘s have a

debate and vote on that in the public area. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman

of the House Financial Services Committee, I look very much forward to

doing the play-by-play when that happens in public.  And we thank you for

joining us tonight, sir.  Thanks. 

FRANK:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  In these dangerous times, everyone should keep their eyes

peeled for terrorists.  You know the type.  You know who I‘m talking about. 

Blond, green-eyed woman from Pennsylvania.  The end of the whole stupid

concept of racial profiling, live and on television, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Critics argue, when you think about it, for the

most part, all the people who have tried to blow airliners out of the sky

pretty much look alike. 

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK):  For one, I know it‘s not politically

correct to say it.  I believe in racial and ethnic profiling.  I think if

you‘re looking at people getting on an airplane and you have X amount of

resources to get into it, you need to get at targets, not my wife. 


MADDOW:  “Not my wife.”  I know not one thing about Sen. James

Inhofe‘s wife, nor should I.  I would not want to drag her into this or

anything else.  But the latest al-Qaeda-related terrorism arrest in the

United States makes the argument for getting the terrorists by using racial

profiling even more awkward and dumb than it‘s always, always been. 

Colleen LaRose is a 46-year-old American woman who lived in

Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philly.  She apparently

used the name Jihad Jane on online extremist Web forums.  The Department of

Justice arrested her back in October, but the case was kept under wraps

while the investigation spun out. 

She‘s now been indicted and charged with conspiracy to provide

material support to terrorists and to kill a person in a foreign country. 

Police in Ireland have arrested seven other people in the case, four men

and three women originally from Algeria, Croatia, Palestine, Libya and the

United States. 

They were in their 20s, their 30s, and their 40s.  Combining that

data with notable attempted terrorist attacks against the United States in

the last decade, carried out or allegedly carried out by a guy of Jamaican

decent from London, a guy of Palestinian decent from Virginia, and a

Nigerian guy who posted awkward “I need a hug” emo vacation pictures of

himself online. 

If we racially profile based on our recent experience with

terrorism, then it‘s clear.  It‘s clear.  It‘s obvious.  It‘s common sense. 

We are now looking for anyone who is a man, a woman, an American,

an African, a Middle Easterner, an Eastern European, a Western European, a

blond, a brunette or between the ages of 20 and 49, which by my

calculation, leaves only one being on planet earth above reproach and that

is Alf. 

Hi, Alf.  Alf is good.  Everybody else, I‘m sorry, you fit the



MADDOW:  You know how the new Republican governor of Virginia got into

office and he right away rescinded the nondiscrimination laws against gay

people in that state?  Well, today Virginia students marched in the streets

against him.  And the governor did something really strange in response. 

That story is next.


MADDOW:  Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia had only been in office about

a week and a half when he was tapped to deliver the GOP response to the

State of the Union Address.  About a week after that, the new governor,

McDonnell, still in his first month in office, went to the trouble of

rescinding an executive order concerning discrimination and state workers. 

Gov. McDonnell rescinded the old anti-discrimination order and

replaced it with one that explicitly didn‘t protect gay people from

discrimination.  It was Executive Order No. 6, effectively making it legal

for a government office in Virginia to, say, put out a wanted ad that said,

“Gays not need apply.” 

Under Executive Order No. 6, that would not be illegal.  A

supervisor at a Virginia branch of the DMV, say, could call in employees,

one by one, quiz them about their sexual orientation and fire the gay ones. 

Under Executive Order No. 6, that would be legal.  Then

Virginia‘s newly elected Republican Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, took

a further step.  He sent a letter last Thursday to state colleges and

universities, telling them that Virginia law prohibits them from including

sexual orientation in any nondiscrimination policy. 

That prompted students across the commonwealth to mobilize on

Facebook, at Virginia Commonwealth University, and with a march on the

State Capitol. 

In response, this afternoon, Gov. McDonnell seems to have caved,

sort of.  Executive Order No. 6 still stands.  But today, he issued

Executive Directive No. 1.  His executive directive says - well, I‘ll let

him tell you. 


GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R-VA):  We will not tolerate discrimination in

Virginia based on any of the factors in the Human Rights Act or any other

basis, including sexual orientation, parental status - anything else. 


MADDOW:  Sounds awesome, right?  Sounds like a man who might want to

run as a compassionate conservative at the national level some day.  The

thing is, the details matter here.  In Virginia, an executive directive

doesn‘t have the weight of law behind it, like, say, an executive order

which is what he used to rescind gay rights. 

An executive directive is like a request.  So governor McDonnell

is basically saying to state agencies, “Come on, guys.  Do me a favor.  No

gay discrimination, OK?”  It‘s very convincing coming from him, right? 

Joining us now is Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst and

senior Washington correspondent at “Newsweek” magazine.  Hi, Howard, thanks

very much for coming back on the show. 



MADDOW:  What‘s your understanding of what just happened in Virginia? 

How big a deal is this for the state? 

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it‘s a big deal.  I think the governor and his

staff have been working on this for days.  They been in sort of crisis

management mode.  I talked to most of his top people late today as I tried

to piece this together for the show tonight. 

The interesting and ironic thing is, they think - we‘re talking

about a conservative Republican here.  They think, to use the words of one

of our staffers, “We think we deftly threaded the needle here.” 

Well, they only deftly threaded the needle within the confines of

the people who vote in Republican primaries in places like Virginia.  For

the rest of the state, I don‘t know, but they were very concerned. 

They got to be very concerned especially after the attorney

general really laid it on with the college students because Bob McDonnell

does have national aspirations. 

And Virginia is a different state from what it was a while ago. 

Bob McDonnell got a lot of votes in northern Virginia, which is the

Washington suburbs.  He wants to portray himself as a moderate, as you say,

compassionate conservative, that‘s why he issued this directive today.  

MADDOW:  Gov. McDonnell, of course, during the campaign - it emerged

that he wrote a thesis while he was at Pat Robertson‘s Liberty University,

which said that government policy should favor married couples over,

quoting, “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” 

When he rescinded the antidiscrimination policy for gay people, a

lot of people said, “Hey, we told you he was this right wing.”  Does he

really need to seem more moderate in order to have national appeal?  It

seems like every Republican in the country tacking right. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  But he already has that thesis behind him, shall we

say.  He has the Pat Robertson credentials behind him.  He ran as a job

creator, you know, “Bob is for jobs” - that was their theme. 

As a matter of fact today, they stressed the fact that they just

passed the bill and he signed it for offshore drilling in Virginia and so

forth, money for transportation. 

He would like to portray himself that way.  And I think the fact

that he did this, even though it does not have the force of law as you say,

they would argue that the state legislature would have to change things. 

The fact is, as you pointed out, both Gov. Mark Warner and Gov.

Tim Kaine did issue such an executive order.  It was in place when

McDonnell got here.  But he would like to position himself in a more

moderate vein than, say, Cuccinelli. 

You know, the conservative movement has got three parts to it. 

It‘s got the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tax conservatives, the Liz Cheney foreign

policy conservatives and the social conservatives.  McDonnell doesn‘t want

to be known as that social conservative.  He wants to be a pro-business


And believe me, he‘s already on the White House radar because he

won this race in Virginia.  Virginia is a state that Democrats won.  Tim

Kaine, the former governor, is head of the Democratic Party.  It‘s on their

radar screen and you can expect a lot of attention to McDonnell from the

White House over the next couple years. 

MADDOW:  I think that because of the way McDonnell did this with the

directive versus the executive order, because gay rights groups nationally

have been so energized by this, and students in Virginia have been so

energized by this.

I think if he‘s looking to escape a sort of Jesse Helms national

tarnish on an issue like this.  He‘s underestimating his opposition here. 

Do you agree with that? 

FINEMAN:  I would agree.  I agree, that‘s why I said at the beginning

they threaded the needle only within, you know, the conservative part of

the Republican Party, not in the country nationally, not in Virginia,


Don‘t forget, right across the river here in Virginia, gay

marriage is now legal.  I mean, this is the metropolitan Washington area. 

This is a country as a whole.  I think he‘s kidding himself, I agree with

you, if he thinks he solved this problem with the country as a whole. 

MADDOW:  MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, thank you for doing

reporting on this for us tonight.  And thanks for your time, Howard.  Nice

to see you. 

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Bill Maher - yes -

weighs in on health care reform and the madness surrounding former

Congressman Massa.  It‘s an amazing interview with Lawrence and Bill Maher. 

We will also be right back with a “live free or die” Granite

State tribute and a challenge. 


MADDOW:  The tireless activist, one-time U.S. Senate candidate against

Judd Gregg and New Hampshire native known as Granny D. has died.  Doris

Haddock, better known as Granny D., walked her way into the public eye in

1999 when at the age of 89, she launched a 14-month, 4,200-mile walk across

the country to promote campaign finance reform. 

Her journey was documented in the HBO film “Run, Granny, Run.” 

In 2004, she ran against New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg.  She

lost, but she proved again that she was so tough, you could whittle with


Granny D. died at home in Dublin, New Hampshire yesterday at the

age of 100.  A public memorial service is being planned, which I‘m just

saying might make for a handy deadline to aim for, for members of Congress

working on campaign finance legislation to remedy the recent Citizens

United decision. 

That Supreme Court ruling was the biggest blow ever to Granny

D.‘s cause of getting big money out of our elections.  Maybe a powerful

member of Congress will be able to stand up at that memorial service and

say they‘re taking the baton from her.  They‘re taking on her cause.  It

could happen.  It could.  You never know. 

That does it for us tonight.  We‘ll see you again tomorrow night

when I will be in Washington, D.C. to interview the Speaker of the House,

Nancy Pelosi. 

“COUNTDOWN” starts right now.  Have a great night.




Copy:     Content and programming copyright 2010 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

                Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

                United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

                transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

                permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

                copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

Rachel Maddow Show Section Front
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader:

Sponsored links

Resource guide